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Banjo Lessons: Travis Style Part 1: “Yankee Doodle”

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[MUSIC]
This lesson is gonna talk about Travis
style.
Now Tra, Merle Travis was a wonderful
guitar player from Nashville,
I believe, and had a style that became
known as the Travis style,
which is basically an alternating thumb
kind of style where you have this going on
in the bass
[MUSIC]
Playing melodies on top, in this case, for
lesson we're gonna learn Yankee Doodle.
[COUGH] And, basically the trick is to
keep the melody going.
[MUSIC]
While you have this going on in the base.
[MUSIC]
So you put them together and you get.
[MUSIC]
That kind of a thing.
So basically [COUGH] I'm not even gonna
worry about the chord changes in
this case.
I'm just gonna play the melody on top.
Let the bass do it's thing.
Just for this lesson because it's the
introductory lesson, go back and forth.
In the next, in the next lesson we'll be
talking about Buck Dancer's choice.
Which is a slightly more involved tune.
You will be changing some chords around.
And then it'll be a little more
interesting.
But this is a good way to start.
So, for the melody.
Once, you know,
you can try this just a little bit to get
used to the thumb going back and forth.
Just keep the thumb on these strings so
you have a consistent pressure, rather
than bringing another finger in.
And the other thing for playing the
melody.
[MUSIC]
I'm using one finger per fret rather
than jumping around like this using one
finger or even two, two fingers like that.
By using one finger per fret.
With the index on the fifth fret.
Middle on the seventh fret.
Pinkie on the first ninth fret of the
first string.
[MUSIC]
And
then I bring the index down one fret and
then, index, middle pinky, and then use
the pinky to go up one fret, back down to
the nine fret, again with the pinky.
[SOUND] Now the index goes down one fret
and then you reposition for the last-
[MUSIC]
Four notes there.
So you're here and then index, ring,
pinky.
[MUSIC]
So you're getting used to the pink,
using your pinky, which is a weak finger
for sure.
But the more you use it the stronger it'll
get.
So I'd like you to do it that way.
So one more time.
[MUSIC]
And then you have this going.
And then you just add the melody in on top
of it.
[MUSIC]
Now the thing to remember is the melody is
on the first string, so
make sure that you're emphasizing the
first string, I use the middle finger,
more than you're emphasizing the thumb
and, on the fourth and third strings.
Those notes are important, of course, but
they should be slightly overshadowed by
the melody.
[MUSIC]
So, there it is.
And there's not much more to say.
You just have to do it.
And it's sort of like rubbing your stomach
and patting your head at the same time.
[MUSIC]
Just start very slowly, so
you have your index at the fifth fret of
the first string.
[MUSIC]
I
don't need to play through the whole
thing.
You were just reading off the tableture
will probably make the most sense in
a situation this.
[MUSIC]
Sort
of have to use two sides of your brain.
At least it sounds like a good thing to
say.
But the thumb is doing this.
The index is doing that.
I'm sorry, middle finger is doing this.
On the right hand while you're playing the
melody.
So get those all together and I'll play it
one more time.
[MUSIC]
Alright and there are a couple spots in
there where you're not coordinating a
melody note and a thumb note.
There are places where the thumb just goes
by itself without a melody note.
In a couple of spots.
So.
Anyway, enjoy Yankee Doodle.
[MUSIC]