Journal of American Folklore 126 (2013) idiomatic and personal form of the melody matches and departs from the fiddler's performance. martin will have fiddled alone sometimes, but in public performance settings, he was probably more often in duos or bands. When playing for dances but lacking amplification, fiddlers needed to be loud, especially if playing alone. one factor enhancing volume was (and remains) the use of cross-tunings (alternatives to the standard gDAe tuning of the open strings). martin used many such tunings, favoring common ones still used to lend resonance to the key of A; however, he tuned certain strings down, rather than tuning the others up, so was instead in g. cross-tunings offer the fiddler a number of advantages. They make playing in a given key easier, facilitate the use of double stops (two pitches played at once), and increase volume through sympathetic resonance. listening to this cD, the contrast between "Sandy river" (tuned gDgb) and the next track, "cumberland gap" (in standard tuning), is so striking that one almost gets the impression that one speaker of the stereo cut out. The disadvantage of cross-tunings is that fewer licks in those tunings seem graceful as compared to
Journal of American Folklore – American Folklore Society
Published: May 12, 2013
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