Sally Goodin in A
'Sally Goodin' was the first fiddle tune that I ever heard on a Bluegrass record (actually, on a cassette tape that Chris Stevens, the banjo player mentioned earlier here) gave to me. This is the version that was on that tape:
Here is a more straightforward version of the same tune from an album that every Scruggs-style and aspiring Scruggs-style banjo player ought to have in their music collection:
Flatt & Scruggs:
Song of the week - every two weeks
As of now, there will be a new song of the week only once every two weeks for the intermediate jam. Every other week, a song will be chosen for the song of the week that has previously been a song of the week for this incarnation of the weekly Thursday evening Pioneer Building 'Beginner-now Intermediate' jam (Sept. 2015 - the present).
The song of the week is 'Cryin' Holy (Unto The Lord)', a.k.a. 'On The Rock Where Moses Stood', in the key of G.
I closely associate 'Cryin' Holy' with 'I'll Fly Away' and 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', but really for no other reasons than that all three use the same chord progression (at least in most versions of the songs): V3 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout), and they are all Gospel-themed songs. However, unlike 'I'll Fly Away' and 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', 'Cryin' Holy' tends not be all that well-known outside Bluegrass circles. When I feel the need at a jam to call a song that I think everyone will find fairly easy to follow along with, and songs like 'I'll Fly Away' and 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken' come to mind, I will sometimes choose 'Cryin' Holy' instead, because, although it is a less obvious song choice, its progression can be readily explained in terms of the other two songs, parts of its melody are closely related to 'I'll Fly Away' and other songs that use the same or a similar progression, and people tend to catch on quickly to the lyrics for the chorus, so as be able to sing harmony on the choruses. And, I am one of those people who likes to collect jam-friendly songs that are not among those that tend to get played to death at many jams.
Ever since I can remember, I have known the Carter Family version of 'Cryin' Holy':
read more about the Carter family at the post 'x-The Original and Great Carter Family'
Here is a Bill Monroe live version that is similar to the one that I had heard shortly after I discovered Bluegrass, This was the first time I had heard Bill Monroe, and Cryin' Holy was one of the first songs on the tape.
'Cryin' Holy' starts at 8:50 (key of B)
For comparison, here is a much older and more well-known Bill Monroe recording of the song (key of A) that has a different feel to it than the one given above. The following recording is from the early 40's, which is part of the short time period that I think of as being the transitional phase in Bill Monroe's music from his unique brand of 'Old-Time' music to Bluegrass proper. Although it is anachronistic to say this, one could retrospectively describe this version as Old-Time with strong leanings towards Bluegrass.
(Notice that on this recording the ending line of the progression is, at least on the breaks, 5511 instead of the 1511 that is on the live version and on the Carter Family record, and in the version coming up below.)
Most songs that use Prog. V3 (or the closely related Prog. W3) have melodies for their second line that are similar enough to be interchanged with each other. Thus, one could play line 2 of a melody based break for I'll Fly Away or Will The Circle Be Unbroken (or Mountain Dew, Sitting On Top Of The World, When My Time Comes To Go, Long Gone, Won't You Let Me Be Your Friend, Riding On The Midnight Train, etc.) for line 2 of Cryin' Holy and it would not sound out of place in the song. The melody for the 4th line of Cryin' Holy is identical to the melody for the 4th line of I'll Fly Away.
Notice that the 2 pickup notes built into the melody, descend, rather than ascend, to the first melody note of the first measure proper. (Same scenario as for 'Columbus Stockade Blues' and 'Little Maggie'.) For this reason, it is better to use a descending pickup phrase for leading into one's breaks, rather than the more typical ascending pickup phrases that lead up to the root note of the 1 chord. (Other good options, but that are sometimes instrument specific, can be found on the breaks on the recorded versions provided here.) To make an appropriate 3-note pickup phrase out of the 2 melody pickup notes, all one needs to do is to play a Bb note after the B note and before the A note, thus resulting in the chromatically descending note sequence: B, Bb, A.
