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Fiddle Tune Repertoire Builder VRCD 109
Welcome to Voyager Recording's "Repertoire Builder" series. We believe you will find these materials useful in adding tunes and playing techniques to your repertoire. Each release in this series focuses on a theme. Some focus on certain types of tunes, traditional styles, social uses of the tunes, or particular instruments. Some focus on playing skill levels. The heart of Repertoire Builder packages is a CD with the lead instrument on the Left channel and accompaniment on the Right channel. A lead player can turn off the lead channel and play to the accompaniment channel; an accompaniment player can turn off the accompaniment channel and play to the lead channel.
While we believe it is important to learn traditional tunes by ear from traditional
players, the package also includes printed music for all the tunes in standard
notation with chords indicated. The tune versions in the Repertoire Series are
those of the musicians who performed on the CD. In most cases these will be
fairly "standard" versions, though some versions may be unique to
the particular musician. There generally is no "right" way to play
any traditional tune, so it is hoped that you will adapt the tunes to your own
style of playing after you have mastered the basic tune as presented. Most of
the time there are several ways of chording a traditional tune. The chord charts
included will work fine for the tune, but should be regarded only as suggestions,
or a start to developing your own backup styling.
The first 25 CD tracks are the tunes played at normal speed with accompaniment. Tracks 26 through 50 are the tunes without accompaniment, slowed down digitally for easier learning. Many of the repeats have been omitted in the slow versions.
The written music is merely a convenient shorthand. It is an aid in finding the notes of a tune and a reminder of how a tune goes, and can never convey all the stylistic nuances of a performance. I have not attempted to include all the accents, bowings, slides, dynamics, or variations in the written music. Any particular way of playing a fiddle tune is never "cast in concrete." It is inherent in the nature of fiddle tunes that they are always evolving, since they have been traditionally passed down through the generations by ear, and each fiddler has his or her own interpretation of the tune.
The tunes in this repertoire set are all danceable waltzes. They encompass many moods, from bouncy Scandinavian waltzes to slow, sentimental "buckle polishers." Tempos for waltzes can range anywhere from 110 to 180 beats per minute, with most of them around 130 to 140. Just because a tune is in 3/4 time doesn't necessarily make it a waltz: there are other dance forms, such as the Varsouvianna, the hambo, and the mazurka that are also in 3/4 time but are not waltzes.
Like all tunes for dancing, waltzes should be played in a way that inspires people to dance, with accents on the downbeats, clear phrasing, and "lift." Backup players especially need to give the tune forward motion, and avoid the "plodding" sound that comes from unvarying emphasis on the down and up beats.
Slow waltzes that are made up of mostly long notes can be challenging for bow control and tone production. Although some fiddlers play waltzes well using no vibrato whatsoever, vibrato is a useful tool for adding expression - and also for "cheating" on intonation!
1. A & E Waltz - Rusty Modrell was a great old time fiddler from Eastern Oregon who played for a lot of contests and dances in the 1960's. This was his signature tune, and the rumor is that he wrote it.
2. Annie Laurie - This beautiful song by Lady John Douglas Scott was first published in Scotland in 1838. It was a favorite among the miners during the California Gold Rush and was popular with both sides during the Civil War .
3. Anniversary Song - This is part of J. Ivanovici's "Waves of the Danube" waltz suite, written in 1880. In 1946 Al Jolson and Saul Chaplin wrote words to it for the hit song of the movie "The Jolson Story."
4. Black Velvet Waltz (in Bb) - The usual key for this popular Canadian
waltz is C, but Grant Lamb, a great dance fiddler and Manitoba fiddle champion
in the 1950's, suggested that I play it in Bb, and I like the way it sounds
5. Black Velvet Waltz (in C)
6. Brandon Waltz - Grant Lamb once heard a man in Brandon, Manitoba playing this tune. He never found out the name of it, so he called it the Brandon Waltz. It's mostly pretty simple; the only trick is going up to that harmonic on the high A note in the second part.
