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Free Monthly Newsletter Lesson - July 2014

"Will the Circle Be Unbroken"

Arranged for Flatpicking Guitar Magazine by Mickey Abraham

Download PDF | Download MP3

Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. In this month's e-lesson I present to you a kick-off and solo to the classic gospel number “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” I feel players of all levels will find this lesson useful especially if you have never played this song before. If you already know how to play “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” you may find some cool licks and ideas in the solo portion.
Just because a guitar arrangement is simple does not mean it’s not great. My simple rendition is perfect for introducing your hands and ear to the song as well as serving as a melodically driven kick-off. By not clouding up the arrangement with slides and embellishments it makes it easier for you to learn and hopefully easier for you to add your own variations. I feel getting right down to the melody is the only way to truly learn a song.
Additionally, this melody and positioning on the fingerboard shares a lot of themes in common with other bluegrass kick-offs. Once you get the melody under your fingers I’m sure you will have an easier time figuring out melodies and kick-offs to other like-minded tunes such as “Lost All My Money But This Two Dollar Bill” or “New River Train.” These tunes share a guitar language that is essential in bluegrass and gospel guitar. When recording the mp3 for this e-lesson I improvised a bluegrass solo over the chord changes and then went back to transcribe what I played. This is not the approach I usually take for these lessons. In doing this I feel I was able to capture some ideas and note placement that I would think of if I were composing a break for this tune. The solo is clearly inspired by Tony Rice and other like-minded guitarists. If you follow these e-lesson you may note that I often stray from plastering “Tony Licks” all over tunes in the key of G but hey, Tony rules and I just couldn’t help myself!
I’m certain you and your picking buddies will have a great time jamming out to this classic song. If you have any questions or comments on this e-lesson just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net