Virtual Music Session

I was never a big fan of the music videos that have blossomed during the lock-down period, although I acknowledged it was a way of making music while we could not meet up. It is not that I did not like the idea of it, I just did not feel it was for me.

But now I have given it a try with my local folk session group “The Solway Band”, that I have not seen in a long time. This is the first try at it, and there is another one to follow. I am playing English Concertina.

The tunes are local to Cumbria “Cumberland & Westmorland Waltzes”

Drumpellier Country Park / Music / Video

With lock-down being the party-pooper for any 50th birthday celebration (not mine), we decided to keep our social distancing, and head for the nature…

Glasgow´s Drumpellier Country Park is just about walking distance for us, 1 hour of crossing motorways and following main roads, until you get to the small path that leads into the woods and small pathways that snake around lakes and natural forested areas.

I am not sure if it was because I had not been out of the house in ages, or because the damp weather highlighted the forest colours, but I was fascinated with the richness of the flora, with the colour of green. So many different shades of green…

I was expecting wild flowers and carpets of different coloured mosses, but I must have just missed them or they will be coming out later on? But I was not disappointed with the depth of colour and the freshness of the woods, to take videos of our walk.

I removed the background sounds from the video, as although there was a lot of bird song, there was a loud backdrop of motorway sounds… I replaced it with some recordings I did a few years ago, mandolin and English concertina, traditional melodies from Spain and the Scottish Borders.

 

 

 

Spring, Flowers, Music and Nature…

I have been taking photos of the surrounding area during lock-down! Not many people around so I could go out and photograph areas that are coming to life with the onset of Spring.
Sometimes I think that the old way of taking photos, with film, has something to recommend it. Then you had to develop with film and you had to be careful what you took, as it cost you money to get the film developed. Now it is click, click, click with our digital cameras, and we do not “see” what we are taking in the lens…most of the time (do we ever look at them afterwards?).
I also had these old recordings that was going to be for a CD, they have been sitting around for months now so I included in the video.
The melodies are of Scottish and English folk tunes. I wanted it to be only with mandolin and concertina. So I did the recording and I was not really happy with the mixing of it, so I let it collect dust… so I thought to combine the 2 together to see how they come out.
The first video is of Port Carlisle, and the harbour there. I often go there and I enjoy the peace of the area, the coastline and bird life. I was there recently and I was astounded by the beauty of the place in bright sun light, the air was so clear and there was a slight breeze cooling everything off. I took a video of the surroundings and then the yellow on the “broom” the yellow flowers, it was beautiful and it reminded me of the song “when yellow is on the broom” a Scottish song.
I decided to remove the wind and other audio sounds and add just the demo track of mandolin and concertina. Although it would of been nice to mix the wind and bird song with the melodies, in practice it never came out well.

The 2nd video shows an wooded area close to Port Carlisle. There is a walk adjacent to the sea, which is part of the Hadrian´s Wall Footpath, which in Spring is beautiful to do. It is a wooded area and with the sun and shadow it is a delightful stroll.

These photos are of bluebells, that come out in a wood at Crofton, every year in April. It is a small wooded area and every year it becomes are carpeted area of bluebells. I find it amazing something so close to where I live is not appreciated more. It is over looked, as far as I can tell, people do not linger or stop and admire. They are not appreciated, so much so that a local farmer wanted to plough it up to make a car park…he was looking for sponsors to do it, luckily he has not found any yet.
I thought just to take these photos of a memory, a record that they existed. I did not mean to make a video of them afterwards, but later I thought, why not?
Using Camtasia Software for the first time, to edit the video, was easy enough, I have used a few programmes to edit video and it sees to be getting easier as the years go on. I also like Camtasia for doing tutorials and screen savers, something i have recently started to do.

 

Hexham Book Launch (Concert)

I have had some contact with Elizer Mood (author) in the past, we have been to several festivals and folk clubs, and I had heard of the progress of her new book “Man of Clay”. I had invited her to Port Carlisle and to let her experience the tide race of the Solway Estuary (3rd fastest in the UK I believe), as sea and natural disasters, global warming etc. featured in her book.

The book launch was held in Hexham/Northumberland, in The Vaults, a sort of a wine cellar. There were other performers too: singers, poets, artists, visual artists, all with a theme of nature, the industrial past of the North East, and the sea.

I continued my theme of playing “old music” on the Northumbrian Small Pipes and English Concertina (from the Dixon, Bewick, Peacock manuscripts). a solo performance to a backdrop of slides. There was a moment of Elizer reading from her book accompanied by me playing “Bonny Pit Laddie”, which I think went quite well. All of it was unrehearsed and as I finished the tune I then played a few Border Ballad melodies.

The extracts of the evening are represented here, if you wish to see more you can log into Facebook and search “HexhamTV” you will be able to see the full evening with all the performances and extracts from the book. Or you can click here HexhamTV
To read more about the author Elizer Mood, click here Elizer Mood

To buy Man of Clay click here Man of Clay

Continue reading “Hexham Book Launch (Concert)”

Spanish Northumbrian Small Pipe Web Site

It is nice to see that the Northumbrian Small Pipes are being publicized further that the English Speaking nations. In my experience of visiting Spain for many years there is little knowledge of them.

