Wait Till You Hear This One

Old-time fiddle tunes and sources

Archive for the category “D tunes”

Back to my Roots: Tommy Jarrell’s “Susanna Gal”

I freely admit, my roots are in Southern California, and I never met Tommy Jarrell. But this is one of the first tunes that made me want to play the fiddle, so it does take me back to my roots in that sense. I made two videos this time, one of me playing the tune, and one of me analyzing a video of Tommy playing it. Tuning in both is ADAE. Here’s the entire video of Tommy. Thanks to James Stiltner for permission to use it. (See below for a less shaky version of the video, created by friend of the blog, Josh L.)

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“Joseph Won the Coated Fiddle,” Cyril Stinnett

Here’s a link to the version I learned this tune from, played by the great Cyril Stinnett with, I think, Bob Christeson playing backup on field organ. More info below. Enjoy!

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“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…

“Old Dubuque,” Bob Walters

Key of D, standard tuning. Learned from the 2-CD set, “Bob Walters: The Champion” and used with permission. The tune can be played fairly simply and still sound close to the source—that’s how I played it when I first learned it. But trying to capture the nuances makes it more difficult, and lately I’ve been working on adding those in. Here’s a slowed-down version of the source recording:

And here’s a video of me playing the tune, first with piano backup (by Martha Thompson), then once slow, then with some comments about style. Sorry that my voice is a little quiet at points: I shot this all on my new ipad with no external mic. I’ll either use an external mic next time, or shout.

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“Zack Wheat’s Piece,” from George Helton

Key of D, ADAE tuning, although it works fine in standard, too. I learned it from this recording on Slippery Hill. Here’s my slowed-down and pitch corrected version:

In the video below, I play it once at medium speed with Martha’s fine piano back-up. Listen for that Missouri Turnaround chord progression that I talked about last time in the “Dark Haired Girl” post. It sounds great on this tune, too. Next I play it once through slow. I’ve decided to stop including a separate section where I separate the slow version into phrases, unless I hear from folks who like that. Finally, I talk through the tune, giving some pointers on phrasing and bowing. As I say in the video, in the piano/fiddle version there are a couple of tiny differences from the source, but I tried to correct those in the teaching parts.


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