John Henry

Syncopated rhythm variations for verse syllables, lowered/flat leading tone (7, Ta), and two descending tonic arpeggios with a sixth (I6, C6).

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  • Grade: Fifth
  • Origin: USA - Traditional Southern Folk Song
    circa: 1870's
  • Key: C Major
  • Time: 4/4
  • Form: ABbCc
  • Rhythmintermediate: | ti ta ti ti ti ti ti | syncopation, | ti ti ta/ (ti) ti ti | syncopation, | ta ta ti ta/ | syncopation, | ta/a (ta) ti ti |
    | ta ta ta ti ti | ta ta ti ti ti ti |
  • Pitchesintermediate: Do Re Mi So La Ta Do - lowered leading tone (7, Te)blue note
  • Intervalsintermediate: La/Do8 (m3), Do8\La (m3), La\Mi (P4), Do/So (P5), Do8\So (P4), So/Te (m3), Te\La (m2), La\So\Mi\Do descending tonic arpeggio with added sixth (I6, C6), Mi/La (P4)
  • Musical Elements: notes: half, dotted quarter, quarter, eighth; rests: quarter, eighth; pickup beat, repeat signs, first and second endings, tonic arpeggio (I6, C6), blue note, vocal slur, ballad; rhythm variations to match verse syllables, note:more commonly preformed with a fast tempo, originally sung slowly to pace the hard labor and save lives
  • Key Words: USA history, pre-industrial laborer's "hammer song," prison convict labor system, railroad steam drill, railroad steam powered hammer, folk lore, legends, man against machine, ballad, sad, lonesome, death of me, Lord, captain, steam drill, contractions: gonna (going to), I'll (I will), ain't (is not); abbreviations: sittin' (sitting), hammerin' (hammering), steel-drivin' (steel-driving) 'round (around), nothin' (nothing), lightnin' (lightning) ; possessive: daddy's,
  • Recorderintermediate: introducing the B flat (blue note, lowered seventh)

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