Moderately slow, with a 12/8 feeling

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by P Thought, Jun 1, 2021.

  1. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Taking advantage of Mrs. Thought's newfound interest in the Grateful Dead, I amazoned out a copy of their Grateful Dead Anthology songbook. "Sugaree" is Mrs. T's favorite Dead song, so I turned to page 131. Now, while she's out a couple days on grandma duty, I'm going to dedicate my guitar time to learning the song. This is my first time in a while learning a song from a songbook, with full standard notation. I'm looking forward to more than just learning the song. The song's written in F.

    The first thing the score says is, "Moderately slow, with a 12/8 feeling." Now, I know this is first-grade stuff to many of you, but I've "played guitar" a long time, and playing off a base of four triplets to a measure does not come naturally to me. I'm a bit of a stumblebum with just the guitar, try to sing along and it's hopeless. Aha, I thought to myself, you need to spend some time learning rhythm on purpose, and not just the ones you already know.

    IMG_20210601_072737967.jpg

    'scuse me. I have work to do. I got Beethoven off his piano to help me. (for the sharp-eyed among you, I slowed it down quite a bit for the song)
     
  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Shuffle!
     
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  3. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    :lol: I've always nodded my head sagely when I heard the word.

    1622561026756-558945071.jpg

    The opening 1, 5 goes on for almost a page and a half. I might just play that 'til after lunch. It says "feel", and I'm thinking about the Keith Richards quote somebody posted, about playing "around" the beat. I think I see what he means. For now though I'm working on mostly crosspicked triplets every measure; I see also that there are several ways to strum them.

    Edit/check: the notes on the top staff are for vocals, the middle one for guitar, and the bottom one for the bass; do I have that right? I don't imagine that my learned song will go note for note with the score, but like the "12/8 feel" thing, I plan to use the score to shape my version.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
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  4. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Meister

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    AND back to Wikipedia; what's a sugaree? I know the term from an old Elizabeth Cotton song ("Shake Sugaree"), recently rerecorded by Rhiannon Giddens, which apparently influenced Hunter when he wrote this song. Great song, worth looking up. Wikipedia tells me that Marty Robbins also wrote a song called "Sugaree" in the '50's and the word appears in a couple of other song titles from the '50's and 60's. Still don't know what it means; it's the name of an Indian tribe, but that doesn't seem to have much to do, at least, with Cotton's song.
     
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  5. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you listen to the song, it is apparent what the arranger is looking for. I suppose it could be written in 12/8, which feels like 4/4 in some ways, but the quarter notes in the music would have to become dotted. The strumming is a slow shuffle rather than straight. A drummer I once worked with used to differentiate the two rhythms as either swing (shuffle) or twist (straight.)
     
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  6. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Have to ask Robert Hunter, who's a whole 'nother subject of study!

    edit: actually, if you think of "Sugaree" as addressing a person who's connected somehow to that tribe (or more abstractly addressing the tribe itself), the song can make sense. YMMV

    'nother edit: I really like finding out about the roots of song lyrics, even though that often calls for more than a little speculation. @oldunc, it looks like the very small Sugaree tribe was absorbed by the Catawba Nation in the aftermath of the 1715 "Yamassee War" in the Carolinas. Apparently things went further downhill for them in the century or so after that.

    . . .that gets you thinking about "jubilee", and who "me" is, and "them", that my darling Sugaree shouldn't tell on me. . . And @oldunc, I think you're right, that Cotten song is part of peeling this onion.
     
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  7. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Thanks for this. Is "swing" the same as "shuffle"?

    Once I get this 12/8 rhythm going, it's like walking down the street, and limitless flatpicking variations seem easy. But it's beating me to death: when I stop focusing on it I lose it and go to some form of clink-chuck cadence. No hope of singing with it yet. I'm glad to be working on this.

    Mrs. Thought had a YouTube video up with John Mayer doing the song, I think with Dead and Company. Maybe I'll revisit that after I get this beat under my fingers a little more.
     
    Last edited: Jun 2, 2021
  8. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Liner notes, quote from Hunter:

    "Sugaree was written soon after I moved from the Garcia household to China Camp. People assume the idea was cadged from Elizabeth Cotten's ‘Sugaree,’ but, in fact, the song was originally titled 'Stingaree,' which is a poisonous South Sea manta. The phrase 'just don't tell them that you know me' was prompted by something said by an associate in my pre-Dead days when my destitute circumstances found me fraternizing with a gang of minor criminals. What he said, when departing, was: 'Hold your mud and don't mention my name.'

