One of the best ways to get good at playing piano is to look for easy songs to learn on piano to learn and play. Many traditional folk songs fall into this category. These types of songs usually feature a simple melody that can be played against easy chords. One such song is the traditional English ballad “Scarborough Fair”. This song is the tale of a young man who instructs the subject of the song to request his former lover to perform impossible tasks and that if she can perform these tasks he will take her back. The melody is typical of the middle age English period.
Over time, many theories have been proposed about the plot of the song. Some say it was set in the time of the Great Plague of the Middle Ages. That the song is about the Yorkshire town of Scarborough seems obvious, although the worlds “Scarborough Fair” seem to associate with an obscure Scottish ballad which can be traced back at least as far back as 1670.
There have been several commercial recordings of this song, most popularly the 1968 single by Simon and Garfunkel which was released as a 7″ single. Their song performed very well in the charts, breaking into the top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
Here is a shortened version of the sheet music of Scarborough Fair. It should be sufficient to practice with, but you may wish to track down the full sheet music if you’d like to play the whole song in its entirety.
The chords and melody are fairly straight forward here. Note that this version of the song is in the key of F major or D minor. So the note “B” is flattened. This song is a good one for practicing loudness as there are crescendos (denoted by left pointing “arrow”) and diminuendos (denoted by right pointing “arrow”). If you are not familiar with these in sheet music they depict a gradual increase and decrease in the music respectively. Also take note of the dynamics denoted by “p”, which stands for piano meaning soft and “pp” which stands for “pianissimo” and means very soft.
If dynamics are a bit too tricky for you at the moment, then don’t worry too much about them, just practice the chords and melody for now.