Beautiful Brown Eyes
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
Country Club - Jimmy Martin - Beautiful Brown Eyes - YouTube
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
Bailey Brothers, key of F - 3/4 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.
Here are four youtube jam videos I have made for Beautiful Brown Eyes. I recommend starting with the one listed first. In that one, I am on guitar, and am playing the song in 3/4 time.
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
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 in the New Year, 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.
In 3/4 time (a.k.a. Waltz time), there are 3 beats per measure. On guitar, when playing rhythm, one measure will consist of 'boom-chuck-chuck', i.e., 'bassnote-strum-strum', rather than the more common rhythm for bluegrass songs of 'boom-chuck-boom-chuck'. Notice that this means that in 3/4 time it takes two measures, instead of one, to get through a cycle of root-5 (alternating bass) on guitar (and on bass, if you are playing only one note per measure).
3/4 Vamp/Chop: Mandolin, Fiddle, Banjo, and Dobro
When playing a 'vamp' or 'chop' rhythm on mandolin, banjo, fiddle, or dobro, a measure of 3/4 time will consist of 'rest-chuck-chuck', which is the same as the guitar rhythm, just without the bass note at the beginning of the measure.
3/4 Rolls (Banjo)
When playing a roll in 3/4 time on banjo, you will have time for a maximum of 6 plucked notes per measure (counted as '1 & 2 & 3 &'), rather than the usual maximum of 8 notes per measure ('1 e & a 2 e & a'), Considered in relation to a roll pattern consisting of 8 notes, this usually involves omitting either the last two notes of the roll, or in some cases, the 5th and 6th notes of the roll, or the 3rd and 4th notes of the roll. If approaching playing in 3/4 time from his angle, make sure that the 3/4 time rolls you create by dropping notes from the standard 8 note rolls don't result in the need to play two 8th notes back to back with the same finger of your picking hand.
Ending the Song
In addition to the melody sheet files at the bottom of this write-up I have included as an attachment a chart of 'Waltz Time Endings in the Key of G' which shows simple, but effective, ways on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo to end 'All The Good Times Are Past And Gone', and almost any other song in 3/4 time when played in the key of G. These endings are played for the last 2 measures of the final chorus. They are not 'tack-on' endings to be played after the last 2 measures of the final chorus. The first beat of the first measure shown for each of the endings coincides with the last sung syllable in the song.
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', 'I'm Waiting To Hear You Call Me 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).
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 ascending pickup notes (namely, D, G, A when in the key of G) 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.)
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).
20 songs were played at last night's jam: 15 from the main list, 4 from the additional songs list, and 1 that is on neither list:
All The Good Times Are Past And Gone - A
Beautiful Brown Eyes - G
Boil The Cabbage Down (played twice) - A
Buffalo Gals - A
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - A
Cripple Creek - A
Foggy Mountain Top - Bb
I'll Fly Away - C
Little Birdie - Bb
Mama Don't Allow - A
A Memory Of You - C
My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains - G
Nine Pound Hammer - E
Soldier's Joy (played twice) - D
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Angeline The Baker - D
Cluck Old Hen - A
Hand Me Down My Walking Cane - A
Mountain Dew - A
I'm Waiting To Hear You Call Me Darling - E
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