How To Play Old Joe Clark On Guitar

In this lesson we have a series of charts with tab, notation, and chords that start from beginning and progresses to advanced levels. The charts are written in the key of G but if you use a capo on the 2nd fret you will be in the key of A. Most fiddlers prefer the key of A. The fingerings for the key of G are the quintessential chords for bluegrass and old time music. That is why we use a capo instead of playing the typical A, D, and E chords in the key of A. Below you will also find a playlist of backing tracks for the song in both keys. I highly recommend playing along with the tracks. It is essential for developing rhythm.

Old Joe Clark is a US folk song, a mountain ballad that was popular among soldiers from eastern Kentucky during World War 1 and afterwards. Its lyrics refer to a real person named Joseph Clark, a Kentucky mountaineer who was born in 1839 and murdered in 1885. The “playful and sometimes outlandish verses” have led to the conjecture that it first spread as a children’s song and via play parties. There are about 90 stanzas in various versions of the song.

When using the capo on the second fret of the guitar, the tune is based on an A major scale in the mixolydian mode, but moreover has definite hints of a complete blues scale, namely, the flatted 3rd and 5th.

Although “Old Joe Clark” may have originated in the 19th century, no printed records are known from before 1900. An early version was printed in 1918, as sung in Virginia at that time.

“Old Joe Clark” has been described as one of the most widely known of all Southern fiddle tunes as of the late 20th century. It has, to a degree, become part of the United States national repertory. One may hear it in bluegrass jam session, old-time fiddle, sessions, and country dances throughout the United States.


The Playlist:

The Charts:

G Old Joe 1

G Old Joe 2

G Old Joe 3

G Old Joe 4

G Old Joe 5

G Old Joe 6

G Old Joe 7

G Old Joe 8

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