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Well she shakes like the Central and she wobbles like the L&N.. well she's a hot-shot mama and I'm scared to tell her where I been - Blind Willie McTell, Scarey Day Blues

Author Topic: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys  (Read 8731 times)

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Offline uncle bud

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Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« on: October 18, 2005, 10:02:48 AM »
Following on waxwing's Blind Boy Fuller Guitar Keys post, I finished off the Patton Keys I'd been working on. The order of the tunes below follows the Revenant or JSP set, although if you have the JSP set, beware that they mislabel "Devil Sent the Rain" and "Magnolia Blues", switching one for the other.

I used the remastered Yazoo CDs "The Best of Charlie Patton" and "Charlie Patton - Primeval Blues, Rags, and Gospel Songs" for all the songs available on those discs. The first disc features speed corrections to "High Sheriff" and "Jersey Bull", and I think "Down the Dirt Road" is more true as well, at least compared to JSP. The second Yazoo Cd features another 8 tracks at corrected speeds: Revenue Man, Hang It On the Wall, Stone Pony, 34 Blues, Love My Stuff, Troubled Bout My Mother, Oh Death, and Poor Me. I'm going to take Rich Nevins word for it that these are now the correct speeds ;), but what it does mean is that in Patton's later recordings, where most of these songs come from, he was tuned a bit flat or a bit sharp on several tunes. I've noted places where he is a bit sharp or flat in parentheses. Patton was actually pretty meticulous about tuning, I find, so this is a minor point worth making.

For those who don't have the Yazoos, get them. I really noticed a difference switching back and forth between the JSP and these. Speed, clarity, presence - they're just better. Even on my basic stereo.

With regards to the pitches Patton tunes to, it's been said he wasn't using a capo but tuned up one, two or several steps. With some of these songs, I can see how he might have gone through several guitars doing this. You might want to use a capo instead. :) For standard tuning songs, I tuned to standard pitch then slapped on a capo, so E + 1 means he played out of an E position pitched to F, and so on. For Spoonful I just cranked up a resonator guitar to Vestapol at E. For the tunes in Spanish, I tuned to open G and capoed to A, Bb, B, as needed, though you could easily get away with open A depending on your guitar. I'd tune it back down when you're done though. For the slide tunes, it's worth noting he's likely playing lap-style for most of them.

A couple songs gave me a little trouble. Devil Sent the Rain is pretty whupped as a record, so it's a real listening exercise, not being one of Patton's standard guitar accompaniments. But I think the guitar part is played out of an A position and is similar to what Willie Brown plays out of A when accompanying Patton's Spanish playing on songs like Moon Going Down, with the root A chord played as an F shape at the 5th fret. For "Bird Nest Bound", it was hard for me to hear Willie Brown, but I went with the standard A accompaniment, as above, to Patton's Spanish part. 

One thing that struck me while going through the entire repertoire was just how much he plays out of Spanish and standard E position. A heckuva lot. Yet he is not excessively repetitive, and even for the songs that have very similar guitar parts, he's always doing something different, with the vocal, the guitar variations and riffs, the rhythms.

I left out the Henry Sims songs, but they're all played out of E position, pitched at F#. Dunno about the fiddle. ;)

Corrections welcome.

