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Fiddle Lessons: Backing Up the Singer

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One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
All right.
We're here at the Artist Works Studios.
I'm Daryl, and this is Eme Phelps,
great singer from living in New England
now.
And we are here, to inform the fiddle
players about the art of backing up.
Backing up a singer, specifically.
So we've got quite a few little, ideas
about this and
we'll hope to share some of them with you.
And get straight into the,
all the ins and outs of how to, how to
play behind a singer or a soloist.
All the different ideas that we can bring
to bear on that
very complicated and yet wonderful art.
>> You are here.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
I'm
here with Emmy Phelps and we're talking
about backing up singers on the fiddle.
So, I'm just gonna ahead and ask you right
out.
You've been doing this for a long time.
You've been singing for maybe 30 years or
something like that and
you probably have some ideas about.
What you like to hear when you're singing.
What do you like to hear behind you?
So is there any general ideas you can, you
can share with us about that?
>> Well, yes, there are.
[LAUGH] Thanks for asking me.
>> You're welcome.
[LAUGH].
>> The most important thing I would say is
know the song.
This is not a tune that we're talking
about, this is a song.
So there are words and there's probably a
story.
So it's really important that everybody
know what the story is
about, so that you can play to support
what's going on.
>> So it, are you talking about like, the
kinda the mood of the song too?
>> Definitely the mood.
You know, like any story there's usually,
same thing with a song.
You know, there's like you start off,
there's the beginning.
You set the stage.
Then there's going to be a problem so that
you know, it's like, it's gonna raise.
And then you're gonna build and the
intensity's gonna build and
then it might fall off.
And then it might come back up again.
It's like a good book.
>> [LAUGH] Cool.
>> So, you know, you wanna play and your
mood wants to reflect that.
>> Mm-hm.
>> The chords-
>> Yeah.
>> That you choose.
Your speed.
>> That's great.
Yeah.
Probably a lot to do with the style too.
If you were doing a very slow ballad or a
slow waltz,
you probably wouldn't wanna do like
mo-town style like.
[MUSIC]
And things like that.
You wanna stay.
Stay with the mood of the song.
That totally makes sense.
And I would like to add that you know,
whatever you play
you want to make the singer wanna sing the
song.
You wanna make the singer or the soloist,
whoever's doing the lead.
You wanna make them feel good.
You wanna make them feel like they're
being supported and even, you know,
if they're really good, you know, you
might be feeding them cool ideas or
using some of their melodies to support
what they're doing.
So, there's a lot of really interesting
ways to do that.
But let's first let's look at some
structural preconditions, you know.
How, how [LAUGH] like you were saying
Annie know the song.
Well, one of the best ways to do that is
to first learn the melody.
What is the melody to this song?
All right, and so we've been doing here.
We've been doing very very simple melody.
This is a big standard.
It's very popular all over the world and
string bands,
Bluegrass, old-time music, blues.
It's one of the, the, the most common
songs that you can do.
And that's one of the reasons why we chose
this one.
It's called Sitting on Top of the World.
It's kind of like a blues.
It's got a lot of bluesy elements.
So that's the first thing.
It's kind of like, well, well what's the
song about?
And its like, it's what is it?
>> What's it about?
It's about love gone wrong.
>> Love gone wrong.
>> See you later.
I don't need you.
>> Cranking out.
So, yeah, and it's, and, I don't, now he's
gone.
I don't worry, I'm sitting on top of the
world, dude!
So, that means that that gives us some
freedom to be a little jaunty and
a little bluesy.
So, the first thing we wanna do is play
the tune.
And when we play the beginning of the
tune,
I played the melody of the tune pretty
closely.
>> Mm-hm.
>> So maybe I'll just play along with you.
We'll learn that melody.
So what is it like?
It's like about six phrases, right?
Something like that.
[MUSIC]
Can you sing the first phrase?
For me?
[MUSIC]
So, I need to learn that.
[MUSIC]
I can learn it up here, or I can learn it.
[MUSIC]
And how about the next one?
