Down By The Brazos

  1. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    This is a traditional cowboy song, in an arrangement by Jan Wolters. Played as a quartet of two mandolins, guitar and mandocello.

    1915 Luigi Embergher mandolin
    Mid-Missouri M-0W mandolin
    Ozark tenor guitar
    Suzuki MC-815 mandocello

  2. Marcelyn
    This is a fun one, Martin. Thanks for posting it. I'll have to find some time for learning it soon.
  3. JL277z
    Martin, nice song and you play it really good too! Excellent pickin'.
  4. Martin Jonas
    Martin Jonas
    Thanks to both of you: the melody is really easy and fun to pick on mandolin. I should say that what I play on second mandolin is somewhat simplified from the score: I'm not actually playing the arpeggios as notated in the chorus -- far too hard for sightreading at this speed. Instead, I simply alternate between two chord notes in each bar, one on the A string and one on the E string.

  5. woodenfingers
    Well done Martin. Great tune and well played.
  6. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Nice one, Martin, and a good set of pictures. They remind me of my boyhood years when cowboys were away up the list of my heroes (not at all unusual for a wee boy growing up in late 40s and early 50s Scotland)!
  7. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    I half expected to spot John Wayne and Robert Mitchum somewhere in the pictures
  8. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I've spent most of my life living relatively close to the Brazos River!!!!
  9. JL277z
    My go at this tune on mandolin, with a ChordPulse "swing 3/4" preset backing:

    or direct link:

    The odd appearance of the mandolin's neck (dots in the wrong place, nut/1st-fret etc) is due initially to user error and then user experimentation doing things completely wrong. But as it turned out, the unusual mods actually made the mandolin more playable. Full long-winded explanation at aforementioned YouTube page.
  10. woodenfingers
    JL277z - very cool. A real swingin tune with your distinct electric sound. Very nice.
  11. JL277z
    Thanks woodenfingers!

    Also Martin, thanks again for posting this tune, I really like your video, your playing is very nice and it inspired me to try to learn the tune. Also I'd have been completely lost as far as some of the chords if you hadn't provided the sheetmusic/chords, so thank you for that also.

    I've never been able to do nice tremolo like you do, so I had to figure out some other way to deal with the longer notes, so I sort of reverted to fiddle-tune noodling I guess.

    (Somehow or another I ended up playing this in the key of G, instead of in D like it's written, but the chords got transposed along with the notation so they still work.)

    When I discovered the "swing" backing track in ChordPulse I figured hmm... ok the Brazos River goes through Texas... that reminded me of Texas swing fiddling and walking bass lines etc... I'd never played that style but lately it's started to intrigue me (ever since I found out that Shetland fiddle tunes use swing-style chords or something like that)... It's a fun tune.
  12. woodenfingers
    JL277z - so what are the advantages of Chordpulse over say a program like Garage Band? I have not used any of those programs...
  13. JL277z
    woodenfingers, I haven't used any other accompaniment apps. ChordPulse is the first one I've tried.

    A year or so ago I was looking into another accompaniment app, Band-In-A-Box , but BIAB didn't have a trial/demo version so I didn't know if it would work on my slow low-spec laptop, plus the BIAB pricepoint was considerably more than I wanted to spend at the time. Also I didn't need studio-quality hi-fi sound that (allegedly) sounds exactly like real instruments... I just wanted something to practice playing along with.

    There is a very simple metronome-like click-track in Audacity (freeware) . And TablEdit (shareware) is incredibly useful for certain things like writing and playing-back notation and tablature including certain types of backing tracks, but (as far as I know) you can't just tell it what chords you want, instead you have to type them in one note at a time (or find pre-written tef files on the internet somewhere).

    I've never had a chance to try GarageBand , I'd somehow got the idea it was Mac-only (not sure though, now) so I never looked into it. I retired my last Mac in 2013, and it was too old (built in 1997!) to run modern software anyway.

