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 Playing Advice: Bluegrass (Scruggs) Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Lesson on making your own arrangement of a melody


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/82359

RyanHerr - Posted - 05/10/2007:  16:49:47


This lesson isn't done yet, but I'd like some feedback on where folks have difficulties before working on it more. There's a lot of "show" but not a lot of "tell" so don't feel bad if you don't get it, just let me know where things went wrong.

The song I use is "Hot Cross Buns," because it's by far the simplest melody I've ever run across.

Part one is pre-Scruggs style, and then part two is gets closer to Scruggs style.

Then if you scroll down, I've started another lesson on "I'll Fly Away."

PART ONE: NOT REALLY SCRUGGS-STYLE, BUT IT'S A GOOD START

Hot Cross Buns

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns 

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0------0------0------0-----|-2------2------2------2-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One    a      pen -  ny,     Two    a      pen -  ny

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns



Some ways to play just the first line (which is also the second and fourth lines!)

|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0-------------0------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns


|-----0------0------0------0-|-----0------0------0------0-|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0-------------0------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  Hot           cross          buns


leave out the second note in the four-note pattern:

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0-------------0------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns


how to approach the third line, which has too many melody notes for the patterns
we've been using so far.

don't add any fill notes, or:


|-----0------0------0------0-|-----0------0------0------0-|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0------0------0------0-----|-2------2------2------2-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  One    a      pen -  ny,     Two    a      pen -  ny

Or, you can reduce melody notes, especially when the melody hangs on a single note
that is repeated:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0-------------0------------|-2-------------2------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One   (a)     pen -  (ny,)   Two    (a)    pen - (ny)

|------------0------0------0-|-----0------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0-------------0------------|-2-------------2------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One   (a)     pen -  (ny,)   Two    (a)    pen - (ny)


On to using the forward roll - adding more melody notes

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0----------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns

|-----0------0------0------0-|-----0---------0----------0-|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|-0----------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns


You can see that when the forward roll is used, the melody notes are
not always played by the thumb.


It also sounds good to replace the second note of the forward roll with a pause:

|---------------0----------0-|
|----------------------------|
|-0----------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  buns 

you can also use a forward-backwards roll:

|--------0------0----------0-|
|----0--------------0--------|
|-0--------------------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|------------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  buns 


You can apply this to the third line, too:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------0-----|-2----------2---------2-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One                  pen-,   Two       pen -      ny


|--------0------0----------0-|-----0---------0----------0-|
|----0--------------0--------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------0-----|-2----------2---------2-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|------------0---------------|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One                  pen-,   Two       pen -      ny


Your forward rolls don't have to end when the measure ends,
forward rolls can 'cross the barlines':

|---------------0----------0-|--------0----------0------0-|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0----------0---------0-----|-----2---------2------2-----|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|-0----------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One       pen -      ny,        Two       pen -   ny

or:

|---------------0----------0-|--------0------0----------0-|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0----------0---------0-----|-----2-------------2--------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|-0----------0---------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One       pen -      ny,        Two       pen -   ny


Here's more adding and shifting melody notes with the forward roll.

Up to now, we've only used the forward roll on measures that have only one melody note.
But we can use it for measures that have two different melody notes as well.

make the second melody note come later:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0---------(0)--------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------2-----|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot                  cross   buns

|-----0---------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|-0----------0---------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------2-----|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot                  cross   buns

make the second melody note come earlier:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|------------2--------(2)----|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot       cross              buns

|-----0---------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|------------2---------2-----|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot       cross              buns



PART TWO: GETTING CLOSER TO SCRUGGS STYLE

Now a different melody skeleton:


|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4-----------3p2----------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-3/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4-----------3p2----------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-3/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----0-------------0--------|-0h2-----------0h2----------|
|-2/5-----------2/5----------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|
  One    a      pen -  ny,     Two    a      pen -  ny

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4-----------3p2----------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-3/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns


How'd we get this? Here are conversions for the open strings:

 before                        after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
                               Or slide from the 3rd fret, or from the 4th fret -
                               - it doesn't really matter.

  before                       after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/4------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
			       For some help in interpretting this very common lick,
                               see Ian Perry's column on "Troubleshooting Tab":
			       http://www.ianperry.ca/pdf/June1995.pdf	


  before                       after
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2h3------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
(Not used in Hot Cross Buns)


And, for any fretted melody note, you can hammer on or pull off to that note.


