Tag Archives: Breton

Session Workshop Tunes – Fall 2011

Hi Gang,

Welcome to the Fall 2011 link for our Session Workshop tunes!

First thing, this Fall there is a new twist on the class tune list. I’ve taken what everyone sent me and grouped them by rhythm and provided you (and me) with a list of who knows the tune, who is working on the tune, and who wants to learn the tune. This will help us choose set lists, and also help you choose a set list to play balancing your own playing skills with tunes that the group knows. The list is comprised only of tunes that were listed by at least two people. Please click here to view the pdf. Also feel free to update the list you sent me, now that you have a better idea of why I requested a list from you!

Below you’ll find links to where you can listen to / watch the tunes as well as a link to view a version of the notation from thesession.org. This Fall, I’m going to try to find links where the tunes are played in a session setting, to give you a different flavor for the tune. Also, you’ll be able to hear some additional tunes that might go with the tune we’re learning. When you listen to the set, what makes for a good set of tunes? Also, pay attention to the transitions. What makes transitions interesting / difficult / easy / smooth, etc.?

Most Recent Class Notes
We were missing a bunch of folks on Tuesday, and those that were there weren’t quite ready for the new jig set, so I quickly changed gears and taught the Breton set I had learned this summer. For next class, we’ll work on the new jig set in earnest and, of course, practice the original jig set for the recital (note: for the recital, we’ll just play each tune 2x instead of the usual 3x).

For those who would like to review the Breton Andros set, you can listen to it here.

Jig Set #1 (3x each) Note that the recording may not start at the beginning of the tune.
Lilting Banshee   Watch   View Notation   Key of Am
Tripping Up The Stairs   Watch   View Notation   Key of D (A part) Bm (B part)
Banish Misfortune   Watch   View Notation   Key of D mix

Jig Set #2 (3x each)
Timmy Cliffords’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G
Garrett Barry’s   Watch   View Notation   Key of Dm
Jimmy Ward’s   Listen   View Notation   Key of G

Slip Jig set (3x each)
The Butterfly   Listen  View Notation   Key of Em
Rocky Road to Dublin   Listen   View Notation   Key of Am   Dubliners singing it!
(Optional) Foxhunter’s Slip Jig   Listen   View Notation   Key of D

Hornpipe Set (2x each)
Chief O’Neill’s Favorite   Watch  Listen (KAJ version)  View Notation   Key of D
Rights of Man   Watch   View Notation   Key of Em
Harvest Home   Watch   View Notation   Key of D

Reel Set (3x each)
Cooley’s   Listen  View Notation   Key of Em
My Love is in America   Watch (note cool variations!)   View Notation   Key of D
Star of Munster   Watch – maybe just a tad fast 😉   View Notation   Key of Am

(and, we added this one in last week)
The Earl’s Chair (reel)  Listen   View Notation

Polka Set (3x each)
John Walsh’s   Listen  View Notation   Key of G
John Brosnan’s (aka John Walsh’s locally)   Listen  View Notation   We play it in key of G, notation here is key of D – so if you learn from notation, start on the G rather than D

It was a real treat to come across this video featuring Connie O’Connell playing this particular set of polkas that we worked on (plus one more). Let’s use his order for the set. One of the highlights of our recent trip to Ireland was learning tunes from Connie. Also, fiddlers, note his bowing style – he was quite insistent about the proper bowing on polkas!

I also have to add that there is likely to be some confusion over the John Walsh set. I spent a bit of time this week trying to sort that out and decided upon the above naming for the tunes, which is different than how Alex taught them in our intro fiddle class a couple of years ago, so I know I’m going against the local grain here! The session.org and several other sites listed John Walsh’s as what Alex taught as John Walsh’s #2 and I’ve listed as John Walsh’s above (and Tes taught years ago in BRIMS as John Walsh’s #1) but there was less agreement on the 2nd tune, so additional comments to raise our level of confusion are much appreciated. Ultimately, I think names are less important when it comes to polkas. Often they’ll just be listed as “Kerry Polkas” on a CD. But I did want to make sure that our students were aware of some of the alternatives here so as not to be caught flatfooted (so to speak) at sessions!

Class Tune List (pdf)

Swannanoa Gathering – Breton Pot Luck

It would seem a perfect segue-way from France to Swannanoa would be an introduction to the Celtic music of Brittany. And fortunately for me, there were two fabulous musicians at SwannyG who hosted a “pot luck” session on Breton music. David Surrette (who was also our mandolin instructor for the week) and David Cantieni demonstrated several tunes and also introduced us to the bombard, a traditional Breton instrument. Other than a few passing moments such as John Skelton’s annual traditional Breton dance and hearing about Alex’s tour in Brittany, this was really my first introduction to Breton music and I very much enjoyed it!

The first set of tunes we actually learned in David’s mandolin class, but I’m including them here as it relates more to the topic at hand. These types of tunes are known as Andros, named after the dance (l’en dro in French). These are 3 tunes that one can pick up quickly as they are quite simple and fairly predictable. However, they are easily made more interesting by creating variations on the melodic pattern, especially effective if several people are playing the same simple tune.

Listen to a set of three Andros.

Note that even though David is playing these with lots of variations and accompaniment, the basic tune can be easily understood. Personally, I think this would be a cool set of tunes for our session class (hint hint). Even though they will be new to everyone, we can pick them up easily, and a nice change from the usual jigs and reels.

The next tune was played on the Bombard (Bombarde in French) by David Cantieni. The Bombard is one loud instrument that apparently requires quite a bit of air pressure from the player. It is one of several instruments that as far as I know are fairly unique to this region. Another is the Biniou, which was described as mini-bagpipes. Apparently the Biniou is an octave above the Bombard, and though we didn’t have a demonstration, I’m guessing packs a similar sound. Clearly, these instruments would have no trouble being heard at an outdoor dance (in the next town).

Listen to a tune played on the Bombard.

The last tune was my personal favorite from the pot-luck which was a call and response on flute and mandolin. Note that the tune is in 6/4 time. Normally, the call and response would be between a Bombard and Biniou, giving the Bombard player a chance to catch his or her breath. One thing that I thought was especially enjoyable musically is that the Bombard (or in this example, the flute) doesn’t come in at the beginning of a part, but instead several notes ahead of the measure. Quite tasty!

Listen to an example of Breton Call and Response.

I look forward to exploring these very unique Celtic tunes in the future, especially as it represents a perfect intersection of Karen and my interests. Time to start planning to attend Festival Interceltique in the not so distant future. Anyone care to join us?