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Possible complexities of learning a tune 'these days' (variables)

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Sep 25, 2020 - 3:17:12 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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Hey, this post is for fun.. For those of you who always take me seriously... well, just sit back..
Anywayzzz.. I'm learning to play Wiley Lawe's tune.. and yes, I can play it.. I found one set of two pages of sheet music, heard the "Original'' Manco Sneed Youtube video, listened to FOUR (F-O-U-R) audios and found that ..well.. one can play it like one wants to... There IS an essence to the tune and I've decided that as long as I respect THAT (not yelling) that it all can makes sense.. The problem comes in that if I want to play the tune with another fiddler ( and one such person has challenged me to learn the tune) I have to find out what THEY are doing with the tune.. ... So, I'm saying that it is not always as easy as saying, "Hey, learn that tune.".. really.. THAT (not yelling) tune.. HAS VARIABLES....!!! What is your take on learning a tune not knowing what your fiddling friends may have learned??

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/25/2020 15:18:43

Sep 25, 2020 - 3:48:05 PM
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571 posts since 8/10/2017

I started my whole career of fiddling by learning tunes as building blocks. The simplest outline first, then fill it in. The result has been that it's not that hard to hear when someone plays a tune slightly differently than me and changing it on the fly.

I play weekly with a lady who is opposite that. She learns the tune painstakingly from either lessons or videos, trying to get every bowing pattern and every note perfect. The problem is that any video is just a snapshot in time and she cannot play the tune differently. She also is trying to copy people who are way above her skillset with the results sounding muddled and without proper rhythm. It is hard to play tunes with her.

I have to learn a lot of tunes from her because she's obsessed with learning new tunes and brings them every week. So I fall back on my basic skillset of getting an outline. If her timing is just so off or her shuffling and doublestops are so muddled that I cannot follow then I sit it out. If she sends us the video where she got the tune it's a lot easier.

Sep 25, 2020 - 5:56:44 PM
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4861 posts since 9/26/2008

You put original in quotes, but if Manco Sneed is where our modern world learned it, then his would be the definitive and where I would start. I already know that he tuned waaay down, so I probably would too in order to get the gist. Then, if it were one of those hard to follow old guys, way past his prime and his timing has gotten off, I would find a living person on the YouTubes who plays it close to the original guy and work with that.

Then, I would play the hell out of it until said friend and I get together so I could have the flexibility to change it up as needed.

But I would still try to retain the original in my bones as I do with, say "Over the Waterfall." I can and often do play it quite varied, but also quote Henry Reed often enough to remember where it came from.

Make sense? 

Edited by - ChickenMan on 09/25/2020 17:59:42

Sep 25, 2020 - 7:45:43 PM

2072 posts since 10/22/2007

Anymore, any learning of tunes is done in the jam. I get a little more each time around.

Sometimes i do play with that technical player, the type Diane refers. A tune like Red Apple Rag, me being the less skilled, but more flexible, i'll bend my version to his. As long as the phrases line up, it sounds pretty good.

If there's some tune and/or some player so discombobulated, i can either bow the chords, or lay out.

Sep 25, 2020 - 8:05:51 PM
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2232 posts since 8/23/2008

Well, if you're playing bluegrass then you take it in turns to play the tune, so it don't matter what version you play and it would sound good if you didn't play same version. On the other hand I would want the sheet music or the audio from which we all learn to play same version.

Sep 25, 2020 - 8:36:08 PM
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gapbob

USA

713 posts since 4/20/2008

I have absolutely no concerns about how others play it, I want to play it the way I want it to sound.

Edited by - gapbob on 09/25/2020 20:36:39

Sep 25, 2020 - 8:43:15 PM
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2232 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by gapbob

I have absolutely no concerns about how others play it, I want to play it the way I want it to sound.

 


Wow, have you ever played in a band..?

I remember playing a jig and they played the B part totally different to how I play it.

I played it how I wanted it to sound and boy did I get a dirty look.

Sep 25, 2020 - 9:33:06 PM
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5810 posts since 8/7/2009

I rarely learn a tune for the purpose of sharing it at at jam - especially since March.

I learn them - because I heard something I liked, and it presents a challenge. But I will play it at a jam to see if there is any interest. No problem if there is no interest... I'll still play it.

I have a good number of those kind of tunes.

