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  TOW #001: Blackberry Blossom

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From: John Bird Date: Apr 1999

Since it's a Monday, I'm going to go ahead and call the first tune: Blackberry Blossom. Around here, the blackberries are indeed blooming, and what a pretty bloom it is, too.


From: Lynn "Chirps" Smith Date: 27 Apr 1999 14.35

Howdy all. Which Blackberry Blossom are you talking about- the "newer" one popularized by Arthur Smith (I think- or was it Howdy Forrester) or the old-time one recorded by Dick Burnett (of Burnett & Rutherford fame) in the late 20s? Both are very nice and very different tunes that share the same name. I suspect that you are referring to the first one.


From: Ken Dunn Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 14:45:00

Good point Lynn. I really like the TOW idea. Maybe one of you mando-deities could post an audio of the TOW. I know that many of the tunes I like play can be phrased many different ways and still work. But, difficult to learn if its not the phrasing that I'm used to hearing. This whole Tune of the Week idea is an excellent learning tool.


From: J.Coon Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 15:10:00

Ken Dunn wrote:
> I really like the TOW idea. Maybe one of you mando-deities could post > an audio of the TOW.

If the ABC version of the tune was posted, we could all listen to it, print out the standard notation or make guitar or mandolin tab from it.


From: Darrel Toole Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 15:40:00

At the risk of posting links to the "wrong" version of Blackberry Blossom, here are some links...

ABC: Mando tab: Guitar tab: Lots of midi: MP3:
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From: Nancy Friedland Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 03:50:00

All this 'net stuff is a little too challenging for me, so I dug thru my song books and found both notes and tab in the Fiddlers Fakebook and Mel Bay's Mando book. I havne't compared note for note yet, but they seem pretty similar at first glance.

I tried listening to the Grisman-Kobialka version, as Jeff suggested --the only CD I have with anything close-- but because it's a combo of 2 songs, its confusing (tho a great piece!), so I think I'll stick to notation and tab and hope I'm close.

Anyhow, great idea, thanks John--I'm always needing a new tune to learn, but rarely want to just pick one out of the air. For instance, I like the suggestion about the pinkie/ring finger shift--that was real helpful, and I'm trying it both ways.


From: Steve Smith Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999 03:55:00

This really is a great idea! I have the fiddler's fakebook, and look through it regularly for things to practice, but I always end up on the few tunes in there that I know. Focusing on one tune a week allows those of us who don't know as many tunes as we'd liked like to expand our knowledge and get to know the tune as well as the notes.


From: Lynn Smith   Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 18:40:00

For those that might be interested in the OT Blackberry Blossom, I just came across another version of it: Owen "Snake" Chapman (Rounder CD-0378). He calls it "Garfield's Blackberry Blossom". This is after the story about the naming of the tune. Here is Snake Chapman's version of the story (from the CD notes):

Where BB got its name, Uncle Ed was a-telling me, came from General Garfield- the same one that became President later- who was a fiddler. One day there was a bunch of fiddlers standing out in a field where Garfield was playing this tune. Somebody asked him, "What's the name of that tune?" He said that he hadn't named it yet, but he turned around and spit a big wad of ambeer into a blackberry bush- the blackberries were in bloom then- and said, "We'll just name it Blackberry Blossom."
I have read other variants of this story. One said it was Garfield's favorite tune and he was whistling it when asked the name. Ed Haley also played this and I believe his version is on those fine CDs from Rounder (2 double CDs). As all of the "root" sources that I know seem to be from KY, I would venture a guess that this might be a KY tune. :-)

BTW, you can hear Burnett's version on the Rounder CD reissue of Burnett & Rutherford.


From: Steve Keating   Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 01:05:00

I've pasted three ABCs below. One is the A melody part as I play it. The second is a harmony to the A part. There might be a glitch in there somewhere, but I think it's close. Sometimes on the B part, I quote something from Grieg's "Peer Gynt." I don't know if I heard someone else do it or what...but an example of that is the third ABC.

X:1
T:Blackberry Blossom A part (melody)
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:150
K:G
gbag fagf|egfe dcBG|cedc BdcB|AB^ce d4|gbag fagf|egfe dcBG|cedc BAGB|AGF
A G4

X:2
T:Blackberry Blossom A part (harmony)
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:150
K:G
bd'c'b ac'ba|gbag edBd|egfe dcBd|^cdeg f4|bd'c'b ac'ba|gbag edBd|egfe dc
Bd|cBAc B4

X:3
T:Blackberry Blossom (B part)
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:150
K:G
EFGA BG B2|_BF B2 A^EAE|EFGA BGBe|dBGB ^defa|gfeg fedf|edBA GABd|cBcd ed
ce|defd g4

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From: Joel Glassman   Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 05:50:00

Fig.1

Some interesting melodic improvisation by Mark O'Connor in a sort of Texas Fiddle/Bluegrass style.

