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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: What bluegrass learning material am I looking for?


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/43102

denomme - Posted - 12/15/2015:  19:04:11


I've been playing fiddle for years and years, but need to make the next leap in improvising. I would say right now I play advanced old time (love crazy bowings) and understand the basics of harmony and improvising: chords, close harmonies, modes of major scale, pentatonic scales, resolving dominant chords, (which so far only helps some in improv). I am comfortable improvising, but still have a really hard time with the following mistakes: sound boring from playing too 'in the chords', improv is a series of the same short dull phrases, riff on the melody but can't process enough to stray very far from it. Let me know what pushed you to that next level and maybe it'll help me out too!



 



Please recommend some learning material, beginner or not; books, advice, DVDs, youtube channels, practice techniques, fiddlers to listen to that aren't too tough to transcribe...  My favorite bluegrass fiddlers/bands/styles to listen to would be mostly the classics (not so much the jam-band style): John Hartford, Grasscals, J.D. Crowe, blue highway, Alison Krauss...


UsuallyPickin - Posted - 12/15/2015:  20:01:09


Stacy Phillips has three books you can take a look at. He has a webpage where all his materials are posted for sale and can be downloaded. His yellow book Bluegrass Fiddle Styles his book of fiddle licks Hot Licks for Bluegrass Fiddle and his book of Monroe fiddlers transcriptions Stoney Lonesome Fiddle are all worthwhile.
stacyphillips.com/downloads.html

Otherwise listen to Kenny Baker Bobby Hicks and Jason Carter. And if you don't already have it purchase a program named The Amazing Slow Downer .... It allows very slow at pitch listening and transcribing..... Luck . R/

abinigia - Posted - 12/15/2015:  20:28:59


All of the above. And especially work on playing double stops and blue notes, minor thirds, flat sevenths.


dsreiner - Posted - 12/16/2015:  10:10:31


Here's a new book (2014) that is really excellent: Learning to Fiddle Bluegrass Style by Neil Rossi. Neil's a fine player and improviser who has put a lot of time into the book, and he's well versed in the classics.



Dave


fiddlinsteudel - Posted - 12/16/2015:  11:06:32


quote:

Originally posted by dsreiner

 

Here's a new book (2014) that is really excellent: Learning to Fiddle Bluegrass Style by Neil Rossi. Neil's a fine player and improviser who has put a lot of time into the book, and he's well versed in the classics.




Dave







Great book I was looking at the samples pages and I already learned lots of stuff! BTW here's a link to the sample pages:





kdvmusic.com/LTFBG-samples.php



 



It also comes with a CD!



Edited by - fiddlinsteudel on 12/16/2015 11:08:49

denomme - Posted - 12/16/2015:  11:53:55


@UsuallyPickin:



Great start to the conversation! I already put the books on my wish-list email for Christmas! Also, the list of fiddlers is GREAT. I realized upon writing the original post that I can't even make a very long list of bluegrass fiddlers that I like, probably the source of my problems with improv.



 



@abinigia



I LOVE double stops. I can't get my solos to 'move around' enough with the way I lean on them now. The double stops I normally work around are the 3 'close harmony' intervals : 1/5, 3/1, 5/3, and shifting between them, i.e. for a C song, E/C (3/1) on the D/G string in first position up to G/E (5/3) in 3rd position. At first I was happy how strong those harmonies are, but now I just feel stuck on them and am not able to play longer phrases that move a little faster. I have been trying to work in more 6ths and downward 4ths because they are good at generating movement in my solos, but I don't usually play them as double stops per se. I usually only play flat 3rds or 7's in passing chromatic lines, or I'll emphasize em if in a blues scale riff, or making a 2nd dominant.



 



Question: What is up with the screaming parallel 5ths I hear players like Benny Martin and Vassar Clements play? They sound awesome, but really hard, I can only make a 3-note stretch of them sound any good. Does anyone have some rules of thumb for when/how they do that, or a thought process behind it? A good example: Benny: Salty Dog Blues.



 



@UsuallyPickin



I hadn't thought of playing in 2nd position on the higher strings in C, but I do know that closed position either playing in 3rd position in C or G, or 1st position in E or B. That position is where I sound the dullest! I feel like there is nowhere to go, just the one octave plus a note or two below. Only the one close harmony on each chord (5/3) on I, (1/5) on IV and V.



 



@dsreiner



Thanks for the book suggestion!



 



@everyone: Great convo! Who else do you like listen to?


dsreiner - Posted - 12/16/2015:  13:51:17


quote:


Originally posted by denomme

 

@UsuallyPickin:




Great start to the conversation! I already put the books on my wish-list email for Christmas! Also, the list of fiddlers is GREAT. I realized upon writing the original post that I can't even make a very long list of bluegrass fiddlers that I like, probably the source of my problems with improv.




 




@abinigia




I LOVE double stops. I can't get my solos to 'move around' enough with the way I lean on them now. The double stops I normally work around are the 3 'close harmony' intervals : 1/5, 3/1, 5/3, and shifting between them, i.e. for a C song, E/C (3/1) on the D/G string in first position up to G/E (5/3) in 3rd position. At first I was happy how strong those harmonies are, but now I just feel stuck on them and am not able to play longer phrases that move a little faster. I have been trying to work in more 6ths and downward 4ths because they are good at generating movement in my solos, but I don't usually play them as double stops per se. I usually only play flat 3rds or 7's in passing chromatic lines, or I'll emphasize em if in a blues scale riff, or making a 2nd dominant.




 




Question: What is up with the screaming parallel 5ths I hear players like Benny Martin and Vassar Clements play? They sound awesome, but really hard, I can only make a 3-note stretch of them sound any good. Does anyone have some rules of thumb for when/how they do that, or a thought process behind it? A good example: Benny: Salty Dog Blues.




 




@UsuallyPickin




I hadn't thought of playing in 2nd position on the higher strings in C, but I do know that closed position either playing in 3rd position in C or G, or 1st position in E or B. That position is where I sound the dullest! I feel like there is nowhere to go, just the one octave plus a note or two below. Only the one close harmony on each chord (5/3) on I, (1/5) on IV and V.




 




@dsreiner




Thanks for the book suggestion!




 




@everyone: Great convo! Who else do you like listen to?







Rob, some specifics for you :-).  Hope they make sense...



In bluegrass, the 1, 3, 5 are covered nicely by guitar, bass, etc.  Think more about moving chromatic lines, 7ths and 9ths, and not just 1/5, 3/1, 5/3 as you put it.  Think about moving lines like 3/1, b3/b1, 2/b7 [really a 9th chord that includes the b7]. Over a G chord, on the middle two strings: G/B, Gb/Bb, F/A will pull nicely to any C chord.



2nd position for C helps along these same lines, giving you easier ways (compared to 3rd position) to hit 1/5,1/b7, b7/1, and more.  Think of closed position as being more than just an octave plus a few notes - it connects to more good notes below and above.



Benny Martin did show me a few screaming parallel fifths, but a few of those go a long way.  More frequently used is a slide up into 3/7, side up into 3/7 again and then down via b3/b7 to go to 1/5.  In the key of A, that's just sliding into a C# on the A string, then down through C natural to open A, and dragging the same finger along on the string above.  What Benny also used very effectively was movement from one chord form to another up the arpeggio (listen to Alabama Jubilee, middle two strings, moving up from E/C to G/E over a C chord by moving from 1st to 3rd position).  Vassar also did this a lot; he showed me this over the C chord in Lonesome Fiddle Blues.



