Frank Hall, my good friend and fellow Hoosier-in-exile, visited a while back from Ireland, where he has lived for the past decade. Our session served as the maiden voyage for my then brand new Zoom digital recorder, which has since been a real work horse for Fiddle Club of the World. Here is a tune from that October 2007 session in my living room. Frank played one that was first recorded by the great Emmett Lundy of Galax, Virginia. Compare the versions below. Obviously the same tune, but quite different treatments.
Also, compare the photos above. Both men are quite dapper and accomplished. Frank, however, has recently become a citizen of the Republic of Ireland. Sláinte (to your health), Buddy!
Piney Wood Gal by Frank Hall (2007), with Lena Ullman, banjo
Piney Wood Girl by Emmett Lundy (1925), with E.V. Stoneman, harmonica
BTW Frank Hall has an open invitation to be a featured guest at the Fiddle Club of the World any time he flies in to O’Hare from Dublin.
Ed Cosner & Katie Bern
Some tunes from the teacher, Mr. Cosner . . .
And one from Katie, the student . . .
I’m a little late posting this weeks TofW. Sorry about that. Sometimes life in the fiddle-industrial complex gets hectic. But my mind is back home in Indiana, so I think it’s time for a Lotus Dickey tune.
Let’s stay on the Irish theme for one more week. Here’s one of my favorite jigs, one we can play on Friday, March 23 with Deirdre Ní Chonghaile visits Fiddle Club. This was the first in a set played by Kevin Burke & Michael O’Domhnaill in Bears Back Room in Bloomington, Indiana in February 1982.
I was there. It was heavenly.
Note: Kevin didn’t give a name to this tune. I learned it from one of the first recordings of Irish traditional music I ever owned. The great piper, Seamus Ennis, played it in a medley with The Hare in the Corn and one more jig. He sang a bit of lyric with it.
“The praties are dug and the frost is all over,
I can’t find that record any more. Maybe Deirdre can help us through The Hare in the Corn.
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, Guest at Fiddle Club of the World
We’ll have an Irish session, with some craic and ceili (stories, talk and fellowship). This will be an easy-going introduction to the world of Irish tunes. Here’s another set of dance tunes that can be learned quickly. The first one is Sullivan’s, not the same tune as Tom Sullivan’s polka that Kathleen Keane taught us last year. Many of you already know the second tuneBritches Full of Stitches. In this video, they’re played by Jackie Daly on accordion and Seamus Creagh on fiddle.
And here’s another performance of the same two tunes ending a set of four polkas played by Kevin Burke and Michael O’Domhnaill in 1982, in Bloomington (Indiana)’s beloved Bears Back room.
It’s that time of year when many of us wish we were Irish. That was one of my life goals when I was 15, due in part to a vague notion I had then that traditional Irish music might be found along my pathway to satisfying and exciting future.
A few years later, at the end of 1969, I made first and only journey to Ireland, including a boat ride out to the Aran Islands off Galway Bay in the West. During my few days on Inishmaan, I tried to attend a dance or find a fiddle player, with no success, due to my own social clumsiness. I did hear a few sean nos (old style) songs at night, sung in Gaelic by one or another old man in an Aran Sweater, while we all nursed a pint in the island’s pub. Meanwhile, the young folks–most home for the holiday from work in England–were having a fine old time dancing away the darkness.
Last fall I had the great pleasure to meet Gaelic scholar, Deirdre Ní Chonghaile at an American Folklore Society meeting in Bloomington, Indiana. We played some tunes together with our fellows, and I had a chance to dance a bit with her. And since, Deirdre is from Inishmore, the largest of the three Arans, I finally fulfilled my 40-year-old quest to dance as they dance on the Aran Islands.
Here is a set of two tunes commonly played together on the Arans for a couple copy. The recording is taken from a YouTube video of a kitchen session in County Mayo with Caomhie Donlon on fiddle, her father Larry on banjo, and Cormac Gannon on pipes. The first tune is a common hornpipe, The Stack of Barley. Deirdre calls the second tune Some Say the Devil is Dead and Buried in Killarney.
Deirdre Ní Chonghaile, Guest at Fiddle Club of the World
I was taught this tune by Patrik Wekman on my visit to Finland in 2009. Later that year, Arto Järvelä taught it a workshop on archaic Finnish tunes at the Old Town School. Two years later, we had a magical session with the tune in my Fiddle 4 class when Arto and Kaivama dropped in. You can hear it on this earlier post.
Matti Haudanmaa was a master fiddler from the Ostrobothnian district in western Finland. An early Finnish folklorist made field recordings of his playing in the first half of the 20th century, thus preserving this wonderful tune for us to play in the 21st.
Arto returns for another good tune session
Abc Notation. Free software to read, print and play the Abcs is available here. And a short tutorial on Abc notation for fiddlers can be downloaded from the Old Town School’s Tune Archive using this link.
With the Starc polska, I tried to notate it roughly the way Arto played it, with suggestions for ornamentation. Here is a starker (pun intended) published notation for Starc 44.
Answers to questions I’ve been asked about Fiddle Club. If you have a yearly subscription, you do not need to register. We welcome everyone who wants to hear and/or learn some Finnish fiddling. It would be great if you register online, but you can also pay at the front desk on Saturday night.
Georgia Buck, Joe & Odell Thompson, 1987
The notes are simple. The rhythm and ornaments are complex. The form and variations are fluid. The tune has two parts (what we normally call ‘A’ and ‘B’), but they are played with a logic different from the regular progression of repeated alterations. The transcription that follows is roughly taken from the last three times through the performance recorded above. It is meant to give you an idea of some of the variations use. The slides are more important that the actual starting pitches indicated by the grace notes. The Bb is more bluesy and not a tempered Bb. Listen to the recording a lot, as you learn to play the tune.
Here are a couple of Cajun classics we can all play together with David Greely, when he makes his appearance at the Fiddle Club of the World, on Friday, February 24.
The first tune is a fiddle version of a tune made famous by the great accordionist, Iry Lejeune (1928-55) from Pointe Noire, Louisiana.
And here’s a bluesy waltz from the playing of one of my favorites, Creole fiddler Canray Fontenot (1922-95) of L’Anse aux Vaches. The song was penned by Douglas Bellard.
For notes for these tunes, click here.