Musix Newsletter #13 • Fall 2009
News, Music, tablature, MP3s, to download, play along with & learn!
Guitar solo: We Three Kings of Orient Are
Uff Da Mandolin Tune: Skjorte Frak Waltz
Gypsy Swing/Jazz Guitar melody/solo: Avalon in the Lower Octave
Gypsy Swing/Jazz Mandolin melody/solo: Whispering
Mandolin Solo: Little Sadie
Mandolin Solo: Darling Cory
Here it is, Fall of 2009 already, and time for another Musix Newsletter, lucky number 13. I’ve got several new projects to tell you about and lots of music and MP3s for you to download. Most of the downloads are from the new releases. The titles and cover photos are linked to each project’s web page for full details, song lists, and ordering information.
Christmas Favorites for Solo Guitar:
30 Best loved Traditional Songs for Bluegrass Guitar
We have two new books hot off the presses. Both have titles AND subtitles! The first is Christmas Favorites for Solo Guitar: 30 Best Loved Traditional Songs for Bluegrass Guitar book/CD.
I love Christmas music and enjoy playing it on the guitar and mandolin. For this book I arranged 30 of my favorite traditional songs for flatpicked guitar. Most solos are in the basic “bass note/strum” or Carter-style with melodies integrated into common chord patterns. Others feature “the arpeggio strum,” a beautiful chord technique where the melody is placed on the highest strummed string of a held chord. Some of the arrangements transpose solos from one key to another, others change and mix meter (3/4 to 4/4), some explore soloing in more than one octave, one demonstrates playing a solo with others as a round, and more! You can download sample music, TAB, chords, and an MP3 to “We Three Kings of Orient Are” below. Start practicing now for the holidays. And, since most of this music is vocal, we have a special downloadable booklet of all the lyrics we could’’t fit in the guitar solos book. We hope you’ll use it caroling, at holiday parties, or around the tree. Christmas Favorites Complete Lyric booklet
Mandolin Uff Da! Let’s Dance:
Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes & House Party Music.
After almost seven years, my collection of Scandinavian fiddle tunes and house party music for mandolin is finally out! It’s titled Mandolin Uff Da! Let’s Dance: Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes & House Party Music. It contains 28 old-time Scandinavian waltzes, two steps, schottisches, hoppwaltzes, and more, all arranged for the mandolin. Written in standard notation and mandolin tablature with accompaniment chords, the book also includes an extensive music and history interview with Scandinavian music expert Bruce Bollerud. I learned the tunes from Bruce Bollerud who learned them in the 1940s from immigrant Norwegian fiddlers in southern Wisconsin at house parties and other events. They’re all wonderful, fun tunes that have a lot in common with American fiddle tunes. They were just played by people named Sven and Ole instead of Roy and Earl. I had a great time working on this book and the recordings and I hope you too will discover the joys of Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes & House Party Music. How could you not want to learn to play tunes with names like “Kjarring Og Mann Slust (The Old Man and Woman Fighting),” “The Stegen Waltz (The Step Ladder Waltz),” “Skjorte Frak Waltz (Shirt Tail Waltz),” “Gra Lysining (In the Gray Light of the Morning),” “Auction Pa Strommen (Auction at Strommen’s)” which you’ll find in Musix Newsletter #3, or “The Red Rooster Two Step”? You can download “Skjorte Frak Waltz (Shirt Tail Waltz)” below.
Mostly fiddle-based, house party music was played out in the country in an era when farmers would go to their neighbor’s homes for weekend entertainment. It was usually played by a small string combo with a fiddle, maybe some kind of accordion, and a guitar or banjo. By the late 1940s, country folk began coming to town on the weekends to shop, see movies, or dance to the hot new regional polka bands. The polka bands were the latest thing, larger and louder, horn-based, and there was really no place in them for the old time sound of the fiddle. The country culture changed and as a result, house party music began to fade away.
