I've completed a few compositions recently. I'm really pleased with them - they are all different. Here's a short clip of one of them. I've called it "Yengema's Shadows".
I used to live in Yengema, Sierra Leone and my memories of that time, including the rainforest storms, inspired this track.
I've blogged about my being a voluntary Director of the Scots Music Group previously. We are trying something new. We are running a masterclass in working in a band
Improvisation tomorrow. We are working as groups now and on our own initiative. Last week we composed a country tune, arranged it, wrote lyrics and performed it - all in an hour. It was great fun and a good learning exercise.
Went to the excellent Northern Streams weekend which is run by the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (Edinburgh & Lothians Branch). It was a wonderful programme of three concerts and numerous workshops over three days.
I took full advantage and went to as many events as humanly possible over the weekend. We heard Icelandic, Norwegian and Swedish song on Friday evening. FUNI - Bára Grímsdóttir and Chris Foster (Iceland/Britain) gave us a lot of information about Icelandic folk music and instruments. Lots of songs in lydian mode!! Karin Ericsson Back and Maria Misgeld (Sweden) sang a capella - beautiful.
Kim André Rysstad and Lajla Buer Storli played a mix of Norwegian song and hardanger fiddle. My partner wasted no time and was deep in conversation with Lajla about hardanger fiddles. He has just made one. Lajla was very friendly and interested to help. She has put us in contact with a Norwegian who look after her fiddles. She also told me about some hardanger summer schools.
On Saturday I took my hardanger to a Fiddle workshop with Lajla Buer Storli (Hardanger region, Norway). We learned, by ear, a great but difficult tune from the hardanger area of Norway. It wasn't that it was technically difficult, but the sequences and rhythms are so different from Scottish folk music it was difficult for any of us to get it quickly.
Next up was a workshop in Harmony in music with Daniel and Emma Reid (Sweden/Britain). Daniel plays saxophone and Emma is a truly fantastic fiddler. The tune was great and we learned some drones and rhythmic accompaniment.
Finally I learned Song & accompaniment, with Julie Hjetland (Denmark) and Jens Ulversand(Sweden) and also Annlaug Borsheim and Rannveig Djønne. The first half of the workshop saw us learning a Danish song about cabbage and gruel - it was a hard life!. Julie Hjetland showed us how she does body percussion - which involved hitting herself andlooked quite sore but was really effective! n the second half of the workshop Annlaug Borsheim and Rannveig Djønne (Norway) taught us a lovely tune and lullaby. Annlaug plays guitar and sings but she also plays the hardanger. She was very interested in mine too. I think its unusual to see one outside Norway.
On Saturday evening we went to the second concert. The highlights for me were the wonderful fiddling from Emma Reid - beautiful polskas (3/4/ tunes - stressing beats 1 and 3); great songs and interesting accompaniment using looping from Jullie Hjetland (Denmark) with Jens Ulversand (Sweden); and some really pretty accordion tunes and song from Annlaug Borsheim and Rannveig Djønne (Norway).
Saw them all again on Sunday in a finale concert. We also did Icelandic dancing and icelandic singing!
First time my hardanger has been out the house and Lajla and Annlaug gave us some great feedback on it. I came away feeling very motivated and learned a lot over the weekend.
Annlaug stayed on for a couple of days and so I also went out to Pathhead last night for a workshop with her. More great hardanger fiddle tunes and it was a good experience to meet the Pathhead fiddlers.
The SCO performed an interesting programme of baroque greats last week. It was a full program including Telemann's Water Music Suite in C major "Ebb and Flow", Heinichen's Sonata in F major for two horns, lots of Bach of course and Vivaldi's Concerto in G minor "di Dresda".
There was a preconcert talk with the Conductor, Richard Egarr who also played harpsichord. Richard Egarr is internationally known for his work with period music and is now an Associate of the SCO. It was a great concert, made all the more interesting by the baroque music that we have been playing in our own strings group.
Richard Egarr talked about cutting through the misinformation about baroque music. He mentioned research on tempo which would sometimes change during a piece for good musical reasons. This was contrary to the belief of several music colleges he had visited where students were forced to stick rigidly to a tempo.
He also talked about the harpsichord and its lack of dynamics. This meant that the strings needed to play down. They should also avoid vibrato. It was interesting that during the performance I could see the conductor waving the violins down at times so the harpsichord could be heard and there wasn't a vibrato in sight. Something that happens to us when we play baroque too. Richard Egarr was very complimentary about the SCO's ability to be flexible and intelligent in their interpretation of the music.
It was beautiful music and a really interesting night.
Went to see the Edinburgh Film Music Orchestra play in the Reid Concert Hall last week. It was great. They played film music of Morricone, Shostakovich, Xiong, Saint-Saëns and Durant. A couple of Stevenson students were playing - well done guys. Two of the pieces were played with lights off and films running. Must be difficult to get the timing just right but they were note perfect. Great lead violinist.