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Jun 21, 2022 - 12:48:55 AM

phb

Germany

3580 posts since 11/8/2010

Nick Hornbuckle That is a very nice and interesting technique you are using there! It reminds me of how two clawhammer players tried teaching me their right-hand technique and told me how simple it was compared to Scruggs (I couldn't do it anyway) and that in clawhammer playing the left hand would have to do a lot of extra work with hammer-ons and slides to get all the notes the clawhammer picking technique couldn't provide.

Jun 21, 2022 - 5:31:38 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by wbalsam1

He was just beginning fiddle when we met. I think he had learned St. Anne's Reel and some others. I learned a few years ago that he had been building some real nice fiddles. He's a great guy. I met him at Dick Pelletier's.


I played with Kippy last night at the Wiley's Corner Grange Jam and he spoke very highly of you,Fred.He was playing his D-35 and one of his fiddles.We played in a 22 person circle/dealer's choice for 2 hours.

Perfect venue for acoustic music in that ancient grange hall.Every Monday night.It's only about 5 miles from home.

Jun 23, 2022 - 4:18:41 PM
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2979 posts since 4/5/2006

When I became proficient enough to venture out & participate in jams sessions, there were two popular So Ca jams happening on alternate weekends. Both involved fiddlers. It soon became evident the most  popular keys for fiddle tunes were A & D, & the easiest way for inexperienced banjo players was to capo @ second fret. And when you see more experienced banjoists also making use of the capo, you quickly get over that "cheater" thing & go with the flow.

The other thing I began to notice was, although common in OT music, very seldom did BG banjo players make use of alternate tunings, especially on stage! Not only that, a good many of my favorite So Ca banjo pickers lacked D tuners on their banjos!

In those days, D tuners were all the craze. I had them & often made use of them. However, to ask fifteen or twenty other jammers to accommodate you while retuning for one or two"show off" songs, got old after a while. Anymore, Soldiers Joy is about the only time I even use drop C tuning. 

Hats off to those who can play every fiddle tune in the key of D, in G tuning. I'm still finding new ways to play those I learned using the capo @ second fret.

Jun 25, 2022 - 9:33:35 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

I didn't think I would ever be able to play fiddletunes where a fiddler woulds know what I was playing,but once I worked out Soldier's Joy in D with just the 5th at 7 other ones became easier and each new accomplishment made the next one easier.

I still capo 2 for Ricketts in D.I like the way it falls off the strings as if in C and it's the way I learned it from the Keith book.Tablature helped me a lot in learning to play with no capo.

Jun 26, 2022 - 7:57:50 AM
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1347 posts since 1/25/2017

This is more of a banjo arrangement of a violin tune with lots of "double-stops."


Jun 26, 2022 - 8:11:51 AM
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8236 posts since 8/30/2004

Excellent arrangement Simon,...jack
 
Originally posted by SimonSlick

This is more of a banjo arrangement of a violin tune with lots of "double-stops."


Edited by - Jack Baker on 06/26/2022 08:17:25

Jun 28, 2022 - 8:20:27 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

We played Pigeon on the Gate,Smash the Windows and Soldier's Joy at Sunday's Sail,Power and Steam Museum jam last Sunday.The fiddler makes his own line of fiddles and was a member of the Katahdin Valley Boys.
I hadn't played Pigeon or Windows for some time.

Jul 23, 2022 - 10:42:59 PM
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1347 posts since 1/25/2017

This is my arrangement of East Tennessee Blues, a locally favorite fiddle tune in C.


Jul 29, 2022 - 7:39:32 AM
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76924 posts since 5/9/2007

I test my fiddletune arrangements with fiddle players.
If they can't tell what tune I'm playing I go back to the drawing (fret)board.

Jul 30, 2022 - 6:09:17 PM
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753 posts since 6/8/2005

I thought fiddle tune melodies were regional and varied? If someone publishes a book with a melody to a certain fiddle tune, then that particular melody of that particular fiddle tune is regarded as somehow definitive.

I'll not hesitate to change any fiddle tune version to my own liking. I'll start by listening to as many fiddle versions as I can find. Changing a note here or there can make a tune smoother and more accessible technically and even more satisfying melodically. I'll work out three or four versions of the same tune, so I can rely on getting through a solo in a jam session without a glitch. Ironically, it's the glitches that teach me the most about the neck. Variations of melody are in the millions. Plenty to go around...

