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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.

huntsmans_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!

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.

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

Here is the tune played at a moderate tempo.

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!

This audio file features me playing Lannigan’s Ball as you see in the chart, then a second time with a little more ornamentation.

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.

This is what Arkansas Traveller sounds like. First time, as it appears on the page, second time, a little more freely.

 

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.