We are recording a band next Monday. Spent this evening meeting the band and listening to them rehearse. There are three guys in the band, SeaofCrowns - guitar, bass and drums. Two of them are also on vocals. Should be interesting. We will need to do some overdubbing etc for guitar rhythm and melody/harmony tracks. The band will also be thinking about whether they will do voice harmonies. I think it was useful for them too to have the opportunity for some feedback and to discuss some ideas ahead of the session. Its a great song. I had it in my head driving home.
I am looking forward to it.
Went to Celtic Connections last night and saw Breabach, Blazin" Fiddles, Dougie MacLean and Kathleen Macinnes. Good mix of sets including lots of Burns songs and poetry.
Great fiddling by Blazin' fiddles and Meg Henderson.
We are getting ready to record a band in the Studio soon. Our group will hopefully be meeting the band next week to discuss what they want and whether we will need to overdub, record several parts etc - or simply record live. Its difficult to arrange as the band members are scattered across Scotland.
I have also been using Protools lately (I have used Logic up until now). Protools seems slightly better for editing and mixing.
Meanwhile I have been recording an improvised blues solo.
I am starting on new pieces this week. The bowing seems difficult so i am working at making it feel more natural by bowing on open strings before adding in tthe notes.
In strings groups we are moving onto Brandenburg Ghosts. Brilliant piece but quite challenging. We are also playing a very fast piece called Fiddle Faddle. I have to say the seconds part - while on the fact of it isn;t that hard - seems difficult to work out how it fits with the firsts. There is a lot on the backbeat.
My last post mentioned that I was playing my recital this week. I practised a lot for it and felt comfortable that I had prepared as well as possible. I had to play really early between 9 am and 10 am. I find that playing early in the day is harder. I never practise until the afternoon and evening as it takes that long to get going properly. Musicians are a nocturnal breed of people. Never in bed until the small hours.
The actual playing went OK. Not perfect but the feedback from colleagues was good. I felt I played the Shetland reel as well as I had ever played it - its very exposed much of it solo - with improvisation. But it was great and I enjoyed playing it.
Everyone who played did well.
Its good to have it behind and to start new material. I am going to play a lament next time, as well as a slow Strathspey and reel. I am concentrating on tone, bowing and am practising vibrato. There are very mixed views about vibrato in folk. Many think it should never be used. But I think I should have it in my toolbox.
I have been percussive dancing recently. I enjoy the Quebecan fiddling style where they play along to percussive footwork. I have been scottish step dancing and tap dancing for a short while. This week I tried flamenco. I am hoping that if I can internalise the rhythms I will be eventually be able to do it while playing. But even if that doesn't work, its great fun, music related and the rhythms soak in. Stepdancing and tapping seems relatively intuitive to me. I am so used to the music and rhythms that its only the footwork you need to concentrate on. Flamenco rhythms feel much more alien.
Excited to be playing my recital tomorrow. Last minute practice - keeping the turns and ornaments as clear as possible. I have been trying to sort out a slight buzz on my hardanger as well. The cold is not helping. I like the pieces I am playing but I will enjoy getting onto new material after tomorrow.
I have been rehearsing a lot this week and last. My next recital is on Thursday morning.
My violins are complaining with the cold weather and continually pop strings at the moment. My hands have been cold too making playing difficult. So on Thursday I will be wearing gloves and parking as close to the venue as possible so as not to let my violin (or me) get too cold.
In rehearsals we have been trying to sort out the speed -particularly of the reel. I am paying The Marquis of Huntly, John Cheap the Chapman, Da West Side Bride's March and Da Muckle reel o' Finnigart. I shall be tuning the hardanger up for the second set and improvising a lot. The hardanger sounds great.
Well, Xmas has come and gone. Back to work. I have been practising for my recital in January. I had a few days off over Xmas while down in Brighton and I felt rusty when I came back. Trying to get it all back under the fingers. I am working on vibrato - not for this recital but for the next. I am also starting to choose and practise the tunes for the next solo recital in May. Also working on intonation so playing the G minor scale quite a lot.
My hardanger developed a slight buzz at the end of last year. Not sure why. Its been so cold though that it might be unhappy. We have been trying to sort it. I have been playing it a lot over the holiday with the g string tuned up to A. This brings extra challenges. It's quite disconcerting. First the violin has a different resonance and you can't gauge when the the G on the D string is in tune as well. It doesn't have the same ring as when the G string is on G. Its also means I need to be careful not to hit it accidentally, as the chords are not the same. I have to change the fingering too. But the problems are worth the gains in the second tune (in my view).
The reel I am to play is still causing me endless problems. its very awkward. I have slipped back a bit on the Strathspey and am working to get the clarity back again. Holidays shouldn't be allowed.
On the bright side I have booked flights to go to the USA in the summer to study hardanger playing in Winconsin with the American Hardanger Association. After that I will be flying to Montreal to visit a school friend and then to go up to a Quebecan fiddling week. Quebecans not only play the fiddle but stamp rythmns at the same time. Its great. Looking forward to it already. And I hope to fit in some Scottish fiddling and a trip to St Kilda too! Might be overambitious...