Christmas Special: How To Play Joy To The World by John Fahey


My version is based on the recording found on Fahey's album The New Possibility: John Fahey's Guitar Soli Christmas Album. I think this was the first recording he made of the piece, and he recorded it again several times over the years in slightly different arrangements. My transcription can be found below. I've tried to stay quite faithful to the original recording but in some instances I've slightly smoothed out some of the idiosyncrasies to make a readable, playable version. I've not written out the second verse in full as it's more or less the same as the first with a few minor rhythmic variations. Be sure to play four steady thumb notes per bar, as this holds everything together. 

I'm playing the melody notes mainly with my index and middle fingers, occasionally using my 3rd finger, but exactly how you do it is up to you. It sounds like Fahey is sometimes using his index finger to brush upwards and hit two strings at once and I've added these notes in brackets, for you to include if you want to. It's very hard - for me, at least -  to reproduce Fahey's technique exactly, so take this as a guide and don't be afraid to do it your own way. It should all come together quite quickly if you've played pieces in this style before. If you're new to fingerstyle guitar you might need to take it bar by bar, working on the coordination between thumb and fingers and paying attention to whether each melody note coincides with or falls between the bass notes. Feel free to simplify things, and concentrate on just the bass line and a single note melody line.

Here is the only video footage I could find of Fahey playing this piece. He's not quite playing the piece in the same way as the original recording, but it's an interesting watch, and useful to check out his right hand technique and to see which chord shapes he uses.