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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW - Undone in Sorrow 8/17/12

Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link:

Jay K - Posted - 08/17/2012:  10:16:58

The tune of the week for August 17th, 2012 is Undone in Sorrow, written and originally performed by Ola Belle Reed.  Some of the more seasoned players around here may find the tune a bit simple, but for newer players like me I think it's an opportunity to learn a beautiful banjo song outside the old time canon.

I only recently learned Undone in Sorrow from Brooklyn-based performer, teacher and hangout member Hilary Hawke, and I was immediately enthralled.  Ms. Hawke has allowed me to include her tab and teaching rendition of the song; these two

resources make for a great lesson and introduction.

Ola Belle Reed was born in Grassy Creek NC, on August 17th, 1916.  Although various sources cite different dates and birthplaces, I'm noting those listed on a website run by her family.  I also like that by going with the 17th, I'm posting on what would have been her 96th birthday, she passed away one day shy of her 86th birthday.  Ms. Belle came from a musical family and enjoyed a long career writing and performing.  A discography, small biography, and other

resources can be found on the family website:

Additional information can be found in the downloadable liner notes for her Smithsonian Folkways album, Rising Sun Melodies:

Ms. Belle is perhaps better known for writing the bluegrass standard High on a Mountain, but I think Undone in Sorrow, first recorded on June 17th, 1976, is her real gem.  The song, in standard G tuning, starts by striking the open G on

the third string, this is followed by a short slide up the G string from A to B.  This slide is a recurring move in the A section, and sounds really nice.  The B section centers around an Em strum, and has a couple of tricky pull offs, also

on the G string.  Once these are in your fingers they sound great, especially when you nail the double pull off A to G, then A# to A, then strike the open G.

Another great version of Undone in Sorrow has been recorded by Ginny Hawker, available on iTunes.  I was so

taken with her rendition that I contacted her, asking about the song.  I'll wrap this up by including what she wrote.  I hope you enjoy learning Undone in Sorrow as much as I did.

 I knew Ola Belle Reed and loved her song writing and her singing for years.  Her voice always did what    traditional music is meant to do- put you in the place.  I've been to West Jefferson, NC where she was from and even that is almost too fancy these days for the woman I knew.   She was not "uptown"; she was country and so real.  She had a way of never singing behind an instrument, either the banjo or the guitar, played by someone else or herself.   I teach the singing of traditional music around the country in workshops and music camps and in our home in West Virginia and always my students listen to Ola Belle Reed to get started singing from the heart.   She never fails to impress and inspire.  - Ginny Hawker




Edited by - Jay K on 08/17/2012 10:20:46

Jay K - Posted - 08/17/2012:  10:30:06

Sorry for the crudeness of my above tune of the week.  I am currently off the grid on a small costal island in Maine, trying to use a jury rigged system to get this up.  I can't seem to get the tab sheet in a readable size, perhaps you can grab it from my homepage.  I will keep trying. Thanks!

banjomikey - Posted - 08/17/2012:  10:41:55

Hilary is great gal!

SCclawman - Posted - 08/17/2012:  12:09:56

I love this version by crooked still

Edited by - SCclawman on 08/17/2012 12:10:36

agent369 - Posted - 08/17/2012:  13:09:12

I really like Old Sledge's version
Love her voice

bd - Posted - 08/17/2012:  13:20:12

Cool choice! Here's my quick take somewhat loosely based on the posted tab.

edit: I'm in open D by the way.