Sep 25, 2020 - 9:41:32 PM
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5810 posts since 8/7/2009

Well, let me ammend my comments a bit.  In a band setting - it was always  a collaborative  effort. Most of the time we shared a common source of material.

Playing old time fiddle tunes with friends  -  I will try my best to compliment the tune others start. But if I start the tune, I will play it my way and expect everyone to follow as best that they can.

Usually works just fine...

Sep 26, 2020 - 3:22:49 AM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan

You put original in quotes, but if Manco Sneed is where our modern world learned it, then his would be the definitive and where I would start. I already know that he tuned waaay down, so I probably would too in order to get the gist. Then, if it were one of those hard to follow old guys, way past his prime and his timing has gotten off, I would find a living person on the YouTubes who plays it close to the original guy and work with that.

Then, I would play the hell out of it until said friend and I get together so I could have the flexibility to change it up as needed.

But I would still try to retain the original in my bones as I do with, say "Over the Waterfall." I can and often do play it quite varied, but also quote Henry Reed often enough to remember where it came from.

Make sense? 


I can already play the tune along with any of the videos.. am just commenting on the options available....Have you listened to the Manco Sneed field recording??  I have a transcription of it.. THAT is where I started, and that is the 'bones' of how I'm playing  it, but other fiddlers added a third part, each playing that third part a little different..and playing various nice variations on the first two parts. yada yada yada..

I'm having fun with the tune and I'm pretty good at mimiciking and playing variations. I'm just wondering how the person who challenged me to learn this tune is playing it.. We'll share audios soon..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/26/2020 03:30:47

Sep 26, 2020 - 10:42:21 AM
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gapbob

USA

713 posts since 4/20/2008

Usually they play the tune my way in the bands I've played in.

Sep 26, 2020 - 11:38:18 AM
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2643 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

Hey, this post is for fun.. For those of you who always take me seriously... well, just sit back..
Anywayzzz.. I'm learning to play Wiley Lawe's tune.. and yes, I can play it.. I found one set of two pages of sheet music, heard the "Original'' Manco Sneed Youtube video, listened to FOUR (F-O-U-R) audios and found that ..well.. one can play it like one wants to... There IS an essence to the tune and I've decided that as long as I respect THAT (not yelling) that it all can makes sense.. The problem comes in that if I want to play the tune with another fiddler ( and one such person has challenged me to learn the tune) I have to find out what THEY are doing with the tune.. ... So, I'm saying that it is not always as easy as saying, "Hey, learn that tune.".. really.. THAT (not yelling) tune.. HAS VARIABLES....!!! What is your take on learning a tune not knowing what your fiddling friends may have learned??


I think this just reflects different philosophy goals of playing music.

I don't really play much in those kind of modern sessions described, those goals. So I'm not really sure I get the dilemma? If you are all supposed to be playing like orchestra, note for note like an as written version or transcription... then why not simply ask, clarify which specific version?

What is your take on learning a tune not knowing what your fiddling friends may have learned??

This other type of playing, the way I primarily play music with others is more traditional folk approach, really don't worry about it; it's not really a problem. So you know what friends decided to play a tune simply by just listening to the actual music they are playing. Tells you what you need to know of how it goes. Don't really need to know anything else about the tune history, other versions, or some idea of definitive... or be concerned with it...   just listen to and focus on the actual music being played.

Similar, tunes I lead are from mostly as an active process than passive... that is making decisions about music qualities, how I want it to sound, reflects my own experiences, subjective tastes and ideas. Not really concerned with if conforms to as written, or if it does or doesn't sound like some recording. Others just need to listen to what I am playing. 

Sep 26, 2020 - 5:00:07 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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Alaska, there is not real dilemma... It is actually more amusing than problematical...
Just point out things/thoughts that come up when trying to learn a new tune.. How to approach the task..I have NO complaint..just observations..

Sep 27, 2020 - 8:28:09 AM

571 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler
quote:
This other type of playing, the way I primarily play music with others is more traditional folk approach, really don't worry about it; it's not really a problem. So you know what friends decided to play a tune simply by just listening to the actual music they are playing. Tells you what you need to know of how it goes. Don't really need to know anything else about the tune history, other versions, or some idea of definitive... or be concerned with it...   just listen to and focus on the actual music being played.

 

 


This is how I approach it too. I have friends who get really concerned to know "whose version" or the "original source" and all that history and I feel totally inadequate and maybe even irresponsible for not giving a rip about any of that. I just don't care. I heard it played in a jam, it went around 5 times and by the end of it I got it pretty much and now I can play along. That's all I really want out of any of this.

Sep 27, 2020 - 3:18:36 PM

2643 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver


Just point out things/thoughts that come up when trying to learn a new tune.. How to approach the task..I have NO complaint..just observations..


Okay.  Just reminded me of various comments that folks make about these jams or bands folks play in... curious as if following some code of silence???

I'm just wondering how the person who challenged me to learn this tune is playing it..

I guess my approach I would think to ask the person rather than random guess, and possibly learning something else with confusion at a jam. (or senseless debate; I do recall a few of those)

As well at a jam we might use words to explain something about the tune that might be different or unexpected... or work out some issue of notes, chords, rhythm, phasing, tempo, timing.

Similar buckhenry mentioned;

Wow, have you ever played in a band..?

Yes. We actually often use words to discuss and work out how want to play or arrange the material; and often rehearse it; discuss issues/problems. Different B part would have probably been brought up. (understandable dirty look if didn't). 

------------

I have occasionally played with some folks either who don't speak up/ask; or seem to have rules about never supposed say anything addressing how others are playing something, no matter what it sounds like. IMO, doesn't seem any advantage, or get great results. laugh

Sep 27, 2020 - 3:29:37 PM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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The person who is challenging me to learn the tune is a facebook friend who I used to jam with at CLifftop.. Her and I are communicating over the Web.. I have not heard her play the tune yet so I'm not sure 100% how to proceed.. We will hopefully remedy that soon.. .. Once I hear her play the tune I'll be able to figure out how to play along with her soze that at the next Clifftop ( should there ever be another)... We'll have a good jam.. We expect to challenge each other on other tunes . I've challenged her with Golden Chain Tree... Does this info clear things up a little..???laugh

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/27/2020 15:32:18

Sep 27, 2020 - 3:38:31 PM
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2643 posts since 9/13/2009

I guess I don't get it...  I thought you were trying to learn from someone else's  version on a recording. I was thinking why not ask her what recording? Similar why not send her a link of the version of Golden Chain Tree you learned?

If your or her unique version worked out... did you know that most smart phones can record what you play, and you can send that sound file to another person? Not great sound quality but works to learn a tune. wink

Oh yeah... something like Jamkazam, Jamulus or even Zoom works well for swapping tunes.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 09/27/2020 15:40:26

Sep 28, 2020 - 4:22:13 AM

8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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Yep... Communication can be difficult.. I did send her a copy of how I play Golden Chain Tree and she is working on that now.. As for Wiley Lawe's tune, she and I have just now decided which version we are going to focus on.. Most are similar and IMO all are good..  One nice thing I've discovered about the tune is that the bare bones version  will play along well with all but one of the videos out there..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 09/28/2020 04:23:37

Sep 28, 2020 - 2:49:10 PM

571 posts since 8/10/2017

In my opinion if you don't share recordings of some kind how can you learn the tune with someone you can't sit in the same room with?

Sep 28, 2020 - 3:27:44 PM
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8761 posts since 3/19/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

In my opinion if you don't share recordings of some kind how can you learn the tune with someone you can't sit in the same room with?


Exactly.. We will be sharing.. when we get time.. eventually, when we get around to it.. FInally, and for sure.. wink   Receiving  a 'learn this tune' challenge can be...well.. challenging..

Oct 2, 2020 - 2:31:36 PM

bsed

USA

4098 posts since 6/23/2007

I listened to the source (Manco) and I listened to a modern version (Maddie & Clarke). I'd say that M&C's version is a good representation of Manco's. So I don't know how many other versions are out there or how many other things you can do with this tune. It's a regular tune, probably a little squirrely in the rhythm

I've been learning some challenging tunes myself these last 7-8 months (bec. I love a challenge---my latest challenge is Martin's Waltz). I learn tunes that I have some connection to, or some other motivation. Maybe I want to play it at a jam, maybe I like the presenter, or I want to play a hard tune to see if I can do it, or I like other tunes that the source played (like G. Harrison), or I want to increase my repertoire in a certain tuning (I've learned a bunch of Calico tunes lately).  

But I decided that I won't learn this one any time soon because I have a backlog of tunes to learn or perfect. And, of course, I'd love to play the tune with you, Lee, but when will that be possible again?

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