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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 7/4/14: Hunt the Buffalo


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/287542

Adam Kiesling - Posted - 07/04/2014:  14:34:10


I first learned this tune from a band mate of mine, a fiddler by the name of Tim Reese. We play in a contra dance band called Pig's Eye Landing, a group that has been in the Twin Cities for over twenty years in some form or another. We don't play all that often nowadays (a few contra dances here and there, a few weddings, and one or two concerts a year), but previous versions of the group were pretty busy, toured quite a lot, and had recorded five albums over the years. They recorded "Hunt the Buffalo" on their 2004 release, Gypsy Stomp, as part of a medley.  It was recorded in the key of A, although Tim now plays it in the key of D. According to the liner notes, Tim learned the tune from the playing of Norman Blake.



I'm a big fan of Norman, and have most of his albums. I dug through them and found "Gonna Go Huntin' for the Buffalo" on Just Give Me Somethin' I'm Used To, which Norman recorded in 1991 along with his wife Nancy Blake. Norman and Nancy recorded this tune with fiddle and cello, respectively, and it's the third tune in a medley (the other tunes being Green Leaf Fancy and The Fields of November, both of which were written by Norman). It's played in the key of A. No info was given in the liner notes.



I dug through my record collection some more and found a solo fiddle version of "I'm Gonna Go Huntin' for the Buffalo" on Mike Seeger's 2003 CD, True Vine (I highly recommend this CD by the way). As a bonus, there are some liner notes! Mike's fiddle was tuned ADFA from low to high, and the first string is "practically flopping" since it's tuned so low. You can find a sample of Mike's version here (scroll down for the samples).



Mike first heard this tune from Ramona Jones, but didn't learn it until he heard a solo fiddle recording done by Jimmy Driftwood (the same guy who wrote "Tennessee Stud" and wrote the lyrics for "Battle of New Orleans" which he then combined with the fiddle tune "Eighth of January"). According to Driftwood that tune comes from his uncle, who was part Cherokee.



Here's Jimmy's version courtesy of the Slippery Hill folks. Jimmy was using an E minor tuning (BEGB from low to high). slippery-hill.com/M-K/BEGB/ImG...nting.mp3



Here's another version from Jimmy: grooveshark.com/#!/search/song...e+Buffalo



From poking around on the web it seems like most fiddlers play it in the key of A--but it could be played in cross A, calico tuning or out of standard tuning. As I said above, Tim usually plays the tune in D even though he had recorded it in A. I usually play it in double D tuning when playing it with him. Last week, however, I had my gut string banjo with me, and I played out of G tuning tuned low (ADF#Ad). I wish I would have recorded that.



Here are some random youtube versions:



youtube.com/watch?v=k1F6XnhseD8



youtube.com/watch?v=SlimBUuiN3E



Lastly, here's a recording I made using my salad bowl banjo. I'm in G tuning, although I'm not sure what the actual pitch is.



 



 




Hunt the Buffalo

   

mworden - Posted - 07/04/2014:  20:10:24


Nice tune!  I'm going to have to learn this one.



I do believe that's the best sounding salad bowl I have ever heard.


Jay K - Posted - 07/05/2014:  04:13:46


Yes, I like this tune a lot also, looking forward to giving it a go. Like the sound effects on your version too!

dbrooks - Posted - 07/05/2014:  05:38:02


Nice tune. The fiddler in our volunteer contra dance band introduced this a few years ago, but we never got around to playing it regularly.  I wrote tab for it, but it appears he introduced some modifications that change the tune from the originals posted here.  Still, a good choice for TOTW.



David


carlb - Posted - 07/05/2014:  07:27:03


To my ear, the Jimmy Driftwood tune and the random YouTube versions, don't feel like the same tune.


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 07/05/2014:  13:40:55


Adam.



Nice playing. 



Question: at about 0:34 seconds, and the  agai  at 0:51 and 0:52 seconds into your BHO sound byte, there are three clear retorts that sound very much like hollow point rounds. 



We you taking unfriendly fire while recording this?



Edited by - Brooklynbanjoboy on 07/05/2014 13:43:09

banjered - Posted - 07/05/2014:  14:16:14


I am sure it is not the first time a banjo player has been shot at - and undoubtedly - not the last either. Me, I am just trying to enjoy playing the banjo without getting arrested for impersonating a musician, but I draw the line at dodging bullets. YMMV Banjered

Adam Kiesling - Posted - 07/06/2014:  09:45:03


I'm afraid the story behind the bangs isn't too exciting--just some overly patriotic neighbors who couldn't go two minutes without lighting off something or another. I knew I should have made the recording earlier in the week.


