English concertina tune List (2)

My final list of tunes that I found in my notation folder is a collection of melodies that I played before one of my notes stopped working on my concertina. The note that failed is the top F# note which is important if playing in the keys of G and D; basically all of the session tunes, it is a very popular note.

By losing it I had to think of what to do and what to play. I could have opened up the concertina and tried to fix the problem, with the danger in re-sealing the case, that the reeds were in, not being air tight again and destroying the whole concertina; or that I salvage the melodies what I could and transpose them to another key. I did the latter.

The list of tunes is an example of the melodies I played before the note stopped playing. They are common tunes you would find in a Northumbrian Session, most are taken from the Small pipe’s repertoire and tune books. There are a few Spanish melodies, as I play Spanish pipes and I really liked the melodies. It is a reflection of what music I was involved in at that time. I may have got some of the tunes in the wrong groupings, but who cares!

Spanish Tunes
Bolero de Santa Maria (Mallorca)
Danza Daz Burgos (Galician)
Catalan Waltz
St. Joan (Catalan)
Arrastar de Banabarre (Catalan)
Ball Pla del Pallars (Catalan)

Border Bagpipe Tunes
Gallowa Tam
Wedding O’Blyth
Lindesfarne

Swedish Tunes
Schottish (Swedish tune)
Vals and Englska (Swedish tunes)

Northumbrian tunes
Jimmy Alan/ Salmon Tails up the Water (Northumbrian)
Wild Hills O’Wannies (Northumbrian)
Biddy the Bold Wife
Happy Farmer
Jane’s Fancy
Fare Well
Butter’s Peas
Proudlock’s Hornpipe
Lamb Skinnet
Peacock Followed the Hen
8 o’clock in the morning
Peacocks Fancy

Irish Tunes
Saddle the Pony (Irish)
Blackthorn Stick
Nancy
Mrs Thompson’s Hornpipe
Spanish Cloak
2 O’Carolan tunes
Autumn child
Dingle Regatta

Highland Scottish
Inner seer
Crooked Bawbee (Scots)
Dark Island
Margret’s Waltz

French Tunes
French Buree
Crested Hens
La Sassonette

Cumbrian Tune
Ulverston volunteers

There is a few Border melodies in the list, this must reflect the notation book “Over the Hills and Far Away” complied by Matt Seattle; whom I had done a workshop with on the border Pipes and these melodies crept into the concertina repertoire.

The Swedish tunes reflect my long standing interest in Swedish Sackpipa and Nickelharpa music, I used to visit Sweden for many years and I learn a few tunes from the people I had met there.

The French, Galician, Catalan and Mallorcan tunes show the influence living in Spain had on me, as they were played at a folk music bar “Taberna Elisa” we went to a lot. They are tunes written in the key of C but I would have played then in the key of G; the Galician tune was written in the key of D and I would have played it in that key (and still do).

Today I do not play a lot of these tunes due to the missing F# note, but I have transposed a lot of them in to the key of C and they work fine, the ones I have left out is due to the technicalities of playing in C and some tunes do not transpose well. The Spanish tunes are in their original key, the French tunes I dropped due to the key change.

English Concertina Tune List

Another list of tunes I found is for the English concertina. This is a catalogue of tunes I play and also a “to do” list. The first grouping of tunes have a “tick” next to them, I have no idea why I did this as some tunes I know and some I do not know.

Marquis of Lorne
Flowers of Edinburgh
Circassia Circle
Peacemakers Hornpipe
Steamboat
Navvies on the Line
Soldiers Joy
Come over the Stream Charlie
Jimmy Alan
Saddle the Pony
Sir Sidney Smith’s March
Nancy
3 Swedish tunes
1 Spanish tune
2 Belgium tunes
Butter’d Peas
When the king Comes O’er the Water
1 French tune
Random
Saltarello (medieval)

These tunes have no “tick” next to them; some tunes I know and others I do not:

Corn Riggs
Staten Island
Keel Row
Wild Hills O’Wannies
Irish Washerwoman
Fenwick O’Bywell
Jackey Layton,
Felton Lonning
Lochan Side
Banks of Alan Water
Loch Ruan
Rabs Wedding
Hills of Glentruin
Gelendarel Highlanders
Water of Tyne
I’ll Gang Nae Mair to Yon Toun
Proudlocks hornpipe
Biddle the Bold Wife
Stockton hornpipe
Minstrels Fancy
Lads of the North Tyne
Friendly Visit
Peacocks Tunes
High Level Bridge Hornpipe
New High Level
Bonny Craigside
Manchester Hornpipe
Nae Good Luck Around the House
Burn’s Tune
Bouree Tournante
Danza das Burgaz (Spanish)
Hazelwood (3/4 time)
Gentle Maiden
Harvest Home
Father O’Flynn
Dingle Regatta
Milltown jig
South Wind