[MUSIC]
Great.
So we've got the melody, pretty much.
I mean, it might take, we gotta remember
it.
[MUSIC]
Let's,
let's see if we got the melody here.
One two three.
[MUSIC]
And, it helps to sing along,
sing the words along with, when you're
playing it, getting those getting,
getting the melody together because you're
thinking about the length of words.
[MUSIC].
You might not wanna do that.
[MUSIC].
You might not wanna play a very long note.
[MUSIC].
Now you can, you can, one sunny day.
You can let that one out, right?
You can let that kind of.
>> That's nicer then.
>> Cause it's like a vowel sound.
Cuz you can't, it's hard to sing.
[MUSIC]
>> Yeah.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
So that's pretty.
So, each, each line has its own character
that we can bring out.
But what what we're looking for is what is
the melody.
You know, we wanna just know the notes.
Because that's really gonna be important
for
one reason because if we play the same
notes as a singer
while she's singing them, it's kind of a
disaster, it's not good.
That's one of our big don't, no, no's, is
don't fight.
>> Don't.
>> And, let's try this,
let's see what happens.
>> Because you know the singer might
decide that he or
she wants to interpret over the work just
slightly different.
Okay.
>> Yeah, it-
>> So-
>> And, and in addition,
you're trying to sing in tune, and, you
know, concentrate on what you're
doing, and really communicate that tune,
and if you're somebody going.
Okay.
>> Okay.
[MUSIC]
[LAUGH].
>> I'm exaggerating a little bit here
[LAUGH] but, everybody hears.
>> It's true.
>> Intonation differently and,.
You're gonna, you know, there's gonna be
clashes.
And also it's gonna distract attention
from the sound.
And it's just gonna be a horrible car
wreck.
And you're not gonna be asked back to the
jam or the concert, or
whatever's going back, back down.
Because that's, it's just not, not gonna
be that fun.
So, what's our first order of business
that find a melody,
and then stay off of it.
What's a good way to stay off of it?
Evolve in harmony.
Let's think harmony could be to that
melody.
That could be above the vocals,
which you pretty much have to be above the
vocals when you have.
When you're a male singer, but
it's good if you possibly can to kind of
get below the vocal.
Either volume wise or you know, in your
range, you know.
>> Especially in the early part of the
tune.
>> Yeah.
>> For when you want a quieter
presentation.
You wanna be on the low of that melody.
>> So let's go ahead and let's see why
don't you just
I'm gonna try to just get a harmony going
right on the spot here.
Can you go ahead and sing the first.
[MUSIC]
>> Okay, one, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Okay, only scoot it up right at the end.
Everything else is pretty good.
>> Cuz I changed it.
>> Ho-ho, okay, let's try it one more
time.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
So that was a, a rough harmony that works
pretty well.
The thing with, with, with back up
harmonies, it doesn't have to be exact.
In fact, it's better if it's not really
exact.
In fact, let's take that harmony.
[MUSIC]
And let's smooth it out,
let's make it a little less specific to
the words, all right?
Let's try it one more time.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
So what did I do there?
I went.
[MUSIC]
I just went.
[MUSIC]
And then
[MUSIC]
So I'm just taking out the little details
and just kind of smoothing everything out
by like,
hanging out on those harmony notes behind
the, the words.
And that's a great way and then you start,
you start seeing.
[MUSIC]
>> Right, so you start singing maybe an
even little melody, a little line.
>> Well, you're getting that nice, I mean,
you're making me wanna sing because now I
like to tell the story.
>> Yeah.
>> When there's like, this beautiful.
Cushion.
>> Yeah.
>> Right under you.
>> Cool.
All right.
>> Would be good.
>> Yeah.
So, that's that's maybe the first way to
do it.
Now why, why did that, those harmonies
work,
because we're also thinking about the
chords.
And that's our next exciting adventure,
what are the chords?
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So this is Darol and
I'm back here with Emmy Phelps, and we're
talking and thinking about backup.
Backing up all the ins and outs, and
backing up a vocalist, or
a soloist on the fiddle.
