The next intermediate jam will be held on Nov. 30th.
The song of the week will be '(Someday) We'll Meet Again Sweetheart' in the key of Bb.
Flatt & Scruggs - key of B (instruments tuned up a half step higher than standard)
This was the first song that Flatt and Scruggs recorded together after leaving Bill Monroe's band. (Lester Flatt on guitar and lead vocal, Earl Scruggs on banjo, Jim Shumate on fiddle, Howard Watts, a.k.a. Cedric Rainwater on upright bass, and Mac Wiseman on guitar and tenor harmony vocal.) It is one of 28 songs that Flatt & Scruggs recorded together on Mercury Records between 1948 and 1950. To listen to the complete collection of 'the Mercury Sessions' refer back to the song of the week write up for 'Why Don't You Tell Me So':
Parmley & McCoury - key of B
This is the first version of 'We'll Meet Again Sweetheart' I heard when I was just beginning to get into Bluegrass. This record (in the form of a cassette tape I bought at a Bluegrass Cardinals concert) has been in my collection since 1992, and was a big influence on my playing. From the same album, check out the following songs. This is really high quality Bluegrass well worth taking the time to listen to (over and over) and absorb.
Roll On Buddy - key of B
I'm Going Back To Old Kentucky - key of A
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot - key of B
Down The Road - key of B
I'll Drink No More Wine - key of G
Smoke Along The Track - key of A
I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling - key of E
We'll Meet Again Sweetheart uses the same progression that is used to play 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home':
The melody of We'll Meet Again Sweetheart uses all 7 notes of the Major Scale, with the lowest note being, in Nashville Numbers, the '5' below the '1' (F note in the key of Bb; D note in the key of G). and the highest note being the '4' above the '1' (Eb note in the key of Bb; C note in the key of G).
One characteristic feature of the melody of this song is how often and how long the melody lingers on the 3rd of each chord (i.e., in the key of Bb: D notes during Bb chord measures, G notes during Eb chord measures, and A notes during F chord measures. In the key of G, the corresponding notes and chords are: B notes for G chord measures, E notes for C chord measures, and F# notes for D chord measures).
Another feature of the melody - and one which severely limits the range of keys in which I can feel comfortable singing the song in - is the unusually wide intervals between some of these 3rds of each chord and the note that immediately precedes them. This occurs, for instance, at the end of measure 2 going into measure 3, where the melody abruptly descends from the 3rd of the 1 chord to the 3rd of the 4 chord, and in measure 6, where the melody abruptly ascends from the root of the 5 chord to 3rd of the 1 chord in anticipation of the upcoming chord change from the 5 back to the 1.
Playing in Bb: A Quick Review
The Bb Major Scale consists of the notes: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, and A.
If you wish to get really familiar with using this scale on fiddle and mandolin, I recommend as a fun exercise, transposing the melody of Turkey In The Straw
https://www.idahobluegrassassociation.org/intermediate-jam/category/turkey-in-the-straw up 3 half steps from G to Bb.
Here are the corresponding notes of the G and Bb Major Scales:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
G, A, B, C, D, E, F#
Bb,C, D, Eb ,F, G, A
The 1, 4, and 5 chords for the key of Bb are Bb, Eb, and 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, and C.
The b3 and b7 ('blue') notes for the key of Bb are D and Ab.
When playing up the neck on banjo in the key of Bb (capo 3, playing as if in G), you may find it helpful to use your 10th and 15th fret markers as your primary points of reference.
Summary Of Last Night's Teaching Segment
The E Major Pentatonic Scale consists of the notes: E, F#, G#, B, and C#.
The E Minor Pentatonic Scale consists of the notes: E, G, A, B, and D.
Put these two scales together, and you end up with a good combination of notes for playing songs in the key of E, (like 'In The Pines', last night's song of the week) when a bluesy or lonesome sound is highly desirable in breaks and in licks used in your backup playing: E, F#, G, G#, A, B, C#, D.
In Nashville Numbers, and then transposed for each of the other 7 Major keys used at the jam, the notes become:
1 2 b3 3 4 5 6 b7
G A Bb B C D E F
A B C C# D E F# G
Bb C Db D Eb F G Ab
B C# D D# E F# G# A
C D Eb E F G A Bb
D E F F# G A B C
F G Ab A Bb C D Eb
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
The song of the week is 'In The Pines' in the key of E.
'In The Pines' is in 3/4 time (a.k.a. 'waltz time': 3 beats per measure: guitar rhythm: boom-chuck-chuck), and is usually played at a slow tempo.
The chord progression is:
In the key of E: 1=E, 4=A, 5=B
Bill Monroe - key of F
Boone Creek (Ricky Skaggs on lead vocal) - key of B: this is my favourite recorded version of 'In The Pines': notice that the chorus is shorter than on the previous version: this is the way (i.e., with the 'woo-woo-woos' mimicking the sound of the wind omitted) that I sing the song.
Peter Rowan - key of E
Melody & Breaks
The melody of In The Pines uses only the first 5 notes of the major scale. In the key of E, these notes are, from lowest to highest: E, F#, G#, A, B. However, In The Pines lends itself well to being played with more of a lonesome or bluesy feel to it than what would seem to be implied by the notes that the melody consists of. So, in both my backup playing and in my breaks, I tend to make a lot of use of b3 and b7 notes. In the key of E, those notes are G and D respectively.
For instance, when playing a melody-based break for the song, I will tend to substitute G notes in place of some of the G# notes, and in my fillin licks - both in my breaks and in my backup playing - I will tend to use D notes in spots where I would much more often use C# notes instead. Many of my fillin licks, and other licks that I might use in a break when I am not attempting to stick close to the melody, will consist solely of the notes that make up the minor pentatonic scale. The E minor pentatonic scale consists of the notes: E, G, A, B, and D
To get a feel for how one might get started in doing this for a melody-based break for 'In The Pines', I have included in the attachments, in addition to the melody as I tend to sing it (which consists of just E, F#, G#, A, and B notes), a modified 'melody' that adds 3 additional notes into the mix: G, A#, and D. When I am really going for a 'bluesy' feel in a break or in a fillin lick for 'In The Pines', I will make frequent use of the A#/Bb note as a passing note between A and B notes, whether ascending: A, A#, B, or descending: B, Bb, A. If you choose to make use of this note, be careful about how long you linger on it, for it clashes severely with all three of the chords in the song.
The 'modified melody' in the attachments is only a basic example of how one might go about making use of the three extra notes to give a lonesome or bluesy sound to one's breaks. There are many more ways in which one might make use of these notes in one's breaks (and also in one's backup playing), so I suggest experimenting with these notes a bit. You might, for instance, take some licks you already know, and try modifying them in various ways to include one or more of these notes in them. In doing this, you might find it helpful to listen closely to the Boone Creek version of 'In The Pines' - see the link below - to use as a point of reference for the kind of 'sound' or 'feel' to aim for.
Due to its slow tempo, you might find that playing 'In The Pines' at the jam affords you with a good opportunity to try to get more 8th notes - and even 8th note triplets (see the explanation below if you are not sure what 8th note triplets are) - into your breaks than what you otherwise tend to play. You might also like to use the song as an opportunity to work on improvising (i.e., making up a break on the fly), since the slow tempo allows one a bit more time to think about which note or combination of notes one might like to play next.
Swung 8ths and 8th Note Triplets
There are a couple of symbols on the melody sheets attached here that you will not see often on the melody sheets for the song of the week.
The first one, at the top of the pages, consists of a pair of 8th notes followed by an equals sign followed by three 8th notes of which the first two are tied together and the numeral '3' occurs above the three 8th notes. This means that whenever you see a pair of 8th notes in the written music, the first of the two notes is held twice as long as the second one, but together, they take up the same amount of time in the measure as what two 'ordinary' (evenly spaced) 8th notes take up. To get the feel for this, sing (or play) the melody along with the sung choruses on the youtube link provided below, making sure that your 8th notes line up with the vocal phrasing.
The numeral '3' which is placed below the staff under the group of three 8th notes in the second to last measure of the 'modified melody' indicates a triplet. Each note of an 8th note triplet lasts one-third the length of a quarter note; so, together, these three notes last the same amount of time as a single quarter note.
Guitar Tab Melody Sheets
For playing in the key of E, Bluegrass guitar players most often capo either to the 2nd fret and then play as if in D or capo to the 4th fret and then play as if in C. But, for In The Pines, as well as for many other songs in which it is desirable to make use of a lot of 'blue notes' (i.e., b3 and b7 notes) in one's playing, the 'capo 4 play as if in C' option can make doing this more awkward than what it needs to be, so I have not included a key of C melody sheet in the guitar tab attachments. (In the key of D, the b3 and b7 notes are F and C, whereas in the key of C, the b3 and b7 notes are Eb and Bb.)
However, in addition to the key of D guitar tab melody sheet, I have included a key of E melody sheet in the guitar tab attachments, since playing in the key of E without a capo lends itself at least just as well to the use of blue notes as what the 'capo 2 play as if in D' option does. If you have never tried playing a guitar break in the key of E without a capo, but would like to, I suggest that In the Pines is a good song to start with.
Note: When playing in the key of E without a capo, Bluegrass guitar players tend to play a B7 rather than a B for the '5' chord.
