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Banjo Lessons: Transposing: “Turkey in the Straw” in G and C

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I want to talk about some more
transposing and the idea of doing a tune
in one key and then, doing in another key.
And I want to take Turkey in the Straw as
our template and this is a fun tune.
You've probably heard it in cartoons in
your childhood.
And basically, what I want to do is play
the version in G,
which is where it usually is played.
And to do that, I just did that
this morning before doing this taping
right now.
I got a version from a CD.
I have Arthur Smith, the wonderful fiddler
who was sort of straddling the line
between Bluegrass and old time music.
He's out of Nashville back in the 50s and
60s and
I don't have his exact dates, but right
around that time.
And it's a live jam session with him and
Earl Scruggs just playing banjo fiddle
And Arthur Smith had just wonderful
arrangements of whatever tune he played.
So I took most of his arrangement not all
of it,
there's a couple of things that just
didn't fit as well on the banjo.
But most of it is his arrangement of
Turkey in the Straw.
I'll show you that and then that's
basically all the melodic style.
And then I'll show you a version I came up
with in the G of C.
And basically just doing it out of my
And I think if you're of the advanced
level here, you can try doing it that way.
Rather than trying to go note for note,
each note back and forth to come go, go
from G to C.
So what I did is just did it out of my
head as I say.
Let me play the first Turkey in the Straw
and I'll play it for
you and slow it down and talk about the
little bits and pieces of it.
And then we'll go off into the key of C.
So here's Turkey in the Straw, primarily
Arthur Smith's version in the key of G.
What I love about working up fiddle tunes
from fiddle players, especially someone as
brilliant as, as Arthur Smith.
As it just makes you think in different
I've been playing this tune for 46 years
as of this taping.
And I just never played it quite like
Certain parts are similar, but it's, it's
a little bit different,
a lot different in certain places.
It's really fun and it makes your fingers
work in different ways.
So that's one really good thing about
transcribing from a fiddle
player as opposed to learning a banjoistic
version of it.
Let me slow this down a little bit and.
Pretty much straight forward melodic.
One thing as you're going.
That second full measure.
I like bringing my thumb over to
the second string.
Because it's a little bit stronger.
It's always a slightly weak move, as I've
mentioned elsewhere here going back and
forth between the index and middle, you
know, a couple of times.
Your, the middle,
middle finger's on the seventh fret of the
second string.
[SOUND] And then I just move it up to the
tenth fret.
[SOUND] Wrap the thumb around.
[SOUND] Add the ring on 11th fret of the
third string.
I had the middle on the 11th fret of
the third string.
This is a little bit of a grab.
Ring on the 11th fret, sorry,
14th fret of the third string.
Middle on the 12th fret of the 2nd.
[SOUND] Index on the first string, tenth
Thumb on the twelfth fret of the fifth.
[SOUND] Pinky on the fourteenth fret of
the first.
then move the middle finger back down to
the tenth fret of the second string.
And then that repeats.
And then, going into the B part.
there's a four note in a row sequence or
four strings in a row.
So it's gonna be middle [NOISE].
[SOUND] Thumb.
[SOUND] Index.
[SOUND] Thumb.
[SOUND] And it repeats here.
Then grab this with the index.
[SOUND] Then switch to the middle.
To the index pinky.
Having done that.
Now let's talk about Turkey in the Straw
in C.
Once you start playing in different keys
as you've already experienced to
some extent, you get a whole different
depending on the relationship between the
open and fretted strings.
If you're not quite sure where to start
out, how do you do it in C?
Basically, [NOISE] the first main note
after you skip the pick up
notes s in the key of G is G [NOISE] in
the key of C the first note's gonna be C.
I'm getting the C here with the fifth fret
of the third string,
so things are a little bit lower down on
the on the A part.
Maybe a little higher on the b part.
[SOUND] Let me play the Turkey and the
Straw C and give you a flavor of that.
And slowed down, it's [NOISE] little
single string.
[SOUND] Single.
[SOUND] Single.
[SOUND] Melodic.
[SOUND] And I just have the middle and
ring planted here at the fifth fret of the
second and third string.
Except I am moving this back and forth.
Just to give you more separation of notes,
rather than keeping it down.
It blurs that a little bit.
So for the crisper sound.
Removing the middle finger
on the left hand.
Bring it back down, remove it.
And there again,
fifth fret of the second string [NOISE]
with the ring on the left hand.
I'm letting go each time as opposed to
keeping it down like this.
I like the sound
of more separation of notes.
Let go there.
Then I
grab the pinky up there on the seventh
fret of the first string.
Don't be afraid to use your pinky.
And then the second ending.
I'm using middle and ring here,
you can use the index and middle if you
like to,
whatever's comfortable for you.
then I keep the middle on the second
string for economy of motion purposes.
Using the Osborne roll.
[SOUND] Middle.
[SOUND] Index.
[SOUND] Middle.
[SOUND] Thumb.
[SOUND] Taking the top two notes [NOISE]
of the F position C chord.
The top two notes [NOISE] of the D barred
C position at the fifth fret and
your low C here.
[SOUND] And then just you're basically
taking the,
[NOISE] the ending is in the first
Now if you're playing in a band contest,
or in a jam session, and people say, oh,
we don't play this in c.
Just say, well, let's just do my break in
C and go up in to C and it makes for
a really interesting sound.
Just the whole thing lifts, when you do
So, and it's just a really good way to get
to know your finger board and
just put things in different keys.
Try it in D, for instance.
And again, I didn't slavishly work out
every single note.
In fact I worked up the C version before I
worked up this G version.
Which again, I just worked out this
morning by Arthur Smith.
But just try to have notes in your head
and find them on the finger board.
And try that with other fiddle tunes, as
So, that's Turkey in the Straw.