I've been thinking about reworking a tune that I learned from my teacher, Ken Kolodner, many years ago at the Swannanoa Gathering Dulcimer Week (sadly, that dulcimer event is now defunct). It's an old time rag ... the first tune that I really started to "get" the idea of shifting accents and playing syncopated rhythms. I don't know why, but at some point I dropped it from my practice list. This past week was the time to resurrect it.
All I had was a messy handwritten piece of music notated for fiddle players, with no suggested chord progression. It was more trouble than it was worth to read, so I loaded Ken's recording of the tune (from his cd Journey to the Heartland) into the Amazing Slow Downer and got to work. The tune came back to me. I slogged through every little nuance.
I got the tune. I got the variations. I got the nice chromatic runs. I even got a new syncopated rhythm trained into my brain and hands. I wrote out the music in Finale, but paused when it came to writing in the chords. Most of it was pretty straightforward, but doubt was creeping in. Could it be that simple? There's always something that I miss!
So I googled it ... searching for the standard chord progression for YZ Hamilton's Breakdown. And what do you think showed up? The third entry down the google list ... Fiddle Tunes Volume 2 - Ken Kolodner ... an instructional cd that I own!! I haven't looked at those lessons in years. Hmmm ... there's gold in them thar piles of cds!
So I pulled out the cd. Listened to the entire lesson. Was personally affirmed by the fact that I had successfully gotten it by ear. Yay!
I'm glad it turned out this way. It was much better practice relying on my own ear and skills of analysis. But, of course, I did miss something ... the darn G7 chord. And you know what? That chord makes all the difference!