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November 2010 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

"Chinquapin Hunting"

Arranged by Tim May

In January of 2011 Flatpicking Guitar Magazine will release a book of old-time and Irish fiddle tune arrangements by Tim May. All of the tunes that Tim selected for this book are tunes that either are starting to become common at many jam sessions around the country. For each of the tunes in Tim’s book he presents a beginner level, melody-based arrangement as well as an intermediate level arrangement. For this month’s email lesson we are presenting the melody of the tune “Chinquapin Hunting” for Tim’s new book. This is a tune that has become very popular at jams sessions around Nashville during the past four or five years and was featured in the Flatpicking Guitar Magazine concert DVD “Live at the Station Inn” featuring Chris Eldridge, Josh Williams, and Andy Falco. We hope you enjoy learning this tune.
A “chinquapin” or “chinkapin” is a small tree found throughout the eastern south. The chinquapin tree has a small, bur covered nut. The bur has sharp spines, 3/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Our guess that the title “Chinquapin Hunting” refers to hunting for the chinquapin nuts. The Allegheny chinquapin may be the most ignored and undervalued native North American nut tree. It is said to be a sweet and edible nut.

Here is what Tim May had to say about the tune:
“Chinquapin Hunting” is almost like two different tunes in one, and two different styles in one. The A part is very simple and repetitive but creates a lot of opportunity for drive. The B part takes off in a completely different direction: the melody keeps hammering at the notes E and F# (the 6th and 7th degrees respectively over a G chord). These are note selections that are more typical for jazz than old-time or bluegrass or Irish music. The contrast between the A and B sections makes each section that much more interesting. This is also a tune with no ending! The B part ends on the 5 chord (A), so the tune never resolves: one has to either end by going back to the A part or by going into another tune as a medley, which is a good thing to do! I almost always play this tune as the first in a medley. The B part also lends itself to a lot of experimentation with the chords: there are a few good options to play over that melody.