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Sep 26, 2022 - 1:35:29 AM
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DougD

USA

10964 posts since 12/2/2007

Brian Wood - I think you were asking about influences in Kenny Baker's fiddling. He was from Burdine, now considered part of Jenkins, in Letcher county, and his father and uncle (and I think his grandfather too) were old time fiddlers. But that didn't really interest him too much when he was young. Where others hear "Kentucky" in his playing, I also hear France, and wherever the Dorsey brothers were from. Here are a couple bios:
bluegrasshall.org/inductees/kenny-baker/
wilkesheritagemuseum.com/hall-...nny-baker
And here's an interesting interview with Alice (Gerrard) Foster from 1968: bluegrassunlimited.com/article...ny-baker/

As Mobob said, one of his main influences was Marion Sumner. I knew Marion, and he was a "natural" on the fiddle, if there ever was one. There's not too much about him online, but here are a couple glimpses of his skills. The first are some outtakes from a local cable access TV series that will take a little patience, but you can get an idea how good he was.
fromthevaults-boppinbob.blogsp....html?m=1
And here is a fairly lengthy piece about Marion and his long time playing partner Lee Sexton: youtu.be/0HLIieFDMI4
I'm attaching a photo of them with me playing guitar.


Sep 26, 2022 - 2:05:24 AM
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DougD

USA

10964 posts since 12/2/2007

And here's "Road to Home," which I believe was Marion's only solo album. Like Kenny, he also played guitar, and there's some of that on there too. He also recorded an album with Jesse McReynolds which is very hard to find.
youtu.be/ULKgKtR2ne4
BTW, Marion always said that his brother Bobby, who played on some of the early Stanley Brothers recordings, was the better fiddler, but he "got burnt up" in a house fire.

Edited by - DougD on 09/26/2022 02:17:25

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:48:20 AM

10717 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by The Violin Beautiful

Here’s a video that gives a lot of insight into the various styles of shuffle:

youtu.be/s8P9IOVdeYs


Great instructional video...!!

Sep 26, 2022 - 4:48:41 AM
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14110 posts since 9/23/2009

Interesting, Doug.

I was think the other day as we walked one of our usual paths in the local woods...I just looked at an old dead tree...the way it stood there from who knows how long ago...anyway, it struck me that that tree looked like Old Time fiddling to me. I looked at it and had the same feel as with some good, good in my mind, fiddling. I think this is what I was trying to say the other day...which came first, the chicken or the egg. Does stuff like the lonesome, dying, obvious and prominent remnants of tree inspire the music, or even the culture? Where's it come from...well I didn't put that so well and couldn't grapple for my words to tell my thoughts...and now we gotta run...so much to do and of course I'm making us late because I do stuff like FHO musings...lol...I didn't say it right, but we are late and now we gotta rush.

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:08:09 AM
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548 posts since 7/31/2018

uote:
Originally posted by fiddlenerd

"Blending..."  I don't have a problem with different players influencing each other. Or those who may have used shuffles.  I just don't think traditional fiddlers used/use shuffles as a lens in which to view their bowing or music making. I see little evidence of it in recordings or interviews.

I do think there are a ton of modern fiddlers who do view their bowing through shuffles or patterns. I could post example after example of videos and lessons backing that assertion.

As I said before... these discussions never end because I think there is a little evidence to refute what I'm really saying. Sure the modern shufflers may have made a mark in fiddling or helped musicians get out there playing in jams and even bands. Or the little bumpditty learned at the workshop may have been harmless... but show me otherwise.


I can't tell what you're really saying.  You were comparing Tatiana's playing of Cotton Bonnet to Bingham's. Now you're talking about shuffles. I assume you're referring to Nashville Shuffle rather than Georgia Shuffle. 

 

Tatiana is not using any short of "shuffle bowing" in that Cotton Bonnet video. 

 

Listen to her and listen to the source recording of Bingham playing Cotton Bonnet. They are actually using pretty much the same bowings. 

 

As I said before, it's not necessarily the bowings that sets one fiddler's style apart from another's. There are many factors, a big one of which is the bow stroke. 

 

Bingham is using short, choppy bow strokes whereas Hargreaves is using fuller, longer bow strokes. Their attack and energy are quite different, too. Also, Bingham is tuned low, which was usual for him. That also gives the fiddle a different sound and attack. 

