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 Playing Advice: Clawhammer and Old-Time Styles
 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW (OT) 7/24/15 - Yew Piney Mountain


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/306816

rudy - Posted - 07/24/2015:  03:52:59


Yew Piney Mountain



 



This week’s Tune Of The Week selection is “Yew Piney Mountain”, a tune I’d not heard until I recently happened upon it.  Judging from the sparse number of banjo renditions I’m aware of I’d say it’s certainly isn’t commonly played, but it deserves to be more widely known. As a result of checking the TOTW database, it also serves another valuable function by boosting the number of underrepresented “Y” tunes!



My knowledge of traditional Appalachian tunes isn’t all that deep so after hearing it I immediately attempted to research its roots. The basic melody is amorphous enough that it’s origins are somewhat obscure, with some of the renditions seeming to be permutations of other tunes.  That said, perhaps the best I can offer as far as the origin of the tune would be the Wikipedia entry and let you decide for yourself. One theory is that it was originally titled “Blackberry Blossom” until the tune commonly associated with that title took it’s place in common vernacular.  The actual title seems to be in dispute by widely respected historians, so I can’t make a definitive statement about the tune’s origin and it seems the jury’s still out on this one...



Certainly anyone with further insight is welcome to chime in here!



en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yew_Piney_Mountain



There are a few representative fiddle versions; perhaps the definitive “stem” being the Lester McCumbers 2009 Clifftop version:



 



youtube.com/watch?v=GgDFZNCmCpo



A good representation of the basic melody presented by Hawks And Owls string band:



 



reverbnation.com/artist/song_d...s/3399789



You owe it to yourself to hear this trippy version from Mike Marshall, Darol Anger, and the Swedish folk band Vasen.  Where else can you hear it done with nyckelharpa, (pron. Ny-kel-hair-pah) accompaniment?  It is obviously heavily embellished here, and also seems to have a fair amount of perhaps “Elzic’s Farewell” thrown in for good measure.



 



youtube.com/watch?v=tVNPUgHcGgQ



Since this is BANJO hangout, not fiddle hangout, you might be wondering when we get to the meat and potatoes…



We’ve arrived.



To cut through the chase, I really didn’t hear anything that overly excited me about the fiddle versions but my level of interest dramatically changed when I heard Dwight Diller’s rendition, and is what initially attracted me favorably  to this tune.  In Dwight’s hands the basic melody remains, but the tune takes on a whole different atmosphere.  It’s nothing short of brilliant.  I can get lost playing a tune such as this, with simple underpinning and a hint of crookedness in the timing to spice it up a bit.





Direct YouTube link for Dwight Diller’s video:



youtube.com/watch?v=PFHwnXaIyl0



When I worked it up I decided to play it in AABB form, closer to what I noted in the fiddle versions than the Diller version.



My version played in gDGCD tuning, a.k.a. Sawmill, G modal, or Mountain Minor:





Here’s a couple of audio mp3 versions done in a “band” format that helps to frame the tune a bit.  As much as I love sitting back and playing unaccompanied tunes it’s always nice to hear them flushed out a bit with surrounding instruments.



The second version is a backing track composed of 3 turns of the tune with a measure of banjo at the top of the first A section of each turn to help figure out where you should be if you get lost.



 


Edited by - rudy on 07/24/2015 04:04:55



Yew Piney Mountain


Yew Piney Mountain Backing Track

guitarman8491 - Posted - 07/24/2015:  04:56:16


Randy thanks for posting ..enjoyed your playing with and without the backing track. Very well done...Doug

carlb - Posted - 07/24/2015:  05:33:58


quote:

Originally posted by rudy

Yew Piney Mountain

There are a few representative fiddle versions; perhaps the definitive “stem” being the Lester McCumbers 2009 Clifftop version:

 youtube.com/watch?v=GgDFZNCmCpo 






For me, the first version that I became acquainted with is French Carpenter's which I originally thought of as the definitive version::

Carpenter, French. Elzics Farewell, Kanawha 301, LP (1978/1964), trk# 6

slippery-hill.com/M-K/AEAE/AMO...enter.mp3

Since then I've learned Melvin Wine's version:

I can't find a published version but I it was recorded in a 1982 concert at Fiddle Tunes in Washington state. Since I have permission to distribute this concert, I will upload this version later today.

