Traditional Fiddle Tunes Transcribed For Cello

Here is a selection of wonderful fiddle tunes with various origins and pedigrees but all transcribed for cello. Some are undoubtedly Irish, others from the USA or the UK, but all are in the same fiddler’s style. Many received their first official publication in the USA but were perhaps previously aurally transmitted through the generations in their area of origin and only published in the USA? To accommodate this ambiguity of origin, they have their own international category on the cellofun website on this page.

Traditional fiddle tunes are usually harmonically very simple, often with only three chords, but their melodic and rhythmic invention is extraordinary. They are also often quite short, but lend themselves very well to elaboration through the creation of different variations which explore changes of speed, articulation, rhythm, character, key etc. The possibilities are infinite …..  They are offered here in different solo and duo combinations.

The solo versions come with a chord chart rather than a written-out accompaniment so that they can be accompanied freely by any chordal instrument (piano, guitar etc) or ensemble.

There are several possible ways to publish the duo parts. If we present both the accompaniment and melody lines for both instruments all the time, then we have great freedom to “mix-and-match”, choosing, according to our desires and relative abilities, who will play the melody and who will play the accompaniment for each variation. In order to change role between accompaniment and melody we will simply need to jump to the neighbouring staff, so if we alternate for each variation then we will be zig-zagging between staves at every change of variation (see Chandler’s Hornpipe and Hunting the Hare). With this type of part, these little pieces can also be played as duos by violinists and violists without a cello.

In the simpler arrangements, with fewer (or no) variations, a more standard protocol is followed for the duos. In these simple cases, the cello duos are offered normally in two different versions: an “equal” duo (with alternating protagonism) and a “solo + accompaniment” duo version. The duos for cello with violin or viola are always “equal” duos and are a lot of fun, especially when the violin/viola is playing the bass accompaniments !

  1.  Arkansas Traveller
  2.  Chandlers Hornpipe
  3.  Devil’s Dream
  4.  Fred Wilson’s Hornpipe
  5.  Hunting The Hare
  6.  New Century
  7.  Turkey In The Straw