New Hampshire Country Dance Fiddle Tunes Website

Learning & Playing Fiddle Tunes

Some Issues & Ideas About Learning & Playing Fiddle Tunes

This section is intended to be a place to discuss a variety of topics, issues and ideas related to different ways of learning to play fiddle tunes and how they affect what we learn, and to various factors that affect how we play the tunes.

In This Section

This section looks at a variety of topics. Here's a look at what's covered.

On This Page
  • An Overview of the Section. On this page I want to give you some idea of what's covered in this section and what I'm trying to accomplish with it.
In This Section

This section will over time contain a variety of topics related to learning and playing fiddle tunes.

  • Choosing Chords for Fiddle Tunes. Here we look at a variety of topics. Why should fiddlers even care about chords? Are there "correct" chords for a fiddle tune? And what are some of the factors that affect our choices of chords?
  • Learning by Ear, from Written Music & Through a Combination. This section hasn't been brought over to the new website; this is really just a placemark and a reminder to me to do it!

An Overview of the Section

In addition to presenting a bunch of tunes in the first part of the website, I have some ideas about learning and playing fiddle tunes that I'd like to present here.

Starting with learning, there are a number of ways in which our learning processes differ. Some people learn by ear, some learn almost exclusively from written music, and some people combine the two in various ways. Some people learn at jam sessions and dances, some people learn by listening to recordings. Some people listen primarily to their peers, and some people listen to the old timers and to recordings made by previous generations of musicians. Some people focus exclusively on the melody, some people focus more on the chord structure, and some people pay more attention to the rhythmic structure of a tune. I think it should be obvious these differences will affect what people learn, and how they play the tunes.

We'll also look at some variables primarily related to playing, although inevitably affected by how one learns. We'll start out with the issue of choosing chords for a tune. I present some general discussion of factors affecting the choice of chords, and then present a case history in the development of a set of chords, together with playable tunes so you can hear the effects of different chord choices.