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Jul 26, 2021 - 10:40:34 AM
1466 posts since 7/26/2015

How much can you change before the essence of the melody is lost? I have a hypothesis that sort of follows the logic of the Traditional Tune Archive's theme code index. It's difficult to explain, but I guess that the essence of the tune is on the first halves of the downbeats, but I'm not sure about that, because "Sally Goodin" still sounds like the same tune to me, whether the "coarse part" starts on the first degree of the scale or the third. What are your thoughts?

Jul 26, 2021 - 12:46:41 PM
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1982 posts since 8/27/2008

The essence of a tune is its recognizability. That will vary among people. But when you change enough of the characteristic of a tune, be it chords, rhythm, notes, that it's not recognized as that tune, or it's easily confused as another tune, then there you go. Too much.

Jul 26, 2021 - 3:16:32 PM
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9 posts since 5/18/2019

Depends on the tune, I think.
If it's a "sequence tune" such as Blackberry Blossom or Whiskey BB, you can change a lot of the notes as long as you keep the sequence in place.

Really strong melodies can take a lot of ornamentation and variation.
I like that Texas thing of playing the variation first and then playing closer to the tune on the repeat.

With those "note-y" tunes like Sally Johnson, you sort of have to keep the general contour the same, but it gets very nebulous and another fiddler might be able to recognize what a normal lay person might not.

Jul 26, 2021 - 4:40:07 PM
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2381 posts since 10/1/2008

Well .... I guess my answer is "some but not to much" . There is playing the straight melody , then adding syncopation and some tones . Then there is weaving a pattern of tones where you return to the melody at chord changes and recognizable intervals. These pay homage to the "original" melody. Then there is playing the changes, playing scale pieces and licks where the melody is largely ignored in the interest of speed and flash. The melody becomes implied rather than stated. The best quote I have in to reference this is from the mandolinist Jethro Burns. He stated something to the effect of "If someone walks in during my solo I want them to know what I am playing". And so do I.

Jul 27, 2021 - 5:39 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2349 posts since 2/2/2008

Do you mean like some of the breaks in this performance?

https://www.facebook.com/darolfimu/videos/154992790050643

Jul 27, 2021 - 11:52:19 AM
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Swing

USA

2052 posts since 6/26/2007

There is a big difference between a variation of a tune and improvisation over a tune, but to surmise a total, well I think that 13.5 % is just about right..

Play Happy

Swing

Jul 27, 2021 - 3:15:42 PM
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DougD

USA

10269 posts since 12/2/2007
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I'd say that Darol is on a little different page than many of us here, who are fighting tooth and nail to get a few notes at the right pitch at the right time.
I think of tunes like a horizon or skyline. If I look out I can see the prominent, familiar peaks or buildings with some less recognizable ones. As long as you hit the oeaks I can recognize the tune, but when people play a tune with just one important note wrong or missing it can be annoying.
If you can play virtually any note prettty much anywhere you want, the problem becomes where do you put them, and what ones to leave out.
As far as the video that Carl linked I'll say that the Hillbillies recording has a kind of "chugging" rhythm, maybe because of the piano, and that's retained pretty well in this video. Also, Charlie Bowman played a little figure C-B-C-D-C, sometimes as part of the melody, and sometimes as a kind of puncuation at the end of a phrase, that Darol plays a few times.

Edited by - DougD on 07/27/2021 15:17:02

Jul 28, 2021 - 8:27:32 AM

gapbob

USA

771 posts since 4/20/2008

Darol has some chops, but I don't really enjoy listening to him—probably because the melody vs juicing it up aspect.

Edited by - gapbob on 07/28/2021 08:28:06

Jul 28, 2021 - 7:13:03 PM

RobBob

USA

2741 posts since 6/26/2007

Individual interpretations of tunes have lead to many variations that are referred to as, say, Byard Ray's Billy in the Lowground, or so and so's Paddy on the Turnpike. Sometimes they don't even sound like the more common tune that is called by that handle and are treated as a totally different tune. That is taking this variation business to an extreme, but then it happens. I just call them "dis-remembered tunes".

Aug 7, 2021 - 5:41:26 AM
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200 posts since 4/9/2009

quote:
Originally posted by gapbob

Darol has some chops, but I don't really enjoy listening to him—probably because the melody vs juicing it up aspect.


OTOH, that is the thing about his playing that I greatly enjoy. Added to that, his taste and the timing. 

