Sunday, January 15, 2017

Big Tree Down - Casselman by Rail - Bates no. 1


Big Tree Down (mp3) (pdf) (pdf harmony)
Casselman by Rail (mp3) (pdf)
William Bates Duettino no. 1 (mp3 pt. 1) (mp3 pt. 2) (pdf score in G)

Today's tune, Big Tree Down, began its life as "January 9, 2017." The Big Tree in question, pictured above, began its life many years before that but it was felled this past week. It provided shade, shelter for squirrels (a mixed blessing) and many leaves in the autumn. A large, dangerous, split developed recently and its time ran out. This photo was taken shortly before the crew arrived.

Casselman by Rail appears in my Midwestern Mandolin Duos book, one of many tunes inspired by my trips on Amtrak's Capitol Limited route.

The Bates Duettino is the first in his set of 18, published in London around 1770. I would like to eventually record them all but you are welcome to do it first, if you like. They are pleasant pieces from the heyday of the popularity of the "guittar" in England, a wire-strung, cittern-like instrument not to be confused with today's guitar. You can read a little more about this music here.

I'll be playing another of my monthly solo mandolin gigs at Java John's Coffee House in Decorah this Tuesday (Jan. 17) from 7 to 9. I'm still building the set list but it will contain at least 3 of James Oswald's (another composer who wrote for the "guittar") Airs for the Seasons. I plan to choose 3 of the Winter sonatas. I will also be premiering my version of Filippo Sauli's fourth Partita for Mandolin and I will play a few pieces by J.S. Bach. I'll also probably play Big Tree Down and last week's Waltz for the New Year as well. Stop by if you are in town, no cover.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Waltz for the New Year, 2017


Waltz for the New Year, 2017 (mp3) (pdf)

Today's post marks the beginning of the second decade of this blog. Begun as an experiment in January 2007 I never for a moment imagined that I would still be using this platform in 2017. Of course for long stretches of time, most recently November and December 2016, I haven't added any content but with a new year comes new resolve.

On New Year's Day I wrote most of today's tune. I tinkered with it some on Monday and Tuesday and did some recording on Friday.

 I also had some fun this week working with a trio sonata composed by my old friend G.P. Telemann for transverse flute, violin and continuo. My Barenreiter edition tells me this was the "third of a collection of six trio sonatas with different instrumentation which Telemann had engraved in copper by Benjamin Kenckel", all six featuring the violin as one of the instruments.

In this post I am presenting an arrangement of part IV of the sonata, the concluding Vivace, for two mandolins (or mandolin and violin, etc.). In arranging this music for two mandolins I have pulled notes and phrases from the bass line to provide material for each player during what were measures of rest in the original. I will include recordings and the sheet music below.

Telemann: Trio Sonate in G, IV. Vivace (mp3) (pdf)

Finally, the photo above was taken moments ago (around 9:30 a.m.) looking out of my studio window. You will note that it is still rather cold here this morning, -4 or so last night, but it promises to warm up to around 17 degrees Fahrenheit this afternoon.

I hope you enjoy the music.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos. 9 & 10


Postcards From the Crater no. 9: Dunning's Spring Falls (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 10: Dug Road (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

As promised in my last post, here are the final two pieces from my new collection. A handful of very observant mandolinists may recognize postcard no. 10, here titled "Dug Road." It appears in my Midwestern Mandolin Duos publication, arranged for two mandolins, as "Divertimento in G." Here it is presented as a solo piece in the key of C.

I'll be packing up a box of these books to take out to Valley Forge this week for the CMSA convention. I hope to leave a few of them behind in the hands of friendly mandolin, mandola and mandocello players. If you are at convention stop by and take a look.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos. 5 & 7


Postcards From the Crater no. 5: Pines West (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 7: Lower Palisades (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

My plan is to make recordings of all 10 of these Postcards available before the Classical Mandolin Society of America annual convention convenes outside of Philadelphia next week. I will have copies of my new Postcards From the Crater book for sale there and I want to be able to point to these recordings when people ask where they can hear how the pieces might sound. I intend to post the final 2 Postcards early next week before I head out to Valley Forge.

I will have plenty of copies of the book with me at the convention, even a few copies in alto clef for CGDA mandola players and bass clef for mandocellists. (Octave mandolin/mandola players can always just play from the standard treble clef edition.) Hopefully I won't be bringing as many copies home as I take with me. Did I mention that the new book will cost a mere $10?

