I'm a little late in getting it up, but the half-price DVD special (just $14.98) for this month is:
If you'd like the download version just use the coupon code HALFPRICE to get 50% off at checkout.
It's been a while since we've mentioned our digital downloads. We were a bit slow to get the new products digitized, but they're ready now! The newest batch of downloads is ready to go. You can now download these fine DVDs (in addition to all the others already in the catalog):
More Advanced Earl - [Side note: WHAT am I wearing?!! And WHO let that hideous outfit be captured for all posterity?]
Ralph Stanley Style Banjo - [Side note: This was filmed during my blonde phase. Argh!! What was I thinking??!]
Casey's Christmas Collection - Since this contains my homemade lessons it is only available directly from The Murphy Method, not through other retailers who carry our digital products.
Also, Leaping Brain (our downloads partner) has been busy improving their video player. You can now put your videos on all your different computers. You can play your downloads on all Apple devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or stream it on Apple TV). The player also now features a looping function so you can play one lick over and over. AND you can SLOW DOWN or SPEED UP the video, without changing the pitch, which is especially helpful for the slow and fast jam DVDs if we play them too fast or two slow to suit you.
We have a new demo movie that explains all these functions. You can watch it right here.
Or you can go straight to the catalog and start shopping!
Now, we don't usually do trailers for our DVDs, but for Harmony Singing Made Easy, since it's our first foray into vocal instruction, we thought we should do something special:
The Murphy Method, known world-wide for its “learn music by ear” teaching, now turns its attention to harmony singing. On Harmony Singing Made Easy we teach you to sing harmony by ear. It’s the easiest method ever.
On this brand new DVD, Murphy and friends Bill Evans, Janet Beazley, and Chris Stuart join together to sing some beautiful trios and quartets. First you hear the three (or four) voices blending together, then you hear each harmony part sung separately. You learn your part by singing along with us. With three separate parts to choose from, you can pick the one that best suits your voice.
One creative approach we have taken is that we sing several songs in three different keys so no matter what your vocal range (female or male, high or low) you can try your hand at singing the lead part. We provide keys to fit high voices, middle-range voices, and low voices. Sometimes the men (Bill, Chris) take the lead; sometimes the women (Murphy, Janet) take the lead. The harmony parts are then worked out to fit the lead voice. With the choice of three keys, you can also find a harmony part to suit your voice.
For instance, Murphy sings Will the Circle Be Unbroken in the key of A, while Janet adds the tenor part (above the lead) and Bill adds the baritone part (below the lead).
Then Janet sings the lead to Will the Circle in the key of C while Murphy adds the baritone (below the lead) and Bill provides the low tenor (below the baritone).
Finally Bill takes a turn singing the lead to Circle in the key of E (a pretty low key for this song) while Murphy adds the tenor (above the lead) and Janet comes in on the high baritone (above the tenor).
We also use this same approach—three different keys—for Bury Me Beneath the Willow and All the Good Times are Past and Gone.
For the song Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky we use just one vocal arrangement with Chris singing lead in the key of G while Murphy sings tenor and Bill adds the baritone. Amazing Grace and Over in the Gloryland are done as quartets so you bass singers can have a chance to get in on the action!
Along the way we offer some helpful hints such as “What key do I sing in?” “How do I find my harmony part?” and “How can I get a good blend?” At the very end Murphy and Bill break out their banjos for a rousing quartet version of Over in the Gloryland. Very entertaining!
If you’ve been wondering how to sing harmony, we’ve made it as easy as possible. Or as we say in Virginia, “It’s as easy as pie.”
Order your Harmony Singing Made Easy DVD today and join in the fun!
Songs: Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, All the Good Times Are Past and Gone, Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky, Amazing Grace, Over in the Gloryland.
Wow! What a weekend! On Monday evening, we finished recording our brand-new Harmony Singing DVD! (Not yet titled and not yet for sale!) Bill Evans, Janet Beazley, and Chris Stuart (all from California) joined Red and me in the studio to record a DVD that’s all about teaching folks to sing harmony. It was way too much fun, and we put down some amazing lessons.
And of course we did it totally by ear, the Murphy Method way, with no talk about theory or use of big phrases like “five chord,” “parallel thirds,” or “sing a B note.” In fact, I made Bill go back and re-do a clip in which he referred to an E chord as a “five chord.” That’s a no-no, Bill!
We chose six songs that are fairly easy to sing and are well-known, standard bluegrass numbers: Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Bury Me Beneath the Willow, All the Good Times Are Past and Gone, Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky, Amazing Grace, and Just Over in the Gloryland.
It is our firm belief that you learn to sing harmony by singing harmony! (Just as you learn to sing lead—which is the melody—by singing lead.) So, for every song, we sang the lead part and each harmony part separately (with guitar accompaniment) so you can hear that part clearly and practice singing along with us.