 

The NS has been promoted by many violinists as a way to get a "fiddle sound." Those are the "teaching" videos I have predominantly seen on YT. It's usually a pretty bland sounding NS. There are ways to approach it differently to (in my opinion) improve its effect  There's a lot more to it than that,  however  When the underlying rhythmic pulse calls for the NS, there is no reason not to use it.  

 

Something I tell my students is that if you have to alter a tune so much in order to fit the NS (or any bowing pattern, for that matter), you might sit back and really listen to what the tune is asking for and see what else works. These are individual choices, but tunes are based on underlying rhythmic patterns. 

 

When a tune calls for NS and that's the groove you're feeling, by all means use it. A good example is the obscure version of Sourwood Mountain from Clyde Ward (Bates, Arkansas). Not only does the underlying rhythmic pulse in most of the tune call for it, but the melody with the lyrics do, too. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:24:40 AM
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Old Scratch

Canada

1087 posts since 6/22/2016

The Violin Beautiful I was exaggerating my antipathy toward audience clapping, I suppose; when I'm performing, I do prefer some kind of indication of engagement other than stone-faced concentration ("Hey, I'm not really that good; you're not going to see or hear anything worthy of that kind of attention here ... !"). But it does drive me nuts when clapping audiences lose the beat .....

Sep 26, 2022 - 7:37:46 AM

548 posts since 7/31/2018

quote:
Originally posted by fiddlenerd

"Blending..."  I don't have a problem with different players influencing each other. Or those who may have used shuffles.  I just don't think traditional fiddlers used/use shuffles as a lens in which to view their bowing or music making. I see little evidence of it in recordings or interviews.

I do think there are a ton of modern fiddlers who do view their bowing through shuffles or patterns. I could post example after example of videos and lessons backing that assertion.

As I said before... these discussions never end because I think there is a little evidence to refute what I'm really saying. Sure the modern shufflers may have made a mark in fiddling or helped musicians get out there playing in jams and even bands. Or the little bumpditty learned at the workshop may have been harmless... but show me otherwise.


Depends on the tune you're looking at. 

Try to play Rye Straw without using a Nashville Shuffle. 

Sep 26, 2022 - 8:05:09 AM
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DougD

USA

10964 posts since 12/2/2007

Here's one more from Marion Sumner from his album "Fiddle Fantastic" with Jesse McReyolds. Lee Sexton, clawhammer banjo. I believe this is an Arthur Smith tune. youtu.be/2nOFSG6ClxI

Sep 26, 2022 - 9:00:08 AM

109 posts since 3/15/2022

FidderPaul... Shuffling is part of this conversation. The shufflers can have their shuffles/predictive or predictable bowing patterns and call it what they want. I don't see Rye Straw as based on a shuffle. I see it as a melody that can be bowed many ways. I only use the word "shuffle" because it's so dominant these days. Name it Nashville or whatever. Tatiania is using highly predictable bowing I've heard many times from the modern workshop fiddlers. The larger point is that I don't believe there is much evidence that Appalachian fiddlers view fiddling from the basis of shuffle or pattern. 

Edited by - fiddlenerd on 09/26/2022 09:00:52

Sep 26, 2022 - 10:59:06 AM
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2070 posts since 4/6/2014

To my mind the rhythm(s) created with the bow are analogous to the tension and release created by the melody.

Eg, A rhythmic norm is established, then a departure from the norm to create tension, then a return to the norm to release tension.

How successful this is describes how effective their bowing strategy is to a given audience.

Sep 26, 2022 - 2:54:26 PM
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10717 posts since 3/19/2009

I cannot tell a lie. Today, I was showing my busking partner, Chance, the simplicity of a few fiddle tunes and although I don't consider myself to be a shuffle fiddler like I was in years/decades gone by, I was amazed at how much I still do shuffle, and that is neither a good nor bad thing. Seems that so many of the 'chestnut' tunes are shuffle friendly.

Sep 27, 2022 - 1:09:09 AM
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2070 posts since 4/6/2014

Personally i often find a mnemonic for a bowing rhythm in the title of a tune. Then i mess around with it, before things inevitably start going pear shaped...Hopefully.

i have had to learn to shuffle a bit, as i don't really play all that many O/T tunes. But i like it. It's kind of relaxing. And one of my go-to devices for flavouring.

Sep 27, 2022 - 4:04:59 AM
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14110 posts since 9/23/2009

Why do people trash predictability in music? I don't get it...if it seems time to go to the four, go to the shuffle, whatever...then why is it so bad to do that?

Sep 27, 2022 - 7:22:57 AM
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109 posts since 3/15/2022

There's nothing wrong with predictability in music. One of the things I like about old time fiddling is its unpredictability and quirkiness. So many styles! 
On shuffles... Observing that fiddlers don't view the shuffle as a basis for their style isn't trashing the shuffle. 

I did a deep dive into google books last night. It's quite a resource. Searching fiddle music and shuffle... in the past shuffle referred to dancing, not fiddling. However my search found a ton of books in the last 20 years that referred to shuffling in fiddle instruction.

It's a trend. Is it a good trend? My tastes say no. I think the homogenization of old time fiddle is boring. When it becomes authoritative? No thanks.

Edited by - fiddlenerd on 09/27/2022 07:27:02

Sep 27, 2022 - 7:24:43 AM
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2070 posts since 4/6/2014

It's not "Bad", it's predictable... i think folk like predictability as much as they like unpredictability.

Some like one more than the other.

Sep 27, 2022 - 10:06:37 AM

109 posts since 3/15/2022

Check out the video I just shared. I think it is Bobby Taylor's dad playing Hop High Ladies (Or whatever you want to call the tune) using a "double shuffle." Is it even a shuffle? It's certainly wild playing. Crooked. Fun. Predictable? https://youtu.be/3uP6LZ3jKLM

Edited by - fiddlenerd on 09/27/2022 10:07:59

Sep 27, 2022 - 6:12:36 PM

14110 posts since 9/23/2009

I'm wondering if our terminology is predictably, or unpredictably disparate...

Sep 27, 2022 - 6:14:24 PM
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10717 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

I'm wondering if our terminology is predictably, or unpredictably disparate...


I predicted you'd say that.

Sep 27, 2022 - 7:56:08 PM
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14110 posts since 9/23/2009

Lol...well I'll shuffle on my way then...lol.

Sep 28, 2022 - 4:09:29 AM
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14110 posts since 9/23/2009

Omg...I dreamed i went to visit Tune Weaver last night...I made another comment about that in the post where he was talking about his mechanic...

It was interesting...there was a lot of coffee, there was a lot of shuffling...lol. His family was very inviting and friendly. It was mainly predictably fun.

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:10:24 AM

10717 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by groundhogpeggy

Omg...I dreamed i went to visit Tune Weaver last night...I made another comment about that in the post where he was talking about his mechanic...

It was interesting...there was a lot of coffee, there was a lot of shuffling...lol. His family was very inviting and friendly. It was mainly predictably fun.


I musta slept through the visit!

Sep 28, 2022 - 5:45:38 AM

970 posts since 3/1/2020

I really don’t think “predictable” is a word that one should use in a negative sense when it comes to a player’s bowing or rhythm. Being unpredictable would indicate problems with keeping time or playing passages accurately and cleanly. Those are characteristics of a terrible player. A strongly established rhythm is crucial in dance music, and any group of players will need to have a cohesive sense of rhythm to play well.

Old time music is one is the most repetitive styles of music in the folk genre. The tunes are very short and are repeated over and over with only slight variations. For example, it’s considered acceptable by most to add drones or switch to a lower octave to play the melody occasionally, but if you start playing a harmonic accompaniment that departs from the melodic line, it won’t go over well. Players often describe the euphoria they feel from playing that stems from “shutting off” their brains and getting lost in a trance-like state. The music follows such regular patterns that one can easily play them without thinking.

One of the biggest criticisms that players of other styles make of Old Time music is that it’s boring because of the lack of musical variety and the repetition of a short melody over a long period of time. Another complaint is that many of the tunes sound so much alike that it’s hard to tell them apart, which makes it hard to keep them organized in the memory. Given that, accusations of predictability in fiddling seem a bit silly to me, and they come off more as criticisms of the genre than of particular players.

Sep 28, 2022 - 6:41:20 AM

14110 posts since 9/23/2009

Lee, I slept through it too, but it was fun.

I think if you expect a certain chord or limited choice of appropriate chords within the progression and somebody starts jerking the whole business around with oddball jazzy or wild unexpected chords…that’s just leaving the old time feel and grasping for the jazzy kinda thing…ok if you’re into that, but I’d have a hard time thinking of it as old time.

I think if you hear bowing that’s a shuffle, it probably fits most old time and therefore a lot of choices within that to do…but if you hear something not a shuffle and it sounds and conjures up old timiness, my idea would be it is heavily related to shuffl8ng, but to be considered a variant inspired by your time, your neighbors, etc. that’s my thought for now, unless I get back to sleep and hear Lee tell me different while I sip on his daughters coffee…lol.

Sep 28, 2022 - 6:48:44 AM
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gapbob

USA

858 posts since 4/20/2008

There is "predictable" and there is "predictable." Someone who plays a tune repetitively and then the next tune in much the same fashion can be considered predictable, which is an euphemism for "uninteresting."

Any music has its basis in predictability, the beat is coming soon, can you feel it?  Oh, wow, the beat was a little early, or a little late, or the beat was right but the violinist was able to play that note just a little bit ahead of it, but he didn't speed up the tune!  Amazing! Here comes that phrase again, but oooooh, there is a little something different in it. So the human endeavor to find patterns in things we see and hear is satisfied, but also not. But change it too much and it becomes annoying, losing the interest of players who expect that predictability, but not TOO much so. Being a good fiddler requires the ability to broaden that predictability to a point where it does not activate our "WTF is going on?" attitude and yet allows us to keep the heart of the tune in our minds.

I recall walking out on a Joan Baez concert because she was so into showing off her elegant voice, that the musicality was lost.

I dunno if "Old time music is one is the most repetitive styles of music in the folk genre." There are lots of other folk musics that are repetitive as well, it would suffice to say it is quite repetitive, but not much more than other genres, Irish, Cape Breton, Scandinavian, English, New England Contradance, but often those repetitive tunes are put together in medleys, even so far as in Cape Breton, where I know at least that some of the better players only play a tune through once, if even that much.  The variation of each tune in these genres fluctuates by the tune and by the player, sometimes driven by what the community desires to hear.


That euphoria that comes from playing the music, being in the zone—hypnotized, if you will—also occurs in dancing, especially in contradance—square dance isn't repetitive enough, in the short term, for that to happen, in my experience. English Country dance sometimes has that, also.  I find that usually, when I play a tune, I am not thinking about the tune at all, but rather day-dreaming about something else, watching something/someone, though sometimes I get into the tune and feel that something different should happen and then I do it.  Sometimes I just watch my fingers move around, somewhat amazed that they know what to do.

It can be difficult to recall tunes, especially when one develops a large repertoire, but then the tunes pop out without being bidden, so it can be ok. I used to make a list and got tired of it and it would take soooo long to try to update it.

I would say that the written, bare-bones tunes are repetitive, but a good fiddler plays it in a style that it was in before it was put onto the printed page—but how is it that they learn HOW to make it fit that style?

By exploring the music makers of the past, their personality, experiences, and how those who played in a specific style made it sound—but we are all corrupted by later influences, as were the "hallowed sources" that came before.

So highly technical fiddlers, such as Mark O'Connor, can achieve quite incredible sequences of notes, etc., but I find that I do not like to listen to them—they are so good that they can grab 95% of the tune without little to no effort, but they end up missing that 5% of tradition that makes the tune come alive.  Or they modify it beyond recognition, beyond the ability for most of us to recognize the basal repetition of the tune.

So in summary, I would say that there are no "bad tunes," just uninspired (or incapable) players. It is interesting, because when I listen to beginning fiddlers, they usually have something, some "Je ne sais quoi."

Edited by - gapbob on 09/28/2022 07:03:24

Sep 28, 2022 - 8:11:02 AM

14110 posts since 9/23/2009

I've always thought of predictable as something expected within the music or art form...and unpredictable as more or less avant garde kinda experimental stuff done by musicians or artists who suffer from ennui within their art...lol...forced creativity...not knocking it, but it just ain't old time...it may have value and be the result of highly creative people...just ain't old time.

 

Kinda like if somebody's driving and you thought they were going left, but they suddenly just turned right...and you're left like...oh gosh I didn't expect to go that way...sorta like that.  There's always artisitic liberties of course and room for wild and crazy creativity...but you might be taking a different turn than the usual old time...not necessarily bad...it might be a good thing that appeals to many people.  But it just ain't old time to my ear.  So...yeah predictability is a good thing to me...it doesn't mean monotony...it means the listenrs or other musicians can catch on to which roads you're taking them down.  It means the music makes sense from the perspective of the other musicians and listeners...I mean, unless your friends are all into jazz or avant garde or suffering from ennui, you know...then the ol' existential anxiety kicks in big time and anything goes...lol.  That's ok if that's what you're after.

Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 09/28/2022 08:17:17

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