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O Waly, Waly (Guitar Lesson)

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Steve Eulberg

O Waly, Waly

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

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Celtic Guitar seriesLength: 19:01Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (01:13) Introduction Music Sit back and enjoy Steve's performance of "O Waly, Waly." He plays the guitar intro and the first verse of the song. In the scenes that follow, Steve will teach the melody and chords to this Celtic classic. He will also explain how to combine the melody and chords within a fingerstyle arrangement.
Chapter 2: (06:55) Learning O Waly, Waly "O Waly, Waly" also known as "The Water Is Wide" is a Scottish folk song that may have English origins in the 1600s.


O Waly, waly, (a lament) up the bank,
And waly, waly, doun the brae (hill),
And waly, waly, yon burn-side (riverside),
Where I and my Love wont to gae (go)!
I lean'd my back unto an aik (oak),
I thocht it was a trustie tree;
But first it bow'd and syne (soon) it brak (broke)—
Sae my true love did lichtlie (lightly) me.

O waly, waly, gin love be bonnie (beautiful), A little time while it is new! But when 'tis auld (old) it waxeth cauld (cold), And fades awa' like morning dew. O wherefore should I busk my heid (adorn my head), Or wherefore should I kame (comb) my hair? For my true Love has me forsook, And says he'll never lo'e me mair (more).
Now Arthur's Seat
Sall (shall) be my bed (burial place),
The sheets sall ne'er be 'filed by me;
Saint Anton's well sall be my drink;
Since my true Love has forsaken me.
Marti'mas wind, when wilt thou blaw (blow),
And shake the green leaves aff the tree?
O gentle Death, when wilt thou come?
For of my life I am wearìe.

'Tis not the frost, that freezes fell,
Nor blawing snaw's (snow) inclemencie,
'Tis not sic cauld (such cold) that makes me cry;
But my Love's heart grown cauld to me.
When we cam in by Glasgow toun,
We were a comely sicht (sight) to see;
My Love was clad in the black velvèt,
And I mysel in cramasie (crimson).

But had I wist (known), before I kist (died),
That love had been sae ill to win,
I had lock'd my heart in a case o' gowd (gold),
And pinn'd it wi' a siller (silver) pin.
And O! if my young babe were born,:
And set upon the nurse's knee;
And I mysel were dead and gane,
And the green grass growing over me!

Alternate Lyrics

The water is wide, I cannot cross o'er,
But Neither have I the wings to fly.
Give me a boat, that can carry two,
And both shall row, my love and I.

I leaned my back up againgst an oak
I thought it was a trusty tree
but first it bend and then it broke
And so my love did un to me.

A ship there is and she sails the sea,
She's loaded deep as deep can be,
But not so deep as the love I'm in
I know not if I sink or swim.

O love is handsome and love is fine
And love's a jewel when it is new
but love grows old and waxes cold
And fades away like morning dew.

Steve usually elects to plays this arrangement with his fingers. He plays with Fred Kelly freedom picks on his index, middle, and ring fingers. He uses an Alaskapik on his thumb.

The Alaskapik

Fred Kelly Picks

When trying these picks, you will have to experiment with various sizes, shapes, and models of picks to find which works the best for you.

If you do not use these picks, you will probably want to play with a slight nail. Refer to the following lessons for nail shaping tips.

Danny Voris - Phase 2 Classical Lesson #2
Jim Deeming - Phase 2 Fingerstyle Lesson #1


Steve's fingerstyle arrangement of "O Waly, Waly" is played in drop D tuning. If necessary, review the tuning guidelines listed below.

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.

Right Hand

For this arrangement, Steve follows the basic fingerstyle guidelines that he has discussed in countless fingerstyle lessons. Check out Steve's Fingerstyle series in conjunction with these lessons. Many of the materials from this series will also overlap with the Celtic series. You may find some information in the Fingerstyle set that will help you with Celtic concepts that you are struggling with.

Use the thumb to pluck any notes on the three bass strings. The index finger plays notes on the third string. The middle finger is used for second string notes. Finally, the third finger plays the first string. When scalar passages consisting of eighth notes or faster rhythms are played on a single string, alternate between the two most practical fingers.


This song is played in the key of D major. The progression features the I, IV, and V chords plus a few additional chords.

D Chord Voicings

Note: Fretboard diagrams with proper left hand fingerings to all of the chords discussed in this lesson can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

At this point in the series, Steve has discussed several viable chord options for D major.


This chord utilizes a portion of a C shaped major chord plus some open strings (6, 5, and 1).

Open D Major Chord

Play the basic "open" D major chord shape with the inclusion of the open fifth and sixth strings.

