Confusion over Rueben's Train

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
10 months ago
14 posts

Wow, thank you for the very thorough response. I'm thinking Reuben's Train has passed by a couple of times during this involved discussion, we better not miss the next passing. Chooo chooooo!


Cheers


Leo Kretzner:


Yes, 'public domain' means 'not (or no longer) under copyright.'  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain


So you can freely record it. As per the same link, it seems the PD designation can be complicated, eg not strictly determined by age. The closest thing to a simple rule is this: "Musical compositions fall under the same general rules as other works, and anything published before 1925 is considered public domain." 


So, how to possibly find the first publishing date??? 


Though fiddlers' versions of tunes can be challenging to learn from, a GREAT source of information about a tune's history is the Traditional Tunes Archive ( https://tunearch.org/wiki/TTA ), formerly known as Fiddler's Companion ( http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/ ), which seems to still be functional.


Using this, it's still not clear when 'Rubin' was first published: http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/REE_RH.htm#REUBAN('S_TRAIN)


However the entry says a 1927 recording, Train Forty-Five, was "derived from" Ruben's Train, implying R's Train is at least somewhat older. Note that this source call's it "Reuban's Train" or "Old Reuban."   (More "folk process" in action!)


In any case, if I recorded it, I'd just assume it's in the public domain and not lose a minute of sleep over it.


By the way, that reference calls it a one-part tune. (" Old‑Time, Song and Breakdown. USA, North Carolina. D Major/Mixolydian. One part." ) 


So perhaps that bluegrass version reflects this, while other versions evolved a distinct "second part," which I agree makes for a more varied and interesting sounding piece of music. 


Leo Kretzner
Leo Kretzner
@leo-kretzner
10 months ago
32 posts

Yes, 'public domain' means 'not (or no longer) under copyright.'  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

So you can freely record it. As per the same link, it seems the PD designation can be complicated, eg not strictly determined by age. The closest thing to a simple rule is this: "Musical compositions fall under the same general rules as other works, and anything published before 1925 is considered public domain." 

So, how to possibly find the first publishing date??? 

Though fiddlers' versions of tunes can be challenging to learn from, a GREAT source of information about a tune's history is the Traditional Tunes Archive ( https://tunearch.org/wiki/TTA ), formerly known as Fiddler's Companion ( http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/ ), which seems to still be functional.

Using this, it's still not clear when 'Rubin' was first published: http://www.ibiblio.org/fiddlers/REE_RH.htm#REUBAN('S_TRAIN)

However the entry says a 1927 recording, Train Forty-Five, was "derived from" Ruben's Train, implying R's Train is at least somewhat older. Note that this source call's it "Reuban's Train" or "Old Reuban."   (More "folk process" in action!)

In any case, if I recorded it, I'd just assume it's in the public domain and not lose a minute of sleep over it.

By the way, that reference calls it a one-part tune. (" Old‑Time, Song and Breakdown. USA, North Carolina. D Major/Mixolydian. One part." ) 

So perhaps that bluegrass version reflects this, while other versions evolved a distinct "second part," which I agree makes for a more varied and interesting sounding piece of music. 

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
10 months ago
14 posts

As to the Public Domain, just meaning I can record and release it without violating a copyright. So must be old enough, about 100 years or more.


Most of the dulcimer videos I've seen all sound close to what Jessica is doing. Some in a different key, a little faster maybe. Its what I prefer but I have plans on having backing drums, bass and maybe even try another string instrument for harmonizing. Stay tuned. happys


Here's another couple of examples. Again, with 2 distinct parts. A/B 





Leo Kretzner:


I concur that it's basically the same tune, and this is an example of how darn different the "same" tune can be in different styles. The bluegrass version is indeed "fancied up" to the point that the basic melody is somewhat obscured. These kind of differences (and in words, etc) are usually attributed to "the folk process." So be it!


Robin's description of comparing a few different versions is one I often go through, just to find one that I both like and has a clear melody to it. You can see if there's one that appeals to you even more than Jessica and friend's version - but if that feels like it confuses things even more, just skip the 'exploration' and go with the version you prefer!


As Dusty implied, I think 'Rubin' is virtually always in a minor key - either Dm / DAC tuning, or Em / DAD plus capo on 1. (I'd bet there are versions out there in Am as well, which would be DAD plus capo at 4.) 


In any case, as to your other question, if this tune isn't in the Public Domain then I'm not sure what would be!! Have at it!!


Leo Kretzner
Leo Kretzner
@leo-kretzner
10 months ago
32 posts

I concur that it's basically the same tune, and this is an example of how darn different the "same" tune can be in different styles. The bluegrass version is indeed "fancied up" to the point that the basic melody is somewhat obscured. These kind of differences (and in words, etc) are usually attributed to "the folk process." So be it!

