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Everything posted by Steve_W

  1. Have you heard Angus Grant, Junior? If so, what do you think of him? Certainly not traditional... but I like him! BTW, was this at Rocky Mountain Fiddle Camp? That's on my list of camps to get to one of these years. -Steve
  2. There are some good quicktime video examples of differences in intonation on the Violin Masterclass site here. In particular, the one on playing with a piano explains how a violinist needs to adjust to play against the equal temperament, and the one on the quartet talks about adjustments needed between the cello and violin, and how moving from just to pythagorean intervals can color the sound. Although the differences in intonation are probably generally not apparent to a casual listener, they can be heard if you pay attention (perfect pitch has nothing to do with it, since in this case what you hear are the intervals, not the specific notes). I play a lot with a pianist for dances and when doing so, usually use an eletronic (equally-tempered scale) tuner to tune all 4 strings, instead of tuning perfect fifths. It may not be really necessary, but it makes me feel better; although it gives me one less factor to blame for my faulty intonation. -Steve
  3. "These days we have fewer and fewer players who represent a particular regional style (old school) and more who play a little Irish, a little Texas Swing, a little Old Time, some Scottish, maybe some Klezmer.... etc." Here we have the "California Celtic" style; mainly a mish-mash of the various Irish and Scottish styles, with a bit of old-timey or Texas-style thrown in for good measure! I guess that if you're exposed to a bunch of influences, you can't help incorporating them in your playing. Cape Breton fiddling has apparently survived without much outside influence, at least until recently! This may mean that it's closer to the historical Highland fiddle style than what's currently being played in Scotland, but that's debatable; personally I think that innovation creeps in over the years no matter how much you try to stay traditional. At any rate, I agree with you about Natalie. I have most of her CDs and my favorites are her early ones where she was still playing solely in a traditional style: Fit as a Fiddle and A Compilation; and the newer ones where she stays close to tradition: My Roots are Showing, and the recent one she did with Buddy. I agree that fiddle camps can be great resources, and I would say that nothing beats going to Cape Breton Island, if it's at all possible. It was extremely educational for me to see a number of different CB fiddlers in action, to hear their different interpretatios of standard tunes and get a close look at their bowing, etc. to be able to relate it to the sounds I heard. I enjoyed my fiddle classes at the Gaelic College, and I've also heard good things about the Ceilidh Trails school (now directed by Jerry Holland) and the new Buddy MacMaster School at the Celtic Music Interpretive Center in Judique. It was also an eye-opening experience to see how much the music and dance are integrated into the culture out there; it's an amazing place! -Steve
  4. Glenn's book is new (released in October) so it's still a little difficult to find. I got my copy from Castlebay Music, castlebaymusic.com.
  5. This is a great resource, thanks for posting! There are some great tunes there, and the transcriptions of the tunes I'm familiar with look really good. BTW yesterday's post brought a new book called The Cape Breton Fiddle: Making and Maintaining a Tradition, by Glenn Graham. Graham is one of the hot young fiddlers on the Island; he was one of the instructors last Summer at Gaelic College and a show of his at the Red Shoe was one of the best performances we saw; something like 4 hours of great music! He's done a lot of research on the CB fiddle style and this book is an expansion of his masters thesis. As such, the tone is fairly academic but it's still a nice survey of the fiddle tradition and how it has changed over the years. It comes with a CD on which Glenn demonstrates various fiddle techniques and includes tracks from a bunch of fiddlers. Back to the original topic of the thread, there's one track from Mary MacDonald which includes some variations on Tullochgorum! -Steve
  6. Banzai, I don't have Cranford's Lighthouse collection but there are a few of his tunes in Jerry Holland's collections. They're nice enough but his stuff doesn't seem to have penetrated the CB repertoire as much as some of the other tunesmiths (Jerry, or Dan R. MacDonald for example). I think he has some examples in abc on his website (cranfordpub.com) if you want to take a look. BTW, I met Paul Cranford last Summer at a ceilidh we attended. He seems like a really nice guy. I've e-mailed him via the contact on his website a couple times to ask about various collections, and I think he'd probably be happy to answer any questions you have. Scratchy, first publication of the tune in Bremner's collection agrees with what I've read. JS Skinner noted this tune was also called The Corn Bunting, and The Blue Hill (or The Dark Blue Hill). He wrote on his manuscript the following: "'Note to Tullochgorum. This tune is of great antiquity & this is borne out by Miss Montgomerys request that the Rev. John Skinner should write words to the ancient 'Reel of Tullochgorum - it is known to a few lovers of the strathspey as 'The corn bunting' (inserted) and 'Jockie's fou and Jennie's fain'..."-Steve
