The song of the week is 'Love Of The Mountains' in the key of A.
Larry Sparks - key of A
The chord progression for Love Of The Mountains is simple and repetitive, but a bit unusual for a Bluegrass song in that a '4' follows a '5' without a '1' intervening between the 5 and the 4.
On the recording, an extra measure of the 1 is added to the end of the progression for the verses, resulting in a 54111 line for the last line of each verse, much like one or more extra measures of the 1 are often added to the ends of breaks before the next verse starts. When leading the song at a jam, however, it is safer to avoid adding an extra measure of the 1 to the end of the verses. In all my years of jamming experience, I don't recall ever playing the song with anyone who did add the extra measure to the end of the verses.
The order of frequency, from most frequent to least frequent, in which chord changes involving the 1, 4, and 5 tend to show up in Bluegrass is as follows:
change from 5 to the 1 (most common)
change from the 1 to the 5
change from the 1 to the 4
change from the 4 to the 1
change from the 4 to the 5
change from the 5 to the 4 (least common)
The use of a '5411' line (sometimes modified to '5415') at the end of a progression is much more common in Blues and early Rock & Roll than what it is in Bluegrass.
The most common progression with a 5411( or 5415) ending line is the progression that is often referred to as the '12 bar blues':
Compare this with the progression that is used to play the 12 measure version of Worried Man Blues, and many other Bluegrass songs (Shuckin' The Corn, Blue Grass Stomp, the breaks for Rocky Road Blues, etc.):
Each line in the progression for Love Of The Mountains ends with two measures of the 1 chord, and within these two measures at the end of each line there is a long enough 'dead space' within the melody for a fill-in lick to be played.
Playing Love Of The Mountains at a jam provides one with a better opportunity than what most other songs do to practice varying one's choice of fill-in licks. For, on the one hand, if one simply uses the same one or two fill-in licks to plug up every dead space, it won't take long for this to start sounding monotonous, but, on the other hand, if not enough dead spaces are filled in, the song will sound empty.
Notice how every dead space is filled in on the recording (primarily by the banjo on the verses, and primarily by the fiddle on the choruses). Also notice the variety of fill-in licks being used to fill the dead spaces.
As I sing the song, and as it is sung on the recording, there is a bit more to the melody than what I have shown on the attached melody sheets. To give just one example, the careful listener should notice that the note sung in measure 3 of line 2 of verses 2 and 3 is a higher note than the note sung in measure 3 of line 2 of verse 1.
The melody sheets in the song of the week emails are provided first and foremost to give people a good starting point of reference for creating melody based breaks. When it comes to learning to sing a song, it is much better to learn the melody of the song by listening to and singing along with the recordings rather than by trying to learn it from the melody sheets. The melody sheets, both in terms of the note choices and the timing of the notes, more often than not show the melody in a simpler form than how it would usually be sung.
There are no harmony vocals on the recording. Not every song needs harmony on the choruses: especially if enough tasteful things are being done on the instruments to keep the song full and interesting. But, if you would like to, feel free to add a harmony part on the choruses when I lead the song at the jam.
She's More To Be Pitied
Here is the Stanley Brothers record of She's More To Be Pitied:
Notice especially the unusual length of line 3 of the chorus, which makes it difficult to predict how long line 4 should be before starting a break following the chorus.
Here is the Flatt & Scruggs record of I'm Gonna Sleep With One Eye Open
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