I need to talk about fiddling!

Best Online Fiddle Lessons Forums What else is on your mind? I need to talk about fiddling!

This topic contains 19 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by cricket cricket 1 month ago.

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  • #65471
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    I need to talk about fiddling…hey…there’s nobody to talk about fiddling with.  I can’t think of a topic, I just gotta talk about it.  Let’s see…how many old time tunes do you figure were saved from obliteration by folks like Henry Reed and Alan Jabbour?  Harriet Arnow, the Kentucky author, was relocated as a child from her neck of the woods when the Army Corps of Engineers constructed Lake Cumberland and Laurel Lake and flooded out several unique, small communities…I can’t remember when it was…way back a long time ago…among other destructive things this did for whole communities and familes, forever destroying their culture, she says the drowning of fiddle tunes as a result (by way of busting people up and tearing them away from their communities, when they pretty much stopped their own unique cultural stuff forever, never being fully assimilated into another community again), was extensive, according to her childhood memories and observing life after displacement from the dams and lakes.  What do you think?  We have a pretty good collection of old time tunes circulating these days, weirdly enough thanks to high tech stuff, but wondering what portion of fiddle tunes were forever lost as a result of changes similar to the building of lakes and other “progress” that wiped out some unique variants of American culture.  There…I started a topic…lol.  Wanna talk about that?  Or, just something…I live in the fiddle desert here so sometimes I just get thirsty for something besides cactus water…talk, guys…I know we’re all busy, but…I’m dehydrating here!

    #65472
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Relocation of about 30 miles was enough for us to lose the connection also. It was due to adopting the wage earning economy (voluntary slavery) as opposed to farmstead survival life.  But that was due to feuding, both in family and out of family.  Lose that local, family social life style, barn dances, and the music is lost.  What tried to be retained couldn’t compete with the ‘Radio’ and record player.  (In my growing up)

    #65473
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Thanks for you input, Rodger. Yes, displacement isn’t usually just one family…in the case of the lakes or some other situations, etc., it might be a bunch of people scattering at once…but in economic hardship cases, it’s a trickle, and yet it has the same results…people scattering out far and wide, leaving elements of their unique culture behind and possibly forgotten forever.  It’s truly amazing to me that a few individuals have managed to hang onto some of it.  Thank goodness for the ones who saved what they could for the rest of us.

    #65474
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Harriet Arnow, who in my opinion is as great a thinker and author as Tolstoy, yet, her stuff, lots of it, is not in print now and hard to find and expensive if you find it…anyway, her novels and stories are constructed mainly around Appalachian culture as it was in SE KY before the roads got paved, electricity came in, and all of that modern stuff.  It’s not that many generations away from our own (talking to Rodger…I mean us folks who are heading into late, late, late mid-life…lol), but you can see what our grandparents took with them that most of us have only vague, if any at all, memories of.  Henry Reed has personally supplied the world with so many great old tunes, it’s amazing to me he could recall so many in his 80s, and also amazing that Alan Jabbour did such a great job recording them and pulling them from Mr. Reed’s memory.  There oughta be a Reed/Jabbour Day in the United States…lol.  Have y’all checked out the website with Henry Reed’s recordings, done by Alan Jabbour in the 60s?  I can’t tell you how to get there at the moment, but I’ve listened many times to all of the tunes…not for a while, but back when I was working.  Some tunes we know well today were all but forgotten and Henry Reed brought them back…Over the Waterfall is one…it mighta survived somewhere else where some old timer had passed it along very locally, but around most of the music world, from what I hear, it was pretty much gone…great tune, too.  How many tunes are laying there under lakes and such now?

    #65475
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    To listen to Henry Reed recalling and playing tunes from his youth, in his 80s, go to “Collections with Audio Recordings” down a ways on the left-hand side of the page.  Then go to Fiddling tunes on the Old Frontier and click on the 292 items. pretty cool stuff.

    https://www.loc.gov/collections/henry-reed-fiddle-tunes/about-this-collection/

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by cricket cricket.
    #65477

    Angela
    Participant

    Well, two things…

    I lived near a couple of the COE/TVA lakes for awhile.  It was amazing how much bitterness/hurt was still in the community b/c of the politics and repossessions related to the lake….understandably so.

