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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: “Jimmy Brown” (Basic)

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[MUSIC]
One
of the pioneers of flat picking guitar
and, and
the concept of lead acoustic guitar in
country and bluegrass was Maybelle Carter.
And she had a particular style of
combining rhythm and lead lines.
And a lot of it works great for
what we're trying to build here as far as
good flat picking technique.
And we talk smooth transitions and, and a
rhythmic sorta right, right hand or
picking hand.
And so a song I've chosen here is Jimmy
Brown.
Jimmy Brown the Newsboy is sometimes the
way you see it on CDs.
Flatt and Scruggs had a real popular cut
on this song and
and the melody, this sort of sets up as a
good it's a solo piece.
Because you know, Maybelle Carter was able
to employ a lot of rhythm and, and
lead lines in her playing.
You can, we can, there's, it's important
to us these days because you know,
it sort of connects, gives us solo pieces.
A lot of these flat picking fiddle tune
type things, that,,
you know really good with, with rhythm
players.
But this is some stuff we can work on by
ourself.
And it's great for where we are right now,
with this basic version,
because all of the boom, boom chuck
strumming patterns we've worked on,
hammer-ons, and, and of course the
transitions and keeping things loose and
rhythmic, and, and, and at the same time,
strong and clear.
We can, we can work on, with this right
here.
So, I'm gonna show you what this sounds
like.
We've got a metronome at 65 beats a
minute.
[SOUND] And here's what it sounds like.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
All right, I'm gonna play it one more
time.
Just to kinda, little, just to get your
ears a sense of what's going on here.
So, here's one more time at 65 beats a
minute.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Repeat.
[MUSIC]
All right.
I'm playing it at 65 beats per minute.
You may wanna start out at 55 or 60 or 50
beats a minute.
And again, the goal is to find a tempo
setting that feels good to you
as a rhythm player.
And as you, as you start into this song,
if you feel resistance,
if you feel like you can't keep up, find a
tempo where you can keep up.
And so the, the, it's not about playing
fast at this point.
It's about getting through this, this kind
of piece and where,
where everything is real obvious.
This is a very musical very, very nice
melody to play.
And we can play it as solo piece and it's
because there is just constant transition
with flat picking and strumming back and
forth, and it, you know, from bar one.
So, we, we'll dive right in here and I'll,
I'll work through the song.
So, it starts out with three quarter notes
after the first beat of rest so
as you count it in.
One, two, three, four, one
[MUSIC]
And a boom-chuck to start it off.
[MUSIC]
And now we're gonna hammer on.
[MUSIC]
And that right there, may be something
great to isolate if you're not used to the
hammer-on thing yet.
Because it's followed by a slight strum.
You know, we're working out of an F chord.
We're in the key of C.
Three chords.
One, four, five.
C, F, G.
[MUSIC]
And so the,
the chords that are spelled out.
First bar.
[MUSIC]
And so the second bar, again,
now we're back to this with the F.
[MUSIC]
So there's our F form.
[MUSIC]
And back to C.
And those, those two notes together.
[MUSIC]
Is that, that bar concept that we talked
about when we first looked at that
particular chord form.
[MUSIC]
And all through these things we're just,
we're trying to keep this, this, this real
tight,
consistent rhythm idea moving with big,
you know, strong full notes.
[MUSIC]
There's bar three
[MUSIC]
And you know,
there's not a lot of eighth notes in the
song that are, that are played.
There you see that, that hammer on is, is
is the is the first eight note.
[MUSIC]
And it's, and it's more or
less within the melody of the tune almost,
almost just an embellishment.
[MUSIC]
We talked about hammer ons,
and pull offs, and slides being
embellishments to the melody, and
this is a perfect example of where that
comes in.
[MUSIC]
So bar three.
[MUSIC]
And now we're back to sort,
a boom-chucking.
[MUSIC]
And this is a,
a big melodic statement right here.
[MUSIC]
And a hammer on.
[MUSIC]
To a G and a G7 chord, and
we'll get into the theory of that kind of
stuff later.
It's a G chord with a, has a.
as the F.
And that, that spells out that, that
particular voicing of that chord.
[MUSIC]
And then back to G.
[MUSIC]
And a bar strum.
So here it is the first first time
through.
[MUSIC]
And notice there's no up strokes in this
song, which encourages, the way to,
way to feel that is not to think that it's
all just stiff down strokes.
[MUSIC]
If I were to do that try,
try to just play down strokes, you can see
how,
you can even see on the overhead shot how
my wrist, my good wrist angle goes away.
[MUSIC]
But
if I loosen up, you know, I get back to
that, our starting point.
Play a, play a little boom chuck rhythm in
the key of C there.
[MUSIC]
And just try to maintain that, that nice,
even loose feel.
[MUSIC]
Like right there,
there's two quarter notes in a row.
[MUSIC]
From overhead you can see it real
well where I'm.
[MUSIC]
When I play the down stroke I'm not,
again, not.
[MUSIC]
Not trying to be almost militant with,
with the down strokes.
[MUSIC]
I'm,
I'm sort of even feeling an imaginary
upstroke right there.
[MUSIC]
Almost,
it almost in my, my hand feels like this.
All right.
[MUSIC]
To end this song.
[MUSIC]
And that, those last two bars ending in
the strum it's it's a nice it's all down
stokes and all rest strokes.
[MUSIC]
It's basically just spell out the C
cord with a hammer on the middle of it.
[MUSIC]
With quarter notes.
[MUSIC]
All right?
[MUSIC]
And that may be one thing to isolate,
isolate right there if that's, if that's a
new feel for you.
[MUSIC]
Just let me play it one more time.
I'll, I'll play it slower this time.
Let me play it,
let's try 55 beats a minute and, you can
play along if you want to.
So we'll start the metronome now.
[SOUND]
So we'll play a little rhythm.
[MUSIC]
One, two, three, four, one.
[MUSIC]
So it's just a real nice melody to play
and, and the, the Maybelle Carter approach
to guitar playing in, in flat picking and
bluegrass is a, is a real useful thing.
And there's ways we'll discover later on
on how to, sort of, embellish that,
that kind of style.
And a lot of it based out of the C
position.
And, and you know, we can use that and
sort of isolate certain things within that
to apply to, to other things later.
But this is a great song and we'll add
some more or
add some more things to that later.
So good luck with this one.
[MUSIC]