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April 2007 · Bimonthly

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From Mary Ann Willis:
The intention of this series of articles is not to present the tunes as they are traditionally done. Instead the goal is to use easy, popular music as a vehicle for the student to practice and learn more advanced techniques.

I created these versions of these tunes for my students, who enjoy them and their increased mobility around the fiddle with both left hand and bow as a result of learning them. This series is an alternative to the drudgery of Sevcik, Mazas etc. - to help inspire the beginning student to tackle intermediate techniques.
Click to hear devil's dream" mp3.

8. Devil's Dream

Ah, the elusive intonation of the closed position double stop 5th! This popular reel (originating in Ireland) sports a 1st finger planted solidly on both the E and A strings in bars 3 and 4 of both sections, along with rocking the bow on 8th notes (see my webzine article on "Soldier's Joy").

Let's just isolate and practice these measures (which occur a total of four times); then the rest of the song will be easy. Plant the 1st finger solidly and simultaneously on B on the A string and F# on the E. If your fingertips are nice and broad, you'll have an easy time covering both strings and sounding both notes together in tune. For the rest of us, go ahead and experiment with various positionings of the fingerpad until you get decent coverage and intonation.

OK, now that the 1st finger is stationed (where it will remain for 12 notes!) let's alternate the 3rd finger (D) on the A string with it. In essence, we'll be rocking the bow using an F# (1st finger on the E string) pedal tone (a repeated tone which alternates periodically with other tones).

Still got that 1st finger down? Go ahead and (leaving it there), also put down the 3rd finger (D) on the A string. Draw a downbow. This will be your first note of the measure. Rock the bow over to the E string to play upbow the 1st finger F#, which is already in place. Now pick up the 3rd finger D and rock the bow back over to the A string, to now sound (on a downbow) B - the 1st finger which is still there. Rock over to the E for the 1st finger F# (upbow) again. Repeat this 4-note pattern twice more. End that measure with a 4-note walkdown from A on the E string.

OK, that's the hard part. Now let's go back to the top. We'll start with a triple grace note roll-up from open E to A on the E string, on a downbow. This is before, and slurred into, the first two notes of the opening measure. To do the roll-up, just play open E and the subsequent 1st and 2nd fingers as quickly as you can, hitting the top A on the beat. Slur the three grace notes and first two eighths all together.

The first two bars use the Nashville shuffle bowing (see my webzine article on "Boil that Cabbage Down"). This time, however, we'll do like the big boys and accent the third eighth note in each of the first three 4-eighth note groups. Pull or push the bow with extra energy for each accent. This stresses the offbeat, driving the song with somewhat of a swing feel. This opening figure recurs halfway through the A section; treat it the same way.

The last two bars of both sections use a diatonic (scale-wise) walk-up and walk-down.

The tag uses the same triple grace note roll-up as before, this time on an upbow. Again, start with the Nashville shuffle. There's a flashy E harmonic (see my webzine article on "Bringing Home a Baby Bumblebee" / "Arkansas Traveler") initiating the final "shave-and-a-haircut " tag.

©2005 Mary Ann Willis

Thanks to Kelly Lancaster for the backup guitar tracks, and Dan Lewis for the audio engineering.

About the Author:

  • Professional violinist, performing and teaching in Houston Texas
    1977-1999 with The Gypsies. 2000-present with Moodafaruka
  • Author of eight book/recording volumes of ethnic and classical music for Mel Bay Publications (5 published to date under Mary Ann Harbar)
  • Played with numerous symphony orchestras throughout the United States, and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy
  • Houston Community College faculty member starting in 1988
  • BA in music from University of California

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