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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Right or wrong.

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:

haggis - Posted - 09/10/2018:  12:03:11

How would you approach improvising over a cycle of 4ths other than arpeggios , a la George Strait's " Right or wrong?"

buckhenry - Posted - 09/10/2018:  13:59:29

mixolydian scales …..?

FiddleBas - Posted - 09/10/2018:  20:05:42

I would say there are at least three (non-mutually exclusive) approaches:

  1. Based on chord tones: string together sequences based on the chord tones and transition notes. Typically you would hit chord tones on at least the down beat and usually also the up beat, with transition notes in between (so if playing eighth notes, you are typically alternating chord tones and transition notes). All sorts of "standard" patterns and building blocks out there. I found Mandolin and Fiddle Improvisation Using the Chord Tone Scale very helpful. 

  2. Based on licks: String together little musical segments that fit the current chord or chord transition. The types of licks that are "appropriate" really depend on the genre. Many resources out there, though probably best to transcribe licks you like from favorite players. 

  3. Based on the melody: Melody based improvisation starts with the key structure of the melody and then adds ornamentation and variations. Neil Rossi's Learning to Fiddle, Bluegrass Style is good on this topic for bluegrass. 

Depends on the genre which of these approaches is most prevalent. Find what works for you and what you are playing. 



Johnny Rosin - Posted - 09/10/2018:  22:18:03

I would probably base my solo on the chord tones- which are mainly dominant 7ths, pentatonic scales based on the chord being played, a little bit of melody here and there, and utilize some double stops, bluesy slides, and cliche western swing licks. I think that tune was done by Bob Wills some time ago, so definitely on the Western Swing side.

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 09/12/2018:  21:35:03

Does this sequence mean anything to anybody?
III b7 3
VI 3 b7
II b7 3
V 3 b7

ChickenMan - Posted - 09/13/2018:  05:36:50


Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Does this sequence mean anything to anybody?

III b7 3

VI 3 b7

II b7 3

V 3 b7

Looks like a brain teaser to me.

I recognize the Roman numerals as scale degrees used to identify the chords, and I guess your flat 7th is like a dominant 7th? The threes and thier placement make it seem like a math puzzle. 

UsuallyPickin - Posted - 09/13/2018:  06:13:42

Sometimes an added number in that fashion indicates the placement of a tone within a chord ie. a certain inversion...…… in this case placing the 3rd of the chord in the bass when the numeral proceeds the extension and in the treble when the numeral follows the extension. The third of a chord is the major or minor identifier and as such is usually played. When it is skipped you have a "power chord" or a 1/5 suggestion of a chord which is something fiddlers do on a regular basis. So since you are likely playing two tones let your ear select the double stop that works best within the frame work of what other instruments are playing or if you are playing solo. Luck R/

DougD - Posted - 09/13/2018:  08:00:44

Maybe a little perspective on this song might help you. "Right or Wrong" is a pop song from I think 1921 and uses chord changes typical of that era. One influential early recording was by Emmett Miller, who also gave the world "Lovesick Blues," and he gives a little vocal nod to that one at the end of this record, which has been kept by some later artists.
Emmett Miller
Emmett Miller bio:
Merle Haggard talks about Emmett Miller
Merle's version

It was also a popular Western Swing song, and Bob Wills' recording was very pooular.
Milton Brown
Bob Wills

George Strait comes from a Western Swing background, and the fiddler on that record is Johnny Gimble. If you just learned to play what he played, people would think you were great. This is a song, and like most versions, the instrumental parts stick pretty close to the melody - its the singing that sells records, not wild instrumental breaks.
There is a Youtube of George Strait with the Texas Troubadours that has pretty standard triple fiddle, but the only "wild" improvisation I found was Katie Glassman, and that's kind of the structure of that trio.
Western Flyers:
If you learned to play what she plays people would also think you're great. Its a little beyond me, but it sounds like modern Texas or Western contest style fiddling. Hope this gives you some ideas.

mmuussiiccaall - Posted - 09/13/2018:  11:40:05


Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Does this sequence mean anything to anybody?

