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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW Liberty Waltz 9/16/2011

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strokestyle - Posted - 09/16/2011:  08:20:09

Liberty Waltz written by Dawn Petty of Birdseye, Kansas. I want to thank Dawn for allowing me to post this and I sure hope I did this well enough to make her happy. It's a wonderful thing to be able to write music and lyrics and I tip my hat to those that can and do!

 I choose this waltz because I was pretty sure it was not in the normal old time repertoire cause it is a new-old tune. Billy Mathews got this tune from Dawn Petty back in the 1990’s and it stuck. I do not have the original recording of this waltz, but Dawn says she will be recording this winter and will put this on her album. I will await her album anxiously.

 I spoke with Dawn on the phone and hope to have the pleasure of meeting her someday. She gave me permission to play this waltz and post it on the BHO. Correct wording: by permission of High Plains Publishing. Dawn tells me that her waltz has been recorded professionally by Judy Coder a champion yodeler on her album "By Request" and by Fiddlin’ Banjo Billy Mathews on his album  "Children of Foreign Lands". Dawn is a multi instrumentalist and currently has an album she has recorded by playing all the instruments. A friend of Dawn’s told her that her waltz was played over Memorial Day weekend on the NPR channel, but my searches did not turn up anything. Billy tells me that Dawn has a sewing shop and sews helium balloons. She also had an old fire truck she converted to a rolling home and spent many days driving to festivals. I wonder if any of you ever met her or saw her rig? My friend Suzi Vause has a picture of her truck and plans to send that to me so maybe I can get that and post it soon. 

I have a little history here on the origin of Waltzes. Just like old time music there is conflict on how old the dance waltz is and how it came about to be the modern day dance of popularity that it is.

Info on Waltzing

Some say the waltz dates to middle of the 18th century, but another sources says this: “The history of the Waltz goes back further than many actually believe, right back to a very simple form to 13th century Germany. The word waltz comes from the German word walzen meaning to roll, glide or turn but by the 1500's the medieval Volta was danced and consisted of many waltz like steps and movements combined with other forms. Around 1580, the Weller was danced in Vienna and by the early 1590's, France had a form of waltz known as the Nizzarda.”

Also you may not be up on your Equine knowledge, but horses also are trained to do a step called a waltz. Ironically I found a wonderful video of a lady working with a horse on the dressage steps, one of which is a waltz turn and the stable’s name is Liberty Stable. I thought that tied in quite nicely.

For those of you that subscribe to the Banjo Newsletter Hugh Strawn explores clawhammer waltzes in the latest issue.

Here are the lovely words written by Dawn herself.

Liberty Waltz - Words and tune by Dawn Petty

When there’s a need to lead and you’re the one who led

Your dancing the liberty Waltz

When there’s things you need to say and they have all been said then

Your dancing the Liberty Waltz

When you help a friend who needs to smile again you will be loved by all and when your the one who initiates the fun then

You’re dancing the Liberty Waltz

When the way that you live shows you can forgive

You’re dancing the Liberty Waltz

When the feeling that you share shows you really care then

You’re dancing the Liberty Waltz

When you can make amends with no need to pretend the truth will set you free and then you’ll realize that right before your eyes

Your dancing the liberty waltz

When the rhythms of time lift the burdens from your mind

You dancing the Liberty Waltz

When you can give today all the love you stored away

You’re dancing the waltz

As the band plays and dancers gently sway it’ll be a queue to all when earthly life is gone a legacy lives on and eternal Liberty Waltz still

Dancing the Liberty Waltz

If you’re playing this in G – Hopefully I got these chords right.

G BM EM G E7 AM D AM D AM D D-Augumented G

G BM EM G G7 C E7 C C-Dim G E7 A7 D G


 Here is a recording of Billy Mathews and I playing the waltz. Billy is playing a vintage tango banjo strung up with only four strings he has had for many years. He calls this instrument “The Whacker” however another known modern day fiddler Lynn “Chirps” Smith calls it “The Destroyer”. I love hearing this instrument and it can destroy in the wrong hands. I am playing my five-string banjo “Old Joe” a Phippsburg Banjo I purchased last summer. I love hearing Billy play this instrument and the interaction between these two banjos is quite archaic. Billy is playing the melody and I am back-up in Classic C and the chords are a bit advanced for me (that’s my disclaimerwink). Recorded at the Maple Street Garage Studio Illinois with Edirol R-09 (Eddy).

I hope you enjoy this tune as much as I do. Waltz on!



Edited by - strokestyle on 09/16/2011 08:20:55

Liberty Waltz - TOTW 9/16/2011

Fiddlin' Banjo Billy Mathews

john fincher - Posted - 09/16/2011:  08:46:51

What a tremendous tune.  The two banjo styles really did work well together.  Loved it.

majikgator - Posted - 09/16/2011:  09:08:38

Well the waltz is such a well known dance that it could sort of be called a folk dance and waltz time in general is even more wide spread and danced to even if not in a formal sense, All old time songs were written by somebody at one time. Does it fit in an old time category? Does to me. Good job on an unusual choice.

Edited by - majikgator on 09/16/2011 09:09:23

twothphry - Posted - 09/16/2011:  09:28:18

Is there a tab available for the song some where?

ramjo - Posted - 09/16/2011:  09:30:49

When I came on this page, I scrolled to the bottom of your post so I could have the tune playing in the jukebox while reading what you wrote. I listened a bit after I kicked it off, and I said to myself, "now that sounds old!" Imagine my surprise when I began reading and found out it was from, not the 1790s or 1890s, but the 1990s! Dawn Petty sure writes pretty. And you and Billy make all the pretty shine. Nice pick, nice playing. Thanks!

strokestyle - Posted - 09/16/2011:  09:48:01

What a great waltz for sure! I do not have tab for the waltz, sorry.  Dawn gave me the chords on the phone, so I could have made some errors. We played the waltz in a different key than the chords I wrote in the original post. I think this waltz fits in the Old Timey category, it sound really old to me. I enjoy promoting new tunes in the Old Style. Thanks!

J-Walk - Posted - 09/16/2011:  09:58:40

What a great tune this is. I used Amazing Slow Downer to shift it down to A, where it seems a bit more playable for me.

That descending run is kind of similar to Blackberry Blossom. But different.

RG - Posted - 09/16/2011:  10:04:56

Hey Christine...awesome tune and you and Banjo Billy tear it up, that playing is about as OT as it gets, really, really nice job and great TOTW pick!

J-Walk - Posted - 09/16/2011:  10:43:58

Here's my take on the chords. Not as jazzy, but a lot easier for those of us who can't remember how to play a diminished or augmented chord:

G// Bm// Em// G//
G// G// D// D//

D// Am// D// D//
D// D7/ G// G//

G// Bm// Em// G//
G// G7// C// C//

G// A7// D// E7//
A7// D// G// G//


frquent flyer - Posted - 09/16/2011:  11:13:05

Its a nice waltz. Kind of reminds me of Roxanna waltz and Kentucky waltz. Someone counted all known fiddle tunes and came up with 64,000;gotta be some that are similar with different names. I know one tune that had 3 names,the only one I recall was called THE BOY WHO COULDN"T HOE CORN.I loved the video too and sent it to a young lass who plays the fiddle.

strokestyle - Posted - 09/16/2011:  12:53:05

Thanks Jwalk! Maybe someone will try there hand at this one too.  64,000 tunes...I'll never make it!

Edited by - strokestyle on 09/16/2011 12:54:25

ELWOOD - Posted - 09/16/2011:  14:17:37

I love it I,ll give it a try. Best TOTW cuz its a Waltz

Mark Johnson - Posted - 09/16/2011:  14:34:45

Thanks, Christine.  That recording was really wonderful.  Right at that intersection of classic banjo, parlor music, old time, and it's NEW to boot?  I'm a fan.



J-Walk - Posted - 09/16/2011:  16:46:50

OK, here's a simplified version of the tune, in A. I'm still working on it, and I'll eventually get all of the notes in there.

It's really a fun tune. I'm going to try playing it with a guitar player at a jam tonight.


Liberty Waltz (Simplified)


BANJOJUDY - Posted - 09/16/2011:  18:14:20

Great waltz and a great TOTW for all.

I never heard Judy Coder sing it, but for sure I will ask her to perform it (maybe video it) at this years' WMA (Western Music Association) festival in Albuquerque (Mid-November in case anyone is interested).

Judy Coder is a fantastic performer - here's a link to her 2008 winning yodeling performance:

Here's Judy Coder performing with her band the following year (2009)







Edited by - BANJOJUDY on 09/16/2011 18:20:21

vrteach - Posted - 09/16/2011:  18:18:15

Super pretty, great arraignment.

Thanks Christine. I'll put this on my list of to-learns. I'm short on waltzes.

Paul Roberts - Posted - 09/16/2011:  18:31:24



cmic - Posted - 09/17/2011:  07:19:49



Originally posted by J-Walk

OK, here's a simplified version of the tune, in A. I'm still working on it, and I'll eventually get all of the notes in there.

It's really a fun tune. I'm going to try playing it with a guitar player at a jam tonight.



simplified ?. I generally don't pay any attention to waltz and all that. But i am "tomber sous le charme" (french for enchanted).

Very nice piece indeed !!


strokestyle - Posted - 09/17/2011:  11:13:17

Wow makes me feel good that people are enjoying this as much as I do. Jwalk really nice version there! I really appreciate all the lovely comments. Six years ago I never ever thought I would play any music by my own hand, let alone have an "arraignment"! That's a new word in my journey, gives me a feeling of pride. We played this waltz last night at a contra dance and put it as a medley with Shoe Cobbler Blues. The two tunes meld together wonderfully.

tfaux - Posted - 09/17/2011:  12:12:50

Great one Christine.  Billy's little old whacker still has some tone!


strokestyle - Posted - 09/18/2011:  07:54:16

Billy's melody playing on this waltz is what makes the recording, he can make any musician sound good! A couple weeks ago we played these two instruments together and I recorded some of what we were practicing. When I listened to the recording I knew we had to do this waltz together. Something mesmerizing about the two instruments together. The whacker has a great tone as Tom pointed out and it is not the sound of a tenor banjo, it is in a class of it's own at least in my mind. 

banjo_brad - Posted - 09/18/2011:  12:58:07

It's funny you should mention "Shoe Cobbler Blues." I'm currently working on this tune from Hugh Strawn's version in the current BNL. I do think it would go good with "Liberty Waltz."

Wish I could find a tab for LW, I have a really tough time trying to pick it up by ear.

jojo25 - Posted - 09/18/2011:  14:57:30

nice TOTW Christine...Billy's playing of this waltz...sweet...Billy has such a wonderful touch on waltzes

J-Walk - Posted - 09/19/2011:  13:56:24

One more try. This time on a steel string banjo. I think I prefer it on a nylon-strung banjo.

It's still very rough, but it's such a nice tune that I'll play it a lot. So I may eventually get it smooth and musical.

Liberty Waltz


strokestyle - Posted - 09/19/2011:  14:16:23

Jwalk you got this one stuck in your  mind! Your having fun with this tune!

Posted by J walk "I used Amazing Slow Downer to shift it down to A"

So I have never heard any tune put through the slower-downer so I can't imagine what happens to the tune after that process. Tell me why you have chosen to play it in A? Does it have something to do with the slower downer? Curious am I because some tunes can loose there texture if they are played in keys that were not necessarily intended for, not that I think your version in A lost anything.

ramjo - Posted - 09/19/2011:  14:45:26


Originally posted by J-Walk

One more try. This time on a steel string banjo. I think I prefer it on a nylon-strung banjo.


I like your sound better on the nylon string banjo for this tune too. I also like that blue note you put in the second time through the main phrase (at like measure 13). Why'd you take that out in the second version?

J-Walk - Posted - 09/19/2011:  14:58:21

When it's in C, it requires playing at the 15th fret (assuming Double C tuning). In A, it only goes up to the 12th fret. Shifting the pitch with Amazing Slow Downer doesn't really change quality of the tune -- it just changes the pitch. I can send you a copy of the pitch-shifted version if you like.

ramjo, sometimes I play it with that blue note and sometimes I don't. I still want to try it with a guitar accompaniment and see how that part works out. I think that would be the diminished chord there.

strokestyle - Posted - 09/19/2011:  15:10:31

I'm with ramjo on the nylon strings! Thanks for trying to help me understand but don't send me anything that has to do with music mathematics...yikes. What your saying (I think) is the notes you want to get are not so easy to get  too or they may not exist with the range of the fingerboard.

strokestyle - Posted - 09/20/2011:  08:12:03

Yikes! I was just informed that I was suppose to do the TOTW in October not September. BIG APOLOGY to whomever was suppose to do this time frame! I know how it feels to prepare something! I feel real bad about  that. Don't worry I won't post in October. Thanks Jwalk for sending the file with no math attached.

J-Walk - Posted - 09/20/2011:  08:22:31

Here's the line up for the next nine week:

9/23/2011 RAMJO

9/30/2011 BLUEMULE_77

10/7/2011 OldWoodchuck

10/14/2011 ADAM KIESLING

10/21/2011 MTNGOAT

10/28/2011 Blockader

11/4/2011 VRTEACH

11/11/2011 J-WALK

11/18/2011 EGGER RIDGE BOY 

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