The melody for the third line of 'Cryin' Holy' is the only really distinctive part of the melody of the song. Some Bluegrass players like to have fun with this line by syncopating in various different ways the timing of melody, which as usually sung is very straight (consecutive half-notes for its first three measures, in the choruses). For good examples of this, check out the banjo breaks on the version recorded by J.D. Crowe & The New South (key of B):
For contrast, here are Earl Scruggs' breaks on Cryin' Holy - key of A
(from 'Songs Of The Famous Carter Family': the Flatt & Scruggs record mentioned earlier in this email), which are similar to J.D.'s breaks, but without the syncopation in the third line:
Happy St. Patrick's Day!
The chord progression for the A-Part of Red Wing is:
1 1 4 1
5 1 2 5
1 1 4 1
5 1 2/5 1
Notice that line 2 uses the same order of chords as the beginning of the chorus of 'Old Home Place' and last week's song of the week 'Cry Cry Darlin'',
Some people use a 4 in place of a 5 at the beginning of lines 2 and 4, but, even though the melody at those points starts on the root note of the 4 chord, the 5 chord fits the melody better for those measures considered as a whole, and that is how I am most accustomed to hearing the tune played.
Here is a Canadian old-time version of Red Wing that I remembering hearing often when I was a boy:
The B-Part uses the same progression as 'Gold Watch And Chain', 'Way Down Town', 'This Land Is Your Land', (Prog. W10)
Red Wing sheeet music online:
My grandmother had an LP called 'The Original and Great Carter Family', that I recall listening to quite often when I was a child, and this record is now in my collection.
The main reason why I have dwelt on the music of the Carter Family in some recent song of the week emails, and now am doing in this one, is because I believe that in order to have a good understanding and an informed appreciation of Bluegrass music one must have some familiarity with the music of the Carter Family. I believe that the same holds true to one extent or another as regards certain other forms of music that predate Bluegrass for having a good understanding and an informed appreciation of Bluegrass: e.g., the American Old-Time fiddle tune square dance tradition (celebrated in Bill Monroe's classic original 'Uncle Pen'), some of the types of church singing that the fathers of Bluegrass grew up with, and select examples of pre-World War II Blues and Jazz.
In Bluegrass circles, the music of the Carter Family is often categorized as 'pre-Bluegrass'. Outside Bluegrass circles, people variously label their music as 'Hillbilly', 'Old-Time', 'Country', 'Folk', and even sometimes as 'Bluegrass'.
The 12 songs on the record - which can all be easily found on youtube - are:
Shortly after I discovered Bluegrass, I came across a Bill Monroe live Bluegrass Gospel cassette tape in a friend's tape collection, and borrowed it. This was the first time I had heard Bill Monroe, and Cryin' Holy was one of the first songs on the tape. (Being new to Bluegrass at the time, I was happily surprised at how many of the songs on the tape I already knew from non-bluegrass recordings of the same songs.) I recall liking that it was played much faster than on the old Carter Family record, and with my three favorite instruments taking turns playing breaks on it: fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. I also remember finding it interesting that the lyrics were noticeably different than what I used to from the Carter Family record.
The song of the week is the fiddle tune 'Cherokee Shuffle' in the key of A.
'Cherokee Shuffle' is closely related to the key of D fiddle tune 'Lost Indian', but unlike Lost Indian, Cherokee Shuffle has an unusual form. The B-Part of Cherokee Shuffle is 10 measures long instead of the usual 8 measures that make up a part in a double reel. (The A-Part of Lost Indian is essentially the same as the A-Part of Cherokee Shuffle. The B-Part of Lost Indian uses the same progression as, and a similar melody to the A-Part. In some versions of Lost Indian, the B-Part is little more than the A-Part melody played an octave higher.)
Here are two good versions of Cherokee Shuffle to listen to:
Gravel Road Bluegrass - Cherokee Shuffle
Josh Williams - "Cherokee Shuffle"
The chord progression we will use for Cherokee Shuffle at next week's intermediate jam is:
1 1 1 6m 4 1 4 1
4 1 5 1 4 1 1 6m 4/5 1
Note: On both versions provided here, the second to last measure of the B-Part is played the same way as the second to last measure of the A-Part, instead of there being a 4/5 split measure in the B-Part.
Here is a version of Lost Indian for comparison:
Lost Indian - Norman Blake / Doc Watson / Tony Rice
Cherokee Shuffle is one of the relatively few AABB-type fiddle tunes that I prefer not to start with an 8 potato intro at a jam, because the first melody note of the first measure is identical with the main note I would be droning in an 8 Potato intro (in the key of A, an A note that is in the same octave as the A note that the melody begins with), thus making it sound unclear where the intro ends and the tune begins. So, I start with three quarter note pickups instead that ascend into the A note (E, F#, G#: the 5th, 6th, and 7th notes of the A Major Scale.) Other tunes like this include Buffalo Gals, Salt Creek, and Red Wing.
The first four melody sheets attached here are just one of many hundreds of differing printed versions of the melody for Cherokee Shuffle. Most, but not all, of the alternate versions available fit just as well with the chord progression I have given for Cherokee Shuffle, so feel free to mix and match as you like the different versions you may know or may come across, but, in doing so, keep the chord progression in mind.
Although the melody sheets contain far more 8th notes than most other song of the week melody sheets, please remember that these sheets give only the melody (or rather, a melody); they are not full-fledged Bluegrass breaks, they provide you with nothing more than just a good starting point for creating such breaks (compare the melody sheets with the breaks you hear on the youtube links provided here, and notice the kinds of embellishments that are used in these breaks that are not represented anywhere on the melody sheets).
The "Banjo tab #2" melody sheet attached here gives only the most essential melody notes relative to the version of the melody given on the other melody sheets. The reason why I include it here is because it is characteristic of Scruggs-style banjo breaks for fiddle tunes to take a skeletal version of the melody and surround it with combinations of 8th notes and quarter notes that are clearly distinct from the melody and that often deviate significantly from the combinations of 8th notes and quarter notes that the other Bluegrass lead instruments tend to use as melody notes and/or filler notes. In order to be able to play the sequences of 8th notes written on the fourth melody sheet (banjo tab #1), which are the same notes given on the first three melody sheets, up to speed with finger picks, a banjo player would need to use single-string style or melodic style. (The fretboard locations I wrote for the notes in the A Part is intended for single-string style, and the fretboard locations I wrote for the notes in the B Part is intended for melodic style.)
Of all the melody sheets attached here, the "Banjo tab #2" melody sheet has the least in common with a bluegrass-style break. It contains far too many consecutive quarter notes, and no embellishments are given for any of the many half, dotted-half, and whole notes.
Most songs played at Bluegrass jams with a 6m chord in their progression could be played without the 6m and still sound musically correct, and Cherokee Shuffle is no exception to this. Although I don't think I have ever heard anyone play it like this, it would work to use the 4 chord in place of the 6m, because the main melody note in the 6m measures is a note that is part of both the 6m and the 4 chord (an F# note in the key of A.) F#m, which is the 6m for the key of A, consists of the notes F#, A, and C#. The D major chord, which is the 4 for the key of A, consists of the notes D, F#, and A.
The 6m chord shares two notes in common not only with the 4 chord, but also with the 1 chord. For this reason, when the 6m chord occurs in a progression for a song, it is common to be able to find other versions of the same song in which, depending on what the melody notes are at that point, either a 1 chord is used instead or a 4 chord used instead.
For instance, some versions of Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Prog. V3 on the basic progressions handout) use 1116m, or rarely 116m6m, in place of 1111 for the third line. At every bluegrass jam I can remember playing Sitting On Top Of The World, 116m6m was used for the third line, yet on all the old classic bluegrass recordings of the song that I am familiar with, that same line is played as 1111 (Prog. V3). In a previous incarnation of the beginner jam, Lonesome Road Blues was often played with 4416m for its third line in place of 4411 (Prog. W4). The Clumsy Lovers, the 'Raging Celtic-Bluegrass-Rock' band originally from Vancouver, BC that I have been a member of since the Spring of 2001, uses 6m511 for the last line of Amazing Grace in place of the much more common 1511 (Prog. V6), and 4416m in place of 4411 for the third line of You Are My Sunshine (Prog. V4).