The photo above was taken a few years ago while walking on the stretch of road I consider the "lower palisades", a little earlier in the Fall.




Thursday, October 20, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos: 3 & 4


Postcards From the Crater no. 3: Phelps Park Bandshell (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 4: Twin Springs Meadow (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

Here are two more recordings of Postcards from the new book. I played these, along with the other eight, at Java John's on Tuesday night. Here's the setlist from that gig:


Java John’s solo mandolin, October 18, 2016

Set 1
1. Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (Goodin) / O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Flowers of Edinburgh (James Oswald, 1710-1769)
2. Oswald: Divertimento II for solo mandolin
3. Postcards From the Crater no. 1: Twin Bridges
4. Deer Track, June 9, 2013 / Hogwart’s Express / Highlandville, May 2004
5. Postcards From the Crater no. 2: Butterfly Prairie
6. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 4 & 14 (G.P. Telemann, 1681-1767)
7. St. Louis Railyard
8. Postcards From the Crater no. 3: Phelps Park Bandshell
9. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Capsicum
10. Postcards From the Crater no. 4: Twin Springs Meadow
11. Alice’s Garden
12. Postcards From the Crater no. 5: Pines West

                                                           Set 2
1. Postcards From the Crater no. 6: Ice Cave Road
2. Sauli: Partita for Mandolin III (Filippo Sauli, c. 1710)
3. Postcards From the Crater no. 7: Lower Palisades
3. Bach: Bourees I & II, 3rd Cello Suite (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)
4. Postcards From the Crater no. 8: The Mighty Oak
5. Deer Track October 2002
6. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Ambrosia
7. Postcards From the Crater no. 9: Dunning’s Spring Falls
8. Telemann: Menuets 1728 – no. 1 & 2
9. Postcards From the Crater no. 10: Dug Road

Thanks to everyone who came out to JJ's to hear the music, whether intentionally or not.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Postcards From the Crater: nos. 1 & 2


Postcards From the Crater no. 1: Twin Bridges (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)
Postcards From the Crater no. 2: Butterfly Prairie (pt. 1 mp3) (pt. 2 mp3) (pt. 3 mp3)

Here is a second installment of Postcards sound recordings. I hope to post the remaining 6 by the end of the month.

As stated in my previous post, these are short pieces modeled after James Oswald's 18th century divertimentos for "guittar" and titled after some of my favorite places here in the Decorah area.

The photo above was taken in July 2015 while walking our dog in what is officially known as the Community Prairie and Butterfly Garden.

I'll be playing all ten of these Postcards tomorrow night at Java John's Coffee House, along with music by James Oswald and others, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Drop by if you would like to hear some solo mandolin music.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Postcards from the Crater previews


Postcards from the Crater no. 8: The Mighty Oak (1st pt. mp3) (2nd pt. mp3) (3rd pt. mp3)
Postcards from the Crater no. 6: Ice Cave Road (1st pt. mp3) (2nd pt. mp3) (3rd pt. mp3)

Early in 2016 I started writing short pieces modeled after the Divertimentos that James Oswald composed and published in the 1750s in London. At this point I have nine of these pieces that I like well enough to share, each with three short movements.

I've been playing them before or after Oswald's own pieces during my solo mandolin coffee house gigs this year and now my plan is to turn them into a small book that I intend to have available at the Classical Mandolin Society of America annual convention in Valley Forge, early next month.

I recorded a couple of these this morning and I'm posting them here as a start towards recording them all before the book is published. Musicians often ask if there are sound files to go with my books and I haven't usually taken the time (and it does take me some time to create acceptable recordings) to do that.

Postcards from the Crater is the working title for the collection. This is a breakthrough for me because creating titles is a constant problem and I was quite pleased when this popped into my mind. A couple of years ago we learned that our little town sits on top of a meteorite crater, you can read more about it here.

Using the Crater as a way to gather the pieces under one meteoric umbrella allows me to think about titles for each individual divertimento. I still have a couple of weeks before I have to finalize those titles so for this blog I will use the numbers that I currently have for them.

So here are recordings of Postcards no. 8 and no. 6. I should mention that all of these pieces will be easy to intermediate in their difficulty and they should equally fun to play on the fiddle. See what you think.....
 
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