Tag Archives: fiddle tunes

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.

E Tenn Blues, Texas Crapshooter, Beaumont Rag

Earlier this year a student came back from a summer fiddle camp. She was a little beside herself. The class was on average more advanced than she was, in her opinion.

Furthermore, she wanted to play E Tennessee Blues and the fingering was a high speed bump. She seemed resistant to the idea of using a slightly simplified fingering. Eventually, she accepted it.

Now here’s the payoff. I use the more advanced version and the simplified version in the recent album track my band created in pursuit of our album.

Here’s the link from Fiddle Hangout. You can listen for the easy or advanced lick.

The medley goes on to Texas Crapshooter, a tune I first heard from the Bobby Hicks album of the same name. I don’t use hokum in this one like he does.

Finally, on to Beaumont Rag, played in the ole time key of F. My band, the Crystal Beach String Band, likes this tune.

Directory of Tunes

  1. 8th of January, 8th of January Redone
  2. Arkansas Traveller
  3. Ashokan Farewell
  4. The Butterfly
  5. Connaughtman’s Ramble
  6. Crabs in the Skillet
  7. Dancing Tables
  8. Down Yonder
  9. Dutchman’s Pipe
  10. Ebeneezer
  11. Eclipse Hornpipe
  12. Earl’s Chair
  13. Flop-eared Mule
  14. Gold Rush
  15. Golden Slippers
  16. Great Speckled Bird
  17. How Great Thou Art
  18. Hunter’s Purse
  19. Huntsman’s Chorus
  20. In the Garden
  21. Indian Point
  22. Irish Washer Woman
  23. Jackie Tar
  24. Jambalaya
  25. Jingle Bells
  26. Julia Delaney
  27. Kilfenora’s Jig
  28. Kitchen Girl
  29. Lamp Lighter’s Hornpipe
  30. Lannigan’s Ball
  31. Liberty
  32. Little Beggar Dog
  33. Let Me Out
  34. Margaret’s Waltz
  35. Minor Swing
  36. Morpeth Rant
  37. Moscow Duck
  38. New Five Cents
  39. O Holy Night
  40. Off She Goes
  41. O’Keefe’s Slide
  42. Old Joe Clark
  43. On the Boulevard–Liz Carroll
  44. Out on the Ocean
  45. Pop Goes the Weasel
  46. President Garfield’s Hornpipe
  47. Quick Fix
  48. Red River Valley
  49. Road to Lisdoonvarna
  50. Rose of San Antone
  51. St. Anne’s Reel
  52. Shady Grove
  53. Shave and a Haircut
  54. Smash the Windows
  55. Swallowtail Jig, Swallowtail Jig Revised
  56. Ten Penny Bit
  57. Tennessee Waltz
  58. Whiskey Before Breakfast

Ten Penny Bit Rhythm Trick

There is a favorite trick fiddlers do in jigs. We change the accented rhythm to imply a time of 3-4 instead of the normal 6-8 jig rhythm.

This lasts for only a few beats. Rock players and jazz cats do this to. So did classical music composers. It’s a good trick.

In the video performance of Ten Penny Bit you will hear the trick done two times in the A part of the tune, the second time it is played.

Ten Penny Bit Rhythm Trick from Elan Chalford on Vimeo.

Why 100 Fiddle Tunes

About 100 FiddleTunes

This is an update [June 7, 2016]for the original page I wrote to introduce this music blog. The original article is just below, with a few editorial notes. Since my intention has changed a little bit, it’s good to renew my commitment.

Fiddle Tab vs Music Notation

Why tab? I use fiddle tab in my personal one on one teaching. It works well for beginners. Time after time I’ve started a beginning student on the violin, or fiddle. They take to tab charts almost as soon as they are placed in front of them.

Not that I’m against music notation. It’s a super useful skill even for a fiddler. But, let’s allow beginners to learn a few tunes before subjecting them to the difficulty of learning music notation. Typically, I use the Suzuki tunes in tab and then transition to Suzuki Book One for the music notation.

Why 100 Fiddle Tunes?

That accounts for the tab. What about the 100? One hundred of anything is a lot. It’s a powerful number. By the time you know and can play 100 fiddle tunes, you have been at it for years as a serious student. Some time back I published an account of how I played 100 fiddle tunes 100 times. Just browsing this many tunes offers a great number of tunes to select  set of 15 from.

Looking at the Directory, you can see that there have not been 100 fiddle tunes published here. It is still my goal. My personal list has over 300 tunes. I’m choosing from that list.

And, yes, I’m still learning new tunes. My most recent acquisition is President Garfield’s Hornpipe. I’m still enjoying its newness, as well as the quirky B part.

My intention now is to create tutorials for learning to play fiddle. Starting with beginner tunes and technique, I plan to go forward into more intermediate tunes and skills. If you would like to be kept up to date on this aspect of the project, be sure to register in the green sign up box.

There are a few more hoops I need to jump through to get to where I’m ready to post tutorials. Namely, setting up a membership site. I lost some time trying to use InstaMember. Now I’m trying S2Member. It looks like their support is slightly better.

What I Originally Wrote

If you saw the movie, Julie & Julia, and I recommend it, you saw the story of two inspiring motivations for success.

I have two inspirational hits from this film. One is the inspiration of Julia Childs. She was unfocused until she enrolled in Cordon Bleu to learn to cook French cuisine. That was the pivotal action of her life.

We all need some pivot to turn from just plugging along to really making a song out of our life. (Or a fiddle tune.) You’ve heard of “find your passion.” Julia Childs found hers. Everything followed from that.

The second inspiration is Julie Powell’s goal-intention-project of preparing all the recipes in Julia’s book in one year’s time and blogging about it. The ambitious, but doable project and the one year time constraint act as a wonderful motivational goad.

I did this a few years ago when I set out to play one hundred different tunes one hundred times each. [Mentioned above with a link to the appropriate article} To devote this much time to a tune about twice a week was a stretch, but not completely crazy. It raised my level of playing.

I’m choosing a similar project, but not to be done in one  year. [At this writing, I had no idea of how long this would take.] As you can see, the tunes are being published in tab fiddle format.

Since I am an improvising fiddler, the published version can only be a temporary snapshot of how I might play them in performance. [Now I can claim to be consistent in playing these tunes the same way when I teach them. It has taken time and discipline to be able to do this.]

Allow me to share a comment that came in after I got started:

This is great!  I decided around Thanksgiving that I would like to learn to fiddle.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who lent me their violin (as it was sitting in their closet collecting dust).  And now, thanks to your post, I have played my second song ever! 🙂

I love your tab style, it is very easy to read.  I was wondering if you could tell me which of your songs might be easier for a beginner to pick up?  I have already picked out Red River Valley and Amazing Grace because I know their tunes quite well.

Thanks so much.  Good luck completing your goal!  Nate