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Melodification: Reuben

This version of Reuben is a bit of a weird one. I was inspired by Bela Fleck's tune, "The Legend," which features a lot of descending scale patterns in D minor tuning.

Check The Legend out here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mulyr7yfWho

Also, you may have noticed I'm using two different banjos. Most of this footage - including the fast version of Reuben - was shot months ago. I recorded the backing track guitar and slow version today and mashed them together.

I'll Fly Away

This version of "I'll Fly Away" is intended to help beginners start learning by ear. The tab is available, but I strongly recommend you spend some quality time with the video before using the tab. Learning by ear is the best way to learn banjo, and tab can be used in a way that isn't detrimental to your playing. And I don't care what anyone says - you can learn by ear.

For example, challenge yourself to learn all of the melody notes by ear in "I'll Fly Away," and then use the tab for the 16th note phrases. Or learn every other measure by ear.

Obviously this takes some will-power because the tab is there in front of you, but you can put post-its over half of the measures, or simply scratch them out with a pen.

Stick with it and please let me know if you have any questions!

Head Over Heels Backup Exercise

In this video I play through 3 different versions of backup for Head Over Heels.

The first is fairly simple with a forward roll being the main figure. I find that this is a great way to stay out of the way of the vocalist while still adding to the overall sound of the band.

The 2nd has more solo elements to it, and this would be a good variation to play if you want to fill in-between vocal lines.

The 3rd version combines a lot of up-the-neck elements to create a backup that is tasteful and interesting to the listener, but also stays out of the way of the vocalist.

Please let me know how I can make this video better! What would you like to hear more of? What questions do you have about playing backup?

Melodification: Old Home Place Down-the-Neck Break

Click here to learn the up-the-neck melodic break.

This video gets into a few more advanced techniques down the neck, and I talk a little theory as well. Over the first V chord in the song, I take a ii7 chord and superimpose it over the first two beats to create what sounds like a V9 chord. It's a cool little trick, and I recommend you play around with the ii - V - I chord progression when you're practicing. It's essential jazz vocabulary and transfers over to bluegrass well. Click here to learn more about ii - V - I chord progressions.

Ryan Cavanaugh Salt Creek Improvisation

I've tabbed out 2 of the 3 choruses of Ryan's improvisation at the end of this video.

It's pretty awesome, and would be a great solo to learn if you're looking to up your single string chops. 

I'd like to do a video going into a bit of the theory behind what he's doing, so if you have any questions, please let me know in the comment section below!

A lot of what he's doing involves pentatonic scales combined with bluesy chromaticism. He makes it sound really good :).

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