III b7 3

VI 3 b7

II b7 3

V 3  b7

here's some files about the chromatic drop shown above:;v=2790

DougD - Posted - 09/13/2018:  14:35:19

I think I inow what you mean, but I've never seen it presented that way. In any case, those are not the chords to "Right or Wrong," which can be found quite easily online. Haggis, this song is usually performed in G, like Bob Wills and George Strait.
Here's another video with Joey McKenzie and Gavin Kelso, but with a different fiddler. Similar improvisation though I think.

DougD - Posted - 09/13/2018:  17:33:50

That video of a young George Strait is with the Texas Playboys, not the Troubadours. Duh.

buckhenry - Posted - 09/13/2018:  22:21:25


Originally posted by DougD

Similar improvisation though I think. 

This is interesting you noticed that; Recently I heard The Western Flyers at my local venue and I bought their CD. Upon watching a video of that particular night I realized Kate Glassman's solos were note-for-note from the CD. And here's me thinking ''what great improvisations I am listening to''. Alas, all worked out before hand, and who copied who...    

pete_fiddle - Posted - 09/14/2018:  02:15:17

Ellie Goodman is improvising very nicely from the chords maybe? (about 1:30) probably using some licks and stuff...nice


DougD - Posted - 09/14/2018:  14:47:27

That is nice, pete. Thanks. Interesting to me that the guitarist plays it more like I would. He's often satisfied with seventh chords, instead of the extended or substitute chords of the Western swing players, and doesn't change chords every beat, which I find a bit relentless. He even plays the B7 as an open chord, which has more richness and power. I got my ideas about playing this style from watching Ted Bogan on a six week tour of Latin America we were both part of. He also yodels the nod to "Lovesick Blues" which I like. BTW the guitarist on the Emmett Miller record was Eddie Lang, someone to aspire to (as well as the Dorsey Brothers) so its nice to hear a NY take on this.

pete_fiddle - Posted - 09/15/2018:  00:28:42

I had an old book by Eddie Lang describing his approach to chords and scale patterns etc, it was too advanced for me at the time so i gave it away... i wish i hadn't, reckon i might be ready to have another go at it by now.

i also like the simpler chords to play along with, it seems to leave the more fancy stuff for the fiddle, and make it easier to keep track of the progression.Django style chords and Maccaferri guitars seem to be the norm with most swing guitarists around here, more like playing with a snare drum and a bass, but there are a few Bluegrassy/Americana type players about that leave stuff a bit more open for the fiddle.

i also found a Leon Redbone version of the tune on youtube that i ....then spent an hour or two listening to more of his stuff

haggis - Posted - 09/17/2018:  16:42:06


Originally posted by mmuussiiccaall

Does this sequence mean anything to anybody?

III b7 3

VI 3 b7

II b7 3

V 3 b7

Circle of 4ths.

Eric Sprado - Posted - 12/07/2018:  18:26:44

Having played backup on that tune many years before George Strait did it ( his is a GREAT recording though) I can say it is a fun one to improvise to. For one go try doing a bar of uphill arpeggios followed by some tasteful double stops at end of phrase. Find some old Johnny Gimble tapes. He is the Master of that type of song..

Eric Sprado - Posted - 12/08/2018:  14:51:30

Hey Doug: I should have read your comment before I started babbling. You pretty much covered Right Or Wrong and its background as well as it could be done! I have an old recording of Emmet doing Lovesick Blues...what a gem. I didn't know about Eddy Lang. Couldn't do any better than he...

Going back to Right Or Wrong: The sound of multiple fiddles playing the tune in harmony on Bob Wills take of it is one of my fond musical memories...

Edited by - Eric Sprado on 12/08/2018 14:52:55

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