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Cello Lessons: “Stoney Lonesome”

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[MUSIC]
Stoney Lonesome,
an amazing tune.
I learned it from Kenny Baker's
Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe album.
Kenny Baker was the fiddler in
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys,
the band that we talked about before,
really created what we know as bluegrass.
So Kenny Baker's fiddling is pretty
much the gold standard of tradition
that you want to be imitating.
And he made an album called
Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe,
and basically it's just a whole bunch
of fiddle tunes that Bill Monroe wrote.
And so his versions of these tunes
are sort of like a big part of
the traditional, standard,
repertoire for bluegrass fiddlers.
So we've gotta dive into this album,
and you should definitely check it out.
Stoney Lonesome, in the performance track,
the performance video,
I was explicitly trying to
show a lot of variations.
Even in the recording
of Kenny Baker playing,
he plays a lot of these little
licks differently every time.
So we're gonna start with
what the core melody is.
And then we're really gonna
talk explicitly about
how can we play it differently every time.
Because that's a real,
that's really what makes bluegrass jams
work, is when everybody's kind of
endlessly creating variations,
and that's why you can play
the same tune for 20 minutes.
And so, that's the direction I want to
take you with this tune, Stoney Lonesome.
So let's learn this core melody.
It start's with a really great,
ba-dum, ba-dum!
Which we've seen in a couple other tunes.
On the recording, Kenny kind of slurs it,
it's actually kind of smooth.
[MUSIC]
and that kinda gives
a little bit of a double stop.
[MUSIC]
However, after playing this tune for
a while on the cello, and I was influenced
by a bootleg recording I heard of
Alex Hargreaves playing this tune.
But I really love playing
this tune a little stronger.
[MUSIC]
In that rhythm.
On a count of it's a really nice down,
up, up, down.
Still, actually, you know, doing a lot of
double stops and stuff, so a lot of power.
After that initial rhythm, we've got
a little lick, so let me show you that.
[MUSIC]
Ba, da, da, bada, ba, bada.
And again, we're ending this one up, bow.
Up.
Let me put these together.
[MUSIC]
It starts up and ends up.
[MUSIC]
Then we do the [SOUND] again.
[MUSIC]
With a different answer.
[MUSIC]
Just a big scale there.
[MUSIC]
So, let me put all of this together so
far Why don't we do the trifecta,
listen, sing, and play.
[SOUND] Let's sing it and.
[MUSIC]
Now let's play it,
two ready and.
[MUSIC]
Let's
do it again.
And
[MUSIC]
So even with these core phrases,
there's gonna be filler notes that
you're gonna be improvising.
Mostly just little scales
connecting us to the next phrase,
to the first note of the next phrase.
Let me show you some notes that
maybe I naturally might do.
[MUSIC]
So hopefully,
you can still hear
this core melody.
And either just adding a few notes under
or above the beginning of the next phrase.
Those are the filler notes.
Let's keep going with the A section.
So we've got the first
half of the A section.
The second half, again, starts the same.
[MUSIC]
But our new
ending,
[MUSIC]
Goes like that.
[SOUND] So it tells sequence of sorts.
[SOUND] Let's just
pizz that once.
It's
[MUSIC]
Let's play it together.
Three and.
Sorry.
Three and.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
So let's put this in context
in the whole A section.
We've got this ending after
these other three phrases.
Let's do the trifecta for the A section.
Just listen.
[MUSIC]
Now
the ending.
[MUSIC]
Sing with me.
[NOISE]
[MUSIC]
Let's
play it.
And
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Ending up
bow there
again.
That's really common to do, so
that the B section can start down bow.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Let's move on
to the B section.
[MUSIC]
I'm actually doing a little up-bow at
the end of there, too.
[MUSIC]
Separate bows up
[MUSIC].
Let me add to that.
[MUSIC]
Just kind of hanging out in A major.
[MUSIC]
Let's put those together.
[MUSIC]
Let's pizz that.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it.
Ready and
[MUSIC].
So that pattern is gonna be repeated
down a step over a G chord.
[MUSIC]
Because we're staying in the key of
sort of A and Mixolydian here,
[MUSIC]
we end up getting this sort of sharp four
Lydian sound on the G chord.
[SOUND] You don't really have to think
about it too hard, I just want to
emphasize that it is a C sharp [SOUND]
that we're playing over the G chord.
Let me play these two patterns,
one after another
[MUSIC].
Let's just loop those
a couple times together.
Okay, one, two,
play with me,
up,up,up,up,up
[MUSIC].
All these phrases
[MUSIC]
can start.
All those phrases can end up bow.
So, the B section,
we've got these two phrases that
are the first half of the B section.
The second half has the same
first phrase and then, actually,
we're gonna steal the final
phrase from the A section.
We're gonna put it here
in the B section as well.
So there's no more new notes to learn.
Let me play you the whole B section.
Let's do the trifecta.
I'll play, you listen,
then you sing, then you play.
[MUSIC]
I have, of course,
failed to mention what [SOUND] feels
really natural is that we have new
filler notes that lead us into that
final phrase, actually, so
I'm interrupting the trifecta.
