Midnight On The Water
Sheet Music, PDF Download, 2 1/2 pages, advanced level
MP3 track is included with purchase
Over the last few decades “Midnight On The Water” has become one of the most widely performed of all American waltz tunes, and it’s easy to see why. It comes from the repertoire of the great Texas fiddler Benny Thomasson, who recorded it on his first solo LP in 1970, at which point he was in his sixties. The tune was written by Thomasson’s father, possibly with an assist from his uncle, which dates it back to the early part of the last century. By the end of the 1970s “Midnight" had become a huge favorite with not only fiddlers but other instrumentalists, bands, listeners, and dancers. Duck Baker learned it from fiddler Frank Ferrel around 1977.
The version heard here is based on the recording heard on Baker’s 2009 CD The Roots And Branches Of American Music, and again he transcribed his playing fairly closely from an edited version of the recording. This is an advanced arrangement that makes frequent use of embellishments, but the parts that students should focus on are less obvious, like the need for the two D notes played together below the melody in the middle of the first 3 measures of the B section to ring out while the other notes are played. Once the left ring finger is in position for the D on the fifth string on the 2nd beat of that first measure, it needs to stay there until the note changes on the 3rd beat of the 3rd measure. Of course that note is picked with the right index finger, which also comes into play for the 1st 3 measures of the AA variation. That eighth note bass line flows along much more nicely if the index finger alternates with the thumb there, with the thumb playing the notes that are on the beat and the index finger playing those between the beats. This is not terribly difficult, especially in the first 2 bars there, but it takes getting used to, especially when the melody also features eighth notes, as happens in the 3rd measure.