The chord progression we used for Swing Low Sweet Chariot last night is V6 on the Basic Chord Progressions chart, which is the same progression used to play Foggy Mountain Top.
The chord progression is one of the most common progressions in bluegrass:
Here are a couple of good bluegrass versions of Swing Low Sweet Chariot to take a listen to:
Del McCoury - key of B
Listening to Del McCoury is always an opportunity for me to get ideas for improving my rhythm guitar playing. Del never plays guitar breaks, but he is one of the greats when it comes to good solid bluegrass-style rhythm guitar playing. Although it is not the first thing that jumps out to the listener on most bluegrass records, the vital role of rhythm guitar in bluegrass should never be underestimated: it is the 'glue' that holds a bluegrass band together. The way that the guitar is played in a bluegrass band when it is playing backup can make or break a bluegrass band. There are many nuances to master - some of them very subtle - in becoming a solid bluegrass rhythm guitar player, and good backup skills are a much more important thing for a bluegrass guitar player to have than the ability to play breaks.
Bill Monroe (the 'Father of Bluegrass') - key of B (Gospel Medley: Swing Low Sweet Chariot, I'll Fly Away, I Saw The Light.)
Notice that, in these versions, line 2 of the progression is 1111 instead of 1155, and that this affects the choice of harmony notes on the syllable 'home' in line 2 of the verses and choruses.
In last night's teaching segment, we went over using a capo to play in keys other than G, using the common sets of chord shapes that are used to play in the keys of G, C, and D without a capo; and, by way of reference to the chromatic scale, how to readily identify the name of the real chord being played when one sees a common chord shape being played on guitar when the capo is on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th frets. For the benefit of those who were not able to make it to the jam last night, and as a way of summarizing the information for those who were there, I have included in the attachments a simple capo chart (written with the guitar in mind, but applicable to any instrument that a capo may be used on), and I have circled the scenarios in it that are the most typical for bluegrass guitar playing.
weekly on Wednesdays
Songs regularly called at the Beginner Bluegrass Jam and links from Jason's "Song of the Week" emails. (from Renee)
in alphabetical order