Light At The River
The song of the week is 'Light At The River' in the key of A.
Carl Story - key of A
Light At the River - YouTube
Mac Wiseman - key of A
Light At The River~Mac Wiseman.wmv - YouTube
The Lonesome River Band - key of Bb
Light At The River - YouTube
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of A
Light of the River - Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys - YouTube
Here are two youtube jam videos I have made for Light At The River:
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
Light At The River uses the same chord progression as Foggy Mountain Top and All The Good Times Are Past And Gone:
(Prog. V6 on the Basic Chord Progressions chart.)
In the key of A: 1 = A; 4 = D; 5 = E
In the key of G: 1 = G; 4 = C; 5 = D
In the key of Bb: 1 = Bb; 4 = Eb; 5 = F
If you listen to all four recordings of the song given in the recordings section at the top of this write-up, then you will have heard four different versions of the melody for Light At The River. And, if you go on youtube to find more recordings of the song, it won't take long until you come across even more different versions of the melody.
Where the various versions of the melody tend to diverge most significantly from each other is in the first half of lines 1 and 3 (both in the verses and in the chorus).
The version of the melody that I sing for the chorus of the song consists of only 5 notes. These are the same 5 notes that the melody of All The Good Times Are Past And Gone and the melody of Down The Road consists of.
In the key of A, these 5 notes are in order from lowest to highest: E, F#, A, B, and C#. In the key of G, the 5 notes would be D, E, G, A, and B; in the key of Bb, they would be F, G, Bb, C, and D; etc.
The melody I use for the first two verses of the song is essentially the same as the melody I use for the chorus. (In the third verse, I'll often hit a higher note at the start of the third line than what I sing at any other point in the song - the E above the C# when in the key of A - making a bit of use of one of the alternative versions of the melody.) So, for the purposes of having a starting point for creating a melody-based break for the song, it makes little difference whether one follows the melody I sing for the first verse or the melody I sing for the chorus.
Finding the Melody
In the melody sheets attached here, I have given the chorus instead of the first verse. Notice that the first 3 notes (the 2 pick-up notes, plus the note that starts the first full measure) are the same as those for Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Little Birdie, two songs that have often been played at the jam. They are also the same notes as the first three notes of She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain. After giving the first few notes of the melody, I pass it to you to take over to complete the melody sheet.
In addition to the hint I already offered concerning finding the melody (the 5 notes), here are a few more hints, tips, and suggestions that you may find helpful in trying to figure out the melody in order to complete the melody sheets.
Since it's easier to hear the melody when harmony is not being sung along with it, I recommend using the key of A youtube jam video, rather than the Snake River Boys recording, when trying to pick up the melody by ear. Remember, on a laptop, if you go to settings, you can slow down youtube videos to half speed or quarter speed. Some may find it helpful to sing along and try to match the notes with their voice first before trying to match the notes on their instruments.
If you are having trouble figuring out what note was sung in a particular spot in the first chorus, you might try going to the second or third chorus to see if I may have sung the note more clearly there. If this doesn't help, then I suggest moving on, and going back to that spot later, filling it in with a note that makes melodic sense to you, regardless of whether it is the note that I actually sang. One does not need to be able to replicate a melody exactly as someone sang it in order to be able to come up with a melody-based break that sounds like it belongs in the song.
Taking it as a given that the first note of the first complete measure of line 1 is the root note of the key (an A note when in the key of A, a G note when in the key of G, etc.), since I have provided that note on the melody sheets, listen to the whole chorus, and see if you can hear which other lines start with that same note, and see if you can hear if there are any lines that start with a different note. (The second and fourth lines start with the word 'light', the third line starts with the word 'Lord'.)
After the first notes of the chorus provided on the melody sheets, listen for what comes next, asking yourself: Is the next note the same as the one before it? Or, is it higher than that note? Or, is it lower than that note? Then do the same for each note in turn, until you have completed the whole line. When you come across the first case of a note that sounds higher than the third note, then there are only 2 notes to try out to see which one is the melody note (B and C# in the key of A; A and B in the key of G, etc.) for the melody doesn't go any higher than those notes. A similar thing applies when you come across the first instance of a note that you can hear is lower than the third note of the melody.
For the second line, notice the progression: 1155. Run through half a dozen or so melodies on your instrument in the key of A that you already know that have 1155 as the second line of their progression, and ask yourself, what is the note that I find myself most often playing at the point that the change to the 5 chord occurs? Does that sound like it might be the same note that the melody goes to on the word 'see' in the second line of Light At The River when the change to the 5 chord happens?
Not all melody notes are equally important to identify accurately in order to have a solid basis for creating a melody-based break. For instance, it makes no real difference whether one writes in an E, an A, a B, or a C# note for the last note of line 2 (on the word 'my': the pickup note leading into the third line). In melody-based breaks, this note would often be glossed over anyways in favor of a stock pickup phrase leading into the beginning of the next line.
More often than not, the main melody notes (the notes that are dwelt on, as opposed to those that are used merely in passing to connect one main melody note to the next) are notes that are part of the chord that is being played at the time. If one keeps this in mind, then even if you do not succeed in accurately identifying all the main melody notes that I sing in the chorus of Light At The River, there is a fairly good chance that in the cases where there is a divergence, you have hit on a note that belongs at that point to one of the alternative versions of the melody. And, on the recordings, not all the melody-based breaks follow strictly the version of the melody being sung on the particular recording; but sometimes incorporate parts of one of the alternative melodies, and it works just fine. And it is common for the last line of melody-based breaks to be more lick-oriented than melody-oriented.
As far as I can gather, Light At The River originally had four verses, and the three-verse version that I sing results from combining parts of two of those four verses together, reducing the two verses down to one verse. Some sing my third verse as their second verse, and my second verse as their third verse. On many recordings, the song is sung with only two verses: either one of the three verses gets omitted entirely, or parts of two of the three verses are combined with each other, making one verse out of two verses.
22 songs were played at last night's jam: 12 from the main list, 8 from the additional songs list, and 2 that are on neither list:
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Cripple Creek - A
Down The Road - B
Light At The River - A
Long Journey Home - B
A Memory Of You - A
Nine Pound Hammer - D
Old Joe Clark - A
Shortnin' Bread - G
Soldier's Joy - D
Way Down Town - E
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Angeline The Baker - D
Boil The Cabbage Down - A
Cluck Old Hen - A
Columbus Stockade Blues - Bb
Foggy Mountain Top - G
Lonesome Road Blues - G
Mountain Dew - A
Wildwood Flower - C
Hold Whatcha Got - D
Sitting On Top Of The World - G
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