Author: Daniel, Bert

Old Time Tech

Does the above title sound like an oxymoron to you? It does to me. After all old time music is, well, old. It hearkens back to a time before any of us were born. In the hey day of old time music, the term "tech savvy" might have meant that you actually knew how to plug in your 78 rpm record player.

And of course the origins of old time music go way back before the origins of the phonograph. Yet there are those of us who still appreciate the old time tunes and rhythms. We still play them, cherish them and preserve them. We don't have any music videos to inspire us, but it doesn't matter. We love our old time music, and if most of the rest of the world doesn't appreciate it, that's their loss. We are a small minority but at least we have music we really love. We feel special.

For the most part, modern fans of old time music are just the same as everybody else. We are not Luddites who embrace what is in the past because we abhor all the progress that our culture has made since those old time tunes became popular. We are just like everybody else except that we have an experience with a musical genre which speaks to us from a bygone era and of which most people are mostly unaware.

If you live in the modern era and you love to play and listen to old time music, life has never been so good! We have access to so much great technology that allows us to explore the music to our heart's desire. We love to learn "new" old time tunes. And although the opportunities to learn the tunes from other players versed in the music may be few, we can use the internet to research literally thousands of old chestnuts. We can research the history behind each tune. We can listen to an mp3 of just how the melody goes for any tune we desire, just at the click of a mouse button.

I say that with all this high tech, old time music is ripe for a revival! Get on the internet and check out some of these sites now. I'll give you a few of my favorites to start out:

1) Andrew Kuntz's Fiddlers Companion. I've been going to this for years at but Andrew is in the process of going to a wiki format as the Traditional Tune Archive which will be at I really like being able to look up any tune, read the history and get a version of the tune in abc notation (which is a computer version of music that can be translated into sheet music using various other sites, listed in Andrew's explanation. I used which works great)

2) Greg Canote's old time banjo tunes ( You can learn tunes each month, either by ear or banjo tab.

3) Charlotte Folk Society ( If you click on the monthly jam links you'll find all the music you need for a good jam.

I could go on and on, (especially if I could cut and paste all the sites from my favorites bar on a computer that unfortunately crashed). The point is, there are tons of these sites out there to explore for anyone who wants to play old time music. Find them for yourself. It's easy.

Old Time music is great music. Maybe computers and the internet are just what this great music needs to get to the next level!
Posted:  2/16/2012

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