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Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire
by Wendy Anthony
(Key of D)
Mississippi Sawyer is a fiddle tune popular in many Old-Time jams. A "Mississippi Sawyer" is a riverboat term used to describe the hazard when a large piece of wood floats below the water surface (either a shoreline tree with roots undercut by the water flow, or some driftwood hung-up in some debris), while bobbing in an up-and-down motion with the river current, like a saw-blade, or a fiddle bow, with tremendous capacity to cause damage under the boat's waterline.
Listen to the Midi: 120 bpm & 160 bpm
- Overview of Tune: This tune has a melody with notes that go up-and-down, back-and-forth, in a saw-like fashion, just like the name might suggest. Quarter-notes are interspersed with eight-notes, giving it a stop-and-go motion.
- Chords: The chord structure is similar between the parts, with the exception of the 3rd & 4th measures, which use a G chord in Part A & an A chord in Part B.
Part A: ||: D | D | G | G | D | D | D/A | D :||
Part B: ||: D | D | A | A | D | D | D/A | D :||
- Pick Strokes: Pick all 1/4 notes with Downstrokes & all paired 1/8 notes with Down/Upstrokes. The triplets can be picked with one pickstroke, while using a hammer-on with your left fingers, placing each finger down with a quick, firm contact, before adding the next finger, making each note ring.