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Creating Melodic Versions of Fiddle Tunes

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Oct 20, 2019 - 8:14:02 AM
1287 posts since 2/10/2013

I would appreciate reading suggestions which would help me create melodic tabs for fiddle tunes. I play fiddle and have shelves full of fiddle books. I play 3 finger style banjo. In addition, I practice 8 commonly played fiddle tunes on a daily basis.
Tunes like "Black Mount Rag", "Dixie Hoedown", etc.. I have several books on this subject, but they contain tabs and biographical information. They don't say much about creating banjo tabs using standard music notation.

I could really use information about difficulties banjoists encounter when creating melodic versions of tunes, and how they solved the problem(s). In my case, I would be using standard music notation as a guide for the tab. Problems I encounter are overuse of certain licks, use/overuse of single string licks. In some cases, I just can't use the standard notation as a guide.

In the meantime, I plan on creating some melodic exercises based on musical phrases from music notation. Both up and down the fingerboard. This type of thing usually helps improve up-the-neck fingerboard knowledge and increases fingerboard usage.

I have a question for melodic banjo players with considerable experience. Do you feel that it is sometime difficult/impossible to get capture the correct "feel" for certain fiddle tunes when playing them melodically ? At the present time when I play melodic versions of fiddle tunes, I play along with recordings of the fiddle tunes. This seems to help me develop more accurate sounding version of the tunes.

Oct 21, 2019 - 10:49:37 PM

498 posts since 6/8/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

I would appreciate reading suggestions which would help me create melodic tabs for fiddle tunes. I play fiddle and have shelves full of fiddle books. I play 3 finger style banjo. In addition, I practice 8 commonly played fiddle tunes on a daily basis.
Tunes like "Black Mount Rag", "Dixie Hoedown", etc.. I have several books on this subject, but they contain tabs and biographical information. They don't say much about creating banjo tabs using standard music notation.

I could really use information about difficulties banjoists encounter when creating melodic versions of tunes, and how they solved the problem(s). In my case, I would be using standard music notation as a guide for the tab. Problems I encounter are overuse of certain licks, use/overuse of single string licks. In some cases, I just can't use the standard notation as a guide.

In the meantime, I plan on creating some melodic exercises based on musical phrases from music notation. Both up and down the fingerboard. This type of thing usually helps improve up-the-neck fingerboard knowledge and increases fingerboard usage.

I have a question for melodic banjo players with considerable experience. Do you feel that it is sometime difficult/impossible to get capture the correct "feel" for certain fiddle tunes when playing them melodically ? At the present time when I play melodic versions of fiddle tunes, I play along with recordings of the fiddle tunes. This seems to help me develop more accurate sounding version of the tunes.


Oct 21, 2019 - 11:30 PM

498 posts since 6/8/2005

Hi Richard,

A wonderful topic! I might be able to help, but I need some clarification. As to your your question about the "feel" of certain fiddle tunes: What is your concept of "feel" and your sense of the term, "accurate sounding version?" Does it mean the bluegrass feel of Paul Warren, as opposed to Byron Berline? Is it the "Texas/Oklahoma' style of the great Benny Thomason? Or is it Curly Ray Cline or old-time fiddle?

I had a book in high school called "1000 Fiddle tunes" and it's where I learned standard notation.

As far as suggestions, I find that knowledge of major, minor and pentatonic scales and their common patterns are fine for me, but it may be different for you depending on how you view the fretboard. Melodic composition seems to fit well with standard notation. I use tablature and standard notation in all my versions and exercises.

Have you ever heard of Carroll Best?

I will be on the road for two days so it may be awhile before I get back to you - but this is a great topic.

All the best,

Pat-

Oct 22, 2019 - 6:29:27 AM

2482 posts since 4/19/2008

I use this chart where I think in intervals not note names.


Oct 22, 2019 - 6:58:27 AM

1287 posts since 2/10/2013

Where appropriate, I enjoy hearing a tune played with some of both "Scruggs" and melodic licks. Usually one or the other is dominate, but adding the other type seems to add variety to a tune, and in some cases, allows me work my way around a problematic musical phrase.

For me, playing a tune melodically is more difficult than "Scruggs" style. Every note has to be played correctly. It is also physically more difficult. Since the fiddle is an unfretted instrument and can musically produce sounds which the banjo cannot create, it is hard to make melodic fiddle tunes played on the banjo sound as good as when played on the fiddle.

So I play fiddle tunes melodically partly for my personal enjoyment, but also to improve my knowledge of the fingerboard, to improve and add to my noting technique, and to improve my tone.