When I first heard Texas/Oklahoma style fiddle, I was amazed. Improvisational variations of standard fiddle tunes! Yet, at the same time, very traditional. It changed my whole musical life at the time. In that regard, the way you learn to play scales is very important to me. Cross-string scales change and morph when you play them in different keys as opposed to single-string playing in closed boxed positions. Open strings can also be used for extended arpeggios in the same manner. Cross-string playing forces your hand into different regions and positions of the neck to balance a melodic line. Each key begins to have it's own personality.

patcloud.com
 

Aug 1, 2022 - 6:26 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

I base most of my fiddletunes on the playing of my Northeast neighbors from Canada and Maine's French players.

Aug 1, 2022 - 7:15:44 AM
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753 posts since 6/8/2005

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I base most of my fiddletunes on the playing of my Northeast neighbors from Canada and Maine's French players.

 

 French Canadian fiddling is wonderful.  Jean Carignan is an old favorite.

patcloud.com

Edited by - banjola1 on 08/01/2022 07:17:26

Aug 1, 2022 - 7:41:24 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

Don Roy and his uncle Lucien Mathieu have been very helpful in my development over the years.

Aug 2, 2022 - 2:59:57 PM
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3142 posts since 2/10/2013

Janet Davis' instructional book/CD helped me most when I started playing melodically. That instructional doesn't just have tabs for tunes. It provides information.

I also play guitar. The recommended approach for learning to figure out a version for a tune on a guitar would work just as well for learning to play a fiddle tune melodically on the banjo. Just -

1. Listen to the melody until you never want to hear it again.
2. Using your ear, figure out the basic melody. Use lots of quarter notes.
3. Add notes to transition from one chord to another.
4. Now, "dress it up". Convert some of those quarter notes to 2 eigth notes. Add slides, hammer-ons, pull-offs, etc.

I used to play lots of fiddle, especially when I was dealing with osteoartlhritis. Be aware that it can be very hard to make a fiddle tune sound right when playing another stringed instrument. That is probably why the same fiddle tunes keep "popping up" in instructionals for playing the fiddle tunes on another stringed instrument.

This approach should create a beginning version. Keep making changes that will make the tune sound better.

If you are really serious about playing fiddle tunes on a banjo/guitar, getting a decent fiddle, watching "fiddlehed" on Youtube, and working on simple common fiddle tunes will help you develop more "feel" for how a fiddle tune should sound. Learning to fiddle well takes lots of time, but this effort, even if you never become a good fiddler, will make you more comfortable playing fiddle tunes. But be aware that playing a fiddle can become addictive.
Musically, you can do a lot more on a fiddle than you can on guitar/banjo.

If you do take this route, get Gordon Stobbe's DVD "12 Things Your Right Hand Should Know". That DVD and the FiddleHed website can get someone started out right on the fiddle.

Aug 3, 2022 - 3:54:17 AM
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AGACNP

USA

368 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

I thought fiddle tune melodies were regional and varied? If someone publishes a book with a melody to a certain fiddle tune, then that particular melody of that particular fiddle tune is regarded as somehow definitive.

I'll not hesitate to change any fiddle tune version to my own liking. I'll start by listening to as many fiddle versions as I can find. Changing a note here or there can make a tune smoother and more accessible technically and even more satisfying melodically. I'll work out three or four versions of the same tune, so I can rely on getting through a solo in a jam session without a glitch. Ironically, it's the glitches that teach me the most about the neck. Variations of melody are in the millions. Plenty to go around...

When I first heard Texas/Oklahoma style fiddle, I was amazed. Improvisational variations of standard fiddle tunes! Yet, at the same time, very traditional. It changed my whole musical life at the time. In that regard, the way you learn to play scales is very important to me. Cross-string scales change and morph when you play them in different keys as opposed to single-string playing in closed boxed positions. Open strings can also be used for extended arpeggios in the same manner. Cross-string playing forces your hand into different regions and positions of the neck to balance a melodic line. Each key begins to have it's own personality.

patcloud.com
 


Pat,

I appreciate your thoughtful response. As I had mentioned 'way back up in the thread, I'd never arranged/adapted any fiddle tune melodically until a good friend walked me through, note-by-note, of two or three of his arrangements. That experience was very enlightening...not sure I could be that patient.