Edited by - bd on 08/17/2012 13:23:31

VIDEO: Undone In Sorrow
(click to view)


Jay K - Posted - 08/17/2012:  14:30:55

In my tech challenged state I neglected to include lyrics, here they are:

Over yonder in the graveyard
Where the wild, wild flowers grow
Oh there they laid, my own true lover
He's gone from me, forever more

Fairer than, the sweetest flower
Restless as, the wildest wind
Poured in with love deep as an ocean
This was the one that I did win

I left him there, back in the mountain
To see the world, riches to gain
Oh, when I returned, no earthly treasure
Could ease this heart so full of pain

Air so high, above the mountain
But, beneath that little mound of clay
Oh the one that I, returned to marry
So stand a mound of flowers did lay

I'll go away and I will wander
Lay aside my earthly gains
And I'll not end, someone with riches
Undone in sorrow, I'll remain (2x)

Jay K - Posted - 08/17/2012:  18:33:50

Oops, at one point in my post I refer to Ms. Belle, I obviously meant Ms. Reed. Sorry! You know, I think I have a greatly increased respect for the folks who post these beautifully laid out TOTWs with perfect attachments. Not easy!

JanetB - Posted - 08/17/2012:  18:57:14

Great TOTW with a valuable history lesson, too.  I'll enjoy reading through the links posted above.

Both Jay and bd portray the remorseful feeling of the song.  This would make a good one sung in a jam.  I like them slow and sad.  I'm reminded of Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies.

Tatersoup - Posted - 08/18/2012:  03:59:14

Beautiful song. Thank you for posting!

Edited by - Tatersoup on 08/18/2012 03:59:40

mbuk06 - Posted - 08/18/2012:  05:26:07

Great TOTW. And a real nice version from bd. Thanks.

Edited by - mbuk06 on 08/18/2012 05:26:59

Greg Harness - Posted - 08/19/2012:  05:57:03

This is indeed a great tune. Coty Hogue has a mighty fine version on her record To The West. Here's a video with Coty Hogue playing banjo and singing accompanied by guitar and accordion:

Danaher - Posted - 08/19/2012:  10:48:32

The 1977 album "Ola Belle Reed & Family)" (Rounder 0077) includes this song titled as "Over Yonder in the Graveyard"   .  I bought the album at one of her shows in either 77 or 78

In Judy Marti's book "A Banjo Pickin' Girl", for this song, she wrote:

"Ola Belle wrote this song in the late 1960's and originally titled it "undone in Sorrow"/  The name was changed during publication in the 'Good Friends Songbook' to 'Over Yonder in the Graveyard' because the editor felt the word 'undone' was misused.  This song echoes a traditional mountain theme and melody.  A young man goes off to see the world, riches to gain, only to return to find his true lover 'over yonder in the graveyard..' "



Looking in the book, the tab this song indicates Ola Belle used the 5th string to hit the high G melody notes instead of  1st string 5th fret.  Judy Marti says using the 5th string for melody notes and "backpicking", or picking up with the hammer finger, were characteristics of  Ola Belle's technique, and that she never drop or double thumbed.



Jay K - Posted - 08/19/2012:  13:07:11

Wow, great addition!

Jay K - Posted - 08/21/2012:  15:37:13

Just had a nice email from Ginny Hawker (not a hangout member) who appreciated the nod towards her work. A wonderful interpreter of Ola Belle Reed and a very gracious person!

rgoad - Posted - 08/26/2012:  09:07:54

Pardon for asking, but is there a better image of the tab available?  I also looked in the Archive, to no avail.  


Wish I was on an island off the coast of Maine....

Danaher - Posted - 08/26/2012:  16:26:43

From Jay's upload photos

Edited by - Danaher on 08/26/2012 16:27:42

rgoad - Posted - 08/26/2012:  16:30:56

Thanks, I couldn't snag it from his page for some reason.  But this one is great.  

Edited by - rgoad on 08/26/2012 16:31:44

csbdr - Posted - 08/27/2012:  13:38:17

I LOVE this tune! TOTW is one of my favorite threads. I always pick up a gem!

BTW, this tune's opening is right on with Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here", for those wanting to work up more modern tunes on clawhammer. I fooled with that a bit last night and had a blast...

Jay K - Posted - 08/28/2012:  05:50:37

Thanks so much Danaher! Still off the grid here and couldn't repost the tab. And yes, the Floyd riff didn't elude me!

agent369 - Posted - 08/30/2012:  08:24:08 Old Sledge , with lyrics.

Great pick for tuna the week.



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