Lessons with a Master Guitarist
Fiddle tunes are typically played at fast tempos by instruments associated with bluegrass, old-time or country dance music. In the hands of a master guitarist like Eric Skye, though, these tunes become something very different. He eases up the tempo, pulling emotion from the melodies with rich bass notes, ringing harmonies and chordal melodies. His approach stresses musicianship and beautiful tone as opposed to speed and flash.
Playing his signature model Santa Cruz, Eric starts the lesson with Whiskey Before Breakfast, sharing ideas on how to elicit sumptuous tones from the acoustic guitar. He spends extra time on the first song, beautifully setting up the tunes that follow: lesser-known pieces like Sergeant Early’s Dream and his own construct, The Locktender’s Reel; plus the better-known Chinquapin Hunting and Cold Frosty Morning. He rounds out the lesson with the well-travelled Billy in the Lowground, putting his signature style on this perennial favorite.
Some of the ornaments Eric interweaves in his lesson include a very effective offbeat slur with ringing bass note, a Scottish fiddler’s note flurry called a “birl,” dynamics, phantom beats, autoharp harmonics, and other useful techniques that can easily be integrated into other pieces.
This is a highly playable lesson for the aspiring guitarist who wants to dig into fiddle tunes for the first time, or for experienced pickers who are looking for a new approach to their instrument.