And we are thinking now, what's, we're
still analyzing what the song's about,
how, how to do this and we're looking at
structural,
we're looking at the bonds of the tune.
We're looking at the skeleton, and part of
that is what are the chords?
Most songs in the western musical
tradition have chords.
So we're just gonna look, look at what
these are.
Now this is Sitting on Top of the World,
and there's a,
three main chord, possible chord
progressions to this tune and
about 100 little sub variations.
So we are chosing one of the most common
chord progressions.
So again, I'll, I'll play the melody.
Can you call out the chords Emmy, as I
play the melody?
>> I can sure do that.
>> One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
>> D.
[MUSIC]
G.
[MUSIC]
C.
[MUSIC]
What's next?
>> Okay, now that's an interesting thing
too,
because we might be playing bluegrass and
the guitar player might have a capo on.
>> Exactly.
>> On their so
they might be calling chords that would be
different from the chords that the fiddle
player is actually playing.
So that's a really good opportunity to go
with what I
always am ranting about in these lessons
is the numbers.
Now we're talking about not you know,
lining up cords with numbers.
So that way, we know we're in the key of A
for this tune.
And so we're gonna start on the one chord
and
see, see how that goes, you know?
So, here we go.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Great.
Okay, so that is the, the chord
progression that we're using, and
that continues to repeat in a cycle.
There's a couple if other very common
ones,
which we might just wanna go through.
I can call these out.
Again you could, we could do this with
numbers, or
we could do it with the names of the
chords, actual chords.
But let's do them within the, keep it
within numbers.
So I'll, I'll go ahead.
You, let's just I'm gonna try this, you
know,
because the singer's usually singing the
song.
And if you're trying to teach people on
stage what's going on, if you're
like me and Bec Ober, sometimes it's the
fiddle player, I should do this too.
Everybody should be able to call chord
numbers while they're playing.
That's a very important skill that comes
in handy at the coffee shop, at the bar,
at the club, in the jam session.
Everywhere hopefully but the Carnegie Hall
concert hall where you're hopefully not
calling chords to people who don't know
what they are.
[LAUGH] All right.
So here we go.
Here's our alternate chord pattern that
we're,
that can be used for this particular tune.
Whatever it is.
Sitting on Top of the World.
Okay, here we go.
One, two, three, and we hear it as a one.
[MUSIC]
It's, it's, so far it's the same.
[MUSIC]
And here's the minor six.
[MUSIC]
And one and five back to one.
So you'll hear that a lot.
You'll hear that.
So that's just it's only different in the,
in the last half, and
then there's one other one which I don't
think we're gonna do,
because it's actually the same one as to
what we were doing.
So, those are the two variations.
We're gonna pick the variation without the
minor sixth in it.
And so that's what we've been doing.
[SOUND] So let's go back and say, okay, so
what are those chords?
Let's we'll just, I'll just spell, I'll
just kind of.
[MUSIC]
I'll just play slow arpeggio.
Just to arpeggiate out those chords.
Here we go.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
All right, so we could do that or,
we could find some nice double stops to go
along with that and
then I'll try the bottom two strings.
One, two, three and.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
I could play the middle two strings.
Let's try some double stops on the middle
two strings.
One, two, three and.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
And then I can play something and
this so that's the general.
So we, as we get comfortable just playing
these different double stops we start
mixing them up and then using those double
stops to follow the contour of the melody.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Let's
try it one more time and I'll try to kind
of follow,
kind of stay around the melody and play
some double stops that work.
Still, basically just playing a very
smooth sort of long backup.
But this is one of the things that the
fiddle can do.
That you're not gonna hear from the
mandolin or the banjo.
And not, probably not even the guitar at
this point.
So this is one of the things that we do,
because it's the thing that nobody else
in the band can do, unless you have, like,
a or a pedal steel or something like that.
So but we're talking mostly about acoustic
music here, and if somebody's
lugging a pedal steel to your jam, you are
a lucky person and [LAUGH].
>> That's for darn sure.
>> You probably don't need this backup.
