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Fiddlers, who's CD do you recommend learning by ear?


Yankee Fiddler
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I have this love/hate thing going w/ Natalie MacMaster... I enjoy her music so much, I keep setting out, determined to learn one piece after another, then stop when I fall soooo short! But I keep returning and learning...

Played through the whole Ken Burns Civil War CD today w/ a friend a couple times (exept for the brass band tunes..we just chuckled through those).

-bonsai

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Yankee,

Right now I'm convinced that Terry Morris is God and Benny Thomasson is pretty close to divine, so I'm listening to them and trying to make some kind of sense out of what I hear. Terry's cd "For the Record" and Benny's "Say old man can you play the Fiddle" are good starters. On a Bruce Molsky kind of note, Rafe Stefanini's "**** and Scissors" is clean and pretty. In a way it reminds me of Molsky's work. A fine old timey fiddler from Kentucky I've been listening to is Owen "Snake" Chapman who has some good cd's out on Rounder. Benny is on the Voyager label and Terry's work is available from his brother Dale in Texas. Rafe is also a Rounder artist Danny

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I would agree that Molsky’s CD is clean and that an accomplished fiddler could learn

some of those tunes. However, I would suggest that you give the older recordings a listen as well. By that I mean the same source that Molsky uses. He is a follower of the Round Peak style fiddle and for that you need to spend time listening to Tommy Jerrell just as he did. Bruce also plays some really good Kentucky tunes the Hammond family recorded

There is an Old Time fiddle teacher named Brad Leftwick and he has several recordings and instructional video’s that you can learn tunes from. If you will go to this web site you can find a wealth of information about fiddle music and the people who play it. www.oldtimemusic.com

David Lynch host the site and he is a pretty good fiddler in his own right.

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I don't know much about American old time music, but I second crosstuning's point about listening to old recordings. Don't restrict yourself to the modern masters, listen to the players they listened to. There's a 1950s recording just reissued which I'm dying to get hold of - Paddy Canny and PJ (father of Martin) Hayes, amongst others.

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Martin Hayes is from County Clare and plays in a slightly slower (on some tunes), more lyrical style than the more northerly Irish styles we often hear most. I believe he is considered an East Clare fiddler; his father was too.

Martin now lives in Seattle.

If you have any budget left for cd's, consider getting some of his. I especially like his live album because of the energy, though, having heard him in person, it doesn't recreate even half the incredible energy of his performances. But I also love Under the Moon, which has a Mel Bay book where someone sat down and transcribed the tunes from the cd.

I have played them in the car so much, I don't need the book!

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Hello, friend. I am much like you. I learned by ear. This involved countless hours recording a fiddle tune I wanted to learn. Not to mention, countless hours playing and then rewinding the song until I learned various parts.

Well, today there are some really cool things out there that can help you. A few months ago I downloaded a demo of a computer programm called "Musician's CD Player". You can check it out here: http://www.ronimusic.com/muscdpl.htm

Its a really cool program. It slows down music (from a CD for example) without changing the pitch of the song. You can also slow it down up to 600%. Its really helpful for learning those really fast licks. You should get this, my friend. It has saved me lots of time, and has allowed me to learn more songs and licks.

Hope this helps smile.gif

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That is some great info about the program. I have been looking for something like this.

Yankee: I am going to start working on learning the tunes from Bach Meets Cape Breton. It's an incredible CD, with loads of cape breton music on it, and a few classics mixed in the tune set. It's amazing! It's the best thing I've purchased so far!

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I always liked the lighness and fun in the Pre WW2 fiddlers. I will occasionaly get a free MP3 of something that I have to learn! other times I leave the track on play and never learn it. There seems to be no logic to it!

A good example is Dr Gilbert's Reel, for yonks I sawed at it because I liked the look of the Tune on the Staff, it runs about in a nice hilly way, any case one day I heard Andy Mc Gann do it an realized I was wasting time - I needed to get a Bowing and get serious. This I did. Later I heard Coleman do it and once again realised how badly I played it! So again set about getting a better sound.

There is a sort of intuitive Bowing to this Tune, I never did write it out but I must!

Hi Simon smile.gif

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I read music. I don't have a teacher and by learning some music off CD's I can also learn playing style from some very incredible players.

Learning staight from the page can sometimes come out a little cold. I think of Celtic music as being more of an oral tradition. There's nothing wrong with learning written music and I have learned lots of it, but if I have an opportunity to hear someone play the tune I'm learning or hear it on a CD it helps me too.

Yankee Fiddler

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The problem dmgardner, with learning fiddle tunes from printed sources is that by and large the printed sources are wrong. Or to be more precise they are innacurate.

There is no authority on what the "correct" version of a fiddle tune is. The "correct" version is whatever version the largest number of people in your immediate sorroundings agree on.

I have several fiddle books and there's a standard disclaimer in all of them that says "the written version is only an approximation of what the tune sounds like". These books most often come with tapes (thank goodness) so you can truly get what the author is trying to convey.

