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Bluegrass Guitar Lessons: (Intermediate) Improvisation: Ragtime Annie - Rhythm

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Hey there,
welcome to the second official installment
Looking at rhythm for Ragtime Annie in the
Improv Workshop.
And to recap a little bit what we have
covered up to this point,
is basic you know, understanding the chord
progression of Ragtime Annie,.
And if you haven't looked through those,
just go ahead and,
and review it yourself here.
We're gonna move a little more quickly
moving moving into some more intermediate
to advanced kinda thought.
With some you know, de, describing the
chords and things like that.
So I'm gonna assume that everybody, at
this point,
already knows the chord progression of
Ragtime Annie.
We looked at the you know, the basic,
covering the basic ideas of the
alternating bass.
The one and the five.
And we also looked at walking bass.
Understanding sorta this concept of target
when you have a certain amount of time to
get from the one chord to the five chord.
And understanding the basic major scale
theory that hopefully we all have
memorized as well.
We're working out of [SOUND] We're working
out of the key of D.
That's our one chord.
We've got our capo on, so that's
essentially a C a C shape there.
C chord form and a major scale form will
go right along with that.
All right.
And so, we looked at you know, using those
major scale notes to.
To connect the chords.
You know we're walking, walking the bass
notes down.
And looked at different options.
Basically the idea there is to understand
where you're going.
Understand the the chord progression
enough to where you know that you've gotta
get to this
This note, this chord form,
you know at its proper, time and place and
understanding how to use,
you know, that, that space there.
That bar before that downbeat to create
kinda an interesting walk thing.
And I understand that in the
improvisational concept,
or component of this comes into play.
Because there's, there's really you know,
a huge amount of options available.
And part of understanding how
improvisation and rhythm work together.
Is recognizing your options.
Recognizing that there's,
there's different ways to get
There's really not a lot of wrong answers
There's as we mention, there's some that
are more tasteful than others and
some that seem to work better than others.
Based on, you know,
just sorta preconceived notions of what
makes good strong rhythm.
And we talked about that.
So what we're going to do now is just take
the next step.
We're going to make things a little more
complicated by using a little more time.
We'll just jump in here.
We're gonna discuss this concept.
We've had alternating bass with.
now if you'll follow the curriculum one of
the next things we get into,
is just the idea of using, alternate bass
notes within the chord.
And it kinda based on the same idea.
You've got a one, five.
Obviously that was our standard chord form
right there.
And as we're rocking that bass back and
You know,
that's the one that's underneath the basic
form, other form there.
The one, one is on top of the five,
essentially, right there.
For that split second.
And the back and forth creates that
looking at Ragtime Annie, what we have is.
All right?
So that was three bars.
On bar four
of that line there, that phrase we have
three bars of the D chord.
The one chord and to, to lead us to the
five chord.
Now and the idea of embellishing things,
keeping things interesting,
recognizing these options to use.
We've, we've learned that just playing
Works just great.
The use of alternate bass notes allows us
to kinda expand that time.
Uh,where were basically just hanging out
for the first first two and a half bars.
One, two, three, walk.
Now what I want to do is look at the idea
of walking bass notes within
the the idea of those alternate bass
notes, the rocking bass notes.
Which you know, if you've listened to any
swing guitar rhythm,
you'll see that a lot of those guys play a
different chord.
It looks like a couple of different chords
every, every bar.
Sometimes there's a concept called four to
the bar,
sometimes they'll play four different
moving kinda chord shapes within that.
This sorta leads could lead into that
kinda thought too.
But what we're gonna do right now is just
understand that we've got our one,
two, three, four.
Two, two.
You know, our bar is broken up into four
different beats.
And, and so we're not
gonna necessarily wal, rock on the one and
the five we're gonna use different notes.
And again, it's all gonna be based out of
this chord or the major scale, and
it'll sound like this.
That was the same amount of time.
One, two, three, four.
Okay, so what I did right there.
Had a bar for one,
then the downbeat of the second bar went
to this third here.
And walked.
So one, two, three, four.
