Day 3 – Rockygrass Academy

The day began with a short set from the Darrell Scott Band (Matt Flinner banjo/mandolin, Bryn Davies bass, me fiddle). Darrell’s newest record, Modern Hymns, is an album of covers from writers that have influenced him. From that, we played Urge for Going (Joni Mitchell) and Jesus Was A Capricorn (Kris Kristofferson). There was Q&A about the writing and selecting process.  We finished with Banjo Clark – one of Darrell’s.


P1210746• “How do I find more doublesops on my fiddle?” Let’s take a common fiddle key (A) and start there.  First review the chord tones in A. Then play doublestop arpeggios (basically arpeggios in harmony with ourselves) from low to hi in two different inversions: 3rds and 6ths.  Once Amajor was happenin, we moved on to Aminor.

• Next we explored less tonic and more colorful doublestops which included the 6th, 7th, and 9th scale degrees.  One half of the class would play a low A&E drone while the other half would listen to these new colors. I recommended Darol Anger’s Drone CD as a great practice tool. It’s Perfect 5th drones in all 12 keys to explore intonation and intervals.

• Another great way to improve your doublestopping is by playing whole melodies in harmony with yourself. We tried out various approaches to Nine Pound Hammer.

• Stacy Philips has a great book called Hot Licks For Bluegrass Fiddle. I’ve spent many hours with the section on doublestops. I would learn one “lick” and move it around the fingerboard, transposing it into every key. We tried this exercise with one such “lick.”


• After lunch, we tackled “The Chop.” Starting by how to hold your bow (straightening your thumb and turning the hair away), we moved through the DOWN chop, the UP sound, muting, and the BASS/CHORD. We played in 4/4 and in 6/8.

• We learned a doublestop filled fiddle tune called Old Dangerfield (A). Darol Anger and the American Fiddle Ensemble - Republic of Strings - Old Dangerfield

• Then we chop bowed with our right hand while our left hand played the A part melody from Old Dangerfield…and added in some of the bowed melody for accent.

• You can find Chops and Grooves, the instructional chop DVD (w/ Darol Anger & Rushad Eggleston) by clicking here.


• Rob Ickes, Bryn Davies and I held a small discussion on the pros & cons of playing fretless.
• Pros: Easy to slide and bend notes, Can Adjust pitch on the fly, Vocal-like quality;
• Cons: Intonation; If something is out of tune, you’re usually blamed; Vocal-like quality;
• For fretless intonation practice, check out Darol Anger’s Drone CD.



St. Anne’s Reel (D)David Crow - As the Crow Flies - St. Anne's Reel
Gold Rush (A) Kenny Baker - Master Fiddler - Gold Rush
Soldier’s Joy (D) James Price - Fiddlin' the Old-Time Way - Soldier's Joy
Cheyenne (Gm) Kenny Baker - Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe - Cheyenne
Brown County Breakdown (A) Kenny Baker - Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe - Brown County Breakdown
Huckleberry Hornpipe (A) Dan Crary - Lady's Fancy - Huckleberry Hornpipe
Whiskey Before Breakfast (D) Bobby Hicks - Fiddle Patch - Whiskey Before Breakfast
Done Gone (Bb) Eck Robertson - Old-Time Texas Fiddler (1922-1929) - Done Gone
Monroe’s Hornpipe (A) Kenny Baker - Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe - Monroe's Hornpipe

One more day left!
see you tomorry,

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