Category Archives: General

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.”

O Holy Night

This is more of a devotional song at Christmas than a Christmas Carol. Usually it’s sung by a singer with real chops.

I got a request for this one by email. I hope I can find the message in my piles of messages so I can reply. This tune is not in my new ebook, 25 Christmas Carols in Tab. More about that is posted on the Fiddle Violin blog.

The song takes two pages. As a pdf file it’s just one file: O Holy Night pdf. Here are the images:

O Holy Night in violin tab

This has plenty of violin techniques. If you know the song, you can probably decipher the symbols. It’s a satisfying song to play. I hope you enjoy it.

Mid-year Review of 100 Fiddle Tunes

Being about half way through the year, I’m evaluating my project, 100 Fiddle Tunes. Yes, I’m behind schedule. I have been since the start.

Earlier, I thought I would get caught up as the year progressed. My ability to chart tunes more quickly would  come into play. So far, that has not happened.

It still takes about an hour to make a fiddle tab chart for a n average complex tune. That’s an hour I could be playing my fiddle. And sometimes that’s what I do instead of tab work.

The intention behind this effort shifted a bit. Originally I thought in terms of music notation for how I play the tunes. Then, in response to a request, I began focusing on tab charts.

And that’s how it should be. Brian Tracy says we should do those things that only we can do, that no one else can do. I know of no one who is drawing fiddle tab charts the way I draw them.

There are software programs that can put the fingering indications on the line, but that is not satisfying for me.

The way I draw them takes longer, but I like the uncluttered appearance. And anyway, that’s the form of tab chart I saw first in Beginning Old Time Fiddle, twenty five years ago.

I can also see that mp3 files of the tunes would be useful. Those may begin showing up soon. But, I cannot put too much time in on that and also get the fiddle tab charts drawn.

Will I get this done by the end of the year? Maybe not. but, I’ll just keep going until I have the 100 fiddle tunes up on this web site.

After that, we’ll see how many bells and whistles I can add!

Minor Swing

This has been a popular bluegrass tune since David Grisman’s Hot Dawg, if not earlier. It’s also showed up in a few movies.

Chocolat featured a Gypsy band playing the tune. Even in Julie & Julia, there was a moment of one and a half bars that had the tune playing at the cut to the wedding scene. Then, the music cut again to something else. It was an awkward moment in the film. Maybe it just slipped by.

The tune should be played with a swing feel. I’ve indicated some of the syncopation. Use more if you like.

The way I have the tune here is close to how I play it. I can make no other claim.

Fiddle tab chart for Minor Swing

The pdf for Minor Swing.

Rose of San Antone

One of my online people, Ron Bennett, asked for this tune. So, I moved it up to the top of the stack, and here it is.

The Texas swing fiddle tradition is the source of many great songs and tunes. Rose of San Antone is one. Originally played by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, it was called San Antonio Rose, (see the wiki reference to “Bob Wills’ signature tune”).

And the pdf of Rose of San Antone.