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Fiddle Lessons: "Cripple Creek"

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All right,
our basic fiddle players have requested
Cripple Creek, the tune Cripple Creek,
which is a great, one of the great fiddle
tunes of all time.
It happens to also be one of the first
tunes that you learn when you play
Bluegrass banjo.
And it's just a great old time tune, it's
got great words.
So it's got all kinds of things to
recommend it silly words about the joys of
rural living.
And it's in the key of A, which is nice.
Let's get tuned up here, and then we'll
I'll play the tune for you.
All right, now I just wanna make sure
everybody's in tune so
[SOUND] here's our A, here's a D.
[SOUND] Get that tuned up,
you can pause, go back.
[SOUND] Nice,
positive sounding G.
Go back, and here's the E string.
And the A and E are very important on this
Wanna make sure they ring together nicely.
That's your sound of a nice,
bright A and E string.
Ringing together in harmony.
All right.
So I will now, I will play this basic
very most basic version of Cripple Creek
for you with my guitar backing track here.
And so here we go.
And you'll hear me saying Cripple Creek.
>> [INAUDIBLE] slow.
>> There it is.
One, two, three, four.
All right.
So that is our basic, very basic version
of Cripple Creek.
It still totally covers the melody and
is a lot like you would sing it probably,
if you were singing Cripple Creek.
Even though it's basic, it's still
a complete version of the melody.
It has everything that's important about
the tune.
So, I am going to show you the fingering
for this.
First, let's go and have a look here.
I'm gonna come down here, and I'm using a
four string violin, which is great.
So we don't have to [INAUDIBLE] be
So we're going to start on the highest
which is the E string with our third
So we find that note.
The A note on the E string with the third
Okay, so and then two of those.
And then the open E.
And when you take your fingers off the
strings, make sure that your
fingers are pretty close to the, stay
pretty close to the string.
So we start with this [SOUND] see how my
little finger is ready for action,
even though I don't even use it in this
tune, just in case I should have some
kind of incredible inspiration to change
Cripple Creek completely.
So here we go, two A notes [SOUND] then
open E [SOUND] and
then across to the C sharp with our second
finger on the A string.
Why don't you try that?
Second phrase starting with the second
finger on the A string.
So we get-
Let's just try that much.
So C-sharp, C-sharp, C-sharp again,
move that first finger to D.
I threw my fingers up in the air to
signify that I'm playing an open string.
But I don't want you to do that, I want
you to keep your fingers close to
the strings, even though, they're not
And then,
we're going to change to the D string.
We're going to move the bow, bring our
elbow up a little bit and then-
All right?
And we're gonna go to the second finger on
the D string.
second finger, first finger, second
That's, I'll play it for you.
Now you play it.
Now you can run this back as many times as
you want.
So that's the whole A part, right there.
Let's look at the B part.
We're going back to the A string.
And we're playing second finger.
And we're going back and forth.
Let's see, what are we doing exactly?
Oh, not that bad.
All right.
Play that.
Okay, make sure I'm playing the same
exact right thing.
You don't want any confusion at this stage
in the game.
So here's the second phrase.
[SOUND] All right?
[SOUND] So open string.
Then again-
Where have we heard that phrase before?
That also happens to be the last phrase in
the A part.
It's also the exact same last phrase in
the B part.
So that's very economical.
And it's very characteristic of fiddle
tunes all over the world.
All right, so here's the entire B part.
Long note.
Another one long note.
Okay, so.
What about that pesky bowing?
And this is I'm going to ask you do
something a little bit different here.
We'll start with, the whole tune starts
with a down bow.
So far, so good.
Every note gets one bow, right?
Now between this first phrase, right?
We've passed the first phrase.
We're gonna lift the bow and bring it an,
an, an inaudible up bow.
Set the bow back on the string and then
play the second phrase.
we just played a little bit of the
standard fiddle shuffle there.
All right.
That's all B, D, D, D, and we're working
on that.
We're doing that.
So that, that's part of this tune.
then at the end of this phrase again,
we're gonna lift that bow,
do an inaudible up bow to start the next
phrase with a down bow.
And we're gonna do that both times.
And then the same thing for the second
At the beginning of the second part.
More of that, that shuffle pattern right?
Then we turn it backwards.
this is nice, because we just played that
bow pattern backwards for the second half.
But that actually gives us,
we wind up on being able to start the next
part with a down bow.
So it all works out.
And this is, you know, the science of bow
management is really what this is about.
So one more time.
All right.
So that repeats, of course.
So, there you have it.
Cripple Creek in it's very most direct,
basic form.
So this is the medium guitar speed, track.
Here we go.
>> Cripple Creek medium.
>> What did I tell you?
One, two, one, two, three.
Okay, so, slight little different changes
in bowing, I also added.
The drone notes, the top two strings,
if you wanna try that.
First, I want you to get the bow changes
Now, again, that business with the bow
That is just
preparing us to do a lot more of this
kinda stuff in the future.
Being able to manipulate that bow for, for
maximum bow positioning.
When we're playing fast.
We wanna be able to,
take that bow anywhere we wanna go.
Start at a down bow at any point.
Start at an up bow at any point.
All that kind of stuff.
This is one step in that process to get
comfortable with
doing ghost notes and retakes, things like
So, we're doing a lot of different things,
here, with Cripple Creek,
we're doing the the shuffle.
