Stoney Lonesome

Bill Monroe recorded Stoney Lonesome on 30th January 1959. It was one of his classic twin fiddle pieces, with Benny Martin and Dale Potter doing the honours. The mandolin and banjo play only the first part of the tune on their breaks. In the tab below I've kept close to Bill's mandolin break for the first part and culled some licks from the fiddle lead (I think!) for the second part. (In the first part the three notes with 1/4 above them are to be choked by about 1/4 tone.) There is also an alternative second part which the fiddles launch into at one point in the recording: this involves a small modification to the chording.

Stoney Lonesome is a very bluesy tune, with a wild, primitive sound. There are echoes of the Scottish bagpipes, as in Monroe's Scotland, another twin fiddle masterpiece recorded less than a year earlier. Monroe takes Stoney Lonesome at a fair pace, about 128 half-note beats per minute.

Once you have played through the tab, download the three arrangements of Stoney Lonesome at the CoMando site. These include a version by Chris Thile, no less, and will give you plenty more ideas about this tune!

The original 1959 recording of Stoney Lonesome can be heard on the Bear Family 4-CD set, Bill Monroe, Bluegrass 1959-1969. There is also a later recording on Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe. Bill himself plays mandolin on this 1976 recording, including a break with both parts of Stoney Lonesome. Two other CDs which include Stoney Lonesome are the Bluegrass Album Band's Bluegrass Instrumentals Vol 6 and Rickie Simpkins' recent release, Don't Fret It.


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