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Jul 10, 2019 - 11:25:40 AM
4091 posts since 6/23/2007

I already play fiddle, but would like to learn to play a few tunes "Old Time" style. It would be great I wish someone sold scodatura and instructional DVDs for "Old Time" fiddling. Each tune would be sold separately - the scordatura and DVD. I would think that fiddlers who can read notation and play fiddle would take the opportunity to learn to play some of these tunes "Old Time" style.

There are books and DVDs for "Old Time" fiddling, but often most of the tunes aren't commonly played in local jams. But tunes like "Flop Eared Mule", "Mississippi Sawyer", "Liberty", etc.. are popular with musicians and listeners. I already play these tunes and more, but would appreciate being able to develop a repertoire of the tunes being played "Old Time" style.

Ian Walsh has a bunch of fiddle instructionals online and they are very good. Having a selection of "Old Time" tunes using the same teaching approach would work. When playing alone or with just one or two people, the "Old Time" style creates a more "full" and infectious sound.

Jul 10, 2019 - 12:01:43 PM
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DougD

USA

9133 posts since 12/2/2007
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What do you mean by "Old Time" style? Do you associate it with "scordatura?" The vast majority of "old time" tunes are played in standard tuning. Many fiddlers didn't (and don't) crosstune at all. Or is it some other quality? I'm just curious because there are many styles that could be called "Old Time."
If you already play some of the tunes you like, what is it about your playing that you don't think is "Old Time?"

Edited by - DougD on 07/10/2019 12:03:51

Jul 10, 2019 - 5:37:17 PM

4134 posts since 9/26/2008

I would recommend Brad Leftwich's learn to play.. Dvd, probably c volume two because you already fiddle, but maybe there are good OT tips on volume one. If I recall, you play bluegrass - y style, yes? Mostly what is different is timing and tempos. In my opinion you need to listen to OT players to get what is different.

Jul 10, 2019 - 7:04:47 PM

52 posts since 6/11/2019

Not Sure If Serious.

If you are bluegrass-tempered, like CMan says, all you got to do to sound old-time is drop the close harmony double-stops and play in 5ths or drones with passing notes.  And, stop all that jazzy 'off-beat' synchopated shuffling.

And, Flop-eared mule is traditionally key of A for A part, and key of D for B part.  (Or, if you want to throw 'em for a loop, Eb for A part, and Ab for B part)  So, you will have to develop a cadenza to play while the clawhammer banjo-ers retune between the verse and chorus, and then back.  Because in old-time, banjer players are not allowed to use all 4 of their left fingers, you know.

Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 07/10/2019 19:11:59

Jul 10, 2019 - 7:13:58 PM

10292 posts since 9/23/2009

Cross tuning is actually so much easier than standard tuning. Mainly if you get into sawmill, either AEAE or GDGD, you can play simple old time tunes in A or G, respectively, wihtout any cares...pretty easy and no need for notation or tab. You can play D tunes easily in ADAD...stuff like 8th of January takes on a cool old time sound with the drones you get there that don't exist in GDAE or even ADAE tuning. Those are really the basic two tunings you'd need to get started, and probably the most useful ones...you can tune them down more to get other keys...tune down sawmill or the D tuning to get lower keys if you want. There's other tunings too, but I think starting out with sawmill and the D tuning (I think it's called Cumberland Gap tuning) will open up a world of drones and octave--y stuff that's really fun and easy too.

Jul 10, 2019 - 7:47:36 PM

52 posts since 6/11/2019

I was mistaken on flop-eared mule. D for the A part, A for the B part.

I don't cross-tune because it is not versatile. No one carries around an instrument for G, one for A, another for modal. Guitarists hardly ever do it, pianists don't do it ever. The fiddly sound old-time players strive for is due to playing doublestops in 5ths, which is the most strident sound to the ear. You can do that without crosstuning by going up the neck (changing positions) and playing with all 4 fingers, just like any fretted instrument. But, I'd wager 90% of old time style fiddlers are uncomfortable moving out of 1st position, so they change the tuning instead.

Guitarists play moveable bar chords all the time, but fiddlers are terrified to do that for some reason.

Jul 11, 2019 - 6:00:37 AM

1577 posts since 10/22/2007

Search on Bruce Molsky

Jul 11, 2019 - 6:31:10 AM
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4134 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by Flat_the_3rd_n7th

I was mistaken on flop-eared mule. D for the A part, A for the B part.

I don't cross-tune because it is not versatile. No one carries around an instrument for G, one for A, another for modal. Guitarists hardly ever do it, pianists don't do it ever. The fiddly sound old-time players strive for is due to playing doublestops in 5ths, which is the most strident sound to the ear. You can do that without crosstuning by going up the neck (changing positions) and playing with all 4 fingers, just like any fretted instrument. But, I'd wager 90% of old time style fiddlers are uncomfortable moving out of 1st position, so they change the tuning instead.

