Mary Celestia Parler;
November 6, 1954
Reel 215, Item 2
Cross Bow Key Tuning
JM: I don't know whether cross bow key started here in
the land of the cross bow or not. I don't think so.
Cross bow key is, if for instance you want to play
in A, you tune your fiddle up to A, so that you
have harmony clear across the strings. And if you
want to play in D, you tune it up to D. I have this
old fiddle tuned up now to A, and we'll play a little
of, oh, "Sally Goodin." This may not be very well
in tune, but we'll see. . . (plays fiddle). I've
got to tune this fiddle. We had an old fiddler here
once by the name of Wayne Morrison. He was a cousin
to the famous Absie and Abbie twins. Absie lives
over at Campbell, and I believe Miss Parler is going
over and see him. And so while Wayne Morrison was
living, he promised me that when he died I could
have his old fiddle that had come down through the
Revolutionary War with his people. And he taught me
the way to tune up to different keys called cross
MCP: Would you explain that tuning to us, cross bow?
JM: Well, once again, maybe we didn't get it awhile ago.
MCP: Could you tell us a little more technically?
JM: Cross bow keys. For instance, if you turn your second
string on your fiddle up to A, then all you have to
do to tune your fine strings is (sings) "do-re-mi."
Then when you tune the third string (sings) "do-ti-la-
sol." First string's (sings) "sol," low (sings)
"do." "Do" "do" (sings, high and low). The second
string and the fourth string's high and low "do." Old
"do-re-mi-fa" language, see? Tune your first string
any way you want to and then just run your first string
up to "mi" from that one and your third string down to
"sol" and your fourth string to "do" and that's cross
bow key and you can have harmony by catching two strands
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