If you want to learn a tune, the way it's *really* played by certain cultures then you have to learn it by ear.

Capebrettoner's do not bow their jigs exactly the same way tradish Irish do.

French canadians don't play their reels exactly the same way anyone else does.

Sure, the tunes are still 4/4 and 6/8 but the subtle differences in rythm just cannot be written down.

Sheet music is great when you don't have a recording of the tune you want. But if you have a recording, i'd say you are better off learning from it, than from sheet music.

I've learned too many tunes from sheet music and I wish i'd stuck with learning by ear a lot more. IMHO in traditional music you are far better off cultivating your skills at learning by ear, than by learning to read music.

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quote:

Originally posted by newfie:

Hey toasty,

I'am also learning Dr.Gilbert's reel which is a wicked tuned. Andy Mcgann is great I love listening to him. You should check out John Vesey:The Sligo Fiddler, his cd is great, almost like coleman but you can hear the subtle changes in the music a lot better than on the coleman cd set(better recording).

Thank You Simon - I have listned to John, very food fiddler, notice he has a great Posture which may explain his great sound!

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quote:

Originally posted by toasty:

I always liked the lighness and fun in the Pre WW2 fiddlers. I will occasionaly get a free MP3 of something that I have to learn! other times I leave the track on play and never learn it. There seems to be no logic to it!

A good example is Dr Gilbert's Reel, for yonks I sawed at it because I liked the look of the Tune on the Staff, it runs about in a nice hilly way, any case one day I heard Andy Mc Gann do it an realized I was wasting time - I needed to get a Bowing and get serious. This I did. Later I heard Coleman do it and once again realised how badly I played it! So again set about getting a better sound.

There is a sort of intuitive Bowing to this Tune, I never did write it out but I must!

Hi Simon
smile.gif

Hey toasty,

I'am also learning Dr.Gilbert's reel which is a wicked tuned. Andy Mcgann is great I love listening to him. You should check out John Vesey:The Sligo Fiddler, his cd is great, almost like coleman but you can hear the subtle changes in the music a lot better than on the coleman cd set(better recording).

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Yes, Dr Gilbert's is a good tune. I got it from a Paddy Glackin CD "In Full Spate" I think. That John Vesey CD is well worth getting hold of. There are mp3 files available of a number of whole tracks here: http://www.blueskiesink.com/vesey/

I had to hunt about for that address, in the course of which I came across a site with some terrific mp3s. I can't believe I missed this before, especially with such an obvious URL: http://www.irishfiddle.com/

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A while back, I had the pleasure of spending a day with oldtime fiddler Dr. Woody McKenzie from Lynchburg, Va. He played a bunch of tunes, taught me a few and we had a great time. I later received a cd in the mail from him. He recorded all the tunes that he played for me that day. His wife accompanied him on the piano. The best part is that he plays them all at about 3/4 speed and repeats them several times.

george

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Yankee, I see your point about wanting to hear other players to hone the sound. Have you ever tried going to workshops. I have worked with Elke in the past at some outdoor festivals with my group, The Virginia Company. In conversations with her, I know she has a fiddle workshop in Northern Virginia. Also, a fellow I work with in Colonial Williamsburg, John Turner, has a Scottish fiddle camp every year in July. In fact, it is going on right now. (Sorry, too late for this year.) I was supposed to be part of the faculty for this year, but I had some previous engagements I couldn't get out of.

Yesnon, I must respectfully disagree with your statement about written music. I agree that there are many subtlties than cannot be written out, but this is no different than the subtleties in other styles of music such as Baroque, or jazz, or even classical for that matter. That is why you can hear 4 entirely different versions of the Bach Chaccone for instance. The printed music has always been a framework from which to start.

Yesnon said,

"Sheet music is great when you don't have a recording of the tune you want. But if you have a recording, I’d say you are better off learning from it, than from sheet music."

I would say you are better off learning the skeletal tune from written sources and honing it to your own taste by then listening to other players. In the end, it should end up as your own individual version of the tune within the framework of whatever style you are trying to emulate.

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Dmgardner, I have only had the opportunity to attend one workshop this year, and it was with Elke. It was for several hours and there were only a small group of us, and it was terrific! But still, it was far to short to really learn a whole lot. More or less, it just wet my appetite.

Anyway, I am still learning lots of tunes from the printed page, but ideally, I like it when I have it both printed, and can also hear a good fiddlers interpretation.

Yankee Fiddler

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I guess in the end we all have to do what is best for our own learning process. I personally love to pour through tune collections and find those little gems that have been lost to time. I find it very rewarding to develop my own way of playing a tune. I also outright steal from folks to, so there are many different approaches to learning.

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Yesnon, I don't think of having the sheet music and having a recording as a 2 step process. I think of it as a very efficient one step process. I find it faster and easier to have that "road map" laid out in front of me at the same time as I am listening.

Actually I'm a better ear player than a reader, but with both, learning goes really fast for me. I like to visually see where things are going too.

Yankee Fiddler

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