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Cello Lessons: “Road to Columbus”

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[MUSIC]
Road to Columbus is another
tune from the Kenny Baker
plays Bill Monroe album.
It's a great tune.
This is gonna be like our
advanced tune at the initial
portion of this bluegrass curriculum.
And there's a lot of double stops in it,
and
it's like a really fancy
presentation of this tune.
And that's really what makes it like
sparkle, really makes this tune unique.
So I want to go through all
the specific double stops and
stuff as we learn the tune.
But the other good thing about it is that
it has a cyclical chord progression,
the chords are pretty straightforward.
So it's also a good medium for jamming,
once you've got the melody there's a lot
of flexibility with the chord progression.
So let's just start with the A section.
There's a couple gnarly double stops here,
and I'll just say up front that I'm gonna
start up bow, and then the whole first
phrase is all gonna be separate bows, so
we can focus on the double stops.
Let me just play it slowly for you.
[MUSIC]
Whooo!
So bluegrass-y.
Okay, so we're in A.
And we're doing some little pickups.
[MUSIC]
One, and then here, we're going to the A7
chord, so let's jut play this little riff.
[MUSIC]
Ready, play.
[MUSIC]
We'll leave this third and
seventh there, leading to the next chord.
Let's play it one more time.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let me add to that.
[MUSIC]
Okay, I'll start at the beginning.
[MUSIC]
So we're kind of
transitioning here from A7 to D.
So this hand shape is
becoming four and one.
So we're shifting up
a half step from four and
three, to four and one.
And we're actually gonna put our
second finger on the A string, here.
So we have the root on top.
Let me play that transition.
[MUSIC]
Let's listen one more time and
then we'll play it a few times.
[MUSIC]
Okay, let's
play it together.
Ready, up bow.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
one more time, and.
[MUSIC]
And then, the next note, [SOUND] is we're
turning this D chord,
[SOUND] into a D7, and
we're actually harmonizing
[SOUND] with our
first finger, which is kinda like a ninth.
It adds to fill out the harmony there.
So.
[MUSIC]
We're going.
[MUSIC]
That's the little transition.
We're just moving our first and
second finger down a whole step.
[MUSIC]
And
we can add some slow vibrato on that note.
[SOUND] Vibrato in
bluegrass will often sound
like that, kind of slow and wide.
[SOUND] It's not like a classical vibrato.
[SOUND] It doesn't quite have that speed.
[SOUND] Let's play everything we got so
far.
This is the hardest part of the tune.
Let me play it once, and
then we'll play it together twice.
[MUSIC]
Let's
play that.
Ready, and.
[MUSIC]
One more
time, and
[MUSIC].
Cuz we've got so many double steps, make
sure that we're releasing the pressure of
our hand on the strings as we're shifting.
And also I'm really being conscious of
moving my left elbow forward to support
the fourth finger.
And then on top of all that,
really see if you can feel the arm
weight pulling the string down.
If you try and
rely on just the finger muscles,
you're gonna get tired really quick, and
you're not gonna be able to hold
the string down through the whole phrase.
[SOUND] Okay, but
that's the first big phrase.
That's how we kick off Road to Columbus.
After all these double stops,
we're gonna have a really gnarly
single line little lick here.
And it goes like this.
[MUSIC]
It ends with some
more double stops.
Well, let's learn this lick.
[SOUND] Starts right there.
o.one,one,four,one,one,o
[MUSIC]
You can kind of make a lot out of this
slide here.
[SOUND] Maybe the upward slide
feels a little more natural.
[SOUND] The downward slide,
maybe you can throw it in randomly,
but don't do it every time.
[MUSIC]
Let me add to that.
[MUSIC]
Let's sing that.
[MUSIC]
Let's pick it now together.
[MUSIC]
Let's play it.
Ready, play.
[MUSIC]
Okay, I'll add to it.
[MUSIC]
Is the next little cell.
[MUSIC]
Let's play that with the top of the lick.
Ready, play.
[MUSIC]
You can do a little
hammer on there.
I'm doing a hammer on from
third finger on C natural.
[MUSIC]
So there's a brief moment where I'm
actually playing C natural and
E before I go to the C sharp.
Let me put all that together.
[MUSIC]
And then let me just add the ending so
we just have the complete phrase
[MUSIC].
