2021-10 Katy Hill

  1. HonketyHank
    The tune of the month of October, 2021, is Katy Hill. The Song A Week thread for Katy Hill is located here: [SAW Link to Katy Hill thread].

    The Traditional Tune Archive [https://tunearch.org] tells us that the tune is quite old. One old fiddler told a tune collector named Marion Thede, back in 1967, that he learned the tune in 1884 from a 70 year old who claimed he learned it when he was 10. So it appears to have been in circulation in 1824 and probably earlier. But this story is about the only thing I have discovered about the tune's provenance other than who has recorded it and when (first recorded in 1925 by fiddler Ellen Sisson).

    Modern renditions of Katy Hill tend to be identical with a tune called Sally Johnson but Texas fiddlers will probably insist that they are two different tunes. If so, I don't know which is which; in addition, not really knowing either tune well, I am not all that sure that I could distinguish the "real" Katy Hill from the "real" Sally Johnson. I am told that they share a common A part but have different B parts. Whatever. Parts is parts, right?

    The folks at thesession.org have shown a complete silence regarding the three versions of Katy Hill posted there (by the same person, twelve years ago). Sally Johnson has not even been posted there, much less commented on. Thus I think it is safe to say that the tune (or both tunes) is/are truly American. So, if the tune is actually "quite old", that is perhaps true in the American perspective, but not in the European sense.

    The tune has been a "show-off" competition tune going well back into the 19th century. And given the chance to show off, performers naturally play as fast as they think they can. Unfortunately, this means that a lot of unmusical things tend to happen in recordings of this tune. Start listening to youtube videos of Katy Hill and you will soon be gritting your teeth, even on recordings of some very famous performers.

    The best rendition featuring a mandolin that I found was this one of Herschel Sizemore on mandolin plus Del McCoury - Guitar, Tom McKinney - Banjo, Sonny Miller - Fiddle, and John Palmer - Bass:


    Overall, the video I liked most was a late recording of Earl Scruggs (banjo) and Glenn Duncan (fiddle). It really was musical to my ear, better even than old recordings of Scruggs and Paul Warren. They play at a sensible pace and they just hit every note right on the head. Incidentally, there actually is mandolin content on this one, sorta -- the announcer is Ricky Scaggs.


    The mandolincafe.com tabledit library has several versions ranging from intermediate (feasible) to outrageous. Thesession.org has three versions which I believe are the same as the versions posted at tunearch.org and which are probably the most representative of how the tune might sound before being all gimmicked up.

    The SAW thread has a slow-motion version by Old Sausage which is great for learning his version. He then sped it up to a bit faster than he was comfortable with. Right now, my plan is to use the tune as a pinkie exercise and maybe get the speed up to OS's slo-mo speed.

    Incidentally, there is an mp3 of maudlin mandolin in the SAW thread, so he has already taken the honor of first posting from our bunch. Good job, mm!
  2. HonketyHank
    I just noticed that this tune uses a purely pentatonic scale. At least the version I am leaning toward at this point. Actually, it had two notes in it that just didn't fit. I changed them to sound good and all of a sudden I realized - one of the offenders was the only instance of a C, the other was the only F#, and both were merely passing eighth notes stuck in between two melody notes.
  3. Mark Gunter
    Mark Gunter
    Do visit the SAW thread link to see some slow mandolin versions of this tune!
  4. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Is anyone taking a stab at Katy Hill? Usually someone has weighed in by this time. I have to admit, I couldn't find a way into this tune, or any way to make it sound like anything. I'm curious to see what everyone else has done with it.
  5. HonketyHank
    I am working on my take of somebody else's take on what is allegedly Katy Hill. Suffice it to say that it aint the way Bill done it. Or Earl.
  6. HonketyHank
    Funny thing happened today. I got out the webcam and mike and got everything set up. Fired up the OBS software. Adjusted everything. Then decided that before I would try to do the video I would do a sound and camera check. Started the camera, and started playing. And I actually made it all the way through the tune. So I watched the result and said, heck, I could do better, but I think I'll just put it in the can now and save myself from the ever increasing tension of take 1, take 2, take 3, etc, etc.


    I picked this one because of that sliding double stop G-Bb to G-B in the B part. That's fun. But you gotta hold your left hand just right or it won't work (as in at least one of my attempts in the video).
  7. Sue Rieter
    Sue Rieter
    I like that sliding double stop, it sounds cool!
    One take! That's awesome.
  8. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Great work, Henry! It has a lot of style, way past just the right notes and rhythm.
  9. bbcee
    Man, nice version, Henry! You're playing it really confidently, and I don't think it's just cause you thought it was a rehearsal. That Weber sounds great as well! I might have to learn the version you chose, it's inspiring.
  10. NDO
    Dang it I’m still not seeing the videos on my iPhone
  11. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Me either, NDO. I have read that it has to do with a bug in the most recent updates. Thanks, Apple. Appreciate it. Let's hope they patch it soon! In the meantime, Hank was kind enough to supply the link, too.
  12. bbcee
    Yea, there were some posts in the SAW group about this. I think there's a new IOS update just released, but I haven't tried it as yet.
  13. Louise NM
    Louise NM
    Welp, I just installed the latest update, still no videos showing. Nor did they patch the other function they broke.

    Now my Macbook wants to install a whole new OS: Monterey, I think they're calling this one. Maybe later. Not happening today. My Android phone, on the other hand, shows all videos.
  14. HonketyHank
    Thanks for the kind comments folks.

    I just recently migrated from an iPhone7 to a Samsung Galaxy S21. I can see the videos on the new phone but not on the old phone.

    Here's an experiment. Is this visible on an iPhone?
  15. HonketyHank
    Aha. It IS visible on my old iPhone 7.

    What I did:
    1. The one that is not visible was embedded using the approved method of going to the advanced editor, then selecting the red YouTube button, and entering the video "option" code.
    2. The one that IS visible was embedded using the simple and rather obvious method of just clicking the "Video" button (last one on the right) in the "Quick Reply" editor and then just entering the YouTube url for the video.
  16. HonketyHank
    And here is an explanation of what I think is happening.

    I dug into the page source code as rendered in my browser (Chrome) and located the specific elements that are used to display the videos.

    Here is the one that is visible on my iPhone:

    Here is the one that is invisible on my iPhone:

    Now I am not fluent in this particular scripting language and all the parameters used for embedding videos, but one thing jumped out at me. The invisible one appears to depend on Flash to display the video. Flash video has long been known to be an easy to attack target for malware. Adobe is the owner of flash video and tried (unsuccessfully) for a long time to eliminate the vulnerabilities in its product. But they eventually threw in the towel and basically said, everybody can use Flash if the want to but we no longer support it. For a long time Flash was pretty much the only viable choice for displaying video over the internet. That is no longer true.

    Apple recently announced that it would no longer allow Flash to run in its operating systems. So they apparently have started modifying their various iOS's to block it. I suspect that we are finally seeing the beginning of the end for Flash video.

    So I am going to go back to using the simple, easy way to embed a video from now on.
  17. NDO
    Hank, as you suspected the last video is visible and embedded.
    The previous ones are not visible but the URL is now visible so I can click and view the videos now!

    Whoops, editing to say that that appears to be true only on posts where you’ve intentionally posted the link to the URL. I see that many other videos do not include it.
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