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May 24, 2022 - 6:09:13 AM
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carlb

USA

2469 posts since 2/2/2008

Thinking about a tune's character, I'd appreciate comments about this source recording and what's happened to the tune since.

Source recording
https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/big-scioty

A more modern version
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gyj7m0QdFkM

May 24, 2022 - 2:12:30 PM
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3161 posts since 9/13/2009
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That's not a singular what it's become, just one of the many ways people play it in modern times.

That's why folk music is awesome... it's not fixed, it's malleable, can take tunes/songs and be adapted and changed in many different ways, to suit the players, style (or genre),  time, context, subjective taste...  and incorporate own unique ideas. Those can spawn other ideas. One can listen to many diverse versions, even go back to the older sources... and decide how the want to play and arrange it.  In the big picture, boils down to accommodating subjective appeal of what sounds good in the moment.

May 25, 2022 - 2:56:39 PM
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gapbob

USA

856 posts since 4/20/2008

I guess as long as you play the first note of a measure, the last note of the measure, and play the notes where the chords change, you have a good shot at it?

May 25, 2022 - 3:01:27 PM

10516 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by gapbob

I guess as long as you play the first note of a measure, the last note of the measure, and play the notes where the chords change, you have a good shot at it?


If one were to keep a steady rhythm and play any note in the key, quietly, in a jam, nobody would know if you were playing the tune or not.. and they wouldn't care either.. Works for me every time..

May 25, 2022 - 3:30:32 PM

2127 posts since 12/11/2008

Switching a few notes around is fine. Altering the rhythm, on the other hand, can render a familiar tune unrecognizable.

May 25, 2022 - 6:41:10 PM
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10516 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Switching a few notes around is fine. Altering the rhythm, on the other hand, can render a familiar tune unrecognizable.

I attended a house concert/contra dance a while back.. Us local fiddlers took turns playing while others danced.. During one dance the fiddler played an interesting tune.. Afterwards I asked them the name of the tune.. "Soldier's Joy" was the response.. I've played that tune for over 40 years but didn't recognize it when the fiddler played it.. Then I recalled that the fiddler, while talented, has a way of PHRASING tunes that just doesn't work for me.. Another fiddler friend agrees with me that there is something we can't put our fingers on about how the person phrases tunes such that we can't recognize them..!!!

May 25, 2022 - 7:48:47 PM
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3161 posts since 9/13/2009
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I have heard players, that haven't really changed the tune; playing the right sequence of melodic notes/values... but have greatly changed the essence of the melody.

One guy esp that used show up at our jam, was a bit as Lee mentioned, would start a tune, and we can't even quite recognize what tune they are playing. (even though they learned from us or same source).

Sometimes perhaps it's more seemingly subtle nuance stuff that really help identify essence of a tune.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 05/25/2022 19:51:13

Jun 11, 2022 - 2:51:15 PM

10516 posts since 3/19/2009

This topic came to mind today while I was busking.. I was extremely tired and thought that passersby probably didn't really care if I played a notey tune or a 'sparsely' noted tune.. SO.. I chose the tune Pretty Little Indian in cross A... I tried to see how Little Fingering I could do and still feel like the tune would be recognizable. Well, I'm no Ward Jarvis but I managed to feel/hear that I was playing the tune recognizably using just ONE finger, the middle, and open strings..I pulled it off..(the tune, not the fingerwink)....I'd thought about making an mp3 of my efforts but then decided... nah!

Anyway, great topic.....I also tried that same tune just using saw strokes but the effect seemed lost..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 06/11/2022 14:52:52

Jun 11, 2022 - 3:15:26 PM
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Fiddler

USA

4216 posts since 6/22/2007

My first instrument was a mountain dulcimer. I started after I graduated from college. Why? Because I could afford it - at least the kit. It was $15, I think. I couldn't afford a fiddle at that time. But, fiddle tunes, the melodies, resonated with me. So, I started learning on the dulcimer.

Now, those who know the mtn dulcimer, know the challenge of playing a bunch of notes at tempo. So, to get the tune on to the fretboard, I started removing notes - lots of them. I got it down to the "skeleton." Once there and I knew the tune pattern, I was able to fill in the passing notes.

The result was that I basically reduced the tune to about 2 notes/measure. The tune was still recognizable at the point. In fact, I still do this when learning a tune, especially by ear. And, I use this as a variation.

As Doug pointed out, this is like finding those landmark buildings in a city that define the location. I like that analogy.

Jun 25, 2022 - 6:52:29 PM

Peghead

USA

1656 posts since 1/21/2009

I think a lot depends on the particular tune and the player's discretion. Some tunes are fragile, I think of J.P. Frailey's melodies, they collapse if you change them just a little, other tunes are more robust perhaps more generic? and lend themselves easily to variations. You could think of tunes as constellations, there are the major bright stars that define the overall shape, and there are others that you can move and still not effect the shape too much. Experience and experimentation will tell you where the tune lives and when you've gone too far. Sometimes the defining characteristic is melodic, but it could be a rhythmic thing, the syncopation, or the overall movement of the lines. One thing I've learned is to be very cautious when going above the highest note of the "established" melody or at least be sure that if you do, it fits well. For some reason when you do that it's like upstaging the melody and is noticeable to the ear. It can quickly sound like improv. JMHO.

Jul 4, 2022 - 11:46:50 AM

10516 posts since 3/19/2009

Today while busking I was thinking of a jam mate who always looks like he is only hitting every third note.. So.. because my left hand was Tired... I tried to minimize the number of notes is several tunes and still keep the tunes recognizable.. I don't normally play that way, but it is comforting to know that one need not hit every note.. Many tunes are forgivable...

Jul 4, 2022 - 1:17:46 PM
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Mobob

USA

222 posts since 10/1/2009

Bill Monroe used to do that in his later years, he called it deconstructing a tune.

