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Thread: The Scottish Fiddler

  1. #31
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mollie John View Post
    Yes indeed - a name chosen out of profound respect and admiration for two of the forum's most accomplished members.

    With 776 posts (and counting) and 1808 "Likes" received I think that we can all agree that I've brought no shame to the name and have conducted my behaviour in a most exemplary manner.

    However, as a sign of good faith and an extension of the hand of friendship I am willing to immediately choose a different username - however it requires the intervention of someone acting on my behalf to request a waiver to the one year waiting rule for username changes.

    Perhaps Taggart as the forum's Senior Moderator could reach out to Krummhorn as the forum's administrator and second my motion to request the waiver thus allowing me the opportunity to make the change?

    Great thread by the way - we share a heritage in common - paternal grandfather from Glasgow, maternal grandmother from Edinburgh!

    Allow me to wish you sincere best wishes and a long healthy and happy life!

    Mollie John (God-willing, not for much longer, eh?) - - Allow me to thank you in advance of the efforts that you may make on my behalf.
    I could have done without the 'profound respect & admiration'. It's not something I'm used to on TC!

    I don't think we should involve ourselves in your choice of name, however.
    It would not be proper.

    So - well - I look forward to the end of the year!

    Live long & prosper.

    And now - on with the Scottish Fiddler thread.

    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 18:01.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

  2. #32
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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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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  4. #33
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Speaking of Alasdair Fraser - like many traditional players he has branched out into new ways of playing things so as to seem fresh and artistic, not same-old, same-old.

    His playing with Natalie Haas these days engages my admiration, but not my heart.

    But in his early heyday, he could fiddle the auld tunes rarely.

    Our favourite cd of his is The Driven Bow.



    What is good about Alasdair Fraser's playing on this cd, in my opinion, is the energy and pace, closely followed by his mastery of the ornaments, which in Scottish fiddle are based on the sound of the bagpipes.
    On some of the tunes, those ornamented phrases sound so pipy and organic that I am awed.

    I don't know of any other fiddler who can match him in that respect.

    I will look later to see if I can find an example of what I mean.
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-03-2019 at 15:20.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  6. #34
    Sr. Moderator Taggart's Avatar
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    Default Piano Accompaniment

    Most Scottish fiddle accompaniment is the standard I IV V three chord pattern. When I was in Beauly, Angus Lyon spent some time on this. He was more concerned to get a good rhythmic pattern rather than to worry about the chord voicing. The technique was about finding chord voicings that sat comfortably under the hand so that you could follow a tune at speed. Although a piano player, Angus had worked as an accordionist - second box - in a Scottish dance band. That job is basically providing a rhythmic accompaniment to the lead accordion - first box - who takes the melody. Angus also considered using II and VI chords to provide alternatives and to allow fast movement between chord sequences.

    I met a similar approach a couple of years later in Melrose when Ian Lowthian was leading the Merlin Summer School. Ian is an accordionist who has trained at conservatoire level. (Yes they do that in the UK!) He is a music teacher leading school orchestras so has considerable interest in arrangements. Again he was more concerned with playing at speed than with voicings so again was looking at hand patterns.

    This sort of accompaniment works well for fast music. One of the glories of Scottish music is the Strathspey. The problem here is that there will be rapid harmonic changes at the end of a phrase so instead of one type of chord a bar you will have several. Here's an example:


    The triplets at the end are another feature of the Strathspey which gives it its grace but can also involve rapid harmonic changes.
    Music begins where words leave off. Music expresses the inexpressible.

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  8. #35
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    The Braes of Mar:

    An embodiment of the sheet music that Taggart has posted above. (See also Melinda Crawford in post #8, above.)

    Here's an example of the tune from a teaching video by Fiona Cuthill of the Glasgow Fiddle Workshop.



    And here's the same tune as part of a set played by Alasdair Fraser in The Driven Bow - see post #33 above. This is not the most spectacular example of his ornamentation skills, but still a good illustration - hear how the snaps & birls are integrated into the tunes, like leaves growing on a tree. Awesome!



