Since I started my "album" (more on that here) last week by posting what was supposed to be the the last track (here), I figured that I might as well continue in that vein and record whichever tune I wanted next. So this week, I bring you track 4, "This way:"
"This Way" - an original fiddle tune by Jeff Norman (me). Played twice through by me on my Buckeye tuned to aEADE; guitar accompaniment the second time through using a 12-fret Epiphone Masterbilt in standard guitar tuning sans capo. Tune and recording Copyright 2017 - Jeff Norman.
About the tune
This tune was written about 2 people having a conversation about which way to go. Think of the conversation as follows:
"No, this way"
"No, this way"
(etc...hence the title)
As such, I wrote the tune as if one person were arguing for it to be in A major, while the other was arguing as if it should be in A minor. Its an otherwise standard non-crooked AABB tune...just a lot of subtle key swapping in keeping with the aforementioned theme (at least thats what I was going for). What follows is a blow by blow:
The A part starts with a decidedly A minor feel (and is backed by an A minor chord on guitar). About halfway through the A part however, you'll hear a couple G#'s from the banjo, which were intended to foreshadow the switch to A major (Standard A aeolian/A minor includes a G natural at the 7th scale degree, while the A ionian/A major scale has a G# as its 7th note....of course, A harmonic minor plays with the 7th degree a bit as well, but I digress). These G#s are backed appropriately with an E major (rather than E minor) chord. The A part ends on an bold A major chord (at least it would sound bold if I were a better guitarist), but the turnaround into the second A part goes minor again and we repeat the "A minor...no, A major" conversation once more. The second time through the A part, the major switch holds through the turnaround and we start the B part on a happy note. Again however, we get a hint that things are destined to change about halfway through the B part: the banjo throws some C naturals (rather than C#'s) in as a clue. For more symmetry, the turnaround between B parts is in A major, while the transition back to the A part (on which the tune also ends) goes minor.
For fun, here are the chords to help you follow the above story (plain letters indicate major chords, "m's" indicate minor chords):
I'll say right here that my guitar playing on this one left something to be desired...like a good guitarist! I had a lot of trouble switching between chords and I just hate playing A majors of the 002220 variety - the thing sounds overly choppy to me...I'd love to hear it "smoothed out" one day.
As you can see, the only thing necessary to change the feel of the transitions is an added or subtracted F major chord at the end of the phrase (which indicates "A minor feel"). I suppose I could have been a bit more heavy handed and put a true E minor there as well, but I kind of like the harmonic minor vibe I had going...adds more to the tune's ambiguity/indecisiveness. Some E7's could surely spice this one up as well but I wanted to stick to plain vanilla chords as much as possible.
Thats all I've got in me for this week - hope you enjoyed it!
About this blog
I have lots of ideas about banjo playing and music in general - this blog allows me to get them all out of my head and see what you think.