7. Cabri Waltz - Joe Pancerzewski, legendary Northwest fiddler originally from North Dakota, said that this tune was brought to North Dakota by fiddler Bill Smith from Cabri, Saskatchewan. Joe made it popular in the Northwest, and versions of it are known all over the country.
8. Country Waltz - A well-known Canadian waltz, recorded and published by Don Messer.
9. Dry River Waltz - I learned this from an old Don Messer 78 rpm recording. If you want, you can dress up the second part with a lot of double stops.
10. Emma - A popular Finnish song with Swedish words that sound like a classic country music waltz. They translate to something like "Oh my darling Emma, you promised you'd be mine forever, and then you left me!"
11. Fairweather Waltz - I wrote this tune sometime in the 1980's. It's more or less modeled after a Canadian Andy deJarlis style waltz.
12. Fairy Waltz - Joe Pancerzewski wrote this tune in the 1980's. There's nothing elaborate about it except those chromatic sliding triplets, but you do have to be able to control your little finger!
13. Fjällbruden - The "Spring Bride," a Swedish waltz which I learned from the playing of Seattle's own Fiddling John Sears of the Pioneer Trio. The alternation of major and minor keys is beautiful. There's just a little bit of third position work in the second part.
14. From Frisco to Cape Cod - The real name for this Scandinavian waltz is "Från Frisco till Cap," meaning the Cape of Good Hope. The words are about how all the girls are the same in every port in the world, and the old sheet music has a picture of a leering sailor. Some fiddlers don't play the third part, but that's my favorite part!
15. Good Neighbor Waltz - A classic waltz by Canadian fiddler and composer Andy deJarlis.
16. La Golondrina - "The Swallow," a beautiful Mexican song of farewell written by Narciso Serradel in 1862 when he was deported to France for fighting against Emperor Maximilian. Although the melody moves slowly, as a waltz the dance tempo can actually be quite fast. It's also absolutely gorgeous as a slow waltz, especially with harmony, but it's quite difficult to hold the notes long enough. It was originally written as a "bolero" in 6/8 time, which is why the pickup is over one measure long.
17. Red Fox Waltz - This waltz may have come from Missouri. Back in the 1960's it was played a lot at the Weiser contest.
18. Saturday Waltz - This waltz is popular in North Dakota and anywhere else that Scandinavians can be found.
19. Silver Wedding Waltz - Another great Andy deJarlis waltz. The hardest part is going to second position (fourth finger) for that high C note in the second line, and then playing the next three notes in tune. I usually stay in second position until the E note that comes after that, which I play open while shifting back to first position. But there might be a better way ......
20. Sir John MacDonald's Waltz - In 1967, the year of the Canadian Centennial, Graham Townsend put out an LP of original tunes named for Canadian Prime Ministers. MacDonald was Canada's first Prime Minister, and since he was born in Scotland, Townsend wrote this tune in the style of a Scottish air. I think it's one of the most beautiful tunes ever!
21. Starry Nights and Candlelight - I wrote this tune around 1983.
22. Stonetown Waltz - Before this tune had a name, I played it at the Tenino Washington old time music festival, and asked the audience for suggestions. I liked this name best, since Tenino used to be nicknamed Stonetown because of the big quarry there. If you're comfortable with double stops and third position, you'll have no trouble playing this tune.
23. Swedish Wedding Waltz - The real name for this tune is Skedvikullans Brudvals (written by John Weiland) but I've been calling it the "Swedish Wedding Waltz" ever since I learned it from Barbara Lamb decades ago.
24. Sweet Bunch of Daisies - An old sentimental song written around
1908 by Anita Owen. This is a great tune for practicing long bowstrokes.
25. Whistler's Waltz - This isn't the one with all the harmonics that
you hear at fiddle contests; it's an older tune that everyone used to play at
Weiser in the 1960's, and it's much more danceable!
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