We're doing string crossing and
we're doing beginning of bow management
All right, so enjoy Cripple Creek.
And once you've got this one under your
belt, you could try going to the,
the medium version of the more advanced
beginner, more advanced basic version
of Cripple Creek which will appear later
in the beginning series, the basic series.
So yeah.
Stay tuned for that and that will be a
little more elaborate and
will expand on the general Cripple Creek
And adding more of everything.
All right, all you Cripple Creekers.
I am assuming that you have now mastered
the basic version of Cripple Creek and
are now ready to move on to a more
elaborate version of Cripple Creek using
more notes, more bowings.
And just general starting to kind of
fiddleize it a little bit more, and
move it up the scale of difficulty.
And the scale of fun, also.
So, here we go.
I'm gonna demonstrate this to you at the
slowest speed with the, the guitar backup.
This is Cripple Creek Number Two.
Late beginning.
Should have found it in the, at the end of
the, at the end of the beginning.
It could be the end of the beginning.
Could be the beginning of the end.
We're hoping it's more the end of the
All right, so here we go, Cripple Creek
>> Cripple Creek slow.
>> What'd I tell you?
>> One.
>> Two, three, four.
All right, so that is Cripple Creek number
two at slowest.
So, what's different?
Oh, we're just adding more notes, we're
doing a little more of a shuffle.
We're second half I was definitely.
I was definitely playing that double stop
All right.
second phase is c sharp against that a.
Now, we're gonna start really honing in.
On making that sound.
We want that to sound really in tune.
We don't want any of this
You know?
Nobody wants to be flat, you know?
But, being sharp is almost as bad, maybe
worse, than being flat.
We wanna make sure we're not all.
You don't wanna It's all flat.
But, again, we wanna check against the A,
the, the E string.
When we're really in tune,
we should get a little extra buzz from
the, from the fiddle itself.
It's gonna like, ring.
You want that really nice
in-tune sound off of that.
So yeah, what else is happening here?
We're just playing more notes,
we're having this repeating.
You can do that.
And we're adding a little grace note.
This, when it's slow like this,
it sounds funny, right?
As we speed this up,
it starts to make more sense in the
context of a.
An ornament, you know.
That sounds
a little bit more like fiddle music, but I
wanted you to be aware of that.
Even playing it slow.
Just setting that difference, you know,
getting really comfortable with the
difference between playing the C-Sharp.
And the.
Lots of licks like that.
Where, we're playing both the C-Sharp and
the C natural.
Very close together as as we move through
a lick.
So this is kind of a little getting ready
just working up to that
feeling of being able to move back and
forth between those notes.
Which is so important in the fiddle idiom.
All right, so.
We'll go through this finger-wise.
Here we go.
You can also refer to your PDF that's
gonna be up, but always better to do this
by ear and by sight, I think,
you know, you kinda save a step.
So we start again same basic shape.
All right, but we're just.
Adding more notes in there.
Right, so we've got that.
And then, that, that's the first phrase.
Here's the second phrase.
Just playing these.
And then coming back and repeating using.
A and F-sharp.
So, here it's the first phrase again.
That's the whole first phrase and again
with those two notes at the end.
It links as, shoots us into the next
phrase which.
And that is a G sharp on the D string.
So we have
a wide space in between the first finger
and second finger and
another wide space in between the second
and third finger.
I want you to refer to your A major scale
if you're unclear about that stretched out
third finger.
Okay, second part.
Starting again on the a string of.
This is very close to the the,
the number one basic Cripple Creek, but
we're just going back and forth more.
Right so.
And again, we're using that.
And then the second phrase.
So, that's where we change.
Again with the G-sharp.
And remember those last two little notes
at the end of the second phrase very
important because they're gonna get you
through to either to
the repeat of the beat or to the beginning
of the whole tune.
You want it to just keep moving.
you don't even notice them if, if it's
being played.
But they are there.
Those extra little two notes you know,
designed not to be noticed, but if they
weren't there you would definitely notice.
All right.
Bowing, again.
All separate bows at the beginning.
So, we got.
We have kind of a little string crossing.
And then the second phrase we get,
we start getting into a little bit of
some, some ties.
So, that's an up bow.
So, that is all, separate bows.
So, the only place we have a tie is that
second little thing.
then in that second part, we're continuing
that shuffle theme.
All right?
And then.
So again,
if you were just to hear it without the
notes, and just one note.
That is the bowing, for the entire B part,
but we're just putting it on top of, of
the notes of, of the melody.
So, check that out, and, again,
I'll play you Cripple Creek.
The, the second version of Cripple Creek,
at a faster tempo.
Medium tempo.
2, 3, 2, 3, 4.
Okay, that's enough of that.
So, I was adding a couple little things.
And I was actually sliding.
My little finger, taking my pinky.
Starting about there.
Sliding it up.
Until, it hits.
Unison with the open E.
That is something that
I think we have even a lesson on that.
Because it's such an important part of
[LAUGH] No more strings.
So, have fun with this one.
This is starting to rock a little bit.
We have faster guitar tempos for this,
after you get comfortable with the slower
And, yeah, just a great great little dance
love to hear a video of some of you guys
playing this tune maybe at
one of the faster tempos, just to see how
that's going, you know.
All right.
Have fun.
Have fun with Cripple Creek.