Friday, May 17, 2019

Dug Road Rag

Dug Road Rag (mp3) (pdf)

A little over a month ago (around April 10th according to the image above) I was enjoying playing some ragtime tunes from the excellent book Ragtime for Fiddle & Mandolin by Stephen C. Parker, edited by Alan Davis. After playing a number of tunes from the book I found myself playing a "new" tune that is clearly an imitation of the work of the masters of the ragtime era. Some bits of it are borrowed from those masters but a few of the phrases are mine.

The image above from my notebook shows how the tune began and the pdf of the resulting sheet music shows where it ended up. (I almost always write music with a pen, partly because I change my mind a lot. If I use a pencil and then erase things as I go along I find that, later, I wish for the ideas that I erased.)

The recording is a no frills statement of the melody on the mandolin without accompaniment.

The Dug Road in Decorah was once an actual road but today is one of the most beautiful parts of the Trout Run Trail.

Hope you enjoy the tune!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Two for Texas, pt. 2 (live from CMSA Santa Rosa, November 17, 2018)

Two for Texas, pt. 2 (mp3) (pdf score)

Last month I posted an audio recording of a performance from the Saturday Open Mic session of the 2018 Classical Mandolin Society of America convention in Santa Rosa, CA. This month we have video evidence featuring a chamber group of plucked string instruments (including me in a ball cap playing a very fine Collings MT-O mandolin), augmented by a trio of recorders, from the same lunchtime session. I'm also including links to an mp3 recording of the performance and a pdf of the score.

I was greatly honored to have so many of my CMSA friends (plus a couple of folks I didn't know before this who were doing this for their friends) spend the time to work on the music in advance of our only rehearsal. That rehearsal had occurred around 11:00 the night before. Despite our lack of practice together I think you will find very few mistakes if you follow the score.

Two for Texas was commissioned in 2012 by the Dutch mandolin orchestra ONI (led by Cor Roozendaal) and the Rio Brazos Recorder Trio. This came following a big fun weekend in May of 2010 traveling around the Dallas-Fort Worth area with ONI+ and the Rio Brazos trio. I had this opportunity thanks to Alice Derbyshire, Alberdina Markus-Gronefeld and Cor Roozendaal. ONI+ was playing my Louisville Suite on this tour and thought it would be fun to meet me. We all had a terrific time. 

The performance here, by a stellar group of CMSA convention attendees recruited and organized by Alice Derbyshire, was the North American premiere of the piece. We only played the second part of the piece, due to time constraints.

I've written a few pieces for recorders over the years but this was the first time I was ever asked to write for mandolin orchestra and recorder trio. I had a lot of fun adding a "horn section" to the plucked string ensemble sound. 

Special thanks to Sue Weber for agreeing to conduct this group and for doing such a fine job, with minimal rehearsal, of pulling us together. Thanks also to Authentic Audio & Sound and especially to Michael Tognetti for capturing the moment and preparing this video.

The enthusiastic applause at the end was very gratifying and is indicative of the spirit that prevails throughout the CMSA conventions, especially during the Open Mic sessions.

Saturday, May 04, 2019

What Hears Follows (2019 solo version)

What Hears Follows (2019 solo version) (mp3) (pdf)

Today's piece, recorded this morning, began with the title May 30, 2007. Sometime before the publication of my Midwestern Mandolin Duos book in 2010 I added a second part and called it "What Hears Follows."

I have played around with extracting a newer solo version from the duo more than once since 2010 but, recently, I settled on this version. There are some new notes but the piece is more or less the same as the original from May of 2007.

It's a comfortable piece to play on the mandolin and, if you choose, can be a good exercise in playing in the second position with brief movements up to third position.

I performed the duo version of this piece at least once at Luther College years ago with the brilliant flutist Carol Hester. I also performed the piece at the 2012 Classical Mandolin Society of America's annual convention in Minneapolis. This performance was part of a short set with Robert Margo, my partner in the Duo Oswald. You can find an mp3 of this performance on this page by scrolling down to Thursday Night Open Mic in the right hand column.

The title What Hears Follows is another phrase borrowed from the poetry of Wendell Berry. It appears in a poem titled "The Strait" from his 1982 collection The Wheel. The hummingbird figures in this poem as well.

I hope you enjoy this little piece. It's a lovely spring day here in Decorah.
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