Adam Kiesling - Posted - 07/06/2014:  09:48:28


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

To my ear, the Jimmy Driftwood tune and the random YouTube versions, don't feel like the same tune.







Carl, I wonder if it's because of the tunings. Jimmy's was in an E minor tuning, whereas the others are in A. To my ears the bones of each version sound similar. I wasn't able to find a source for the versions in A.


JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2014:  12:08:20


I like how you play this in open G, Adam, with your use of slides.  When I tried arranging it from Jimmy Driftwood's recordings I found I couldn't hit the bottom note, so I re-tuned to eBGBD (something new for me).  This tune is also in a Mel Bay book called Ozarks Fiddle Music by Drew Beisswenger and Gordon McCann with a little more information from a recording by Max Hunter in 1969.  The Slippery Hill site recording was done by Mike Seeger in the 60's.  Jimmy said he learned it from an uncle who was half-Cherokee and spent his early years living in the Indian Territory, but that he wasn't sure where the tune came from originally.



Thanks for an interesting TOTW, though I'm not sure which title to give it.  Hunt the Buffalo seems the simplest and best.




We're Gonna Hunt the Buffalo


We're Gonna Hunt the Buffalo tab

bhniko - Posted - 07/06/2014:  12:59:09


Janet,



Listened to all the versions which seemed to be upbeat and danceable. Then I listened to your version and it seemed to be more of a lament. Beautiful and a bit haunting as if were a farewell from those times.



Edited by - bhniko on 07/06/2014 13:01:28

JanetB - Posted - 07/06/2014:  14:25:23


Yours is an astute comment, bhniko.  Buffalo hunting was a dangerous activity, essential for survival.  Charles Russell's painting has that feeling.  If I could play the tune fast and vigorously perhaps it could convey the way it really must have been.  I can imagine a slide show of paintings set to such music....




atleson - Posted - 07/06/2014:  15:22:33


seems strange to hear the tune attributed to Jimmy Driftwood.  I heard James Bryan and Carl Jones do it years ago, and i assumed it was a southern tune.



 



jim


Tamarack - Posted - 07/06/2014:  20:29:56


Great tune - light and heavy at the same time. Although not unwelcome at a Saturday night square dance, to my ears this is a Sunday afternoon back porch tune, to be played at a laid-back tempo.

carlb - Posted - 07/07/2014:  04:20:48


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

.............so I re-tuned to eBGBD (something new for me).






Janet, a bit slower then I'd like to hear it, but you nailed with your setting!



Edited by - carlb on 07/07/2014 04:21:33

hendrid - Posted - 07/07/2014:  06:04:29


If anyone is interested there is some sheet music, abc and midi here:    abcnotation.com/searchTunes?q=...a&s=0



The following is here:    ibiblio.org/fiddlers/HUN_HY.htm



HUNTING THE BUFFALO. AKA and see “Hunting for the Buffalo,” “We’re Gonna Hunt the Buffalo.” Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, Arkansas. A Major. Standard tuning. AABB. The melody is apparently not related (according to Drew Beisswenger) to an old play-party song from the Ozarks, with similar and various titles such as “Shoot the buffalo” and “Gonna Go Huntin’ for the Buffalo.” 



HUNTING FOR THE BUFFALO. Old-Time, Breakdown. E Minor. Standard tuning. AABB. See also the similarly-titled “Hunting the Buffalo.” Source Jones, a hammered dulcimer player, is the daughter of Ramona and the late Grandpa Jones.



 


LyleK - Posted - 07/07/2014:  06:16:18


quote:


Originally posted by hendrid

If anyone is interested there is some sheet music, abc and midi here:



 







And tab for "Hunting the Buffalo" in gDGBD at lylewk.home.comcast.net/~lylewk/



Unusual for me as I tend to use gEADE.


carlb - Posted - 07/07/2014:  09:59:42


Inspired by Janet's version, I sat down and recorded my version played in Last Chance tuning, gEGDE. Sorry for the poorer sound quality but as I'm away from home the computer mic had to do.




I'm Gonna Go a Hunting for the Buffalo

   

mbuk06 - Posted - 07/07/2014:  16:26:37


I always enjoy reading TOTW and coincidentally this is the first time that the chosen tune is one I'm learning before the idea is implanted by hearing the OP's choice.



