Playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with Fingerstyle Patterns

Playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star with Fingerstyle Patterns

Published on Sep 20, 2023

This guide talks about creating fingerstyle arrangements for Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, in any position of the fretboard, and in any key.

It relies on:

  1. Taking derivatives of the melody to find all the notes
  2. The physical features/convenience of playing the melody on a single-string.

To help illustrate the process, this guide will take the reader through 3 keys & 4 positions.

  • Key of A: melody up-and-down the G-string
  • Key of A: melody up-and-down the B-string
  • Key of A: melody up-and-down the 5th-string
  • Key of B: melody up-and-down the G-string
  • Key of F: melody up-and-down the high E-string
  • Conclusion

Key of A on the G-string

This is the A-major scale all along the fretboard.

This is the note priority, on the scale of being strongly suggestive of the underlying key

  1. Black/root tones
  2. Red/chord tones
  3. Blue/scale tones
  4. Transparent/chromatic tones
(Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody within the A-major scale off of the 3rd string)

This all hopes to also follow the adage of letting the melody guide the way. This is the melody up-and-down the G-string in the key of A

Note: could take time to load MIDI-tablature...

Next, re-examining the scale diagram for A-major (above) the open-A-string is a good note to add, because it's a 'high-priority' root tone.

You can actually use your ear, and only use the melody to derive a chord progression. This is one possible & common chord progression for the melody notes.. then, according to those chords, the bassline can become a bit more 'evolved' and detailed by changing based on the chord in the moment.

Next, you can keep the process going, finding notes within the 'universe' of available notes in the scale diagram, and ensuring that they physically can be fretted alongside the melody notes.. it's as-if the new notes are planets orbiting the 'sun' of the melody-notes.

Here is another variation, trying out a different note interval

And here's yet another interval which is nearby

Now, adding the open-2nd-string, which is within the 'universe' of notes of the all-knowing scale-diagram, you can see how playing the melody 'horizontally' up-and-down the fretboard, with orbiting notes, allow you to keep a repetitive picking pattern in the picking hand, which is really nice for the convenience, since you don't have to 'think' so hard about the picking

Another variation, swapping out the 2nd-string for the 1st-string

If you want to keep the same notes, but change the rhythm of the picking pattern, this could be one way

Same new rhythm, but again swapping in the 1st-string for the 2nd-string

Now, you'll recall a few scrolls above where the bassline was more 'detailed' in outlining the specific chord progression underneath, not just marking out the key of A root. Incorporating both the treble & the bass, it starts to take more shape,

Now again the interval on the 4th-string can be changed, but still keeping the changing bassline

Key of A on the 2nd-string

Now imagine you're in the key of A still, but you'd like to freely play on the 2nd-string instead.. how could the fingerstyle arrangement change, and where will the notes come from?

It starts from the same place as before, the melody — and then deriving the "orbiting" notes from the melody.. melody -> chords -> scale -> arrangement notes

True, it's a new position, but the key is the same as before, so using that same A-major-scale fret diagram, and since this is the 2nd example, things will quicken... here's the melody up-and-down the B-string, with 2 orbiting notes already

To add in the G-string, you can play fretted notes that move up-and-down with the melody

Then, as before, you can add more detail to the bass-line by changing its notes with the chord progression that you use

Key of A on the 5th-string

Keeping the key still in A, but changing the melody-string to the 5th string, the process is still the same. First, start with the melody on the string of choice, the 5th string, and then, knowing from the melody that the key is A, you can build out a chord progression (the process of which isn't discussed here.. it's skipped!), and then choosing a scale for each chord, finally followed by building out the fingerstyle arrangement

And now here is a weird arrangement that you can make for this

Key of B on the 3rd-string

These are the notes for the melody & the key of B-major scale.

(Twinkle Twinkle Little Star melody on the G-string, with B-major scale notes colored-in)

Here is the melody played against the 2nd-string-open root tone

Next, you can include notes on the 1st-string that move alongside, up-and-down the melody notes on the 3rd-string

Key of F on the high-E string

The melody, played here, indicates that the key is F, and a 'consonant' scale that can work underneath is once again the F-major scale

Here are the melody notes circled

(Twinkle Twinkle Little Star in the key of F, with the F-major scale notes colored-in)

Alongside the melody notes, once possibility is playing the movable-octaves alongside up-and-down the 4th string

Another interval that moves up-and-down with the melody is here on the 3rd string


By starting with the (a) melody, you can (b) imagine a chord progression, then (c) match-up 'consonant' scales/complementary notes, and (d) build a fingerstyle arrangement anywhere on the fretboard. Also, by playing the melody up-and-down a single-string, it happens to help with making picking patterns able to stay constant & more physically convenient, while still sounding 'interesting' and worth listening to. Also, it opens up lots of possibilities of where/how to play the melody that are probably unique, and it's 'scaleable' to other melodies.

MuseScore tablature

Crossroad Blues
Robert Johnson