Wait Till You Hear This One

Old-time fiddle tunes and sources

Archive for the month “June, 2014”

“Cuckoo’s Nest” and the old-time bow shake

A cuckoo chick, in its nest.

“Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of the most mysterious and archaic sounding Bob Walters recordings I’ve heard. It’s also a great example of what I call the “bow shake” ornament. A lot of old-time fiddlers think of this as an Irish thing, but it was actually very common in earlier American fiddle styles and can be heard on many great old recordings.

My source recording is The Champion, used with permission (you can buy the CD here). The Soundcloud clip is at actual speed, with the pitch corrected—key of D, standard tuning. In the video, as usual, I play the tune up to tempo, then slowly. At the end I do my best to give some useful pointers on how to play the tune and do the bow shakes. But the tune has plenty going on and can easily be played without the bow shakes, too. About the video, I have to say I’m really unhappy with the sound quality, and with the balance between voice and fiddle. I’m planning on getting a good USB mic for my next post—promise! Read more…

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