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Banjo Lessons: Backward Alternating Thumb Rolls

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[MUSIC]
We're
gonna talk about the reverse, or backward,
alternating thumb roll.
There is no official term for this right
now.
We've certainly all played a lot of
alternating thumb rolls in
Boiling Cabbage Down, Cripple Creek, et
cetera, et cetera, and
a million other places.
But right now, we're gonna talk about the
reverse alternating thumb roll.
This comes in handy for all sorts of
improvisatory things and I have specific
things here in the tablature and things
that I'm gonna show you, but this is
something I want you to forage around for
and find all sorts of other uses for.
I you know, I just wanted to get you in
the door with this and I'm sure you'll be
able to find lots of other things to do
with it, with the technique.
So the basic move is this.
[MUSIC]
Those are the first two measures.
It's middle on the first, thumb on the
third, index on the second,
thumb on the third and then just repeating
it.
[MUSIC]
So,
just to get right on, right into it here
here's a nice little D lick.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Which you could use in Nine Pound Hammer,
but I'll demonstrate that in a moment.
So what you're doing is.
[MUSIC]
Here's your D seventh.
But you're just going to use the.
[MUSIC].
Index and pinky, index on the fifth fret
of the third.
Pinky on the seventh fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
And you can use one of these backward,
alternating thumb rolls.
[MUSIC]
And I let go pretty quickly.
[MUSIC]
To have that the old separation of
notes going.
[MUSIC]
And
then I go to the ring on the sixth fret of
the first string and do the same roll.
[MUSIC]
While keeping the index planted, and
then I shift to the ring.
[MUSIC]
Fifth fret of the first, and
the middle on the fifth fret of the third.
[MUSIC]
And
then go to the index on the fourth fret of
the first.
[MUSIC]
And
then I add the ring on the fifth fret of
the second string.
[MUSIC]
And do a little melodic-y sort of thing.
So.
[MUSIC]
Miss the fifth string here.
[MUSIC]
So if you do this in context
of something like Nine Pound Hammer, which
will be my template right now.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
So
that's a nice little area for coming up
with different kinds of licks.
The second example.
Which is measure seven.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
Just a little variation on that theme.
[MUSIC]
So again, Nine Pound Hammer.
[MUSIC]
Now here's a thing you can do for
G going into C.
This works for Lonesome Row blues.
I'm kind of stealing a little bit of
Earl's version of it for
the first couple of measures, the first
three measures.
[MUSIC]
So the lick is.
[MUSIC]
So
you're taking your barre position G at the
twelfth fret.
[MUSIC]
And
you're anticipating each next move by one
note.
So.
[MUSIC].
Ring at the 12 fret of, of the first
string.
Middle at the 12th fret of the third.
And then go to the index on the 11th fret
of the third.
And add the pinky on the 13th fret of the
first.
[MUSIC]
And then just keep fanning out.
You're getting contrary motion going in
opposite direction.
So.
[MUSIC] Sorry.
[MUSIC]
And then the index goes to the tenth fret
of the third, the pinky goes to the 14th
fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
And
the pinky comes down one fret to the 13th.
[MUSIC]
And then down to the 12th.
[MUSIC]
As a quarter note.
So.
[MUSIC]
You're going down on the third
string and up.
[MUSIC]
On the first string.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
So you can use it for
the end of a G passage, as I said.
Just repeat.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
And so on and so forth.
So there it is.
There's that.
Then, moving along here.
Then we have.
[MUSIC]
Just a variation on the theme where you
have middle on the first string.
It's the same roll.
But middle on the first, thumb on the
third.
Index on the second, thumb on the fourth.
[MUSIC]
That's measure 17.
[MUSIC]
It's getting a little bit of that low,
rich, loamy sound.
And then, again, this is a variation on
that last lick I just showed you, or
not the last lick but the the.
[MUSIC]
That business, but
now you're bringing in the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
[SOUND].
So that gives you a little bit more to
work with,
just enriching it a little bit with that
low fourth string, the low D note.
[INAUDIBLE].
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
So
we've been working with the first three
strings, then the first four strings.
Now, we're gonna go to the second, third,
and fourth strings.
[MUSIC]
I'm doing a little more of
an inside thing, and then out to the fifth
string.
[MUSIC]
Kind of moving the whole thing over by
one string.
[MUSIC]
So
you have the middle on the second string.
That kinda inside roll thing.
And then the thumb on the fourth string.
Index on the third.
Thumb on the fifth.
[MUSIC]
So you got four of those there.
Just do that little bit with a metronome.
[MUSIC]
Just to make sure you got that nice and
in your fingers.
And then here's a little a etude-y kind of
bluesy thing I came up with using
this roll.
[MUSIC].
So, basically,
[MUSIC]
You're using the interval of the sixth and
go to the sixth zone in the lessons for
a little more instruction than that if you
need it.
