Thanks for spending some time with our music! Our Modus Operandi is this: If it feels old, is foot-tappingly addictive, musically interesting, and begs for fiddle, mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and/or tight vocal melodies, odds are we want to play it. We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoy playing and welcome your feedback.
But first … the shameless sales pitch! You can take the tunes you’ll hear below, along with many others (for a track listing see our liner notes), home by purchasing our CD, Aggravatin’ Beauty.
As our name suggests, the old-time music we play often has a “modal” flair, for example, Elzic’s Farewell
and Falls of Richmond
which gives the music its rustic, haunting feel. But one can’t live by modal tunes alone for that would rule out rip-roaring dance numbers like Fall On My Knees
and rich melodies like Down In The River
or bluesy ditties like Fiddler’s Blues
and Carter Family hilarity as in Lulu Walls
We don’t even limit ourselves to strict “old-time,” hence our motto: Music from Appalachia and Beyond! Some gospel, blues, and minstrel music is just too amazing to be left in the past. Consider, for example, Viola Lee Blues:
Heck, if its “old timey” enough we don’t even limit ourselves to pre-1950, as in Roscoe’s Gone
written by Hank Bradley, or Old Tennessee River
co-written by the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, and fiddler Jimmy Campbell.
A few words about modal tunes: Roughly speaking, modal tunes are based on the diatonic scale (i.e. “doh re mi fa so la ti doh”) but differ in that they don’t typically resolve to the tonic (i.e. end on “doh). So the relationships between adjacent notes in the scale are the same but the reference by which they are perceived changes, and what a big change this can be! (Many Irish and Celtic tunes are modal). But this discussion oversimplifies matters. In American old time traditions, especially given its African influence, a melody isn’t even diatonic (i.e. played “in tune”), for “blue notes” play an important part in creating a particular melody’s character.
Belinda, So good to hear you play again, even though I am not playing along with you. It was nice to see you again last summer at Centralia. I live in India right now, but I will be back in the states every 5- months. MIss the playing with folks,
my blog is at http://www.donaldinIndia.wordpress.com
Hey Don … great to hear from you. What an interesting blog. So glad you’re whipping out the Appalachian mandolin while becoming enlightened (aren’t the two the same?)
Larry: I’ve been uncovering some of my dad’s writing (1940s-60s) on “Modal classification of Anglo-American fiddle tunes” — not setting rules so much as exploring what patterns do & dont fit — and published only in obscure musicology sources. Will save for you! Joanna