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March 2009 Free Flatpicking Lesson
Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

The Brazin Mask

Welcome to FGM’s free e-lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. Each month, when you click here, you will find great new flatpicking material to explore. Thanks for all the positive feedback on my past e-lessons. Keep your emails coming -- what tunes have you enjoyed the most? What tunes or concepts would you like to see featured here in the future?

This month, I would like to introduce you to a quirky Irish flavored tune entitled “The Brazin Mask.” Unlike many of my past lessons which have included melodic variations and soloing ideas, here I encourage you to stick to the melody -- you see, picking this tune cleanly is a real good right hand work out and I feel it is worth it to work out the techniques needed to play this melody. I use this tune as a right hand etude to practice crossing stings. You will find that you really need to keep your right hand focused and relaxed to achieve a nice groove with this arrangement.

The Chords:

The chords I have chosen to use are very simply and straightforward -- just G and D. I have heard this tune done with complex modern Irish rhythm styles that incorporate lots of chords but, for this lesson, I have chosen to interpret the backup like an old-time dance tune. It has the typical AABB structure with each section containing eight measures.

The Melody:

I find this melody to be just beautifully quirky enough to be awesome. The first time I heard it I knew this tune was different from the rest. In the A section, you will notice how the open g string is being used after every other note. This “rocking’ back and forth to the open g string, to me, is what helps gives the tune an Irish flavor.

I particularly enjoy the tune’s creative use of half steps and chromatic passages. It is these one fret intervals that give the melody it’s unique flavor and, in a way, almost comes off sounding humorous or bombastic.

When flatpicking the triplets at the end of the B section I am picking DUD - UDU. You can think of it as a group a six notes. Try to accent the first beat of each group of three! I encourage you to listen to the mp3 to hear the hornpipe flavored triplet. I love the way Irish players use triplets to ornament a tune -- it never seems to be for the “techniques” sake, but rather to express a melodic musical idea.

Remember to practice slow and clean. This tune has so much going for it. Try introducing it to your friends and see what they think. Drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net if you have any questions, comments, or concerns with this e-lesson. Good luck and have fun with “The Brazin Mask!”

"Brazin Mask"

Brazin Mask

Brazin Mask