Edited by - East Texas Fiddle on 08/07/2021 05:42:41

Aug 7, 2021 - 9:35:58 AM
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Earworm

USA

227 posts since 1/30/2018

Less is more. It seems like the thing to do is to play & learn the basic tune so much that it plays itself, focus on the basic beat, rhythm & chord choices. As embellishments creep in, play the hell out them them and see which ones stick. Then play the basic version, and it will have a little more juice to it. But it has to tell the original story.

Aug 13, 2021 - 8:01:38 PM

12334 posts since 9/23/2009

Most people could never end up with what Darol and Rushad did...lol...that's why they're them, and the rest of us are just us...lol. But artistic license is still there...just sorta on a smaller scale.

Aug 14, 2021 - 1:10:12 PM

1604 posts since 4/6/2014

I like arrangements that sound like improvisations, and improvisation that sounds like an arrangement. As long as a melody is stated, well known, or even just alluded to, i can usually go along with it as a listener. But sometimes the whole point of the arrangement/improvisation is to get as far away from the melody as possible, i can usually live with that as a listener also. i think i would like it to return to a recognizable version of the melody though, before it becomes hard work to listen to. And that would be subjective, and dependant upon a host of innumerable factors. Like whether or not i was under the influence of alcohol at the time....etc

Aug 21, 2021 - 10:41:02 PM
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52 posts since 7/30/2021

IMHO....I think every tune has a distinctive something about it, that "catches" or "sticks" in the ear...whether it's a certain run of notes, or an unexpected key change, etc. I think I figured out that if you wander around a bit for fun, but then get back at just the right moment to repeat that part that "catches" or "sticks", then it's quite satisfying.

Wandering around with no relation to the melody, is usually not as nice.
And just repeating the melody and what the people have just sung, seems to be like, "Well, I can't think of anything".

Another theory (I'm working on it!) is that the farther into the song you get, the more "far out" you can get with the breaks.
LIke, break #1 is pretty true to the tune.
Break #2 takes the tune and twists it, adds on a bit.
Break #3 is like, wild and far out, anything goes!
Curious if other people think my theory is valid? :-)

Aug 21, 2021 - 10:46:35 PM

52 posts since 7/30/2021

Swing I think actually, 14.2% may be more accurate.

Aug 24, 2021 - 6:12:23 AM

64 posts since 9/4/2007

I agree with what DougD wrote:

"I think of tunes like a horizon or skyline. If I look out I can see the prominent, familiar peaks or buildings with some less recognizable ones. As long as you hit the oeaks I can recognize the tune, but when people play a tune with just one important note wrong or missing it can be annoying.
If you can play virtually any note prettty much anywhere you want, the problem becomes where do you put them, and what ones to leave out."

When I was learning banjo I always thought of it as "making sure you get the big notes." Think that also applies to fiddle. Without those notes you're just banging away and it will pretty much sound like a washed out version of the tune after a short time. Some people are better at variation than others and pull it off, some don't. Personally, I get tired pretty quick of folks trying to turn Angeline the baker into some sort of high art form. Some folks love it.

Aug 24, 2021 - 7:10:27 AM

744 posts since 8/10/2017

I suppose if you are capable of wandering away from the tune but you have to ask how far you can wander before the tune is lost you've wandered too far.

Aug 24, 2021 - 8:49:43 AM
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2399 posts since 10/22/2007

1st time thru, play it square. They call it the head in Jazz.
2nd time through could be anything.
Remember, I'm not an OT guy. I don't even play one on TV.smiley

Aug 24, 2021 - 9:13:18 AM
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1604 posts since 4/6/2014

Grappelli used to dedicate about a bar or so to the melody.

Aug 24, 2021 - 9:32:29 AM
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19 posts since 9/22/2013

I've played for quite a few dances which lasted four hours or more. Speaking for myself, I'd go nuts if I didn't vary a tune after the first few times through it. As long as the beat stays the same and the main notes of the tune are there the dancers don't care. There's a reason medleys are popular in the contra dance community!

Sep 13, 2021 - 6:08:26 AM

GeoB

USA

24 posts since 7/22/2020

Depends on the listener's ear training.

Entertain the audience before you.

Ornette Coleman could read an audience after a time.

That time period was probably after his audience was established and anyone at the gig who was put off, didn't know Ornette.

But that was Ornette and we're not.

Sep 13, 2021 - 8:14:14 AM

Mobob

USA

171 posts since 10/1/2009

If, after hearing you play your version with variations another experienced fiddler can name the tune correctly, your probably not too far off. If not, there you go.

Sep 14, 2021 - 2:38:21 AM

2292 posts since 7/4/2007

The melody of a tune is almost always a bit arbitrary, even on tunes with vocals. I think one should try to get as close as you can to the bare bones/no frills version first. Then, that will give you an understanding of what you can and can't do to stay within the tune.

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