|Free Monthly Newsletter Lesson - September 2008"Tipsy Gypsy" Modern Flatpicking and the David Grisman Influenceby Mickey AbrahamDownload MP3 | Download PDF
In this month’s lesson I offer my flatpicking arrangement of
the Grisman classic, “Tipsy Gypsy.” I first heard “Tipsy Gypsy” on
the DGQ 20 Year Retrospective which had Tony Rice on guitar and
Stephane Grappelli on violin. The call and response nature of the
melody caught my ear right away and I knew then that I would have to
learn to play this tune. Tony Rice plays a killer solo on that
recording, but he never plays the head of the tune. I find it
challenging to express fiddle/mandolin melodies on the guitar and often
it is easier to improvise a solo than to play a complex melody.
Years later I came across this song again on a recording called Valla, Turner, Williamson.
They recorded this Grisman jam with Aubrey Haney on fiddle. Their
version is much faster than the original Grisman version and Gabe Valla
plays an incredible guitar melody. My arrangement presented here is a
combination of what Gabe is doing on the VTW recording mixed with the
original Grisman head. I have included Gabe’s version in the audio
portion of this lesson.
To me, this arrangement avoids overused licks
and patterns and uses the guitar in a way that is very unique to
modern flatpicking guitar. Once you get these phrases under your
fingers you will find that this tune is not is hard is it first
appears. Practice slowly and with good timing. The “B” section is
played almost exclusively out of 2nd position and sounds much more
difficult than what the ear hears. Perhaps it’s the gypsy harmonies?
The Dm position I use for the opening phrase
begins with the middle finger on the ‘A’ note on the D string. Even
experienced flatpickers may find this Dm shape very interesting. It
does not seem to fit the classic Dm barre shape; rather it exists in
between some of the more conventional Dm shapes. When I arrange a
melody I try to ignore the conventional chord shapes and scale pattern
and focus on how the guitar can express the melody the best.
Much of this arrangement uses what
flatpickers call “floating” notes. When the sixth fret of the B string
is struck against the high E string it creates this floating type of
feel. This melody would have been impossible for me to make smooth if I
did not incorporate the floating licks.
This song is clearly more advanced than my
last few online lessons. My goal is to cover all aspects of
flatpicking from proper pick direction to more modern tunes and
approaches. Don’t forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
with any question or comments on this lesson or any ideas you may have
for future online lessons. Don’t forget to call this tune at the next