The Tennessee Waltz Fiddle Tab

The Tennessee Waltz–an Evergreen Fiddle Tune

In the 1950’s I was a child growing up in a Tampa suburb. So many things seemed strange, the Studebaker with its front and back looking the same, a huge moving billboard as you crossed the bridge to downtown, two men on a see-saw over a barrel. But, one thing seemed homey and comfortable, the sound of radios playing music from neighbor houses as I walked down the street.

Early 50'z Studebaker Taxi
Early 50’z Studebaker Taxi

The Tennessee Waltz was a familiar sound for a long time in those days, the sign of a big hit. Patti Page recorded the song in 1950 and it became a monster hit for her. Later Les Paul and Mary Ford issued a record with Little Rock Getaway on the B side. Both tunes are popular with fiddlers. The latter being a staple of Texas Contest style fiddling.

Just to put the icing on the cake, Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians had a go at Tennessee Waltz, as did Petula Clark for her UK fans.

Touching on those halcyon days of the early fifties, my good friend and neighbor, Fred Heustis used to sing it, too. (♫ I was waltzing with my darling…)

And the song survives to this day, being a favorite waltz for fiddlers. We played it at the Wednesday morning sessions in Dunedin. Tim Kennett the president of the Bay Area Fiddlers sings it in the key of C. We fiddlers like D, so we start it in D, then bump it down to C. When Tim completes the vocals we lurch back up to D and play it again. I call it the Nashville arrangement.

Here are the words:

I was waltzing with my darlin’ to the Tennessee Waltz

when an old friend I happened to see.

I introduced him to my loved one,

and while they were waltzing

my friend stole my sweet-heart from me.

I remember the night and the Tennessee waltz.

Now I know just how much I have lost.

Yes I lost my little darlin’ the night

they were playing the beautiful Tennessee waltz.

And here are the chords, first in D, then in C.

Chord chart of the Tennessee Waltz in D
Tennessee Waltz chords in D

Here is a pdf of the chord charts.

Chord chart for Tennessee Waltz in the key of C.
Tennessee Waltz–C chords

The tab chart, please.

Chart of The Tennessee Waltz in Fiddle Tab
Tennessee Waltz in Fiddle Tab

Pdf download of the tab chart click here.

Eclipse Hornpipe 2017 Solar

The Eclipse Hornpipe for the Solar Eclipse 2017

Solar eclipse viewing spectacle on sheet music for Eclipse Hornpipe
Solar eclipse: see it or play it?

You remember the solar eclipse on August 21st last year? It carved a swath across the United States of America and astrologically signified the changes from Donald Trump as President. While it was active i was playing Eclipse Hornpipe. (♫ Nothing’s Gonna Change My World.) But, tell you what, that was one powerful eclipse.

The Eclipse Hornpipe—comes from Cole’s 1000 Fiddle Tunes, which comes from Sean Ryan’s Mammoth Collection. Including this tune gives me a chance to nag everyone to swing the eighths in a  hornpipe. (I realize few fiddlers would agree with me unless they play Irish tunes, or Scottish.)

To Swing or Not to Swing

I was confronted by this issue when I attended to first Mark O’Connor Fiddle Camp. In a session led by Liz Carroll, I started playing Ships Are Sailing with a pronounced swing, just as I had many times before. Liz stopped me and said, “Oh, Elan, you don’t swing the eighths on a reel.”

When she said that I could feel several pieces of furniture being moved in my subconscious. And I’ve been intensely aware of to swing or not to swing ever since.

Now, if you don’t swing the eighths when you play a reel, when do you swing the eighths? For me that would be hornpipes and certain other dance tunes like Kilnamona Barn Dance, not to mention many swing tunes and blues pieces.

In the case of hornpipes there is a divide between how Celtic players swing then and how most American players do not. In Texas contest style you will hear any hornpipe played with straight eighths, just like a breakdown. At least, I don’t hear any difference.

You’ll hear lots of variation and triplet ornaments, but no swing. And played very quickly with a pace that is about equal to the breakdowns. If they played hornpipes with a swing it would slow them down. Maybe that’s why that part has been left behind.

Some fiddlers will swing the eighths in a waltz. I’ve heard Ashokan Farewell played that way, and I have been so bold as to counsel against it.

