Border Gaitherin is coming up next weekend. I'm looking forward to it. I'll be playing fiddle, guitar and trying my hand at clarsach!
Hope the brilliant weather holds up for the camping. I LOVE camping.
I blogged about playing with Innes Watson, John Somerville and Scots Music group friends. Tonight we recorded a couple of tunes. We didn't have much time, and these were strictly one shot only. Great tunes. Innes and John are fantastic musicians.
Both Innes and John Somerville play in The Treacherous Orchestra amongst other things. Check them out - they're brilliant.Can't thank them enough - had a great time. In due course there should be some video of this too which I'll put up sometime.
Here's a sound file of our arrangement of No More Cages. Its a great tune.
No More Cages by Adam Sutherland
And here is a sound clip of a really beautiful tune composed by the wonderful accordianist, John Somerville and played with him and Innes Watson by myself and SMG friends.
Mckechnie's Farewell by John Somerville
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.
Three performances this week - so far. So how did they go?
I have had a very intensive three weeks working up the sets but I have learnt a lot from the experience - as always. There is a lot of pressure to get through the music and to ensure we get the dynamics right. It takes lot of practice and preparation but its so enjoyable and worth it. There is a great feeling of teamwork as it all comes together. Its not easy to perform to high standard and each performance brings some new challenges.
First, I played in the strings group performing one of Telemann's Concerto (unnamed). I love the fourth movement of this. Its sad when the performance is over to think we are unlikely to perform it again soon. We played without a conductor, guided by Tess our lead violinist. It was a challenge, but the beginnings were good.
Next, I performed in the choir. We have been working hard on three pieces. We started with Gloria in Excelsis. Its starts with a forte section which is quite hard without a rehearsal beforehand. But it went well. My daughter was in the audience and got a fright from the volume - so we must have been at the right level! The other two pieces are gentler, Now Sleeps the Crimson Petal, music by Joyce Eilers, and Prairie Waters by Night by John Leavitt. They all went well.
Finally I performed in folk band. The tunes were wo strathspeys Morag Haig Thomas, and Weights and measures followed by Myra's jig. The second set was a beautiful song Highland Mary. Beautiful arrangement. The final set was three polkas - Britches full of Stitches, Jessica's Polka and Trip to Dingle. I blogged about these previously. Tricky and fast - some quick third position work but it went well. Audience seemed to enjoy it.
Here are a few sound files below. If you are interested in hearing more visit My Music page. Finished up the day with a theory exam - ugh. I then went out to see the wonderful singer songwriter Karine Polwart which I blogged about yesterday.
I am doing another performance tonight, Scots Music Group tutors concert which is part of Ceilidh Culture.
The third performance block has kicked off and is keeping me very busy. I am playing in the folk band. We are doing a couple of Strathspeys, Morag Haig Thomas by Donald Riddle (the Clunes Collection). I have played this tune before although a long time ago. The guitar accompaniment is lovely and lifts it. The second Strathspey is Weights and Measures by Gavin Marwick in D minor. Its an interesting tune with a darker feel. The last tune in the set is Myra's Jig by Ian Lowthian, a wonderful accordion player. I know him from performing at Durham last year. There is also a polka set with some playing in third position in one of the tunes. Finally we are also doing a song, Highland Mary by Robert Burns. Its great and beautifully arranged. There is an instrumental section with a rhythm and very fast reel for the fiddles. Its a lovely accompaniment but a challenge to get up to speed.
In the Classical Strings Group we are doing baroque music, Telemann's (unnamed) Concerto I, II and III: Cantabile and IV. Its really interesting. I enjoy classical playing a lot now. The violin parts are very achievable with a bit of practice. Its great to hear all the parts together.
I am also singing in the main choir. We are performing three beautiful pieces Prairie Waters by Night by John Leavitt (my favourite), Gloria in Excelsis by Mozart and Now sleeps the Crimson Petal by Joyce Eilers. The pace is stepping up. I have transferred the learning parts onto my iPod and I listen to them wherever I go. We are singing Gloria in Excelsis in latin. I have sung in latin before - a long time ago. I remember it all though and so I find it easy to pronounce it. Its all great.
Music theory also continues as does the practice for my recital.