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Scarborough Fair
Traditional, arr. James Hill

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C6 Tuning (g, c, e, a) Keys of D minor and G minor
D6 Tuning (a, d, f#, b) Keys of E minor and A minor

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Note: This arrangement works well with either high-4th or low-4th tuning. You're listening to a ukulele tuned with a low 4th string.

Here's a perennial favourite to keep your fingers warm this Winter. I've arranged the piece in two keys: the first is good for singing, the second works best as an instrumental (unless you're Mariah Carey or Sarah Brightman). The key change makes a nice transition and keeps the melody fresh; think of it as a "one song medley" (see this article for more on creating medleys).

Notice the chord diagrams: follow them carefully and you'll be on your way to playing the tune as a chord-melody solo. Follow just the chord symbols (i.e. letter names) for a conventional chordal accompaniment.

Related Links: There are many verses to this melody, some of which can be found here.




Scarborough Fair :
Teaching/Learning Notes

View print-friendly PDF Teaching/Learning Notes

Focus On:

  1. Singing and playing
  2. Note reading
  3. Chord-melody techniques

Key Points:

  • The "partial roll" – where your thumb strums only two or three string – is an essential chord-melody technique. Remember this: roll to the melody note but no further. For example, take the first chord in this arrangement: pick the 4th and 3rd strings with your thumb and let your thumb come to rest on the 2nd string. That will bring out the sound of the 2rd string (which happens to be the melody note). This arrangement is full of partial rolls. The quickest way to spot them? They're the ones with an "x" above one or more strings.

  • Notice that some of the chords are barre chords higher up on the neck. Look carefully at the first chord diagram in the fourth measure. It says "5 fr" beside it which means "fifth fret."

  • Follow the chord diagrams carefully and you'll hear the melody emerging. Now it's your job to find the rest of the notes and pick them. For example, on the word "Parsley" in m. 3, strum the chord as shown in the diagram for the melody on the syllable "Par - ", then reach up to the third fret with your left-hand pinky finger and pick (yes, pick, not strum) the note on " - sley." It's by interweaving chords and notes in this way that you can create the effect of playing harmony and melody simultaneously.

Additional Suggestions and Comments:

  • In order to maintain the musical pulse through long sustained notes, gently (very gently) strum on the downbeats during long notes. For example, strum very lightly on the downbeat of m. 6. Do the same on the downbeat of m. 12.

  • When it comes to the repeat, what would make a nice transition chord in measure 24? Something that would lead nicely back into the original key perhaps? Click here for a crash course in transition chords.

James Hill is editor of Ukulele Yes! and co-author of Ukulele in the Classroom, He also maintains a busy touring schedule as a performer; his latest CD release, True Love Don't Weep, won Traditional Album of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. Visit for more.