Sorta hard to talk and play at the same
But that's what's going on there.
We're using alternate bass notes, so.
We're walking back down the,
the down beat of that third bar is again,
back down to the D.
And instead of.
We're gonna do a little
chromatic walk in to the third
With G shape here that A chord
the five so.
Okay and
then we're gonna keep on plowing with the
rhythm right there
That's gonna lead us back down to we're
really plant that low five right there.
So basically break that down a little
Having alternate bass notes means that
we're not
just gonna have the one as the root of our
You know, just as we looked at.
That, the rocking thing causes that to be
Just a second, and the back and
forth creates the momentum.
Now we're going to kinda suspend that time
a little bit.
We're not going to create so much of a
momentum, momentum.
But we're going to kinda use that space a
little more like we said so
Through the bar two of that line there.
You're gonna basically.
Use our major scale walk three, two, one.
And it gets to our bar three boom chuck.
And then, that leads it straight into the
downbeat of bar four.
Which is gonna be the five chord.
But again, instead of playing the root,
where I'm gonna walk to the third of the
And again,
I'm just I'm basically assuming that
traditional G chord shape right there.
Our five chord.
then that'll, that'll launch another line
here now we're in
It's essentially kinda a,
a similar type phrase as the, as line one.
Where we have three bars of the one chord,
one bar of the five chord now we have.
We're hanging out on the five chord for
three bars and
it gets us back to the, one chord.
So, so I could do something like this,
Because we're kinda hanging out on the
five chord there and,
again this idea of suspending the time a
little bit.
Not just plowing through with an alternate
rocking back and forth.
We're using our middle finger here.
We're gonna have fun with this.
We're gonna work on up to an E.
You'll see what's beginning
to happen here is we're actually creating
a little bit of a counter-melody on,
on the low end of things.
You know, and when the fiddles are in the
mandalins of whoever are are kind of
playing this, you know, rapid fire 8-note
kinda melody of the tune as, as
rhythm players, we have the option to, to
really mark that time a little bit better.
And again, I, I, and I say sort of extend
the concept of how
that time is used through, through a
slower version of that melody,
an, an alternate, sort of, kind of
low-end sort of a thing that, that still
creates a certain amount of momentum,
but it's not just, it's
So, to, from the top again.
I'll try to play a little slower.
One, two, three, go.
That gets us through the first half of A
right there.
And so, you see what we're doing is, is
recognizing that our basic chord
shape here, available notes to use as root
notes would be this third.
Also, could be this fifth note.
Again, just as it works in the rocking
I could also go.
You'll notice it doesn't work quite as
smoothly there.
that was sort of, of borrowed from our
idea that we have on the five chord of
where it was the one, the three, and that,
that sixth note right there.
You'll find the same kind of idea here.
You notice that that leads.
now for the downbeat of the five chord.
I'm actually gonna play this open fourth
But, it's still right in there.
What you'll find here also is that a lot
of these available
alternate route notes here are are sort
You're gonna find them on the, on the
sixth, the fifth, and the fourth string.
Just, you know, where your basic you know,
low end of the guitar will come from.
They act nicely as, as good alternate root
or bass notes as well.
So, you know,
there's again, we're recognizing options.
I'm, you know, I'm in improvisation mode
here, so
I'm probably not gonna play the same thing
exactly twice but what I'm feeling
is again, I've, this idea of where I need
to get to based on the chord progression.
And, basic chord progression, three bars
of one.
[SOUND] So, one bar five.
than we have three bars of five.
back to the one, for one bar.
And then, it starts all that over again.
The, the back half of A is essentially a
repeat of that same idea.
So, you know, we got, we got lots of room
for options, and so we wanna use that.
We want, we wanna.
And, we'd mentioned in the last batch that
less is more a lot of times.
And you know, this is a good chance to you
know, understand sometimes taste,
tasty playing is where, where you sort of
save start out simple and then build.
So, if I were to do that through the whole
A part it would be like this.
One, two, three.
What's, what's neat about that is starting
simpler and playing on something that
maybe, with a little more movement.
