Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Old Gibson Waltz

The Old Gibson Waltz (mp3) (pdf)

This week's new tune is named for an old friend. Last Sunday night I was contemplating taking this wonderful instrument up to La Crosse, WI to visit our favorite local luthier, Carl Meine, at Dave's Guitar Shop. I thought I'd try and write an old-fashioned waltz and this is what came out.

I didn't know when I stopped at Dave's that another old Gibson would capture my attention. The guys there were very nice about letting me play the Loar F5 that they have on consignment (only $150,000 !) but while I was enjoying that process I kept coming back to another old Gibson on sale for a tiny fraction of the Loar's price.

Carl did his usual great job fixing up my A model but when I got home I was still thinking about the other Gibson. So the next day I returned with a couple of instruments to trade and now I have a second 1920s Gibson to keep my A model company.

Today's tune is recorded using the A model on the melody part and the new (to me) 1920 F4 playing the two harmony parts. I hope you enjoy the tune.

This post marks 20 weeks of 2017 with a new tune each week. I've got my fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Pilsen Jig - Mother's Day - Bates no. 18

Pilsen Jig (mp3) (pdf)
Mother's Day (live version mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 18 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

The photo above was taken on Friday afternoon from a scenic pullover overlooking the mighty Mississippi River, driving south on the Wisconsin side, somewhere in the Maiden Rock-Stockholm vicinity. We were taking the leisurely route back to Decorah after enjoying an inspiring matinee concert of the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra at the Ordway in St. Paul featuring Pekka Kuusisto, Sam Amidon, and Gabriel Kahane.

Friday also saw the official release of my new Mel Bay publication Playford for Mandolin. This release was accompanied by a spot on the front page of the Mandolin Cafe (thanks Scott!). You can check out some sample pages and the lengthy table of contents at the Mel Bay site.

Of course today is Mother's Day and I am including a link to a live Contratopia recording of my Mother's Day waltz above. I used this a couple of years ago also but I still like hearing it. Here is part of what I wrote back in 2014:

"I believe this recording was made on the Sunday morning of the Spring Dance Romance weekend in April of 2003 and I believe it was the first tune we played that morning. So it's a little ragged as we settle into our seats and loosen up our hands but it's a nice example of Contratopia at play in a relaxed mode. Somewhere in the middle I play the tune in the upper octave of my mandolin and there are a few humorous moments where I am clearly trying to figure out where the next note might be in that less familiar region of the fingerboard. Still, the good notes make up for the bad."

This week's new tune was finished up on Monday, which was being celebrated as VE (Victory in Europe) Day. As I searched for a title, knowing that the tune would appear in this blog on Mother's Day, I thought of my Dad. On the actual VE Day he would have been a very happy man. He was serving as an MP with the V Corps Headquarters and they had recently arrived in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia as part of the U.S. 3rd Army. Having survived a march across Western Europe I am sure that my Dad and his buddies had a fine celebration that day, they might even have danced a jig.

Today also celebrates the completion of my project to record all 18 of the duettinos published by William Bates around 1770. I have certainly enjoyed making these recordings and I hope that some readers have downloaded the score and spent a little time playing these pieces also.

I wanted to find a way to make it easier to find all of the recordings in one place and I decided that the simplest way would be to pull them together as an album and publish it on Bandcamp. So, if you would like to stream, for free, all, or any portion, of my Bates recordings you can go to this link. Of course you also have the option to purchase the album at a low, low price, which gets you access to high quality files that you can download, etc. 

This is a digital only collection and I have no intention of printing physical CDs. Much like my earlier Mandolin Tunes CD, these recordings were created primarily for this blog and collecting them this way was an afterthought.

Finishing the Bates collection also led me to update, ever so slightly, my Mandotopia page; both the home page and the Bates page.

Finally (is this the longest So Many Tunes post ever?) I realized this week that I forgot to include my Java John's setlist from 10 days ago. It's helpful for me to have these lists included here as I work on choosing pieces for each new solo mandolin gig. So below is the setlist from May 4, 2017:

