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Everything posted by Pippa

  1. Dave - love the typo, far too accurate! speaking as one of the who shredded a good few tunes due to malfunctions in the memory department (and the good intentions-to-fingers bit of the brain. Seem to have left that on the M1 on the way up). Great weekend though, like Mo I come back inspired and refuelled. Pippa
  2. I'll second that, Joy (and nice to meet you over the weekend, really enjoyed your playing). Interesting events, great musicians, great sessions - thanks Mark and Joan. Pippa
  3. Just tried Googling the book again (previous attempts only brought up Amazon.com) and found the website, with a shop - it's on the way! Thanks very much for pointing us to it - Pippa
  4. Peter, can you suggest anywhere else I could buy that book ("As we met ...") - Amazon has it as 'out of print' (which of course would be great if it's sold out within a month, but I guess it's their website not keeping up. I'd rather pay a tad more and buy it from e.g. an independent bookshop or publisher, if you know of one. Pippa
  5. I heard Malcolm North talking in Aylesbury (UK) last night on the history of a concertina he was restoring; it was absolutely fascinating, weaving in references to Bletchley Park and ciphers, Wheatstone and other eminent scientist of his time, motor racing, and even James Bond - all completely relevant. He's likely to be giving it in other venues, so if you have the chance to go and hear him, do. Very interesting and entertaining. Pippa
  6. I take it you don't work for the Irish tourist board, Peter! But thanks for the warning - I'm just working out whether I can get over there in February; I can waterproof the concertina case, and the rest of me will dry out anyway. Pippa
  7. I should have added, the Singsong site has the whole CD available as well - I've ordered mine. Great playing, great tunes. Thanks Roger & Liz for introducing us to her. Pippa
  8. For anyone who was at the wonderful Bradfield traditional music festival last weekend, and in particular, anyone who was learning the two Minnie White tunes Roger Digby and Liz Giddings taught on the Saturday, here's a link to the original recordings that you can download for $1.99 each - http://www.singsonginc.ca/artists/minnie-white?view=product&id=122%3Ass-9478&catid=38 Fascinating to compare what Roger and Liz have done with them, which is very much in the same spirit. Can't wait for their CD. Pippa
  9. Thanks for posting this, Michael and Steve - I'd not heard about it before, and have just ordered a copy. His singing's been part of my life for longer than I care to remember. Pippa
  10. I don't think there's any difference in approach, but perhaps it's easier for musicians new to a session to fit in with English/Euro sessions without bothering with the common decency of doing a bit of listening to the players first. I've been in Irish sessions where English players have arrived with a sense of entitlement and a tune or three learned off dots only, the session members haven't recognised the tune as it's been in a different rhythm (think someone speaking English with a strong French accent - goodwill has little to do with it, if you don't recognise the words you don't recognise them, no matter how much effort you make!), and the session is roundly and vociferously condemned all round the area as 'very unfriendly'. It's certainly happened for the two Irish sessions local to where I live (Bucks/Herts, UK). Yet they're full of really supportive musicians who'll try and play the few tunes beginners do know, so that everyone can share the music. No, but I do think they assume you listen a bit to some CDs and learn a bit about what the music sounds like. Just like a French session, or an old-time session, or a bluegrass session. Or even our 'anything goes' session in Cublington. Just good manners; then 'rules and regulations' aren't needed. Pippa (edited because the reply originally came up in the middle of the quote)
  11. Wow what a lineup! Really hope I can make it this year. Pippa
  12. For anyone near Oxford - Alistair Anderson is doing a concert at the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, OX4 1DY at 8 pm on Friday March 9th, which includes a new piece for solo concertina that he says is “a little different”. The concert’s billed as “an evening with Alistair Anderson”, described as “this evening of music from Alistair Anderson features both the traditional and the new, and begins with the premiere of Eclogues, a new song cycle by the composer, Chris Ferebee at 6pm. Anderson will then give a solo performance at 8pm of traditional music from Northumberland and beyond.” It’s one of the events in the M@SH programme (“the Research Centre for Experimental Music at St. Hilda's College, presents concerts of contemporary classical music, experimental music, electro-acoustic music as well as interdisciplinary projects (eg., music and dance, art installations), including work created by the Centre's associated ensemble, Syzygy.). Tickets £15/£12 (£5 for students) from Oxford Playhouse - www.ticketsoxford.com / 01865 305 305. Pippa
