Full piece, solo
Full piece, w/acc.
A part, 1st line
A part, 2nd line
A part, 3rd line
A part, 4th line Transition 2
B part, 1st line
B part, 2nd line
Beat count, dances
Learn a fiddle tune
Here is an opportunity to learn a fiddle piece from Dear Old Illinois. It is No. 75, "Rabbit in the Log," a hoedown perhaps more commonly known as "Fort Smith." It comes from Henry Hall of Cave-in-Rock and was recorded by Millie Angleton in 1956.
The piece was chosen based on a few criteria and with the beginner in mind. First, it is not extremely difficult. Also, it offers a good variety of ornaments, starting off with both anticipation and a double stop. Also, it has nice examples of a punch at the ends of the lines. And both parts have pickup notes, so first and second endings are employed.
As discussed in detail in the book, fiddle hoedowns most commonly consist of an A part and a B part, each of which is played through twice. That is, each part is played through and then repeated. This pattern is sometimes referred to as AABB. This hoedown follows this form.
Another point of note, the A part of this piece is 32 beats when played through twice, double the length of the B part, which is only 16 beats when played through twice. So this piece also provides examples of the terms "long" and "short" as they apply to beat count, a subject also discussed in the book.
And in a totally non-musical light, this piece also illustrates the variability of traditional fiddle tune titles. In fact, this particular piece is known by at least a couple more, in addition to the two given. None of them are "correct;" none of them are "incorrect." Tunes not uncommonly have more than one title. Know this and think no more about it.
The piece is dissected line-by-line and broken down to the atom. It is presented with a 16th note counter, at very slow tempo so you can hear the values of each note. And it is presented both solo and with guitar accompaniment so you can focus on the melody and get your rhythmic bearings from the accompaniment, as you wish.
So let's get started. First we'll see and hear the piece in its entirety; then we'll break it down into pieces.
The image below shows the piece exactly as it is given in the book.
To illustrate the instruction style followed on this page, here is the piece played solo by our friend the synthesized MIDI fiddle player. The tempo is moderate.
And here our friend the synthesized MIDI guitar player provides accompaniment for the piece.
Here is the first line, played at very slow tempo with just the fiddle and 16th note counter. Note it kicks off with an anticipated double stop followed by a 16th rest, all of which is repeated a couple of measures later.
An additional aside: the "vibrato" on the very last paired note is impossible, as they are both open strings. So don't get snagged on why you can't make it sound like that. Remember, our synthetic fiddler isn't human and thus doesn't know any better.
And here is the first line with guitar accompaniment.
Here is the second line with the fiddle and 16th note counter. You can see that the third and second notes from the end (in that order) are a punch. (Review it on the Ornaments page if necessary.)
Here is the second line with guitar accompaniment.
Now you are ready to start the A part over and play it through again. However, as illustrated on the 1st and 2nd Endings page, you do not go back to the absolute beginning, because the pickup note is included in the first ending. (If this isn't clear, take a few minutes to review the 1st and 2nd Endings and Pickup Notes pages.)
Here is the transition into the second time through the A part. On the left is the last measure of the first time through (the 1st ending.) On the right is the first measure of the second time through.
Now you are ready to play the third line of the A part, which is of course a "re-run" of the first line. It begins with the measure on the right in the transition shown above. Here is the third line played solo.
And here is the third line with guitar accompaniment.
Here is the fourth line of the A part played solo. Again, you will recognize it to be a "re-run," this time of the second line. However, you will notice that the last measure (the 2nd ending) is incomplete. It ends at the punch.
Here is the fourth line with guitar accompaniment.
As mentioned above, the last measure of the fourth line (the 2nd ending) is incomplete. This is because the B part has pickup notes. Below is the transition into the B part.
Take a minute to make sure the information below in bold type all makes sense. If not, review the 1st and 2nd Endings page.
In the transition below, the measure on the left is all of the following:
* the last measure of the second time through the A part,
* the last measure of the fourth line of the A part,
* the last measure of the 2nd ending of the A part, and
* the last measure of the A part.
In the center is the pickup measure of the B part. On the right is the first full measure of the B part.
Note that the rhythm of the accompaniment is uninterrupted. The strum of the guitar chord occupies the pickup measure of the B part, which has two 16th notes for a total duration of one 8th note, same as each strum (and each bass note) of the accompaniment.
Here is the first line of the B part played with the fiddle and 16th note counter.
Here is the first line played with guitar accompaniment.
Notice that you are ready to begin the second time through the B part already, much sooner than you reached this point in the A part. This is because the B part is only half the length of the A part, as noted above.
Below is the transition from the first time through the B part to the second time through the B part.
The measure on the left is the last measure of the first time through (the 1st ending.) And again, notice that its last two notes are the pickup notes of the B part. So once again you will return not to the absolute beginning of the B part but only to the beginning of the first full measure (the measure on the right, below.)
The second line of the B part is of course a "re-run" of the first, as it has only two lines. But notice that once again it ends at the punch, an 8th note shy of a full measure. Here it is played solo.
And here it is with guitar accompaniment.
You have now played the entire piece through once. This means you are ready to start over at the beginning of the A part. This time you will start at the absolute beginning of the A part, including the pickup notes. So, as noted above, the last measure of the B part is left incomplete. This is to accommodate the pickup notes of the A part.
Here is the transition from the B part back to the A part. The measure on the left is the last measure of the B part, in the center is the pickup measure of the A part, and on the right is the first complete measure of the A part.
The relationship of beat count to suitability for dances is discussed in the book, and a word about this is included here as well.
Many dances require pieces that are 64 beats through. The piece you just learned, when played AABB, is not. The A is 32 and the B is 16, for a total of only 48. But this piece will work for a 64-beat dance by simply playing the B part 4 times through instead of twice (AABBBB).
However, it can get a little difficult to keep track of "which time through you're on." If you find this to be true, you can modify it to better keep your bearings. Below is an example of such a modification. There are countless other possibilities.
The modified notes are shown in red.
Here is the new 32-beat B part with the modified notes slowed down for emphasis (played only once through).