Air Fa La La Lo (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

Air Fa La La Lo

In this lesson Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic song entitled "Air Fa La La Lo." This song is heaps of fun to play and sing along with.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Celtic Guitar seriesLength: 26:59Difficulty: 2.5 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:09) Musical Introduction Welcome back to the Phase 2 Celtic Guitar Series with Steve Eulberg! In this scene, Steve provides a brief glimpse into the chord progression of "Air Fa La La Lo."
Chapter 2: (09:54) Air Fa La La Lo Song Lyrics - translated by Hugh Robertson
Melody - traditional

1. There's lilt in the song I sing, there's laughter and love
There's tang o' the sea, and blue from heaven above
Of reason there’s none, and why should there be forbye
With fire in the blood, and toes and light in the eye

Air fa la la lo horo air fa la la lay
Air fa la la lo horo air fa la la lay
Air fa la la lo horo air fa la la lay
Faleefalo horo air fa la la lay

2. The heather’s ablaze, wi bloom the myrtle is sweet
There's song in the air, the road’s a song at our feet
So step it along, as light as the bird on the wing
And stepping along, let us join our voices and sing


3. And whether the blood, be highland or lowland or no
And whether the skin, be white or black as the sloe
Of kith and kin we’re one, be it right be it wrong
If only our hearts beat true, to the lilt o’ the song


Tuning to Drop D

Steve demonstrates this song in drop D tuning. This alternate tuning allows for some fuller sounding voicings that are not available in standard tuning.

1. When tuning to Drop D, first tune your guitar to standard tuning. Within standard tuning, the open strings are tuned as follows:

6th string: E
5th string: A
4th string: D
3rd string: G
2nd string: B
1st string: E

2. Tune the sixth string down to the note D. This step can be accomplished by three different methods. Experiment with all three methods to determine which yields the best results for you. Most guitarists begin with one method. Then, a second method is used to check tuning accuracy.

A. Method 1

Match the pitch of the open sixth string to the open fourth string. Remember that the open fourth string produces the note D.

B. Method 2

Match the pitch of the note played at the 7th fret of the sixth string to the pitch of the open A string.

C. Method 3

Match the harmonic played at the 12th fret of the sixth string to the harmonic played at the same fret of the fourth string. The harmonic at the 12th fret of the fourth string produces the note D. This method tends to yield the best results for most players.

Regardless of which method works best for you, Always tune up to the pitch. The human ear is more accurate when using this approach. Stretch the string out and retune it to give it new memory.


The song is played in the key of D major. Instead of using simple, "open" chord voicings, Steve opts to play more colorful voicings for the I, IV, and V chords. He plays the Dadd9 voicing that he has discussed in previous lessons. For the IV chord, G, he uses the G6 voicing discussed in lesson 2. The same chord shape is used to play the V chord as well. When slid up two frets, an Aadd9 chord is formed. Always remember to analyze the way in which the open strings function in relation to the chord when playing these voicings. For more information on this topic, visit lesson 15 from Brad Henecke's Phase 2 Classic Rock Series.

If you like, you can experiment with other chord voicing options that you know for the I, IV, and V chords in this key. For example, you could use open chord voicings to add some variety to the progression.

Half Cadences

This song ends on the V chord. This is what is called a half cadence. A half cadence produces tension by leaving the listener hanging. Since the final chord is not resolved, the listener is left wanting more.

Song Demonstration

Steve plays through the entire chord progression while singing the melody at 03:28 in the lesson video.

3/4 Time

This song is played in 3/4 time. This signature indicates that there are three quarter notes in each measure. This signature can be a little bit tricky because there is an odd number of beats per measure. The waltz is an example of a common rhythm played in 3/4 time. In a waltz rhythm, the first beat of each measure is accented. This gives the rhythm a steady "oom pah pah" sound.

Triple Meter

A triple meter is a time signature in which the number of beats per measure is divisible by three. Some common examples are 3/4 and 9/8 time.

Potential Difficulties

The chords change much more rapidly compared to previous songs that Steve has taught in this series. They typically change at the beginning of each measure. More chords are used as well. Consequently, this song may seem much more difficult to play at first.

Bass Walks

Some bass walk downs are played in the progression to break the monotony of a constant strumming pattern. A walk down is played between the G and D chords. This walk features a descending stepwise line derived from the D major scale.

A chordal walk-up also occurs between the A and D chords. A G/B chord is played on beat 2. An A7/C# chord creates a half step resolution between the V chord and the root of the tonic D chord in the following measure.