>> Then you'll be really glad though that
you practiced this melody and your harmony
and your double stops, because you will
find place on your fiddle to go that will.
>> Get out of the way.
>> Yeah, you'll be out of the way of the
pedal steel.
And.
>> So, let's, let's try that.
Let's see what, okay, let's see if I can
play some double subs as sort of
kind of stay on the way of the melody and
yet, surround it.
And sort of give you some, some, some, you
know, nice warm back that-
>> Do you want me to sing?
>> Yes, please.
>> Okay.
>> One you can sing
any other verse by the way.
[LAUGH] We were just singing that same old
verse.
>> Oh, gonna move.
Yeah, how about the peaches?
That's a good one.
[INAUDIBLE] One two, three.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
So there's a, kind of a,
a nice way to sort of start kind of just
staying with the melody, but
just trying to surround it with, with
something that's, that's comfortable.
Okay, so that's one of, that's very
important.
I think we've covered a lot of things
right there.
You know, that, that stuff is important to
do.
But there's some other approaches to back
up that we can certainly think about here.
And I'm thinking that probably one of the
most interesting ones is the idea
where the backup person is really having
sort of a musical melodic conversation
with the with, with singer or the soloist
and that's an art in itself.
And there is some great you know, great
backup artists who, who,
who did a great job in that.
One of the first really fabulous musical
conver, ongoing musical conversations
was between Billy Holiday and, and the
saxophone player Lester Young.
>> Mm-hm.
>> And just because that guy was playing
the saxophone doesn't
mean that we can't learn from, from great
musicians, like Lester Young.
So, I would encourage you to go find some
of those
great recordings from the, from the 30s,
and 40s.
And track those down, and see how, those
two worked it out.
And played, played together.
But, in the mean time, the very first
thing that we can try when
we're doing this musical conversation is
to go ahead and
answer, you know, this is an ideal song
for that, for that kind of thing.
>> It's perfect.
It really is.
>> Because you have a phrase.
It was in the spring.
La, la, la one sunny day, la, la, la.
[LAUGH]
>> My sweetheart left me.
>> La la!
>> La la la la.
>> So it's back and forth, there's big
spaces that
are almost the same length as the actual
phrases themselves.
So this lends itself perfectly.
Let's try that.
We don't like bad peaches.
>> Okay.
>> One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Yeah, so that was interesting because I
just pretty much played the same melody.
I answered with that with totally works
with this kind of thing.
If you have those big phrases, it's like
total tonal response kind of stuff.
It works with blues and gospel, all that
kind of thing.
So, that's one way where you can play the
melody as an answer to the vocal,
and, and just make sure, that when we're
doing this,
that you get out of the way of the next
line, that's very important.
Let's try it, if I, if I was just, if I,
[LAUGH], let's try the bad way to do it.
>> All over again.
>> Okay.
>> All right, say them.
Same the words?
>> Same the words, okay?
One, two
[MUSIC]
[LAUGH] Oh, that was terrible.
So that kind of thing obviously is gonna
also get you not asked back.
But the idea that you wanna kind of fade
or
end as a singer is singing the next note
and.
Ideally, you're, you end on a note that
the singer can harmonize with, and can
come in on, that gives the, the singer or
the soloist a cool note to harmonize with.
And that's a whole art in itself too.
>> Which takes you right back to really
know this song.
>> Yeah.
>> Really know this melody.
>> Really know the song.
>> And know those harmony places to go to.
>> So, that's a good opportunity here to
think about, you know,
what those melody those harmony notes
would be to the next part of the melody.
So, I'm gonna try just playing more of the
harmony but as an answer.
So let's try that.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
>> Right?
So, then we have, then we're,
then we're, start thinking about yeah, how
is, how is that gonna work?
And that, if we're playing a harmony
generally, we wind up in a place where,
that's not the same note as the singer.
Sings, but that's, depends completely on
the song.
Like where those melody notes start again.
So that just happened to work for that
song, but you really, that's again, and
you know, you wanna spend a little time
thinking about where those melody notes
are coming in and after a while, you know,
it becomes a little bit more automatic.
