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Lesson notes

Whodunit? is a ragtime instrumental I wrote in 2000. It started out as a somewhat bluesy piece and I was trying to write an intermediate level piece that some of my students could play. Mission accomplished as far as the first eight measures, but then the tune took on a life of its own and a jazzy, walking bass section materialized.

So it became an advanced instrumental and a piece I opened many concerts with over the years. If you take it in small doses, and allow much more time for the walking bass section, you will find yourself with a very fun piece to play and perform.

The Walking Bass Section of Whodunit? is what bumps this up to Level 8. There are only five unique measures here but they probably need to be taken one to two beats at a time, very, very slowly, before gradually speeding them up. You might think of this as similar to approaching barre chords after you started feeling pretty good about open chords- patience and persistence required.

After further review (partly due to a conversation with Sandy during her lesson last week) I thought it might be a good idea to offer some alternatives to the Walking Bass section of Whodunit. This segment presents a very easy way and one that is somewhere in between. Variation II is the easy way and just has chords grabbed over the walk. Variation I is a bit more challenging and includes a syncopated melody line.

Aside from the AABA format of Section A, there are two variations on a different theme that make up Sections B and C. They both have a repeating bass pattern just alternating from the root down to the fifth of an A Minor chord, the open A and E strings. Section B has four phrases harmonized in thirds on the second and third strings. One very important technique to master is damping the E string while playing the A string. The harmonized thirds also use hammer-ons, pull-offs, and slides.

Section C is just a logical extension of Section B, harmonized in parallel sixths rather than thirds. The sixths will not be on adjacent strings like thirds, but will be two strings apart (the first and third or second and fourth). The last phrase gets very high on the fingerboard and is difficult without a cutaway, an alternate approach is covered.

The last part consists of some thoughts on the arrangement and ways to modify it if you like.

We recently got a request to elaborate a little on the modified Walking Bass section to Whodunit. Not only a reasonable request, but a great suggestion that I probably should have done in the first place. Happy to oblige. Hear we have the next last part to Whodunit, Extra Connections.