Lannigan’s Ball

A Good Time at Lannigan’s Ball

A few years ago, I went to the Clearwater Library to sit in on a concert presented by the Bay Area Fiddlers. I had been out of the group for a few years. So it was that I met Anson and Pat Young for the first time.

I learned before long that they were very active in promoting the group and making sure things happened that needed to happen.

I know most of the tunes we played that day. One was new to me: Lannigan’s Ball, a sprightly jig in E minor. I faked along as well as I could and resolved to really learn the tune, because I liked it.

Now I teach it to my students, using this tab chart.

an Irish jig in fiddle tab version of Lannigan's Ball

Lannigan’s Ball, an Irish jig in fiddle tab

For printing, and sharing with others, here is a pdf chart. Now that I look at it again, as i put it online, I wish I had put in a grace note from the 3rd finger to the first finger in the second bar, and the fifth bar which has the same figure of notes. Feel free to add that ornament to Lannigan’s Ball and have fun at the ball!

Arkansas Traveler

 

Arkansas Traveler and Eck Robertson

 

Eck Robertson recorded Arkansas Traveller and Sally Gooden for Edison Records in 1922. These must have been the first recordings of fiddle tunes.

Sally Gooden was included in the Smithsonian Country Classics. The other side of the original recording, Arkansas Traveller, remains a very popular tune in fiddle jams.

ArkansasTravellerHere is the pdf file for the tune.

For another great hoedown in D, try Whiskey before Breakfast.

How Great Thou Art

How Great Thou Art

Gospel songs go best in the key someone can easily sing. For How Great Thou Art that key is Bb, in my opinion. This is a good key on violin, too. You can easily use the open strings, except for E. The third note of the scale is D, and that tunes in to the D string, helping your intonation.

HowGreatThouArtIf you haven’t played much in the key of Bb, review the scale. Start with the low first finger on the A string. Work your way through the steps of the scale, listening carefully.

You will ned to use your fourth finger for the Eb note on the A string and the Bb note on the E.

Then, start with the second finger in the low position on the G string. From there, you can use the open D and A strings in the scale.

Here is the link for the pdf chart

Another Gospel song for fiddle is the best known of all, Amazing Grace.

 

Shady Grove

One evening at a place called Ka Tiki on Sunset Beach, I was performing with the redoubtable Pete Gallagher. A man in the audience called out for Shady Grove.

It’s a short, simple tune, but that’s what he really wanted to hear so we played it as an instrumental. We didn’t know the words. It is satisfying to play: mostly pentatonic, a little bluesy, what’s not to like?

I believe we played in the key of E minor, which is easy for guitar players, and no problem for fiddlers, either. The version here is in B minor, a key that is easier, arguably, for beginners.

When I was up at the Florida Folk Festival last Memorial Day weekend, I heard a band do it in B minor. If you can sing it in that key your voice is either a little higher than average or lower. The middle range is better in E minor.

Shady Grove Fiddle TabThe fingers go where they normally would on an A scale. The notes equal the pentatonic A scale. As a minor key it would be Dorian mode. Folk fiddle tunes use that frequently for minor keys.

Jackie Tar Hornpipe in Fiddle Tab

Pardon me if you have heard this from me before: I like hornpipes to have a swing rhythm. Many fiddlers play some hornpipes with a swing feel, and others they play like a reel or hoedown.

Consider Sailor’s Hornpipe. I hear no one playing it as a swing rhythm hornpipe. Same with Fisher’s Hornpipe. Most fiddlers just blast it out as a fast reel. Well, I’m not comfortable with that.

The hornpipe you find here is usually played with a swing feel to it. In other words, it’s treated as a fiddle hornpipe. I often include it in a medley with Drunken Sailor. Now that I put these words to print, I’m thinking of including Sailor’s in the same line up. Let’s just keep it very nautical!

Jackie Tar hornpipe in fiddle tab
Fiddle tab of Jackie Tar Hornpipe

And here is a good printable pdf of Jackie Tar.

A video of Jackie Tar as a hornpipe with a swing feel.

Swallowtail Jig Revised

This morning I was with a student who was struggling with the B part of Swallowtail Jig. If you have my book, 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, you can see how it’s tricky at that spot.

For her, I changed two things to simplify the part. I changed the D# to a D natural. Most people play it that way. And I eliminated the cut getting into B part, substituting a quick bow move instead.

Some of the jigs I’ve posted here, Out on the Ocean, for example, are intermediate to advanced. This version of the Swallowtail Jig is intermediate. It’s more approachable for a relative beginner.

 

Fiddle tab chart of Swallowtail Jig
Swallowtail Jig in Fiddle Tab

The pdf of Swallowtail Jig makes a better copy.

Dancing Tables by Liz Carroll

Dancing Tables, a jig by Liz Carroll, first showed up in a collection of Irish fiddle tunes. It was in Mel Bay’s Irish Session Tune Book.

I’ve used that often to see standard versions of popular tunes. The book includes favored variations, too. It has proven itself to be a good starting place for tunes.

Recently, Liz Carroll published her own Collected Original Irish Tunes. The way the tune is published there is a bit different from Mel Bay’s.

If you like her tunes it’s a great resource. The one I’ve been learning the past week or so is Fremont Center.

Getting back to Dancing Tables, here is the tab chart.

Fiddle tab chart of Dancing TablesAnd here is a pdf of Dancing Tables.

When I went to Amazon to get a link to the Mel Bay book, I saw the reviews were a little rough. And unfairly so, in my opinion. So I added my two cents worth. Below should be the link.

A Fiddler’s Quick Fix in the Morning

One morning not long ago I woke up with a head ache. Maybe it was from staring at those little dots of music at orchestra rehearsal. Or peering at the little screen on my lap top.

I took some ibuprofen, (my drug of choice), and made coffee. As I waited for the coffee to brew I was trying to remember a Liz Carroll tune. There was something about it that haunted me. But, I wasn’t remembering exactly how the tune went or what album it was on.

As I continued trying to focus through my achy head and morning bleariness, suddenly a new tune popped into my head. I’m saying it was an instant download from the Grassapelli influence. It was just there.

I got out my fiddle and Edirol. By that time the coffee was ready, so I poured a cup. By the time I had played through the tune two times and recorded it, my headache was gone. Hence. Quick Fix.

Elan Chalford original fiddle tune, Quick Fix, in fiddle tab

And here is the fiddle tab chart in pdf.

The 8th of January Redone

This is my second fiddle tab publication of 8th of January. This version is a little easier than the previous. If nothing else it gives you more options for playing the tune.

It’s known better as the tune for “The Battle of New Orleans” by those old enough to have heard it. It’s a great story song and a powerful melody.

When I started playing it I had the idea f using only pentatonic notes for the A part. That has been preserved in this version.

The B part of the fiddle tab chart allows the use of drones and a drum like figure along with the droning. Especially on the lower two strings, you can get a good effect.

In the key of G you will find it singable, if you wish. In D, not so much.

Later, I expanded the tune into a more complex form. I call it “The Eighth,” and used to play it in a medley with “Sevens” and “9 Points of Roguery”. Thus, it was the 7, 8, 9 medley.

Presently, I prefer playing “Sevens” to round out the medley of “Potato on the Door” and “The Golden Legs.” All three tunes are from Liz Carroll.

For right now here is “The 8th of January.”

8th of January in fiddle tab

Fiddle Tab of the 8th of January

For printing the fiddle tab chart use the pdf of the 8th of January.