Watch the Breton March online guitar lesson by Tony McManus from The Celtic Journeyman

There was a short and sweet Breton tune I learned from the fiddler Christian Lemaitre with whom I toured in the US some years ago

Breton tunes tend to be very short and repetitive- they come in bite sized pieces. Like here- the first phrase is repeated almost ad nauseam and that’s the A part of the tune. I’m capoed up 3 frets simply for clarity. I think the tune sits well here.

The phrase is played over a D chord and then lands on the 5 chord which is simply the open fifth, open second and then the melody note which is on the top string fret two.

I start with a pull off where the leading note is shrunk to microscopic length and the same with the mordant and the end of the A. Review those from section 1.

The B part is a little trickier. Let’s tease out the melody. I hear it go to the 4 chord and to fill it in I add an F# in the arpeggio (string 4 fret 4) and then, a tricky thing, the thumb plays an F# fret 4 on the bottom string. You may find a different way of playing that bass note. Then the tune goes to the 6 minor with the bass note on the bottom string....again, tricky! Then the open string allows us to get back to first position to end the part.

So, the B part ends on the 5 chord but the repeat resolves back to the D major. Now, when I play the repeat of the B, instead of the 4 chord I play a 2 minor. It changes the flavour of the tune and as it’s kind of repetitive it’s a useful device to vary the chords.

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