Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Play Very Slowly

If I set my metronome for about 80 bpm and play two 8th notes per tick, I've found it's really easy to fix problems I'm having playing a tricky passage. It really works, and I notice the difference when I bring the piece back up to speed.

Salt Creek, Adam Steffey

Here's a link to the TablEdit file of Adam Steffey's break on Salt Creek from the CD "Mountain Tradition", by Mountain Heart's Clay Jones. It's a great album full of traditional tunes like this, and a wonderful place to learn Steffey's approach to fiddle tunes (as is his AcuTab DVD).

Adam Steffey Salt Creek mandolin tab.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Ricky Skaggs is clever

He really is, and here's why: he always manages to sound absolutely impressive with the minimum amount of effort. This is a talent that is well worth emulating. In this snippet, playing with Boone Creek in the early 70's, Ricky only has a half a break on Head Over Heels to make his statement, but he does it perfectly.

Even though, when you break it down, this is seemingly a rather ordinary selection of stock Monroe-style phrases, the slides, hammer-ons and syncopations somehow convince you that a virtuoso has just stepped up to the mic. Here it is:

Notice in the third bar how he's moved on to playing out of an A chop chord shape while still on the D chord (the A chord is in the next bar) - often a very effective move.

The song is on iTunes, and well worth a listen, as is the rest of the album, One Way Track, an absolute classic. You will also notice Ricky's tone, which is fabulous.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Squirrel Hunters

Here's my version of the Squirrel Hunters, along with the tab.

Have a look for Mike Compton playing this with John Hartford to see how it should really be done.

Here's a slow version with no backing:

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Video Yourself

This is something I've just started doing, and I've been surprised at how much I can learn from watching back what I play - all my mistakes become glaringly obvious. Of course, this can be painful at first, but the thing about mistakes is that once I've seen them, it's usually easy to fix them. Here's an example, with plenty of mistakes:

I made this as part of the Mandolin Cafe song a week project.