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beginner Sixteen Tons

This is a great Merle Travis song that has become a favorite in my classes over the years, it also is proof of what I said in the previous session that "Merle Travis is one of the few people who was a virtuoso on the guitar as well as one of the greatest song writers. This arrangement comes in part from the Reverend Gary Davis song "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning" which I'll do in a later series. The Gary Davis reference is the last two measures of line two.  It's truly a great e- lick and should be added to your repertoire.

I like teaching this song starting on this lick and working my way backwards through the song.  Starting on the end of a piece and working backwards is a pretty common thing to do, especially if you were in music school,  the idea being that you start the piece by hearing the resolution (ending) and are always working with how the line finishes or "resolves" in your ears. It's worth a try if you never tried this approach in learning a piece before.

Take Note: The a- bar in the song and the e- in the variation are the same chord positions that I used in " I'm So Lonesome I could Cry" (beginners song session #2) I also use the B7 position moved up 1/2 step to the third fret so it functions as a C7 chord then back down again to the B7 on line 1 second measure.

Finally, take a look at the last two measures of the variation.  There's no mistake, it's just a bit of dissonance to add some humor to your playing.

Remember, " Don't be meek with your playing"  plow through this tune until it's cultivated!

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MP3s....a fast and slow
version. Listen to the fast
version a few times to
get the feel of the tune.
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More to work on this session!
Buckdancers Choice
Docs' Guitar
Tune Directory

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