21 May 2010

Two-Chord Song Lesson - Hush Little Baby

This easy beginner lesson shows you how to play Hush Little Baby with only two guitar chords. Hush Little Baby is a traditional lullaby in question and answer format. It is thought to have its origins in America because Mockingbirds are found on the American continent but its author and date are not known.

The song has a simple two-chord structure and is easy to learn and play. In this lesson you'll learn the chords and a simple strum pattern to play the song in the key of C major. The lesson ends with tips on making your performance a little more polished once you've mastered the basics.

Chords Used In The Song

This two-chord song in C major uses the I and V chords shown in the diagrams below.

If you find these chords too hard to play you can use simpler versions. For the C chord use your first finger to press only the 1st fret 2nd string. For the G chord use your third finger to press only the 3rd fret 1st string. Strum only the bottom three strings for both chords.

Strum Pattern

This two-chord song sounds nice with a simple down and up strumming pattern. You strum down and up on each beat of the bar counting 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & as you go.

Each chord shown with the words below lasts one bar - four down and up strums. Strum one bar of C at the beginning and then two bars of each chord through to the end of the song where you again play the C for only one bar.

The Song

Here are the words and chords to the song for you to sing and play along with.

C               G
Hush little baby don't you say a word
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a mockingbird
    C             G
And if that mockingbird don't sing
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a diamond ring
    C              G
And if that diamond ring is brass
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a looking glass
    C              G
And if that looking glass is broke
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a billy goat
    C                 G
And if that billy goat won't pull
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a cart and bull
    C                G
And if that cart and bull fall over
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover
    C               G
And if that dog named Rover won't bark
G                     C
Poppa's gonna buy you a horse and cart
    C               G
And if that horse and cart fall down
G                                 C
You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town

Performance Tips

To embellish the song with a little extra polish here are a couple of tips. When you've mastered the basic version why not give them a try.

Arpeggio ending. You can create a nice ending effect by using an arpeggio pattern for the last two chords. When you reach the G chord on "cart fall down" at the line before the last strum it only once and let it ring as you sing.

On the next line pick the strings of the G chord one by one from the top to the bottom as you sing "You'll still be the sweetest". Do the same on the C chord that follows picking down from the fifth to the first string slowly.

G7 chord. You can test your chord skills by replacing the G major chord with a G seventh chord. Seventh chords are often used as V chords in songs and give a jazzy sound. Here's the fingering to use for the G7 chord.


Hush Little Baby is an easy two chord song that makes an ideal challenge for beginner guitar players. Practice the chord changes and the strum pattern and then put the two together to play this popular song.

A Two-Chord Songbook showing how to play this song and other easy two-chord songs is coming soon. Sign-up to the Not Playing Guitar feed by email or your RSS reader to learn more.


Peter Patton said...

As the proud parent of a toddler, I think it is great to see lessons like this showing a parent how they can learn guitar (or maybe even teach a young child) with a song they can learn and even use.

Using songs, such as this one, can be useful in getting a child interested in playing the guitar as well. I pulled out my guitar the other day and was playing Itsy Bitsy Spider and the ABC song. My son had fun singing along with me. Later, I asked him if he would be interested in learning to play the guitar, and he said he would.

Thanks for showing me a song I hadn't thought of learning yet!

Gary Fletcher said...

Hi Peter, Glad you enjoyed the lesson. I've found little songs like this are a great way to entertain your kids, and get them interested in making music.

Subscribe in a reader

Not Playing Guitar

All content copyright (c) 2007-2018, Gary Fletcher. All rights reserved.