Fiddlosophy #2 – Taylor Swift, Finding Your Vocal Range, Project-based Learning

In this episode of the Fiddlosophy podcast I’ll talk about my current learning project: arranging songs for fiddle and voice with the goal of making a recording.

Here’s a fiddle and vocal version of a Taylor Swift song called “Out Of The Woods.”


I arranged it for fiddle based on the version by Ryan Adams.

He covered all the songs on Taylor’s album 1989, releasing his own version of the album. 

To me it sounds like Bruce Springsteen from the Born In The USA era.

That album helped me to appreciate Taylor’s songs. Especially the lyrics. It’s a great example of how a song can be re-interpreted with a totally different emotional feel. I especially like the third verse:

I remember you hit the brakes too soon20 stitches in the hospital roomWhen you started crying, baby I did tooWhen the sun came up, I was lookin’ at youRemember when we couldn’t take the heatI walked out and said I was setting you freeBut the monsters turned out to be just treesAnd when the sun came up, you were looking at me

Taylor’s version is super-upbeat, Ryan’s is more melancholy, more shoe-gazer.

Taylor’s original version was a 4/4 pop song. Ryan Adams arranged it as a waltz and gave it a more melancholy feel. I stuck close to his version, but let the melody move more by ascending on each line of the chorus. I also gave the rhythm more of a 6/8 feel.

My first encounter with Taylor was a song called “You belong to me.” I learned it so I could teach it to a guitar student named Sarah. I’m not a guitar teacher so I had to wing it…I learned everything right before the lesson!

It was fun teaching Sarah. She started writing songs and then we went down the rabbit hole together. Songwriting became a major focus of our lessons. She’d come in with song ideas and then I’d help her arrange and record them.

I discovered that projects are a great way to learn. Find something that you want to build or work on. Projects are good because they are time-bound. It’s something you can complete and then feel good about.

My current project is learning to play and sing songs on fiddle. Most of the songs fall outside the realm of traditional folk music.The ultimate goal is to make recordings and release them through YouTube and possibly streaming platforms.

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