Song of the Week
The song of the week is 'Nine Pound Hammer' in the key of B.
Lonesome River Band - key of B
Tony Rice - key of A
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys - key of B. (The song starts at the 8:27 mark in the video):
Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys, IBA Open Mic, 2/26/19 - YouTube
Here are four youtube jam videos I have made for Nine Pound Hammer. In the one listed second, I am on guitar in the key of B.
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
The chord progression for Nine Pound Hammer is:
In the key of B: 1=B; 4=E; 5=F#.
The B chord consists of: BD#F#; the E chord: EG#B; the F# chord: F#A#C#
Banjo, Guitar, & Dobro: Practicing with a Capo
For guitar, dobro, and especially banjo players who have much less experience playing in B than in G and A: I suggest making it a point to spend some practice time playing with the capo on the 4th fret (with the 5th string, on banjo, spiked/capoed at the 9th fret), for although the fingerings for playing in B will be the same as those for playing in G, the instrument will feel different to play: the frets will be closer together, and the strings will feel a bit tighter; and on banjo, it can get a bit confusing to see the 5th (short) string being located directly above one's left hand when one is playing in first position if one is not used to this.
In order from lowest to highest, the notes that make up the melody of Nine Pound Hammer are:
5 6 1 2 3 5
sol la do re mi sol
key of G: D E G A B D
key of A: E F# A B C# E
key of Bb: F G Bb C D F
key of B: F# G# B C# D# F#
key of C: G A C D E G
key of D: A B D E F# A
key of E; B C# E F# G# B
key of F: C D F G A C
These are the same notes used to play the melodies for 'Foggy Mountain Top', 'My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains', 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', 'Amazing Grace', 'Long Journey Home', and 'Mountain Dew'.
In the melody sheets in the attachments to this write-up, notice that the first three notes of the melody of 'Nine Pound Hammer' are quarter notes, and that they occur before the first complete measure of the tune. (In cut common time, i.e., 2/2 time, as well as in common time, i.e., 4/4 time, 3 quarter notes make up only three-quarters of a complete measure.) Make it a point to remember these notes, because they will be useful for starting your intro breaks for many other songs that, like 'Nine Pound Hammer', also have as their first melody note in their first complete measure the note that has the same name as both the key that the song is being played in, and the first chord played in the song. (E.g., 'Little Birdie', 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', 'She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain'.)
These notes are:
5 5 6 leading to 1
sol sol la do
key of G: D D E G
key of A: E E F# A
key of Bb: F F G Bb
key of B: F# F# G# B
key of C: G G A C
key of D: A A B D
key of E; B B C# E
key of F: C C D F
Breaks, Improvisation, and Scales
While the intro break for the song should follow the melody closely enough to make it clear what song is being played before the first verse is sung, Nine Pound Hammer lends itself quite well to lick-oriented improvised breaks that may deviate considerably from the melody. This is a good song to use as a means for practicing any licks that you may have in your repertoire that fit over a line of 1144 or a line of 1511 for the key that you are playing the song in.
On mandolin and fiddle, a good place to get started with finding suitable notes on your instrument to make use of in licks for improvising over Nine Pound Hammer in the key of B is to run through the B Major, B Major Pentatonic, and B Dorian Scales:
B Major Scale = B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B
B Major Pentatonic Scale = B, C#, D#, F#, G#, B
B Dorian Scale = B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A, B
On guitar, banjo, and dobro, run through the equivalent G Scales with the capo on the 4th fret to raise your key of G playing up to the key of B:
G Major Scale = G, A, B, C, D, E. F#, G
G Major Pentatonic Scale = G, A, B, D, E
G Dorian Scale = G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F, G
Fiddle & Mandolin: Double Stops
For fiddlers and mandolin players who do not have much experience playing in B, I have included as an attachment to this write-up a chart of double stops that will work well in breaks for many songs in the key of B. For best results when using these in a melody-based break, be sure that the melody note is the lower, not the higher, of the two notes in the double stop, and if lingering on a particular double stop, instead of using it merely in passing, be sure that it matches the chord that is being played at the time in the song. For this reason, I have written chord names above each double stop.
When playing without a capo in keys that have a lot of sharps in their key signature, I tend to try to find more spots than usual in my breaks for where I can make good use of 'blue notes': flatted 3rds and flatted 7ths (observe that these are the two notes in the dorian scale that differ from the notes in the major scale) but only to the extent these suit the song. The reason for this is that in these keys, flatted 3rds and flatted 7ths end up being notes that frequently occur in the more 'user-friendly' keys of C, G, D, and A. In the key of B, the flatted 3rd is a D note, and the flatted 7th is an A note. Unlike the 3rd and 7th scale degrees of the B major scale (i.e., D# and A#), both of these 'blue notes' (D and A when in the key of B) are part of the major scale for all the keys that I feel most comfortable playing in without a capo.
Nine Pound Hammer lends itself especially well to the use of blue notes in breaks, so even when playing it in keys that don't have a lot of sharps, I still tend to use about just as many blue notes in improvised breaks for the song. In the key of G, the flatted 3rd and flatted 7th notes are Bb and F respectively.
Closely related to the use of blue notes is the use of 7th chords. One can make good use of 7th chords in improvised breaks during a measure of the 1 chord that is followed by the 4 chord, and also during a measure of the 4 chord that is followed by the 1 chord. 7th chords are created by flatting the 7th major scale degree of the chord being played and adding that note to the chord. E.g., the 7th scale degree of the B major scale is an A# note. Flatting this note (i.e., lowering it by a half step) gives the A note. Adding the A note to a B chord results in an B7 chord. The 7th scale degree of the E major scale is a D# note. Lower this note by a half step and you have a D note. Add the D note to an E chord and this creates an E7 chord. Adding an F note to a G chord makes it a G7, adding a Bb note to a C chord makes it a C7, etc.
21 songs were played at last night's jam: 15 from the main list, 3 from the additional songs list, and 3 that are on neither list:
All The Good Times Are Past And Gone - A
Beautiful Brown Eyes - G
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Boil The Cabbage Down - A
Buffalo Gals - A
Cripple Creek - A
Foggy Mountain Top - G
Gathering Flowers From The Hillside - G
I'll Fly Away - A
Mama Don't Allow - A
A Memory Of You - A
My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains - Bb
Nine Pound Hammer - B
Soldier's Joy - D
Will The Circle Be Unbroken - G
Down The Road - G
In The Pines - E
Liberty - D
Are You Missing Me - G
I Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore - G
Wildwood Flower - G
Nine Pound Hammer - banjo tab in B
Nine Pound Hammer - guitar tab in B
Nine Pound Hammer - mandolin tab in B
Nine Pound Hammer - melody in B
A Chord Fill-in Licks
B Chord Fill-in Licks