And, here's a special situation when playing an 'A' melody note (second fret of the
third string.) This is only used sometimes. This is not generally used when you hang
on the 'A' melody note for an extended period of time. You will normally hear this in
the middle or near the end of a measure, rather than at the beginning of a measure.
It's for when you are just passing through the 'A', coming from a higher melody note
(often 'B') on your way to a lower melody note (often 'G'.) This melody movement from
B to A to G is very common in many different songs.
 
  before                       after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|---------------3p2----------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 




Put an alternating thumb roll around the first line:

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|----------------------------|
|-2/4-----------3p2----------|-----0-------------0--------|
|----------------------------|-3/5-----------3/5----------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns

Or, this version may be easier at first:

|------------0-------------0-|--------0-------------0-----|
|-----0-------------0--------|----------------------------|
|-2/4-----------3p2----------|-0-------------0------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot           cross          buns


different ways of doing the forward roll on that second measure:

|----------------0---------0-|
|----------------------------|
|-----0------0---------0-----|
|-3/5------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  buns

|--------0----------0------0-|
|----------------------------|
|-----0---------0------0-----|
|-3/5------------------------|
|------------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  buns

or, a forward-backwards roll:

|--------0------0----------0-|
|----------------------------|
|-----0-------------0--------|
|-3/5------------------------|
|------------0---------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|


There's another common lick you can get if you delay "cross":

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4------------------3p2---|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot                  cross   buns

|--------0------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|-----0-------------0--------|----------------------------|
|-2/4------------------3p2---|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|------------0---------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Hot                  cross   buns

   

When putting the third line into an alternating thumb roll, I think it sounds better
to hold down a D7 Chord in the second bar ("two a penny.") But, it's not essential.

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|----------------------------|-----1-------------1--------|
|-----0-------------0--------|-0h2-----------0h2----------|
|-2/5-----------2/5----------|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 

And, once again, you don't have to use a slide or hammer-on or pull-off for every
single melody note. And, once again, you can use different rolls to get through
these melody notes.


This is just the beginning, but if you just know this and one lick,
you can do a lot.

Here's a Scruggs fill-in lick:

|-----0---------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0----------2/3----0--------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------2-----|----------------------------|
|--------0-------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|


-Ryan.


Edited by - RyanHerr on 05/16/2007 20:02:54

arabella - Posted - 05/10/2007:  17:06:20


This is fun!!

I had no problem with it!

"How can one not feel happy, when they hear a banjo play?!"

estrayisland - Posted - 05/10/2007:  18:08:24


Thanks a lot ... donn

All of us contain Music & Truth, but most of us can't get it out.
- Mark Twain in Vienna

SJL - Posted - 05/10/2007:  22:19:58


Ryan,

That is great. It is exactly the sort of thing that Chris Quinn has had me working on lately. I am trying to wean myself off tab and be able to play melodies by ear in the Bluegrass banjo style. I wish that I had found this years ago.

If I can add two things. The first is to sing the song. It really helps with the timing and feel.

The other thing that I think is important is the conversion to the open strings. I have seen a fourth string slide to the fifth, a third string slide to the fourth tabbed out for years. What I did not get until a lesson with Chris was why. The slides are to next open string. i.e. the fourth string slide to the fifth fret is to a G note, which is also an open third string. It is these slides instead of just picking the open third that gives that Bluegrass banjo sound.

"If the woman is alive at the end of the song, it ain't Bluegrass"


Edited by - SJL on 05/11/2007 07:45:13

Roll Player - Posted - 05/10/2007:  22:54:38


Ryan, I usually hear this tune being played on flutaphones in the music room across the hall from the elementary school computer lab where I work. It's hard to imagine a simpler tune, although "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" gives it some competition.

I feel you've done a good job presenting the process of converting it to a bluegrass banjo solo.

I especially agree on the use of fretted notes replacing open ones in Scruggs style and the use of hammers, slides and pull offs with these notes. This is the way to make the melody really jump out from the surrounding roll notes -- a question often asked about on this forum.

Good work!

Regards,
Art

BrianBanjos - Posted - 05/11/2007:  05:39:11


A big thank you from a realitively new picker!



CageyK - Posted - 05/11/2007:  22:48:03


Veeerrrryy nice, Ryan.

This newbie needs more lessons like this.

Simple tunes with stepwise instruction ROCKS!!!

