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Thread: Crosspicking Definition

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    Registered User Jordan Ramsey's Avatar
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    Default Crosspicking Definition

    "Crosspicking" is a word that first appeared in the 1970's to describe the flat picking technique created by Jesse McReynolds on mandolin, and later adapted to guitar by George Shuffler.

    The technique is an emulation of a three-finger "Scruggs-style" banjo roll with a single flat pick. The picking pattern covers three adjacent strings and incorporates two consecutive direction pick strokes. These consecutive down or consecutive up strokes, in the context of eighth-notes in quarter time (4/4 or 3/4), create a very specific syncopation by placing down (strong) strokes on weak beats. Syncopation is the defining characteristic of crosspicking.

    Jesse McReynolds' default pattern is based on the backward roll, DUU on string pattern 3 1 2. He most commonly plays a 3+3+2 note grouping for each 4/4 measure (DUU DUU DU on string pattern 312 312 31), creating syncopation by hitting a down stroke on the "and of 2"..... George Shuffler used the forward roll on guitar, DDU on 3 2 1. He would routinely keep a three-note roll going across the measure (3+3+3+3, etc.), creating syncopation in different places ("and of 2", "and of 1", "and of 4" etc.). This is a rough generalization, both players had many variations on the above description, but their respective styles were always based in these patterns. You will rarely, if ever, find cases where they switched up the rolls. Jesse is rooted in the backward roll, George always used the forward roll.

    Cross string picking (CSP), for lack of a better term, is the emulation of a crosspicking roll while using alternating pick direction. CSP happened after the McReynolds / Shuffler roll. It emulates the sound, but does not reproduce the syncopation created by the consecutive stroke picking patterns.

    Most flatpickers ingrain alternating pick direction as a default approach to playing smoothly across strings, so it is no surprise that many attempting to emulate the crosspicking sound would end up using CSP (either out of out of a lack of knowledge of the technique, or for ease of execution). The problem is that many players adopt the term without truly adopting the technique, which has "muddied the water" so to speak with the definition. CSP yields a very different articulation than true crosspicking, and creates no syncopation. This is the main case for distinction between the approaches. The word crosspicking was created and first used to describe the specific McReynolds/Shuffler approach, but today it's more often used as a "catch all" phrase for anytime two or more strings are ringing simultaneously on a mandolin or guitar. Even though there are similarities, a three note pattern across strings with alternate pick direction will sound nothing like a crosspicking roll. Here's what the late, great John McGann had to say about it:

    CROSSPICKING: Developed by master mandolinist Jesse McReynolds in emulation of the bluegrass banjo sounds of Earl Scruggs, but probably used for centuries in "world music". There are two basic patterns (imagine strings 4 3 2)- a reverse roll is DUUDUUDU strings 42342343. A forward roll would be DDUDDUDU strings 43243243.

    The strength of this style is that you are now able to play a strong syncopation by accenting the "and of 2" with a downstroke. Alternate picking does not give the same sound, as you'll hear and feel by experimenting. These patterns yield a 3+3+2 grouping across the measure, which adds a totally unique feel compared to alternate picking.

    Applying alternate picking patterns to the above crosspicking pattern does NOT make it crosspicking. True crosspicking is based on DDUDDUDU or DUUDUUDU patterns across the strings-not alternate picking
    .
    McReynolds-style, Shuffler-style, and alternate picking across strings can all sound very similar to one another, but they are all three very different in execution. The muscle memory required for each pattern is completely unique. Jesse and George primarily concentrated on their own respective methods, that's how they achieved such a high level of speed and fluidity. Most of the people I know who have developed true crosspicking to a high level tend to stick in one camp or the other. Not saying it's impossible to intermingle the styles, but it's extremely rare in real world players. This is the main reason that I do not advocate Mickey Cochran's (RIP) Crosspicking Techniques book as an intro to the style. His approach intermingles forward, backward, and alternating techniques, sometimes within the same arrangement. Mixing up patterns within the same solo/arrangement is not conducive to developing speed or consistency, and certainly does not represent the way that the originators of the style approached the technique. There are ideas and patterns in the book that would make for a nice addendum to someone already versed in a specific roll, but the book does not show a proper method for learning to crosspicking from the ground up. Unfortunately, Mickey's book is the only one in publication today with the word "Crosspicking" in the title, therefore, most people think it's the authority. If you truly want to learn McReynolds-style crosspicking, I recommend the out of print Jesse McReynolds book by Andy Statman, or Bluegrass Mandolin by Jack Tottle.

