Sunday, June 29, 2014

July 27, 2005 Duo

July 27, 2005 Duo (mp3) (pdf)

Another in my summer project to uncover, rework, record and share some short pieces from the past as friendly mandolin duos. Hope you enjoy today's installment.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Jig, July 11, 2011

Jig, July 11, 2011 (mp3) (pdf)

I came across this recording from 2011 tonight while looking for something else. I had forgotten all about this tune. I probably thought it wasn't quite up to snuff when I recorded it on July 13, 2011 but it sounds fine to me now, almost three years later. The recording is old enough now that I can't tell what guitar I'm playing but I suspect the mandolin is my faithful old Gibson A.

This tune is a bit unusual in having a half-diminished chord in the harmony of the B section. I suspect that fewer than one percent of all jigs from the folk tradition intentionally contain such a chord but, as always, I could be wrong. If you know of other jigs with mb7 chords I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Sand Island (1984)

Sand Island (1984) (mp3) (pdf)

Back in April 2008 (that's a long time ago in Blog Years) I posted a recording of one of my oldest tunes, "Sand Island." It was a then-recent recording made at Patrice Pakiz's house in Minneapolis by Contratopia (minus Patrice) while fooling around on a Saturday morning. We have played this tune in Contratopia throughout the life of the band, we keep moving it around from set to set because it "plays well with others" in the context of medleys of dance tunes.

This morning, while working on one of my instruments, I was listening to old recordings from 1984 and this early version of the tune caught my ear. This comes from the same cassette tape that I produced in my apartment with my old Fostex 4-track machine and that I talked about at some length back in a post from Oct. 12, 2013. If you haven't read that one you might enjoy some of my ramblings about future rock and pop stars who lived and played in my old Bloomington, Indiana neighborhood in those days.

Today's recording is notable to me because it begins with a flourish from a long-forgotten 12-string guitar that I used to own. I had an awful acoustic Kent 12-string in the mid-60s when I was just learning to play. (It was great for strengthening my hand although I was never able to exert enough force to sound all 12 strings while playing an F major bar chord at the 1st fret.) I also, for a few weeks, had an electric Hagstrom 12-string (a Rickenbacker was out of the question financially) but it fell apart under the strain of being tuned to pitch and played with teenage energy. It was returned for the Hagstrom 6-string that is still here with me. Finally, I purchased a Takamine 12-string in the early 80s that I kept for a few years. This, I think, is the guitar on this tape.

The recording has me playing the tune first on mandolin (my old Gibson, also here with me in the room today), then on my Flatiron octave (also still here), then with both instruments together. Then I play improvised choruses on each instrument, followed by a closing statement of the melody. (I was thinking in jazz even though the tune is a simple reel.) Somewhere in there I also added an electric bass track.

My recollection is that I didn't do lots of takes of the solos. I settled for what came out the first or second time, so they have a certain rough quality. Charming if you are being kind, sloppy if you take the other approach.

In any event, here's another step back in time. It's fun to hear my old self going at it. I've got a few more from this era that I'll post eventually.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

November 25, 2005

November 25, 2005 (mp3) (pdf)

Another tune from 2005 with a second part added. I believe that this tune was performed as a mandolin trio at the annual Burning Bright holiday concert in Decorah back in 2005. (Not actually in the concert, but during the pre-show music.) I dug out the earlier two part version and made some significant improvements to the second part for this version.

I also recorded a basic guitar track as a kind of continuo (and click track) for the mandolins in this recording. I hope you enjoy it.

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