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Fiddle Lessons: “Billy in the Lowground”

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I have a tune
that I wanted to share with you that I
can't believe I have not put up yet.
So this is kinda, it's, it's late but
better late than never.
This is one of the great fiddle tunes of
all time.
Played it a lot in bluegrass and all other
Billy and the Low Ground, a tune in C.
C is not that, the, the most fun key to
play on the fiddle but
it does it is important.
And some of the great tunes are written in
C and this is one of them.
In fact this tune, the version I'm playing
is, is a little bit Texasy,
it's a little bit Bluegrassy there's some
Missouri influence.
But mostly it's just me because this is
maybe this is the third tune I ever
learned, and I've been playing it since
maybe 1971 or 70, something like that.
So that's a long time.
So, I really sort of evolved a way of
playing it.
And think I actually heard it first, maybe
Doc Watson played it.
Doc, the great Doc Watson and of course I
managed to learn a lot from guitar
player and I always encourage fiddle
players to listen outside your instrument.
And, because you can learn a lot and it'll
get you into,
like, finger patterns that you normally
wouldn't play.
Some of the great guitar players have
really defined a lot of these great old
fiddle tunes and it's great to hear them
and, and get ideas from other instruments.
Mandolins, some extent, but guitars for
and some banjo has really been important.
So, Billy in the Low Ground, I'm gonna go
ahead and play it for you and
then we'll discuss some of the bowings and
get the fingerings down.
All right so that's building on the low
ground, more or less.
And I'm gonna come right up to the screen
here and
play through the notes, so you can see
what's going on.
I brought my four string fiddle so you can
really see what's happening.
And again we're starting on the G string.
So, I'm gonna just start here with, right.
So we've got that first note.
All right, let's just take that one more
That's kind of the first phrase,
right there.
Okay, you wanna check that out and
get that all together and then go on to
the next phrase, starting on the A string.
So let's try that again.
So that's a lot of this kinda pentatonic,
Except for that little note right there.
Okay, and then we go on and
the first part is very much like, the
third part, very much the first part.
And then the fourth part.
All right.
So it's just, almost the same, so.
And we might put some little variations in
So we have a little longer pickup.
So little triplets.
One, two, three.
That's a kind of a nice variation.
So, that fits.
Second part, pretty simple,
barring across the, the A and E strings
with your second finger.
Just point the point of your
finger down right between the strings.
So I'm pulling.
It's kind of a hard stretch.
But if you've got big hands, you shouldn't
have to worry about it.
All right.
Now that's interesting,
cuz most of the time, in we're key of the
key of C, we're playing an F.
But here, we're playing on F-sharp.
All the way back down to the G string and
then back up.
That last lick, open E.
All right, so that's the notes.
look at the bowing, because that's kind of
interesting bowing.
It's I use, I change bows a lot when I
cross strings.
And this was, I think,
comes from a time when I was like, trying
to study what Kenny Baker was doing.
He did some of that, and starting out with
separate bows at the beginning
of the section, and then crossing strings,
then coming back and
playing separate bows at the end of the
So here obviously.
So all that, that,
little triplet pickup is one bow.
So, I start with the down bow.
Separate bows.
Great, so.
You can see that I'm.
So we got that little.
That, that kind of feeling.
So and, and in the second part.
There's a little bit of a bow
pattern here.
if we just listen to that without the
So it's, it's that three.
We can practice it like that.
And then put it into.
Am I, wait.
Okay, I'm doing a little extra.
I could do that.
And then
separates at
the end.
So I was doing
three in three.
So altogether slow.
So that is
a good, very good
approximation of
Billy in the Low Ground.
One of the great fiddle tunes of all time.
Hope you enjoy that.
It's definitely should should be up here
on the site.
And and have fun with that.
If you already know it, there's gonna be
another video coming up, right up,
which will involve me playing all kinds of
and kind of just thinking through the
And that's something that we all could be
doing just thinking our way through a tune
and trying different ways of playing the
notes, after we've learned a tune.
All right.
Well, hope you enjoy that.
All right.
Thank you very much.
And we'll see you down the road.
And enjoy the beautiful fall weather,
And if you're, and
if you're looking at this in the spring
enjoy the spring weather.