Java John’s solo mandolin, May 4, 2017

Set 1
1. Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (Goodin) / O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Flowers of Edinburgh (James Oswald, 1710-1769)
2. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Frier’s Cowl
3. Goodin: Deer Track, May 19, 2013 / The First of May (trad.) / May Day Green
4. Goodin: Butterfly Prairie
5. Bach: Bouree I (from French Ouverture for Keyboard) (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)
6. Playford Tunes: Buskin / Blackheath
7. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Cowslip
8. Ave Regina Caelorum (plainchant)
9. Goodin: Old Annapolis / Sessions: Annapolis Friends (Erik Sessions)
10. Goodin: Deer Track, April 2017-1 / No Argument at All / Tolley’s Jig no. 5 / Conway to Lincoln
                                                           Set 2
1. Sauli: Partita VI for Mandolin (Filippo Sauli, c. 1710)
2. Bach: Bouree (from French Suite VI)
3. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Pyracantha
4. Goodin: Deer Track, May 30, 2013 / The Orsinian Waltz
5. Alman II (Robert Johnson, c. 1583-1633) / Chestnut (Playford collection)
6. Goodin: Pines West
7. Goodin: Deer Track, May 8-9, 2012
8. Bach: Allegro (from Flute Sonata, BWV 1033)(possibly by C.P.E. Bach)
9. Goodin: Toledo Moon
10. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Crown Imperial
11. Goodin: Shelter Dogs / Motion Detector

If you have read this far I think it's about time you should get out your instrument of choice and play some music!

Sunday, May 07, 2017

May Day Green - Bates no. 17

May Day Green (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 17 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

A busy day today so I'll be brief. Here's this week's new tune, written on May 1 while I was also spending some time exploring the wonders of James Bryan's version of "The First of May" from his classic album of the same name.

Here also is the second to last entry from the William Bates collection, no. 17. With luck I'll post the final number from that collection next weekend.

If you enjoy checking this blog from time to time you will almost certainly enjoy the brilliant work that Fergal Scahill (of We Banjo 3) is sharing with his "a tune a day - 2017" project over on facebook. Every day he posts a video of himself playing a tune on the fiddle, often with a friend or two to add to the fun. The quality of the playing is extraordinarily high. Don't try to catch up all at once though because yesterday was day 126, meaning that it would take around 4 hours to hear everything so far.
Here's the link:

Sunday, April 30, 2017

No Argument at All - Bates no. 16

No Argument at All (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 16 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

I wrote today's tune early in the week and enjoyed playing it at different tempos throughout the week. I finally settled on a slower, walking feel, perhaps influenced by watching the house pictured above move through our neighborhood at its measured pace on Wednesday morning. I'm standing at the intersection of Winneshiek Ave., 5th street and the Trout Run bicycle trail crossing as the house begins moving over the Upper Iowa prior to climbing the curvy Quarry Hill Road.

The tune itself feels good to play. It takes its title from Van Morrison's classic tune "Domino":

"There's no need for argument, there's no argument at all"

It was a good week for music, starting last Saturday night playing a dance at Tapestry with Pat's Propellers, including a very special guest who joined us on fiddle for most of the evening. Thursday night Erik Sessions and I played three short sets to three separate audiences in a lovely Decorah home as part of the Water Street Music Series' fund-raising event. We were able to play without mics and speakers and really enjoyed ourselves, largely thanks to the careful attention we received from each group of listeners.

Today, in a couple of hours, I have the honor of performing with the Luther College Chamber Orchestra during their spring concert. Only a few notes but each one is a special challenge for me and I am really looking forward to being a small part of the performance of Anton Webern's Five Pieces for Orchestra, op. 10.

The coming week promises to be much fun as well. On Thursday I will play a bunch of new music (to me) at my monthly Java John's gig. I have four James Oswald Airs for the Seasons ready to play along with some new pieces from J.S. Bach (including one that might have been written by C.P.E. Bach) and a number of my own recent tunes from this blog and elsewhere. I'm hoping to add a set or two of Renaissance and/or Playford tunes as well. Stop by if you are in town Thursday night.

On Saturday night May 6 (Derby Day) we will play for a Decorah contra dance at a new downtown location, the Lingonberry. Erik and I will play along with our Western Home String Band friends and Bill Deutsch will call the dances.

On Sunday evening, May 7, I will play with Foot-Notes at our first Highlandville dance in the newly refurbished schoolhouse. Check out the Foot-Notes fans FB page for some photos. Dance is from 7-10.

You can see I've got some practicing ahead of me this week.

Finally, here is Bates' duettino no. 16. Only two left after today.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Conway to Lincoln - Bates no. 15

Conway to Lincoln (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 15 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

This week's tune is titled in memory of drive we took one morning a couple of years ago on rt. 112, the Kancamagus highway, from Conway to Lincoln, New Hampshire. I'd love to do that again sometime. We were on our way to catch a flight out of Manchester we couldn't dawdle much but I hope next time we can.

