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Mandolin Lessons: Playing Fills Behind a Vocalist

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Okay, playing fills behind a vocalist.
We're gonna talk about how to play little,
little simple little, three,
four note melodic fragments in between the
lines that a vocalist will be singing.
This is commonly done in in all kinds of
music, but certainly in bluegrass.
And usually, within a four piece band, we
take turns, you know.
So, maybe the banjo will do it behind the
first verse.
And mandolin will just play plain rhythm
through the whole thing.
then maybe the fiddle will take the next
And then maybe the mandolin will take the
next verse.
Typically, I think there's become a
tradition where if you're filling behind
the verse, then you might take the,
because it features the mandolin,
then you take the solo that would happen
after the chorus.
That's kind of a typical form that's
developed over the years.
It's kind of nice.
So we're gonna look at a tune All the Good
Times Have Passed and Gone.
And I will attempt to do a few,
a few licks here.
I might stop and start it so you can so
I can teach you the ones that I invent as
I go, and give you some ideas.
Nice and slow.
All the Good Times.
It's a three-four song also.
>> One two three, one.
>> [MUSIC]
All right, let's take a look at that.
All I'm
doing is outlining that little arpeggio on
the G.
Throwing a C in on my way down, G,
G, C, B, G.
Just to get the timing on it.
One, two.
So this is a nice little move.
You're playing in a G in an F sharp, which
is part of the D chord.
Tremoloing and then chromatically remove
the D from the D to the C sharp,
to the C natural.
Thereby insinuating the sound of a D7, on
your way back to, to G.
There's a nice one.
So you've gotta slide into a B.
And then G, E, D.
Then I did a hammer from the E to the G.
I'll do that one again.
G, E, D, B, C.
Check that one out.
G, B.
Okay, I'm going.
So it's third string and second string.
Seven and five, I'm sorry, nine and five.
B and D.
A lot of things you could do.
could get any number of patterns going.
Three, two, two, three, three, two.
It's really a banjo move.
Let's have the rhythm guitar again.
>> One, two, three, one, two, three.
>> [MUSIC]
Let's stop it.
So that was the five chord.
It's kind of a nice move.
This is what a Dobro player might do.
Real Hawaiian based riff.
You're on a D chord, you got the third and
the root.
you walk it up diatonically to the G and
E, and the A and F sharp.
Yeah, that's very much,
that's very much Hawaiian guitar based, or
yodeling, yodeling.
Or you could come backwards.
I believe
they call them raindrops on the banjo,
when you do that up high on the banjo and
you get those, those thirds and those
Let's have it one more time.
>> One, two, three, one.
>> [MUSIC]
Here it is.
You want something really strong at
the end of each verse.
G, G, D, C, B, D, G.
And Monroe was famous for
really placing those, those fills strong.
So it almost kind of drove the band a
little bit.
They're just very powerful.
A lot of down-strokes on a slow tune like
the pick is the pick is angled actually a
little bit,
such that it's hitting the string at like
a 45 degree angle
to the ground as opposed to 90 degrees,
which is how we play.
If we're trying to get a nice even up and
we tend to keep the pick at an angle,
certainly angled this way.
I'm exaggerating it.
But now we're, we're starting to flop the
pick down.
And we're doing,
we're really doing a rest stroke.
So that we're hitting the D string,
but we're letting the pick rest on the A
It's a way to get the most power, [SOUND]
out of the mandolin.
There's no way you can get, [SOUND] the
same power picking down towards the floor.
As you can with this rest stroke.
And I'm really driving the pick almost
into the back,
as opposed to into the floor.
Visually, you're thinking about that
All right, lonesome fills.
Here's an optional video request.
I'd love to hear you sing playing your
fills now behind a, behind a vocalist.
If you've got somebody who plays guitar
and sings.
Or whatever instruments, could be a banjo,
or piano, or what have you.
And then you, you play the fills.
I wanna, really wanna hear how you do
A couple things to keep in mind of course
is to not, not step on their singing.
You know, wait until they get done singing
their phrase or
at least wait 'til the last word.
You can kinda come up under that last
You may have noticed me as I trying to
sing and play, it was difficult for
me to sing the last words [LAUGH] cuz I
can't walk and chew gum.
But, that's the idea.
Try not to step on them, unless you're
doing a, you can do a soft tremolo.
Behind, behind the singing.
But anytime you try and do something
rhythmic or forceful that has its own
melodic shape, it's gonna conflict with
the voice generally.
So let's hear what you have there.