The song of the week is 'Gold Rush' in the key of A.
Sierra Hull & Highway 111 with Ben Somerville
Form & Progression
'Gold Rush', like majority of the fiddle tunes played at the jam, is an AABB tune. (This means that the tune consists of two parts, each of which is played twice before the next part is played.)
The chord progression for the A-Part is:
1 1 1 1
1 1 5 1
The progression for the B-Part is:
1 4/1 1 1
1 4/1 1/5 1
At some jams you may hear a 6m chord being played in place of the 1 chord in the 4th measure of the B Part. (The 6m is the relative minor of the 1 chord. In the key of A: 6m = F#m.)
Bluegrass Fiddle Tunes
Unlike most of the fiddle tunes played at the jam, Gold Rush is not a traditional old-time tune that has been adapted for Bluegrass, but was composed by Bluegrass musicians to be a Bluegrass tune (in this case, by Bill Monroe and Byron Berline).
As the jam group has progressed since September of 2015 until now, our choices of instrumentals to call at the jam has gradually shifted away from the most basic of traditional fiddle tunes well known in Bluegrass (e.g., Boil The Cabbage Down), towards the more complex of the traditional fiddle tunes that tend to be popular at Bluegrass jams (e.g., Red Haired Boy).
Along the way, a few fiddle tunes specific to the Bluegrass genre, like Gold Rush, have made their way into our jam repertoire. Hand in hand with this, a few specifically Bluegrass banjo tunes have also been introduced into the jam.
If we carry on in the direction we are headed, we may arrive at a more balanced ratio between traditional fiddle tunes and specifically bluegrass fiddle tunes being called at the jam. In connection with this, I would expect to see an increase of bluegrass banjo tunes being played at the jam, and perhaps also bluegrass mandolin and guitar tunes.
Here is the list of instrumentals that have been played at the jam since Sept. 2015, given in approximately the order in which they were first played at the jam. In cases where I put 'bluegrass fiddle', 'bluegrass banjo', etc. in parentheses, the tune is not of bluegrass origin, but, as far as I can tell, has come to be associated with bluegrass more so than with any other genre, and has been adapted to bluegrass in such a manner as to make it sound (at least to my ears) like it was written for the genre. These are tunes that I regard as though, for all practical purposes, they may just as well have been written for bluegrass. For tunes that strike me as unusual tune choices for a bluegrass jam, I have put the titles in brackets. Each of those tunes have only been played once at the jam.
Boil The Cabbage Down
Cripple Creek - (bluegrass banjo)
Angeline The Baker
Old Joe Clark - (bluegrass banjo/fiddle)
[Liza Jane - an old-time tune, usually played in A, with the same title as another tune further down the list]
Wildwood Flower - (bluegrass guitar/banjo)
The Girl I Left Behind Me
Big Sandy River - bluegrass fiddle
Reuben - (bluegrass banjo)
Gold Rush - bluegrass fiddle
Red Haired Boy
Clinch Mountain Backstep - bluegrass banjo
Whiskey Before Breakfast
Turkey In The Straw
Over The Waterfall
Fireball Mail - (bluegrass banjo)
Cluck Old Hen
Cheyenne - bluegrass fiddle
[Sandy River Belle]
Back Up And Push - (bluegrass fiddle)
Sally Goodin - (bluegrass fiddle/banjo)
Shuckin' The Corn - bluegrass banjo
Home Sweet Home - (bluegrass banjo)
Earl's Breakdown - bluegrass banjo
Salt Creek - (bluegrass fiddle/banjo)
Farewell Blues - (bluegrass banjo)
Cumberland Gap - (bluegrass banjo)
John Hardy - (bluegrass banjo)
Flint Hill Special - bluegrass banjo
Foggy Mountain Special - bluegrass banjo
Black Mountain Rag - (bluegrass fiddle/guitar)
Rawhide - bluegrass mandolin
Melody & Breaks
In addition to, or in place of, making use of the recordings and the melody sheets provided here as a starting point for coming up with a break on your instrument for Gold Rush, I recommend checking out the following:
Gold Rush - guitar lesson (Tony Rice)
Gold Rush - A Part - banjo lesson
Gold Rush - B Part - banjo lesson
Gold Rush - fiddle lesson
Gold Rush - mandolin lesson
Please be aware that the melody sheets I offer in the attachments represent only one of many possible interpretations of the basic melody of Gold Rush. Some of the melody-based breaks you hear on good recordings of the tune will come closer than others to sounding like they are based upon what you see written on the melody sheets. (Be careful also not to mistake the mere melody for a full-fledged bluegrass break.)
In addition to differing interpretations of the melody, on banjo, the style in which a player chooses to play will also be a factor as to how much their break is able to sound like it is based upon the interpretation of the melody offered here. For instance, a purely Scruggs-style break will necessarily skip over some of the notes in the measures that consist mostly of 8th notes, often replacing them with 'filler' (non-melody) notes. In order for a 3 finger style banjo player to grab all the notes on the melody sheet, it would be necessary to make at least a certain amount of use of melodic style and/or single string style.
