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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 1/10/2014 - Old Mose


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/277489

mworden - Posted - 01/10/2014:  11:58:42


For this week's Tune of the Week, I picked Old Mose.



This is a terrific, if somewhat obscure, tune that came to us from Illinois fiddler Howard Sims.  Howard Sims can be heard playing the tune on the great collection Dear Old Illinois: Traditional Music of Downstate Illinois, as recorded by Garry Harrison.  Sims contributed a number of tunes to this collection and I highly recommend it.  You can listen to the Howard Sims recording on the Slippery Hill website here slippery-hill.com/c/OldMose.mp3.  The book that comes with this collection has this brief bit of biography on Mr. Sims: 



"Howard Sims (1896-1977) Modesto  Mr. Sims was a farmer from outside Modesto. He was in good practice to play the fiddle, as he had kept it up over the years. He was a regular in the senior division (over 70) at the state fiddle contest, then held in Shelbyville.  His style was melodic with few bow ornaments, favoring fairly dense pieces."



This tune is originally in the key of C and that's the key that I learned it in and play it in.  In my experience, C fiddle tunes can sometimes be pretty note-y and may come from traditions such as rag time, where the rhythms don't adapt as naturally (at least for me) to an old-time/clawhammer banjo style.  This tune, on the other hand, seems to me almost written with the banjo in mind.  It is pretty straightforward to play, has a great driving rhythm, and uses enough scale to be interesting but not so much that you have to go way up the neck or feel inclined to fret the 5th string.  It makes a terrific jam tune.



Although it is originally a C tune, it seems to work well out of G too, further showing it's suitability as a banjo tune.  Here you can hear the Canote's from Seattle play it slowly in G slowerthandirt.org/tunes/old-mose/ and Dan and Rayna Gellert do a dual fiddle version here: youtu.be/e9bnymFzs54.



There aren't many recordings out there for Old Mose.  I have one really nice one that I don't know the origin of.  The person who gave it to me thought it was the Sims recording from Dear Old Illinois, but clearly it is not.  If you recognize it, please let me know so that I can give due credit.  I've uploaded that version and you can listen to it here: banjohangout.org/song/32861



I don't know who the Old Mose is that is referred to in the title of this tune but I am going to believe that it is the famous giant grizzly bear that terrorized the people of Colorado in late 19th and early 20th centuries.  Read an entertaining account of this beast here: voices.yahoo.com/colorados-old...1839.html.  Old Mose has been adopted as the mascot for Adams State University in Colorado where they have installed this awesome monument: 





If I ever go there, I am bringing my banjo.



I am attaching a solo banjo version of the tune I recorded this morning.  I've been playing this tune for a couple of months now.  I like the way it is coming along but it has a lot of opportunity for rhythmic variation (like lot's of double thumbing in the B part) and dynamic phrasing and I don't yet feel like I have it where I want it.  I need to keep channeling my inner grizzly.



Have fun with it and let's hear your take!



Mike



Edited by - mworden on 01/10/2014 12:02:26



Old Mose

   

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/10/2014:  12:42:32


Very nicely played Mike.



V/R,



Lew


EggerRidgeBoy - Posted - 01/10/2014:  14:16:37


A great tune and a great TOTW choice.  I first heard Old Mose last year, when I stumbled across that Rayna & Dan Gellart video, later tracking down the Howard Sims version in the Dear Old Illinois set. It was one of my favorite "new to me" tunes of 2013.  Thanks for the write-up.



Edited by - EggerRidgeBoy on 01/10/2014 14:20:07

JanetB - Posted - 01/11/2014:  14:10:11


A fine choice, Mike, and you play it really well.  Where do you get a booklet to go with the Dear Old Illinois collection? 



The fun part of arranging this was finding a suitable use for the "galax lick" in the B part.  I listened to Howard Sims and had to capo in open G on the fourth fret.  Here I'm playing in open G, the same as Rayna and Dan Gellert in the video.  The way I play it doesn't sound like Old Mose was too mean a bear...




VIDEO: Old Mose
(click to view)

   

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/11/2014:  14:25:38


Well done, Janet, as usual, and made much more meaningful by the several bears that appear in the background, just over your shoulder.   


ajisai - Posted - 01/11/2014:  20:15:20


Nothing better than a Dear Old Illinois tune!



For another version, check out Rayna Gellert and Susie Goehring playing Old Mose on their Starch & Iron CD.



amazon.com/Old-Mose/dp/B001FX9Z2U


mojo_monk - Posted - 01/12/2014:  04:47:33


Great tune!



That "unidentified" fiddler sounds like the late, great Garry Harrison to me - probably from one of the many workshops he offered in the aftermath of the release of the "Pride of America" CD from his band the New Mules. His loss is still felt by those who knew him.  This thread is a reminder of his legacy. Thanks for choosing a DOI tune for Tune of the Week smiley



 



-Sean


mworden - Posted - 01/12/2014:  06:48:20


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

A fine choice, Mike, and you play it really well.  Where do you get a booklet to go with the Dear Old Illinois collection? 




The fun part of arranging this was finding a suitable use for the "galax lick" in the B part.  I listened to Howard Sims and had to capo in open G on the fourth fret.  Here I'm playing in open G, the same as Rayna and Dan Gellert in the video.  The way I play it doesn't sound like Old Mose was too mean a bear...







Janet, that's lovely.  I think I'm going to have to try to learn it in G and see which one I like better (fiddlers around here are still going to want to play it in C, I'm sure).



The booklet that is part of the "Dear Old Illinois" collection is actually a very substantial volume with transcriptions of some 750 songs, fiddle tunes, lyrics, etc., in standard notation with guitar chord accompaniment.  I am quick with a chord chart on guitar but labor to read standard notation and am only a beginner fiddle player so I can't speak directly to the transcriptions.  There are several pages of forward and a few notes but mostly the book is just transcriptions.  I am fortunate to be able to check the book and the CDs out of the Brown University music library.  We have quite a formidable collection of old-time music related resources here, thanks largely to the stewardship of Jeff Titon, who recently retired from the Music Department at Brown and is well known for his collection "Old-time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes"


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/12/2014:  08:27:45


Good Morning BHO'ers. Here's my crack at it. 



 





 



 



Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 01/12/2014 08:31:48

celtic trad - Posted - 01/12/2014:  11:01:40


??? isn't that also known as ruffled drawers... buffalo nickle... new five cents... I dug around and found a Bruce Molsky arrangement called "Robinson County" too.

mworden - Posted - 01/13/2014:  12:49:20


quote:


Originally posted by celtic trad

??? isn't that also known as ruffled drawers... buffalo nickle... new five cents... I dug around and found a Bruce Molsky arrangement called "Robinson County" too.







 



Hmmm, I dunno.  



The Fiddler's companion (excerpted below) suggests that also, along with several other titles.  Lots of tunes have multiple titles, of course (and quite a few titles are associated with different tunes, for that matter).  I am familiar with and play (in D) New Five Cents/Ruffled Drawers and, while maybe there is a little bit of familial similarity, to my ear they are totally different tunes.  Interestingly, while Fiddler's Companion lists New Five Cents as an alternate title for Old Mose, the converse is not true.  





OLD MOSE. AKA and see "Buffalo Nickel [1]," “Cat Ate the Handsaw,” "Chinky Pin," “Crooked Stovepipe [2],” "Darling Child," “Eber Atkins Tune,” "Farmer Had a Dog," "Fourth of July," “Grey-Eyed Cat,” "Hair in the Butter," "I'm My Momma's Darling (Child)," “Lead Out,” “Liesel,” “Love Somebody [2],” "Midnight Serenade [1]," "My Love Is/She's But a Lassie Yet [1],” “Raymondville,” "Richmond Blues," “Soapsuds Over the Fence [3],” "Sweet Sixteen," "Ten Nights in a Bar Room," "Yellow Eyed Cat." Old-Time, Breakdown. C Major. Standard tuning. AB. Sometimes played in the key of ‘G’. From the playing of Garry Harrison. Howard Marshall says the title is from exteme southwest Missouri. Source for notated version: Greg Canote (Seattle) [Silberberg]. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 112.


vrteach - Posted - 01/13/2014:  15:22:35


Well, I can't quite see a definite connection of Old Mose with the "ChinkyPin/My Love is but a lass/Crooked Stovepipe/Sweet Sixteen/10 Nights on a Bar room floor/etc" morass (what we generically call the Tune of a 1000 names). Old Mose sounds different to me, although perhaps with the same chord sequence. If I stretch my ears I can even hear elements of Needlecase!



