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Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Free Online Lesson — April 2018

“Tico Tico”

Lesson by Mickey Abraham


Download PDF | Download mp3

Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. This month’s lesson is the Brazilian choro “Tico Tico.” I am quite fond of this amazing tune and I can see why it has made its way into the flatpicking community. I first heard “Tico Tico” played on the banjo by my cousin Ron Deckelbaum roughly twenty years ago, and I’ve been working on it ever since! This lesson arrangement is based on David Grisman’s version off his incredible album “Dawganova.”

In true bluegrass tradition, Grisman has changed a few chords and melody phrases. I love the way Dawg has made the tune his own. It was a fun challenge to figure out Dawg’s mandolin version on the guitar. I’ve always been fascinated how melodies can be interpreted in different ways while still being the same tune. David Grier, for example, can play endless melodic variations on folk melodies but we always know what song he’s playing. It’s all about hitting the right melody notes with certain phrasing.

“Tico Tico” is a three part tune with an AABC form. The first part is in the key of Am. Next, the B part is played in C major. Finally, the last section launches into an A major section. There is something very gratifying to hear the key changes as the tune makes it’s way through all three parts.

When learning to pick “Tico Tico” notice that many of the phrases, especially in the A section, begin on up pick strokes. When you see three pick-up notes leading into a phrase this is indicating coming in on the “and” beat of 3. When flatpicking, all “and” beats will be up pick strokes. If you do this correctly you will land on a nice strong down stroke on beat 1 of each measure. Latin rhythms often stress consecutive up beats as demonstrated throughout “Tico Tico.” Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action.

I hope you enjoy working on “Tico Tico” and adding it to your list of eclectic picking tunes. As always should you have any questions or comments on this arrangement just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net



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