Hu­bert Parry Jerusalem

This month Brid­get Mermikides ar­ranges one of our most rous­ing and pop­u­lar hymns, made all the more fa­mous by its use as the Last Night Of The Proms clos­ing an­them.

Guitar Techniques - - PLAY: CLASSICAL -

women. It was later ar­ranged for a large or­ches­tra by ed­ward el­gar, ab­sorbed into the hymn reper­toire and has been co-opted by a wide range of po­lit­i­cal and cul­tural move­ments. It seems there is some­thing in parry’s pow­er­ful mu­si­cal set­ting of Blake’s words that is ir­re­sistibly mov­ing and rous­ing to many (even op­pos­ing) po­lit­i­cal move­ments and so­cial groups.

parry took Blake’s words (with min­i­mal edit­ing) and came up with a sim­ple but per­fectly judged melody based on its nat­u­ral spo­ken rhythms, and in­serted (the now iconic) four-bar in­stru­men­tal in­tro­duc­tions to each verse, as well as a coda. what is ex­traor­di­nar­ily beau­ti­ful in the writ­ing is the All pro­fes­sional clas­si­cal gui­tarists pluck the strings us­ing the fin­ger­nails. These need to be kept the right length and shaped cor­rectly, so that they cre­ate a good pluck­ing ac­tion and the best pos­si­ble tone. Ev­ery se­ri­ous player keeps a va­ri­ety of nail files and buf­fers – a big favourite is very fine wet and dry sand­ing pa­per. This is used to smooth off the edges of the nails and keep them buffed to a fine pol­ish. The bet­ter the nails, the bet­ter the tone! voices sup­port­ing the melody. In par­tic­u­lar, it is re­ported that Parry took sig­nif­i­cant pride and plea­sure in the sus­pen­sion in bar 16 - the A against the B note on the first beat, which is then re­solved to G. This so­phis­ti­cated use of dis­so­nance through­out the work adds another level of mu­si­cal beauty be­yond the be­guil­ing melody and lyrics alone, and en­sures its en­dur­ing pop­u­lar­ity (whether peo­ple re­alise it or not).

pleas­ingly, I’ve kept the orig­i­nal key (sup­ported by drop D tun­ing), and man­aged to find a way of mak­ing most of the sig­nif­i­cant mu­si­cal lines work for the guitar. I’d like to tell you that the mod­er­ate tempo and fa­mil­iar­ity of the melody makes for an easily played ar­range­ment, but un­for­tu­nately there are some in­escapable tech­ni­cal chal­lenges. These are largely cen­tred around fret­ting-hand stretches and repo­si­tion­ing, so re­fer to the tab cap­tions to help you through the trick­ier pas­sages.

It may take a while to get this ar­range­ment un­der your fin­gers so you can play it with the re­quired flu­ency, but when you bring your au­di­ence to tears with pride, it will all be worth it.

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