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Dominant Phrasing for Country Chicken Picking (Open Position)

Introduction :

The idea when making these exercise was to develop my ‘Chicken Picking’ phrasing for improvisation and free myself from chaining ‘licks’ over and over. The exercises consist of 4 bar lines made from various melodic motifs connected together. Motifs are taken from different country/bluegrass musicians playing on different instruments. Practicing these lines will help develop melodic reflex and technical ease on this particular style of playing.

Pay a particular attention to your right hand technique. The examples can be played all ‘flat picked’ or using ‘hybrid picking’. Choose the picking technique that you are most comfortable with. I tend to ‘Flat Pick’ the high register for clarity and ‘Hybrid Pick’ the the lower register to get the famous chicken picking ‘Pop’ sound.

All of these runs come from an exercise sheet that I made for myself. The whole document is 10 pages long and is available on ‘Patreon’ for my Patreon subscribers. Have fun!

Basic open chord runs :

ex. 1

ex. 2

ex. 3

ex. 4

ex. 5

ex. 6


ex. 8

ex. 9

ex. 10

Unusual Chords :

This type of phrasing is a big challenge when played over certain chords that include only few or no notes from the open strings. I made some exercise but generally I would suggest using licks or play ‘in position’ over these chords. Part II of this lesson will focus on ‘In Position’ playing. Still, it’s possible to create nice open lines on these chords but you need to be creative with how you are using open notes.

ex. 11

ex. 12

ex. 13

Connecting Chords :

Connecting chords might be the most important skill to develop. Mastering all the runs of this lesson will help you get the vocabulary needed to continue lines from any notes and aim for particular destination. connecting chords together will really make your solo sound ‘pro’. Although when building a solo or improvising I would suggest not doing long 8 bar lines. Instead you should vary using licks and let some empty bars to make the solo breath.

ex. 14

ex. 15

Support me on Patreon to access the 10 pages PDF file of this lesson and help me keep the content coming!