March 2005

March 31, 2005 15:14

Ah, the joy of music for music's sake.

Last night was the weekly Irish session at a local tavern -- which I don't get to weekly at all. It was the first session I'd been to in over a month, actually, since I'd been rehearsing and performing instead.

What a lovely, relaxing time it was! Four fiddles, a bagpipe, three guitars, a bodhran and finally a double bass. Mostly new tunes to me, though I can pick them up pretty well -- by the tenth repetition or so, I'm going along with the rest of 'em. And we all were in the same boat, knowing some tunes and learning others.

It's not too hard to learn a tune from another fiddler -- you can watch their fingers, and it's easy to hear where the open strings are. It's not so easy to learn from a bagpipe! Yet, after getting used to the sonority and distinct ornamentation style, I found it surprisingly clear.

The fact that we played pretty slow helped, too. The St. Paddy's Day gig we did, we didn't playing anything slower than 120bpm! This session was quite a bit more relaxed, probably about 106 or so. On the tunes that I know, it was hard to keep the tempo down, though. I'll have to work on that, so they don't run away with me!

Unfortunately, I'm more of a morning person and I work at 8am, so I always end up leaving these things early. I fell into bed when I got home at 11. I'd have stayed there all night if I'd had a ride home!

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March 21, 2005 08:13

Well, it was a big weekend, starting last Thursday! My contradance band played Irish at a local brew pub for St. Paddy's day, and didn't we have a ball! I couldn't plug my recorder directly into the sound system, but did get a decent bootleg of the gig. :) And, got some good comments from audience and host, so the afterglow is nice and warm and fuzzy.

My old sound editing software wasn't working very well, so I downloaded a shareware wav editor called Acoustica, which seems to be working quite well. I figure I'll give it a bit of a trial and if I still like it after I'm done with this recording, I'll fork over the $35 and keep it. It's got pretty decent noise reduction, which is my big need for this recording -- you'd think, in a pub, people would be quiet... NOT. I've found, though, that if I put noise reduction on one channel and then combine the channels to even them out (the mic was in a bad spot for stereo anyway, and the channels are really uneven), the result sounds pretty good, and still sounds natural. It ain't clean, but the music pops out from the background a bit better.

Then Friday was dress rehearsal and Sat and Sun were choral society concerts. Pretty esoteric stuff -- William Albright and Vaughn Williams. Beautiful music, and the choral society did better than most amateur groups could even dream of. Not that it was perfect; there were some ... odd... places, but people in the audience never noticed.

And now... no rehearsals for at least a week! Amazing.

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March 10, 2005 14:29

Don't know why I started this, actually.

I suppose that's representative, though, since I don't know why I wanted to start playing the violin.

That was twenty-six years ago. Now I can't live without playing the violin. Okay, slightly melodramatic. But only slightly.

Orchestra has started up again; it's a local community orchestra, which isn't very good but has fun anyway, and the concerts are free so it's good for the community... which is really the point, isn't it?

We're playing good stuff, for the most part. We've got a pretty adventurous director and music committee, so every year we commission a new work -- which is a roll of the dice, really. That's next concert, though, so no worries yet.

This time it's Capriccio Italien, which I was just listening to. Some of those fast spots are a bit tricky; and of course that's the down-side of being the concert master -- you're supposed to get it all right. Not that anyone did. But still. So I've told myself that I'll practice this time.

I already did the bowings for the Haydn piano concerto that we're doing, and am quite proud of myself for doing them right away. :) We've got a fantastic 13-year-old pianist performing it, who is truly remarkable. He has the presence of an adult, and such a wonderful touch on the piano. I'm not a pianist, but I know it takes skill to get real dynamics like that.

But next week is heck week for the choral society -- rehearsals monday, wednesday and friday, and concerts saturday and sunday. But in the middle of that is St. Patrick's Day, which I'm really looking forward to because I've got a real, paying bar gig at a place with really good beer. :) My band has been playing contradances for a little more than a year, and doing sessions (mostly for cheap or free), but I figure that St. Patrick's Day is the most important folk-music day of the year, so I'm psyched.

Because really, folk music is where it's at. My technique has gotten so much better since I started fiddling. Sure, I ain't perfect, but comparing myself against other local professionals, I do the quick stuff better. Though I've always had a good sense of rhythm, I now communicate it better. And, I have to be more coordinated because folk musicians are expected to be able to speak cues and dance while playing. Not easy! But I'm getting there. Besides which, there's nothing more real than music that comes straight out of some random person's heart.

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