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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW 6/20/2014: Oklahoma Rooster

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:

J-Walk - Posted - 06/20/2014:  07:48:14

This week's tune is Oklahoma Rooster.

From Fiddler's Companion:

Old‑Time, Breakdown. USA, southwestern U.S. D Major. Standard tuning. AA'BB'. The tune appears in Gems of the Ballroom (c. 1890's) as the fourth change of "Ten Strike Quadrille.”The tune was in the repertoire of the late Disney, Oklahoma, fiddler Uncle Dick Hutchison. Source for notated version: Joe Hermann with the Critton Hollow String Band (W.Va.) [Phillips]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; Rounder 0128, The Backwoods Band ‑ "Jes' Fine" (1980. learned from Mingo Barnez).

When tracking down the origins of the tune, this article is a good place to start: Ten Strike Strikes Again! (unfortunately, this page just recently disappeared, so the link goes to The article contains embedded MP3s of Chirps Smith and Les Raber, each playing "Ten Strike." There's also an MP3 of Uncle Dick Hutchinson playing "Oklahoma Rooster." There is definitely a similarity. By the way, that's the same Dick Hutchinson recording that's at the Slippery-Hill site (tune #666).

For the record, here's a more traditional-sounding recording of Tenstrike Quadrill Fig 4, by James & Loretta McKinney.

Uncle Dick Hutchinson played Oklahoma Rooster in C, and the guitar player on the recording uses these chords:

C/// C/// G/// C///
C/// C/// G/// C///

Am/// Am/// G/// G///
F/// Em/// G/// C///

The Em chord sounds strange to me, but I guess it's just a way of descending down the scale one additional note.

I first heard this tune about 3-4 years ago on Steve Rosen's Old-Timey Giants CD (which was originally released on an album called Nail That Catfish to a Tree). It was only recently that I dug up some other versions -- and I realized that Steve Rosen's version is quite a bit different from the original Dick Hutchinson recording. For example, Steve plays it in the key of D. He also uses a different phrase to end the A part, and the melody omits some prominent phrases in the B part. And finally, Rosen's version has a completely different feel because it doesn't use any minor chords. This version might best be described as festival jam style. My experience with this tune demonstrates why it's a good idea to listen to original recordings when learning a tune.

Other recordings:

  • Jerry Correll (on the Headin' Up Elk Creek album). This is very true to Dick Hutchinson's recording. It's in the key of C, and uses that E minor chord.

  • Barb Schmid, posted at the Fiddle Hangout. She learned it from Jerry Correl and plays it in C. It's very true to Dick Hutchinson's recording.

  • Critton Hollow String Band (on the Young Fogies album). This is in the key of D, and played a much faster tempo. No minor chord.

  • The Gritpickers (on the Harmony Grits album). Played in D.

  • Buffalo Creek Stringband (on the Weary Woman Blues album), played in D.

  • The Backwoods Band (on the Jes Fine album). Kind of a bluegrassy rendition, in D.

  • All Volunteer String Band, posted by Michael Diaz at the Fiddle Hangout. This version is in D.

When the tune is played in D, the chords are often these:

D/// D/// A/// A///
D/// D/// A/// D///

B7/// B7/// A/// A///
G/// D/// A/// D///

Note the B7 chord at the beginning of the descending run in the 2nd part -- which gives it a slightly jazzy feel (you may prefer a B major chord).

You'll find several version of this tune on YouTube -- including a fine rendition by Mark Johnson.

Here's my quick and dirty recording of the tune.

Oklahoma Rooster


JanetB - Posted - 06/20/2014:  20:56:24

Good pick, John, and lots of good examples to hear, including your own.  That descending B part makes it quite interesting.  The Tenstrike Quadrille sounds the same to me.

Here's a tab in the key of C from Uncle Dick Hutchison's fiddling.  I think anything in the Milliner-Koken book is worthy of learning.  Perhaps now I have just over 1,400 more to learn.  blush

Oklahoma Rooster tab


bhniko - Posted - 06/21/2014:  14:33:11

Sprightly, sprightly tune. Downloaded the  Oklahoma Rooster tag and soon we will have the other 1400 tabs from Janet!


