The song of the week is 'How Mountain Girls Can Love' in the key of A.
The Stanley Brothers - key of A
How Mountain Girls Can Love has only two verses, yet on the recording, the Stanley Brothers manage to squeeze in three breaks in addition to the intro break, without two breaks being played back to back at any point in the song. This is done by going straight into the chorus after the intro break, which is then followed by another break before the first verse is sung, and by going into another break and chorus after the second verse and chorus have been sung.
The arrangement on the record is:
This type of arrangement is worthwhile keeping in mind for almost any fast two-verse song that one may call at a jam. Of course, extra breaks can also be added into a song by doing two or more breaks back to back in certain spots of the song (and we will quite likely also do this when I lead How Mountain Girls Can Love at the jam next week); but, when arranging a song for bluegrass jamming purposes, the more places one can find in the song where it will work to put breaks the better.
The chord progression for the breaks and verses of How Mountain Girls Can Love is:
This is the same as the progression that is used for 'My Home's Across The Blue Ridge Mountains', the verses of 'Columbus Stockade Blues', and the chorus of 'Are You Missing Me'.
The chord progression for the chorus is:
This is the same as the progression that is used for 'Way Down Town', 'Gold Watch And Chain', and the B-Part of 'Red Wing'.
Anticipating the Chorus
Because the chorus starts with a different chord than the chord that the breaks and verses start with, it is important to be able to anticipate which part of the song is coming next when playing it with others. Notice that the chorus occurs only four times in the song: after the first and last breaks, and after each of the two verses.
When I lead How Mountain Girls Can Love at the jam, I will indicate that the chorus is coming up next by playing either a 7th chord during the last measure of the verse progression, or a slow-moving descending or ascending run during the last two measures of the verse progression that leads from the 1 to the 4 chord.
A (dominant) 7th chord is created by adding to a major chord the note that is a whole step lower than the root note of the chord. Adding an F note to a G chord results in a G7; adding a G note to an A chord results in an A7; adding a Bb note to a C chord creates a C7; adding a C note to a D chord creates a D7, etc.
The (dominant) 7th chord most naturally leads to the chord whose root note is a perfect 4th higher than the root note of the 7th chord. Thus, A7 leads to D, D7 leads to G, G7 leads to C, C7 leads to F, F7 leads to Bb, etc.
In the key of A, the notes I use for a descending run that takes up the space of two measures to lead from the 1 chord to the 4 chord are A, G, F#, E. This series of notes leads down to a D note, the root note of the 4 chord. (In the key of G, the corresponding notes are G, F, E, D, leading down to a C note.) In the key of A, the notes I use for an ascending run that takes up the space of two measures to lead from the 1 chord to the 4 chord are: A, B, C, C#. This series of notes leads up to a D note. (In the key of G, the corresponding notes are G, A, Bb, B, leading up to a C note.)
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