The blues is an essential part of bluegrass. Bill Monroe’s mandolin playing had a very bluesy flavor, and he learned from some blues players he grew up around, including the fiddler and guitarist Arnold Shultz. In this lesson Scott shows you some bluegrass blues with the old-time classic murder ballad “Pretty Polly,” which has been recorded by numerous people, including the Byrds, Ralph Stanley, Dock Boggs, and many others. The scale used in bluegrass blues, unlike the minor pentatonic blues scale uses both the flatted third and major third, as well as the flatted seventh. It’s a six-note scale: 1‒b3‒3‒4‒5‒b7. In the key of D, which is where you’ll play “Pretty Polly, the scale is D‒F‒F#‒G‒A‒C. The flatted third to major third move is often used on the guitar to imply the note in between the two notes, which is often where singers place the note. You can create this sound with hammer-ons or slides from the flatted third to the major third or by bending the flatted third up slightly. Scott uses both approaches in this arrangement, which sticks pretty closely to the melody.
"Pretty Polly" (Available to subscribers)