This is Tennessee Waltz, a free sample fiddle lesson for the [my] Talent Forge online music lessons program. If you would like access to many more fiddle lessons like this one, signup here.
In this lesson, Vi Wickam teaches you Tennessee Waltz, a beautiful song that was popular in the 50’s that was turned into a popular fiddle tune.
Backing Track Slow: Tennessee Waltz Guitar Track – Slow
Backing Track Fast: Tennessee Waltz Guitar Track – Fast
Fiddle Play Along Track Slow: Tennessee Waltz Play Along – MP3
Fiddle Play Along Track MIDI: Tennessee Waltz Play Along – MIDI
Sheet Music: Tennessee Waltz Sheet Music – PDF
Hi I’m Vi Wickam with myTalentForge.com and I have a free fiddle lesson for you today!
This is a tune called Tennessee Waltz, it’s one of the most popular fiddle tunes you’ll ever hear.
Now, it’s also a singing song, which makes it a great fiddle tune for you to learn.
If you’ve not heard this song before, I would highly encourage you to find some of the great recordings of this song, that are out on youtube with people singing it.
People like Patsy Cline, who just sing it beautifully. I always encourage my fiddle students to listen to other versions of the song when they’re learning. Because if you can sing the song in your head while you’re learning, it’s going to be a whole different thing. You’re going to be really making music, not just playing the notes.
So, this is Tennessee Waltz- I’m going to play it first and then break it down for you. […].
So, that’s the Tennessee Waltz!
You’re going to notice that there’s a repeating rhythm pattern that goes […]. Those are swing 8th notes […]. And then it goes through the whole song, you’ll hear […].
Keep that rhythm in your mind.
We want to play this beautifully, we want to take our time with it. We don’t want it to be rushed or robotic sounded.
This is where it comes- where it’s helpful to sing the song in your head. And if you have other versions of it you can reference, it will make it easier. Learning the lyrics is also a great thing to do as a reference for you.
So, let’s break it down a little bit, and see the notes.
We’re in the key of D. [0, 1, 2, 0]. Then you repeat it… [0, 1, 2, 0]. Then we repeat it up an octave [3, 0, 1, 3]. And then we take that rhythmic pattern and we walk it back down in B minor [1, 0, 3, 1].
And then we have that same rhythmic pattern, but we’re doing the first ending to this [3, 0, 2, 1, 0, 2, 1].
So we’re ending on an E note, which is the 5-note of the 5-chord, or it’s inferring an A chord. So, when we end a song or end a section of a song on a 5-chord, it doesn’t sound finished. It sounds like we’re going to have to do this again, we have to finish it.
So, we go back to the second time through this phrase […] repeat that [0, 1, 2, 0] up an octave just like before  and back down . Repeat that. […].
And here’s where we get the second ending . You hear how that sounds resolved, we’re ending on the D note.
That’s a great way to know we’re in the key of D. We end on the D note.
So that’s our A Part. […].
Our A Part really is combined- it is two littler A parts that have a first ending and a second ending.
And as you hear, we’re in the Key of D, which means we have the notes from the key of D.
Which means we have normal fingers- whole steps between open and 1, and 1 and 2 on the D string and the A string. We have the low 2, or a G nature on the E string […].
Threw a little G Sharp in there just for kicks! So those are our notes for this song.
Let’s go to the B Part then! […].
So we’ve got that same pattern, but we take it in a different direction […]. So same rhythmic pattern […]. Each of those little figures kind of mimics that general pattern.
Then we’ve got a little extended variation […3, 0, 1, 3, 1, 0…1, 0, 3, 1, 3, 0… 3, 4]. Or you could do […] if you’re not comfortable, but the 4 is going to sound a little prettier.
This is a waltz, so we want it to sound pretty! […].
[3, 4, 3, 0, 2] So that’s a D arpeggio coming down [3, 0, 2]. That kind of implies a B minor there […]. There’s our ending on the E note again.
So, that kind of first half of the B Part gives us a little echo or a variation on the part that stretches it out a little bit. And it’s beautiful! […].
Now, the second half of that phrase you’ve already played once. We played that in the A Part.
And now we’re going back to loop back to a full half A. [0, 1, 2, 0…0, 1, 2, 0…3, 0, 1, 3, 1,0 ,3 ,1…3, 4… 3, 0, 2, 0, 3, 2, 1, 0, 1, 2, 1, 0].
That’s all the way through! You’ll notice that once you’ve got that A Part down, basically half of the song is going to be repeating material. So it’s a lot easier than it sounds, and it’s a beautiful tune.
I hope you enjoy learning it!
I’ll play it one more time for you, just to get the feel of it.
So take a deep breath, enjoy it, it’s a waltz. Don’t be afraid to close your eyes when you’re playing it because it’s a beautiful tune. And when you play with your eyes closed, you’re not distracted by the things around you.
This is the Tennessee Waltz. […].
That was the Tennessee Waltz!
If you enjoyed it, come visit us on myTalentForge.com and sign up for access to hundreds of fiddle lessons and exercises and scales and all sorts of good stuff!
I hope I’ll see you soon!
Tennessee Waltz according to Wikipedia
“Tennessee Waltz” is a popular/country music song with lyrics by Redd Stewart and music by Pee Wee King written in 1946 and first released in December 1947 as a single by Cowboy Copas that same year. The song became a multimillion seller via a 1950 recording – as “The Tennessee Waltz” – by Patti Page.
All versions of the lyrics narrate a situation in which the persona has introduced his or her sweetheart to a friend who then waltzes away with her or him. The lyrics are altered for pronoun gender on the basis of the sex of the singer.
The popularity of “Tennessee Waltz” also made it the fourth official song of the state of Tennessee in 1965. As of 1974, it was the biggest selling song ever in Japan.