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February 2012 Free Flatpicking Lesson
from 
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"St. Anne's Reel"

Arranged for FGM by Mickey Abraham

     

      Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. This month’s tune is an epic version of the “St. Anne’s Reel.” I had a lot of fun exploring cool variations on this one and I’m certain that even if you already play this one you will find hip ideas and phrases in my variations. 
     Once I started coming up with fresh ideas for this tune I had no choice but to include two complete variations — it’s not that the third version is more complicated, it’s more that I had too many ideas to cram into one pass.      
       As always, version one is a straight ahead rendition of the tune’s beautiful melody.  I find it fun, interesting, and at times challenging to come up with one version of a tune, as a tune’s actual melody is often played and taught in so many different ways. 
      As I stated before, I really enjoyed composing the variations for this lesson.  I tried to pay attention to my use of open position in a way that is almost therapeutic.  In lue of clouding up the beautiful tune with random hot licks in the key of D, I tried to weave in and out of the melody using ideas that are melodic, easy, and relevant.  These ideas, to me, are the antithesis of riffing away using pentatonic blues scales.  For other songs like “Salt Creek” or “Big Mon” I would choose to take on a more bluesy approach.
     The trick to keeping a tune free of blues licks is to base your solos on major scales and chord arpeggios.  I did use a couple flat 3rds and  a couple chromatic lines to add some harmonic interest and catch your ear, but then went right back to the straight major scale.
      When working with my private students I try to teach them how to construct lines like these using chord shapes, arpeggios, and scale ideas.  It is fun and challenging to try and come up with your own lines that fit over the chord changes of a tune.  This is one way to never get tired of playing the same song.  If you are constantly coming up with your own melodic variations, a tune can be reinvented all the time.
     When some folks begin to improvise their flatpicking solos they often ignore the melodic contour of the tune’s original melody.  I like to study what notes are integral to the sound of the melody and build my variations off that.  One musically artistic aspect of coming up with a variation is to sometimes go where your ear expects but then go where your human ear does not expect it to go — like going higher when your ear expects it to go lower and vice versa.           Check out the lesson mp3 to hear these ideas in action.
      I know you will enjoy going through this epic flatpicking rendition of “St. Anne‘s Reel.” You may even find these types of lines relaxing to play.  If you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson don't hesitate to drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net        




"St. Anne's Reel"

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