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What is a blues singer, a good or a bad one? I say he's just a meal ticket for the man or woman who wears dollar signs for eyes - Big Bill Broonzy, quoted by Yannick Bruynoghe in Big Bill Blues, Da Capo Press

Author Topic: Adventures in Cross Note  (Read 11034 times)

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Offline waxwing

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #15 on: February 10, 2005, 11:23:45 PM »
In his book, Chasing That Devil Music, Gayle Dean Wardlowe relates an interview with Ishmon Bracey in which Bracey mentions walking into a joint in Greenwood and seeing John Hurt playing. When John took a break, Bracey started to play and claimed he was "over" Hurt and that Hurt wouldn't play after him. He said Hurt asked him what tuning he was using and he said "Cross note". I'm not familiar enough with Bracey's recorded work to know if any are in cross tuning, but he was obviously familiar with the tuning and the name.
All for now.
John C.
P.S. Interesting book with several controversial conclusions.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2005, 11:25:58 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline a2tom

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #16 on: February 11, 2005, 05:27:50 AM »
Crossnote is a hoot to play in - I'd recommend it if you haven't ever tried.? I find it an relatively easy tuning to sound good improvising in.? I always thought Skip James "crossing the major and the minor" comes from the shifting or transition feeling that is easy to generate in crossnote just by lifting or replacing that index finger on the third string.? As you move around, that finger will come up and inevitably end up back on that E major position.? I really thinking "shifting" is the word that evokes best the feeling it gives.?

I think JohnM's description is very good - the tuning is like mixing standard on the top strings with open E on the bottom strings.? I think it takes some messing with to get used to, but in the end it is versatile in its key relationship.? I would also say that I always tune down to D, but I never think of it as D.? The tuning works best over E figures, even if you tune down to D.

Finally, glad you mentioned Bukka White.? He is the one who actually introduced me to croosnote - watching him play "Babe you killin' me" on the?Newport blues video.? What a machine that guy was!? I had to do some of that.? In that tune he does, I think, use an back and forth rhythm that entails lifting and replacing the index, I think.? I may be remembering wrong, though, its been a while.

tom
« Last Edit: April 18, 2005, 10:39:32 AM by Johnm »

Offline Janmarie

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #17 on: February 15, 2005, 01:16:18 PM »
Hi John, Waxwing & Tom -

Thanks for your explanations on 'cross note'.  I may not put it into practice right away but I really appreciate having an understanding of what's going on.

My best ........... Jan

thehook

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2005, 12:34:25 PM »
You say bukka played some in cross note? Are making chords easier in this tuning? what is it note for note the way old fellows would tune it? What are some chords in it? Any other beginner stuff for it?

Offline waxwing

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2005, 01:13:10 PM »
Hey John H,

If you tune "up" to cross note in Em the strings would be EBEGBE (bass to treble). You only need to tune the 2nd and 3rd strings up a full note each. If you're worried that the extra tension of those two strings will have a bad effect on a very delicate guitar, you could tune all the other strings down a full note instead, but tuning up for a practice session and then tuning back down should not be a problem.

You'll notice that the relationships of the three treble strings are unchanged, so any licks you know on these strings will work, and, for those in the key of E, you can thumb away at the bass, no matter where you are on the fretboard. Also, notice that by fretting the G string at the 1st fret you "cross" from an Em chord to an E Major chord, hence, cross note. Many play in this tuning without ever striking the open G string, or only striking it to hammer on to the G#.

Similarly to Vastapol, you have difficulty finding a satisfying bass for the IV chord (other than the E, which is the 5th.) without reaching to the 5th fret, but the B is available for the tonic in the V chord. Really the tuning works very much like Vastapol with the added nuance of the minor 3d being available.

I'm sure others can chime in with some other nuances of the tuning.

All for now.
John C.

Edit to add: Actually, looking back to the bottom of the first page of this thread, I don't think I said anything that John M hasn't already stated. At least my memory seems to be working well.-G-
« Last Edit: May 02, 2005, 01:23:47 PM by waxwing »
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
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Offline a2tom

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2005, 06:41:16 PM »
What are some chords in it?

I'm no expert, but I don't know many chords, per se.  As Waxwing suggested I think it works more like an open tuning.  The only major chord (pun not intended, but I'll take it...) is index on the first fret of the third string = E major.  Then hammer into it.

Then there's A7 by just putting your middle (or other) finger on the 2nd fret of the 2nd string.  But then don't sound the 5th string = B.  You can easily rock back and forth between these two 1-finger chords.  Or try the same thing without lifting the index from the 3rd string, just placing and removing the middle finger. 

Another great sound is to fret the 1st and 3rd string on the same fret and pinch or strum through it.  Then move it around to different frets.  The droning 2nd B string works really well since you're in E.  Skip James "I'm So Glad" is based around this.  I've always though it mimics to some degree what you'd do with a slide. 

Of course, you can always put on a slide and have at it.  Slide around those upper fret and then resolve back to the 1-finger E.