CageyK

Joe Larson - Posted - 05/13/2007:  12:43:31


Good job Ryan. This is the sort of thing I've been looking for to help get my students away from tab but the tunes I pick are all more complicated. This works well.

One tip I give my students when trying to work up their own arrangements; if the melody notes are on the 4th or 3rd string, use the alternate thumb or mixed roll which lets the thumb play the melody. If the melody notes are on the 2nd or 1st string, use the forward or reverse roll wich gives the melody notes to the index or middle fingers. It's not always the way but it usually works.

"There's more to life than playing the banjo, but not a lot more"

j



Edited by - Joe Larson on 05/13/2007 12:50:51

RyanHerr - Posted - 05/15/2007:  14:31:23


Thanks to all for the kind words and the feedback. Thanks to SJL for pointing out a typo in the tab, which I corrected.

-Ryan.

RyanHerr - Posted - 05/16/2007:  19:18:56


Here is more of the same, but this time the song is I'll Fly Away - a song that is maybe a bit more fun and 'legit' than Hot Cross Buns.

After using this lesson, there are six tabs of this song on the Hangout that you can take a closer look at for more ideas.

There is also a Sonny Osborne tab for this song at http://www.frettedinstrumentsnyc.com/

In this first part, we'll just look at the first two measures of I'll Fly Away, and then we'll look at the rest of the verse at a faster pace.

At the end of the first part, we'll analyze the way that Scott Vestal plays the first two measures. (The tab is here on the Banjo Hangout.)


Here's the way that I sing this melody.
Some people probably sing it a bit differently.

    G
|-------------|----------|-------------------|----------|
|-0-----------|----------|-0---------0----1--|-0--------|
|------0------|------0---|------2------------|------2---|
|-------------|-0--------|-------------------|----------|
|-------------|----------|-------------------|----------|
  Some bright   morn-ing   when this life is   o'er -

  C                         G
|----------|--------------|------------|-----------|
|----------|--------------|------------|-----------|
|-0--------|------------0-|------------|-----------|
|----------|--------2-----|-0----------|-----------|
|----------|--------------|------------|-----------|
  I'll              fly a - way  

  G
|---------|---------|-------------------|----------|
|-0-------|---------|-0---------0---1---|-0--------|
|----0----|------0--|-------2-----------|----------|
|---------|-0-------|-------------------|----------|
|---------|---------|-------------------|----------|
  To that   home on   God's cel-est-ial   shore   

  G         D               G
|---------|---------------|------------|-----------|
|-0-------|---------------|------------|-----------|
|---------|---------2---0-|-0----------|-----------|
|---------|---------------|------------|-----------|
|---------|---------------|------------|-----------|
  I'll              fly a - way 



The first line of the melody:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


Some two finger techniques to get started (thumb & middle):

|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing

|-----0------0------0------0-|-----0------0------0------0-|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


alternating thumb:

|-----0------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-0-----------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing

That first melody note is still being played with two-finger techniques,
since it's on the second string. But we can play it with the
alternating thumb roll too, if we move the melody note to the
third string:

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-4-------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


And then you can slide into the fretted melody note, and all of
the sudden, there's a familiar lick:

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-2/4-----------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


3 out of these 4 melody notes can be fretted instead of played open.
("Morn" is the low D note, the lowest note on the banjo.)

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-4--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------5------------|-0-------------5------------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


And you can slide into those melody notes at the 5th fret of the 4th string.

|------------0-------------0-|------------0-------------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-2/4------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2/5----------|-0-------------4/5----------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


You don't have to stick to one right-hand pattern. There's a lot of variety
that you can get just by mixing the alternating thumb roll with the various
2 finger techniques.

|------------0-------------0-|--------0-----------------0-|
|-----0----------------------|-------------------0--------|
|-2/4-----------0------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|-0-------------3/5----------|
|--------0-------------0-----|--------0-------------0-----|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing


Up to now, we haven't changed the rhythm of the melody. The melody notes
in these first two bars are falling very evenly, every four beats, and
that's how we've played it.

But we can start to shift the melody notes.

Here's one way to use the forward-backward roll, which delays the second
melody note in each bar:

|--------0------0----------0-|--------0------0----------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-2/4------------------0-----|----------------------0-----|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------------|------------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some                 bright  morn -               ing


We can also use forward rolls to change the rhythm.
As you probably already know, here are the two forward roll patterns
which seem to be most often considered "standard":
  
|-----M---------M----------M-|
|----------------------------|
|-T----------I---------I-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------T----------T--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  ^          ^         ^
  Melody     Melody    Melody

|--------M----------M------M-|
|-----I---------I------------|
|-T----------T---------T-----|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  ^          ^         ^
  Melody     Melody    Melody

So the way these are typically used, there are 3 melody notes per measure,
falling on beats 1, 4, and 7.  