So my original post was intended to solicit ideas from experienced melodic banjo players. In addition, melodic style exercises both down and up-the-neck would be welcome. Maybe some BHO member has developed ideas which help someone create melodic tab from standard musical notation.

Oct 22, 2019 - 7:41:55 AM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Hi richard,

I have a video which I'll post later.

In the meantime, try this:


Oct 22, 2019 - 7:51:54 AM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

Hi richard,

I have a video which I'll post later.

In the meantime, try this:


Cool that you are here Pat among us ''unknowns'' .I have been a fiddle tuner on the 5 for "way to long"  I know Texas from bluegrass from old time,but you sub divide even deeper, dern you.I do my own arranging ,always have ,always will,,but I am going to be sneaking a few peeks when our taste are similar.

BTW Greg Crisp  never shuts up about you,he is on the video page right now with one heck of a Mcnelly clone, Check him out ,if you give him a like he will freak.

He is good hearted ,that shows ,even on the net https://www.banjohangout.org/my/stratovarious520

Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/22/2019 08:01:53

Oct 22, 2019 - 7:54:28 AM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Hey Tom!


Oct 22, 2019 - 9:04:26 AM

5175 posts since 12/20/2005

Great topic !

Richard, I have been working at just what you are describing for the past couple of months or so.
I have been listening to "Ragtime Annie", as played by Daniel Carwile. On YouTube.
I have learned to play the notes to the song fairly well, 3 finger style. Probably more Scruggs style than melodic. I've even received a compliment or two from musicians in jam sessions. That's always nice.
But, capturing the true feel doesn't seem to be happening. Banjo and fiddle are just different. I'm thinking getting that certain feel might, in part, be because of the frets on a banjo.
I'm going to try playing it clawhammer for a bit today. I did this briefly earlier today, and I think I might be on to something.
If I had a fretless, or partially fretless banjo, I would certainly give that a try.
And, I have Pat Cloud's book right here at my side. I need to practice out of that book more than I do. I fuss at myself sometimes about this. But I have got a lot out of it. Makes my day for Pat to jump in the discussion.

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:44:34 AM

5175 posts since 12/20/2005

"Ragtime Annie" - Daniel Carwile - The Atherton Session

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoiS8pj9o6Y

 


 

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:55:07 AM

498 posts since 6/8/2005

What a great player!

Pat-

Oct 22, 2019 - 10:32:55 AM

5175 posts since 12/20/2005

quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

What a great player!

Pat-


 

Oh yeah !

He can cut a rug on that fiddle. He gets going, and it's like as he goes along, he gets thrilled about playing the song.  He plays great the whole way through.   

I like, starting at about 1:59, he starts to play with what I think is called a shuffle.  If someone can type of syncopation and feel on a banjo, that would really be something.  Perhaps, someone has already done so ?  Maybe ?

Oct 22, 2019 - 11:31:38 AM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

I can kinda answer beginning at .50 here up thru 1.24 are my attempts at this bowing trick.Howevee you can't catch the 2 notes at a time the fiddle guy does. The first way I do it first (at 50) is a middle finger in and out thing.It is known by many.The second way belongs to me.ah immortality on the hang out ha ha.remember I said attempt

 

Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/22/2019 11:34:49

Oct 22, 2019 - 11:45:13 AM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

this version is wimpy volume wise and other ways .I TRIED to learn byron Berline's break

Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/22/2019 11:50:10

Oct 23, 2019 - 7:09:07 AM

1287 posts since 2/10/2013

Tom -

Yeah, most fiddlers learn "Ragtime Annie" sooner or later. Ragtime Annie has some shuffles that would be hard to play on the banjo. A person would have to create a substitute. Some fiddle tunes produce sound that you can't accurately play on the banjo. Especially shuffles and hokum bowing. Right now I am going to try creating some melodic versions of ragtime tunes. Tunes like "Dill Pickle Rag" and "Pig Ankle Rag". I think they can be adapted to the banjo more easily than tunes like "Ragtime Annie".

Years ago I had Pat Clouds book, but over time my banjo books disappeared. Guess I will order another one.

Oct 23, 2019 - 7:36:21 AM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

Tom -

Yeah, most fiddlers learn "Ragtime Annie" sooner or later. Ragtime Annie has some shuffles that would be hard to play on the banjo. A person would have to create a substitute. Some fiddle tunes produce sound that you can't accurately play on the banjo. Especially shuffles and hokum bowing. Right now I am going to try creating some melodic versions of ragtime tunes. Tunes like "Dill Pickle Rag" and "Pig Ankle Rag". I think they can be adapted to the banjo more easily than tunes like "Ragtime Annie".

