The song of the month for June will be 'Canaan's Land' (a.k.a. 'Where The Soul Never Dies') in the key of F. I'll be at the jam on Wednesday, June 8th to lead it.
Here are three versions of Canaan's Land to take a listen to. The third one is not a bluegrass version, but the vocal arrangement is so good that I couldn't help but include it here.
Ricky Skaggs and Tony Rice (key of E)
Jim and Jesse (key of G)
The Oak Ridge Boys (key of F, final choruses modulate to the key of Bb)
Here are some youtube jam videos I have made for Canaan's Land:
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Harmony & Lyrics
I advise getting solid on one of the first two versions first provided in the recordings section, to the point that you can clearly distinguish between the lead part and the tenor harmony part, and then you may wish to study the third version for additional harmony parts and ideas.
Canaan's Land is an interesting song to sing harmony on. The set of lyrics used for the harmony part(s) on the chorus, and on the repetitive parts of the verses, is different from the set of lyrics used for singing the lead part (i.e., the melody).
Here is how the two sets of lyrics line up with each other for the chorus. You may find it helpful to practice this with one of the first two recordings and/or with one the jam videos.
Lead: No / sad / fare / wells / no /
Harmony: Dear / friends there'll / be no / sad fare / wells, there'll
Lead: tear / dimmed / eyes / where /
Harmony: be no / tear-dimmed / eyes / where /
Lead: all / is / love / and the /
Harmony: all is / peace and / joy and / love, and the /
Lead: soul / never / dies. / /
Harmony: soul of / man never / dies. / /
The repetitive parts of the verses (lines 2 and 4 of each verse) line up in the same way as line 4 of the chorus.
I know 5 verses for Canaan's Land, but at jams I usually only sing 3 of these:
Verse 1 is given on the melody sheets provided at the bottom of this write-up.
The non-repeating parts of my second verse are:
(line 1) The love light beams across the foam
(line 3) It shines to light the shores of home
The non-repeating parts of my third verse are:
(line 1) A rose is blooming there for me
(line 3) And I will spend eternity
(line 1) I'm on my way to that fair land
(line 3) Where there will be no parting hand
(line 1) My life will end in deathless sleep
(line 3) And everlasting joys I'll reap
The chord progression is the same as for 'Gathering Flowers From The Hillside', 'Fireball Mail', 'Bringing In The Georgia Mail', the original version of 'I'm Goin' Back To Old Kentucky' and the verses of 'Feast Here Tonight':
In the key of F: 1 = F and 5 = C.
The melody uses the Major Pentatonic Scale, and therefore, in the key of F, it contains no notes that are not also part of the C and Bb major scales. F and C are closely related keys, F and Bb are closely related keys. But, C and Bb are not closely related keys. The 5 notes of the F major pentatonic scale are: F, G, A, C, and D. (The 7 notes of the C major scale are: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. The 7 notes of the Bb major scale are: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, and A. Each of these scales share 6 notes in common with the F major scale, but the C and Bb major scales only share 5 notes in common with each other. The 7 notes of the F major scale are: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, and E.)
Guitar: Capo Options
The two most common options used by bluegrass guitar players for playing in F are: 1) Capo 5 and play as if in C. In the key of C: 1 = C and 5 = G; and 2) Capo 3 and play as in D. In the key of D: 1 = D and 5 = A. In the files, I have included 2 melody sheets for guitar, one written in C and the other written in D.
Banjo: Capo and Tuning Options
On banjo, there are many ways to play in the key of F, but I think that for 'Canaan's Land', played in Scruggs-style, the 3 best options are:
1) Capo 3 and tune the 5th string up to a C note (i.e., use your 10th fret spike if you have one, or, if not, then use your 9th fret spike and then tune up the extra half-step to a C note manually). and play as if in D. See banjo tab #1 in the files below.
2) Tune the 2nd string down to an A note, tune the 3rd string down to an F# note, capo the 3rd fret, then tune the 5th string up to an A note (i.e., use your 7th fret spike), and play as if in D. Your 'open' strings will now register on your tuner as the notes belonging to the F chord: AFACF. See banjo tab #2 in the files.
3) Play in F without a capo, but tune the 5th string up to an A (i.e., use your 7th fret spike) so that the 5th string is tuned to a note that belongs to the '1' chord.
Of these options, I prefer the 2nd and 3rd. The 2nd option allows one to use more open strings than the other options, and favors the use of slides and pull-offs to the same degree as key of G Scruggs-style playing. The 3rd option allows one to play a break within the first 3 frets of the banjo. When played in F, Canaan's Land contains no chords or melody notes that do not also frequently show up when playing songs in the key of C. So, if you are accustomed to playing in C, but not F, without a capo, I suggest that Canaan's Land might work well for you as a way of introducing yourself to playing in F without a capo.
Canaan's Land - banjo tab 1
Canaan's Land - banjo tab 2
Canaan's Land - banjo tab 3
Canaan's Land - guitar tab 1
Canaan's Land - guitar tab 2
Canaan's Land - mandolin tab
Canaan's Land - melody in F
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