I learned this tune from the playing of Ward Jarvis on the Field Recorders' Collective release and from the recordings of David Brose, with some help from the notation in the "Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes" and this recent YouTube video of David Bragger.
I'm still trying to get the B part(s) down, but it's coming along. I appreciate any comments or constructive criticism. Thank you for listening.
EDITED TO ADD: Scroll down to hear my second take.
Edited by - Viper on 06/19/2017 09:54:50
Well, Either your fiddle is out of tune or your intonation is off. But it sounded good..keep working on it. Jerry
The first couple times through were rough,no doubt. The last couple of times through rocked. Maybe go with a bare bones version to just start? Intonation was rough at first, sure, and it was still a little dodgy at the end but much, much better and that includes the double stops. The tempo pulsed a very little bit through the first half and then settled in at the end. It sounds to me like you fought your way through it at first and then relaxed, got in the groove, and nailed it. That's when the syncopation really stood out.
Edited by - boxbow on 06/15/2017 14:10:59
Thanks guys, I appreciate the input. Recording always puts me on edge, but I definitely need to work on my intonation. Part of the problem, I think, was before recording myself, I was playing along with the Ward Jarvis recordings I have, and I heard a new wrinkle I'm still trying to figure out. I should have recorded myself first. Probably would have been smoother. More work to do! Thanks again for listening and commenting.
Well, I worked on my intonation, and I think I got the B parts figured out. Here's another crack at it. Still more work to do, but I'm happy with the improvement.
I think it sounded better than the last one. Keep working on it..it'll get there. Jerry
First of all, I think it's very cool that you are working through the Ward Jarvis recordings. I admire you for that!
Intonation--speaking in general terms from my own experience which may or may not apply to you or to others--I'd say, it comes. And goes. And comes back better. And it seems to be an upward cycle that happens over a long time. So, think about it, but maybe don't worry about it. I actually like some of the places in your recording where you're probably not quite on the pitches that would make your tuner flash green. :)
When I listen to your B part, I like the groove. It works for me.
When I listen to the A part, I think I hear a lot of sawing. That works and if you're choosing that on purpose, fiddler's choice, right?! But, if you're not, I think it would be worth the time to listen to the recording and experiment with other approaches. And, if you need ideas, maybe slow David's recording down and take a look at what he's doing?
I haven't listened to the field recording enought to be able to give you more specific feedback but I play this tune and I'm in review mode right now so I need to get back to it!
Cyndy, thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback and kind remarks.
This is my first real attempt to learn fiddle tunes by ear, so I'm trying to play what I hear. It seems once I think I have it, I hear something new. David's recording helped me get over some challenges, but to my ears he's playing the A part a little differently that how Ward plays it on the recordings I have. I'll keep listening to find ways to refine it.
Thanks again! Your comments are very helpful.
It's so hard to learn to hear! I've been back to the recording a few times since I posted and it's tough to know what's going on, especially since I think he is changing it up as he goes. Which, actually, makes it all the more interesting, right?
I've done more serious banjo listening than fiddle listening recently and my approach is the same as yours--listen, refine, and repeat.
I might start a Facebook group one of these days--for people who want to share Field Recorders' Collective listening and learning experiences. If I do, I'll message you! :)
I like to listen to as many different versions of a tune as I can find. I try to hear what is common to all of them and then the particulars of each that I like. I will usually settle on one version I like best and that is what I learn from. Later - I'll try to incorporate things I liked about the others - see if I can make it work. I'm not too concern about playing it exactly like anyone fiddler. I mean it will end up being me anyway - so what's the point? I like to think that it is all having a bit of influence on what I play.
None of this means that Ward's Version is no good - or not worth learning. I just thought I'd offer some links to other folks playing the tune if you haven't heard them.
...and there is David's video you posted (great one too)
The version of Icy Mountain I learned was from Scotty Myer playing on the CD "Improbablillies". Great recording, but there isn't a Youtube video.
Bonus Round: Natchee On The Hill is pretty much the same tune:
I learned a nice version of Natchee On The Hill by the Iron Leg Boys (no Youtube video for that one either).
Why? Just so, when I play Natchee On The Hill I would be thinking about the version I learned and not Icy Mountain - and trick myself into thinking there is a difference. But if there is one - I sure don't hear it.
I think you have the right idea. I try my best to play what I hear (no short cuts), and I never stop listening to my source. I'm always hearing new stuff I didn't hear before.
You're doing good. Don't be too hard on yourself. ...as has been said "they call it playing music for a reason."
Edited by - tonyelder on 06/24/2017 20:15:57
I'm a big fan of that Iron Leg Boys CD! For anyone who hasn't listened, it's available on Bandcamp.
Hi again, Tony!
I just went down your list of links. Nice choices! Well worth listening to!
One quick comment on one of your comments. You wrote: "I'm not too concern about playing it exactly like anyone fiddler. I mean it will end up being me anyway - so what's the point?"
I completely agree--I'm never going to be able to play anything exactly like anyone else--but for me, there is a point. :) I don't have a lot of experience studying the playing of individual fiddlers or banjoists, but the few times I've done it, I've found it to be a really satisfying way to get to know a little bit about a musician that interests me.
Maybe it's a personality thing. Seriously. If I had a choice of mingling with lots of well-known, fascinating people at a party or just sitting down to have a memorable conversation with one person I really wanted to get to know, I'd choose the latter every time!
You make a good point.
I think perhaps in some ways I do a little of that too - without it ever becoming a "stated goal" that I want to accomplish. As I said, I will always work on learning a tune from the version I like best. And looking backwards from where I am now, I can see that there are a few fiddlers, whose versions of tunes I seem to like more than others. Apparently, I like their style of playing.
Naturally, the more tunes I learn from them, the more influence their style will have on how I play everything else.
...and I also agree with you about becoming familiar with the lives of fiddlers I learn from. It may seem silly to some - but for me, it creates a personal connection to the music and the person - that would not be there otherwise. That context is important to me and gives me a greater sense of appreciation for what I am learning and playing.
Viper - I'll be interested in hearing the next tunes you learn from Ward this year. Keep after it.
Thank you Cyndy, Billy and Tony! I appreciate your comments and suggestions. I'll give them a try. Lots of good versions of Icy Mountain on YouTube, some of which I did listen to some. I'm not strict about sticking to Ward's version. As I said, David Bragger's video helped me a lot. But nobody quite captures Ward's sound. I actually just acquired a copy of the Young Fogies, Vol. 2 with the Red Mules playing Icy Mountain that I've been listening to a lot too.
And maybe you're right, Cyndy, about how he may be switching up how he bows it each time through. That's a kind of fiddle gymnastics I'm not quite mature enough to handle!
Billy, thanks for pointing out my intonation issues on the low strings. That's an area I've been working on. I'll play around with your suggested bowing patterns.
BTW, my next Jarvis tune is Tomahawk. Just started working on it last week. Thanks again for all the encouragement.
Originally posted by tonyelder
Bonus Round: Natchee On The Hill is pretty much the same tune:
I have a version of Natchee On The Hill by Emery Bailey that I need to dig out and play. From what I understand Bailey and Ward Jarvis were contemporaries and from around the same area in West Virginia. Both families moved to Ohio. Bailey's granddaughter came to our jam in Kent, Ohio, a number of years ago, and I remember her requesting that we learn and play that tune for her. I had yet to pick up the fiddle, but I know I faked my way through it on banjo. Seems like a good reason to revisit that one.