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.

Jingle Bells

This Jingle Bells is in the key of G. That’s a better key for singing than A. On the other hand, A would allow easy use of the open E string for drones.

Then again, maybe F would be the best key for singing. I like F for fiddle tunes, but beginners are not familiar with the finger positions for this key.

This is an example of how choices always leave something behind.

Jingle Bells in Violin Tab

For printing the tune out here is Jingle Bells as a pdf.

This tune is as happy and upbeat a Christmas song as you can find. For a more devotional song, here’s a link to O Holy Night.

Indian Point by Rick Mohr

Indian Point is a jig written by Rick Mohr. It has become a popular session tune. Mr. Mohr has used a musical device in this tune that is very effective. Maybe he did not set out to do this composer’s trick, but it is a neat one.

The contour of the melody and chord progression in the A part is speeded up to twice as fast in the B part. That doesn’t mean that notes go faster. It’s the change of chords, and the arc of melody that moves faster. I hope that makes sense.

I find this jig absolutely magnetic. I love to play it.

In the first chart you find the basic tune in fiddle tab as it is published elsewhere in music notation. The second chart has some ornaments I like to use when I play the tune. Look for the pdf file for printing and the mp3 file for listening. They are below each graphic image.

Indian Point in fiddle tablature

Here is the Indian Point in pdf. This is the Indian Point MP3 file.

Indian Point in fiddle tab

Indian Point with ornaments in pdf; and the with ornaments MP3 file.

Amazing Grace Fiddle Notes and Recording

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.

Fiddle tab chart for Amazing Grace

Now here is a fragment to show the beginning with the slur covering the first three notes.

Fragment of Amazing Grace with slurring

And finally, moving into third position for during first three notes.

Fragment of Amazing Grace with 3rd position move

For the best printing results, here is a pdf of Amazing Grace.

A three minute mp3 file demonstrates the comparative sound of all this: Amazing-Grace MP3.

Let Me Out

This is one of my original tunes with an Irish fiddle flavor. I have it in the Canine medley, which includes Little Begger Dog and Old Gray Fox.

One of my challenges is to find the happy medium between the way I play the tune with maximum ornamentation, and an accessible way for intermediate fiddlers.

Since I increase ornamentation the longer I play a tune, it is a matter of going back in time. How did I play the tune when I first put it on paper or recorded it?

I put a version or two of this on YouTube.com/grassapelli a while back. I’m not sure if it matches the tab chart. Tunes mutate when I’m not looking at them.

Of all the tunes I’ve written, this is one I enjoy playing more than most. I don’t know why. It just feels good.

Fiddle tab chart for Let Me Out
Let Me Out in fiddle tab

The better to print version: Let Me Out in pdf.

Connaughtman’s Ramble

I saved space on the pages of my book by using footnotes and tidbits of tab. These one bar or less fragments were meant to be substituted when desired.

In my many years of teaching I found that substituting a fragment, or a bar, was not an easy skill for most students.

Now that I am publishing online, I don’t have to be so frugal with space. I can simply publish two or more variations of a whole tune. No need for note of foot.

Here are two versions of Connaughtman’s Ramble. This is a well known session tune. It was brought to me originally by one of my students who got it at a fiddle workshop in Boston.

Fiddle tab chart for Connaughtman's Ramble-Basic
Basic version of Connaughtman's Ramble

The pdf of Connaughtman’s Ramble-Basic.

The advanced version has rolls and grace notes. These, of course, are not graven in granite. You can use some or all.

Fiddle tab chart for Connaughtman's Ramble-Advanced

The pdf of Connaughtman’s Ramble-Advanced.

Down Yonder

Down Yonder is a good old time tune that you don’t hear so much any more. My first serious exposure to it was when I listened to the “Circle Album.”

Doc Watson asked, “How does that go, Vassar?” and away they went. That version got published by Oak Publications. Alas, it is out of print.

Scotty Stoneman’s version is in the Phillips Collection. Like Vassar’s it’s advanced and rakish, a no-holds-barred music event.

What I’m offering here is quite basic. But, there are a few tricks worth noticing.

The kickoff is a particular bow technique that requires good control of the bow while playing near the frog. Here’s the tip: Keep the bow close to the string for the repeated down-bows.

Once you get going, the plan of slurs or separate bows should feel natural and easy.

Fiddle tab chart for Down Yonder

And here is the pdf of Down Yonder.

Moscow Duck

This must be the oldest original fiddle tune that I still play. A hand draw tab was published in The Florida Fiddler newsletter a long time ago.

This update is only a little different. I don’t think I had Georgia bow in the B part, as in this version.

A special observation is the use of a high fourth finger in the B part. That stretches all the way up to an F natural. You notice the slide up and down indications, too. It’s a moaning kind of sound. Very bluesy.

Fiddle tab chart for Moscow Duck
Moscow Duck in Fiddle Tab

And here is the pdf of Moscow Duck.

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!