About the Archive, and How To Use the Player
The above music player contains playlists of early source recordings of old time fiddle tunes, organized in two formats.
The “Tunes” playlist will allow you to listen to one or more versions of a given fiddle tune.
The “Fiddler” playlist will allow you to listen to multiple fiddle tunes by a single fiddler.
There are two primary purposes for presenting these in both formats. The “tunes” playlist is for those of you who are looking to familiarize yourself with a particular tune that you’ve chosen to learn.
Almost every fiddle tune consists of a core structural melody, upon which a given fiddler adds his or her own stylistic embellishments. And simply by listening to multiple versions of the same tune, you will learn to disentangle the melodic core of a tune from those individual variations.
The “fiddler” playlist is for those of you who are looking to familiarize yourself with the playing of a given fiddler (or fiddlers), or interested in furthering your understanding of the different styles of old time fiddling (individual and regional) .
In listening to an individual fiddler’s take on multiple tunes, you will also begin to understand the nuances of a particular fiddler’s style, or the consistent set of stylistic embellishments he or she chooses to make.
Oldtimejam.com and the Old Time “Top 20”
You will also find a playlist of “top 20” tunes. This list was compiled based on multiple surveys of the most popular old time jam tunes around the world, and is the same as the “top 20” list found at oldtimejam.com.
Additionally, there will be considerable overlap between the tunes presented on this playlist, and the tunes in the Old Time Jam Machine at oldtimejam.com.
Thus, if you are learning a new tune, one approach would be to use the playlist here to learn the tune, then utilize the backup tracks (either the solo guitar or banjo and guitar backups) at oldtimejam.com for practice.
Members of the Fiddle for All course will receive a complimentary membership to oldtimejam.com, and will also have a backup player dedicated to practicing the tunes that are taught inside the course.
The intention here is not to present these as the “definitive” version of a particular tune. Rather, it is to deepen your understanding of the old time fiddling and your connection to the tunes and people of the tradition.
As these playlists illustrate, all of these tunes are living and breathing entities, ones that change forms in the hands of every musician who touches them.
This music belongs to everyone and no one, and the best way to honor the tradition is to use its tools and techniques to make precisely the kind of music you wish to make.
How To Use the Player
Below is a short video on how to use the controls on the music player:
The tunes in player have come from multiple sources, including public archival collections around the interwebs, personal collections, and the occasional clandestine cassette tape exchange in darkened alleys.
The content in the Fiddle Tune Archive is for educational use only.