How to Play the Chords of 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' on Guitar

Learning to Play Children's Songs on the Guitar

You have to begin somewhere.
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The chords you need to play the traditional children's song "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep" are basic. All you need to know are three chords: C major, F major, and G major. 

Master this song, and it will be easier for you to play many other children's songs and their chords.

'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' Chords

A few words have changed over the years, but the nursery rhyme has remained basically the same since it was paired with a version of the melody from the French children's song "Ah! vous dirai-je, maman."

C
Baa, baa, black sheep,
F            C
Have you any wool?
F        C
Yes sir, yes sir,
G          C
Three bags full.
C           F
One for the master,
C           G
One for the dame,
C               F
And one for the little boy
    C              G
Who lives down the lane.
C
Baa, baa, black sheep,
F            C
Have you any wool?
F        C
Yes sir, yes sir,
G          C
Three bags full.

'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep' Performance Tips

There are two potential strumming patterns you can use when playing "Baa, Baa, Black Sheep": The first uses slow downward strums, and the second uses alternating down and up strums. Both are easy.

If you want to tackle the easiest strum first, simply strum your guitar four times for each line of lyric. If there is only one chord on a line (for example, the first line of the song has only a C major chord above it), strum that chord four times slowly in a downward motion. For lines in which there are two chords, strum each chord twice slowly in a downward motion.

For the slightly more complicated although still really easy strumming pattern, simply strum down then up for each down strum in the previous version. This means you play each line with only one chord eight times (down up down up down up down up). For lines with two chords, you play each chord four times (down up down up). There are no tricks or variations throughout the song.

The F major chord provides the biggest challenge, but there are tips for mastering it.

A History of 'Baa, Baa, Black Sheep'

The song's lyrics are derived from an English nursery rhyme dating back to at least the 12th century. The earliest surviving published version is from the 1700s. The melody is one used in many songs, most notably "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and the "Alphabet Song." The marriage of these lyrics and the melody was first published in 1879 in "Nursery Songs and Games."

Wool played an important role in the economy of England around the 12th century. The rhyme decries the over-taxation of the agricultural product. Of the three bags of wool, one went to the king (the master), one to the church (the dame), and one was left for the farmer (the little boy).