Hundredth tune - A learner’s account
Well I’m at my hundredth tune in my tunebook (tunes that I know by heart) and I thought it is time to make an assessment.
I joined TheSession almost exactly 1 year ago, after being captured by the wooden flute in August 2019 on a couple of Sunday sessions at the Waverley bar in Edinburgh.
I believe these were led by George Duff. See a picture here: https://sites.google.com/view/slowsessionpisa/home/en/home - anyone recongnizes the flute player? Maybe Gordon Turnbull? We met by chance in the toilets where some hydraulic pipe was kind-of whistling, and I remember him pointing out that it was in tune!
At some point the guitar player started singing Bonny Light Horseman, I looked for this song on the Internet and fell on a live version by Ríoghnach Connolly singing and playing the flute (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYe8DhfV29c).
After a Scottish start, I turned to Irish music quite early (though will come back to Scottish music at some point!), with which I had been in contact - though mostly through pub songs - at The Three Tuns in Bristol in February/March 2010.
I started on a practice flute by Hammy Hamilton, then I got a R&R-based Delrin flute by Vincenzo di Mauro and, later, a Pratten-based one by Rob Forbes (I currently love and play both flutes, depending on the day). Now I’m on my way to a 6-keyed African Blackwood flute, which I ordered from flutemaker and brilliant player Steffen Gabriel (https://www.gabrielflutes.com/english), and which I shall receive in July next year.
My hundredth tune is the Old High Reel (also known as the Other High Reel, https://thesession.org/tunes/1584), which I got from the playing of Steffen in this movie https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=523534788258265.
My first discussions here were on 1) posting tunes with chords 2) guitar/bodhrán backing tracks. I firmly changed my mind on both topics now: 1) tunes don’t need chords 2) the best backing track is a metronome.
Over the past months, I received great advice here from Barry Morse, Ben (AB), postie, Richard D Cook and Kenny, and certainly many others whom I would like to thank along with Jeremy of course for hosting all this.
Resources that have helped me throughout last year:
Books on Irish music:
- Breandán Breathnach, Folk Music and Dances of Ireland, Ossian Publications, 1971
- Tomás Ó Canainn, Traditional Music in Ireland, Ossian Publications, 1978
- James R. Cowdery, The Melodic Tradition of Ireland, Kent State University Press, 1990
Books on the Irish flute:
- Hammy Hamilton, The Irish Flute Player’s Handbook
- Fintan Vallely, A Complete Guide to Learning the Irish Flute
- Conal Ó Gráda, An Fheadóg Mhór
- Grey Larsen, The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle
- June McCormack, Fliúit
On the web:
- The Laws of Branjo (thanks to Reverend), an essential reading on musical learning:
- Jack Campin’s tutorial on Scales and Modes in Scottish Traditional Music
I was lucky enough to find and join a group of musicians here in northwestern Tuscany and I took part in my first session a couple of weeks ago. With their help, I am trying to arrange a learners’ session (Slow Session Pisa, https://sites.google.com/view/slowsessionpisa/home/en/home) which hopefully is going to start next week before the regular one.
I had arranged a 5 weeks visit to Cork for work this summer, but then we got into the Covid era and everything was postponed hopefully to next spring/summer.
And that is all!