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Thread: The Scottish Fiddler

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    Senior Member Duncan's Avatar
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    http://www.boxandfiddle.com/

    "Box and Fiddle" - The Magazine for Scottish Music Enthusiasts

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Blazin' Fiddles is a group that we've seen twice now in concert at the Norwich Arts Centre, and they are fabulous. They play modern composed Scottish fiddle tunes, and also have members that come from different areas of Scotland and play tunes from their locality with their slightly different styles. Their stage shows are marked by energetic playing and quickfire humour and repartee directed at the audience. If you get a chance - go to see them.

    https://www.blazinfiddles.com/
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 08:28.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    We got to know the group a bit better in October 2016, when we went up for their annual music school Blazin' in Beauly.

    This is the website for this year's music week -
    https://blazininbeauly.com/

    * Taggart (John) went to classes in keyboard accompaniment with Angus Lyon, and I (Mollie) went to one of the Advanced Fiddle Classes - not the top layer, of course!

    In our fiddle class we learned a 'big tune' that all the classes could learn together, and each member of the group, plus a visiting tutor, took our class in turn and taught us new tunes. Many were tunes that they themselves had written.

    Out of the tutors, I enjoyed my time with Rua Macmillan most, because he seemed the most well-versed in the traditional Scottish Highland style with all its various ornaments. My second favourite actually was the visiting Finnish tutor, Esko, because he had a fabulous teaching method - he just played the tune over and over until gradually we all joined in. His tune was the most secure with me at the end of the week.

    The other class-members - most of them Scotswomen - were very nice and friendly to me. Many had been coming for years. I always feel a bit apologetic in Scotland because, although my father was Scottish, I grew up in England and have an English accent - but I found Beauly a very welcoming town to Sassenachs and half-Sassenachs.

    John got a lot out of his keyboard classes because Angus Lyon spent years playing for a Scottish dance band and had a lot of good advice about chords and timing.

    * Just to clear up any confusion, since I have put a link to this thread on other music sites where my real-life name is known, and because in the past I have referred on TC to our actual first names: we have no connection with the TC member posting on this thread who has combined our forenames as a user-name and who lives in Canada. Thank you.
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 11:24.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    There were special interest classes in the afternoon, but we didn't go to them, taking the chance to explore the lovely area of Scotland and to visit Taggart's cousins, who moved up to the North-East of Scotland from London over forty years ago.

    But we returned for the concerts in the evening.

    All in all we had a good week, though I prefer to learn techniques or harmonies rather than simply new tunes, which I usually forget after the course is over.

    In any case, I'm a bit of a purist. Modern Scottish tunes are not my cup of tea - nor Nova Scotian & Cape Breton, either, although I 'thole' them as part of a session.

    No, my passion is for the traditional Scottish tunes from the seventeenth, eighteenth & nineteenth centuries, although there are some excellent tunes written more recently 'in the tradition', for example by Muriel Johnstone. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muriel_Johnstone

    Here is something which is my cup of tea - a lovely old Scottish air, Anna Thug Mi Gradh Dhuit, or Annie is my Darling, from the Simon Fraser Collection of the early nineteenth century, played in a video tutorial with Rua Macmillan of Blazin Fiddles.

    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 10:52.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  9. #21
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Bruce MacGregor, the founder-member of Blazin' Fiddles, has put up some good video tutorials on playing traditional Scottish Music. Here's one of my favourites, on Ringing Strings.

    Thanks to my fiddle teacher, who double-stops with the best, I am much better now at playing chords than I was, but I still don't incorporate them into my playing of Scottish tunes. I should - they are definitely part of the Scottish sound - but maybe it will all gel some time in the next five years.



    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    One of the nice things about going to the Music Week Blazin' in Beauly is the connection with 'The Strathspey King' James Scott Skinner.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Scott_Skinner



    Skinner was a showman who as a lad played with a touring orchestra and I don't care for some of the many Scottish tunes that he composed because they are a bit 'music-hall' for me. Here's one that for me has this showy & sentimental quality, Silverwells, played by Iain Fraser - it is in his book mentioned in the OP:

    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 08:39.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    However, he did help to revive Scottish music and he did compose many wonderful tunes. I think he's out of favour at present because of his showmanship and his ebullient personality. He's the one who said (thinking of himself) - 'Talent does what it can - genius does what it must'.

    He was classically trained and a very good violinist, and as a result some of the tunes he composed are difficult for the amateur fiddler to play - hobbyism does what it can get away with!

    Here's one, Bovaglie's Plaid, which uses the harmonic, though I tend to miss that out. This one's a bit sentimental too, but I still think it very beautiful, and I enjoy playing it. It's played here by Alasdair Fraser, Iain Fraser's more famous brother:

    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    And there are many more Scott Skinner tunes that I know, play and love. I can't find a lovely jig of his, Rose Wood, on YouTube (except as part of a medley https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSLpwF-ZKeY), but I did come across a Scott Skinner traditional set played by Bonnie Rideout, another of my favourite fiddlers - or whom more anon!

    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 09:22.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    In Beauly, there are many associations with Scott Skinner - some are mentioned in this article, including the ironmonger's shop where my classes were held.
    https://www.scotsmagazine.com/articles/blazin-beauly/

    Taggart's keyboard class was held in an upper room in the Phipps Hall, built in the early twentieth century, but a venue where Scott Skinner performed. Apparently the building has an interesting history.
    https://www.scotsman.com/news-2-1501...ution-1-632358
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Bonnie Rideout is one of the diaspora Scottish fiddlers that I love.
    http://www.bonnierideout.com/

    Her playing of ancient pibrochs achieves a mystical quality.
    Here's the Lament for the Bishop of Argyle, an ancient melody.



    (I can play this - not well, but I do love it, and would recommend playing pibrochs to any of you that are Scottish fiddlers. I think working on the tone of pibrochs will help improve one's tone immeasurably.)
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 09:04.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  21. #27
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Here's another of Bonnie Rideout's tunes which I love - Yell, Yell.

    I can't find the sheet music for it, and I did once make it a project to learn it by ear. I had to leave that for other practice tunes, but I hope to return to it this year.

    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  23. #28
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    A word of explanation that maybe should have gone in the OP.

    I started this thread because of my love for the traditional fiddle music of Scotland, which has become my musical journey. (I call it Fiddle Trek...)

    However, I decided to place my thread in the Strings section of the Instruments and Technique sub-forum because it's not about tunes or links so much as about fiddle lore and aids to learning the instrument.

    I hoped and still do that (eventually!) I'll find another person on TC who both plays the fiddle and loves this repertoire. I would be very interested in hearing about their experience, especially if they are an 'adult learner' or a returner like me - but even fiddle prodigies are welcome too!

    Oh joy if you live in the UK & we could meet up for a session.

    Nigel Gatherer is not a fiddler, but he is a musician and an authority on Scottish Music, and a very nice person - I've been in touch with him on the Folk Music forum that I belong to,

    Here's his useful and informative website.
    http://www.nigelgatherer.com/

    With this fab forum - http://www.nigelgatherer.com/forum/f...play.php?fid=7
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 11:33.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingélou View Post

    Here is one of them, Anna Thug Mi Gradh Dhuit, or Annie is my Darling, from the Simon Fraser Collection of the early nineteenth century, played in a video tutorial with Rua Macmillan of Blazin Fiddles.

    Bit more about Simon Fraser here - https://www.scottish-places.info/peo...first1006.html

    Link to the collection here - https://www.scotlandsmusic.com/Produ...ser-collection - with some more infornation about the collection.

    Simon Fraser on IMSLP - https://imslp.org/wiki/The_Airs_and_...aser%2C_Simon)

    And finally, another Simon Fraser tune - Hard is my Fate - played by Iain Fraser

    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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    Default Scottish Fiddle Accompaniment

    The classic accompaniment is the cello. Here's Niel Gow with his brother Donald:


    The University of Aberdeen has a great Scott Skinner site - https://www.abdn.ac.uk/scottskinner/index.shtml This includes some of Skinner's own recordings of his tunes. The bigraphy section notes:


    Alexander Forbes Skinner (1833–1883) taught his young brother James to play tunes on the violin, and to ‘vamp’, or play a bass line on the cello. By the time he was eight, James was playing the cello at dances with local fiddler Peter Milne (1824–1908), who came from Kincardine o’ Neill, Aberdeenshire.

    According to some stories, Skinner could play the bass line in his sleep, not surprising as he had to travel long distances and the dancing went on for much of the night.

    Alasdair Fraser is continuing this tradition in his partnership with Natalie Haas:

    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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