Bruce Bollerud’s accordion version of the same songs Accordion Uff Da! Let’s Dance: Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes & House Party Music has also just been published and you can download a sample page and MP3. You can also hear excerpts of an interview I did with Bruce in which he talks about how he first learned house party music and where it comes from.
Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Fiddle Edition
We have a relatively new edition to the Parking Lot Picker’s series, this time an edition for fiddlers. I co-authored it with my pal Gerald Jones and in addition to the over 215 great bluegrass, old time, and gospel songs that everybody ought to know, Gerald has added some great instruction on how to fiddle around in the bluegrass world. Check out The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Fiddle Edition. At this point we have The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Guitar Edition, The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Banjo Edition, The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Mandolin Edition, and The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Dobro Edition. We hope to have The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Bass Edition in print soon. It’ll include actual bass lines plus tons of information on making up your own bass parts and reading chords. (One good reason why I haven’t posted too many Musix Newsletters lately!)
Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm Sale: $2.00 off!
Gypsy Swing is still a hot item in the world. As you probably know from previous Musix Newsletters and emailings, a couple years back we published two book/CD sets with play-along bands entitled Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm for Guitar and Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm for Mandolin. You read along in the book (standard notation, TAB, chord diagrams, lyrics, etc.) and play along with the slow and up to speed recordings — played on the CD by a classic Hot Club-style band — learn the chords, melodies, and practice soloing on great Gypsy swing and Hot Club standards. The first two sets were so popular that we decided to publish a second volume of twelve more great songs, more chords, more keys, more projects and more fun. After you learn the first twelve songs, won’t you want to learn twelve more? The followup book/CD sets are called, guess what? Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm II for Guitar and Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm II for Mandolin.
Here’s the real news: If you don’t have any of the four book/CD sets, now is a good time to buy: we’ll take $2.00 of the price of every one. Our regular price is $15.95 but for a limited time they’re all on sale for $13.95! Click on the book covers on the right for full details. You can download two projects from the Gypsy Swing books. The first is a lower octave guitar version of “Avalon” from Volume 1. The second is a mandolin solo based on the melody to “Whispering” from Volume 2.
“Whispering” Solos, How to Work with The Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm Sets Posted on Youtube
I’ve just posted a video that discusses how I work with the Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm sets learning chords, melodies, and practicing improvisations. In the video I work my way through “Whispering” while playing along with the Hot Club rhythm track. You can see it at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKxxPTmVH3s
Give it a spin, click the TV link at right and let us know if you like it and if it’s helpful and/or interesting to you. If we get a positive response, we’ll post more video in the future.
This and That
Check out Jim Nunally’s The Art of Rhythm Guitar DVD. It’s a darn good DVD for any style of acoustic rhythm guitar. He says you can learn to play just like him in a couple of hours! I offer no such guarantee.
Swing Jazz Violin with Hot-Club Rhythm
by Jeremy Cohen & Dix Bruce
My book/CD set with violinist Jeremy Cohen Swing Jazz Violin with Hot Club Rhythm is a great way for you fiddlers to get up and swinging. Learn melodies and solos to 16 great jazz standards by practicing and improvising along with a recorded “Hot-Club” style band. (Swing Jazz Violin with Hot Club Rhythm is essentially the jazz violin version of Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm Vol. I.) Jeremy’s solos and insights will be invaluable to those of you just getting started in jazz and swing. The set includes two jazz string quartets!
Mandolin World News Back issues & More
Don’t forget that we STILL have some back issues of Mandolin World News in stock. If you want ’em, better grab ’em soon! Alas, our supply of “Real Musicians Have Day Jobs!” bumper stickers is just about exhausted. We have a very few left. Of course we’ve got tons of other great stuff: CDs, book/CD sets, DVDs, and more. We hope you’ll check them out. And, don’t forget our archive of other Musix Newsletters. Lots of music, TAB, and MP3s that you can download for free. OK, on to the Musix Newsletter #13 downloads!
