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Aug 12, 2019 - 10:07:22 AM
15 posts since 9/17/2017

Curious if other people make up their own fiddle tunes. I find myself just fiddlin' around and next thing you know, an hour or two has passed but I will have an A and B part. Nothing of any interest to anyone besides me. Then I got to thinking about what makes a fiddle tune a fiddle tune and what distinguished good ones and how these tunes got disseminated and if it is even possible these days to make up a tune that would endure for a couple of centuries.

But maybe there are already enough fiddle tunes.

Aug 12, 2019 - 10:31:42 AM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

There are never enough fiddle tunes!! I've made up some over the years and LOCALLY they are quite popular..I've always said that I'd like to be in my cot, late some night at a festival and hear one of my tunes being played off in the distance..
As for dissemination, just play them regularly with your friends..If they like them, the tunes may 'take'.. Who knows......There are several New Old Time albums....Maybe post your tunes here on the Hangout??

Aug 12, 2019 - 11:38:28 AM
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Swing

USA

1915 posts since 6/26/2007

It takes more than several passes to really make up a tune, at least for me. I usually find something that really interests me, such as a passage or an entire part, I build upon it. I have good friends who bear with me when introducing a new tune, so far only a couple of mediocre ones which I have dropped... improvisation really helps.

Play Happy

Swing

Aug 12, 2019 - 12:36:15 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

421 posts since 6/22/2016

I have no idea how many tunes I've made up over the years - lots of them, anyway. I'm the only one who has ever heard them, or ever will, in all likelihood - except for two or three. Those two or three are ones that I played once for other musicians, and they couldn't get to the next tune fast enough. However, when an idea for a tune comes into my head, I don't seem able to stop myself - which, in this day and age, is the only reason for composing a tune. I've heard about tune-writing contests, and I wonder why anyone would bother setting up something like that, with the endless supply of tunes that are already out there, and, as far as I can see - correct me if I'm wrong - the very limited interest in new tunes.

Aug 12, 2019 - 12:45:51 PM

1217 posts since 4/6/2014

i think of improvisation as composition without the luxury of time, or the benefit of hindsight. So on that basis, i suppose that if you can improvise well you can probably compose a tune as well ?

i reckon a few good licks could turn into a new tune pretty quickly...maybe. Whether it catches on or not is another thing, just depends on whether folk like it or not.

Aug 12, 2019 - 12:57:08 PM

1377 posts since 12/11/2008

I do it all the time. Yeah, usually I'm probably just stealing/altering a tune I've heard/learned and forgotten about but I refuse to let it worry me. I just put the fiddle under the chin and let the fingers do the talking.

Aug 12, 2019 - 2:05:55 PM

401 posts since 9/1/2010

I think it is possible to come up with a good tune that would endure the test of time. Getting it accepted and played in the community is the big hurdle.  In old-time most folks are completely focused on continuing the tradition of tunes that have been played for generations.  One may have to tell a fib about where the tune came from wink  If they think it is old and obscure it may just work....

Edited by - rosinhead on 08/12/2019 14:08:02

Aug 12, 2019 - 2:11:40 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

I think it is possible to come up with a good tune that would endure the test of time. Getting it accepted and played in the community is the big hurdle.  In old-time most folks are completely focused on continuing the tradition of tunes that have been played for generations.  One may have to tell a fib about where the tune came from wink  If they think it is old and obscure it may just work....


I may be wrong (and frequently am) but the Garry Harrison's  CD Red Prairie Dawn is all NEW old time tunes, as is the Sweet Nell CD..  Not trying to argue but  Some of the new tunes are really catching on..like Laughing Marge, and Dull Chisel... I hear those tune everywhere I go..

Aug 12, 2019 - 2:21:36 PM

Mobob

USA

118 posts since 10/1/2009

they were all new at some point.

Aug 12, 2019 - 2:32:09 PM
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Players Union Member

boxbow

USA

2394 posts since 2/3/2011

I never remember them. 'nuff said.

Aug 12, 2019 - 9:41:02 PM

15 posts since 9/17/2017

Some mentioned telling a fib about a tune so others would play it. I recall John Hartford saying that you had to tell people you learned it from some old fiddler or else people would ignore it. I was trying to think of some genres that might grow out of Old Time. New Old Time. Alternative Old Time. Progressive Old Time. Avant-garde Old Time. Jazz Old Time fusion. Maybe not.

There was mention of improvisation. I come from a lead guitar background and I think that heavily influences they way I play fiddle. Completely handicaps me trying to do fiddle vibrato but improvisation is in there for making a new tune.

I was thinking of Ashoken Farewell. (I know, it is to fiddle players what Stairway to Heaven is for Guitar players). People will probably play that for a long time but it would remain in obscurity except for the Civil War doc and people thought it was old timey.

Kinda off subject but I watched Coen Brothers True Grit recently and Rooster Cogburn sez; "I reckon I heard every fiddle tune ever played. Once they're in my head, I never forget em" . Made me laugh anyway.

People post tunes they've made up here? I thought it was only old tunes.