  13. I've come to be uncomfortable with the term "folk." It's vague and confusing, and since most of us qualify as more "gentry" (however humble) than folk. "Traditional" is probably a better term, but it gets murky, too. On an English country dance listserv, one poster defended (although tongue-in-check) a particular way of dancing one dance as genuine Ren-Faire (Renaissance Faire) tradition, going back to 1977. Mike That's interesting - I've only recently realised that the tunes other musicians in my main dance band like, and I don't, tend to be related to the fact that what I think of as 'traditional' is probably rooted in the continuing Northumbrian tradition, or the traditional English musicians who inspired the original English Country Music Weekends, while the tunes one of the other musicians keeps asking for are rooted in the EFDSS tradition of the late sixties and seventies. Where I can I keep quiet, as I can play my own music at sessions and I don't think one type is inherently better than the other, I'd just never thought of the EFDSS style as traditionl/ but they were my own way into all this music when I first met it, they were very melodic and accessible and catchy, and I didn't find them empty or missing something at all then; so I try and remember that, as we play mainly for non-folkies who seem to just get up and dance to whatever we play. But 40-50 years on from when a lot of the EFDSS-type tunes were written, or written down as approximations of what a particular musician was playing and then set in stone(e.g. "Up Jumped the Devil" in the Community Dance Manuals), perhaps that type of tune and setting is as valid a 'tradition' as any other? Pippa
  14. Thanks for that, Peter - I'm off there now! Would that be the programme broadcast on 5th November? Pippa
  15. I'd say it's easy enough to learn chord patterns in D to the level where they become automatic, if you're just chording; in many ways, it's easier than if you're sticking to just one row, because your fingers don't get so cramped together. The push bottom A on the third row is a lovely tone on most of the C/G instruments I've tried, and there are a lot of places in a lot of tunes where having that A at the bottom of a D chord works, particularly if you space the whole chord out a bit so it doesn't get overpowering. The other chords you'd probably use most also fit well onto a 30-key C/G once you get familiar with the layout, though it helps to be a bit nifty with bellows changing so it doesn't notice. I used to play with a Tex-Mex band and often used to switch to accompaniment for a couple of verses of a song, including in D & E, so yes, once you're used to the patterns they can become automatic. If you're accompanying Irish it might be tricky really listening to where the emphasis is at any one time in each tune - I play regularly in an Irish session where the tune would need a different kind of accompaniment each time through each phrase depending on which of its many internal rhythms the melody players are emphasising at any one time, it usually varies as the tune progresses and could be very easy to overpower or to straightjacket the tune into a more four-square rhythm pattern. It's particularly hard for someone accompanying / busking along on concertina because it can be hard to hear what, say, a solo fiddle is doing unless you have a lot of gaps between the chords in your own playing & play them very lightly - back to the arm muscles / control / bellows changing exercises again! Which is probably why I only ever play melody, it's a lot easier to play the tune quietly while learning it than to play chords behind it quietly enough. Pippa
  16. Hi Sean, I'd suggest you just experiment with playing just one note at a time in a different place. For example, if you're playing a tune on the G row, try using the pull B on your RH index finger, middle row, instead. Listen to what that does to the phrasing of the tune. Decide if you like it, or whether you'd rather have the extra emphasis that comes with the break between the notes when you change direction. You might like the push B in one place or the pull B in another. Then when you're familiar with that change, you might try the pull C on the same RH button instead of the push C on the G row LH; or the pull D on the RH second finger, middle row, and so on - just try one thing at a time, make progress in a series of small steps, and don't worry too much about the big picture. Pippa
  17. Another way of attaching mics is to lengthen the head on one of the screws (I use the ones opposite my middle fingers on my anglo), slip a metal frame round that extended head, tighten it with a grub screw, and drill a hole in the frame next to the slot for the screw head. Put a rod about 3 cm long into that hole, and you can attach the mic (using the clip that comes with many of them). That gives you a system that's quick to slip on and tighten, great amplification, not a lot of feedback. Much better sound than you get from a mic velcro'd directly onto the wood. (Thanks Alan Robertson who adapted it from the system he'd invented for a fiddle).
  18. Really hoping to be able to make it this year - usually I've had gigs booked in already when the date's announced, looks like this year it'll be free; last time was a really good weekend, a great atmosphere for just enjoying music. It's clashed with other people booking us/me every time for the last few years, and with a packed summer, I was reluctant to earmark another w/e this year soon after ECMW. Fingers are crossed, will be sending the form & cheque off anyway this week. Thanks for running it, Mark. Pippa
  19. Oh wonderful, thanks for passing those links on, it's great to hear the man himself going so strong! I've loved Benton's Dream since I used to play in a band for Appalachian dancers, an American couple taught it to me at Sidmouth years ago. Thanks for bringing the tune back into our consciousness too Jody!
  20. What a great line-up, Mark! I'm really hoping our band doesn't get asked to do a gig that weekend, and that I'll be able to make it. Pippa
  21. One point that I don't think has been made is that row-crossing isn't just to give you access to different notes so you can play in different keys, it allows you to use bellows direction to put the emphasis on specific notes in the tune, which is particularly useful in dance music. It's the equivalent of a fiddler playing certain notes with an upbow or downbow just for emphasis. It also means you can slur two notes to take the emphasis off the second one, for example. I find it very effective for English dance music, but I don't use many chords (because the emphasis on certain beats is coming from within the melody line rather than by adding an extra note). Pippa
  22. There are quite a few things you can do by varying the way you play whatever you can get your fingers round, rather than necessarily playing all the notes in the chords you need - the two videos Steven linked to are great examples of what you can do. The 16 Horsepower one has a long-drawn out full sound when you've only got to find the notes of the chord and stick with them (and a great way of practising bellows control as your muscles learn just how much they have to work to make a particular volume of sound, and getting the same chord on push and on pull, with the right amount of pressure (much harder than it sounds). You can change the mood completely by just pulsing the same chord in the same rhythm as the drum/rhythm section or mimicking the main points of the song line; you can really build the tension as the whole band moves louder, or break it by dropping out suddenly - and all for the cost of learning one or two chord patterns to start with. You can play just a drone note, quietly and insistently under part of the song, or pulsed, or adding in other notes from the chord that happen to be in the same direction, then lifting them again. And in the Johnny Clegg video, he plays a simple riff round the same chord again and again, rather than putting all the notes down at the same time (I mean what he's doing about 0.40, not right at the beginning, which sounds just impossible). I used to play Anglo in a TexMex band whose singer loved the keys of E and B major, and some of the chords fit fine on an anglo with physically undemanding but very unusual finger patterns (it took a lot of practice to get my head round them). For the ones where one of the notes is in the wrong direction, you can play a figure round the chord using whatever double notes fit and changing bellows as neatly as possible to play the note in the other direction (e.g. in B, I could get my fingers round 2 of D# & F# above middle C and the pull B just below it, but couldn't play all 3 at once at first as the position's really awkward. So I'd pedal between 2 of the notes and the 3rd one, often using the push B to give each set of notes a bit of daylight before the note and changing the pressure on the bellows to vary the sound too. You can vary the colour/tone by sometimes spreading the chord wider, mirroring or contrasting with the rhythm of the melody line, and so on. And once you've got the pattern for B major, you can add a pull A to make a gloriously rich B7 for when you're playing in E. Sometimes the notes are available in the same direction in the octave above middle C (esp. in the key of E, when you've got several possibilities for some of the chords), which is a really nice effect if you can control the bellows enough so that the harmonics don't shriek - you can get some great effects with that in one verse, it changes the whole mood. Could you work closely with one of the guitarists for a few bars, so you're fitting the notes you can play together inside the guitar chords, and vice-versa? One of our guitarists was really good at that, we ended up writing joint solos and riffs which were dovetailed rather than soloist + accompanist; what was really nice was that he was a way better musician than I am, but the solos made it look like I was responsible for half instead of just fitting in whatever I could play; very good for morale! Pippa
