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Texas Style Fiddling
Big on contests!
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ELCBK
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June 16, 2022 - 5:49 am
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I've been trying to put my finger on Texas Style Fiddling for some time, now - because I LOVE it.

I hear elements of "French Canadian" Fiddling like Joseph Allard, "Down East" Style fiddling of Don Messer, "Western Swing", "Breakdowns", syncopated "Rags", elements of "long-bowing Bluegrass" like Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, and I feel like Texas Style is almost synonymous with "Contest Fiddling"

It's so hard to put my finger on it being "Texas", because this music has become SO popular from the East Coast to the Pacific Northwest! 

 

From Texas Folk Life: 

Fiddle contests have been held since fiddles first came to the New World.  Record exists of a contest in the Colony of Virginia in 1736.  Fiddle contests traveled west with the pioneers and their music, and were often incorporated into civic events and celebrations.  By the late Nineteenth Century, fiddle contests became increasingly associated with Old Settlers Days and Confederate reunions.  In the 1920's Henry Ford took steps to revive "old-time" fiddling by sponsoring contests across the Country as qualifying rounds for the National Championship in Detroit.  Contests were fierce competitions which inspired innovation and improvisation in fiddlers in order to win favor with the judges and audiences.  Texas Style Fiddle music rose directly out of this contest tradition. (Aaron Smithers) 

 

Check out these threads for related Fiddle music & info:

Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys Thread

WESTERN SWING! Thread

Henry Ford's Violins Thread

Ragtime & Swing on The Fiddle Thread

Learn about Acadian "Down East" Style Fiddling here: 

French Canadian Fiddle Tunes Thread

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/PtZVGfPUUnA/hqdefault.jpg

...don'tcha just want to fiddle? 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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June 16, 2022 - 6:43 am
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Here's a GREAT article from Texas Monthly, about "Reviving Old-Style Texas Fiddling".  "Howard Rains on his quest to bring back an old-time style of Texas fiddling that was popular between the Civil War and World War II." (

Reviving Old-style Texas Fiddling

During the mid-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a distinctive form of fiddle music emerged in Texas. Known for idiosyncratic timing and phrasing, this style was commonly played with banjos or guitars on front porches or in living rooms, less for show and more for social interaction. It reflected the cross-pollination in Texas following the Civil War, with touches of African-American, Appalachian, Cajun, Czech, German, Irish, Mexican, Polish, and Scottish musical forms.

“And then it just evaporated,” said Howard Rains, an Austin musician and one of the few people in the state who performs this nearly extinct genre of fiddling. 

Western swing and contest-style fiddling all but buried old Texas fiddle music. 

 

A great little bit of Texas Fiddle music history with Howard Rains - a little Parlor Music here, too!

 

"Under the X in Texas" Part 1.  "In studio performance and interview with Rains and Keane: Howard Rains-fiddle, Jerry Hagins-banjo, Peter Keane-acoustic guitar before their appearance at The 6th Annual Austin String Band Festival Driftwood, Texas." 

 

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ELCBK
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June 16, 2022 - 9:15 pm
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FIDDLE FIRE!

Probably too many ordinances in most towns to find something like this - Yay Dorothy, Yay Texas! 

 

 

"THE TEXAS FIDDLE COLLECTION" album - Johnny and Dick Gimble, Maurice Anderson, Jim Boyd, Cliff Bruner, Curly Hollingsworth, Bill Mounce, Eldon Shamblin, and Bill Stone.  

From Waltzes to Rags, this album may help you choose some Texas Style Fiddle Music to learn! 

The Texas Fiddle Collection - 28 Video Playlist

 

Here's a tutorial for "Crafton's Blues" from Jake Duncan!  ...slow it WAY down to learn it. 😊

 

 

https://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/fort-worth/fw-stock-show/tjkp90/picture8199822/alternates/LANDSCAPE_1140/Day11%20Stock%20Show%2012.JPG

 

...now that's the way to do it! 

- Emily

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ELCBK
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June 17, 2022 - 1:37 am
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Big emphasis on Texas Style Bowing! 

Ah, ha!  My practicing strong beats on the up-bow is really going to come in handy! 

Great article at Chris Daring's site: Texas Fiddle - Bow Technique & Tone Production - a lot about how a beat is played and big emphasis on removing space between notes. 

Here's one technique - "Hooked Bowing", a tutorial with Megan Lynch Chowning (FIDDLEVIDEO).  Example talked about is "Angelina Baker".

Texas Style Bowing Technique for "Chromatic Triplets" - Megan Lynch Chowning tutorial!  How it's different - example is used in "Soldier's Joy"

More Texas Style Bowing - adding a little Swing with "Three Note Slurs" - another tutorial from Megan!  Example tune used is "Billy in The Low Ground".

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ELCBK
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June 17, 2022 - 2:13 am
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Here's an article reproduced from Fiddler Magazine (Fall 2011) - about early bow holds, especially making mention that Texas Fiddlers placed their thumbs UNDER the frog!  Texas Fiddle Bow Holds

 

Now, you might've already picked some of these techniques up, but take a look at HOW they are used!

Texas Style Technique - "Rearranging Notes", a 'controlled' improvisation!  Tutorial by Megan Lynch Chowning.  Example is used in "Forked Deer".