Hunt the Buffalo is a new one on me. Last month I was at Bluff Mountain festival in Madison County, NC and heard the Carolina Bog Turtles play this tune and loved it. I made a note to learn it when I got home. 



BTW nice pickin' on your version Adam. 


ScottK - Posted - 07/08/2014:  18:58:39


Good tune choice, Adam.  Never knew about or heard the Jimmy Driftwood versions before, so thanks for digging that up.  Really enjoying the banjo versions that you, Janet, and Carl posted.



A version of this tune called "Hunting the Buffalo" and sounding like the YouTube videos you linked has been popular in the Pacific Northwest for quite some time. It was included in The Portland Collection in 1997.  In the "Notes on the Tunes" included there written by Clyde Curley it says:  "I learned this tune from a tape of fiddle music played by Helga Sermat, formerly of Vancouver, British Columbia, a musician who played in the band Tempus Fugit.  This simple but powerful little melody is one she got from Barb Zavon, a fiddler from Cincinnati, Ohio.  Norman Blake plays this on his album Just Gimme Somethin' I'm Used To.  He calls it "Gonna Go Huntin' for the Buffalo," and as far as he knows, it's traditional."



Clyde Curley included Hunting the Buffalo on his 1998 CD Clyde Curley and the Oxymorons.  It also appears on the 2003 CD Pleasant Hill (where Joel Bernstein plays a great harmonica on it) and on the Dead Fiddlers Society 2010 CD Livin' it up.  It's also on Frank Blade and Friends' "Dance Band" and on Nettle Honey's "This Shed is Bound for Glory", but I don't know how available they are.  A transcription also appears in Fiddle Tunes I Learned at the Tractor Tavern, which is a bar in Seattle where The Tallboys now host a bimonthly square dance.



I first learned this tune on banjo in a slow jam led by Charlie and Nancy Hartness at the Portland Old Time Music Gathering back around 2006.  I loved the tune and learned it.  Then I got frustrated, because everybody I asked to play it said they were tired of it.  Apparently it had been so popular around here for a while that it had gotten played to death.  Happily that situation has changed and people are playing it again.  And now I can play it on fiddle well enough to lead it in a jam.  :-)



Scott


Zischkale - Posted - 07/11/2014:  16:40:13


quote:

Originally posted by JanetB

I like how you play this in open G, Adam, with your use of slides.  When I tried arranging it from Jimmy Driftwood's recordings I found I couldn't hit the bottom note, so I re-tuned to eBGBD (something new for me).  This tune is also in a Mel Bay book called Ozarks Fiddle Music by Drew Beisswenger and Gordon McCann with a little more information from a recording by Max Hunter in 1969.  The Slippery Hill site recording was done by Mike Seeger in the 60's.  Jimmy said he learned it from an uncle who was half-Cherokee and spent his early years living in the Indian Territory, but that he wasn't sure where the tune came from originally.




Thanks for an interesting TOTW, though I'm not sure which title to give it.  Hunt the Buffalo seems the simplest and best.







That tuning is very cool, Janet! Can't find it on Zepp's list of tunings. I see its similarities to gCGCD, but it's an e-minor tuning with the 7th. It sounds like great tuning for banjo.


Zischkale - Posted - 07/11/2014:  16:49:46


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

To my ear, the Jimmy Driftwood tune and the random YouTube versions, don't feel like the same tune.







It's that e-minor fiddle tuning, such a unique sound. I like the A versions, but they mostly sound like your run-of-the-mill fiddle tunes.



Adam, thank you much for sharing, and awesome playing on that fretless. Mind posting some pics of that salad bowl banjo? I hadn't heard of the term before (obviously a simple-enough concept). Did you build the thing? Excellent drive, a lot of folks can't produce that kind of drive on a lower-tuned fretless instrument.



Carl--nice playing, and good idea for tuning choice. I don't think I'd ever find myself in Janet's tuning, but Last Chance is only a whole step away from Old G. Very doable to include in my repertoire.


Noah Cline - Posted - 08/03/2014:  19:14:27


Here's my take on it:



This tune came up at a jam, and when looking through the archives, I found (I'd forgotten about it) that it was a recent TOTW.



 




VIDEO: Hunt the Buffalo (A version)
(click to view)

   

chip arnold - Posted - 08/04/2014:  05:40:08


Noah, I really liked your playing on that ...



 


Brooklynbanjoboy - Posted - 08/04/2014:  06:35:53


I agree.  Smoothly done.



 



Lew


neighbour - Posted - 08/04/2014:  14:46:05


Noah,never part with that banjo ,


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