Aug 13, 2019 - 6:09:36 AM
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carlb

USA

2152 posts since 2/2/2008

I made up this tune and named it honor of the squirrel that defeated my squirrel proof bird feeder. It (he or she) put its claw between where the plastic window covers a square opening in the metal and hung on while it allowed the spring bar to release so it could gobble a few seeds. It then hung on to the spring bar while it ate and then released it, hanging on to the claw in the edge of the window, to allow the bar to release and gobbled up some more. It never taught any of its kids and have never seen one do that again. It was a daily occurrence for about five years.
https://www.fiddlehangout.com/song/8429

Aug 13, 2019 - 9:48:55 AM
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1217 posts since 4/6/2014

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

I made up this tune and named it honor of the squirrel that defeated my squirrel proof bird feeder. It (he or she) put its claw between where the plastic window covers a square opening in the metal and hung on while it allowed the spring bar to release so it could gobble a few seeds. It then hung on to the spring bar while it ate and then released it, hanging on to the claw in the edge of the window, to allow the bar to release and gobbled up some more. It never taught any of its kids and have never seen one do that again. It was a daily occurrence for about five years.
https://www.fiddlehangout.com/song/8429


Good tune and well played...Not that i'm an O/T aficionado, but it sounds right to me. Best thing is i know EXACTLY where it came from....smiley

Aug 13, 2019 - 12:09:57 PM

401 posts since 9/1/2010

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

I think it is possible to come up with a good tune that would endure the test of time. Getting it accepted and played in the community is the big hurdle.  In old-time most folks are completely focused on continuing the tradition of tunes that have been played for generations.  One may have to tell a fib about where the tune came from wink  If they think it is old and obscure it may just work....


I may be wrong (and frequently am) but the Garry Harrison's  CD Red Prairie Dawn is all NEW old time tunes, as is the Sweet Nell CD..  Not trying to argue but  Some of the new tunes are really catching on..like Laughing Marge, and Dull Chisel... I hear those tune everywhere I go..


I don't disagree.  I'm sure in some circles new tunes are welcomed and added to the weekly jam etc..  As for my experience, I don't see much if any of that at all.  Just a lot of traditionalist around here.  Some are what I would call "hardcore traditionalist"...these are folks that don't even attend Clifftop anymore.  Their opinion is that the vast majority of attendees that think they are playing old-time aren't really playing old-time.  It grates on them enough that they quit going.  For me, I'm not opposed to learning a newly composed old-time style tune...especially if someone I play with wants to play it.  It just doesn't come up.  It must be a regional thing to some degree.

Aug 13, 2019 - 12:17:51 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver
quote:
Originally posted by rosinhead

I think it is possible to come up with a good tune that would endure the test of time. Getting it accepted and played in the community is the big hurdle.  In old-time most folks are completely focused on continuing the tradition of tunes that have been played for generations.  One may have to tell a fib about where the tune came from wink  If they think it is old and obscure it may just work....


I may be wrong (and frequently am) but the Garry Harrison's  CD Red Prairie Dawn is all NEW old time tunes, as is the Sweet Nell CD..  Not trying to argue but  Some of the new tunes are really catching on..like Laughing Marge, and Dull Chisel... I hear those tune everywhere I go..


I don't disagree.  I'm sure in some circles new tunes are welcomed and added to the weekly jam etc..  As for my experience, I don't see much if any of that at all.  Just a lot of traditionalist around here.  Some are what I would call "hardcore traditionalist"...these are folks that don't even attend Clifftop anymore.  Their opinion is that the vast majority of attendees that think they are playing old-time aren't really playing old-time.  It grates on them enough that they quit going.  For me, I'm not opposed to learning a newly composed old-time style tune...especially if someone I play with wants to play it.  It just doesn't come up.  It must be a regional thing to some degree.


There is definitely a difference to some people between Old Time tunes and Old Time STYLE tunes..We have a good mix here and the people who are a little more 'purist' don't seem to object... I wonder how old a tune has to be before it can be called Old Time??? That might make a good discussion topic some time.    How long must a tune be a New Old Time Style tune before it is called just an Old TIme tune??

Aug 13, 2019 - 1:04:35 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

421 posts since 6/22/2016

@carlb Sounds like a good tune to me!

As others have suggested, it seems that a new tune has to be introduced by someone with some cred, and/or in a prominent way, to get any traction - someone with a following puts it on a CD, or it's picked up by Ken Burns. That's probably always been the case, to some degree. An awful lot of the good old tunes can be traced back to some commercial source, which led to their popularity - often some showbiz personality, stage show, and/or sheet music publication of tunes. There's always a chicken-and-egg question, of course - for example, the influential and popular Canadian radio/TV fiddler, Don Messer, would search out local fiddlers wherever he went, and pick their brains for new (to him) tunes. If he recorded and/or published them in one of his collections, they became widely known, and are still available today. Presumably, for every tune he glommed onto, there were a hundred he never heard, let alone rejected, and that have disappeared.

Aug 13, 2019 - 1:29:09 PM

7471 posts since 3/19/2009

A few years ago there was a group of young Old Time musicians who liked to play for our local contra dance.. Their entire dance set was "NEW" old time tunes that were written by people who they knew personally... Two of my tunes made their tune list.. I felt honored.. I suspect, ( and am usually wrong) that Many old time fiddlers have a tune or two that they made up..and unless someone is Told that the tune is new,...nobody would notice.....
If I don't know the source/age of a tune I just say it is a Corn Johnson tune.. (anybody remember him?)

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 08/13/2019 13:43:37

Aug 13, 2019 - 2:14:49 PM

1377 posts since 12/11/2008

Does it sound Old Timey? In other words, does it adhere to what the ears of aficionados (as opposed to scholars) are attuned to? Is it rhythmic and dance-able? Does the tune largely exist within an octave or less? Are there a couple of drones or unisons? Then, as far as I'm concerned why not consider it OT? Of course, when you're putting your freshly-composed Old Time tune onto this site you gotta use your computer expertise to scuff it up to make it sound as if it comes from an 1890's cylinder. Don't forget to include a lot of wow (speed/pitch instability)...

Aug 13, 2019 - 2:23:32 PM
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7471 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Does it sound Old Timey? In other words, does it adhere to what the ears of aficionados (as opposed to scholars) are attuned to? Is it rhythmic and dance-able? Does the tune largely exist within an octave or less? Are there a couple of drones or unisons? Then, as far as I'm concerned why not consider it OT? Of course, when you're putting your freshly-composed Old Time tune onto this site you gotta use your computer expertise to scuff it up to make it sound as if it comes from an 1890's cylinder. Don't forget to include a lot of wow (speed/pitch instability)...


Once when I was posting an old time tune that I was playing, instead of a 'beat' generator I just played as background music, the sound from a Clifftop video... My posting sounded just like I was at a festival, and I didn't have to leave my living room..!!!  

Aug 13, 2019 - 2:38:09 PM
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1377 posts since 12/11/2008

Great minds think alike!devil

Aug 13, 2019 - 5:12:44 PM

15 posts since 9/17/2017

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

I made up this tune and named it honor of the squirrel that defeated my squirrel proof bird feeder. It (he or she) put its claw between where the plastic window covers a square opening in the metal and hung on while it allowed the spring bar to release so it could gobble a few seeds. It then hung on to the spring bar while it ate and then released it, hanging on to the claw in the edge of the window, to allow the bar to release and gobbled up some more. It never taught any of its kids and have never seen one do that again. It was a daily occurrence for about five years.
https://www.fiddlehangout.com/song/8429


I have marveled myself at the skill and tenacity of a squirrel to get into a bird feeder.  

Good tune and name.  Let's not forget the importance of marketing in getting your tune widely played.  Start with a catchy name.  I like, I Buried My Wife and Danced On Her Grave.  My wife doesn't.

I would like to hear a sampling of other people's tunes.

Aug 13, 2019 - 8:09:36 PM
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335 posts since 8/10/2017

I have an instrument called a handpan. Most people just play improvisationally on handpans. My brain is carved to play tunes, so I gave myself a challenge to write a new tune every day for a week. Some of them came out pretty bad, some came out okay. None of them were old-time, as the handpan isn't old-time, but they had similarities. Major key, AABB structure, same amount of measures and beats as an old-time tune.

In order to get more of a handpan sound to my compositions, I decided to write a little script to auto-generate tunes. It would randomly generate one of several rhythmic structures with numbers in the slots for each beat, with the numbers corresponding to the tonefields on the pan. Sometimes they came out really good and I would write them down. That's my lame way of composing.

I sometimes play random old-time-like tunes on my strumstick, which is like a dulcimer on a stick.

Aug 13, 2019 - 8:16:31 PM
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4204 posts since 9/26/2008

Okay, since you asked. Here's an old recording of a tune called "Lookout Rock" I made while standing on a rock point looking out over the Des Moines River at the Ledges State Park. It was long ago carved out by native people to mark the sunset on the spring and fall equinoxes (the sun shine into long tunnels carved into the bluff). I play it through with several slight variations each time. 


Aug 13, 2019 - 11:10:04 PM

1217 posts since 4/6/2014

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

Okay, since you asked. Here's an old recording of a tune called "Lookout Rock" I made while standing on a rock point looking out over the Des Moines River at the Ledges State Park. It was long ago carved out by native people to mark the sunset on the spring and fall equinoxes (the sun shine into long tunnels carved into the bluff). I play it through with several slight variations each time. 


i can imagine the accompaniment on that one......Sounds like a full bass/guitar/banjo/fiddle, band.......and maybe a mando break...smiley

Aug 14, 2019 - 1:56:54 AM
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2027 posts since 8/23/2008

I make up tunes as part of my practice routine. The idea is to make up 8 bars of melody on the fly and repeat it, then make up another 8 bars for a B part and repeat that. By the time I've done that I forget how the A part went.

Aug 14, 2019 - 4:59:02 AM

4204 posts since 9/26/2008

quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry

I make up tunes as part of my practice routine. The idea is to make up 8 bars of melody on the fly and repeat it, then make up another 8 bars for a B part and repeat that. By the time I've done that I forget how the A part went.


This is essentially how I operated as a guitar player in a jam band.

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