Tidal Pull

I’ve been collaborating with fiddler, Esther Morgan-Ellis, for the last year on a group of new old-time tunes. We’ve performed them in a series of concerts beginning in Spring 2024. We plan to release a recording of them soon. Here’s a performance of my tune “Tidal Pull” from our concert at the University of North Georgia, Dahlonega.

YouTube player
Tidal Pull; Esther Morgan-Ellis, fiddle; Holland Hopson, banjo

And here’s tablature for the banjo part and a representative melody line.

Notes About This Tune

  • “Tidal Pull” is in D, played in Double D tuning (aDADE) using the clawhammer style.
  • This is one of the few tunes we play that is not crooked, which makes this one great for contra dances
  • The syncopation of the a note in the B part is an important detail that’s easy to miss.
  • For variety, I sometimes play the beginning of the second ending down an octave.
  • I wrote this tune at a beach with a very strong undertow–practically a rip current! That explains the title and the motion of the melody.

Give the tune a try, and let me know how you like it!

Esther and Holland at John C. Campbell Folk School

Monday, July 22nd, Esther Morgan-Ellis and I play another show in our current run of concerts featuring new old-time music for fiddle and banjo. We’ll be at the illustrious John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.

Monday, July 22, 2024 8pm
Doctors of Original Fiddle Banjo Duets
John C. Campbell Folk School
1 Folk School Rd
Brasstown NC 28902

I’ve only visited the Folk School once, and that was over 20 years ago when my wife and I went to a concert there on our honeymoon!

We’ll also be playing for the Contra Dance on Tuesday, July 23rd, with dances called by Caller Alex Macleod.

Sleep Well, Bill Viola

I was saddened to hear that media artist Bill Viola died earlier this week.

One of the first pieces I saw of Viola’s has stuck with me. The Sleepers (1992) shows video of people sleeping. Simple enough, but the CRT monitors are on their backs in the bottoms of 55-gallon drums, submerged in water. The peaceful glow of the light from the barrels and the images of people sleeping, dreaming and breathing is contrasted by the ever present danger of electrocution and drowning. A baptism. A burial. A revelation of how separate our sleeping and waking lives really are. And a suggestion that waking up might not go as planned.

I appreciate the slow, contemplative pace of Viola’s work. His attention to sound is also notable. I wonder if–in a different universe–he might have become a sound artist with an eye for the visual rather than a media artist with an ear for sound.