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"Bill Charlton's Fancy"--Billly Pig


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#1 shelly0312

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 06:30 PM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me. I've been futzing with it for about 2 months. Today I tried looking it up on tune-O-trone, to see how it REALLY should sound...and I don't think I came up with a MIDI. So, silly me, I went to UTube: http://www.youtube.c...?v=rcY4Z4KPggo. I'm not even a "pipes" person and I was enchanted. Inspired or defeated on the concertina??? Michelle

#2 Leo

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Posted 22 April 2012 - 07:09 PM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me. I've been futzing with it for about 2 months. Today I tried looking it up on tune-O-trone, to see how it REALLY should sound...and I don't think I came up with a MIDI. So, silly me, I went to UTube: http://www.youtube.c...?v=rcY4Z4KPggo. I'm not even a "pipes" person and I was enchanted. Inspired or defeated on the concertina??? Michelle

Hi Michelle

Have you ever came across this version? (track 4)? I couldn't find anything else. Maybe some else has a copy.
http://folkyourself....gland-1984.html

Or
http://abcnotation.c...g.zip/Big/09984

Or even this one
http://www.concertin...indpost&p=93743

Thanks
Leo

Edited by Leo, 22 April 2012 - 07:29 PM.


#3 Theo

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:00 AM

Inspired or defeated on the concertina??? Michelle


Be inspired! Kathryn Tickell is the best piper of her generation, so there is no need to feel bad if you can't play like her!

For learning try to find a simpler performance, especially one with a steady tempo.

#4 JimLucas

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:03 AM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me.

Where did you find it? Charlton Memorial Tunebook, or some other source?

The Charlton Memorial book has more variations than this version that Leo linked to, including at least some of the rapid stuff Kathryn plays in her video.

I myself wouldn't have thought to play with such extreme rubato (variations in tempo) as Kathryn uses, and I'm now wondering whether that's a traditional style on the small pipes or just her personal style. (Bad timing: I got to say hello to her in Newcastle, but that was more than a week before I saw your post, Michelle. :o)

#5 shelly0312

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 07:24 AM

Yeah, who would have ever thought there was such a sport as "extreme piping" ?? I got my version of "Bill Charlton's Fancy" from our very own "something for the weekend"--Tallship. He sure has been generous with these really interesting pieces! The one posted after "Fancy" has also been a ton of fun--"Pumpherston hornpipe". Someday I'll be able to play both thru with no error. Keep practicing! Michelle

#6 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 01:24 PM

The problem with the variations for this piece is that, at times, it is close to impossible to play them 'in time' in fact even Billy Pigg did not manage, at least on the recording I have.
I used to play this tune on both EC and Northumbrian pipes... there is some great finger exercises in it but because there is a need to perfectly co-ordinate the two hands when playing the EC I prefer to concentrate on tunes that are at least possible to play in perfect time.
As a dance(band) musician, I find it very disturbing to listen to playing where the timing and stress is un-danceable. "If you cannot dance to it it just is not music"... this is a quote from an old friend and Melodion player who spent most of his life playing in a dance band.Perhaps this personal view is a little blinkered and obviously not all music is for dancing, but when that was the original intention of a piece I feel that even if no one is dancing to it it should at least be played with a regular measure so as not to unsettle any listeners.

As a general rule a note should not arrive at a listener's ear before it is expected to (by the listener) and Bars should not be lengthened to allow all the notes the musician wishes to be crammed in.

I could give examples of this 'bad practice' but maybe I'd better not as I might also be guilty from time to time. ;)
Geoff.

#7 JimLucas

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:22 PM

The problem with the variations for this piece is that, at times, it is close to impossible to play them 'in time' in fact even Billy Pigg did not manage, at least on the recording I have.

Did not manage, or did not intend to? There's a fundamental difference. The fact that in Kathryn Tickell's performance at least some of the rhythmic variation is clearly intentional leads me to wonder just how much, if any, of Billy Pigg's is unintentional.

...I prefer to concentrate on tunes that are at least possible to play in perfect time.

Wondering what you mean by "perfect time", Geoff. Exactly the same interval of time for each and every measure? Or for every "beat"? (Noting that a 6/8 jig has 2 "beats" per bar.) Or for every eighth note/quaver? (Irish dance music is well known for not doing that, even though it might be possible.)

