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Skeptical Travis-Style Guitar From Scratch

 
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SKU: S7886090X-P

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MSRP: $16.50 $15.68 Save : $0.82 (5%)
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MSRP: $16.50 $15.68 Save : $0.82 (5%)
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I started learning Travis-Style guitar in 1977, but I didn’t understand it right away. It took me several years of playing the style before I began to appreciate what was really going on, that a steady bassline was coexisting with independent melody and harmony lines. An important hallmark of this style is that the player should be able to intentionally vary the actual melody line without disrupting the bassline. In other words, you should be able to improvise a slightly different lead line every time without “improvising on” (messing up) the bassline.

Here’s how we’ll achieve our goal: We’ll start with a simple alternating bass and we’ll work on it until it becomes comfortable. Then we’ll add a small complication that will make it feel a bit uncomfortable, but then we’ll work on it until it becomes comfortable. Then we’ll add another element that will make it feel uncomfortable again and work on it until it becomes comfortable. And again and again.

After some preliminary exercises, we get right into six Songs You Know, two in each of three keys: “Camptown Races,” “Oh! Susanna,” “Red River Valley,” “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” “House of the Rising Sun” and “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen,” and much of the rest of book is devoted to revisiting these six songs at increasing levels of complexity (four levels in all). The first level is straightforward: All melody notes land squarely on the beat. In the second level we add SYNCOPATION, where melody notes are shifted to the offbeat while keeping the bass ON the beat, and we tinker with adding a third alternate bass string. The third level introduces HARMONY in the form of picking pattern and other chord tones. And the fourth level throws in the faster eighth notes, walking basslines, slurs and other kinds of chord substitutions and tricks that might impress even experienced players.

But wait, there’s more! Your turn comes to see what YOU can do with “Jingle Bells” and “Yankee Doodle,” and I show you my own takes. Then we wind up with “The Caissons Go Rolling Along,” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” (a toughie), several tunes in the Key of A and a Mystery Tune at the end (your final exam).

Sprinkled throughout the book are arrangements of other songs and song fragments: “Frere Jacque,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” “Ode to Joy,” “Simple Gifts,” “Buffalo Gals” and “Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho.” I know they’re not very exciting, but at least you know how most of them go and will probably hear it right away if and when your playing sounds a little off. And you always have the audio files here at the web site to peruse. If there’s a better way to introduce Travis-Picking to a hungry public, I can’t imagine what it is.

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