April 30, 2016 at 4:41 AM #36046
This is a really nice old time tune that was originally collected by John Avery Lomax in Madison County, NC. The tune has been collected throughout the Appalachian Mountains and the Ozarks. It is truly a bit of American heritage.April 30, 2016 at 4:41 AM #35934
I just found an entry for Pretty Saro – A in the TABs section (have been looking for this for some time after I have seen the songcatcher video on YT), but the link does not seem to work. I wonder if this tab is available.May 1, 2016 at 9:02 PM #35983
Hi Hakan, please try again, I fixed the link. Lesson for this coming shortly. The fiddle music you hear in the movie was played by my friend Roger Howell, a legit old time fiddler from the Madison County. Here is his bio:
I was interviewed for a documentary that just came out about Roger called “A Mighty Fine Memory.” Here is some news about that:
The music I tabbed is his fiddle part, which is as authentic as any I have heard. Hope you enjoy it!May 2, 2016 at 11:46 AM #36030
Thanks John, this was a very good music tab, I really like it, very authentic. (I have earlier tried some other versions found on the web but they all seem so very different from the version played in the film).May 2, 2016 at 3:31 PM #36052
Great lesson and song, many thanks.May 2, 2016 at 3:55 PM #36064
Nice tune, has that “haunting” sound to it Reminds me a lot of Anna Lee. Seems to have a “crooked” aspect to it. I never do well with crooked tunes and always find myself trying to straighten them out. 🙂May 2, 2016 at 4:08 PM #36070
It sounds a LOT like Anna Lee! And yes, it’s crooked, and kind of weird to tab out. This one would be hard to play with a band without straightening out some of those kinks. 🙂May 2, 2016 at 4:36 PM #36076
I scrolled down to comment on how much is it reminded me of Anna Lee, John beat me to the punch. Very nice old song. I love learning the real old Appalachian songs and I will surely learn this one as my late mom was named Sarah. I’ll have to get to work to learn it before Sunday.May 2, 2016 at 5:01 PM #36084
I have an aunt named Sarah. I’m not sure when this was changed to Saro, but it does make the title more unique.May 2, 2016 at 6:13 PM #36088
Here’s another nice version from one of my favorite female fiddle players Tatiana Hargreaves when she was just a kid.
–https://www.youtube.com/embed/H6VxG8v4PnAMay 2, 2016 at 6:33 PM #36096
There’s also a long thread over on mudcat cafe discussing this song and it’s many versions. Jean Ritchie’s reflections are especially interesting. She went by “kytrad” over there. http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=15862May 2, 2016 at 9:28 PM #36101
Ohhhh! I’m so excited to see a lesson for this song!!!!!! I’ve been wanting to learn it for a very long time, and I just couldn’t pick it out on my own. Yay! I’m so glad about this lesson!
I was really impressed with your ability to sing along with the fiddle! That gives the song such a genuine, lonely sound.May 2, 2016 at 9:53 PM #36106
Mike, thanks for posting the Hargreaves version. It is my favorite. She also has a version of “Blackest Crow” that makes me cry every time I hear it.
Plus, how cool is it that Jean Ritchie contributed at Mudcat? That is very awesome.
The song was already well-spread by the time it was collected. I like the John Lomax lyrics because they were collected first, >1911 right here in Madison County. Plus, the fiddle break is a learned break by a Madison County old-timer, so I hope what I have recorded is a fairly authentic Western NC version of the song.May 4, 2016 at 7:34 AM #36156
Great job John. Never heard it before. Love that song and will have to add it to my to do list.May 4, 2016 at 8:23 AM #36162
I love it too. Kids…why can’t they be like we were…ha ha…how do they gets SO GOOD so young??? Really inspiring! I’m thinking I won’t ever grow up to be like some of these kids that get it down so great before they can even think about learning to drive!!!May 5, 2016 at 5:11 PM #36181
You know, watching these kids, it can either get you down or get you going, lol. While it’s sad that I could fiddle my whole life and never be as good as some of these 12 year olds, it really makes me excited for the future of bluegrass and old time music.May 6, 2016 at 1:50 PM #36275
[quote=36106]She also has a version of “Blackest Crow” that makes me cry every time I hear it. [/quote]
John I HATE to ask this because I know you’ve been getting swamped with request here lately but when you get caught up I would love to learn this tune. It seems so simple but for the life of me I can’t seem to figure it out. I’ve got some of it but there’s a few parts that still mystify me. I can’t even come to a concensous of what tuning it’s in. I’ve been working on it in standard but now I’m thinking it might be gdgd. The Hargreaves version is awesome but I think my favorite is the one with Bruce Molsky and Julie Fowlis.
