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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Tuna the Week (7-23-10) Cold Frosty Morning

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raybob - Posted - 07/22/2010:  18:38:48

Mid-summer seems like the perfect time to do "Frosty Morning". I couldn't believe it hadn't already been done when I looked at the list. I enjoy playing it because I like the tune, and the way that I do it has a couple ASPO's in the A part and some drop thumbing and slides in the B part. The Fiddler's Companion says that it was first mentioned as being played in a fiddling contest in eastern Tennessee in 1931, and that Alan Jabbour collected it from Henry Reed in the 60's (and later recorded it) and this is what led to it becoming popular.[1]

It has been notated in tab and standard notation in various publications. Miles Krassen put it in both his Clawhammer Banjo tune book and his Appalachian Fiddle book. It's in the Banjo Player's Fakebook and the Fiddler's Fakebook. And recently it's found in Stephen Parker's Clawhammer String Band Favorites. Mike Iverson also has a tab posted on his website which, like all his tunes, has the tab available and a recording of how he plays it.

The Fiddler's Companion mentions several recordings of it, and I'll just mention a few more.
Zepp on a '27 Vega tubby.
Julie Duggan on YouTube (there are many videos of this on YouTube some good some not so much)
Here's a recent recording of me (banjo) and friends Diana and Bill Chesney (fiddle and guitar) played in the living room into a Micro BR using the internal mic (no frills). It recorded a little quiet so turn it up a fuzz.

If you don't already know this one this is a good opportunity to learn it and learn something about it. Then when it's your turn to call the tune in a mid-summer jam just saying the words "Cold, Frosty Morning" will make everyone feel at least a little refreshed. Enjoy!

edit: The Piney Creek Weasels have some words to this that are very fun. If you have a chance to listen to their recording of it you'll know what I mean.

Edited by - raybob on 07/22/2010 18:43:12

kipperr - Posted - 07/22/2010:  19:17:59

Anyone have a backing track to this that I could play along with?

chip arnold - Posted - 07/22/2010:  19:18:35

I never get tired of this tune. There's a sound file of it on my music page here:

And I just put a tab on my picture page here:

. With one or two very small changes, my tab can be played clawhammer style.

elberto_2001 - Posted - 07/22/2010:  19:37:58

awesome chip.

wildwest has a pretty haunting version
which is tabbed out on tom joads website

This version on youtube by the aptly name frostymorn is pretty good too

Edited by - elberto_2001 on 07/23/2010 23:51:16

RaiseTheHatchet - Posted - 07/22/2010:  19:51:20

That's good to play along with. Great tune!

RaiseTheHatchet - Posted - 07/22/2010:  19:51:54

Sounds great arnold

stevel - Posted - 07/23/2010:  05:44:25

Great song. I've been working on this one for a while... but haven't made a good recording yet.


FScholle - Posted - 07/23/2010:  06:09:53

I have a version on my homepage with a somewhat runaway guitar track. This is on my Brooks fretless.

Cold Frosty morning-Spartan


WGE - Posted - 07/23/2010:  06:24:06

Supposedly based on a fiddle tune commemorating the Battle of Culloden, the last major action of the 1745 Jacobite uprising, fought April 16, 1746. The Nashville Old-Time String Band often plays this as part of a medley with Greasy Coat, although the tunes only seem to share the key. I first learned this via the Krassen book. The battle took the starch out of the Scots.

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 07/23/2010:  07:34:19

I have no idea as to the origins of the tune, but this appeals too

vrteach - Posted - 07/23/2010:  09:51:47

An all-time favorite. I think I learned it from the Miles Krassen book during my first years of learning banjo. For some reason I seem to switch the A & B parts from what other folks do. I've attached a recording from our local jam a few years ago. I start it out on the cello banjo, and I think that is LyleK on the real banjo.

Cold Frosty Morning


ELWOOD - Posted - 07/23/2010:  09:53:59

Great Choise: Here is look at that picking right hand ..................ELWOOD....................................That"s Sparky Fiddle playing....................