At, at first it's a lot of thinking, a lot
of brain work but
it does get easier as you do this.
Again, just like anything else.
So, that's there's another another tactic,
here.
Another way to get, get get some nice
backup, and answer the singer.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
All right we're back,
backing up, continuing to back up and I'm
here with Emmy,
and this is another idea in our ongoing
series.
We've talked about just providing a
harmony back up,
a bed for the singer, or soloist to, to
sing over.
We've talked about answering.
We've talked about knowing the chords,
knowing the structure of the song,
knowing the melody and harmony.
So what else?
What other ways can we back up a song?
There's for, especially for tunes like
this, these kind of bluesy tunes that,
that have, you know, kind of like, kind of
a rocking kind of component.
We can play little riffs.
We can play repeating things.
Now if we, if I play.
[MUSIC]
This is common in Bluegrass where I
just play fiddle tuney kind of riffy
things all over the place.
Let's try a little bit of that.
>> Okay.
>> Now when you do stuff like this,
it's really important to back away from
the microphone.
You have be, if you're playing busy,
behind a singer, you have to be quiet.
You know you can't be well, yeah.
It's pretty obvious.
And, and if you've been watching the rest
of this,
you'll, you'll understand what I'm talking
about.
So I'm gonna play quietly and just kinda
keep going.
And then we'll talk about why that might
have worked.
Or, why it didn't work.
Okay.
>> Okay.
>> All right.
How about that last verse?
>> Last verse.
Okay, Sitting on Top of the World.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
>> So that wasn't too bad right, I mean,
was that too distracting?
That's the kind of backup you're probably
going to hear a lot of in Bluegrass where
the backup person basically, it's an
alternate solo opportunity.
>> That's what I was gonna say.
It's like, it's a little distracting.
>> Uh-huh.
>> If you were like, maybe about six feet
back.
>> Mm-hm.
>> It might be okay.
>> Yeah, and that's kind of cool, you
know, yeah.
But it really has to be in the background.
Now, there's a way to do that stuff that
can be a little less
distracting if you do the same thing over
and over again.
Lets try that.
>> Okay.
>> One two one to three and-
>> Sorry.
>> One two one two.
[MUSIC]
Right, so,
what happens there is it's like, it's
kinda like crickets, you know?
>> Mm-hm.
>> Or,
or you're just setting up kind of a
rhythm.
[MUSIC]
After a while it might sound busy at first
but as people hear the repetition it
starts to you
know it just you turn off to it.
People hear, change.
People [CROSSTALK] notice changes.
If something just keeps going, keeps
going, then you start to it,
it fades into the, the background in a way
that's very nice, can be very nice.
And that's pretty much the whole principle
of banjo playing right there in
a nutshell.
We were playing the same over and over
again.
And it just, and it becomes this
very nice kind of repetitious thing that
just really drives the rhythm without
getting too much in the way of what the
singer's trying to do, or the soloist.
So that's a really great way of playing
actively.
It's just kind of finding a little riff.
You know that kind of works.
They're kind of standing on that.
And that actually helps cuz it kind of
ties,
helps tie the rhythm of the band together
and keeps everything kind of moving along.
And there's all kinds of, there's those
kinds of fiddly riffs.
[MUSIC]
Right?
And there's also kind of, there's the
sound like they might horn, horn things.
Let's try, let's try another verse.
[SOUND] Of that.
And I'll try to play something that's a
little bit more like a horn riff,
that might.
[SOUND].
>> Okay.
>> Or like,
even a electric guitar riff, okay.
One, two, one, two, three, four.
>> [MUSIC]
Don't you come here running,
holding out your hand.
I'm a do right woman, you're a no good
man.
[MUSIC]
>> I love doing these riffs, as you can
see.
[MUSIC]
You know, so that kind of thing.
[MUSIC]
Right, so all that kind of stuff.
There's just a lot of great riffs to be
played.
You can listen to Vassar Clements.
