New Rosin for an Old Bow
A Collection of
Reels, Jigs, Waltzes, Airs, and Other Fiddle Tunes
with a few tunes composed with, or by, good friends
Download a PDF (9 megs) of edition 1.1 of the book HERE in A4 and HERE in letter paper.
Tune-by-Tune Edition (with Some Audio)
For many years I’ve had this problem: I can’t play traditional tunes without finding new ones hopping out of my mandolin. I think that’s how it’s supposed to be with tradition. It’s supposed to be alive and hopping, not dead and slumbering. Traditional music is supposed to connect past and present, and is supposed to have a future as well. It is supposed to be unfinalizable, as the Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin was fond of saying.
Thus the title of this tune collection: New Rosin for an Old Bow. I do not desire to offer here new rosin for a new bow. I like the old bow very much. But if you keep using a favorite old bow, you will soon feel the need to rosin it up once again. Some day you may even feel the need to acquire a whole new chunk of the stuff. Here in this book, you may find that new chunk of rosin for your old bow.
Alright, so I play mandolin and banjo, not fiddle. Maybe I should have called the collection “new picks for an old mandolin,” or “new strings for an old banjo.” But the tradition these tunes emerge out of is that of “fiddle tunes”—the generic name players toss around to encompass a range of styles, from Southern to New England, Celtic to French-Canadian, that flow from the common pulse of (generally) 32 bar tunes with an AABB melodic pattern, so suited to dancing and to sitting around in a living room or a kitchen, swapping tunes.
I hope these tunes will find their way into many a dance and many a jam session. You’ll find that I’ve marked each tune with a copyright notice, and the phrase “some rights reserved.” Here’s what that means: I and my co-composers in this book hereby give free license to anyone for the live performance, in private or public, of any of these tunes. And if you’re lucky enough that someone pays you for your performance, well bless you. We hope you spend the money well. We don’t ask for any of it. We have not registered these tunes with ASCAP or BMI. To do so would be, I think, to violate the spirit of folk tradition.
But if you want to record or otherwise mechanically reproduce any of these tunes, then we would like to hear from you first. In my case, I have yet to ask for any royalty greater than a free copy of the CD the tune is recorded on or book it is printed in. Yet in the remote circumstance that somebody is going to make big money with one of these tunes, we don’t want to end up like Stephen Foster either, dead in the gutter with only the crumbs. As long as these tunes are still in a “folk” context, we seek no gain from them. But if they enter the commercial realm, we think we should have the opportunity to negotiate a share of any return.
And long life to that folk tradition! That’s what really wrote these tunes. The basic ideas behind “fiddle tunes” have been worked out over the years by countless players. My co-composers and I have just given these ideas a twist here and there.
I’ve found the materials for the twists that I add from Klezmer, jazz, classical, and other tapestries I cannot give name to, because I don’t know what the names are. These twists just show up in my head and in my fingers, often in the midst of playing for a contradance, or right afterwards when I get home, head still swirling with notes. In this sense, my band-mates always have at least an indirect role in writing the tunes (and in several instances, indicated by co-composership, a direct role). So many thanks to my fellow members of the Barn Owl Band, eleike, Fiddlasaurus Rex, Fiddle Faddle, the Fiddleheads, Froggie on the Carport, Heywired, the Outhouse Shouters, the Pretty Good Band, Taychopera, and the Wiretappers, bands past and present in varying degrees.And thanks to you for rosining up your bow with these tunes, giving them the continuing life that is the true essence of tradition.
Formats for the Tunes
PDF — gives you a "PDF" of the tune
MIDI — gives you a MIDI or MP3 playback of just the tune, without back-up chords
ARR — gives you MIDI or MP3 playback with back-up chords
Scorch — gives you the tune in the proprietary Sibelius format, which allows transposing
ScorchARR — gives you the tune plus back-up chords, in Sibelius's format
LIVE — gives you a LIVE performance of the tune
Don't miss the ARR files! They're the really cool ones.
(Note that the selection of the tunes in the on-line edition doesn't exactly match the PDF edition.)
Amaranthus — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Asparagus Lunch — PDF MIDI Scorch
Bishop Street — PDF MIDI Scorch
Buffalo Creek — PDF MIDI Scorch
Bullfrog Knocking at the Cottage Door — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch NEW!!
East Rock Reel — PDF MIDI Scorch
Ellis Island — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Fly by Night — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Forgive You? Forget It! (Jason, Farewell)— PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Gibbous Moon— PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Glass Cascade — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Great God Garlic — PDF MIDI Scorch
Horseradish — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Howlin' Bill — PDF MIDI Scorch
Itchin' for a Clone — PDF MIDI Scorch
Jammin' the Breaks— PDF MIDI ARR Scorch ScorchARR
Jammin' with Betty — PDF MIDI Scorch
Kids' Island — PDF MIDI Scorch
Michael's Welcome to Samuel — PDF MIDI Scorch
Moriah — PDF MIDI Scorch
New Rosin for an Old Bow — PDF MIDI Scorch
Oy Vey, Such a Day — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Pleasant Street — PDF MIDI Scorch
River Dragon Reel — PDF MIDI ARR NEW!!
Strinnenia Reel— PDF MIDI ARR Scorch ScorchARR
The Pleasure of Leisure — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Great Shippe — PDF MIDI Scorch
Toe Dusting — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Trip to the River — PDF MIDI Scorch
Unquowa Road — PDF MIDI Scorch
Unreel — PDF MIDI Scorch
West Rock Reel — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Wise Peasant — PDF MIDI Scorch
Castalia's Fountain — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Crossing the Equinox — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Fiddler at the Bar — PDF MIDI Scorch
Mattabassett — PDF MIDI Scorch
October Jig — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Paddy on the Skateboard — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Quantum Chaos — PDF MIDI Scorch
Ursina's Ramble to America (as a jig) — PDF MIDI Scorch LIVE* NEW!!
Ursina's Ramble to America (as a slide) — PDF MIDI Scorch LIVE* NEW!!
*Played by Ursina herself!
Bud's Waltz — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Cloud Forest — PDF MIDI Scorch
Diane's Waltz — PDF MIDI Scorch
Dulcinea's Waltz — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Great Hall Waltz — PDF MIDI Scorch Revised!!
Laura's Waltz — PDF MIDI Scorch
Leaving Iowa — PDF MIDI Scorch
Leaving Northumberland — PDF MIDI Scorch
Planxty Mom — PDF MIDI Scorch
Planxty Piotr — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
The Rooster and the Nightingale — PDF MIDI Scorch
The Waltz of the Three Friends — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
Waltzing with a Blackberry — PDF MIDI Scorch
Waltzing with Wolfgang — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch
*Slip waltzes are a type of couple dance I seem to have invented or re-invented, which are closely related to "zweifachers," an Austrian dance in irregularly variable meter. The meter in slip waltzes varies, but in a constant pattern: 4 measures in 3/4 followed by one measure in 4/4. The result gives a total of 16 beats in the sequence, and dancers wind up on their starting foot. They are danced quite fast, at Viennese waltz speed, in the range of 160 to 190 beats per minute. You dance the first four measures as a regular waltz (but at Viennese speed), followed by two quick "slip steps" for the 4/4 measure.
But I've written only two so far that I really like:
Falling For You — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch Scorcharr LIVE
Stichin' Time — PDF MIDI ARR Scorch Scorcharr
Airs and Other Tunes
Closing the Cottage (air) — PDF MIDI Scorch
Closing the Cottage (air) — with ornamentation— PDF MIDI Scorch
Closing the Cottage (air), for cello — PDF
Closing the Cottage (air), for cello — with ornamentation— PDF
Dragonfly (rag) — PDF MIDI Scorch
The First Tomato (polka) — PDF MIDI Scorch
Mabon (slow march) — PDF MIDI Scorch
Michael's Welcome to Eleanor (slow march) — PDF MIDI Scorch
Pelikan's Wedding (slow reel) — PDF MIDI Scorch
Quinnetuckqut (slow reel) — PDF MIDI Scorch
If you like these tunes — or even if you don't — check back again some time, as I will be adding more tunes as they come to me.
Page last updated March 2, 2009