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December 2012 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"The Snowy Path"

Arranged for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine by Mickey Abraham

     Hello and welcome back to the free lesson portion of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s e-mail newsletter. I have once again chosen to go outside the bluegrass realm for this month’s melody. For those of you that receive my e-lessons each month you know that I like to mix things up every now and then. I’d like to think that you look forward to the variety of tunes I offer that sometimes deviate from the usual flatpicking standards. This month’s tune is a beautiful Irish session standard entitled The Snowy Path
     One interesting aspect to The Snowy Path is its unique 9/8 time signature. If you have never been exposed to tunes in 9/8, this rhythm may feel strange at first. When playing the chords to this tune, one can interpret it like a bluegrass waltz. Try hitting the bass note of the chord on beat one followed by two strums on beats two and three. This is one way of expressing the 9/8 feel in a simple way.

Rhythm Example: (even though the tune is written in 9/8 I feel the back-up in more of a 3/4 time)

1       2        3        1       2        3        1       2        3        1       2        3
pick  strum strum  pick  strum strum  pick  strum strum pick  strum strum      etc..etc...

     When picking the melody to The Snowy Path you may have to take liberties with your pick direction. Seeing that this tune is in 9/8, an odd time signature, your pick may end up falling on a down stroke on the last note in a measure. This means you will have to play the first down beat of the following measure with an upstroke (highly unusual in bluegrass flatpicking) or repeat two downstrokes to comfortably begin the next measure with a down pick stroke (I am doing a combination of both).
      I do not play this tune at fast tempos and it sounds best when played on the medium to slow side. This works out great for our pick direction dilemma. Due to the slow and stately tempo of the piece, you should have plenty of time to lyrically alter your pick direction in a way that is comfortable to you.    
     Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action. I hope you enjoy learning this beautiful melody and adding it to your growing list of tunes.  As always, feel free to email me directly at michabraham@comcast.net if you have any questions or comments on The Snowy Path or if you have any great ideas for tunes you’d like to see see here in the future.

"The Snowy Path"

Snowy Path