Deborah is a violinist and violist specialising in English folk music. She trained in viola and Baroque viola at Birmingham Conservatoire, before returning to her first love of traditional music, song and dance.
She is a member of Stepling, a band performing English music, step-dance, song and percussion. She also plays for a number of function bands, performing at barn dances and ceilidhs across the UK.
Deborah has played with a number of folk artists, dance and theatre projects. She plays with Folk Dance Remixed, a dance company combining traditional dance with hip hop and street dance styles, performing as such events as Car Fest, the Southbank's Festival of Love and Glasgow's Commonwealth Games Festival.
She records on a regular basis for a number of people, including The Mystery Fax Machine Orchestra, and for Laurel Swift's 'Travelling with Thomas' musical.
Deborah teaches music, song and dance regularly for The English Folk Dance and Song Society, as well as on a freelance basis for various workshop series, festivals and music services. She is currently studying on The Teaching Musician MA degree course at Trinity Laban.
Here is the tune from January 18th’ class, Herbert Smith’s Four-Handed Reel. Despite the title it is a polka – the ‘four-handed reel’ refers to a dance figure and not to the nature of the tune! It goes rather nicely with Grandfather’s Tune and has a similar descending scale pattern that gives lots of opportunities for turns and triplets, as discussed last week. You can also vary the rhythm in the B part, sub-dividing or combining the notes in bars X , Y and Z.
This tune is a little unusual in that it has an extra two beats in the A music. It might be that this was added on purpose to help dancers get to where they need to be in the dance, or it might just be a quirk that caught on!
Our final tune of the term: Stingo can be found in the 1651 edition of Playford’s Dancing Master, with versions known as Cold and Raw, Oil of Barley and many other names. Here’s a video with demos on the viola this time, for the sake of variety and definitely not because that was the instrument I had out and I’m too lazy to switch.
Here are the dots:
We played with the idea of adding ‘fidgets’ in as melodic/rhythmic variations – where you have two notes the same, try adding a note in between, either going up or down a step. Here is a PDF with some examples in red, and underneath it the PDF of the original:
A gorgeous tune to go with Cumberland Waltz. Furze is another word for gorse, and this tune/song was collected in Hampshire in 1907 from Moses Mills. I’ve included a recording of the Watersons singing it at the bottom of the page, there the tune to the song is a little different from our tune. Here is a video with a slow and faster play through:
We experimented by adding some turns in passages where the melody moved down by step, and added rhythmic variation by subdividing the last note of some bars. These were either just subdivided (blue), or else the second of note of the pair was changed to a D (red) as this fitted the chords, as is very satisfying on the fiddle! The effect is that you create more rhythmic movement and some forward momentum into the next bar. Here is a link to an example – it’s not a definitive version, it’s just one set of options and the idea is to experiment and come up with various placements that you like:
Here’s the Cumberland Waltz from, surprisingly enough, Cumberland. It was recorded in the 1950’s by Robert Forrester and Norman Alford, along with other songs and tunes from the area, on an album called ‘Pass the Jug Round’. This is available on Apple Music, and is worth looking up!
Here’s a slower and faster run through of the tune:
Here are the dots with the slightly more interesting chords that we tried out – who doesn’t love a walking bass line?
You might want to try some turns in places where the melody moves downwards by step or by a small interval such as a 3rd, good places to start might be bars 4-5 or bars 21-24. As a challenge, try adding up to three turns in the A section and maybe four in the B section. The effect of this ornament is to emphasize where the melody moves smoothly – sometimes less is more so try them wherever they might fit and then chose just a few places for each time through! Here’s a video on turns to refresh your memory:
Here’s tonight’s tune, Willie Was a Bonnie Lad. It’s a 16 bar reel from England that goes rather nicely with Allonby Lasses and that you can practise your clave rhythms on. It feels rather like a pipe tune to me, but I’ve not been able to find out much about it – I have it in a couple of tune books but there is no info forthcoming! Here’s a video with a slow and a faster run through on it:
Here are the dots:
Here’s a PDF with the suggested emphasis, achieved with accents or slurs/phrasing, your choice!
Allonby Lasses is a reel from the Lake District, from the 1825 Browne family manuscript. It’s is undoubtedly similar to a number of other tunes, specifically the Flagon Reel (present in the 1770 Vickers manuscript from around Newcastle, also widespread across the Scottish Borders at the same time) and the related Flogging Reel (Irish). As I’ve said before, a good tune will travel! It seems to be very much a pipe tune, which would go some way to explain why there are versions in G Mixolydian and G major, according to the limitations/quirks of Northumbrian/Border/Uillean pipes.
Here are the dots:
We played with the emphasis of different notes to create different kinds of drive or groove. Here is a PDF of the things we tried:
On Monday we explored the idea of substituting melodic figures for others that appear elsewhere in the tune. Sounds a bit complicated, right?
By melodic figure, I mean a short pattern of notes that makes one particular tune to sound like that particular tune. For instance, in The Big Ship there is a melodic figure at the end of the first bar that we ended up calling a ‘tick’ (because if you were to connect the dots, you would create a tick shape):
This shape also features in its inverted or upside down form, for instance at the beginning of bar 4. We can drop this figure into other places in the tune, as shown below. As you can see, I’ve used both a ‘tick’ (red) and an ‘inverted tick’ (blue) and I’ve just put a couple in in each section, so that it doesn’t get too repetitive.
These substitutions work well because they are similar to the basic version of the tune, follow the same direction as the basic tune and don’t change the harmony, as the extra notes come on the quaver off beats. They will also fit if some people use them and others don’t, allowing substitutors and non-substitutors to play together!
We can also apply this substitution to Reel de Gaspe – since this figures comes at the beginning of bar 4, it won’t sound out of place. Here, the ticks and inverted ticks can be used effectively in the B section.
Some tunes have more opportunities for substitutions than others, but you might want to try this one out on The Buffoon in particular – there are many other instances of this figure popping up in tunes we have learned, with some having more space to experiment than others (if you want a heads up, you could try using it in bars 13-14 of Mount Hills, in bars 10 and 14 of Lollipop Man to name but a couple!).
Here’s a fantastic French-Canadian reel that fits rather nicely with last week’s tune The Big Ship. It’s a well known reel with lots of different versions, some of which have a third and fourth section, but we’ve kept it simple here with lots of space for ornaments and minor variations. You can hear some of these in the faster version in the second half of the video.
Here’s a fab reel to see us into half term; The Big Ship also known as Glise de Sherbrooke, La Grande Chaine and Reel de Tadoussac. Many of you will know the first section from the children’s playground game and song The Big Ship Sails on the Ally Ally-O (or Illy Ally O, or Eely Ally O etc), a thread-the-needle game found across England, Ireland and Scotland which dates back to at least 1916 when it was published in a book of London street games (children’s games were not a source of interest until relatively recently). There is much debate and speculation over what the Ally Ally O refers to, with no definitive answer. The thing I find more interesting is that this tune is often cited as being French-Canadian in origin. I haven’t been able to find out anything more the journey this tune has taken around the world, but it’s certainly in the Canadian, American and English repertoires still.
Here is a demo of the tune with slow and faster version:
Here are the dots:
And a PDF of the tune and chords are available here:
We had two challenges with this tune. The first was to take out as many notes as possible to create a basic skeleton of the tune. There are many reasons to do this as an exercise but here we looked at a) creating a basic version into which we could slot different melodic figures later on and b) taking out just a few notes to create an immediately usable melodic variation of the tune. More on this later in the term! The second challenge was looking a ornaments, applying the turn ornament and introducing a double cut to emphasise notes on the main beats of the bar. Here’s a short video to explain: