Check out these songs featured in the Western Swing Fiddle course.
These lessons introduce you to some of the most important aspects of playing western swing on the fiddle—swing rhythms, essential arpeggios, phrasing, and more. You can begin your western swing fiddle journey by going through all of these lessons before you dive into the individual song lessons, or start with a few of these technical lessons and then return for more after you’ve got some songs under your belt.
Chad gives you a quick lesson in swing rhythms with a call-and-response exercise on a 12-bar blues progression. He starts with just one note (G) and then adds one other note (E) so you can concentrate on the rhythms he’s playing with one- and two-note phrases. He also talks about the kind of phrasing that makes a melody swing.
Chad shows you two essential arpeggios (dominant ninth and major sixth) that are frequently used in western swing fiddling.
Chad shows you some phrases using neighbor tunes, a half step below each chord tone. He shows you how to do this on a G chord: G, B, D. Adding neighbor tones to those notes you get F#–G, Bb–B, and C#–D. He also shows you a cool Johnny Gimble lick that uses the neighbor tone below the chord tone along with the note in the scale above the chord tone.
Chad shows you some stylistic techniques that are essential for Western swing fiddle players: tails, slides, and what he calls “blops” or “blaps.”
Chad talks about the percussive bow attack used in western swing fiddling.
Chad shows you some basic scale patterns to help you get more comfortable improvising with a scale.
In these lessons, you’ll learn the melody, chords, and a classic solo to some of the most well-known western swing songs.
“Sugar Moon” was written by Bob Wills and Cindy Walker, and was recorded by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys in 1947. It reached Number 1 on the Billboard Country charts and stayed there for six weeks. Chad shows you the melody and chords to “Sugar Moon” and points out how they relate to each other, which will help you learn to improvise over the chords when it’s time to take a solo. He also shows you some double stops you can add to the melody.
In this lesson, you’ll learn a “Sugar Moon” solo that combines an A part played by Johnny Gimble on an Austin City Limits show with Asleep at the Wheel and the Texas Playboys and an A part from Joe Holley’s solo on the original Bob Wills recording.
“Right or Wrong” is a 1920’s jazz ballad that was recorded by a lot of early jazz bands and was later picked up by Bob Wills, who made it a western swing classic. There are many great versions, including versions by Bob Wills and Milton Brown. Country star George Strait’s recording of “Right or Wrong” includes a solo by Johnny Gimble, which you’ll learn in this lesson.
The instrumental tune “Panhandle Shuffle” comes from the Sons of the West, a Western swing group who played around the Amarillo, Texas, area during the late 1930s and early ’40s. They were founded in 1936 by fiddler Son Lansford, a cousin of Bob Wills.
“Corinne, Corinna” is an old folk and blues song that Bob Wills recorded in 1940 with Louis Tierney on fiddle. You’ll learn the tune in the key of Bb, so Chad starts by going over scales and arpeggios in Bb. Then you’ll learn the melody and Louis Tierney’s solo.
“Pretty Palomino” is a western swing fiddle tune in the key of A that comes from western swing fiddle great Johnny Gimble. You’ll learn the melody as well as Johnny’s fiddle solo.
“Take Me Back to Tulsa” is a western swing classic that was created when Bob Wills and Tommy Duncan put words to the fiddle tune “Walkin’ Georgia Rose.” In this lesson, you’ll learn the melody as well as a solo by fiddler Louis Tierney from the 1941 Bob Wills recording of “Take Me Back to Tulsa.”
In this lesson, Chad gives you some ideas and exercises to help you start improvising on “Take Me Back to Tulsa.” He gives you exercises with G6 and D9 arpeggios and neighbor tones and suggests you try singing with your fiddle.
“My Window Faces the South” was written in 1937 and first recorded by Fats Waller. Bob Wills recorded “My Window Faces the South” in 1938 and again in the mid-1940s for the Tiffany Transcriptions. In this lesson, you’ll learn the melody as well as a Johnny Gimble solo to “My Window Faces the South.”
“Silver Bell” is a Tin Pan Alley song from 1910 that became a favorite of fiddlers and old-time musicians like Clayton McMichen and Ernest Stoneman. It was recorded by Bob Wills in 1938. The first part of “Silver Bell” is in the key of D and the second part is in G. You’ll learn the melody and a swingin’ version of the B part from Johnny Gimble.
“Miss Molly” is another western swing classic from Bob Wills. It was written by Cindy Walker, who also wrote such western swing classics as “Sugar Moon,” “Bubbles in my Beer” and “Goin’ Away Party” as well as country hits for the likes of Ernest Tubbs, Gene Autry, Loretta Lynn, and many others. In this lesson, you’ll learn the melody as well as solos by fiddlers Randy Elmore (verse) and Johnny Gimble (chorus) from Willie Nelson’s recording of “Miss Molly.”
“Blues for Dixie” is another classic Cindy Walker song. Bob Wills recorded it in 1947 and there have been many other great recordings. You’ll learn the melody as well as a Johnny Gimble solo from a live Asleep at the Wheel performance. Chad also gives you ideas for soloing on the circle-of-fifths progressions in “Blues for Dixie.”
Bob Wills recorded the Fred Rose song “Deep Water” in 1947. In this lesson, Chad shows you the melody of “Deep Water” in the key of G and gives you ideas for coming up with your own solo.
“Bring It Down to My House, Honey” comes from the blues musician Blind Willie McTell (who called it “Come On Around to My House, Mama”). It became popular with western swing bands and was recorded by Bob Wills, Milton Brown and His Brownies, and many others. Chad teaches you the melody to “Bring It Down to My House, Honey,” with some western swing–style embellishments and variations, and talks about soloing and improvising on the song.
In this lesson, you’ll learn the Duke Ellington standard “Take the ‘A’ Train,” which was recorded by Bob Wills for the Tiffany Transcriptions. You’ll learn the melody as well as part of an Ella Fitzgerald scat solo on “Take the A Train.”