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Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Free Monthly Lesson - May 2018

“Vassar Hop”

Written by Anthony Hannigan

Arranged by Mickey Abraham

Download PDF | Download mp3

Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free lesson portion of our monthly newsletter. This month’s tune is the “Vassar Hop” written by mandolinist Anthony Hannigan. “Vassar Hop” is a great jam tune that I have enjoyed playing with my picking friends for years. I’m excited to offer this lesson arrangement to help spread this great tune around the world. I first heard Hannigan play the mandolin fifteen years ago on an album by the Hickory Project. His mandolin chops and ideas were top notch and I have been following his music ever since. “Vassar Hop” was written in 2004 — inspired by Hannigan’s many late night jams with fiddle legend Vassar Clements. Hannigan comments “Vassar loved jamming on the chord progression and told me he thought a piano would sound great on the tune.” I whole heartedly agree!

One can think of “Vassar Hop” as a three part tune. First, the “A” section is played twice. The initial “A” section concludes with a quick I, vi, ii, V (C, Am, Dm, G) turnaround while the second “A” section hangs on two measures of the I chord. The “A” section hook is created by moving the C up one half step to C# (this will most likely have to be a bar chord). Not many songs move from C major to C# major. This unusual change is one of the things that gives the “Vassar Hop” its unique vibe.

v Next, the “B” section enters into the common swing progression E7, A7, D7, G. These changes can be found in countless standards such as “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down” and “Salty Dog.” I love how Hannigan uses this time tested chord progression. It compliments the bombastic “A” section so well. At this point the tune really showcases its Vassar influence when the G moves up a half step to G#. This move is reminiscent of the Vassar classic “Kissimmee Kid.” Finally, The G# moves up a half step to a “C” section consisting of four measures of A minor followed by a II, V, I (D7, G7, C) turnaround. Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action. “Vassar Hop” truly has something for everyone. If you enjoy improvising over sweet chord changes you might have found your new favorite tune.

I hope you enjoy learning the “Vassar Hop” and teaching it to all your picking friends. I’d like to thank Anthony Hannigan for allowing me to use it for this month’s lesson. As always should you have any questions or comments just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net