  7. I have Wittner Ultra's (with the 4 fine tuners) on 2 of my fiddles. They actually appear to be made of some sort of dense plastic. They work great, though. On one of my fiddles the Wittner replaced an ebony Pusch tailpiece with fine tuners. The lighter weight of the Wittner had a big positive effect on response (plus the Wittner was much easier to change strings on, and the adjustability of the fine tuners is about twice that of the Pusch). I think you're on the right track looking for a light tailpiece and the Wittner might be worth a try but if you insist on carbon fiber, the Wittner isn't what you want. -Steve
  8. quote: Originally posted by: Steve_W oops, deleted double post!
  9. What I saw in the Cape Breton sessions that surprised me was that they went around the circle and each fiddler was expected to lead a set (generally a march or air, one or more strathspeys, and one or more reels; or a bunch of jigs). Not what I'm used to with Scottish sessions, where either we just agree what we're going to play ahead of time, or we "free-associate" where someone will start a tune and at the end someone else will start something else similar. They tend to have standard sets of tunes, most of which I wasn't familiar with. I was lost most of the time, but people were kind! -Steve
  10. Buddy is the grand old man of CB fiddling; a true gentleman as well as a great player. I missed out on seeing him when I was there last Summer; he only played once during the time we were on the Island and it was on a night we had something else scheduled. I'm kicking myself for not changing my plans to see him, as that may have been my last opportunity... We did get to Rollie's Wharf, though! One highlight for me was attending a session at The Bridge historical society in Mabou; not knowing what to expect I got out my fiddle and sat in with the musicians there, and was totally outclassed--I think I knew about every 10th tune that came by! The musicians there included two great old traditional fiddlers: Willie Kennedy and Kenny Joseph MacDonald (RIP--he passed away in the Fall. I feel fortunate to have heard him play). We heard a number of other great fiddlers during our time on the Island, including Brenda Stubbert, Kinnon Beaton, Glenn Graham, Jennifer Roland, and Lucy MacNeill. I would not want to choose who is the "best!" Sunnybear, are you familiar with Fiddler's Crossing in So. California? They have one of the best inventories of Scottish tunebooks in the US, and stock the Highland Trust books. I highly recommend them. fiddlerscrossing.com. Happy holidays, all! -Steve
  11. I realized I have a recording of Skinner playing a couple of those variations, on a CD compilation called "James Scott Skinner: The Strathspey King"; listening to it, he took those variations really quickly! I don't expect to ever match his tempos in that piece. I've been a fan of Robert Mackintosh's tunes for a while. I just got the Highland Music Trust's edition of the 4 Mackintosh books and there's some nice stuff there. The earliest book has a lot of classically-influenced pieces, in particular a bunch of minuets for 2 violins plus continuo. One thing that initially attracted me to Scottish fiddling was feeling like I could use a lot of my classical training, what with the variety of keys and techniques used.
  12. Nice Xania, thanks for posting the pictures. I'd wondered how you were getting on with this! Congratulations! -Steve
  13. I was able to get to it sooner than expected; you can find my transcription here. You may need to download Sibelius' Scorch software but after that it'll let you print or play the score. I've left all of Skinner's original notation, but added a few accidentals that were apparently omitted from the original printed version. For anyone unfamiliar with Scottish fiddling notation, Skinner and others employed the straight slur, as used in the theme, to indicate a momentary stopping between the notes, taken on a single bow. If anyone familiar with his style can explain to me what his note "Feather Bowing" in variation VI means, I'd appreciate it! Anyway, I'm looking forward to working on this one over my holiday break. I'd be interested to hear how anyone else does with it. Good luck! -Steve
  14. Nice to have a fiddling topic to discuss here, for a change! I've been wanting to learn those variations too so I think I'm going to transcribe that manuscript into Sibelius (which deals with things like straight slurs much better than ABC!). Give me a couple days and I might have something for you...
