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Cello Lessons: “Blackbird”

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[MUSIC]
Blackbird, recorded by The Beatles,
sung and written by Paul McCartney,
and one of the classic,
classic songs of the 20th century and
lucky for
us, it's actually very
easy to play the melody.
There's some fancy finger pickin' and
some complicated harmonies in the chords,
but with the backing track, we can
enjoy playing the melody right away.
So, it's gonna use notes from G major,
and I want you to repeat after me.
[MUSIC]
Blackbird singing
in the dead of night.
We're just using fourth finger so far.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
You can vibrate on that long note.
Next phrase.
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
[MUSIC]
We can try and imitate the vocal
phrasing, the vocal rhythm.
It would be easy to straighten it out
[MUSIC]
if you wanted, but first let's try and
really imitate the way Paul is singing it.
Let's do it one more time.
Why don't you sing along with me?
[MUSIC]
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
Let's play that.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Next phrase.
[MUSIC]
All your life.
Really easy, one, four.
Let's play it.
Three, and.
[MUSIC]
One, four.
Good.
Next phrase.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment to arise.
It's kind of a, it's a funky rhythm.
If I tried to teach it to you,
just with cello,
it would actually be harder to hear and
it would just
[MUSIC].
So there's a lot of syncopations, so
learning the lyrics can actually help you
really hear the natural
rhythm that we wanna play.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment to arise.
Let's play it together.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment to arise.
I'm kind of slurring to a, and
then playing a rise on an up bow.
I think,
let's see if there's any other slurs.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment down, up.
That's the only slur in that phrase.
We've actually learned
the entire verse already.
So, I'll start at the beginning.
We'll put all of these phases together.
Why don't we sing along, first time.
And then we'll play it
together the second time.
From the top.
Ready?
And
[MUSIC]
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
[MUSIC]
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
[MUSIC]
All your life.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment to arise.
Good, let's play that all together.
One, two, ready, and
[MUSIC]
Blackbird singing in the dead of night.
Three and.
[MUSIC]
Take these broken wings and learn to fly.
There's a down bow there.
[MUSIC]
All your life.
[MUSIC]
You were only waiting for
this moment to arise.
Good.
That's the first verse of Blackbird.
Let's learn the chorus.
[MUSIC]
Blackbird fly.
I'm kind of adding a little
hammer on the word fly,
cuz it just kind of gives
it a nice vocal feel.
Otherwise, it might feel
a little like a laser.
[MUSIC]
It's kind of unexpressive, so
the hammer on actually just
gives it a little bit of shape.
[MUSIC]
And then vibrating at the end.
I should point out that I'm
hammering on from the second finger,
which is actually gonna be a note and
a new scale we're about to use for
the final phrase of this song.
But I'm not hammering on from F sharp,
from the third finger,
which is the note that it should be,
if we were staying in G major.
Listen one more time.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Blackbird fly.
And let's make sure we vibrate,
so it has a nice, relaxed sound.
In the chorus,
that phrase happens twice, and
then we end with a really strong,
into the light of the dark black night.
Except, we're not gonna play that
as crazily high on the cello yet.
We're gonna take that down an octave and
it's gonna sound like this.
[MUSIC]
It's a nice actually, a little bluesy riff
at the end of this otherwise
gloriously major sounding song.
But it's gonna introduce us to
a new scale that we'll explore
in the next lesson called
the G pentatonic minor scale.
[MUSIC]
So
we're gonna get rid of our third fingers,
and
we're gonna use second finger for
this phrase.
Repeat after me.
[MUSIC]
Down, up, down.
We're gonna slur those two notes.
[MUSIC]
And
then the next notes
[MUSIC]
starting up bow.
[MUSIC]
Up.
There's another slur in there.
I'll put those together.
I want you to sing along.
[MUSIC]
We end down bow.
Let's play it together.
One, and.
[MUSIC]
You may hear a slide that I'm throwing
in from fourth finger to second finger.
I have to keep my second finger down,
while moving the fourth finger closer.
[MUSIC]
Again,
I'm trying to get a vocal inflection.
You know like a Blackbird fly.
We would kind of naturally drop the voice
there, and so we can do that on the cello.
[MUSIC]
But,
the key is to only move the fourth finger.
Don't move
[MUSIC]
the whole hand,
cuz you end up on he wrong note.
So just the fourth finger.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that whole ending phrase again.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's put that after the two,
blackbird fly, phrases, and
that'll be our whole chorus.
So starting from blackbird fly,
three, and
[MUSIC]
Blackbird fly.
Retake and play it again.
[MUSIC]
Blackbird fly.
Now, the bluesy riff.
[MUSIC]
Into the light of a dark black night.
Good.
The form of the song on the recording
is verse one, verse two,
chorus, and then we have this sort
of extended guitar section and
then we end with another chorus.
So, because we're trying to emulate
the rhythmic phrasing of Paul's singing,
the second verse is actually gonna have
a slightly different melodic rhythm
than the first verse because
they're slightly different words.
So I want you to listen carefully
to the original recording and
see if you can emulate
the way that Paul is singing.
Blackbird is a beautiful song and it's
pretty simple on the cello and the good
thing is that a lot of popular music
actually has very simple melodic forms.
And so, one of the assignments I
want to give you is to pick a piece
of pop music or rock music that you really
like, and I want you to practice playing
along with the recording by ear, and
seeing if you can pick out the notes and
the melody in real time,
as the song is playing.
It'll be easier if it's a song
you already know really well.
But that's this really great way to
develop your ear-hand coordination and
also to finally learn how to play
some of your favorite songs.
[MUSIC]