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Clawhammer Core Repertoire Series, Episode 15: June Apple

Posted by Josh Turknett on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

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Clawhammer Core Repertoire Series, Episode 15

by Josh Turknett,



The next compilation of the Clawhammer Core Repertoire Series - episodes 8 thru 15 - is now ready! If you're already a subscriber, you'll find it in your email today. If you're not already a subscriber, just sign up here to get it (you'll also get the episode 1-7 compilation)



June Apple


Wish I was a June Apple,
Hangin’ on a tree,
Every time a pretty gal passed,
She’d take a little bite of me



Whether you share a wish to transmogrify yourself into a sweet, pomaceous fruit to attract the attention of pulchritudinous passersby, or you simply want to learn another great tune on the banjo, you’re in luck! For this installment of the Core Repertoire Series, we’ve got another classic of a tune: June Apple.

June Apple is often grouped under the “modal” tune umbrella, meaning it’s got a bit of that eerie quality that makes it feel ancient. It also means it gives you an excuse to use the word "Mixolydian" in ordinary conversation, upon which you’ll be immediately bestowed 20 additional IQ points by anyone within listening distance, regardless of whether you’re capable of elaborating further on the topic. 

So now that you're sold on its merits, let’s learn it!

First up, a multisensory presentation of the final arrangement:





Step 1: Know Thy Melody

If you’ve followed along this series at all, you know that there’s no passing go till you’ve got the tune in your noggin’. Which means if you’re not familiar with June Apple, or need to re-acquaint yourself, then you’ve got some listening to do first. As always, I prefer to hear how these fiddle tunes sound on the fiddle, and then adapt them for clawhammer banjo.

So, here are a few for your auditory pleasure, compliments of the fine folks at the fiddle hangout. Listen until you can hum or sing the melody, and have a good sense of the apple’s essence. 

Version One

Version Two 

Version Three


Step 2: Find the Melody Notes

Now let’s seek out them melody notes on the fretboard. First off, get yourself in our favored tuning for A tunes, aEAC#E. Now, here’s what I hear as the stripped down melody of this one (note: the A and B parts are not repeated in this example): 

essence de pomme.mp3


And in tabulational format, it looks thusly:

Step 3:  Add some clawhammery stuff

Now, to get a basic clawhammer arrangement that will sound quite nice paired with a fiddler, let’s add a “ditty” stroke after each of those downbeats from our melody above (the notes in bold). Here’s what that looks like:


And here’s what it sounds like:

Apple Dittied.mp3

And, as I said, if we pair this version with June Apple on the fiddle, we have something quite nice sounding:

Fiddle with the Apple.mp3


Step 4: Spice the apple

Here’s where you can add your own personal stamp by dressing up this basic outline any way you see fit. Add in more of those melody notes, or embellish with some well timed hammer ons, pull offs, or syncopations. As you do so, just remember not to sacrifice rhythm at the altar of fanciness. 

You can hear my final rendition in the video above. You'll note that I tend to favor a fairly rhythmic style for this one, but that's just personal preference. Here's the final version in tab:

Step 5: Practice smart

As you build this one up to speed, don’t forget to practice this one along with your jam partners at June Apple, like the other tunes in the core repertoire series, is on the old-time “top 20” playlist. 


About the Author: Josh Turknett is founder and lead brain hacker at Brainjo Productions



4 comments on “Clawhammer Core Repertoire Series, Episode 15: June Apple”

kinggrumpy Says:
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 @11:15:57 AM

I'm already a subscriber, but haven't received Episode 15 yet. Is there a problem? Here's my email address again:

Josh Turknett Says:
Wednesday, November 26, 2014 @1:29:06 PM

An email was sent to you on Monday, but probably ended up in your junk mail folder. I just sent you another one with the book attached - if you don't see it in your inbox, check your junk mail/spam folder.

Kristopher Says:
Friday, January 2, 2015 @5:36:40 PM

Thanks for putting these together, they are very helpful. I really like this tune and only have a drop thumb version, which I'm not quite ready for, this helps.

jillbanjo Says:
Friday, January 23, 2015 @7:01:36 PM

This is great!

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