David Hamburger’s FingerstyleBluesHandbook2
Swing Drop D
This month’s fingerstyle lesson is a tip of the hat to Dave Von Ronk
– check out his 1976 “comeback” album, Sunday Street for a great
taste of this style, or simply for a great listen that still sounds fresh,
soulful and cliché-free more than three decades later. Although this
lesson is in D – and drop D tuning – it has a similar feel to Dave Von
Ronk’s version of “Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning,” a
tune Dave played in E.
The main melody of this piece is centered around the 5th fret and
throws in a new bass move. Instead of rocking back and forth from
the low E string to the D string, we will alternate, going from the
low E (tuned to D) to the D, back to the low D, then to the A. If
we use string numbers it goes six-four, five-four, six-four, five-four.
Practice that until it becomes comfortable, then try adding in parts
of the melody. Play the B string at the 6th fret on the one. Once
that feels good, add in the high E, 5th fret note on the “and” of
one in-between the bass notes. Next, try adding in the first note
again on the “and” of two until this syncopated style feels comfortable. Another concept that may be new is the G chord fingering to
account for the alternate tuning. Grab the low D at the 5th fret with
your ring finger and the B string at the 3rd with your index finger.
Mixing the syncopation with the tune’s eighth-note swing produces a
very bluesy feel. Using the moves worked on earlier, start out in the
5th fret position, and, if you worked through the earlier examples,
your right hand coordination should be nearly there. To move the
melody along, we add the pinky at the 7th fret on the high E on
beat three of the first measure, followed by the open D string and
the B string, 6th fret on beat four. Measure two moves down to the
first position and goes into an open D riff. Measure three repeats the
first bar, then measure four adds a quick move to the new-fangled G
chord after hitting the open D position.
After the repeat, measure nine serves up a neat hammer-on, pull-off
riff in the first position that might take a little practice to get right
– try switching to a more traditional fingering here. The tune ends
with some stabs, again based around open D. To mute the strings
in-between, drop your fingers down to the strings again and hit the
bass note on the “and” of two.
We hope you had fun with this month’s tune. Be sure to check in
next month for our next Fingerstyle Blues Handbook lesson.