The song of the week is 'Old Home Place' in the key of Bb.
J.D. Crowe & The New South - Key of Bb. This is likely the most well-known recording of Old Home Place in Bluegrass circles.
The Dillards - Key of A (somewhat sharp relative to A=440) This is the original recording of Old Home Place.
The chord progression for the verses and for the breaks is:
The progression for the chorus is:
In the key of Bb: 1=Bb, 2=C, 3=D, 4=Eb, 5=F.
There is one other song on the new playlist for the Intermediate Jam that uses the 3 chord: the fiddle tune Cheyenne. The B-Part is played in the key of Bb, and its progression consists of the last half of the verse progression for Old Home Place played twice through:
The melody for the first and third lines of the B Part of Cheyenne is very similar to the melody for the first and third lines of the verse of Old Home Place. It will work well to use the second half of your break for Old Home Place for both halves of the B Part of Cheyenne, especially if your break for Old Home Place uses a generic 'break-ending' lick for the 1511 line instead of following the melody closely.
Also, notice that the first half of the chorus of Old Home Place uses the same progression (55112255) as the first half of the chorus/B-Part of a 'Cry Cry Darlin', a previous intermediate jam song of the week.
The 3 Chord
A quick way to determine what the 3 chord is for any given key is to think of it relative to the 4 chord. The 3 will always be one letter lower and one half-step lower than the 4.
For each of the 8 Major keys we play in at the jam, the 3 & 4 chords are:
Key 3 4
G B C
A C# D
Bb D Eb
B D# E
C E F
D F# G
E G# A
F A Bb
The 3 chord is almost always followed by a 4, or a 6, or a 6m chord.
(Dominant) 7th Chords
The main melody note during the measures that use the 3 chord (see the attached melody sheets) is not a note that is part of the 3 chord. The melody note, when added to the chord, makes the chord a dominant 7th chord: D7 when in the key of Bb, B7 when in the key of G, etc. It is common practice for guitar players capoed to the 3rd fret for playing in Bb to use a B7 chord shape in their rhythm playing during the 3 chord measures rather than the more awkward to fret B major chord shape.
This leads to the question as to when it is and is not appropriate, or safe, to use a (dominant) 7th chord in place of major chord.
Recall to mind the order of letters in the circle of 5ths: F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
Expanded to include sharps and flats, the sequence becomes:
Fb, Cb, Gb, Db, Ab, Eb, Bb, F, C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#.
For the four major chords that are to the right of the 1 chord in the sequence, which, in order, are the 5, the 2, the 6, and the 3 (F, C, G, and D in the key of Bb; or D, A, E, and B in the key of G, etc.), adding the note to the chord that makes it a 7th chord will almost never sound out of place. One reason for this is that the note that is added to these chords to make them 7ths is part of the major scale of the 1 chord. The further to the right of the '1', the more common it becomes to use a 7th in place of a regular major chord. For example, for a song in the key of G that has both an A and a D chord in it, A7 tends to be used in place of A more often than what D7 is used in place of D.
For the '1' chord itself, and the chords to the left of the 1 chord, the note added to make these chords 7ths is not part of the major scale of the 1 chord. The further to the left of the '1' that the chord is, the less occasion there will be to use the 7th in place of the regular major chord. For example, in the key of G, G7 will usually only be used as a transitional chord to lead the ear from a G chord to a C chord; C7, is used less often than G7, and will lend a 'bluesy' sound to the music, which may or may not be desirable depending upon the feel and mood of the song. And, by the time we get to F7, the resulting sound of using this chord when playing in the key of G will be, shall we say, 'too jazzy' to fit well into most traditional bluegrass.
Not only is the progression of Old Home Place uncommon, but the arrangement also is. Two verses are sung back to back before a chorus, rather than the usual alternating pattern of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, etc. A typical arrangement for a recorded version of this song is:
When playing this song at a jam, it is best to stick to this form, with the exception that after the first and second choruses, several breaks (instead of just one break) may be placed back to back to accommodate as many lead instruments as necessary. The intro break is usually played on banjo; so, if you call this song at a jam, and there is a banjo player there who feels comfortable playing the intro break, it is advisable to invite him to kick off the song.
Since the chorus starts on a different chord than the rest of the parts of the song, it is a good idea to signal when one is leading into the chorus (especially when leading into the final chorus, and even more so, if several breaks are played back to back right before the final chorus). This is done by playing a run that leads from the 1 chord to the 5 chord: for this purpose, a 3 note run is more effective than a 2 note run. In the key of Bb, and ascending 3-note run to the F chord might consist of the notes: D, Eb, E; a descending 3-note run to the F chord might consist of the notes A, Ab, G.
Guitar players (capoed to the 3rd fret, so thinking as if in the key of G, rather than in the key of Bb, although playing in Bb) are best off using the ascending run 'B, C, and C#' (on the A string) to lead from the 'G' to the 'D' chord. Banjo players may use the descending run 'F#, F, E' (on the low D string) to lead from the 'G' chord to the 'D' chord.
One may also wish to signal the change from the 1 chord to the 2 chord in the chorus by playing a 3 note run. Good notes to use for this are the ascending sequence: A, Bb, B when in the key of Bb. The corresponding notes for the key of G are: F#, G, G#.
Have a happy New Year!
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