In learning Gold Rush from a recording (or from a transcription of a recording), remember that there are countless 'right' ways to play a break for this tune or for any other bluegrass tune, so there is no need to try to learn to play a break exactly as it is played on a recording.
Even if you wish to learn to play a break for Gold Rush exactly as on a certain recording, if you come across a spot or two in the break that you are having particular difficulty playing or figuring out how to play, I recommend that you try to find something different to do in that spot of the break. Rely on the musical sensibility and knowledge of how music works that you have acquired to guide you in doing this.
I Saw The Light
I will not be at the next intermediate jam (5/18/2018).
The song of the week will be 'I Saw The Light' in the key of Bb.
Though not originally a bluegrass song, 'I Saw The Light' has by now become a bluegrass jam standard. Everything about the song - its melody, its chord progression, its subject matter, etc., makes it perfect for bluegrass. 'I Saw The Light' was written and originally recorded by Hank Williams.
The Stanley Brothers - key of Bb
Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys - key of B
For the sake of comparison and contrast, here is the original Hank Williams recording of I Saw The Light (key of G):
Progression & Melody
The chord progression for I Saw The Light is:
Notice that the last line of the progression consists of five measures, instead of only four.
In the key of Bb: 1=Bb. 4=Eb, and 5=F.
The Bb chord consists of the notes: Bb,D, and F
The Eb chord consists of the notes: Eb, G, and Bb
The F chord consists of the notes F,A,C.
Together, these notes make up the Bb Major Scale: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, but the melody of 'I Saw The Light', like many other songs, makes use of only 5 of these: the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, and 6th notes of the scale (In Bb, these notes are Bb, C, D, F, and G: these 5 notes form what is called the Bb Major Pentatonic Scale.)
For playing in the key of Bb, banjo and guitar players almost always capo the 3rd fret so they can play as if they were playing in the key of G. (Bb is 3 half-steps higher than G.) For this reason the melody sheets attached here for guitar and banjo are written in the key of G.
[In the key of G: 1=G. 4=C, and 5=D. The G chord consists of the notes: G. B, and D. The C chord consists of the notes: C, E, and G, The D chord consists of the notes: D, F#,, and A. Together, these notes make up the G Major Scale: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#. The 5 notes: G, A, B, D, and E form the G Major Pentatonic Scale.]
I welcome harmony singers to sing not only the choruses with me, but also on the last line of each of the verses: "Praise the Lord, I saw the light" (the last line of the verses uses the same words and melody as the last line of the chorus.)
Man Of Constant Sorrow - E
Black Mountain Rag - A
Rawhide - C
Progression for the B Part is: 3333666622225555
The song of the week is 'Dooley' in the key of A.
The Dillards - key of B
The chord progression is uncommon for a vocal bluegrass song in that it makes use of progressions that are usually reserved for fiddle tunes:
The progression for the chorus is the same as the progression for the A Part of Liberty:
...unless one counts as part of the progression the extra measure of the 1 on the recording that separates the end of the chorus from the beginning of the breaks. But this extra measure has usually been left out when we have played the song at the jam, and I intend on keeping it that way when I lead the song at the jam as it goes through its song of the week cycle.
The progression for the breaks and verses is the same as the progression for the A Part of Boil The Cabbage Down and the B Part of Soldier's Joy:
1 4 1 5
1 4 1/51
(played twice for a complete verse or break)
This is Prog. Y7 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.
This progression is closely related to the most common chord progression in bluegrass for vocal songs, namely the progression that is used for Bury Me Beneath The Willow, Wreck Of The Old '97, I Still Write Your Name In The Sand, and countless other songs:
(Prog. V7 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout.
Notice that Prog. Y7 differs from Prog. V7 only in that Y7 runs through the chord changes twice as fast. Where there are two measures of a given chord back to back in V7, there is only one measure of that same chord in Y7. Where there is one measure of a given chord in V7 before the next chord change, there is only half a measure of that same chord in Y7 before the next chord change.
Since I intend on leaving out the extra measure of the 1 chord between the end of the chorus and the beginning of the breaks, there will be no time for me to call out the breaks that immediately follow the chorus. (Notice that the chorus progression as written here ends with only one measure of the 1 chord.) If one does three quarter note pickups into these breaks, the first of the pickup notes must start immediately after the last sung syllable of the chorus. So, for breaks following choruses, you will need to rely solely on visual cues from me.
I end the song with a vocal tag by repeating the last phrase of the chorus: 'and I'll pay you back someday'. With the tag included, the progression for the final chorus will become:
The last syllable occurs on the first beat of the second to last measure, which allows for a typical two-measure ending lick to be played on the 1 chord measures that the song will end with, just like in nearly all the other vocal songs we play at the jam.
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