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The Year of Ward Jarvis: Run Aground at Three Forks of Reedy

Well, it's been a month since my last post and four months since my last update on my Year of Ward Jarvis project. That means I've neglected to post about the progress I've made on two tunes, "Pretty Little Indian" and "Three Forks of Reedy." What the heck? The heck is I have gotten stuck.
While I'm feeling OK about "Pretty Little Indian," it still gives me some problems. It's an A modal tune played in GDAE, and it's got some interesting phrasing. I started working on it at the beginning of August. Here's the rough recording I made two months ago.

I know it's not pretty (pun somewhat intended), but I've gotten better since then. I need to record myself again with how I'm playing the tune now. Although I'm still working out some kinks, I've gotten comfortable enough with it to move onto the next tune on my list, "Three Forks of Reedy." That's where the trouble lies.

"Three Forks of Reedy" is the first tune where I don't have assistance from The Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes. While there are some banjo versions of the tune floating around online, I haven't found any other fiddle sources to compare. Progress has been daunting.

I started nibbling at "Three Forks of Reedy" at the beginning of November. As best as I can tell, it's a G tune, played in GDAE. I've been relying on slowdown software to play along with it. I have a general, if incorrect, skeleton of the tune under my fingers, but I still have a long way to go. I'm not confident I can get it down before 2017 is over. And I certainly won't be getting to "Cattle in the Cane" as planned. Perhaps a Second Year of Ward Jarvis is in order?

While I'm disappointed I won't achieve my goal of learning these six tunes, this project has been a success. I've learned a lot just by trying to copy what I hear. I'm comforted by something Dwight Diller said about limiting your repertoire. "[O]nly work on four or at most five at one time probably for a year," he told Lew Stern for his 2016 biography. "If you were to do that, then you would be able to start to begin to really learn the music." Perhaps I just bit off more than I could chew.


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