Texas Style Technique - "Low Note Replacements", tagging a low note is a great way to spice up a tune!  Another great tutorial by Megan Lynch Chowning - the example is used in "Sally Johnson"

One More Texas Style Bowing Technique - "Down Bow Slurs for Pickup Notes", tutorial by Megan.  This bowing is different than what we are used to - the example is used in "Forked Deer"

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ELCBK
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June 21, 2022 - 1:55 am
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I've been learning the sultry Texas Style "Gypsy Waltz" - found this excellent free series of 4 detailed Tutorials by Jacie Sites VERY helpful! 

 

 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/73/e9/c0/73e9c009463d48a3d6d31865467f8b61.jpg

← "Wild Gypsy Air" print of the original painting by Emily Balivet (2007).

Jacie teaches all bowed string instruments in Idaho.  She has a book series and planner available on Amazon. 

...love "Gypsy Waltz" paired with "Lonesome Moonlight Waltz"!

- Emily

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ELCBK
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June 21, 2022 - 9:51 pm
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Well, yesterday I started to learn "Gypsy Waltz" from the tutorial & today I finished, got it all memorized - it's not hard to learn & it's one of those tunes that feels GREAT to play! 

I'm working on a couple more CRITTER tunes, along with keeping many older tunes up - was thinking of starting on a rag, but I better learn the Texas Style "Midnight Waltz", first. 

Eric Anderson played "Midnight Waltz" in this video - haven't found any better teaching aides than these 2 videos:

Midnight Waltz Tips - Eric Anderson

Here's a great tutorial for Texas Style "Wednesday Night Waltz" from Chris Haigh!  He also does a simple version of this waltz - great for beginners!

 

Still searching for more defining material on "Texas Style"

Pete Martin is a Champion Fiddle & Mandolin player, composer and author of Old Time Texas Fiddle Books.  Found something relevant he posted in a Mandolincafe (2005): 

The Texas fiddle style is not Western Swing, it is a traditional oldtime fiddle style that evolved from the great Texans like Benny [Thomasson], Major [Franklin], the Solomans and many others. #Benny said it best, he took the old tunes and "reworked them" adding variations and other parts. #They are still the melody and even though players improvise on them, the improvisations are around the melody.

Western Swing, on the other hand, is swing played on country instruments. #While there are some old time fiddle elements to it, the improvisations are NOT melody oriented, just the opposite. #They are often called "hot" fiddle solos ala Venuti and Grappelli. # If you listen to Benny, then Johnny Gimble, you'll hear two very different approaches to playing, especially improvising.

The stuff I put in Mandolin Magazine and in my books are the old time Texas fiddle style.

The biggest difference in Texas fiddle style and other oldtime fiddle styles are:
1) The music is not primarily used for dancing, so feel and tempo are not tied to dancing. #Many Texan tunes are slower, allowing more emphasis on melodic development #and variation.
2) More variation in Texas playing, especially tunes that have more standard parts.
3) The backup in Texas fiddling uses different chord voicings to follow the fiddler whereas a lot of eastern fiddle styles use basic chords with more single note bass runs. #Also different instrumentation, in Texas usually just guitars and sometimes tenor guitars, ocasionally piano. #The backup to my ears is heavier on the beat and the off beat, quite often playing with a feel of 4 beats per measure rather than two beats per measure. 

https://i.discogs.com/utPPNKIcUV3pf5Wu4KyLcbD7MVS5-mST9tOZxpn-RbM/rs:fit/g:sm/q:40/h:300/w:300/czM6Ly9kaXNjb2dz/LWRhdGFiYXNlLWlt/YWdlcy9SLTcyMTQz/NDktMTQzNjMyNzkw/Mi03NDYxLmpwZWc.jpeg

- Emily 

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June 21, 2022 - 11:45 pm
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Here's a link to watch (for free) the 1985, 27 minute - "Texas Style" documentary by Alan Govenar & Bruce Lane.

https://texasarchive.org/2010_03050

Filled with music and family stories, this short documentary provides a snapshot of 1980s rural Texas life as it tells the story of Texas Style. A folk style of playing, Texas Style is characterized by a strong concentration on bow work, clear notes, and a slow pace. In general, the tunes are passed from one generation to the next, rather than of being played off of sheet music. From rodeos to fiddle contests to family reunions the film follows various fiddle players as they perform and discuss their craft. 

https://i.pinimg.com/originals/41/ef/36/41ef36b169872cd9e9f9eca1b73c3eba.jpg

 

 

...nice little documentary, but I paid to watch it BEFORE I found this link. 🙄 

LOVED watching the Kids & also the 'Squirrel & Catfish' story! 

- Emily

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June 22, 2022 - 12:33 am
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Here's a little short 1975 film, about Roy Maddox - "The Fiddler - Life of a Texas Fiddle Maker", the video comments revealed this:

Directed by Marshall Riggins, this short non-fiction film from 1975 captures East Texas fiddle maker Roy Maddox and his wife. Maddox discusses the craft of fiddle making and how he met his wife. After completing his hand-crafted instrument, he plays several songs. Riggins produced this film for a religious organization. The film became lost after the organization allegedly decided the content was crude rather than sacred, and destroyed all remaining prints. 

 

 

Know I've seen this before, not sure if/where it's been posted - the Texas fiddlers they talk about are only now making any connection for me, to this music. 

- Emily

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