Monday, June 11, 2012

PDF-Minstrel Monday || Red River Valley

This is a traditional American song whose notes make me feel a longing for days gone by. Do you hear the sentimentality in the notes? Suzy Boguss includes this folk tune as her second song in her American Folk Songbook. Suzy was interviewed by the Denver WESTWARD Blog and she talks about being on tour with Garrison Keillor and about her old fifth grade songbook. She also mentions  how the Prairie Home Companion story tellin' genius would get thousands to sing the old songs along with him at each tour stop.  

Here's Roger Ruthen's arrangement which uses quite a bit of harmonics...

So what's up with these "harmonics?" They give us more opportunities to fingerpick songs and express ourselves musically in more ways. So here we are playing melody notes and frequently combining notes with other notes in the scale, often thirds, to recreate the melody. What key is this arrangement? Can you see it from the chord fragments? Some chords are more full and we can clearly see the E, A and B7 for our I-IV-V7 song.

We can also watch the bari-uke playing songster, Lew Dite, sing and strum Red River Valley, here. Lew, who has been generously playing and posting many early American tunes, also provides a scrolling karaoke style version of the video on a LDSongScreen video. Lew is playing this in the key of G, using G-C-D7.

This song has been popular and my friend Jen of Jenfo (YT Channel "Bluffho") has done one of her Amateur Videos of Red River Valley with her baritone ukulele. She has a lovely voice and gives another perspective to learning the song. Jenn lives about an hour or so South of me but we have met at the Ukulele Club of Santa Cruz, hung out and enjoyed sharing some bari and music talk. I have linked to Jen's music site on my blog right hand column but I'd like to remind you that she has music there too. Her arrangement for the tune has some extra flavor, take a look, here.

See her songbook (just scroll down a bit.)

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