    I'll leave you with excerpts from another John McGann quote:

    Of course Dan Crary, Mike Marshall, Chris Thile are exemplary musicians, and they can call whatever they do whatever they want.
    So can anybody who just bought their first Morgan Monroe.

    The only reason I present that there is a distinction between alternate picking and crosspicking is that it yields different articulations. Articulation is a word that most plectrum players don't think about, but wind and bowed string players live there. It's the way the notes speak, and the rhythmic effect that the articulation has on the musical line being played.

    I am not only a musician, but also a teacher, and function, in Matt Glaser's words "as a clearing house for ideas". When someone is asking me, as a teacher, if it 'really makes a difference', it would be irresponsible for me to say 'whatever works, man...' The truth is obvious in the differences in the sound. Play the bridge of "Stoney Creek" with DUU style picking a la Jesse, and then with alternate picking. It is not the same.

    Someone usually rises at this point and says something like "well, if you were such a hot shot, you could put accents on the upstrokes to get the same effect". Theoretically-sure. In reality- downstrokes and upstrokes sound different

    Specific sounds sometimes require specific techniques. Anything else is an approximation. Life is short, so either 'close enough' is OK, or life is too short for 'close enough'.

    Is it micro-dweeby, micro-nerdy to be so (pun intended) picky? I don't know, is it micro-nerdy when your carpenter, plumber, car mechanic, dentist, surgeon really pays attention to the fine points and details? Is Jackson Pollack the same as Magritte?

    Whether you agree or think I'm just a windbag, I wish everyone great fun and great music.
    And, as always, YMMV.

    Sources:
    Bluegrass Masters: Jesse McReynolds, by Andy Statman
    Blugrass Mandolin, by Jack Tottle
    John McGann's old website
    Mandolin Café Forums
    A lot of listening and playing
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Thank you Jordan...this is a great explanation and clears up the difference between crossing strings and cross picking...I realized I've incorrectly used the term cross picking on occassion after reading this! thank you for the time put into this post...very valubale!

    take care...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jordan Ramsey View Post
    "Crosspicking" is a word that first appeared in the 1970's to describe the flat picking technique created by Jesse McReynolds on mandolin, and later adapted to guitar by George Shuffler.

    The technique is an emulation of a three-finger "Scruggs-style" banjo roll with a single flat pick. The picking pattern covers three adjacent strings and incorporates two consecutive direction pick strokes. These consecutive down or consecutive up strokes, in the context of eighth-notes in quarter time (4/4 or 3/4), create a very specific syncopation by placing down (strong) strokes on weak beats. Syncopation is the defining characteristic of crosspicking.

    Jesse McReynolds' default pattern is based on the backward roll, DUU on string pattern 3 1 2. He most commonly plays a 3+3+2 note grouping for each 4/4 measure (DUU DUU DU on string pattern 312 312 31), creating syncopation by hitting a down stroke on the "and of 2"..... George Shuffler used the forward roll on guitar, DDU on 3 2 1. He would routinely keep a three-note roll going across the measure (3+3+3+3, etc.), creating syncopation in different places ("and of 2", "and of 1", "and of 4" etc.). This is a rough generalization, both players had many variations on the above description, but their respective styles were always based in these patterns. You will rarely, if ever, find cases where they switched up the rolls. Jesse is rooted in the backward roll, George always used the forward roll.

    Cross string picking (CSP), for lack of a better term, is the emulation of a crosspicking roll while using alternating pick direction. CSP happened after the McReynolds / Shuffler roll. It emulates the sound, but does not reproduce the syncopation created by the consecutive stroke picking patterns.

    Most flatpickers ingrain alternating pick direction as a default approach to playing smoothly across strings, so it is no surprise that many attempting to emulate the crosspicking sound would end up using CSP (either out of out of a lack of knowledge of the technique, or for ease of execution). The problem is that many players adopt the term without truly adopting the technique, which has "muddied the water" so to speak with the definition. CSP yields a very different articulation than true crosspicking, and creates no syncopation. This is the main case for distinction between the approaches. The word crosspicking was created and first used to describe the specific McReynolds/Shuffler approach, but today it's more often used as a "catch all" phrase for anytime two or more strings are ringing simultaneously on a mandolin or guitar. Even though there are similarities, a three note pattern across strings with alternate pick direction will sound nothing like a crosspicking roll. Here's what the late, great John McGann had to say about it:



    McReynolds-style, Shuffler-style, and alternate picking across strings can all sound very similar to one another, but they are all three very different in execution. The muscle memory required for each pattern is completely unique. Jesse and George primarily concentrated on their own respective methods, that's how they achieved such a high level of speed and fluidity. Most of the people I know who have developed true crosspicking to a high level tend to stick in one camp or the other. Not saying it's impossible to intermingle the styles, but it's extremely rare in real world players. This is the main reason that I do not advocate Mickey Cochran's (RIP) Crosspicking Techniques book as an intro to the style. His approach intermingles forward, backward, and alternating techniques, sometimes within the same arrangement. Mixing up patterns within the same solo/arrangement is not conducive to developing speed or consistency, and certainly does not represent the way that the originators of the style approached the technique. There are ideas and patterns in the book that would make for a nice addendum to someone already versed in a specific roll, but the book does not show a proper method for learning to crosspicking from the ground up. Unfortunately, Mickey's book is the only one in publication today with the word "Crosspicking" in the title, therefore, most people think it's the authority. If you truly want to learn McReynolds-style crosspicking, I recommend the out of print Jesse McReynolds book by Andy Statman, or Bluegrass Mandolin by Jack Tottle.

    I'll leave you with excerpts from another John McGann quote:



    And, as always, YMMV.

    Sources:
    Bluegrass Masters: Jesse McReynolds, by Andy Statman
    Blugrass Mandolin, by Jack Tottle
    John McGann's old website
    Mandolin Café Forums
    A lot of listening and playing

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I had looked at the Jesse McReynolds book many years ago, and I always thought the definition included (although I see it does not) the notion of combining high-fretted strings with open strings such that you might go from one string to a lower but the result would be going from one note to a higher note.

    For example, if you fretted 12 9 0 0 and picked DUU DUU on the 423 strings, you are simply playing the first three ascending notes of a g scale (g a b). While I found the picking pattern fairly easy, it was jarring to my ear to get a higher note when playing a lower string - kind of like doing something in the mirror and having things go the opposite of what you might expect.

    At any rate, thanks for enlightening.
    Bobby Bill

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by bobby bill View Post
    I had looked at the Jesse McReynolds book many years ago, and I always thought the definition included (although I see it does not) the notion of combining high-fretted strings with open strings such that you might go from one string to a lower but the result would be going from one note to a higher note.

    For example, if you fretted 12 9 0 0 and picked DUU DUU on the 423 strings, you are simply playing the first three ascending notes of a g scale (g a b). While I found the picking pattern fairly easy, it was jarring to my ear to get a higher note when playing a lower string - kind of like doing something in the mirror and having things go the opposite of what you might expect.

    At any rate, thanks for enlightening.
    Hi Bobby, Jesse certainly gets the melodic notes he wants by utilizing high-fretted notes on lower strings, I would say he plays "up the neck" more than in first position when crosspicking. My main goal with the post was to define the word in terms of articulation and syncopation, not specifics on note choices, licks, etc.
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Good to see this here.
    I think the problem comes from people hearing the term 'cross-picking' for the subset that covers, then using it to apply to apply to the whole area of rolls and patterns on the mandolin.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Thanks Jordan! That's a great description and history of the technique!

    I think an issue with this term (maybe it's not an issue but it certainly leads to debates on this forum), is that I have heard professional players (Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton, Mike Marshall, David Grier, I'm sure there are more), who are obviously the best of the best on their instruments, use the term "cross picking" to refer generally to three string patterns or rolls. All of those players use alternate picking for these patterns instead of DUU or DDU. For example, there are videos online of Bryan Sutton and David Grier describing the "cross picking section" of Beaumont Rag. They proceed to show you how they do it using alternate picking technique. I've seen Chris Thile do the same on his instructional video.

    It doesn't matter what I think, but it seems like the generally accepted definition nowadays for cross picking is for three string (or any multi string) repeating patterns regardless of whether or not it's done with DDU or DUU or alternate picking.

    I agree that the original definition applies to the McReynolds and Shuffler techniques described above, but if Chris Thile were to teach me cross picking with an alternating pick stroke technique I'm not gonna argue that he doesn't know what he's talking about

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    In case it helps anyone else; for my own clarity I'm trying to make sure I always refer to a "string sequence" and a "picking pattern" as two distinct things as it helps me when trying to explain what I'm doing. So for my head I think of a roll as being made up of a picking pattern applied to a string sequence. Then I'm only referring to cross-picking when I'm aiming for that pattern sub set applied to a string sequence that will work for that effect.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I asked David Grier whether he used DDU, McReynold's Roll or Alternating Rolls when he did crosspicking.

