The song of the week is 'Sally Goodin', an old-time fiddle tune that is traditionally played in the key of A.
J.D. Crowe & The New South - key of A (fiddle is featured, with short banjo and guitar breaks in the middle)
Flatt & Scruggs - key of G (banjo is featured, with 2 short fiddle breaks)
Flatt & Scruggs - key of A (fiddle is featured, with banjo and dobro breaks)
Byron Berline, John Hickman & John Moore - key of A (fiddle is featured, with extended banjo and guitar breaks in the middle)
Bill Monroe & Doc Watson - key of A (mandolin is featured, with guitar breaks and a bit of vocal)
Boone Creek - key of A (fiddle is featured, with banjo, dobro and mandolin breaks)
In the attached melody sheets, I have presented Sally Goodin as a straightforward AABB fiddle tune with short 4 measure parts like Cripple Creek, Cluck Old Hen, and Shortnin' Bread. However, most good recorded versions of Sally Goodin deviate from this form, often doubling up one or both of the parts at certain points within the arrangement; and more often than not, the tune will end with the A Part, rather than with the B Part. Furthermore, many of the variations that are commonly played for this tune do not have enough in common with the melody of either part for it to be clear which part the variation is being played for.
At last night's jam, each break, except the last, was played as AABBAABB. The last break was played as AABBAAAA. This is how I intend to structure our playing of Sally Goodin at the jam until I see that enough people at the jam are ready to start making use of some of the types of variations that do not fit easily into this form. At that point, we can try using some freer, less rigid, forms for the tune.
As there is nothing in most versions of the melody (or in many of even the most wild variations on the parts) that implies a chord change away from the 1 chord, Sally Goodin could easily be played as a one-chord song. It can also be played as a six-chord song with chord changes (including some diminished chords) occurring nearly every half measure. (The Boone Creek recording provides a good example of this in some of its sections.) But, for the purposes of our jams, the chord progression for Sally Goodin is (for both of its parts): 1 1 1 5/1.
In the attachments I have given just one of many possible versions of the basic melody of Sally Goodin (plus a typical down-the-neck Scruggs-style break for banjo players). Whether or not one chooses to make use of this version of the melody (or, in the case of Scruggs-style banjo players, the banjo break given here) I highly recommend getting solid on some version of the basic melody (or, once again for Scruggs-style banjo players, some typical Scruggs-style break) before attempting to do anything like the kinds of variations one commonly hears on recordings of the tune.
Notice that the version of the melody given here for the A Part is entirely major pentatonic, with the lowest note being the 5th note of the major scale, and the highest note being the 3rd note of the major scale. This contrasts with the melody given here for the first three measures of the B Part, which, for the most part, simply runs up and down the first six notes of the major scale. Guitar players may find that the A Part (so long as the notes are confined to the 3rd and 4th strings, as written in the guitar melody tab attached here) makes for a good economy of motion exercise for the index and ring fingers of the fretting hand.
A good next step is to work on developing one's version of the basic melody into a melody-based bluegrass break, before jumping ahead to learning variations. On fiddle, for instance, one might among other things (under the influence of good bluegrass recordings of the tune) work on droning an A note (pinky finger on the D string) along with the melody notes in the A Part that are played on the A string. Another good thing to do, on fiddle and mandolin, is to work on playing the melody for the A-Part an octave higher than written in the attachments, by going up to 3rd position: A, B, and C# notes on the E string; E and F# notes on the A string. The high-octave A Part melody forms the basis for some of the common variations on the A Part.
And, of course, don't neglect to make sure that you can smoothly get into your break from an 8 Potato Intro and that you can go into a double ending after your break when you are ready to end the tune. On fiddle, an excellent choice of notes for an 8 Potato intro for Sally Goodin are the A note on the D string (pinky finger) played together as a double stop with the C# note on the A string (middle finger). This sets one up perfectly for playing the A Part with an A note drone on the D string as described previously.
While Scruggs-style banjo players who already have a certain amount of experience playing up the neck breaks will probably want to have an up the neck break worked up for Sally Goodin along the lines of the more common ones heard on the recordings, I advise banjo players to give a lower priority to this, and a higher priority to working on getting their backup playing for Sally Goodin as solid as possible. The drony character of Scruggs-style rolls and licks make the banjo ideally suited to being a primary backup instrument for fiddle on tunes that have no (or only occasional) explicit chord changes. The recordings provided here demonstrate this quite well. Notice that both the J.D. Crowe & The New South and the Boone Creek recordings start with fiddle breaks in which the banjo is the sole backup instrument, and even after the rest of the band comes in, the banjo remains prominent in the mix.
The first recorded version of Sally Goodin (Eck Robertson, 1922) was an old-time solo fiddle arrangement that included many variations, and some of these variations deviated quite significantly from the version of the basic melody established at the beginning of the arrangement. The influence of these variations is evident in the fiddle breaks played by Ricky Skaggs on the J.D. Crowe & The New South and the Boone Creek recordings of Sally Goodin, and in the fiddle breaks played by Byron Berline on the live performance provided in the recordings section.
Eck Robertson - key of A
Here's the original Flatt & Scruggs recording of Flint Hill Special:
'Sally Goodin' was the first fiddle tune that I ever heard on a Bluegrass record (actually, on a cassette tape that Chris Stevens, the banjo player mentioned earlier here) gave to me. This is the version that was on that tape:
Here is a more straightforward version of the same tune from an album that every Scruggs-style and aspiring Scruggs-style banjo player ought to have in their music collection:
Flatt & Scruggs: