Saturday, April 2, 2011

Exploring Blackberry Blossom Part I: Simple Backup

Blackberry Blossom is one of the most common and popular bluegrass instrumentals. It's melody posesses both an intangible 'prettiness' and an infectious cadence which set it apart from the hordes of similar tunes.

It was first popularized on the banjo by Bill Keith and was one of his very first melodic arrangements. It has since become a standard almost every bluegrass banjo player learns at some point in his education.

The purpose of the series of posts I am writing on Blackberry Blossom is not to teach the standard Keith derived banjo arrangement (I will cover it breifly for those not familliar with it) but to explore various possibilities for playing banjo on the song. Anyone reading this blog is welcomed and encouraged to try out the ideas and arrangements presented in these posts in any and all playing scenarios as well as to play around with the concepts and develop their own variations.

For this, the initial Blackberry post, we will look at a simple backup arrangement using a diatonically descending bass line. It is easy enough to play and I personally find descending basslines quite appealing. (This arrangement also works for the Greatful Dead's 'Friend of the Devil' with a few minor adjustments).

Here is the arrangement in tablature form (click on it to get the larger image)



And here is what it sounds like.



As always let me know if you have any questions.

Bonus: Here is a standard Keith Style version of the melody.





NEXT UP: Exploring Blackberry Blossom Part II : Low Single String Break

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