[MUSIC]
We've got these three upward scale notes
that are gonna connect us,
then, to the ending phrase.
Let me just play the second half of
the B section so you can hear it.
[MUSIC]
The ending
as you know it.
Let's sing it together now.
We've got the whole
B section, one, two,
ready and,
[MUSIC].
And now the new notes.
[MUSIC]
Again sing it.
[MUSIC]
Now let's
play it,
and
[MUSIC].
Cool, let's play whole tune,
Stoney Lonesome.
I'll stick to this core version one
more time as we play it together.
And then we'll talk about some
of those variations afterwards.
[SOUND] So from the top.
[SOUND] The top of Stoney Lonesome.
One [SOUND],
two [SOUND],
one, two,
ready and
[MUSIC].
B section.
[MUSIC]
Nice.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Okay, so let's talk
about some variations on this melody.
What I'd like to do is actually
play the flat third in a lot of
places where otherwise I might just
be playing the second scale degree.
[SOUND] So, in that ending phrase.
[SOUND] That last little motive, [SOUND]
if I play a C natural instead of a B,
it's definitely like a more bluesy,
rootsy feel for me.
[SOUND] See if you
can try that.
[SOUND] I'm playing the C
with the third finger.
And if you want to get super fancy,
you could add a first
finger double stop [SOUND] on
the above string, the D string.
[MUSIC]
And if you want to get super fancy,
which you may not, you can actually do
a chromatic little slide
with the whole hand shape.
Anyways, it would sound like this.
[SOUND] That's kind of awesome.
[SOUND] So you gotta have good
hand shape for this to work.
[SOUND] And strong fingers.
[SOUND] But this is just some octaves
that you could throw in as you're
playing the tune, it kind of adds
some tension and some development.
[SOUND] Rather than just
playing in the scale.
Going back to the beginning,
there's a lot of variations we can do
actually on just that first rhythm.
[SOUND] Sometimes I like to fill it in.
[SOUND] Maybe with just a ghost note.
[SOUND] And
you could also just kind of hang on an A.
[SOUND] Just sorta changing
the rhythm up a little bit.
Let me,
I'll keep going through the tune and
see if there's some other
variations I can point you to.
[MUSIC]
I like doing that little ornament there.
[SOUND] A little second finger
pull off to the first finger.
[SOUND] On this ending phrase,
[SOUND] you can,
because it's a pattern, it's a sequence,
you could change that pattern and
it'll still work for
the melody really well.
So like.
[SOUND] And instead of going down for
one neighbor note.
[SOUND] You go up one neighbor note.
[SOUND] Or you could really
create any pattern really.
So I'm gonna take this phrase and
just take a couple different variations.
And you can try this practice as
well just isolating a phrase and
coming up with variations.
[MUSIC]
You really wanna,
it's in a pattern
like this that
you really have
an opportunity to
make a tune your own.
So, spend some time particularly on this
closing phrase because it happens in
the A section and the B section.
And the more comfortable you get with
coming up with variations on the cadence,
that's gonna be like a really,
really natural way to sort of make
a personal interpretation for this tune.
I think, yeah, learn the tune and
practice with some of these variations.
And then send me a video
submission with the backing track.
And I wanna hear a couple
times through the tune.
The backing track goes three times.
So, see if you can play
the tune three times in a row,
start with like the core melody, and
then for the second and third times I
wanna see how many differences I can
detect in a way you play the melody.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Chords for Stoney Lonesome
are actually pretty simple.
So it won't take you long to learn.
We're going to hang out on the one chord,
the whole A section is
pretty much just all A.
And what often happens,
there's a lot of bluegrass tunes that hang
on one chord just for
like a whole A section.
And we're just gonna do a little five,
one, at the end of the A section.
Just to sort of signify the phrase length.
Let me demonstrate the chords for
the A section.
Two, three and, one one one one,
one one one one one one one one,
one one one one one one
one one one five one.
One one one one, one one one one one one
one one one one one, one one one one,
one one one, five one.
It's just a really quick five one,
right at the end there.
But it's basically all
in A Mixolydian harmony.
So like the chord,
you could think of it as an A7 chord,
but actually when you're
comping bluegrass chords,
you wouldn't really play the seventh,
I don't think, here.
You would just play a full A major chord.
The B section, we start on the one chord.
One one one one one one
one one one one one one,
then we go to the open G and
D for the flat seven chord.
One one,
seven seven seven seven seven seven seven,
back to one one one one one one one.
Then the same ending.
One one one five five one one.
So it's just that second phrase
on the flat seven chord,
G natural, that makes the B section
different from the A section.
Let's play it through together twice.
Actually let's just do it once.
I'm going to call out the chords
the first repeat of the A section,
and then I'll stop it for the second time.
One, two A section.
One one one one one one one one one one
one one one one one one one one one one
one one one one five one.
[MUSIC]
Now the B section,
one one one one one one one one
one one one one, seven, seven,
seven, seven, seven,
seven, one, one, one, one
one,one,one,five,five,five,one,one
[MUSIC]
All right.
Stoney Lonesome
[MUSIC]