Waltzes have a built in swing, having a 3-4 time signature. With the strong beat on the one, and the next two beats weaker, the rhythm is good for a swing feel if speeded up enough. When it’s slow, as in Southern country waltzes, you don’t get that swing.

Faster, especially when accelerated to the degree of a Viennese waltz, you definitely feel a swinging lift to the rhythm.

I favor straight eighths in waltzes most often, but for hornpipes I favor swung eighths, even for such chestnuts as Sailor’s Hornpipe, which is often made into a race. I’ve heard it said that a hornpipe should have a swagger to it.

The pdf file for the Eclipse Hornpipe will print nicely.

One more thing: the sign up form is new. I changed email providers. If you sign up again you will receive my big incentive: The Suzuki Violin Tunes, Vol 1, in tablature. It’s just straight ahead tabs, no text. get it now before I add text and feel I have to sell it.

Milk Cow Blues

Milk Cow Blues

When you start playing this fiddle tune from the tab, be aware that the rhythm is a swing rhythm. And sometimes the first of the paired notes is the faster.

This fiddle tune has been a long time favorite of my students. Maybe everybody just loves to play the blues, I know I do.

Download the pdf file here.

The video below goes through some discussion before it gets to Milk Cow Blues. It’s what I have right now. YouTubers have asked for this fiddle tab chart, and her it is above.

Huntsmans Chorus-Fiddle and Suzuki

The Huntsman’s Chorus in Fiddle Tab

Have you ever heard a fiddle tune for the first time and said, “Whoa! That’s a fiddle tune?” That was me sitting up quickly as I head Lissa Schneckenburger play The Huntsman’s Chorus on her CD album, Dance

Before going on with the Huntsman’s Chorus I need to say that I listened to this album a lot! Then, I gave it to another fiddler. It is very well produced with some of the best arranging I’ve ever heard.

I knew the tune from Suzuki Violin Studies Vol. 1. I had been through the piece many times with students. Who knew it  was a fiddle tune? The video below is a segment of the opera that features this chorus. It’s the very thing Suzuki adapted for his violin students.

Originally it comes from an opera by 19th Century composer Carl Maria von Weber. Der Freishutz, (The Free Shooters), is the opera and this piece, whether fiddle tune or Suzuki piece, is adapted from a chorus number.

The Huntsman’s Chorus on Fiddle

Below is a clear video of a fiddle instructor showing how to play the tune. She plays it much like Lissa Schneckenburger.

The Huntsman’s Chorus on Mandolin

is another tutorial video. This time mandolin. And yet so clear I could easily follow it on the violin.

And, finally, just as you would expect, here is the fiddle tab chart for Huntsman’s Chorus.


A couple of bar lines at the end got chopped. Oh well, I’ve put off this project long enough just to get this far. Perfection will have “Take a Cold Tater and Wait.”

And, as always, here is a nifty pdf file for good printing. huntsmans_chorus Don’t hesitate to draw in the two missing bar lines!

Tam Lin Returns

The Story of Tam Lin

This retelling of the story of Tam Lin is loosely based on the version in Wikipedia. The story was so dry, I took the liberty of redoing it. The fiddle tune, Tam Lin, you may have already heard. It’s one of those hypnotic D minor tunes. I’m posting the chart just below. And the pdf is Tam Lin pdf chart.


Janet was picking flowers out on the meadow next to where she lived in a New Jersey suburb. As she moved along, occasionally taking an excellent wild blossom, she walked into a broad circular patch that had a profusion of varieties of colorful blooms.

She stopped and looked around. A man, or man like being suddenly appeared at the far end of the circle. He started walking briskly towards her.

Half way there he demanded, “Why have you come here without my permission? I am Tam Lin.” Walking closer he accused her, “You have taken what is mine without asking.”

“Oh, no. I haven’t,” said Janet “I gathered these from out there, starting at the well.”

“Hmm,” said Tam Lin, visibly cooling, “then, you may take one flower from my circle.”

Janet walked around  good while and finally selected a pink rose.

“Let me see it,” Tam Lin said reaching for it. Holding it in his hand he looked at it and laughed. “It is yours,” he said, handing it back.

