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Flatpicking Guitar Magazine - Flatpicking Essentials Volume 6: Improvisation (Part II) & Advanced Technique Studies


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Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 6: Improvisation, Part II and Advanced Technique Studies

Improvisation, Part II

Flatpicking Essentials, Volume 6 is divided into two main sections. The first section is the Part II of our study of improvisation. Volume 5 introduced readers to a step-by-step free-form improv study method that we continue here in Volume 6. In the improvisation section of Volume 5 introduced improvisation over various I, IV, V chord progressions using chord tones and scale notes. Volume 6 continues with the same course of study; however, the chord progressions will get more complicated.

An added feature of this Volume of the course is the inclusion of an appendix that will serve as an easy reference for all of the chord progressions that you were given in Volumes 5 and 6. We are also providing slow, medium, and fast back up tracks for all of these progressions.

Advanced Technique

The second section of this book is focused on advanced flatpicking technique. We approached this topic by first having Tim May record "advanced level" improvisations for nineteen different flatpicking tunes. Tim selected the tunes and went into the studio with a list of techniques, like the use of triplets, natural and false harmonics, note bending, quoting, alternate tuning, syncopation, twin guitar, minor key tunes, hybrid picking, advanced crosspicking, string skipping, etc. Tim did a wonderful job incorporating all of these techniques into his improvisations and we discuss all of these techniques in detail in the pages that come before the first occurrence of a given technique.

In addition to introducing new techniques in this volume, Tim also did a great job introducing advanced ways of employing many of the techniques that have been presented previously in this course, such as: hammer-ons, slides, pull-offs, bends, neighboring notes (toggling), tremolo (repeated notes), chromatic runs, drones, harmonic scales, folded scales, floating, crosspicking, arpeggios, note bending, runs that move up-the-neck, etc. He pulls it all together here and really takes out all the stops. If you are looking for interesting ways to spice up your bluegrass songs and fiddle tunes, you will definitely find them here in this volume.

In addition to the "advanced" techniques discussed above, Tim also adds more complex timing and dynamic elements to his arrangements, as well as more complex note choices. As you will discover when you read our synopsis of each tune in the Advance Technique section, Tim makes good use of diminished, maj7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th chords and arpeggios. We will not really get into a discussion of these chords and arpeggios until Volume 7 of this course. However, we felt like introducing you to these chords and arpeggios here in this volume would give you a good sense of how these note choices can be useful to you, in terms of practical usage in standard flatpicking tunes.

Table of Contents:


Improvisation, Part II
Diatonic Chords and Chord Progressions
    Creating Diatonic Triads
    'Temperance Reel" Exercise
Chord Movement and Chord Progressions
    I, IV, V Progression: Why It Works
    The Relative Minor
    I - vi - IV - V Progression
    The ii Chord
    I - vi - ii - V Progression
     I - ii - V - I Progression
    "St. Anne's Reel" Exercise
    Note Choices For Diatonic Chords
    Stable Melody Notes
    Chord Tones
    Major Pentatonic Scales
    Minor Pentatonic Scales
    Remaining Notes
    "Nine Pound Hammer" Exercise
    The iii Chord
    I - vi - iii - V Progression
    I - iii - IV - V Progression
    The Chord Stream
Diatonic Triad Summary
Seventh Chords
    The Dominant 7th Chord
    I - IV - V7 - I Progression
Non-Diatonic Chords
    The Flat Seven Chord
    I - bVII - V - I Progression
    "Salt Creek" Exercise
The Seventh Chord in Blues
    12-Bar Blues Using Seventh Chords
Secondary Dominant Chords
    V of the V
    V of the IV
    "Alabama Jubilee" Exercise
    VI7 - II7 - V7 - I Progression

Advanced Flatpicking Technique
Tension & Release
Alabama Jubilee
Skipping Strings and Advanced Crosspicking
Angeline the Baker
Hybrid Picking - Part 1
Beaumont Rag
Billy In The Lowground
Using Harmonics Natural and Artificial
    "Mary Had A Little Lamb" Example
Bury Me Beneath The Willow
Playing in Minor Keys
Cold Frosty Morning
Devil's Dream
East Tennessee Blues
Forked Deer
Twin and Triple Guitars Playing Harmony Parts
    Basic Two-Part Harmony
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" Melody
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" - Harmony (Parallel 3rds)
    Harmonized Scale
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" Double Stops
    Harmony Variation
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" Harmony Variation
    Two-Part Harmony Rules of Thumb
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" High Baritone Harmony
    Adding a Third Part
    "Whisky Before Breakfast" Three Part Harmony
Leather Britches
Lonesome Reuben
Lonesome Road Blues
Hybrid Picking Part II
    Hybrid Picking Example
    "Lonesome Road Blues" Example
Midnight On The Water
Nine Pound Hammer
Red Haired Boy
Red Wing
Temperance Reel
Wayfaring Stranger
Whiskey Before Breakfast
Conclusion and The Road Ahead
Appendix Chord Progression Summary

About the Flatpicking Essentials Series:

The Flatpicking Essentials instructional series is designed to teach you the art of flatpicking the acoustic guitar in a sequential, step-by-step method that will gradually build your flatpicking skill in a way that leaves no "gaps" or "holes." While this method will be extremely beneficial to beginners, this series will also be of great value to those guitar players who have been working to learn how to flatpick for quite some time, yet can't seem to get beyond a certain plateau. If you are having trouble moving beyond memorized solos, adding interest and variety to your rhythm playing, learning how to play up-the-neck, learning how to come up with your own arrangements to songs, learning how to play by ear, or learning how to improvise, then this series is for you! Too many flatpickers are learning how to play by simply memorizing transcribed fiddle tune solos from tab books and video tapes. In doing that they are learning ineffectively and inefficiently. They are skipping over many vital elements in the learning process and thus they have a weak foundation. In this series my goal is to help you build a strong foundation so that you can easily maintain consistent forward progress in your study of flatpicking. Each volume of this series presents material that provides the foundation for the next volume. In this first volume "Rhythm, Bass Runs, and Fill Licks" you learn how to develop all of the basic skills you will need in order to become a solid rhythm player. This book is designed to teach you rhythm skills in a way that will thoroughly prepare you for Volume 2, which is titled, "Learning How To Solo: Carter Style and Beyond". Volume 3 will start to build your fiddle tune repertoire by providing you with melody-based versions of the most popular jam session tunes. Volume 4 will teach you how to become familiar with the entire fingerboard and understand how to use it to your advantage in creating interesting solos. Volume 5 "Improvisation and Style Studies" will explore improvisation and the styles and contributions of the flatpicking legends: Doc Watson, Clarence White, Tony Rice, Dan Crary, Norman Blake, and others. Volume 6 will provide you with advance arrangements of songs and tunes (arranged by Tim May). From there, future volumes will explore other genres such as Celtic, Western Swing, and Gypsy Jazz. As you will learn in the first section of Volume 1, the flatpicking guitar style developed chronologically along a very clear line of sequential technical skills. In order to learn how to flatpick fiddle tunes like Doc Watson, the student needs to build a foundation similar to the foundation Doc built for himself before he started picking lead solos on fiddle tunes. The first two volumes of this course present the techniques and skills that were developed on the acoustic guitar during the 30s, 40s, and 50s "the pre-Doc Watson skills" the skills Doc acquired as part of building his own musical foundation. The remaining volume then continue to follow the chronological development of the style.