You have put into words what I had realized following that experience: learning to play scales in more than one key in a "cross string" method, using open strings when possible is much different than the more "linear" approach of the single string melody line I've used with guitar flat picking. I've also learned the tenet you mentioned: each key has its own personality (assuming there is no capo or retuning).

As if learning one solo isn't hard enough, you've now challenged me with learning "three or four versions" of the same tune. wink

Good advice...thank you.

Edited by - AGACNP on 08/03/2022 03:57:25

Aug 3, 2022 - 4:41:33 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

I recommend listening to and reading tabs of Butch Robins and Courtney Johnson's treatments of fiddletunes.
They include drive in their playing of these tunes.

Aug 3, 2022 - 5:03:34 AM

AGACNP

USA

368 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I recommend listening to and reading tabs of Butch Robins and Courtney Johnson's treatments of fiddletunes.
They include drive in their playing of these tunes.


Great advice to listen to actual practitioners of the craft, no doubt.

Every player (my opinion) has his/her own unique approach. As I'd never taken lessons in Scruggs style all those years, it was personally a very unique experience to have my mentor break down how he had actually constructed a few arrangements...it was quite mind blowing, and ongoing. Just a few nights ago, we each shared a couple new arrangements we'd been individually working on, and adding our own 'twists' to them.

Going deeper than listening, and wanting to learn to arrange my own, the advice given in this thread is helping to "gel" what I am figuring out.

Edited by - AGACNP on 08/03/2022 05:06:01

Aug 3, 2022 - 5:14:46 AM
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753 posts since 6/8/2005

quote:
Originally posted by AGACNP
quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

I thought fiddle tune melodies were regional and varied? If someone publishes a book with a melody to a certain fiddle tune, then that particular melody of that particular fiddle tune is regarded as somehow definitive.

I'll not hesitate to change any fiddle tune version to my own liking. I'll start by listening to as many fiddle versions as I can find. Changing a note here or there can make a tune smoother and more accessible technically and even more satisfying melodically. I'll work out three or four versions of the same tune, so I can rely on getting through a solo in a jam session without a glitch. Ironically, it's the glitches that teach me the most about the neck. Variations of melody are in the millions. Plenty to go around...

When I first heard Texas/Oklahoma style fiddle, I was amazed. Improvisational variations of standard fiddle tunes! Yet, at the same time, very traditional. It changed my whole musical life at the time. In that regard, the way you learn to play scales is very important to me. Cross-string scales change and morph when you play them in different keys as opposed to single-string playing in closed boxed positions. Open strings can also be used for extended arpeggios in the same manner. Cross-string playing forces your hand into different regions and positions of the neck to balance a melodic line. Each key begins to have it's own personality.

patcloud.com
 


Pat,

I appreciate your thoughtful response. As I had mentioned 'way back up in the thread, I'd never arranged/adapted any fiddle tune melodically until a good friend walked me through, note-by-note, of two or three of his arrangements. That experience was very enlightening...not sure I could be that patient.

You have put into words what I had realized following that experience: learning to play scales in more than one key in a "cross string" method, using open strings when possible is much different than the more "linear" approach of the single string melody line I've used with guitar flat picking. I've also learned the tenet you mentioned: each key has its own personality (assuming there is no capo or retuning).

As if learning one solo isn't hard enough, you've now challenged me with learning "three or four versions" of the same tune. wink

Good advice...thank you.


AGACNP,

Thank you!

It certainly does take patience. Patience is eventually rewarded. Right hand cross-string patterns are harder at first. They are asymmetrical and are different than repetitive rolls. In single-string playing, the right hand is normalized doing "one thing" with the thumb and index finger. Even when you use single-string technique exclusively, you will eventually want to get to "another box" in another area of the neck. And so open strings are simply another way to accomplish this.

