Here’s a fiddle version of Redemption Song by Bob Marley.
I recently heard a version of the tune by Macy Gray which planted the seed for doing a fiddle version. I was surprised how easily it translated to a solo fiddle format. It’s rare that a song is so sad and at the same time hopeful.
I filmed this in LA at sunset on the front porch of my girlfriend Melissa’s house. I don’t do much busking (street performing) and so I was a little self-conscious when people would walk by. While working out how to do the tune, a guy walked by and said, “That sounds really good right now bro.” I was so uplifted that I stopped and said “Hi!” He replied, “Don’t stop,” and kept walking.
Here is a downloadable mp3 for your listening pleasure:
When I first started messing around with the tune, I played it in E major, because that’s how I seemed to remember it. I moved it down to D major because it would be easier to add double stops (more open strings to work with).
A lot of the double stops are droning double stops, that is, I just add an open string to the melody. But some are ‘chordal double stops’ (my term), meaning they outline the chord of the song more closely.
I tried to follow the vocal line closely but added rhythmic variation. In the second pass through the tune, I tap my foot and use the hoedown rhythm (long-short-short). I do some sliding (good for pulling heartstrings).
I think that knowing the song well made it easier to learn it. In fact, any time you learn a melody, singing it will help you to get it more easily. Even if it’s a fiddle tune without lyrics. Singing will also help you to play better in tune.
If you’re interested in adding variation to tunes, start by adding variation to one little phrase. Alternate between the basic and the variation as a way to learn the variation and to test to see if it works.
Other versions on Youtube
Thanks for listening ?
Now, go fiddle with it…?