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:
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.
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).
We’re starting back today, with an online class followed by detailed walk through videos. Regulars have received an email with log in details – if you’re not on the list but would like to attend please contact me through the site for details.
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!
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.
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
Video Three: Bowing and Ornamentation
Click here for a PDF of the tune with the suggested bowing and ornamentation.
Here is another Welsh tune, Polca Cefn-Coed, which we played after last week’s tune Ffidl Ffadl to turn it into a set – click here for a PDF of the tunes together. I got this version from the Calan tune book, it’s quite different from other versions of the tune available through resources such as The Session or Folk Tune Finder websites.
Here are the dots with a PDF here for download:
Belated happy St David’s day! Here is a Welsh tune, Ffidl Ffadl to celebrate the occasion, with huge thanks to Geraint for tracking down the title. I knew this tune partly through a student violin book I use frequently, and partly from the Solomon album by Calan, where it’s in a set called Ryan Jigs. Ffidl Ffadl (pronounced Fiddle Faddle in English) means nonsense (noun), or to mess around (verb).
Here are the dots, with a PDF available here:
Here is a fantastic polka from West Kerry in Ireland – I’ve only heard it called ‘West Kerry polka’, and though it’s similar to John Cronin’s No.1 the B parts are quite different. We tried pushing the chords in the B part, anticipating the changes and making them early by one quaver. This tune went well with Tralee Gaol from July 7th 2019.
Here are the dots with a PDF available here:
This is one of my favourite slipjigs, the fabulously named Trip to Marrowbones, also known as Four Bare Legs Together and as The Raking Quality. It comes from the 1770 Northumbrian manuscript from William Vickers. This is the F major version, there is another where most of the Fs become F sharps, taking the tune into G minor. We recorded this G minor version for the Stepling album as part of our ‘Saucy Set’, this can be found here at 1:35. For clarity I’ll not post the dots for that version just yet, I think we need to let the major version settle first! I had thought that I had learned this from an Eliza Carthy and Nancy Kerr album, but this doesn’t seem to be the case – goodness knows where it came from!
Here are the dots, with filled-out chords, PDF can be found here:
Here is the Newtondale Hornpipe, a fantastic tune with trad roots which was adapted and reworked by fiddler extraordinaire Dave Shepherd. There’s a fantastic recording of the tune on the album Dave made with Becky Price, Ashburnham, which can be found here. I learned this tune recently from fiddler Nick Goode.
Here are the dots, with a PDF here: