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Jun 6, 2020 - 8:54:51 AM
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RichJ

USA

325 posts since 8/6/2013

Cross tuning is getting more interesting for me daily so today I decided to tackle Greg Canote's "Obama's March to the White House". In the past when I tried learning this tune I used to fight cross tuning and struggled to play it in standard. I usually gave up after a few days. Today I tuned down the top E to C# on my already cross A tuned fiddle and away we went. I had the guts of the tune pretty well down after a half hour and now working on the best sounding drones to work in. Like most tunes I learn by ear, it's gonna' take another week or so of messing around with this tune before it's ready for prime time, but that's mostly fun once basics are in the memory bank.

I'm mostly a by ear player, but it helps me to know where the notes are. As I mentioned in a previous post yesterday on this subject , cross tuning moves those notes around. I've been making diagrams of note locations for various tunings and today did a couple for comparisons of standard tuning and cross A and another one for cross A and Calico. I found these helpful in figuring out the best fingering for OMTTWH today so I'm passing these along to see what others think.

Jun 6, 2020 - 9:48:22 AM
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4653 posts since 9/26/2008

Great tune to get that tuning under your fingers.

Jun 6, 2020 - 10:02:15 AM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Nice diagrams for gathering thoughts together, Rich!

I understood them, fortunately...lol...my primary "mode" of thought (sort of a lousy pun there) in regard to tunings and where the notes lie is by intervals...which, somehow, I learned to think in early on and so that's what stuck with me over the years or centuries...hahaha...well, I'm not that old yet, but getting there. Anyhow...for me, Calico has been the toughest cross tuning to work with.

I guess, interval-wise, the fiddle is usually tuned in perfect intervals...perfect fifths or sometimes perfect fourths like in C.Gap type tuning. This is how guitar is too...it's backwards from a fiddle in standard, starting with the...umm...lemme think, the 3rd string from the bottom...that's a g, right? Then if you continue upward, you get a per 5th, like fiddle, so you get a d...then, on up to an a, then the string up on top, which is lowest in pitch, is an e...so you have backwards fiddle standard tuning if you start on those top four strings on the guitar...eadg...backwards per 5ths make per 4ths.

I always used the sound of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, or the ABC Song, to hear per 5ths as I was growing up and playing guitar...so, if you tune a fiddle to standard, from the G string to the D string it sounds like Twinkle Twinkle...same for the next three strings...per 5ths apart. However, when you tune the guitar to its standard tuning...your going from per 4th to per 4th,, since it's upside down per 5ths and that's just what happens to them...I learned the sound of per 4ths as the opening of the old song they used to sing at weddings...Here Comes the Bride...a perf 4th is the sound you get from the word , "Here," to the word, "Comes, etc." So...well I just forgot my point here...lol.

Ok well anyway, whatever else I was gonna say, I was gonna get to the ultimate point I was thinking of which was that in Calico tuning you get a different interval thrown in there...not a per 5th and not a per 4th...it's a major third, that last string, the high string is. That throws a wacky sound that's kinda hard to deal with, although genius to work with. This is the same thing guitar has...it has the per 4ths...E,A,D,G...then you get thrown for a loop with the next string...a major third (I think it's a B)...that's the string that ALWAYS sounds off pitch no matter how much you tune it.

Banjo has the same issue in standard tuning. Yet, that major third thrown in there allows all kinds of possiblilities on guitar...I mean, without it, you just couldn't do all the unbelievable stuff with chords on a guitar. It's totally genius that somebody somewhere along the way thought to throw that in. Although it also causes the most difficulties.

So my other final point...lol...sorry, I'm taking a long time to get there...is that for me, Calico has been the toughest to deal with. For years I wouldn't touch it, and I'd go ahead and play typical Calico tunes in Sawmill tuning (AEAE, GDGD, etc.). I finally came to grips with Calico and started playing some things more comfortably there...Cherry River Line, Piney Woods, etc. Yet to try Black Mt. Rag...but I am sure it was another stroke of genius somebody thought to throw in that major third in there, but it hasn't struck me yet, like guitar or banjo...so...I'm still in the state of exploration and trying to get comfortable with Calico tuning...just adding my thoughts to this.

How's it going for you in that tuning, Rich?

Jun 6, 2020 - 11:46:51 AM
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RichJ

USA

325 posts since 8/6/2013

Completely agree with you Peggy on the "funny" stuff going on with the C# string in Calico. Genius is one way to describe the guy/gal who started tuning this way but I'm guessing it was that special. sweet drone blending with stuff going on with the next door A string. One of the problems for me with it though is those exact same, 4 notes on the A string (C#, D, Eb, and E). (BTW - I should have put an Eb on that string instead of a D# which is the same note but might confuse some).

As far as how it's going, i'd say pretty good and as I mentioned above I have the tune pretty well down, but still need to work out a lot of the kinks going on with the drones. One of the things I have come to realized about cross tuning is that it actually can help intonation. Playing what ever note is going with that open (hopefully correctly tuned) string next to it has to be right...otherwise what's supposed to sound twice and good will sound twice as bad. (ha,ha)

Edited by - RichJ on 06/06/2020 11:47:27

Jun 6, 2020 - 12:07:30 PM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Haha...yeah, true. Either get sweet sounds or something-way-off-sounds...lol. Would love to hear it when you're ready to post it. i don't think I've ever heard the tune...I guess it's been called by various names of presidents Marching to the Whitehouse...I've heard of George Bush Getting Upstairs, etc., but I don't actually know how any of the tunes go. Hope I can hear you play it one of these days.

Jun 7, 2020 - 4:31:42 PM
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4 posts since 3/8/2018

Greg Canote has an entire CD of Calico tunes. I sold him his "Calico" fiddle that he keeps tuned there.

Marcus Martin was recorded playing a tune that he called the name of as, "Calico", and it is in this tuning, and I think that it why many call this cross-tuning by that name.

Jun 7, 2020 - 6:17:11 PM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Interesting, Luthier65! So cool that Greg Canote plays one of your fiddles!

Jun 8, 2020 - 1:20:20 PM
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4 posts since 3/8/2018

Not one I made. It's one of those edgeless fiddles labeled Rigat Rubus, St Petersburg, though i swear that I've never seen one that wasn't German!
It has been adorned with paintings done by Greg over the years, some inspired by dreams and such. Greg is quite the visual artist as well as aural.

 

Old Man Gone by Sumaia Jackson




Edited by - luthier65 on 06/08/2020 13:29:57

Jun 8, 2020 - 1:43:20 PM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Cool!

Jun 8, 2020 - 3:38:02 PM

WyoBob

USA

105 posts since 5/16/2019

I got to watch the Canote Brothers play at the CROMA festival in Berthoud, CO last year.  I also went to one of their talks.   Really nice guys, very approachable and they always look like they really enjoy playing with each other and for others.

One of my favorite tunes of theirs and one that gets played quite often at our old time jam is "Sadie at the Back Door".   I can play it on the banjo.  Haven't tried learning it on the fiddle yet.

Jun 8, 2020 - 3:56:34 PM
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4653 posts since 9/26/2008

I'm going to post this here rather than on your "sound off."

You mention drones in your original post, yet you only play a couple in the audio post. For me, the big thing about calico tuning is that you can drone against everything! And that tune in particular screams for open strings.

Another reason for the open drones is you can nearly constantly check your pitch against them.

Jun 8, 2020 - 6:11:21 PM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

I don't know much about the Canote Brothers, but I did hear some podcast or something one time I think somebody linked or somehow I got a hold of it...the music was really good and the humor was just fun. Very creative...yeah they sounded like nice guys who enjoyed what they were doing.

Reminded me of what we've got here in KY, only there's no fiddling, just banjo and guitar...and they aren't really brothers...lol...but they're called "The Moron Brothers."  They're on KY PBS stations quite a bit and I've also seen that there's a lot of them on youtube...funny and weird...good musicians.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 06/08/2020 18:13:15

Jun 10, 2020 - 11:39:26 AM
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RichJ

USA

325 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I'm going to post this here rather than on your "sound off."

You mention drones in your original post, yet you only play a couple in the audio post. For me, the big thing about calico tuning is that you can drone against everything! And that tune in particular screams for open strings.

Another reason for the open drones is you can nearly constantly check your pitch against them.


Yes, I realize that upload was pretty skimpy on the drones. As I mentioned in the post that accompanied the upload, it was pretty rough since I only learned it a few days before recording. The Presonus thing is also pretty new to me and I need more practice with it so a second upload is in the works... stay tuned.

Oh yeah, I agree 100% on your comment about cross tuned drones helping with intonation on the melody strings. If you're right on with intonation the drone makes it twice as good. If your intonation is off.... well, you know where I'm going with this.

Jun 10, 2020 - 8:03:24 PM
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4653 posts since 9/26/2008

The Presonus. Use it a lot, even if you don't listen. Like the fiddle, that sort of thing takes practice if you are to be comfortable with it.

I just posted an old video I made of another Greg Canote calico tune called "Hickory Smith." It is a good one; you should check it out smiley

Jun 11, 2020 - 4:34:35 AM
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RichJ

USA

325 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

The Presonus. Use it a lot, even if you don't listen. Like the fiddle, that sort of thing takes practice if you are to be comfortable with it.

I just posted an old video I made of another Greg Canote calico tune called "Hickory Smith." It is a good one; you should check it out smiley


Reluctantly bought into the Presonus thing. Groundhog Peggy's posts and YT uploads perked my initial interest, but then I figured, what the heck I only play the fiddle, what good would something like this be for me. After fooling with it now for a couple of weeks, I'm glad I took the plunge, mainly because it's giving me the opportunity to really listen to my playing...what I like and mostly what i don't like. Hopefully I can improve on the latter with time, effort and practice...all the stuff I've been doing with the fiddle for the last 9 years.

Re: "Hickory Smith" -  I know the tune and like it a lot. It's definitely on the "to learn" list  The stories that go with many of Greg Canote's tunes are just as much fun and the tunes.

Jun 11, 2020 - 4:44:54 AM
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10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Rich, don't forget, the Presonus also gives you the chance to try some twin fiddling or even triples. Try it...it's fun...some of the simplest little tunes (boil 'em cabbage down, etc.) are so much fun to try twin fiddling with. Also, I've even enjoyed doing fiddlesticks with my playing...of course it takes two to use fiddlesticks...one to tap the sticks on the fingerboard while the other is playing the tune. You have to be in cross tuning, and it works best on old fiddle tunes that don't have any complicated chord progressions...kinda like you'd hear a lap dulcimer playing on. How I've done it, jjust my own way, was to record my fiddle part and then on another track, take something like chopsticks and hold the fiddle on my lap and just lightly tap along...gives you a cool, old funky sound. I've also sometimes resorted to just clapping my hands along with the fiddle on a separate track, although I've found that sounds best if you make about three tracks of hand clapping...it doesn't sound right with just one "person" clapping along. If you do this kind of percussive stuff, you do have to make sure you're far enough away from the mic and keep the volume as even as you can so you don't do some bad clipping in there.

Our dogs like to sing along, but I do discourage that...lol. They always find a way, though.

Jun 11, 2020 - 4:53:26 AM
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10900 posts since 9/23/2009

Chickenman, I remember that tune! Your fiddling is very nice...cool tune. I guess those Canote boys really like Calico tuning a lot. I've tried to use it more, but just haven't know that many tunes to use it on besides Cherry River Line (which someobdy on FHO told me to try), Black Mt. Rag (which I really can't play...lol) and Piney Woods...I think that's all I know...oh yeah, forgot, Drunken Hiccups...that's pretty much it. Nice job on that Canote tune though. Do you find yourself using Calico much?

Jun 11, 2020 - 9:47:18 AM
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4653 posts since 9/26/2008

I have six or seven tunes I play that are calico but don't have my list here to confirm how many.

Jun 11, 2020 - 11:58:58 AM
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RichJ

USA

325 posts since 8/6/2013

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

I'm going to post this here rather than on your "sound off."

You mention drones in your original post, yet you only play a couple in the audio post. For me, the big thing about calico tuning is that you can drone against everything! And that tune in particular screams for open strings.

Another reason for the open drones is you can nearly constantly check your pitch against them.


Hi again Bill - Decided to take another whack at the Personus and  "Obama's March", this time trying to work more drones in. Was going to re-post on Sound Off, then decided to do it here. Still lots of room for improvement.  Started messing with "Hickory Smith"  earlier today. Seems like a relatively easy tune to latch on to, but will wait awhile before posting. Also listened to a few versions of "Piney Woods" which I really like. So, it looks like there's plenty to keep my ole' Calico fiddle busy for awhile. 


Jun 11, 2020 - 4:24:29 PM
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DougD

USA

9609 posts since 12/2/2007
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I guess you folks are aware of the Canote's CD "Calico Pie" canote.com/listen-buy/
Back in my day this tuning was probably most widely known just as "Black Mountain Rag" tuning, because that was about the only tune played that way (except maybe "Drunkard's Hiccups").
I was at Port Townsend fiddle tunes in 2004 with my friend Lee Sexton. For our afternoon band lab we were trying to teach a clawhammer tune and a fingerpicked tune. People got the clawhammer tune pretty easily, but the fingerpicked tune was really a challenge. The Canotes were hosting a session "Uke Till You Puke" in the late afternoon and a couple times I stopped by and sat in the back to enjoy it. I saw a couple of our students whose faces I'd seen screwed up with concentration ttying to learn our tune, now smiling easily, enjoying playing the ukulele. So there you go.

Jun 11, 2020 - 7:05:47 PM

10900 posts since 9/23/2009

That sounds pretty wild, Doug...lol.

Tune sounds good, Rich.

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