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Fiddle Lessons: Muleskinner Licks in Chop Position

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We're going to stay a little
bit with that Chop Position idea that the
mandolin people get so much out of.
Because it can work for us really well.
We can do a lot with it and
it won't sound like a mandolin because we
can bend all those strings.
And we're saying bend the notes.
One of the really most popular bluegrass
songs is, of course,
The Mule Skinner Blues.
And there's a lot of different things that
we can
do in that tri position no matter what key
we're in so it would just kind of.
Just think through a few of these little
licks that we can do as far as what
involves the mule skinner blues, of course
it's got those long waits,
hey hey little water boy.
So right there.
You have an opportunity to really kind of
slide into that that note.
If we're in the key of G, for instance,
which is usually where this
tune is played, although I've heard it
done in A and B.
And depending on how high the singer can
I think Del McCoury used to do it in C.
Super human, unbelievable.
Nut, if we started in gee, and you know,
obviously that is basic gee top position
Now if we go that, we do that, and then.
so, then we go
We've got, we've got, we're bending.
Again, we're bending the third.
We're bending the fifth.
And the seventh.
And going up and down.
We have that very popular.
Drag, drag your third finger down and push
your second, your first finger up.
that's, that's a move that everybody
should have in their hands.
Any, any fiddle player should have, right
in their hands.
Ready for action.
So we're dragging our third finger down.
>> Pushing our first finger up.
And then.
That is a,
very archetypal bluegrass move.
So if we play.
And there's the second phrase.
That's kind of C.
C7 kinda lick.
We're staying with a B-flat,
rather than sliding up to B-natural.
And then back to the G.
That's a great one.
that could also, there's variation on
that, that.
Or actually.
[SOUND] Doing the classic fourth interval
here with our fourth finger.
And then coming around to the five cord.
This is like a blue although its very
stretched out.
So we finally come around to the five
[SOUND] Right?
[SOUND] Right.
So and then if we're playing like
a the great Kenny Baker we're gonna be
doing a fairly fat vibrato on the C note.
Which, because we're playing the five
chord, is functioning as the seventh
degree of the D chord.
And then.
so, looking at that again that's a great
way to wind up the whole verse.
Now your noticing that we're playing
a major zone.
And that's because.
We're actually still kind of in B, you
know, and
we're just like resolving from B back to
So again, slow.
And then ending with that very.
It's a little tricky to get.
I think you're gonna probably be spending
some time.
With this double stop.
You've got to spend some time with that.
Just making sure your hands relax while
playing it.
You know if it starts hurting If you feel
like strain shake your hand out,
come back.
[SOUND] Get the lower note first.
[SOUND] always listening to the lower note
Because the, the ear tends to hear the
higher note in a double-stop and you'll
have better luck getting the thing in tune
if you listen harder to the low note.
Now the interesting thing about this.
Is that we can do this whole thing,
in the same position in a lot of different
places on the neck.
We could go up, if somebody decides they
need to sing this tune in b flat,
we can play pretty much the same licks,
just go up, find b flat.
And then find it,
find b flat on the e string.
It's our second finger.
Same fingering, different key.
That might be a, a useful exercise is to.
Let's see.
Let's start with C, right?
So we find C on the E string.
Find it with our second finger.
Again might take a little time to find.
Find those notes, and where they're in
Don't skimp on the time you need to
get comfortable, and get in tune.
You know, if it takes two days.
To just get one of these keys.
You know, if it just takes two days to get
into C and get comfortable,
that's how long it takes.
And, you know, just wanna keep going at it
until it feels right.
And then move down to B.
And then down to B-flat.
And then to A.
then down to [LAUGH] well we could go to A
Not too many blue grass musicians do
anything in A flat.
But for the sake of argument, you know.
just practicing that our arpeggios is also
That's a lick right there that's the
Sounds like that so
playing around with that position is very
useful and works very well.