Years ago I had Pat Clouds book, but over time my banjo books disappeared. Guess I will order another one.


I have a melodic Dill Pickles  over on my page.My own way as usual.Actually a slight bit of single string. A lot of single stringers do it.I don't single string much,the world knows'' this fact'' is better. 

I find it easy to get'' this tune,good enough to suit me  , in melodics.My friend learned it from a Bill Keith tutor years ago.Looking forward to your version

Oct 23, 2019 - 10:33:39 AM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Richard,

Send me your address at pat3@patcloud.com and I'll send you another "Key To Five Sting Banjo" book, no charge.

Pat-

Edited by - banjola1 on 10/23/2019 10:34:11

Oct 23, 2019 - 12:29:53 PM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Hey -

I had the falsely named the fiddle tune I previously posted as, "Grey Eagle" - it should have been "Tom and Jerry."

Sorry about that!

I shall repent.

Pat-

Edited by - banjola1 on 10/23/2019 12:34:05

Oct 23, 2019 - 1:23:01 PM
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870 posts since 11/17/2018
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quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

Hey -

I had the falsely named the fiddle tune I previously posted as, "Grey Eagle" - it should have been "Tom and Jerry."

Sorry about that!

I shall repent.

Pat-


Welcome back Pat.

You have been missed.

Oct 23, 2019 - 7:27:58 PM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Thanks Jim,

I was at work one morning and the realization that I was the oldest guy in the room finally sunk in. So I retired and became happy again. It wasn't too bad of a job, but not quite what I wanted to do. I was playing plectrum banjo (Dixieland) 5 days a week at the Disney Resort in Anaheim. I learned a lot about horns and flat keys. So now my old five-string is showing me no mercy for the neglect. I really missed my 5th string. I'm much happier now.

Pat-


Edited by - banjola1 on 10/23/2019 19:31:38

Oct 23, 2019 - 8:12 PM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

Don't like plectrum hah. Yeh then all of a sudden you here someone tearing one up. That Eddy Davis was hanging here a lot. A lot of changing chords every beat .A real pro like yourself. He knows a zillion juicy spots.

Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/23/2019 20:16:32

Oct 23, 2019 - 8:15:27 PM

2394 posts since 9/12/2016

By the way  to anybody ,don't miss the unique ending pattern on Raggedy Ann, I got that off of ''Byron b'' as stated

Edited by - Tractor1 on 10/23/2019 20:17:45

Oct 23, 2019 - 9:17:15 PM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

I was going to erase a dusty old hard drive and found this.

Kentucky Colonels - Ashgrove circa 1972

I barely remember it happening some night long ago...


Oct 24, 2019 - 12:26:15 AM
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Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

39936 posts since 3/7/2006

I have some reflections about the techniques for playing "melodic" fiddle tunes. 

  • I think the examples shown here is based on "Keith style" where you avoid to play two notes after each other on the same string. I think some people call it "a l'arpa" (like a harp).
  • There is also another approach based on single string playing (Reno style) where you try to use the same string as much as possible.
  • I play clawhammer fiddle tunes, and there we also try to play melodic note-by-note as the fiddle, but often uses left-hand techniques as hammer on, pulling off, alternate pulling off (plucking a string with the left hand that have not been sounded) and alternate hammer on (hammer on a not sounded string).

In all three cases you try to  play the fiddle tune note by note as the fiddler, but you use different techniques.

Oct 24, 2019 - 12:56:45 AM
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498 posts since 6/8/2005

Five-string banjo has had maybe less than two centuries to evolve. Gourds with stretched skins are as old as dirt. There are gourd playing musicians in Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

Is this why banjo has personalities associated with its common string technique? It would seem that only Bill Keith can properly play "Keith Style" and only Reno, "Reno Style." String technique has no real personality. It is generic and only a means to an end.

So who is Mr. Single String? Who is Miss "A L'arpa?"

Who was Mr. "Pull Off?" Does anybody remember "Maria Hammeron?"

Would the melodic playing of the late great banjoist Carroll Best be labeled, "Best Style?"

Pat-

Edited by - banjola1 on 10/24/2019 01:17:07

Oct 24, 2019 - 5:20:06 AM
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2394 posts since 9/12/2016

For note for note type playing, I find my slight strength in ''melodic'' bluegrass style and ALSO using the known embellishments.My thick ,short arch -top notes are good at this,but it is .very picky.for dynamic control.Not that the flathead gets neglected

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