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(April 19, 2002)


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Sunday, April 15th, 2012

🦋 Fiddling with the standards

There is a huge body of fiddle tunes that I think of as "standards". Diverse sources, Appalachia, Ireland, Manitoba, Cape Breton, Scandinavia, the Old West... I've historically felt pretty diffident about my performances of the standards, like I don't play them fast enough or sincerely enough. But that is changing! In the past couple of weeks -- really starting in February when I recorded my take on The Sailor's Hornpipe -- I feel like I'm really enjoying playing these old tunes, and coming up with some pretty decent, enjoyable tunes for listening to. They're pretty off-beat, new and different -- my own sound at last! Here is the list so far of the recordings that I have liked well enough to upload for you to listen to:

  1. The Sailor's Hornpipe -- a British dance tune first printed in the 1700's.
  2. East Tennessee Blues -- credited to Charlie Bowman. This song is younger than the others, probably written in the early 1960's. Written in 1926.
  3. Old Joe Clark -- a mountain ballad from eastern Kentucky, first printed in 1918.
  4. The Red-Haired Boy -- I think this is an Irish tune, although I associate it with Boston.
  5. Camptown Races -- composed by Stephen Foster in the mid-19th Century.
  6. Whiskey Before Breakfast -- credited to Canadian fiddler Andy de Jarlis. (Or possibly it is "a traditional tune made popular by de Jarlis")
  7. Bill Cheetham -- I can't find much more information about this than that it is "traditional" .
  8. The Devil's Dream -- a popular English dance tune from the 1800's. I have never heard it played any other way than very fast, but I think this slower arrangement is pretty catchy.
Listening to these in sequence, I think I'm improving, and also I am getting better at putting the videos together. Naturally still much room for improvement in both regards, but...

posted morning of April 15th, 2012: Respond
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Saturday, March 6th, 2010

🦋 Maintaining focus in the song

Here are some tapes from today's practice -- I'm trying to really hold my focus in the song and pay attention to what I'm doing, and I think it's coming through a bit. At the end of "Bill Cheetham" I lose it. "The Road to Lisdoonvarna" I think is currently my very favorite song.

posted afternoon of March 6th, 2010: 2 responses
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Monday, February 15th, 2010

🦋 Fiddle medleys

Something I really enjoy with learning traditional fiddle tunes, is figuring out which ones of them go together and creating medleys. Usually the impetus for this to happen comes when I'm playing one song and accidentally fall into a different tune, then I work out how I can make that transition happen on purpose. Here are two medleys I've been working on a lot recently: "The Road to Lisdoonvarna"/"Drowsy Maggie" (a little interesting because the two songs, while in the same key, have markedly different rhythm), and "The Red-Haired Boy"/"Bill Cheetham" (which seem like they might as well be actually the same song, they have so much in common).

posted afternoon of February 15th, 2010: Respond
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