Because of the limited range of five-string banjo, I want to fluidly access the whole range of the neck for a better mix of arpeggios versus scales for invention and to balance a melodic line. Usually the mix is 1/3 arpeggio versus 2/3 scales. I want to hear the whole neck for the sake of creative invention.

But let me be clear - I am not saying that one string technique is necessarily better than another. I want to use them all. It always depends on the music. Every one has a different take and that's what a forum is all about.

patcloud.com

Edited by - banjola1 on 08/03/2022 05:17:23

Aug 3, 2022 - 5:44:49 AM
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banjoy

USA

10600 posts since 7/1/2006

Nine years ago I recorded and posted here on BHO SoundOff what I clearly said was "my version" of Morrison's Jig, with the explanation that I was simply using Scruggs' and melodic styles and techniques to tackle the tune, showing it could be done by non-Celtic players and how much of a fun tune it can be, playing with all those triplet-frills and whatnot. I showed two techniques to grab those triplets from the left or right hand.

I was also taken to task about the tune being in 6/8 time, that no, the tune is really in 9/8 time. Good lord.

Hoo Boy, that post got some of the old-time Celtic players panties in a wad, and I was lambasted and raked over the coals by a few BHO Celtic Police, right in that SoundOff thread, for even daring to stray from the "accepted" melody line for that tune. One moron had the audacity to tell me that there is one -- and only one -- accepted melody and then posted a link to a google image of sheet music for the tune. I merely pointed out that a simple google search for the tune yielded dozens of different variations of sheet music, and that he had only selected the first image in the search to post. I also pointed out how fiddle tunes DO take on regional interpretations, different inflections and styles, which often can be traced back to their origins. Common knowledge is not so common among some crowds.

The thread caused so much consternation that I had to do a follow-up video to address the idiocy of saying music cannot be personalized or individually interpreted. Of course it can. That's what keeps music alive and dynamic.

(Both videos from 2013 are posted to my YouTube channel. It's interesting that the video responding to stupid criticism has garnered more views than the original video it refers to.)

=============

My approach to playing melodic tunes is to try as best as you can to feel and convey the melody line. As you learn more and more fiddle tunes from others (through lessons, tab, YouTube, wherever) then you are also accumulating an arsenal of runs, licks, new fingerings, shapes and positions, you'll find you can begin to draw upon as you take on new or unfamiliar tunes. Rarely are tunes purely melodic, most often they are a mix of styles. Creating your own take on a tune can be one of the most rewarding aspects of playing music, and it gets easier with time and experience. Jam sessions are a fantastic way to try out new stuff. Just be prepared to grow some thick skin because someone is always going to be offended no matter what you do LOL.

Sorry for my rambling, but I hope I've contributed something worthwhile to this fun and rewarding topic.

Edited by - banjoy on 08/03/2022 05:47:33

Aug 3, 2022 - 6:14:07 AM

76924 posts since 5/9/2007

If there's room on the neck I like to work out octave melodies.
I find these in Soldier's Joy,Dixie Hoedown and Salt Creek among others.
Harmony(tenor) breaks are available in all tunes.

Edited by - steve davis on 08/03/2022 06:15:27

Aug 3, 2022 - 6:23:42 AM
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phb

Germany

3580 posts since 11/8/2010

quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

Because of the limited range of five-string banjo, I want to fluidly access the whole range of the neck for a better mix of arpeggios versus scales for invention and to balance a melodic line. Usually the mix is 1/3 arpeggio versus 2/3 scales. I want to hear the whole neck for the sake of creative invention.


This is very interesting for me. I recently made a pretty much note-for-note arrangement of the fiddle break of Jerusalem Ridge and have been practicing it a lot. While it is perfectly possible to play all the notes melodic style in ordinary open-G tuning, the sound of it just doesn't satisfy me. It doesn't feel right. And I think that's because it is missing the balance you write about. There are no arpeggios, just scales. It lacks "banjo-ness".

Aug 3, 2022 - 7:32:50 AM
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753 posts since 6/8/2005

quote:
Originally posted by phb
quote:
Originally posted by banjola1

Because of the limited range of five-string banjo, I want to fluidly access the whole range of the neck for a better mix of arpeggios versus scales for invention and to balance a melodic line. Usually the mix is 1/3 arpeggio versus 2/3 scales. I want to hear the whole neck for the sake of creative invention.


