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Thread: Lady of the Lake

  1. #1
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Lady of the Lake

    I've heard four versions of Lady of the Lake. One is a standard square dance tune, which i know and play often at dances. The second is a fairly well recorded reel, likely Irish in origin. The third is a rarely heard waltz of much musical distinction.

    The fourth version I have only heard played by John Hartford, recorded on a few different of his albums. It is a wonder of a tune, or should say a JH performance, a convoluted fiddle tune that flies across 4 octaves. I have searched a few places attempting to find either the written music or a MIDI file for this version, but so far without luck. I am now wondering if what JH plays is actually 1 of the 2 other 4/4 versions, but deconstructed to such an extent that it has become a JH original. Any help is much appreciated.
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    from the liner notes to Wild Hog in the Red Brush:

    "18. Lady of the lake (Samuel Bayard - John Hartford Music BMI)
    As played by J.H. Chisholm in the Wilkinson Manuscript collection of Virginia Tunes. Another melody with this title has been played for years by the old time bands on the Grand Ole Opry and is known around Middle Tennessee. Wilson Douglas says Ed Haley played a tune with this title. The one we play here is probably not that one, we just like this one. <snip> The Chisholm melody is in Geo. Knauf's tune collection of 1839."

  3. #3
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    aha, so there are 4 versions. Do you play it, Jesse? and thanks for the info.
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    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Actually it looks like the title has been applied to a whole bunch of tunes. "Cincinnati Hornpipe", for example, if you look it up is a/k/a "Lady of the Lake". Wouldn't be surprised if there's a dozen or so. Anyhow, the one in the liner notes I guess is the one JH played (probably Hartfordized to some extent).

    Never tried playing it myself.

  5. #5
    Registered User Charles E.'s Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Jim, is this the oldtime tune that you play?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmi6IA6FF4c
    Charley

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  6. #6
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Youtube has so many versions of Lady of the Lake, both great and slight, that its hard to keep your head straight, discerning between all them. I did find another fine version of the John Hartford Lady of the Lake here. It's by a group called Red Dog.

    Inevitably comparing this performance to the Hartford performance, my first thought is that it would be so much easier to learn the tune by rote by listening to Red Dog over and over again. That's because each note fits more precisely in its little meter container without the slurs that JH favors. However, that same distinction makes me realize that JH was a master of slurring melody to push rhythm. He stretches notes and phrases until they couldn't be stretched any more or they'd overtake the next phrase.

    The version I play is this one.

    Unfortunately, this little girl's inspired version lacks the double stops and note stretching that makes so much old time fiddle music sound so darn compelling. I'm sure she'll get it in a few more years. An odd thing i notice is that this second version could, with a little creative ear effort, start to sound a bit like a bare-bones example of what John Hartford does on his version. Wouldn't mind a reality check on that.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

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    Registered User John Flynn's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    The Fiddler's Companion file list shows nine distinct tunes entitled Lady of the Lake, although they all have aliases. There are two jigs, two reels, three hornpipes and two breakdowns. Keys range from Amix to Gmaj to Dmaj. The one I learned is similar to the one played here:


  8. #8
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    I also found one waltz.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Love this version. I learned this one from an old County LP by John Ashby, a fiddler from Northern Virginia. I know there are several other Ladies of the Lake, but I learned this one years ago and teach it to many of my students. Interesting similarity in the second part to a Bluegrass tune called "Walking in my Sleep."
    David "Gus" Garelick

  10. #10
    Notary Sojac Paul Kotapish's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    "Lady of the Lake" is also one of the great New England contradance "chestnuts," a traditional dance typically done to the version of the eponymous tune in this video. The band playing for this dance includes three stalwarts of the N.E. scene--Pete Sutherland on fiddle, Bill Tomczak on clarinet, and the late, great Bob McQuillen on piano. I've played this tune for this dance for 35 years or so, and we usually medley it with one or more of the other "Ladies of the Lake," or with a related tune such as "Miller's Reel," with key changes marking the transitions.

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  11. #11
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Yah, I agree, that McQuillen recording of Lady of the Lake is a great dance tune.

    I finally learned the John Hartford version of Lady of the Lake. As it turns out, it is a bit different than the so-called Lady of the Lake in A mixolydian. The Hartford version is in A min. And each A and B part ends very strongly on a D major chord. At the moment our fiddle player has placed it in the middle of a dance set with Seneca Square dance and Richmond Cotillion.
    Explore some of my published music here

    óJim

    BRW 3-point #65 (2009)
    Altman 2-point (2007)
    Portuguese fado cittern (1965)

  12. #12

    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Nollman View Post
    Yah, I agree, that McQuillen recording of Lady of the Lake is a great dance tune.

    I finally learned the John Hartford version of Lady of the Lake. As it turns out, it is a bit different than the so-called Lady of the Lake in A mixolydian. The Hartford version is in A min. And each A and B part ends very strongly on a D major chord. At the moment our fiddle player has placed it in the middle of a dance set with Seneca Square dance and Richmond Cotillion.
    Did you ever find out the source for Hartford's version?

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    Default Re: Lady of the Lake

    We do a tune Lady of the Lake in D, then go into the lady of the lake in Am. There is only a slight similarity, but work well as a medley. Our Am version is similar to John's version in that I can play ours along with John's, but it's different. Not sure of the source, I learned it from a friend who learned it who knows where.
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