Archive for February, 2010

I love tunes that can be learned by listening for two minutes, and playing for 20 seconds.

(This tune was suggested to me by a local mandolin enthusiast and luthier. Thanks to him!)

One of the things I’m discovering about myself through this experiment is that sometimes, it’s better to do away with the regimented practice and just noodle my heart out. Tonight is one of those nights. Oh! Minor Swing, it’s been so long…

(Another thing I’ve mentioned before, but that I have to remind myself of daily, is to look at my fingers to help with my focus…just maybe not tonight.)


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Yeah for ragtime.

Part A

Part B

Part C
A—|A—|D—|D—|1A—|E—|E—|E—:|| 2A—|E—|A—|A—||

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has a nice version of this. Doc Watson says it’s a fiddle tune, and Vassar Clements does it justice with his signature lick (I tried finding it written online, but no luck.  It’s basically a chromatic descent of four notes, which he will repeat or follow by another chromatic descent of four notes starting a fifth higher). There are some cool ones, too, on the Fiddle Hangout site.

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“Ah ma jolie blonde! Tu m’as laissé, tu t’es en allé avec un vaurien!” A beautiful cajun waltz about lost love. This version here, by Dewey Balfa and Nathan Abshire, is the real deal, and is from a great documentary called Les Blues de Balfa in English) that you can watch through folkstreams.net (links under Blogroll).  I used this slowed-down version, which was very helpful. I found I was having trouble with the timing of the ornaments, but a few more listens and practices should solve that.

A friend once said of Cajun music that it’s “that music you never think of learning, but once you start you can’t stop and you don’t understant why the whole worlsd isn’t two-stepping along.” I for one don’t know any other music that is quite as soulful and also gets me up and dancing.

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A nice old time tune in D. A favourite at the first old time jam I sat in on.

Update: Thanks to Gary!, who informed me that this tune also goes by the names Susannah Gal (Suzana, Susanna) and Western Country. This tripled the amount of variations to pool together and to then extract the essence of the tune from. My favourite so far is on the Fiddle Hangout site, under Susanna Gal.  Gary also had the genius idea that a tune that goes by more than one name can count for three tunes. Devious. I was almost tempted to take a little break for the next two days.

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Lisa’s arrangement of Been all around this world, to be precise.  More on that later.

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Tune 25 – a milestone! Only 75 tunes to go. I have to stop learning bluegrass tunes in A for a while because they’ve all melded together, so unless there’s someone to prompt me, I can’t remember how a bunch of them start off the top of my head (but strange how my fingers know what to do once my ears recognize the first few notes.)

Reel Sherbrooke is a very popular traditional Québécois tune. Pascal Gemme, an excellent fiddler who plays with a truly wonderful band called Genticorum has a blog where he’s posted sheet music of about fifty traditional Quebec tun.

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I was going to learn a John Reischman tune called Salt Spring, but it’s on none of the four albums of his I have. So I picked this traditional tune from his “Road West” album, and am I ever glad I did.

I like how these fellows are doing it: Thomas Bailey and Aaron Lewis. As ear-tickling good as a full bluegrass band can be, scaling it down to a guitar, a fiddle and two voices is nicely refreshing.

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