The three most important elements in playing bluegrass guitar today are rhythm, runs, and leads. Many of the great bluegrass guitar players also happen to be great vocalists, and there’s a direct correlation between the rhythm patterns they choose and the songs they sing.
In Stephen Mougin’s Bluegrass Rhythm Evolution, you’ll focus on the evolution of bluegrass rhythm patterns, from the founders of the genre in the forties, to today’s contemporary artists. Stephen designed the curriculum to broaden your palette of rhythms to help you select the appropriate pattern for the bluegrass songs you play.
Stephen Mougin is one of the most respected Jack-of-All-Trades in acoustic music. A touring guitarist currently with Sam Bush; an accomplished songwriter for dozens of top bluegrass bands; a sought-after producer with his own studio, Dark Shadows; and a widely respected vocal, guitar and mandolin teacher. We’re thrilled to welcome Stephen to the family with his first TrueFire course, Bluegrass Rhythm Evolution.
”There's no "one way" to play bluegrass rhythm guitar. Typical bluegrass rhythm is performed out of a G, C, or D shape, using a capo to access additional keys. We're going to explore some interesting components in the style of several players. Keep in mind that none of these folks played exactly like this all of the time, or even all of the way through a song. Bluegrass Rhythm Evolution will be a enlightening glimpse into their rhythm playing and hopefully, will encourage you to dig deeper.”
In the first section of the course Stephen presents a variety of key concepts and techniques: The Role of Bluegrass Guitar, Alternating Bass Patterns for G, C, D, A, E, F, and B7 chords, How To Practice Alternating Bass Patterns, and Using a Capo to Change Keys.
In the second section, Stephen guides you through a series of performance study sets organized chronologically to demonstrate the evolution of bluegrass rhythm guitar.
”In these performance studies, we'll be looking at the way several important bluegrass guitar players adapted the standard bluegrass strum into their own style. Starting with founding members of the genre, we'll trace the evolution of bluegrass rhythm guitar into modern stylings. These studies will illustrate what each of these players contributed to the bluegrass rhythm guitar repertoire.”
For each set, Stephen will first show you the rhythm pattern and how it applies to a common chord progression, and then he’ll show you how to apply it to new song. He’ll first perform the new song, and then break it down for emphasizing the key techniques.
Carter Stanley Style Rhythm Demonstration - ”Carter Stanley and Lester Flatt would take the alternating bass pattern and add an up-strum here and there to fit better with the melodies they were singing. This added a little excitement and helped support the lyrics.”
Little Liza Jane: Performance & Breakdown
Lester Flatt Style Rhythm Demonstration - ”Carter Stanley and Lester Flatt would take the alternating bass pattern and add an up-strum here and there to fit better with the melodies they were singing. This added a little excitement and helped support the lyrics.”
Oh Susanna: Performance & Breakdown
Jimmy Martin Style Rhythm Demonstration - ”Jimmy Martin discovered that by adding an extra upstroke, he could add a lot more forward motion (or drive) to his ensemble sound. In addition, he tended to play more than one note on the downbeat and eliminated the second plucked bass note in favor of a strum.”
Comin' Round the Mountain: Performance & Breakdown
Charlie Waller Style Rhythm: Demonstration - ”Charlie Waller's style seems to be very similar to Jimmy Martin, with the upstrokes, but he very clearly played the alternating bass notes. If the song was in a G shape, he often added a series of quick C shapes between sections of the song.”
Tony Rice Style Rhythm 1: Demonstration - ”While based on the Jimmy Martin style (especially when performing Martin's hits), Tony's style always demonstrates a bouncier groove. He accomplished that by slightly altering the timing on his down-up-down strum, then relaxing into the next downbeat.”
Goodnight, Ladies: Performance & Breakdown
Tony Rice Style Rhythm 2: Demonstration - ”On slower/prettier songs, Rice would often substitute single note "rolls" for the final upstrums in his pattern.”
Home Sweet Home: Performance & Breakdown
Tim Stafford Style Rhythm Demonstration - ”Sometimes when Tim Stafford approaches uptempo bluegrass numbers, he'll put a hard stop in his strum. It appears to be placed preceding the downbeat of a new section, or something he's trying to draw the listener's attention to. It's a very percussive sound, and works wonders for the drive of the ensemble.”
Camptown Races: Performance & Breakdown
Dan Tyminski Style Rhythm Demonstration - ”In a similar fashion, though not always a hard stop, Tyminski will add emphasis to the final offbeat of the pattern (joining the mandolin chop). It adds another level of forward motion, but is less percussive than the Stafford style.”
Buffalo Gals: Performance & Breakdown
Kenny Smith/Ron Block Rhythm: Demonstration - ”For some slower tunes, both of these fantastic stylists will drop to a simple chord arpeggio, sometimes even including some non-chord tones to add color.
As you begin learning this style, don't worry so much about exactly which notes you're playing after the downbeat. As long as your left hand is in the correct chord shape, any string you hit will be a "correct" note. When you spend some quality time with it, you can dial in your specific note choice for each pattern or phrase.”
Hard Times: Performance & Breakdown
All of the performance studies are tabbed and notated for your practice, reference and study purposes. You’ll also get Guitar Pro files so that you can play, loop and/or slow down the tab and notation as you work through the lessons. Plus, Stephen includes all of the backing tracks for you to work with on your own.
Grab your guitar and let’s play some bluegrass with Stephen Mougin!