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Cello Lessons: “Cluck Old Hen” (Beginner Bluegrass Tune)

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[MUSIC]
Cluck Old Hen is one of the really
popular old time tunes, and
it's gonna be in a new scale again.
It's in D minor pentatonic,
which is related to D minor.
But we're actually just gonna
leave a couple notes out.
We'll get more into that
in our next lesson.
But let's just learn
the melody of Cluck Old Hen.
[MUSIC]
So again, cuz it's a minor scale,
we're gonna have a second finger on
the D string, and on the A string.
We're not gonna use third
finger at all in this scale.
Repeat after me.
[MUSIC]
That's two notes on a down bow.
We're gonna slur it.
Ready, play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
I'll keep adding to it.
[MUSIC]
Ready?
Play.
[MUSIC]
Keep adding to it.
[MUSIC]
Two,
ready, play.
[MUSIC]
All right.
The second phrase goes like this.
[MUSIC]
That's all as it comes with the bowing.
And it's just four, four.
[MUSIC].
Play that, ready?
And.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
I'm going to put it all together now.
Listen once, you can sing along.
[MUSIC]
Were going to end in
an upbow with this phrase.
Let's try it together.
Three and four and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's try it one more time.
Make sure that the first two
notes are slurred on a down bow.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
We're gonna add
in what's called a push.
A push is a really important bow
technique, in old time music.
It's actually one of my
favorite bow techniques, and
I didn't discover it until I
started learning old time tunes.
But basically,
I'm gonna end that last note
[MUSIC],
and halfway through that last note,
I'm gonna accelerate the bow speed.
[MUSIC]
And even give a little extra arm weight.
So start in up bow, it's gonna be, up.
Whenever we verbalize a push,
we'll say it like that, up.
Let's try it again.
Up bow on the fourth finger,
on the D string.
Ready, play.
Up.
Good.
So what's that gonna do,
is that's gonna give us a rhythmic moment,
right there, but
we don't have to change
the bow direction or the note.
So it's a really great thing
to be able to throw in there.
Listen to the phrase one more time, with
a push on the up bow, on the last note.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that together.
Ready?
And.
[MUSIC]
Whoop.
Nice.
The second half of this A section starts
the same, but has a different ending.
I'll play the whole second half,
so you hear how it hangs together.
[MUSIC]
So
it's just those last notes that are new.
[MUSIC]
But we're gonna throw in the up
bow push again on that last long note.
Repeat after me.
This is a downwards D minor arpeggio.
We're going from the A string
to the F to the D.
[MUSIC]
We're throwing in that fourth finger too.
Listen one more time then
we'll play it together.
[MUSIC]
Ready?
Play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's put the whole A section together.
That's the whole A section already.
I'll play it once.
I want you to sing along, and
see if you can sing the bow pushes.
Up.
And just give it a big,
extra amount of breath.
Up.
And you can make your eyes get really big,
too.
Up.
Let's try it.
I'll play it, you sing along, then
we'll play at the second time together.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
Up.
[MUSIC]
Up.
[MUSIC]
Up.
[MUSIC]
Up.
Let's play it through both times.
That's how it'll happen in the tune.
We'll have two A sections,
like we do for most fiddle tunes.
Let's play it twice through together.
One, two, Cluck Old Hen.
[MUSIC]
Up,
[MUSIC]
Up, again.
[MUSIC]
Up.
[MUSIC]
Up.
Very good.
That's the A section.
The B section is a little easier,
and it goes like this.
[MUSIC]
Cluck old hen, cluck and squall.
You ain't laid
an egg since late
last fall.
You notice that ending in the B section is
the same ending we had in the A section.
That's really common in fiddle tunes,
to have the same endings.
Let's learn it, phrase by phrase.
Repeat after me.
[MUSIC]
Ready and play it.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Now, starting up bow from there,
the next phrase goes back down.
[MUSIC]
It ends on fourth finger, on the G string.
[MUSIC]
Listen one more.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it together,
three and four, up bow.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
let's play both of those phrases together.
Sing along the first time,
play the second time.
[MUSIC]
Ready?
[MUSIC]
Play.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Can you guess what we're gonna
do on those two long notes?
We got short, short,
long, short, short, long.
