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Rhythmic & Chordal Playing
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Cello Lessons: Bluegrass Improvisation: Harmonic Guide Tones

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We previously had a lesson on improvising
around the Melodic Guide Tones
of Arkansas Traveller.
However, we can sort of divorce
ourselves more from the melody.
And focus on improvising around
the chords specifically.
So this is a concept that's going to
be explored even more in depth in
the jazz curriculum, but it's still gonna
help a lot for bluegrass improvising,
focusing on harmonic guide tones.
So what we wanna do is we wanna
identify the chord tones for
each chord in Forked Deer.
So the chords in the A section are one,
four, one, five.
Let's just focus on
those four chords first.
The root is a very
obvious note to aim for.
So the root of each of those chords is D,
G, back to D and then A.
So after we, our just keep swimming
video where we know that we
can just keep moving in D major.
Let me just play you the four
guide tones for these chords.
So we've got D [SOUND], then G [SOUND],
then D [SOUND], A [SOUND].
Those are the roots of one,
four, one, five in D.
So let me just play that a couple times,
then I'll start improvising connections
between the roots of these chords.
I'm still
playing the roots on all
the strong beats.
A low A.
So much like the melodic guide tones for
Arkansas Traveller, you can pretty
much do anything in the D Major scale
as long as you're hitting
these guide tones.
That's gonna sound great.
So let's just explore the two other
main guide tones that are gonna work for
us in Bluegrass.
The next one is the third of each chord,
the third in D major is F-sharp.
[SOUND] The third in
the G major chord is B.
[SOUND] Then we're back to F-sharp for
the D chord, and
we end with the third in
A [SOUND] which is C-sharp.
[SOUND] Let me play these four
guide tones a few times, and
then I'll start improvising
connections between them.
I'm just getting
them in my ear.
Now, start doing connections.
Because I keep
hitting these guide tones,
you can still hear the chord
progression kind of
floating under the notes
that I'm playing.
Let's explore the sound of
the fifths of each chord.
The fifth in D is A [SOUND],
the fifth in G is D [SOUND], and
the fifth in A is E [SOUND].
So for these four chords,
the fifth guide tones sound like this.
start improvising
So each of
these different
chord tones,
the root,
the third, and
the fifth, they all
have a different
feel to them.
And so, you wanna kind of explore each of
them on their own, so you really can sort
of have multiple places to aim for
for each of these chord progressions.
And, I think actually this would be
a great one for you to send me a video
submission of improvising in
the Forked Deer chord progression.
You could do it with the backing track.
And you could show me,
you know, guide tones, and
see if I can guess which
guide tones you're aiming for
by making it really clear
in your improvisation.