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Bluegrass Melody (Guitar Lesson)


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Steve Eulberg

Bluegrass Melody

Now that you have learned all of the other essential elements of the bluegrass tune, Steve demonstrates how to play the melody.

Taught by Steve Eulberg in Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg seriesLength: 37:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
Chapter 1: (0:37) Introduction to the Lesson Now that you have had sufficient time to practice right hand techniques such as double picking and left hand techniques such as slurring, it is time to learn the melody of “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” Steve demonstrates specific techniques that will enable you to play this melody appropriately in the bluegrass style.
Chapter 2: (2:53) Refresher on Double Picking Before you practice songs and other repertoire each day, technical practice must be addressed. Practicing technique and scales prepares your fingers for the music that they are about to play. Slow, technical practice is a great way to warm up the muscles in the hands. Also, working out specific playing issues within a scale will enable you to perform your current repertoire at a much higher level.

Before you proceed to the next scene, practice all of the exercises demonstrated in the “Double Picking/ Scales” lesson. Devote some extra time to the exercise that combines a Major scale with 4 “Mississippi’s” on each individual note.

In addition to practicing the exercises from Lesson 5, take this time to work on the second octave of the G Major scale. (Steve demonstrates how to play the second octave to the scale at 2:00.) Slowly practice this octave of the scale until you have it memorized. Then, put both octaves together. Start at the low G on the low E string and continue the scale to the G on the high E string. Then, descend the pattern back to the low tonic note. Be sure that you adhere to the proper left-hand fingerings. The F# on the D string should be played with the pinky finger.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for fretboard diagrams of both octaves in the G Major scale.
Chapter 3: (7:01) All About the Melody Like Steve mentions, the most important step in playing any melody doesn’t even involve playing the guitar. In order to play or sing any melody line properly, you must first be able to sing it in your head. This musical process is referred to as “audiation.” It is a proven fact that some people are born with better audiation skills than others are. However, anyone can sufficiently develop audiation skills over time. Most people can accurately audiate a melody in their head. However, it is much more difficult to match the pitches in one’s head to the note names on the neck of the guitar. In this scene Steve gives some great tips that will get you started on this life-long musical process.

All melodies consist of units called phrases. Phrases are often described as the musical equivalent to the spoken sentence. A phrase represents a logical, complete thought. A phrase is typically punctuated by rests or sustained note at the end. These rests serve the same function as punctuation in speaking or writing. They act as a pause between two logical thoughts. When you begin to learn any new melody, break the melody down into its individual phrases. The melody to “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain” consists of three phrases. The first two phrases are short phrases. The third, final phrase is twice as long. Almost everyone (maybe not our friends overseas) is familiar with the lyrics to this tune. Here is a breakdown of the phrases according to their lyrics:
Phrase 1: She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain when she comes.

(Pause)

Phrase 2: She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain when she comes.

(Pause)

Phrase3: She’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain, she’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain, she’ll be comin’ ‘round the mountain when she comes.
Once a tune is broken down into its individual phrases, some features of each phrases must be observed.
1. Beginning with the first note, does the melody line go up, down, or stay on the same?

2. Does the melody move in step-wise motion? A melody that moves from G-A-B-A moves in stepwise motion. Or, does the melody contain any intervallic leaps. Any interval larger than a major second is referred to as a leap. Playing G to B is one such example.
Take a look at the first three notes of the melody. The first note is D. The next note played is an E. D to E is an example of step-wise motion. The melody then moves from E up to G. Since the F# in the G scale was skipped over, this movement is an example of a leap in the melody.

Note: Click the “Supplemental Content” tab for tablature to each of the three phrases to the song. Due to its length, the third and final phrase is broken up into two parts.

Steve has written the names of the notes above each corresponding tablature number. Use these note names to identify where any leaps occur in the melody.
Chapter 4: (12:28) The Bluegrass Melody A. Phrase 1
Open the “Supplemental Content” tab while learning each phrase. This way, you’ll be able to reference the music while Steve discusses it.

As you learned in the last lesson, when a bluegrass melody is played on guitar, the melody is typically combined with rhythmic guitar playing. For this reason, the fingering Steve uses to play the melody is all relative to the chord being played at the moment. For example, he leaves his third finger planted on the third fret of the E string. He also leaves his second finger planted on the low E string. When Steve switches from playing the melody to strumming chords, his fingers are already in position to play the G chord. This technique is an absolute necessity since the tempo most bluegrass tunes is quite fast.

At 3:05 Steve gives you an opportunity to play this phrase while he plays the accompanying rhythm.
B. Phrases 2
Repeat the same process to learn the second phrase. The chord progression remains on G for the second phrase. However, the chord progression changes to D at the last note of this phrase (A). This section of the melody requires that you lift all of your fingers from the G chord grip.

