Foggy Mountain Top
The song of the week is 'Foggy Mountain Top' in the key of G.
The chord progression for 'Foggy Mountain Top' is one of the most common progressions in bluegrass:
(Prog. V6 on the Basic Chord Progressions handout. In the key of G: 1=G, 4=C, 5=D.)
Other bluegrass standards that use this same progression include:
Live And Let Live
I'll Never Shed Another Tear
All The Good Times Are Past And Gone
On And On
Little Cabin Home On The Hill - verse prog. only
Before I Met You - verse prog. only
Cabin In Caroline - verse prog. only
Gonna Settle Down - verse prog. only
Little Girl Of Mine In Tennessee - verse prog. only
Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane - verse prog. only
Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go - verse prog. only
Lovesick And Sorrow - verse prog. only
Greenville Trestle - verse prog. only
Keep On The Sunny Side - chorus prog. only
For people who are much less familiar with bluegrass than with other genres of music, some good points of reference for this progression might include:
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Jesse James - verse prog. only
Cotton Fields - verse prog. only
My Old Kentucky Home (some versions) - verse prog. only
Note: With the exceptions of 'Hallelujah, I'm Ready To Go' and 'My Old Kentucky Home', all the songs listed here in which only the verses of the song use the V6 progression, the progression for the chorus is prog. X6 on the basic chord progressions handout:
Progressions V6 and X6 tend to show up together with each other in the same song much more frequently than any other pair of progressions on the basic progressions handout.
Compare the progression for 'Foggy Mountain Top' (V6) with the progression for the song that was the song of the week two weeks ago: 'I Still Write Your Name In The Sand' (V7):
Notice how similar these two progressions are. They differ from each other only in 2 of their measures, namely the last measure of line 1 and last measure of line 3.
Part of the practical value of observing how certain commonly recurring progressions are similar and different from each other is that by taking note of this, one can help oneself to avoid certain common mistakes.
In my many years of jamming experience, I have noticed that a lot of people tend to be more familiar with prog. V7 than with prog. V6. At large jams, whenever a song that uses prog. V6, I have found that it is typical to find at least one person playing prog. V7 for at least the first round or two through the progression. I count this as being one of the top half dozen or so errors involving wrong chord changes that occur at jams. Yet, the opposite case - namely, someone playing prog. V6 during a song that uses prog. V7 - rarely ever occurs at jams.
Another way to put this is that when the first three measures are 114, there is a much greater tendency to assume that the fourth measure will stay on the 4 instead of going back to the 1.
This assumption should be avoided, because songs with the 'Foggy Mountain Top' (V6) progression are very common in bluegrass, even if not quite as common as songs with the 'I Still Write Your Name In The Sand' (V7) progression.
Here is a live version of Foggy Mountain Top to listen to, played in the key of G:
Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs: