Lesson #116, Cumberland Gap IV

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Lesson #116, Cumberland Gap IV

Hi All,

Lets move up the fretboard to play another variation on Cumberland Gap. Since we've been working on the pentatonic scale and relative minors, lets take a look at the G chord using the second string position at the eighth fret, and also lets look at the E minor chord using the third string position at the ninth fret. Those are the chord positions we will think about in this video.

If you look at the E minor triad in this video, we are freeing our pinky to do a little fret work around this position. This section is a very close version to the playing of Earl. I believe that when Earl played this portion, he was straying from the melody and working around the relative minor with a bit of chromatics. Remember from previous lessons that playing something chromatically is playing in half steps, so the notes of A and A# throughout this section would be considered chromatic. I'll be explaining more about the use of chromatics in future lessons.

The roll patterns and licks in this section can be used in many tunes and songs in the Scruggs style, and if you listen to much Bluegrass banjo, you will probably hear many variants from these licks that earl used in Cumberland Gap.

Try to come up with your own variations in and around this relative minor position. There are many possibilities.


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In 2009, at the age of 60, I decided to learn to play the 5-string banjo. I searched the internet for lessons and struck gold when I found David Cavage's free banjo lessons at Musicmoose.org. His video hosting site revver.com was having some serious problems at the time so I downloaded as many of the lessons as I could whenever they became available. Revver.com stopped operating shortly afterwards and, sadly, Musicmoose.org is no more. I contacted David early 2020 and he told me he no longer had the original master videos and feared they may have been lost forever. This amazing course of free banjo lessons, from absolute beginner to advanced player, is too good to be forgotten, so this is my attempt to get David's work back out there again so that he can teach, inspire and spread the joy of banjo pickin' to more generations of budding musicians, just like he did with me. I've rounded up all the Moose stuff I could find and put it here, so start pickin' and enjoy!-------MooseHerder.