This book is a collection of fiddle tunes transcribed from Rodney Miller’s CD Castles in the Air. Released in 1976 , Castles is the first full-length recording of Rodney’s fiddling and precedes even the classic New England Chestnuts albums. Our goal is to impart as accurately as possible Rodney’s style and technique without producing overly complex scores. We therefore have notated the essential elements: notes, rhythm, ornamentation and slurs.
SUGGESTIONS ON HOW TO USE THIS BOOK
- Try learning the basic version of a tune first. Basic versions have their own section in the book and are based on the CD versions.
- Listen to how Rodney plays your selected tune on the CD. Then, find one or two places in the tune that interest you, find those places in the transcription, and work only there until you have mastered them.
- Incorporate additional elements until you are satisfied with the way the tune sounds.
This tune book includes detailed chapters on Rodney’s bowing technique and finger ornamentation.
A FINAL WORD
This project has made me much more aware of Rodney’s highly skilled fiddle playing, even on this early recording of his. It is indeed complex on many levels, and these transcriptions give you an idea of this complexity. If nothing else, I hope you gain a greater appreciation for this great talent in the world of American fiddling.
Alan Roberts (with Sande Gillette),
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EXCERPTS FROM THE FORWARD
by Rodney Miller
Hardings All-Round Collection is a noteworthy glimpse into the world of American country dance tunes at the turn of the 20th century. While the majority are of Irish and Scottish origin, Harding also chose a fair number of vaudevillian and classic American dance tunes.
Most likely riding on a popular wave of publications such as Francis O’Neill’s The Dance Music of Ireland and Ryan’s Mammoth Collection, Harding published his collection with categorized melodies. Almost every tune has a label: Straight Jig, Buckdance, Fling, and Contra Dance, to name a few. This identification would have helped working musicians of the time choose tunes appropriate to specific contra dances, to certain “straight” or “stage” jigs, danced by vaudevillian cloggers, or to “flings” performed at Highland games. He also included a bass clef, not surprising given the growth of piano-accompanied parlor music for family entertainment in the 1890’s. Still, it is an unusual detail for most dance tune collections of the time.
Small changes aside, it is heartening that so many of the melodies in the All-Round Collection still enjoy a vibrant popularity. This tune book is a historical foundation representing the roots of today’s fiddle tune repertoire. Harding’s All-Round Collection maintains a distinguished place in the American fiddle music archive and is a must-have tune book.
Antrim, New Hamsphire
Below, a tune from Harding’s.