Sponsored By
 
 
Old-Time Fiddle Styles
with Bruce Molsky
Live Workshop
Live Workshop
Live Workshop
 
 
About This Workshop
 
Learn a variety of old-time fiddle tunes in different regional styles from great players of the past. If you can play a few simple old-time fiddle tunes, or if you’re an experienced player, this workshop series will be useful and fun! Bruce will take a variety of classic tunes apart to understand what makes them unique and compelling, with advice about bowing, double stops, ornamentation, and ideas for more listening and learning.
 
 
Meet the Instructor
Bruce Molsky
 
 
Bruce Molsky is “one of America’s premier fiddling talents” (Mother Jones) and a twice-Grammy-nominated artist on fiddle, banjo, guitar, and song. For decades, he’s been a globetrotting performer and educator, a recording artist with an expansive discography including seven solo albums, well over a dozen collaborations and two Grammy-nominations. Bruce is also the classic “musician’s musician”—a man who’s received high praise from diverse fans and collaborators like Linda Ronstadt, Mark Knopfler, Celtic giants Donal Lunny and Andy Irvine, jazzer Bill Frisell and dobro master Jerry Douglas. The first permanent visiting professor in Berklee College of Music's American Roots Program, Bruce is the go-to guy for the next generation of fiddlers. He can be heard these days on the road and on record with his trio Molsky’s Mountain Drifters.
 
 
 
The Old-Time Fiddle Styles Workshop Includes:
  • Eight one-hour live Zoom sessions, held every other Wednesday night, from 6 pm to 7 pm PST (9 pm to 10 pm EST), starting on Wednesday, September 8.
  • A survey of old-time fiddle techniques and fiddle styles for those new to old-time fiddling as well as experienced fiddlers
  • A detailed and in-depth look at regional styles, including Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and more
  • Notation for each tune Bruce teaches, with Bruce’s bowing included
  • High-quality video recordings of each session, posted on Peghead Nation within a week of each session, so you can review what you've learned and revisit them after the workshop has concluded
 
 
Sign Up for Live Workshop
 
Workshop fee of $200, participate live or view recordings on your own schedule.
 
 
 

If you can just play a few simple old-time fiddle tunes, or if you’re an experienced player, this workshop series will be useful and fun! Bruce will take a variety of classic tunes apart to understand what makes them unique and compelling. 

 

Bruce says, “Starting first with short melodic phrases, which we’ll play into our muscle memory, I’ll add advice about bowing, double stops, ornamentation, and build it from there. You can stay simple or go as far as you like. I want to push you to challenge your limits! 

 

“The breadth and depth of fiddle tradition and regional styles and great players of the past is huge, and to cover it in a short course is not even close to possible, but we’ll use the tunes to look at some of the best of that music and learn some great lessons from it.

 

“Through this, we’ll see differences between some of the local styles that were so different from each other before radio and mass media had its influence. Kentucky, “Round Peak” (North Carolina), West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and states in the Midwest like Missouri and Illinois all have deep and strong traditions. We’ll dip our musical toes into as many of them as we can. At the end, you’ll emerge with some nice repertoire, technical nuts and bolts, and more ideas for listening and learning.”

 

  • Eight one-hour live Zoom sessions, held every other Wednesday night, from 6 pm to 7 pm PST (9 pm to 10 pm EST), starting on Wednesday, September 8.
  • A survey of old-time fiddle techniques and fiddle styles for those new to old-time fiddling as well as experienced fiddlers
  • A detailed and in-depth look at regional styles, including Kentucky, North Carolina, West Virginia, and more
  • Notation for each tune Bruce teaches, with Bruce’s bowing included
  • High-quality video recordings of each session, posted on Peghead Nation within a week of each session, so you can review what you've learned and revisit them after the workshop has concluded
 
 
Old-Time Fiddle Styles Workshop
 
Welcome to Old-Time Fiddle Styles
 

If you can just play a few simple old-time fiddle tunes, or if you’re an experienced player, this workshop series will be useful and fun! Bruce will take a variety of classic tunes apart to understand what makes them unique and compelling. Bruce says, “Starting first with short melodic phrases, which we’ll play into our muscle memory, I’ll add advice about bowing, double stops, ornamentation, and build it from there. You can stay simple or go as far as you like. I want to push you to challenge your limits! The breadth and depth of fiddle tradition and regional styles and great players of the past is huge, and to cover it in a short course is not even close to possible, but we’ll use the tunes to look at some of the best of that music and learn some great lessons from it. Through this, we’ll see differences between some of the local styles that were so different from each other before radio and mass media had its influence. Kentucky, “Round Peak” (North Carolina), West Virginia, Georgia, Texas, and states in the Midwest like Missouri and Illinois all have deep and strong traditions. We’ll dip our musical toes into as many of them as we can. At the end, you’ll emerge with some nice repertoire, technical nuts and bolts, and more ideas for listening and learning."

