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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 6/22/12: Cookhouse Joe


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/239029

J-Walk - Posted - 06/22/2012:  07:13:02



Cookhouse Joe is a Kentucky fiddle tune that's short, easy to play, and very catchy. From the Fiddler's Companion:




Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Kentucky. A Major. AEae tuning. AABBCC. Similar in parts to the Skillet Lickers “Pretty Little Widow.” Jeff Titon (2001) calls this a local, Bell County, tune, played by no one else except for his source, Estill Bingham. Source for notated version: Estill Bingham (Pineville, Bell County, Ky., 1977), who learned the tune from his father, Noah Bingham [Titon]. Titon (Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Music), 2001; No. 27, pg. 61.




Chords:



Contrary to what it says in Fiddler's Companion, it's played AABBC. The A and B part consist of four measures each, and the C part consists of only two measures -- it's basically a "tag" that's played after the second rendering of the B part. That short C part is what makes this tune so interesting, IMHO.



A part: A/// A/// A/// E/A/
B part: A/// E/A/ A/// E/A/
C part: A/// E/A/


Source recordings:



I found two recordings of the tune by Estill Bingham. They are very different.




Other recordings:




  • I first became aware of Cookhouse Joe on Miliner & Koken's  Just Tunes album. If you don't have this album, you should.


  • The tune is also on Matt Brown's Lone Prairie album. Also worth having.


  • And it's on Run Around and I'll Smack You Down, by Rabbit Foot Old Time Stringband (which I haven't heard, but I like these two gals)



Videos:



You'll find several videos of this tune on YouTube. Here are the best of the bunch:




Tab:



The only tab I could find is by Don Borchelt. It's a very cool three-finger arrangement (listen here), and much different than the typical clawhammer arrangement. If you want to play it clawhammer style, this is a good one to learn by ear (it's really easy).



Finally, here's a video of me playing along with a recording by Fiddle Hangout (and also BHO) member Nick Bachman. Nick starts with the B part and ends on the A part. I pitch-shifted his recording up 1/2 step to make it in the key of A. I also slowed it down a bit so I could keep up with him.




VIDEO: Cookhouse Joe
(click to view)

   

Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/22/2012:  07:29:29



Well played, John, a nice, light touch.  I learned this from Tim Rowell a few years ago, he is a monster clawhammer picker, and knows more tunes than is humanly possible.  I made a recording of this with fellow BHO member Don Couchie at Clifftop back in 2010, on my little hand held Tascam DR-1.  It was early Sunday morning, time to pack up and leave, after a full week of good picking. Don C was heading down to Galax, and I was starting the long drive back to Boston. Our pal and campmate Jim Reed had already gotten up very early and headed back home before either of us had woken up. As the last of the gear got stowed away, Don and I sat down for one last double banjo tune, an almost mournful Cookhouse Joe; then on the way out, we stopped at the Lodge to eat up the last of the biscuits and gravy.





Don Couchie



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 06/22/2012 07:32:10



Cookhouse Joe from Clifftop 2010

   

rickhayes - Posted - 06/22/2012:  08:20:00



Very nicely played as usual, Don (and Don).


RG - Posted - 06/22/2012:  10:18:37



This is a great tune that I also play on the fiddle, a lot of "new old time" folks around here play this tune and drop that modal note from the original...that modal note is pretty cool...!!!  BTW, Nick is a monster on the fiddle and he's only been playing for about a year...watch out for this cat!!



Edited by - RG on 06/22/2012 10:22:22

WGE - Posted - 06/22/2012:  13:44:32



When I learned this tune from a fiddling friend, we always start with your C-part once, then continue as your outline above.  For us it becomes CAABBCAABBC, etc till the end.


janolov - Posted - 06/23/2012:  01:58:47



quote:


Originally posted by J-Walk




Chords:



Contrary to what it says in Fiddler's Companion, it's played AABBC. The A and B part consist of four measures each, and the C part consists of only two measures -- it's basically a "tag" that's played after the second rendering of the B part. That short C part is what makes this tune so interesting, IMHO.



A part: A/// A/// A/// E/A/
B part: A/// E/A/ A/// E/A/
C part: A/// E/A/





 My interpretation of the structure (based on the recording by Bruce Green) is more like:



AABCC



A part: A/// A/// A/// E/A/

B part: A/// E/A/

C part: A/// E/A/ A/// E/A/


where the B part is the same as the last part of C.



