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It's getting easier to learn tunes

Posted by bj on Saturday, October 18, 2008

There's a couple things that are making it easier to learn oldtime tunes. First of all, I seem to be picking up "Fiddle Vocabulary".  A lot of littlie bits and pieces, musical phrases, and such, are repeated in many different oldtime tunes. A three note run on the A string here, a bowrock DEDE there, a chromatic run over here. There are also what I think of as left finger patterns that repeat. Open string to 2, back to Open. One to three to one. Open to 2, up a string open, then back down to 2. So when I learn a new song now, chances are I already know some bits and pieces of it.

Second is that since I started going to jams and arranging my tunelists in keys and crosstunings, I've found that if I learn a bunch of songs in the same crosstuning and key, I learn them all much easier after the first one since the scale/notes are the same, and there are more shared bits and pieces. So my fingers are starting to go to the right places automagically without much thought. Not that I don't still screw up royally in the beginning learning a tune, but it is a lot easier. The learning curve isn't nearly as steep. So I work on four tune blocks, then go on to a different key. That way I'll be able to have a few tunes ready to roll in each key/mode.

And I think my ear is getting better. I can sometimes hear the crosstuning in the tune. Not always, but sometimes, especially if it's a crosstuning I've been working out a group of tunes in. Especially modals. I am crazy about modals.

I can foresee the day when I know the vocabulary well enough to add stuff in-- ornaments, bowing variations, shuffles, etc. without having to think so hard about all of it. I can foresee the day when I can go into a jam and actually play a tune passably well by the last round that up until then I had never played before. I can foresee the day when I know enough tunes in enough keys to be able to lead a jam in a song occasionally!

HotDamn! I think I might actually be able to play this infernal instrument passably someday!

5 comments on “It's getting easier to learn tunes”

OTJunky Says:
Saturday, October 18, 2008 @7:46:35 PM

Yup - all we have to do is keep at it....

I can forsee some days like this too. It's just sometimes hard to know how far away they are. ;-)


Rene Says:
Sunday, October 19, 2008 @5:52:40 AM

Can I come hang with you a week or so?: I'm at the "will I ever be able to just play a song I don't know" or sound like a fiddle player.

bj Says:
Sunday, October 19, 2008 @7:05:34 AM

LOL! I don't write as much about the not so good stuff on the blog. That goes on the forum in search of a solution. So you don't hear me gripe here about my spastic left fingers that don't keep time well or my left pinkie that barely works at all!

But yeah, you can hang out here anytime! I do warn you, I don't have a guest bedroom. Or I do, but people can't fit in it, it's full of vintage clothing from floor to ceiling, so you can't sleep in there, but we can have a helluva time playing dressup. So we'll have to park you on the living room floor on an air mattress. ;-) You aren't allergic to cats, are you?

And yeah, OTJ, I'm sure I'll be hitting another one of those walls soon, where everything looks impossible again, though maybe a little less impossible than 6 or 7 months ago . . .

FiddlinGrammy Says:
Sunday, October 19, 2008 @9:40:22 AM

Oh bj, I hope I am at your place some day. I feel thrilled I may have finally reached the place where bowing isn't impossible.

bj Says:
Sunday, October 19, 2008 @9:50:42 AM

Oh, FG, that's very good news! You might find that reading my blog from beginning to end will give you an idea of the odyssey I've had with *&%$# bowing. Including Scylla & Charybdis and other navigational hazards. Maybe reading it will shortcut you a bit. I hope so.

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