It was my turn to perform solo today. I played two very old Shetland tunes, Da West Side Bride's March and Da Muckle reel o' Finigart. I have been playing these for about five or six weeks and learned them recently when at Folkworks in Durham.
They felt pretty secure before the performance. But what is about performance that makes it difficult to play as well as you normally can? Anyway, it went relatively well given they are new tunes to my repertoire. I also felt it was helpful to take the opportunity to play something new even if not completely perfect so as to get some feedback on these tunes. My final recital of these will be in January. From my perspective, there is little point in playing something from last year's sets.
I found it quite difficult to control nerves. That's very annoying. I have been in many scary situations in my life and I feel I should be better at this. I think it is much easier to deliver to an anonymous audience that you probably won't see again than it is to people who you know. As I was asked to play parts again I found these wore off a bit and so that was a helpful exercise in relaxing a bit.
Feedback was interesting. I knew that these tunes would be quite esoteric. I think they were to me the first time I heard them. The second one in particular is not a typical reel but has seven parts and has lots of cross beats. It probably didn't help that I didn't manage to perform them perfectly today. I got some helpful feedback on trying to make the audience understand them by being particularly regular with beat and getting the upbeat right as well as trying to emphasise the long notes. I should also try to get the ornaments clearer and not let these get in the way of the tune. These are the same points that my teacher raised. I had managed to improve them a bit but they need more work yet.
There was a point about changing from one tune to the next ( which happens in traditional music) and how to make this more obvious to the audience. Better to put a whole bar between the two tunes rather than run straight into the second one. I use the first bar of the second tune to speed up and I should try to do this more evenly. They need more work on dynamics.
I am glad I played them. They are interesting and unusual and deserve to be played. You couldn't really play these in the pub or at a ceilidh so a recital is a good place for them.
Happy to have done this today. Many thanks to Laurie and Neil.
Looking forward to moving onto the next set - Strathspey and reel in G minor.
Apart from solo work, we have been working up John Sommerville's lovely tune McKechnie's Farewell for a performance tomorrow. Looking forward to that. The arrangement and harmonies are great. We are also working on a few other great tunes which I blogged about earlier and these are coming on too. Folk Band is the highlight of the week for me.
We also had a strings group rehearsal yesterday and played Telemann's Europa. Its really difficult to get timing as the tempo trebles (?) in the middle of it. Playing parts can be difficult as its sometimes difficult to understand how it all fits together - particularly if you can't see the other parts scores. They are lovely pieces though and we are not that far off performing them. Practising with a metronome required.
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