This is what the fiddle tab chart for In the Garden sounds like when played on the violin.
Over the years that I’ve been publishing fiddle tabs online, many fiddlers have requested a gospel song. Or just gospel songs in general. There are a few on this site.
The song In the Garden was a favorite way back in the days I attended a Spiritualist church in Tampa. I’m glad to get this one online, too.
You’ll notice that it’s in the key of Bb. That’s a good key for singing. It’s also friendly to the fiddle with the availability of the open A, D, and G strings. The relative minor key of G minor has a bunch of great tunes. From Bill Monroes’s Cheyenne to the Beatrice Reel, or Crabs in the Skillet, Bb and G minor have a lot to offer.
My favorite spot in this tune, In the Garden is where the chorus goes from an F to the Eb, a minor seventh. The interval has that yearning quality that is so satisfying in a gospel song.
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.
If 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.
The Amazing Grace fiddle notes are comments I make here, not musical notation. Fiddle notes might be tablature, but not musical notation targeted for fiddle.
Dale Morris had a very interesting approach to Amazing Grace. He talked about this when I attended the Texarkana Fiddle Camp way back when. (It was the first year of the Mark O’Connor Camp, whenever that was. I attended both.)
He said that he liked to slur notes together if they represented one word. The first word in the song is ‘amazing’. It is given one note for each syllable. Usually you hear this played with three bows. And that’s the way I’ve published the tune.
His reasoning is good and musical. If you are a beginner, though, it’s a little awkward to get the three notes together in one bow. Since I give this tune to beginners, I make it easier and more conventional.
If you are an intermediate or advanced player, you can stretch this first part out in one bow. In fact, you may choose to do a juicy shift to third position on the third note.
I’m showing the three ways of handling this beginning of the tune in the tabs below. Further along is a link to an mp3 file demonstrating the sound.
You will see an ornamented version of the song in the first fiddle tab chart. Even beginners are encouraged to push into new territory.
Now here is a fragment to show the beginning with the slur covering the first three notes.
And finally, moving into third position for during first three notes.