You can listen to people like oh,
all kinds of great, great fiddle players
have gotten into this, this riff thing.
Dale Potter, King of the Riffs.
So that and, and in all the great you
know, people like Johnny Gimble,
those kind of fantastic kinda Texasy kinda
players who are playing swing.
Very good riff players so that's, that's
one way to kinda get, get into, like,
some really cool.
Back up I need is, make ups could be
riffs.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
I wanna discuss one more thing we're gonna
go back to the chords and how, what
happens when the chords change.
That is one really important kind of
principle of,
of backup in general, not just you know if
there's a vocalist,
not even necessarily if there's a lead,
but
just playing making the changes, what we
call making the changes, that means
that you might not play that much but you
only play where there's a chord change so
we have to evolve some ways of playing.
Some fairly melodic ways of playing,
making the change in the chords and
we, so we're only really playing when the
chords change so
let's go ahead and, and try that.
So yeah.
Luckily these chords are not that
difficult.
Let's see.
Okay so.
One, two, three.
And.
[MUSIC]
So I'm not doing to much here
coz there's no
[MUSIC]
>> Right?
>> So, okay, pick up.
So we're gonna try, I'm gonna try just
playing when there's a chord change.
All right, so then really just accenting
the chord and
playing cool stuff over the actual change
of the chord, here we go.
One, two, one two, three and
[MUSIC]
I'm not really playing.
Here is the change.
[MUSIC]
Let's do a little bit more of that.
So, you can see that when I'm dueling, you
know,
everything that I'm doing is kinda around
how to change those chords.
And that's some of the most brilliant
backup licks.
Like when you hear great backup artists,
you're hearing them play the corners.
They're going around corners in a really
cool way.
Every time there's a chord change, they'll
play some amazing riff.
And the, the guys from Nashville are
really the king of this stuff.
And you'll people like Stewart.
All the great you know, fiddle players all
look and, and especially the great
pedal steel players and, and slide players
have, you know.
They just, they spend their lives making
up amazing-
>> [LAUGH]
>> Licks that that,
that go over a chord change.
You know, where, and that's kind of gets
in the science of you know that circle
of fours, and how chords do change, and
how chords,
like an A chord is gonna go to a D chord,
very often.
A D chord is, might go to an E chord, or a
D chord might go to a a G chord.
Things like that, you know a G, you just
develop a sense for how chords.
Change, and there's a lot,
that's sort of the science of jazz
improvisation, right there.
So it's learning these cycles, you know,
these chord cycles.
So let's do it one more time, and I'll
just try to figure out some cool,
cool riffs to play over those changes and
it's really,
there's not, we have a big, long section
where it's just one.
>> Just one.
>> And so I'm not gonna be even, I'm just
gonna hang out, you know,
because there's really you could play.
[MUSIC]
You could make a little change.
You could go back at four.
[MUSIC]
In fact,
I was doing that with a riff, right?
[MUSIC]
I was going back.
[MUSIC]
I was going.
[MUSIC]
One.
[MUSIC]
Four.
One.
Four, [MUSIC] one,
[MUSIC]
four.
[MUSIC]
So I'm making the one chord more
interesting by making little sub changes
back and forth.
In, within the chord itself.
So so yeah.
I'm just gonna make some,
make some changes of my own within the
context of this.
This tune okay here we go.
One, two, a one, two, three and
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Lets keep going.
[MUSIC]
So a lot of what I was doing was sort of
in like when the, like, the one chord goes
to the four chord,
you're gonna that motion usually.
You can put a set, and you can make that
one chord into a seventh chord.
So if we're playing a G chord about to go
to a C chord, right?
I just go ahead and play the G chord.
[MUSIC]
I can add a seventh [SOUND] right?
[MUSIC]
Right?
So I can play that.
I can play that.
[MUSIC]
I can play like
[MUSIC]
It's all kind of crazy.
[MUSIC]
I can even play like,
I can even play like a whole seventh
chord.
[MUSIC]
That,
that's the flat seventh chord, that's like
a G chord.
