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Mississippi John Hurt collections

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Collections including Mississippi John Hurt songs

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Strum along - Chord songbook

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Category: General
Posted by: torvund

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Mississippi John Hurt - books

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Books - DVD - Recordings - CDs - Equipment

Mississippi John Hurt is one of the most influential fingerstyle guitarists. His guitarstyle is simple, meaning that you can start with his tunes withoug being a very advanced player. But at the same time it is a playing style that you will not outgrow, and it is very efficient.

Recently Stefan Grossman has published two book/3CD sets (audio lessons) on the playing of Mississippi John Hurt, and Happy Traumhas teamed up with John Sebastian to make a DVD on his playing style. And then John Miller's two DVDs on the playing of Mississippi John Hurt have been available for some time. So it is time to take another look at the material you can choose from.

If you are going to study the guitar playing of Mississippi John Hurt, you have to hear him play. Other people may demonstrate and explain his techniques. But there is nothing like listening to the original. If you don't have any of his records, you have to get some. And if you as a guitarist will get some of his recordings, there is no reason not to buy the set of 2 CDs with transcriptions. You get it all for less than you would have to pay for 2 CDs. This book/CD set has already been featured as Book of the Month – May 2003, and I am not going to repeat was is said there. In my view, the question is really what to get in addition to this set – if anything.

The book that comes with the CDs contain lead sheets, lyrics and transcriptions. But the transcriptions are genereally short, just the intro, one verse or something like that. And his playing in not discussed in any detail. So this in not a method teching his playing, and there are many nuances in the playing that you probably will miss if you stick to this book only. This set is very useful if you already are familiar with his style and want to learn new songs. It is not enough if you will start learning his style.

The next question is: Which format should you choose – audio or video? It helps to see what is played. There are details that may be easy to show, but hard to explain. Having said that: To use a video, you need a video player and a screen. You don't have to watch a CD, and it is easy to carry a book to where you want to practice.

The DVD has been a major improvement to video as a tool for instruction. One reason is that you have direct access to the tracks, and do not have to wind or rewind to get to the part you want to study. And DVD players seems to be more available than VCRs: If you have a computer that is not too old, it probably has a DVD player. A lap top with a DVD player is easy to carry to the place you will sit and play. Some of the reasons I had for not liking video, disappeared with the introduction of the DVD.

If you use audio lessons, you learn mainly by ear. You get some good ear training without reallly noticing, which is an important bonus when using audio lessons. I will also add that audio lessons generally come with better printed material. With DVDs you generally get a booklet in a small format, which often will mean a lot of unwanted breaks for page turning. When I have the basics down and am practising the tunes, I am relying on the printed material. I usually do not go back to the DVD or CD explanation to sort out a detail that that I do not remember exactly. So I still like well made printed material.

Some publishers have started to give us the best of all worlds, with combinations of book, DVD and CD. The CD can be the soundtrack from the video, or just recording of the tunes. But the Mississippi John Hurt material is not available in this form. What I would like to have is a CD with the tunes as they are supposed to be played, without any comments or instructions, in addition to the DVD or audio instruction. I like to have a recording that I can play in my car or in other situations where I do not have the guitar at hand, and only want to get the muisc into my head. None of the available books or DVDs give you all.

Another question is what kind of goal you have. Do you want to study Mississippi John Hurt to learn fingerpicking, or do you want to study his particular style in depth?

If Mississippi John Hurt is your gateway to fingerpicking, and you do not have ambitions to learn as much as possible about all the aspects of his playing, the new DVD/VHS from Happy Traum and John Sebastian is a good choice. They do not present a detailed analysis of Mississippi John Hurt's playing, but rather their own adaptations of some of his well known songs.

You get a conversation where one of them will play a Mississippi John Hurt tune, and maybe explain how Mississippi John Hurt used to play the tune, present some of their own variations, and maybe a slightly different arrangement in the same style. As they say several times: Mississippi John Hurt did not play the tune exactly the same way every time he played it, so there is no reason that you should try to play exactly like he did when the song was recorded.

It is obvious that Happy Traum and John Sebastian are had a good time when they were filming and recording for the DVD. And they add small stories and anecdotes. I did not know until John Sebastian told it on this DVD, that the name of the group he was forming in the 60s, The Loving Spoonful had taken its name from a line in Mississippi John Hurt's Coffee Blues. It all makes the DVD good entertainment as well as good instruction.