  15. Banzai - I took a look at the tune list for Fine Thank You Very Much and it seems to be composed of mostly trad Scottish tunes plus a few more contemporary tunes written by Cape Breton fiddlers. You could probably find ABC versions of many if not most of those tunes online. In particular, I recommend JC's ABC Tunefinder which is an index that searches most of the Web's ABC tune collections; and Cranford Publications' Tunes of the Month which contains a large number of Cape Breton tunes from books and recordings published or carried by Cranford. Hi Strung mentioned the Concertina.net ABC converter, which converts ABC tune files into standard notation; if you get further into ABC you may want to use a software program like Phil Taylor's BarFly which is a great shareware ABC converter/composer/player program (unfortunately, Mac only, but there are a bunch of others available for Windows machines). I buy tunebooks because I like browsing through them and finding new tunes that I haven't encountered before, but for finding specific trad. tunes I often go straight to the Web. Here's one other resource you might be interested in if you're trying to determine the source of specific tunes: Andrew Kunz's Fiddler's Companion website, which has histories, sources and some ABC code for North American and British Isles tunes. I hope this helps! -Steve
  16. Sorry, should have been clearer. Tullochgorum is from The Scottish Violinist.
  17. Well I've been waiting over 2 years myself! I thought I had a line on a copy of the first edition when I was on CBI last Summer but it didn't pan out; I did get a chance to photocopy the section on ornamentation, though, and it's really worth having. You might not have to wait too much longer; a friend talked with David Greenberg recently and asked him about the new edition and he was fairly optimistic that it would be out early in 2007. I understand they were forced to revise it due to some copyright issues, and the research associated with the revision took much longer than he and Kate Dunlay expected--and was also delayed due to other projects. Regarding Skinner's book, although his tunes do get played by CB fiddlers I'm not sure it's the one I'd start with. Apart from DunGreen, if I had to pick one book in my library to keep as my CB tune source I would go with either the Winston Fitzgerald collection, one of the 2 Jerry Holland books, or the Skye Collection. But since you want the Tullochgorum variations, Skinner's book appears the best place to get it, if that scan I pointed you at won't work for you! Good luck... -Steve
  18. Hi back, Ken; I hope you are doing well! Regarding ear-learning vs. dot-learning I'm the opposite; maybe due to learning to read music early in life I learn tunes much more quickly and easily from the page, and seem to absorb them better that way. But once I have them in my fingers, it doesn't seem to matter how I got them! I agree that tunebooks typically provide no more than a framework of the tune. Coming from a classical background, it took me a while to figure out that in fiddling, the way a tune is notated can be very different from the way it's actually played--classical notation just isn't sufficient for a lot of the techniques used; some notations are just shortcuts for what's really done; and many fiddlers vary the tunes on each repetition so that at best, any notated version is just a snapshot of one performance! Based on my own experiences I think that tunebooks aren't very useful for someone who is just starting out, particularly if you're learning on your own, but once you know the style, they can be great for picking up new tunes. [As you guys can probably guess, I tend to collect a lot of tunebooks. I have copies of some Scottish books that have been out of print for close to 200 years, and I get a lot of satisfaction out of digging up obscure old tunes to use in some of the arrangements I do for Scottish country dancing!] This reminds me, another CB book I'd recommend, particularly for violinists with a classical background, is the DunGreen Collection (unfortunately currently out of print and almost impossible to find, but Cranford Publications promises a new edition is coming soon). David Greenberg is a baroque violinist who learned CB fiddling as an adult, and put a lot of effort into analyzing the technical aspects of the style (he's regarded as one of the few outsiders who have really mastered the style). His book details the ornaments that the CB fiddlers use, and his transcriptions really pick apart what specific fiddlers do with the tunes. -Steve
