The song of the week is 'Old Joe Clark' in the key of A.
Carolina Bluegrass Express
UK98 Bluegrass Band
Gravel Road Bluegrass Band
Breaks & Tempos
My intentions in revisiting 'Old Joe Clark' as a song of the week for the intermediate jam are: 1) to provide an occasion for people to review the breaks they have been playing for the most frequently played fiddle tunes at the jam to see if there is anything in their breaks that could use some 'updating' in accordance with the level of playing ability that they have now attained; and 2) to continue where we left off at when Liberty and Turkey In The Straw went through their song of the week cycles in terms of working on increasing the tempos at which the jam group is able to successfully play standard fiddle tunes.
In the attachments, I have given not only a version of the basic melody, but also two breaks each for fiddle, mandolin and guitar in which notes are added around the basic melody. If the breaks you play for Old Joe Clark consist of little more than just the basic melody, or if you are looking for ideas for other ways to play a break for Old Joe Clark than how you usually play your break, I hope you will find these useful. I have not included any banjo breaks in the attachments because most banjo players who learn to play Old Joe Clark learn to play it with many notes added around the basic melody from the get go.
Better yet, in listening to the breaks on the recordings given below, if there is anything in them that strikes you as something that you would like to add into your breaks for Old Joe Clark, try to learn it directly from the recording. Remember, if you go to settings in youtube, you can slow down the recording to half speed.
The breaks given in the attachments are not as busy as most of the breaks on the recordings provided below, but if you combine the two breaks together, using most of the busy spots in each, then the resulting breaks will come close to some of the breaks heard on the recordings. However, in view of the tempos at which Old Joe Clark will be played at the jam, be careful about how many notes you try to put into your breaks all at once.
The tempos at which I intend to kick off Old Joe Clark at as it goes through its song of the week cycle are:
Mar. 27th: 124 beats per minute (2 clicks of the metronome per measure)
Apr. 3rd: 128 beats per minute
Apr. 10th: 132 beats per minute
1 1 1 5
1 1 1/5 1
1 1 1 b7
1 1 1/5 1
In the key of A:
1 = A
5 = E
b7 = G
With the capo in the second fret, the chord shapes become:
1 = G
5 = D
b7 = F
Note: the way that many people, myself included, play the F chord-shape on the guitar looks very similar to the fingerings used for the C chord-shape. So, if you are following a guitar player for the chord changes for Old Joe Clark while at the jam, it can be helpful to keep in mind that there is no '4' chord in the progression.
The b7 Chord
A quick way to determine what the b7 (flat-seven) chord is for any given key is to think of it relative to the 1 chord. The b7 will always be one letter lower and one whole-step lower than the 1. Make it a point to remember this.
For each of the 8 Major keys we play in at the jam, the b7 chord is:
Key (1) b7
It is called the b7 (flat-seven) chord because the root note of the chord is a half-step lower than the 7th note of the Major scale (flat means a half-step lower). E.g., The G Major Scale consists, in order, of the notes: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#. The 7th note of the G Major Scale is therefore F#. The note that is a half-step lower than F#, and uses the same letter in its name as F#, is F. Therefore, in the key of G, the b7 chord is F.
The melody of the tune is based upon the mixolydian scale. This scale, which shows up frequently in the traditional music of the American South and the British Isles, and in Gregorian Chant, is in all respects like the major scale that we are all familiar with (do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do), except that the seventh scale degree ('ti') is lowered by a half step.
The result is that a mixolydian scale always has one less sharp (or one more flat) in it than the major scale that shares its same letter name. Since the A major scale has 3 sharps (F#,C#,G#), the notes of the A major scale being, in ascending order of pitch: A B C# D E F# G# A, the A mixolydian scale (like the D major scale) has 2 sharps (F#,C#), the notes of the A mixolydian scale being: A B C# D E F# G A. Since the G major scale has 1 sharp (F#), the G mixolydian scale (like the C major scale) has no sharps. The G major scale is: G A B C D E F# G. The G mixolydian scale is: G A B C D E F G.
Intros & Endings
The most effective way to kick-off most AABB-form fiddle tunes, including Old Joe Clark, at a jam is not by playing a pickup measure consisting of three quarter notes to lead into your intro break, but is by droning in a straight but rhythmic manner the root note of the key that the tune is in (often together with another one of the notes that also belong to the 1 chord) for four measures to lead into your intro break.This is called in bluegrass and old-time circles the '8 Potato Intro'.
It is also customary in Bluegrass circles to end most AABB-form fiddle tunes (as well as most fast instrumentals) with a tack-on 'double ending' that is played, not in place of the last 4 measures of the tune, but rather immediately after the last measure of the tune has been played. 'Double' refers to the ending being 4 measures long rather than only 2 measures long. Most of these types of endings consist of two 2-measure length ending licks played back to back.
16 songs were played at last night's jam:
Blue Ridge Cabin Home - A
Clinch Mountain Backstep - A
Down The Road - B
Homestead On The Farm - A
I Can't Feel At Home In This World Anymore - G
In The Sweet By And By - B
Liberty - D
Lonesome Road Blues - A
Old Joe Clark - A
Turkey In The Straw - G
Wildwood Flower - D
Angeline The Baker - D
Temperance Reel - G
Little Darling Pal Of Mine - E
Ashes Of Love - A
Born To Be With You - B
The chord progression used for Ashes Of Love was:
1 1 4/1 5
5 5 5 1
1 1 4/1 5
5 5 5 1 1
Jason's Intermediate Jam Blog 2019 - 2021
Weekly on Thursdays
Songs regularly called at the Beginner Bluegrass Jam and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order