As a bonus, we also get a conversation with Sam Hood, the son of the owner of the Gaslight Cafe the time Mississippi John Hurt had this as his "home" in New York. For all of us who have only heard about the Greenwich Village scene in the early 60s, it gives some glimpses into arm-wrestling between Bob Dylan and Mississippi John Hurt and other stories.

In his two DVDs, John Miller takes a more "serious" in the approach. His ambition is more to teach exactly how Mississippi John Hurt played. I have not really compared in detail the transcriptions on these DVDs with Mississippi John Hurt's original recordings, but they seem very accurate. John Miller often go through several verses, and points out suble differences in the playing from one verse to another.

One very nice bonus that comes with these DVDs is footage with Mississippi John Hurt. You can see and hear him play Spike Driver's Blues and You're Goint To Walk That Lonesome Valley Blues. It really gives us some insight to actually see Mississippi John Hurt playing these tunes.

The presentation is straightforward. John Miller plays the tune through, and then breaks it down and discuss the playing. It is not as easy going and entertaining as the Happy Traum and John Sebastian DVD. But is is (probably) closer to how Mississippi John Hurt play the tunes. And as it is two DVDs (sold separatly), they cover more tunes.

Stefan Grossman's two books are audio lessons rather than books. Each of them comes with 3 CDs, giving you three hours of audio instructions. The books are transcriptions of the tunes and some pictures.

I generally like audio lessons. It is nice to see the tunes played. But when you are listening to the same tune over and over again, at least I prefer audio. (But you can also play a DVD without actually looking at the screen, just listening.)

A nice feature in Stefan Grossman's books is that we get the original recording of all the tunes covered. Then they are broken down, explained and played slowly phrase by phrase. And finally the tune is put together again, and you can play along. For some of the tunes, we can also hear different version played by other artists. We can hear Papa Charlie Jackson, Frank Stokes, Bessie Smith, Mance Lipscomb, Rev. Gary Davis, Rev. Robert Wilkins, Furry Lewis, Ma Raney, Clarence Ashley and Doc Watson play their versions of some of the tunes covered, and these recordings give us ideas on how these tunes may be treated.

The DVDs come with booklets with transcriptions and lyrics. For some reason, the lyrics are not incluede in Stefan Grossman's books. There should be more space in the books than in the booklets, so I do not really understand why he has not included the lyrics.

Which one should you choose? There is no clear verdict. I am in the lucky situation that I have all of them, and do not really have to make a choice. But as I said at the beginning, you should have original recordings, and for this the book/CD set is in my opinion the best choice.

All the sets have good selections of songs. You will be introduced to Mississippi John Hurt's trademark styles, no matter which set you choose. But I have to add that one of my favorite Mississippi John Hurt tunes, Frankie, is only included on John Miller's DVD. (But you can get it from other sources, se the list below). And when you have 2x90 minutes video, you can cover more songs than on one 90 minutes video. And you can cover more during six hours of audio. I have put togheter the table at the end, showing which songs you can find where. If you have some favorite tunes, it should help you to go in the right direction.

If you are new to Mississippi John Hurt, and are primarliy interested in blues fingerpicking, I will have the Happy Traum and John Sebastian DVD at the top of my list. But for a closer study of Mississippi John Hurt's playing, you should either get John Miller's DVDs or Stefan Grossman's books. It is mainly a matter of which medium you prefer.

New books (or books with updated information)

Books on the playing of Mississippi John Hurt


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Shake That Thing
The Guitar of Mississippi John Hurt, Volume 1.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG20494BCD
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Avalon Blues The Guitar of Mississippi John Hurt, Volume 2
As part of Stefan Grossman's Guitar Workshop Audio Series this comprehensive and thorough collection of fingerpicking guitar lessons contains invaluable tips and instruction implemented throughout the arrangements in this book.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB20495BCD
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The Mississippi John Hurt Book and Two CD's
Book of the Month 2003-05
The playing of Mississippi John Hurt combines lyrical songs with lovely guitar arrangements. 26 arrangements are presented in this collection.
Level: , pages
RefNr: WBF3176GTXCD
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MusicRoom
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Books on the style of Mississippi John Hurt


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Blues Guitar Legends
This book/CD package allows you to explore the styles of Lightnin' Hopkins, Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, and Big Bill Broonzy.
Level: , pages
RefNr: CP181
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MusicRoom
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Books including songs recorded by Mississippi John Hurt


