I hope you have had a good Summer. I will resume leading the beginner jams at the Powderhaus on Tuesday, Sept. 20th (6:30-9pm). Attached here are the song lists and other handouts that will be used for the jams until the end of the year.
The song of the week for the Sept. 20th jam will be 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow' in the key of G.
Recorded by the Carter Family in 1927 (under the title 'Bury Me Under The Weeping Willow Tree'), and then by the Monroe Brothers (Bill Monroe and his older brother Charlie) in 1937 as 'Weeping Willow Tree', 'Bury Me Beneath The Willow' has gone on to become one of the most common of Bluegrass standards.
Alison Krauss - key of E
The Stanley Brothers - sharper than the key of F#, but flatter than the key of G
Ricky Skaggs & Tony Rice - key of G
The Carter Family - key of B
The Monroe Brothers - key of F
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - G (starts at 8:28)
Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys, IBA Open Mic, 4/23/19 - YouTube
Here are three youtube jam videos I have made for Bury Me Beneath The Willow. I recommend starting with the one listed first. In that one, I am on guitar.
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
Of the recorded versions of Bury Me Beneath The Willow given here, the Alison Krauss and Snake River Boys recordings are the only ones that start with a full-length intro break. The half-length intro breaks played on the Stanley Brothers and Monroe Brothers recordings consist of the second half of a full-length break.
When I have kicked the song off at the beginner jam, I have always played a full-length intro break (16 measures, plus often 1 or 2 additional measures added on to the end of the break before starting to sing the first verse), and I have usually expected others who kick the song off to do the same, as this tends to work better at the jams than any of the other options for starting the song.
The chord progression for Bury Me Beneath The Willow (on all the recordings given here except for the Monroe Brothers' version) is the most common of all progressions in Bluegrass:
(Prog. V7 on the Basic Progressions handout.)
Here's a short list of standard bluegrass songs that use this same progression:
Wreck Of The Old '97
I'll Still Write Your Name In The Sand
I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home
Your Love Is Like A Flower
A Memory Of You
Down Where The River Bends
Lost And I'll Never Find A Way
Come Back Darlin'
Why Did You Wander
If I Should Wander Back Tonight
I'm Waiting To Hear You Call Me Darling
Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
Road To Columbus
Hold Whatcha Got
True Life Blues
Blue Moon Of Kentucky (verse)
Black Mountain Rag (C-Part)
Flint Hill Special (A & B Parts)
Rose Of Old Kentucky (verse)
Tiny Broken Heart (verse)
Little Annie (verse)
White Dove (verse)
In the key of G: 1=G, 4=C, and 5=D
The G chord is made up of the notes: G, B, and D.
The C chord is made up of the notes: C, E, and G.
The D chord is made up of the notes: D, F#, and A.
Together, these 7 notes make up the G major scale, and the melody of Bury Me Beneath The Willow makes use of all of them. (See the melody sheets at the bottom of this write-up.)
Pickups into Breaks
When played in the key of G, the first melody note of the first full measure of the verses and chorus is the D note above the G note that the melody ends on. When this is the case, the most effective pick up notes to use to kick off the song are usually the B, C, and C# notes immediately below that D note. Use of this series of notes is equally effective on all the bluegrass lead instruments. Give it a try. Start by finding the B note on your instrument, and then ascend in half steps (on a fretted instrument, this means you will not skip over any frets) until you reach the D note, playing the B, C, and C# notes as quarter notes, and be sure to place a heavy accent on that D note, since it is the first note of the first full measure of the song. I have included this pickup phrase on the melody sheet files at the bottom of this email.
Transposed to each of the 7 other keys that we play in at the jam,
the notes become:
Key Pickup Notes Leading to:
A C# D D# E note
Bb D Eb E F note
B D# E E# F# note
C E F F# G note
D F# G G# A note
E G# A A# B note
F A Bb B C note
The note named as E# in the context of the key of B pickups is the same note as the note that is in most other contexts is named as F.
Other songs on the current main list and additional songs list for the jam for which this same 3-note pick-up measure will work effectively, for the same reasons that it works so well for Bury Me Beneath The Willow include: 'Foggy Mountain Top', 'Gathering Flowers From The Hillside', 'Lonesome Road Blues', and 'Wreck Of The Old '97'. In all these songs, the first melody note in the first full measure of the song is a perfect 5th higher than the root note. (The D above G when in the key of G, the E above A when in the key of A, the F above Bb when in the key of Bb, etc.)
The lyrics I use for the chorus are the same as those on the Stanley Brothers recording.
Bury me beneath the willow,
Under the weeping willow tree;
So he may know where I am sleeping,
And perhaps he'll weep for me.
The words written in bold are those that differ from one or more of the other recorded versions given here.
On the Alison Krauss and Stanley Brothers recordings, there are two verses,
on the Skaggs & Rice and Monroe Brothers recordings, there are three verses, and on The Carter Family recording there are four verses:
At the jam, I usually sing three verses:
1. My heart is sad and I'm in sorrow....
2. He told me that he dearly loved me....
3. Tomorrow was to be our wedding....
Occasionally I have added a fourth verse that is similar to the Carter Family's fourth verse, but begins instead with: 'Place on my grave a snow white lily'.
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - melody in G
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - banjo tab
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - guitar tab
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - mandolin tab