Saturday, June 01, 2002

Think I'm molting... fingers are in an odd spot, I'm not quite on. I think I'm starting to pre-listen at a deeper level and I'm not quite there yet. A little strange but I'll keep working through it.

Rehearsed with Jeannie & Chuck last night for the Plough, tonight. I was fumbly until I got the rhythm groove underneath. Came home and worked for a good while on "Marie Elena" as a bolero (almost solid), "Crazy" (yes, it *is* a IV-iii-ii-VI7 walkdown), others.

Later: Something's definitely up... I played Shaskeen Reel and The Acrobat by hearing, rather than by muscle memory, and it did vary each time. I'm getting part of my brain out of the way and am more "live", which is good, but right now I'm sort of awkward.

Friday, May 31, 2002

Didn't play last night because I was working on the computer late, but woke early this morning and had a good 90 minutes. Starting with "Ramona", the old Tin Pan Alley tune that seems to have migrated to every part of the world... I had been listening over and over to Valeria Longoria's version, the way he gets that slow movement with his vocal vibrato. Found a Patsy Tuohey transcription of Shaskeen Reel, and he does have the F# and C# in the Ed Reavy version, but missing in O'Neill's... believe I've got the shape of the tune in my head now. (Tuohey's piping ornamentation is different from what I'm used to with fiddlers... a grace note is often a fourth or fifth away, and it sounds good on the box.)

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Short session on getting home, strong, but distracted. "I Don't Love Nobody" started off before I got to the box, working the yodels and timbres before adding the instrument underneath. "The Mathematician" was much stronger than I would have expected... I can still fluff some of the bass jumps, but now I have to concentrate to not play it too fast, to pull the most meaning out of it. There were a couple of other tunes too, but now I'm back at work, and still listening to Valerio Longoria.
A little under the weather and work crunch... different rhythm, but still getting things done. A session on the acoustic box yesterday morning which didn't sound or feel quite right, and no session at all in the evening. This morning I had a good session, probably because of pent-up demand... started with "Six White Horses" in D, with good separation and accenting of notes. This turned into "Forky Deer" which was at a level different than what I had played before, cleaner, better accenting, more funky rhythm in the B part. Did a few Irish tunes, and am looking for a second setting of Shaskeen Reel that makes sense. Closed with the major and minor versions of Blackberry Blossom, with the bluegrass version surprisingly clean and the minor Kentucky version shaky.

Listening heavily to Conjunto Bernal and Valerio Longoria, and reading Manuel Pena's history of conjunto. He has a picture of Valerio and his son, with his son on a massive 5-row French-style CBA, and him holding what looks to be a Hohner 4-row CBA with a 6X10 bass (hard to see). I can hear it in his playing. I've seeped myself in these tunes over the year, and it has certainly inflected my style, but I really don't play the repertoire yet... if someone said "let's do some tex-mex!" I'd be embarrassed at trying to call up a tune.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

Good session at Ireland's 32 last night. I'm working more on my ear, just hearing things. Some of the tunes were rather swift.

"Shaskeen Reel" is played in a number of ways... O'Neill's has it with a high G note, but Ed Reavy's version has the high F# that I hear around here. His harmony used an A-major chord in the key of G, and I'm not sure how that would play against what I hear locally.

I pulled back "College Groves" from memory this weekend... I like the tune but it was always tough for me. Now it's a lot cleaner, has more space in it.

Worked on "Streets of Bakersfield" and "Jambalaya" for playing with Jeannie & Chuck at the Plough this Saturday. Both seem to be falling into that combination of bluegrass banjo, norteno & Al Brumley steel, should be fun.

Monday, May 27, 2002

Excellent article How to Learn a Tune by Ear from the Denver Slowplayers Group.

I've been getting a good deal of practice over the last two days. Much work has been done on Earl Scruggs examples... I realized that it sounds better if I check the banjo fingering and accent notes played by the thumb. Often I end up doing a blues in G and for some reason like the flat and sharp thirds against the D7 chords, go figure. The accordion and the banjo do have a significant difference in how notes sustain across a role, though... I've got better sustain, but I can't get that decay they get while notes are ringing.

I also pulled back the Stack of Wheat and Stack of Barley, and the spacing and ornamentation comes from I know not where... there's that bounce, spunk, jauntiness that I like. I don't know who else has the same slower tempo and space between notes that I'm enjoying here, but I do know that I like it.

I've also been reading books on Canadian fiddling, from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island. I really like what I've heard, and I like it conceptually too, but I don't know where to start, don't know how to approach it, don't have a role model. I'm hoping to get that connection at this summer's workshops.

Right now I'm listening to an excellent musette compilation, "The Rough Guide to Paris Cafe Music". It has some of the classic stuff, but combines it with newer material too, it's a great juxtaposition. Of course, that makes me feel a little guilty because I haven't refreshed that side of my own playing recently.... ;-)