Jeff Davis

As played by Blaine Smith from the Tennessee region

Reel or Breakdown in C

From the Cumberlands Collection

3 files for this tune:

Melody-Only Transcription (PDF)
Full Transcription (PDF)


1977 field recording released on the album A Bottle of Wine and Gingercake: Traditional Music from Southeast Tennessee


I suspect that this tune is named in honor of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. It is a really cool tune, and one that I am adding to my personal repertoire, but it can start to get a little repetitive. Each repetition of the tune consists of a two-line A part and a single-line B part played four or five times. The A part is crooked, with an extra two beats on the end. The transition from the B part to the next A part sounds crooked, but it’s not; that’s just part of Smith’s awesome syncopation.

Speaking of syncopation, be careful of the timing, as the syncopation really makes this tune. But don’t be afraid to experiment with it, as Smith surely did, so the tune doesn’t sound monotonous. The only other potential difficulty here comes from some unison Es in the A part, but you get to slide up to those. Also look out for downward slides from C to B on the second string. Smith’s bowing was very aggressive, with a lot of sawstroke. In fact, all groupings of eighth notes that are not part of a slide should be played with sawstrokes.

This tune is a member of the following groups:

Dr. Fiddle's Favorite Breakdowns and Reels

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