Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. “Margie” is a tune from 1920 that comes out of the Dixieland tradition. It has been recorded by everyone form Django Reinhardt to Fats Domino. These old tunes that pre-date bluegrass make for wonderful flatpicking melodies. I am excited for you to experience this tune on the guitar.
“Margie” came to me through my clarinet friend, Joe Goldberg, who plays it with his band “The Swamp Donkey’s.” Joe showed me the tune in the key of F. For this flatpicking lesson I decided to transpose the tune into the key of G. This makes guitar players happy and makes it feel and sound more like a bluegrass tune. I can almost hear what Don Reno would play on the banjo over these cool changes.
As usual, I have supplied you with two versions to work on. First is the simple melody. Even advanced pickers should begin here to make sure you get the tune’s melody into your ear and fingers. One thing I really like about the melody is it’s use of flatted fifths. An example of this would be the Db note in measure 4 played over the G chord or the Eb note played over the A chord in measure 14. If one were to play these notes out of context they might sound dissonant but, when used properly, they sound so musically wonderful.
Once you have learned the melody and chords you can begin working on the solo. I have once again packed a lot of meat into this one solo. Feel free to learn it note for note. But, to me, a solo like this is designed for you to absorb language. By this I mean you can pick out the licks, connectors, and lines that you like best and try to employ the new licks into your already existing language. The end result being that you can play your favorite ideas when the same chords show up in a different song. One might say this is an advanced concept but I feel that it’s never to early to begin thinking about improvisation. If you are a player who feels trapped by playing the same licks over chords like G or A I think you might find some interesting phrases in the second solo. Remember to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords, melody, and solo in action.
I hope you enjoy working on “Margie” and adding to your list of tunes. Make sure to show it to all your guitar picking friends. I want to hear folks play it. This would make a great contest tune in place of the overdone “Alabama Jubilee” or “Sweet Georgia Brown” (Which are both amazing tunes). If you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson please email at firstname.lastname@example.org.