American Fingerstyle Guitarist

0030 – Basic Patterns

Beginner – Intermediate Arrangements

0030 – Basic Patterns

Sheet Music – PDF Download, 1 1/2 pages, beginner level

MP3 included in download

These patterns are extremely helpful for getting started with fingerpicking. The idea here is that we assign strings to the fingers on the picking hand; the high E string is always picked by the ring finger, the B by the middle finger, and the G by the index. The thumb is responsible for keeping the bass line going on the low E, A and D strings.

Duck Baker

Price: £3.00

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0017 – Freight Train

Sheet Music – PDF Download, 2 pages, beginner-intermediate level

MP3 included in download

This is one of the most celebrated of fingerpicking numbers, written by Elizabeth Cotten, who played it with only the thumb and index finger, but with the guitar strung upside-down, so that the thumb picked the melody notes and the index played the bass. Needless to say, that is not the way to play this version, which is pretty simple. There is also a variation, which will help the student get used to syncopating melodies in a basic way.

There is a recording of my playing a more complex version of this one on Northern Skies, Southern Blues (a duo record with Stefan Grossman).

Duck Baker

  

Price: £3.00

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0042 – The Wreck of Old 97

Sheet Music – PDF Download

Title: The Wreck of Old 97, 2 pages, intermediate level

MP3 included in download

This famous song is one of the real classics of early Country music. When I was younger, I always wondered how a song that described such an awful tragedy could have such a happy melody. But that was before I ever saw Danville, Virginia; after I did I figured that the train wreck was probably one of the nicer things that ever happened there.

In any case I played this one quite a lot in my early years, and really enjoyed improvising on its basic, 3-chord progression. I also used to use the variation here (which is a direct application of one of the patterns in the “Basic Patterns” PDF on this page) as a warm-up exercise. And I recorded it on my first record, There’s Something For Everyone in America, back in 1975.

Price: £3.00

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0019 – My Grandfather’s Clock

Sheet Music – PDF Download, 4 1/2 pages, beginner-intermediate level

MP3 included in download

This is another tune that most fingerpickers learned in the 60’s, and I don’t even remember where I got it. From some other youngster who hung around coffeehouses in Richmond, Virginia, I am sure of that much. My Dad always really liked this one, and I can remember him singing it and strumming the guitar.

I did eventually record my version, on a recording that was released in Germany in the 1980’s, You Can’t Take The Country Out Of The Boy.

Duck Baker

  

Price: £3.00

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0041 – Hard Times

Sheet Music – PDF Download, 1 1/4 pages, intermediate level

Title: Hard Times

MP3 included in download

“Hard Times” is Stephen Foster, of course, and much performed nowadays. But what is somewhat forgotten is that it owes much of its contemporary currency to a 1981 record of the same name by that exemplary revivalist string band, The Red Clay Ramblers. It is supposed to be only one of two tunes that Foster based on a song he actually heard an African American singing (in some working situation, as I recall). He wasn’t in a position to really learn the song he heard, and no one has ever figured out what that might have been, but the melody haunted him and he used it to carry one of his best lyrics. What can’t be denied is that this piece of African American folksong certainly sounds Scottish, at least until we hit the diminished chord in the B part. Of course it is no secret that the various strains that went into the mix when American music was evolving all influenced each other profoundly.

Price: £3.00

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0020 – Holding Pattern

Sheet Music – PDF Download + MP3

This 24-bar blues was written on a spring evening of 1977, in Lexington, KY, while stopping over with friends en route from New Orleans to Minneapolis. It was conceived as sort of a rhythmic etude that gets into the relationship between 3/4 and 6/8, that can been seen in bars 17-20. Though these are written in 3/4 here, the pattern used is really a 6/8 pattern, but the fact that it is played in swing rhythm means that the 3/4 pulse is maintained. It should be stressed that the last measure utlizes the same pattern but is played in straight time.

In performance there is improvisation in 3/4 and even in 4/4, for good measure, as can be heard on the recording of the piece that appeared on “Opening the Eyes of Love.” But the basic pattern is useful on its own for beginner/intermediate students, both for the rhythmic part and even more for getting used to right hand techniques where the index, middle, and ring fingers don’t all play strings that are right next to one another.

Price: £3.00

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0012 – Battle Cry of Freedom

Battle Cry of Freedom – Full score

PDF Download + MP3

This Civil War Song has proven very durable over the years, often played by marching bands and popular in Hollywood soundtracks, or sung by folksingers. Here it is treated as a slow air with 3-part harmony. There are some unusual chord shapes and some pretty big stretches, but the slow tempo should bring it within the reach of intermediate players. Duck has recorded it twice, most notably as “Rally Round the Flag” on the record he made with Dave Hull, “When You Ask a Girl To Leave Her Happy Home.”

Price: £3.00

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