The song of the week is 'Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong' in the key of D. This song was written by Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt, and was recorded in 1947 by the original bluegrass band, Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys, which at that time consisted of: Bill Monroe on mandolin. Lester Flatt on guitar, Earl Scruggs on banjo, Chubby Wise on fiddle, and Howard Watts on bass. On this song, as on most of the songs that Bill Monroe recorded with this lineup, Lester sings lead, and Bill sings the tenor harmony, i.e., the harmony part that is pitched directly above the lead part. Here is a link to the 1947 recording:
The chord progression and the melody for this song are both very simple. It is the same chord progression that is used for 'Blue Ridge Cabin Home', which is regularly played at the jam. and for many other standard bluegrass songs.
played through twice for a complete verse, or a complete chorus.
The melody consists of only 5 notes: A, B, C#, D, and E, and many of these notes are lingered on for a good length of time, so this song could make a good place to start for learning to pick up melodies by ear, and/or to make a first attempt at singing harmony. Nevertheless, I have attached melody sheets to this email. There are two for guitar, one in D, and the other in C since some guitar players may prefer to play this song in D by capoing to the 2nd fret and then using the same fingerings they would use for playing in the key of C. The banjo tab of the melody is written in C, and so to play it in D, banjo players will need to capo to the 2nd fret. The reason I gave a tab in C instead of D is because this allows for more melody notes to be located on the 3rd string rather than the 2nd while holding the basic chord shapes within the first 3 frets of the banjo in place, which allows for a wider variety of the basic roll patterns to be placed around the melody for creating a Scruggs-style break based upon the melody.
As you listen to the recording, pay close attention to the feel of the song, before making an attempt to play along with it. Because the song has a different feel to it than most of the songs we play at the jam, I strongly recommend playing along with the recording after having listened to it a few times through. It is a slow song (about 86 beats per minute on the recording), and, at the jam, I may choose to play it slower than the speed it is at on the recording to more clearly distinguish its tempo from that of the moderate tempo and fast songs that we play at the jam, since we often play those at slower speeds than what one would more commonly hear them be played at on a typical bluegrass record. Be careful not to push the beat on this song - be mindful of this when practicing along with the record I preparation for playing it at the jam: otherwise it will tend to end up gravitating too much towards the tempo ranges that we play alot of other songs at the jam, and, at the same time, will lose its distinctive feel.
Some guitar and bass players may find it helpful to make it a point to play a bit more deliberately than usual on their first bass note of the measures of the song in order to better maintain the right feel for the song and to avoid pushing the beat. For playing breaks (on all instruments) the same might be the case for some players, especially on the last note of their fillin licks.
On the record, the breaks within the body of the song are only half the length of a verse, and the intro break is even shorter than that. At the jam, however, we will play full-length breaks (i.e., breaks that last the same length of time as one verse, in this case, as in most other songs sung at the jam, this is 16 measures). If you are a mandolin player, and you have found yourself copying the non-melody based break that Bill Monroe plays after the 2nd chorus of the song, and you wish to use it as part of a full length break for the song at the jam, something you might try doing is to play the first half of your break in a melody-based manner, and then, for the second half of your break, play how Bill plays it on the record.