The song of the week is 'Before I Met You' in the key of A. This song is usually played in 3/4 time, and that is how we'll play it at next week's jam.
Flatt and Scruggs (studio) - key of Ab (the instruments were all tuned a half-step higher than standard)
Flatt and Scruggs - Before I Met You (1955). - YouTube
Flatt and Scruggs (live) - key of G
Before I Met You - Foggy Mountain Boys - YouTube
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of A
Before I met you- Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys - YouTube
The progression for the verses and breaks is:
(V6 on the basic progressions chart)
The progression for the chorus is:
(X6 on the basic progressions chart)
This is a common combination of chord progressions in bluegrass songs.
Other songs that use this same combination of chord progressions include:
Little Cabin Home On The Hill
I've Lived A Lot In My Time
Cabin In Caroline
Gonna Settle Down
Little Girl Of Mine In Tennessee
Memories Of You (a.k.a. The Old Swinging Bridge)
Cyclone Of Rye Cove
The first few notes of the 1st and 3rd lines of the verses and the 3rd line of the chorus are the same as in the 1st line of the 1st verse for 'All The Good Times Are Past And Gone' ('I wish to'), but then the remainder of those lines use the same melody as 'Away In A Manger' ('a manger, no crib for a bed, the'). In the attachments, I have given only the melody for the verses, since breaks will only be played over the verse progression. The chorus starts on the highest note in the song (a D note in the key of A, a C note in the key of G), and then descends down from there starting from when the chord change from the 4 to the 1 occurs. Lines 2, 3, and 4 of the chorus use the same melody as lines 2, 3, and 4 of the
Lyrics & Harmony
The chorus lyrics are:
I thought I was swinging the world by the tail,
I thought I could never be blue;
I thought I'd been kissed, and I thought I'd been loved,
But that was before I met you.
Harmony can be sung not only on the chorus of the song, but also on the 2nd and 4th lines of the verses (as in the Snake River Boys recording), similar to how harmony is usually sung at the jams on the 2nd and 4th lines of the verses in I'll Fly Away.
The words for the 2nd and 4th lines of the verses 1 and 2, and the 4th line of verse 3, are "but that was before I met you". The words for the 2nd line of verse 3 are "but darling I hope it's not true".
(For learning the lyrics of the solo parts of the verses, I recommend copying the first Flatt & Scruggs recording given in the recordings section. I made an error in singing the second verse on the Snake River Boys recording, so I don't recommend copying that. I momentarily forgot the lyrics for one of the lines, so I used one of the lines from the first verse, so I wouldn't be stuck with nothing to sing there.)
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). For this reason, it can be useful to think of the chord progression in groups of two measures.
Root-5: Guitar, Bass (and Banjo)
The root note of each chord is simply the note that has the same letter name as the chord. The '5' of the chord is the 5th note of the major scale that has the same letter name as the chord. The first five notes of the A major scale are A, B, C#, D, and E, so when playing 'root-5' over an A chord, this means that you are alternating between an A note and an E note.
There are six major (and six minor) chords for which identifying the 5 involves nothing more than counting up the musical alphabet, without having to worry about sharps or flats. The six are: A, C, D, E, F, and G. So, the 5 of C (counting C as 1) is G (1,2,3,4,5: C,D,E,F,G), the 5 of D is A, the 5 of E is B, the 5 of F is C, and the 5 of G is D.
3/4 Time Root-5: Guitar, Bass (and Banjo)
Taking the verse progression two measures at a time, the first two measures allow one to play 'root-5' over the 1 chord, but the second group of two measures (i.e., the third and fourth measures) allow one to play only the root note of the chords called for there, because the second of these two measures has a different chord than what the first of these two measures does. So, this scenario is similar to what happens in the non-3/4 time songs we play at the jam in which a single measure is split between two chords (e.g., the 7th measure of each of the parts of Boil The Cabbage Down, Old Joe Clark, and Soldier's Joy, or the 2nd and 4th measures of Down The Road and the A-Part of Cripple Creek).
The second line of the progression for Before I Met You allows one to play root-5 over the 1 chord and then over the 5 chord. Notice that this means that two root notes over the 1 chord end up being played back to back, one in the last measure of the first line, and one in the first measure of the second line, since the first line of the progression ended with the 1 chord, and there was only time to play the root note of the chord, but not the 5, because the third measure of the first line called for a chord other than the 1 chord.
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.
There are many standard (common time: 4/4, or cut common time 2/2) licks on banjo, as well as on the other bluegrass instruments, that have 3/4 time equivalents. The 3/4 time versions of these licks in many cases can be derived from the common time or cut common time lick by omitting a quarter of a measure's worth of the least essential notes of the lick.
To help illustrate this, I have included in the attachments a chart of A and E fill-in licks for fiddle and mandolin, and G and D fill-in licks for banjo and guitar (capo 2 to raise them to A and E), presented in the context of 2 measures worth of 3/4 time backup playing.
The two A measures (written as G measures, capo 2, for banjo and guitar) fit the last two measures (that is, measures 15 and 16) of the progression for Before I Met You when played in the key of A. The two E measures (written as D measures, capo 2, for banjo and guitar) fit the last two measures of the second line (that is, measures 7 and 8) of the progression for Before I Met You when played in the key of A.
Ending the Song
In the attachments, I have included a chart of 'Waltz Time Endings in the Key of A' which shows simple, but effective, ways on fiddle, mandolin, guitar, and banjo to end 'Before I Met You', and almost any other song in 3/4 time when played in the key of A. 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. Each of the endings shown are easily transposable to each of the other 7 major keys that songs are played in at the jam.
20 songs were played at last night's jam: 12 from the main list, 6 from the additional songs list, and 2 that are on neither list:
Before I Met You - A
Cripple Creek - A
Liberty - D
Light At The River - A
Little Birdie - Bb
Long Journey Home - A
Old Joe Clark - A
Shortnin' Bread - G
Soldier's Joy - D
Way Down Town - E
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Wreck Of The Old '97 - D
Angeline The Baker - D
Bury Me Beneath The Willow - G
Cluck Old Hen - A
Foggy Mountain Top - G
Forked Deer - D
I Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore - Bb
Red Wing - G
Why Don't You Tell Me So - B