John I know you’re a very busy man so please put my request at the end of the line. Between raising a family, teaching school, your volunteer work, playing music, producing lessons and tending to this forum, I swear I don’t see how you do it all. You have one heck of a work ethic my friend and I really appreciate the personal attention you give everyone.May 6, 2016 at 10:13 PM #36280
Oh yeah, that is a great tune. I think I hear lots of people playing it with their G string tuned up to an A, if my ears are hearing it right. Might be easier to play that way, in D. I tend to play everything a million or so times slower than everybody else, and here these guys play The Blackest Crow at a snail’s pace, which to me sounds really beautiful. I believe she might have her G string tuned up one, but she has the entire fiddle tuned up, apparently, in that same tuning to be able to produce it in E, instead of D. The guy on guitar has his capo on and low string dropped to sound E, from a dropped D position because of he capo…if I’m seeing and hearing it right…I guess she tuned it for singing purposes and he tuned it because the minor chords would be out of the fun realm on guitar playing out of E…the dropped D tuning lets him get an E sound.
–https://youtu.be/4wRnDa7GdzQMay 7, 2016 at 1:54 PM #36299
Yes that a very nice version too! I had tried learning from that awhile back but it confused me even more than the Molsky version because of the strange tuning. This topic came up on the fiddlehangout and there was much confusion there too. One of the members said that she received a response from “Red Tail Ring” and that the tuning was E,B,F#,C#….tuned down a step and a half and played out of the G position. No wonder I couldn’t figure it out. 🙂May 7, 2016 at 10:16 PM #36309
Really nice, John. I gotta learn this one…not sure I can sing and play at the same time, although I’ve about mastered walking and chewing gum! This sounds really beautiful…I love the singing and fiddling together!May 9, 2016 at 12:31 AM #36325
Somehow my reply to this got lost — I thought I had beat Mike to the punch in saying she was tuned standard, just three semitones below. These are all great versions!May 12, 2017 at 10:48 AM #48609
Wow…I see a year ago I wanted to learn this…lol…behind a little, I guess, but I was very preoccupied by having an opera to struggle with and also having gotten my recording studio set up and kinda halfway figured out. So I guess it’s now time to try to learn this…how in the world does anybody ever get coordinated enough to sing and fiddle at the same time? Anyway…don’t inw if I’ll get to that point, but at least try to learn the beautiful fiddle part…I can always cheat and sing on a separate track thanks to that recording setup…but I’d really like to learn to do both! I’m not too bad at juggling…wonder if that’s helpful? Nah, probably not…I’m just gonna have to try and see if I can get it!May 13, 2017 at 11:43 PM #48639
This is a fun one! You should definitely learn it. 🙂May 14, 2017 at 7:15 AM #48650
I’ve been trying it here and there late in the evenings. Having a little trouble with the rhythm…but I think I’ll get it ok…it’s actually a lot like the Purcell rhythms,..lol…every bit of experience helps. I’m also working a little bit on another one I’ve liked a lot…it’s called, Davy, Come Back and Act like you Ought to. Kinda modal…these both need to be played in GDAE, as far as I can tell, to get the full effect. I tried to cheat right off the bat with Pretty Saro, but you know what I ran into…TWO, only two absolutely crucial notes…open Gs … ok, then…gotta strain that pinky and say, there’s no way outta this…gotta go with GDAE!May 14, 2017 at 8:33 PM #48669
Haha it all goes back to Purcell — the father of Old Time music! 🙂 You’re right, Pretty Saro works best in standard tuning. Can’t wait to hear you play it!May 18, 2017 at 7:59 PM #48804
Ok, well, once I set my mind to doing something, the phone starts ringing and everybody in the whole wide world has me working to death to help them and then ignore all my own stuff, fall behind, get stressed out and never get time for music, because they all think if I have time for music that’s just stalling because I’m bored. Little do they understand music is my breath…I feel like I can’t get far if they keep me from it too long. So what I’m getting at is it’s been nearly impossible to get one minute to sit down, let alone one minute to myself. So…I’m falling way behind…if I crash on Pretty Saro tonight…and I’m pretty exhausted, so that’s possible…then I’ll have to go to ADAD…and I’ll miss those two low G notes in the tab that give it such a rich sound…lol. But…ya gotta do what you gotta do…we’ll see what happens…getting ready to get my fiddle out now and see what I can do…but…been working really hard all day and I’m beat.
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