 
Session 1, First Tunes: “Jane Wallace” and “Damon’s Winder”
 

In the first session, Bruce starts by talking about old-time fiddling and playing a few examples of some of the styles and tunings he’ll be covering in the workshop. Then he teaches a great, straight-ahead dance tune, “Jane Wallace,” which comes from Tennessee fiddler Shell Coffey. He follows that with “Damon’s Winder,” a variant of the well-known tune “Hell Among the Yearlings.” Bruce’s version is a combination of the playing of Kentucky fiddlers Doc Roberts (who called it “Deer Walk”) and J.W. Day, also known as Jilson Setters.

 
Session 2: “Hop Up Ladies” and “Grub Springs”
 

Bruce warms up by playing through last week’s tunes, “Damon’s Winder” and “Jane Wallace.” Then he shows you “Hop Up Ladies,” which is also known as “Did You Ever See the Devil Uncle Joe?” and other titles. It probably started out in Ireland or Scotland as “Miss McLeod’s Reel.” You’ll also learn a lesser-known one tune Mississippi fiddler John Hatcher. Titled “Grub Springs,” it’s a completely different melody than the “Grub Springs” you’ll hear in jam sessions. It’s a crooked tune in A-modal (Mixolydian), with the fiddle also tuned in standard GDAE.

 
Session 3: “Yell in the Shoats” and Singing and Fiddling (“The Bird’s Song”)
 

For the third session, Bruce moves on to a couple of new things: playing in a cross-tuning (DDAD) and singing and fiddling.

 
Session 4: “The Rose in the Mountain” and “Lost Girl”
 

For the fourth session, Bruce returns to some popular dance tunes. The first is “The Rose in the Mountain,” which is very close to what John Morgan Salyer of Kentucky recorded in the early 1940s. It’s a crooked tune, with some phrases of five beats, in the key of D, and it can be played in standard tuning or raised-bass tuning (ADAE). The second tune is “Lost Girl.” There are many lovely and different renditions of this around: Emmett Lundy, Clyde Davenport, Art Stamper, George Marion Reece. The version you’ll learn is a distillation of several of those, and one you’d hear in jam sessions.

 
Session 5: “Greasy String” and “Cowboy Waltz”
 

In this session, Bruce gets more into the details of how to move the bow across the strings. Tommy Jarrell of Surry County, North Carolina was an inspiration to so many fiddlers. His timing was amazing, and he could really make the music swing with his bow movement and bluesy slides and ornaments. You’ll learn some of that through the way he played the tune “Greasy String,” which is in AEAE cross-tuning. After that, you’ll relax with the “Cowboy Waltz.” Woody Guthrie was, of course, known for his amazing songs, but he was far less known as an instrumentalist. He wrote the “Cowboy Waltz.” You’ll learn it in D, standard tuning.

 
Session 6: “Ship in the Clouds”and “Bush in the Shucks”
 

For the sixth session, Bruce visits Virginia and Texas. From Virginia fiddler Taylor Kimble comes a pretty and crazy little tune titled “Ship in the Clouds.” It’s in D and has a meandering, lyrical melody. The second tune is from the great Benny Thomasson of Texas. The name seems to change from one fiddler and one recording to the next. Bruce knows it as “Bush in the Shucks,” but others call it “Chuck in the Bush” or “Shuckin’ the Bush.” You’ll learn to play it in DDAD, so you’ll have it and “Yell in the Shoats in the same tuning!

 
Session 7: “Pretty Little Girl,” “Black Hills Waltz,” and “Western Country”
 

In Session 7 of Old-Time Fiddle Styles you’ll learn three tunes: two Round Peak tunes, “Pretty Little Girl” and “Western Country” and the “Black Hills Waltz.” Bruce starts with “Pretty Little Girl,” a great dance tune that gives you a chance to work on the Round Peak syncopated bowing and rhythm. Then he shows you the “Black Hills Waltz,” a waltz in AEAE tuning from Utah fiddler Kenner (“K.C”) Karchner. It has a beautiful, loping feel. He finishes up with another Round Peak favorite. Some call it “Western Country,” some call it “Fly Around.” Tommy Jarrell called it “Susananna Gal.” It’s another great dance tune in the key of D to bring to a session—it fiddles well in standard tuning, or raised bass: ADAE.

 
 
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