Newsletter #9 • April 2006
News, Music, tablature, MP3s, to download, play along with & learn!
Seems like it was just last week that we posted Musix Newsletter #8. In reality it was almost four months back! Where does the time go? Hopefully it involves a lot of music making and fun. Here’s a listing of the downloadable tunes, songs, and MP3s for Musix Newsletter #9. Five different songs in pdf. format to print and learn, seven MP3s to download, listen to and play along with.
Swing Guitar: Learn closed position, moveable chords to the traditional tune “Careless Love.” This is from my recently released DVD “Basic Swing Guitar.”
Crosspicking Guitar: Relatively easy crosspicked version of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” Great for getting you going on crosspicking.
Mandolin: Learn “Amazing Grace” in a closed position with no open string notes and transpose it to two other different keys. Accompanying lesson will help you understand the “theory” of the mandolin.
Mandolin: Great old time tune, “Pig Ankle Rag,” from my new Mel Bay book “String Band Classics for Mandolin.”
Great Song: This one’s for anybody who likes great songs: “Who Broke the Lock on the Hen House Door?” Includes guitar TAB. It’s from my other new book/CD set “String Band Classics for Guitar.” (Currently out of print.)
Musix News
As usual, I’ve been busy writing about and playing music. I’ve also been hammering out the details of recording and editing video lessons and performances for DVD. There’s always more to learn but I’m enjoying every minute of the process. Editing video is a gas. I’ve always been amazed by the possibilities of recording and editing audio. Video incorporates all of that and more. I’ve got about a million ideas I want to get onto tape.
I just finished a new mandolin book/CD set entitled “Favorite Mandolin Pickin’ Tunes” for Mel Bay Publications. Several years back Bay published my “Great Mandolin Pickin’ Tunes” in a 1/2 sized format. Recently they’d asked me to expand it both size-and tune-wise so I doubled the physical size and the number of tunes. The book is a collection of tunes that I think every mandolinist ought to know. It includes folk, ethnic, jazz, ballads, classical, breakdowns, fiddle tunes, and a few bluegrass solos for good measure. We don’t yet have a publication date, but we’ll keep you posted.
Jim Nunally & Dix Bruce Martin Guitar Clinics
Jim Nunally and I will be clinicizing for Martin Guitar in the Northwest at the end of May. This is the best gig a guitar picker EVER had! They hand us the latest, greatest Martin guitars and we play ’em! Between you and me, I’d do it for free. Please don’t tell Mr. C.F. Martin!
Summer Music Camps
The summer will be packed with music camps and performing. I’m scheduled to teach mandolin and guitar at the CBA Music Camp in Grass Valley, CA, June 11-14, 2006, The Klamath River Mando and Guitar Jam, June 15 – 18, and the Greater Yellowstone Music Camp outside the park June 25-30, 2006, and the American River Acoustic Music Camp, August 20th – 23rd, 2006. All great places to learn music.
New Release
Been a long time coming, but they’ve finally been published: “String Band Classics for Guitar: The Highwoods String Band” and “String Band Classics for Mandolin: The Highwoods String Band.” They’re two new book/CD sets of transcriptions from recordings by that great old time band the Highwoods. I finished both books several years ago and had just about lost hope of ever seeing them in print. In honor of this auspicious event, we’re featuring two selections from the books in this Musix Newsletter. More about that below. Click here for String Band Classics for Mandolin.
Swing Guitar & Flatpicking DVDs
Springtime is a great time to finally get around to learn something you’ve been putting off for so long. We have new DVDs of “Basic Swing Guitar” and “Basic Country Flatpicking Guitar.” “Basic Swing Guitar” teaches a whole bunch the basic chord forms you’ll need to play swing rhythm. Along the way you’ll learn several great standards. “Basic Country Flatpicking Guitar” teaches leads in the ever-popular Carter style. Get the DVDs and get started today!
Future Projects
I have two guitar crosspicking books nearly finished. Recording the CDs is next on my “to-do” list. I’ve also written out the music for a third book, one that would be more of a crosspicking method than the others which are basically collections of solos. The crosspicking method book will demonstrate how to take a simple melody and turn it into a crosspicking solo. In the process we’ll explore different keys and fingerboard positions. We’ll keep you posted. Meanwhile, learn the crosspicking solo below.
