Although cello was introduced as the Big Fiddle in Scotland over 300
years ago, its potential in folk music was largely untapped until recently.
After all, it was harder to hear than the fiddle, and definitely harder
to schlep (I speak from experience). Within the last two decades, however,
cellists have begun to test out new rhythmic, technical, and melodic
ideas in folk idioms. As a composer, arranger, and Big Fiddler myself,
I love finding new ways to include the cello in folk music.
The versatility of the instrument allows it to fill multiple roles
on this album: the cello can take the place of lead fiddle; provide
low, rhythmic accompaniment; or decorate the middle range with supportive
counterpoint. I arranged the albums title track for cello trio
to highlight each of these roles.
This project has been a wonderful experience for me, but I consider
it a first stop in a much longer creative journey. I hope you enjoy
this album and I invite you to join me as we embark together on this
Big Fiddling expedition!
Liz's Liner Note Comments About the Tunes on Big Fiddle
1. Tailors Thimble (traditional) +
Tim the Trusty Tandem (Liz Davis Maxfield)
I discovered the Tailors Thimble in an old pink book
of Irish tunes. It seemed a good counterpart for Tim
the Trusty Tandem, a tune I wrote about a borrowed
bicycle-built-for-two and an adventure that Drew
and I had on Cape Cod.
2. Pretty Saro (tune Katie Davis Henderson)+
Maggies Beau (Liz Davis Maxfield)
Pretty Saro, a traditional song in Appalachia and
the British Isles, has been performed by artists
ranging from Bob Dylan to Judy Collins. This ver-
sion features a new melody by Fiddler and singer
Kate Davis Henderson. I wrote Maggies Beau to
celebrate the birth of my cello Maggie, and the
arrival of her bow, Hal. Thanks to J.P. Lucas for such a
3. Ike and Icky (Liz Davis Maxfield)
This tune is solo piece is dedicated to the mysterious
young twins Isaac and Icarus
4. Lake Isle of Innisfree (lyrics W.B. Yeates;
tune Liz Davis Maxfield)
Irish poet W.B. Yeats referred to his poems as
songs. When I read about the eternal island, or
innisfree, this is the song that came to mind.
5. Little Prince (Liz Davis Maxfield) + Stone Frigate (traditional)
Pigeon on the Gate (traditional)
Sometimes I wish I could sit with the Little Prince
and watch 44 sunsets in one day. I wrote this tune
for him. Stone Frigate and Pigeon on the Gate are
traditional tunes that have been adopted into many
Celtic subgenres. Here, I perform them in the Cape
6. When We Two Parted (lyrics Lord Byron; tune Liz Davis Maxfield)
I wrote this melody, thinking it would be a lullaby,
but after I came across the Lord Byron poem, I
realized that the melody I had written
wasnt a lullaby at all, but a tragic love song about
sorrow and deceit. Who knew?
7. New Time (Liz Davis Maxfield)
This tune is an example of a new genre I like to call
ChamberGrassa combination of arrangement
ideas from chamber music with melodic ideas
from folk traditions. It features my group, the
Folk Arts Quartet.
8. November (Liz Davis Maxfield)
My great-great-great grandfather, Parley P. Pratt,
was a poet and preacher. During a mission in South
America, he wrote a poem entitled November in
Chile describing how, despite the beautiful spring
weather, he longed for family and the wintry blasts
of [his] mountain home. I wrote this solo cello piece
after reading his poem for the first time.
9. The Great Selkie (traditional)
The Great Selkie is an eerie Irish ballad that my
mother used to sing. My sister Becca sings it now.
10. Walters Jig (Liz Davis Maxfield) +
The Abominable Oboe (Katie Davis Henderson)
I composed Walters Jig for Walter and his wife
Ellie, my delightful neighbors, after they provided
an audience for one of my recording sessions. My
sister Kate Davis Henderson wrote the Abomi-
nable Oboe after she and I had a most unfortunate
encounter with an out-of-tune oboe.
11. Big Fiddle (Liz Davis Maxfield) +
Sheepskin and Beeswax (traditional)
I woke up one morning humming Big Fiddle and
quickly wrote it down before I could forget it.
Later I coupled it with a traditional tune I learned
in Drummondville, Que´bec, and recorded it with
two of my favorite big fiddlers, Ari and Natalie.
Thank-yous and Credits:
Produced by Liz Davis Maxfield. Recorded and mixed by Mark Endozo with
by Steve Lerud (Orem Utah) and by Passport Music (Kauai, Hawaii). Mastered
by Stephen Webber. Photography by Ben Gebo. Scherenschnitte (paper art)
by Cindy Ferguson.
Design by Yalecrest Media. Cello by J.P. Lucas. Visit LizDavisMaxfield.com
for stories, lyrics,
photos, booking (concerts, workshops), sheet music, upcoming books and
albums, and more.
(c) 2009 Liz Davis Maxfield.
Musicians on the album Big Fiddle
Liz Davis Maxfield, cello, voice
Matt Boland, guitar
Mark Davis, bodhran
Kimberley Fraser, Fiddle
Ari Friedman, cello
Natalie Haas, cello
Kyle James Hauser, banjo
Kate Davis Henderson, fiddle, voice
Will Knox voice, guitar
Audrey Knuth, fiddle
Paddy League, bodhran
Andrew Maxfield, piano, guitar
Susie Petrov piano, accordion
Becca Davis Stevenson voice
Folk Arts Quartet
- Liz Davis Maxfield, cello
- Ivonne Hernandez, fiddle
- Hannah Read, fiddle
- Julie Metcalf, viola
Liz Davis Maxfield, is member of the family band FiddleSticks and is
Founder of the Folk Arts Quartet.
More about Liz at www.LizDavisMaxfield.com