Multitasking For Guitar - How To Play All Parts Of A Song On One Guitar

by Simon Candy


Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement Article PicIn this video, I show you how to create your own fingerstyle arrangements on guitar using a tune called “I’ve Been Working On The Railroad”

Playing the chords and melody of a song on one guitar is not difficult to do if you break it down into simple, manageable steps to digest.

However, many people get this wrong by beginning at the end, not the beginning when creating such arrangements.

When learning and arranging your own fingerpicking arrangements of songs, you need to realise that at any given time there are 3 parts happening simultaneously.

They are the bass, harmony, and melody parts.

If you try and play or arrange something with no understanding of this, and/or try and do this all at once, you will find it very difficult.

I am going to start by getting you familiar with both the melody and chords to this tune before we get into arranging the two parts together onto one guitar.

Knowing the chords and melody and how they relate to each other is crucial when creating a fingerstyle arrangement of a song.

Once you are somewhat familiar with the melody and chords, we will begin the method of putting the two parts together via 3 simple steps.

• Step 1: Bass And Melody

The first step is to play the root/bass notes of each chord along with the melody of the song. This in itself sounds good, and could be a smaller part of a larger arrangement of a song.

• Step 2: Adding The Harmony

Now we have the bass and melody down, it’s time to fill the space in-between these two parts with the harmony. The bass and harmony parts together create the chord.

• Step 3: Breaking Parts Up (Arpeggiating)

The final step is all about breaking up the 3 layers we have now created, bass, harmony, and melody to fill out our fingerstyle arrangement. A great approach here is to arpeggiate some or all of the chords.

While each step above is a part of the overall method, they also work in and of themselves.

Watch the video below to learn more:



Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement

I’ve Been Working On The Railroad: Chords And Melody

The following are the basic chords and melody to I’ve Been Working On The Railroad:

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement Chords And Melody


Step 1: Bass And Melody

Here is the tune arranged using the root notes of each chord as the accompaniment:

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement Bass

Step 2: Chords And Melody

The following arrangement now has the harmony filling the space between the bass and melody from the previous arrangement:

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement Chords

Step 3: Arpeggiation

Once you have the previous two arrangements down, you can fill things out a little more by arpeggiating the chords in the pockets that exist between the phrases of the melody:

Fingerstyle Guitar Arrangement Arpeggiation 

Learn how to create your own acoustic guitar fingerstyle arrangements