On the other side of the page is a list of Cumbrian tunes I intended to play:

Lonsdale hornpipe
Cumberland Nelly
Northern Nanny
Cumberland Waltz
Kendal Waltz
Kendal hornpipe
Kendal Reel
Keswick Bonny Lasses
Ulverston Volenteers
Gilsland Hornpipe
Brampton Reel
Calgarth Hornpipe
Windermere Regatta
Dalston Forge
Latrigg Side
Raughton Head
Briggham hornpipe
Elterwater Hornpipe
Elterwater Quickstep
Cumberland Reel
Annan Polka

Next to these tunes, but written in pencil, is a list of mainly Irish melodies I intended to play:

Drink of Water
Morning Star
Madame Bonapart
Shaskeen
Hardiman the Fiddler
Coileach na lae (slide)
Colemans No 2
Ar eireann ni eanfainn cehi
Scot Mary
Memories
Gypsy Lullaby
South Wind (O’Carolan)

This list must have been an early collection of tunes I played and intended to play. Perhaps I was forming a repertoire to perform in the future; with a mixture of Scottish Highland melodies, Irish and Northumbrian melodies. Some tunes are from fiddle books, and piping books and scraps of notation I had collected along the way. The mainland European tunes I had collected while living and visiting these countries, collected from libraries and from people.

This list was never performed, I have learned many of the tunes since then, but I did not learn many of the Cumbrian melodies nor the Irish melodies. The Highland bagpipe melodies I learned some of them, but now I play other melodies that not on this list too. It seems my intention was diverted onto other tunes and styles.

Today I play a lot more Northumbrian and Scottish Border Bagpipe tunes on my English Concertina, mainly in the key of C and D and only playing a few melodies in the Key of G. this is due to one of my notes failing to sound, therefore I had to change my repertoire to play melodies that omitted this note. Before the loss of the note, I was playing a lot of session melodies in G, D and A keys; as this was the reason why I bought the concertina, the list goes someway to represent a session tune list for this area; but there are also tunes that do not, especially the Cumbrian tunes.

Playford Dance Melodies

For several weeks now I have been playing for a dance group in a village hall near to Penrith. I play English Concertina with an accordionist and baritone English concertina. We play Playford melodies and the dancers form lines and swing their partners, a bit like a dance in a Jane Austin novel.

The format consists of 1 melody per dance and as the dances can go on, sometime for 15 minutes, it can be quite hypnotic, monotonous, entertaining, beautiful and taxing. Let’s say you get to know the melody well, it repeats and repeats. This is different to dances in Cumbria and the Borders as we often join a few melodies together to keep the dancer and the musician from getting bored. The melodies are different to the folk music I am used to playing, but I like it, different keys and finger patterns keep me learning new things about the concertina.

I have only known Playford melodies by playing a few pipe tunes, but Playford uses a range which is well beyond a 9 note chanter, so a concertina is ideal as often different keys are played and although they do not lend themselves easily to the finger patterns of the concertina, one can easily get used to them.

They are old melodies, mainly from England, roughly around the period of the 18th century. I had not played many of them as my version of the manuscript has been in “ABC” format and I am not comfortable with that, but there are a wide range of notated books that I follow.

The dancers are elderly; they belong to an organization that offers a wide range of activities, a dance group being just one of the activities. It is a small group, but there are larger ones and I think in the south of England they can be quite popular, with young people joining in.

For me it has been a new and interesting experience. It has led me to other activities connected with dancing and the experience of playing for dancing is quite different compared to solo playing or playing in a session. I am learning about tempo and group dynamics, which has added to my understanding of these old melodies and dance culture.

New English Concertina CD

I have started a new English Concertina CD, and I have been making some recordings this week and trying out my new microphones. I bought a new microphone for my concertina that has dual heads, 2 mics leading to one volume control. I can attach 2 mics to both ends of the concertina to get a balanced sound. The sound is excellent, not trebly or hissy. I can set a good level on the DAW.

