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My arrangement of Ashokan, written by Jay Ungar, and played in the Illinois monument at the Vicksburg battlefield. There are no audio effects or amps, just the reverb off of stone and bronze. I can play this better when I have a chair, and when I'm not sweating buckets. But I wanted to play there in memory of my wife's great-great grandfather, Private (later Lieutenant) Silas Polley, 14th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, who manned a trench at the south end of the siege line during the battle.

Tags: ashokan, civil, mason, ungar, viscksburg, war

Views: 938

Replies to This Discussion

Tom, this is lovely on several counts. I like the pacing and especially how sparely you've arranged it. I've heard versions that were so lush that they obscured the melody. And of course the room sounds are magical. Good going!
Tom, very evocative ! I agree with all than Flint Hill says. As someone who has read widely on your Civil War but has never managed to get to any of the battle sites, your playing somehow provides an emotional link. I play the tune often on hammered dulcimer but have yet to get the 'feel' you have achieved. thank you

Beautifully done.....Wonderful, emotional tribute to your ancestor. I would like to tell the history of this tune for those that maybe don't know. Yes, it was played as the theme music throughtout the documentary by Ken Burns of the Civil War on PBS but it was not written until around 1982 I think by Jay Unger and his wife Molly. Ashokan referring to their fiddle camp in upstate NY. They were so sad to see all their old and new friends leaving at the end of camp that they wrote this tune. You can hear the emotion fall out no matter for whom or on what it is played. Keep in mind it is not an "Old-Time, Traditional or Public Domain" tune but if you ask for permission Jay will more than likely give his consent. Please be sure to share the history of all the tunes you play so it is not lost or confused.
Thanks to all of you for your kind comments. I know it's not public domain, and I'll change the description to credit Mr. Ungar. I did credit him with my harmonica version, and just forgot with this one. That is also why I posted to this section, and not to general videos or the "call the tune" group.
Here is a harmonica version you may like, too. I sometimes play this is in an ad-hoc trio at my dulcimer club meetings, along with friends on dulcimer and a guitar.


My name is ReVonda and it looks like, from the way everyone is blogging, that the TAB for Ashokan Farewell is here in Tom McDonald's blogg. I can not get the TAB to show on my screen. Is there another way to get it???




ReVonda Crow :)

That is lovely- just lovely.
That's just really, REALLY beautiful.

I am so glad that you posted this! I am working on Ashokan Farewell this month. I can finally do all the chords and about have it memorized, but I just can't get that "haunting feeling" that your playing has and which is so needed in this song. I'll use your video as an inspiration and learn from it.

Thanks, everybody! Links for tab follow, along with some playing suggestions.


I bought the original piano music and tabbed it for the harmonica. You can't play the song on an ordinary harmonica, as you don't have enough range. The particular instrument is special-tuned, and has a two octave range without any bending of notes. Even that isn't quite enough, so some of the highest and lowest notes are faked up or down a bit. If I play this on harmonica along with a guitar, I also find one place where my version clashes with the correct chord. I've learned to just quit playing for a measure at that spot.


As to the dulcimer version, here is the tab that I started with, although it isn't exactly how I play the piece now. I just added the chords that seemed right to me, and never thought (until just now) of going back to my sheet music and checking the chords there. I also just searched for chords online and found this guitar tab version. I played this through, and it sounds good. I'll have to try it against a recording to be sure, but I think it would work well as accompaniment, or to flesh out the tab with chords.


My friend and fellow FOTMD'er Gary Adams plays a nice noter-drone version of this, too. He might reach into the middle string for a couple of notes; I can't remember.


Here are some of the chords I'm using. Remember, these may not match the chords in the "official" versions, since I just did it off the cuff. I'll use words from the lyrics to keep our place, and show tab in bass - middle - melody order.


First measure: you can slide up from the 4, or put your index on the 4, hammer on the 6.5 and then slide to the 7. The chord there is 057

is sinking - slide back to the 4, use the melody string only.

low - Bm, 012

sky - G 013

slide down to the melody 1, pull off on the zero on the A

sho - G 310, strum the middle and bass strings away from you.

kan - same chord, strum all 3 strings towards you.

individual melody string notes from here to the 9. Open, hammer on the 2, slide up.

know - 789. Let the 78 ring while you slide up to the 10 and back.

part - 6.5 7 8


Out of time for now, but that may get someone started. I'll come back to this when I can.

This was beautiful and very moving! There seems to be nothing like the dulcimer to give a melody such a sweet, haunting sound.

Tom McDonald said:

Here is a harmonica version you may like, too. I sometimes play this is in an ad-hoc trio at my dulcimer club meetings, along with friends on dulcimer and a guitar.


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