I heard this tune for the first time around 2015, then didn’t hear it again until maybe a month ago. I forgot how much fun this tune is and it’s a shame how under called it is at jams – so today I’m going to cover Chinquapin (pronounced Chick A Pin) Hunting. In case you’re wondering – a Chinquapin is the nut of a dwarf chestnut tree. I’m not sure how you hunt a nut but that’s what this song apparently is about. So there’s that.
There are two staple versions of this song – I’ve heard one called the Old Time version and another called the Bluegrass version. They are both tons of fun, but today we’re going to review the Bluegrass version. I’ll dive in to the Old Time version in a future song breakdown (it’s a great dance tune!)
Here’s the mandolin sheet music for this breakdown – Chinquapin Hunting Full Breakdown.
The first step to learning is listening – so here’s a few versions I like
The Bluegrass version of Chinquapin Hunting is a simple AABB song meaning you’ll play the A Part twice and the B Part twice.
Mandolin Sheet Music: Chords and Melody
The melody is pretty straight forward for both the A and B parts.
The A Part is basically the same 4 measures repeated.
The B part has a slight variation from the first 4 measures to the next 4 measures. In measure 13, you could use the variation I have here (from the Triston Scroggins version) or play the same melody line from measure 11.
Below are three variations on the main melody. The first is what I would call the “basic” version – this is probably the easiest one to play. The second is the “low melody” followed by the “high melody”. Learning these three variations on the basic melody will really help you understand where the melody “lives” on the fretboard. You can use these different timbres to help spice up the main melody or your solos. Try mixing and matching the variations and etc. Note the B part on the High Melody variation can also be shifted to start with your 3rd finger on the 14th fret of the A string. See if you can play the melody in that position too!
Like the melody, the A part of this song is pretty straight forward. The chords bounce from D for one measure then A for one measure, then D for one measure followed by 2 beats of A, then 2 beats of D.
The B Part uses a Gmaj7 chord for three measures, then one measure of A. I know a lot of variations that don’t use the Gmaj7, but I think that particular chord really helps this song standout. If you don’t know what a Major 7 chord is, check out the Chord Shapes series here. I really suggest you use a Major 7 here.
I’ve included 3 chord voicing variations in my Full Breakdown.
Chinquapin Hunting may not the most common tune out there for jams, but it’s a lot of fun to play (likely in part because it’s not overplayed!). The G Major 7 in this tune makes it really interesting as few other bluegrass tunes use major 7th chords.
If you have any questions or comments on this song breakdown, please leave a comment below. If you are liking the song breakdowns and want to learn more, check out my personal coaching page.
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