This chord is based on the visual shape of the "open" C major chord. You can play the root on the fifth string with the third finger or you can play the fifth string open. When tuned to drop D, the open sixth string can be played as the root note.

G Chord Options

G Major

The basic "open" G major chord must be re-fingered when played in drop D tuning.


A movable G major chord shape played on the lowest four strings is combined with the open first and second strings.

G major

This new voicing for G major features a unison played with the note B on the second and third strings.

F#m Barre Chord

This barre chord must be fingered differently in drop D. Use fingers two, three, and four at the fourth fret on the bass strings. Use the first finger to barre the first, second, and third strings at the 2nd fret.

In this scene, Steve demonstrates how these chords can be used to create a fingerstyle accompaniment part that works great when supporting a vocal line. The melody is not included in this guitar accompaniment.
Chapter 3: (03:35) The Right Hand Guitar Break

"O Waly, Waly" is a ballad style song with several verses. Sometimes, the "O Waly, Waly" section of the lyrics is used as a repeated refrain or a chorus. Hearing this vocal line over and over again can get quite monotonous. To add some variety, you can incorporate the melody line into the accompaniment part to create an instrumental solo guitar break.

Right Hand Pattern

Basically, Steve improvises an arpeggiation of each chord. The transcription provided under the "Supplemental Content" tab provides just one sample of how the progression can be arpeggiated. Play arpeggios that are most conducive to supporting the melody line. A bass note must always be played on the downbeat of each measure. Otherwise, the accompaniment will sound quite strange. Notice how Steve varies the arpeggio pattern that he plays for each chord. This prevents the accompaniment from sounding boring and mechanical. He keeps a steady eighth note pulse going most of the time. Occasionally he will hold a note for a quarter note to let the accompaniment breath.

To make the accompaniment more interesting, Steve includes several scalar bass segments between chords. This implies the presence of a bass line.
Chapter 4: (04:22) The Melodic Line Steve demonstrates how to incorporate the melody into the accompaniment pattern in this scene. Now that the melody is included, you have less room to improvise. The melody and bass walks must always be played the same way. You must also play the low root note on the downbeat of each measure. Feel free to improvise various arpeggio notes around these two features of the arrangement.

Learning the Melody

Standard notation and tablature to the melody line by itself can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab. You can also view notation / tabs to the solo arrangement. This provides one way of incorporating the melody within an improvised arpeggio pattern.

Learn the melody a phrase at a time. Remember that it is always easier to learn something new when you break it down into smaller chunks. Learn the melody by itself before you try to incorporate it into the accompaniment. When playing a melody within an improvised accompaniment, you absolutely must have the melody line memorized. Otherwise, your brain will have too many tasks to juggle at the same time.

Once you have the melody memorized, begin to incorporate it into the improvised accompaniment. Throughout this scene, Steve provides you with an opportunity to play each of the phrases along with him. This is excellent practice for improving your rhythm and ability to play with other musicians.

Octave displacement

In order to use a Bm barre chord voicing within the accompaniment, Steve shifts the D note in the melody up an octave. It is not vary practical to play an open D string note with some sort of Bm voicing. This occurs in measure 6. The melody returns to the lower octave in the following measure.

Measures 4-5

The melody is played out of the open D chord shape in these measures. Notice how a scalar bass movement is played on beats 3 and 4 of measure five to create an effective transition to the Bm chord in the next measure.

Playing Fingerstyle Arrangements

Always pay careful attention to where the melody line is played within each chord. Remember that the melody is always sacred. It should be heard as the focal point of the arrangement at all times. The accompaniment should be played at a slightly lower volume.
Chapter 5: (02:56) Song Demonstration Steve sings and plays through a few verses and choruses of "O Waly, Waly" in this scene. You can either practice the accompaniment with him, just the melody, or you can play the fingerstyle arrangement that incorporates both of them. If you are so inclined, feel free to sing along as well.

Form of the Performance

Verse 1
O Waly O waly verse / chorus
Verse 2
Instrumental Guitar Break

All of the guitar parts as well as the lyrics to the song can be found under the "Supplemental Content" tab.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

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

jonisenjonisen replied

Steve do you teach any Dougie McLean songs? Caledonia?

palicopalico replied

The song demo on scene five is a different Arrangement than supplemental. supplemental from the F#m is F#m G D Bm G A G D Scene five is F#m G D G A G D I really enjoyed this lesson it taught me to think about drop D differently but need to make sure to stay consistent.

rdacanrdacan replied

None of the lesson videos are working !!! Rest of the site/pages seem fine.

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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