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Difficulty:

Since the beginning of the year I have been participating in a daily challenge in a Facebook group. Each morning, the admins of the group post a tune title, one of them usually posts a close up video of her fingers as she plays a simple version slowly, and we have 24 hours to learn the tune and post a video of ourselves playing it. There have been a lot of Texas contest-style, Irish, Scottish, and Canadian tunes, none of which are styles I normally play much of, so it really has been a challenge to learn some of the tunes. This tune was also new to me, but it felt more natural to learn.

I don’t know much about this tune. I know that Bob Walters, a champion Midwestern fiddler from the 1930s through the 1950s, played it, and that R.P. Christeson included his version of it in his book “The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory”. You can hear a recording of Walters playing it at slippery-hill.com (a wonderful resource I refer to frequently). Where Walters got it, I do not know. I suspect it is not actually Swedish, but perhaps Walters learned it from a Swedish fiddler.

I have transcribed it in the key of D here, although Walters played it in C, because I learned the tune from James Bryan’s album “The First of May”. On that recording, I am pretty sure that he has his fiddle tuned down a whole step and playing in C using fingerings for D. I can’t think of any other way he would be getting the drones he does on that recording, anyway, and I like the way my fiddle sounds when it’s tuned a little low. I’ll include a video of playing it with the same fingerings but with the fiddle tuned back up, though.

If you would like to play it in C out of standard tuning, as I think Bob Walters did, here is a transcription for that. I really like the open drones you can get by playing it in D, though.

—Josh

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