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Exploring Backup With Cripple Creek

December 31st, 2006

Cripple Creek is usually one of the first songs aspiring banjo players learn the melody to so I figure it’s a good place to start looking at some backup concepts.

This video demonstrates walking bass notes, vamp chords, fill licks and chord substitutions. If you’re new to the concept of chord substitution Google can supply you with plenty of exhaustive insights into it but if you prefer to pick more and read less think of it this way; Chord substitutions are nothing more than harmonies or chords that share similar notes. In this example I play an Am chord over, or instead of, a D7 chord.

D7 = D A F# C
Am = A C E

I do this so I can keep the bass line going (B-A-G) and since the notes are played so dry and fast you can easily get away with this type of substitution. You could play a D7 chord at the 5th fret with the A in the bass but I find that cumbersome and unnecessary when playing the song up tempo.

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