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Banjo Lessons: Improvisation Technique: Ron Cody

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[MUSIC]
I
have a very good friend named Ron Cody who
I gave lessons to many years ago.
And he's turned into just a fabulous banjo
player.
He's put out some CDs on his own.
Playing with an electric band and doing
some Celtic music.
And I was visiting him recently, as of
this taping.
And he showed me this technique that was
based on something that
Bela Fleck had come up with.
But, Ron did sort of an extension of it.
And-
[SOUND] The, the basic roll is this,
there's a one note lead in, so there's a
one note lead in before the down beat.
In this case the, it's gonna be the second
string.
[MUSIC]
So, the second string.
[SOUND] Fifth.
[SOUND] First second.
[SOUND] Two backward rolls.
[SOUND] Second.
[SOUND] Two backward rolls.
[SOUND] Fifth.
[MUSIC]
You can try that just open.
Just to work with the metronome.
Just to get your fingers used to that.
[MUSIC]
Now to get into this position.
[MUSIC]
This is one thing you can do.
Working off the G up here.
[MUSIC]
The first two strings.
Pinky on the 17th fret of the first.
[SOUND] Middle on the 15th.
[SOUND] Fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
And this is gonna be measure sixth
and seventh.
Measure at sixth and seventh.
[SOUND] And bring the thumb over to, sorry
thumb.
This is my index finger last time I
looked.
Over to the 14th fret of the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
That's using that roll, now.
[MUSIC]
That's fine.
But now, the next thing you're going to
do, which is measures eight and nine.
[MUSIC]
Is you're gonna bring that pinky to
the 19th fret of the first string.
[MUSIC]
With the ind,
the other fingers are in the same position
they were for that other lick.
Middle on the 15th fret of the second.
Index on the 14th fret of the fifth.
[MUSIC]
And then we can extend this to go.
[MUSIC]
And
that's a nice passage you could use to get
into Foggy Mountain Breakdown or
Lonesome Road Blues.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Some good G material there so-
[MUSIC]
And
then you jump to the next position on the
last note.
[MUSIC]
In this case
the 12th fret of the second string.
This time using the ring on the-
I'm sorry, this is my thumb.
[LAUGH] Too much thumb index middle.
[SOUND] Thumb on the tenth fret of the
fifth string.
[MUSIC]
Then
the pinky on the 14th fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
And that ring on the 12th fret of
the first string next to the middle, which
is at the 12th fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
And
the last note of that measure is your
middle on the eighth fret of the second.
[SOUND] Index on the seventh fret of the
first.
[SOUND] Pinky on the tenth fret of the
first.
[SOUND] Backward roll.
[SOUND] Index on the fifth fret of the
fifth if I said first.
[SOUND] Fifth obviously.
[MUSIC]
Pinky on the tenth fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
Backward.
[MUSIC]
And
then pinky on the ninth fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
Middle's still on the eighth fret
of the second.
[MUSIC]
Open up first and then-
[MUSIC]
Just to keep the sound going.
[MUSIC]
Over that ninth note of the G scale.
[MUSIC]
And the sixth here.
[MUSIC]
The E note and the key note.
So the whole thing is.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Okay.
Now if we take this to the next higher
level.
[MUSIC]
It's a really pretty thing.
This time you're at the 17th fret of the
first string.
[SOUND] The index at the 17th fret of the
fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And
the pinky on the 21st fret of the first
string.
[MUSIC]
Coming down to
the 19th fret of the first string.
[MUSIC]
Just using this roll.
And now going into the rest.
[INAUDIBLE] This is just being tacked on
to the front of everything you just did.
[SOUND] Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Sorry, once again.
[MUSIC]
That's just an exercise.
You could just take elements of this A and
stick it into other improvisations.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
Some really pretty stuff you can do there.
[NOISE] Now here it is applied to a C
chord, or a C seventh chord actually.
[MUSIC]
You're gonna take your G note.
[MUSIC]
Add your F position C.
[SOUND] And go to the flatted seventh on
the fifth string.
The eighth fret of the B-flat note.
[MUSIC]
And
go to the pinky on the 12th fret of the
first string.
[SOUND] I'm giving you the ninth or D.