    "Why change the title to 'Sugaree'? Just thought it sounded better that way, made the addressee seem more hard-bitten to bear a sugar-coated name. The song, as I imagined it, is addressed to a pimp. And yes, I knew Libba's song, and did indeed borrow the new name from her, suggested by the 'Shake it' refrain."
     
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  9. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Meister

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    According to my dictionary of etymology, "jubilee" dates to before 1382, coming from Latin via French. Originally referring to a trumpet or ram's horn. "The original reference of "jubilee" was the year of emancipation of slaves and restoration of lands to be celebrated according to the Bible (Leviticus 25)every 50th year. The jubilee was proclaimed by the sound of a ram's horn on the Day of Atonement". To me, it refers to an a capela gospel style. Which leads us to the Golden Gate Quartet, which people really need to check out-- people are still stealing their arrangements.
     
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  10. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Meister

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    I see you're from South Carolina- do you think the word could have roots in the Gullah language?
     
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  11. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    We just retired here last year (from Alabama). Haven't dived into Gullah...yet. I have done some research (larnin') which involves the Gullah peoples...but it is about the banjo, not the language. Frankly, the Gullah peoples were rice-based. I looked at a glossary and found no word for "sugar" in any form.

    Frankly, I think y'all are overthinking this word. It was chosen to fit the rhyme scheme, not to represent a hidden meaning...if the song has any subtext, it would have been hidden in "Stingaree" (the original's word).

    However, I have no trouble speculating on an internet forum. ;)

    "Sugaree" is very close to "Sucre". The French influences in sugar-cane producing areas (Caribbean, Louisiana, etc.) probably brought "sugar" into the American lexicon. Language evolves in many strange ways, we still use "sugary" but not as a noun...but that never stopped poets!
     
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  12. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire

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    Swing is the broader term. Shuffle uses swung eighths just as does ‘swing.’ The main difference seems to be in the drumming. Listen to Bernard Purdie (Toto’s “Roseanna”) to hear a well known shuffle beat.
     
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  13. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Yeah, that story blew my interpretation to smithereens, not to say I might not stick with it. . . .
     
  14. oldunc

    oldunc Tele-Meister

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    I don't know, I'm pretty into words, but not a lot to really think about with this one. When I only knew the Elizabeth Cotton song, I assumed pretty much that, that it was the sort of not-quite-a-word that's apt to pop up in folk songs (choff choff quee, choff choff quee), but the fact that it appeared in so many songs and song titles around the same time makes me think it must refer to something.
     
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  15. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    111 222 333 444 / 111 222 333 444 / 111 222 333 444

    :)
     
  16. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    123-223-323-423/123-223-323-423 ;)
     
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  17. Cosmic Cowboy

    Cosmic Cowboy Tele-Holic

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    I don't think of it as groups of 3. More like a standard shuffle. Groups of 2.

    l-ll-ll-lll-l-ll-ll
     
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  18. ping-ping-clicka

    ping-ping-clicka Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    that's great ,I impressed am 12/8 stunned and stammered.:eek: yes indeedy-do, have lots of fun, and let us know what's happening, 12/8 ? O.K.:twisted:
     
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  19. P Thought

    P Thought Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    I'm counting four. Feeling 12. :cool:


    It occurs to me that a person could also play in 3/4 with a 12/8 feeling. . .not this song, of course.
     
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  20. AlfaNovember

    AlfaNovember TDPRI Member

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    Speaking of, the podcast "Strong Songs" does a nice breakdown of straight vs swing using the Purdie Shuffle to explain. The specific episode is breaking down Steely Dan "Babylon Sisters", from Feb 9 2021, starting at about the 20th minute, but really, the whole thing is great:

    https://strongsongspodcast.com/episode/babylon-sisters-by-steely-dan

    (I started playing guitar two and half years ago with the intention of learning a few cowboy campfire songs, and maybe a few Chuck Berry riffs.... now here I am, discussing music theory and Bernard Purdie... whodathunk it? what a long strange trip it's been.)
     
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