The Book



When I was a small boy growing up in England, my Sunday afternoons were always spent at my grandparents’ house, watching afternoon television on their miniscule black and white Bush set. We enjoyed favourite shows like
Pinky and Perky, and the Black and White Minstrels, whilst toasting bread in front of the coal fire ready to be liberally spread with dripping from the Sunday roast, in an age long before the words saturated fat were ever heard.

On special occasions we would all retire to the front room (or parlour), where pride of place was afforded to a huge HMV gramophone. This magnificent machine was the size of a small sideboard, housed a felt-topped, wind-up turntable, and had a door at the front which slid back to reveal the sound horn. Two side doors opened to show my grandparents’ small collection of 78 r.p.m. records: Brittle, 10 inch reminders of the heyday of Music Hall. These peculiar smelling discs with wonderful titles such as
Champagne Charlie, Burlington Bertie and Yes! We Have No Bananas, were placed with reverence upon the turntable; the mechanism cranked up; and a fresh needle set in the groove ready to unlock the scratchy reminders of a bygone era. Those were indeed

magical memories for me, and the melodies will remain with me forever.

Whilst contemplating a theme for my next book, I could think of no better material than those Music Hall favourites, especially for musicians of a certain age. Obviously they were written for a piano accompaniment, and naturally were largely arranged in the guitarists’ beloved keys of B flat, E flat, and A flat. However, I armed myself with as many original piano scores as I could, and began the laborious task of analysing the arrangements. A definite pattern began to emerge, with a liberal spread of accidentals (notes outside of the given key), and frequent use of diminished and augmented chords which give the music hall songs their unique quality. In fact the complexity of the compositions was quite surprising and such “throw-away” numbers as
I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside and “Ship Ahoy” proved to be two of the most complicated arrangements I have ever encountered in popular music.

Is it for you?
Although the arrangements are complex, they are not that difficult to play. Once your fingers get used to the new chord shapes, you will find that they are repeated over and again throughout

the book. As before, my philosophy is not to dumb down the arrangement, but to develop it in a way that will challenge the player and encourage him / her to push the boundaries of their playing skills and musical appreciation. Having said that, I have made every attempt to make each score as easy to play as possible. There is nothing to be gained by creating a showboat arrangement that only a gifted few will be able to play.

Gateway to Jazz
These are lovely tunes to play, and once you get a feel for the chord progressions, they will spur you on to fill in the gaps and further extemporise until you really feel that you are inside the music. You might be inspired to take little side roads off the central arrangement and develop your own themes. Because the majority of these arrangements are in C or G - the keys that most of us guitarists begin with - you might be surprised at how easily you can find little riffs to connect sections of the main melody. Perhaps there is a budding Martin Taylor, or Doyle Dykes inside you, just waiting to be let out. I have appended the lyrics to the end of the book.

A final warning: Playing Music Hall songs is completely and utterly addictive!