Or, another neat thing is a basic shuffle in E, like you'd normally do from the 2nd to 4th fret of the 5th string.  Only with that string raised up, you now do that from the open to the 2nd fret of the 5th string - a 1-finger shuffle.  And you can do that without lifting out of the E chord.

Kind of got going there - but I'm quite sure I've just scratched the surface. 

Similarly to Vastapol, you have difficulty finding a satisfying bass for the IV chord (other than the E, which is the 5th.) without reaching to the 5th fret

agreed there - I have found myself partial to picking up an A in the bass by fretting the 5th fret 6th string with my left hand thumb when messing around up the fret board.

tom

Online Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2005, 07:41:19 AM »
Hi John Hardy,
If you want to get a I chord in cross-note, fret the third string at the first fret. If you want to get a IV chord in the treble, fret the second and third strings at the second fret (this is what Bukka most often uses for the IV chord). If you want to get a IV chord you can strum all the way across, fret the second, third and fifth strings at the second fret. If you want to get a IV7 chord, fret the second string at the second fret and leave the third string open--you can avoid the fifth string or fret it at the second fret, too. If you want to get a V7 chord, fret the first and third strings at the second fret, and avoid the sixth string (this is what Skip James used).
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 08:48:00 PM by Johnm »

Offline frankie

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2006, 05:09:40 AM »
After listening to it again over the last couple of days, I'm pretty convinced that Robert Wilkins' "Nashville Stonewall Blues" is in cross-note, pitched at about E or so.  And a lovely tune it is...

Offline NotRevGDavis

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2006, 10:58:22 AM »
Perfect timing for this thread to re-appear. I have been having a "hard time" figuring out the V chord in open D minor then I find out crossnote <is> open D minor. Now I can continue on with those "Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues".
Thanks everyone.
Got the name, still workin' on the licks!

Online Johnm

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2006, 11:28:58 AM »
Good call on "Nashville Stonewall Blues", Frank.  The way Wilkins keeps that V note and octave I note going when he's up the neck make E standard tuning an unlikely candidate for this tune, especially when taken in combination with the fact that he never hits anything lower than the V note on the A string.  The signature lick would be a bear to play in E standard but is relatively easy in cross-note.
All best,
Johnm

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2007, 10:30:52 AM »
We never actually listed in this thread the Skip James songs using cross-note tuning, though we spoke of him as a source for the name. Here's what I have, though I am not 100% certain about all of them. I have thought for awhile that sometimes Skip played in standard tuning E position but with an occasional minor feel to it, but haven't explored this in any detail.  As JohnM mentions earlier in the thread, there can be a subtle distinction, since the top three strings are the same as standard tuning and can deceive the ear.

This list includes both pre- and postwar recordings.

Skip James
4 O'Clock Blues
Broke and Hungry Blues
Cherry Ball Blues
Cypress Grove
Devil Got My Woman
Good Road Camp Blues
Hard Luck Child
Hard Time Killin' Floor Blues
Illinois Blues
Jesus Is a Mighty Good Leader
Sickbed Blues
Washington D.C. Hospital Center Blues
Yola My Blues Away

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #26 on: January 21, 2007, 10:54:14 AM »
The other person who hasn't been mentioned is Jack Owens, often said to be of the so-called "Bentonia school". Obvious similiarities to Skip James anyway in some material. Here's what I have for him in cross-note, though there may be more (and these are educated guesses, not songs I have worked out in detail).

Jack Owens
Can't See, Baby
Cherry Ball
Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl
It Must have Been the Devil
Nothin' But Notes
Hard Times

Offline banjochris

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #27 on: January 21, 2007, 05:36:15 PM »
On the Skip James stuff, the dead giveaway that he's in standard E is the full B7 chord, as well as the E7 when he slides it up the neck. The B7 is always partial or implied in cross-note.

I don't think anything except Drunken Spree is in standard on his early recordings, and the recordings of Hard Luck Child from the 1960s (which are actually recordings of Four O'Clock) are in standard.
Chris

Offline Baird

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2007, 10:11:58 AM »
Hey all,
Just wanted to say that I've been having fun playing the "Yo Yo Blues" family of Blind Lemon Jefferson songs in Cross Note.
It seems like everything is accessable - the IV chord has a root but it's easy to grab because the IV part is in 5th position anyway. Also, the descending turnaround, to my ears one of the most beautiful turnarounds imaginable, is very easy to play in this tuning.... None of this, of course, is to suggest that Lemon played in Cross Note, just that it's a great family of songs to fiddle around with in that tuning.
Best,
Michael

Offline Coyote Slim

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Re: Adventures in Cross Note
« Reply #29 on: February 07, 2007, 11:36:22 AM »
Every time I read a thread like this I have to grab my guitar.

Bukka playing in cross-note?   ???  I'm not so sure about that.  I hear most of the tunes mentioned as being played in Vestapol or Spanish.

Henry Townsend, on the other hand, played guitar almost entirely in cross-note.
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