Best,



Dave


Joel Glassman - Posted - 12/26/2015:  18:42:37


My suggestion is to learn solos by ear from your favorite tunes. Especially multiple solos on a single tune. [They don't have to be fiddle solos]. Once you learn different solos start blending them together. One solo's A section, another solo's second A section... Have a variety of pathways to take when soloing. Write new solos or exercises from the existing ones. Try to analyze what happens in the solos when the chords change. I think its best to be scientific in analysis for developing exercises, but intuitive in performing. Its really helpful to learn the chord changes, and make reference to them in what you play. Eventually your solos become variations on the recorded ones you've learned.



Edited by - Joel Glassman on 12/26/2015 18:45:10

fiddlepogo - Posted - 12/27/2015:  05:18:21


Many of the licks in the Stacy Phillips book are actually blues licks.



A local Bluegrass fiddler does some delicious improv that is mostly blues-based.



Getting your bluesy sound down would be a good strategy to add flavor to your improv.



I noticed that Darol Anger has some good blues instructional material available.



One thing that impressed me about the video is that his slides are perfect... he doesn't slide sharp!



 


fiddlinsteudel - Posted - 12/28/2015:  11:48:00


I've recommended this already but the Annie Staninec book is great for getting bluegrass sound down. By learning the solos, and then trying to migrate some of the licks and runs to different tunes and keys, I think you'll get some good information on improvising while sounding bluegrassy.


theimprovingmusician - Posted - 12/28/2015:  11:50:34


Darol Anger's Blues DVD is indeed excellent! He covers how to integrate Blues with several other genres, like Rock and Bluegrass.  Great lesson!


EricBluegrassFiddle - Posted - 12/29/2015:  03:34:53


I was surprised to receive Ron Stewarts "Fiddlers Of Flatt & Scruggs" DVD for Christmas. This is the DVD where he teaches kick-offs and breaks of some of the prominent bluegrass fiddlers like Jim Shumate and Paul Warren and also a song or two from Arthur Smith. My mother bought this for me and it's really good, lot's of blues licks, I think it's essential for learning Bluegrass



Edited by - EricBluegrassFiddle on 12/29/2015 03:35:45

JHDuncan - Posted - 12/29/2015:  06:02:38


All the fiddler's named played really strong melody. 



For me, written materials hurt my playing more than helped for bluegrass. Video lessons are good. Music theory can't help you in bluegrass until you are an advanced player (just my opinion). 



If you can learn by ear do it! Listen to a ton of the classic stuff. It informs what JD Crowe, Grascals, AKUS everyone now does. 


mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 12/29/2015:  10:08:50


here's a slide rule that I use


Joel Glassman - Posted - 01/03/2016:  14:42:10


quote:

Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

 

here's a slide rule that I use







Having all the scale tones included makes that chart too complex for me. I'd circle all the 1, 3. and 5 chord tones in first position to start--[The chart is in G so] In G that would be  G, B and D. The chains of 1 3 and 5 tones form characteristic symmetrical shapes, which are easy to memorize.  [I also play in G starting on the 3rd position G on the D string, across the violin.]  The chord tones are the "targets" to reach for when playing on a G chord--the most important notes. They are the notes the rhythm players will be playing. I don't think of every chord/scale as a different shape, as that chart would lead you to do. Instead transpose by setting up "rules". For example every C on the violin is in the same position as every G, but one string lower.  That means you can move the whole pattern of G on the top 3 strings to the bottom 3 strings and you will be in the key of C. Move the whole pattern of G on the bottom 3 strings to the top 3 strings and you will be in the key of D. This saves a whole lot of memorizing. Its one shape moved around. The other basic shape is the 3rd position G I described above. Its named by the first finger and is useful for playing A E B in first position and G, C and D in 3rd position.  It would be really useful to plot this out and use it for improvisation. I practice the associated scales a lot while looking at the chord tones. Enough to make them second nature. 


mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 01/03/2016:  15:52:01


Hello Joel, thanks for your post, this is just one way of looking at it. I myself see this in my head and the I agree there are certain patterns in there that take advantage of the equal distant tuning of the fiddle, regards Rick


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