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.
The 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.