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Old-Time Music Links


Jim Reed, Don Borchelt, and Don Couchie at Clifftop, 2010

RECORDINGS: There are some great sites for listening to old time music on the web. For streaming web radio audio, I would recommend subscribing to John Salmon's Live365 Sugar in the Gourd. John has excellent taste, and offers a variety of contemporary and classic recordings. James Reidy's webpage, The Honking Duck, has Jim Bollman's old collection of classic 78s. Another tremendous source of vintage old time music is Jeremy Stephen's Soggy Record Cabinet, which has digital files of a vast number of out of print old-time and early bluegrass vinyl albums, including the Home Folks (with two finger legend Will Keys), both J.E. and Wade Mainer, the Bailes Brothers, fiddler Allen Sisson, Arthur Smith, and many others. For banjo, check out the Banjo Newsletter's MP3 page, which is packed with recordings of some great tune picking. Lately, I've been hanging around a lot of evenings in the threads and listening to some great MP3 files on the Jukebox and members homepages on the Banjo Hangout, where I have picked up lots of new tunes over the last couple of years. There are a growing number of fiddle MP3s being posted by members of the Fiddle Hangout, sister site to the Banjo Hangout, where you can hear a wide variety of styles and regions. Recently, I ran across this terrific webpage from some folks in Seattle, posted for an old time stringband class, featuring the playing of Greg Canote and Candy Goldman. They play fiddle and banjo duets- lots of great old-time tunes- at a pace fast enough to enjoy but slow enough to hear all the notes! The accompanying banjo tabs are for clawhammer, but they will give you a starting point. Leo McDermott's fiddletunes.net has solid renditions of about 35 tunes, all well known and often played. The Charlotte Folk Society in North Carolina has posted a Megaband Partial Tune List with Samples, with MP3 snippets of a lot of the tunes I have been hearing at jams lately. Atlanta neurologist and banjo picker Josh Turknett has put up a great site called The Old Time Jam,with over 90 old times tunes. Select the Fiddle and Banjo playlist from the The Old Time Machine. Giant music publisher Mel Bay has posted MP3 files of fiddle versions of all of the tunes in the Old Time Festival Tunes for Clawhammer Banjo, 117 tunes in all. There are both basic and more advanced versions of the tunes, which you can download one at a time, or en mass in a zip file. This is a great free resource.

For some great field recordings of old-time fiddlers, check out the Henry Reed webpage, Fiddle Tunes of the Old Frontier, which is part of the Library of Congress American Memory project. The Digital Library of Appalachia, a project sponsored by a dozen Kentucky college and university libraries, contains dozens of field recordings of old-time fiddlers and banjo pickers. Morehead State University, Appalachian Development Center in Kentucky offers its excellent Vintage Fiddlers Oral History Project webpage, with field recordings of seven old-time Kentucky fiddlers. For fans of Jeff Titon's great annotated collection, Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, the source tunes have been posted on-line by fiddler Larry Warren. This includes recordings of John Morgan Salyer, Doc Roberts, Hiram Stamper, Clyde Davenport, and many others. Some of these recordings are also available in the Digital Library of Appalachia collection (see above), but it is nice to have them all in one place. Not long ago I purchased a copy of The Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes, the enormous volume of tune transcriptions by Claire Milliner and Walt Koken. There are over 1,400 tunes in the collection, presented in strandard notation. Now, the original source recordings used by the authors is available for download on-line in MP3 format, from a site called Slippery Hill, along with the source recordings for two other collections. This is an incredible resource for anyone interested in Applachian fiddle tunes.

BANJO TAB: All Tab's Old-Time Music collection has over 300 tabs and MIDI, many in Tabledit. There is also a bluegrass collection. The Banjo Hangout, has a large selection of free tab, mostly bluegrass.

If you are a clawhammer player, and you have stumbled upon this site, I strongly recommend Rob Quinlan's webpage, which has with an exhaustive list of clawhammer tab site links.

FIDDLE TRANSCRIPTIONS & MIDI: There are quite a few great sites with fiddle tune transcriptions in musical notation and/or MIDI files, which can be a great help when trying to remember how a tune goes, or to figure out the notes in a particularly difficult phrase. One of the oldest is Hetzler's Fakebook, which has very simple versions of most of the standard tunes found in just about every fiddlers repertoire. John Lamancusa has transcribed in standard notation one of the largest collections on the net at his Old Time Fiddle Tunes site, in both PDF and MIDI format. A few of the tunes also include MP3 field recordings. John also has put up Samuel Preston Bayard's landmark 1944 collection Hill Country Tunes, Instrumental Folk Music of Southwestern Pennsylvania. John Chambers' is the author of the misnamed JC's ABC Tune Finder, since he also offers the tunes in PDF, GIF, and other formats. A British site called A Traditional Music Library has a great page of Traditional Old-Time Music of America, with scores, and MIDI in slow, medium and fast speeds. Another great site is Peter Doyle's Fiddle Tunes from Bernie Waugh, taken from Waugh's collection "282 Fiddle Tunes." Abba Moses has 58 fiddle tunes, both rare and common, transcribed on his The Way of the Fiddle site. The Charlotte Folk Society has put up music transcriptions with MIDI and MP3 files for 33 of the tunes played at their Post Gathering Slow Jam. And last but not least, for excellent, comprehensive background notes recorded sources for a whole slew of tunes, many with the melodies in abc format, check out Andrew Kuntz's encyclopedic reference guide, the Fiddler's Companion.

VIDEO: One of the best resources on the net for watching and listening to old time music is YouTube. Just type in the name of the tune you are looking for in the search box, and almost always a whole bunch of vids will pop up. Here, as an example, is the result for Abe's Retreat, the first- and fairly obscure- tune on my tab list. Generally the results are a live video taken fom a concert performance, a festival jam session, or someone's posted lesson. Occasionally, it will be a classic 78 rpm recording, with no video, or some type of still image montage. There is a channel by a YouTube member with the screenname BBYMRLCCOTN, which has a great collection of old-time music posted. A great take is the video Appalachian Journey, produced by Alan Lomax in 1991. The entire 58 minute video can be seen on the folkstream.net website. Well worth the time.

CHAT: Sometimes I like to sneak over to the Banjo Hangout's live chatroom, which now includes pickers from the Fiddle Hangout and the new Flatpickers Hangout, Reso Hangout, and Bass Hangout. If you have time, come by and pick a tune or two!

TAB SOFTWARE: Again, I would also like to recommend the Tabledit software for tablature creation and editing. This is a great program, with excellent editing tools, clear printer output, and tremendous MIDI dynamic control and effects.


(c) copyright 2003 - 2012 by Donald J. Borchelt, all rights reserved.