Jul 7, 2022 - 8:59:15 PM

Kye

Canada

126 posts since 3/16/2017

Was going to comment as others have. The first page of comments seem to be about adding / dressing a tune up. Comments on the page lean the other way in minimizing a tune. It also makes me think of tune books. I've picked some up, excited to finally fully unlock the mystery of a tricky tune, only to find it has an 'easy version. One idea to play with, can you play a tune and just hit the chord notes? Or the key arpeggio? I'll have to try tommorow, but I'm curious how that would work. In my mind, it's similar to guitar. When they just play the chord changes. Ive always wondered how that could be fun.

Jul 7, 2022 - 9:13:59 PM
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3161 posts since 9/13/2009
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quote:
Originally posted by Kye

...One idea to play with, can you play a tune and just hit the chord notes? Or the key arpeggio? I'll have to try tommorow, but I'm curious how that would work. In my mind, it's similar to guitar. When they just play the chord changes. Ive always wondered how that could be fun.


It would not likely really produce recognizable melody of the tune.

It can work as "accompaniment" chordal harmonization... similar to a guitar. This is idea behind seconding.

Melodies overall are not just chord changes, or key arpeggios (though bits of melody might be).

Sep 3, 2022 - 4:59:34 AM

103 posts since 9/4/2007

Quoting from gapbob: "I guess as long as you play the first note of a measure, the last note of the measure, and play the notes where the chords change, you have a good shot at it?"

In general, I think this works if you are playing along, but not if you are leading the tune.

Leading the tunes at sessions is different and leading clearly and with a solid version (particular version doesn't matter) of the tune is important. In the past I have thought I knew tunes and then when asked to lead them at sessions, folks would ask what they were or worse yet look completely confused and lost.

A more experienced and better fiddler introduced me to the idea of leading through tunes once or twice more slowly and very clearly. I found that when I did that the tune communicated to the other people at the session much better. Based on that experience I now figure I don't really know a tune and won't lead it until I can play it slow and clear so that others can make out the tune.

I think it's easy for fiddlers, usually beginning ones, to have the tune in their heads and they hear their playing as being the complete tune when that really isn't the case. Tuneweaver's experience with Soldiers Joy is a good case in point. (Though that does sound like the player has played for a long time, so won't go to far out on a limb on that one.)

Sep 23, 2022 - 6:17:03 PM

10516 posts since 3/19/2009

This topic has come to mind lately when I've been busking. Sometimes I get physically tired..and try to entertain myself by taking out as many notes as possible in a tune to actually find the essence of that tune..Try it some time. I've noticed that booklets containing sheet music for beginners are very good at finding a bare-bones version of a tune. There is a place for that.
The OP might be rephrased to be, "How much can you ADD before you have lost the essence of a melody?"laugh

Oct 20, 2022 - 5:35:13 PM

2317 posts since 7/4/2007

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.


If that isn't a joke, what a ridiculously stupid and mean spirited thing to say.  Every fiddler has "some chops" and every person's tastes are different.

I personally love to listen to any fiddler with decent time and intonation.  Darol Anger has both of these in spades.  I hope posts like that don't discourage him from posting more here.

Oct 20, 2022 - 6:05:40 PM
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795 posts since 8/10/2017

There have been arguments among jam friends who insist we have butchered a tune and are not playing it right at all and should just stop playing if we're not going to do it right. I asked them to play it how it's supposed to go. They just put more notes in, that's all. You can play our "wrong" way at the same time as their "right" way and it's the same tune, just fewer notes and fewer double-stops.

I find nobody at our jam can figure out what the hell you are playing if you start a tune full of double-stops and you don't put the accents in the right place, you don't give it that swing it's supposed to have. If you leave out the fancy stuff you think has to be there, maybe you can git it the lift it's supposed to have and be a better player.

A friend of mine used to say just get the "square" of the tune. You can fill in the rest later. That's how I've always done it. I haven't always filled in the rest later, though.

Oct 20, 2022 - 8:49:26 PM

gapbob

USA

856 posts since 4/20/2008

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenbanjo
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.


If that isn't a joke, what a ridiculously stupid and mean spirited thing to say.  Every fiddler has "some chops" and every person's tastes are different.

I personally love to listen to any fiddler with decent time and intonation.  Darol Anger has both of these in spades.  I hope posts like that don't discourage him from posting more here.


Sure, he has those in spades, but not every fiddler has "some chops."  He is good, like Mark O'Connor is good, like Richard Greene is good, but I have found that the styles they play is beyond what I enjoy.  They can play circles around me, without even trying.  I've not really listened to Darol in 35 years, mostly because it was on vinyl, and haven't sought him out on the internet, I probably should give him and Richard another listen, but i'm old and curmudgeonly about what I want to listen to—just like I mentioned that Perlman's playing in the album "in the fiddler's house" left me wanting more, it did not feel right to me.  My wife bought tickets to see Mark O'Connor on my birthday years ago, and I was quite disappointed, since he was somebody I had always had a lot of respect for, even awe.

This is me describing my musical taste, not that the players are bad—mostly it is about me thinking that someone's playing is beautiful and I'd like to be able to play it that way.

it is ironic that you have done the same thing, written about me being "stupid and mean-spirited," when I was being judgmental about what i choose to listen to and want to learn..  I suppose that might have hurt Darol's feeling, but that was not my intent, nor was discussing what I perceived as a polyrhythm style an incrimination of the playing of Tatiana Hargreaves, though she might take it that way, which again is not my intent.

Similarly, I once bought James Joyce's book, Ulysses.  I threw it away without finishing it, I did not see the brilliance that many conferred on it.

Edited by - gapbob on 10/20/2022 21:11:58

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