I looked in the Miliner - Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes, and the notation there follows  Bruce Green's recording of Estill Bingham, but the recording (Tune #139 at Slippery Hill) is another. Perhaps it is that version the Fiddler's companion refers to?


RG - Posted - 06/23/2012:  11:50:32



Janolov, that is how I learned it on the fiddle, AAB(tag)CC...


janolov - Posted - 06/24/2012:  06:00:20



I have put a tab in the tab section (clawhammer and thumb-lead style): banjohangout.org/w/tab/browse/...etter/v/C (scroll down to Coohouse Joe)


Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/26/2012:  10:22:44



J-Walk wrote: "That short C part is what makes this tune so interesting, IMHO."



I know this is semantics, but in order to really feel the melodic structure of the tune, I think is is more useful to think of that short phrase after the B part as a bridge back to the A part, rather than as a separate part.  This is not uncommon among the Kentucky and West Virginia tunes we have all been rediscovering over the last ten years or so.  Some other examples would be the short part that serves as a bridge between the fine and course parts of both Salyer's Big Hoedown and Jeff Sturgeon, and the bridge in Salyer's The Old Hen Cackled that connects the course part with the fine part.  In all these cases, the bridge is a single strain, no repeat.  I would contrast that general structure with another common structure, where the short third part is a simplified reprise of another part, often played on the fiddle in another octave. Some examples are Pat Kingery's original Sal's Got Mud Between Her Toes, William Stepp's Ways of the World, and the Absie Morrison/Jimmy Driftwood/Ramona Jones tune Valley Forge.  In all of these tunes, the short part is clearly just a simpler variation on one of the other parts, but it is repeated, and is, I think, still structurally a clearly separate third part.  All of the linked recordings are from the source recordings fore the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes, posted on the Slippery Hill website.  A great source!



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 06/26/2012 10:31:26

JanetB - Posted - 06/26/2012:  10:37:26



Thanks, Don, for that info and for your great Clifftop recording.  Also John, your recording with the fiddler was really nice listening.  My try at it sounds more leisurely (that's as fast as I can go today).  I listened to Estill Bingham's recording to learn it.  I'm always glad to learn another tune also found in Jeff Todd Titon's Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes book. 




Cookhouse Joe

   

rickhayes - Posted - 06/26/2012:  11:00:17



Also a good rendition Janet,   A little different.


Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/26/2012:  11:39:16



A gentle and unhurried performance, very nice.


JanetB - Posted - 06/27/2012:  08:41:32



I wonder why the versions I hear (John's, Don's, and all the above links) all use the 7b note--a G--and not a G#.  I hear Estill Bingham playing it closer to a G#, out of the key of A.  Jeff Titon notes it with a G# in the Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes book and he recorded Mr. Bingham.  It changes the tune to use the G note, and it sounds good, but different.  I know that these mountain tunes change as they're passed around, but I am wondering about this.  As Rick put it, my version sounds different and the one note change is possibly the reason why (or perhaps because of the leisurely tempo).


Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/27/2012:  10:05:06



Hmmm.  I first learned the tune from Tim Rowell, and basically follow his version.  Tim uses the G# when it is on the low end of the melody, and the G natural on the high end, and I more or less copy that.  Here's Tim's Clawhammer version:





The original Bingham recording that J-Walk linked to clearly features the G# (except it is pitched in E, not A).  Just about all of the fiddlers I have heard play it tend to hover and slide around the neutral 7th on the high end, the quarter tone between the flatted and major 7th note.  When I hit that note on the final descent, I choke it up the quarter tone to mimic that.



Here is a good example- fiddler Matt Brown playing Cookhouse Joe from his excellent Loan Prairie CD. I relied a lot on this version too, when I worked it up.



Matt Brown fiddling Cookhouse Joe



I did a search and found a video of dulcimer great Don Pedi, who learned the tune directly from Bruce Greene.  On that high end, I hear a G natural, not a G#.  You have to listen hard, see if you agree.

 





Having said all that, I think you are right, it actually sounds even more mysterious when the high note is played sharp.



