Tune of the Month Archives

Tune of the Month

Lowery’s Quadrille

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I first heard Lowery’s Quadrille being played in a jam at the 2018 Portland Old-Time Music Gathering by Greg Canote. The next week, I listened to my recording of that jam session on repeat on the way up to the Bellingham Folk Festival, and by the time I got there I was pretty sure I could play it. I found an empty corner of the basement, got out my fiddle, and started giving it a try to see if I was right. About 15 seconds later, Clyde Curley came over and asked “Hey, is that Lowery’s Quadrille? Can I play?” I understand why: it’s a catchy tune, and a lot of fun to play.

The Canotes taught this tune in their string band class in 2009, so it’s relatively well known in the region, although it doesn’t seem to be one that people call much at jams I’ve been to. They got it from Armin Barnett, who got it from John Summers of Indiana in the 70s. It’s a good tune to play with the low string of your fiddle tuned up to A for some drone and resonance possibilities, and some left-hand pizzicato sounds particularly good towards the end of the last part. To play that, pluck the open A and D strings with your left hand, using the finger which has just noted the string on the note before. (The plucked notes are indicated here with a “+”.)

I’ve included a recording of Armin Barnett playing it here, you can listen to the Canotes play it at http://stringband.mossyroof.com/, and when Slippery-Hill is back online you should be able to hear John Summers playing it there. This transcription is a bit of a simplification of the way I play it, which is pretty similar to the Canotes. Interestingly, in the recording I’ve heard of Summers playing it, he only plays the first part the first time through the tune, and then alternates between the second and third parts the rest of the time. I prefer it with all three parts.

–Josh

No sheet music files available for this piece.

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