Constant Billy

This week’s tune is English Morris dance tune Constant Billy. There are versions in most of the different Cotswold Morris tradition in various keys, though often transposed into G major to suit the commonly used melodeon. We made two different versions of the chords, the first being a conservative version that harmonises every half bar and the second a more contemporary version that harmonises every full bar. To refer back to our inspiration arrangement, Coronation Day, we have used/tried:

  1. long notes that can also be used as in a shuffle rhythm
  2. Playing the tune with a pedal G (tonic) underneath throughout, and also trying a pedal D (dominant) throughout
  3. Using a chord sequence that doesn’t resolve to the tonic of G at the end of each phrase (from the long notes pattern)

We will look at long and short ostinati next week and use these to make an intro/outro for the whole piece, also extending the tune by developing certain phrases.

Here is the video, with the second version of the chords:

Here are the dots:

The Valiant

Here is the tune from March 6th, The Valiant by East Anglian musician Simon Ritchie. We experimented with adding linking notes between sections – an A between the last C section and the first A section, an F# or a D between the C sections, and a BC run between the Bs. I’ve included some of these on the music, but have an experiment and see what else you can find.

Here is the PDF:

Ladies Pleasure (Fieldtown)

Here is the video and dots for Ladies Pleasure, a tune from the Fieldtown Morris tradition and one that changes meter from 6/8 to 2/4. The ‘2’ over the patterns in bar three (and elsewhere) indicate a duplet, so instead of each main beat dividing into three quavers as it would normally in 6/8, it divides into two quavers.

Here is the video:

Here are the dots – the structure would normally be ABCBCB.

Balance the Straw development

We are now finishing up the idea of creating a new tune based on an old one – we took Balance the Straw (Fieldtown) and first turned it from major to minor. We then identified some small melodic shapes and tried substituting one for another. This is a method you can use to create melodic variation, as well as using it to transform a tune. Everyone in the class volunteered a element of variation and I stitched them together to create a new tune. I referenced the dotted rhythm that was put into the B section in the A section to unify the two sections. The dots below show the original transposition, examples of the substitutions and the tweaked tune that is the final result (subject to class approval!).

Here’s what the new version sounds like:

The new version has been dubbed Drop the Grass (Acton), in reference to its original inspiration. Here are the suggested chords:

My Darling Asleep

Here is the tune from November 15th, another Irish tune to go in a set with Lilting Banshee. Look for the fidget shapes to add rolls (highlighted example in blue), and for the crotchet-quaver rhythm moving by step (highlighted in red) for adding turns. Some of the turns work better on the fiddle and others work better on wind instruments – try the notated version in the PDF and see which ones work for you.

Here are the dots:

Here is a PDF with some more ornaments written in:

Lilting Banshee

Here is the tune from November 8th, The Lilting Banshee. This is an Irish tune, with a few places to put our specific ornaments in: look for the ‘fidget’ shapes (example highlighted in blue) to add a roll, and for repeated notes in between main beats (example highlighted in red) for single cuts. These are fully notated in the PDF version.

Here’s the video demonstrating the tune: