Season 3: Songs for Singin’!
Episode 5: “Been All Around this World”
Take a story of a man coming to terms with his impending demise from the gallows, combine it with an unforgettable melody, and what do you get?
Our 5th selection in the “Songs for Singin’” season of the Core Repertoire Series, that’s what!
This song has been in my stable of performance tunes for many years. While it may not be recognized by most in a general audience, it’s one of those rare songs folks seem to like in just a single listen, without the customary “getting to know you” period that most songs require.
I also love it because a) it has just one part, and b) it’s very well suited to playing out of double C/D tuning.
So let’s get crackin’!
Step 1: Know Thy Melody
You know the drill, right?
No plucking of thy banjo in search of the tune until said tune can be sung, hummed, whistled or otherwise generated from one’s own bodily vibrations.
Once you’ve got it, move on to….
Step 2: Find The Chords
I typically play this song in the key of D, and as mentioned above, I use double D (aDADE) tuning to do so. We know then, that our root, or I, chord will be D. Our IV chord is a G, and our V chord is an A. And those are the only 3 chords you’ll need to know! Now it’s just a matter of knowing where to put em.
See if you can figure out the chord changes yourself first. Then consult the answers below to check your work (I’ve also included the chord shapes for each chord in this tuning):
Step 3: Play A Basic Backup Pattern While Fingering the Chord Progression
Now with our chord progression firmly in mind let’s create a straightforward vocal backup to serve as the perfect backdrop for some singing. A nice bum-ditty pattern will do just fine, like this:
Here’s what that looks like in tab:
Step 4: Add some easily accessed melody notes
As discussed in prior episodes, and easy way to dress up your vocal backup a little bit is to add in some melody notes as you play. And the best place to look first are the melody notes you can play that don’t require you to do anything else with your fretting hand (besides hold down the chord shape, as you’re already doing).
So first, let’s locate where the melody notes for this tune are located. Here’s what the basic melody of “Been All Around this World” sounds like:
And here’s that melody tabbed out. Melody notes that fall on the downbeat (the “bum” in the bum ditty pattern):
Now, let’s incorporate these melody notes that require not extra fretting hand movement into our backup. Doing so give us this:
If we play and sing that, it sounds like this:
Not only does this make for great vocal accompaniment, but it also gives the impression that a lot is going on your banjo.
In my version in the video above, I’ve added a few additional embellishments to double the melody as I sing, and I throw in a solo in between the verses.
More Playing and Singing Material?
You’ll find an ever-expanding library of arrangements for songs and tunes, with lead and vocal backup arrangements, along with video demos for folks of all abilities inside of the Breakthrough Banjo course.
So, if you’re looking for more material for playing and singing, come and check it out! Click here to learn more.