But we have 2 melody notes per measure in the first line of the song, not 3:

|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|
|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some          bright         

What we can do is repeat one of the melody notes. Also, the second melody
note gets shifted either earlier or later.

Here's our melody if we make the second melody note come later:

|----------------------------|
|-0----------0---------------|
|----------------------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some                 bright     


Here's our melody if we make the second melody note come earlier:

|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some       bright


and put into forward rolls:

|-----0---------0----------0-|
|-0----------0---------------|
|----------------------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some                 bright
    

|-----0---------0----------0-|
|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some       bright


Also try replacing the second note of the forward roll with a pause.


You can use slides with the forward roll, too.
Here's one simple way to do that:

|-----0---------0----------0-|
|----------------------------|
|-2/4--------4---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some                 bright

but, often we want to play the open 2nd string after that slide on the 3rd string.

Remember the 'open string melody conversions':

 before                       after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/4------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 

before                       after
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2h3------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 

before                        after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
                               (Or slide from the 3rd or 4th fret.)


When you slide into a melody note, if you then play the same melody note on
an open string, it really reinforces the melody.

But, we don't HAVE to do it that way, as demonstrated
in the previous example, or in this common Scruggs fill-in lick:

|-----0---------0----------0-|---
|----------------------------|---
|-0----------2/4----0--------|-0-
|----------------------2-----|---
|--------0-------------------|---
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |


If you do chose to pick the open 2nd string with the index after the slide
on the 3rd string, then your two options are to follow up with your thumb
or your middle finger.

Here are two out of very many possibilities that keep the melody on the 1st,
4th, and 7th beats.

|---------------0----------0-|
|-----0----------------------|
|-2/4--------4---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|--------0----------0--------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  Some                 bright

|--------0----------0------0-|
|-----0---------0------------|
|-2/4--------4---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  Some                 bright

Here's a sort of forward-backward roll where instead of using your thumb
on the fifth string, you bring it up to catch another melody note.
Here the melody is on the 1st, 5th, and 7th beats.

|--------0------0----------0-|
|-----0------------0---------|
|-2/4--------4---------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  Some                 bright

Here's the same beats as above but sticking with a forward rolling direction.

|--------0----------0------0-|
|-----0----------------------|
|-2/4-----------4------0-----|
|----------------------------|
|------------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   
  Some                 bright       


Here's a way to play the first two measures - in some ways this is very simple,
and it other ways it's getting pretty out there with the beats. The forward roll
crosses the barline, and the melody is on beats 1, 5, and 7 in the first bar
and beats 3 and 6 in the second bar.

|--------0----------0--------|-0----------0---------0-----|---
|-----0----------------------|-------------------0--------|---
|-2/4-----------4----------0-|----------------------------|-0-
|----------------------2/5---|--------0-------------------|---
|------------0---------------|-----0---------0----------0-|---
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|  
  Some                 bright         morn -    ing         when ...

Personally, I am trying to practice this sort of rhythmic creativity more.
I normally end up using familiar right hand patterns such as the "standard"
one measure forward-roll pattern. The forward roll can get really wild when
crossing the barlines. Then again, sometimes it just sounds better to play
things straight - and maybe the standard patterns are standard for a reason.
Also, sometimes it is good to break up the stream of notes with a good
old-fashioned rest. Let your ears be the guide.


Now let's take a look at how Scott Vestal has played the beginning of this song.

http://www.banjohangout.org/tabnew/...way-1256.pdf


|--------0------0----------0-|------------0---------------|-0-
|-----0----------------------|--------------------------0-|---
|-2/4---------------0--------|---------------0------2/4---|---
|----------------------2-----|-0--------------------------|---
|------------0---------------|--------0-------------------|---
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 


This looks kind of like our example of using the forward-backward roll:

|--------0------0----------0-|--------0------0----------0-|
|-----0-------------0--------|-----0-------------0--------|
|-2/4------------------0-----|----------------------0-----|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------------|------------0---------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some                 bright  morn -               ing
   
The first five notes are the same, but then Scott plays the melody note
on the open G string one beat earlier, on the 6th beat versus the 7th.

