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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: “Red Haired Boy” (Basic)

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Here's a tune called Red Haired Boy.
It's a, it's a standard for flat pickers.
It's one of these songs that as I think
back through you know, being a kid
learning learning how to flat pick, I can
never remember not knowing Red Haired Boy.
It's, it's one of the basic tunes that can
be considered a classic for this style, so
what I am gonna do is just say a few words
while I have got my capo on the second
fret, we are actually being moved up to
the key of a now, moving right along, and
you also notice that this is also going to
be one, we talk about the 1, 4, 5.
Concept three chords.
This, this also has our F form.
We talked about F [SOUND] We showed, you
know, that F form.
And so, it's a fourth chord in this,
and the, the this has sort of a, a
Scottish kind of sound.
You sort of hear this melody, where that,
where that comes from.
And so, we'll get a little bit more of
that later about
that kinda relationship and what that does
for this kind of music.
But for now we'll just, we'll just, rest
in the fact that that chords there, and
we'll get into that a little later, but
here's Red Haired Boy it's at 65
beats a minute, and I'll play the whole
thing, it will sound like this.
One, two, three, four.
One, two, three.
All right, that was the, again, the AABB
Which most of these fiddle tunes, are
gonna fall into.
And we'll jump into the A part here.
Sort of like the watch the B part of
Turkey in the Straw we discussed you know,
the rhythmic feel of the picking hand and
how to allow for, for
breaks in the traditional eighth note
down, up, down, up kind of pattern.
And immediately you're gonna find that in
this tune for the A part.
And so you know it's important you know,
all the stuff that we've talked about
continues to apply.
You know, staying loose, shoulders are
down, and
if you got your starting blocks here,
starting points of your left and
right hand, technique so your your arm
and wrist off, off the guitar the pick
back, back in towards the guitar.
So launch right into the first measure
with two pick up notes
And there's that first upstroke with a,
with that the and of one.
One and, two and, three and, it's the
eighth note.
One and, two and, three and, four and, of
four beats a bar, so,
And now back into our pattern.
that's where that, F Chord is gonna come
into play.
That melody actually dictates that the the
chord's gonna be be the F chord.
And that's gonna lead to some other stuff
we're gonna talk about of how to,
you know when the melody leads to a
certain chord, how to just sort of how
to At least know that there's gonna be
some sort of change coming up.
And we'll, we'll discuss later how to, how
to be aware of those kind of things.
And, and utilize some different sort of
ways to think about it.
So starting again slowly.
And those two two G notes, the F,
the F form at this point of the capo we're
breaking the pattern, once again,
and doing two utilizing two down strokes,
cuz they're right on the beat.
So once again, our, our,
our loose right hand dictates that we
stay, stay in that rhythm pattern.
We don't, we don't break the feel of the
right hand, even though the picking.
Is not necessarily, there's not continuous
eighth notes.
But but we're, so we're still going to
imagine that there is with the right hand
and, and not break the, the awareness of
what that feels like
And once again you'll hopefully notice
here that most of these notes fall right
out of that G pentatonic form.
And the bar is a C from the major scale.
Because this has that the F in there.
[SOUND] Which is.
So, it almost works outta the C scale
right there so, but basically all the
notes are outta.
Out of our, out of our G-major scale form
that we, that we learned back earlier on.
that's, that's the A part of Red Haired
Boy, and now we'll move onto the B.
Moving along the,
the B part of Red Haired Boy,
continues just to employ a lot of the same
things we've been talking about.
Actually starts with after the pickup
starts with three quarter notes in a row.
So, there's a you know,
good solid opportunity for you know, good
tone down strokes.
You know, back into some eighth notes.
That was a big phrase there.
And what I like about this, what this
helps work on,
is the transition from the eighth notes to
the quarter notes and back and forth.
And again, you know, to isolate this as
you're practicing, play some rhythm.
You know, find a metronome setting.
You realize that you're loose and
locked in.
