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We kicked off this whole Song of the Week series with a number first recorded by the Carter Family.
This week brings another gem from the original stars of country music, whose body of work offers a voluminous supply of songs ideally suited for five string adaptation.
It’s also perhaps their most heartbreaking.
I must admit I have to deliberately ignore the lyrics when performing this one, else I turn into a floundering, blubbering mess of a musician (especially when singing it with Jules and her goose-bump-inducing harmony lines…).
Nonetheless, I love this song.
In this performance, I’m actually tuned to a#D#A#D#F tuning, which is simply “Double C” (gCGCD) brought up 3 frets. This puts the resulting song in the key of D#. Since Jules carries the lead vocal here, she got to choose our performance key. Feel free to adjust to suit your own voice.
(RELATED: More on how to choose a key and tuning to suit your voice inside the “Essential Guide to Music Theory” Module, part of the Breakthrough Banjo course.)
You’ll note that there are two vocal lines in the chorus, so it works well as a duet. However, when singing it solo, you can of course just choose one of the lines to sing.
Poor Orphan Child
a#D#A#D#F (“Double C” capo 3) tuning, Brainjo level 3
Notes on the Tab
For this song, I tend to play the same thing on the banjo both while backing up the vocal line and when “solo-ing”. As such, the above tab represents what I tend to play for both parts.
For more on reading tabs in general, check out this complete guide to reading banjo tabs.
PRIOR SONG OF THE WEEK EPISODES
- Episode 1: “Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow”
- Episode 2: “Gumtree Canoe”
- Episode 3: “Crawdad Hole”
- Episode 4: “Oh Susanna”
- Episode 5: “Freight Train”
- Episode 6: “Grandfather’s Clock”
- Episode 7: “Hop High Lulu”
- Episode 8: “Been All Around This World”
- Episode 9: “I’ll Fly Away”
- Episode 10: “Leaving Home”
Level 2 arrangements and video demos for the Tune (and Song!) of the Week tunes are now available as part of the Breakthrough Banjo course.