Still over the A chord
[MUSIC]
and then, and
that works because we're about to go to
the D.
[MUSIC]
So
there's a whole world of cool licks,
seventh licks going to.
The four chord.
So yeah.
Can we go back and forth between G and D
like one, two, G, two, three, four.
>> Mm hm.
[MUSIC]
>> C, two, three, four.
One, two, three, four, four, two, three,
four like that a little bit.
Okay.
One,
two, a one, two, three, four
[MUSIC]
All right.
So,
there's all those kinda things that are,
are, are very cool that, that can be done.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
When you get in something like that,
one going to the four, you can really
lead, you know with that stuff.
It's called forcing the change.
[MUSIC]
Right?
And hopefully that, you know and I'll
obviously you know,
if somebody is singing, you don't want to
go.
[MUSIC]
>> Please dont [INAUDIBLE] [LAUGH].
>> You don't want to do your fancy jazz
lick.
[MUSIC]
But
[LAUGH] you can just kind of lean on a
nice smooth set of chords.
Right?
>> Yeah.
>> Yeah.
[LAUGH].
Right.
So, that's also really important and
remember, we're still talking about
backup, you know?
>> Yeah.
>> So, but
all those fancy jazz's can be slowed down,
smoothed out and
made into a really nice kind of and, and
it really depends on the singer in a way.
Because you know, if, if you're playing
ninths and things like that against
the against, against the melody, it can be
distracting and,
and hard for the singer to sing the
melody.
[LAUGH] Especially if you're singing like,
birds in the spring.
Can you just the melody a little, so we
can demonstrate?
Birds in the spring.
>> [MUSIC]
Birds in the spring.
>> Yeah, can you sing that?
Birds in the spring
[MUSIC]
Yeah, yeah.
>> Yeah.
>> Okay, one, two, three.
>> [LAUGH].
[MUSIC]
>> Yeah, that's very hard to sing
[MUSIC]
a C sharp against a B.
[MUSIC]
one, two, three.
>> [MUSIC]
Birds in the spring.
>> So those kind of notes, you kind want,
you know, so those, those kind of ex,
upper seventh extensions you kinda want to
stay away from you know,
I've had very good very excellent
students, violin students and
friends who I play a lot of these kind of
notes in instrumental music.
And she really is a great player.
And, and developed her own way of playing
those same kind of notes.
And, but when she started backing up
singers she got asked,
you know, very in a very, you know or ex,
a very,
you know, like, loud way to please don't
play those notes while
I'm trying to sing because any note that's
like a.
[MUSIC]
Like a second away is gonna really cause
problems.
So again, you know, we're just really
looking for stuff that really just,
you know, makes the singer wanna sing the
song and so we're always thinking about
a good harmony, really straightforward
harmony that really works, you know.
>> That's not to say that, every so often,
you know, that, that second is just
exactly what's needed.
But, develop that together [LAUGH].
>> Yeah, that's a, that's a great way of
thinking about it.
Okay, maybe you know, at this point in the
song, there's a really important spot, or
something very exciting spot that this
might work.
Let's see if we can make it work, maybe if
we do it in an octave that's way up,
[MUSIC]
you know, way far away from the note
you're singing it can actually work.
So that's another thing, you know, where
you're gonna play.
If you're playing, it's good to try to
stay somewhat outside
the range of the singer, especially if
you're doing a little more active.
With the fiddle that probably means
playing way up, but
again if you're playing above.
Up here.
[MUSIC]
If you're playing super active up here,
it's going to really distract attention
from what's supposed to be the main event,
and, again, if you're up here, I'd say do
more repetitious stuff.
[MUSIC]
Or, just really long notes.
[MUSIC]
Right,
so, just stuff that is smooth is gonna be,
you know, that's gonna work a lot better.
Yeah, so yeah.
And just being aware of the range of the
singer and
what, what is being sung is, is so
important with this stuff.
I'd also like to say that a,
a good rule of thumb is if the singer is
singing something active,
then to not be active and then if the
singer is singing a long note,
that might be a great way, great place to
get a little bit more active.