[MUSIC]
Back to the C.
[MUSIC]
And
go up to the D-flat on the second string.
[SOUND] 11th fret.
[MUSIC]
That's a C seventh.
[MUSIC]
So index on the 11th fret of the second.
[SOUND] Thumb on the 12th fret of the
fifth.
[MUSIC]
Pinky on the 15th fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
To the 14th fret of the first.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
So
you can be doing, again, Nine Pound
Hammer.
[MUSIC]
Something like that.
It's a very nice little lick.
[MUSIC]
Now I'm giving you examples of this lick.
But you should also be coming up with your
own ideas
cuz there are all sorts of things you
could do with this.
It has a lot of applications.
Okay.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
Continuing on,
here's an application for John Hardy, an
up-the-neck break from John Hardy.
[MUSIC]
Sorry.
[MUSIC]
And on to the D but,
so what I'm doing is I'm using my thumb
for the fifth string in this case.
So here's your C chord but you're going to
the suspension.
One, two, three, four.
The.
Fourth note of the C scale.
So middle on the eleventh, thirteenth fret
of the second string.
Thumb on the twelfth fret of the fifth
string.
Pinky on the fifteenth fret of the first
string.
Down to the ring at the fourteenth fret of
the first string.
Hit the fifth string open which gives you
a chance to move the middle and ring up to
the 15th fret of the, 17th fret, I'm
sorry, of the second and first strings.
[MUSIC]
The thumb
on the 15th fret of the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
And
the pinky on the 19th fret of the first
string.
[MUSIC]
And then I do a hammer on.
[MUSIC]
Hitting that, it's a double stop,
hitting the first two strings.
[MUSIC]
And hammering on 15 to 17.
This is kind of steel guitar land.
[MUSIC]
So you're hammering into the down beat.
[MUSIC]
Fifth and then go back to the 15 fret of
the second string while you stay at
the17th fret of the first string.
[SOUND] And then do that same position.
[SOUND]
Basically you're hammering into this
bar position D on the first two strings
anyway.
[SOUND]
Ring at the 12th fret of the first string.
Tenth to twelfth on the second.
Index to middle.
[MUSIC]
Down to the ninth fret of the first and
the eighth fret of the second.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
This technique works for
different chords and in different keys and
here it is in D.
This is just an exercise really.
But it could have some useful purposes in
the B part of John Hardy for instance.
This big extended D thing.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
[MUSIC]
It's very pretty.
[MUSIC]
If I do say so myself.
[MUSIC]
Index on the 14th
fret of the third string.
[MUSIC]
Thumb wrapped around the 14th fret
of the fifth string.
[MUSIC]
Pinkie on the 17th fret
of the first string.
[MUSIC]
And down to the.
16th fret of the fifth, first string.
[MUSIC]
And
then I don't use the fifth string because
it sounds pretty with just the G note.
[MUSIC]
Index at the 11th fret of the third.
Pinky 14 to 12.
[MUSIC]
Jump to the fifth fret.
And again use the open fifth screen.
Nine to seven on the first string.
[MUSIC]
And
now bring the fourth string into the
action.
[MUSIC]
Sorry once again.
[MUSIC]
'Kay here's one more D lick for
Nine Pound Hammer.
And the lick itself is.
[MUSIC]
So
again you're working out the first third
and fifth strings.
[MUSIC]
Instead
of the first second and fifth strings.
And again you have this.
[MUSIC]
You have this
downward motion going into each position.
[MUSIC]
So.
[MUSIC]
Can't play and
sing at the same time very well.
But you get the idea.
And this is really playing the syllables.
[MUSIC]
So there you have it.
This wonderful Ron Cody variation on a
Bayla theme.
I guess is how we could refer to it.
Has all sorts of application.
I'm just barely scratching the surface
here.
I'm just working on this myself.
Cuz Ron just showed this to me just a
couple weeks ago.
And so this is what I've come up with so
far.
But there's plenty of other space to get
into here.
So I hope you enjoy it.
And I hope you work up your own variations
on this.
That's what it's all about.
Just to kinda be a jumping off point for
you.
So good luck with it and thanks for
checking this out.
[MUSIC]