Then, what he COULD have done would be follow up with fill notes
on the open 5th and 1st, like this:

|--------0------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4---------------0--------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------0-----|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some             bright      morn - ...


But instead of playing the 5th string open after the open G melody note,
he plays an E note at the 2nd fret of the 4th string.

|--------0------0----------0-|----------------------------|
|-----0----------------------|----------------------------|
|-2/4---------------0--------|----------------------------|
|----------------------2-----|-0--------------------------|
|------------0---------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
 
This E note is not in the original melody. It works as an extra / added
melody note connecting the G note above with the D note below.
It's basically changing the melody from this:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------------|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing

to this:

|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------0------------|---------------0------------|
|----------------------2-----|-0--------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
  Some          bright         morn -        ing

See how that added note connects the two melody notes that surround it?


We've spend an awful lot of time on just the first two measures. In the next post we will go through the rest of the verse at a faster pace.

-Ryan.


Edited by - RyanHerr on 05/16/2007 20:03:29

SJL - Posted - 05/16/2007:  21:27:50


Another great post Ryan.

I hope that all the newbies to the banjo pay close attention to these lessons. This is Bluegrass Banjo 101.

Ryan, just a thought, can you post sound clips to accompany these?

"If the woman is alive at the end of the song, it ain't Bluegrass"

John Allison - Posted - 05/17/2007:  10:25:27


Great post guys. I started working songs out this way after sitting in on some sessions with Alan Munde and Janet Beazley at the Midwest Banjo Camp last year. This way of working through songs works really great form me and works up the neck as well.

Froggie

kinggrumpy - Posted - 05/17/2007:  19:59:19


Hi RyanHerr Thanks so much for your post its great . It help me a lot.

Ray J.

jimbo78 - Posted - 05/18/2007:  08:03:14


Bump..........Just cause this should be a sticky thread.

Youve done a good thing Ryan. Thanks for your contribution!

JimBo


Chris Quinn - Posted - 05/18/2007:  11:47:32


Ryan,

Very generous of you to share this with other learners. As a teacher, I really appreciate when someone posts something that is geared toward helping others move forward. Well done.

It would be helpful to have some recordings of these. If you are able and inclined, please post them in the Sound-Off section and post a link here.

Chris Quinn

www.foggyhogtownboys.com

jimbo78 - Posted - 05/20/2007:  12:12:50


BUMP AGAIN...You might as well get used to seeing this thread folks! Until its made a sticky, I'll bump this to the top everytime I log in.

JimBo


RyanHerr - Posted - 05/21/2007:  18:09:33


jimbo78, I'm flattered by your 'bumps.'

(let's not take that out of context, people! )

quote:
Originally posted by Chris Quinn
It would be helpful to have some recordings of these. If you are able and inclined, please post them in the Sound-Off section and post a link here.


I agree that this type of lesson would be greatly improved by audio or video. The trouble is:

1. I'd be pretty nervous to record my own playing as any sort of "how-to." My timing is generally pretty solid, but I don't have the world's snappiest pull-offs or slickest slides or strongest drive. And while I personally like my tone, I wouldn't hold it up as an example of 'normal': even though I play an archtop, it's set up for more sustain than most banjos, with a deeper and more mellow sound.

2. I work in a call center and I have time to type in between calls or during breaks. But recording would have to be done at home, where's it's harder to come by spare time - my daughter turned 2 months old today!

-Ryan.

eagleisland - Posted - 05/21/2007:  18:25:54


Ryan, it's interesting that you're doing this. Alan Munde presented a class at BCN yesterday that included handouts from his soon-to-be-published Mel Bay book that essentially does this very same thing.

eagleisland

Learning the banjo: It's a process, not an event!

RyanHerr - Posted - 05/21/2007:  20:21:18


quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland
Ryan, it's interesting that you're doing this. Alan Munde presented a class at BCN yesterday that included handouts from his soon-to-be-published Mel Bay book that essentially does this very same thing.



That's great to hear that Alan Munde is coming out with a book, it is very needed!

There is a very good book by Wayne Erbsen entitled "Bluegrass Banjo for the Complete Ignoramus" but it deals with more 'pre-Scruggs' 2 and 3 finger picking than true Scruggs style.

-Ryan.

JAzbo - Posted - 05/21/2007:  22:57:27


I was hoping someone else would ask this, but no one has, so here goes. Should I be reluctant to admit that I don't know the song Hot Cross Buns? Is it a well known melody that, perhaps, has another name?

