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Workshop: Tune Writing

FAQs about tune-writing in general and this workshop in particular:

Q. How do I get started writing a tune? I can't think of anything good!

A. My album "The Waltz of the Whippoorwill" contains 11 pieces that I wrote by developing melodies that were sung by birds, who certainly don’t have any knowledge or training in composition! I will demonstrate that there’s no huge mystery to coming up with a tune. If you can hum or strum a phrase, then you’re on your way.

Q. Is the workshop focused on PLAYING a tune well, or on WRITING a tune?

A. This workshop is about writing a tune. Participants will play what they write, but the emphasis is on the creation of the tune, not on performing it.

Q. Do I have to know how to read music?

A. No. Many people who don't read music have composed fiddle tunes. Rudimentary music writing ability is a helpful tool for remembering parts and variations, though, as well as for organizing and documenting melodies and musical ideas.

For example, making up short stories, without being able to write in English, is certainly possible. It is a much easier craft, however, for somebody who knows how to write.

Q. How do I write a piece that others will recognize as a “fiddle tune”?

A. At the workshop, I will explain techniques that make tunes fit the style of traditional fiddling.

Q. I play mandolin (or guitar) and not fiddle. Will I still fit into this workshop?

A. Definitely! The focus is on writing a tune, not the instrument it’s played on.

Q. Will I get to play?

A. Yes! Each player will come away with a souvenir recording of the tune we write.

Joe provides free written materials to all attendees.

Joe Weed is a fiddler, recording artist, writer, and producer. He has released six albums of his own. His music productions have been used by Ken Burns, PBS, NPR, the Martin Guitar Company, and at Arlington National Cemetery. Joe has composed music for film scores at The Lincoln Museum, the National Steinbeck Center, and many others. He has written fiddle tunes that are played at contra dances, festivals, and jam sessions across the country.

Tune writing workshop participants in the studio

Tuning up to record our new fiddle tune

Getting set up to record the tune we just wrote

Listening to the playback of the tune we just wrote

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