Janet took the rose and walked away. Turning to look back, she saw that Tam Lin was gone.

Back home she put the flowers in a vase so that the rose was prominent. In time all the flowers wilted except the rose. That was about the same time she discovered she was pregnant.

Realizing that her visit to the meadow circle and Tam Lin had something to do with her pregnancy, she resolved to return to the circle and find a counteracting flower.

She was in the circle and about to pluck a black rose when Tam Lin suddenly appeared. Immediately she challenged him. “What’s your story?”

He replied, “Long ago, I don’t know how long in years, I was riding my horse nearby and it threw me into this circle. I was immediately captured by the queen of the fairies. They made me the guardian of this circle. But, tonight they mean to sacrifice me to their dark god. All because I let you take a flower and go.”

“Come away with me,” Janet said.

“Not that easy,” replied Tam Lin. “If you really want to help me, here’s what you must do. They will take me on the Wild Hunt tonight before casting me to the hell hounds. We will pass through this circle. I’ll be on the only white horse. When you see me you must grab me and pull me down.”

“I’m willing to do that,” said Janet.

“”But, it’s not over at that point. I will not be heavy. Pick me up and hold me very tightly. Don’t be frightened as my form changes into one beastly monster after another. Take me away from here. When I change into a burning coal, throw me into that well you passed on the way.  I will come out a man and naked.”

“Yes, I will do all that.”

“One more thing, if you would be so kind,” Tam Lin said, with a quirk to his smile, “bring me a good cloak.”

Pop Goes the Weasel

A Child’s Song, a Jig–Pop Goes the Weasel

Looking over my list of tunes in the Fiddle Tune Directory, I see a shortage of real beginner tunes. Pop Goes the Weasel is a tune requested by my younger students. It’s a jig, it’s a children’s song, but it isn’t easy. And yet, because it is so well known, it can be approachable by beginners.

Pop Goes Weasel

Let me toss in the link to the pdf file. And now continue with a little background for the song.

All around the mulberry bush,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey thought that it was a joke
Pop! goes the weasel.
A penny for a spool of thread,
A penny for a needle—
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Jimmy’s got the whooping cough
And Timmy’s got the measles.
That’s the way the story goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

It goes something like that, right? Unless you are in the United Kingdom. Their version is mostly like the way I first heard the song as sung by Anthony Newley in Stop the World I Want to Get Off.

Half a pound of tupenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop! goes the weasel

Every night when I get home
The monkey’s on the table,
Take a stick and knock it off,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Up and down the city road,
In and out the Eagle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

The Wikipedia article tells us that the song was originally a dance tune written in the early 1850’s. It was hugely popular. Words were added later. And the meaning of them has not been totally agreed on.

Just think about the cost of “half a pound of tupenny rice.” A penny, right. Rice going for two cents a pound. Talk about low prices!

Treacle is either molasses or a mixture of molasses and corn syrup. If the rice is cooked and mixed with the treacle, it’s a kind of rice pudding, I suppose.

Further into the song it gets a little more obscure. The “weasel” is part of a thread spinning machine. As the article writes, “The weasel is usually built so that the circumference is six feet, so that 40 revolutions produces 80 yards of yarn, which is a skein. It has wooden gears inside and a cam, designed to cause a popping sound after the 40th revolution, telling the spinner that she has completed the skein.”

We are not told the price of 80 yards of yarn. Do you suppose it’s a penny? Or in barter, you give me 80 yards of yarn, I’ll give you half a pound of rice. Now, those were the good old days.

As to getting up and playing the song as a jig, and why not, that’s what it was originally. The plan in the tab chart includes a left hand pluck on the E string for the “Pop” of the Weasel. I usually use my pinkie.

President Garfield’s Hornpipe

President Garfield’s Hornpipe from Sean Ryan’s

Being an election year, and the race for President being more interesting than usual, here is a blast from the past. This tune, President Garfield’s Hornpipe was first published in Sean Ryan’s Mammoth Collection of fiddle tunes, not long after the unfortunate assassination of the man elected by the people of this country.

Later almost the whole collection was republished as 1000 Fiddle Tunes by M.M. Cole. Of the two, Sean Ryan’s has the tunes in a slightly larger format, but not much. Either one is good for tracking down the oldest usable version of a common tune, as well as finding gems that have been left behind.

