Rig a Jig Jig

Here’s our opening tune of the term, Rig a Jig Jig it’s an cheerful English jig, with a lot of bounce! Here’s a demo of the tune:

Here are the dots, with a PDF available here:

This tune contains a lot of arpeggio shapes, so I set the challenge of adding some extra notes in between the small intervals that these shapes give us- you might have spotted some of these variations creeping into in my demo video! So for instance, you could add an A in between the first two notes of bar 2, giving you a quaver run of BAG. These subtle little variations are just one way in which folk musicians play around with tunes, and they can be dropped in here and there for variety and as a way of putting your own stamp of individuality on the tune. Try a few out – maybe one every couple of bars or so – and see what you like the sound of!

Walter Bulwer’s Polka no. 2

Walter Bulwer was a fiddle player from Shipham in Norfolk. Born in 1888, he was a well known musician in the area, playing for many years in bands with his wife Daisy who played piano and banjo.

Here is a link to a recording of Walter Bulwer himself playing this tune: https://open.spotify.com/embed/track/4oAC9779ZNFrjaWKAWNIqW There is a third part that he adds in occasionally but I haven’t covered that here, as it isn’t commonly played in sessions or at dances.

Here is a video with a slow and faster playthrough:

Here’s a walk through of the tune:

We played with the phrase at the beginning of the B section (bars 9 and 10), varying the rhythm: this included tying repeated notes together, dividing the rhythm into equal notes and subdividing the notes into shorter note values. We then combined these in different ways to create different rhythmic variations – this is a relatively simple but effective way of adding a little variation into your playing!

Here’s a PDF of the tune:

And another with the chords:

The (Other) Rogue’s March

The penultimate tune of the term is a tune that I learned from Laurel Swift. It’s listed in Dave Townsend’s English Dance Music vol. 1 as the C and D parts of the better known Rogue’s March, as sung here by John Tams and Barry Coope:

This well known tune dates back to the late 1700s, and is said to have been used across the British Isles and America to drum disgraced soldiers out of the army. However, I’ve not been able to find any reference to the C and D parts of the tune, so it’s a bit of a mystery!

Here is a slower and faster version of the tune. The faster part includes the turns that we added throughout the tune wherever a step-wise crotchet-quaver pattern occurs on the first beat of a bar.

Here is a walkthrough:

Here are the dots:

A PDF with the dots can be downloaded below, along with a second PDF with standard and alternative chords:

Old Adam was a Poacher

Here is Old Adam was a Poacher, a tune collected from William Andrews of Devon by Sabine Baring Gould in 1892. The B part is very similar to versions of the jig Hunt the Squirrel as listed here https://www.folktunefinder.com/tunes/198732 however I’ve not been able to find out if this version of the tune is also from the South West of England. Chris Bartram speculates that the tune may have French origins, explaining the dual mode – it seems plausible but it’s almost important to remember that it’s speculation and not fact! Here’s the slower and faster versions:

Here are the dots:

And here are PDFs of the tune and the chords:

Lastly, here’s a version on the song by the fabulous Blowzabella:

Staffordshire Hornpipe

Here is the tune from Monday 8th June, the glorious Staffordshire Hornpipe notated from John Locke in 1909 by Cecil Sharp. Here is the slower and faster versions to listen to:

 

Here’s the walk through:

 

Here is a video looking at some basic ornamentation and variation:

 

And finally a video on bowing as there are specific issues for fiddle players in hornpipe tunes!

 

Lastly, here are the dots, with a PDF available here:

Jack’s Alive

This week we learned a tune called Jack’s Alive, a tune from the 18th century that’s in the English, Scottish and American traditions.  This is an English version, but it’s worth looking up others, I recommend folktunefinder.com and https://tunearch.org/ as fairly reliable sources of tunes and, critically, of background information.

Video 1 is a slower and faster play through for you to listen to:

 

We then have a walk through:

 

Here are some ideas about about ornamentation:

 

And a few more about little variations for the tune:

 

Finally here are the dots, with a PDF available here:

Jack's Alive

 

The chord chart with the second chord sequence is available here– these show how you can get stuck in a G -D – G – D pattern if you only stick to the obvious chords, but suggest a route out of this!

Step Back

Monday 4th saw us tackle English Morris tune Step Back.  This version is from the Field Town traditional of Leafield in Oxfordshire, and is related to the slightly better known tune/dance Old Molly Oxford.  It’s a little unusual for us in that it doesn’t have any repetition of phrases, so I’ve talked a little in the videos about how to learn a tune like this.  It seemed like a useful topic to cover right now!  I’ll lay out my top tips here too, for brevity and clarity (first time for everything):

  • Listen to the tune. A lot.  And listen in different ways; listen with focus but also while you’re doing other things and are a little distracted.  Both are great ways of getting the tune in your head.
  • Sing the tune!  Either out loud or in your head, silly words optional.
  • Trace the shape of the tune in the air with your hand/finger.  You can do this as you listen to the video or as you sing along.
  • Name each phrase in a way that helps you identify what happens.
  • Play it lots.  When you (inevitably) forget bits, go back to the video or to singing it rather than diving straight for the dots.  To paraphrase violinist Itzhak Perlman, if you learn something slowly, you’ll forget it slowly!

 

Video One is the tune played slowly, followed by the tune a little faster:

 

Video Two is a walk through of the A section:

 

Video Three is a walk through of the B section:

 

Here are dots for the tune with the chord sequence, click here for the PDF:

Step Back

Schottis fran Idre

Here is the from Monday 27th online class, a Swedish tune called Schottis fran Idre – it’s made its way over to some English sessions, and I’m not to pretend that we’re playing it in an authentic Swedish style!  The first video is an arrangement of the tune, harmony, chords and bass line – my ukulele is very much out of action at the moment, so I had to substitute my fiddle in, I hope you can still hear the patterns and chords!  The second video is a walk through of the tune with a slow version of the tune played through at the end (there is text throughout to help orientate yourself).

Here are the dots for the tune and harmony as taught in the online session, with a PDF available here.

Schottis fran Idre

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Star above the Garter

Hi all, here is the last tune of the term, the Irish slide Star Above the Garter.  Since we’ve played some tunes from Kerry over the last few weeks, in our warm ups and as a main tune, it seemed appropriate to stay in that general area!  There’ll be a bit of a break now until mid-April during which I’ll experiment with different formats, structures, subscriptions and technologies since it’s currently looking like we won’t be able to meet in person for some time.  Please assume that online content will replace meetings until further notice.

Again these videos are supposed to be a substitute for our group sessions, so if you’re not a yearly subscriber and have enjoyed this post, please consider making a small donation via Paypal (you don’t need a Paypal account to donate).  Enjoy, and I’ll be in touch soon!

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The PDF of the basic tune is available here, but I would really recommend relying on your memory and relearning the tune from the video as and when you forget it – each subsequent time you learn the tune from the video, you will pick it up faster and will be a little more likely to retain it over time.  If you rely on the sheet music then you’re not practising remembering the tune!

Next, here’s a video with bowings and ornaments, with a PDF (including a harmony and bass line) available here.

Last but not least we have a video of the tune, harmony, chords and bass line together – the harmony part is high in the mix, but I’m since I’ve not recorded it anywhere else I’ve decided to leave it as is!