The READIN Family Album
Me and Sylvia on the canal in Qibao (April 2011)


Jeremy's journal

When he woke up, the dinosaur was still there.

Augusto Monterroso

(This is a subset of my posts)
Front page
Most recent posts about The Boys of Blue Hill
More posts about Music

Archives index
Subscribe to RSS

This page renders best in Firefox (or Safari, or Chrome)

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

🦋 Étude/Song

I spent a lot of time practicing my fiddle tunes yesterday. These tunes -- generally Irish or Appalachian tunes, mostly in 4/4 time, mostly with two sections of 8 or 16 bars each -- I mostly play as a sort of étude, just getting used to playing the violin fast and clear and with a constant beat; something nice can happen when I have played a tune enough times, become familiar enough with it, that it will metamorphose from a practice tune into an actual song... when this happens it is as if I start hearing actual expressed meaning in the notes rather than just the bouncing melody. That transformation took place yesterday with the Irish song "The Boys of Blue Hill" -- suddenly that song is a part of my consciousness, not just a melody in my ear. Here are the fiddle tunes I feel familiar enough with that I think of them as songs:

  • Bonaparte Crossing the Rhine
  • Bonaparte Crossing the Rocky Mountain
  • Bonaparte's Retreat (almost -- I still don't totally understand the B section)
  • Old Joe Clark
  • The Irish Washerwoman (the odd man out -- this song is a jig, in 3/4 time)
  • The Growling Old Man and the Carping Old Woman
  • The Boys of Blue Hill
The transition from étude to song seems to have a lot to do with rhythm -- when I am playing a tune for practice I am very focussed on playing it straight, with beats falling at the correct place and durations of notes accurate, etc. When I am playing a song there is more room for syncopation and swinging.

I am thinking I should try and build a songbook of fiddle tunes, similar to what John and I are doing with our songs. (I am wanting to do recordings of some of these, hopefully before to long I will upload some mp3's.) Below the fold, a list (in no particular order) of songs I am working on, that are getting close to inclusion in the songbook.

posted morning of January 31st, 2010: 3 responses
➳ More posts about Fiddling

🦋 The Boys of Blue Hill

Here is a recording I made of "The Boys of Blue Hill":

-- by way of comparison, a recording I found on YouTube. This is James Galway and Matt Molloy, in 1977:

Update -- as long as I'm recording some fiddle tunes -- I added a take of "The Growling Old Man and the Carping Old Woman" to this post. And here is a tape of Graham Townsend playing the tune:

posted morning of January 31st, 2010: Respond
➳ More posts about Music

Drop me a line! or, sign my Guestbook.
Check out Ellen's writing at

What do you think?

Jeremy Osner on Fragments

Where to go from here...

South Orange
Friends and Family