Travis Picking: Camptown Races

by Chris Shofner

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  • The "Travis Picking: Camptown Races" lesson is an original cover of Stephen Foster's parlor song. This particular arrangement was inspired by a Johnny Cash's cover of the song. I thought this would make a good introduction to playing Merle Travis style melodic content. The key to Travis style is to keep the alternating bass notes steady no matter what else is happening. It can be tedious at first but after a while I think you will find that the muscle memory starts to take over. The tone is generally clean with a nicely articulated bass and is often palm muted. You will need to be comfortable with some sort of hybrid picking style whether it is using a thumb pick and your index finger or perhaps using a standard flat pick and your middle finger, my personal preference.

    Key: C
    Chords: C, F, G
    Time Signature: 4/4
    BPM: 70

    Gear: Partscaster Tele (neck pickup)>Vox AC15>Sennheiser e906>Presonus>Ableton Live

    Scales: There are no particular scales used other than the Major scales for each chord that the melody is built around. However, for soloing purposes I would recommend a stardard Major pentatonic scale.

    C Major Pentatonic:

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