Arranging "House Of The Rising Sun"

Apr 11, 2020
At its simplest, arranging just means starting with the bare bones of a song – a single pass through the melody and the chord progression – and making a series of choices. If you play solo fingerstyle guitar, your first choices might be things like: What's the best key to put this song in? What's the best groove – steady bass or alternating thumb? Are there any particular versions of this song I want to pay homage to – or steer clear of?

Once you've used these choices to come up with a basic version of the song, your next steps are just as significant, and potentially more challenging: what are you going to do to make these eight or twelve or sixteen glorious measures into two to three minutes of expressive, satisfying music?

This can feel like a pretty abstract problem, but it doesn't have to be. This afternoon, I'll be doing a live Youtube stream to talk about arranging the song "House of the Rising Sun." It's one of the first songs I taught when I began my Fingerstyle Five membership last fall, and in this live stream I'll play through an arrangement of the song, explain how I chose the key and the groove, then show you how apply five specific arranging tools to this classic eight-bar blues. We'll look at the difference between a basic and an embellished version of the melody, where to get ideas for introductions, what a shout chorus is and why it works, how to start working with chord substitutions, and incorporating improvisation into an arrangement.

The live stream starts at 2:30pm CST, and you can join me using the link below:

Arranging "House Of The Rising Sun"

More soon,


P.S. If you want to get a jump on this lesson, you can download a PDF of my basic "House of the Rising Sun" arrangement here:

Get The Tab