And, the back half continues this idea of
momentum and just like this.
Kinda just gets the ball rolling and, and
lets you know that there's a groove there
and what that groove is.
When you can build these ideas over three
and four bars by,
you know, suspending and, and, and using a
little more of the time that's there.
You can create bigger ideas.
And, and again, as the improvisational
component of this is a big factor
you know, that's the kind of thing that
doesn't happen immediately for you.
This is all, you know, with improvisation
there's a lot of trial and error.
There's a lot of sort of trying to listen
yourself as you play
some of the deeper concepts of
improvisation are.
You know, the more you do it, the more
you'll recognize about what works and
you sort of build a certain amount of
trust of yourself based on just again.
a lot of trial and error.
A lot of, a lot of realizing you know, I
should try that again or
realizing hey I'll never do that again it
doesn't work at all.
But, use your ear.
Trust your ear for what feels like things
that lead nicely.
Listen to listen to a lot of rhythm guitar
Listen to you know, even an old timey
music with guys like Riley Puckett had a
lot of great versions of this.
Charley Monroe with Bill Monroe when they
were a duet back in the 30's,
he played some amazing sort of alternate
base kind of ideas, a lot of walks, but
a lot of, a lot of what we're talking
about here.
Again, because you've got a duet,
you've got a smaller band situation you
can get away with more.
And, it's good to analyse what those guys
are doing.
Also in the sort of, just area of, of
trying to figure out how, you know, what,
what is good taste when it comes to
playing like this?
What, what can work?
And again, I just have to mention, in a
jam session with,
with a lot of other guitar players or a, a
really strong bass player.
You know, just be mindful of what sounds
This should all, this should all feel
should all feel fairly clean and
like it means something.
You know, the, how notes lead, you know.
Sometimes, you can just understand it as
you do it.
And, it's one of the great things about
being able to practice these things.
We've got our, our track of Darryl to to
practice with, Darryl playing the fiddle.
You know, you can, practice that as, as
much as you want to and, and
always find something different to do and,
and from that practice,
you should be able to, to glean and and,
and, and
gain some, gain a notion on how ideas can
work and how they can't.
So anyway, that's pretty much the A part
I'll play it all the way through one time
just the rhythm here.
Try to this thing along.
What i'm going to do is discuss the B
part, and then we'll just put it all
together and i'll play it with, with the
backing track with a lot of these ideas.
But, still just sort of here in the
workshop just starting
starting with kind of thing apart.
And then we'll put them together at the
So, here's one time through for the whole
A part.
One, two, three.
That was basically again, that same
eight-bar chunk twice.
And you notice I had a little more
movement in the second time.
That's gonna build more movement, will
build momentum into,
into the next part, which is a good thing.
So in this next chunk, we'll look at at
at the b section, same, same ideas of how
to embellish things, you know,
stretch this time across more of these
bars with some some different root notes.
And but, still again, just using this
major scale theory.
Just just using more notes within that,
within that same amount of time.
So check in with that.
All right, thanks.
Now, we're gonna look at the B section of
Ragtime Annie with this idea of,
of different bass notes, different root
notes within the chords.
Recognizing not just from one chord to the
next, but recognizing the amount of,
of time that we have to get from one chord
to the next.
In the B section, we'll jump right in
That's basically
the first half and what we've got there.
That's sort of like in our A section.
We have three bars of D.
And then, an one chord, one bar of a new
chord to make the four-bar phrase.
Now, we have three bars of the D, of, of
the one chord, and
then one bar of a four-chord, [SOUND],
which is essentially a G.
And then the second line is just like the
second line in the A section,
three bars of the five-chord.
And then, a repeat of that.
And then, for the very last line.
just to recap the chord changes in the B
So, you know, diving back in here with the
idea of these alternate base notes using,
using more of the time allotted and not
just playing a quarter or
eighth note walk into, a into a new chord.
what works a lot is a a sort of more
embellished version of the
through using some higher notes.
At that time I just did one, three, five.
