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Thread: Looking for audio of Tottle's version 'Arkansas Traveler'

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    Enthusiastic Newb mdavis00's Avatar
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    Default Looking for audio of Tottle's version 'Arkansas Traveler'

    As one of my first tunes, I've been learning the Jack Tottle arrangement of 'Arkansas Traveler.' Digging through the cafe archives turned up lots of folks who used his Bluegrass mandolin book to learn their first tunes, so I was surprised when I couldn't find an audio recording of Tottle's arrangement of this tune anywhere. I have MP3s of the original record that came with the book, but this tune wasn't included.

    It may just be my beginner's ear having difficulty imagining the notes played at three or four times the tempo that I can manage, but I can't seem to separate the core of the melody in the B part/chorus from what I assume are fills or accent notes (the transcription just lists them all as eighth notes). Playing all the notes through with equal weight sounds wonky.

    The closest recording I could find is Jeff Guernsey playing here, but the fingerings he's using for the B part are different from Tottle's (the notes may be as well, I can't really identify them without slowing it down).

    Does anyone have a recording of this flowery version of the song at a moderate tempo? Or maybe a TEF of the Tottle tab? Thanks

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    Registered User Jordan Ramsey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for audio of Tottle's version 'Arkansas Traveler'

    Yeah, those recordings don't include every tune in the book, just selected ones. One thing that will really help you deal with the unrecorded tunes is to work on your rhythmic reading and knowledge of the tablature symbols (review p.14 through 18 in the book). Once you can read what's happening in the chart, you will have less need for a recording.

    Also, I don't think that this tune is a good choice for a "first tune"... too much shifting up and down the neck. I would start with any of the other three "Four Fiddle Tunes" he presents in that section, or, even better, the introductory material... "Woody's Rag", "Wildwood Flower", etc. They're all in first position (no shifting up the neck), and will be a heck of a lot easier to put together than his quirky arrangement of Arkansas Traveler. Don't get me wrong, I love Tottle and his book, but that tune is pretty tough with all the extraneous shifting, especially for beginners. If you're determined to learn that tune as your first one, you might look for an easier version that stays in first position.

    All that being said, here's a recording of Tottle's version for posterity. Good luck in your journey.

    Arkansas Traveler Tottle.mp3
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    Enthusiastic Newb mdavis00's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for audio of Tottle's version 'Arkansas Traveler'

    Fantastic! Thank you for the recording -- it's very helpful to hear what the slow tempo becomes when it's played at speed.

    While the three places that jump up the neck are very challenging (for my pinky finger anyway), my biggest problem has been maintaining a consistent tempo. Hearing the metronome and smooth timing in this recording is what I will be aiming for.

    I am going to revisit the beginning of the book on timing, and I do plan on learning the other fiddle tunes. Playing some scales with a metronome probably wouldn't hurt either.

    Thanks again!

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    Registered User Jordan Ramsey's Avatar
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    Default Re: Looking for audio of Tottle's version 'Arkansas Traveler'

    Quote Originally Posted by mdavis00 View Post
    While the three places that jump up the neck are very challenging (for my pinky finger anyway)
    Double check Tottle's recommended fingerings (numbers in parentheses above the tab line)... He has you playing the whole thing without your pinky (although I do use my pinky for the 12th fret on the A string in the 7th measure of the chorus).

    Little story about paying attention to the details.... 'Bluegrass Mandolin' was my first book, got it a week or so after I picked up my first mandolin. I was self-taught for about two years using books and I did not pay strict attention to the small details in Tottle's charts, most notably the pick direction markings (bottomless box and "V" above the tab line). Long story short, I later studied with Tottle and he immediately hipped me to the fact that I had developed really bad pick direction habits by not following his directions. One of the most frustrating times in my life was having to go back a "relearn" with proper pick direction all the tunes I thought I knew. Learning this stuff correctly can be difficult, but not nearly as difficult as unlearning and relearning something you've already ingrained. Make sure you pay close attention to both the pick directions and the fingerings. Do things the right way from the get go, you will progress faster and it will save you a lot of stress down the road.
    2016 Ellis F5
    2007 Gibson Sam Bush
    1924 Gibson A Jr.
    1913 R. Calace Brevettato 900
    Ragged Union
    Espresso
    Youtube

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