Tag Archives: Irish fiddle

Irish Washer Woman

About a decade back, I was playing regularly at retirement homes. The only jig ever requested was Irish Washer Woman.

I had noticed that many collections of American fiddle tunes included Haste to the Wedding. That being the only jig in a collection of hoedowns, you would think it a popular tune. No one ever asked for it.

One of my string colleagues reminded me why Irish Washer Woman is popular, especially with people just a little older than me. It was thematic in a John Wayne movie, The Quiet Man.

Playing Irish Washer Woman as often as I do, I got in the habit of abbreviating it I.W.W. This amused me also because the same letters stand for the now defunct workers’ union, International Workers of the World. People used to ridicule the organization saying the letters stood for “I Won’t Work,” or “I Want Whiskey.”

My last comment: I really play the tune in F when I do it with a medley that starts with Scatter the Mud, goes to Kilfenora Jig, then to I.W.W. But the rest of the world plays it in G. That’s what we have here.

The pdf of Irish Washer Woman.

Off She Goes in Tab

Here’s yet another jig with updated endings. That original idea was economical, but confusing. This way is the standard approach in music notation for endings and repeats. Let’s go with it!

And Off She Goes pdf.

In the present edition of 43 Fiddle Tunes in Tab, I have ornaments as inserted alternatives to certain bars. When I get that sorted out, I’ll post it.

The Hunter’s Purse, an Irish Reel in Music Notation

Even today a purse is not just a small bag for carrying money. It can be the prize in  a contest.

The hunter may think of his quarry as a prize. But a animal taken by the hunter may not fit into a small bag. The hunter’s purse may be the small bag he made out of the hide of his catch.

Purse also means to draw the lips together like the mouth of a purse with the strings tightened. This is what the hunter does when his game escapes.

An Irish reel

Also, here’s the Hunter’s Purse pdf.

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