Guitarists play moveable bar chords all the time, but fiddlers are terrified to do that for some reason.


This is way off and comes off a bit condescending, which I'm sure is not your intent. The reason for cross tuning is for a particular rich ringing droning sound that makes the fiddle sound bigger than one instrument. Some would say it makes fingering easier, but that would not be my reasoning. You'll have to convince me that you can make the tunes sound the same, particularly cross A tunes, by fingering the G and D strings, while playing on the A and E strings. One does not need multiple fiddles to do this; banjos need to retune and the fiddle can do that at the same time. I don't always retune but it is a nice change in occasion, and as DougD said, not everyone who plays old time does it. 

 FWIW I play "Flop Eared Mule" high up in G with the key shift going to D. 

Jul 11, 2019 - 6:52:54 AM
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2114 posts since 10/1/2008

https://www.concertwindow.com/erynnmarshall

Dick, Erin Marshall has an online Workshop Sunday at 1:00 pn central. She is a very good teacher. I had her one year at Kamp. It certainly won't be a waste of time.

  Insofar as what tunes , when, where ... it's always a crap shoot. I learned the 60 tunes parking lot pickers series tunes and play only a few of them regularly.

Many players are stuck in the rut of the tunes they know and won't venture out. So a jam with the usual suspects is like to yield the same tunes time after time.

Scordatura has never really interested me enough to practice it. But that's me ... I have enough trouble remembering what goes where without changing the tuning. < sigh  As a niche it definitely gives a fiddle an old timey ring and feel. Having a couple of fiddles with one tuned to GDGD or AEAE does make sense to me but I am instrument looney.  Listening to Bruce Molsky is always fun and informative. Play on Sir ..... R/

Jul 11, 2019 - 9:34:08 AM

Kid

USA

4 posts since 6/25/2009

I'm not sure what others consider "old time", but learned several DDAD tunes from Greg Canote that exemplifies old time in my mind. The DDAD tuning changes the sound of the classical violin to what I hear as coming from way back in the mountains.
You may want to check out this site for an example.

elsewhere.org/journal/archives...ad-tunes/

Jul 11, 2019 - 3:51:54 PM
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2403 posts since 10/6/2008

In reponse to a previous post:

1. Thinking of versatility, try playing something like the AEAC# Old Bell Cow out of standard. Seems to me that cross tuning opens up possibilities that standard would have a hard time imitating.

2. I don't think I've ever run across anyone carrying around three fiddles tuned in Cross A, Cross G, and standard. But I've seen a number of people tote double fiddle cases with one instrument for cross and one for standard. I did it for a while and then [relaxed sigh of relief and satisfaction] I had geared pegs installed on my good fiddle. :)

3. Am I scared to move out of first position? Not really. Am I good at moving out of first position? No. Does it bother me? No. And why is that? Because the old-time fiddle style that I am striving to play is all about the driving rhythm of the bow and I really have little need or desire to play up the neck.

Dick Hauser - Can you give us some examples of tunes you'd like to learn? When I jot down cross-tuned tunes, I write them with no thought to the pitches so they look funny (out of key) but they're easy to read. :) Maybe I have something that would be of use to you. I'm trying to remember -- is the Jabbour book written that way? I'm not home so I can't check.

Edited by - Cyndy on 07/11/2019 15:53:13

Jul 11, 2019 - 6:40:39 PM
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20 posts since 12/16/2016

Old time fiddling is many things but you have to listen and seek out the sources. And in doing that you might find yourself bit by the sound of alternate tunings. Sure, you can get the notes off the page, but the techniques that make the idiom come from listening, watching, studying the sources.
Of course there’s lots on the web and YouTube by searching out “old time cross tuned fiddle” or similar descriptions. Another great source is the Slippery Hill site which has source recordings for all of the tunes written out in the Miliner Koken Collection. And you can sort that collection by “tuning”. I recommend purchasing the book.
Marion Thede made a stab at writing down the cross tuning notation, bow direction, and accents in her collection of Oklahoma fiddles tunes in “The Fiddle Book”. And fortunately there’s a lot of recordings available of these fiddlers and tunes. But I doubt your jams will be playing any of these, though again, you can gain awareness of the idiom.
Many of us who enjoy alternate tunings like to play tunes not typically played cross tuned. Like playing our G tune repertoire all day in GDGD, playing A tunes in GDGD, etc.
Check out Paul Kirk’s TOTW series here on the hangout and his channel on YouTube and now Facebook for cross tune examples as well as tunes from the Thede collection.
I think you’ll find that once you become comfortable with the idiom you can enjoy playing in any jam whether cross tuned or in standard. And that you can take any standard notation and play it cross tuned. And yes, some tunes really ought to be played in alternate tuning.
Hope you find this useful, and enjoy many years of exploring the old time genre. Steve

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