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Flatpicking Guitar Magazine Free Monthly Lesson

December 2018

“Cuckoo’s Nest”

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. Happy new year to all! I’d like to take a moment to thank you for all the positive feedback over the past ten years. Knowing that these newsletter arrangements have helped you build repertoire and learn new licks is a dream come true. Sometimes I’ll receive a text from a professional flatpicking friend who stumbles on these arrangements while searching for a particular tune (flatpick.com yields high search results). I am honored to have the platform to share these arrangements and look forward to ten more years!

This takes us to this month’s tune the “Cuckoo’s Nest.” “Cuckoo’s Nest” is a beautiful old time standard that has enjoyed popularity at bluegrass and Irish jams. The tune has a captivating chord progression that is very different than most fiddle tunes and the melody is also distinct. This lesson arrangement is a straight forward melodic version that is fun to play and easy to learn.

One interesting aspect of “Cuckoo’s Nest” is that most folks don’t play it too fast or play a bunch of “hot lick” based solos. The tune’s chord progression and melody really do speak for itself. Some tunes, like “East Tennessee Blues” for example, end up being lick based. While this is a huge part of the tradition this can make all tunes in C sound the same. Likewise, many G bluegrass tunes end up sounding indistinguishable. In contrast “Cuckoo’s Nest” offers a truly unique chord pattern and melody that does not lend itself to bluesy hot licks. Having said this, there are of course endless versions and feels to explore! I recommend Nickel Creek’s version off their classic 2000 album “Nickel Creek.”

I hope you enjoy working on “Cuckoo’s Nest” and adding it to your list of flatpicking tunes. Make sure to click on the included lesson mp3 to hear the chords and melody in action. As always should you have any questions or comments just drop me a line at michabraham@comcast.net