I think it is it's own tune, with family resemblance.



I also agree with MojoMonk that the mystery fiddler sounds like Garry Harrison. In fact, I checked through my GH recordings to see if I had it before Sean had posted his reply. I didn't have one, so I didn 't reply with my thoughts.



 



Edited by - vrteach on 01/13/2014 15:26:02

Rob Littlepage - Posted - 01/13/2014:  16:17:52


That's a really nice tune - haven't heard it before. One to add to the play list!

Jay K - Posted - 01/14/2014:  04:12:10


Really nice versions all! Great choice and great write up!

LyleK - Posted - 01/14/2014:  07:01:07


Yep, great pick (and pickin').  The A part must bear some similarity to the A part of Texas Gales.  Last week when we were trying to play Texas Gales at our local jam the other fiddler (who is much more familiar with Illinois tunes) kept going into Old Mose after the A part.  I didn't have this problem because I don't have Old Mose in core memory.  But then again, Texas Gales wasn't there either.


stanzukowski - Posted - 01/14/2014:  11:39:19


There's some as learns by ear and some as learns by tab... :^)


(Unless it's already done and I'm missing it...)

stigandr5 - Posted - 01/14/2014:  23:21:48


This is a good tune. I must admit, the B part in my version is sloppier than I'd like. It's a bit tricky with a fretless. I may go back and record a new version at some point, but this will have to do for now. Thanks for the write-up and the introduction to this new guy!



-Nathan




Old Mose

   

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/15/2014:  01:35:39


Sounds nice, Nathan.  I like the way you hold that one note as a pivot point in Part A, building a bit of suspense over that single stroke. 



So, I'm not sure you need to re-record, but since I enjoy seeing you wield that fretless, I'd welcome a video...



V/R,



Lew


LyleK - Posted - 01/15/2014:  03:58:46


quote:


Originally posted by stanzukowski

There's some as learns by ear and some as learns by tab... :^)



(Unless it's already done and I'm missing it...)






Done now, see banjohangout.org/tab/browse.as...p;v=20040


mworden - Posted - 01/15/2014:  07:20:32


quote:

Originally posted by stigandr5

This is a good tune. I must admit, the B part in my version is sloppier than I'd like. It's a bit tricky with a fretless. I may go back and record a new version at some point, but this will have to do for now. Thanks for the write-up and the introduction to this new guy!




-Nathan







Nathan, sounds great!  Thanks for posting.



 


stigandr5 - Posted - 01/15/2014:  08:30:59


quote:

Originally posted by Brooklynbanjoboy

Sounds nice, Nathan.  I like the way you hold that one note as a pivot point in Part A, building a bit of suspense over that single stroke. 




So, I'm not sure you need to re-record, but since I enjoy seeing you wield that fretless, I'd welcome a video...




V/R,




Lew







For you Lew, I'll throw one up this evening. I can't promise it will sound any better, but you can enjoy my furrowed brow as I tease out the tune. Thanks for the encouragement!



-N.A.


OldRogueDoc - Posted - 01/15/2014:  16:18:42


A really nice song played really well.  Way beyond where I am, but I sure enjoy hearing it and have saved it as something to work towards



 


stigandr5 - Posted - 01/15/2014:  17:25:59


Alright, Lew. Next time be careful what you ask for.



-Nathan



Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 01/16/2014:  03:00:22


It's even more dramatic as a visual. 



Thanks,



Lew


ChuckJo - Posted - 01/18/2014:  10:46:19


Hi Mike,



Great tune and write-up.  Neat discussion, good references.  Well done!


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