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Tune Of The Month, August 2015: The Wren


Jim Besser
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Another close race, and another fine tune for our summer enjoyment.

 

The Wren, from what I can glean from various postings on the Web, is a Breton an dro that has somehow worked its way into the American contra dance scene - and sometimes turns up at Irish sessions, as well.

I could only find a few examples on YouTube, so pardon me if I repeat myself.
a gorgeous version on hammered dulcimer ( starting at about 58 seconds) by local performer Maggie Sansone
a rather sedate dance version, and a simple version on
, played very slowly and then faster.
And a fiddle, accordion and guitar
rounds out our examples; The Wren starts at about 1:10 on the video.
I've heard it played mostly in Bm, but whatever key you choose is fine.
Some notation to get you started can be found here. The Session, the great Irish tunes site, has a few alternative versions in ABC format.
As always, there is no 'right' way to play this tune; listen to the different examples and find ways to make it your own.
And also as always: don't be shy. Beginners are more than welcome here in TOTM land.
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a gorgeous version on hammered dulcimer ( starting at about 58 seconds) by local performer Maggie Sansone
a rather sedate dance version, and a simple version on
, played very slowly and then faster.
And a fiddle, accordion and guitar
rounds out our examples; The Wren starts at about 1:10 on the video.
I've heard it played mostly in Bm, but whatever key you choose is fine.

 

Of the 4 examples you post, only the first is in B minor. The others are A minor, E minor, and E minor again.

 

Sorry I missed the voting. Haven't checked in in a couple of weeks.

Edited by David Barnert
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a gorgeous version on hammered dulcimer ( starting at about 58 seconds) by local performer Maggie Sansone
a rather sedate dance version, and a simple version on
, played very slowly and then faster.
And a fiddle, accordion and guitar
rounds out our examples; The Wren starts at about 1:10 on the video.
I've heard it played mostly in Bm, but whatever key you choose is fine.

 

Of the 4 examples you post, only the first is in B minor. The others are A minor, E minor, and E minor again.

 

Sorry I missed the voting. Haven't checked in in a couple of weeks.

 

 

Right you are. Maybe I should clarify: I've only heard it played around here in Bm. So not a universal sample.

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Pretty quiet here at the TOTM, eh?

 

A first take. Playing around with chords - not the ones I've heard other players use in this tune. Not sure I like them.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/68325595/C.net%20Tune%20of%20the%20Month/The_Wren_Besser_1.MP3

 

Played on a Jeffries 30 button G/D Anglo

Edited by Jim Besser
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Pretty quiet here at the TOTM, eh?

 

A first take. Playing around with chords - not the ones I've heard other players use in this tune. Not sure I like them.

Well, I do!

 

Very nice light approach and playing too...

 

(Too busy at the moment to contribute myself at the moment, hope things will improve soon)

 

Best wishes - Wolf

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Someone's playing The Wren (or at least a very similar an dro) on the Buttonbox's website for English concertinas. Check out the Lachenal New model video:

www.buttonbox.com/concertinas-in-stock.html#english

 

...and Jim Besser - Daria was to the jam in my area last night (Frosty Valley Dulcimer Friends, Danville, PA). We tried to make a video of The Wren for you, but neither of us have it under our fingers quite yet.

Edited by RWL
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Someone's playing The Wren (or at least a very similar an dro) on the Buttonbox's website for English concertinas. Check out the Lachenal New model video:

www.buttonbox.com/concertinas-in-stock.html#english

 

...and Jim Besser - Daria was to the jam in my area last night (Frosty Valley Dulcimer Friends, Danville, PA). We tried to make a video of The Wren for you, but neither of us have it under our fingers quite yet.

 

Yep, that's The Wren.

 

Looking forward to you and Daria recording it the next time you get together!

 

You're in Lewisburg? I had a gig there last year! Nice town.

