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Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former - Albert Einstein

Recent Posts

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11
The Back Porch / Re: Covering the Song, Not the Arrangement
« Last post by Johnm on September 20, 2019, 12:52:32 PM »
Hi Vermonter,
My advice for re-arranging songs in different playing positions or tunings than they were originally played in is to look at the instrumental range of the melody, and where it sits in the scale.  If you think of "Candyman" as played by Rev. Davis, his playing position was C position in standard tuning.  The melody of his instrumental version never goes higher than the G note at the third fret of the first string, or lower than the G note on the open third string.  So you could say that the range of the instrumental version Rev. Davis' "Candyman" is an octave, from a low V note to a high V note. 

In choosing a playing position or tuning to do a new arrangement of "Candyman" in, you have to see where that octave melodic range from V to V is going to fall in the tuning or playing position.  Spanish tuning (in G) is tuned DGDGBD.  In Spanish tuning, then, the  melodic octave range from V to V goes from the open fourth string up to the open first string.  You can see from that that you are going to be able to play the song without ever having to go up the neck; indeed, you'll never have to play anything higher in pitch than the open first string. 

If you then take it a step further and say, "I'd like to incorporate that rocking interior motion that Rev. Davis' version of "Candyman" has.", where did that rocking motion happen in his version?  It's all on the third string, moving back and forth from the open third string to the second fret of the third string.  If you then say, "What are those notes as expressed in the key of C where Rev. Davis played the song?", they are G and A, the V and VI notes of the C scale.  So if you want to achieve the same rocking motion in a version played in Spanish tuning, you'll need to rock back and forth between the V and VI notes of the key of G.  Those notes are D and E, and they live at the open fourth string and the second fret of the fourth string.  At this point, all that remains in putting together the arrangement in Spanish tuning is to transpose the melody from C to G.

Taking the first step to determine the melodic range of the song and seeing where it superimposes on the scale is the most important step in re-arranging a song, whether you choose to do it in a different position in standard tuning than it was originally played in, or an open tuning (assuming you wish to play the melody in your arrangement).  Once you know where the range sits in the scale, you can easily check the technical feasibility of playing the song in a variety of different positions and tunings.  I hope this helps.  I should say, too, that if the approach above seems to analytical or tedious, you can always try just doing it by ear.
All best,
Johnm
12
The Back Porch / Re: Covering the Song, Not the Arrangement
« Last post by Vermonter on September 20, 2019, 11:30:29 AM »
Interesting. I've been obsessed with the playing and singing of Reverend Gary Davis for decades upon decades, and have learned many of his arrangements to the best of my ability. But I'm unable to sing any of the G songs--it's a tough key for women, in general. Yet I can't quite imagine figuring most out in other keys. In spite of the challenges, they seem to fall under the fingers where they're set. Anybody have advice or models?
13
Down the Dirt Road / Re: Other Musical Interests on YouTube
« Last post by Stuart on September 20, 2019, 09:46:56 AM »
Thanks, Lindy. It's always a treat to listen to Craig. Now if he would only smile...

While we're on the subject of guitarists, Eric Skye and Jamie Stillway are going to be at the Phinney Neighborhood Center on November 23 for a SFS concert:

http://www.seafolklore.org/wp/events/stillway-skye/
14
Weenie Campbell Main Forum / Re: Vocal Phrasing--The Long And The Short of It
« Last post by blueshome on September 20, 2019, 09:22:41 AM »
This must be a prime candidate for this thread
15
Down the Dirt Road / Re: Other Musical Interests on YouTube
« Last post by lindy on September 19, 2019, 10:46:46 PM »
16
Other Musical Interests / Re: Ken Burns Country Music series in the works
« Last post by Rivers on September 19, 2019, 09:15:42 PM »
That was my reaction to Western Swing while living in Austin. It sounded better from half a world away. Maybe I just plain OD'd on it. I never had the same feeling about Tex Mex though, on the contrary.
17
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Last post by harriet on September 19, 2019, 05:54:19 PM »
Hi John and all,

Thanks for the honorable mention On the Jim, Steam.

Here's the Worried - the whole album is up on this channel.  It's a great album, IMHO and thanks for posting the lyrics.


Harriet
18
Weenie Campbell Main Forum / Re: John Cohen R.I.P.
« Last post by Suzy T on September 19, 2019, 04:45:13 PM »
John Cohen. I met him when I was 16 when the NLCR did a nooner at the summer program I was attending. He had just come back from Berkeley, recording people who would become huge huge huge in my life - my husband Eric, dear friend and bandmate Sue Draheim, Will Spires and others. He was so enamored of Berkeley and that brief encounter shaped my life's trajectory. Around 40 years later I co-produced this film (the photo here was taken by the late great Robert Frank) about the NLCR. John and I had some shouting matches during that adventure but I think it actually brought us closer in a weird way. A few years ago, Eric and I brought our daughter Allegra to visit John and we had an amazing visit with music, walks, and talking late into the night. He was brilliant and difficult and I really loved him, we all did. He was not exactly a peaceful guy but RIP John Cohen anyway.
19
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Last post by Johnm on September 19, 2019, 01:35:46 PM »
Hi all,
Fred McDowell recorded "Won't Be Worried Long", accompanying himself in Vestapol with a slide, on "Levee Camp Blues".  The song seems to be modeled on Frank Hutchison's "Worried Blues", and uses the same melody and many of the same licks.  After the first verse, Fred gave up on going to the V chord, and after that just sang the first line of each of the remaining verses.  Fred's version of the song from "Levee Camp Blues" is not available on youtube.

INTRO SOLO

I'm worried, mama, I won't be worried long
Worried, mama, and I won't be worried (slide finishes line)
I'm wo- (slide finishes line)

I ain't got nowhere to lay my worried head

Well the train come down, tracks all out of line

Well the train come down, tracks all out of line

Well you keep me worried, bothered all the time

All best,
Johnm
20
Country Blues Lyrics / Re: Fred McDowell lyrics
« Last post by Johnm on September 19, 2019, 01:25:22 PM »
Hi all,
Also included in the program of "Levee Camp Blues" is "Will Me Your Gold Watch And Chain", which Fred McDowell played out of Spanish tuning, without a slide.  Fred employs a four-bar signature lick for the song, making for very long verses; verse one is thirty-four bars long!  This is one of those songs, like several of Booker White's and other songs by Fred McDowell, in which all of the singing is done over the IV chord.  The instrumental response is the signature lick, which is played a variable number of times, as Fred felt it to be right.  Here is Fred McDowell's rendition of the song:



INTRO

Should happen to go to the Army, baby, won't you will me your watch and chain?
Should happen to go to the Army, will me your watch and chain
You have to promise to me, baby, you won't fool around with no other man

Just like a soldier, babe, out on the battlefield
Just like a soldier, darlin', honey, out on that battlefield
You know by that, honey, you know just how I feel

I've got my questionnaire, baby, they need me in the war
Got my questionnaire, darlin', they need me, baby, in the war
Got a questionnaire, darlin', need me in the war

Yeah, darlin', baby, don't you weep and moan
Yeah, darlin', honey, don't you weep and moan
When that war is over, your daddy'll be back home

Hey, baby, don't you crowd your mind
Hey, little girl, don't you crowd your mind
Hey, little girl, please don't you crowd your mind

All best,
Johnm

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