[MUSIC]
Because the open fourth and
open second string gives it the interval
of a sixth if you count the first note.
One, two, three, four, five, six.
[MUSIC]
In G.
There it is.
So.
[MUSIC]
You do this roll in a G.
[MUSIC]
C.
[MUSIC]
And then to get a little bluesy effect,
I move up just one fret.
[MUSIC]
The whole thing back down.
[MUSIC]
Not worrying about the first string at
all, and then.
[MUSIC]
And now this time I go back up and
I'm going to the ring of the third fret of
the second string and
the middle at the third fret of the fourth
string.
[MUSIC]
And I have the middle being the consistent
finger as it goes up the seventh fret and
the index on the sixth fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
And
then I bring the middle down to the fifth
fret of the fourth string and
add the ring on the fifth fret of the
second.
[MUSIC]
Down one fret, another fret, back to C.
[MUSIC]
G.
[MUSIC]
That same bluesy note, back to the C.
[MUSIC]
I'm just taking these elements and
kind of looming in and out of different,
positions.
And then, going up to the D chord
[MUSIC]
At the seventh fret.
Just taking these two notes out of the
barred seventh fret D chord.
[MUSIC]
So it's the ring on
the seventh fret of the second, middle on
the seventh fret of the fourth.
[MUSIC]
And it's just keeping the middle.
On the fourth string using the ring on the
second
string now switching to the index on the
second string at the eighth fret.
As the middle goes to the ninth fret.
And then the ring on the tenth fret of the
second.
Middle on the tenth fret of the fourth.
Down, just move it on down to the seventh
fret of.
Second and fourth strings.
[MUSIC]
And then the same thing,
relatively speaking, for C.
[MUSIC]
The fifth fret of the second and fourth.
[MUSIC]
Index on the sixth fret of the second,
middle on the seventh fret of the fourth.
[MUSIC]
And the eights on the second and fourth.
[MUSIC]
Back down to the fifth.
And since I'm right here, just move it
down a fret.
So your rings on the fourth fret of the
fourth, of the second and fourth.
Down to the third.
Second.
Open the first frets of the first, second
and fourth strings.
Open.
[MUSIC]
So the whole thing is.
[MUSIC]
There.
That'll finish out that,
those two measures of G.
Anyway, so that's a thing that opens up
all sorts of ideas.
Just from that alone, you can try to grab
some certain things out of that that might
work for you in improvisatory moments.
And also what I'm doing is.
[MUSIC]
I'm kinda
sliding down on that fourth string, kind
of anticipating things so
you can hear a little bit of that
slithering around.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
Moving on to the next thing, using the
same thing for John Hardy,
[MUSIC]
Similar chromatic motion down there.
So you're playing a C chord.
[MUSIC]
Cuz since the melody of John Hardy is.
[MUSIC]
We go from the E to the F note,
second fret of the first to the third fret
of the first.
[MUSIC]
You're doing it on the fourth string.
[MUSIC]
So,
what's going on here is you have a the C
chord with an open first.
[MUSIC]
Using the same roll, and
then take the middle up to the fifth fret,
add the ring at the fifth fret of the
second.
[MUSIC]
And
then moving the middle up to the seventh
fret of the second string, fourth string,
and the index on the sixth fret of the
second.
[MUSIC]
Back to the fifth.
[MUSIC]
To the third fret of the second and
fourth strings.
Down one fret.
[MUSIC]
First fret open.
So.
[MUSIC].
So for the D I'm going.
[MUSIC]
That will be your assignment,, to work on
the D thing and
take what you can from this, and I'm just
giving you the C part for now.
Then for a final thing, and this could be
something you could use again on blues or
Shuckin' The Corn or one of those things
where you have four measures of G going
into two measures of C.
And this is measure 45.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
And on from there.
So, if you're doing one from the blues,
let's say.
[MUSIC]
You don't wanna overdo this roll, cuz it's
it does get a little repetitive.
But into the C.
Open into the C.
Into the threes.
To the fives.
To the sixth and the seventh.
[MUSIC]
Eight and nine, to the tens, to the 12s.
[MUSIC]
And then, when you get to the C chord.
[MUSIC]
Here's your B-flat,
which is your flatted seventh in the key
of C.
[MUSIC]
If you have it on this
11th fret of the second string.
[MUSIC]
Up to the C.
[MUSIC]
And
then kind of the same bluesy thing I did.
[MUSIC]
In G.
[MUSIC]
Instead of going back to G,
I'm going one fret below that.
[MUSIC]
Anyway,
those are some ideas using the reverse or
backward alternating thumb roll.
And again, I want you to do a lot of
exploring on your own.
Just use this as a jumping off point for
your own improvisations and
your own ideas.
Try things in different keys, in different
keys and different chords.
Key of E.
Key of D.
There are a lot of applications for this
technique.
But I leave that up to your own
creativity.
Okay.
Enjoy.
[MUSIC]