In The Pines
The song of the week is 'In The Pines' in the key of E.
The chord progression is:
(This is the same as if one were to play the last 2 lines twice of the verses or choruses of many other songs, including Foggy Mountain Top, Amazing Grace, All The Good Times Are Past And Gone, Swing Low Sweet Chariot, Cotton Fields, and Little Cabin Home On The Hill.)
In the key of E: 1=E; 4=A; 5=B
The E chord consists of the notes: E G# B
The A chord consists of the notes: A C# E
The B chord consists of the notes: B D# F#
Together, these 7 notes (E F# G# A B C# D#) make up the E major scale.
Since it is always a viable option - even if not usually the best option when playing bluegrass - to play the '5' chord in the song as a 7th chord, guitar players playing through this progression may wish to play a B7 chord instead of a B for the '5' chord measures. Because playing a B chord on guitar requires using a bar chord, and bluegrass guitarists have a tendency to avoid bar chords when possible, playing a B7 in this context is much more common amongst bluegrass guitarists than playing a B.
For banjo players I recommend placing the capo on the 2nd fret and spiking/capoing the 5th string at the 9th fret. The fingerings then become just as if one were playing in the key of D: 1=D; 4=G; 5=A. Many guitar players will probably wish to capo to the 2nd fret also. Capoing to the 4th fret, and then playing as if in C (1=C, 4=F; 5=G) is also an option for banjo and guitar players for playing in the key of E, and works well on many songs, but not so well for 'In The Pines': the main reason being that the song favours the use of additional
notes in breaks and backup licks that do not belong to the E major scale which
tend to be more awkward to play in combination with the notes of the major scale when working out of 'C' instead of 'D' or 'E'. These additional notes give a 'bluesy' quality to the song which suits the 'lonesome' subject matter of the lyrics
quite well. (To see which notes these are and where they are located on your instrument when playing in the key of E, see the melody sheet and the sheet music to tab conversion chart attached to this email.)
An additional reason for avoiding capoing to the 4th fret to play In The Pines in E, is that the 'C' chord shape as played within the first three frets on guitar and as played within the first 2 frets on banjo tends to detract from the bluesy feel that the song lends itself so well to, and has a greater potential than what either the 'D' or the 'E' chord shapes that occur within the first 3 frets of guitar or
banjo do to clash noticeably with some of additional notes being played by other instruments that give the song a bluesy flavour.
For those who are relatively new to reading music, I would like to point out that there are a couple of symbols on the melody sheet attached here that you will not see often on the melody sheets for the song of the week.
The first one, at the top of the page, consists of a pair of 8th notes followed by an equals sign followed by three 8th notes of which the first two are tied together and the numeral '3' occurs above the three 8th notes. This means that whenever you see a pair of 8th notes in the written music, the first of the two notes is held twice as long as the second one, but together, they take up the same amount of time in the measure as what two 'ordinary' (evenly spaced) 8th notes take up. To get the feel for this, sing (or play) the melody along with the sung choruses on the youtube link provided below, making sure that your 8th notes line up with the vocal phrasing.
The second symbol that you will not often see on the song of the week melody sheets occurs in the pickup measure before the second note, and in 4 other measures as well, in the 'modified melody'. This is called a 'natural' sign, and simply means that you play a natural note (e.g., G) in place of the note that is indicated by the key signature (e.g., G#). When a natural sign occurs before a note, it temporarily overrides the key signature (just as when a sharp sign or a flat sign occurs before a note); both that note and all subsequent notes within the same measure that are written on the same line or space become naturals, unless a flat or a sharp sign occurs before a subsequent note written on the same line. After the measure ends, the key signature goes back into full effect. If you aren't sure that you understand this correctly, don't concern yourself too much with it, for I have written the letter names of the notes below each of the notes occurring in the 'modified melody', so you may use those to help you read the music correctly.
In The Pines - Bill Monroe - key of F
Peter Rowan - key of E
Boone Creek (Ricky Skaggs on lead vocal) - key of B
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