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Stefan Grossman's Early Masters of American Blues Guitar: The Anthology of Country Blues Guitar
The Early Masters of American Blues series provides the unique opportunity to study the true roots of modern blues. Stefan Grossman, noted roots-blues guitarist and musicologist, has compiled this fascinating collection of 14 songs, transcribed exactly as performed by legendary blues masters Rev. Gary Davis, Lonnie Johnson, Blind Boy Fuller, and Mississippi John Hurt. In addition to Stefan's expert transcriptions, the book includes a CD containing the original artist recordings so you can hear the music as they performed it.
Level: , pages
RefNr: APF3174GTA
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Fingerstyle Guitar
Teaches beginning or advanced guitarists how to master the basic musical skills of fingerpicking techniques needed to play folk, blues, fiddle tunes or ragtime on guitar.
Level: , pages
RefNr: CP81
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MusicRoom
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Teach Yourself Guitar
How to play chords, accompany melodies, and develop rhythmic patterns. Songs and examples provide a steady progression in difficulty.
Level: , pages
RefNr: OK62356
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Amazon UK
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Traditional and Contemporary Guitar Finger-Picking Styles
This celebratory collection gathers the very best in music, tuition and knowledge from two previous Oak titles to commemorate 40 years since their original publication!
Level: , pages
RefNr: OK65010
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MusicRoom
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The Blues Fake Book
For voice and C instrument. Format: fakebook (spiral bound). With vocal melody, lyrics, chord names and leadsheet notation.
Level: , pages
RefNr: HL240082
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Classics of Country Blues Guitar
Book of the Month 2003-01
Youll learn the sounds and styles of great artists such as Robert Johnson, Willie Moore, Tommy Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Willie Brown, Skip James, Blind Blake and the Reverend Robert Wilkins.
Level: , pages
RefNr: HL841708
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What Goes Around
Acoustic Guitar Magazine Private Lessons.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SL699180
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The Roots of Acoustic Blues Guitar
Early acoustic blues, with transcriptions of six classic tunes, notes on the history and development of the genre, extensive instruction in the different playing styles,
Level: , pages
RefNr: HL699068
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Folk & Blues Fingerstyle Guitar
In these CD lessons Dave Van Ronk presents his arrangements of folk tunes and blues. These lessons are for the intermediate fingerstyle guitarist.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99469BCD
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Rory Block Teaches Classics of Country Blues Guitar
Here are some of the greatest country blues solos of all time, taught in phrase-by-phrase detail. Rory Block
Level: , pages
RefNr: HL699065
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Happy Traum's Complete Fingerpicking Guitar Method
Getting Started in Blues, Country and Ragtime. These six CDs will teach you how to pick out syncopated melodies while maintaining a steady rhythmic bass pattern
Level: , pages
RefNr: HT641708
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Hot Licks - From The Pages Of Guitar Player And Frets Magazines
Today's top guitar players present the fundamentals of speed and accuracy.
Level: , pages
RefNr: GPI183313
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Fingerpicking Guitar Techniques
This book/3CD audio lesson is designed for the beginner and intermediate student. Basic fingerpicking styles are illustrated in all the major keys.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG20619BCD
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Delta Blues Guitar
The Mississippi Delta of the 1920s-1940s was a treasure chest of powerful blues performances. For the intermediate guitarist.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99467BCD
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MusicRoom
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Country Blues Guitar InOpen Tunings
From the alternating bass styles of Furry Lewis and Mississippi John Hurt to the evocative and haunting sounds of Skip James to the ragtime blues of Blind Blake.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99466BCD
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Country Blues Guitar
Country Blues Guitar styles span a wide horizon. In these three lessons the ideas and techniques of Rev. Gary Davis, Charley Jordan, Tommy Johnson and Mississippi John Hurt are presented.
Level: , pages
RefNr: SG99465BCD
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MusicRoom
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Legends of Country Blues Guitar
For fingerpick guitar. Presents a wide variety of great country blues arrangements.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB95269BCD
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Complete Country Blues Guitar Book
Mel Bay Complete - series. Over 50 fingerpicking guitar solos in notation and tabulature in country blues, Delta blues, ragtime blues, Texas blues and bottleneck styles.
Level: , pages
RefNr: MB94710BCD
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The Anthology of Country Blues Guitar
By Stefan Grossman. 14 exact transcriptions, in standard notation and tablature, of the music of four of the most important early blues guitarists:
Level: , pages
RefNr: WBF3174GTXCD
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Country Blues Guitar - Book
Book of the Month 2003-03
The first volume in Stefan's classic series on traditional blues guitar, with a particular emphasis on Mississippi John Hurt.
Level: , pages
RefNr: 0825601290
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