I think that's, if you were to, you know.
>> Depending on the, depending on you
know,
what the phrase is and what the words are.
What's going on there.
>> Yeah, huh.
>> In that.
>> Yeah.
That's true because if there's something
and that brings up one of
the best back up tactics of all is the
technique of, I will demonstrate.
>> Not playing.
>> Not playing and a great place,
to not play, is usually, the last verse of
the song.
And especially if it's a story song,
something that, that has you know,
a development.
That last verse of the song, is where
everything sort of comes together.
And you really want attention to be
focused on the story.
And if it's a really great song it may
have you know, like, it might be like some
kind of some joke or some trick in the
last verse, like some surprise and
you want that surprise to come through and
that's a great place to just.
Take the bow off the string [LAUGH] and
look at the singer,
watch the singer you know.
And, and just, know,
you're trying to direct attention on
what's supposed to be in front,
you know, and what's supposed to be the
most important thing that's happening.
And, so that's a good, a good place to
just go.
Well it's going okay.
You know ,and then and by doing that if
everybody's watching what's-,
.
and
the person that's supposed to be
delivering the, the goods,
then it encourages the audience to pay
attention to that, that, that part too.
So that's really-
>> Yeah.
Because we don't like the audience
watching the distracting fiddlers.
[LAUGH].
>> Or going like oh hey yeah how ya doing?
Yeah. What. What's going on?
Yeah, hi.
Oh, I, yeah.
Oh, [LAUGH] did you meet that other
person?
That you, [LAUGH] yeah, that's really bad.
It's yeah, again, not so good.
So, just to recap here things not to do.
Do you wanna fight the vocal or lead by
playing the same notes.
Playing in the same range, playing
complicated melodies under a complicated
vocal, don't play complicated intervals
against the vocal, don't play complex
melodies against a vocal, and don't play
against the mood,
or don't play against what the song is
trying to tell you.
Unless it's Breck's, Veritol Breck.
There's some kind of ironic song like you
know?
Like
[MUSIC]
you know, it's suppose to be.
It was su, suppose to be some kind of
jokey horrible thing, you know?
That, those are rare in in American string
band music.
You usually have to go to music hall
Germany to get those kind of songs.
Anyway, so, okay, that, that kind of thing
is what you you wanna do.
And then what you, course, you wanna do is
make the singer wanna sing,
stay with the story, stay with the spirit
of the song.
Now if it's a slow song don't play a bunch
of fast stuff.
Learn the harmony, know the harmony know
both the chordal harmony and
the melody and the harmony and so a couple
of harmonies to the melody and
make those changes.
When the singer's singing an active part,
don't be active.
When the singer is taking a breath, that's
when your chance to play more stuff
depending on the, on the mood of the song.
So that's all good.
All right, great.
So let's go ahead.
And play our song one more time, and
I'll try to put all these things into
practice as we go.
[LAUGH] Yeah, I hope you'll still be
excited after we, after we finish.
All right, so here we go.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
We're gonna,
again, we're gonna just go all the way
through Sitting on Top of the World.
And I will attempt to use a bunch of the
ideas that we've discussed in,
in an exemplary manner, and make it all
feel good, and
have the whole thing just work out
perfectly.
All right, here we go.
Ready Annie?
>> I'm ready.
>> All right, here we go.
One two three.
[MUSIC]
All right.
>> [LAUGH]
>> Sitting on Top of the World.
>> Fine backup.
>> [LAUGH] Thank you so much.
[CROSSTALK].
>> [LAUGH] All right.
>> And corners.
>> [LAUGH] Thank you.
All right, so, hope this is useful and if
you have any questions about anything.
Don't hesitate.
Send in a video or anything like that
we're gonna be putting up
a tape that you can play it backup a long
tune of this very same tune.
And certainly happy to address any
questions about any of this,
any of these lessons.
Either in the forum, or as part of a you
know, series of video responses.
So, get out there and back up and push on
your fiddles and happy back upping.
Good, good luck.
[MUSIC]