Bards Old Time Fiddle Tunebook Supplement/Blackberry Blossom
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The fiddle tune "Blackberry Blossom", a fiddle tune in the key of G Major,  is classified as a "breakdown" and is popular in old time, bluegrass and Celtic traditional circles. It is considered one of the best known fiddle tune of the twentieth century.
History[edit | edit source]
The tune  has been added to many tune books - as many as 277, according to The Session, an online resource for traditional musicians.  The tune became popular as a tune recorded by "Fiddlin'" Arthur Smith and that version, according to Alan Jabbour, supplanted an earlier tune played by Sanford Kelly from Morgan County, which is now represented by the tune "Yew Piney Mountain".   It is also called Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom, perhaps to distinguish it from the earlier version. Contradicting Jabbour, who clearly distinguishes the earlier version, is the account of Andrew Kuntz to the effect that "Betty Vornbrock and others have noted a similarity between 'Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom' and the West Virginia tune 'Yew Piney Mountain', a variant...also played by Kentucky fiddlers J.P. Fraley and and Santford Kelly". 
Culture: use in different genres[edit | edit source]
Although the tune is closely associated with the old time/ bluegrass traditions of the United States, it enjoys the distinction of often being frequently played by traditional Irish musicians.
In Irish music[edit | edit source]
This is a partial list of covers by Irish musicians and bands.
- An Fhidil, Sraith 2 by Sean Keane, Kevin Burke, Paddy Glackin And Seamus Creagh
- Ireland's Best Session Tunes CD 1 by Waltons Recording
- Irish Dances by Various Artists
- Top Of Coom by Conal Ó'Gráda
- Traditional Irish Dance Music by All Star Ceilidhe Band
- Traditional Irish Dance Music: All Star Ceili Band by Joe Derrane
- Traditional Irish Music by William Sullivan
- Traditional Irish Tunes Played On The Tin Whistle (1/2) by Geraldine Cotter
- Traditional Music Of Ireland by Various Artists
In Bluegrass[edit | edit source]
According to Devon Wells, Blackberry Blossom, as a banjo tune, was brought to the public's attention as one of the earliest arrangements of Bill Keith.  Wells, a bluegrass teacher, asserts that the tune is a standard in the bluegrass banjo repertoire. Some of the older recordings archived at the Digital Library of Appalachia include:
- Davenport, Clyde
- Fiddle tune played by Clyde Davenport at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music on 11-03-84
- Rawlings, Carlton
- Fiddle tune played by Carlton Rawlings and recorded by John Harrod in Bath County, Kentucky [1970s].
- Higgins, Charlie
- Smithsonian FOlkways 
Structure[edit | edit source]
Like most traditional fiddle tunes, Blackberry Blossom has an A part and a B part; the former is in the key of G Major but the latter switches explicitly to the key of E minor. E minor is the relative minor of the key of G Major - it uses the same sharps and flats but its' modal center is E rather than G. This provides the tune with an unusual mood shift which adds complexity.  According to Anthony, "The note played on the 1st & 3rd beat of the first 2 measures are the first 4 notes of the descending scale of G. Each of these notes is the beginning of a 3-note run, returning to to this base note, before moving on to the next note in the G scale. "
Videographic documentation (various instrumentation)[edit | edit source]
Fiddle and Guitar 
Fiddle Guitar and Banjo 
Mandolin [Mark O'Connor)
Fiddle & percussion- interpretive - (Carrie Rodriguez) 
Twin fiddlin' 
Electric violin/ rock band 
Collection of video links at World News website
Instructional resources[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Website of Sean Ray|http://seanray.com/2010/blackberry-blossom-2/
- ref name=Anthony|Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire|Wendy Anthony |http://archive.mandolinsessions.com/jun08/Anthony.html
- The Sessions
- ref name=DLA-Dickerson|played by Emma Lee Dickerson and| recorded by= Barbara Kunkle |date recorded=2-9-74|Greenup County, Kentucky|performer=Dickerson, Emma Lee|Place=Greenup County, Kentucky|Original Format=Reel-To-Reel Audio Tape|Holding Library|Berea College |http://www.aca-dla.org/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/Berea43&CISOPTR=571&CISOBOX=1&REC=2
- ref name=The Session|Please expand this reference|http://www.thesession.org/tunes/display/1365
- Note: As an E minor tune. He ends the tune "that's the way that God made peace".|http://www.aca-dla.org/cgi-bin/showfile.exe?CISOROOT=/Berea43&CISOPTR=3533&filename=3534.mp3
- ref name=Jabbour BBB Transcript|cited=Wikiversity Ethnography of Fiddle|Fiddle tune played by Alan Jabbour at Berea College on 5-28-08, while participating in Berea's Appalachian Music Fellowship Program.c; Jabbour, Alan; Blackberry Blossom;
- Blackberry Blossom|Lecture and performance by Alan Jabbour|Madison County, Kentucky|Audio Compact Disc|On web Digital Library of Appallachia| Archives, Hutchins Library, Department of Special Collections & Archives.
- ref name=Kuntz|The Fiddler’s Companion|Andrew Kuntz|1996[?]|Citing Jean Thomas's Ballad Makin' in the Mountains of Kentucky|http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/BLACK.htm#BLACKBERRY_BLOSSOM_
- Note: The Digital Library of Appallachia has recordings primarily from Kentucky. http://www.aca-dla.org/cdm4/results.php?CISOOP1=exact&CISOFIELD1=CISOSEARCHALL&CISOROOT=all&CISOBOX1=%20Blackberry%20Blossom
- The Sessions
- The Sessions
- ref name=Wells|Saturday, April 2, 2011| Exploring Blackberry Blossom|Website of Devon Wells|Devon's Banjo Homepage|http://banjohomeplace.blogspot.com/2011/04/exploring-blackberry-blossom-part-i_02.html
- Doc and the Lady (Fiddle and Flatpick Guitar)Operation Smile ocncert|instumentation=(fiddle and guitar)|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqtqdQBaYjA%7C11/16/2007%7Chttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bXdhej_q7sg&feature=related
- Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association in Spokane Washington. Every month the INBA has what they call a Bluegrass Thang
- album =Markology|label= Rounder| Released: 24 Jul 2007| url=|http://www.last.fm/music/Mark+O%27Connor/Markology
- Carrie Rodriguez performing live at the Rosendale Cafe in Rosendale, NY on January 3, 2008. Playing with Carrie are her band members Hans Holzen and Javier Vercher.|http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ifAlMxMsckE&feature=related