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Poll: Tune Of The Month For April, 2015

Jim Besser

Tune of the Month, April 2015  

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Time flies, doesn’t it? We’re starting our third year here at TOTM land. Thanks to all who have participated by recording and posting - or just quietly learning the tunes and enjoying the postings of others. And thanks for some really great versions of the March tune, Jamaica Farewell.

Here are some contenders for the April Tune of the Month.

Pop: If I only had a brain

I was inspired to learn this tune from The Wizard of Oz when one of my concertinas was in the shop for repair, and a certain technician who’s also a c.net member recorded a very cool version on my instrument and emailed it to me so I could hear how it sounded.

Fair warning: I couldn’t find public domain notation for this tune. So if it’s picked, you’re on your own: learn it by ear, or dig deeper than I did and find some notation your own.

But the melody is simple, and I’m sure that for most of us, it’s been rattling around in our brains for decades; if you're not a learn-by-ear person, this could be a good one to start on. It’s a super fun tune, and great to pull out at parties.

Here’s the charming original - no concertinas in sight.

A jazz take on the tune: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNQa4F_iqEs

And here’s a cool bluegrass adaption.

French Canadian:Hommage à Gilles Laprise

French Canadian dance music is infectious, there’s no other way to put it. And Hommage à Gilles Laprise by button accordionist Philippe Bruneau is a great example. It’s a little notey, and it’s often played at breakneck speed, but the melody isn’t difficult, and it should work well on all concertina systems. You don't have to play it fast to play it good!

Played at a monster jam.
And another.
And oh my, I don't know what to make of this, but it's pretty interesting. Third tune in the set. Don't try this at home.

Oldtime: Coleman’s March

This southern (US) oldtime tune sounds great in very different settings.

I’ve played it at a brisk marchy pace for contra dancers, but some of the nicest versions I’ve heard are slow and pretty, as these examples demonstrate, here, here and here. And if you’re lucky enough to own Jody Kruskal’s fine “Poor Little Liza Jane” CD, you can hear what a great Anglo player can do with it. (Actually, luck has nothing to do with it- you can buy the CD here.)


And here it is at dance speed.

Here's some history of the tune.

English: Harliquin air

I learned this sprightly English tune at a Northeast Squeeze In a few years back. Every year at NESI, there seems to be one tune that everybody wants to learn and play, and that year it was Harliquin Air. As an aside: correctly spelled, it’s also the name of a now-defunct Japanese airline, according to Wikipedia!

I don’t know much about its origins, but it’s English, it’s old and it’s fun to play. What else could you ask for?

Here it is played by Anahata and Mary Humphries with some really nice countermelody.

Or Gavin Atkin playing it on melodeon.

And at a big English jam.


There you have it. Vote, and keep those suggestions for future TOTM choices coming!

Edited by Jim Besser
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Quite apart from the great choice this month, those videos are a delight. The stepping on the beach is sensational - reminds me of Genticorum... only prettier. Those gentle banjos are beautiful. And there's Pete Coe in the last clip, coughing all over his melodeon.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Oops! This thread quickly slipped off the first page of "New Content", and distracted by other things, I forgot to vote.


Not that it matters much to me, though. I would have had a hard time choosing among the tunes, since all four (yes, even "If I Only Had a Brain") seem rather similar to me, distinguished more in the styles of those playing them than in their melodic contours. Did anyone else get that impression, or am I alone in that?


Anyway, I hope I'll find time to make a go at this month's tune choice... and the theme, as well.

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