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Jim Besser

Tune Of The Month, Sept 2015: Bonnie Lass Of Bon Accord

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The people have spoken: in September we'll learn, record and post the lovely Scottish tune The Bonnie Lass of Bon Accord, written by James Scott Skinner.

 

Until this month, I heard it exactly twice - once as a gorgeous slow air, once as a lively Scottish dance tune. As they say, pick your poison.

Best I can figure, it is commonly played in 3 sections. The first AA-BB has an airlike quality even when played at a brisk pace; the second AA-BB is notier and punchier; and the third is a minor key variation that resolves back to major.

You don’t have to do it that way. The fiddler friend who played it at a recent session did just the first AA-BB a bunch of times and it sounded fabulous.

 

Here are some more examples to get you started.

 

- a lively Scottish dance version.
- Bonnie Lass into (!) Soldier's Joy.
- a lovely slow version with the minor second part
- a pipe band.

- thanks to Ptarmigan, here's a clip of Skinner himself playing at least part of the tune. He plays it fast - or is the recording sped up? I can’t tell.

 

Some notation sources:

 

- The basic tune here
- with the second, notey part

- Skinner's original manuscript version with the minor variation

 

Here’s a lot of information about the composer.

 

As I said, there are lots of ways to play this tune. Do it your way and let's enjoy some serious musical diversity!

Edited by Jim Besser

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Whew, this one was a challenge for me, and I'm not thrilled with the result.

 

I tried it as a brisk dance tune, but to my ear it lost much of its lyrical appeal.

 

I tried it as a slow air, but I'm not good at slow and expressive. When I was a kid taking piano lessons, my mother would tell me I was playing 'with feeling' when I'd make facial contortions.

 

And the minor variation was difficult for me on the G/D Anglo, fingering and chord wise. You can hear me struggle my way through that part. Not something I'd do in public.

 

I opted for slow and not dancey. Needs lots of work. I'd love to hear what other Anglo players do with this.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/68325595/C.net%20Tune%20of%20the%20Month/Bonnie_Lass_Besser_TOTM.MP3

Edited by Jim Besser

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Nice playing Jim

 

Here is a very slow version/March I heard on a Eugene O Donnell vinyl from eons ago .

 

I think the Anglo is a really difficult instrument to play slowly and expressively(for me at least) and wonder if others have a similar problem and if English and Duet players find it difficult .

 

http://youtu.be/n6sK2WsD8OM

Edited by Daria

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Here is a very slow version/March I heard on a Eugene O Donnell vinyl from eons ago .

 

 

Oops! I'm told, "This video not available."

 

Is that true for everyone, or is it because I'm in Europe?

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Nice playing Jim

 

Here is a very slow version/March I heard on a Eugene O Donnell vinyl from eons ago .

 

I think the Anglo is a really difficult instrument to play slowly and expressively(for me at least) and wonder if others have a similar problem and if English and Duet players find it difficult .

 

http://youtu.be/n6sK2WsD8OM

 

Video also not available to me but I think I do have the Eugene O'D Vinyl.....

 

Slow airs on the Anglo; it appears to be the case that one does not hear Airs played very often on the Anglo, though I'm sure I've heard Noel Hill doing so and I don't see why it appears not to be popular. Of course some would say that Airs should only be sung but I really love playing them on the Pipes. The English can a very nice instrument for slow airs, though it would be better perhaps on a 'Gliding Reed Symphonium'!..... hmmm perhaps not too. I also found slower song tunes to be very sweet on the Duets.

Edited by Geoff Wooff

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Nice playing Jim

 

Here is a very slow version/March I heard on a Eugene O Donnell vinyl from eons ago .

 

I think the Anglo is a really difficult instrument to play slowly and expressively(for me at least) and wonder if others have a similar problem and if English and Duet players find it difficult .

 

 

Sticking my neck out here I expect. Jim's lovely version is enhanced by some quite jaunty sounding runs, which contrast nicely with the legato arpeggios. They sound delightful here, pointing up the otherwise melancholy feel. But when I played anglo, I always found it hard to avoid that effect if I was going for slow and really expressive. I'd say it was the mark of a great anglo player to be able to do slow and expressive so that you can't hear the bellows changes. Noel Hill's classic recordings of Taimse im Choladh and An Draigheann (excuse my Irish) are examples. Much easier on English or duets, which, as Geoff says, are greal for slower songs too.

Video link OK her in the UK, by the way - and very nice too.

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Sticking my neck out here I expect. Jim's lovely version is enhanced by some quite jaunty sounding runs, which contrast nicely with the legato arpeggios. They sound delightful here, pointing up the otherwise melancholy feel. But when I played anglo, I always found it hard to avoid that effect if I was going for slow and really expressive. I'd say it was the mark of a great anglo player to be able to do slow and expressive so that you can't hear the bellows changes. Noel Hill's classic recordings of Taimse im Choladh and An Draigheann (excuse my Irish) are examples. Much easier on English or duets, which, as Geoff says, are greal for slower songs too.

Video link OK her in the UK, by the way - and very nice too.

 

 

 

That's what necks are for. :rolleyes:

 

Good point about doing slow and expressive on Anglo; as a Morris, ceilidh and contra player, it's something I've always had problems with. Part of it is the character of the Anglo, but part is the bizarre fact that when I play, I see dancers in my mind. Non-dance music is always a challenge for me.

Edited by Jim Besser

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Good point about doing slow and expressive on Anglo; as a Morris, ceilidh and contra player, it's something I've always had problems with. Part of it is the character of the Anglo, but part is the bizarre fact that when I play, I see dancers in my mind. Non-dance music is always a challenge for me.

I'm sure you must socialize with folks who aren't dancing all the time. Try picturing them in their non-dancing moments when you play an air. :)

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- thanks to Ptarmigan, here's a clip of Skinner himself playing at least part of the tune. He plays it fast - or is the recording sped up? I can’t tell.

 

Sure you can. If the recording were sped up (remember, this was the pre-digital days), the pitch would rise. This recording sounds just a little sharp, less than a half step, so the speed is less than 6% fast (you multiply the frequency of a note by about 1.06 to get the frequency of the note one half step higher). My guess is that Skinner and his pianist were tuned a little sharp (pitch wasn't as standard back then) and the speed is correct.

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- thanks to Ptarmigan, here's a clip of Skinner himself playing at least part of the tune. He plays it fast - or is the recording sped up? I can’t tell.

 

Sure you can. If the recording were sped up (remember, this was the pre-digital days), the pitch would rise. This recording sounds just a little sharp, less than a half step, so the speed is less than 6% fast (you multiply the frequency of a note by about 1.06 to get the frequency of the note one half step higher). My guess is that Skinner and his pianist were tuned a little sharp (pitch wasn't as standard back then) and the speed is correct.

 

 

 

Yep. You're right.

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Here's an Anglo version, with the variations. It ain't perfect, but it will have to do.

 

http://youtu.be/Fw_mApRGnMM

 

In the recent thread on Anglo technique called "Chopping" over at Teaching and Learning (http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17977), I remarked that while generally frowned on, now and then it was just the thing. Well, for better or worse I found myself wanting to chop all over the place in this tune, and I followed that whim. The Scotch Snap, perhaps?

 

I was very grateful for my extra buttons on this one, including that rare and wonderful draw E (which is why I played it on the Lachenal). My whippet, who'd been snoozing peacefully beside me through the first few botched takes, makes a brief appearance at 3:05.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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Here's an Anglo version, with the variations. It ain't perfect, but it will have to do.

 

http://youtu.be/Fw_mApRGnMM

 

In the recent thread on Anglo technique called "Chopping" over at Teaching and Learning (http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=17977), I remarked that while generally frowned on, now and then it was just the thing. Well, for better or worse I found myself wanting to chop all over the place in this tune, and I followed that whim. The Scotch Snap, perhaps?

 

I was very grateful for my extra buttons on this one, including that rare and wonderful draw E (which is why I played it on the Lachenal). My whippet, who'd been snoozing peacefully beside me through the first few botched takes, makes a brief appearance at 3:05.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

 

 

VEry nice. A modest pace, strong bounce - I like it.

 

Regarding chopping - yes, as a rule it should be avoided, but in practice it's often better than the alternatives, which can include convoluted fingering.

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