And here is beauty of our approach: We demonstrated the first song, Will the Circle, in three different keys so that no matter what your vocal range is, you can sing with us! So, Murphy sang lead in the key of A, Janet sang lead in the key of C, and Bill sang lead in the key of E. We also demonstrated and sang the harmony parts (tenor and baritone) for each key. We also did the second and third songs (Willow and All the Good Times) that way.
For the fourth song, Rough and Rocky, which is longer (verse and chorus in harmony all the way through), we used just one arrangement with Chris singing lead in G. And the last two numbers we performed as quartets so all you bass singers can get involved!
Since this DVD concentrates on singing, we kept the instrumentation minimal (usually Chris on guitar) so you could always hear the singing. Then, at the very end, we closed out with a rousing quartet of Over in the Gloryland with Bill and me both playing our banjos. We were cooking!
[Then there was that extra footage we shot with the strange rabbit, but I don’t want to say too much about that yet....]
I am so excited about this DVD! We’ve never done a singing DVD so this is a totally new venture for us. I started thinking about this (with some prodding from Bill!) after he and I did a harmony singing workshop with Janet at Mid-West Banjo Camp this past June. She was the workshop leader and she did an amazing job of teaching a class of 30 adults to sing three-part harmony to Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky. (All Bill and I had to do was sing what she told us to!) It was her ability to talk about bluegrass harmony singing in simple terms—and sing all three parts herself with ease (although not at the same time!)—that made me want to record this DVD and open up the sometimes mysterious world of harmony singing to everyone.
So, stay tuned for more info on the release date. (And the title!) We’re hoping to have the DVD out in a couple of months. And, believe me, you’ll be the first to know!
PS: And what did we do after our long days of recording? Sunday night we watched the PBS Masterpiece Classic Downton Abby (two blissful hours!) and Monday night we watched the screamingly funny (and extremely risqué) movie Hall Pass. (Not recommended for kids! Or grandkids! I might consider letting Dalton see it when he gets to be 21...or 30! Oh! I guess that would be Casey’s decision! Or, by that time, his! Hey, this grandmothering is harder than you think!)
PPS: And speaking of mothering, happy birthday to son Chris whose birthday is tomorrow, Feb. 15th!!! As Mr. Spock would say, Live long and prosper!
Folks, we are very happy to announce that our long-awaited new DVD, "Banjo Backup for Fiddle", is now available for your order by TELEPHONE only (we haven't had time to put it on the site!). [Actually, now it IS on the site... just follow this link.]
Call us at 800-227-2357 ! I'll be at the phone most of the afternoon!
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How does a banjo best accompany a fiddle? By playing simple roll patterns that fit the chords. Casey and Murphy explain these patterns note-by-note as Megan Lynch plays fiddle.
Sally Goodwin, Turkey in the Straw, Old Joe Clark, Leather Britches, and more, including some exra tunes which Casey plays with Megan and bonus footage fo Murphy backing up Fletcher Bright. No Tab. (99-minute DVD, $29.95)
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We’ve spent the last two days filming a new DVD, which you all are going to be pretty excited about, I think. It’s on banjo backup for fiddle tunes, that is, banjo/fiddle duet style. Think Earl Scruggs and Paul Warren. Funnily enough, this is not the first time we’ve taped this particular video. About eight years ago Murphy got together with the great Chattanooga fiddle player Fletcher Bright and recorded almost all of a project on banjo backup for fiddle tunes, but we never released it. When last year’s Fancy Banjo Backup DVD sold so well and got such good reactions I had a hankering to go back and revisit this project and see if we could resurrect it.
Red pulled the footage that they had taped way back when off of the VHS tape backup, which was apparently the only surviving copy. He burned me DVDs and I watched it through, taking copious notes. Since this was the backup copy (no telling what happened to the first camera tapes…), it had run continuously, so not only did it have all the playing and teaching, it also had Murphy and Fletcher sitting and watching the playback of what they had just played and commenting on how good they sounded! Totally cute.
Although the content of that footage was great, the quality wasn’t quite up to modern-day standards, especially since it was filmed onto VHS and now everything is digital. For that reason we decided to re-record it rather than editing the older tape.
We called in my great friend and most excellent fiddle player and teacher Megan Lynch, who kindly consented to drive up to Winchester from Nashville (ten hours) to film with us. In two days we got the whole project in the can, and for the most part filming went really smoothly. Before we even got started we had some banjo technical difficulties (I’ll leave those to Murphy to relate…) but once we got rolling (no pun intended there) the material went down really easily.
We teach backup for four songs: "Sally Goodwin," "Turkey in the Straw," "Old Joe Clark," and "Leather Britches." Then we demonstrate (NOT teach) a few more, just to give you a chance to hear some more free-form backup (not necessarily using just the licks that we teach): "Sugar in the Gourd," "Grey Eagle," "Cherokee Shuffle," and "Paddy on the Turnpike."
We’re looking at a fall release for this one, so it will be a little while before you can get your hands on it, but I think you’ll really, really like it when you do!
You all will be the first to know that our BRAND SPANKIN' NEW DVD is ready and waiting for you to order it: Fast Jam with Murphy and Casey.
We previously wrote about filming it here.
Here are the songs that are on it: John Hardy, Lonesome Road Blues, Mama Don’t Allow, Little Maggie, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Salt Creek, Sally Goodwin, Uncloudy Day, Bill Cheatam, Cripple Creek, Whisky Before Breakfast, East Virginia Blues, Blackberry Blossom, I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes, Turkey in the Straw, The Crawdad Song, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, Slewfoot, In the Pines, Hazel Creek, Old Spinning Wheel
It's not available via download quite yet, but should be in about three weeks or so.
If you happen to be coming to Banjo Camp North this weekend you can get your copy in person from Casey, because she'll have them with her there!
Since Casey has already done such an excellent job telling you about the basics of the new Fast Jam DVD, I thought I’d give you some of the inside scoop.
First of all, I must say it was completely delightful to have Casey back at home for four days. I fixed us oatmeal and tea for breakfast every morning and was rewarded by her taking care of those little things that mean so much: bagging up the trash, cleaning up the kitchen, playing Scrabble with me. Beating me was going above and beyond the call of duty, but it did make for a most interesting game!
In true bluegrass fashion (or perhaps its just Murphy Method fashion!) there was no advance song list for the DVD, so Steve (bass) and Malia (fiddle) had no clue as to what we’d be doing except that I said, “It’s standard stuff. You’ll know it.” And they did. Except for my original tune Hazel Creek, which Steve had never heard. So we took a few extra minutes to teach it to him on the spot. No big deal, just the bluegrass way. (No, of course, we didn’t use chord charts! We are the Murphy Method and we practice what we preach!)
Friday morning, we were ready to roll a little after 9:30 a.m. Casey, Steve, and Malia were positioned in front of the backdrop, tuned and waiting and chatting amongst themselves. Where was I? I had decided, at that exact moment, that I need to clean my banjo head, so I was in the kitchen with the 409 and a paper towel trying to remove five or ten years worth of gunk that had accumulated around where I plant my fingers. Oh, and there was blood, too, from when I pricked my finger on a string end and then daubed it on the head. Why? I have no idea! It just seemed like the thing to do at the time. Most of the gunk came off, but not all of the blood!
As I was doing my cleaning, I was imagining a blog that Casey might write:
[Imaginary blog by Casey]: There we were in the studio, all ready to go, and where was Mom? In the kitchen cleaning her banjo head! She never cleans her banjo head, as you can clearly see in the last jam DVD. So, why this moment? She had all week to clean it! She had all year! Could she be more of a prima donna? Sheesh. [Imaginary blog over.]
When I got to the studio, I told Casey about my imaginary blog but she didn’t think it was as funny as I did.
We started off with a couple of tunes that were easy for me to play on banjo because I’ve been playing them (and teaching them) so long: Sally Goodwin and Salt Creek. It’s always wise to start with something easy in hopes of getting a good recording vibe going. Those went well, and we were off and running.
Several vocal numbers were on the list and I assumed that Casey and I would do them as duets. But when Steve came in on a baritone part as we were rehearsing them I thought, “Wow! This is a bonus!” So we had trio harmony all the way through. Yes! We had to sing everything in very low keys (for me) because I still had the remnants of a cold. Casey served as my “stand-in” singer while we ran over the tunes, and then switched to tenor of the taping. We’d usually just try the tune once, or maybe twice, and then roll the tape. (Or whatever is the digital equivalent!)
We were hoping to get at least 20 songs down for the DVD, so we were looking at putting in some serious recording time. As it turned out, we got about 10 songs the first day and 10 the second day. And let me tell you, when we got done on each day I was a whipped puppy!
Saturday, after we’d wrapped up the DVD, Casey and I went to lunch with two of my fiddle sisters, Patty and Robyn. We thoroughly enjoyed a couple of hours of girl talk, the content of which I can in no way reveal in this (mostly) family-oriented blog. We, of course, capped off the meal with shared desserts. And then I came back home and took a long winter’s nap, preparatory to square dancing that night!
It was a good weekend. I think you’re gonna enjoy this DVD. I hope we can include some of the “bloopers” because I’m just remembering that when we started off on Sally Goodwin, our very first number, I messed up right from the start. And said a bad word. And then I messed up again and said that same bad word. Only a mild bad word. Worse than damn but not as a bad as most of the stuff you hear on TV now. On second thought, I don’t think that would be appropriate material for bloopers. Or even You-Tube. But it was sure funny in the moment. A good time was definitely had while making this DVD and we think you’ll enjoy the end result. We’ll keep you posted on the release!
We've added nine more titles to our digital download catalog. In addition to the titles that were already there you can now download the beginning DVDs for every instrument, as well as four additional banjo DVDs. Here's what's new: