Following my post about John Martyn I was thinking about where I’d used his guitar style most, and it was probably this Robert Burns song.
I’m using the thumb-slap technique that was the mainstay of Martyn’s acoustic work, the most celebrated example being May You Never. In this song I’ve dropped the E string down to D, and I’m playing with a capo on the second fret so I sing it in E.
Here are the chords in D for the first two sections, which are repeated for the rest:
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D A7 Ye Banks and braes D G6 O' bonny Doon D G6 How can you bloom D A7 Sae fresh and fair? D A7 How can you chaunt D G6 Ye little birds D G6 And I sae weary A7 D Fu' o' care D Ye'll break my heart Dmaj7 Ye warblin birds D D7 That wanton through Em A7 The flowery thorn D A7 Ye mind me o' D G6 Departed joys D G6 Departed never A7 D To return
Robert Burns and me
I have my parents to thank for my love of Burns, as well as being brought up in the heart of the Burns legend. This song finds the poet, let’s face it, feeling sorry for himself and complaining about why the birds and trees can be happy when he’s been dumped by his girlfriend.
I experienced the same thing as a fourth-year schoolboy on the very same banks of the Doon, pining for a fifth-year girl. So yes, I’ve suffered for my art. (Now it’s your turn, as the saying goes.)
This recording of Ye Banks And Braes
This recording was made in 2013 by Daniel Davis, who added some lovely trumpet.
Here’s a Soundcloud audio link where you can download the free mp3. If you like it, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and whatever means of production you currently occupy.
The video was shot on my phone in 2012, before I learned that you shoot video in landscape not portrait. It’s not the river Doon, but the river Ayr, pretty close by most standards. I grew up very close to the river and it’s a place of childhood wonder for me.
Thumb slap guitar technique
If you’re new to the thumb slap technique here’s the first of a series of tutorials by Gareth Evans. The rest are here.
(This is an update of a post from 2013 which didn’t have the chords)