Taken from memory. I first learned this tune from Tim Rued, noted Old-Time and Swedish fiddler
in the mid-1980’s. We were playing for a horseman’s association trailride, and had plenty of spare time between our two performance sets per day to jam and swap tunes. I asked him what was the hardest tune (most difficult) he knew how to play. This is what he played for me. It’s played in Bb, but Tim told me some folks play it in A because its easier to finger on the fiddle.
Here’s a version of Countryman’s in A:
T:Countryman’s Reel, The
|:cB | A2ce aece | dcBA GBED | CEAC EABc | dcBA GBEG |
A2ce aece | dcBA GBED | CEAC EABc | dBGB A2 :|
|:ED | C2EA cEAE | CEAE cEAE | D2FA dFAF | DFAF dFAF |
C2EA cEAE | CEAE cEAE | GBdG BdGB | dGBd GBdG |
C2EA cEAE | CEAE cEAE | D2FA dFAF | DFAF dFAF |
C2EA cEAE | CEAE cEAE | GBdG BdGB | dBGB A2 |]
There is a much different version published in Christeson’s Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory vol. 2, which varies in the B part in that it resolves in the 8th bar back to the tonic. I include it here because the book is now out of print and because it’s fun to see a much different take on the tune:
T:Old Countryman’s Reel, The
B:The Old-Time Fiddler’s Repertory, vol.2, p.24, #35
N:"This tune was played by Bob Walters and also by Cyril Stinnett.”
|: FA | B2df bfgf | edcB ABFE | DFBF Abcd | ecdB AcAF |
B2df bfgf | edcB ABFE | DFBF Abcd | ecAc B2 :|
|: FE | DFBF dFBF | DFBF dFBF | EGBG eGBG | EGBG eGBG |
DFBF dFBF | DFBF dFBd | eAce AceA | ceAc B2 :|
As far as extant recordings, seeing as this tune sounds French Canadian to my ears, there’s probably many recordings out there by French Canadian fiddlers of which I’m not aware. I did track down a reference to a recording done by Lonnie Robertson labeled The Country Man’s Hornpipe in 1965 on a privately issued LP: Caney Mountain Records CEP 210, but I don’t own it nor have I heard the recording.
"some folks play it in A because its easier to finger on the fiddle"
How is that? I tried both, and while in Bb it almost plays itself, in A it’s quite awkward in places, especially with the additional bow work when it drops to the low C#.
And this bit in the 2nd part:
GBdG BdGB | dGBd GBdG
is rather difficult, too - remember it’s G# vs. d nat, so the 3rd finger has to shift not only string but also position constantly, unless you play the G# with the 4th finger.
You’re right—I’d forgotten that particular phrase being a rather nasty bit to get in the key of A. I think Tim meant it might have been easier for flutes in A vs. Bb. I’m not a flute player, so I wouldn’t know the ease/difficulty of the tune regarding fingering in A vs. Bb. But to a newbie fiddler, I can see how the _e and _b notes would be somewhat intimidating, and how same newbie might prefer A over Bb on principle.
fiddlerdan, I’m not a flute player either, but I think that makes sense, about the tune being easier in A for them.
As for fiddlers, I don’t think Eb and Bb are difficult notes to play, including for newbies, but I can see how one isn’t accustomed to playing in those keys, given their relative (!) scarcity. I would strongly encourage a newbie however to let go of - or rather not adopt in the first place - any "principle" that makes them prefer certain keys over others. It’s such a severe and completely unnecessary limitation. Think only of the whole Bb hornpipe business, or the bunch of lovely fiddle tunes in G and D minor/dorian.
That might fit better to flute or pipes:
|:fe| d2fa dafa | gfed ceAG | FAdF Adef | gfed ceAc |
d2fa dafa | gfed ceAG | FAdF Adef | gece d2 :|
|:AG | F2Ad fAdA | FAdA fAdA | G2Bd gdBd | GBdB gBdB |
F2Ad fAdA | FAdA fAdA | cegc egce | gceg cegc |
F2Ad fAdA | FAdA fAdA | G2Bd gdBd | GBdB gBdB |
F2Ad fAdA | FAdA fAdA | cegc egce | gece d2 |]
of this one https://thesession.org/tunes/4091