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Jim Besser

Theme Of The Month, Dec 2013: Holiday Tunes!

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In case you haven't noticed, it's winter, which means the holiday season is upon us. And that means it's time for great once-a-year tunes from a variety of traditions.

 

So whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, the winter solstice, or whatever, let's hear the tunes that most speak to you during this wonderful season. Familiar tunes or unusual treasures from your little corner of the world, singing or instrumental, let's share them all. What could be more pleasant during the long, cold winter nights than learning great new holiday tunes?

 

And don't feel limited to only one. I'm sure some of you have been storing up winter holiday tunes all year; feel free to record and upload as many as you want.

 

It's the holiday season, after all.

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Not winter down here... we're just warming up for our mid-summer festival :-)

 

Yesterday I played violin in a Christmas carol concert. I learnt the Alto part for 8 carols in 10 days and then had to perform in public for the first time in almost 30 years. It went suprisingly well.

 

Part of the attraction of the concert was that, as well as the combined caroling, we had 7 different choirs from different ethnic backgrounds singing festive songs in their own languages. It was great! The Samoans and Koreans were very impressive (how do they get so many male singers?).

 

I've already posted a few Christmas tunes in last months Theme... but don't worry I'm sure I can bash out a few more.

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Here's an odd seasonal combination.

 

First, Gustav Holst's 'In The Bleak Midwinter.' I played this a few years back with a band for a public TV holiday special. We were all in Civil War era costumes, and my puffy sleeves kept getting into the bellows.

 

I paired it with the 'Apple Tree Wassail,' which is a staple of the Christmas Revels groups in this country. I also incorporated this tune into the medley for a Northwest clog Morris dance the leader of our group wrote, the Solstice Processional.

 

So it's all very solsticey.

 

https://soundcloud.com/concertinist/bleak-midwinter-apple-tree

 

Naturally, feedback welcome!

Edited by Jim Besser

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...feel free to record and upload as many as you want.

 

It's the holiday season, after all.

 

Mentioned elsewhere on cnet, but certainly applicable here in light of Jim's comment.......and in the spirit of those wonderful Advent calendars where you open a different panel each day before Christmas, I've been celebrating the release of the "Christmas Concertina" tunebook (and also avoiding having to include a CD with the book) by adding a new YouTube video every day until Christmas.

 

Uploaded so far:

 

The First Nowell: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fIbxPj6f81g

In the Bleak Midwinter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7pikuI-pawM

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r9tp4yYS8VU

Up on the House Top: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzIVj0Dqeh8

A Virgin Most Pure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9ZATifKIc4

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BxV6tXXi3gc

Gaudete: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IoCCfiWJax8

Hark the Herald Angels Sing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPV5H_STo6Q

O Come All Ye Faithful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eLWpzzh--WU

Patapan: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYyI8GAjOYM

Good King Wenceslas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYyI8GAjOYM

 

All played on a 30-button C/G Herrington Anglo.

 

New tunes will be posted each day on the "angloconc" YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/angloconc. Lots more to come, maybe even more than one a day. I'm also planning an especially schmaltzy surprise for the very last one.

 

I can only blame my parents. They gave me a toy accordion for Christmas when I was three years old, and it's all been downhill from there...

 

Still, I've been pleasantly surprised how many of these great old Christmas tunes can be made to fit on something as quirky as an Anglo.

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Gary

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Very nice Gary!

 

And I've sent you a PM (in order not to mess up the surpise factor) regarding the announced final surprise... B)

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Here's one that is not generally thought of as a seasonal holiday tune, but it is undoubtedly true that I am called upon to play it many times every December (three "Morris Winter Traditions" gigs this weekend, in Saratoga Springs, Rhinebeck, and Troy).


It is commonly referred to as the "Abbots Bromley Horn Dance" tune, although if you go to Abbots Bromley and watch them do the horn dance (they've been doing it every year—in September—for countless centuries, using reindeer horns that have been carbon dated to the 1200s) they play upbeat major-key tunes, anything from "Cock o' the North" to "Yellow Submarine." This one is soulful and in G minor (a bear of a key on a 46-button Hayden Duet because there's no Eb, you have to substitute the D# from the other end of the keyboard—watch my right pinkie).


As I understand the history of this tune, when Cecil Sharp published an account of the dance a century ago, he was unaware of any traditional music for it. Then someone contacted him and said that as a young man in the 1850s, he had scribbled down a tune that was played for him by an old amateur fiddler and retired wheelwright from Abbots Bromley named Robinson. He still had the scribbled notation squirreled away somewhere. Robinson had said that it was the tune that the horn dance musicians played when he was a boy in the late 1700s. This is that tune.




Astute viewers are little by little getting a tour of my house.


Now, off to Troy...

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Here's one that is not generally thought of as a seasonal holiday tune, but it is undoubtedly true that I am called upon to play it many times every December (three "Morris Winter Traditions" gigs this weekend, in Saratoga Springs, Rhinebeck, and Troy).
It is commonly referred to as the "Abbots Bromley Horn Dance" tune, although if you go to Abbots Bromley and watch them do the horn dance (they've been doing it every year—in September—for countless centuries, using reindeer horns that have been carbon dated to the 1200s) they play upbeat major-key tunes, anything from "Cock o' the North" to "Yellow Submarine." This one is soulful and in G minor (a bear of a key on a 46-button Hayden Duet because there's no Eb, you have to substitute the D# from the other end of the keyboard—watch my right pinkie).
As I understand the history of this tune, when Cecil Sharp published an account of the dance a century ago, he was unaware of any traditional music for it. Then someone contacted him and said that as a young man in the 1850s, he had scribbled down a tune that was played for him by an old amateur fiddler and retired wheelwright from Abbots Bromley named Robinson. He still had the scribbled notation squirreled away somewhere. Robinson had said that it was the tune that the horn dance musicians played when he was a boy in the late 1700s. This is that tune.
Astute viewers are little by little getting a tour of my house.
Now, off to Troy...

 

 

You beat me to it, David. It is indeed Abbott's season, at least where there are Christmas revels performances! I'll be doing it a few times in the next few weeks, as well.

 

You play a much livelier, more interesting version than the usual ethereal arrangement. Nice to hear that.

 

BTW, at this time of year we incorporate one round of Abbott's into our infamously horrible pub dance, Rabbits in Australia.

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This one is soulful and in G minor (a bear of a key on a 46-button Hayden Duet because there's no Eb, you have to substitute the D# from the other end of the keyboard—watch my right pinkie).

Interesting about the Gm. I've always played it in Am, which is the only key in which I've seen it published (EFDSS small books) and, if I remember correctly, the key used in the NY Revels the many years I was a member.

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Interesting about the Gm. I've always played it in Am, which is the only key in which I've seen it published (EFDSS small books) and, if I remember correctly, the key used in the NY Revels the many years I was a member.

 

Ahh, yes. We had this conversation in your apartment when I visited Denmark in October. I learned it in G minor from Old Cecil, himself. Here's a page from his "Sword Dances of Northern England—Songs & Dance Airs Book II" (1912).

ABHD.jpg

As far as I know, except for the scrap of paper Buckley had it scribbled down on, this is the tune's first appearance on paper. I think it is reasonable (but not certain) that Sharp notated it in G minor (1912) because Buckley notated it in G minor (1857) and that Buckley notated it in G minor because Robinson played it in G minor (1857) and that Robinson played it in G minor because the Horn Dance musicians of his youth played it in G minor (late 1700s).

 

[Edited to add Jim's quote at the top]

Edited by David Barnert

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heard it in Amin and Eminor around here. I play it in Aminor (usually on the Hammered Dulcimer)

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You play a much livelier, more interesting version than the usual ethereal arrangement. Nice to hear that.

I used to play it just the melody, afraid to add anything of an accompaniment.

 

Then I heard this.

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You play a much livelier, more interesting version than the usual ethereal arrangement. Nice to hear that.

I used to play it just the melody, afraid to add anything of an accompaniment.

 

Then I heard this.

 

 

That's really cool. Good work, Peter T.

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I never hear this song anywhere anymore, and it took a while to find any copy of it anywhere. I had this one in the Tune-O-Tron . So here's the PDF which includes the words, and a midi-as-mp3, and a sound file with one instrumental verse and then me singing the first verse. I used my cellphone to record the m4a. I may do this over again later, because I have another song to include.

 

concertina & voice sound file - There's A Song In The Air

https://app.box.com/shared/static/j07hu96srrfspkqhjcn2.m4a

 

UPDATE: Here's the same concertina & voice sound file but as MP3 - There's A Song In The Air

 

PDF including words - There's A Song In The Air

TheresASongInTheAir.pdf

 

 

midi as mp3 - There's A Song In The Air

1579TheresASongInTheAir.mp3

 

`````````````````````````````````````

AND....

if you can forgive the... um, well, the... accordion... here's my husband and I, from a few years ago, blasting out Angels We Have Heard On High. There's my accordion, foot bass, and Tom is playing the harmonica. (We probably made the angels fly away, I dunno... ha ha.) This was a lot of fun to play on the foot bass.

Edited by Wendy Stanford

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