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Alternating Bass Notes

Finally, the strum with alternating bass notes. This is what each of the previous arrangements of Tom Dooley was leading to. This is somewhat of a standard when it comes to folk styles on guitar. Comparing any measure of this exercise with the same measure from the previous exercise that featured one bass note followed by three strums reveals that the only difference is the substitution of an alternate bass note at the count of 3. At first glance this may seem minor, but it adds a tremendous amount to the music. Now you will strum on the count of 2 and 4 in each measure. The count of 1 in each measure will always be the root note of the chord (for a G chord, the root note is a G note). The count of 3 will also be a bass note, but instead of using the root note we will use a different bass note that goes well with the chord. Ordinarily the alternating bass note will be the bass note of the dominant chord in the key (take a look back at the lesson on chords to see the dominants in commonly used keys). Knowing this is not that important at this time. The important thing is to learn to play it; you will understand it better in time.

 

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