Finally, I learned Lester McCumber's version from the Gerry Milne's film "Fiddle, Snakes and Dog Days" which is presently my favorite version.

augustaheritagecenter.org/store/



All three versions are different from each other and are beautiful in their own right.


janolov - Posted - 07/24/2015:  05:58:50


It is a nice tune. I became interested of it when I heard Väsen perform it here in Sweden some years ago.



I think Dwight Diller used gGDGD tuning. There is some tabs archived at Idwightdiller.com/tab3.html">nternet Archive Wayback Machine. Yew Piney Mountain (both tab and story) also appear in his tab book which is available at his site.


greenbrooms - Posted - 07/24/2015:  07:24:14


rudy -- great tune! recently stumbled upon that lester mccumbers video myself, then saw it in DD's complimentary tab/history book. i love that descending G-D-Bb motif you keep coming back to. really gives the listener something to anchor on to. excited to start working on this when i get home tonight!


Kernel - Posted - 07/24/2015:  07:43:25


Here's a tab that I worked up for Fred in Virginia. He had about five "favorite" versions so I tried to put something together that could fit with them all with a place to put an extra beat or two here or there. I tried a couple of turnings and liked standard A. 



taterjoes.com/banjo/YewPineyMountain.pdf


mworden - Posted - 07/24/2015:  08:00:23


Great pick and nice write up.  I like this tune a lot and I really like your arrangement of it.



A couple of modern versions I am fond of are Chance McCoy killing it on the fiddle:





and this great pulsing version from the Reed Island Rounders (also on their album "Going Back"):





There is a very interesting recording of Gaither Carlton from 1972 on a Field Recorders Collective disc but I can't post it.  He also called it "You Climb the Mountain".


carlb - Posted - 07/24/2015:  08:10:40


quote:

Originally posted by carlb

Since then I've learned Melvin Wine's version:

I can't find a published version but I it was recorded in a 1982 concert at Fiddle Tunes in Washington state. Since I have permission to distribute this concert, I will upload this version later today.



Here it is.

Melvin Wine (fiddle - AEae) with Carl Baron (banjo - aEAc#e) and Bob Carlin (guitar) recorded at Fiddle Tunes, Port Townsend, WA in 1982. I have been giving away CDs of this concert (This CD was made for both enjoyment of the concert and for accessability to the tunes. NOT FOR RESALE)




Yew Piney Mountain - Melvin Wine

   

JanetB - Posted - 07/24/2015:  08:18:20


You've chosen a gem for the TOTW Rudy, and play it softly and lovingly.  And thanks, Carl, for the extended story and recording of Melvin Wine's portrayal of the tune.  That CD would sure be a treat to own!



It's obvious how much Yew Pine Mountain meant to Dwight Diller because he named an entire CD after it.  (I wish it was still available, but am grateful for him sharing the extensive companion book.)  I eagerly look forward to learning much more about Dwight Diller when BHO member brooklynbanjoboy (Lew Stern) finishes and publishes the book he's been diligently working on.  Here's the portion about this week's TOTW from Dwight's liner notes and tab book and the link again:  dwightdiller.com/wp-content/up...rrect.pdf.  Yew Pine Mountain begins on page 47 and includes a tab and photo. 



"22 – Yew Piney Mountain

gGDGD/7575 - Key G                                          From the playing of Dwight Diller



