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Thread: The Celtic Mandolin - Tunes for May 2021

  1. #1

    Default The Celtic Mandolin - Tunes for May 2021

    Hi Folks

    Here are the tunes I've prepared for Tune of the Week during May. Hope some of you are enjoying from learning these old tunes from the first Airds Collection (1782 app).


    Wk 28 Lassie wi the Yellow Coatie
    Usually, this is known as a song (although it isn't sung to this Aird's version of the tune). Great song - and this is a fine tune too.

    Wk 29. Major Montgomerie's Quick Step
    Althopugh I've played at many ceildh dances I'm not that up on the different forms of tunes . I noticed in Aird's that 'quicksteps' can be jigs or polkas or marches. Don't know how that works.
    Anyway, this is an elegant wee tune.

    Wk 30. The Grand Parade
    A sweet tune from the great English country dance tradition.

    Wk 31 The Moon and Seven Stars
    A similar tune to last week.

    These Aird's tunes are lovely, and in the 18th century there appears to have been a huge public appetite for them. In fact, at that time there seems to have been a huge appetite for tunes from all over these islands, from Ireland, Scotland and England (not noticed any Welsh tunes yet). Published in Glasgow about 65 years after the Act of Union I wonder if the Aird's selections suggest that by that time the people of the Union had developed a more open-minded, more cosmopolitan, respectful and generous view of all its citizens, looking outwards, as opposed to what can sometimes appear to be the case today in a dis-united Kingdom with it's recent catastrophic lurch to the far right.

    www.thecelticmandolin.co.uk

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  3. #2
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    Default Re: The Celtic Mandolin - Tunes for May 2021

    Thanks for the latest tunes - more musical homework. On your comments about the cultural/ historical context for British Isles music, I think the eighteenth century (e.g. the Airds collection) is an interesting period for the promulgation of folk music from different parts of the islands. There seems to have been a craze for folk dance tunes for use in respectable society as well as a growth in performance of such by the 'middling sort' in society, hence the many publications of 'Scotch' Irish etc tune books.
    Part of this, in my view, may have been as a reaction against the dominance in elite musical circles across western Europe of 'classical music', for instance a growth of more populist musical theatre in London in response to the dominant Italian Operas in the West End. So you get The Beggars Opera (which gave Brecht and Weil the basis for their Threepenny Opera during the Weimar Republic), The Wapping Landlady (the story of Jack Tar ashore, source of 'The Sailor's Hornpipe') and these both mined folk tunes and added to the the folk repertoire as their tunes were widely published, played in pubs and by buskers etc. I have a theory that English folk music was overlooked by publishers in favour of more exotic folk music, especially the extremely popular Scottish tunes (which can be seen across NW Europe in the forms of the schottische, reels and jigs) and I dare say a few English tunes were classified as Scottish to help them sell.
    The later importance of 'celtic' music as a means of reinforcing distinct national identities by nationalist politicians is another interesting story.
    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

  4. #3

    Default Re: The Celtic Mandolin - Tunes for May 2021

    Fascinating stuff. I could get into a long discussion about all this, especially the political context, but I'm really interested to lnow what it all sounded like at that time, in the late 18th century. What did it sound like in the taverns of the High Street (the middlings) compared to the renderings done in the fine living rooms of the New Town (the respectable)? What instruments were used? How was it presented and received?Romanticism was in full flourish so anything exotic appealed even if it was only a few hundred miles away on the same island, the world was opening up - maybe the Aird's approach to tune collections added a bit of glue to the Union (not that I'm an enthusiast myself especially considering recent events in the UK).

    One of the tunes I include, Old Plantation Girls includes a reference to Virginia in the original book, so the 'girls' may well be slaves. It's a rather melancholy tune and it's a 9/8 and is a bit 'exotic' for the Scottish/Celtic modes. I wonder what the motivation was for producing this tune. Even our greatest bard, Robert Burns accepted a post on a slave planataion in Jamaica, so discourse about Empire among the educated and the politically inclined, as Burns was, may have been very different to today.
    Anyway, thanks for your comment.
    John

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  6. #4
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    Default Re: The Celtic Mandolin - Tunes for May 2021

    Quote Originally Posted by clachanmusic View Post
    Fascinating stuff. I could get into a long discussion about all this, especially the political context, but I'm really interested to lnow what it all sounded like at that time, in the late 18th century. What did it sound like in the taverns of the High Street (the middlings) compared to the renderings done in the fine living rooms of the New Town (the respectable)? What instruments were used?
    John
    I'm led to understand that the double bass was a latecomer in Scotland, so cello was often the bass intrument where a piano was absent. I think the recordings of The Neil Gow Ensemble are a stab at recreating the sound of a late 18thC Scottish 'string band', such as fiddler and fiddle tune composer Neil Gow might have played in (he played a lot with his cellist brother Donald, and it's said he nearly gave up when Donald died). For anyone who hasn't heard this style, it's very interesting - a bit like a classical string quartet or piano quintet playing Scottish dance music), and one can imagine the sound fitting well with venues like Blair Castle and the Edinburgh homes of 'the quality'. Pubs not so much Some of the Scottish fiddle composers of the time (William Marshall?) were reported to have been in active correspondence with Italian touring violins soloists, and may have met them. 'Honest' Neil Gow was reputed to have played anywhere from Blair Castle to local weddings etc., but William Marshall sounds like a different kind of man - factor (estate manager) to the Duke of Gordon, his hobbies are reported to have included astronomy and clockmaking and his music tends to be more formal and elaborate. It was he who is supposed to have replied to the question "Why d'ye write sic hard tunes, Mr Marshall?" (he wrote some fiddle reels in 4 flats) with the riposte "Ah dinna write tunes for bunglers". As the later fiddler and fiddle composer J Scott Skinner wrote on the title page of one of his collections, "Talent Does what it Can, Genius Does what it Must" (!)

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