Four Chord Song (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Four Chord Song

Steve demonstrates how to sing and play the song "BINGO." This song can be harmonized with either four or five chords.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Singing with Guitar seriesLength: 13:10Difficulty: 2.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (00:22) Musical Introduction Steve plays through an up-tempo bluegrass arrangement of the song "BINGO." In this lesson, he teaches you a basic arrangement of the chord progression and melody to this song. Check out Steve's Phase 2 Bluegrass series to learn techniques such as bass walks and advanced strumming patterns. These techniques will enable you to play "BINGO" like Steve demonstrates in this scene.
Chapter 2: (03:47) BINGO-Four Chord Song Steve advances to teach a song that is harmonized by four chords. In the previous lesson, you learned that the three primary triads in a major key are the I, IV, and V chords. These primary triads are once again used to harmonize "BINGO." In addition, the vi minor chord is added to the chord progression. A lower case Roman numeral is used to indicate that a chord is minor or diminished. Outside of the primary triads, the vi minor chord is the most commonly used chord in major key progressions. Steve has chosen to demonstrate this song in the bluegrass key of G major. Relative to this key, the I, IV, V and vi chords are G, C, D, and Em respectively.

Song Lyrics

If you grew up in the American public school system, you most likely already know the lyrics to this song. However, some of our foreign friends might not be familiar with this song.

There was a farmer had a dog,
And Bingo was his name-o.
B-I-N-G-O!
B-I-N-G-O!
B-I-N-G-O!
And Bingo was his name-o!

Increasing the Difficulty

This song is much more difficult to perform in comparison to previous songs taught in this series for several reasons. This song not only adds an additional chord, but the harmonic rhythm is also faster. Harmonic rhythm refers to the rate at which the chords change. In past lessons, the chords typically changed once a measure or once ever couple of measures. This time around, most of the measures feature two chord changes.

Practicing the Song

When you first begin to practice this song, strum only when the chords change. Steve provides a demonstration of this strumming pattern at about 02:00 in the lesson video. You can also refer to the tablature listed under the "Supplemental Content" tab to see how many beats each chord receives.

The beginning of the song features some rapid chord changes. Then, the harmonic rhythm slows down for the remainder of the song. If you find that you are having more difficulty playing through the beginning of the song, isolate this section and drill any difficult chord changes.

The next step to take in practicing this song is strumming along with the melody line during the "B-I-N-G-O" section of the song. Strum the appropriate chord each time a melody note is sung. This rhythm features two quarter notes, then two eighth notes followed by a final quarter note.
Chapter 3: (05:13) A Minor and Five Chord Song This song can either be harmonized with four chords or five chords. Before advancing to the five chord version, make sure that you can play through the song successfully using only four chords.

In the five chord version, the final C major chord in the song is replaced by A minor. In relation to G major, A minor is the ii chord. The ii V I progression and the I VI ii V I are two of the most common chord progressions used in music. The latter progression closes out this song. How does the inclusion of the ii chord affect the overall sound of this progression?

Relative Major and Minor Chords

Every major chord or key has a corresponding relative minor chord or key. E minor is the relative minor chord to G major. The relative minor chord can be found by counting up six steps in the scale from the relative major. By the same principle, A minor is the relative minor chord to C major. Relative chords share two notes in common. For example compare the spelling of the C major and A minor chords.

C: C, E, G
Am: A, C, E

As you can see, both chords contain the notes C and E.

Performance Tips

When this song is performed, each verse is typically played slightly faster than the last. Steve provides a demonstration of this idea at 02:40. Make sure that you do not start the sound out too fast. Otherwise, you will be in over your head by the time you reach the third or fourth verse.

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.


Rodger1Rodger1 replied on December 24th, 2015

It would have been nice to see the board while you're playing.

mclacassemclacasse replied on May 21st, 2011

maybe breaking down the strum pattern would be a great help also

chuckbchuckb replied on September 16th, 2009

Great series Steve, I couldn't get started singing while playing, and this has been a big help. Thanks

shayjpshayjp replied on August 27th, 2009

PS: I changed the laat D chord to a D7, so now I'm up to a 6 chord song. :)

shayjpshayjp replied on August 27th, 2009

Great lesson Steve. It would be great if you could do a whole seires of childrens songs. I would classify my playing as advanced beginner. I feel real comfortable learning and singing childerns songs with my grandchildren. Thanks for all the hard work you put into your lessons.

Singing with Guitar

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Singing and playing the guitar together can add another dimension to your ability as a musician and guitarist. This skill is particularly useful for those who enjoy playing rhythm guitar.



Lesson 1

One Chord Song

Steve Eulberg launches this lesson series by teaching a one chord song. Starting with easy songs allows you to isolate your voice and guitar playing.

Length: 14:12 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Lesson 2

Two Chord Song

Steve advances to a song that features two chords. This time around you will learn "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Length: 17:40 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Three Chord Song

Steve progresses to a three chord song - "This Land Is Your Land." This song features the primary triads in the major tonality.

Length: 14:24 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Four Chord Song

Steve demonstrates how to sing and play the song "BINGO." This song can be harmonized with either four or five chords.

Length: 13:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 5

Increasing the Difficulty

Steve Eulberg ups the ante with a more advanced sing-along lesson. He teaches you how to play and sing the song "Take It Easy" by the Eagles.

Length: 12:07 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 6

Learning Songs

Steve talks about some of his favorite resources for learning and discovering new songs.

Length: 8:36 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Down in the Valley

Steve Eulberg teaches the classic folk song "Down in the Valley."

Length: 17:09 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Sunshine On My Shoulders

Steve Eulberg teaches the John Denver song "Sunshine On My Shoulders" in this Singing with Guitar lesson.

Length: 31:27 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Last Thing on My Mind

Steve Eulberg teaches the essentials of singing and playing the song "Last Thing on My Mind."

Length: 27:39 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 10

How Songs Behave

Steve talks about how songs and tunes behave in this lesson. This information will make basic songs easier to play along with.

Length: 13:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only

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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