Also, I'm adding no. 15 from Mr. Bates. Three to go.

This week on Thursday Erik Sessions and I will play some tunes as part of a fund raiser for the local Water Street Music Series. It's a progressive evening of food, drink and music held in three lovely local homes. And it's for a good cause. I think there are still a few tickets left.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tolley's Jig no. 5 - Bates no. 14

Tolley's Jig no. 5 (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 14 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

This week's tune is another jig named after Tolley the cat. The recording is a little wobbly but still fits within my flexible demo quality standard.

A careful listen will reveal that the tune is played 3 times. The first time a short guitar intro is followed by the melody on mandolin. The second time through a harmony mandolin part is added, more or less as written in the pdf above. The third time through I doubled the melody an octave down (with a couple of changes) during the A sections but I added a third harmony part in the B section. This extra harmony is not written but shouldn't be too hard to transcribe if you want to take the time.

Here also is Bates' duettino no. 14. That leaves four to go.

I hope you are enjoying this holiday weekend and that you have at least some spring weather this week.

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Deer Track, April 2017 no. 1 - Bates no. 13

Deer Track, April 2017 no. 1 (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 13 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

This week's new tune turned out to be another Deer Track piece. I had a lot of fun working with these notes. We've seen a little bit of spring-like weather this week which has made for some enjoyable walks around the city park system. (The picture above is not recent but is a good example of the kinds of deer paths that I often see on my walks.)

Musically this was an eventful week. Erik Sessions and I worked up a couple of new tunes, including last week's "Old Annapolis", to perform at an open mic event at Java John's on Wednesday. Then on Thursday night I played my monthly solo mandolin gig at JJ's. Here's the setlist:

Java John’s solo mandolin, April 6, 2017

Set 1
1. Swarbrick Sends a Tune to Iowa (Goodin) / O’Neill’s Favorite (trad.) / Flowers of Edinburgh (James Oswald, 1710-1769)
2. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Auricula
3. Goodin: Bear on the Beach / Sherwood & Brookes / Tolley’s Jig no. 4
4. Bach: Minuets 1 & 2 (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)
5: Goodin: Old Annapolis / Sessions: Annapolis Friends (Erik Sessions)
5. Sauli: Partita VI for Mandolin (Filippo Sauli, c. 1710)
6. Goodin: Red Hawk Schottische / Marin: Hundlaten (Mikael Marin, 1965- )
7. O’Carolan: Lady Gethin / Carolan’s Draught (Turlough O’Carolan, 1670-1738)
8. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Junquill
9. Goodin: Toledo Moon
10. Telemann: 1730 Menuets nos. 47 & 43 (G.P. Telemann, 1681-1767)
11. Bach: Partita no. 2 for solo violin: Allemanda (J.S. Bach, 1685-1750)

                                                           Set 2
1. Trad.: Old French / Morpeth Rant / The Rights of Man
2. Barbella: Sonata – GIMO 18 (Emmanuele Barbella, 1718-1777)
3. Goodin: From the Balcony / If Only Now /Paws Down
4. Oswald: Airs for the Seasons / The Crocus
5. Tallroth: Marsch i April (Roger Tallroth, 1958 - )/ Jarvela: Maknads Marsch (Arto Jarvela, 1964-) / Bach: March in G
6. Goodin: Deer Track, April 8, 2004 / Dunn Meadow / Canny Crow
7. Valentine: Allegro from Sonata no. 3 for Mandolin (Robert Valentine, 1671-1747)
8. Goodin: September Last
9. Bach: Bouree in Am
10. Goodin: Elkhart Freight / Motion Detector

I managed to play everything on the list with about 5 minutes to spare. I also had a great group of listeners, many who stayed for the whole two hours. I'm looking forward to next month already.

Many thanks to Mike Blevins for taking the candid photo above. It's a good shot of my recently acquired Weber Custom Vintage A oval hole mandolin. I used this mando for this week's recordings as well, along with a new set of Thomastik strings.

I was also able to play a few notes of Webern's op. 10 along with members of the Luther College Chamber Orchestra during two rehearsals this week. It is such a pleasure to sit in with these talented young musicians and to be conducted by Maestro Dan Baldwin. Our performance occurs on April 30 so I am trying to be prepared.

Finally, I sat down yesterday and recorded Bates no. 13, another fun tidbit from the 18th century.

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