Shoot Two Bits

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X:1 T:Two Bits N:From the playing of fiddler Bob Walters (1889-1960, Burt County, N:Nebraska), 1951, recorded by R.P. Christeson. N:Christeson remarked: "Walters credited Oscar Doty, a retiree in Missouri N:Valley, Iowa. Mr. Doty had a high-priced violin he had acquired from a N:member of the Omaha Symphony, and he played it in 1951 at the annual N:get-together for fiddlers sponsored by Mr. Frame Davis in Des Moines, Iowa." M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel B:Christeson - Old TIme Fiddler's Repertory vol. 1 (1973, No. 85) D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/content/two-bits Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D ABAG FDEF|GFGA B2d2|efed cABc|dcde fga2| ABAG FDEF|GFGA B2d2|efed cABc|1dfec d2d2:|2 dfec d2|| |:Bc|d2 fd A2ag|fdec defd|edcB Aeed|cABG AGFE| DFAc d2ag|fdec defd|edcB Aaag|1fdec d2:|2fdec d2d2||



SHOOT TWO BITS. AKA - "Two Bits." American, Reel (2/4 or cut time). USA; Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. 'Two bits' is a colloquial term for a quarter, though not in common use in modern times. It refers to a time when coinage, particularly silver dollars, could be physically broken up into pie-shaped parts and used as legal tender (the "pirate" term "pieces of eight" derives from the same use). 'Shoot two-bits', however, was a term for a wager in dice games, though with various meanings. 'Shoot two bits' could refer to a game with very low wagers, as it was used by writer Ian Fleming in his Diamonds are Forever:

But the killer was extended the liberty of the place as long as he paid off and held an intrest in a local institution. It could be a house of prostitution or a backroom crap game where the busted could shoot two bits.

One could also shoot a nickel or dime. Alternatively, 'two-bits' could also refer colloquially to twenty-five dollars ($25.00), as employed by writer Daschell Hammett in The Glass Key:

Harry Sloss picked up the dice and rattled them in a pale broad hairy hand. "Shoot two bits," He dropped a twenty-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill on the table.

Bob Walters
Collector Bob Christeson remarked that his source for the tune, champion Nebraska fiddler Bob Walters (1889-1960) credited the tune to Oscar Doty, "a retiree in Missouri Valley, Iowa. Mr. Doty had a high-priced violin he had acquired from a member of the Omaha Symphony, and he played it in 1951 at the annual get-together for fiddlers sponsored by Mr. Frame Davis in Des Moines, Iowa."



The second strain begins similarly to that of Walters' own "Bob Walter's Hornpipe."


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Bob Walters (Burt County, Nebraska) [Phillips]; Oscar Doty (Missouri Valley, Iowa) via Bob Walters (Burt County, Nebraska) [Christeson].

Printed sources : - R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers’ Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 85, p. 62 (appears as "Two Bits"). Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes vol. 1), 1994; p. 221.

Recorded sources : - Missouri State Old Time Fiddlers' Association, Bob Walters (1889-1960) - "Drunken Wagoneer." Univ. of Missouri Press, Bob Walters - "Old Time Fiddlers' Repertory" (1976. Various artists).

See also listing at :
Hear/see Charlie Walden teach the tune [1] [2]



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