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Banjo Lessons: “Train 45”

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I'm going to a play a little bit of Train
With this, we're going to be applying some
of the Foggy Mountain Break Down roll that
you just learned.
And, this is Ralph Stanley's arrangement
of Train 45, and it's spectacular.
I think it's a very simple tune.
And, it involves very little in terms of
the right hand.
You're just staying right here between the
second and third frets, and that's it.
It has a little bit of a bluesy quality.
And, I'll just play this for you, and then
we'll break it down.
Like, I say it's a fabulous
arrangement and it's high time I had some
Ralph Stanley in here in the site.
I love Ralph's playing and when he plays.
He plays, well, he's not playing anymore,
But, his singing, it sounds great, but he
gets really close to the bridge.
And he gets-
He really gets that,
that kind of southwest Virginia, Clinch
Mountain, hardscrabble sound.
You don't have to do that.
I mean, if you like that sound, go ahead.
You really has that edge to it.
[SOUND] So, like I say, we have a lot of
the Foggy Mountain Breakdown roll,
the way he plays this-
So, it's really cool, what he does here.
He goes.
Of course,
remember to bring that thumb over to the
second string for the second hammer-on, so
it's index, middle, thumb, middle.
And then, he does a really cool thing
He pulls off two to zero on the second
string, I'm imagining with the index
finger on the left hand.
Which is a really kind of
lonesome-sounding thing.
It's actually the Lydian mode,
and we're I talk about modes elsewhere in
the site in the advanced section.
Instead of hitting,
hitting that fourth note of the scale,
he's sharping it and hitting that-
And, it just sounds so cool up to tempo.
And, you don't have to play it exactly
this because he varies it each time or
almost every time.
So, the second time he does it.
He goes,
instead of going to the first string after
the hammer on.
He just does the hammer on by itself.
Bringing the thumb across and now instead
of going to the second string he goes to
the third string with the index finger.
Thumb, index, middle, thumb,
with the index on the third.
String, so.
Sorry, and
then the second one is without the first
string, and then-
With the first string, forward roll, and
then the third time he does it,
It's yet another variation.
It's like the first one, cuz he does the
two-zero pull-off, but
he doesn't hit the first string.
He just hits it by itself, and then-
With the, with again,
with the thumb coming over on the right
And, that two zero pull-off, index to the,
to open.
And then, he goes-
It's a really great.
Ralph move it's index.
It's all open.
You can just wave to the audience while
you're doing this.
[SOUND] Index.
[SOUND] Middle and I bring the thumb
[SOUND] Thumb, middle, forward roll.
[SOUND] Fifth, third, first.
It's another variation
on the Foggy Mountain Break Down roll.
It's the same exact roll.
Index, middle, thumb, middle.
Except instead of being on the second
It's on the third string.
And so, both Ralph and
Earl do a lot of variations with this
It's a really important roll.
And now, continuing now-
Yet another variation.
Hitting the first string after
each hammer-on.
And then, he just holds onto that third
fret of the second string,
Through a forward roll.
And then-
I think everyone of these
is different so far.
He does hammer on without the first
Hammer on with the first string and
then a forward roll with that two zero
pull off on the second string.
And then,
I find this interesting in Ralph's lexicon
of licks.
Instead of going-
He goes-
Cuz you're just coming up to the thumb
from the measure before.
You're gonna start with the index finger
on the right hand, and you do a forward
That turns into a backward roll.
But, the obvious thing to do would be.
it's nice that he avoids all that and just
And, thumb, pinch, thumb, pinch.
So, it's a really wide open sound and
it's just nice to be freed from the
tyranny of always having to go.
Do that lick.
So, continuing on.
Again a, he hasn't done this before.
Even these are very subtle differences.
Hammer on by itself.
[SOUND] Hammer on to the first string
forward roll.
[SOUND] And then-
That one we already did do.
That was the the fifth measure.
And then-
He doesn't do
the Foggy Mountain Breakdown roll.
He does the two to three hammer-on to the
first and
then just two forward rolls holding down
that third fret of the second string.
And then, thumb, thumb first,
fifth, third, first, fifth.
Leading the thumb and
then the thumb again.
This kind of has that Foggy Mountain Break
Down roll vibe to it.
[SOUND] And then, continuing on to the
hammer to the first, forward roll to the
fifth, and then straight forward rolls.
Hammer, the first, then two forward rolls.
Holding that third string,
third fret of the second string in place.
Except here, for the second forward roll,
He pulls off
to a zero on the second string.
So, it's-
And, I should have mentioned this earlier,
but that two-zero pull-off anticipates the
first string.
It's two 16th notes,
To the first, in,
instead of being simultaneous with the
first string.
And then, again, instead of going,
He just goes-
It's much more.
I want to say primitive but I don't mean
it in a negative way at all.
It's just really cool and.
Lonesome and old time.
Very spare and, and spartan.
So, just a very bluesy, hits the flatted.
[MUSIC] Do-re-me. But, he flats it.
And then, the flatted seventh.
Three, zero pull off,
instead of two to zero.
That's very major sounding.
This is minor and bluesy sounding.
[SOUND] Okay?
Now, I'm gonna play the whole thing
slowly, and then up to tempo.
And, like I say, you, once you start
playing this.
You don't have to go crazy.
First time, he, first time he plays it,
he's not hitting the first string.
Then, the second time, he does hit it, and
then he does forward rolls.
This is just to see how Ralph did it, cuz
I think it's fascinating to learn tunes
exactly the way they were played by the
And, this is Ralph Stanley who was hugely
a master.
But, like I say when you're actually
applying this in a jam session or
for your own fun you don't have to play
exactly this way.
Cuz I think you'd just go crazy having to
memorize this.
Did he do the first string there or not?
Et cetera, et cetera.
So, this is just kind of a blue print
as a way to kind of inspire you to do your
own thing with it if you'd like to.
So, here it is slowed down exactly as
Ralph did it.
Two, three, four.
Okay, and up the tempo.
Train 45 heading south.
Ralph Stanley.