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 Sheriff’s Ride

Here is the tune from Monday 29th June, the Sheriff’s Ride.

The Sheriff’s Ride is an English tune used in the Lichfield Morris tradition, in Staffordshire.  The title refers to a unique tradition dating from Queen Mary’s Charter of 1553 in which Lichfield was separated from Staffordshire and made a ‘City and County’ with a right to appoint its own Sheriff.  The Charter commanded the Sheriff to make a complete perambulation of the City to inspect the boundary each September.  ​The oldest recorded collection of the tune as played for the Morris dance is from 1898 (Bacon, ‘A Handbook of Morris Dances’, The Morris Ring 1974) though it is probably older than this, most likely dating back to the mid-1800s, when polka-type tunes originated.

The Sheriff’s Ride shares parts of its melody with some versions of the song Raggle Taggle Gypsies, a song that became particularly popular in the broadsides in the early- to mid-1800s, telling the tale of a rich lady who runs away to join a group of gypsies. 

The first video is a slow and a faster version of the tune, the second is a walkthrough:

Below is the link to the PDF:.

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:

Bonus post: two note chords on the fiddle

Here are some videos talking about how to play accompanying chords on the fiddle, as requested last week.  The first two videos are explanations, there are then some hastily drawn chord shapes, and finally some ACapella videos demonstrating the chord sequences and rhythms in context.

Video one – basic chords and rhythms, using Step Back as a reference:

Video Two – slightly more difficult chords and some other things to consider, using Idbury Hill as a reference.  Also, I turned the lights on.

 

Here are some pictures of the chord shapes:

 

And finally, the shuffle ideas in context:

 

 

Idbury Hill

Here are the videos from Monday 11th session, with apologies for the lateness!  Idbury Hill is a Morris tune, from the Fieldtown tradition.  The first video is a slow version of the tune – have a good listen before you start to learn or relearn it:

 

Here’s a walk through of the tune:

 

Once you’ve got the tune under your fingers, here are some videos on 1. ornamentation and 2. varying the tune:

 

Finally here’s a video with a play through including ornaments and variation, and a PDF with some of the ideas covered in the above videos.

Here are the dots – click here for a PDF, and a here for a PDF of the two chord sequences we tried.

Idbury Hill basic

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

Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this post, and you’re not a yearly subscriber, please consider making a small donation via the Paypal button below (you don’t need a Paypal account to donate).  

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Gan Aimn

UPDATED 19/03/20

After a last minute decision to cancel Monday’s class in line with government advice, I’ve had a go at putting the planned session online!  I’ve created a Paypal donation button below for those of you who aren’t yearly subscribers; I want to keep these posts free to access, but if you enjoy this site and can afford to make a small donation I’d really appreciate it as, being self-employed, I’ve lost a huge amount of work due to Corona virus precautions.   

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I’m sure I’ll get better at these videos the more I do – the format, the sound quality (which is a little ropey in places), the camera angle and lighting etc can and will be improved! I’m planning on doing another video next week, which takes us to the end of term – we’ll see what happens after that, depending on how useful people find this format and how the current situation unfolds.

Here are three videos; the first breaks down the tune into short phrases and describes the scales and shapes of the melody, the second is a slow version and fast version of the tune like the ones I normally post.  The third video talks about bowing and ornamentation.

 

Video One – Tune breakdown 

Click here for a PDF of the warm up scales.

Scale warm up 0:00 – 2:55, A section 2:58 – 7:43, B section 7:45 – end.

Video Two – Slower Version and Faster Version

 

Gan Ainm

 

Video Three: Bowing and Ornamentation

 

Click here for a PDF of the tune with the suggested bowing and ornamentation.