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Tommy Emmanuel's "Day Tripper"

Eight beats a week!

Today's challenge will keep both your mind and fingers busy for a while. Tommy Emmanuel's version of "Day Tripper" was brought to my attention recently by a student looking to learn it and I've enjoyed digging in at home myself to get the key section shown below burned in.

Feels out of reach? Keep reading!

Patterns like this can remain off limits for a lifetime, however if approached in the manner described below using Taplature, I'd expect most looking at this for the first time to be able get it running within a week!

The man himself!

Here's Tommy Emmanuel talking about and demonstrating his version of Day Tripper (starting at 0:55). He describes creating it as "one of the greatest mental conundrums of my life"!

Click to play

In one way its simple rhythmically as we're doing something on every foot tap and on every foot lift, so the notation shows straight 8th notes. The riff played on the bass strings however is not consistent, and missing mental mechanics can keep this sort of thing from ever becoming easy. Here's how I've both taught and learned it using Taplature.

Click to play

Little by little!

There's great benefit in stepping back from the riff itself and focusing purely on the picking hand. Here's a powerful way to simplify things by sticking to open strings and using only the low E string for the bass part. Now we're staring directly in at the core skills required.

Four distinct picking patterns are used throughout. First we'll look at the repeating rhythm made on the treble notes without any bass note played. This occurs in the full riff on beat one of the second line.

Pattern A

(see video 2:15)

Two events make up this single beat, each comprised of three actions, to be executed exactly together.

1. Pluck the open top E and B strings with the

index and middle fingers of your picking hand,

tap your foot and count "One" out loud.

2. Touch the top E and B strings (to mute them) with the

index and middle fingers of your picking hand,

lift your foot and count "and" out loud.

Repeating this exactly as described may feel tough initially but it won't take long until it becomes easy.

Half a teacup

Now let's examine how we add in bass notes to make the other 3 patterns used. First we'll add a bass note on the beat (tied to the foot tap).

Pattern B

(see video 2:30)

Everything remains as before, but on the beat we now have the extra requirement to play the open low E string with our picking hand thumb. As before, repeat all the instructions shown perfectly (with foot tap and out loud count) until this becomes easy.

Pay special attention to the bass note ringing when you mute the treble strings on the offbeat - you may have a tendency to want to mute here with the thumb too, especially when we start building the patterns together shortly! Focus on "recycling" (aiming) the thumb as you mute, ready to pick the low E string again on the next beat.

... and the other half!

Compare the last pattern with the following one, in which we play our bass note on the offbeat rather than on the beat.

Pattern C

(see video 2:54)

This time focus on the bass note ringing as you tap your foot (and pluck the treble strings and count out loud "One"). The thumb hit on the low E string should happen exactly as your fingers mute the top two strings (and as you lift the foot while counting "and"!). You'll now be "recycling" your thumb as the foot taps!

Double Trouble!

There's one more combination of bass notes in Day Tripper; picking with the thumb both on the beat and on the offbeat!

Pattern D

(see video 3:22)

To achieve this the thumb now has to be recycled between foot movements. If this pattern doesn't come naturally I'd recommend examining in semiquavers (16th notes). Here's a zoom in on the recommended timing of just the thumb for this beat, recycling on the "uh" and the "a", between foot movements (you can also see me in the video using the same part of the beat to recycle my picking fingers on this pattern).

For a primer on semiquavers discussing very similar patterns to this thumb movement see my blog post here.

Build it up!

The following Taplature puts the four patterns A, B, C and D in the order they occur in our Day Tripper challenge ... BCDDADCD. Although we've replaced every bass note with the open low E string the rhythm played in the bass part is still recognisable. It should be obvious that if you have any problem playing this simplified version then running the full thing is probably still out of reach.

(See video 3:52)

Even if the four patterns themselves are easy individually, addressing these two full bars is likely to feel like a big step and it's recommended to slow right down and not try to see the big picture too soon. I've added examples to help with this in the coaching sheets appendix to my Crash Course in Taplature, free to download for subscribers.

day tripper tommy emmanuel lesson

These free coaching sheets break things down and let you

track your progress as well as offering further advice.

Watch yourself improve!

Time to start fretting!

Once you can run these two bars comfortably it's time to begin thinking about adding in the fretting hand and to start aiming for the full pattern. It's recommended to again learn each beat in isolation before building them into pairs giving half a bar, then joining the half bars together to make the whole bar, and finally joining the two bars together to make the finished product!

break down guitar music to learn to tap your foot

Many a mickle makes a muckle

Your free coaching sheets provide this breakdown, and also include space for "benchmarking" your top speeds so you can monitor progress and easily see where your practice is best focused. Subscribe below to download!

Although this challenge is by no means easy I maintain that most of you will be able to get the full riff going in a week or so if you follow the Taplature approach to the letter and manage half an hour a day's practice. By the time you've learned this first section you'll have a good grip on how to deal with the rest of the song, or indeed anything else that's ever scrambled your brain when trying it!

Don't think you can do it? Any comments? Chase me up here in the Taplature forum!


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