Pony BluesE + 1
Spoonful BluesVestapol at E
Down the Dirt Road BluesC + 1
Prayer of Death Part 1Spanish at A
Prayer of Death Part 2Spanish at A
Screamin' and Hollerin' the BluesSpanish at A
Banty Rooster BluesSpanish at Bb
Tom Rushen BluesSpanish at A
It Won't Be LongSpanish at A
Shake It and Break ItF
Pea Vine BluesSpanish at A
Mississippi Boll Weevil BluesSpanish at B (a bit flat)
Lord, I'm DiscouragedSpanish at A
I'm Goin' HomeSpanish at A
Hammer Blues Take 1Spanish at B
I Shall Not Be MovedSpanish at B
High Water Everywhere Part 1Spanish at B
High Water Everywhere Part 2Spanish at B
I Shall Not Be MovedSpanish at B
Rattlesnake BluesE + 2
Going to Move to AlabamaE + 1
Hammer Blues Take 2Spanish at B
Joe KirbyE + 3
Frankie and AlbertE + 2
Devil Sent the Rain BluesA + 1
Magnolia BluesSpanish at B
Runnin' Wild BluesE + 2
Some Happy DaySpanish at B
Mean Black MoanE + 2
Green River BluesE + 2
Some of These Days I'll Be GoneE + 2
Elder Green Blues Take 2E + 1
Jim Lee Part 1E + 2
Jim Lee Part 2E + 2
Mean Black Cat BluesE + 2
Jesus Is a Dying-Bed MakerSpanish at B
Elder Green Blues Take 2E + 1
When Your Way Gets DarkSpanish at B (a bit flat)
Some of These Days I'll Be Gone Take 2E + 2 (a bit sharp)
Heart Like Railroad SteelSpanish at C
Circle Round the MoonE + 1
You're Gonna Need Somebody When You DieSpanish at B
Some Summer DaySpanish at Bb and Willie Brown   A + 1
Bird Nest BoundSpanish at Bb and Willie Brown   A + 1
Dry Well BluesE + 1 and Willie Brown E + 1
Moon Going DownSpanish at Bb and Willie Brown   A + 1
High Sheriff BluesSpanish at Bb
Stone Pony BluesE + 1
Jersey Bull BluesSpanish at Bb
Hang It on the WallF + 2
34 BluesC + 2 (a bit flat)
Love My StuffSpanish at A
Poor MeC + 2 (a bit flat)
Revenue Man BluesSpanish at B (a bit flat)
Troubled 'Bout My MotherSpanish at Bb (a bit sharp)
Oh DeathSpanish at Bb (a bit sharp)
Yellow BeeE + 1
Mind Reader BluesE + 1

If anyone wants the list as an .rtf Word document, I've attached it to this post.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2005, 07:26:28 AM by uncle bud »

Offline NotRevGDavis

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #1 on: October 18, 2005, 10:29:06 AM »
Thanks Andrew and John C. for all the hard work creating these resources.
It is especially helpful for me because on some tunes that I would like to learn all I need is a reference point.
Got the name, still workin' on the licks!

Offline Rivers

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #2 on: October 18, 2005, 10:45:24 AM »
Andrew, re fixed formatting, did you try putting the text block between the code /code keywords, as per:

{code}
text
text
{/code}

using square brackets not curly ones.

Edited to add: to use the code feature in the post window click on the icon with a hash '#' sign on it to get the start /end keywords, as below.

Code: [Select]
Testing    123
123        Testing 
« Last Edit: October 18, 2005, 12:17:58 PM by Rivers »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2005, 11:02:01 AM »
Mark, not sure what code you mean. I tried the {pre} code, but that just gave me nasty Courier without the alignment.

Gary, you're welcome, and that's the idea behind these resources.

Offline waxwing

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2005, 12:08:48 PM »
Hey UB, really great work. I don't think it needs columns. Heck, sometimes it's harder to line across to the right info if it's too far from a short title. Too much editor coming thru.-G- Looks fine.
All for now.
John C.
"People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it."
George Bernard Shaw

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Offline Montgomery

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2005, 04:12:46 PM »
Thanks so much for this!

Offline Johnm

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2005, 12:55:15 PM »
Hi all,
Great work on this, Andrew!  "Devil Sent The Rain" is definitely played out of A, standard tuning, as you have it.  What a fantastic list of songs, whew!  Thanks for putting this up for everybody.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Johnm

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2005, 02:26:58 PM »
Hi all,
You know, I've been thinking about the list of Patton songs that Uncle Bud compiled here, and I really think that Charlie Patton is terribly under-rated, as odd as it is to say that about someone who has received such acclaim within the country blues community.? What makes me say this is that he recorded so many terrific songs/performances that never seem to generate any kind of comment.? Think of his versions of "Frankie And Albert", "Pea Vine Blues" "When Your Way Gets Dark", "Revenue Man Blues", or "34 Blues".? They are all wonderful but seem to occasion almost no response at all.?
Perhaps part of the problem is that Patton recorded so many songs working out of a particular archetype in Spanish, so that there may be a tendency is to lump all the songs employing that archetype together and view them as one song with different sets of lyrics.? This is really not the case, though, just as it is inaccurate to think of the many songs Lemon recorded using his C, standard position archetype as being the same song with different lyrics.? One artist where I think you could fairly interpret a good portion of his repertoire as the same song with different lyrics would be Lonnie Johnson, but that is certainly not the case with Patton.
One other thought on Charlie Patton is that I think a lot of the magic of his recordings and their popularity during his lifetime can be attributed to his spoken asides.? I find they completely suck me in as a listener, and make the whole rendition so rich and complex.? I don't know if anybody else feels that way about them.
Thanks again to Uncle Bud for putting this list together.? It is real food for thought.
All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: November 12, 2005, 05:27:08 PM by Johnm »

Offline Slack

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2005, 02:36:23 PM »
Hi Johnm, I'm a big fan of the spoken asides too - although I admit I thought they were a little weird when I first heard them! Maybe it is an acquired taste.

