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December 2007 · Bimonthly

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Wendy playing Washburn Mandolin

Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire

by Wendy Anthony

Cold Frosty Morning

(Key of A Dorian)

The Tune:

Cold Frosty Morning, popular in the Old-Time repertoire, is an appropriately named tune to learn to play on those cold winter days common to the northern hemisphere. This tune is also known as (aka) Cold Frosty Morn or Frosty Morning.

ColdFrostyMorning music transcript

Listen to the Midi: 120 bpm & 160 bpm


  • Overview of Tune: Cold Frosty Morning is a minor-sounding tune, played in the A Dorian Mode, using mainly A minor & G Major chords. The rhythm has some syncopated pick strokes in Part B.

  • Dorian Mode & Chords:
    • The Dorian Mode has 1 sharp more than the minor of the same key (Am has no sharps, so A Dorian has 1 sharp - F#). The main chords used are the minor I (Am) & the Major VII (G). Some players will use A Major for first 2 bars of Part B, reverting back to Am for the rest.
    Part A:   ||: Am | Am | G | G | Am | Am | Am/G | Am :||

    Part B:   ||: Am | Am | G | G | Am/C | D/E | Am/G | Am :||
  • Pick Strokes: Pick all 1/4 notes with Downstrokes & all paired 1/8 notes with Down/Upstrokes. The syncopated rhythm in Measure 9, emphasizes the off-beat notes using an upstroke in two different phrases. In the first 4-note phrase, pick the first two 1/8 notes with a Down/Upstroke, hold the fretted finger for the tied 1/8 note, then pick the final 1/8 note with another Upstroke. The second 3-note phrase is played similarly, picking the 1/4 with the usual Downstroke, then once again, hold the fretted finger for another tied 1/8 note, before picking the final 1/8 note with another Upstroke. This second phrase rhythm & picking pattern is also repeated in measures 8, 12, 13 & 16.

Comments or Suggestions?

Keepin' tuned ...
Wendy Anthony

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