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April 2012 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine


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 a Romanian folk song called “Ardeleana.” I learned this melody from my friend and amazing cellist, Rushad Eggleston. Rushad is of course most known for his virtuosic cello playing, but he is also a wonderful flatpicking guitarist and I am most grateful for him to have taught me this neat tune on the guitar!

“Ardeleana” is a three part tune with each section consisting of eight measures. One of the unique aspects of picking this arrangement is that it is in the open Bb position. Not many fiddle tunes are in the key of Bb, and even when they are, most flatpicking guitarists would choose to play Bb tunes out of “G” position with a capo on the 3rd fret. Although the open Bb shape on the guitar is under explored, it’s actually finger-friendly and fun to play. You will noticed the intriguing sound the open Bb shape adds to this tune due to the open strings being used in other places than would normally be encountered when flatpicking a tune out of the traditional G, C, or D shapes. For example, the D string is now the major third of Bb, and the G string is now the major third of Eb (the IV chord of Bb).

When you begin picking “Ardeleana”, your left hand will be in second position, but by the time you make it to the second measure, your hand will have had to shift back to first position in order to strike the first fret of the D string. Play the remainder of the section out of first position. The B and C sections are also played out of first position except for the few places that you will be sliding into the fifth fret. Once you get this tune under your fingers I know you will appreciate the magic of the open Bb position.

My favorite part of this tune is the hip triplet ornamentation that appears in measure 7 and then again in that same place throughout the tune. I must say that until this tune, I had never placed this type of triplet in this exact way. It really makes the tune stand out. What I find most interesting and slightly mysterious is the use of the b9th being played against the minor ii chord (C# note over Cm). Don’t worry if you don’t know your chord and scale theory for you can still play this awesome ornamentation. Click on the lesson mp3 to hear the triplet in action.

There is one little problem that arrises when playing a tune out of open Bb and that is how to play tasty back-up. I choose to play the back-up with my capo on the third fret to avoid every chord being a barre shape/closed position. To me this sounds good but makes it really hard, if not impossible, to switch from back-up to lead smoothly. The only solution is to not switch back and forth between chords and picking when playing this tune (one person capo 3 for the back-up and at least one person picking in open Bb), or to actually play the chords without a capo. Most flatpicking guitarists don’t like tunes with Bb’s and Eb’s which is why I chose to write out the capoed shapes for you here:

“Ardeleana” capo 3 chord shapes:

/ / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /
G G Am D G 2x

C G D G 2x

G Em Am D G 2x

Chances are you may never have been exposed to a flatpicking tune played out of open Bb position. Upon learning this piece, You may be so intrigued that you will end up writing your own melodies based out of this cool under utilized key. I hope you enjoy working on “Areleana” and adding it your list of really cool tunes. As always, If you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson or any great ideas you’d like to see featured here in the future just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net