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Aug 29, 2022 - 5:08:36 AM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

Denver Belle is a fairly frequent fiddle tune that’s played at our local jam session. This is an ‘arrangement in progress.’

https://youtu.be/CC0YM_qoF0I

Edited by - AGACNP on 08/29/2022 05:12:28

Aug 29, 2022 - 5:35:56 AM
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1346 posts since 1/25/2017

It is essential to work out fiddle tunes in the key where most fiddlers play them. I try to work out open G arrangements if possible. It makes for quicker performances by avoiding capo / tuning adjustment delays.

This is my arrangement of Billy In The Low Ground (C major).


Aug 29, 2022 - 6:10:57 AM
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phb

Germany

3559 posts since 11/8/2010

@both: Very nice!

I haven't come across "Denver Belle" in any of the jams here but Billy in the Low Ground is one that has shown up and that I need to learn some day. I choose fiddle tunes to learn in accordance with the probability of them showing up in my jams but I also put some on the list that I just like a lot.

One fiddle tune that showed up twice within a few weeks is Big Sciota. Yesterday I started working on it and have come up with a very simple Scruggs-style arrangement that still needs some refining. It does get easier with practice! :) Perhaps I'll record Big Sciota when I'm finished.

Aug 29, 2022 - 8:11:04 AM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by phb

@both: Very nice!

I haven't come across "Denver Belle" in any of the jams here but Billy in the Low Ground is one that has shown up and that I need to learn some day. I choose fiddle tunes to learn in accordance with the probability of them showing up in my jams but I also put some on the list that I just like a lot.

One fiddle tune that showed up twice within a few weeks is Big Sciota. Yesterday I started working on it and have come up with a very simple Scruggs-style arrangement that still needs some refining. It does get easier with practice! :) Perhaps I'll record Big Sciota when I'm finished.


I've neglected Big Sciota, glad you mentioned it!

A friend of mine, mentioned 'way back up in this thread, who taught me his arrangement of Big Sciota (he pronounces it "Cy-oh-tee"). This arrangement introduced me to bringing the middle finger up as high as the third string, and there are also a couple of short single string segments (2-3 notes duration) thrown in as well.  Ive taken some liberties with his arrangement,and here it is, although it needs further practice and attention.

https://youtu.be/kmGdbaBHV5Q

Edited by - AGACNP on 08/29/2022 08:15:27

Aug 29, 2022 - 8:20:40 AM
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phb

Germany

3559 posts since 11/8/2010

Wow, this is so far more complex than my version could ever get, I'm not sure I'll find the courage to post mine... blush

Aug 29, 2022 - 8:26:30 AM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by phb

Wow, this is so far more complex than my version could ever get, I'm not sure I'll find the courage to post mine... blush


Hey Philipp, this ain't a competition, it's an exhibition! I'd love to hear your version!

I have a bunch of fiddle tunes I'm working on, all at various stages...some are most rudimentary in their current state.

Sep 1, 2022 - 7:42:13 AM
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3142 posts since 2/10/2013

Bruce -

Long time fiddlers never learn all the tunes they want to play. But playing melodically makes the melody more identifiable. I also played fiddle, so I spent a lot of time listening to and playing melodies. I think that the time spent doing that made the tunes easier to learn on banjo and guitar - especially guitar.

I also think playing a couple dozen fiddle tunes melodically makes a persons playing technique better. Melodic style is not as "forgiving" as "Scruggs" style. I focus more on my playing technique and how things should sound. I now insert melodic licks and minor pentatonic licks  where appropriate. To avoid certain comments, I avoid using melodic licks in tunes that are associated with Earl Scruggs. I don't think doing this would have bothered Mr. Scruggs, but it seems to infuriate some banjoists.  I hear lots of players mix different styles in a tune.  I think doing this can make a tune sound more interesting.

Edited by - Richard Hauser on 09/01/2022 07:46:04

Sep 1, 2022 - 8:30:30 AM
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phb

Germany

3559 posts since 11/8/2010

Yesterday we had a very good jam session. A very good fiddler from 400km away visited and we had a good local fiddler, too. This meant that we got treated to some very nice twin-fiddling. We had a few fiddle tunes there (most people shied away from them which is why we didn't have more) and I also got to play my Jerusalem Ridge arrangement in public for the first time. Well, it was a case of "worked at home" but it wasn't too bad either. At least I got through it with some rough spots and left out notes or even measures. I was so nervous which usually doesn't happen anymore when I take a break to songs or less challenging tunes. In any case it was a great night I enjoyed so much. "Southern Flavor" was mentioned but not played and is pretty high on the list of tunes I want to learn. Oh, fiddle tunes... heart 

I wouldn't have believed a year ago I would ever enjoy them so much (but I still wouldn't want to take a break on one that I don't know already and I don't expect this to change any time soon). And yes, they are good exercise for technique.

Sep 1, 2022 - 9:50:16 AM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by Richard Hauser

Bruce -

Long time fiddlers never learn all the tunes they want to play. But playing melodically makes the melody more identifiable. I also played fiddle, so I spent a lot of time listening to and playing melodies. I think that the time spent doing that made the tunes easier to learn on banjo and guitar - especially guitar.

I also think playing a couple dozen fiddle tunes melodically makes a persons playing technique better. Melodic style is not as "forgiving" as "Scruggs" style. I focus more on my playing technique and how things should sound. I now insert melodic licks and minor pentatonic licks  where appropriate. To avoid certain comments, I avoid using melodic licks in tunes that are associated with Earl Scruggs. I don't think doing this would have bothered Mr. Scruggs, but it seems to infuriate some banjoists.  I hear lots of players mix different styles in a tune.  I think doing this can make a tune sound more interesting.


Dick,

Thanks for the comments. In prior years, I'd worked out 2-3 dozen fiddle tunes on guitar, but alas...haven't played guitar in awhile. I think this improved my hearing the melody, and I believe has helped with transposing those melodies to banjo.

I am lucky to play with some local banjo players who, although they appreciate the Scruggs "canon," also appreciate the occasional embellishment of those with melodic phrases ( I like to occasionally interject the Sonny G7 lick in Groundspeed where it goes to C the last time at the end of the break just to see if anyone is listening, lol).

Sep 1, 2022 - 10:51:25 AM
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13681 posts since 6/2/2008

Here's my arrangement of Big Sciota, in case anyone's interested.

I had never heard this tune in my first 40+ years of playing, then we moved to NYC in September 2013 and the tune came up in both jams I attended my third weekend in the city. And pretty much every session of those jams thereafter. So I figured I better learn it.

Turns out it was in Tony Trischka's book of fiddle tunes. Plus there were tabs and MP3s here on the Hangout. So after getting the gist of it, I put together an arrangement that took inspiration or actual pieces from multiple sources. The B part is mostly my own, I think. I play it as written most times and  tend to switch up what I play for the A part.

Sep 4, 2022 - 4:37:22 PM
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76887 posts since 5/9/2007

Playing melodic fiddletunes is just another set of habits to absorb.It becomes as natural as playing Cripple Creek without thinking about it too much.Finger and ear memory are strong tools.

Sep 7, 2022 - 4:51:49 AM
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1346 posts since 1/25/2017

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Playing melodic fiddletunes is just another set of habits to absorb.It becomes as natural as playing Cripple Creek without thinking about it too much.Finger and ear memory are strong tools.


It's easier said than done. I have always found arranging fiddle tunes to be difficult and time consuming. A lot of trial and error and decision making goes into it. All birth is painful.

Sep 7, 2022 - 5:21:08 AM
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AGACNP

USA

361 posts since 10/12/2011

quote:
Originally posted by SimonSlick
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Playing melodic fiddletunes is just another set of habits to absorb.It becomes as natural as playing Cripple Creek without thinking about it too much.Finger and ear memory are strong tools.


It's easier said than done. I have always found arranging fiddle tunes to be difficult and time consuming. A lot of trial and error and decision making goes into it. All birth is painful.


This is a thing I've wondered about. I find it a rather laborious process to arrange for a fiddle tune, and just for one break! Simon, you seem to always have a half dozen variations ready to go!

Sep 7, 2022 - 6:25:15 AM
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phb

Germany

3559 posts since 11/8/2010

Until recently I was content with just one variation. It's a fiddle tune after all and it's not likely I will get to play two breaks.

Fiddle tunes usually have some repetition with their A and B parts but as a listener you also want the AABB compound (or whatever structure the tune has) to repeat. That's, of course, when normally a new instruments plays the tune.

When I recorded "Jerusalem Ridge", I found I didn't have a variation and just played my arrangement twice because I didn't want to record only one break but wanted repetition. This left me unsatisfied and now with "Big Sciota" I have been trying to make at least two variations. I think variations are easier than the main arrangement because you can keep quite a lot for the variation. However, for a complicated melodic arrangement such as "Jerusalem Ridge", I think one has to really vary the melody. And that's going to be complicated and needs creativity I hopefully find in me some day.

I haven't settled on anything in my "Big Sciota" arrangement other than it being Scruggs style yet but the obvious idea for Scruggs-style arrangements is to make down-the-neck and up-the-neck breaks. "Big Sciota" moves up for the B part anyway so for the variation I consider doing one down-the-neck A part (which is where I play A in the main variation), then one up-the-neck A part, then one up-the-neck B part (which is where I play B in the main variation) and then one down-the-neck B part. I haven't worked on it for a week or so and I think the entire thing is still lacking some. It's very rudimentary and very much simple chord-based Scruggs-style. But actually that might turn out just right if there were any more melodic mandolin and fiddle breaks in addition to the banjo breaks.

Edited by - phb on 09/07/2022 06:27:54

Sep 7, 2022 - 7:10:58 AM
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banjoy

USA

10600 posts since 7/1/2006

I'll throw a few nuggets to chew on too ...

