Wait Till You Hear This One

Old-time fiddle tunes and sources

Archive for the category “The genius of Bob Walters”

Tune diary: “Turkey in the Straw,” Bob Walters

Hi gang, I’m back. I thought I’d try something different and post a tune I just learned, while it’s still at the exciting stage, even though I’m still working on it. “Turkey in the Straw” is a common, fairly simple tune, but Bob Walters’ version in A really grabbed me when I was listening to the The Champion the other day. If you don’t have the CD, you should get it. But you can hear a rough version of the same recording at the 5-minute mark in this audio-only video, part of the Gordon McCann series at Missouri State University Library. And here’s a slowed-down version, with the pitch corrected.

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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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