If you said a bow push, you are correct.
So we're gonna do a down push.
[MUSIC]
Down.
And then an up push.
[MUSIC]
Up, down, up.
Let's try that together.
Why don't we just play it through twice?
Just that much.
Three, and four, and.
[MUSIC]
Down.
[MUSIC]
Up.
[MUSIC]
Up.
Good.
Now, this phrase is going to continue.
Like this.
[MUSIC]
Repeat
that after me.
One, two, sing along the first time.
[MUSIC]
Ba ba ba ba.
Now let's play it.
Three and four and.
[MUSIC].
Throw in a little push there, at the end.
Let me put all of that together.
Sing along the first time.
Feel free, again as always,
to verbalize the finger numbers, or
the bow directions, or
if you have time, you can do both.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
Let's try
that together.
Three and four, and.
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Good, we're ending
with that push there.
That's the whole tune.
Cluck Old Hen is a simple tune.
Let's play it through
all the way together,
before I teach you some other things
that'll make it sound even better.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
From the beginning,
which goes like this.
[MUSIC]
In case you forgot.
Let's try it all the way through together.
One, and, two, and,
three, and Cluck Old Hen.
[MUSIC]
Don't forget
the bow push.
[MUSIC]
Push.
B section.
[MUSIC]
Push.
[MUSIC]
Repeat the B section.
[MUSIC]
Let's do the whole
thing one more time.
[MUSIC]
Push.
[MUSIC]
Push.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
So right now it doesn't
quite sound authentic yet,
doesn't quite sound like an old time tune.
The way that we're going to make it sound
instantly authentic is to add drone
strings.
When we add drone strings,
what that means is we're going to play
an open string next to the string that
we're actually playing the melody on.
So the melody starts on the A string and
we're gonna drone the string beneath it,
the D string.
So with every note of the melody,
I'm gonna play an open D as well.
And we'll keep the same bowing and
it'll sound like this.
[MUSIC]
You'll notice that when I got
to play the melody on the D string,
I kept my bow in the same place so
that the A string actually
became the drone string.
Basically, for the whole A section you
can play both the D and the A strings.
Let's try that together.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC Now, if I was
performing this tune,
I would actually change
my drone string when I play
the fourth finger on the D string.
I would play an open G as a drone string.
So, that'll sound in a nice octave.
Let me demonstrate how that'll sound.
[MUSIC]
Right here.
It gives us a little chord change.
[MUSIC]
Listen again.
[MUSIC]
Right here.
[MUSIC]
So you can try and
find the G string in unison with your
fourth finger on the D string.
And that is going to be
the drone string for that note.
In the B section,
we're actually going to use the A string,
the G string, and the C string all as
drone strings at different points.
But the idea is it's always a string
adjacent to the one we're playing
the melody on.
So in the B section, I'll use
the A string as my drone string first.
[MUSIC]
And then when I play C,
I'm gonna play my open C string.
Make sure it's in tune.
Remember, you don't want
it to sound like this,
cuz that makes me do bad
faces in either direction.
You want to, there it is.
You want it to resonate nicely, so
that'll be our drone string for
the fourth finger on the G string.
Watch that one more time.
[MUSIC]
Right here.
[MUSIC]
And then the rest of it
is just the A string.
So it's actually just the A string, and
then right here the C string,
back to the A string.
[MUSIC]
Those lower drone strings that we're
playing are gonna coincide with
the roots of the chord, so
it'll sound really good
with the backing track.
Let's play it through all the way
once with the drone strings.
One, two, one, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
Push.
[MUSIC]
Push.
[MUSIC]
B section.
[MUSIC]
Very
nice.
There's one rhythmic variation I
wanna show you on the B section.
So the lyrics of the B
section are cluck old hen.
Cluck and squall.
You ain't laid an egg
since late last fall.
And so a lot of people when they
sing it they'll say it like this.
Cluck old hen, cluck and squall.
So, that's a great rhythm to
use in our fiddle tune playing.
It's come really handy with bluegrass,
and it's this rhythm.
[MUSIC]
The special thing about
this rhythm is we're gonna
do two ups in a row.
So it will be down, up, up, down.
You can kind of slide of you sing it.
Let's sing those notes
with the bow direction.
