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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: The G Run

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Bluegrass Guitar

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[MUSIC]
We've
discussed lots of ways to sort of
embellish basic rhythm patterns.
But one key technique that you can't leave
out when you're talking
about bluegrass rhythm.
And, and what makes bluegrass rhythm
specific is the G-run.
And it goes all the way back, again we
talked about sort of days of
country music and bluegrass before there
was, you know big ensembles,
and big bass and all this kind of stuff.
And how, how rhythm guitar was really
you know the main rhythmic element of an
ensemble.
And so, we've talked about alternate base
notes and roots and fifths and.
[MUSIC]
You know different techniques
that you can apply within a bar to kind of
enhance the overall picture.
And again we're breaking things down to
kind of key elements.
And working towards putting all this
together in some,
into some tunes later on.
But here's one more technique that I want
to isolate and it's the G run.
And it's sort of goes back, I think one of
the,
one of the first recorded versions that
I'm, I'm aware of.
You hear it a lot in, in old country
music.
As far as bluegrass specifically.
Bill Monroe actually played a version of
it when he
was on the Grand Ole Opry in 1939 he
recorded a version of Mule Skinner Blues.
And that's one of the earliest versions
that you can actually hear the G
run applied in bluegrass.
And another player that kind of put it on
the map if you will for, for
bluegrass playing with Lester Flatt.
And, it's good to start with him because
he had one of the you know,
more basic forms of it.
You might see, if you're aware of it,
you'll see all different kinda ways to do
it.
And the Lester Flatt version, if you, if
you create a just a, again,
we got our alternate bass G, boom chuck,
strumming strumming all kinds of.
Everything we've talked about we're now
working.
[MUSIC]
Lester would just play.
[MUSIC]
You know, so at the end of two bars.
[MUSIC]
And so it, he sorta builds to the,
the second fret of the, of the D string,
the E, into the open G.
[MUSIC]
And what it does, it,
it defines the end of this phrase.
So a way to practice the Lester Flatt
version,
we're gonna apply this to all these other
ones, is to imagine,
imagine we're at the end of a verse or a
chorus so we play a G.
[SOUND] Walk to a D.
[MUSIC].
So that's, that, that's a big component of
Bluegrass rhythm.
[MUSIC]
And
it kind of defines the next that we've
talked about how you know,
good musical flat picking and bluegrass
rhythm, you know,
is to try to make the rhythm as obvious as
possible.
And you do things with the guitar to, to
really dictate where the time is and
the feels of the things, and that's,
that's the purpose of the G run.
Really is to sorta you know, mark the end
of the phrases.
Mark let, let a listener, let,
let other people in the band know that
sorta further solidifies the times.
So, that's the basic Lester version.
Lester Flatt.
An expanded version of that is is
isolated.
Starts on the open A.
And it uses some of the, all the,
our picking techniques that we've used up'
til now.
[MUSIC]
Is the, is the, is the lick there and
so that's, that's done by sliding in
playing the open A string,
sliding in from the first fret to the
second fret.
[SOUND]
And then you got an upstroke on the D.
[MUSIC]
And
then a a pull off from fretted E to open D
again.
[MUSIC]
And then a rest stroke into G.
[MUSIC]
So
it's a way bluegrass rhythm suddenly
employs a lot of the, single note,
flatpicking stuff we've been talking
about.
So.
[MUSIC]
So there's that one.
There's if you listen to Dell McCurry he,
he came along.
And we've talked about voicings and how,
how this chord.
[MUSIC]
Sort of sounds a certain way.
Big and full, you know more happy kinda
sounding thing.
And as opposed to this version.
[MUSIC]
Little, little more.
Little meaner.
[MUSIC]
Little more to the point.
And what Dale McCurry did and other guys
around, around that,
that time you know, the 50's and 60's when
bluegrass was kind of moving on.
Instead of using the E note.
[MUSIC]
Dale McCurry played
an F note which added a whole blues
element to the to the G run.
[MUSIC]
You know you can hear the difference and,
and you know one of the things we're
trying to build here is sort of
you know a sense about how, how to use
different, these aspects in rhythm guitar.
And we're gonna you know put them all to
use here in a minute.
Or you can continue to break things down.
That's the difference in sound though.
[MUSIC]
And
that's all based out of that, you know,
major and pentatonic kind of ideas with G.
[MUSIC]
Sort of basically the, the G run is sort
of built out of a pentatonic scale that
we've already talked about.
[MUSIC]
If you don't want to do the pull off,
you don't have to.
[MUSIC]
And so the F note.
You know you can, you can hear the
difference when you, when you isolate them
both together and how the just one note
difference sort of changes the whole,
the whole character of, of that kind of
lick.
And, but again the, the why you use them
doesn't change you know.
[MUSIC]
To, to mark the end of, end of,
if you got a four bar line, you got a one,
five and then two bars of one.
[MUSIC]
You know and
the point is to try, to try to make them
strong.
They need to cut through the band and so
that's, you know,
we're building technique and trying to
build strength here.
And so if you don't want to, you don't
want to over play em, but.
[MUSIC]
You know isolate,
isolating these movements.
You'll, you'll, when you go back and forth
like that you want to feel,
if you practice this, this way,
you want to feel like the like the G run
has its own sort of internal rhythm.
[MUSIC]
You
know because it's sort of leading to home,
you know, a lot of this stuff we're gonna
get into later talks about leading back to
our, our concept of where the root is.
[MUSIC]
You know all those descending notes lead
to that final.
[MUSIC]
A big pop of G at the,
at the end of the phrase.
And that's really what especially when you
see Jimmy Martin and
some of the classic bluegrass rhythm
players.
They really had an attitude behind it.
And you know?
I encourage you to listen and
try to be aware of all the different
sounds of, of that.
Another way we'll get into a couple more
other things.
There are ways in which we play in the key
of D.
[MUSIC]
You know we talked about just the basic
pentatonic idea of a G run.
[MUSIC]
In D.
[MUSIC]
You have one built in right there.
[MUSIC]
The same
basic same basic form with your left hand.
It's just everything is moved a string, a
string lower.
So.
[SOUND] Using that same four bar idea.
[MUSIC]
Or,
there's different ways, here's another
way.
[MUSIC]
Or
into the Del McCoury attitude with a add
in the blues note.
The you know, taking the.
[MUSIC]
Playing a C.
[MUSIC]
You can make choices,
you can choose you know, I'll give you the
freedom to, to use those pull offs or not.
[MUSIC]
Or.
[MUSIC]
So there's different ways to do it.
And you know, as, as, as we grow into this
and we find different ways you know, it's,
it's, to me it's kinda neat to discover
different ways to kinda do
things like this.
Because, you know, ultimately it kind of
strengthens your sense of, of how rhythm
can be used and, and how it can really
enhance where, wherever you're playing.
So it's the G run is probably the most
element to define bluegrass rhythm as a
style.
[MUSIC]