Classes are returning to the WLTUC

Classes will be returning to the West London Trade Union Club from September 20th 2021. Doors will open at 7:15 for 7:30, as before, running to 9:15 with a short break at 8:15. The price has gone up to £10 per session, with a small discount for those paying yearly or termly. In this coming Autumn term, there will be a focus on musicianship, arrangement and ensemble skills using repertoire from last year’s online sessions. The tunes for Monday 20th September will be Dory Boat and Rig a Jig Jig. Finally, we have the following guidelines in place, for the safety of all:

1. Please don’t come to class if you’re feeling unwell. Symptoms of the Delta variant can be quite different from the classic Covid symptoms, so do check the NHS website even if you feel sure that you know what they are.  

2. If you’re able to, take a lateral flow test on a Monday. These are free from pharmacies or can be ordered online – this is voluntary, not mandatory, and you don’t need to report your results to me, though do report them on the NHS website.

3. Please wash your hands on arrival.   

4. I will clean surfaces when I arrive, including door handles, chairs and light switches.  

5. Windows will be open for ventilation, so you might want to bring a jumper! 

6. Although the requirement to socially distance has been removed, it makes sense to continue giving each other space. I will look at the way the chairs are arranged to optimize the space.

7. I’ll check whether the WLTUC has a QR code that we can use to check in. 

8. Finally, if you feel that you’d personally like to take further measures, such as wearing a mask, please do.  It’s important that we all feel safe, and if there are any aspects of class you’re not comfortable with, please speak to me and I’ll do my best to accommodate your needs. 

Stewart’s Rant

Here’s a Scottish dance tune, also known as General Stuart’s Reel and The New Way of Gildon. It dates back to at least 1749 when it was published in the Menzies Manuscript.

Here is a video of a slower and faster rendition of the tune, with some rhythmic variations in the B section:

Here are the PDFs of the music and the two sets of chords that we used:

Old Joe

Here is a polka that works nicely as a partner to Leather Away the Wattle. I know it from Dave Townsend’s English Dance Tune books though to me, the A part feels possibly Irish and the B part more English. As I suspected they might, efforts to find out more about this tune have proved fruitless. I’ve looked for both the title and the melodic shapes and while it bears similarities to other tunes, there’s nothing there to give any real leads on the mystery.

We played a little with the rhythms in the B part, and added turns and/or triplets in places where the melody moves by step.

Here is a video with a slower and faster version of the tune:

Here are the dots with a PDF below:

Winter’s Night Schottische

Here is a tune that goes by many titles: Rainbow Schottische, Stephen Baldwin’s Schottische and Midnight Schottische. It appears in Kerr’s Merry Melodies book of 1870 and appears to have remained popular ever since in England, Scotland, Ireland and North America.

We added some turns and/ore triplets in places where the melody moves by step but otherwise kept ornamentation and variation to a minimum.

Here is a video with slower and faster versions of the tune:

Here are the dots, with a PDF below:

Leather Away the Wattle

Here’s a fantastic polka from Ireland, first published in 1858. It has many, many titles, including The Grand Old Woman, The Half Door, Lisdoonvarna Polka, London Bridge Polka and Leather The Bottle. A wattle is a stick or truncheon.

Here is a video with a slower and a faster run through:

Here are the dots:

And finally a PDF to download:

A Texas Schottische

Here we have one of my favourite schottisches, which I know as Texas Schottische – it’s not the more famous The Texas Schottische, which is a quite different tune, so I have decided to tweak the title to A Texas Schottische to avoid confusion. A Schottische is a kind of slow polka originating in Bohemia and becoming popular in the Victorian era.

I know this tune from playing for one particular (now defunct) ceilidh band however, I can’t find this tune anywhere else, under this or any other title! I suspect that the title may have been assigned incorrectly, that perhaps it was in a set with the more famous Texas Shottische but a search of Apple Music, Google Play, Spotify etc hasn’t shed any light on the issue, and searches in the Vaughn Williams Library, on Folktunefinder.com and on various other online resources have proved fruitless.

It’s still a cracking tune, and I hope you enjoy it. Here is a video play through:

And here are the dots, with suggested bowing for the fiddle players since the long-short-long-short pattern can cause difficulties. We added single cuts below the first B in bar one of the A section (demonstrated in the video), you might also try adding a single cut above the top Gs in the B section.

Here is a PDF:

The Burning of the Piper’s Hut

This beautiful Scottish tune is somewhat of a curiosity – I first knew this tune from the Robin Williamson Fiddle Tunes book, pretty much as it’s written here, however this version appears to be a rewritten version of an jig by Pipe Major Alexander McKellar (1824-1895). Our version doesn’t show up in any tune books until the 1970s, and it’s not clear who is responsible for this rewriting! The title is also interesting: Williamson suggests that it refers to the English defeat of the Jacobite forces in the mid 1700s – it may be true that it does refer to this time but the tune is certainly not that old.

This tune works well as a march, or slower as an air.

We experimented with adding turns in places where the tune moves by step, and double cuts on the stronger beats of the bar (beat one and beat three).

Here is a video of a slow version (missing a B part I think, apologies!) and a faster version:

Here are the dots:

Major Malley’s Reel

Major Malley’s Reel, aka Major Molle’s, is a Scottish tune by Andrew Gow first published in 1809 shortly after Gow’s death. Molle was an officer in the British army. The tune has since traveled to Canada and England, and we know it was still in use in the 1800s in England, as Thomas Hardy referenced the tune in his 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd.

Variations covered in class include adding turns to notes that are part of descending scales, and rhythmic variations in the B section.

Here is an example of how you might apply these ideas: