Playing Fiddle in B-Flat

Feb 19, 2020

Hi, I’m Mitch Reed. Welcome to my vlog. Today my vlog is about the old Creole fiddle and tuning the fiddle down to B-flat. That’s what this fiddle’s tuned down to. So I used to take lessons from Calvin Carrière. He was the nephew of Bébé Carrière. They were just an amazing Creole family of accordion players and fiddle players. I always felt like that was kind of their secret sound was that B flat tuning. So you’re taking the fiddle and tuning it down two whole steps. So now instead of having a low C [00:34] on my D string, I have a B-flat. It really gives you a nice rich tone. [00:41]

There’s a lot of fun stuff you can do with this fiddle. The Blues sound great on here. It’s great if you have an extra fiddle and you can tune it like this. It mellows the fiddle out and makes it really quiet. If you want to practice late and at night and you don’t want to wake up anybody and you don’t want to use a mute, this is kind of a good way to practice. It’s just about the lowest you can go without the tone being broken up. So you can actually still have a nice tone. It doesn’t mean every fiddle is going to sound great in this tuning.

This is an old fiddle that came from France that Michael Doucet gave to me. He found it in France when he was traveling through there with Zachary Richard. He let me use it for a long time. Then one day he said, “You know what? That fiddle from France? That I let you use? It’s yours. Just keep it.” So thank you, Michael! I love this fiddle. It just sounds so Louisiana to me and it reminds me of Calvin’s fiddle because Calvin’s fiddle had this kind of varnish on it.

So I’ll just play an old blues that Calvin played. You can hear the tone. It’s a lot of fun to play. It goes like this. [02:09]

So, yeah! B-flat. A great key actually for fiddles tuned in an open tuning, tuned down. It’s also a lot of fun. The b-flat accordion is still popular in Louisiana. If you do have to play with a b-flat accordion you can tune this way as well. and it gives you an open F string so it gives you that higher F that you can play with an open sound like that. I just like the mellowness and the sadness and the Blues that it gives, you know? It's got that kind of lonesome sound, melancholy sound. So again, just sharing that with y’all old Creole tradition of tuning the fiddle two whole steps down to b-flat. And if you have an extra fiddle give it a shot. I don’t know how many recordings are out there that are tuned this way but you can check it out and see. Definitely check out the Carrière brothers and their recordings that they did together. Éraste Carrière played the accordion and Bébé played the fiddle. Later on, they taught Éraste son Calvin how to play both accordion and fiddle. He formed a band with Delton Broussard called the Lawtell Playboys and that stuff is really amazing stuff. More electrified but still very great Creole music, LaLa music.

Thanks for joining me today. If you like this music check out my website. Check out www.mitchreedmusiclessons.com. You can become a member of that and learn from over 100 downloads of different stuff, both Creole and Cajun. Keep on fiddlin’, stay inspired. That’s what it’s all about. If you feel like you’re in a rut the way to get out of it is to get you some private lessons, do some Skype lessons, or go jam with some people. Good luck with everything. Hope to see you soon. Thanks!

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