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Fiddle Lessons: “Cotton-Eye Joe”

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All right,
so, those of you who are familiar with
cotton eye joe will recognize that tune
It is indeed Cotton-Eye Joe.
Or one of the many thousands of versions
of Cotton-Eye Joe.
In A, and I sort of somewhat adapted it
from my friend Bruce Molsky's version of,
of that.
Which he plays in open tuning which means
these tune, the G and
D strings, up to A and E.
I didn't do that it's perfectly, it sounds
perfectly fine in normal tuning.
So there are some big issues with this
but some great opportunities to really
work the bow.
You know it's, it's a simple tune.
And then the second part.
Very simple melodically, but there's a lot
of stuff going on
with both the left hand and the right
And really good opportunity to get into
that jumping bow thing.
Because we use it at the beginning of.
So there's that, that stuff with the bow
and then there's also an issue with the.
Fourth finger which goes up and
hits the E string.
And then the A string also.
So, this is a great preparation for
a tune like Sally Goodin, where we're
using the fourth finger held down.
This is kind of,
it doesn't, we don't do it quite as much
as that in Sally Goodin.
But we do.
Use it.
Right there.
So, it's kind of a good prep for that,
that fourth finger acrobatics.
So great great tune in every way.
It just really jumps around.
No wonder it's such a popular tune.
So let's take a look at the melody.
8, 18, 19, 20 years ago, Daddy knew a man
called Cotton-Eyed Joe.
Right? So. [MUSIC]
18, 19, 20 years ago.
again, we're doing that jumping bow we're,
okay so,
we just kind of again we're using our
wrist a lot.
So we're just, trying to just taking the
bow pretty close down and
not doing it up here.
We're doing it down here near, between
the middle and the frog about at the
balance point.
We're gonna just.
Just pop the bow off the string.
You see you just kinda drag the bow.
You just,
I want you to do that 20 times in a row.
So, after you've done it 20 times in a
row, come back and we'll do an up bow.
You can do it with your fourth finger.
You can just do a.
And the trick is to get this rhythmic.
So, that's what we wanna do.
We wanna go.
because it's fiddling you know, it doesn't
have to be all perfect it can have.
A little bit of slop in it.
But, eventually,
we wanna get it up to speed.
We can do it down here.
It's a little harder to do.
Can't get quite the force but
we're just kind of flinging, if you think
of your wrists,
you're just like, see I'm trying to brush,
brushing off that fly.
I just knocked my microphone off my collar
trying to brush
stuff off imaginary things.
So, sorry about that.
you get the idea.
That's the first one.
And then.
there's a many number of ways you could
bow that.
That's kind of a nice way to bow it.
So down, up.
Do-, . up.
And also there is an alternate.
this really makes use of the fourth
All right, fourth finger and then.
Again, we're doing all that,
that crossing the string, pulsing.
And then making sure we get that.
Any number of places, again,
that we could play that C-sharp against
the A.
We do a nice bright one.
Or we could do.
So we can do.
We can do it that way with an open string,
Which is perfectly fine.
It's very fiddly.
Or we can do it with the fourth finger
action I was talking about.
And that's something to practice right
Okay, so.
And that just happens twice, very easy.
The second time, it's exactly like the
first time, hopefully.
And then the second part, D part.
So, I'm going.
Right, I've got that fourth finger.
All right, so.
then the same exact thing that I do in the
a part.
And again, any number of bowings.
All separates.
There's that Appalachian bowing again.
So down, up, up, down, up.
Down, up, down, up, up, down, up.
So that is pretty much the whole tune
right there.
And there's a lot of words.
I'd recommend Bruce Molsky's version of
He's got some great words on there.
And really, you know, it's just a groove
tune and getting all the,
and getting the bowing.
And the fingering all to work together, so
that it makes you wanna dance, and
like do your boot scooting, and all that
other stuff they do to Cotton Eyed Joe.
That's, that's the trick, you know?
And the melody is easy.
And so forth.
Now I would go ahead and play the A part
and bunch of times in a row, and
maybe break it up into halves, and
keep running those halves, those parts,
until it starts to feel right.
Just getting speed up until it really
starts making sense, and
always trying to stay relaxed.
If you feel yourself tightening up, just
stop a minute, shake your hand out,
come back.
Try to always come from a relaxed place.
So that is a great little tune, Cotton Eye
So, good luck with that.
Hope we'll I, I'll have a PDF up
should have a PDF up on that when this
lesson goes up.
And I hope you enjoy Cotton Eyed Joe.
All right.