    He said "Yes."

    Then he demonstrated two or three other out of the box, unconventional patterns and said he was always inventing new ones.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    I asked David Grier whether he used DDU, McReynold's Roll or Alternating Rolls when he did crosspicking.

    He said "Yes."

    Then he demonstrated two or three other out of the box, unconventional patterns and said he was always inventing new ones.
    I bet that's Carl Miner. If so, love your picking, man. Hope to pick some tunes with you someday. Funny you should respond (if that is you), the Troy Grady video was one of the main reasons I chose to start this thread. No disrespect, your playing speaks for itself. But, you have to admit that Troy takes a pretty big leap with his terminology. Killer video, love the camera mount, great footage and picking. But, pretty far off the mark in terms of how he uses the word crosspicking. Just one more example of how this term has been misinterpreted by someone who will influence how other people use this term. My aim is to try to keep the word and the original style from getting lost in a sea of confusion and inclusion.

    As for Grier, he is a freak. So is Thile. Those guys could play any pattern they want at whatever speed required, and call it whatever they want. All I'm saying is that the general understanding of the word crosspicking is all over the place today, mostly because of decades of homogenous usage. My goal is clarity and respect for the origins of the style. If David keeps inventing patterns and classifying all of them as crosspicking, more power to him. I bet it will sound awesome. But it's a clear cut example of how loose use of the term by a monster player is leading the general public to believe that crosspicking is "anytime two strings are ringing together", or whatever. That definition is too far removed from the original meaning, IMO. At least from a specialists or educators standpoint.

    My point is the same as it was in the first post. Lots of top-tier players, for decades, have been adopting the term crosspicking to describe picking patterns that are intrinsically different from the patterns of those who originated the style. Does that mean the word has to constantly grow to accommodate what people think it should mean? Maybe. Seems to be going that way, especially with so many high-level players using the terminology inclusively. I will continue to define crosspicking as the syncopated style created by Jesse McReynolds, your mileage (and definition) may vary. All the best.
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    My opinion is that one should never seek to be too rigid in one's definitions! First and foremost, "cross-picking" was defined (at least according to some!) as what Jesse McReynolds did, which involved two upstrokes, back-to-back, as he crossed over strings in a flatpicked roll pattern (DUU-DUU-DU). OK. But then, George Shuffler did something else, which involved two downstrokes, back-to-back, as he crossed over strings in a different flatpicked roll pattern (DDU-DDU-DU). So you folks extended the working definition to include both of these patterns, but want to exclude all others for some reason. In fact, the word "cross" in "cross-picking" refers to movement "across" the strings in a pattern. That's where it comes from. It does NOT come from the up- or down-sequences of the strokes. And we know, from listening, that many great players are able to emphasize any notes in a sequence that they like, irrespective of whether these happen to be upstrokes or downstrokes. So it is not helpful to claim, and contrary to fact, that one cannot achieve the proper "lilt" or "syncopation" in a pattern across strings that strictly alternates down and up (DUD-UDU-DU). Hogwash, I say!

    As Beanzy pointed out, it's all about the string sequence, not the right-hand pattern.

    Of course, folk are free to use words like "cross-picking" as they please. Language is a living, changing thing, after all, and not some rigid code. Thank goodness for that, I say. But increasingly, mandolinists and guitarists need to be prepared to hear the word "cross-picking" in reference to a picking pattern that crosses over three (and sometimes all four!) strings, irrespective of the upstrokes or downstrokes. And that includes strict down-up alternation. That's just how people are using the term these days. It may seem like an unwarranted extension of the meaning to a few of you traditionalists, but it's fully consistent with the meaning of the underlying words, "cross" and "picking."

  19. #11

    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I am not Carl Miner though I agree about his picking. I wish I picked to his level.

    I understand your desire to respect the roots of the style. I go back and listen to George Shuffler every so often to remind myself. The picking Doc Watson did that is usually referred to as crosspicking is definitely alternating. He calls that crosspicking on instructional video from the 1970s or 1980s so the shift in terms is not completely new.

