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Flatpicking Guitar Magazine

Monthly Free Lesson — February 2021

Tobin’s Jig

Arranged by Mickey Abraham

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Hello and welcome once again to Flatpicking Guitar Magazine’s free portion of our monthly newsletter. This month I present to you a very simple and straight forward arrangement of the traditional Irish tune “Tobin’s Jig.” In all the years of arranging tunes for this newsletter I don’t believe I’ve ever done a tune in 6/8 time. Irish Jigs can really expand your repertoire and are very enjoyable to play.

There are several ways one might tackle the pick direction for a tune in 6/8. One possibility is to alternate every stroke creating two groups of three notes. The first three notes being down, up down followed by the next three notes being up, down, up. While this will create a logical pick direction it may seem awkward to begin groups of three notes with an up stroke. If you are used to playing groups of two notes or four notes then alternate picking through 6/8 will take a little bit of practice. Bluegrass players do utilize patterns of 3 notes or 6 notes when playing rapid fire triplet runs but most of the time bluegrass players are playing consistent eighth notes in 4/4 time.

There is another option. “Tobin’s Jig” is not meant to be played super fast. The tune sounds beautiful at a moderate tempo. You may find yourself falling into repeating downs or ups when meandering through the arrangement. While I am a huge believer in correct pick stroke theory when picking fiddle tunes I actually think it’s ok to make up your own pick direction with tunes like “Tobin’s Jig” If we were playing a tune like “Big Mon” at a faster tempo I would make sure my students are using the correct pick direction for bluegrass eighth notes. In the case of “Tobin’s Jig” however, I feel it can be accomplished with other pick direction options.

I find it interesting that the A and B sections of “Tobin’s Jig” share quite a bit of the same melodic content. The only difference between the A section and the B section are the first two measures. There are other tradition tunes that do this. Is there a name for tunes that share the same A part and B part save the first phrase? “Buffalo Gals,” “The Girl I left Behind,” and “Red Haired Boy” are other tunes that exhibit this same idea. I sincerely don’t know if this style of tune has a name.

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