Adam de Graff makes me want to learn to play the violin all over again. If you think fiddle-playing is an ossified art, confined to conservatory halls, you haven’t heard The Dueling Fiddlers. Check out their website, which proclaims, “We are Rock Violin. You are too.”
Last year, de Graff, who is one half of the Dueling Fiddlers (the other is Russell Falstad) posted a video on youtube of him playing his own arrangement of Guns N Roses “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” When requests for the sheet music started pouring in from around the world (as he states in the first video below), he decided to host a Rockin’ Fiddle Challenge .
The contest is now over, but you can see his explanation of how it worked here:
If you don’t want to watch the whole thing, the basic idea is that you could try your hand at de Graff’s arrangement, upload your version to youtube and enter the contest. The above video gives you Graff’s email so you can request a .pdf of the sheet music. Graff also breaks down the piece into ten parts on his youtube channel and teaches you how to play it (the videos are labeled SCOM 1-10).
To give you an idea of how great this arrangement is, here is Guns N Roses’ original version of the song:
Here is Adam de Graff’s version:
And here is Rockin Fiddle contest winner Amy Lidell, age 16:
The Duelling Fiddlers have other great arrangements, like this version of AC/DC’s Back in Black:
And here’s their mashup of Ashoken Farewell (the theme from Ken Burns’ Civil War series), Green Day’s Time of Your Life (Good Riddance), along with quotes from a host of other songs (including every violinist’s staple, Pachelbel’s Canon in D). The call it, of course, “Farewell and Good Riddance.” Oh, and they recorded it standing in the middle of a river.
Reinterpreting rock songs is a fine upstanding tradition. One of the first arrangements I remember hearing – and it completely blew my mind at the time – is the Kronos Quartet’s arrangement of Jimi Hendrix’s Purple Haze. Here they are circa 1988 (alas, the opening is clipped off ):