Schoolhouse

Lesson 4: Ending Phrases

Posted September 14, 2007

Question:  Hey, I usually hear an ending thing and then a tag lick after it.  What are those ending things that set up the final tag?

Answer:  Yep, those are set up licks, or some call them ending things.  Well worth a lesson to go over a few of them.  Usually, I think of an ending lick as a final phrase where the band is still playing along.  Then the banjo might add a tag after the ending, perhaps with the other players hitting the final chord.  Typically, an ending phrase will take the sound down to a low note, then the tag will end high. 

Let's go with five examples below which will give you some ideas for variety.  Some of these are old favorites, and maybe a couple will be a new idea for you.  Enjoy!

 

Ending 1.  Start with this familiar Scruggs fill lick finished off with a double thumb pull-off lick.  I left a rest at the end to make time to get up the neck for a tag lick.  This is a good standard ending phrase and I use it all the time.

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Ending 2.  Here's the classic "Cripple Creek" style ending phrase which appears in Bluegrass Banjo Level One.  I use 3rd finger for the slide.  Then 1st finger can drop in easily on the 2nd fret without moving the hand.  Notice the pinch comes on the 4th beat of the count-off.

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Ending 3.  This is a right hand variation on the previous lick.  A quick move there from 5 to 2.  Use 4th or 3rd finger dropping back to 2 with 1st finger.  The double-middle roll (MIMT) provides a good way to shift notes quickly on the first string.

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Ending 4.  Forward reverse roll, 2nd finger slides and 1st finger catches the 2 on 1st string.  Watch for the string change on the index finger.  Ending with a double note, played here with M and I because T is on the 5th string right before it.

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Ending 5.  Again, the double middle roll, here catching fragments of the C and D chords.  You might recognize this phrase as borrowed from the tune "Bill Cheatham."

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Well, this lesson and the previous give a good start on endings and tag licks.  There are numerous variations, and every player has his/her favorites.  It looks like endings and tag licks might need to be a monthly feature.

A note to visitors about my hand-scrawled tablature:  Many have complimented it on ease of reading, especially after squinting at the tiny computer print outs they are often faced with.  I indicate a hammer-on or pull-off with the hyphen between two frets and the curved mark to indicate slide.  For exercises, I include right hand fingering below the staff (TIM).  On songs, I omit right hand notation except where something unusual is happening.

Good Luck Pickin'!

Edward T Wing

Pick'n'Grin, Knoxville, Tennessee