I love Big Sciota, it's a very cool tune. Here' my take on it from about 9 years ago, jammjing to a YouTube video, but it bascially captures my take on the tune (which has morphed over time, I may be able to record this again soon)

youtube.com/watch?v=mKmY_LF1P3A

And here's my take on Jerusalem Ridge from a campfire jam session a year ago:

youtube.com/watch?v=WNRQZXLgmgo

Sometimes when I take on fiddle tunes, I'll try to capture the essence of the melody with melodics, as in the first video I posted. The second video is a good example of where my feeling is, by the time this tune makes its way to banjo the melody line is already well established, so I've always taken a more Scruggs-y approach to that tune. For some reason, I've never felt the need to work up a full-on melodic break for that tune (everyone else has already) so my version combines elements of melodic and Scruggs styles and it's always worked for me. It's my own take on the tune after I made it "my own" ...

Sep 7, 2022 - 7:27:40 AM
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phb

Germany

3559 posts since 11/8/2010

Wow, Frank, those are very nice arrangements and great examples of how variations can sound!

Sep 7, 2022 - 7:30:40 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

quote:
Originally posted by SimonSlick
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Playing melodic fiddletunes is just another set of habits to absorb.It becomes as natural as playing Cripple Creek without thinking about it too much.Finger and ear memory are strong tools.


It's easier said than done. I have always found arranging fiddle tunes to be difficult and time consuming. A lot of trial and error and decision making goes into it. All birth is painful.


As time goes by things get easier as we get used to navigating in G,C,D and A (for starters) melodically.

It's the same as learning to drive in a foreign country.As you experience the "rules of the road" on a daily basis the new ways become second nature.Experience is developed over time and each tune gets easier to the point of being able to sit in on a new tune and offer something of substance.

There are great little "safe" ways to play through a fiddletune's key and chords of unknown pieces at a jam.It's easy and fun after a while.Playing melodically to fiddletunes (harmonies and melody) becomes just as second nature as playing Cripple Creek traditionally.It's like anything under the sun.

The more you do it the easier it gets.

Edited by - steve davis on 09/07/2022 07:43:35

Sep 7, 2022 - 7:54:36 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

Fiddletunes of 3 or 4 parts can take a bit longer to sort out.
Grey Eagle will keep you busy for a while and when I was learning Huckleberry Hornpipe I kept getting mixed up in the middle until I found Alan Munde's tab in Frets magazine.
A couple of months later I was playing with Lucien Mathieu at The Roost and asked him to play it on his fiddle and to please keep it "under 100" which he kindly did.

He said I was playing it right and I've often asked fiddlers if I have a tune right or not.That's been the best way for me to stay on the right track.I now have more confidence figuring out tunes on my own and it's much easier now to jam on "unknowns".

It's simply strengthening new habits.It all becomes much easier over time well spent.

Sep 7, 2022 - 10:12:50 AM
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1346 posts since 1/25/2017

quote:
Originally posted by AGACNP
quote:
Originally posted by SimonSlick
quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

Playing melodic fiddletunes is just another set of habits to absorb.It becomes as natural as playing Cripple Creek without thinking about it too much.Finger and ear memory are strong tools.


It's easier said than done. I have always found arranging fiddle tunes to be difficult and time consuming. A lot of trial and error and decision making goes into it. All birth is painful.


This is a thing I've wondered about. I find it a rather laborious process to arrange for a fiddle tune, and just for one break! Simon, you seem to always have a half dozen variations ready to go!


I wish I was that proficient ! One of my theories is that every tune has a "hook," i.e. some phrase that defines it.  So I just play around (with varying degrees of success) with stuff until I find something that works with the hook. 

Sep 8, 2022 - 12:58:29 PM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

We're drawn to what we're most interested in.

Sep 8, 2022 - 1:43:42 PM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

A great place to start with fiddletunes is choosing a handful that are written in G or capoed A.
I don't use a capo very often for most tunes in D,but do capo the 5th at 7 sometimes.
My breakthrough came with learning Soldier's Joy the way I play it in my home music.
No capo/5th at 7/key of D.

Sep 14, 2022 - 7:24:29 PM
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1346 posts since 1/25/2017

Well before Dollywood became Dollywood, it was a small little entertainment park named "Goldrush." When I was working there our group was assigned to greet the guests at the front entrance with the Monroe / Berline instrumental, "Goldrush." This is my attempt to dust it off a little.


Sep 14, 2022 - 7:55:16 PM
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chuckv97

Canada

66936 posts since 10/5/2013

Here’s another one that i mostly do Scruggs style except for the odd measure or two. I’ve let it collect dust and have been brushing up on it lately. I believe Bill Keith brought this into the bluegrass banjo realm. (correct me if I’m mistaken)


Sep 16, 2022 - 9:32:02 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

The more I played with good fiddlers the easier things got.
I let the notes and key tell me what my "roll pattern" will be rather than the other way 'round.
I go to the hardest parts and reduce them to 2 and 4 measure practices until the new sequences start to form a "habit".

Sep 18, 2022 - 8:53:46 AM

76887 posts since 5/9/2007

I enjoy playing fiddletunes more than playing straight bluegrass and I like playing straight bluegrass a lot.

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