Week #138 ~ Sitting Alone in the Moonlight

  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    This week's winner, by a landslide, is Sitting Alone in the Moonlight, which was submitted as a Bill Monroe tune.

    Here's a YouTube video of Bill Monroe doing it:

    Here's the Rye Mountain Boys doing it:

    Here are the Dragonmasters doing it:

    Just when you get to thinking, how in the world could one do this song without all those instruments, and harmonies...

    If only it was much slower, we could all learn from this! I know one of our resident Bluegrass / Monroe experts, can probably record us a slow instructional video... how about it?
  2. mculliton123
    Sorry, but I cannot find any ABCs or TABs for this tune. Anyone have a link?
  3. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
  4. sgarrity
    That's the problem with picking a "song" versus a "tune." A song is normally sung in the key designated by the singer and an appropriate break taken in that key. Tunes tend to have their normal keys and tab/music is readily available. I'm at work and sans mando but I believe Monroe played this in the key of A which would make the chords A, G#, and D. Some doublestop tremolo and bluesy licks should get you through.
  5. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Either monroe played it in Bb, with the chords Bb, A, Eb and F, or the recording I've been listening to has been speeded up from A, as it doesn't quite sound in tune with Bb. I went for C just to more suit vocal range.

    And slightly off topic, but how come when I link to a Youtube video it's wider format than others?
  6. luurtie
    Very pleasant version Neil. Do you play all those instruments by yourself?
  7. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
  8. Mike Romkey
    Mike Romkey
    Bill Monroe -- 100 years old this year! Or would be.
  9. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    And you learned it and recorded everything in the past couple hours?

    Excellent musicianship, Neil!
  10. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    no, it was all done today, but much more than a couple of hours; living in scotland i've got a 5 - 8 hour headstart on most of you; here there's been moonlight to sit alone in for about 7 hours now, or at least there would be if it wasn't cloudy.
  11. Barefoot Bud
    Barefoot Bud
    "here there's been moonlight to sit alone in for about 7 hours now".
  12. Marcelyn
    Wow, Neil, I'm blown away! That's such a cool version of this song. You can definitely channel a bluegrassy vibe from your mandolin when you want to.
  13. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    First of all – great job Neil! Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    A very necessary skill when playing a mandolin in a bluegrass band is how to play a break in any key – often at the drop of a hat. Here's a little about how to approach playing a break to a song like "Sitting Alone In The Moonlight" by building the break around closed chord positions, using little parts of the melody and licks that fit the chord position you're in. (Closed positions don't use open strings so they can be moved around.) If you approach a break in this way it becomes easier to change the key you are playing in by moving the 'positions' around.

    It ain't pretty, but I tried to play the first part of "Sitting Alone In The Moonlight" in two keys, G and A so you can see what I'm getting at...

  14. Marcelyn
    It would be so fun to learn to do that. Thanks for that demonstration. You have a great way of making these things look doable.
  15. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    Brilliant Neil, can't believe you put that together so quickly.
    Thanks for the lesson Michael but these slow Monroe tunes are beyond me. Here's my attempt; a tune of sorts but not much like Bill Monroe.

  16. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Michael, thanks for the demo! I'm with Marcelyn, you make it seem possible to actually learn! I missed your smiling face though, at the end!
  17. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Thanks, Barbara and Marcelyn, it is possible to learn this stuff. It's more of a restructuring of your thinking than anything else and you can personalize your learning to suit whatever style of music you're interested in...

    Nice job Maudlin!
  18. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Neil, excellent work on putting your version together so well and in such short time. Maudlin, enjoyed your version here too.
    Michael, that was a very fine piece of instructional playing and something that is so important in developing mandolin technique. As a fellow Scot of Neil's I am most used to playing in open-string-friendly keys which our Irish and Scottish tunes tend to be written in, thanks to their often fiddle-based origins or pipe tunes in A or D. I use the closed position shapes on guitar all the time but have not got around to expanding this to my mando playing - you have now pointed me towards this as a new goal! Thanks again, buddy!
  19. Loretta Callahan
    Loretta Callahan
    Maudlin is light years beyond what I could do; good job! Yes, Michael makes it look possible, and as always, inspiring playing. However, unless there are finger stretching techniques, my poor tiny hands don't do those closed chords in first or second position... at all.
  20. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Here's an instrumental version of Sitting Alone In The Moonlight. The leads are played on a Kentucky KM600 mandolin and a Morrell resophonic guitar. Backup was provided by a Simon & Patrick guitar and a Hofner electric bass guitar. The mandolin lead uses a combination of open and closed positions. Hope you like it.

  21. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
  22. Mike O'Connell
    Mike O'Connell
    Very nice, Michael. Super blend. Your bass really adds a lot. You're a one man band. Thanks for sharing.
  23. laura809
    Neil, excellent work putting that together so quickly. Maudlin, that was a very nice arrangement. Michael, I found your lesson very helpful and really enjoyed your version.
  24. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Michael, guitar and mandolin both sounding great on that version; laura, glad someone else done a vocal version, really enjoyed your solo in it as well.
  25. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Nice performace Laura. I liked your break and the mandolin backup while you were singing was exactly right. There were a bunch of closed position chords there too.

    And Loretta, I'd forgotten how hard these chords are to learn -- the best finger stretching exercise I know is to hold down the chords. If you start way high on the neck (where the frets are closer together) your fingers can become used to the chord shape. Then it's a matter of gradually moving down the neck a little at a time until your hands and fingers are all stretched out. (I do remember how painful it can be, but eventually your hands get used to it. It took me some months to learn them properly.)
  26. luurtie
    Your lesson was very helpful Michael, the version you mixed was very smooth and wonderful. After that I hesitated to put my version on the internet, but here it is. Nice to hear you sing Laura!

  27. Marcelyn
    Hendrik, you're kidding me? Is that what a Dutch accent sounds like? Really incredible tremolo, fills, and singing. This week is so much fun.
  28. Toycona
    You've got that 'high lonesome' vocal quality that so many people wish they had. You'd sound awesome in a three part harmony, I bet.

    Keep singing!!!
  29. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Hendrik, so glad you decided to post your video. It is a really excellent version with great singing and inspired playing – very enjoyable. Thanks
  30. OldSausage
    Excellent work from everyone here. I don't think there's much I can add to what's already been done, but here's me having a go anyway:

  31. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Great version, OS
  32. Marcelyn
    David, that's astounding tremolo. You got so much feeling into that rendition.
  33. jamann
    This is a great Monroe tune and I really enjoyed all the different versions submitted.
    Very nice job everyone!

    I'm playing catch up to some of the tunes I missed while I was out on the road the last few months. It's nice to be back.

    Here's my attempt at Monroe's solo for this great tune. Hope you enjoy!


  34. Marcelyn
    There's a whole lot of feeling in that one, John. It sounds amazing. Can't wait to see what else you catch up on.
Results 1 to 34 of 34