I’m a guitar (and sometimes mandolin) player from the Scottish Borders. I help out at a local fiddle “school” by keeping the beat, adding a bit of harmony and transcribing the tunes for the group’s website.
In normal times I’m in a few different musical ensembles and “perform” about fifty times a year, sometimes for listening, sometimes for dancing.
After 25 years of teaching Mathematics, in 2005 I became a freelance musician. I’m now mainly retired (getting my superannuated pension) but still do a bits and pieces that I want to do as well as a few instrument repairs.
I’ve written a few tunes and, in my early days on the session.org, had the gall to post a few of them here (although I have more than done my penance). One of my proudest moments was when, to my surprise, the ceilidh band at the Stonehaven Aqua Ceilidh played “Sheila’s Cape Breton Jaunt” when we were “dancing” the Canadian Prawn Dance!
For the last few years I have been helping the wonderful Amy Geddes at Fyne Fiddle Weekends at Ardkinglas House. We also spent a lot of time working together on a fiddle tuition book, Fyne Fiddles Volume 1, launched at the Scots Fiddle Festival in 2017, and arranged and led the Lau-Land Big Tune Machine community band at the Edinburgh International Festival in August 2018. We even managed to run a couple of courses in 2020 with a mix of live (all properly risk-assessed) and virtual (via Zoom with high quality audio and video) participants. In 2021 we were lucky with our timing to run a course pretty much as normal.
To be a successful at accompanying tunes I think you have to be able to hear the (chord) changes. A bit of theory undoubtably helps but in the end that will only get you so far and that isn’t far enough. Secondly it really helps to listen to and get to know the tunes. Too many would-be guitar accompanists listen to themselves rather than the tune. Listen to and be at one with the tune – it makes accompanying so much simpler. And, yes, simple is good. Finally, remember it’s mostly in the right hand. Follow these simple rules and the accompaniment will be in the right hands.
With the unprecedented events of the last two years, I’ve had to refocus my energies on to things I can do from home: working to complete long term projects, arranging, book writing, recording audio and video.
Below are links to a few films I’ve put up on YouTube:
My “greatest hit”,
The Mothers of St Ann’s: https://youtu.be/uqmjT2tXv8o
A recent composition,
The Road to Joy: https://youtu.be/EjzM6K91Am4
And an apt song for these times:
A Soft Place to Fall: https://youtu.be/udjoNObUy0U
And here’s a recent one from 2021 that I played on (and mixed):
The Walking Tree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw4BsGAC-Y4