Song Of The Week
The song of the week is 'Angeline The Baker', a key of D fiddle tune.
Here are a couple of good youtube links to listen to for Angeline The Baker:
Alison Krauss (starts at about the 4 minute mark)
Form & Progression
Angeline The Baker is a standard length AABB fiddle tune. By that, I mean that each part of the tune is 8 measures long, and that there are 2 parts to the tune, called the A-Part and the B-Part respectively. Each part is played twice before going on to the next part. So this means that each break for the tune is 32 measures long. (8x4) Other tunes on the song lists that have this same form are: Boil The Cabbage Down, Buffalo Gals, Soldier's Joy, Liza Jane, and Old Joe Clark.
The chord progression is the same for both parts of Angeline The Baker:
In the key of D: 1=D, and 4=G
There is no standardized order in which the two parts of the tune are played.
When asking the person leading the tune which part they intend to start with, it does no good to ask: Do you start with the A-Part or the B-Part?, because whichever part is played first is, by definition, the A-Part, and whichever part is played second is, by definition, the B-Part. However, the two parts can be distinguished from one another by calling them the low part and the high part. Like most AABB fiddle tunes, one part of Angeline The Baker starts on a higher note than the other part, and is overall higher in pitch than the other part.
When I call Angeline The Baker at a jam, I almost always start the tune with the high part. For this reason, in the melody sheets attached here, the high part is written as the A Part and the low part is written as the B Part.
Since the chord progression is the same for both parts of 'Angeline', and since, in Bluegrass jam arrangements of this tune (as distinguished from Old Time arrangements), it is usually only one person who plays the lead at a time, the need will rarely arise at a bluegrass jam to know in advance which part the leader intends on starting with. This is just as much the case at our beginner jam: for even though we do collective breaks in which all instruments of the same kind play their breaks at once, the person who starts the tune off gets to play through the form once (AABB) with no one else playing a break along with him. (During the first pass through the tune, everyone else besides the person who kicked off the tune should be playing backup.)
Nevertheless, it is important to pay attention to which part the tune starts with, the lower part or the higher part, for each person who does a break on the tune will be expected to play the parts in the same order as the person who kicked off the song. This is standard practice in bluegrass jams, and this procedure helps to minimize confusion.
The chord progression is unusual for bluegrass in that it does not have a 5 chord. In the key of D, this means that there is no A chord.
Concerning the attached melody sheets
Some guitar players prefer to play 'Angeline The Baker' without a capo, whereas others prefer to play it with the capo on the 2nd fret and then play it as if in the key of C (In the key of C: 1=C, and 4=F) The same is true of 3 finger-style banjo players, except that they will usually have their 5th string tuned up to an A note (spiked or capoed at the 7th fret) regardless of whether they have a capo on the 2nd fret of their four long strings. I have included in the attachments, guitar and banjo tabs of the melody of the tune written in both the key of D and in the key of C. You might wish to try it playing it both ways, and see which way you like best.
You might notice that there are fewer notes on the banjo tabs than on the rest of the melody sheets. The reason for this is because most Scruggs-style banjo players tend to choose to play other notes in place of the melody notes in these spots that are more convenient to grab in the context of one of the standard picking patterns (rolls) that characterize Scruggs-style playing, but the exact choice of notes in these spots differs from player to player. A similar thing tends to be true also of Clawhammer banjo arrangements of Angeline The Baker.
The basic melody for Angeline The Baker is pentatonic. That is, it consists of 5 notes: major scale degrees 1,2,3,5, and 6. In the key of D, that means it consists of the notes D, E, F#, A, and B. (In the key of C, the five notes of the major pentatonic scale are: C, D, E, G, and A.)
The range of 'Angeline' is relatively narrow for a fiddle tune. The range spans exactly one octave. The lowest note is the 5th scale degree (A), and the highest note is the 5th scale degree an octave higher (A). So, in ascending order of pitch, the notes are 5,6,1,2,3,5: A,B,D,E,F#,A. (In 'C', those notes would be instead: G,A,C,D,E,G.) The range of the low part is even narrower than that. Its highest note is the 3rd scale degree (F#).
Tunes with such a narrow range can easily be played in two different octaves on fiddle, mandolin, and guitar (this is not so much the case with banjo). For, these three instruments each have 'A' notes in three different octaves that can be found on the instruments within the first five frets (or, on fiddle, in 'first position') Most guitar, mandolin, and fiddle players who learn to play Angeline The Baker learn to play it in the higher of the two readily accessible octaves. For those of you who already play the tune, you might try working out a break an octave lower than how you usually play it, as a variation to have up your sleeve when, at a jam, you get called on to play more than one break during the tune. Or, since we do collective breaks at the beginner jam, where all the fiddle players play their breaks at the same time, all the mandolin players play their breaks at the same time, etc., if you have worked out a break in the lower octave, it can be effective to play this while someone else is playing their break in the higher octave. For this reason, I have included in the attachments melody sheets in both octaves for fiddle, mandolin and guitar.
One final point about the tune. Unlike most tunes, the last note of the melody does not have the same letter name as the key the tune is played in. Instead of ending on a 'D' note (the 1st scale degree), each part of Angeline ends on an 'A' note (the 5th scale degree), the lowest note of its range.
Jason's Beginner Jam Blog 2017 - 2018
Songs regularly called at the Beginner Bluegrass Jam and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order