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Mendy Smith

Am I a Trend-maker?

April 27, 2012 at 3:11 AM

This year Adam DeGraff takes Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" and applies a fiddle flair to the piece for "The Rockin' Fiddle Challenge". He graciously sent it to me to transcribe to see what I would do with it.

The first step was to transcribe it for viola. This took longer than I expected. Writing music by hand is an art-form in and of itself. After working out the transposition, I had to figure out the spacing on the page for each measure, and whether the stems go up or down. I could have done this with software, but it wouldn't have been nearly as much fun.


After that was done, and correcting some incorrectly transcribed notes, it was time to start getting serious and a little not so serious about this piece. Lurking in the back of my head was this Monty Python idea of "...and now for something completely different", inspired by both Igudesmon and Joo and Adam DeGraff: take a piece originally composed in one style and apply a completely different style to the piece. About halfway into the first page, it came to me. Apply a "high classical" style to a few measures and then back to the original style. This is what I came up with:

A few days later, more videos started rolling in from others , including Grace Youn's video, with an amazing transition into Bach and back. This young musician took what I was going for and perfected it.

Did I start a trend? Maybe. Even if I did, I have some fierce competition and some work to do.

From Joe Hague Jr
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 7:36 AM
I can understand hitting and slapping a viola with a bow, but not a violin.

too bad i am so closed minded, right?

From Man Wong
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 12:40 PM
Niiice! Where can I get a copy of the music for this? My son would probably like to play it although he'll probably need some help from his teacher...



From Ellie Withnall
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 1:12 PM
Love the playing but goodness, that is one TIDY hand written transcription.
From Ann Hanebuth
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 1:53 PM
Definitely a trend setter... I'd love a copy of what you transcribed for violin if you're willing to send it.

Beth Beth

From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 4:09 PM
Her tone is wonderful. And so is her spirit. She's an amazing player. But I liked your addition better. To me, her Bach Partita excerpt was a bit of a distracting add-on to what was otherwise a great performance. Whereas what you added seemed to come from a different, more organic, place.

However, in both cases, I like the idea of adding something of your own to that part of the piece. I'm in the middle of trying to learn that part and I'm finding it a little hard to figure out where the piece is going right there.

From Gene Huang
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 5:29 PM
Great work with the transposition, which must have been quite tedious and time consuming. I like that you hand wrote it -- much more artistic!
From Laurie Niles
Posted on April 27, 2012 at 5:39 PM
Man, did you want the viola music, or violin? You can click on Mendy's name to contact her, or try the composer of the arrangement, who is Adam DeGraff.

Also, here's the blog about the Rockin' Fiddle Challenge.

From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 28, 2012 at 1:26 AM
Gene, it was part of the deal. Adam gave it to me to transcribe, add my touch, sign it, then send it back. It took a few tries to get it legible. I need to re-do the second page so I can read it better.
From Mendy Smith
Posted on April 28, 2012 at 1:28 AM
Karen, thanks! Though I really like what Grace did with it. Her transition is what I was shooting for... out of the blue and back again.

One thing I'll say, this is the most I've ever video recorded myself. It has put a spotlight on my bow arm issues in a way that playing in front of a mirror never did. I'm holding off submitting the next section until I get that arm straightened back out a bit.

From Man Wong
Posted on April 28, 2012 at 4:32 PM
Thanks, Laurie.

Actually, my son plays both these days, so he'd probably like to try both -- just showed this to my older daughter, and she'd like to give the violin version a try as well.

Hadn't been dropping by regularly, so wasn't aware of the origins of this piece here on Actually only noticed this blog post because it uncharacteristically showed up in my Facebook mobile app (along w/ other posts) -- but strangely, posts do not show up in my regular feed on the FB site, which is opposite of how that usually works out. Very glad to see this either way.

Anyway, I'll see about contacting the composer and probably Mendy about acquiring the music for both versions in a bit -- too busy at the moment to do much more than write this response, and the kids are probably too busy w/ their recital/concert pieces for the next month or so anyhow...

Thanks again, especially to Mendy for her work on this as well as this blog post!



From Karen Allendoerfer
Posted on April 29, 2012 at 5:46 PM
I have to admit, I found the out of the blue nature of what she did kind of jarring. The Dueling Fiddlers have another piece on their Rock Violin album called "Farewell and Good Riddance," which starts off with Ashokan Farewell and then goes into Green Day "Time of Your Life" and then goes into the Pachelbel Canon.

Here it is:

I *love* this arrangement, except for the Pachelbel Canon part. That I could really do without. (And I'm far from a Pachelbel Canon hater--like everybody else, I've played it a million times, including on the piano, and I still enjoy listening to it. But I don't think it fits here.) It's not enough to ruin the rest of it for me, but it just doesn't work for me as well as the other two pieces. Maybe it would work better if I was a Pachelbel Canon hater . . . maybe that's what the "good riddance" refers to ;-)

From Adam DeGraff
Posted on May 1, 2012 at 8:49 PM
LOL. This whole thing was fun to read. And Karen, we aren't PB Haters, but we will do just about anything for a laugh. And that spot is a guaranteed laugh at ever show :-)

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