    Second, I’m learning a lot of old tunes from you, Cricket.  I think people/families entertain themselves differently, and that causes a lot of old time tunes to disappear.  There’s a bit of a grassroots hipness to old time music, so maybe some of the youngsters will be bringing them back.  Even though I grew up around a lot of music, most of it was old country or Bluegrass.

    The Smithsonian has several collections of old time music.  I’m sure you already know about this:

    https://folkways.si.edu/fiddle-music/music/playlist/smithsonian

    #65478
    rodger
    rodger
    Participant

    Dad was always singing a phrase of a tune to himself…I mean like ‘always’.  But usually it was something he emotionally connected with or a silly tune.  Not contemporary, popular music, and not often too old timey stuff from Granny.  It was part of his mental, emotional state of being.  I’m sure he modelled that from his forbearers…he  grew up under the influence of pre-electric culture, like real old-timers.  But his repertoire was really his own personal collection.  Much like someone who had spent much of his life alone and singing to himself, even though Dad never lived alone.  He evidently spent much of his mental stated with himself as opposed to someone that was in constant communication with others around him.  He communicated a lot about the old timers setting around the fireplace roasting chestnuts and telling old, old stories, but he never said anything about their music..I don’t know why.  Perhaps it was his level of maturity as a young person.  Same with Mom, her family was very musical and Mom played the piano at home, but I can’t tell you the name of one thing she played…I simply didn’t pay attention…I can’t believe now, that we ever even had a piano, but I remember Mom playing it.  We must not have had it very long, and something has taken all my memory of it…when we got it and when we lost it.

    When George Bevery Shea came on the radio, Dad would stand by the radio listening intently and seemed to be in another world.  He really liked his singing and talked about it…

    I regret not knowing what Granny sang while darning socks and what was fiddled on Saturday nights, but we have tons of wonderful, wonderful music right now, of which I greatly admire and am so thankful for…

    Cricket, when I listen to the old timey archived music from way back, I have a strange feeling like that was their own special experience and not exactly something that can really be experienced or appreciated by myself today in any way that it was for them…maybe that’s just me, I don’t know…It’s almost like I shouldn’t be listening or something, like it is their personal world…or maybe it just makes me feel the pain of losing them…

    #65480
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Oh gosh, what a great discussion.  Sorry I’m so, so, so addicted to Old Time…it just fits my disposition, and personal history or something.  I’m now surrounded by Bluegrass, which is popular and fun and all that, but OT is what really resonates with me.  I do hope younger generations will pick it up, make it their own, and breathe new life into it.  Very humbling to think that someone who plays like Angela, or anybody else would ever pick up any tunes from me, especially given I play everything wrong…lol…yet it’s a nice thought to hear.  Anyway, thanks for that link, Angela, not sure if I’ve run across that one or not.  There are a few Kentucky collections out there on the net now too, plus others.  I guess I really got interested because of Jean Ritchie, always knowing more tunes than you’d think could fit inside one person’s head…lol…and knowing the history from way back as well.  Also, Doc Watson, I feel, is another one who played many kinds of music, but kept close to old time stuff too.  Anyway, there are many OT heroes who have brought it too us and given it to us to do as we please.  Dwight Diller and John Morris from West Virginia are currently playing mainly the old stuff, as learned from people who took it from grannies and pappies from way back…but hard to find much from either one of them outside of going out to WV to see them.

    Anyway, Rodger, I hear ya…what you’re saying.  I feel the same about many hymns…it’s very involved, but they feel like they venture into a territory I cannot psychologially handle, because of family history, etc.  Sometimes certain types of music seem to be able to do that, don’t they?  I’ve heard some people who say they have no personal history or connection with OT say, after hearing some, they feel nostalgic, but they don’t understand why or for exactly what.

    #65485
    fiddliferous1950
    fiddliferous1950
    Participant

    Very enjoyable conversation, folks. Keep ‘er comin’. Wish I could think of something to add. Maybe it’s too early in the mornin’.

