2 Bluegrass Tunes for Banjolele

Below is the lesson for 2 Bluegrass Tunes for Banjolele.

Helpful Tips – “Cornbread & Butterbeans” (Easy Version)

“Cornbread and Butterbeans” is a standard American folk tune, albeit with a very hazy history. While recordings have existed for well over a century, we know that the tune dates back further than that. Regardless, this tune is a great place to start with the clawhammer style as it incorporates only three basic chords alongside the traditional “bum ditty” rhythm. It’a also a simple tune, consisting of a repetitive 8 bar form.

The first time through the form is sparse – it’s just the melody and thumb. This is typical of older clawhammer styles, but actually serves as a great way to become acquainted with the tune. While you do not need to form the chords for this section, I high recommend to do so, as it will make the second section easier to learn.

The second section of the tune is identical to the first, but adds in our brush stroke to round out the harmony. As you play through this section, make sure that the melody is still popping out prominently between the brush strokes.

P.S. These tunes are performance pieces from our clawhammer course, which is part of our technique series called: Technique Toolbox. I highly recommend you go through the course before attempting these songs, as it will set you up for success with playing them!

Part 1 – Performance & Free Lesson for “Cornbread & Butterbeans” (Easy Version)

Part 2 – “Shortnin’ Bread” (Advanced Version) Lesson For Premium Members

Now we get to have some fun! While the beginning of this arrangement (bars 1-12) is the same as the easy version, we’ll be throwing in hammer-ons and pull-offs to the second half of the tune, which helps to embellish the melody without disrupting the motion of the right hand technique. This non-interference of motion is due to the hammer-ons (embellishments) occurring on non-articulated beats (the &’s of beats 1 and 3 – a.k.a the upbeats).

Watch out for bars 19 and 23; these bars substitute the brush stroke for a hammer-on / pull-off. These two bars might take a bit of practice to get under your fingers, but are well worth it for the final result!


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