So it ends
[MUSIC].
Let's sing that together and
[MUSIC].
One more time.
[MUSIC]
And we could add a bow push on that long
note to keep the groove in the melody.
Let me show you.
[MUSIC]
Push.
We could add two pushes, you know,
on each of the long notes.
You kinda want to fill in
these subdivisions and
the push is a good way to do it without
having to change the bow too much.
Let me demonstrate that one more time.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
Okay, we've got actually the whole
first half of the A section.
Let's do the trifecta with this.
I'll play it, then you listen,
then you sing.
And then we'll play it
together the third time.
[MUSIC]
Sing,
[MUSIC].
[MUSIC]
Push.
Good, let's play it now.
One, two, three, four, one, go.
[MUSIC]
Good,
good.
I threw in another push in there actually,
right after the opening
double stop phrase.
[MUSIC]
Down, up.
By doing down, up,
I can start that whole lick on a down bow.
[MUSIC]
This is such like an instinctual thing,
for me at least, these days.
After you get used to that down,
up, that bowing, you're just gonna
throw it in on any long note, just cuz
it feels right to fill in the groove.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So we've got half
the A section now.
Basically we've got the first phrase and
an ending.
We're gonna finish the A section with the
same first phrase and a different ending.
And that sounds like this.
[MUSIC]
So even the beginning
of the lick starts the same.
But the lick definitely ends differently.
[MUSIC]
At this point, we go back up.
[MUSIC]
We've got a nice
bluesy C natural there.
[MUSIC]
So, repeat this part after me.
[MUSIC]
And
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Cool let me put that at
the end of this lick now.
Just listen once.
[MUSIC]
And
we can end with a little
[MUSIC]
again just kind of leading us
into that next measure.
Let's sing that whole lick.
This is the second
ending in the A section.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
let's play it.
One, and
go
[MUSIC].
up Okay.
Let's put this back with
the first phrase so
we have the whole second
half of the A section.
Why don't we do the trifecta for
this as well.
[MUSIC]
Let's
sing it.
[MUSIC]
Ok,
let's play
it now.
One, two,
ready, go.
[MUSIC]
Okay that is
the whole A section.
Let's just sing the A section once
together and then we'll play it together.
Okay So this is like the duo-fecta,
not the trifecta.
Okay, let's sing it.
One, two, from the top, and.
[MUSIC]
Now
let's
play
it.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
That's the whole A section.
For what it's worth,
when you want to sing a bluegrass tune,
it's good to have the right syllables.
[SOUND] You want to have a little
bit of a twang in your voice.
You probably won't go around singing
bluegrass tunes like [SOUND].
So when you're singing tunes
to your buddy or something and
you wanna say,
do you know the name to this tune?
[SOUND] You know you just wanna
have a little twang in there.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So let's move
on to the B section.
We got a little bit of upbeat, and
we're gonna land on
the downbeat on a high C sharp.
And actually, I like doing this way up
here in 4th position on the D string.
[MUSIC]
So
I can have my A string
droning through this phrase.
[MUSIC]
And I even do a little hammer-on on this,
[MUSIC]
these little pickup notes.
[MUSIC]
This is super bluegrass-y to play extra
high here, so we can get the drone
string ringing through this phrase.
So this first phrase of the B
section goes like this.
[MUSIC]
Let me play without the drone string, so
you can hear it.
[MUSIC]
Bada da,
da, da, da, dum.
It's all separate,
except the hammer-on, up.
And then we're ending up-bow.
See if you can play this with me.
One, two.
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Again.
[MUSIC]
Now with the drone string.
One, two, three, four.
[MUSIC]
Nice, so let me keep going.
We're gonna actually stay up here in
fourth position,
[MUSIC]
until here.
[MUSIC]
We're doing the same thing with the drone
string over the D chord.
[MUSIC]
Let me show you the whole thing again.
[MUSIC]
That's
the whole phrase.
[MUSIC]
So going to the D,
[MUSIC]
I give up the fourth position,
[MUSIC]
when I get to the D chord.
It's actually too awkward
to finger up here.
But I do like staying in fourth position
just to hit this double stop at
the beginning of the D chord.
Let's do the trifecta for this phrase,
I wanna get you singing it.
Listen one more time.
[MUSIC]
Let's sing
that, one, and.
