The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #61355   Message #986417
Posted By: JohnInKansas
19-Jul-03 - 01:22 AM
Thread Name: Old time and Bluegrass-- Differences
Subject: RE: Old time and Bluegrass-- Differences
Bill D

I thought you might have a different tune in mind, but it served for an illustration of the way that "old" tunes get migrated to different arrangements to suit the instrument and performance style.

The "Silver Bells" I had in mind is the Bob Wills tune - which he played without modulation, but which the bluegrassers insist has to have a key change for the "B" low part - because the guitar has trouble ("bluegrassing" it) if you don't.

I don't remember "Henry the Fiddler" from Winfield, although I have been to all but 3 sessions there in the last 27 or 28(?) years. I didn't start "playing" a stringed instrument much until about 10 years back, so didn't really get acquainted with too many "personalities" among the players until then. (Banjo Bill, of course, being an exception - known him casually for 25 years or so.)

Sorcha - Whiskey Before Breakfast is another good example of a tune that has been "bluegrassed" to the point where it's barely recognizable, and a look at the 3 common variations that I know of - trad, "Irish," and bluegrass - are pretty much illustrative of the kind of difference I see between the styles. The "trad" version only has one chord different than the bluegrass version, but it's the first chord and it almost forces you to put back the notes that the bluegrass version leaves out (and makes it a real b... to play [really fast] on a guitar(?)).

As to key changes on fiddle: it's easiest to play first position where you use open strings. It's sort of like having an extra finger that you never have to move. But the "first step," to playing comfortably in second position - admittedly a tough one - should be the key to being able to play easily in "any key." Once you don't use open strings, it doesn't make much difference where you move to down the fingerboard. Much easier said than done - I do mando and use a capo.

John