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December 2016

"Mele Kalikimaka"

arranged for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine by Mickey Abraham


Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. I’ve just returned from the most amazing weekend in Orlando, Florida where my band “Belle and the Band” won a Suncoast Emmy! It was an incredible experience and I couldn’t be more proud of the band.

I knew I wanted to do a holiday themed lesson this month but also knew I didn’t want to do the same old Christmas songs that are taught over and over again. I came up with “Mele Kalikimaka.” It’s one of my favorites and is not often played on guitar. The tune is most often played on ukelele and is a Hawaiian themed Christmas song with a swing feel.

I find the melody to “Mele Kalikimaka” to be particularly interesting. The melody lands on notes that I would not normally think of. For example, in measure 2 over the C chord, the melody plays the notes E, B, and D. What makes this interesting and sound cool is that the melody is dancing around the root note C but not landing on it! B is the major seventh of C and D is the ninth of C. Notes like the 7th and the 9th can be more flavorful than always landing melodic phrases on the root.

This happens again over the G chord in measure 11. The notes the melody play bring out the b5th (Db) and 6th (E) of the chord. Lastly, in measure 27 the melody lands on #5th of the A7 chord. When you hear these lines they sound so right! It really is amazing to me how well thought out the melody to “Mele Kalikimaka” is. The flavor notes fit so perfectly one might not even notice they they’re not the root, 3rd, and 5th of the chords.

I hope you enjoy learning “Mele Kalikimaka” and jamming with your picking friends this holiday season. Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action. As always should you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net