The song of the week is 'Beautiful Brown Eyes' in the key of G, played in cut common time (2/2) rather than in waltz time (3/4).
Red Allen (under the title: Beautiful Blue Eyes) - key of A
The Gibson Brothers - key of B
When I introduce Beautiful Brown Eyes into the Beginner Jam repertoire, I play it in 3/4 time because I think it is one of the easiest songs to use for acquainting new jammers with playing in 3/4 time. Also, people from non-bluegrass backgrounds who are already familiar with the song are more likely to have heard it played in 3/4 time rather than in cut common time.
However, while most non-bluegrass recordings of Beautiful Brown Eyes are in 3/4 time rather than in cut common time, the opposite is true of bluegrass recordings of the song.
The first bluegrass version of Beautiful Brown Eyes, or rather Beautiful Blue Eyes (a common alteration of the title and the chorus lyrics in bluegrass versions of the song), that I ever heard was the Red Allen recording provided here. Apart from retaining 'brown' in place of 'blue', my cut time version of the song follows this recording closely.
My reasons for recycling Beautiful Brown Eyes as a song of the week for the Intermediate Jam are: 1) to draw attention to a much more standard way of playing the song as a bluegrass song than how it has usually been played at the jam up to this point, and 2) to help demonstrate how to convert a song from one time signature to another.
Time Signature Conversion
Beautiful Brown Eyes is just one of many songs for which there are both 3/4 time and non-3/4 time recorded versions.
I believe the best way to get started with learning how to convert a song from one time signature to another is by listening to examples of the same song played in more than one time signature. For this reason, I have included youtube links for some of the examples given below.
Another thing that could be helpful would be to compare the timing of the melody notes on the melody sheets attached here with the timing of the melody notes on the melody sheets for Beautiful Brown Eyes in 3/4 time provided for the beginner jam, for which, go to: https://www.idahobluegrassassociation.org/beginner-jam/category/beautiful-brown-eyes
The classic example of a bluegrass song played in both 3/4 time and in cut common time is Bill Monroe's 'Blue Moon Of Kentucky'. Bill originally recorded the song in 3/4 time. But after Elvis Presley recorded his non-3/4 time version of the song (which the Stanley Brothers later copied), Bill recorded it again, playing the first half of it in 3/4 time and the second half of it in cut common time.
Bill Monroe: 3/4
The Stanley Brothers
Bill Monroe: 3/4 & 2/2
Besides Beautiful Brown Eyes, there are two other songs on the current intermediate jam list for which I am familiar with both 3/4 and 2/2 versions: Down In A Willow Garden, which is most often played in 3/4 time and How Mountain Girls Can Love, which is almost always played in 2/2. I have only ever heard one 3/4 time version of the latter song: I was surprised at how well the song worked in 3/4 time, but I would strongly advise against trying to introduce a 3/4 time version of How Mountain Girls Can Love into a bluegrass jam, since all the standard well-known versions of the song are in 2/2.
How Mountain Girls Can Love: 2/2 (standard)
How Mountain Girls Can Love: 3/4 (non-standard)
Other songs (not all of these are bluegrass examples) that I have heard both 3/4 and non-3/4 versions of include:
Streamline Cannonball (Hank Snow 3/4;
Doc Watson 2/2:
The Girl In The Blue Velvet Band (Bill Monroe 3/4:
Hylo Brown 2/2:
Mary Of The Wild Moor (Doc Williams 4/4;
The Louvin Brothers 3/4:
Before I Met You
I'm Thinking Tonight Of The Old Folks (a.k.a. Dixie Home)
I Never Will Marry
Dark As A Dungeon
We Three Kings
Just a quick note that Beautiful Brown Eyes as I play it, and as played on the recordings provided here, does not use the Bury Me Beneath The Willow/Wreck Of The Old '97 progression, the most common chord progression in bluegrass, but uses the closely related, but far less common, progression:
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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