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Posted by Steve Baughman
Excerpted from Gospel Songs for Fingerstyle Guitar: Down By the Riverside
The ambiguous nature of the lyrics to “Down by the Riverside” means that this classic traditional song can be interpreted in any number of ways. It can be about meeting Jesus by the river, casting aside the instruments of war, or just meeting your brown-eyed gal down by the riverside.
I have arranged the tune here as a straight alternating-bass piece. As you explore the arrangement, you’ll probably notice the inclusion of a very useful single-string “pinch” technique in measures 3, 8, and 11. The thumb proceeds as though on autopilot (a very important ingredient of most alternating-bass tunes), but the index finger interjects a quick pluck immediately preceding the thumb on the same string. This maneuver can be a bit tricky, but it is a great skill to have when the melody falls on a string that the thumb is about to strike. You can often get away with fudging it, but getting it to emerge clearly and without a rhythmic glitch can provide quite a triumphant feeling!