Tune of the Month: Elmer's Waltz
"Elmer's Waltz" - Arvid Lundin
My friend and neighbor, Catherine Graham, popped in for a lesson the other day and played a lovely waltz she called Elmer’s Waltz. It sounded quite familiar; turns out she learned it from a recording of Arvid Lundin. Since then I’ve been enjoying its major to minor modalities and the very danceable melody that swoops “this-a-way that-a-way” very nicely, and thought you might too.
You may have heard Arvid at a fiddle show, contest or maybe even a contra dance as he regales us all with a pleasant mix of old time Northwestern fiddle tunes, Irish tunes or one of his family’s Swedish tunes. He’s come down from a long line of fiddlers and other musicians on both sides of his family. His father, Clair Lundin, was an excellent old time fiddler with a strong Swedish bent (Tune of the Month –April, 2010) and his mother, Bernice, grew up playing piano behind her father’s fiddling at dances in rural Idaho. Clair is still playing the fiddle but we are sad to say that Bernice passed away this year.
This tune is one that Arvid picked out of Tim Rued’s ‘The Twin Fiddle Treasury’ and adapted to his inimitable style. Listen carefully to the phrasing. Subtle pulses of the bow on the beat push the rhythm forward as in the opening pick up note into the down beat. Trills and other ornaments wrap gently around the melody. Note that many of the slurs are pairs of 8th notes with the beat, as I’ve notated in the opening measures of the b and c parts. This is typical of many of our Scandinavian American fiddling. All in all it’s a lovely tune and a lovely performance. The recording is from a 1994 concert at The Northwest Folklife Festival and includes Jack Lindberg on guitar. You can also enjoy his fiddling on the cd ‘Joined at the Ear,’ also with Jack, or on Northwest Folklife’s ‘Washington Traditional Fiddlers Project: Volume II.’
Please contact me if you have questions or requests.
Stuart Williams, Music Editor
Updated September 9, 2011