    I know I sure enjoyed the days around the piano when I was just a kid when my parents would have company come over. The fiddler’s name was Francis Pierce. He had written down over 1,000 tunes he’d come in contact with over the years of his music adventures. He taught music in the schools in Elizabethtown/Wadhams in upstate New York (Essex County). The piano player was Wilbur Stewart. He could sure “tickle those ivories”.

    All the work that Francis did on preserving those fiddle tunes was lost in a terrible fire, later, after he had passed away.

    #65486
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Aw, gee…that’s terrible…oh, I’m in italics…well it’s terrible he went through all that work preserving tunes and they were destroyed in a fire.  I’m scared to try to undo the italics because once I tried that and it went to bold…lol…so…I’ll stay in italics. This all made me think of a movie that Dwight Diller and John Morris made together…it was about a mountain guy who left home to pursue a career and had abandoned his culture in the process…he went back home for his uncle’s funeral and decided he should be back home after that.  The only problem i saw with the storyline was that in his big job in the big city, he taught Appalachian musicology in a university…lol…they should’ve had him teaching computer science or something….lol, not the same music he supposedly abandoned, among other cultural things from his upbringing.  But it was a good movie with a good message…amateur, but very good.  The best part was the music…the movie was loaded with great old time stuff, with the very best, namely Dwight and John, but joined by others.  The movie was called “The Fifth String,” and I ordered a copy as soon as I heard about it.  Not sure if it’s still in print or being sold anywhere, but i sure would recommend it for anyone with any interest in old time music or culture in the mountains.

    #65487
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Hey, what’d ya know…it’s on Amazon!  Wow, i had to order it from some unheard of place when i got mine, several years back.  I highly recommend it, folks, if you have an interest in this sort of thing.  Dwight is such a good guy and dedicated to collecting, preserving, teaching and spreading what’s left of old time stuff from his area…he’s also a Mennonite minister and just a very good person.  I didn’t get to know John Morris as well, but from what little I know of him, he’s about like Dwight.  Good people and great musicians.  Anyway, I think I let somebody at some BG jam borrow my copy several years ago and of course never saw it again…guess i might need to order another one.

    #65488
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant
    #65491
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Cricket each generation that dies off takes a lot of their knowledge with them I have been enjoying My moms songs and  miscellaneous tunes She will be 90 years old this November 27 , 2018 there is no way I can remember everything she has hummed or sang in just the last two weeks , She has lots of hand written binders full of songs but most of them and the words are of little consequence if you don’t know the tune and how they were done , With the help of the internet you can try to look the songs up to see how they go but a lot of them can’t be found . Sad !

    #65495
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Yes, it is sad if you can’t ever find them.  Thank goodness for the internet…information is easier to get ahold of than ever before.  Hope your mom has a happy birthday.  Are you back with us on the board again now?  Good to hear from you.  I hope things have gone well for you and your mom.

    #65497
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Cricket I am back for about two weeks got to get my firewood in and make up some kindling !

    #65499
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    Welcome back, but sounds like you’ll be too busy to mess around on here…lol.

    #65500
    Steve Srader
    Steve Srader
    Participant

    Cricket yes busy during the day but I’m loose and on the prowl between 7:00pm and 10:00pm

    #65501
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    uh-oh…look out!

    #65569

    John Cockman
    Keymaster

    Welcome back, Steve! Cricket, I agree with a national Reed/Jabbour day. So deserving! Jabbour’s work with the NEA and the LOC continue to be an amazing resource as well as preservation effort.

    It is sad to think about fiddle tunes “drowning.” I almost cried thinking about it! I grew up in Sherrill’s Ford, named after the place where my ancestor forded the Catawba River. The old community is now under Lake Norman. It is sad that several strong and old black communities by the river were broken up to make room for the lake — the East Monbo and Long Island communities were completely cut off. The land owners were paid well, but the mill workers suffered. It was kind of a travesty, but then we all enjoy the hydroelectric power provided by Duke Energy…

    Now underwater since 1963. For a long time, the top of a silo could still be seen above water back in a cove.

     

    #65577
    cricket
    cricket
    Participant

    That is a sad thing.

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