Kingsfold is an Irish tune, dating as far back as the Middle Ages.  In structure, the melody resembles other popular Irish tunes such as Star of the County Down.  After having heard the tune in Kingsfold, Sussex, England, composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) arranged it as a setting for I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.

Kingsfold Notes

Kingsfold is an intermediate-level  study in open position.   The melody and accompaniment texture, involves p-i-m chords, arpeggiation, and some counterpoint (two melodic lines in the treble and bass).  Since bringing out the treble melody is priority,  play it legato throughout.   To this end, observe the left-hand fingering at the pickup to m. 3:

by Category

This same situation recurs throughout the piece, for example, m. 7, 15 etc.

To simplify notation, indefinite ties are used, starting at m. 5.   A note with an indefinite tie indicates that it should sound beyond is actual notated duration.  In Kingsfold, many indefinite-tied notes should be interpreted as a half note.

Continue to sustain the bass notes at m. 20, as indicated with the marking: simile which means “in a similar way.”

On the first beat of m. 12, the chord G-C-D is fingered to be played on strings (4) (3), and (2).  This requires a momentary shift in the left-hand into Position III.  At the end of the measure, notice the trill.   For full information on trills, see the Ornamentation article.



  1. Mark Freemantle

    This is a wonderful time. I love the recording.
    I assume Alan Hirsh is the guitarist?
    Any way to get a download of this tune?
    BTW, I just purchased a classic guitar this week, after playing steel strings for over 50 years! Time to get Serious! 😉

  2. alntom

    Hi Mark,
    So glad you enjoy Kingsfold, and yes I recorded it. Would be happy to send you the mp3. Also, many congrats on your first classic guitar purchase…if you’re looking for excellent learning resources, the Aaron Shearer Foundation can definitely help.
    Very best,
    Alan H.

  3. Vince Taylor

    Lovely arrangement. I’m just now learning the tune on the double bass. Do you have anything to back up the claim that it’s an Irish tune – apart from the structural similarity with County Down (and I’d add the melodic similarity with Parting Glass)? I’m just interested in it’s history.

  4. alntom

    Hi Vince,
    Thanks…glad you enjoy it. No exact proof of it being Irish, except the really close similarity with the traditional Irish tunes that you mention…especially Star of the County Downs. If you have some deeper history, would love for you to share.

  5. James Van Camp

    Great tune. I arranged for horn and keyboard a la Brubeck as “Kingsfold a 5”

  6. Rhonda

    So well played…hauntingly beautiful indeed. Thank you!

  7. alntom

    Thanks so much Rhonda. It is timeless!
    -Alan Hirsh

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