Edited by - ELWOOD on 07/23/2010 09:55:25

raybob - Posted - 07/23/2010:  11:05:08

Glad everyone is liking the tune, it is a good one. Erich, I've heard it done with the other part played first too, some folks do it that way. Kinda the same thing that happens with Spotted Pony and some other tunes.

g-hog - Posted - 07/23/2010:  15:03:17

Here's mine... Kind of old... I don't really play it exactly like that these days... at least I think it's different... but have no time for updating youtubes yet... anyway... here's something like I play it...

ramjo - Posted - 07/23/2010:  15:47:33

Since I love this tune, I've really enjoyed the clips and performances posted here. Thanks raybob for corralling this one.

I learned this from Cathy Fink's Banjo Haiku, which seems a little different from the Krassen tab. Of the many versions on Youtube, I think this is a fine one: (What a great, snappy tone Jeff gets from his Chuck Lee.) Is Jeff a BHO member?

Aunt Lisa - Posted - 07/23/2010:  16:48:14

Great tune! I just hear this one recently for the first time.

So, the tune of the week... what's it about? (I'm new around here.)

Edited by - Aunt Lisa on 07/24/2010 20:10:49

ramjo - Posted - 07/23/2010:  17:10:10

Aunt Lisa--Check out vrteach's index to the Tunes of the Week (TOTW). At the bottom of the first post (the index), it tells you how it works.

Aunt Lisa - Posted - 07/23/2010:  17:34:30

Originally posted by ramjo

Aunt Lisa--Check out vrteach's index to the Tunes of the Week (TOTW). At the bottom of the first post (the index), it tells you how it works.

Cool. Thanks!

dbrooks - Posted - 07/23/2010:  17:41:38

I should wait and let Bob Buckingham speak up here, but I'll just quote him instead.

In the May 2010 Banjo Newsletter, Bob noted that Ian Perry wrote tab for "Frosty Morning" and called the tune "Cold Frosty Morning." Bob explained that the two titles have been frequently confused. "Frosty Morning" is a tune from Henry Reed and is purely Appalachian in origin (at least as much so as other tunes are "purely Appalachian"). "Cold Frosty Morning" is a slow Scottish air or waltz and a completely different tune.

I may be acting smart, but I confused these titles as well. So maybe I'm newly smart -- thanks to Bob and BNL.

Here's the Fiddler's Companion page with an entry for "Cold Frosty Morning."[1]

Here's the page for "Frosty Morning."[1]


bagunhe - Posted - 07/23/2010:  22:24:18

I was wondering about the tune name, too. To me. Cold Frosty Morning is a tune from Melvin Wine, another "purely Appalachian in origin "

jmod - Posted - 07/23/2010:  22:41:22

Great stuff, I love this tune. Thanks for the throwing it on Tuna.

raybob - Posted - 07/24/2010:  07:23:31

I was wondering if Melvin Wine's "Cold Frosty Morning" would get mentioned here. It's mentioned in the Fiddler's Companion just under the write up of the tune from Henry Reed, and I found this cool video of Jimmy Triplett and friends playing it. And it seems to me that the titles "Frosty Morning" and "Cold Frosty Morning" are used interchangeably with both. There could be distinctions in some circles though.

ndlxs - Posted - 07/24/2010:  08:35:10

Thanks for the mention of the words; we haven't actually recorded it yet. I wrote the words myself; I'll see if I can do a video and post it of my version.

When I play this tune while singing, I actually play it with a thumb lead 2 finger style on the first part and a travis picking thing on the second part.

Andy Alexis
a Piney Creek Weasel

carlb - Posted - 07/25/2010:  06:01:47

Originally posted by raybob

..........Melvin Wine's "Cold Frosty Morning"........................the tune from Henry Reed, ["Frosty Morning"]. ................. There could be distinctions in some circles though.

Yes, there are. Some of us play both tunes and know where they're from. It's become a pet peeve of mine.

MountainBanjo - Posted - 07/25/2010:  06:13:43

And where does Doc watson's Frosty Morn fit into this? Is his from Henry Reed too?

banjopogo - Posted - 07/26/2010:  00:07:59

Originally posted by kipperr

Anyone have a backing track to this that I could play along with?