These are the mountains that I grew up in and around and presently live near: Droop, Caesar, Viney, Kennison, Cranberry, and Black Mountains make up the Yew Pines. Several years ago, I found out that ‘Caesar’ and ‘Viney’ had been slaves who later owned each of those two mountains. On Google it shows that “Yew Pine Mountain Music” is my trademark; I do not dispute that statement.  The “yew pine” for the old mountain people around here was the ‘red spruce’ which grows at approximately 4000’ and above. The Wright Bros used ‘yew pine’ red spruce boards in their ‘airship’ while building it down at Kitty Hawk back in about 1903. Those spruce tree boards  came from the top of Cheat Mountain, just to the north of where I live. There was a great ‘band mill’ at the boom town of Cass, WVa [where I spent some of the greatest times of my life when I was young] which sawed 250,000 board feet of lumber EACH day SIX days a week for about 30+ years and to a lesser degree for many years longer. It started up in 1903. These great wide red spruce boards for the Wright’s were sawed out of logs so big that there was not a spot of a tiny knot in them anywhere; completely ‘clear’.  I have been talking about the old 'woodhicks' who worked in the 'virgin timber' woods.  Sherman and Lee and my granddad Wooddell were among those hicks.





[Photo caption:]  Looking across from the top of Black Mountain within the Yew Pine Mountains toward the east. The valley below is the headwaters of the Williams’ River ultimately flowing toward the west. The old Hammons family along with maybe a couple other families settled this absolute wilderness in the very early 1860s. At that time the land was teeming with elk, bison, panthers, wildcats, white tailed deer, as well as the smaller animals.  [Day Run’ hollow, far down the valley, can be seen.] In this photo, you will see two prominent ‘yew pine’ red spruce trees standing tall. There are lots of these small spruce trees scattered that are now, 37 years from photo, standing much taller. At this point in the photo, Oct 1970, it had been literally 40 years since these mountains were burned right down to the rock. These very small trees, evergreen and hardwood, have been trying very slowly to come back. There had been very little inorganic soil underneath the virgin timber.  Hundreds of thousands of years of organic build up by mosses, pine needles, dead trees, dead tree frogs, etc were supporting this extremely dense shallow rooted growth. However, once the lumber boom began bringing the ‘log trains with cinders flying over on the dead treetops’, these mountains exploded into flame. The burning tapers were carried into the far distance that you can see in ’29 & ‘30. My mother’s family lived just over the next ridge on the right.  The lumber companies brought money into this barter economy. Ultimately, the land was raped and plundered, and, as the timber companies pulled out, the culture that had changed with the great influx was left also raped, plundered and in shambles along with the cremated mountains. There was no place left for the few native residents; there was no place left for the native speckled trout with their gills full of silt and ashes; the quick $$ cash, with it’s promises, was gone forever.  Therefore all of the culture, including the music and its role in it ‘literally DIED’. These old folks, my boyhood neighbors, were the very last of that frontier generation beginning in the 1700s.  Their minds were still clear, the old stories and the music though slumbering, awoke for its last final breaths before death. These were their tunes, but here empty of their original life. Each tune calls out for students who will sacrifice enough to breathe ‘proper life’ back in."



 I also used sawmill tuning, finding it easier than the gGDGD tuning in Dwight's tab.



Edited by - JanetB on 07/24/2015 08:23:18



Yew Piney Mountain


Yew Piney Mountain (faster)


Yew Piney Mountain tab

rudy - Posted - 07/24/2015:  09:16:54


Thanks for all the comments so far; lots of great examples of this tune so far.  It's interesting to hear how the tune is perceived and played by so many different folks.



It seems that the largest variance is within the timing, but it also ranges easily from the raw and visceral to the sublime sweetness as so eloquently demonstrated in Janet's version.



Keep them cards and letters comin'!


Don Huber - Posted - 07/24/2015:  15:56:15


youtu.be/OvPugufxSxg  If not already mentioned, this tune is related to the KY Blackberry Blossom.



The photos in this video are mainly from the Pine Mountain area of Letcher County KY on the VA border. And a few from the Red River Gorge in Owsley Co If you look closely at some of the panoramic shots you can see some victims of mountaintop removal mining.



My wife and I like the intense feeling of this tune and try to convey that with a big sound using a Gibson resonator banjo and large Kay f-hole archtop guitar.



St. Louis based wonderkind fiddler, Roger Netherton plays a third part derived from, surprise, Ed Haley's recording.



 


Mtngoat - Posted - 07/24/2015:  16:44:36


Great tune and post Rudy. 