So that was a series of quarter notes and
eighth notes back and forth, but again,
I'm trying to maintain this,
this even keeled sort of sense of, of what
my right hand is doing, or
your picking hand, if you're left-handed
it should be your left hand.
And so anyway, at that point in the tune.
Now we're back into some eighth notes,
more eighth notes at this point,
And that may be just something
right there to practice.
And then moving on.
Here's the whole B part again.
I want a little addendum here about the B
part of Red Haired Boy,
there's opportunities where you're playing
an upstroke on the first string
From that first bar.
And at that, that point that's when
you want to transition, as opposed to the
the picking pattern transition,
we talked about the transition from string
to string.
And when you're pick is up like that.
And again, this is continuing this,
continuing with this sorta, as,
as evened keel of a, of a, of a rhythmic a
picking as we can maintain.
It sets up just for that next fall.
Right there.
You know, we talked about and
with rest strokes way early on of setting
it up with an up stroke.
Right on the, and
then on the third string.
this is a point in a, in a tune where the,
where that, you know,
simple little isolated exercise pays off
to make the melody of this stronger.
[MUSIC] There it is.
There it is again.
One more time.
Right there with the string.
There it is again.
lots of great things to work on just in
these melodies, and once again we've,
my goal here is, you know, we're breaking
down all these basic elements of,
of strong, what makes strong efficient
flat picking.
And and you know, it all turns into
delivering these melodies and
they're, they're great melodies.
And this,
this is Red Haired Boys a tune that's
played in jam sessions all over the world.
And good luck learning it.
a few words about the playing rhythm with
Red Haired Boy.
And again, I've, you've got the different
tracks you can listen to of me playing.
And there's lots of different ideas within
But again,
at this basic level I'll just talk through
the, through the changes with you.
First, we have two bars of A.
And again, I want you to sort, I just, I'd
like just to learn this as opposed to,
to me writing it out, and showing you like
we talked about with the other tunes.
I wanna encourage you to use your ear.
It's just one of the given, given things
about playing bluegrass music is that you,
you, you know, developing an ear for these
songs and, and
being able to watch somebody and learn
When you're in a jam session and you've
come across a song that you're not
familiar with, you know, you need to able
to, you can look at somebody you know,
the guitar player and see where their
hands are and follow along.
And that's just kind of what we're doing
right here.
But we're stopping for a minute and I'll
show you what's going on.
So with Red Hair Boy, we have two bars of
the A,
we'll call it A with the G form capo.
the melody there goes to the C or the D in
this case.
We're in A and it's our, our one four five
is essentially A,
B, and E are the G, C and D forms.
But then this, this is the reason why we
refer to this as one, four, five, because
now that we've got a capo on,
even though that is technically G form, C
form, D form.
The numbers work beautifully here because
it's the same.
They're all one, four, fives.
And so, we wanna walk to the four chord.
Into bar three.
can walk straight into the down beat of
that bar halfway through bar two.
There's an out.
There's a simple way to do it,
to enhance it with a walk is-
And then back to A.
And this is where that F comes in.
All right.
Keep it on.
And then the back, the last phrase.
So here's all the thing again.
Here's with some walks.
We'll walk into the F now.
And that's basically
the form of the A section.
We move on to the, on to the B.
It actually starts right on that the F
The way we've learned it, so.
To the four,
the C form and back to the one.
And again.
So that's the rhythm for Red Haired Boy.
If you want to play along, all those, all
those downloads, the backing tracks,
there are again, four different tempos.
And as you familiarize yourself with the
melody and you know,
you hear me kinda humming along as I'm
playing and I encourage,
I encourage you to do that with all these
tunes and
all songs that you learned to be able to,
to hum the melody to these things.
Again, it's sort of laying groundwork for,
for ear training and in recognition of,
of where chords need to go and how they
need to fall.
You wanna be able to make music on your
own and, and
be able to improve on your own and that's,
that's one way to start building.
Building that is just recognition.
So, you know, just play along with the
tracks that are provided, you know,
as you fill the tempos sort of suit where
you are.
And and that's, so that's Red Haired Boy,
and we'll keep moving on.