This is very interesting for me. I recently made a pretty much note-for-note arrangement of the fiddle break of Jerusalem Ridge and have been practicing it a lot. While it is perfectly possible to play all the notes melodic style in ordinary open-G tuning, the sound of it just doesn't satisfy me. It doesn't feel right. And I think that's because it is missing the balance you write about. There are no arpeggios, just scales. It lacks "banjo-ness".

 


I had a student who was a fine jazz pianist. My first question to him was "why banjo?"
He said, "I don't know. I guess it's the sound."


 

Aug 3, 2022 - 8:07:46 AM
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banjoy

USA

10600 posts since 7/1/2006

One of the most useful things I've learned in trying to apply melodic style (or any style for that matter) is to listen ... when you hear something that tickles your ear, ear candy, listen closely, and the more you can hear something the better your chances are of capturing it and mimicking it. Repetition helps things sink in, so regular jamming or working with recordings can really help unlock some things.

So some body of melodic licks and phrases can begin to become 2nd nature much as Scruggs licks and techniques become 2nd nature. For me, it all begins in trying to mimic what is going on, both melodically, and rhythmically.

At some workshop decades ago, Bill Keith was asked about arranging and improvising tunes in melodic style, and his lengthy response and analysis was that as you learn tunes at first, things break down into large chunks of things memorized and played verbatim, blocks of music phrases that strung together form a tune. The idea and goal as he explained was to break the larger units down to smaller units, so from entire phrases and measures, down to four note blocks, and as they broke down into smaller units the ability to string them together extemporaneously was increased, you made choices on the fly from smaller building blocks. I remember that Bill didn't believe at that time that it was possible to break the units down to one note at a time, in other words, improvising down to the level of individual note choices in the moment, at least in banjo world. I think at that time he was probably right, but that was a barrier, or threshold, that I think the likes of Bela Fleck and Noam Pilkney and others (Pat Cloud is right up there in my book) have since pierced...

Anyway, I see others here have posted some music examples, and I have a few examples of Jerusalem Ridge combining melodic and Scruggs, and ditto for Ashokan Farewell that I considered posting, but for this thread I thought it would be more helpful to share an original tune that was thrown at me several years by a friend of mine who wrote this cool instrumental in honor of his childhood friend Bobby Thompson. The tune befuddled me at first so I had to record the tune and listen to it at home many times before the light bulb went off for me and suddenly I "got it" it and the fingerings and melody were right there under my fingers all along ... and it became easy to play the melody note-for-note. In this recording I play note for note melody for Part A but let Bob Key (the tune's composer) take the melody alone on Part B as I just play bluesy chordal backup, but I had also worked up note-for-note for that part as well, just never got it on tape. These were all conscious and intentional -- and simple -- choices, which I believe helped advance the tune. But they are all choices. That's what makes music individual and personal, the choices one makes. This was a really fun "study" and "exercise" for me, I never approached this to add to repertoire but more as a challenge that I could do it at all ... and it is a cool catchy tune ...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArT30lLnm80

Edited by - banjoy on 08/03/2022 08:09:52

Aug 3, 2022 - 8:40:46 AM
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468 posts since 11/9/2021

A really good guitar player, Brian Driscoll, back in the late 70's told me - Break the tune down to little segments, and you'll be able to hear the various runs, licks, triplets etc. And that there is time enough to get all the notes in there, even on the most complex sounding melody. Still working on this on banjo, but on fiddle, I can listen to a new tune and say to myself 'Oh yeah, that is the same little riff as XYZ reel or ABC jig, same melodic run as *** breakdown or Mr. Anonymous' strathspey', and be able to hit the new tune with much of it already figured out in my head. This process takes awhile to develop but careful listening skills can be learned. You begin to hear what different intervals in the melodies sound like and can identify them in the tune.

Aug 3, 2022 - 10:08:17 AM
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1347 posts since 1/25/2017

At least 75% of the consumers of bluegrass music have no idea whether the banjo is playing the same (or near-same) melody line as the fiddle. What is of most importance is to play, in tune and in time, something that works. If it's the melody note for note, great. If it's something else that sounds good, that's okay too.

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