Don said "If not already mentioned, this tune is related to the KY Blackberry Blossom."  I hear a hint of Lonesome John in some versions or parts thereof myself.


hendrid - Posted - 07/25/2015:  09:16:42


A discussion from Mandolin Cafe with abc notation for a version.





mandolincafe.com/forum/group.p...o=discuss


CamC - Posted - 07/26/2015:  20:23:34


Here's my attempt at Dwight Diller's arrangement, I'm tuned to A here instead of G.



VIDEO: Yew Piney Mountain
(click to view)

   

greenbrooms - Posted - 07/27/2015:  07:40:38


took a rough stab at it this morning, fun tune to play! i like diller's B section because it's so sparse, really gives you the opportunity to mess around a little bit.




VIDEO: TOTW 7/24/15 Yew Piney Mountain
(click to view)

   

Sideshow Skip - Posted - 07/29/2015:  22:01:18


I thought I'd join the fun since I didn't have this tune in my repertoire yet.
There are so many versions of YPM, many so very different it would be justified to give them their own titles ! I found a couple of different sheets of music ( Old Time Music Song Book, etc ) which I then played on guitar ( as I read pretty good with the guitar)...no likeness at all to recordings available So my version is inspired/influenced by Janet Burton, Dwight Diller ( what a rhythm ! ), Bobby Taylors fiddle work from the W. Va. Archieves & History Library, and the wonderful dark, more commercial version of the Bluegill Buddies...all thrown together in my own 3 finger claw style. I normally never record only hours after learning a tune ( so excuse the clangers..) , but this is for the TOTW fun. I hope you like it, and if you don't, that's OK too. Thanks for listening



VIDEO: Yew Piney Mountain
(click to view)

   

rudy - Posted - 07/30/2015:  16:44:20


quote:

Originally posted by Sideshow Skip

 

I thought I'd join the fun since I didn't have this tune in my repertoire yet.

There are so many versions of YPM, many so very different it would be justified to give them their own titles ! I found a couple of different sheets of music ( Old Time Music Song Book, etc ) which I then played on guitar ( as I read pretty good with the guitar)...no likeness at all to recordings available So my version is inspired/influenced by Janet Burton, Dwight Diller ( what a rhythm ! ), Bobby Taylors fiddle work from the W. Va. Archieves & History Library, and the wonderful dark, more commercial version of the Bluegill Buddies...all thrown together in my own 3 finger claw style. I normally never record only hours after learning a tune ( so excuse the clangers..) , but this is for the TOTW fun. I hope you like it, and if you don't, that's OK too. Thanks for listening







Skip, I like it just fine!



Part of the charm of TOTW is the very quick versions that we get back as folks are hearing and learning a tune for the first time.



It's ALL good!


JeroenJ - Posted - 08/05/2015:  04:39:02


Sorry for being late, but I was on vacation and I don't want to miss this first tune of the week thats in my small repertoire and that has not been done years ago.
I love this tune and stole it from a youtube video of Tashina Clarridge and Jefferson Hamer.

I also have a great recording of the tune by Wilson Douglas, found here: digital.berea.edu/cdm/search/s...m/Douglas



yew piney

   

rudy - Posted - 08/05/2015:  13:06:40


quote:

Originally posted by JeroenJ

Sorry for being late, but I was on vacation and I don't want to miss this first tune of the week thats in my small repertoire and that has not been done years ago.

I love this tune and stole it from a youtube video of Tashina Clarridge and Jefferson Hamer.


 



I also have a great recording of the tune by Wilson Douglas, found here: digital.berea.edu/cdm/search/s...m/Douglas







Jeroen, late is no problem.  A very nice rendition indeed, and it sounds great in your melodic style.


derwood400 - Posted - 08/08/2015:  10:03:17


Rudy, my apologies if the question has already been asked. I haven't read through the entire thread. I love your version. I was wondering, in your video are you playing a combination of up-picking and down-picking?? It looks like it, and kind if sounds like it a bit. But it's hard to tell. Whatever it is you're doing, it sounds fantastic. I am in the process of learning this tune right now, and angling to develop a version somewhere in between yours and Dwight's. It's just such a great, rhythmic, minor sounding tune. 


rudy - Posted - 08/08/2015:  12:06:18


quote:

Originally posted by derwood400

Rudy, my apologies if the question has already been asked. I haven't read through the entire thread. I love your version. I was wondering, in your video are you playing a combination of up-picking and down-picking?? It looks like it, and kind if sounds like it a bit. But it's hard to tell. Whatever it is you're doing, it sounds fantastic. I am in the process of learning this tune right now, and angling to develop a version somewhere in between yours and Dwight's. It's just such a great, rhythmic, minor sounding tune. 






Hi Darren,



Sorry, I can't tell you what it is.  I asked the same question a few years ago when then someone asked me what style it was and I seem to remember Chip Arnold having  some insight, but I don't remember for sure.



Perhaps someone can do me a huge favor and name the technique or style?  (...if it even has a name...)



I'll message Chip and see if he has any insight on the question.



In any case, thanks for the kind words.


cwdean - Posted - 08/11/2015:  20:38:55


Hi all,



I'm a little late to the party. Decided join in and share the link to a version of Yew Piney Mountain that I put on youtube a while back. I play several versions of this including Lester's, French Carpenters, and I originally learned Yew Piney mountain playing with John Morris. This version, I learned from Ben Townsend who picked it up in New England while one tour with the Fox Hunt.



Let me know what you think!



Thanks,



Chris

 



Edited by - cwdean on 08/11/2015 20:40:21



VIDEO: Yew Piney Mountain
(click to view)

   

Don Borchelt - Posted - 08/12/2015:  07:37:42


Well, Chris, if you are a little late to the party, I'm even later.  Nice picking by Rudy, and nice pick for Tune of the Week.  I can't remember when we last had this much TOTW participation by our BHO folks- Rudy, Carl, Kevin, Janet, Don H, Cam, Skip, Jeroen, and Chris, all great versions, all different and mezmerizing.  I used to play the French Carpenter version of this tune, but at Clifftop a couple of weeks or so ago my friend John Reddick showed me the Lester McCumbers version.  I'm still tinkering with it, but here is what we came up with jamming in Banjo Hell.  Camping with my BHO pal Don Couchie is always a musical epiphany; a better all around musician I have never met.  John's fiddle is tuned to Cross G (GDgd), and I am playing my semi-fretless Tubaphone, tuned in a G variant tuning (gDGAD). Don C is playing his Tubaphone, in standard open G, I believe.



- Don Borchelt



Edited by - Don Borchelt on 08/12/2015 07:39:54



VIDEO: Yew Piney Mountain from Clifftop 2015
(click to view)

   

rudy - Posted - 08/12/2015:  09:23:11


What fun to see a few more join in the Yew Piney Mountain party!



Chris, I like your version a bunch.



Don, I really like your annotation on the video where you mention the unrestrained nature of the melodic and rhythmic structure as demonstrated by Lester McCumber's version.



I believe that a big part of the charm of Yew Piney Mountain, and indeed many other such tunes is the freedom to make it your own.  This particular TOTW seems to have really highlighted the foot-loose and fancy-free stylings of our contributors.



Again, thanks to all who feel a bit of magic in YPM!


RWJonesy - Posted - 08/14/2015:  05:21:39


Have a listen, if possible, to Diller' s version of Yew Piney Mountain on Just Banjo 99. Much like the one you posted Rudy yet, in my opinion, the quintessential version. Dwight really nailed it there. The haunting tone and feel sends chills up my spine every time I hear that particular version. Awesome TOTW Rudy.

VancePants - Posted - 08/14/2015:  08:39:54


The illustrious Janet Burton "advised" me to post this Dwight DIller adapted version ... so, here she be:



(I see there are many others posted which i can peruse... nice.)




VIDEO: Yew Piney Mountain (clawhammer)
(click to view)

   

rudy - Posted - 08/14/2015:  10:55:19


I'll try to get that done, RWJ.



Kenneth, I'm glad you were advised!  (Excellent version...)


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