Practice Time

Learn the first 20 bars of the chord progression. Remember to practice them along with the JamPlay metronome. Make sure the metronome is set to three beats per measure. Set it to accent the first beat of each measure. The first beat should be accented in this time feel. Then, return to the lesson video and play this portion along with Steve at 08:08.
Chapter 3: (05:03) Chord Considerations and More of the Song Em in Drop D Tuning

When playing in drop D tuning, an "open" Em chord can be fingered a few different ways. Most players prefer to play it with fingers 2, 3, and 4 on the bass strings. However, some find it more comfortable to play the low root note at the 2nd fret with the thumb. Spend a significant amount of time using both fingerings to determine which option feels most comfortable for you.

Measure 21

The next phrase of the song begins in measure 21. This phrase may throw you off at first when playing the entire song since it begins with the V chord instead of tonic.

Measure 26

A surprise chord is used in measure 26. An E major chord is used instead of the Em chord. It is fairly common to use a major II chord as a secondary dominant chord leading to the V chord.

Practice / Play Along

Pause the lesson video and practice measure 21 through the end. When you feel ready, return to the lesson video and play this section along with Steve at 02:50.

Play the progression in its entirety with Steve at 03:10. The first time through, he calls out the chord changes to help keep you on track. The next time through, he sings the melody line. This will force you to keep track of all of the chord changes on your own. Make sure that you memorize the song form! This will help you remember where the chord changes occur. Also, learning the melody will give your ear a helpful cue of when the chords change.

Before you advance to the next scene, make sure that you have mastered all of the chord progression to the chorus section. Remember to practice at a variety of tempos. Celtic performers typically interpret songs in a wide variety of tempos. For additional practice, try playing through the progression using voicings in standard tuning.
Chapter 4: (05:46) Melodic Break Songs that feature the same melody for the verse and the chorus can get quite monotonous. For this reason, you must get creative with the overall arrangement of the song. Steve chooses to add an instrumental break to the song to add some variety. The lack of lyrics and the difference in timbre between the voice and the guitar during this break adds enough variety to keep the song interesting.

Learning the Melody

Learn the melody one phrase at a time. If you memorize the lyrics or syllables, you will have an easier time learning and memorizing the melody line. Remember that combining various brain functions will enable you to learn anything in the most effective manner.

Left Hand Position

Similar to the past several songs he has taught, Steve plays the melody to this song in second position. This is due to the fact that the key of D major features F# and C# notes. These notes are played at the 2nd and 4th frets. It is most comfortable to play these notes with the 1st and 3rd fingers rather than the 2nd and 4th fingers, which must be used when playing in first position. Once again, he uses open string notes whenever possible to give the song a more authentic Celtic sound. However, he plays a B note at the 4th fret in measure 18. The sound of a fretted note works slightly better here since all of the notes in this measure can now be played on the same string.

Right Hand

Most of the melody is played with downstrokes. Steve uses alternate picking for groups of 2 or more eighth notes.

Practice / Play Along

Steve provides an example of the entire melody at 04:08. Listen to this performance several times before you begin to practice the whole melody on your own. You can also practice your accompaniment skills during this play along example by playing the chord progression. When you have mastered the melody and can play it along with a metronome, return to the lesson video and play it along with Steve.
Chapter 5: (06:07) Finishing the Song and Final Thoughts Full Song Performance

In this scene, Steve performs the song as recorded on his album Soaring. Click here to purchase it from Steve's website.
Pay careful attention to the form of the song. Notice how the end of the song totally leaves you hanging and wanting more. This will set you up very nicely for the next song in your set or recording.

Verse 1
Verse 2
Instrumental melodic break
3rd Verse

Video Subtitles / Captions


Supplemental Learning Material



Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.

Hunter15Hunter15 replied

Great lesson!

joe faulisejoe faulise replied

tapping out cant stumm a single song of this love the melodies thought

rikkirikki replied

Love the song and the lesson. Will try and perfect for the Christmas gathering in Glasgow, so all the family can join in.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied

Thanks for the feedback, Owen. They are in the pipeline! Steve

owenthomasowenthomas replied

That's a great lesson and song. More of the same tradition would be great!

Celtic Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Celtic music is a rich, diverse style filled with hundreds of years of culture and beauty. This style of guitar attempts to capture the rich cultural heritage of the music and transfer it into the world of guitar. From reels to jigs to horn pipes, Steve will get you well on your way.

Introduction to Celtic GuitarLesson 1

Introduction to Celtic Guitar

Steve Eulberg introduces Celtic guitar in this lesson. He will talk about the history of the music and cover some basics such as rhythm and timing.

Length: 16:11 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Rakes of MallowLesson 2

The Rakes of Mallow

Steve Eulberg talks more about the reel rhythm and teaches "The Rakes of Mallow" as a demonstration.

