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:
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!
This is a tune that came into being last week – I was looking at a tune called Chartley March, but my brain kept pushing me towards the tune I’ve covered here, which is pretty similar. Having played it down the phone to a number of friends, no one could work out what it was, but luckily the hive mind of the class (I think Bob cracked it!) managed to identify it as a jig version of Ievan’s Polkka, which we’ve renamed Ievan’s Upcycled Jig.
Here’s the slow and faster version to listen to before you try learning it:
And here’s the walk through:
Here are videos on ornamentation and on melodic variations:
And finally here are the dots with a PDF here , with a second PDF with possible jig rhythms for chords instruments or for fiddle shuffles (chord shapes are listed in the bonus post below this one).
I also did an Acapella arrangement, with fiddle shuffles and two melody lines to demonstrate the chord rhythms and to show how varying the ornaments and melody doesn’t necessarily create clashes – I tried to make the two parts as different as possible without going overboard, and I didn’t plan anything out before I started so it’s more an example of how the tune might sound in a session – for a concert performance or recording I would probably standardise things a little and definitely arrange the structure more.
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!
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!
Here’s Black Nag, also from January 13th, a tune from the Playford collection (1657 edition). We learned the tune and then created a variation in the B section by substituting different melodic shapes for the argeggios in the original.
Here’s the PDF.
A delayed post from January 13th: Bacca Pipes is a tune and dance from the Cotswold Morris tradition and is danced over two crossed tobacco pipes, making it a form of sword dance of the kind found across Europe. It’s related to the tune Greensleeves and was collected by Cecil Sharp on August 30th 1909 from musician Thomas Delaney in Sevenhampton, Wiltshire.
Here are the dots, with a PDF here:
Monday 6th January was our first week back and we covered a range of tunes, starting with the Plane Tree jig and its possibly original 4/4 counterpart Schottishe a Bethanie (video link to the fabulous Mel Biggs of Morai and ‘Pick Up and Play’ fame). We used this tune as inspiration and the second half of the night was taken up with Kit White’s no.2, which we recapped and then collectively turned from a polka into a jig.
I’ve roughly notated the various stage we went through to reach the end product; at stage one we played even quavers in 6/8 to fill out the bars, at stage two we simplified the rhythm and at stage three we replaced key patterns with ‘hill’, ‘ditch’, ‘zig zag’ or scale shapes. Each replacement was selected from two or three options presented by me and voted on by the group – the title refers to the idea that a camel is a horse designed by committee!
Dots in PDF form can be found here.
Here is the tune from 7th October’s class: The Doctor. It’s a tune from Aird’s Airs and Melodies Book of tunes from England, Scotland and Ireland but I’ve also found it in the 1823 Jackson manuscript from Wyresdale, Lancashire.
Here are the dots, with a PDF available here.
Here is the tune from Monday 30th’s session, with apologies for the late posting. This is a tune by Peter Barnes, it can be found in the book “The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest”. Peter says of this tune: “I actually wrote this tune on the fiddle when I was trying to teach myself that instrument in the mid ‘70’s. I made it easy to play on the violin, which may account for its totally unexpected popularity. Since then it’s been recorded eleven times (usually without my permission!) and has had two dances choreographed to go with it.”
Here is the PDF file.
Here is the tune ‘The Mallard no 2’. It’s in Dave Townsend’s English Dance Tunes book but I can’t find it anywhere else – there are other tunes and songs that share the title but none with the same melody.
The PDF can be found here. Fiddle players might want to try double stopping with the open G string in the first two bars, then the D string in the next bar before going back to the G string for bars five and six. In the second section, you can double stop with the open G string for the first three bars.
Here’s the video from Dave’s session on April 8th, with apologies for the delay in posting. Here’s the tune:
…and here’s the chord part:
The dots for this tune can be found by clicking here. Massive thanks to the incredible Dave Delarre for this great session, and I’ll be back for the beginning of next term on April 29th.