This transcription is based on an August 26, 1927, performance in Richmond, Indiana, by Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts. Arkansas Traveler (aka Arkansaw Traveler, Arkansas Traveller, Arkansaw Traveller) is among the first fiddle tunes to be recorded, and remains a standard in the repertoire. Tony Russell’s Country Music Records lists over twenty different recordings on the tune under various spellings.
Roberts begins with a single repetition of a high variation that is usually played as the ‘B’ strain. This transcription reflects the order of strains he uses in the recorded performance.
The chordal accompaniment of Arkansas Traveler varies considerably among versions. In this performance, guitarist John Booker plays chords that are fairly static in comparison to modern accompanists. If one were motivated, the melody could be reharmonized in a wide variety of ways. For example, the first eight bars could be harmonized like this:
D G | D A7 | D A7 | D A7 D G | D A7 | D | A7 D
… and the second eight bars like this:
D G | A7 D | A7 | A7 D G | A7 D | D | A7 DArkansas Traveler