Concertinas are the quintessential English instruments, right? So why not a theme featuring the rich body of traditional and modern tunes from England?
There’s so much to choose from, including:
- the lovely Playford repertoire
- traditional ceilidh and barn dance tunes
- punchy Morris dance tunes (yes, there’s lots of crossover here)
- modern tunes that start from a traditional base and - in some cases - really rock (think about today’s great ceilidh bands like Whapweasel that write their own material, or groups like the about-to-expire Bellowhead.)
And let’s not forget the great English classical composers, including Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frederick Delius, Edward Elgar, Gustav Holst and Benjamin Britten, who sometimes incorporated traditional themes.
There's a lot of musical ferment in the UK these days, with groups of talented musicians elaborating on traditional music with amazing skill; think Leveret here. And what about the diverse body of music emanating from John Kirkpatrick? Brian Peters, too, is no slouch when it comes to penning tunes influenced by British and Welsh traditions.
One of the things I really like about so much English traditional music is that tunes can be adapted to different styles.
Many Morris tunes sound lovely when played in a smoother, more lyrical style. I’ve heard the Kruskal brothers play Orange in Bloom with such intensity and passion it choked me up. Shepherd’s Hey and Country Gardens found their way into the classical repertoire, thanks to Percy Grainger.
There's also the Playford English country dance repertoire, which can be rocked up - or played like chamber music.
So that’s this month’s challenge.
Find an English tune that appeals to you and make it your own. Better still, learn and record a set of English tunes.
Need some suggestions? Here are some resources for those of you who don’t play a lot of English tunes.
- A giant collection of Playford tunes in ABC format.
- A smaller collection as PDFs.
- a small collection of English barn dance tunes:
- And this one.
- Morris dance tunes in ABC
Personally, I love John K's tunebook Jump at the Sun, chock full of great tunes, available at his Web site.
And if you're searching for English tunes, you can't do better than Lester Bailey's Tune a Day blog, now with more than 400 video clips and ABC notation. They're not all English, but most are.
And there's our own Paul Hardy's online tunebooks, another great mother lode of great tunes. Again, they're not all English, but you'll find plenty to choose from.
Edited by Jim Besser, 01 September 2015 - 07:57 AM.