We Three Kings of Orient Are for Flatpicked Guitar
This is from my new Christmas Favorites for Solo Guitar: 30 Best Loved Traditional Songs for Bluegrass Guitar book/CD. The secret to playing flatpicked solos in the Carter style is to hold complete chords for as long as you can while playing through the song. Most of the melody notes will be chord tones so if you hold the chord, you can play a melody note and then punctuate it with a strum, all with one basic fretting hand position. There are a few spots where you’ll add one finger to a familiar chord, as on the Am in measures 4, 5, and 9, or the F in measures 16 and 21. Notice the fermata or hold in measure fourteen. It comes right after the “oh, oh” and before the “Star of wonder” lyrics. I hold it for about six beats. You can add a ritard or gradual slow down in the measure before it. Play it as you feel it. If you play the arrangement more than once, add an E7 chord in measure 31 to bring you back to the Am at the beginning. Last time through, play a C chord to end. I didn’t include any hammer ons in this arrangement but there’s no reason you couldn’t add a few. Try playing them in measure 1, 7, and other likely locations.
Skjorte Frak Waltz for Mandolin
“Skjorte Frak Waltz” is from my Mandolin Uff Da! Let’s Dance: Scandinavian Fiddle Tunes & House Party Music book. “Skjorte Frak” is “shirt tail” in Norwegian. Bruce Bollerud, who taught me the tune, said he always imagined an old farmer out on the floor, dancing so hard his shirt tail popped out of this drawers. I know you’ll enjoy Bruce Bollerud’s interview excerpts with more info on the music, the house party era, and the people who played the music. Listen to the MP3 and play the tune as a lilting waltz. Modulations to different keys are quite common in this style of music. “Skorte Frak” starts in the key of G and modulates to the key of D on the second page. If you play it more than once, you go back to the key of G at the beginning of the form.
Avalon melody, lower octave, for Guitar
“Avalon” is one of my absolute favorite songs to play and improvise on. It’s one of the songs from my original Gypsy Swing & Hot Club Rhythm set (Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm for Guitar and Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm for Mandolin) where it’s pitched in a higher octave, up the fingerboard. Here’s a version written in the lower octave. On the downloadable MP3 recording, I played this lower octave version of the melody twice so you could hear how I might change the straight melody into a more jazzy sounding solo by simply varying the rhythm. I may have changed a melody note slightly here or there but the main difference between the two solos is that on the second, I played around with the set rhythm to make it swing a little more. It’s very important for you to develop this skill as it’ll allow you play melodic solos that swing. And, once you’re comfortable varying the rhythm of a melody, it’ll be easier to vary the pitches and improvise further from the melody.
Whispering Mandolin Solo
I didn’t want the mandolinists to feel left out so I recorded a mandolin solo similar to the “Avalon” solo above. Once again, all I did was take the given melody to “Whispering” and vary the rhythm of it. The pitches stayed pretty much as written but by varying the rhythm, I could make the melody sound different from the straight melody much jazzier.
I got a little carried away while I was recording the solo so you’ll hear a little bit of the second chorus as I improvised it. “Whispering”is from Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm II for Guitar and Gypsy Swing and Hot Club Rhythm II for Mandolin. $2.00 off every copy for a limited time! What are you waiting for?
Little Sadie and Darling Cory Mandolin Solos
These two songs are included in all the Parking Lot Picker’s Songbooks. Every once in awhile I’ll leaf through the Parking Lot Picker’s collection and remember anew how much I love every one of these songs. These solos came about as I was reading through the melodies and they follow the thread I set up above with the “Avalon” and “Whispering” solos. I used the same “technique” of playing the melody as my solo but while varying the rhythm and keeping the pitches about the same as written. A literal reading of a written melody doesn’t work well in either jazz or bluegrass/old time music. As I developed these quite simple solos, I sang the melodies several times to find natural places places to move the rhythm. As above, once you feel comfortable playing the melody with varied rhythms, try varying the pitches a little bit at a time and develop different solos and improvisations. You can do it on any song with any instrument.
The variation shown in “Darling Cory” can be swapped in for the pickup and the first two measures. The Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook Mandolin Edition.