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Red River Valley
Red River Valley is a folk song and cowboy music standard of controversial origins that has gone by different names—e.g., "Cowboy Love Song", "Bright Sherman Valley", "Bright Laurel Valley", "In the Bright Mohawk Valley", and "Bright Little Valley" — depending on where it has been sung.
Edith Fowke offers anecdotal evidence that the song was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896. This finding led to speculation that the song was composed at the time of the Wolseley Expedition to the northern Red River Valley of 1870 in Manitoba. It expresses the sorrow of a local woman (possibly a Métis) as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east.
The earliest known written manuscript of the lyrics, titled The Red River Valley, bears the notations "Nemaha 1879" and "Harlan 1885." Nemaha and Harlan are the names of counties in Nebraska, and are also the names of towns in Iowa.
The song appears in sheet music, titled In the Bright Mohawk Valley, printed in New York in 1896 with James J. Kerrigan as the writer. The tune and lyrics were collected and published in Carl Sandburg's 1927 American Songbook.
- Common Keys: C, G • Really any common Folk key (C G D A E).
- First Melodic Interval: P5 ↑ P4 • ( starts on the perfect fifth of the key and the next melody note is up a perfect fourth. In the key of G major this would be: D to G)
Basic Open Position Chords & Strumming Pattern
Red River Valley…
High "G", C Tuning Notes
Note Inventory: This is simply knowing what the notes of the melody are, and where can you play them on your instrument? In our case, the ukulele. In C Tuning the notes are, from the lowest note D to the highest note D, one octave higher: D Eb E F A G C D'. These can all be played in the open position. Only the high D is slightly our of position on string one, fret (5). The Eb is a common chromatic substitution leading to the D7 on line three.
The E G and A can all be played in alternate note locations.
- A is available on string four fret (2) and string one open
- E is available on string for two and string three fret (4)
- G is available on string four open and string two fret (3)
Single Note Melody
If playing the melody only as single notes I would stick with the open strings for the E and A. And, string two, fret (3) for the G in a more linear fashion with higher notes remain on the same string higher or going to the next higher string.
Melody and Chord Arrangements
When adding in the chords with the melody, the open strings are a great arranging opportunity. This allows you to get a fuller sounding arrangement with allowing the open strings to ring.
Open Position Chords
These are the basic Open Position Chords that can get you through Red River Valley.
Start with the Four Famous Strums in the Building Your Core Strums for Ukulele Series .
Here is the most famous of the Four Famous Strums, Pattern Four: The
Main Song Download(s)
The main downloads for this Song.
Red River Valley - Chord Lead Sheet, Keys of G and C
Updated: 06 Mar 2020
There is anecdotal evidence that the song was known in at least five Canadian provinces before 1896. This finding led to speculation that the song was composed at the time of the 1870 Wolseley Expedition to Manitoba's northern Red River Valley. It expresses the sorrow of a local woman (possibly a Métis) as her soldier lover prepares to return to the east.
Related Lessons for
Red River Valley.
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Red River Valley.
Updated: 10 Nov 2022
Bingo, also known as Bingo Was His Name-Oand There Was a Farmer Who Had a Dog, is an English language children's song of obscure origin. In most modern forms, the song involves spelling the name of a dog, and with increasing letters replaced with handclaps on each repetition.
The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Updated: 26 Jan 2016
The Lion Sleeps Tonight, also known as "Wimoweh", "Wimba Way" or "Awimbawe", is a song written and recorded originally by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds for the South African Gallo Record Company in 1939, under the title "Mbube". Composed in Zulu, it was adapted and covered internationally by many 1950s pop and folk revival artists, including Pete Seeger, the Weavers, Jimmy Dorsey, Yma Sumac, Miriam Makeba and the Kingston Trio.
Related Books & Charts
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Red River Valley.
A Guide to Ukulele Chords, 2nd Edition
Updated: 10 Jan 2020
A Guide to Ukulele Chords, Second Edition is designed as a guide to ukulele chords. Covering the basic ukulele chords that ALL ukulele players SHOULD know. A Guide to Ukulele Chords covers movable chord forms, rock chords, how to transpose chords, learning the ukulele fingerboard and includes an introduction to 4-part, a.k.a jazz chords and more...