Since it may be awhile until we can all get together again at the Pioneer Building to play together, and also to try to offer something in the meantime to all of you who have been very mindful and supportive of me and my family during this time, I got the idea to record a few songs each week from the beginner and intermediate jam lists and put them up on youtube with me leading them much like I would at the jams, for those of you who might like to play and jam along at home.
When calling the breaks, instead of calling out 'everybody', 'banjo', 'fiddle', etc., I have substituted 'together' and 'your turn'.
This is my first attempt at 'leading' a jam while playing alone, so I sometimes found it hard to remember in the moment to call out the next break or to signal the end of the song, so I apologize about many of the cues coming later than what they ordinarily would at the jam. I hope my future attempts at this will be better than this first one.
Also, I may have started some of these songs off a bit on the fast side of things, so if need be, you may find it desirable to slow some of the songs down to 75% of the recorded speed. You can do this on youtube on a laptop, but not on a phone, by going to settings, and the clicking on 'playback speed'.
All The Good Times Are Past And Gone - A
Angeline The Baker - D
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
I hope that this email finds you well, and I hope that you will enjoy playing some of the songs here along with me.
Also, for all you banjo players out there, Bill Evans (who was going to be one of the instructors at Weiser Banjo Camp this year until it was cancelled - but he'll be there for the 2021 camp) is teaching a free Facebook Live online workshop this coming Saturday (tomorrow) at noon Mountain Time on “Working Up Scruggs-Style Solos.” This page is set to “Public,” so anyone with a Facebook account can view. Here’s the Facebook link: www.facebook.com/BillEvansBanjo
Keep safe and well.
The song of the week is 'Angeline The Baker', a key of D fiddle tune.
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 two 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 current song lists for the beginner jam that have this same form are: Liberty, Old Joe Clark, Soldier's Joy, Boil The Cabbage Down, and Buffalo Gals.
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.
8 Potato Intros
Since the most effective way to start most fiddle tunes at a jam is by playing an 8 potato intro before starting into the first A-Part of your intro break, I have included an attachment that gives 8 potato intros suitable for Angeline The Baker and most other key of D fiddle tunes, for fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo.
An 8 potato intro, reduced to its most basic form, essentially consists of droning the note that has the same name as the key of the tune in a highly rhythmic fashion for 4 measures. Accenting the first pickstroke (or, on fiddle, bowstroke) of each measure of the intro is crucial to an effective 8 potato intro, so as to make it unmistakably clear where each of the measures that make up the intro begin and end; it also helps to accent the first pickstroke/bowstroke of the second half of each measure, but this accent should not be quite as heavy as the accent on the beginning of the measure.
Choose a version of the 8 potato intro that works for you, but don't wait until you are at the jam to 'practice' it. Make it habit to always start most of your fiddle tunes with 8 potato intros when you are practicing at home so that you will be better prepared to effectively use 8 potato intros when playing with others.
If you have pickup notes leading into the first complete measure of your break, you must cut the 8 potato intro short by playing the pickup notes in place of the corresponding part of the last measure of the 8 potato intro, so that you end up with exactly 4 measures worth of music, no more and no less, before the first full measure of your intro break starts.
14 songs were played at last night's jam: 13 from the main list, and 1 from the additional songs list:
Angeline The Baker - D
Boil The Cabbage Down - A
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - C
Cripple Creek - A
Down The Road - B
Foggy Mountain Top - G
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms - C
Little Birdie - C
Long Journey Home - A
Mama Don't Allow - G
My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains - G
Nine Pound Hammer - B
Way Down Town - A
Cryin' Holy - G
Angeline The Baker - banjo tab in C
Angeline The Baker - banjo tab in D
Angeline The B. - guitar tab, C, high octave
Angeline The Baker - guitar tab, C, low octave
Angeline The B. - guitar tab, D, high octave
Angeline The Baker - guitar tab, D, low octave
Angeline The B. - Mandolin tab, high octave
Angeline The B. - mandolin tab, low octave
Angeline The Baker - melody in D, high octave
Angeline The Baker - melody in D, low octave
Jason's Beginner Jam Blog 2019 - 2020
Weekly on Thursdays
Songs regularly called at Bluegrass Jams and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order