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 06/27/2012 10:18:31

JanetB - Posted - 06/27/2012:  10:40:53



I agree with everything you showed us here, Don.  Don Pedi's used the G note, too.   Matt Brown's is beautifully smooth and sounds like Cookhouse Joe the way it was meant to be played.  When you listen to all these versions, Bingham's original doesn't feel the same.  I see Bruce Greene field recorded Estill Bingham playing this, so he should know what it should sound like.



Edited by - JanetB on 06/27/2012 10:45:26

jojo25 - Posted - 06/27/2012:  10:51:48



well...somehow I feel deeply obligated to learn this tune and spread it around here to my buds...my name being Joe and all...and I was a cook in one of my previous incarnations :)...but I cannot get the tab to download...anyway someone could post it directly for this Luddite?...please



P.S.  great to see that vid of Tim...Tim, you were a joy to hangout with at Clifftop last year...wish I was going this year...but I am currently unemployed and $$ is tight...so Battleground was my Clifftop this year



nice tune J-walk and good write up



Edited by - jojo25 on 06/27/2012 10:52:26

janolov - Posted - 06/27/2012:  11:42:55



I think these quarter-tones and micro-tones are wonderful. From the beginning I heard Cookhouse Joe as a major tune, but when listening to Estill Bingham recording over and over I heard those small flavors.



 The problem is that there is a whole bunch of traditional tunes, not only in America (I have heard them in Scandinavian music too), is getting more and more misinterpreted because we play fretted instruments and normal notation and tablature is not able  (or have not been able) to indicate the real pitch when the tones are out of the normal tempered diatonic scales.


banjo_brad - Posted - 06/27/2012:  12:18:18


jojo25 - what version are you trying to download, the tef or the pdf? If the tef file, you need at least the free TEFview program to view it after download.

nickbachman - Posted - 06/27/2012:  14:46:19



quote:


Originally posted by janolov




I think these quarter-tones and micro-tones are wonderful. From the beginning I heard Cookhouse Joe as a major tune, but when listening to Estill Bingham recording over and over I heard those small flavors.



 The problem is that there is a whole bunch of traditional tunes, not only in America (I have heard them in Scandinavian music too), is getting more and more misinterpreted because we play fretted instruments and normal notation and tablature is not able  (or have not been able) to indicate the real pitch when the tones are out of the normal tempered diatonic scales.






Got that right! The quarter-tones and micro-tones used in the "archaic scales" the old timers played add TONS to the OT sound, and they're for the most part getting rounded up or down to the nearest note by most of today's OT players.  I personally love tunes with notes that you won't find on a piano.  The old timers weren't making mistakes! Those extra beats, hiccups, and micro-tones are supposed to be there.  


nickbachman - Posted - 06/27/2012:  14:53:48



I realized have one more recording of Cookhouse Joe in addition to the one used in your video, J-Walk (thanks for that!).  This is me (fiddle), P. Maxwell Ward (fiddle), and Josh Orkin (guitar) jamming Cookhouse Joe at my place during the Los Angeles Old Time Social a couple months ago.  No banjo in the mix unfortunately, but could make a good backup track if someone was learning the tune.  Cheers!




Cookhouse Joe

   

Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/27/2012:  16:35:55



I think that the interesting point that Janet is making is that in this case, the original source, Estill Bingham, is NOT playing the neutral, quarter tone that we have come to expect in much traditional Kentucky and West Virginia fiddling, Bingham is playing the G# note, the major seventh interval of the scale.  It is the later revivalists who have substituted the quarter tone.  I think she is right.   I've made a comparison in the MP3 file linked below; the critical descending phrase, the first version from Estill Bingham, the second from Nick Bachman's fine performance, just posted.  I have changed the overall relative pitch and temp of the Bingham version, in order to match Nick's, so that the comparison will be easier.  If Bingham is not right on the G#, he is mighty, mighty close.



Cookhouse Joe Comparison



Nick is playing it the way I am used to hearing it at festivals and old time jam sessions.  Perhaps the substitution was first made by to Greene, who is the one who taught the tune to everyone else.\



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 06/27/2012 16:39:09

Don Borchelt - Posted - 06/28/2012:  06:41:40



Postscript:  In the comparison, I also changed the volume of the 7th note, to make it easy to identify in the selected phrase.  My apologies to Nick, and to the late Mr. Bingham.


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