Just, you know, going to that open third
And then, walk into the four.
Or, it could be.
And, I did the.
And again, you know,
there's recognizing the options.
There's a lot of different things that'll
work right there.
That's a little slower walk.
Again, see how it uses more of the time
creates more of a build into that four
Okay, other ideas
Again, I'm just,
I'm using all the available notes that are
So, what I'm committed to, and this is
where you, within this,
you'll recognize your options of you know,
keeping that boom chuck momentum going.
I don't wanna lose a strum for trying to
get to a bass note.
So, I'm finding things that, don't have to
move my, my fretting hand all that much.
I can basically keep this on top, here.
most of the fingers, I'm gonna use here
are the middle and, and ring finger.
That was a little,
that got a little out there.
But, it ended up with this the down beat
being on this.
We're moving to this chord.
Now, we haven't, haven't heard this chord
yet in the song.
and again, just, finding within this basic
C position,
chord form F, we're in our one and our
four available options.
[SOUND] also available you recognize here
in this curriculum for
voicing this chord wit the like this.
So, it's getting to these chords here from
from one to four.
It's a pretty smooth transition just
already built in there.
And then, the next line is kinda like what
we had in the A section.
Three bars of five chord.
One, to one bar of, of of a D one chord.
So from the top.
did a little more embellishment, right
Sorta walked down through that whole five
But, still.
Using all of that low information in that,
in that, in that basic C-Major scale open
position scale.
Recognizing I sort of had,
it felt like I had an extra note in there.
To get back to the the one chord.
But, knowing that that was my target that
was the idea that happened.
And again, we're, we're improvising here,
so the,
your sort of wall to work within with
improvisation are,
are knowing where those target beats are
knowing where those chord changes happen.
And, you know, even though I wasn't
necessarily leading right into it.
I got back to it.
You know, I, I sort of saved myself a
little bit there.
And, and you have to allow yourself that a
little bit with improvisation.
Kinda taking that a little bit on the
But being able to not freak out, when
[LAUGH] you're down there.
And, a lotta times that's where mistakes
happen in improvisation.
It's just you, you, you drop that trust
for long enough to where
you, you know, you essentially lose the
rhythm, make a mistake.
Then, you're playing catch-up the whole
So, that's why again, this is,
this is the next level here of
embellishment, where, you know,
as we move harder, move into more
challenging things with improvisation.
It opens the door to some of these other
concepts that make improvisation what
it is, which is that sort of tension and
release or allowing things
to kinda get a little far out to where
you're not totally comfortable.
But, but, understanding some of the basic
fundamentals of what the song is doing
allows you to kind of play within that
knowing that you're going to get that.
And so, that's what I'm talking about
right there, so.
And, I can do it again,
now as I'm practicing that, that okay,
that kind of actually sounds pretty good.
It's kind of nice.
It creates a certain kind of momentum
because of all that, all the alternate
route notes within that boom chuck.
And still, again, try keeping that on top,
that basic five chord.
That could easily,
just as easily be something else.
again, it's just, I'm, I'm playing and,
and at every boom within the boom chuck,
I'm going to play a different note that's
that, that feels like a walk.
It feels like it's, it, it, moves
logically within the,
within the major scale pattern.
[SOUND] And, if it doesn't, like we
discovered in the, in that,
I know where I gotta get to.
So, if I, if I am sort of, out at the edge
of the limb
you know, I can
figure out something to do to get, to pull
it back into the zone of where of where,
okay, and I, I know where the beats are.
Because again, we, we don't wanna lose the
idea that we're solid rhythm players here.
We wanna always maintain this solid thread
of rhythm.
We're never letting go of the groove.
You know, what's, what's fun about doing
things this way,
you're sort of you wanna be able to, to
listen around you.
That's one of the, you know, a real deep
sort of concepts of,
of, of good musicianship is listening to
what's around you.
We mention in, in the last batch of
recognizing if you're in a jam session.
Some of this may be too cluttered sounding
against a lot of other guitar players or
certain bass players that may be real
strong and active.