You can air bow too.
Ready?
And down, up, up, down and
then we'll have to do a bow circle back
to the frog and go, down, up, up, down.
Another bow circle.
Down, up, up, down, up,
down, up, down, push.
Right?
So we'll have to keep retaking our bow,
that's another way to say a bow circle.
You retake the bow in order to start
the next phrase from the frog.
Let's try it together, okay?
With out new bad, bad, rhythm.
Down, up, up, down.
Retake.
Down, up, up, down.
Okay.
One, two, one, two, ready and.
[MUSIC]
Down, up, up, down.
Down, up, up, down.
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Good.
In my performance video, I did that I
think the third time through as a nice
little variation to shakes
things up a little bit.
Let's play through the whole tune and
when we get through the B section,
we're gonna throw in this
extra rhythmic variation.
[MUSIC]
From the top.
One, two, with drone strings.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
Ready?
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Retake.
[MUSIC]
Very good.
This is all you need to
know to play the melody.
You could call this tune at any
old time jam or bluegrass jam,
and I'm sure there'd be plenty of
people happy to play it with you.
At a jam, let's say an old-time jam,
it's common to play through the tune many,
many times in a row.
And there wouldn't be much expectation for
you to vary it too much.
You wouldn't really need to improvise.
You could change the melody rhythm
a little bit, kinda like we
tried out with Summertime where you just
maybe change one note here or there.
But if you play this tune in a bluegrass
jam there would be an opportunity for
you to improvise new notes a little bit.
So I want to give you one approach
to improvising on a fiddle tune.
And basically, when you hear
these melodies you may already
sort of intuitively hear what I'm
gonna call a question and an answer.
So it starts with a question.
[MUSIC]
Question.
[MUSIC]
Answer.
[MUSIC]
The question and
the answers always end differently.
They actually start the same.
Let me play through the whole tune, and
I'm gonna call out the questions and
the answers.
And why don't you do it with me.
It happens very regularly.
So from the beginning.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Question.
[MUSIC]
Answer.
[MUSIC]
Question.
[MUSIC]
Answer.
[MUSIC]
Question.
[MUSIC]
Answer.
[MUSIC]
Another question.
[MUSIC]
And the last answer.
[MUSIC]
Do you hear the phrase structure that way?
It's a really common way that all melodies
are constructed almost in any style.
But it's really clear in fiddle tunes.
So what I'm going to ask you to do is
using the notes from the melody, and
you'll become more familiar with
them in the next lesson when we dive
into the minor pentatonic scale, is I
want you to improvise your own answers.
So we'll play all the questions from
the melody and improvise answers.
I'll demonstrate for you, okay.
So we have question.
[MUSIC]
Answer.
[MUSIC]
Question.
Just the melody,
now we improvise an answer.
[MUSIC]
Go to the B section, melody.
Now, improvise.
[MUSIC]
Melody.
[MUSIC]
Improvise.
[MUSIC]
Can you hear that, can you hear
the difference between when I'm playing
the melody and the improvisation?
Basically, the improvisation can
be as simple as you want and it'll
probably sound the best if it ends on one
of the notes in the D minor arpeggio.
So the D, the A, and
potentially even the F would be great
notes to end your improvisation on.
If you end on the right note,
it's pretty much gonna sound
like you know what you're doing.
Let me demonstrate that.
I'm gonna loop the A section and
I'm gonna end each phrase on the D and
then I'll move on to the A and then the F.
Here's a bunch of improvised
answers ending on D.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
D.
Melody.
[MUSIC]
Improvise.
[MUSIC]
Landed on the high D that time.
Now let me improvise.
I'll land on the A.
Three, four.
[MUSIC]
Melody.
[MUSIC]
Improvise.
[MUSIC]
Ended on the A there again.
Those are gonna be the two
best notes to end on.
I can tell you that if
you end on second finger,
it won't necessarily sound as settled.
And if you land on a G it also
might not sound as settled, but
you can experiment for yourself.
That's the whole point of
practicing improvisation,
is trying out every little thing you can,
but first, focus on the melody.
And once you're able to play the melody
through with the backing track then
I want you to start seeing if you can
improvise your own melodic answers.
>> [MUSIC]