Learn Simple Tunes
Keeping with the old-time music tradition, all tunes are learned by ear. No music here! Lots of folks have tried to write books with fiddle tunes but nothing quite gets the soul of a piece like hearing it, and learning it from repetition.
We'll start with simple tunes, and work up to more complicated melodies. The recordings begin with a slow declaration of the tune and end with a run-through at tempo.
is in A-B form, with each part typically repeated twice. It's the first tune I learned, and the one that's always stuck in my head.
Kitchen Girl (or Gal):
is a Henry Reed tune in A-B form, with each part typically repeated twice. This is probably my favorite as it can be played sweet or vigorously, depending on your mood. If you're looking for more information on the tune, please visit the Library of Congress Henry Reed Collection.
Over the Waterfall:
is also Henry Reed tune in A-B form, with each part typically repeated twice. It's Reed's best-known tune and one he absolutely names "Over the Waterfall" on recording. I think this is the second fiddle tune I learned so it's very simple to pick up by ear even if my recording is a little fast. If you're looking for more information on the tune, please visit the Library of Congress Henry Reed Collection.
is the tune most known (to my generation, at least) as "bringing home a baby bumble bee." I have a brief history of this on the Music page. Also in A-B form but with the high part in B, rather than A as with Cripple Creek and Kitchen Gal. The high notes can get your fingers in a twist but once you figure it out its fun to drone and play even faster.
The Black Nag:
is not really Old-Time Fiddling, its a contra dance; more of a Celtic-style reel. The tune very easy and repetitive so I use it as a break between more difficult tunes. Definitely worth learning regardless of the style/label.
is also not really Old-Time Fiddling, its a Celtic-style reel. I've included it here because it look me forever to learn and once I got it in my head I had to record it. Also a fiddling friend of mine is ridiculously in love with the tune and that's added another level of appreciation for me. Another student of my fiddle teacher decided the tune is about a girl who lives alone in a castle, which it isn't, but that certainly adds another layer to the tune.