Mike Daly on New Arrangements of Christmas Songs

Today’s newsletter comes to you a day earlier because of Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping you have plenty to be thankful for.

We are lucky enough to have Mike Daly once again write a newsletter for us. It’s great getting the insights from a great steel player with a high profile job such as Mike has with Hank Jr. Mike will also be out on a short Christmas tour with Travis Tritt starting the weekend after Thanksgiving.

So from here on out, it’s Mike Daly.

Here it is closing in on the Christmas season. Time to dust off your favorite Yuletide steel guitar licks, or is it?

Some players have a difficult time injecting their own thoughts and licks into preconceived music on the steel, the question being, when do you copy completely somebody’s approach and style to a song as to do the song and the original player justice and when to interject your own preferences and playing style into the mix.

The holidays bring a special opportunity for you, the steel player, to experiment and expand your own voicing’s and style to a whole genre of music.

The Christmas season has inspired some of the most beautiful and enduring music ever written. For centuries, some of these songs have continued to uplift and inspire people of all walks of life and musical heritage. The songs themselves are etched in most folks consciousness.

The beauty of trying to work up a Christmas tune is that they have been recorded in so many different styles and approaches that there is no definitive way to play these songs. From choral groups to Mannheim Steamroller to symphony orchestras, these songs remain vibrant and uplifting no matter how they are arranged.

So the challenge for you as a steel player is to find some tunes you enjoy and work at it until you find the arrangement that fits the song and showcases your individual approach and strengths on the steel. For some that might be a jazz approach to “Silent Night”. To others it might be a West Coast Bakersfield arrangement of “Joy To The World”.

Whatever you work on, the payoff is that when you are done with your arrangement it is truly yours, a one of a kind piece of music that you can share with others for years to come and help spread the good cheer of Christmas.

I think more players should be thinking in these terms, advancing their own style. I think that’s the reason six string guitar playing has had such an impact is that so many players allowed themselves to stretch their imagination, players like Chet Atkins, Jimmy Page, Wes Montgomery and Angus Young.

I’ve enjoyed experimenting with Christmas tunes and put out a CD called “Peace On Earth” in which I took great liberties to make the songs my own. You can order a copy from Bobbe.

It’s at the bottom of the page: www.steelguitar.net/cds.html

Many thanks to Mike Daly for this newsletter. We will be closed Friday, so we’ve put the Christmas Specials out early at www.steelguitar.net/christmasspecials.html

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Steel Guitar Nashville
123 Mid Town Court
Hendersonville, TN. 37075
(615) 822-5555
Open 9AM – 4PM Monday – Friday
Closed Saturday and Sunday

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