Now, on to the music!
MP3 recordings to some of the following are presented in mono and at one speed only to save cyberspace. Click on the links to download the pdfs (which include music, TAB, chords, lyrics) and MP3s. Similar recordings on the CDs that accompany all my books are full length, in split track stereo and presented at both slow and regular speeds.
Swing Guitar: Careless Love
Let’s start off with two guitar pieces, one for swing guitar and the other for crosspicking guitar. “Careless Love” is from my DVD Basic Swing Guitar.  It’s one of the easier songs in the set which includes several essential standards like “Lady Be Good,” “Sweet Georgia Brown,” “Honeysuckle Rose,” and more. Once you learn a handful of these closed position, moveable chords, you can play just about any standard in the style in any key. If you’ve played guitar for a while, some of these chords may be familiar to you. Memorize the chord progression to “Careless Love” and practice the changes. Work up to playing along with the MP3 version. When you have the chords mastered in the key of F, move them up two frets and play the whole song in the key of G. When you’re comfortable with that, move it up three more frets to the key of Bb and so on. My BackUp TRAX: Swing & Jazz and BackUp TRAX: Early Jazz & Hot Tunes book/CD sets will teach you more chord forms and progressions.
Crosspicking Guitar: “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?”
As I mentioned above, I’ve been working on some crosspicking books and my ears are always attuned to things that will work well in the style. Here’s a relatively easy crosspicked version of “Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Little Dog Gone?” If you’re new to the technique, it’ll help get you going on crosspicking. If you’re a seasoned crosspicker, it’ll make a nice addition to your repertoire. Capo at the fourth fret. You’ll be in the key of E. I use an alternating pick pattern, “down, up, down, up,” etc. My good buddy Jim Nunally uses a down, down, up pattern. Try them both and see which you like best. I used this technique on our latest CD “Brothers at Heart” when I played “Banks of the Ohio.” I’ve posted other crosspicking solos on this web site in both the Newsletters and Downloads section. Collect ’em all!
Here are two tunes for the world’s most fascinating smaller stringed instrument, the mandolin. The first is a lesson on transposing that uses “Amazing Grace.” It’s rather involved and, yes, I got carried away. I’m an evangelist for learning to transpose on the mandolin. Not only will you find the capability of transposition immediately useful, going through these exercises will significantly broaden your knowledge of how the mandolin works. Click here for the lesson, .pdf and MP3.
Mandolin: “Pig Ankle Rag.”
Next in the mandolin department we have a cool tune entitled “Pig Ankle Rag.” It’s from the aforementioned “String Band Classics for Mandolin: The Highwoods String Band.” Click here for info. I’m a fool for these kinds of tunes that are hybrids of a fiddle tune and a rag. This one moves so nicely through its progression that I cannot play it without cheering up. There’s a version of the tune for guitar in “String Band Classics for Guitar: The Highwoods String Band.” Of course I’m prejudiced, but these books contain a wonderful repertoire of great old time tunes and songs. If you’re into the style, check them out!
Song: “Who Broke the Lock?”
Finally, I couldn’t resist recording a version of “Who Broke the Lock?” which also happens to be included in the “String Band Classics” books. I love this song! Recording it gave me an opportunity to have some fun singing, playing the guitar, and swatting the mandolin on one of my favorite songs. I’ve heard it for years from various old time bands and learned it myself from The Goose Island Ramblers, a trio from Madison, Wisconsin, that taught me a whole slew of great songs and tunes. This version is a little different from the published version but I wanted to incorporate some elements from both the Highwoods and the Goose Island Ramblers. One of the things that makes this song interesting and unique is that its meter is mixed: 4/4 and 2/4 in the last staff. That gives the rhythm a little jog when you least expect it. You can perform a song like this in a variety of different styles. To demonstrate a couple, I varied the guitar comp on the recording from basic old time/bluegrass accompaniment to swing. I included a version of “Who Broke the Lock?” in my “Parking Lot Picker’s Songbook.” I hope you play it, sing it, and enjoy it!
Happy Spring,
Dix Bruce