Last month at the intermediate jam, I led Down In A Willow Garden with a 6m in the third line of the verses: 1116m, but with a 4 in the third line of the choruses: 1114 (the melody for both lines is identical) and then after the song was finished, I found out that Bart, who called the song, had intended for me to play both those lines as 1114, and I had simply misunderstood his instructions. (Left to my own devices, I usually play both lines as 1116m.) Yet other versions of the song use 4416m in place of the 6m6m16m that I typically use for the first line of the chorus.
At Bluegrass jams, the B-Part of Big Sciota is typically played as 155446m51, but at the Old-Time jam held at Pengilly's on Monday nights (right across the street from where our Wednesday and Thursday night jams are held), they usually play 6m in place of 4 and 4 in place of 6m, thus reversing the order in which the 4 and 6m occur in the progression: 1556m6m451.
Bill Cheatham and more
Here the chord progression we used for Bill Cheatham:
A-Part: 1 1 4 4 B-Part: 1/4 5/1 1/4 1/5
1 1 4 5/1 1/4 5/1 1/4 5/1
In last night's teaching segment I mentioned that for progressions that have several split measures back to back, it can be helpful to think of them in units of two measures. Thus, one might think of the B-Part of Bill Cheatham as consisting of the same order of chords that are used to play Blue Ridge Cabin Home (1,4,5,1), but going through the changes 4 times as fast, followed by the same order of chords that are used to play the first half of the A-Part of Boil The Cabbage Down (1,4,1,5), but going through the changes twice as fast. followed by two more repetitions of the 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home' order (1, 4, 5, 1; 1, 4, 5, 1).
Bill Cheatham - Special Consensus: key of A
Snyder Family Band - Bill Cheatham
Melody sheet music in A for Bill Cheatham:
Here are some good versions to listen to of three of the 'off-list' songs that were played at last night's jam:
How Mountain Girls Can Love - The Stanley Brothers: key of A
Blue Ridge Mountain Blues - Bill Clifton: key of F# (key of B during the guitar break)
- the instruments are tuned a half-step lower than standard.
Bluegrass Special!  - Bill Monroe And His Blue Grass Boys: key of G
Note: The chorus uses Prog. W9 which is often mistaken at jams for V9 because the first three lines of both progressions are the same, and because, of the two progressions, V9 is the more common one. A similar thing tends to happen with the closely related row Y and row Z progressions on the basic chord progressions chart: e.g., Y1 (e.g., the A-Part of Soldier's Joy and Old Joe Clark) and Z1 (e.g., the B-Part of Liberty and the A-Part of Clinch Mountain Backstep) are often confused with each other.
Cry Cry Darlin
Wow! What a fun jam last night!
The song of the week is 'Cry Cry Darlin'' in the key of G.
I learned this song from the following Bill Monroe recording:
Bill Monroe: key of A
But, here are some other good versions of the song to also take a listen to.
Alison Krauss: key of C (starts at 0:55)
Ricky Skaggs: key of G
Dolly Parton: key of C
Notice how the last two versions, while falling within the parameters of the Bluegrass genre (at least as it is now commonly understood), lean the song in a decidedly Country direction. If one considers how many artists associated with other genres of music come from Bluegrass backgrounds, how many Bluegrass artists have been heavily influenced by other genres, and how many elements of other genres were put together to create Bluegrass in the first place, it should come as no surprise that the dividing line between Bluegrass and certain other genres is at some points quite thin, and that in many of these cases, it will not always be clear where the Bluegrass genre ends and another genre begins or vice versa.
