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Although it may seem like there isn’t much new here on Ye Olde Blog, behind the scenes the Research Department has been working hard to consolidate the million and one links clogging up the bookmarks menu on the web browser into a one stop source of inspiration for my readers.

Have you ever noticed the tabs right above the most recent post? No? Let me call your attention to them now, as they contain important information. Okay, they are not all totally ready for public consumption, but the Free Music Sources page is loaded with links to free tunes from around the world in various formats.

For those of you who learn by listening there are links to sites with MP3 files, sorted by genre (Old-Time, Irish/Celtic/Scottish, Bluegrass, etc.)

Prefer “dots?” There’s plenty for you, too, also sorted by genre. ABC notation, MIDI and TAB sources are listed, as well as many links to free classical music sites.

Please drop me a note at catmccall at gmail dot com if you have a link to add to the growing list or if you’re looking for something specific.

Stay tuned for updates to the other pages…

Fiddlers Whenever

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I missed last week’s Fiddlers on Friday due to circumstances beyond my control, so today we’ll catch up with one of my favorite songs played by one of my favorite groups, Bellowhead. The tune is called New York Girls and, like so veryย  many folk songs, its origins are rather obscure. Here’s Bellowhead’s version –

Jon Boden sings lead vocals and has completed his project A Folk Song a Day where he posted a traditional folk song every day for a year with the recordings available in 12 albums as well as on his website. Great stuff!There are many versions of the lyrics for New York Girls and several sources for the tune’s origins, but I could find only one version of the music –

Here’s a link to a Mudcat.org discussion about the origins of the song that is very interesting. The Mudcat Cafe is a huge resource for traditional tune origins and lots of discussion that everyone should visit. Rag Fair is another song in a related vein – those sailor’s just couldn’t seem to learn ๐Ÿ™‚

Yet another tune on my To-Learn list!

My new favorite song

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Is he amazing, or what?

More info about the music from the movie The Last of the Mohicans and the sheet music for The Gael can be found here.

A saucier version of The Gael can be found here.

But how does it sound?


The most important question when evaluating any fiddle is, “what does it sound like?” A pretty fiddle won’t necessarily sound as good as it looks, and many “ugly” fiddles sound incredible.

I had intended to have the fiddle finished in time for the fiddle workshop at the Toledo Wooden Boat Show, feeling that the symmetry of returning a year after I’d first touched a fiddle with a fiddle that I’d built myself would be very poetic. And then I heard a rumor that Kelly Thibodeaux wouldn’t be able to give the workshop this year and I was bummed.

It just so happens that this weekend the Lincoln County Fair is going on and I glanced over the schedule online on Tuesday morning to see if anything interesting was happening. Lo and behold, Kelly is holding a workshop. In just four days. The fiddle was not quite ready, hadn’t been strung up, the nut still needed to be shaped, etc. but I was determined to take it to the workshop. The finish is not yet what I want it to be, and there are a million tiny things that will have to be dealt with later, but it’s done enough to play.

I’m still at the stage where I can play a few simple tunes, so a sound sample from me wouldn’t show off what this fiddle can do. I was hoping that Kelly would play the fiddle for me and tell me what he thinks. He kindly obliged –

Kelly was kind enough to play a few songs for me to record for instructional purposes, too. Thank you, Kelly!

If you recall, my objective was something more than a Violin Shaped Object (VSO) with this build, and I think I reached that goal. Already this blonde fiddle has a deeper voice than the Cheap Chinese Fiddle. The action is lower and the bridge flatter, more “fiddler” style.” It’s easy to play and stays in tune. So far I am very happy with this project.

Fado and the Violin

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Fado is a musical genre of Portuguese origin which can be traced back to at least the 1820’s. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor.

Here’s Maria Ana Bobone singing “With that Voice-“

Beautiful, no? Amazing what YouTube searches can lead one to. But, back to my point. Here’s Natalia Juskiewicz, a Polish violinist who has lived in Portugal for the last ten years –

The sound of the violin has been compared to the human voice since its invention 460 years ago, and this song proves that point.

At the beginning of 2010 Natalia conceived of the idea to record traditional Fado music using the violin as the vocal focus. Look for her upcoming CD entitled โ€œUm Violino no Fado.โ€

Do you know of another artist who uses the violin as the “voice” of another genre of music? I find the subject endlessly fascinating and long to know more…

Something a Little Different

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This is the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

Found, as so many wonderful things are, on a late-night YouTube link-click session. Aren’t they amazing? Really makes me want to buy (or build!) a ukulele. Who knew a “toy” instrument could sound so amazing? Do take a look at their other videos – Back in Black is not to be missed!

There’s So Much More!

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Spend any time at all at The Fiddle Hangout and you’ll soon discover links to new and upcoming performers as well as source material for classic, old-time, blues and bluegrass and anything fiddle. Follow a few links around and you’ll end up on YouTube eventually and discover something totally unexpected. I promise.

It wasn’t long before I found the Carolina Chocolate Drops and Snowden’s Jig

Better check to see if you have a soul if that haunting melody fails to move you!

Of course, it’s well beyond my abilities at this time, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be able to play it. A bit of searching around and I discovered that they’ve published a songbook

Perfect! I downloaded some free tab paper to transpose the song so I can learn it phrase by phrase without having to read the music because trying to do three things at once is not very helpful at this point.

Working on this song introduced me to the wonders of scordatura, or cross-tuning. This fiddle thing really has no limits, does it? Justin’s fiddle is cross-tuned to GDgd so having two fiddles is a must ๐Ÿ™‚ I keep the electric fiddle cross-tuned and the wood fiddle on traditional GDAE tuning and alternate between the two when practicing. I have plain black tapes on the fingerboard of the electric to help mark where the notes are located. So far it’s working okay – the fiddles are different, but I’m too green to be bothered by it yet. As time goes on I expect to develop a favorite, but not today.

The Song That Started it All

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I just love this song!