2021-11 Julianne Johnson

  1. HonketyHank
    The tune of the month of October, 2021, is "Julianne Johnson". The Song A Week thread for it is located here: [SAW Link to "Julianne Johnson" thread].

    You may remember that I had trouble tracing the provenance of last month's tune, "Katy Hill". So far I have found even less material on the web for "Julianne Johnson". About all I can determine with a good probability of truth is that it is fairly old and most likely purely American. On the other hand, such a lack of hard facts has never stopped me from presenting theories. Here goes.

    First of all, I find it somewhat curious that "Julianne Johnson" came up in the SAW group immediately after "Katy Hill", which is often confused with the tune "Sally Johnson". I consulted with an old jimmyjohn and bowed saw virtuoso who claims to have played backup to the famous "Johnson Boys" back in their attempted heyday. You may remember them for their complete lack of success in courting as well as the music business. Anyway, the Johnson Boys' older sister was Sally Johnson of the famous tune, "Katy Hill aka Sally Johnson". But here's the kicker. The Johnson Boys only had one sister (Katy, aka Sally). So what has this got to do with "Julianne" Johnson?

    Well, it turns out that after the Johnson Boys gave up on marriage and the music business, they split up. The older of the two, John Johnson, went off to Wisconsin, where he worked in the lumberyards there. The younger, Jules, moved to Kansas City and found a job as a fry cook at the Muehlebach Hotel. He had finally found his niche in life. He advanced rapidly and soon became Grand Chef but he was best known for his dishes featuring long thin cuts of vegetables, deep fried. It was in his honor that this tune was composed. Unfortunately, Jules has been largely forgotten and the title of the tune has suffered the indignities of being mangled and twisted. Thus "Johnson's Julienne" is now known as "Julianne Johnson".

    As alway, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

    There are tabs available in the Mandolin Cafe Tabledit Library and abc's available at Tunearch.org. But the absolute best learning resource I have found so far is Baron Collins-Hill at his www.mandolessons.com. He has three instructional videos listed for the tune (all free, of course).

    The first, https://www.mandolessons.com/lessons...lianne-johnson , follows his standard format to teach a basic version by ear (or tabs or notation in the downloadable pdf).

    In the second, https://www.mandolessons.com/juliann...le-to-complex/ , Baron plays multiple variations of the tune employing various ornaments.

    And the third, https://www.mandolessons.com/juliann...lay-along-jam/ , is a "play along" video where he plays one verse, then backup for one verse, back and forth several times so you can play along and take the lead when he does backup.

    And if you dig around on YouTube, there are several more videos of the tune by Baron. He must really like the tune!

    It is interesting to me that this tune is almost always introduced as an "old time fiddle tune", yet YouTube has far more clawhammer banjo videos of it than fiddle videos. Possibly because Dr. Josh Turknett has a brainjo video lesson on it out there. Anyway, after sifting through a bunch of videos, I think my favorite is from our fellow MC-er, Old Sausage (David Mold), in the SAW thread:


    But there are several other very nice versions in the SAW thread, so check it out.

    I'm going to get out the mandoline and start working on "julienne johnson".
  2. HonketyHank
    OK! I did not know this tune before yesterday but I played along with Baron Collins-Hill on his basic lesson today and I like it. I remember yesterday (and the day before, a little bit) looking at the various versions in Tabledit files and ABC files and standard notation and thinking that something was odd - they were all in the key of D but the root chord seemed to be an A major. Then when I watched a bunch of videos and thought maybe this is actually A pentatonic; but F# plays an important part in both the A section and the B section.

    Today it hit me. This is in A Mixolydian mode. Mixolydian tunes are relatively uncommon in bluegrass, but a bit more frequent in old-time music (and Irish). Here is how it works: Play a plain old D major scale. Now play exactly the same sequence of notes but start on an A note. A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G-A. Ta-daaaa. That was the A Mixolydian scale. Another way of thinking about it is A Mixolydian is A Major with the 7th note flatted.

    Mixolydian tunes tend to be haunting, kinda minorish, but still a bit majorish. They tend leave you hanging and wondering how it all came out.

    So. It's a fun, relatively easy tune in a less common mode that is easily spiced up with ornaments as shown by BCH. I look forward to seeing what you guys do with it.

    And if you are curious about Mixolydian mode, Google "church modes" or "musical modes" and dive into the rabbit hole of the different modes that are based on our standard western music do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do scale.
  3. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Isn't "Red-Haired Boy" A Mixolydian?
  4. HonketyHank
    I believe it is. ... Just checked with thesession.org and it is pretty universally regarded as mixolydian, usually A Mix.
  5. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
  6. HonketyHank
    And Mark shows up and prevents a shutout for the TOM for November! Good job, Mark. I noted (and liked) the finger work up in third position, thus delaying a shift back to open until a better opportunity.
  7. NDO
    Nicely done Mark!
  8. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    Loved it, Mark. And thanks for the closeup so we can really see what you're doing
  9. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Thanks everybody. Sue, the magnet on back of my iPhone stuck to the top rail of my propane fire pit in just that position No credit to me it was a lazy accident
  10. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Nice version, Mark.
  11. bbcee
    Excellent, Mark!! Glad you posted this.
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