Robin's description of comparing a few different versions is one I often go through, just to find one that I both like and has a clear melody to it. You can see if there's one that appeals to you even more than Jessica and friend's version - but if that feels like it confuses things even more, just skip the 'exploration' and go with the version you prefer!

As Dusty implied, I think 'Rubin' is virtually always in a minor key - either Dm / DAC tuning, or Em / DAD plus capo on 1. (I'd bet there are versions out there in Am as well, which would be DAD plus capo at 4.) 

In any case, as to your other question, if this tune isn't in the Public Domain then I'm not sure what would be!! Have at it!!

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
10 months ago
1,628 posts

Well the bluegrass version is a lot faster, certainly, than @jessica-comeau's version, and fiddle players generally play a lot more notes than do dulcimer players, but those two versions sound like the same tune to me.  The underlying chord progression and basic melody seem the same.

I often find it hard to arrange tunes for the dulcimer based on fiddle versions of tunes.  They just play so many notes that the basic melody is often hidden in an overgrown forest of chromatic notes.

There are tons of dulcimer versions of this tune on YouTube.  I would watch about a dozen of them and then you'll get a feel for what parts of the song are essential and what parts are up to individual interpretation.

One thing is clear, though: you will want to tune to DAC or use a capo at 1 to get the minor tone of this one.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
10 months ago
1,344 posts

@canadian-dulcimer-boy Yes, you're right-- lots of difference in the two!  Perhaps it's because I have heard so many different versions of the Reuben's Train/900 Miles tune(s) I hear the two versions as close kin done in different styles & genres.  

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
10 months ago
14 posts

For me, I hear that there's 2 distinct sections in the dulcimer pc. There's a dramatic chord change and distinct rhythm change letting you know you're in section 2.

In the other version, it's the same thing over and over. different verses and story telling. It's nice but it's not got that chord change hook the other pc has.

But since I'm new to this instrument and am really not well versed in bluegrass, America folk etc. it is an exploration for me for sure. ;-)

Cheers from Canada!!

Robin Thompson:

Perhaps it's in the ear of the listener whether they're the same tunes or not?  I hear them as two different takes (genres/styles) on the same basic tune (in the Reuben's Train/ 900 Miles family).  

When I am learning an old-time/traditional tune to play on mountain dulcimer, I, likely, will listen to fiddle and/or banjo versions then translate the tune to mountain dulcimer.  A big part of my music education is and has always been listening to different versions such as you've presented here, @canadian-dulcimer-boy, and figuring out where I hear the essence of the tune (absent ornamentation) and translating that to mountain dulcimer.  It's a fun process.  

Great thread, @canadian-dulcimer-boy !      

Robin Thompson
Robin Thompson
@robin-thompson
10 months ago
1,344 posts

Perhaps it's in the ear of the listener whether they're the same tunes or not?  I hear them as two different takes (genres/styles) on the same basic tune (in the Reuben's Train/ 900 Miles family).  

When I am learning an old-time/traditional tune to play on mountain dulcimer, I, likely, will listen to fiddle and/or banjo versions then translate the tune to mountain dulcimer.  A big part of my music education is and has always been listening to different versions such as you've presented here, @canadian-dulcimer-boy, and figuring out where I hear the essence of the tune (absent ornamentation) and translating that to mountain dulcimer.  It's a fun process.  

Great thread, @canadian-dulcimer-boy !      

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
10 months ago
14 posts

Ya, I'm kinda thinking that they are 2 totally different tunes. Any idea who wrote the one played by dulcimer and if the song is in the public domain? I may want to put out a recording at some point.

Ballad Gal:

I've only heard & play the first one you've posted. Sometimes it's called 900 Miles.

Ballad Gal
Ballad Gal
@ballad-gal
10 months ago
33 posts

I've only heard & play the first one you've posted. Sometimes it's called 900 Miles.

Canadian Dulcimer Boy
Canadian Dulcimer Boy
@canadian-dulcimer-boy
10 months ago
14 posts

I recently stumbled upon a video of dulcimer players playing a tune called Rueben's Train. I've since seen other videos but the ones with dulcimer players seem to follow the same tune and chord progression but then I'll see other group videos where it sound like a different tune altogether with lyrics. Are there two different Rueben's Train musical pieces?

Example #1 (dulcimer) and this is what I want to make my own arrangement of.

Example #2 - Sounds like another song altogether.


updated by @canadian-dulcimer-boy: 03/30/22 08:33:08AM