Once you become comfortable with the second phrase, put the first and second phrases together. Finally, add the final phrase to complete the tune.
Chapter 5: (7:53) The End of the Melody Due to the length of this phrase, Steve has broken it down into two smaller sections. Once again, repeat the same process from letter A to learn this portion of the melody. Make sure you are playing the F# at the end of the tune with your pinky finger. Carefully observe when Steve chooses to strum chords and when he is playing single note lines. What do you notice?

In this scene, Steve gives you an opportunity to play the melody in a “call and response” fashion. This practice is highly recommended in order to improve your timing and memory of the melody.
Chapter 6: (2:06) Double Picking the Melody The following double picking rules can be applied to any melody in any genre. Practice each phrase of the melody using the following guidelines:
1. A consecutive series of eighth notes, triplets, sixteenth notes, sextuplets, or thirty-second notes must always be played with double picking.

2. A quarter note is always played with a downstroke.

3. When a rhythm is comprised of a combination of eighths and sixteenths, the eighth notes are played with downstrokes, and the sixteenths are played with upstrokes. The rhythm that features a sixteenth-eighth-sixteenth note is one exception to this rule. This rhythm is played with a downstroke followed by two upstrokes.
Note: There are a few additional exceptions to these rules. Economy picking as well as sweep picking are two of such examples. Check out Brad’s Phase 2 “Speed and Technique” lessons for details regarding these techniques.

Each phrase of the melody is comprised of a continuous stream of eighth notes. The only exceptions are the last note of each phrase. Consequently, the entire melody should be performed with double picking. Every other note should be played with an upstroke.
Chapter 7: (4:07) Spicing Up the Song At this point, you have mastered all the musical components necessary to play “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” In this scene, Steve will demonstrate his interpretation of the melody. These simple additions are frequently made to basic melodies to give them more stylistic flair.

Steve begins with an alternate version of the second phrase. Instead of playing the B as an open string, Steve slides from the A on the third string up to the B at the 4th fret on the same string. The slide is performed with the second finger. Notice the difference in sound between the original phrase and its alternate version.

Also, Steve frequently hammers onto the A note quickly from the open G string. This type of hammer-on is referred to as a “grace note.” A grace note is notated with a miniature note.

Video Subtitles / Captions


Member Comments about this Lesson

Discussions with our instructors are just one of the many benefits of becoming a member of JamPlay.


cbhallencbhallen replied on August 30th, 2014

Is there any reason I cannot play this tune from the G chord using my middle ring and pinky instead of the index middle and ring

leona11leona11 replied on April 23rd, 2012

I am having a problem with this lesson.According to the music,the notes should be EEEE AGF#E DDDD BAEF# G. On Melody board 4,it is written EGGG AGF#E DDDD BAEF# G. Which is right? I am enjoying your lessons TU

lonewolflonewolf replied on July 16th, 2011

I'm having a problem with the video not moving from one scene to the next in numeric order. I might be finishing Scene 1 and then jump to Scene 3 or Scene 4 and so on without any prompt from me. Is tis my computer? Is anybody else having this problem?

maxspopmaxspop replied on November 10th, 2011

I can't get any video. Been taht way all day. Anyone know what's going on?

fatrascalfatrascal replied on August 22nd, 2008

Follow on from last post - it's only the last part of the meoldy that differs - I think..???

jaymosley79jaymosley79 replied on July 24th, 2009

Yeh, I got a little confused with the different versions. But a great lesson none the less. Thanks.

fatrascalfatrascal replied on August 22nd, 2008

Great lesson and one I've been practising for a while... BUT is it me or does the melody in 'Supplemental Content' not match the melody given in the video capture? Thx again Mark.

mattbrownmattbrown replied on November 28th, 2007

This is one of the best guitar lessons I've seen in my entire life...and I've seen a lot. Everyone needs to watch this one a couple of times.

steveeulbergsteveeulberg replied on June 24th, 2008

Aw shucks, Matt. Thanks! Steve

northerndancernortherndancer replied on April 28th, 2008

Bluegrass Guitar with Steve Eulberg

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

Bluegrass is one of the most recognizable styles of guitar. Some refer to bluegrass as a celebration of the simple things in life. Dive into this series to learn the essential components of the bluegrass guitar style.



Lesson 1

Intro to Bluegrass

Steve demonstrates basic, essential bluegrass techniques. In this lesson, you will learn the bass/chop technique.

Length: 16:00 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 2

Building the Song

Now that you have the bass/chop down, Steve demonstrates additional bluegrass techniques.