[MUSIC]
For what it's worth,
[MUSIC]
I'm throwing in another
hammer-on there
[MUSIC]
and even there.
[MUSIC]
So there's a lot of hammer-ons going on.
Yeah, let's play it together.
One, two, three, and.
[MUSIC]
Good.
The next phrase starts the same,
but it's gonna go down quicker.
It goes like this.
[MUSIC]
So we're actually just,
[MUSIC]
walking down the equivalent of what would
be an A major pentatonic scale.
You don't have to think about it too much.
But it's,
[MUSIC]
we are skipping the seventh scale degree.
So let me play this with the drone string.
[MUSIC]
And
then that ends.
[MUSIC]
We're just kinda hanging out on
the five chord here.
[MUSIC]
Let me put these phrases together.
Listen first, then sing it,
then play,
[MUSIC]
And,
[MUSIC]
let's sing it once more.
[MUSIC]
Now,
let's play it.
Ready, and
[MUSIC]
good.
And again on that long note,
I can throw in a bow push.
[MUSIC]
Push.
Okay, let me put this together
with the previous phase.
Cuz we've got a lot here and
I wanna keep it in context.
So the B section starts like this.
[MUSIC]
That's
what we've
got so far.
Before I have you play it,
we are gonna put filler notes
in to connect these phrases.
[MUSIC]
We're walking up that
A major pentatonic scale,
[MUSIC]
before we can hit that top note again.
So listen once with the filler notes.
[MUSIC]
And then let's sing it together, and
then we'll play it together.
[MUSIC]
Filler notes right here.
[MUSIC]
Let's sing it.
[MUSIC]
Good,
let's play it.
Okay, ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Filler notes right here.
[MUSIC]
Good,
okay.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So this is the first
half of the B section.
We're gonna do the same filler notes.
[SOUND] To get the second half started.
[SOUND] The first phrase
in the second half is
the same as the first
phrase in the first half,
but we're gonna have a new ending.
[MUSIC]
So the final riff to this piece
I'm stealing directly from Kenny Baker
in the Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe
album.
And it goes like
this,
[MUSIC].
So we got a little sequence pattern here.
[SOUND] We break the sequence just
when we get to that C natural.
But, the gist of the sequence is [SOUND].
So let's put these together,
[MUSIC]
let's play that, and
[MUSIC].
And we'll do the next
part of the sequence.
[MUSIC]
Let's put those
together, ready, and.
[MUSIC]
Good,
now instead of going
[MUSIC]
maybe something like that,
we're going to go
[MUSIC].
We're gonna break the pattern and
get all bluesy there.
So I'll play both the C sharp and
the C natural with fourth finger.
[MUSIC]
That way.
Let me put it all together.
[MUSIC]
Good.
Let's play that together.
Ready, and
[MUSIC].
We're not done yet.
We have to turn it around on the bottom.
This is a little sort of cadence that's
using all notes from A major pentatonic.
Do a little bit of repetition there.
So let me play that at the end of
the phrase, so you feel where it lies.
[MUSIC]
Let's
sing that
together.
Ready, and
[MUSIC]
okay.
Let's sing the whole riff and
then we'll play it.
One, two,
ready
[MUSIC].
Let's play it one, two, go.
[MUSIC]
Okay,
that is the whole tune.
Let's play the whole B section now.
Let's do the trifecta, so
we keep everything straight.
Listen once, sing the second time, and
then we'll play it
together the third time.
One, two, three.
[MUSIC]
Let's
sing it
all.
[MUSIC]
Let's
play the B
section
now.
One, two, go.
[MUSIC]
Awesome.
That is Olive Road to Columbus.
It's a lot of notes and
double stops to take in.
Play it so that you can check
the transcribed notation and
you can play along with
my performance track.
And I'll talk to you about some
variations you can do in the next lesson.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
We've covered a lot of different
ways to vary a bluegrass melody.
There are a couple of specific things
that this melody lends itself to
that I want to talk about as well.
[SOUND] In these opening double stops,
[MUSIC]
we can kind of like have fun with just
the harmony and the rhythm, and
we can kind of play like a
[MUSIC]
If we fill in all the subdivisions,
we can accent every 3.
One, two, three, one, two, three, one,
two, three, one, two, three, one, two,
three, one, two, three, one,
two, three, one, two, three,
actually it's a three, three,
two groove is what I'm doing.