  19. Hey, try here: James Scott Skinner website. This page has a facsimile of Skinner's original manuscript of Tullochgorum, as well as a copy of the original printed version which should be downloadable/printable. Marie, there's a strong aural tradition in Cape Breton fiddle music but I think that most of the younger fiddlers, at least, learn to read music, and get their tunes both by ear and from the page. Classes I had there were taught both ways; some instructors handed out sheet music while others had us learn the tunes by ear before letting us look at the dots! -Steve
  20. OK, I checked and the version of Tullochgorum that Natalie plays on her "Live" CD is definitely Skinner's variations, if that's any help. Last Summer I attended a workshop with CB fiddler Shelly Campbell and she brought along a bunch of her tune books for us to look at; I think all the ones I mentioned in my last post were included. If I recall correctly, her copy of Ryan's Mammoth was totally trashed; marked up on a lot of pages and had obviously had really heavy usage! At the Gaelic College one of my instructors loaned me his copy of the Fitzgerald collection, and same thing: really heavily used, with written notes and markings all over the pages. That's how I knew I should buy that collection (I already owned Ryan's)!
  21. I'd get the Skye collection at any rate. A lot of the CBI fiddlers used this as a source, that's why Cranford republished it. If you're looking for CB tunebooks, and an intro to the style, I recommend the Winston Fitzgerald Collection, along with the CD "Winston Scotty Fitzgerald - Classic Cuts" which includes a number of the tunes in the book. The 2 Jerry Holland collections are very good and have a nice selection of trad tunes in addition to his own compositions (but not Tullochgorum). Regarding Tullochgorum, Winston had the Tullochgorum variations from J.S. Skinner's Scottish Violinist in his repertoire (but this is not included in either his book or the Classic Cuts CD) and I _think_ that's the one Natalie plays that you're referring to, but can't remember what CD that's on and don't have time to look it up right now. The CBI fiddlers took the old Scottish collections and developed their own style using those tunes. If you're interested in CB fiddle, in my opinion you can't go wrong buying the Athole and Skye collections (plus Skinner's, Kerr's collections, Ryan's Mammoth and O'Neil's to name a few...). I spent 2 weeks on CBI last Summer learning fiddle and step dance, plus seeing the sights and listening to as much music and attending as many dances as possible, and loved it. I'm probably going back this Summer! -Steve
  22. I like the Pirastro No. 1 with Obligatos; I generally use a wound E and tried the Kaplan Solutions and the Eudoxa (and also the unwound Wondertone) before settling on the No. 1.
  23. Last week I stuck the Wondertone Soloist E that Pirastro sent me last year (which I rejected for use with Obligatos as being too bright) back on with the Enfeld Blues I'm using now. So far it seems like a nice match! I'll be interested to see how the lifetime compares with the wound E's I've been using.
  24. quote: Originally posted by: Cassi i know this isn't the answer that Steve is looking for, but maybe before playing a gig, we should insist that they actually have a reasonable instrument to accompany us? and maybe visit the venue beforehand to make sure? (which is what Shirl was doing, actually practicing with the piano that was going to be used, although she didn't mention the state of the piano) it doesn't seem too much to ask, although i know it's hard to turn down a paying gig! just a thought! cassi You're right, but practically you can't always expect to have a good piano; many times you just have to work with what's there. With the dance band I play in, our problems have usually been with out-of-town events that we fly to, where we can't check things out ahead of time and we have to go with whatever's been arranged. We do ask that event organizers provide us with either a decent piano or an electric keyboard but that doesn't always work out as well as you'd think! Once you accept the gig and show up, refusing to play isn't an option, and if you make too many demands or complain too much you get a reputation for being difficult and don't get asked back. So you try to make the best music you can given the circumstances. Seeing the difficulties our keyboard player has had makes me very happy I'm a fiddler! -Steve
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