Excellent jam last night!
The song of the week is 'I'll Fly Away' in the key of G.
The chord progression is:
This is Progression V3 on the 'Basic Chord Progressions' handout, and is the same progression that is used for 'Will The Circle Be Unbroken', 'Mountain Dew', 'Cryin' Holy', 'Ridin' The Midnight Train', the chorus of 'It's Mighty Dark To Travel', some versions of 'Sitting On Top Of The World', and many other bluegrass jam standards.
In the key of G: 1=G; 4=C; 5=D.
The G chord consists of the notes: G,B, and D
The C chord consists of the notes: C,E, and G
The D chord consists of the notes: D,F#, and A
Observe that with these three chords, all 7 of the notes that make up the G major scale are accounted for: G, A, B, C, D, E, and F#. The same necessarily holds true for the 1,4,and 5 chords of any key relative to the major scale of that key. This is a big part of the reason why most songs require no more than 3 chords; this holds true even for many songs which are commonly played with more than 3 chords.
While the chord progression is the same for both the verse and the chorus of I'll Fly Away, the melody of the chorus differs from the melody of the verse. The spots that differ are the whole first line and (in most versions: the Gillian Welch/Alison Krauss version on the youtube link below is an exception) the first two measures of the 3rd line.
In the attachments, I have provided the melody for the verse as a guide for creating melody-based breaks for each of the instruments; but since the progression is the same for both the verse and the chorus, if you know the chorus melody and would like to play a break that is based upon the chorus melody instead of the verse melody, feel free to do so, just not at the beginning of the song for the intro break. This can make the song a bit more interesting, especially when two breaks are played back to back, or after several breaks have been already been played in the song that have been based upon the verse melody, and it will work in the context of the collective breaks that we play at the beginner jam, since the chorus melody does not conflict with the verse melody.
I welcome harmony singers to sing not only on the choruses, but also on the second and fourth lines of the verses (the 'I'll Fly Aways'). Please remember though that when singing harmony, it is important to be focused on the lead singer as much as possible for the sake of timing, tuning, and phrasing.
In the attachments, I have included a simple three part harmony arrangement for the choruses (the notes for the 'I'll Fly Aways' in the verses are identical with the notes for the 'I'll Fly Aways' in the choruses, so I have not included a harmony arrangement for those parts of the verses in the attachments.) There are much more interesting note choices that one could use for the harmony parts than what I have written here, but I thought that, for the sake of those who are just beginning to learn to sing harmony, I should keep the parts as simple and straightforward as possible. But, some ideas for what you might do for more interesting harmony parts than just singing all the syllables in time with me can be found on the youtube links below, especially the first one.
On the harmony sheet attached here, the notes for the tenor harmony are the highest of the groups of three notes on the staff, the notes for the baritone harmony are the lowest, and the melody is the middle set of notes. If it suits your vocal range better, you may drop the tenor harmony part an octave to create the harmony part that is known in bluegrass as the 'low tenor' (this is what I would need to do to sing this part, if the song were to be sung in a key a third or more higher than G), or you may raise the baritone harmony an octave higher to create the harmony part that is known in bluegrass as the 'high baritone'. (Most women will need to do this in order to sing this part, unless the melody is being sung in an unusually high range for bluegrass.)
The Stanley Brothers - key of A
Doc Watson - key of G - instrumental (verse and chorus breaks)
Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch - key of D
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