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This package consists of a book which is 45 pages, 5.5" by 8.5" in size, spiral bound, illustrated, with written music for fiddle tunes, and two 60 minute CDs in “teach yourself” format which correspond to the tunes in the book. The tunes are played by author Ryan thomson at very slow speed for learning the melodies by ear, and then up to dance speed with variations.
The repertoire consists of several ethnic styles: Irish, Scottish, French Canadian, American, bluegrass, and others. The tune types include traditional dance tunes and variations with chords for accompanying instruments; hornpipes; reels; hoedowns; jigs; and waltzes, with a written description and origin of each tune. The written music is suitable for all folk instruments.
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Many people have purchased the instructional CDs alone and have learned the tunes entirely by ear. With this book/CD package, learners now also have the written music as an additional learning aid.About the Author:
Ryan Thomson is a self taught fiddler and professional tune collector residing in New Hampshire. He won the Northeastern US Regional award at the National Fiddle Contest in Weiser, Idaho in 1977. Before starting to learn fiddle he had studied classical and jazz piano, built and learned to play a lap dulcimer, taught himself pennywhistle, mandolin, and guitar, and had reached an award winning level of banjo playing. His solo banjo CD, Great Bay Stomp, has received excellent reviews. After learning fiddle he added flute and accordian to the list.
He attended college in San Diego, California, and graduate school in New Hampshire and studied topics in the psychology of music. He acquired the nick name "Captain Fiddle," from his co-workers at WUNH where he produced a weekly show on fiddling and folk music for several years in the 1970's. He continued with a regular Sunday night show for a year on National Public Radio WEVO.
In the early 1980's he passed an audition to play in an award winning Nashville based country band and toured the eastern states from Missisippi to Maine. He twice received the nomination for "Country Fiddler of the Year," from the Massachusetts Country Music Association.
After years of searching libraries from coast to coast he discovered that no general book about folk fiddling existed. He decided to fill that niche and in 1985 founded Captain Fiddle Publications by authoring his first book, The Fiddler's Almanac, a general reference source about fiddlers and fiddling which can be presently found in over 3000 libraries in the United States and Canada.
He has since written several more books on fiddle, banjo, music theory for folk musicians, and other topics. Ryan's instructional books and recordings have received top reviews from the best of fiddling and folk music publications.
In 1990 he lost the ability to bow the violin properly with his right arm. Feeling a strong need to resume fiddling, he converted his fiddle to left handed, relearned to fiddle, and now performs left handed even though he is naturally right handed. The experience of having to learn how to play fiddle twice has made him an excellent fiddle teacher and workshop leader. There are also other entertainment advantages to having learned to play both right and left handed. In between playing right and left handed violin, he taught himself to play swing piano for jitterbug dances.
In 1994 he won a Boston Music Awards nomination for Best Ethnic/International Act for his accordion playing while leading the Crawdad Wranglers cajun band which has been playing for cajun dancers in New England for over 13 years. The band can be heard on the CD Crawdad Wranglers Live! In 1995 he earned his first trophy playing violin left handed, at the Southern Vermont Scottish Highland Games.
In the summer of 1998 he recorded his first CD playing left handed fiddle - New Hampshire Hornpipe, an album of all original celtic style tunes. His 1999 CD, Newmarket Duets, is a collection of traditional and original tunes played on fiddle, flute, and accordian by Ryan, with friends on hammered dulcimer, guitar, Irish Harp, chromatic harmonica, and other instruments.
Ryan was invited in 2000 as a special guest artist to perform at the Celebrate New Hampshire festival sponsored by the Smithsonian. He currently performs in several bands, teaches music, and continues to journey to far off places over seas and across America as a tune collector. His latest CD, released in 2001, Ryan Thomson. Tune Collector, includes newly recorded solo Irish flute and Pennywhistle tunes, solo swing piano, and a sampling of selections from his previously released accordian, banjo, and fiddle CDs.
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