This hornpipe is in the key of Bb, a good key for fiddle but not found all that often. The second part of the tune is especially melodic. The descending figure over Eb, then Bb is intriguing. Maybe it’s not easy, but then it’s a hornpipe. You don’t have to play at lightning speed.

The bar that follows those two suggests an F7 chord. To me this lick feels just a little awkward. And yet the sound is completely compelling!

For printing, I recommend the President Garfield pdf. This will print better than the jpeg image.

Remembering James A. Garfield

Three quarter profile of James A Garfield
President for about 200 days.

About President garfield, the Wikipedia article says, “[He] advocated agricultural technology, an educated electorate, and civil rights for African Americans.

My belief is that he was the last elected President in favor of an educated electorate. If you think about it, a change in our culture to be supportive of an educated electorate would be a revolutionary change.

Also, I’ve read articles online that cast President Garfield into the role of an opposition to the central banking class. That position wins no popularity contests, as you probably know.

Crabs in the Skillet–Trad Irish Tune

Crabs in the Skillet in Tab

As someone who has the zodiac sign of Cancer the Crab, I should feel uncomfortable about the title of this tune. But, I don’t.

I didn’t even feel uncomfortable when playing this tune at an old time contest cost me placement in the top five. Too bad. It’s a great tune. You can hear Liz Carroll play it on the Lost in the Loop album.

This tune goes way back. You’ll find it in O’Neill’s Music of Ireland for deep traditional “cred.” Also, check Mel Bay’s Irish Session Tune Book for contemporary validation. It’s all good with this one.


As always, I like to include a pdf file for best printing: get your Crabs here

On the Boulevard–a Jig by Liz Carroll

Play a Liz Carroll Fiddle Tune from Tab Notation

When I first heard On the Boulevard from the Liz Carroll album, Lost in the Loop, It seemed merely to repeat the A part an octave higher for the B part. The similarity between the A part and the B part seemed a little redundant. It was as if the B part was a replay of the A part an octave higher. (Someone wasn’t paying attention.)

Then, I started playing the tune. When I got involved I found that the contrast between the two parts was subtle an very interesting. Now I’ve gotten to like the jig so much I play it every week. I used to  include it in the 2nd Sunday Session we have in Palm Harbor.

Maybe  you’ve heard the insensitive comment that all these Irish tunes sound alike. (Or, all these old time tunes sound alike. Or, all these fiddle tunes sound alike. You get the idea.) Let’s not be that person. Let’s be open minded that we may not appreciate a tune when we hear it, but we know that some people may like it a lot.

I got this tune from Liz Carroll’s book, Collected. It has 185 of her original tunes. When I play it as tabbed, I include a little tweak in the A part that organizes playing the first phrase four times for me. Otherwise, it is mostly as published in music notation.

On the Boulevard--Liz Carroll

The tune starts in G with a move to E minor. It resolves to E minor, so let’s say that’s the key.

For good results in printing, here is On the Boulevard as a pdf file.

The album this tune is from, Lost in the Loop, got a great deal of play in my car as I went about my rounds. I play a few other tunes from this also, including the title tune and Sevens, the first tune.

The Earl’s Chair

The Earl’s Chair–an Irish Reel Session Favorite

When I play The Earl’s Chair, sometimes I think: The Duke of Earl’s Chair. That would be a slightly Americanized version of this great Irish fiddle reel.

I first tuned in to The Earl’s Chair when I heard the Liz Carroll album, Lost in the Loop. It’s preceded by an incendiary Silver Spear, and followed by a lively Musical Priest. There’s a cool riff she does that I imitate to some extent in this tab chart.

Originally I made a music notation version of what I was teaching. That went out to the Second Sunday Session that will be meeting tomorrow.

Since then I’ve tweaked it a bit. What appears below is close to how I play it now.
Fiddle tab of The Earl's Chair

Here is what The Earl’s Chair sounds like.

This is a moderately difficult tune even at the intermediate pace of the sound file. Below is a YouTube video I made right after recording the above.

At the Second Sunday Session we play the Earl’s Chair after Silver Spear, just like Liz Carroll. Well, our Chair is more of a Lazy Boy Recliner by comparison.