As a dance(band) musician, I find it very disturbing to listen to playing where the timing and stress is un-danceable. "If you cannot dance to it it just is not music"... this is a quote from an old friend and Melodion player who spent most of his life playing in a dance band.

Perhaps this personal view is a little blinkered and obviously not all music is for dancing...

Exactly.

Irish slow airs are not intended for dancing. Neither are "performance" pieces in general, which I think includes most tune-with-variations sets that are popular in Northumberland... including Bill Charlton's Fancy. While I might find it disturbing to try to dance to such music, I don't find it disturbing to listen to.

...not all music is for dancing, but when that was the original intention of a piece I feel that even if no one is dancing to it it should at least be played with a regular measure so as not to unsettle any listeners.

Two ways I think you're being too narrow here.
  • First is the question of "original intention", since even when a melody may "originally" or even commonly have been used for dancing, I don't thnk that should preclude its being adapted as a dance-free performance piece. (Nor the other way around, as Princess Royal is reputed to be a Carolan "piece" which has been adapted for Morris dancing.)
  • Second is that what unsettles one listener may well "settle"(;)) another. Some music, if played with too strict regularity, will unsettle me. And the same tune can feel quite different, depending on whether it's played in the Irish, bluegrass, New England contra dance, or other tradition.

As a general rule a note should not arrive at a listener's ear before it is expected to (by the listener)...

I would question whether all listeners "expect" the same thing... rhythmically, or otherwise.

...and Bars should not be lengthened to allow all the notes the musician wishes to be crammed in.

For performance pieces, I would say that there's nothing inherently wrong with that. But measures can also be lengthened (or shortened) for other reasons. I've noted elsewhere my experience with a couple of Swedish fiddlers moving from a standard polska into a 7/8 (3-2-2) rhythm, while the dancers didn't even seem to notice. For them it wasn't the precise length or spacing of the beats that was important, but their emphasis.

#8 John Wild

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 03:24 PM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me.

Where did you find it? Charlton Memorial Tunebook, or some other source?


It is in the Northumbrian Pipers Tune book, sometimes known now as the first Northumbrian Pipers Tune book, since others came later.

regards

John Wild

#9 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 04:23 PM

Jim,
what I mean by "perfect time" I should re-phrase as "perfect measure" I guess. The bars should have a regular length and what happens inside the bars should create a pulse that is regular within the accepted scope of the genre.

With this piece one just gets into the nice jigy style of it when things get wonky towards the end.

Perhaps I am just too fussy but I feel that one should never under estimate one's audience.

I also play Slow Airs and Pieces.

Geoff.

#10 12barblues

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Posted 23 April 2012 - 06:27 PM

I can highly recommend the three 'tunebooks' and four 'folios' published by the Northumbrian Pipers' Society - some fantastic tunes and all in concertina-friendly keys. They are available through the website http://www.northumbr...=Book-Store-One for anyone who is interested.

#11 JimLucas

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 12:59 AM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me.

Where did you find it? Charlton Memorial Tunebook, or some other source?

It is in the Northumbrian Pipers Tune book...

Thanks, John. Not having all my tunebooks to hand at the moment, I was relying on my notoriously unreliable memory. B)

I can highly recommend the three 'tunebooks' and four 'folios' published by the Northumbrian Pipers' Society - some fantastic tunes...

Though I only have the tunebooks, I definitely agree. I'll have to look for the folios.

...and all in concertina-friendly keys.

Do you mean "anglo-friendly" (C/G? G*/D?).

I would consider most keys to be "English-friendly", and even pretty friendly to Maccanns and Cranes. (Not enough experience with Jeffries duets or Haydens, though the latter by its nature should be friends with many keys.)

#12 cboody

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Posted 24 April 2012 - 10:51 PM

The problem with the variations for this piece is that, at times, it is close to impossible to play them 'in time' in fact even Billy Pigg did not manage, at least on the recording I have.
I used to play this tune on both EC and Northumbrian pipes... there is some great finger exercises in it but because there is a need to perfectly co-ordinate the two hands when playing the EC I prefer to concentrate on tunes that are at least possible to play in perfect time.
As a dance(band) musician, I find it very disturbing to listen to playing where the timing and stress is un-danceable. "If you cannot dance to it it just is not music"... this is a quote from an old friend and Melodion player who spent most of his life playing in a dance band.Perhaps this personal view is a little blinkered and obviously not all music is for dancing, but when that was the original intention of a piece I feel that even if no one is dancing to it it should at least be played with a regular measure so as not to unsettle any listeners.

As a general rule a note should not arrive at a listener's ear before it is expected to (by the listener) and Bars should not be lengthened to allow all the notes the musician wishes to be crammed in.

I could give examples of this 'bad practice' but maybe I'd better not as I might also be guilty from time to time. ;)
Geoff.


I can certainly understand where Geoff is coming from, but I disagree with his conclusions. Those Northumbrian theme and variations things may well be intended to be flexible in rhythm from variation. Ms. Tickell uses the tempo change to increase the excitement for the listeners. She speeds up as the variations become more complex. Yipe!

As to key centers of tunes in most of the Northumbrian books: My experience is that they are mostly in G or related modes so should go fine on Anglo or EC...Great finger twiddling exercises as Goeff says, but sometimes only interesting on instruments where you can "pop" out the melody notes.

(The Wheatstone is playing great Geoff, and is my weapon of choice most of the time.)

Chuck Boody

#13 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 02:50 AM

Hi Chuck,
well, I was not really refering to the tempo changes.... I agree those are just 'stage managing' the performance and quite an exciting effect too.
What I don't like is that last variation which has become so full of notes that a time change is called for, from 6/8 to 2/4, except that the 7th Bar 'appears' to revert back into 6/8 and then back into 2/4 at Bar 8... This should be fine I guess but it usually always sounds like a stumble at the last fence.


Glad you like the Wheatstone Chuck, I enjoyed it too.

Geoff.

#14 Boney

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:28 PM

Well, here's Alistair Anderson playing it, from an out-of-print LP from the '70s that I have.

http://www.JeffLeff....c/BCharlton.mp3

#15 cboody

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 01:23 AM

Hi Chuck,
well, I was not really refering to the tempo changes.... I agree those are just 'stage managing' the performance and quite an exciting effect too.
What I don't like is that last variation which has become so full of notes that a time change is called for, from 6/8 to 2/4, except that the 7th Bar 'appears' to revert back into 6/8 and then back into 2/4 at Bar 8... This should be fine I guess but it usually always sounds like a stumble at the last fence.


Glad you like the Wheatstone Chuck, I enjoyed it too.

Geoff.

I'll give another listen, but it is 1 AM so not now!

#16 RatFace

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Posted 26 April 2012 - 04:11 AM

I would question whether all listeners "expect" the same thing... rhythmically, or otherwise.


I think that the mark of a really skilled musician and performer is to convince the audience, whatever their preconceived notions, that what they are hearing is exactly what they want and expect to hear (even if the listener didn't really know what they wanted/expected to hear beforehand)!

Mangling rhythm etc to keep the playing within the mechanical capabilities of the performer never convinces me... unless it can be done in such a way that I think it's being done for good musical effect, and don't realise the real reason.

The Kathryn Tickell clip is AMAZING :) She plays the piece just how I wanted to hear it, and just how it _should_ be played (i.e. she totally convinced me!).

#17 StephenTx

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 05:19 PM

In my world of dotted and accented notes this piece appealed to me. I've been futzing with it for about 2 months. Today I tried looking it up on tune-O-trone, to see how it REALLY should sound...and I don't think I came up with a MIDI. So, silly me, I went to UTube: http://www.youtube.c...?v=rcY4Z4KPggo. I'm not even a "pipes" person and I was enchanted. Inspired or defeated on the concertina??? Michelle

Hey Shelly, I love this and would love to get a copy of the music. Loved the tune....
Stephen Tx
We need to chat I have been wondering how all is going with you.

#18 John Wild

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Posted 04 May 2012 - 06:57 PM

this may have been quoted before - if so I apologise.
I saw Kathryn Tickell play this in concert many years ago. The story given as introduction to the tune was that Billy Pigg was waiting in a bus shelter, when it started to rain, lightly at first and then heavier. The raindrops made a rhythmic sound as they hit the shelter roof. The tune was the result of Billy Pigg hearing a tune in the rhythm of the raindrops. this explains why there are more notes as the tune progresses - representing the rain getting heavier or with a quicker downpour.

For ordinary players like me, it is not necessarily a case of the tune getting faster - just more (shorter) notes in the same time.

regards

John Wild




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