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Level 1: Beginner
Level 2: Intermediate
Level 3: Advanced
Old Time Fingerpicking
Classic Style Banjo
Celtic Tunes
30 Day Challenge
Playing Backup
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Banjo Lessons: “Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms”

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one of the all-time great bluegrass tunes,
it was done originally by the Monroe
brothers, if I'm correct about that.
I'm pretty sure I am.
Bill and Charlie Monroe, back in the 30s
for Bluebird Records.
And this is a bluegrass version of it.
Earl recorded this with Lester Flatt back
in the early 50s,
and recorded it and played it something
like this.
And it's a great version of it.
It's really wonderful.
It's not quite exactly the melody, and so
in keeping with this idea of playing
the syllables which I, again, got the idea
from Earl, I'm gonna do a little
bit of Roll in my Sweet Baby's Arms,
really kind of playing the words.
And this is the version I've come up with
here for you to learn.
There are a number of different elements
in here.
But again, this is trying to play the
syllables so if you're singing it,
it would be something like this.
So that's doing the syllable, syllabic
One thing that I didn't mention earlier
that John Hartford used to do
was when he would be playing, he would lip
sync along with his playing.
And rather than just playing the, the, the
syllables, as he was wont to do,
he would actually move his lips, and I
talked to him about this, and
he said that he did that so he could
really tune into the phrasing,
rather than just just sort of doing it in
his head.
He would actually move his lips so he
could match the words with his playing.
So in this case, if I were John Hartford,
he might hypothetically have done
something like this.
And so forth.
He didn't actually sing.
He just moved his lips so he could think
about the words, and
this is something you can do like
When you get to the point where you can
just be playing onstage and
developing your own solos, or improvising
It'll help you to play the, the words and
get closer to the,
playing the syllables of the tune.
So, as we start this off.
We are offset the, the two to three
slide with the alternating thumb roll by
two eighth notes, rather than going.
And starting on the downbeat.
I'm starting on the upbeat.
So, I'm offsetting it the first time.
Roll in my, and
then I do a full slide of the alternating
thumb roll on the downbeat.
Now for the D chord.
For, there are two things going on here.
One of which is I'm just hitting one note
of the D chord, and
I talked about this earlier, that this can
actually stand as D chord.
The other thing is,
rather than, rather than just doing one
kind of roll.
I'm holding one, this one note.
Now let go of the second fret of the third
So you've got.
there's a whole genre of licks that Earl
does that are just amazing and
just wonderful, where he's just holding
one position, and letting the right
hand do all the work, going in and out of
backward and forward rolls.
He does this on the C seventh lick.
If you do something like this.
This is arguably the greatest lick ever
invented in blue grass history.
This is, if you borrow
the fifth fret of the of all four strings,
here in a bar position with your index.
That's a C chord.
If you add the pinkie on the eight fret of
the first string.
That gives you a C seventh.
Now when Earl plays up the neck a little
ways, and many times he'll just play the
first two strings along
with the fifth string, and that's the case
So he goes, index on the fifth fret of the
pinkie on the eighth fret of the first.
Does two backwards.
Goes forward.
Backward and then,
the middle's just sitting right over the
sixth fret of the third string.
And so he brings it down for a moment.
The notes a little,
a little out of tune but it doesn't matter
you're just getting off it so quickly.
He just goes wow.
[SOUND] Sort of the way Eric Clapton hits
the last chord of a, of a tune.
He just.
Slides down with less of distortion.
We have no distortion here at the moment.
you can just throw this in as a little
improvisation on the C chord.
So just
pay attention to this if you're looking in
the Scruggs book, or just in general.
Look for these licks where Earl's just
holding one position, and
then just going in and out of these
forward backward rolls.
It's a really hugely great thing to get