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The Bluegrass Learning Place-- You are My Sunshine Tutorial

Posted by LifesMiracle on Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Table of Contents © John G Nitkowski

No matter what your skill is you can always be better! The goal is not merely to enable you to play other people's musical ideas, but for you to create your own and be able to play effortlessly and almost without thought as most of the professional musicians do...

Now let's take the scale maps we learned in the last lesson and put them to use.

You need Tabledit to do this lesson.

I have chosen You Are My Sunshine as the song for this lesson because it's a simple song almost everybody knows. I'm going to show you how to play it in every key using the maps. This will use the Blue Pattern outlined in the last lesson, which means the notes of the song will be played higher up the neck than the root note.

The Tabledit version is done in 5 different keys.  Learn it in those 5, and you can play it in all keys!

There aren't any open strings in the song so use the same fingering you learned in the Ab version for every key, no matter what the Tabledit fingering chart says!

Melody Part

The melody of this song starts with the root note of the scale. It's important to understand that not all songs do. If you're playing a melody that starts on a different note, jingle bells for example, the melody starts on the 3rd note of the scale, therefore you must use a different  finger for your first note. For Jingle Bells you would use your 3rd finger in the Blue Pattern or the 2nd finger for the Yellow Pattern for the first note. If you don't understand please review the last lesson.

Harmony Part

The harmony is on the 2nd track of Tabledit and is based on the Phrygian (FRIDGE ee in) Mode which is basically a scale played with all the notes of a Major scale, but instead of starting on the 1st note (Root) of the scale you start on the 3rd note of the scale. There is a deviation on the You make me happy part with a descending harmony where there is an ascending melody. Everything else is Phrygian Modish. (I just made that up!)

Manipulating Tabledit

​To facilitate learning, you can turn on or off the tracks in Tabledit, and determine which one is showing on the screen. You can show Fiddle 1, Fiddle 2, Bass, etc. on the screen by clicking on the Numbers in the upper right hand corner of the screen. To mute and instrument, so you can hear the others more clearly, click the small green rectangle above the numbers so they turn red. Change the speed of the play back by clicking on MIDI on the upper left, clicking on Relative Speed and changing the numbers in the Percentage box up or down.

  • Click here for the 2 Octave ScalesTabledit TEF file for practicing.
  • Click here for the You Are My Sunshine Tabledit TEF file for practicing.

The Tutorial starts in the key of Ab and it's important to Memorize it in that key before you move to the other keys.
So stop the Tabledit player when you come to the end of the Ab part!

By the way, make sure you don't sing the other verses of the song in your mind when you're playing it, as it will mess you up because they have slightly different melodies. I included the partial text to help you remember this.

After you master this simple version in all the keys, feel free to add other notes, slides, and chords to spice it up a bit, but make sure you don't use any open notes. Then you'll be able to add the embellishments in all the keys!

Also remember this isn't a lesson per se for You Are My Sunshine. It's a lesson on using the maps to play in other keys and for playing up the neck. If you play the song in just one key with a group or for your own enjoyment, use all the open notes you want for the bluegrass feel, but even then, using the simple melody played in the higher positions adds to the music especially when you're playing it behind other instruments. You can also learn the harmony notes up the neck using the maps and that sounds great also!

You will always use all four fingers. Just remember as you move up the neck the spacing gets smaller!

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