Length: 21:06 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 3

Walking Between Chords

Steve takes our bluegrass song one step further in this lesson. He demonstrates how to play a walking bass line between chords.

Length: 21:07 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 4

Accenting Your Play

In this lesson, Steve discusses hammer-ons and pull-offs and how they are used in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 33:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 5

Double Picking and Scales

Steve explains double picking, also known as alternate picking. He teaches a scale that enables you to play an awesome bluegrass lick.

Length: 30:04 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 6

Bluegrass Licks

Steve teaches a widely used bluegrass lick.

Length: 22:34 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 7

Descending Lick

In this lesson Steve teaches a descending bluegrass lick.

Length: 34:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 8

Bluegrass Melody

Steve gives tips on playing a melody line in the bluegrass genre.

Length: 37:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 9

Raising the Octave

Steve demonstrates how you can use "closed chord" voicings in order to raise the octave of the melody. Great lesson!

Length: 38:00 Difficulty: 3.5 Members Only
Lesson 10

Fun Bluegrass Licks

Steve demonstrates some bluegrass licks that serve as introductions, endings, and transitions within a song.

Length: 23:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Lesson 11

I Am a Pilgrim

Steve Eulberg teaches a classic bluegrass song entitled "I Am a Pilgrim." He covers strumming, the melody, and walking bass lines.

Length: 28:57 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 12

Angel Band

Steve teaches a bluegrass waltz titled "Angel Band."

Length: 28:09 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 13

Catchy Bluegrass Lick

Steve dives deep into another classic Bluegrass lick that you can use to flare up a jam session or song.

Length: 20:46 Difficulty: 2.0 FREE
Lesson 14

Wabash Cannonball Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches the first part of the bluegrass classic, "Wabash Cannonball."

Length: 18:52 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 15

Wabash Cannonball Part 2

Steve continues his two part "Wabash Cannonball" series by teaching how to develop the basic rhythm and melody into unique solo sections.

Length: 23:53 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Lesson 16

Ballad of Jesse James Part 1

Steve Eulberg teaches this old tune as if it were being played back in the old days. Here, Steve demonstrates the verse, chorus, and melody. Enjoy the story behind this one!

Length: 15:26 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Lesson 17

Ballad of Jesse James Part 2

In his second lesson of "The Ballad of Jesse James," Steve Eulberg demonstrates a more in depth look at how to play the song in a bluegrass form. This lesson is all about double stops, and when combined...

Length: 21:53 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only

About Steve Eulberg View Full Biography An Award-winning multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter, Steve Eulberg weaves mountain and hammered dulcimers with a variety of unusual instruments to create thought-provoking, smile-inducing, toe-tapping acoustic experiences.

He has sung and composed for religious communities, union halls, picket lines, inter-faith retreats, mountain-top youth camps, as well as the more familiar venues: clubs, coffeehouses, bookstores, festivals, charity benefits and showcase concerts.

Born and raised in the German-heritage town of Pemberville, Ohio, Steve was exposed to a variety of music in his home. Early piano lessons were followed by trumpet in school band, and he became self-taught on ukelele and guitar and harmonica. Mandolin was added at Capital University where, while majoring in History, he studied Ear Training, Voice and took Arranging lessons from the Conservatory of Music.

While at college, he first heard hammered and mountain dulcimers, building his first mountain dulcimer just before his final year. Seminary training took him the west side of Denver where he built his first hammered dulcimer. With these instruments, he was able to give voice to the Scottish, English and Irish traditions to which he is also heir.

Following marriage in 1985 to Connie Winter-Eulberg he settled in Kansas City, Missouri. There he worked cross-culturally in a church of African-Americans, Latinos and European Americans, with music being a primary organizing tool. He moved with his family in 1997 to be nestled beside the Rocky Mountains in Fort Coillins, Colorado.

Founder of Owl Mountain Music, Inc. he teaches and performs extensively in Colorado and Wyoming with tours across the US and the UK. He delights in introducing the “sweet music” of dulcimers to people in diverse settings and in addition to his own recordings, has included dulcimers in a variety of session work for other musicians.

In 2000 he was commissioned to create a choral composition featuring dulcimers for the Rainbow Chorus in Fort Collins. It was recorded in the same year (BEGINNINGS). He is currently at work on a commissioned symphony that will feature hammered dulcimer and Australian didjeridu.

Eulberg passionately believes that music crosses cultural and language barriers because music builds community. Influenced by a variety of ethnic styles, his music weaves vital lyric with rap, rock, folk, gospel and blues. Audiences of all ages respond well to his presentation and to his warm sense of humor.

Steve is a member of Local 1000 (AFM), The Folk Alliance, BMI and BWAAG (Better World Artists and Activist's Guild).

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