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Jim Besser

Poll: Tune Of The Month For April, 2014

Poll: Tune of the Month, 2014  

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Hopefully spring has sprung, wherever you might be, at least in the Northern Hemisphere. What better time to learn and record a new tune? Here are a few fun options for April. There's only one basic TOTM rule: participate! This is not a spectator sport.


Irish: Jessica’s:


This is a dead simple Irish polka, but “simple” doesn't mean “boring”; once I heard it, I couldn't get it out of my head. It’s generally played in A, but you can do it in any key you want. Here's a fine example on fiddle - it's the second tune in the set.


And here’s a version on Anglo, the third tune in the set. Here’s some more information about the tune from The Session:


French: Zelda


I first heard this during a late night jam at a Northeast Squeeze In, and maybe it was all the wine I drank that prevented me from learning anything more about it than the melody. I’m pretty sure it’s French - it shows up on YouTube with the name Zelda-cercle circassien - even though a couple of NESI folks insisted it was a klezmer piece. Maybe they’d been drinking a lot of wine, too.


Regardless of its provenance, it’s a fine tune and great fun at a session with a bunch of rowdy musicians.


See examples here and here.


English / Scottish: Scotch Cap


I really like this English country dance tune, which appeared in John Playford's 1651 The English Dancing Master, because it can be played in so many different styles - pretty and almost classical, or jazzy and driving.


First, a gorgeous and very classical rendition, which is more or less the way it would be played for English country dancers.


But nothing says you have to play it like the Baltimore Consort; here's short example of what you can do with it when you've had a lot of caffeine, played by my band Frog Hammer with an excess of free reeds - Anglo concertina and piano accordion.


Jazz: Boulevard of Broken Dreams


This is a very cool jazz standard I learned from Randy Stein, who demonstrates it here with his customary finesse. When I first heard him play it, I was convinced it was one of those tunes that could be spectacular on English and sheer torture on Anglo, with its much more limited pallete of chords. But the more I played it (and I am far from fully competent on this tune) the more I discovered intriguing possibilities on the diatonic concertina.


This will be a different kind of challenge. I can't find any dots in the public domain. So vote for this tune knowing that if it wins, you're on your own: learn it by ear, buy sheet music online, find some Web version I wasn't able to unearth.


That said, I found it fairly easy to learn the basic tune by ear. I'm still experimenting with chords - which for me, at least, is part of the fun. Randy and I play it in Dm, but choose your own key and work out your own arrangement.


There you have it; hopefully, a poll representing a wide range of genres. Vote for your favorite and let's get to work!

Edited by Jim Besser

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My vote unashamedly goes to Zelda. It's a circassien circle dance tune composed by Frenchman Phillipe Plad, so unlikely to be kletzmer in origin. :rolleyes: And it gets played quite regularly at a monthly French sesssion I go to in London. Here's a jolly version of it.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yoxrCM16j4

 

Chris

 

Thanks for the information!

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Well I'll lobby hard here for "Scotch Cap" then.

 

Mostly because it's the only one I think I could manage to eventually play by the end of April. :-)

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Hmm. Three-way tie at the moment, though not for first place. ;) In fact, the fourth choice -- Zelda -- currently has as many votes as the other three put together. :o

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Last fall (2013) at the Northeast Squueeze-In I went to a workshop dedicated to tunes from France, Belgium and Brittany given by Mark Vidor. He taught one fabulous tune after another --- well I was mostly listening as I am not that fast at picking up new tunes. Then he had us open the packet of music to page 29 and the room went wild : Zelda! Zelda! Zelda! And off we went -- piano accordions, button accordions, concertinas of all stripes. There must have been 25 or 30 instruments in that room (perhaps someone else who was there can clarify this number), and my oh my what a sound. Total joy. I played about one note in five but by the end I sort of had it. Now I am longing to hear what concertinas alone can do with it. Zelda!!!!!

 

Sarah

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Dots and lyrics are still available for purchase for Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The song featured in the film Moulin Rouge,a great old black and white film. The tune was written by Harry Warren,and the song has been recorded by many, including Tony Bennett,Diana Krall and far more recently by,guess who, Jody Kruskal. It's one I started learning to sing after hearing Jody performing it in Bishops Stortford a few years ago...still not got it sorted yet as other stuff got in the way. I've never come across it described as jazz before. Torch song maybe.

Edited by Irene S.

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https://sites.google.com/site/boeuftrad/actualites/flashmobtradaparis3

 

- this is great, though sadly not many concertinas in Paris then!

 

Ah thanks, *that's* where I'd heard it before, it was vaguely nagging away at me that I'd heard or played Zelda somewhere along the line.

 

The Paris flash mob crew look really fun and really organised, managing to get full video documentation and what seems like 30 or 40 people out - their flash mob at the Pompidou Centre is well worth watching as well. Into a public space, do 5 minutes, and melt away, just perfect.

 

They credit Philippe Plard as the composer of Zelda and the page Derek has linked to shows a PDF and abc for the tune.

 

Yes I've not seen a single concertina in any of their flash mobs yet, but (sadly) it's not an instrument you see in French trad music - it's a total guess, but I wouldn't be surprised if there weren't more English people playing French music on concertinas than there are French people :)

 

[edited for typing error/homophone, or 'home phone' as my auto-correct then tried to make it]

Edited by Steve Mansfield

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Dots and lyrics are still available for purchase for Boulevard of Broken Dreams. The song featured in the film Moulin Rouge,a great old black and white film. The tune was written by Harry Warren,and the song has been recorded by many, including Tony Bennett,Diana Krall and far more recently by,guess who, Jody Kruskal. It's one I started learning to sing after hearing Jody performing it in Bishops Stortford a few years ago...still not got it sorted yet as other stuff got in the way. I've never come across it described as jazz before. Torch song maybe.

Our group the Squeezers are doing it as a tango.

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It was sung by Constance Bennett in the film in 1939. If I could work out how to provide the link on this tablet I would. Search for the name of the song and Moulin Rouge on YouTube. It's worth it for the dancers and,even more, the paper concertinas!

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Great stuff! I like it that this isn't a slick choreographed and rehearsed routine like some of the other flash mobs I have seen videos of. If by chance I had been in the square when this kicked off, I would have asked around the spectators until I found somebody willing to join the dance with me. :)

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