    But the discussion with David was one of two real eye openers for me about approaches to that kind of picking, whatever term you might wish to use. David spent some time discussing accent and pick direction as well, most of it beyond my ability but helpful in knowing what to try to achieve. The other real eye opening thing I encountered was in a workshop with John Jorgenson where he responded to a question I asked about DDU crosspicking. He gave a 10 dollar answer to a 50 cent question as he demonstrated alternating, ddu, duu, referrring to all as crosspicking then showing them across two as well as three strings. Then he extended it so show a bunch of Django Reinhardt licks involving different rolls like DDDU, DDDUU, DDDDUU, etc with different accents. The point both he and Grier were making was to not limit yourself while having respect for those traditions.

    These guys are all innovators and maybe a different term is needed for what they do. Some of the things Jorgenson demonstrated are things I would have a difficult time calling crosspicking but I am glad he showed them.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    sblock,

    I'm with Jordan Ramsey on this one. It's not just about the string sequence, the right hand pattern is the crux of the style Mr. Ramsey describes/defines as "Crosspicking". The alternating string picking across a set of strings is something else, and perfectly fine, but not crosspicking as I've (and many others) come to know. Again, this about the definitions. If terms can't be agreed upon then you can't have the same understandings for conversation. This seems like this topic was beaten around a few years ago and seems all to déjà vu...

    http://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/sh...39#post1011239

    Incidentally, I think of multiple string crossing, especially in Django style that CarlM references, as "sweep" picking, and that's a horse of a different color all together.

    Robert

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    am i right in thinking the rhythm for cross picking would be 1-2-3, 1-2-3. 1-2?

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I have seen the Statman book on McRenyolds cross picking and to me it seems that the basic "roll" is DUU but just like a banjo there are times when that has to change to make the timing work. The tabs in the book seem to show that, I wish I owned the book so I could refresh my memory, but the copy I had was from a library, loaned from another library. Anyway what makes cross picking to me is the the timing, there should be the same time between each note, just like a banjo roll, when one is learning the roll on a banjo there is a tendency to play thumb, first finger, second finger as compleat then start again, resulting in a "gallop". If doing that roll with a flat pick wether DUU or DDU the roll must be correct, the syncopation is for emphasis. Shuffler said that on a guitar you could not get that syncopation with DUU, but you can, maybe Shuffler can't because he has always done it the other way, but the syncopation is what makes the roll music, just as on a banjo.I too don't like to hear something called crosspickin just because they skipped ( or crossed) over a string or two. The rhythm makes it cross picking.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by sblock View Post
    As Beanzy pointed out, it's all about the string sequence, not the right-hand pattern.
    That's not actually what I said.
    I'm saying that you combine a string sequence with the picking pattern to get the required results. Cross-picking as Jordan defined it so clearly is one possibility, or one subsection within the whole exercise of executing rolls on the mandolin with a plectrum. The terminology problem seems to stem from having a term for the subsection, but no proper title in use for the overall activity. It's only natural that people would reach for the strongly descriptive term "cross-picking" and appropriate it as the generic term for the wider activity.
    I don't think we can avoid its eventual transformation into a generic term from the specific use it has had, unless there is a better one which becomes available. I think that's what we're witnessing here. I think it's probably too late to pull it back so we're possibly going to end up with something like McReynolds Cross-picking" eventually in order to regain clarity.
    Eoin



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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I think we do need to work for a vocabulary, like having double-stops named as uptent, stretchy, bar- this is really good. And the social, historical and cultural side of the music need to be recognised too. I like the idea of using the name McReynolds or a region or county name to describe picking patterns.

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  28. #17

    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by Beanzy View Post
    ... I don't think we can avoid its eventual transformation into a generic term from the specific use it has had, unless there is a better one which becomes available. I think that's what we're witnessing here. I think it's probably too late to pull it back so we're possibly going to end up with something like McReynolds Cross-picking" eventually in order to regain clarity.
    "triplets" or "arpeggio" sounds too vague.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Yep, and the triplets are followed by a pair which shifts the emphasis for McReynolds cross-picking, so it wouldn't describe the actual patern or sequence for any of the rolls. For arpeggios it is a spread out sequence so wouldn't get the string cross and is already in use usually for as many strings as the chord has notes, so they wouldn't be accurate either. Maybe something like pick-rolls or pick-rolling would do the job (as against finger rolls) , but how the heck you rollback time to get that accepted in use I don't know. 🤔
    Eoin



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  30. #19

    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    I think we do need to work for a vocabulary, like having double-stops named as uptent, stretchy, bar- this is really good. And the social, historical and cultural side of the music need to be recognised too. I like the idea of using the name McReynolds or a region or county name to describe picking patterns.
    an italian player called it "american style picking."

  31. #20

    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Not to nitpick but triplets are different. Triplets are three notes during one beat. In crosspicking the three notes are given normal timing. Arpeggio is a fair term but is a little broader and covers more.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by atsunrise View Post
    And the social, historical and cultural side of the music need to be recognised too. I like the idea of using the name McReynolds or a region or county name to describe picking patterns.
    I agree. It would seem obvious that the term 'cross picking' is bound to get applied to techniques other than J. McReynolds' developed style.

    Maybe, like "Travis Picking" we could call DUU "Jesse McReynolds Picking". I think most everyone would agree to what that meant.

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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Ok. So I'm a newbie and wondered what 'crosspicking' is so I read all of these posts. Not sure if it's any clearer at this point (but thanks for trying gents).

  35. #23
    Registered User Galileo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Achy Bonz,

    Well, it's a little bit of a contested topic on the Cafe.

    One school believes it is a fairly strict definition of the style Jesse Mc Reynolds created to emulate a banjo roll. In general, the pattern would be for an eight note grouping (1 measure) on strings 321,321,31 with a pick stroke of D-U-U, D-U, D-U. Guitarist George Shuffler used a very similar approach.

    The other school wants to open up the definition to include any picking pattern, alternating pick strokes of D-U-D-U or not, across a three string grouping.

    For many, including myself, the term Crosspicking will always be used to distinguish the Jesse McReynolds’ style. The debate won’t be resolved anytime soon...

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  37. #24
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    Quote Originally Posted by Achy Bonz View Post
    Ok. So I'm a newbie and wondered what 'crosspicking' is so I read all of these posts. Not sure if it's any clearer at this point (but thanks for trying gents).
    Here is a clear definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crosspicking

    If you want to follow the strict definition as Jordan proposes, just ignore the paragraph that begins: "The other way is using strict alternate picking: down - up - down / up - down - up..." as that approach does not count as cross picking when using the original definition - it doesn't sound quite the same as using down - down - up (DDU) or down - up - up (DUU). FYI, when we're saying "alternate picking" we mean a down stroke, followed by an up stroke, followed by a down stroke, continuously: down - up - down - up - down - up etc.

    If you want to have a very lose definition (even looser than including the alternate picking approach), then you can allow the definition to include more than three strings (which could only be four on mandolin but could be as many as six on guitar). If you follow this definition, then you're saying that cross picking is any repeating pattern involving three or more strings where you are picking one note per string (and usually try to let the other strings ring out).

    The gypsy jazz style of picking talked about above is sometimes called sweep picking and is not cross picking. I have never heard of anyone calling this cross picking so there shouldn't be much confusion here. If you want to know what sweep picking is, just YouTube it. Heavy metal guitarists use it all the time. It's not really used much on mandolin as far as I'm aware.

    Jordan's first post very clearly defines what cross picking is. Really, the only debate is whether or not cross string picking (CSP), which is really the same thing as cross picking except that alternating pick strokes are used, should be included in the cross picking definition or not. Most modern players (David Grier, Chris Thile, Mike Marshall, etc.) as well as Doc Watson (RIP) (these are just a few examples) would count CSP as cross picking as long as they are still playing a three string roll (one note per string) - although some of them may also use an even looser definition. They would not exclude CSP from cross picking just because they may choose to use alternate pick strokes rather than a DDU pattern. Just to be clear, the same strings and the same notes are being picked - the issue about the definition is how those strings are picked (alternating vs DDU or DUU).

    Clear as mud?

  38. #25
    Registered User Jordan Ramsey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Crosspicking Definition

    I know this is a mess, believe me that the intent of this thread was to inject some clarity. My opinion is pedantic, but from an educational standpoint, it makes sense. Different movements, different sounds, different techniques require different names in the teaching world. In the performance world, definitions are less important, sound is king. When Doc adopted the term crosspicking to his alternating approach, no one questioned the description. Folks weren't overanalyzing this stuff, the word crosspicking was just a general descriptor of a sound. There was no need for distinction. It sounded similar to McReynolds and Shuffler style, it was crosspicking.

    As an educator, there is a reason to make a distinction.

    Anyway, enough online debating for me for a while. All the best.
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