Length: 39:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Irish WasherwomanLesson 3

Irish Washerwoman

In this lesson, Steve Eulberg ventures into the exciting world of the double jig. As a demonstration, he teaches a song entitled "Irish Washerwoman."

Length: 27:13 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
The Road to LisdoonvarnaLesson 4

The Road to Lisdoonvarna

In this lesson Steve Eulberg talks about the single jig style of playing and teaches the song "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" as an example.

Length: 29:23 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Air Fa La La LoLesson 5

Air Fa La La Lo

In this lesson Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic song entitled "Air Fa La La Lo." This song is heaps of fun to play and sing along with.

Length: 26:59 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
O Waly, WalyLesson 6

O Waly, Waly

Steve Eulberg teaches a hauntingly beautiful Celtic song called "O Waly, Waly" in this lesson.

Length: 19:01 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Rickett's HornpipeLesson 7

Rickett's Hornpipe

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic piece entitled "Rickett's Hornpipe."

Length: 24:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Another Jig Will DoLesson 8

Another Jig Will Do

Steve takes you into the world of slip jigs using the song "Another Jig Will Do" as an example.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
The Lilting BansheeLesson 9

The Lilting Banshee

Steve explains and demonstrates the double jig. He uses "The Lilting Banshee" as an example.

Length: 34:26 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Celtic Guitar ResourcesLesson 10

Celtic Guitar Resources

Steve talks about some great resources for learning Celtic songs and lyrics.

Length: 12:47 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
O'Keefe's SlideLesson 11

O'Keefe's Slide

In this lesson, Steve teaches the Celtic tune "O'Keefe's Slide."

Length: 27:47 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Rocky Road to Dublin 1Lesson 12

Rocky Road to Dublin 1

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic Celtic tuned titled "Rock Road to Dublin 1."

Length: 32:58 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Rose Garden ReelLesson 13

The Rose Garden Reel

Steve teaches a great Celtic tune called "The Rose Garden Reel."

Length: 19:02 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
O'Keefe's Slide Part 2Lesson 14

O'Keefe's Slide Part 2

Steve Eulberg presents his second installment of "O'Keefe's Slide." Here he demonstrates melodic embellishments known as ornaments. Steve explains two new ornaments that can be incorporated into the melody....

Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
O'Keefe's Slide Part 3, The Final OrnamentsLesson 15

O'Keefe's Slide Part 3, The Final Ornaments

Steve completes "O'Keefe's Slide" by demonstrating the final ornaments. Studying this lesson will leave you with a better knowledge of how to add ornaments to a Celtic style song.

Length: 25:17 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Kesh JigLesson 16

Kesh Jig

Steve Eulberg teaches a Celtic song entitled "Kesh Jig." Here Steve provides a demonstration of both the rhythm and melody parts. The song is presented in standard tuning as well as open G tuning.

Length: 20:03 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Open G Tuning - Celtic ApplicationLesson 17

Open G Tuning - Celtic Application

Steve Eulberg breaks down open G tuning and demonstrates how it it can be used in Celtic music.

Length: 11:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Kesh Jig in Open G TuningLesson 18

Kesh Jig in Open G Tuning

Steve revisits the Celtic tune "Kesh Jig" now that he has covered open G tuning. Working in conjunction with lessons 16 and 17, this lesson explains how the tune can be played by a multiple guitar ensemble....

Length: 21:56 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Swallow Tail JigLesson 19

Swallow Tail Jig

Steve teaches an old Celtic song entitled "Swallow Tail Jig." Here you will learn the chord progressions that harmonize the A and B sections of the melody.

Length: 13:24 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
After the Battle of AughrimLesson 20

After the Battle of Aughrim

Steve presents a lesson on an old Irish song called "After the Battle of Aughrim." In this lesson you will learn the chord progression and three different ways to play the melody.

Length: 25:23 Difficulty: 4.0 Members Only
Scottish Strathspey - BrachanlomLesson 21

Scottish Strathspey - Brachanlom

How does a pocket full of nickels and dimes help teach you an old Scottish song? Find out how in this lesson on the strathspey "Brachanlom."

Length: 22:01 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
The Wind That Shakes the BarleyLesson 22

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

Steve presents another great Celtic guitar lesson. He covers "The Wind That Shakes the Barley." Enjoy!

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Reluctant Bus BoyLesson 23

Reluctant Bus Boy

Welcome to this unique Celtic song lesson entitled "Reluctant Bus Boy!" This song was written by Steve Eulberg himself and was inspired by his son.

Length: 16:55 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Steve Eulberg

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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