You could play along with my solo fiddle version,
third tune down:

carlb - Posted - 07/26/2010:  07:02:35

Originally posted by dbrooks

Here's the Fiddler's Companion page with an entry for "Cold Frosty Morning."[1]

Here's the page for "Frosty Morning."[1]

Just for a point of information, I wrote to Andrew Kuntz and received the following reply (included is my email to him).

Thanks Carl, for the correction. The new posting should be up soon. I had a nice listen to the tunes of Henry Reed at American Memories and Melvin Wine at Digital Library of Appalachia. I appreciate your dropping me the note....

----- Original Message -----
From: Carl Baron
Sent: Sunday, July 25, 2010 9:09 AM
Subject: "Frosty Morning" and "Cold Frosty Morning"


I'd appreciate it if you would correct the information associated with these titles, at least for the American old time versions. The sources of these tunes are:

"Frosty Morning" from Henry Reed, a recording can be found at:

"Cold Frosty Morning" from Melvin Wine, a recording can be found at:
Wine, Melvin. Cold Frosty Morning, Poplar LPI 40290, LP (1976), trk# 1 [1974/08/17]

Carl Baron

jojo25 - Posted - 07/26/2010:  15:07:44

me and my buds love to do this tune in a medley where we start with Cold Frosty Morning (or whatever in the heck you want/need to call it), go to The Rout and then return to CFM for a couple times thru

the different modalities of the 2 tunes really play off each other nicely

Edited by - jojo25 on 07/26/2010 15:08:12

Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  07:29:36

One of my favorite tunes, too. Your version is very nicely done, Ray, fine, clean picking. Zepp and Julie Duggan are both awesome, as usual. This shows how tremendously varied our approaches to old-time banjo can be. Chip gives a wonderful, delicate performance, that really showcases the strengths of two-finger up-picking. Frank's (FScholle) clawhammer version is great, too, with some nice old-timey guitar/banjo interaction. Nothing "cold" about Eric's (crteach) jam session, very exciting. G-hog shows us that the frailing brush stroke can be performed with great elegance. Ramjo's version has some really nice bluesy, syncopated stuff that is really cool. I really love banjopogo's fiddling on this, and not just because I think Pogo was the greatest cartoon ever drawn. Hiding under the FHO screenname fiddlepogo, he puts a lot of fine shuffling into his fiddling, which just grabs me. You should all definitely click his link and make the trip over to the Fiddle Hangout and give it a listen, if you haven't already.

I sat down this morning and recorded my three finger version on my little Tascam DR-1, playing on my 1964 Ode. The banjo is tuned gDGAD, with the capo on the 2nd fret. Hope you like it.

Frosty Morning

The tablature is posted on my website, in both Tabledit and PDF format, if anyone is curious:

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/27/2010 07:40:49

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 07/27/2010:  08:29:23

Originally posted by carlb

Originally posted by raybob

..........Melvin Wine's "Cold Frosty Morning"........................the tune from Henry Reed, ["Frosty Morning"]. ................. There could be distinctions in some circles though.

Yes, there are. Some of us play both tunes and know where they're from. It's become a pet peeve of mine.

I believe that the tune you describe is the Burns song - on the iblio pages links through to this one...'CLOCK
it is also referred to Past One O'clock - which is the gentryfied version of text of the first line.

So Carlb I believe that you're correct but the Tuna the week tune is still a great tune - I learn't my version from Perlmans melodic book tabs. I'll post when the kids leave the room and i can record on my rubbish pc mic without hearing th eexplosions from their PS3 game. School holidays and working from home don't mix


ramjo - Posted - 07/27/2010:  09:41:59

Originally posted by Don Borchelt

One of my favorite tunes, too. ... Ramjo's version has some really nice bluesy, syncopated stuff that is really cool.

Thanks for the credit, Don, but I was merely pointing to a youtube posting that I like. It's someone else. I haven't ever made a recording of this tune.

But I want to say how much I enjoyed your masterful 3-finger rendition. You coax some fine ancient tones out of that old Ode. The banjo and the playing sound great!

plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 07/27/2010:  10:18:02

I've posted my version - very rough & ready 45 secs of sound recorder soon passes & playing twixt yells from siblings bent on disgourging each other and then the overwhelming of ray gusn repelling an invasion on the playstation....
If I knew how to link I would but you can use the music icon above my posting

Mirek Patek - Posted - 07/27/2010:  10:50:20

Frailing on tenor banjo in high bass (DGdg) tuning, capo 2



Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  11:17:54

Here's the direct link to Chris's (plunknplinkntwang) MP3. Fine job, Chris!

