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Putting It All Together
Let's use the material from the last two chapters to work out a few songs. For these examples we're going to look at some tunes from my two favorite singing banjo players, Uncle Dave Macon and Charlie Poole. You can download free copies of the original 78rpm recordings of these and many more great songs from www.honkingduck.com or www.archive.org.
All of these tunes are in 4/4 time so the frailing strum will fit the lyrics. Yo u just have to match everything up.
I If the river was whiskey and I was a duck I'd dive to the bottom and I'd never come up.
Oh tell me how long do I have to wait
Oh can I get you now, or must I hesitate?
If the river was whiskey and the branch was wine I was born in Alabama, raised in Tennessee
you'd see me in bathing just any ole time If you don't like my peaches don't shake my tree
I was born in England, raised in France I looked down the road as far as I can see
I bought a suit of clothes and they wouldn't send the pants A man had my woman and the blues had me
Got the hesitation stockings got the hesitation shoes Oh my Lord I got the hesitation blues
In our first song, "Hesitation Blues," we are playing the I chord through the entire verse. As you already know the I chord is the root of the scale so if you want to play this in the key of G your I chord would be G. In the Key of C your I chord would be C.
You can play a frailing strum for the verse, but try it at least once with the chop. The only tricky part is going to be figuring out how many measures to hold each chord, but if you work with the chord progression and the phrasing of the words you'll get a feel for it.