Saturday, January 30, 2010

January 2010-5 (Hold That Thought)

Hold That Thought (mp3) (pdf)

Here's a tune from March of 2008 that I recorded today as a slower reel. You can certainly play it faster if you want. I used a recently acquired old Gibson A Jr. mandolin, which has some intonation and tuning issues but sounds really good, to my ears, on this track.

The photo is of the restored Harmonist labyrinth at New Harmony, Indiana, taken in March of 2009.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

January 2010-4 (Deer Track, Jan. 29, 2009)

Deer Track, January 29, 2009 (mp3)(pdf)

Back in 2005 I built a web page that contained links to recordings and music for a number of short solo mandolin pieces that I titled Deer Tracks. I have continued composing these short pieces from time to time and here is one that was written nearly a year ago on January 29, 2009.

I really enjoy working on these pieces, following their trails to see where they lead. Sometimes I have to double back and try a different path but usually they wind around to a familiar place for me.

If you approach these as a player my clue to you is that these pieces are usually easier than they appear. Often a simple fingering pattern will produce seemingly odd results. My goal is not to create something "different" or "original" (this is obvious to the serious composers out there), I'm just following certain pathways to see where they go.

If you are interested in some really cool, recently composed music for solo mandolin let me recommend the two books of Caprices that composer David Loeb has generously made freely available through the Mandolin Cafe website this past week. You can find them by following the links in this discussion thread. The great mandolinist Joe Brent deserves much thanks for sharing this new music.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

January 2010-3

Wintergreen Waltz (mp3) (pdf) (photo by Pat O'Loughlin)

It's nearly time for Wintergreen 2010, a dance weekend in Bozeman, Montana that is near and dear to our hearts in the Contratopia band. We've been honored to play three times at this great January event and, while we won't be there this year, it looks like it will be a great time again. It appears that there may be a few spots left so Bozeman is the place to be if you are looking for a great dance event next weekend. Music by Crowfoot and our friends Weatherwood, calling by Asheville's Adina Gordon and sound by Mitchell Frey.

Last year on the Sunday afternoon following the last dance our long-suffering hosts, Rab and Mitch, took Erik, Patrice and Pat to a local hot spring for a good soak. I was too beat even for that so I stayed at the house by the fire with the dog. Before I fell asleep I started writing a waltz using Rab's fine guitar but I painted myself into a musical corner and let it go.

Sometime later I took a fresh look at the tune and turned it into what you see here as the Wintergreen Waltz. I'll see if I can get the Western Home String Band to play it next Saturday at our dance here in Decorah in honor of our friends out west.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

January 2010-2

Shepherd's Purse (mp3) (pdf)

A tune from March 2009, vaguely Scottish. In my mind related to the wonderful tunes that James Oswald collected and composed in the first half of the 18th century. The title, as far as I can tell, is not one that he used for any of his 96 Airs for the Seasons sonatas which I have spent many hours enjoying.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

January 2010-1

Lawn Chair Night (mp3) (pdf)

OK, so 2009 was really So Few Tunes. But it's a New Year and we'll see how Many Tunes make it to this blog in 2010. There certainly are plenty of tunes laying about, it's just the Process that takes time.

Here in lovely Decorah there is a summertime tradition of free concerts every Thursday evening at the courthouse square. These Lawn Chair Night shows are always entertaining and I've often had the privilege of performing there as a member of one band or another.

The first group I became a member of after moving to Iowa went by the somewhat ill-considered name of Just Four Guys. There were in fact (at least at the start) just four of us, and we were all guys. By the end of our short career we often had five or even six members and we sometimes included non-guys as well.

Our first Lawn Chair Night performance was particularly memorable because of a typo on the poster advertising the summer roster of performers. Rather than Four Guys we became, unfortunately, Just For Guys. Lord only knows what the faithful Lawn Chair Night audience expected that evening but I remember that there were plenty of females in the audience despite our forbidding name.

Rumor has it that Just Four Guys may reunite in 2010 for a few select gigs and, if so, I hope to convince the now older and wiser gentlemen in the band to include this tune in our set. Chord-playing musicians will note that the parenthetical chords in the B section of the tune are meant to be played on the repeat of the B section only.

The photo is a reminder of warmer days. In fact an afternoon in the 90s (farenheit) spent last August at beautiful King's Landing in New Brunswick. It was well below zero here last night in Decorah but the sun is out this morning.
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