    Here's a link on the tune's history - it is an eighteenth-century tune and very popular - has spread to the New World and is found in other forms in Ireland too.
    https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation...f_Mar_(1)_(The)
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-04-2019 at 17:07.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  10. #36
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    During the eighteenth century in Scotland, the fashionable art music, baroque, was not separated from folk music by such a wide gap. The same violinists who taught the gentry's children were often in demand as fiddlers at dances and weddings, and perhaps took part in the Edinburgh Music Society''s concerts. The structure of reels, often based on arpeggios, and with special ornaments, can be seen to be related to the structure of baroque music. Schools and universities in Scotland were open to 'the lad of parts' who came from a poor home, and many fiddlers could read music and kept note of their variants of well-known tunes in little manuscript books.

    Sometimes composers of art music also composed in the traditional style. Scottish traditional music was fashionable in Scotland even among the gentry - it was a mark of patriotism.

    One example of a composer who wrote art music and also wrote/ collected/ arranged/ published traditional ('folk') music was James Oswald.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Oswald_(composer)

    One of his books of sheet music can be found here:
    https://imslp.org/wiki/A_Curious_Col...Oswald,_James)

    And here is his 'hawthorn sonata' - baroque music with Scottish-traditional themes.

    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  12. #37
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Another composer who straddled the worlds of art-music and traditional Scottish music was Thomas Erskine the sixth Earl of Kellie - his nickname was 'fiddler Tam'.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas...Earl_of_Kellie

    Here's a baroque composition of his - Sinfonia a Quattro in D major.



    And here's Kellie's Reel played beautifully & with spirit by my fiddle teacher at a Norwich Baroque Concert - of course, being Jim, he likes to groove it up a little and make it his own as the tune advances.

    Last edited by Ingélou; May-08-2019 at 17:14.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  14. #38
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Time to bring in that prince of golden-age Scottish Fiddlers, Niel Gow.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niel_Gow



    I know a Scot who comes from that area of Scotland and who looks just like him.

    He really is my favourite. Two of his famous laments are in the Iain Fraser book (see OP) and can be found on YouTube played by Iain, very beautifully. I enjoy playing these tunes very much, and never get sick of them.

    Oddly, though in general I find it hard to manage vibrato, when I'm playing these laments, the emotion gets to me and I can just about do it.





    I love both these tunes, and they have a similar structure and feeling, but best I like the Lament for his Second Wife, as somehow it conveys the most sadness.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  16. #39
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Pete Clark, a brilliant fiddler who lives at Dunkeld, holds a festival in honour of Niel Gow every March. Here is his website, which also contains details of the festival & recordings of Pete playing tunes by Niel's pupil John Crerar.
    https://www.pete-clark.com/

    Pete Clarke has produced two fab cds of himself playing Niel Gow tunes, and we're lucky enough to have them both.



    Even Now, brought out in 1998, is my favourite and I am learning the tunes on it by ear - have only managed about four tracks & nine tunes by now as I got waylaid by my lowly-grade violin exam, but I'm hoping to return to the project soon.

    You can sample the tunes on this link - https://www.amazon.com/Even-Now-Pete.../dp/B005S4B304

    More recently he collaborated with the pianist (and composer of traditional-style dance tunes) Muriel Johnstone on a cd called Niel Gow's Fiddle. Here's a link with the cover on, and a short review. We both like this cd, but the piano does tend to drawing-room-ise the music to an extent.
    https://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_...l-gows-fiddle/
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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  18. #40
    Senior Member Ingélou's Avatar
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    Another golden-age Scottish fiddler who published traditional tunes was Robert Mackintosh, known as Red Rob.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Mackintosh



    Mackintosh at Murthley - the Music of Robert Mackintosh.
    This cd by Pete Clark contains Mackintosh's traditional tunes & his baroque pieces - fiddle backed by a small baroque ensemble - and it is an exquisite mix which we love listening to.

    We also bought a book of sheet music called The Mackintosh Collection, produced by The Music of Scotland. It doesn't look much - a dark blue book with dull lettering - so it doesn't matter that I'm not able to find an image to post. Still, it does show that you can't judge a delightful book by its boring cover.

    Barring one reel, I've not had time yet to delve inside this book, which lies in a my crammed Scottish Fiddle Music drawer. That's the sad thing about starting a collection - but the good thing is, I've got something to look forward to playing, and will have for years - if I'm spared.
    Last edited by Ingélou; May-08-2019 at 20:38.
    ~ Mollie ~
    My fiddle my joy.

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