The song of the week is 'Way Down Town' in the key of E.
Tony Rice (key of D):
The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band with Doc Watson (key of D)
Doc and Merle Watson (key of E)
Way Down Town has the same chord progression as 'This Land Is Your Land', 'Gold Watch And Chain', 'Back Up And Push', 'Rubber Dolly', the B-Parts of Red 'Red Wing', 'Randy Lynn Rag', and 'Home Sweet Home' and the choruses of 'How Mountain Girls Can Love', 'Think Of What You've Done', 'Snow Deer', 'Montana Cowboy', 'Cash On The Barrelhead', and 'Shall We Gather At The River' and many other common bluegrass and old-time songs.
It is the same 8 measure cycle repeated over and over again:
Twice through this 8 measure cycle is the length of one part of the song, whether that be a verse, a chorus, or a full-length break.
(Prog. W10 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.)
...which in the key of E is:
The notes that make up the E chord are: EG#B
The notes that make up the A chord are: AC#E
The notes that make up the B chord are: BD#F#
Together, these 7 notes make up the E major scale: (four sharps:) EF#G#ABC#D#.
Relation of E to A
The key of E is a closely related key to the key of A. For they share 6 of the 7 notes in common that make up their Major scales. (The A Major Scale has a D instead of a D#) The A Major Scale has 3 sharps instead of 4: ABC#DEF#G#. For their 1,4, and 5 chords, the keys of E and A have two chords in common, namely E and A. In the key of A, 1=A, 4=D, and 5=E. In the key of E: 1=E, 4=A, and 5=B.
Way Down Town has a fairly narrow melodic range. In the key of E, the lowest note is 'e', and the highest note is 'c#'. The melody therefore does not contain a d# note, which is the note that distinguishes the E Major Scale from the A Major Scale. In ascending order of pitch, the melody notes are: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#. This is the very same range of notes that the melodies of All The Good Times Are Past And Gone, Little Birdie, Gold Watch And Chain, Goodnight Irene, Leaning On The Everlasting Arms, This Little Light Of Mine, and Worried Man Blues consist of when played in the key of A.
Although, in the attachments, I have included melody sheets for this song, I suggest that this would be a good song to try to learn the melody by ear for those who do not have much experience yet with picking up melodies by ear.
Fiddle & Mandolin: Easy Double Stops
Notice that, in first position, the melody is carried on only the 2nd and 3rd strings. It is convenient that the 1st string on the fiddle and on the mandolin is tuned to an E note, for both the E and the A chords contain that note. Therefore, the open first string can be played along with the melody notes that occur on the 2nd string during E and A chord measures to create double stops.
Banjo: Capo 2, Spike 9
I recommend that banjo players try to play this song with the capo on the 2nd fret and with the fifth string capoed, or spiked to a 'b' note, i.e., 9th fret, playing as if in the key of D. This way the melody can be located on the 3rd and 4th strings at the very same locations as is most common for melody notes for songs played in the key of G (or with a capo, A, Bb, etc.) See the attached melody sheet.
Guitar: Capo 2 or 4
Guitar players will probably want to capo either to the second fret to play as if in D (1=D; 4=G; 5=A) or to the fourth fret to play as if in C (1=C; 4=F; 5=G). The latter option will work better for those who wish to play a Carter-style break for Way Down Town, but the first option lends itself more easily to the use of 'blue notes' which can also sound good when used in appropriate spots in breaks for this song. Therefore, I have included two melody sheets in the attachments in guitar tab.
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