I am playing tunes that I busk with, so they are well rehearsed and it does not take me long to record. The last CD was with a lot of new tunes and the whole process took me a long time to complete. I like the old CD, but perhaps it is not a representative of how I am playing and what I am playing while busking. The old CD was a mixture of Lowland Scots, Northern Spanish and Northumbrian melodies but with this one I am including some Irish into the mix as well.

I will be including other instruments too; the mandolin will be used to add extra rhythm to the melodies, and a bodhran on certain tracks for percussion. I also want to include a track with all instruments together including small pipes. The dominant instruments will be the concertina and mandolin, and the other instruments will be added for texture.

A New Musical Project

I have been playing more these days, learning new tunes… sometimes I do not practice for weeks, but these days I am learning a new repertoire for concertina, Scottish small pipes, Northumbrian Small pipes and Spanish gaita. This increase in playing could be because of a new project I have started with a Spanish fiddler called Alba. She lives in Madrid and we have decided to play together and start performing in public. We have known each other now for a few years and have a repertoire already, so it is a case of finalizing it and practicing. 
We are playing familiar and unfamiliar tunes from Northern Spain and the Scottish and English Borders… some from Ireland too. But we hope we are “highlighting” our musical “accents” not copying a style but interpreting the music in our own way…  using our musical culture and nationality/s to change the melody… to add and take away something.

I am playing Spanish melodies in a Border/Northumbria style… (we are limiting ourselves to areas such as Galicia, Zamora, Asturias, Basque, Catalonia, Mallorca…) and Alba is playing Northumbrian/Scottish Border melodies in a Spanish style… so a jig is not really a jig and a jota is not really a jota… the Irish melodies are not played in an “Irish style”, but something “foreign” to both of us!
It is an interesting project, finding a name, exploring the music and trying to practicing while we are in our own countries and meeting when we can… but we hope by spring 2015 we will be ready and performing live.

We have a set list worked out and it is an interesting mix of music, this list will probably change as time progresses so it is interesting to record it for now:
Zontzico / Morfa Rhuddlan (Basque/Welsh)
Old Drops of Brandy (Borders)
O’Carolyn Set (Irish)
Alloa House / Romances (Scottish/Zamora)
Mr. Prestons Hornpipe (Borders)
Sir John Fenwicks (Northumbrian)
Newmarket Races (Northumbrian)
Jackey Layton (Northumbrian)
Ann Thou Were My Ain Thing (Borders)
Autumn Child / Rights of Man / Proudlock’s Hornpipe (Irish)

Morigana in Spain / Welcome to Vigo / The Spanish Cloak (Northumbrian/Scottish/Irish)
Redondela / Saddle the Pony (Galician/Irish)
Noble Squire Dacre / Go to Bewick Johnny (Northumbrian)
Basque melody / Roxburgh Castle / Hesleyside Reel (Basque/Northumbrian)
Bollero de St. Maria / Zamora Melody (Mallorca/Zamora)
Galician Melody / Frisky (Galicia/Northumbria)
Highland Laddie (Borders)
Loch Ryan / Bonny Millar (Scottish Highland/Borders)
This probably needs more Spanish melodies… or to take away a few UK melodies … early days yet !!
The instruments will vary also, Alba plays violin and a Baroque violin, this depends if I am playing concertina (440c) or Northumbrian Small pipes (415c)…

New Pipe/Concertina CD

It has been nearly 5 years since I made my last CD on the Bagpipes, but I have begun to make another one quite recently, not surprisingly it is made up from the environment I have been living in for the past 3 years…Spain and Sweden and of course the Scottish Borders. I became aware that a lot of the melodies I have been learning, listening too and practicing have not been melodies from my own region (I guess this is why I made a effort to learn new Border Pipe melodies – see “New Melodies for the Border Pipes” blog post below).

This new CD are mainly melodies from Northern Spain (Catalonia, Sanabria, Galicia) and these reflect the contacts I have had during my time there, they are not only notes or notation, but memories and people, places and times.

Another group of melodies are from Sweden, a country I like very much and have spent time kayaking and enjoying the nature, Their music fits very well into the Northumbrian Small Pipe fingering and scale range. Some of these melodies I learned from a harpist I play with in the UK, we play only ‘non-British’ melodies from France, Sweden and Spain and these will also be included on the CD mainly Scottisches and bourrées.

A few Belgium/Nederland tunes will be there too, I got these melodies when I lived in Amsterdam in the 1980s and I remember my time there through these tunes.
And of course there will be a few Northumbrian melodies with a 2nd voice/harmony to accompany the pipes. I will also include the English concertina  on some of the melodies either to accompany the leading melody or to add a 2nd harmony. Since the Northumbrian Small Pipes are ‘somewhere’ between a F and a F# I have to correct the pitch of the concertina!

The Cd is enjoyable to do but it takes many hours work, and this is only with the recordings…not to mention the mixing, production, CD design and printing…

Pipes, Concertina and Boat.

I have been back from Madrid now for 4 days and I have busy with one thing and another.

Monday i went to the boat to check on her, she was fine, the strong winds had blown off a section of tarp and i tied it down with more ropes as the strong winds are not finished yet and bailed a little water out from the bilges. I brought the seat covers home to be cleaned.

I tired busking in Carlisle from 4pm until 6pm tuesday and wednesday, but it was slow. It is a time i normally do not play, but since i was going to be in town in the evenings i thought i would give it a try, anyways it is good for practising if nothing else.

Thursday, I played some European melodies on the concertina: Galician, French and Swedish in preparation for a practise next week with the harpist. Later, I got the Border pipes out and practised for tomorrow’s session in Langholm with 2 other Border pipers. The melodies are long, and I am out of practise with the runs and keeping the instrument steady, but they sounded good and relatively in tune to concert pitch “A”…amazing. I mended the strap on my bellows to make it more secure, as it has a habit of coming off in mid-tune. Played more in the evening until my ears rang!

The "Jackie" Concertina

The “Jackie” English is a 2 octave chromatic concertina I bought from Barleycorn Concertinas about 3 months ago. I have been playing it nearly every day since I bought it trying to establish a repertoire I can busk with this summer as well as my Northumbrian Small Pipes and Border Pipes. It is my first concertina I own, I did start off with a Hohner Anglo 20 button concertina in Bb but it was badly out of tune and the bellows leaked. I had some music notation of the Northumbrian Pipes with harmonies and I wanted to play this music on the concertina, I found the 20 button Anglo limiting on the harmony line so I decided to switch techniques and buy the English system instead. I later found out that the harmonies are equally difficult to play on the English as the fingering is not as easy as on the Anglo, but with practice it is ok; but I do believe by trying the two systems out that the Anglo is the easier of the two to get a basic harmonic accompaniment for a basic folk melody.
The Jackie has accordion reeds, but the action is good, light and strong, the springs are good and I think will last a long time. The fingering is ok except for a few notes in the bass nearest the finger straps that are hard to get at, but again with practise and by using different fingers one can reach them alright. It is bigger and heavier than the Hohner but that is to be expected and it is quite loud and I think it is a good choice for busking or playing with a group, and since I play a range of UK and European melodies I can get the different semitones that sometimes occur in the scale of foreign melodies.
I enjoy playing melodies in their right key, and not having to think too much about in which direction to pump air. I am trying to memorize new melodies and relearn my pipe melodies, so I am concentrating on UK fiddle tunes: reels, hornpipes, polkas etc. As well as some melodies from Sweden and Spain, I am getting these into my head and starting to play them from memory, and trying to play around with the melodies to make them ‘live’ and not just to play ‘dots on a page’. It is progressing nicely.

Harp and Concertina

WE visited a harpist near to our home today. She has busked over Europe and now makes her living by playing small festivals and doing a lot of weddings. She is a good player and when we meet we tend to play European melodies mainly from Sweden, Spain and France, but also some melodies from Turkey, Czech Republic, Belgium and Medieval, but strangely enough not British or Irish! I play the Northumbrian pipes and the Turkish Ney – an open-ended cane flute. We have been playing together for a few months now and are working on a CD and a repertoire to go playing this spring, do a few gigs and some busking.
Later that evening at home I played my English concertina, trying to play from memory the tunes I have been trying to memories since I bought it (about 3 months ago). With this instrument I play English fiddle music, a few Irish melodies, and Northumbrian and European melodies. The beauty with the concertina is that it has a range of 2 octaves and it is chromatic so most melodies are in range for me now. There is no transposing or worrying about the range, it is already tuned and it is ready to play, and I do frequently. I played for about an hour and a half, but I need more practise if I am to busk with it this year.
I got an e-mail from a fellow Border piper arranging a meeting next week over the border in Scotland that is good as I would like to play Border pipes now; it has been such a long time!