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.

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Old Annapolis - Bates no. 12

Old Annapolis (mp3) (pdf)
Bates no. 12 (mp3 pt.1) (mp3 pt.2) (pdf score)

When Contratopia was out in the D.C. area a couple of weekends ago we had the opportunity to play a dance on the Saturday night in Annapolis, MD. We were able to spend a couple of hours in the afternoon playing tourist and we really enjoyed our visit. Today's new tune emerged last week and it seemed appropriate to give it this title.

Bates' divertimento no. 12 appears here also. Another charming example from his collection.

Last night in Minneapolis Contratopia would up its Fall 2016-Spring 2017 season, playing to an enthusiastic group of dancers. Even though it was a few gigs shorter than most years we had a really good season. We are planning ahead to next year and we haven't run out of ideas yet.

This week, on Thursday, I will be playing solo mandolin at Java John's in Decorah from 7:00-9:00. On Wednesday Java John's is hosting an Open Mic night and I will probably be playing a couple of tunes with Erik Sessions sometime during that event. Drop by either night if you are in town.

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