JAzbo

Anything worth doing is worth doing at all.

cthetford - Posted - 05/22/2007:  09:20:30


It's a children's song. The beginning tune is similar to three blind mice...although the second half of the songs are different. it is generally one of the first songs in most piano beginner books.

The words are:
Hot Cross Buns,
Hot Cross Buns.
One a penny
two a penny,
Hot Cross buns

JAzbo - Posted - 05/22/2007:  23:46:40


Thanks, Mr. Thetford. After your reply I did what I should have done originally...googled it and found various sound samples and other info about the song.

JAzbo

Anything worth doing is worth doing at all.

jpoulette - Posted - 05/23/2007:  05:15:09


Ryan - great post, thank you very much. "I'll Fly Away" is a great song and a jam favorite up here in New England! It this same light - here's a link to an interesting article with a similar format.

http://www.banjosessions.com/feb07/Stockwell.html

Good luck all!

Gibson Blackjack
Stuff I'm working on

patches - Posted - 05/31/2007:  12:14:05


As a "Baker" by trade (since 1965) I am glad to see my favorite song posted......

What a Great way to learn.... thank you very much for "all" of your information.

Enjoy your day.... I know I will, hmmm where are my picks, need to play "Hot Buns"... opps, forgot the word cross.

I don't play slow, I play at "singing speed"... Keep on the sunny side!

Don

Robert lloyd - Posted - 06/22/2007:  20:26:31


Can we talk you into the rest of Ill Fly Away?

BanjoDiva - Posted - 06/23/2007:  08:25:45


This is a terrific thread Ryan. Thanks for the effort. What program are you using for the tab?

Regards,
Reid
RK R-80 #67 aka "The Black Dahlia

"Three chords on the banjo is the key to life." -- Vince Gill

good-timeing - Posted - 10/13/2007:  14:33:53


Ryan you said:

Remember the 'open string melody conversions':

Is there a post about this somewhere?
Is this why I normally want to play the open string just below the slide or
hammer on? Is it something I have memorized or is it my ear wanting to
resolve the next note?
This is great stuff.
Thanks,
Al

Price is only important in the absence of value.

jormac - Posted - 10/13/2007:  14:56:15


Thanks Ryan for this post. It couldn't have been made any easier or more straight forward. Real good explanation and tab!

Life is not just good---It is wonderful, and complete, when you can play the Banjo!

Morgan Monroe Militia.........Sometimes you gotta fight back !!!!

John

Slow_Picker79 - Posted - 10/15/2007:  04:30:22


Thanks so much for this lesson Ryan. I'm currenty teaching myself to play by ear and trying to finally branch away from tabs. I really feel like it can finally happen after going through these lessons. Please continue when you have the time my friend!

RyanHerr - Posted - 10/16/2007:  09:33:21


Thanks to everyone for all the kind words!

quote:
Originally posted by good-timeing

Ryan you said:
Remember the 'open string melody conversions':
Is there a post about this somewhere?



Hi Al,
The info is below. Originally it was buried farther up the page. But it sounds like you've already got this figured out intuitively!

Here are conversions for the open strings:

 before                        after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/5------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
                               Or slide from the 3rd fret, or from the 4th fret -
                               - it doesn't really matter.

  before                       after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2/4------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
			       For some help in interpretting this very common lick,
                               see Ian Perry's column on "Troubleshooting Tab":
			       http://www.ianperry.ca/pdf/June1995.pdf	


  before                       after
|-0--------------------------|-----0----------------------|
|----------------------------|-2h3------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___| 
(Not used in Hot Cross Buns)


And, for any fretted melody note, you can hammer on or pull off to that note.


And, here's a special situation when playing an 'A' melody note 
(second fret of the third string.) This is only used sometimes. This is not
generally used when you hang on the 'A' melody note for an extended
period of time. You will normally hear this in the middle or near the end
of a measure, rather than at the beginning of a measure. It's for when
you are just passing through the 'A', coming from a higher melody note
(often 'B') on your way to a lower melody note (often 'G'.) This melody
movement from B to A to G is very common in many different songs.
 
  before                       after
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|---------------2------------|---------------3p2----------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
|----------------------------|----------------------------|
  |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|   |___|  |___|  |___|  |___|


-Ryan.


Edited by - RyanHerr on 10/16/2007 09:35:08

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