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January 2010 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"Catharsis" by Amy Cann

Arranged for FGM by Mickey Abraham


  Hello to all eager FGM e-newsletter readers. This month I’d like to share a fantastic fiddle tune in the mysterious key of Gm. I feel this melody is full of attitude and cool ideas -- and I’m sure that once you work out the fingerings and picking, that you too will find excitement in picking this tune on the guitar. This tune was written by Vermont fiddler Amy Cann. I’d like to thank Amy for allowing me to teach this fantastic tune in FGM. This is the first published guitar arrangement of this song. How cool!

    Perhaps what is most amazing is how tunes get circulated around the world. Although this tunes was written in Vermont it has made its way across the country and the world. One cannot hold a great tune down. The most popular version was recorded by the Irish fiddler Natalie McMasters. Her version has been picked up by many Irish fiddlers and is often taught at fiddle camps.
    My guitar melody is played out of an Em position with a capo at the third fret. This is the most popular way for a flatpicking guitarist to approach a tune in the key of Gm. This way, all of our open strings can be used to both make the tune easier to play but also make it sound like the flatpicking genre. The A section has a couple spots where you must allow the high E string to ring out while shifting your hand to a higher neck position. Due to these songs not originating on the guitar, some of the notes may seem like a stretch. All these notes were, of course, in first position on the fiddle!
    The real magic of the tune appears in the B section. You will notice that the repeating pattern of rocking eighth notes gives “Catharsis” a unique sound that wants to be played and heard!
    Most Irish flavored tunes have many chord variations. The chords I have supplied in the TAB are inspired by the rhythm playing of the great John Doyle. The melody, coming exclusively out of the Em scale position, lends itself to many chords possibilities. I can, in fact, insert any chord in that key and the tune will work. The tricky part is to find chords that enhance the tune’s melody. I particularly enjoy how some of the melody phrases resolve back to the root note while the chords stay unresolved until the next measure. Take a listen to the mp3 to hear how these chords react with the melody!
Catharsis simple chords:


Good luck and have fun! I hope you find the melody and chords to “Catharsis” to be as rewarding and interesting as I do. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns on this e-lesson or awesome ideas for future e-lessons, just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net.