Too Many Notes! Part 1

Too many notes! If you’ve seen the movie Amadeus then you might remember the scene where the emperor tells Mozart this, and that he should remove a few. I’m sure, like Mozart, Colonel Sanford C. ‘Sandy’ Faulkner would be asking, “Which few did you have in mind?” Mr. Faulkner would probably be aghast at the suggestion. As Mozart put it, “this is absurd.” For our purposes, thankfully, it is not. I talked last time about reducing the melody to make room for cross-picking. We need to keep the notes that really suggest the character of the melody. This in itself is an art, but with practice it becomes easier.

Where do we start? The basic melody and chords. If you haven’t learned them yet, then go learn them here. Once we know the melody, we can start to make the reduction. We do this by listening to the melody, and really trying to hear what notes stand out as having the most prominence. Here’s what I came up with:

arkansas_traveler_melody_reduction

There are a lot fewer notes, but the character of the melody is still there. Our next step is to pick through the chord as filler between the melody notes, which is why we need to know the chords. I’ve tried to make this as simple as possible for this example, but some parts will still be a little tricky, notably the last measure of the melody. Since the melody is in the upper register we’re going to be using the backward-roll. Here it is:

Arkansas_traveler_backward_roll

So there you have it – the melody reduction, and then the cross-picking arrangement based on it. I’d like to think the Colonel would be pleased with the outcome. Whenever I’m working on a new song or tune, I try my best to stay true to the original melody. I want people to know what the song or tune is, no matter how far out there I might get with the variation. This is only one of many possibilities for arranging this tune, and I’d suggest that you experiment yourself. Use your ear, and what sounds good is good.

Beautifully printable PDFs here and here.

Thanks for your time, and attention. I hope you enjoyed it. If this post made the hair on the back of your neck stand up, then please share it, and like us on Facebook.

Till next time Happy pickin’!

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