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Thread: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

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    Default Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Hello Everyone,

    So I was watching a video of Chris Thile and Chris Eldridge doing New Chance Blues on Live From Here. In the intro, Chris mentioned that it is a "polytonal" tune. I guess meaning that the C and G chords aren't in the key of A. So I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions for other tunes that have chords outside the key or key changes in them.

    I've also gotten into playing crooked tunes. So far I know Grey Owl, Billy in the Lowground (the crooked measure), Cherokee Shuffle, and Old Dangerfield. Does anyone have suggestions for more crooked tunes?

    Thanks,

    David

  2. #2
    Professional Dreamer journeybear's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Cajun music is full of crooked tunes. Most of the time that means there'll be an added beat or a dropped beat - depends on the tune. Might not be your thing, but it's a rich tradition worth investigating, and can add some flavoring to the rest of whatever you do.
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Not sure what you would consider "crooked", but here ya go...

    Farewell Trion
    Elzic's Farewell
    Winderslide
    Chinquapin Hunting (three-parter in A)
    Mitch Russell

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    Registered User Ranald's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    I'd suggest that crooked tunes are not necessarily individual tunes, but often have to do with the style of a musician or a musical culture. French-Canadians, and even more, Metis and indigenous people of western Canada, play many crooked tunes, which are "straighter" when their neighbours play them. See this article on Metis music by the fiddler and scholar, Anne Lederman: https://jsis.washington.edu/canada/m...n/metis-music/

    Fiddling is much more widespread than mandolin playing among the cultures mentioned above, so here's Grandy Fagnan, a traditional Metis fiddler from Manitoba. Check out "Drops of Brandy", for example. Anne also provides examples of fiddlers who might be more palatable to someone limited to more contemporary tastes. http://grandyproject.ca/tunes/
    Robert Johnson's mother, describing blues musicians:
    "I never did have no trouble with him until he got big enough to be round with bigger boys and off from home. Then he used to follow all these harp blowers, mandoleen (sic) and guitar players."
    Lomax, Alan, The Land where The Blues Began, NY: Pantheon, 1993, p.14.

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    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by decaf View Post
    I've also gotten into playing crooked tunes. So far I know Grey Owl, Billy in the Lowground (the crooked measure), Cherokee Shuffle, and Old Dangerfield. Does anyone have suggestions for more crooked tunes?
    My favorite kind of crooked is crooked phrasing, where the number of beats is different in this section or that. Three of my favorites in popular rotation right now: Texas (a.k.a Newcastle), Old Aunt Jenny With Her Night Cap On, and Elk River Blues.

    There are many tunes that some call crooked only because B part is half as long as the A part. I like to play them as is, and not "fix" them by repeating the B part. Dry and Dusty comes to mind.

    There are many tunes where the B part is twice as long as the A part, but since everyone repeats the A part, nobody notices, and these are not considered crooked. Maggie Brown's Favorite (a.k.a. Planxty Margaret Brown) is a classic example.

    I have to admit that part of the fun of crooked tunes is that they don't make good dance tunes, at least as regular contra dance tunes.
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranald View Post
    I'd suggest that crooked tunes are not necessarily individual tunes, but often have to do with the style of a musician or a musical culture.
    This is an extremely good point. There's many a tune played crooked by this fiddler and straight by that one, or played crooked in this region and straight in that one.
    Life is short, play hard. Life is really really short, play really really hard.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Red Rocking Chair is sort of crooked.

    Here are some versions to make you proud to be a musician!!



    (Warning, no mando content)


    -Molsky’s bounce really is something else!!
    Last edited by Simon DS; Sep-13-2021 at 4:15pm.

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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Quote Originally Posted by decaf View Post
    Does anyone have suggestions for more crooked tunes?
    Humphreys Waltz, composed by MandolinCafe member Daniel Nestlerode. Part A has 15 bars, instead of the more customary 16 bars. It's a nice tune.

    This tune was MandolinCafe Song-a-Week #543 (see page 1 and page 2), and a bunch of us MandolinCafe sorts have posted our own videos of this tune there. There is also sheet music and mandolin tab there as well.

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    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    Here’s another fun tune, it’s not exactly crooked but in 7/8 time. (Think: Reel, jig; Reel, jig) (D-DU, DUD; D-DU, DUD)
    Difficult, steep learning curve like tremolo but really improves your rhythm for ‘straight’ tunes.
    Enjoy!
    https://thesession.org/tunes/15398

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/g...328&do=discuss


  12. #10

    Default Re: Suggestions for Crooked and/or Polytonal Tunes?

    As recorded by The Irish Rovers, "St. Brendan's Fair Isle" has an enjoyable pattern of 5 bar and 4 bar phrases.

    Uneven rhythms, such as the 7/8 noted above, are also fun and interesting. For example, listen to Avi Avital's "Bucimis" in 15/16 or Chris Thile's "Sedi Donka" in 25/16, both Bulgarian folk dance tunes.

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