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Thread: Black-Eyed Susie

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    Default Black-Eyed Susie

    Bayard (1981) traces the history of the tune, beginning in the British Isles with a melody called "Rosasolis," set by Giles Farnaby (c. 1560‑ c.1600), which appears in the the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Another version of the melody is called "Morris Off" and appears in Jehan Tabourot's Orchesographie (1588), http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/FCfiles.html
    I am using a little Eastman 504 mandolin with a Martin classical guitar.

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    Registered User wildpikr's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Nice tune, Chuck. Where do you find all these little jewels?
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    I like what you have done with it.

    I play that in a more raucous and, I dunno, gritty style. Not as pretty as what you have done.


    Its as if I play it in a bar, while you dusted it off and took it to the drawing room.


    Very nice. Just shows that a good tune has an integrity that shines through all the various ways it can be displayed.
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    Registered User mandomurph's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    I first heard this tune in Germany at a campfire hootenanny out in the woods near Pirmasens while I was stationed there in 1962-65. Loved the tune ever since. It was played and sung by a young German lad. My favorite verse is, "Love my wife and love my baby, love my biscuits sopped in gravy." They don't get much more down to earth than that.
    mandomurph

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    Registered User Darren Bailey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Isn't that song on Ricky Skagg's live album? If it's the same one he plays it alot, I have a number of live shows where he's playing it.

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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by wildpikr View Post
    Nice tune, Chuck. Where do you find all these little jewels?

    Thanks for asking. I always keep my ears open for a new tune or song just about all the time especially very old Western European compositions. I heard this one on the radio Sunday night and decided to record a fiddle version. It occurred to me that a transition to mandolin was possible so I made a first attempt.

    Check out the link for the Fiddler's Companion. It contains lots of good histories for each tune.
    chuck

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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Just shows that a good tune has an integrity that shines through all the various ways it can be displayed.
    Very well said, JeffD.

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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by Darren Bailey View Post
    Isn't that song on Ricky Skagg's live album? If it's the same one he plays it alot, I have a number of live shows where he's playing it.
    I am not very familiar with Mr. Skagg's recordings, but I noticed a reference to his recording while researching the song.

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    Mike Parks woodwizard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Nice picken' Chuck ... Black Eyed Susie is really a cool OT tune. I especially like hearing a clawhammer pick on thaten" and the singing of it
    I Pick, Therefore I Grin! ... "Good Music Any OLD-TIME"

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    Registered User Ivan Kelsall's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Way back in 1965-6 (ish), i learned to play the tune on Banjo from the Dillard's LP "Live - Almost !". But i have to say that the way you play it sounds terrific,in fact it has (to me), a very 'old-timey' sound with it - very nice indeed. IMHO i've heard too many 'too fast' versions of the tune,Ricky Skaggs' being one of them. It's not that i don't think he plays it well,just a bit 'too' fast to get the best out of a good tune. Unfortunately,too many good tunes get trashed that way & end up simply being a 'thrash' - well done for discovering a 'new dimension',
    Ivan
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivan Kelsall View Post
    Way back in 1965-6 (ish), i learned to play the tune on Banjo from the Dillard's LP "Live - Almost !". But i have to say that the way you play it sounds terrific,in fact it has (to me), a very 'old-timey' sound with it - very nice indeed. IMHO i've heard too many 'too fast' versions of the tune,Ricky Skaggs' being one of them. It's not that i don't think he plays it well,just a bit 'too' fast to get the best out of a good tune. Unfortunately,too many good tunes get trashed that way & end up simply being a 'thrash' - well done for discovering a 'new dimension',
    Ivan
    What a nice post, Ivan. Thank you.

    I try to remember that historically these old melodies were dance tunes so I try to play them at a tempo that seems reasonable for a 15 minute dance session.

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    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Nice work Chuck.

    Fast vs slow. So many of these old tunes possess beautiful subtle melodies. I usually click forward on a CD, whenever I hear some honcho sacrificing these melodies by playing them as a sprint in the cause of showcasing virtuosity. It's even worse with ragtime.

    Black Eyed Susie has verses and verses and verses of wildly bawdy lyrics. I first heard it being played clawhammer style by Erik Darling in the 1960s. Is he still around? Would love an mp3 of his version.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Chuck I was playing Black Eyed Susie the other day, here at the house with some friends over, and it started a discussion about the "should" and shouldn't" of playing the tune.

    I played the Roscoe Holcomb rough and ready home from work and not yet washed version, then your dressed for success almost courtly version. I was trying to demonstrate how they both work, because of the inherent beauty of the tune.
    Fill your boots, man!

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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    Chuck I was playing Black Eyed Susie the other day, here at the house with some friends over, and it started a discussion about the "should" and shouldn't" of playing the tune.

    I played the Roscoe Holcomb rough and ready home from work and not yet washed version, then your dressed for success almost courtly version. I was trying to demonstrate how they both work, because of the inherent beauty of the tune.
    Very good point. You are providing some inspiration.

    Perhaps it is because of my background, but I tend toward the "courtly" versions. I really cannot help it. Norman Blake is my musical standard. I coined the phrase to describe his work as country baroque, but in actuality, he may be closer to the real baroque style than the classical versions. I try to immerse myself in what my perceptions if the era might have been like.

    I really do appreciate your and everyone comments.

    Best Regards,

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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    Very good point. You are providing some inspiration.

    Perhaps it is because of my background, but I tend toward the "courtly" versions. I really cannot help it. Norman Blake is my musical standard. I coined the phrase to describe his work as country baroque, but in actuality, he may be closer to the real baroque style than the classical versions. I try to immerse myself in what my perceptions if the era might have been like.

    I really do appreciate your and everyone comments.

    Best Regards,
    I tatally agree with you re: Norman Blake except that I call it Hillbilly chamber music.

  16. #16
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    I need to clarify my comment the other day about playing tunes faster or slower. While I do like to hear recordings of these tunes slowed down to sensitively enunciate whatever it is that makes each one unique, I also love playing them at a rip. That's how they get played at dances, and Black Eyed Susie is certainly no exception. I do it by cross picking the E and the A strings with the descending melody emerging primarily on the high end, with the b part sliding down onto the A strings. i never even touch the D or G strings until I start vamping. Depending on whether the dancers are old folks or kids, we play it slow at 112 bpm, or fast at 120 bpm. Either bpm is way faster than Chuck's version. Just wanted to clarify that.
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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Black-Eyed Susie

    Quote Originally Posted by Chuck Naill View Post
    I try to immerse myself in what my perceptions if the era might have been like.
    ,
    I like to imagine that the tune is alive. It replicates by infecting a host musician who expresses it in sound. If the tune has the right genes, it is immediately attractive to a bunch of other musicians, who become hosts, and so on.

    Some tunes do better than others. Some seem to die, but they often leave spoors in old tunebooks, until resurrected by some curious innocent musician host who breathes in the tune and expresses it in sound again, to infect other hosts.

    Thats kind of how it feels to me. When I play a tune, like Black Eyed Susie for example, I am overtaken by the tune, or another way to say it is that the tune is indwelling in me, but in any case my soul and my free will are under the control of the tune. My only wish at that moment is to express the tune in the most attractive (virulent) way.
    Fill your boots, man!

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