Vision Statement for the Dr. Fiddle Project, and a Call to Action

I made a small change to the front page of DrFiddle.com the other day, and I wanted to do a blog post about it. I have adopted a vision statement for the Dr. Fiddle Project:

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…

This was written by one of my personal heroes, Albert Pike, and comes from an article entitled Some Thoughts on the Nature and Purposes of Freemasonry (available here). Brother Pike was a Brigadier General for the Confederacy, a friend and defender of the American Indians (especially my people the Cherokees), and one of the greatest Masonic scholars that ever lived. His magnum opus, Morals and Dogma, is probably the most inspirational book I’ve ever read. It’s a pity that hardly anyone reads it anymore, even among Scottish Rite masons.

When I read this quote, it really resonated with me. This is what the Dr. Fiddle Project is all about: “to labour for the benefit of others, to instruct, to guide, to enrich with […] intellectual wealth […] not alone our children, friends, neighbors, but those remote from us and even unknown to us.” The music that I strive to document is not the legacy of any one country or even any one race; it is a legacy belonging to all mankind.

Pike saw Freemasonry as more than just a social club; he saw Masons as builders of the future. That’s what I want to be: a Builder.

Let me challenge you, my readers: what are you doing to build the future? Regardless of your race, gender, country of origin, or religion, you can be a Builder. Look around you and see a need that is not being met, and then work to meet it. This is how you can change the world. That’s how the Dr. Fiddle Project got started: I set out to provide the material that I wished had been available back when I started fiddling. I saw a need, and I set out to fill it. You don’t have to have a PhD, you don’t have to be a Mason, you just have to be willing to work hard for the betterment of humanity.

Happy fiddling!
Austin Rogers, PhD

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Double Update of West Virginia Transcriptions from Clark Kessinger and Melvin Wine

Since I have been too lazy to upload any tunes for a few weeks, I figured I’d do a double update of tunes from two great West Virginia fiddlers, Clark Kessinger and Melvin Wine.

The new Kessinger tunes, which can be found in the Clark Kessinger Collection:

  • Round Town Gal (Buffalo Gals)
  • Sally Ann Johnson
  • Sally Goodin
  • Sally Johnson
  • Sandy River

The new Wine tunes, which can be found in the Melvin Wine Collection:

  • Going Down the Line
  • Going Down to Lynchburg Town to Pack My Tobacco Down
  • Going Home (The Day I Met You)
  • Greasy String
  • Hail, Hail, the Fun’s All Over

Happy fiddling!
Austin Rogers, PhD

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Five Benny Thomasson Transcriptions

I have just posted five transcriptions to the Benny Thomasson Collection:

  • Bush in the Shucks
  • Coming Down from Denver
  • Cotton Patch Rag
  • Crafton Blues
  • Darby’s Hornpipe

There’s some great material here, including two nice breakdowns, two challenging rags, and a simple hornpipe.

Happy fiddling!
Austin Rogers, PhD

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Five Arkansas Transcriptons

This update is sponsored by Patrick Towell, a Canadian fiddler and major proponent of American old time fiddling, particularly Arkansas and Georgia fiddling.

We start with three breakdowns from Arkansas fiddler Issaac “Ike” Reaves, of Reaves’ White County Ramblers:

  • Arkansas Wagoner
  • Drunkard’s Hiccups (not the waltzy Rye Whiskey)
  • Ten Cent Piece

“And now,” to quote Jon Cleese, “for something completely different.” For the first time, I have transcribed a tenor banjo piece. It is also my first venture into the CGDA tuning (other than some desultory mucking about with mandolas and violas on occasion). The banjoist in question is still unidentified, but recorded with a group called the Wonder State Harmonists.

  • Petit Jean Gallop

Lastly, we have a fiddle waltz from Anson Fuller of Ashley’s Melody Men:

  • Sweetest Flower Waltz

These transcriptions can be found in the Ozarks and Missouri Valley Collection (which I should probably rename and/or divide at some point).

Happy fiddling!
Austin Rogers, PhD

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Five Clark Kessinger Transcriptions

Here we have five new transcriptions in the Clark Kessinger Collection:

  • Rat Cheese Under the Hill (Pike’s Peak)
  • Regal March
  • Richmond Polka
  • Rickett’s Hornpipe
  • Rose of My Heart

There should be something for everything in this update. We have a rag (one of my favorites), a march, a polka, a hornpipe, and a waltz, pretty much everything but a breakdown.

Happy fiddling!
Austin Rogers, PhD

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Clark Kessinger’s Underpants Gnomes

Forgive me for indulging in a wee bit of clickbait with the title of this post, but it is indeed an accurate description of one of the tunes in this update. Many of you may remember the classic underpants gnomes from South Park, with their catchy work song (lyrics here). Surprisingly (or not), the melody for the underpants gnome song comes from the old time fiddle tune Portsmouth, which is included in this update.

This update is actually nice and diverse, featuring two rags, one breakdown, one polka, and even a jig (!). The tunes for this week are as follows:

  • Poca River Blues
  • Polka Four (Jenny Lind)
  • Pop Goes the Weasel
  • Portsmouth
  • Ragtime Annie

These transcriptions can all be found in the Clark Kessinger Collection.

Beware the underpants gnomes!

Austin Rogers, PhD

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Five Benny Thomasson Hornpipes

I have just posted five hornpipes to the Benny Thomasson Collection. Although Benny is best known as a contest fiddler, his hornpipe fiddling was also top-notch. These transcriptions show Benny in a jam situation rather than practicing or performing something meant for playing in a contest.

Three of these hornpipes form a medley:

  • College Hornpipe (Sailor’s Hornpipe)
  • Acrobat’s Hornpipe
  • Unknown Hornpipe

If you can identify the unknown hornpipe, please contact me.

The other two are standalone:

  • Blanchard’s Hornpipe
  • Butterfly Hornpipe

Happy fiddling!

Austin Rogers, PhD

 

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Five Clark Kessinger Transcriptions

I have just posted five transcriptions to the Clark Kessinger Collection:

  • Mockingbird
  • Neapolitan
  • Old Jake Gillie
  • Old Joe Clark
  • Over The Waves

This is a diverse batch, representing a nice cross-section of Kessinger’s fiddling (only lacking a rag). We have two tunes from his later bluegrass period: Old Joe Clark and Mockingbird (which is mostly trick fiddling). We also have a march (Neapolitan), a waltz (Over The Waves), and a good old fashioned breakdown (Old Jake Gillie). I personally prefer the latter three, since my interests lie in old time rather than bluegrass fiddling, but I have transcribed these grassy tunes for completeness’ sake.

You may have noticed that I disabled comments on tunes. I didn’t want to do that, but even with the dreaded captcha I was being overrun with spam. Only a few people ever used the comment feature. I wish to extend my hearty thanks to those who did legitimately comment on tunes, and to invoke one of my father’s favorite curses, may the spammers be cursed with a boil on their butt.
Happy fiddling!

Austin Rogers, PhD

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