J-Walk - Posted - 06/21/2014:  16:15:27

Thanks for making that tab, Janet.

Last week I was at Mars Hill University in North Carolina. I spent 2.5 hours a day for five days in a "rhythm & repertoire" class led by Walt and Clare. They covered close to 100 tunes during the week. It was great fun.

Tamarack - Posted - 06/21/2014:  17:41:15

Yet another fun tune, It was etched into my head by the Backwoods Band, one of the first old-time bands I heard. Still have the album on vinyl somewhere.

Thanks to all for the fine renditions.

janolov - Posted - 06/22/2014:  02:18:44

I have worked out an alternative tab to Janet's  above. My approach was to start with drop C tuning, and I made some simplifications - I don't think it is necessary to play every note from the fiddle version.


Oklahoma Rooster - drop C tuning


JanetB - Posted - 06/22/2014:  19:14:38

I like janolov's suggestion to simplify what the fiddler was doing.  I eliminated some notes,  added a Galax lick, and also made sure that the minor chords were more evident in the B part.  The author of Oklahoma Rooster given in the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes was listed incorrectly as John "Uncle Dick" Hutchison.  Uncle Dick's real name was Richard Blaine Hutchison (stated in the index).  He lived from 1897 - 1986 and was born in Missouri, but moved to Oklahoma.  There are thirteen of his tunes in the book, therefore also on the Slippery Hill website.

It would have been fun to hear and see the entire Ten Strike Quadrille as a dance of the 19th century.  Thanks again, J-Walk, for an interesting TOTW.  I'm always grateful for the learning opportunities provided here.

VIDEO: Oklahoma Rooster
(click to view)

Oklahoma Rooster tab, edited

Mark Johnson - Posted - 06/23/2014:  07:58:13


Originally posted by J-Walk

You'll find several version of this tune on YouTube -- including a fine rendition by Mark Johnson.

Say, that's me!  Gosh, I was skinnier then.  Hmm...

This is one of my favorite tunes, but I now realize how little I knew about it.  This is really a great write-up, John.

My version is based on the Critton Hollow String Band version.  When I first listened to the Young Fogies album that tune really leapt out at me, particularly because of that big B major chord showing up in the second part.  A major 6 chord is such an oddity in OT music, I found it really surprising and compelling.

I love the Hutchinson version... and those chords!  I love the iii (Em), here too because it's such an oddity in OT music.  The B part progression feels like we're changing over to the Stray Cat Strut or something.

John and Janet, both of your versions are splendid.  Really fine work, both of you.  You've inspired me to pick this tune back up and tinker with it (which is a nice way of saying I'm going to steal some licks from each of you).


Edited by - Mark Johnson on 06/23/2014 08:03:47

J-Walk - Posted - 06/23/2014:  17:08:05

Janet, that is the ultimate solo banjo arrangement for Uncle Dick's playing. 

Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 06/24/2014:  12:17:06

I toggled back and forth between J-Walk’s clear, articulate version, Mark Johnson’s strong, effortless rollick of a tune, and JanetB’s fine composition.

I think I merely managed to understand small pieces of the tune from each of these fine efforts. 

But I thank all of these teachers for another great workout on the banjo.





Play hard,



J-Walk - Posted - 06/24/2014:  17:29:52

Good one, Lew. You and I both decided that using the 5th string for a melody note is the best way to end that B part.

BANJOJUDY - Posted - 07/05/2014:  10:12:14

This is such a great tune, and played frequently in Albuquerque because the local Adobe Brothers really like to play it.  Here's a link to a medley of D tunes - at about 3:30, you'll hear Wayne Shrubsall (banjo) and Bruce Thomson (fiddle) playing OK Rooster.

Wayne has it tabbed out in his "orange" book.  Played in double D.

Hope you like this addition to the thread.


Mr Walden - Posted - 07/11/2014:  12:15:25


Originally posted by J-Walk

The tune was in the repertoire of the late Disney, Oklahoma, fiddler Uncle Dick Hutchison.

I live about 15 minutes from Disney, Oklahoma. Been meaning to add this one to my repertoire. I guess this would be a good time to do it.

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