Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Blackberry Blossom

One of the old standby tunes in modern flatpicking is Blackberry Blossom, and this is not likely to change any time soon.  If you're going to pursue flatpicking, playing the mandolin in a bluegrass music setting, the banjo, the fiddle, the acoustic bass, or any other instrument that can or is ever used ...such as the dobro, or harmonica, or others that I'm not thinking of, then you need to know this tune.

Now Blackberry Blossom is considered a traditional tune, and to me that simply says that it's ancient, and nobody knows any more who wrote it.  Basically, tunes such as this one are what we call public domain, and that means that you can arrange it and transcribe it and customize it without fear, and without crediting someone else.  But you need to be aware that if you are going to play Norman Blake's version or Tony Rice's version or arrangement of the tune, that you should make known to your audience who's arrangement it is so as to not imply that it's YOUR arrangement.

Blackberry Blossom is also, of course, the name of an album by Norman Blake, and this is where Norman's arrangement became known both far and wide.

For the reader's pleasure and in an effort to pay due tribute to other persons who support, spread, and love this very kind of tune, here's another link where you can get lesson material for this very song, The Blackberry Blossom:

And with the following link, an arrangement that seems to be half that of Norman Blake, and half someone else's.  Again, this tune is public domain, and a traditional that is surely older than most folk's knowledge of their own family history:

Now, I hope that someone somewhere has been served by some of that, but I like to listen to music more than I even like to play music (most of the time) so let's see what the grand old youtube has to offer:

This first video is set up for a lesson, and gives you a pretty good look at the left hand fingering in the first position and beyond for a right handed guitarist.  I do not particularly learn well that way, but that is a handicap of mine, and no one should tell another how it is that they should learn to play music, as that will create a passing on of an instructor's own handicaps, LOL!  Don't fall for that - learn, and employee new ways of learning if possible.  You'll only keep your brain young that way.

This second video is important because it contains, well, a very attractive woman playing the fiddle!!!!  I also like the way she works the crowd, and I tell you, there's nothing more visually inducing towards one's desires than an attractive woman with the crowd's attention.  She does a fine job here, and it's important to realize that all guitar arrangements for such traditional tunes in the public domain originated from someone transcribing fiddle music to a guitar.

And finally, I give you Banjo Ben - who is one kick butt guitarist!!!!  I'm excited about this guy, and if someone like him lived locally, then I'd beg that person or pay the price for one on one lessons with the guy - this cat can just straight up PLAY THE FIRE out of a guitar, and puts out a great and continually improving presentation as well.



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