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A nice evening playing music with Jane

Posted by bj on Sunday, November 23, 2008

Last night Jane came and hung out with me, and brought her two "new" fiddles-- one is a balsa top wonder that I played and had fun with, and the other is the one she bought psychedelically spraypainted at the fleamarket and has managed to more or less restore to a less embarassing appearance for a self respecting fiddle. She also brought the banjo and a bunch of recording stuff. I'm housesitting, and only have one fiddle with me, my little french fiddle.

It was great playing music in a room that is acoustically interesting in a really good way, with a high ceiling and just a touch of natural reverb off the stone wall, yet enough rugs and overstuffed furniture to keep it within pleasant range, and the woodstove fire adding a nice ambience as well as that crackle hiss accompaniment. And the dog and cat stuck around for the show, despite us taking over their sleepytime lair.

It'll be interesting to see if Jane got anything worth posting off her recordings, since Murphy's Law was fully in action. The stuff we played that sounded the best happened BEFORE she set up the recording equipment. Especially Snake River Reel. What a fun tune!

I have to admit to there being just a hint of frustration when I play with Jane since she MAKES me call the tunes. ALL of the tunes (well, except when she broke into that fun rendition of Johnny Cash's Ring of Fire.) And she knows my mind goes blank the split second she says, "Okay, what tune you wanna do next?" I know why she's doing this, but that doesn't make me like it any better.

She also brought a vid of Bill Huber playing fiddle, which we watched. Definitely worthwhile watching, though I wish it had had a couple of his songs that I've been working on, so I could see how he bows them. The local oldtime scene surely lost a lot when Bill died. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and hearing him play, and I wish I had gotten to meet him. We also talked connections, and I found out that Bill was the connecting line between Jane and my teacher, Steve, who lives only three or so miles up the road from where Bill lived.

I need more of this. I need to play with other people much more often than I have been. My intonation is better with accompaniment-- it INSTANTLY adjusts itself to what's going on. I think I gotta figure out a way to make that happen. I just hope I can do it within Oldtime, but that's hard in this area, where there seems to be so little of it being played. One way or another though, it's gotta happen.

10 comments on “A nice evening playing music with Jane”

Rene Says:
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @11:36:18 AM

Sounds too fun. Glad you got to enjoy it. Sounds like the surroundings were something out of fiddle heaven.

ChickenMan Says:
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @1:43:48 PM

Isn't that the truth about intonation? When there is more happening harmonically it sure does seem easier to stay in tune.
And what I wouldn't give to have even one Old Time picker to play with. Count yourself among the lucky.
And Jane, bless her heart for making you practice thinking and whatnot :-D

bj Says:
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @1:54:10 PM

Yeah, it was nice. And these are friends I house/pet sit for on a somewhat regular basis, and who live not that far from Jane. So it's a natural for this type of get together from a few different perspectives. Better space wise (I live in a small house, and this is a huge house) and better for both of us re travel.

I find the intonation thing to be weird. How is it that my fingers just automagically make those miniscule adjustments the split second I hear what the banjo is doing? (though why I would think the banjo is in tune is beyond me . . . )

I agree Jane is right for kicking my butt about this tune memory thing a bit. I just wish she wasn't so rigid about it. Why can't we have a half hour at the end where she just rips out tunes and I do my best to keep up, or play second? I ENJOY THAT, DAMNIT! HEAR ME, JANE????? ;-)

fiddlepogo Says:
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @6:51:50 PM


So far, every Bill Huber tune recording I've heard so far (IIRC)
has had a LOT of Nashville Shuffle.
He was one of those fiddlers that manages to make Nashville Shuffle
sound VERY good.

Hey, tune memory?
Don't you know that's what tune lists are for? ;^)

bj Says:
Sunday, November 23, 2008 @7:24:23 PM

The tune list doesn't help if you can't remember which notes are associated with which title the very second someone asks you to name a tune. And the second the jam is over the knowledge returns full force. And it's NOT JUST ME, there have been forum threads and blogposts about this.

FiddlerFaddler Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @10:53:04 AM

> why I would think the banjo is in tune is beyond me

Maybe because it has frets. Not to worry: change the thermostat two degrees and its intonation will change soon enough. Change the banjo's tuning and it will change constantly for a while.

Hey Chickenman and BJ: you can play along with the MP3s post here at FHO. It's a great way to learn new tunes and hone your repertory.

bj Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @10:59:59 AM

FiddlerFaddler, I already do that, but it's not the same. Most already have a fiddle on the track. And the tracks that are just banjo or guitar often aren't the songs I wish to play or learn. Which reminds me, Jane said she'd record some backup for me.

Glenn Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @2:05:11 PM

For intonation, I used to make guitar tab/midi tracks in TablEdit and play along. Also, practice scales with an open drone string underneath or above the string you are noting. Good Luck.

bj Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @2:54:02 PM

Thanks, Glenn! I thought of doing it for myself, but despite having played guitar for years, I'm a far worse guitarist than I am a fiddler. I'll probably end up doing it anyway, unless Jane reads this and remembers she promised. ;-)

ChickenMan Says:
Monday, November 24, 2008 @3:09:36 PM

FiddleFaddler, I too play along w/mp3s (and they are a huge source of new tunes for me) but find it to be a poor substitute for live playing. I do get to pick with my BG band at least once a week, but it still isn't OT, though I have swayed them to think about doing an OT set, a trad. BG set, and then a newgrass set as a "bluegrass through the years" type of show...

My buddy Emmett used to say, "I don't need to tune this banjo, it was in tune when I bought it." :-)

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