Perhaps another reason for lack of acclaim is the awful condition of the survivng Paramount 78's - only recently has the technology allowed some big improvements in sound quality without destroying the depth in the recording. Many were very tough to listen to noise wise - even for folks used to use I think.

Anyway - this is a great list UB and nice work on the columns.

Offline dj

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #9 on: November 12, 2005, 02:42:48 PM »
John, I'm glad you mentioned Patton's spoken asides.  I've always really admired them, especially on Spoonful, where he uses as many different voices as Mel Blanc.  By the end of the song it sound as if half the town of Clarksdale, including young men, old men, women, and children have stepped up to the microphone and added a spoken aside.  Pure genius!

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2005, 02:43:53 PM »
  What makes me say this is that he recorded so many terrific songs/performances that never seem to generate any kind of comment. 
Some of them even generate negative comment. Somewhere in some liner notes to the various Patton CDs I have, I recall a dismissal of Revenue Man as inferior in some way. It's one of my favourite treatments of this guitar part in Spanish tuning that he does. Rhythmically exciting, great singing, a foot stomper all the way. Frankie and Albert has been similarly disparaged somewhere, but I really like Patton's version.

Other little mentioned but great tunes: It Won't Be Long, Joe Kirby Blues (hard to get past the whupped condition of the record though), Prayer of Death, Oh Death.

The spoken asides John mentions, in addition to sung responses, are so natural in their delivery as well. Lots of players have tried this but it often sounds a bit forced. Patton's seem to be so in the moment, it makes for an exciting musical experience.

Offline Michael Cardenas

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #11 on: August 09, 2010, 03:37:44 AM »
For the tunes in Spanish, I tuned to open G and capoed to A, Bb, B, as needed, though you could easily get away with open A depending on your guitar. I'd tune it back down when you're done though. For the slide tunes, it's worth noting he's likely playing lap-style for most of them.
Jesus Is a Dying-Bed MakerSpanish at B
I've been trying this tune in a few Open B variants: F#BE♭F#BE♭  -   BF#BF#BE♭  -  E♭BE♭F#BE♭
The tonic of the open chord with the F# on the bottom has a rich ring, but with the BE♭ on top in any of these the slide part is a quasi-inversion which makes all the glissando improper.

To approach the melodic slide part it takes playing way up if you're capoed and I haven't approached it lap-style. I'm curious about the highest tension you would be willing to go in approximating tone of the Open B he's in. Have you tried this song in his natural B or in A capoed?
LISTEN TO BLUES MUSIC

Offline Stumblin

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #12 on: October 01, 2010, 06:52:37 AM »
Jesus Is a Dying-Bed Maker   Spanish at B

I think the recording, I have the Yazoo CD, is a bit sharp, perhaps a quarter or third sharp from B.
Playing lap-style in Spanish, I have to play some of the upper register parts about halfway to the next fret. Because my guitar is tuned A Spanish, capo 2nd fret, it all sounds a bit off.
Then there's the problem of my inability to hear Patton's guitar particularly clearly; some of the guitar phrases are almost completely inaudible to me and I'm missing out on some details.
Can anyone here offer any advice other than the time-honoured "Days of frustrating and arduous practice" method?

Offline dj

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #13 on: October 01, 2010, 09:55:27 AM »
Quote
Can anyone here offer any advice

Get a copy of Transcribe! or some other transcription software.  Why?

1:  You can pitch the recording up or down without changing its speed, as you had to in the old days with tape or records.  So you can play along with Patton in Spanish at G, hopefully making the intonation better high up the fretboard.

2:  You can mark a part you can't hear clearly and loop on just a few notes, at various speeds, and filtering out various frequencies.

You still have days of frustrating and arduous practice, but hopefully it'll be a bit easier.

Offline Johnm

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Re: Charlie Patton Guitar Keys
« Reply #14 on: October 01, 2010, 10:06:37 AM »
Hi Stumblin',
If you tune to the recording, your frets can still be used as visual references and you won't have to play in between the frets to be in tune.  Tuning to the recording is always a good idea when transcribing.
All best,
Johnm