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Banjo tablatures for Cumberland Gap

Earl Scruggs

Recomended level: Intermediate

Tags: #banjo tune, #old time, #fiddle tune, #up-tempo

"Cumberland Gap" is an Appalachian society melody that reasonably dates to the last half of the nineteenth century and was first recorded in 1924. The melody is ordinarily played on banjo or fiddle, but there are two variants of the song, which are the instrumental forms and the form with verses. It is an adaptation of the tune in the 1934 book, American Ballads and Folk Songs, by society melody authority John Lomax. Woody Guthrie recorded a variant of the tune at his Folkways sessions in the mid-1940s, and the melody saw a resurgence in fame with the ascent of twang and the American society music restoration in the 1950s. In 1957, the British artist Lonnie Donegan had a No. 1 U.K. hit with a skiffle form of "Cumberland Gap." The melody's title alludes to the Cumberland Gap, a mountain hole in the Appalachian Mountains at the crossroads of the conditions of Tennessee, Virginia, and Kentucky. The hole was utilized in the last half of the eighteenth century by westbound bound vagrants going from the first 13 American settlements to the Trans-Appalachian outskirts. During the U.S. Common War (1861–1865), Union and Confederate armed forces occupied with a year-long to and fro battle for control of the gap. North Carolina vocalist Bascom Lamar Lunsford (1882–1973), recording his "memory accumulation" for the Archive of American Folk Song in March 1949, recommended that "Cumberland Gap" might be an "accelerated" adaptation of the tune that once went with the anthem Bonnie George Campbell. There are other versions of the song done by various artists.

  • Banjo Cumberland Gap Scruggs Style

    Scruggs Style

    A classic Earl Scruggs arrangement of Cumberland Gap that is a must-learn for any beginner/intermediate banjo player!

    Banjo Cumberland Gap Scruggs Style
  • Banjo Cumberland Gap Melodic Style

    Melodic Style

    The melodic arrangement of Cumberland Gap features fluid melodic licks dispersed between the original Scruggs melodic. The B section is especially cool!

    Banjo Cumberland Gap Melodic Style
  • Banjo Cumberland Gap Backup


    In this arrangement of Cumberland Gap, the A section demonstrates rolling backup down the neck, and the B section shows how to spice up your backup when playing in the high register.

    Banjo Cumberland Gap Backup