Banjo Tab Melody Sheet
Both the range of the melody for In The Pines and the desirability of using many 'blue notes' in one's breaks and backup playing for the song make the 'capo 2, play as if in D' option more practical than the 'capo 4, play as if in C' option. Therefore, I have included a key of D banjo tab melody sheet in the attachments, but not a key of C tab.
For banjo players using the melody sheet as a guide for creating a break: for successive 8th notes in the melody, or in fillin licks, there is no need to avoid picking the same string two or more times in a row with the same finger: the song is played slowly enough to allow one to be able to play smoothly even while temporarily breaking away from typical banjo picking patterns in cases where doing so ends up being a more straightforward and simpler option.
Shuckin' The Corn
Here is the original Flatt & Scruggs recording of Shuckin' The Corn. (Played in the key of Ab instead of G, but only because the instruments were all tuned up a half step higher than standard.) I highly recommend listening to this:
The song of the week is 'Love, Please Come Home' in the key of B.
Reno & Smiley - key of A
Del McCoury - key of B
Bill Monroe - key of B
The chord progression for 'Love Please Come Home' is:
Compare this with the progression for 'You Are My Sunshine' (Prog. V4 on the basic chord progressions chart):
The b7 Chord
The b7 (flat seven) chord is always one whole step (= two half steps) lower than the 1 chord. It is called the b7 chord because its root note is obtained by flatting (i.e., lowering by one half step) the 7th note ('ti') of the major scale.
in the key of G: b7 = F
in the key of A: b7 = G
in the key of Bb: b7 = Ab
in the key of B: b7 = A
in the key of C: b7 = Bb
in the key of D: b7 = C
in the key of E: b7 = D
in the key of F: b7 = Eb
Melody & Breaks (for non-capoed instruments)
Notice that the melody of 'Love Please Come Home' contains two notes that are not part of the B Major Scale (see the attachments). These two notes, the flatted 3rd and the flatted 7th (D & A respectively when in the key of B), are called 'blue notes'. Blue notes frequently show up in licks in bluegrass breaks even in songs in which the melody does not contain any blue notes. When the melody of a song does contain blue notes, take that as an invitation to try using more blue notes than usual in your breaks.
When playing in keys that have a lot of sharps in them (B has 5 sharps), being able to make extensive use of blue notes can often help to make playing breaks in those keys easier because the blue notes end up being notes that belong to the more user-friendly keys that have fewer sharps in them.
To acquaint yourself with making use of 'A' notes when playing in the key of B, try playing the following scale:
B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A, B.
This is known as the B Mixolydian Scale. It consists of the same notes as the E Major Scale (4 sharps instead of 5 sharps). To get the hang of making use of A notes while playing in the key of B, try playing a break for Old Joe Clark in the key of B by raising every note by a whole step that you play in your key of A break for the tune. Here is a comparison of the notes of the A and B Mixolydian Scales to help you with this:
A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G
B, C#,D#,E, F#,G#,A
To acquaint yourself with using A and D notes when playing in the key of B: try playing the following two scales:
B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A, B (B Dorian Scale: consists of the same notes as the A Major Scale: 3 sharps)
B, D, E, F#, A, B (B Minor Pentatonic Scale: consists of the same notes as the D Major Pentatonic Scale)
Clinch Mountain Backstep and Cluck Old Hen both use the Minor Pentatonic Scale. Try playing a break in B for one or both of these tunes by raising all the notes in your key of A breaks up a whole step.
Here is a comparison of the notes of the A Minor Pentatonic and B Minor Pentatonic Scales:
A, C, D, E, G
B, D, E, F#,A
Melody & Breaks (for capoed instruments)
Notice that the melody of 'Love Please Come Home' contains two notes that are not part of the G Major Scale (see the banjo and guitar tab melody sheets in the attachments). These two notes, the flatted 3rd and the flatted 7th (Bb & F respectively when in the key of G), are called 'blue notes'. Blue notes frequently show up in licks in bluegrass breaks even in songs in which the melody does not contain any blue notes. When the melody of a song does contain blue notes, take that as an invitation to try using more blue notes than usual in your breaks.
If you do not have much experience with using blue notes in your breaks, try playing your breaks for Old Joe Clark (contains F notes when played in G), and Clinch Mountain Backstep or Cluck Old Hen (both tunes contain Bb and F notes when played in G) before working up a break for Love Please Come Home. Then, as you work out a break for Love Please Come Home, try to find spots where you can make use of the some of the same moves and note combinations in it that you use when playing Old Joe Clark, Clinch Mtn., etc.
The chord progression used for Devil's Dream was:
1 1 2m 2m
1 1 2m 5/1
(In the key of A: 2m = Bm. In the key of G: 2m = Am.)
Bill Monroe & The Bluegrass Boys - Devil's Dream
Melody and Mandolin tap
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