Nine Pound Hammer
Good jam last night!
The song of the week is Nine Pound Hammer in the key of A.
Here are a couple of good youtube links of Nine Pound Hammer to listen to:
Tony Rice - key of A
Lonesome River Band - key of B
Guitar and banjo players who wish to play along with this second link can capo to the 4th fret and play as if playing in G. For fiddle, mandolin, and bass players who wish to give playing in B a try, the 1, 4, and 5 chords in the key of B are: 1=B, 4=E. 5=F#. The B chord consists of the notes: B,D#, and F#; the E chord: E, G#, and B; the F# chord: F#, A#, and C#.
Remember, on youtube you can adjust the tempo by clicking on settings, and then clicking on 'speed'.
The chord progression for the verses (the second half of which can be thought of as a chorus) and for the breaks for 'Nine Pound Hammer' is:
Notice that this progression is simply the second half - played through twice - of other more commonly occurring progressions. E.g., the progression for 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow', 'A Memory Of You', and 'Wreck Of The Old '97'. (Prog. V7 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout)
or, the progression for 'Mama Don't Allow', 'Red River Valley', and 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain'. (Prog. V2):
In the key of A: 1=A; 4=D; 5=E
The A chord consists of the notes: A, C#, and E; the D chord consists of: D, F#, and A; and the E chord consists of: E, G#, and B.
Banjo players and most guitar players will wish to capo to the 2nd fret to play in A; so the key that they will be thinking in will be G.
In the key of G: 1=G; 4=C; 5=D
The G chord consists of the notes: G, B, and D; the C chord: C, E, and G; the D chord: D, F#, and A
While the intro break for the song should follow the melody closely enough to make it clear what song is being played before the first verse is sung, Nine Pound Hammer lends itself quite well to lick-oriented improvised breaks that may deviate considerably from the melody. (See especially the first youtube link below for examples of this.) This is a good song to use as a means for practicing any licks that you may have in your repertoire that fit over a line of 1144 or a line of 1511 for the key that you are playing the song in.
In the melody sheets attached here, notice that the first three notes of the melody of 'Nine Pound Hammer' are quarter notes, and that they occur before the first complete measure of the tune. (In cut common time, i.e., 2/2 time, as well as in common time, i.e., 4/4 time, 3 quarter notes make up only three-quarters of a complete measure.) Make it a point to remember these notes, because they will be useful for starting your intro breaks for many other songs that, like 'Nine Pound Hammer', also have as their first melody note in their first complete measure the note that has the same name as both the key that the song is being played in, and the first chord played in the song.
In the key of A, these three quarter notes are: E, E, F#, and the first note of the first complete measure is an A note.
In the key of G, these three quarter notes are: D, D, E, and the first note of the first complete measure is a G note.
In the key of B, these three quarter notes are: F#, F#, G#, and the first note of the first complete measure is a B note.
The melody of 'Nine Pound Hammer' contains 3 more notes in it that are higher in pitch than the notes that it starts with. In the key of A, these notes are, in ascending order of pitch: B, C#, and the E above the C#.
So, in ascending order of pitch, the melody notes for Nine Pound Hammer in the key of A are: E, F#, A, B, C#, E. These are the same notes used to play 'Foggy Mountain Top', 'Handsome Molly', 'Long Journey Home', 'My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains', 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', 'Amazing Grace', and 'Mountain Dew' in the key of A.
In the key of G, the notes would be: D, E, G, A, B, D.
In the key of B, the notes would be: F#, G#, B, C#, D#, F#.
Nashville Number System
Having a basic understanding of the Number System for naming the notes that belong to the Major Scale (the series of notes that gives us that familiar 'do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do' sound) together with an understanding of the relation of the Major Scale to the Chromatic Scale (which, for our purposes here, may be conveniently thought of as the set of 12 notes needed in order to be able to play all the Major Scales), can make it much easier to memorize the relationships involved here and to see how the information presented here all neatly fits together.
G Major Scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, (G)
A Major Scale: A, B, C#,D, E, F#,G#, (A)
B Major Scale: B, C#,D#,E,F#,G#,A#, (B)
Number Names: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, (1)
So, no matter what key one plays Nine Pound Hammer, Foggy Mountain Top, Handsome Molly, etc. in: the melody notes are, from lowest to highest: 5, 6, 1, 2, 3, 5.
The three quarter notes that make up the pickup measure that precedes the first complete measure in Nine Pound Hammer are: 5, 5, 6, and this leads to the first note of the first complete measure, and the number name for that note is 1.
Have a merry Christmas!
2/6/2022 05:33:03 pm
Jason, This is an AMAZINGLY good post to be hanging out here for five years with no comments on it. Thank you!
2/28/2022 04:15:36 pm
I used to be in the Idaho national bluegrass association
Leave a Reply.
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