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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 7/27/2012: Valse des Poeles

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ScottK - Posted - 07/27/2012:  01:22:12

Hi All,

A few years ago Lisa Ornstein moved to Portland and I had the good fortune to meet her through a mutual friend.  Lisa is a fantastic fiddler and is well known in both the old time and Quebecois music communities.  Since arriving in Portland Lisa has been teaching fiddle in both of those genres as well as performing, playing for dances, and participating in jam sessions.  This year she and some other friends started a monthly Quebecois jam, so I've been going to that when I can and trying to see what I can do with some of the Quebecois tunes on clawhammer banjo.  I'm not too far along with that project yet.  But this winter I did learn this lovely waltz from Lisa named Valse des Poeles, or Waltz of the Stoves.  I subsequently learned that it was written by Simon Riopel and that it appears on Genticorum's Nagez Rameurs CD.  You can listen to Genticorum's version on their ReverbNation web page here.  I saw Genticorum at a house concert in Portland this winter and the story they tell is that Simon spent a day moving stoves and at the end of the day his fingers were too stiff/sore to play at his normal brisk pace, so he ended up writing this waltz.

I found a good video of Katie Henderson playing it on fiddle:

I posted a recording of my clawhammer version of this tune on my BHO music page.  I started writing out a tab for my banjo version earlier this week, but got too busy to finish it.  I'll try to finish that this weekend and get it posted in case some folk are interested.

Cheers, Scott

cmic - Posted - 07/27/2012:  04:05:23

I do love the way you play it. Great feelings. It seems to come from middle-ages and then it it is so modern.

May be we should dance slowly... (hum... dreaming..) And yes, I'd like to play this one. What tuning ? Or a tab if any.


LyleK - Posted - 07/27/2012:  08:09:22

Beautiful!  I especially like the syncopation where the last beat of the fourth measure is held over for an eighth note at the beginning of the 5th measure. Ya' nailed it.

Edited by - LyleK on 07/27/2012 08:10:47

mworden - Posted - 07/27/2012:  09:32:35

Lovely.  I don't know even one tune in waltz time on the banjo.  Maybe time to start.

ScottK - Posted - 07/27/2012:  12:07:50

Thanks for the comments guys!

Michel, this tune is in the key of A, banjo tuned aEAC#E, fiddle tuned AEAE.  I should be able to get a tab posted by Monday.

Lyle, that syncopation made it a fun exercise to figure out.  Lots of brush-skips for that.

Mike, I really enjoy playing waltzes in clawhammer style.  If you're interested in more waltzes, back in March I posted another one that I learned from Lisa this winter called the Black Hills Waltz.  And back in January of 2010 I posted Flying Indian as a TOTW.

Cheers, Scott

ScottK - Posted - 07/28/2012:  09:15:56

Hi All,

This morning I was really good.  I made myself sit down and finish that tab before I allowed myself to start practicing fiddle.  So the tab actually got done.  smiley  I've uploaded it to the BHO tab archive as a JPEG file for now.  When I get to work on Monday I can scan and upload it as a PDF. 

Hopefully the tab is comprehensible.  The only time I write tab is when I'm posting a TOTW, so I'm not that good at it.  My arrangement for this tune uses brush-skips and I've used Ken Perlman's convention to notate those:  a skipped brush stroke is tied to the preceding brushed note, then an "X" is placed under the skipped brush stroke.

There's an unusual sequence in the 2nd and 6th measures of the B part.  I play a D chord (C chord shape, but this is open G capoed up two frets) and hold it for the whole measure.  That's followed by a 2-4 hammer-on using the pinky.  Then there's a thumbed open fifth string on the beat followed by a 4-2 pluck (or alternate string pull-off) using the pinky.  The thumbed open fifth string on the beat followed by a pluck on another string is a technique I learned from the Mike Seeger arrangement of "Old Bunch of Keys" that Ken Perlman included in his book Clawhammer Style Banjo.


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