Ding Dong Merrily On High: Mastering Christmas Carols on the Piano and Keyboard


Check out our complete series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard.
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Another popular carol in our series on mastering Christmas Carols on Piano and Keyboard is “Ding Dong Merrily On High”.

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Introduction

Here, Ding Dong Merrily On High is written and played in the key of F Major, and has a 4/4 time signature.

F major makes the higher notes more comfortable to sing, but you could transpose up (or indeed down) if needed.

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Main Melody

Hum through the melody and you’ll notice several things:

  • The first four bars are repeated note for note in bars 5-8.
  • Bars 9-13 feature the same phrasing in the melody line, but gradually descending. This is useful to remember when playing at speed.

The melody notes you need to play are:

F F G F E D | C – – C | D F F E | F – F – |
F F G F E D | C – – C | D F F E | F – F – |
C Bb A Bb C A | Bb A G A Bb G |
A G F G A F | G F E F G E |
F E D E F D | E D C C |
D F F E | F – F – |

Here’s the complete melody written out:

Ding Dong Merrily On High melody score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Fingering

The first eight bars can be played by the right hand in a fixed position, starting with the fourth (ring) finger.

Start bar 9 on the little (fifth) finger and play naturally until the end of bar 11, where you’ll finish on the thumb.

If you can smoothly play the G at the start of bar 12 by scrunching your hand up then you’ll be able to play the rest of the piece without moving again.

Alternatively, use your third (middle) or fourth (ring) finger, but bear in mind you’ll need to move your hand again later on.

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Single Note Bass Line

Below is a simple bass line for the carol using just one note at a time. Most of the bass notes are minims (half notes) so you play two evenly in each bar – one on beat 1 and the other on beat 3. The exception to this is in bars 2 and 6, which feature a dotted minim (half note) and a crotchet (quarter note). This means you play the first note on beat 1 and the second note on beat 4.

Here’s the printed music:

Ding Dong Merrily On High Bass Score

(Download this as a PDF file)

Continued below...

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Ding Dong Merrily on High: More elaborate bass line

This bass line varies a little from the previous example. It features more crotchets (quarter notes) to give more of a “walking” feel to the piece. Bars 2 and 6 still feature the dotted half note and quarter note, while bars 4 and 8 feature two half notes.

Here’s the printed music:

Ding Dong Merrily On High walking bass score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Adding harmony and fullness with chords

In the final version of Ding Dong Merrily on High, I’ve added two- and three-note chords to the right hand, always with the melody note as the highest note. The bass line has also been slightly altered to fit with the harmonies.

In particular, pay attention to the chord and bass note in the 3rd beat of bar 13. It’s a G major chord with a B natural in the bass. Be sure not to play the B flats as you would at any other place in the music.

Here’s the printed music.

Ding Dong Merrily On High chords score

(Download this as a PDF file)

And here’s what it sounds like:

Listen

Ding Dong Merrily on High: Lyrics

Ding dong merrily on high,
In heav’n the bells are ringing:
Ding dong! verily the sky
Is riv’n with angel singing.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

E’en so here below, below,
Let steeple bells be swungen,
And “Io, io, io!”
By priest and people sungen.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

Pray you, dutifully prime
Your matin chime, ye ringers;
May you beautifully rime
Your evetime song, ye singers.
Gloria, Hosanna in excelsis!

We hope you found this guide useful. Feel free to leave comments below if you have any questions or suggestions.