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Here's my contribution of The Wren. Played on Lachenal English concertina 57544 (the one that I used neatsfoot oil on to the dismay of other members - time will tell, but its playing much better at the moment!). Recorded on a Sony IC recorder (in the bathroom, for better acoustics).

I play it twice, once at about typical dance speed I think, and then again a bit faster for variety. The dots and abc are in my current Annex Tunebook.

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Very nice.

 

Here's mine on a Beaumont, recorded with a Zoom H2n. Critiques always welcome.

 

 

Nice octave playing, going into chording.

 

This tune has the same beginning as a Morris tune I play (locally written, not traditional) - and the theme to Gilligan's Island. Wonder if I can play them together without my brain frying.

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Here is my attempt-I wonder if I have too much going on in the left hand that it detracts from the melody ?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnYvA-i9kC4&feature=youtu.be

 

Morse Anglo GD

Bm

 

PS Bob(RWL)this does NOT get you off the hook for our duet recording scheduled for later this month!

Edited by Daria
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Here is my attempt-I wonder if I have too much going on in the left hand that it detracts from the melody ?

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnYvA-i9kC4&feature=youtu.be

 

Morse Anglo GD

Bm

 

PS Bob(RWL)this does NOT get you off the hook for our duet recording scheduled for later this month!

 

No, seems to me the left hand works well.

 

Strange: I thought I commented on your posting earlier today, but it seems to be missing. Or I put it in the wrong place.

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Strange: I thought I commented on your posting earlier today, but it seems to be missing. Or I put it in the wrong place.

Not (gasp!) on The Dark Side?! :ph34r:

 

 

Well, my keys and my wife's glasses disappeared into the Dark Side, so why not my message?

 

But a likelier explanation: I answered on my mobile, and mobile postings often don't actually get posted.

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When I first met this tune many years ago it was a much simpler tune. Many of the "twiddly bits" that have found their way into the "official version" and taken root were not yet in evidence and I seem to remember it had a different name although I don't remember what the name was.


I know what you're thinking: If it had different notes and a different name was it the same tune? Listen and decide for yourself.


I'm playing it in B minor because everybody else is, although I think I first knew it in A minor.

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When I first met this tune many years ago it was a much simpler tune. Many of the "twiddly bits" that have found their way into the "official version" and taken root were not yet in evidence and I seem to remember it had a different name although I don't remember what the name was.
I know what you're thinking: If it had different notes and a different name was it the same tune? Listen and decide for yourself.
I'm playing it in B minor because everybody else is, although I think I first knew it in A minor.

 

 

I'd call that the same tune with a whopping big variation.

 

I like it a lot.

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I wonder if I have too much going on in the left hand that it detracts from the melody ?

I like the left hand accompaniment, and it doesn't seem to me that it gets in the way of the melody at all. What I can't tell from the recording, though, is what kind of balance you're getting. It sounds as if the microphone is placed very close to the right side, so that the left-hand chords sound quite subdued (maybe even a tad too subdued) in comparison. Since your own ears are more or less equidistant from the two sides, your impression of the relative volumes may be more accurate.

 

On the other hand, concertinas, because of their construction, are unusually tricky this way. I've played in more than one session where I could barely hear myself, only to be told later that mine was the loudest instrument in the room. When you're playing in the harmonic style a listener on your right (like us, in this instance) may hear the melody loud and clear, while one on your left is hearing only loud chords. If you're playing without amplification for a live audience, every one of your listeners is getting a slightly different mix.

 

When you record yourself, your microphone placement (assuming you're using just one) can be used to optimize the balance. But if you think of recording as an approximation of live performance rather than an end in itself, that strategically placed mic may give a very misleading impression of what most listeners would hear.

 

I wouldn't change your approach to accompaniment; it's quite lovely. But if it seems to *you* that the chords are obtrusive, you can try playing them with a lighter, more staccato touch. And if you want your recording to give a more faithful impression of what a live listener would hear (assuming s/he isn't next to you on a bench), try facing the mic from a slightly greater distance.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

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