Frosty Morning

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/27/2010 11:19:52

Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  11:26:26

Very cool, Mirek. If I didn't know better, I would have assumed you were playing a five string, clawhammer style. Very original.

Mirek Patek - Posted - 07/27/2010:  14:53:40

Thanks, Don.

Concerning my arrangement, I have connected the segments from some fiddle or whistle tabs I have found on the net (e.g. that A-C-E-G arpeggio at the beginning that comes from fiddle and not banjo), but I do not know what is the raw melody and what is already some stylistic embelishment or somebody's arrangement with intended alternations - is there some source what could be considered as original?

This problem generally applies to other tunes too. Sometimes I do not know whether the vocal/fiddle/banjo version should be taken as the basis for banjo arrangement...


plunknplinkntwang - Posted - 07/27/2010:  15:31:16

Originally posted by Don Borchelt

Here's the direct link to Chris's (plunknplinkntwang) MP3. Fine job, Chris!

Frosty Morning

Thankyou for both the compliment and the link - compared to your version mine feels very rudimentary. Having heard & watched the others I thought it time to contribute, even if not up to the same standard. This tune is a real favourite of mine, and for me quite complex to play; thanks to all these postings there's some more variations to try and learn and then splice into my playing.

Having said all that, thought for the moment... Y'know it's not easy making every one else look good


Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  16:11:40

Mirek wrote: " there some source what could be considered as original?"

Well, at least one of the originals is Henry Reed, an old-time fiddler from Glen Lyn, Virginia, who died in 1968. Reed's fiddling was preserved in a series of recordings made by Alan Jabbour, which can be found on the Library of Congress American Memories website, in a collection entitled Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier. Here is a direct link to Reed's fiddling of Frosty Morning:

Henry Reed fiddling Frosty Morning

Not long after Jabbour learned the tune from Reed, he recorded it with his group, the Hollow Rock String Band, and the rest is old-timey history. I first learned it from one of the Rounder Fuzzy Mountain String Band records, released in 1971 or 72. I think the Fuzzy LP is where most of the revival people learned it, early on.

Henry Reed, 1884-1968

The Fuzzy Mountain String Band version can be purchased from Amazon MP3 for 99 cents. You can go to the site and hear a sample of it by clicking on the image below:

- Don Borchelt

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/27/2010 16:42:30

vrteach - Posted - 07/27/2010:  16:17:44

Cool, Don. I had not heard Reed's recording before.

Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  16:59:01

Mirek wrote: "Sometimes I do not know whether the vocal/fiddle/banjo version should be taken as the basis for banjo arrangement..."

Well, the nice thing about old-time music is that you don't have to get a particular version exactly note for note the same as the fiddle, as long as what you play fits well with what the other musicians you are jamming or performing with are playing. If the tune, like say Old Joe Clark, has a more or less accepted vocal line, you are probably going to blend plenty well enough if you hit the vocal line dead on. However, there are a lot of old time tunes that have significant variations among versions, particularly some of the West Virginia tunes, like Yew Piney Mountain or Elzic's Farewell. With tunes like that, you have to pretty much be ready to adapt what you are playing "on the fly," to fit what the other musicians are doing. If your fiddle player learned Yew Piney Mountain from Lester McCumbers, it is subtly different from the versions that were played by French Carpenter or Wilson Douglas.

- Don Borchelt

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/27/2010 17:03:29

chip arnold - Posted - 07/27/2010:  18:06:56

Hey Don, that's a beautiful CFM there! See you in a few days :-)

Don Borchelt - Posted - 07/27/2010:  19:45:31

I'll be right around the corner, Chip. I'll come see ya. Make sure your gal is there, so the place won't look so ugly with just us guys.

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 07/27/2010 19:50:44

chip arnold - Posted - 07/27/2010:  19:53:39

Them wimmins do pretty up a place don't they :-)

Mirek Patek - Posted - 07/28/2010:  02:50:58

Don, thanks a lot - it is very helpful.


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