The song of the week is 'Beautiful Brown Eyes' in the key of G.
Jimmy Martin (Jimmy's daughter Lisa on lead vocal) - key of D - 3/4 time
Gibson Brothers - key of Bb - 2/2 time
Arthur Smith Trio - key of G - 3/4 time
Red Allen (Beautiful Blue Eyes) - key of G - 2/2 time
Beautiful Brown Eyes is one of a handful of songs that may be played at a bluegrass jam in either 3/4 (waltz) time (1-2-3: boom-chuck-chuck rhythm on guitar) or in 2/2 (cut common) time (1&2&: boom-chuck-boom-chuck rhythm on guitar). Other songs like this include 'Before I Met You', 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky', 'Down In A Willow Garden', and 'Paradise'.
On the current main song list for the beginner jam, Beautiful Brown Eyes is specified as being played in 3/4 time. One reason why I did this is because there is only one other song on the list that is in 3/4 time, namely, All The Good Times Are Past And Gone, but being just as comfortable with 3/4 time as with cut common time is an essential bluegrass playing skill. Another reason is that people who are new to bluegrass but who are already familiar with this song are more likely to know a version of it in 3/4 time rather than in cut time. So, until the current main list is revised near the end of the Summer, whenever Beautiful Brown Eyes is played at the jam during the first half of the evening, I will lead it in 3/4 time; but, during the second half of the evening, if the person who calls the song wishes to play it in cut common time instead, then that is how it will be played.
The chord progression for Beautiful Brown Eyes is:
This is Prog. W7 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.
(In the key of G: 1=G, 4=C, 5=D)
This chord progression differs by only one measure from the most common chord progression in bluegrass, namely the progression that is used to play 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow', 'Come Back Darling', 'I'll Still Write Your Name In The Sand', 'A Memory Of You', etc.:
(Prog. V7 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.)
In order to avoid accidentally playing Progression V7 in place of Progression W7 for Beautiful Brown Eyes at the jam, some may find it helpful to remind themselves before the song starts that in the last half of the progression for Beautiful Brown Eyes, the 4 chord is followed immediately by the 5 chord (instead of returning to the 1 chord first before going to the 5 chord).
When there are four different types of lead instruments at the jam, I most often arrange the song as follows:
with all breaks being full-length breaks (four musical lines: the same as the number of lines of complete verse or of a complete chorus).
These arrangements have more in common with the arrangements of the song on the Gibson Brothers and Arthur Smith recordings than with the arrangements on the other two recordings. On the Jimmy Martin recording, the intro break is a half-length break (using the last half of the progression). On the Red Allen recording, the intro break is a quarter-length break (called a 'turnaround', using the last line of the progression). On both of these recordings, the first chorus is immediately followed by a verse instead of by a break.
The melody sheets attached here are based upon how I sing the melody for the chorus. My choice of notes for the chorus is more similar to the Arthur Smith recording than to the other recordings, but my timing on some of the notes is quite different. However, on the Arthur Smith recording, the melody for the verses is the same as the melody for the chorus, whereas on the other three recordings, and in the way that I also sing the song, the second line of the melody for the verses differs from the second line of the melody for the chorus.
The melody, as I sing it, consists of the first 6 notes of the Major Scale. (In some versions of the melody the 6th note is absent):
do re mi fa sol la
1 2 3 4 5 6
Key of G: G A B C D E
Key of A: A B C# D E F#
Key of Bb: Bb C D Eb F G
Key of B: B C# D# E F# G#
Key of C: C D E F G A
Key of D: D E F# G A B
Key of E: E F# G# A B C#
Key of F: F G A Bb C D
For the chorus of Beautiful Brown Eyes, I use the same lyrics that are sung on the Jimmy Martin, Gibson Brothers, and Arthur Smith recordings. For the verses, however, I use essentially the same set of lyrics as those on the Red Allen recording.
I welcome all to sing harmony with me on the chorus of the song. Since the starting note of the melody is the 3rd note of the Major Scale (a B note when in the key of G), and the progression starts with the 1 chord (a G chord when in the key of G), the starting note for the tenor harmony (i.e., the harmony part directly above than the melody) is the 5th note of the Major Scale (a D note when in the key of G), and the starting note for the baritone harmony (i.e., the harmony part directly below the melody) is the 1st, or root, note of the Major Scale (a G note when in the key of G). For, together, these three notes make up the 1 chord (a G chord when in the key of G.)
The last note of the melody for Beautiful Brown Eyes, like for most songs, is the
root (1st) note of the Major Scale, and, also like in most other songs, the progression at this point in the song calls for the 1 chord to be played. Therefore, the ending note for the tenor harmony part is the 3rd note of the Major Scale (a B note when in the key of G), and the ending note for the baritone harmony part is the 5th note of the Major Scale (a D note when in the key of G).
When the melody for the chorus of a song differs from the melody for the verses of the song, it is much more common for melody-based breaks to follow the melody for the verses, rather than the melody for the chorus. However, since the verse and chorus melodies for Beautiful Brown Eyes do not differ much from each other in versions in which there is a difference, it is of little consequence whether one bases one's break on the verse melody or on the chorus melody. Examples of both types of melody-based breaks are found on the recordings. For example, the first two breaks on the Gibson Brothers recording are based upon the chorus melody, whereas the third break (the guitar break) is based upon the verse melody.
Beautiful Brown Eyes starts with the same melody note as My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains, and the progressions for both songs start with the 1 chord. Therefore, the same set of pickup notes that I suggested for starting an intro break for My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains in the song of the week email from two weeks ago will also work for starting an intro break for Beautiful Brown Eyes. (Using three quarter notes for a pickup measure of an intro break works just as well in 3/4 time as it does in 2/2 time.) Refer back to the section on 'Pickup Notes' and the melody sheets in the song of the week write-up for My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains.
14 songs were played at the jam on Thursday: 12 from the main list, and 2 from the additional songs list:
Beautiful Brown Eyes - G
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Boil The Cabbage Down - A
Buffalo Gals - A
Cripple Creek - A
Foggy Mountain Top - G
I'll Fly Away - G
My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains - G
New River Train - F
Nine Pound Hammer - A
Way Down Town - E
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Canaan's Land - A
Worried Man Blues - G
Jason's Beginner Jam Blog 2019 - 2021
Weekly on Thursdays
Songs regularly called at Bluegrass Jams and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order