AMAZING GRACE (Bluesy version)
Trad - Arr: chasmac/ Fretsource
Download the score as a free PDF for offline viewing and printing.
This is a bluesy fingerstyle guitar arrangement of the traditional song, Amazing Grace. It's in E major, but you can expect a good number of out-of-key 'blue' notes. The hammer-ons, pull-offs and slides also contribute to the blues effect as does the 'triplet feel' of the 12/8 time signature.
Learners' Playing Guide
Amazing Grace lends itself well to improvisation, so feel free to make any changes any time you play it.
As it's a song, the score consists of just a single verse leading straight to an ending. To extend the playing time you can repeat the verses, but in that case you should try to vary each verse. Don't play an exact repeat as that would be an anti-climax for anyone listening. Alternatively, you can sing some verses if you know the words. If you do sing any verses, though, keep the accompaniment simple by not playing the melody - just follow the chords with a suitable fingerstyle rhythm, and pick out some chord tones, bass runs and other bluesy licks, etc., during the gaps between singing.
Meter and Time Signature
The time signature is 12/8 (twelve-eight). 12/8 is an example of compound quadruple time and means there are four beats per bar and also that each beat is worth a dotted quarter note, which consists of three 8th-note 'sub-beats'. This arrangement could also have been written in 4/4 time using triplets. It would be exactly the same effect. The original traditional version of Amazing Grace is in simple triple time, e.g., 3/4 time.
To capture more of an improvised effect, there are slides and also some hammer-ons and pull-offs (slurs). In many cases, you can substitute slides for slurs. It's a similar effect, and you'll find one way easier than the other depending on the fingering you use to fret the notes. There are also ties joining two notes of the same pitch. Don't confuse ties with slurs. They use a similar curved line but ties always join notes of the same pitch, and the first notes is extended in duration by the value of the second note (which isn't sounded). Ties within the bars are also used to ensure the correct grouping of beats according to the 12/8 time signature for easier reading. There are also ties across bars 3-4 and 11-12. The purpose of those is to bring the note in ahead of the main beat of the next bar to produce a mildly syncopated effect. Notice that tab doesn't use ties but greys out the (silent) note that is being tied to in the notation staff. Grace notes are the small notes slurred to larger (normal) notes. They're played as briefly as possible. Feel free to add or omit any ornamental notes as you like.
Key and Chords
The key is E major, so (for notation readers), the four-sharp key signature is used, affecting all F, C, G and D notes unless cancelled by an accidental (natural sign). As it's a blues arrangement, there are lots of blue notes. In this key, those are G, D and Bb. D and G appear either as part of the chord being played (E7 or A7), as slurred grace notes or as chromatic passing notes. The Bb is only used once as a chromatic passing note. (Bar 10). The chords are simple blues chords: E major, E7, A7 and B7 and you can easily see from the notation or tab which chords are being played.
Listen to Amazing Grace (blues version)
Click PLAY on the video capsule to hear an audio version of the score. It's not a great recording but it will let you follow the score more easily.
About Amazing Grace
Apparently, according to Wikipedia, Amazing Grace started off as a hymn, the lyrics of which were written by John Newton, an English clergyman, and published in 1779. The original melody that was used for the hymn is unknown and various melodies have been used since. The melody that is used here is now the most famous melody and was originally a traditional tune named "New Britain".