Well, I’m still sleuthing out Wagon Wheel, since the internet fails. Or, to be specific, the internet lessons are all butting head and refuse to play nice with one another; the internet itself is awesome – without it I wouldn’t be able to figure out why or decide who I happen to agree with.

Since yesterday, I’ve glanced at several more recordings, listened carefully to both the Old Crow Medicine Show and Against Me! versions of the song. Due to the melody, as I’ve mentioned in a previous post, the Against Me! version is actually the easier one to use if you’re just trying to sleuth out the basic structure. There’s a lot less going on, so if you’re a beginner your ears don’t have as much work to do trying to hear the guitar past the banjo. Once again, that is nothing at all against the original version; it’s just the voice of practicality talking. Besides, Against Me! is one of my favorite bands, so I do have a certain bias in their favor.

Anyway, I did some ranting about deciding what key to play in, and as of last night’s post, I’d decided just to learn it in both C and G and then decide.  Yesterday, and tonight, I was running through the chord progression in G to get the transitions down. It’s pretty straight forward. The one sticky point is the switch from D to Em, but it’s not that bad once you practice it a few dozen times.

I think I also mentioned some issues with the strum pattern. The lesson I started with uses Down-Down-Up-Down-Up. Other lessons use that typical rock/calypso/insert name here strum (Down-Down-Up-Up-Down-Up). I’ve listened to the original and the covers, and it does appear to be DDUUDU, lest my ears deceive me, so you can see my initial lesson (the one in C) both transposes the song into a super easy chord progression, and drops one of the up strums in the middle. This is, of course, to make the song easier to play.  If all you’re dropping is one strum, it doesn’t seem, at a glance, like there’s much purpose to that, but I’ve learned from attempts to play other songs, this particular strum pattern is weirdly difficult to sing with while I’m playing, and that one strum might end up being the difference between a song I can sing and play, and a song I can do either one or the other, but not both. I honestly can’t say with any certainty just yet. Either way does sound like the song, but one is obviously just every so slightly off. It puts a pause where there would otherwise be a strum. Practice will tell me if I need to leave that strum out or if I’ve broken through the barrier that made this particular pattern hard for me to sing to, but I have no opinion at the moment. Ideally, play it with the original strum pattern, but for a beginner who has trouble singing and playing, the watered-down version might end up being a viable option.

So, tonight I recorded a clip of the song in C and in G so I could hear them side by side, and I’m going to share that with you for sake of showing where I stand at the moment.

So, there’s definitely a difference in tone between the two that’s pretty clear. Which one do I like better. At first glance, I think probably G, but once I start trying to sing along, there’s really no telling which I’m going to prefer.

Until Next Time, I keep finding myself amazed with just how much detective work is involved with learning to make music. 

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