Beautiful Brown Eyes
The song of the week is 'Beautiful Brown Eyes' in the key of G. At the jam next week, it will be played first in 3/4 time, and then in 2/2 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
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of G (first break, verse, and chorus in 3/4; remainder of the song in 2/2); starts at 5:16.
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). In the attachments, I have included two sets of melody sheets for Beautiful Brown Eyes, one in 2/2 time, and one in 3/4 time.
The classic example of a bluegrass song played in both 3/4 time and in cut common time is Bill Monroe's 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky'. Bill originally recorded the song in 3/4 time. But after Elvis Presley recorded his non-3/4 time version of the song (which the Stanley Brothers later copied), Bill recorded it again, playing the first half of it in 3/4 time and the second half of it in cut common time.
Bill Monroe: 3/4
The Stanley Brothers
Bill Monroe: 3/4 & 2/2
Other examples of songs for which there are both 3/4 and non-3/4 versions include:
The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band Bill Monroe 3/4
The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band Hylo Brown 2/2
How Mountain Girls Can Love (Stanley Brothers 2/2;
How Mountain Girls Can Love Gibson Brothers 3/4
Down In A Willow Garden (banjo solo: first in 3/4 and then in 2/2)
Streamline Cannonbali Hank Snow 3/4
Streamline Cannonball Doc Watson 2/2
Before I Met You
I'm Thinking Tonight Of The Old Folks (a.k.a. Dixie Home)
I Never Will Marry
Dark As A Dungeon
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', 'Wreck Of The Old '97', 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).
The melody, as I sing it, consists of the first 6 notes of the Major Scale.
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
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 four 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:
17 songs were played at the jam on Thursday: 14 from the main list, and 3 from the additional songs list:
Angeline The Baker - D
Beautiful Brown Eyes - G
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - C
Cripple Creek - A
Down The Road - B
Foggy Mountain Top - G
I'll Fly Away - A
Leaning On The Everlasting Arms - A
Long Journey Home - G
Mama Don't Allow - G
Nine Pound Hammer - B
Old Joe Clark - A
Sweetheart You Done Me Wrong - F
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - A
Amazing Grace - G
Little Cabin Home On The Hill - A
Wreck Of The Old '97 - D
Beautiful Brown Eyes - banjo tab
Beautiful Brown Eyes - guitar tab
Beautiful Brown Eyes - mandolin tab
Beautiful Brown Eyes - melody in G
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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