The chord progression for the verse (or A-Part, if you prefer to think of it that way) of Cry Cry Darlin' is the most common of all chord progression in Bluegrass:
The progression for the chorus (or B-Part) is:
Notice that the last two lines of the 'chorus' progression is the same as the last two lines of the 'verse' progression.
Other songs that have 55112255 for the first two lines of their chorus progression which are then completed by the second half of their verse progression include 'Old Home Place', 'I'd Rather Die Young', 'Next Sunday Darling Is My Birthday', and some versions of 'My Little Home In Tennessee'. Other instances in which 55112255 shows up in songs include the first half of the third verse of 'Sunny Tennessee', and the first half of what one might consider to be the 'pre-chorus' of 'Tall Pines'.
In the two other recent intermediate jam songs of the week that have been played at the jam with a 2 chord in their progressions ('I Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore', and 'Homestead On The Farm'), the 2 chord is not necessary to use in the progression for the song: one can find recorded versions of these songs that do not use the 2 chord that sound musically correct (though perhaps not always quite as interesting), and the same is true of many songs that are commonly played in Bluegrass circles with a 2 chord. The main reason for this is that, for a song that uses no notes in its melody other than that of the Major Scale, no Major chords other than the 1, 4, and 5 are needed to harmonize the melody, for together, these three chords contain all 7 notes that make up the Major Scale, and they are the only Major Chords that contain no notes that are not part of the Major Scale.
In the case of 'Cry Cry Darlin'', however, the main melody note in the 6th measure of the chorus/B-Part (a C# note when the song is played in the key of G) forms a severely dissonant interval with the root notes of the 1, 4, and 5 chords, and also with one of the other notes in the 1 chord, and in the 4 chord. The note in question happens to be the one and only note in the 2 chord that is not part of the Major Scale. When played in the key of G, the first half of the chorus/B-Part of Cry Cry Darlin' uses in its melody all, and only, the same notes that make up the D Major Scale. The three chords that are used for that part of the song when played in the key of G also happen to be the same chords that are the 1,4, and 5 chords for the key of D, namely D, G, and A. (Conversely, the 1,4, and 5 chords for the key of G are the 4, b7, and 1 chords respectively for the key of D. G and D are closely related keys: the G Major and D Major Scales share 6 of their 7 notes in common with each other.) For these reasons, it is possible that some people might find it helpful to think of that part of the song as involving a modulation to the key of D when we play it at next week's jam.
Here are the progressions for 'off-list' songs played at last night's jam, or at last week's intermediate jam, that deviate significantly from the progressions on the basic chord progressions chart:
The Carter Family - Keep on the sunny side
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Alison Krauss, Keep On The Sunny Side (50th Anniversary)
Yonder Mountain String Band - I Know You Rider
1 1 b7 4
1 1 1 1
1 1 b7 4
1 1 1 1
b3 b7b3 b7
1 1 1 1
Here are some excellent versions of various songs recently introduced into the new intermediate jam that I highly recommend taking a listen to:
In The Gravel Yard: Doyle Lawson: key of A
Leavin': James King: key of B
Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms: Flatt & Scruggs: key of Bb.
Note: When played as a Bluegrass song, this is about how fast this song is when it is played 'up to speed'. To play this fast without tiring out and slowing down, economy of motion is a necessity, especially as it concerns the right hand. It also helps greatly if one eliminates any unnecessary 'clutter' from one's playing: e.g., upstroke strums on rhythm guitar between the four strongest spots in a measure, consecutive 8th notes on banjo in places where a quarter note played in place of a pair of 8th notes could be more effective for drawing attention to an important note.
Love Me Darling Just Tonight: The Stanley Brothers: key of A
Dooley: The Dillards: key of B
Big Sandy River: Kenny Baker: key of A
I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home: The Bluegrass Album Band: key of Bb
Ninety-Nine Years (And One Dark Day): Hot Rize: key of B
The G-Runners: key of A
Head Over Heels: Flatt & Scruggs: key of G
Jason's Intermediate Jam Blog 2017 - 2018
started as Beginner Jam in Jan 2015
Songs regularly called at Bluegrass Jams and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order