Sometimes these higher notes.
Work really well with with a,
with a more of a solid traditional bass
player that's playing more route five.
Kind of,
They can work together, and
it creates a nice little picture.
And, a lot of, a lot of good, sort of,
momentum builders right there.
But again, just sort of, it's a real
sitional way, situational kind of a thing.
And so just the, you know, the fair
warning there to to be aware,
listen, listen to what's around you.
Begin to think musically.
You're, you know, be a, be a strong
musician and
make, make good musical ideas based on
what enhances the sound of the group.
And again, little, the less is more
concept will always be your friend there.
So, looking at the back half of the B
So, that's the same thing.
Three bars of D to one bar of G, of G or
the one to the four.
notice this last line, there's a different
chord at the downbeat of every bar.
So maybe there's not as much time to use
alternate bass notes, right here.
It's just, it's good enough, it's strong
But, within that,
within those bars, there's boom chuck,
boom chuck, the second boom chuck.
So, this again, was our four chord.
Playing the one and the three out of that.
And, that leads to that open third.
And then, and that would be the fifth and
third of that, of the
C position.
So, hear how
that whole line kinda walks smoothly into
that [SOUND] downbeat of the final one?
What I like
about it is that we don't hear this
until the very last chord as opposed to
Is the, is there a little more clutter
going on, there's a lot more movement, it
doesn't really do anything.
This is, this is a, an example of where
less is more.
It seems it, it's it's tightened up as an
It still moves through all those chord
changes with these basic ideas of using,
using different root notes here within
these chords,
within our boom-chuck kinda idea.
To create one solid idea to cross all four
of those bars.
Usually, more of the time, it's there.
It's basically what we're talking about
again here.
And, you know, I could,
it's improvisation, so it could be
different, different kind of
ideas based on that same concept of trying
to stretch across this time of.
What we had.
A little more notes.
I really like when there's
more chords together within those four bar
When there's, when there's not so much
walking going on.
Again, you can feel that's it's smoother
I'll play the B part all the way through
one more time.
One, two, three.
One, made one little change, right there.
Instead of going for
that open fourth string for the five
I did
Made it more of a five seven chord
But again, we're still, all these,
all these notes are all the available
In your major scale.
All right?
So, we've covered a lot of stuff there in
a short amount of time,
but the ideas here, we're just recapping
I'm gonna play the whole song through with
Darryl and
you can kinda hear some of these ideas
that work with the melody.
Discussing alternate, alternate bass notes
within the boom chuck momentum.
Alternate root notes.
Understanding that it doesn't just have to
stay on the one chord within that rocking
alternating back and forth one five, one
Understanding how to use that time to
build to the next chord
with something a little more than just a
simple walk into the chord.
Stretching those walks out over the time
is essentially kind of what you're doing
to trying to create a certain amount of
Trying to lead to those chords.
But, it sometimes if you, if you stay
within your major scale,
like we're saying you can make a lot of
this work.
And, just, just trusting that even have
lines lead to alternate base notes that
aren't the root note on top of a chord.
Where this
is the first note you hear when you go for
the five chord, or
that's the first note you hear when you go
for the one chord.
Or, again, our, our basic ideas that we're
not loosing
are how we're kind of keeping the groove
These alternate bass notes are
They, they add color to the picture.
They don't necessarily take anything away.
They, they should, should feel like
It should feel like embellishments and
enhancements and things like that.
So let, let try to let that be a guide if,
if if you jump off into this and
practice these things.
I would look forward to to hearing and
seeing some videos.
Again, there's a, there's a lot of options
And you, understanding what this space is,
understanding where the, where the cord
changes are, you know, keeping those as,
as big factors to not, to not lose.
And you'll, and you'll, and it'll make
your rhythm a lot more effective, a lot,
a lot more deeper sounding.
And so good luck with all that.
I look forward to seeing some good
What I'm going to do now is just play
along with Daryl one time
through the whole thing.
Actually, I think he's got it twice twice
through here.
And and we'll end the video here with
So, all right, thanks.