Let's start with a three,
three, two groove first.
[MUSIC]
Yeah.
Let's actually try doing it all in three
and see what that sounds like, too.
One, two, three, one, two, three, one,
two, three, one, two, three, one, two,
three, four.
Yeah, we'd end with a four just
to even us out at the end of it.
[MUSIC]
Something like that.
You don't necessarily need to
codify as specifically as that.
But, it's a good place to
have fun with the rhythm.
[MUSIC]
You could even leave
some spaces in there.
Yeah, and as we go through this melody,
these really awesome licks
[MUSIC]
are what really makes this tune stand out.
But you can also improvise your own licks.
And if you're kinda in this
A Mixolydian realm,
[MUSIC]
actually, it's A major, but
you can throw in flat sevens or
flat threes.
[MUSIC]
All around the place to kinda like skirt
this major minor feeling.
Let me see if I can demonstrate some
of that in some improvised answers.
[MUSIC]
Really
gives a nice
flavor to
this tune.
And because we're going
[MUSIC]
an A 7 to that D 7 chord in the harmonies.
Those notes are going to sound
really great in this tune.
[SOUND] As we move to the B, section
[MUSIC]
you can do a lot of variations with this
phrase.
You can just hold long notes
[MUSIC]
and then, one good thing is
[MUSIC]
if you can do a little slide, again,
we're gonna hit that C natural.
[MUSIC]
I'm shifting back and
forth with the whole hand position.
[MUSIC]
And with the drone string,
[MUSIC]
sounds really cool.
[MUSIC]
And then there,
because we're going
[MUSIC]
all the way down,
[MUSIC]
we could do a little
pull-off there [SOUND] with the C.
[MUSIC]
And then here,
we could maybe slide
into that C sharp
[MUSIC]
and delay it a little bit.
[MUSIC]
You know, it seems just like these thirds,
these C sharps in particular,
because they're so featured in the melody,
that you want to find a few
different ways to approach them, and
that's what these slides or hammer-ons or
[MUSIC]
ornaments like that.
They can all give you different ways to
approach and to get into those C sharps.
[MUSIC]
Other than that,
all of the principles
we've been talking about,
about improvising,
around melodic guide tones or
improvising answers to the questions.
All that stuff is going to
sound great in this tune.
And I want you to practice it and
submit a video submission.
After you learn the melody,
the backing track will go
three times through the tune.
So, just like we did for Stoney Lonesome,
you can start to explore different
variations of your own in
your video submission.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
The chords to Road to Columbus
are pretty straightforward.
They are the same for
the A section and the B section.
So let's start with the A section and
hear how they sound with the melody.
We're gonna have one, one, one, one, one,
seven, that's an A seven in the melody.
[MUSIC]
So I'll actually use
the letters of the chords to be
clear, A, A, A, A, A seven
D,D,D,seven,A,E,E,E,E A,A,A
seven,D,D,D seven,A,E,A
[MUSIC]
So we just have this A,
A seven to D, D, seven chunk.
Let's try that.
[MUSIC]
I'm adding the fourth finger on these
major chords halfway through to
give it that seventh quality.
[MUSIC]
And then we
just have
[MUSIC]
A to E.
It can actually be an E seven.
[MUSIC]
You could play one, one, three two.
[MUSIC]
And then we have the same beginning.
A, A seven, D, D seven.
And then we end with a little one,
five, one.
A, E, A.
[SOUND] You can do that E, maybe like
a little more even, too, like
[MUSIC]
A, A, E, A, A.
Either one, actually, can work.
So let's put this all together.
Why don't you call out the chords with me
as we chugga chugga through them, okay?
One, two, a one two.
[MUSIC]
A, a A, A, A, A, A, D, D, D seven.
A, E, E seven.
A, A, A, A seven, D, D, D seven.
Go to A.
A, E, A, again.
A, A seven to D,
D seven, A, A.
E, A, A seven.
D, D seven, E, A.
[MUSIC]
Same chords on the B section.
Let me play them without me
calling it out so you hear it.
Okay, one, two, one, two.
[MUSIC]
Try playing
this chord
progression with
the backing track.
It's a really good thing to get
the chords really internalize so
that when you're jamming, you don't have
to work very hard to remember the chords
that you want to aim for.
[MUSIC]