Welcome to Dr. Fiddle's Old Time Fiddle Tune Transcriptions!

We are currently hosting 849 tunes in 27 collections. See latest updates on my blog.

The noblest, if not indeed the only noble use, to which we can devote our strength, our energies, our faculties, our intellect, is to labour for the benefit of others, to instruct, to guide, to enrich with physical comforts, and moral healthfulness and intellectual wealth, the less favoured of our race; not alone our children, friends, neighbors, but those remote from us and even unknown to us; separated from us even by wide spaces of time yet unelapsed; to be born hereafter; to people this earth when we have left it; to build their habitations and their cities, and the monuments of their ancestors, upon our unknown graves...

General Albert Pike, from Some Thoughts on the Nature and Purposes of Freemasonry
Read Pike's original article here, and my explanation and call to action here.

Who is Dr. Fiddle?

Dr. Fiddle is Austin James Rogers, PhD. I am the principal instructor of the Rogers School of Traditional Music in Austin, TX.

About This Site

This site presents fiddle tunes that I have transcribed. Transcriptions are presented in the PDF format, which requires Adobe Acrobat Reader or similar software to display and print. For fiddlers who learn better by ear, the tunes are also presented in MIDI format. Most tunes also include MP3s of me playing the tune at a slow tempo. These are not performance-quality recordings, are intentionally simple and, as the material is often unfamiliar to me when I record it, not very polished.

Details of recent updates to this site may be found on my blog.

There are no commercial recordings on this site. All material presented is believed to be in the public domain. If you find a tune on this site to which you own copyright, please contact me and I will remove the tune if you so desire.

All these tunes are offered free of charge in the hope that someone might benefit from them. If you find this site useful, please consider making a donation.

What Sorts of Tunes are Available on This Site?

This site deals primarily with old time fiddle tunes, but you will also find a lot of country rags and even some early Texas Swing. I am from the mountains of northeast Alabama, so my primary interest is in fiddle tunes played in and around the Appalachian mountains. I also love ragtime fiddling and country waltzes. One reason I started this site is that while Celtic tunes seem to be everywhere on the internet, old time tunes are far less common. Not that there isn't any Celtic material on this site; on the contrary, many Irish and Scottish tunes have made their way into the old time tradition. Therefore, many of these have roots in Ireland and the British Isles, but are presented here in their old time guise.

How Do I Find Tunes On This Site?

There are three ways to navigate the tunes on this site:

  • Browse by Collection: Tunes are divided into collections. Each collection contains transcriptions from a particular fiddler. There is also a Miscellaneous Transcriptions Collection for fiddlers of whom I have not yet transcribed (or do not indend to transcribe) enough to start their own collection. If you hover your mouse over the Individual Collections menu item, a submenu of all available collections will pop up. This may be too large to fit on smaller screens, so you can click on the Individual Collections menu item to see a page listing all available collections.
  • Browse by Group: Some tunes are also arranged into groups. Each group contains tunes that share some common theme, including multiple versions of the same tune. Click on the Tune Groups menu item to see a page listing all available groups.
  • Search: You can enter part of a tune name in the search box below the menu on the left side. You can also click on Advanced Search in the menu to seach by more criteria. For instance, you could use the Advanced Search page to search for rags in the key of F (which, by the way, would yield some very tasty results).

How Can I Help?

I would be thrilled to get all the help I can get with this site. You can help in the following ways:

  • Do you have a collection of fiddle tunes that you would like to post on this site? I'd love to host them as a collection here.
  • Are you interested in having me transcribe and post a few of your best tunes? I am always looking for guest contributors.
  • Do you have access to recordings of public domain fiddle tunes? Please get in touch with me. I'm hoping to also have collections of transcribed field recordings.
  • Won the lottery? Burdened with extra money? Please consider donating to support the site.

Why Transcribe Fiddle Tunes?

Simply put, to make them as accessible as possible to as many people as possible. Some fiddlers are opposed to transcriptions, believing that fiddle tunes should be learned by ear. I've even heard some fiddlers say that you can't learn a tune from notation. Needless to say, I don't hold with that opinion. People have different learning styles, so each fiddler should learn tunes in a way that is appropriate for them. For visual learners, we have PDF files of the tunes in standard notation. For auditory learners, we have MIDIs and MP3s.

This project started after I picked up the fiddle again after a few years' break. It took me months to remember my repertoire of tunes, and sometimes I would remember a tune but not its name. I decided to document my tunes so that I could more easily come back up to speed if I ever took another long break from fiddling. Eventually, I started teaching music lessons as well, so my transcriptions are also useful for teaching tunes to my students. These tunes are now in the Austin Rogers collection on this site.

As I became more comfortable and skilled at transcribing my tune repertoire, I wondered if I would be able to also transcribe field recordings of great old time fiddlers of yesteryear. Specifically, I wanted to study the technique and repertoire of Melvin Wine, a famous fiddler from Braxton County, West Virginia. So I tried it, and found that I had a knack for transcription. I am still actively transcribing the available Melvin Wine material, and will transcribe recordings of other fiddlers in the future.

How to Use the Transcriptions

Each tune on this site is presented with a PDF of the tune's melody in standard notation. I sometimes call this the sekeleton of the tune. Many transcriptions also include possible variations of the melody. I will give the same advice that I give my students: learn the melody of the tune from the transcription, and then add ornamentation and/or variations according to the tradition in which you are playing. For instance, I play in a fiddle tradition from North Alabama. This tradition relies heavily on drones and double-stops. I do not normally include these in the melody-only transcriptions as they are usually extraneous to the melody. So, if I were to learn a tune from a melody transcription, I would learn the melody and then add in drones, double-stops, and other ornamentation as I see fit so that the tune is now being played in my style. Other fiddlers, playing in different traditions or even with just a different personal style, may want to ornament the tune differently, which is not only perfectly fine but is definitely encouraged!

Tunes transcribed from field recordings may have a full transcription in addition to the transcription of the melody. These full transcriptions contain as much detail as I can hear from the recordings. As such, they often appear busy and cluttered, and can be rather difficult to read. I do not think that these are as useful as the melody transcriptions for actually learning the tunes. They are useful if you want to do an in-depth analysis of the field recordings, or if you want to play just like, say, Melvin Wine. I include them here to support those goals, but, personally, I prefer to fiddle like myself rather than like anyone else.

Custom Transcriptions

Do you have a fiddle tune that you are trying to learn, but just can't figure out? Don't worry, Dr. Fiddle can help! I offer custom transcription services of old time and Celtic fiddling. Contact me to discuss pricing options and provide audio of the tune in question.