    I hadn't heard of ChordPulse until another poster here at MandolinCafe mentioned it a month or so ago. Which reminds me, I should go thank them for posting that. I think there might be ways to customize some of the stuff in ChordPulse but so far I've just been using the built-in presets... eventually I'm going to have to study some of the official tutorials to find out how to do the more advanced stuff. But for now I'm happily buzzing along with the built-in stuff, there are separate volume sliders for drums, bass, and chords, so far that's enough to keep me occupied for a while. Although as I mention in that other thread, I don't know if it will do 7/8 Greek tunes or 'crooked' fiddle tunes with irregular measures, will look into that more later.
  14. woodenfingers
    JL277z- thanks for the reply. I use tabledit frequently, Audacity for all my recording, and easyabc for abc notation but I haven't used any of the 'chord' programs for backing tracks. I tend to make my own backing tracks, recording them after I have recorded the melody so I can match speed, cover mistakes, etc. But, playing to a backing track is good practice to stay on time and improvise over set chord progressions so I am thinking more about it, although, again, I could just record my own if I could stick to a metronome better...
  15. JL277z
    woodenfingers - yeah I like Audacity for recording, that's how I do all my multi-track stuff now. Although it took me a while to figure out what to do about the time-lag, at least on my computer, each newly-recorded Audacity track is slightly out-of-sync with the existing tracks - fortunately the time value is always the same, on my computer it seems to be exactly 0.12 seconds 'off' so it's easily fixed by just deleting 0.12 seconds from the start of each new track. (I've only tested this on my laptop, I haven't tested this on our other computer, but I am guessing that the time-lag might be different or perhaps even nonexistant on different computers?) Anyway, that way the new track lines up with the other tracks. Audacity even does that 0.12s out-of-sync thing if I copy/paste the entire contents of an existing track into a new stereo track[1], I still have to go to the beginning of the newly-pasted track and remove exactly 0.12 seconds... I don't know why it does that, but at least it's consistent (always the same) so I can deal with it ok.

    I also finally bought a cheap mixer (Mackie 402VLZ4) because, without the mixer, I got too confused about what instrument-cable to hook up where and why, and also for separate multi-track my computer's time-lag was an issue when listening through the headphones while recording. The mixer makes everything easier to deal with.

    You'd mentioned making your own backing tracks, after you recorded the melody part. That's sensible, that way you get backing that's custom tailored to the melody, more like live music as far as spontaneity and discovering/inventing new backing ideas etc.

    I also agree that the ready-made backing tracks are useful for melody improv, and of course for figuring out which chords to use. In my case, one of my goals is to learn how to someday do backing for Shetland fiddle tunes, I guess they use a lot of jazz chords with weird names, which I have no clue about. So I'm thinking that the accompaniment app will make it easier to figure out the harmonies to those types of tunes, easy to instantly experiment with different backing chords. And I can also practice some of these other types of tunes I'm supposed to be learning for a local music group (different genre of music, not fiddle tunes), I need lots and lots of practice with anything before it sinks in, it would test the patience of Job if I had real people trying to do backing for all the many hours of practice I need before I can actually play something without 20 mistakes per minute. Some of these modern computer/software/etc things are pretty handy learning tools.

    1. For instance if I want to do EQ on a backing track but still keep a copy of the original, useful for comparison to see which is better, and also to have the original in case I click the wrong thing and need to revert back to the original.
  16. woodenfingers
    JL277z - Yes, I think the latency is completely computer dependent but you can fix it from within the audacity software. Go to preferences and under 'recording' you will find a couple of spots for setting the latency. There is also a way to determine exactly what the latency factor is but I forget how. I think you over dub and measure the difference between the tracks and then use that difference to set the latency factor. Check out the Help section or Google it and you'll find stuff on the Audacity forum.

    I use a Focusrite mixer and, as you state with your mixer, with headphones plugged into it there is no latency.
  17. JLewis
    Thanks you JL277z and Woodenfingers for this discussion. I got shied off of recording because of such problems and my own ignorance. The water isn't fully clear yet but definitely not so muddy.

    Almost forgot, I like this tune and have downloaded the pdf. Thanks Jonas for the OP.
  18. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Yes latency and overdub recording can be a big problem to overcome... fortunately there are many solutions to the problem. When I first started recording back in the 90s I purchased a Yamaha MD8 which is basically a stand alone unit. I made sure that it had outputs for each track (8 in all) so that when I figured out how, I could use a computer to mix the results. I eventually went the Mac route with a PreSonus FP10 Firewire Recoring Interface going into Cubase LE mixing and recording software (which was included with the PreSonus). Basically I have two complete systems for recording. At first I would record all my tracks to the Yamaha (stand alone unit) and then transfer them into Cubase via the PreSonus mixer (mac based software and hardware). Then I would just mix them in Cubase LE (computer) for the final tracks.

    This worked fine until I wanted to overdub something straight onto the computer tracks. So I plugged a mic into the PreSonus and then latency reared its ugly head. After much searching the internet and reading of manuals I eventually discovered the problem's solution was already in place. I just didn't know it. Here's how I fixed the problem. I could record in Cubase just fine but if I tried to monitor (in Cubase) what I was overdubbing had a big time lag between the prerecorded tracks and the new overdubbed track. This is latency. I discovered that what had to happen was not to monitor the overdub via Cubase. (It turns out that with just one little setting you can record but not monitor what you are overdubbing.) The PreSonus mixer had a knob which controlled a mixer that allowed me to mix the overdub (input from the mic) with the playback (the tracks already recorded in Cubase) and I could monitor them thru my earphones and there was no latency whatsoever. Cool! (it only took me about 5 years to discover on my own... but I'm a hobbyist.)

    If you are going to be serious about overdubbing in the future I'd seriously consider a newer stand alone unit at first. They have no problems with latency what so ever and can even be used do some mighty fine mixing too. And the cost of such units is reasonable... just some thoughts from someone who's been there.
  19. JL277z
    woodenfingers and Michael, thanks for all the great info about latency and recording! JLewis, thanks for the "Thanks", and another thanks to Jonas for sharing so much cool music.
  20. JL277z
    I got a PM several weeks ago asking if I had sheet music for my version of this tune that I played in my video up above in this thread. I'd originally used the same notation that Martin had provided, to learn the tune. But while playing the tune I wandered off into a bunch of little variations on the melody. So below is my try at turning those played notes into written notation and tab. On the off chance it might be of interest to other people as well, thought I'd go ahead and post it here.

    The first two files below, cover about the first half of my video. Figured it'd be better to get *something* completed and posted in a somewhat timely manner, rather than waiting who knows how long for a complete transcription of entire video.

    Three files here:

    1. Printable PDF. Shows tab and standard notation. Fits on 3 pages.

    2. TablEdit/TEFview .tef file. Has the transcribed melody-variations *and* imported MIDI notes from ChordPulse backing track [1] so you can listen to the melody & backing at the same time, right in TablEdit or TEFview. I had to manually clean up the imported MIDI timing and adjust volume levels to try to match the original backing. In my somewhat ignorant opinion, the only part of the backing where *tab* could be useful, would be the bass & guitar I suppose - not sure how/if tab applies to instruments such as piano & drums but TablEdit automatically creates tab for each 'instrument' or module. If you don't want the backing, you can selectively mute the other tracks (modules) in TablEdit or TEFview. And of course you can also mute the melody and just play along with the backing.

    3. ChordPulse backing only (skip past the "sorry, preview didn't load", to get to the Download button). For use with ChordPulse app on PC. This is the backing track I put into the TablEdit file above, and it's also the backing I used on the video (for the video, I had the treble tone-control turned way down to mute some of the higher frequency drum sounds).

    All chord names are same as in the score that Martin posted.

    1. Actually I think the original backing track has a more complex drum pattern but I just took the first four measures of the drum track, cleaned up the timing (MIDI export from ChordPulse & then MIDI import into TablEdit made things look strange) and then I just repeated those first four drum measures throughout the TablEdit file. First time I've tried to deal with editing drum tracks in TablEdit and I was having one of my 'slow' moments trying to figure it all out.
  21. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    JL277z, thank you for taking the time to provide all that. This is a very nice tune, and on my to-do list.
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