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January 2012 Free Flatpicking Lesson
from 
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"Fisher's Hornpipe"

Arranged for FGM by Mickey Abraham
       

      Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our email newsletter. This month I present two versions of the popular flatpicking tune Fisher’s Hornpipe.   
      Version 1 strongly adheres to the tune’s melody. I based it on many versions that I have been exposed to through the years. For the second pass, I took a few creative liberties while still paying close attention to the contour of the tune. If you have never been exposed to the Fisher’s Hornpipe you will want to concentrate on my first version. Once you get the melody under your fingers, or if you already know this tune, go ahead to the second solo.
      You won’t find this tune in many beginner books because it has a lot of notes and is certainly not the easiest tune to play.  The chords, although simple, switch a great deal. Similarly, the melody is pretty much nothing but constant eighth notes. This will require close attention to your use of alternate picking. Please refer back to my “Pick Stroke Theory” lesson if you have any questions about when and why to use a downstroke or an upstroke.  If you are unsure why Fisher’s Hornpipe begins with an upstroke, then that lesson will be perfect for you. 
      When arranging the variations I tried to make my lines sound “hornpipe-ish.” This means that I went for chord arpeggios and scalular ideas rather than filling up the tune with blues licks or “Tony” ideas.  To me, this keeps the flavor of the tune even when improvising on the chords -- although blues licks would work too.  I find hornpipe melodies to be very classical and baroque in nature. If one were to remove the bouncy swing feel, a lot of the traditional Irish hornpipes would end up sounding like Bach.  Play through the tune and the variations to see if you can hear the baroque influence in the lines.  Also, you can click on the lesson mp3 to hear the melody and the variations in action.
    I hope you enjoy working on the Fisher’s Hornpipe and adding to your list of flatpicking tunes.  As always, if you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson, or any ideas you would like to see here in the future, just drop my a line at michabraham@comcast.net 




"Fisher's Hornpipe"

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Fisher

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