  23. I'm not sure I understand this. Referring to Jileha's example, isn't the ring finger the same as third finger (little, ring, middle, index)? Do you really mean to put your ring (third) finger on the G in the G row? I don't get that. It doesn't make any sense at all to me. Have you tried to play the tune? Or are you just citing this possible way of playing, without actually using it in practice? I don't mean to catch you out here. I am asking if yours is a productive way to play the tune. It's important to me because I love The Primrose Polka and this sequence occurs in the opening notes. For me this is a key tune for using and understanding sharps and flats in the context of a tune in G or D. I worked out playing the sequence after the F# (E.g. the G-G#-A) all on the third row, as well as the cross-fingering I mentioned in an earlier thread (where the G=index finger, G#=middle finger crossed over, A=index again). It is smoother played on the third row than cross-fingered. But I don't like the fact that playing on the third row like this is so unusual and counter-intuitive. Not that cross-row is ever intuitive. There is also an unavoidable jump, or slide, down to the low E in the third or fourth bar. Are other people playing this tune? I can post a clip of my playing the tune if you're not familiar with The Primrose Polka. The tune is on Kilfenora's latest CD, "Century." I've also asked Tim Collins how he plays the tune in the opening measure - whether he plays it on the third row, or uses a cross-finger technique. Sorry to bore everybody. There must be somebody else on the board who plays Primrose, or who has attempted it.... I'm posting this as a New Topic on the Learning Tunes forum, where I think it would more appropriate. I know it's a double post- I won't do it again. It's an answer in the previous "Middle Row" thread in the General Discussion forum, but should properly be a new topic rather than a spin-off in the old thread. I think you might have skipped a bit in Jileha's reply, David - she's suggesting normal G-row fingering (ring/third finger) for the G, then index finger on the G# on the 3rd row (not ring finger, as in your reply). This is how I play it sometimes, depending which notes I want to emphasise - I used to do all 4 first notes on the pull (using the middle finger on the pull G on the 3rd row, and pull G# on the RH middle row), but unless you time them exactly right and get the slurs between them even, it can sound a bit flat. It can be a nice change to pull the G# and A so they run up to the B starting the next set of 4, and the change of direction puts a bit of daylight in front of the G#/offbeat, too. Depends on the dancers in front of you, I suppose. Pippa
  24. Oh Al you've just put in two sentences something I've failed to explain to my band at all! - I've changed the way I play single-line melody tunes to incorporate many more bellows changes to increase lift / light and shade and so on, but this means that all tunes I knew by finger memory are no longer accessible and have to be relearnt. Fiddlers pick up the analogy with changes in bow direction, but your explanation says it all, especially the last bit - I've just spent half an hour relearning two of my first tunes for a gig on Saturday (Phillebelula all the way and Castles in the air, for Nottingham Swing) and discovered that the new fingering pattern makes them a right pair of crackers to dance to instead of the tired ones I think I played before. so many tunes - so little time - and so much bloody-mindedness needed to carve out some playing time! Pippa
  25. I just found out that I have a meeting at 8.30 am on Monday - that's not going to be consistent with getting home about 2 am that morning from Frittenden. So I'm just going to have to be with you in spirit Hope it's a great night! Pippa
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