Each bar has 2 beats: 1&2& 2&2&. He starts the A section part of this by displacing the melody by one 8th note. (If confusing, count it very carefully.) He shuffles the melody notes to make a new melody in bar 1, engages in a little ½ step approach -i.e. "chromatic" note action in bar 2 and does a cross-pick or rocking bow lick in bar 3 which is mirrored in bar 3 of the B section.

In the second bar of the B section Mark plays a C# against the Em chord --the 6th-a very interesting note. Notice he plays nearly the same lick in the second bar of the A section! There it is a 9 to b9 against the C chord (really a jazz move) The last two notes in the measure are a nice chromatic move to the 3rd of the G chord using a blues note.

Also notice he is moving the melody across 2 octaves in the A section. This is a very typical device of Texas stylefiddler Benny Thomasson. Learning to analyze music in this way is more than an empty intellectual gesture. It's a way of naming sounds so you can write exercises for practice. Then the moves can become part of your collection of sounds to use when improvising.

It's from a record he did in the 1970s w/Benny Thomasson, Texas Shorty & Dale Morris. Sally Anne from that session was on his "Heros" record The recording is called A Texas Fiddle Jam Session (or something like that), and he played BB on Fiddle.


From: Niles Hokkanen  Date: Tue, 27 Apr 1999 22:00:00

Put the tune down an octave for variety. You won't be able to transpose certain licks (bar 3) down an octave, so you have to make some adjustments. (1st four bars of Blackberry Blossom):

Fig.3
From: J. Coon Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 02:50:00

This version may be a more traditional one. Any Comments?

X:4
T:Blackberry Blossom
M:2/4
L:1/16
Q:120
R:reel
P:AABB
K:G
P:A
|:"G" gbag "D"fagf | "C"egfe "G"dBAG | "C"DEFG "G"ABcA | "G"GABc "D"d4|
"G" gbag "D"fagf | "C"egfe "G"dBAG | "C"DEFG "G"ABcd | "G"B2[BG][BG] [B4G4] :|
P:B
|:"Em" [BE]eBe deBe | [BE]eBe deBe | [BE]eBe deBe | "B7"fefg agfe | !
"Em" [BE]eBe deBe | [BE]eBe deBe | "C"cBcd ecde | "D"d^cdf "G"g4 :|

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From: John Baldry Date: Thu, 29 Apr 1999 14:30:00

Here are a couple of other ways to kick off the low A part of Blackberry Blossom, taking advantage of the open D string.

Blackberry Blossom
Fig.4

Fig.5
From: John Bird Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 01:15:00

John Baldry's tab reminded me of a basic difference in the melody and the way people play it. Either G-A-B-G or G-B-A-G, with all the other intervals similar. Everybody around her (in Charlotte, NC) plays it the latter way, but I've seen it written the former. Any opinions?


From: Mike Perry Date: Tue, 04 May 1999 18:00:00

...I wanted to offer one last thought on "Blackberry Blossom." Someone mentioned it would be nice to listen to several different artists performing the same tune to get a better feel for what can be changed with the tune, what should stay put, and give you a better feel for the "pulse" and "groove" of the song. In that vein, I would like to offer a list of records I am familiar with that have a version of BB on them. This list is certainly not exhaustive, and I welcome any additions or corrections:


From: Mike Nelson Date: Wed, 05 May 1999 23:15:00

This is the ABC dots for the improvised second solo of the Radio Cowboys performance kindly made available by Dave Berry (now accessable via the Radio Cowboys home page below

X:5 T:BlackBerry Blossom improv
M:4/4
L:1/8
Q:200
R:h
K:G
|D2|:GABG ABcA|BcdB cdec|d2 gage dg|edBA dBAF|GABG ABcA|BcdB cdec|d2 ga
gedB|1edBA G2 D2:|2edBA G2 z2||:E2 F2 G2 A2|B2 Bc BA GA|BcBc BAGB|AGED G
EDB,|E2 F2 G2 A2|B2 Bc d2 de|gedB edBA|dBAF G2 z2:|

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From: John Bird   Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999 00:45:00

We've talked about the A part a good bit. What do people like to do on the B part? Since the A part is so linear and melodic, I like to do something more chordal and rhythmic on the B part. I usually start off on the Em chord that sits on the D and A strings, second fret, then do something from there. What do others do?


From: Steve Keating  Date: Sat, 01 May 1999 11:55:00

John Bird asked "What do people like to do on the B part?"

A few days ago, I posted a B part in ABC format. Here it is in tab.

Fig.2
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