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Songs For Singing, Episode 10: "Mountain Dew"

Posted by Josh Turknett on Sunday, November 13, 2016


DOWNLOAD THE TAB for "Mountain Dew"

To DOWNLOAD THE TAB for both the VOCAL BACKUP and the LEAD BREAK for "Mountain Dew", click the button below. You'll also get a brand new classic clawhammer song and tab delivered to your inbox every week!

Click Here To Get The Tab



Thus far in the "Songs for Singin'" edition of the Core Repertoire Series, we've covered the following topics:

Seems like there's something missing, doesn't it? Ah yes, of course...


A.k.a corn liquor, white lightning...mountain dew. 

Lest we have our old time banjo player cards revoked, let's remedy this situation immediately!

When it comes to sonic odes to un-aged corn spirits distilled by the cloak of darkness in the remote corners of the Appalachian mountains, this installment in the Core Repertoire is a must learn.

It's also a song that, thanks largely to classic renditions by Grandpa Jones and Stringbean, many people consider to be a bonafide banjo tune.

Step 1: Know Thy Melody

Good news, my friends. The melody for both verse and chorus are the same, so it's a 2-for-1 deal!

Listen to the video above until you can sing or hum this one for yourself, extra loudly if there are innocent bystanders in your presence. Then, get out your flashlight, and we'll go chord hunting.

Step 2: Find the Chords

You've got three choices here: the I, IV and V chords. I'm singing it here in the key of A, so if you're playing on with the video, then your chord choices will be A, D, and E major, respectively (if you're in G, then you'll be looking for Gs, Cs, and Ds).

(RELATED: If you're not too comfortable yet picking out chords by ear, you can click here to take a short quiz to see if you have what it takes to do so, and to take the free “Getting Started Playing By Ear” course).

When you think you've got it, check your answers below:

Step 3: Play A Basic Backup Pattern While Fingering the Chord Progression

Now it's time to channel your inner Grandpa.

Jones, that is.

To do so, we'll finger the chords we've identified above, and play a basic bum ditty pattern on the banjo, alternating the bum strokes on the 3rd and 4th strings. Here's what that sounds like: 
Basic Backup 1.mp3

And here's that in tab:

Step 4: Add Some Easily Accessed Melody Notes

I think you'll agree that our above backup sounds just fine as is. But, if you want, you can add some zest, you can throw in a few of the melody notes on those “bum” strokes as you play.

And as we've done in prior episodes, we'll first look for the melody notes that require no extra work on behalf of the fretting hand. This of course requires us to know where those melody notes are located. So...

Here's the basic melody of “Mountain Dew” played on the banjo: Mountain Melody.mp3

And here's the melody in tab:

Now, if we add in the melody notes that require no extra movement of our fretting hand (as it's fingering the chords), we come up with this backup pattern (melody notes placed in bold).

And here's how our new backup sounds along with some singin':  Mountain Singin'.mp3

And with that, with a song about corn liquor under your belt, you've just multiplied your old time banjo playing street cred by at least a factor of 11 .

If you'd like to download my full arrangement as played in the video, including the tab for the banjo solo, just click below (you'll also get a new song and tab delivered to you every week as a bonus!):


Click Here To Get The Tab


Want to view all of the prior Clawhammer Core Repertoire Series episodes?

Head over to the Core Repertoire Table of Contents


About the Author

Dr. Josh Turknett is the creator of Breakthrough Banjo, the first music beginner to advanced system for learning clawhammer banjo that incorporates the science of learning and neuroplasticity and specifically target the adult learner (click to learn more)



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