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Here are sheet music and MIDI files for about 160 tunes. Each tune name is a link to the PDF with the “sheet music” in standard notation. A link like 60 bpm leads to a MIDI file at the indicated speed, if any (in bpm: beats per minute, or sometimes mpm: measures per minute). In some cases I’ve made MIDIs at a more or less “normal” speed and also at a slower speed for learning the tune. If you want other speeds look for a MIDI player that will let you adjust the playback tempo. (Note that the speeds you may hear on a CD or at a performance are often well above a comfortable speed for a jam or other informal setting.) MIDIs don’t sound great, but should help those who learn best by ear. A few tunes also have links to audio files or videos of real performances. You can find many more on the Web, e.g. on YouTube.
So far all the tunes are notated using ABC notation. (I also have Finale and Sibelius, but have come to prefer ABC, and the free abcm2ps compiler, for typesetting this kind of music.)
What’s new? Check the Revision History.
Tune Collections: You can download music for individual tunes from the lists below, or as collections in several formats, updated ocassionally:
A few tunes I’ve composed:
Most of these are tunes we play (or have played) at the South Bay Old-Time Jam. Most of the arrangements are simplified and based loosely on the ways I play them, with basic chords. (Some in our group prefer fancier chords and/or more notes, leading to many an interesting discussion!)
My philosophy about style and what to strive for: some old-time musicians strive to duplicate the sound of a particular musician as heard on an old recording, considering that the way it “should be” done. But as one of those old musicians said in an interview (I can't recall just where I read this), each band or group had their own style, their own way of playing, so they'd stand out from the rest. Some just happened to get recorded. So my approach is to hear the tunes, feel them, and then play them in some way(s) I find interesting, to bring out various characteristics — maybe different ones each time through the tune. While some of these tunes have been transcribed from a recording (or are a mash-up of things heard on two or three recordings), many are just the basic tune, maybe with a few ornamental suggestions, awaiting your interpretation.
In particular, for fiddlers: there are so many ways to bow these tunes that I’ve usually omitted bow-marks and written-in slurs (though I have often suggested “leading” the beat, since that's common in old-time fiddling). Use your creativity: how many different ways can you bow the notes, looking for that old-time sound — or just your own sound? (And in my opinion, though it's good in many (but not all) tunes to emphasize the first beats of measures, that doesn't necessarily mean using a down-bow all the time. Classical players may have some un-learning to do.)
I transcribed the crooked version of Goodbye Girls from Brian Sullivan and Lisa Johnson’s website; they reportedly based it on a recording by Hiram Stamper (Art Stamper’s father). Here’s a discussion of its history.
T-U-V ... Z
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