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:
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com)
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
At the intermediate jam in December, I intend to call the following three songs:
Wildwood Flower - D
Canaan's Land - F
Auld Lang Syne - G
In preparation for the Jan. 12th intermediate jam (and the subsequent intermediate jams in February and March), I would like to create a new main song list for the jam that consists mostly of songs that the regulars and semi-regulars at the jams intend to call during the first half of the evening at the jams.
So, if you are a regular or semi-regular at the Intermediate jams, please email me back with a short list of two, three, or four songs that you especially like to call at the Intermediate jam.
A copy of the current handouts for the intermediate jam may be found here (scroll to the bottom of the page in the link for the handouts):
Idaho Bluegrass Association - Jason's Intermediate Jam Blog 2021 - 2022
Song of the week write-ups, melody sheets, etc., and jam videos for the songs of the month can be found on the IBA website by clicking on the following links:
All of Jason's Songs - Idaho Bluegrass Association
(write-ups for Canaan's Land and Auld Lang Syne)
(Here is an updated link to the Bill Keith recording of Auld Lang Syne, since the one I gave in the write-up no longer works: Auld Lang Syne - YouTube)
Category: Wildwood Flower - Idaho Bluegrass Association (write-up for Wildwood Flower)
Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com) (jam videos for Wildwood Flower and Canaan's Land)
Beginner Bluegrass Jam 12/12/2020 | Jam Along | Idaho Bluegrass Association | Jason Homey - YouTube (jam video for Auld Lang Syne: starts at 13:06)
In addition to listening to at least one of the recordings in the Recordings section of the write-ups for each of the three songs of the month, I recommend that singers review the Harmony & Lyrics section of the write-up for Canaan's Land and the third paragraph of the 'Vocal or Instrumental?' section of the write-up for Wildwood Flower, and that guitar and banjo players review the 'Guitar & Banjo Melody Tabs' section of the write-up for Wildwood Flower, and that banjo players review the 'Banjo: Capo & Tuning Options' section of the write-up for Canaan's Land.
As regards 'Auld Lang Syne':
We will play this mostly as an instrumental, but perhaps sing a verse and chorus near the end of it.
The chord progression I use for Auld Lang Syne is:
Each break will run through the progression twice (32 measures in total) so that each instrument gets to play a break based upon the melody for both the verse and the chorus.
Additionally, I recommend that banjo players check out the following videos on Wildwood Flower:
Wildwood Flower played in 4 different keys on banjo:
Wildwood Flower in G, C, D, and F! // Bluegrass Banjo Lesson - YouTube
Wildwood Flower played in D tuning on banjo:
Wildwood Flower - D-Tuning - Walk Thru and Demo - Bluegrass banjo - YouTube
Finally, for a live performance of Auld Lang Syne that is arranged in the same kind of manner as how I will lead it at the jam: check out the following:
Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys (starts at 20:39)
Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys, IBA Open Mic, 12_16_19 - YouTube
At the intermediate jam on December 8th, I welcome you to call Christmas songs at the jam that you would like to play that you believe would be a good 'fit' for the intermediate jam group. And you need not wait until the second half of the evening to call these.
If you have tried adapting Christmas carols to bluegrass, then you may have noticed that some carols adapt more easily and naturally than others. Most of the ones in 3/4 time are good candidates for attempts to play them with a bluegrass feel; but of these, the ones that tend to adapt best have fewer melody notes (on average) per measure and fewer quick chord changes relative to the ones that don't adapt quite as easily. For example, Silent Night, Away In A Manger, It Came Upon The Midnight Clear, and We Three Kings are more 'bluegrass-friendly' than The First Noel and We Wish You A Merry Christmas.
The carols that are either in cut time (2/2) or in 2/4 (e.g., Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas) are natural candidates for being given a bluegrass treatment; while, on the other hand, most of the 4/4 carols (e.g., O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town Of Bethlehem) need to be converted to a cut time feel in order to be played as bluegrass songs; but this can be challenging to do if one is not yet very familiar with how this kind of conversion works. Being able to do this conversion is useful not only for creating bluegrass arrangements of Christmas carols, but also for many other songs from various different genres.
Christmas/Seasonal songs that have been played in past years at the December through early January jams include:
Angels We Have Heard On High
*Auld Lang Syne
*Away In A Manger
*Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem
Christmas In Prison
Deck The Halls
The First Noel
Go Tell It On The Mountain
*God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
*Good King Wenceslas
Ihr Kinderlein, kommet
Lasst uns froh und munter sein
Let It Snow
*O Come All Ye Faithful
*O Little Town Of Bethlehem
Santa Looks Alot Like Daddy
*Shepherds In The Field
*What Child Is This
For the songs marked with asterisks, there is information on the IBA website: in some cases complete song of the week write-ups (with melody sheets and recordings), while in other cases, only the chord progression is given. All of Jason's Songs - Idaho Bluegrass Association (Chord progressions for several Christmas songs are given in the O Little Town Of Bethlehem song of the week write-up on the website. Intermediate Bluegrass Jam Songs - Idaho Bluegrass Association)
In addition to the jam videos available here Jason’s YouTube Links – Alphabetical Listing – Parisology (cyberplasm.com) for Away In A Manger, Beautiful Star Of Bethlehem, God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Good King Wenceslas, O Little Town Of Bethlehem, and Silent Night, I have also made a jam video that includes Jingle Bells, Shepherds In The Field, and Auld Lang Syne (Beginner Bluegrass Jam 12/12/2020 | Jam Along | Idaho Bluegrass Association | Jason Homey - YouTube), and a jam video that includes Joy To The World, We Three Kings, and What Child Is This Intermediate Bluegrass Jam 12/12/2020 | Jam Along | Idaho Bluegrass Association | Jason Homey - YouTube
Finally, here is a live performance from the December 2019 IBA open mic of 6 Christmas/Seasonal songs (O Little Town Of Bethlehem, Away In A Manger, Good King Wenceslas, Silent Night, Shepherds In The Field, and Auld Lang Syne) by Jason Homey & The Snake River Boys:
Jason Homey and the Snake River Boys, IBA Open Mic, 12_16_19 - YouTube
Jason's Intermediate Jam Blog