Acoustic Guitar Workshop’s FingerstyleFusion
Rag for Ry
This tune is dedicated to Ry Cooder due to its use of one of his
famous turnarounds as the backbone of the piece. Although primarily known as a slide player, Ry is also a phenomenal country
blues picker, making it a shame that more of his material in this
vein isn’t readily available.
To get a handle on the feel of the tune, pay close attention to
the note values and keep the tune to a medium to slow pace
until it feels comfortable. The song is deceptive – it looks simple,
but nailing the feel requires practice.
The theme is sketched out in the first four bars – a bluesy,
melodic motif against a classic boogie bassline providing movement underneath. The melody relies on hammer-ons and pull-offs, and proper fingering helps things flow smoothly. Try using
your pinky for the 4th fret pull-off on the high E while using your
first and ring finger to cope with the bassline. Also, even though
this is a bluesy tune in E, keeping the left hand centered around
the second fret will help sort out fingering issues.
tune’s country-blues roots. Again, proper fingering is integral
to not only keep the tune’s rhythm intact but to set up for the
famous turnaround coming up in measure 14. Bar 14 starts the
turnaround and the 3rd and 6th string harmonies lend the turnaround a deep richness. To really get it together, play around
with syncopation to give it the proper feel.
After the turnaround, measure 18 moves to the IV chord and
features a double-stop walk up before repeating the main theme
at the move back to the I at measure 22. The move to the B in
measure 30 underscores the mobility of the passage – it helps to
visualize the A and B phrases as mini-barre chords to understand
their relationship to their respective chords as well as to each
other. After a series of repeats, “Rag for Ry” ends on the turnaround established earlier in the piece.
Once you are comfortable with this tune, pick up the tempo
and try muting the bass lines to lend it an air of authenticity. We
hope you’ve had fun with this month’s “Fingerstyle Fusion” and
our look into Ry Cooder’s famous turnaround.
Measure 9 starts off like the two previous cycles, but adds in
an abbreviated, heavily syncopated bassline, accentuating the