Here is a web site in Spanish which will hopefully reach all over the Spanish speaking peoples and inform them of the smallpipes, it is also nice to see the web site creator has used some of my videos. Good luck with the project. click on link to see the page:

INSTRUMUNDO Instrumentos Musicales

 

Rehearsals in Retiro Park

Sun, nature, music and good company…for me, you can not beat that. Alba and I decided to rehearse for the first time together with the fiddle and the Galician chanter. We met in Retiro Park, inside of Madrid, on a saturday morning and with our little red book containing our set list – a collection of Northern Spanish and Northumbrian tunes – we began rehearsing the melodies to who ever passed by.Fiddle and Gaita

The bagpipe is a “hybrid” a combination of using a Galician chanter (in the key of D) and drones, which I made, based on the Border pipes, using a Northumbrian tuning (D and A). Alba simply tuned her fiddle into my chanter… and away we went.

Some people decided to sit on the benches and listen, take videos… old, young and a group of Hip-hop teenagers! The weather was great.

here are some of the videos from the rehearsal.

The Millar’s Daughter, is a Northumbrian Smallpipe tune found in Peacock Manuscript.

Frisky, is a Northumbrian Smallpipe tune found in the Peacock Manuscript.

Danse La Pirineo is a Aragon, Spain.

Muiñeiras De Rengos, a Asturian tune, here is just an extract.

Kelso Lasses, is a tune from the Scottish/English Borders, a 9/8 tune.

L’Arrastrat’ is a tune from Catalonia, and the following tune is from Mallorca, Bollero de Santa Maria

Ribeirana de Redondela is a melody from Galicia.

I’m Over Young to Marry Yet, and the Highland Laddie, are Northumbrian tunes, both from the Peacock Manuscript.

A melody from Zamora, Spain.

Another version of the Northumbrian melody “Frisky”

Xeremies’s “Ancient” Scale

We went to visit Juan Morley, in the town of San Joan. He is a researcher, musician and maker of the Mallorcan bagpipe “The Xeremies”.

He told us about the old scale used by the Xeremier players in the 60s. He said they used a different scale than today. A scale that is not based on harmony, or harmonizing with the drone, or perfect 5ths.

he explained: “you tune your drone (C) to your root note on the chanter (C) making sure the top octave (C’) is also in tune with the drone. Top and bottom of the chanter is in tune with the drone.

The 4th note (F) and 5th note (G) are also in tune with the drone using the harmonic series. So far it is normal to other modern bagpipes.

Here is where the differences occur. The tuning of the rest of the scale is different. It does not use semitones (or half tones) but quarter tones (1/4)…approximately!

Normally the 2nd would be a D (440cents), but with this old Xeremeis scale it is flat of of D, of about a 1/4 tone. Normally the 2nd note clashes with the drone anyways but this would make it more so.

the 3rd note should be an E at 440cents, and therefore harmonizing as a 3rd in the harmonic series… it would be a nice harmony, either using a major 3rd (an E) or a minor 3rd (Eb), but this old scale uses neither, it plays a 1/4 note flat of E.

the 6th note is a A (440cents) but again this is not concert pitch, it is a 1/4 note flat of A, again not harmonizing with other instruments, not with the drone.

the 7th note is flat also roughly a 1/4 tone, not a semitone.

Here, Juan Morley plays the “ancient” scale on the Xeremier.

I have only seen one other example of this tuning in Spain and this was with the Sanabresa Gaita, which also uses 1/4 notes in its scale.

Xeremiers in Sant Llorenç

We met the Xeremiers des Puig de Sa Font the next day in Sant Llorenç (Mallorca) for the Christmas parade in the town. They played at different venues as the main square was full of children’s activities. We had spent the previous day hearing them rehearse in the theatre.

They play a mixture of traditional Xeremies melodies from Mallorca, medieval melodies and new compositions by the director of the group, Antoni Genovart.

The Xeremies is a traditional bagpipe from Mallorca, with an unbroken line of musicians. I have been a fan of them for many years but I finally got a chance to hear them and to try them out during our time there. They have 3 drones out in front of the bag, 1 chanter with 9 holes, and are mouth blown. The other instruments are :

La Tarota – an oboe type instrument
Flabiol – (5 hole flute) and Tamborí (small drum)
Trombone
Tamborine

Northumbrian Smallpipes

This years Newcastleton Folk Festival (2016) was enjoyable for me, I played various pipes (Gaita, NSP, Border and Scottish Smallpipes) and played at a few concerts and gave my workshop on the Smallpipes.

I was asked to play at the opening concert in the Church, part of it was video’d. I played for about 30 minutes and I really enjoyed the atmosphere. The melodies are all traditional Northumbrian/Border mainly from the Peacock manuscript (1800)