Tag Archives: old dog

Halsway European Music Weekend

I attended an extended weekend course for musicians to develop ensemble playing skills and make imaginative arrangements that are exciting to listen or dance to. Using music from European folk/traditional/popular music traditions as the raw material to make new arrangements that can go in any direction. The aim was to explore and combine all sorts of influences and ideas to make spine tingling music that is more than the sum of the parts.

The course was fairly intensive and included all day ensemble workshop sessions with the aim of performing all the pieces created together at a public concert on the Sunday night. The course was led by musician/composer/arranger Paul James – saxophones, border bagpipes (Blowzabella, Evening Star), Belgian diatonic accordion virtuoso and composer/arranger Anne Niepold and we are delighted to welcome German harpist, composer and teacher Merit Zloch to the team for the first time this year.

The Team

Paul James is a saxophonist, bagpiper, singer and composer from Newbury who writes, arranges and performs music influenced by English and other European folk traditions. Paul was composer for the critically acclaimed production of John Milton’s ‘Comus – A Masque in Honour of Chastity’ at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and has composed music for TV, documentaries, theatre and contemporary dance, as well as the bands he plays in. He has been a member of the hugely influential folk band Blowzabella since 1980, and plays with his pan-European band Evening Star and the folk dance band The Playford Liberation Front.

Anne Niepold studied in the jazz department of the Royal Conservatory of Brussels and attended many courses and masterclasses. As a performer she is a true force of nature – brash, adventurous and phenomenally skilled, she takes the humble accordion in startling directions. Beside her solo projects, she performs with numerous arts companies at home and abroad, and has numerous recordings to her name.

“(Anne) shows us the right way, that of intelligence, respect, emotion and heart. Run quickly listen to her and see her in concert!”
Richard Galliano, Accordionist

Merit Zloch is a harpist, composer and music teacher. She sees herself in the tradition of the itinerant harp players of the 19th and early 20th century, travelling with her harp throughout Europe charming people with her original compositions and arrangements of historical dance music.

She has played in bands almost as long as she has played the harp and is constantly fascinated by the interplay between musicians. She likes to arrange und develop pieces together with her band colleagues and to improvise.

Merit researches historical dance manuscripts and organises musicians meetings, bals and instrumental workshop weekends.

Queries?

If you have any queries about the course, have a chat with course leader Paul James 0788 794 8853 pauljames.eu@gmail.com

Benoit Roblin Hurdy Gurdy Workshop at the Winter School

Benoît Roblin has grown to the sound of the hurdy-gurdy at Vierzon in Berry. Formed by Laurent Bitaud then Alexis Vacher, Benoît obtains his DEM in traditional music in 2008 then embarks on the professional adventure accompanied by his old green wheel designed by Jean-Paul Dinota.

Benoît Roblin has developed his own game, inspired by viellists of different styles, working on energy and groove. He has always put traditional music to dance in the heart of his instrumental practice, those of Berry mainly with Decibal, the big trio,  the  Hervé duo  and now in solo ball  , through Poitou with  Son de bouc,  the  Roblin duo. Pacher,  the  duo Jagueneau-Roblin and Tord Boyaux,  Brittany and Vendée in the  Roblin-Evain-Badeau Trio,  and Gascony with Nòu.

Projects full head and fingers, Benedict continues to create over the meetings, always looking for new experiences.

Benoit Roblin : hurdy-gurdy, feet, singing.

 

Winter School at Gaunts House

I attended music workshops at the Gaunts House Winter School over 4 days with Benoit Roblin, Gilles Chabenat, Julien Barbances and Lyset i Forsen the groups were very small and this made the learning process very quick and in depth. I also learnt to dance Scottische, waltz and Mazurka (thank you Jean for your remarkable patience). The Winter School is a nine day event which brought  professional musicians, singers and dancers from all over Europe to provide a very rich and exciting program of dance and music workshops, concerts and bals. More info about the Emade organisation who put on the event can be found here http://www.emade.org.uk/winterschool.php the full programme is here programme winter school Gaunts House

 

I’ll provide details of the specific workshops and learnings in subsequent posts.

So far Hot GriseldaEelgrindersTondo (Gilles Chabenat, Maarten Decombel, Fred Pouget), Ciac BoumHRDLyset i forsentrio Roblin/Evain/BadeauNaragonia Benoit GuerbignyJulien BarbancesRémi GeffroyGabriel Lenoir have confirmed their coming.

Dance workshop teachers include : Leif & Margareta Virtanen (Swedish dances), Anne-Cécile Dubois (tango and more), Maria Guerbigny (Lindy hop), Mike &Heidi Gibbs (rueda), Gabriel Lenoir (Dances from Wallony) & more (polska, Poitou, Bretagne, French mazurka…

The Folk Ball events and concerts were fantastic seeing  top European Folk Musicians play in  a dance context was invaluable. Dancing to the tunes they played a profound and deep level physical understanding of the function and dynamics of the music – magic!

 

 

 

Halsway Manor Hurdy Gurdy Weekend 2019

I attended the Halsway Manor Hurdy Gurdy annd Bagpipe weekend it was amazing. I studied with Francesco Giusta. What did I learn… lots here is a video demo of the music from the workshop.

Ways into playing 2 time bourees – three part harmony arrangements for Hurdy Gurdy also approaches to playing Waltz and Mazurka – variable speed wheel technique slow cranking to give space and rhythmic spice too tunes, off beats paradidles and a whole lot more.

Here is a full list of tutors for the weekend:
The Team (Hurdy Gurdy)
Claire Dugué (Host) a native of France, encountered the hurdy-gurdy in London during her college training as an instrument maker. She was captivated by the instrument and has been making hurdy-gurdies ever since, producing quality instrument for amateur and professionals alike. Claire has now taken over the organisation of the weekend from Paul James and will be hosting the event and be also at hand to help with the technical aspects of setup and maintenance.

Gilles Chabenat is regarded as one of the very best hurdy-gurdy players of his generation. He began playing the hurdy-gurdy at 13 with Les Thiaulins, an association devoted to folk arts and traditions. Following private lessons with Georges Simon, he won several music awards and subsequently devoted himself to his region’s traditional repertoire with a desire to branch out into other musical styles.

In the wake of Valentin Clastrier, he thus felt the need to reinvent the instrument and the playing techniques associated with it. Around that time and after several years of research, luthier Denis Siorat developed a contemporary-style electro-acoustic instrument which facilitated the integration of the hurdy-gurdy into the modern musical experience.

In 1992, Gilles Chabenat began a twelve-year partnership with the Corsican group I Muvrini. During that period, he met and worked with a number of renowned artists: Véronique Sanson, Stephan Eicher, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Sting, as well as Frédéric Paris, Edouard Papazian, Alain Bonnin, and Gabriel Yacoub to name but a few. More recently, he has been collaborating with jazz musicians and also works regularly with Eric Montbel, Didier François, a Nyckelharpa player, Gabriel Yacoub and Patrick Bouffard.

Gilles’ musical experience and evolution are thus constantly shaped by the people he meets. In his approach to hurdy-gurdy playing, he draws essentially on the multifaceted nature of an instrument which has been in constant evolution for more than one thousand years.

Francesco Giusta (Italy) started to play hurdy gurdy at the age of 11 with local tutors before developing his technique with some masters of the instrument; J F Maxou Heintzen, P Bouffard, G Jolivet, G Diaz, T Nouant, S Durand and V Clastrier.

Within the years he has played in several bands, mostly in folk and medieval music performing at many folk and medieval festivals in Italy and France; worked with Lou Dalfin and in some musical project with Sergio Berardo.

He recorded some CD’s (‘En l’aire ailamont’ in 2011 and ‘Podre’ in 2013 with La Mesquia, ‘Balfolk’ in 2014 with Trigomigo) and was a guest in ‘Bon Nadal Occitania’ in 2009, with Sergio Berardo, ‘Cavalier Faidit’ in 2011 with Lou Dalfin, ‘Santulubbiranti’ in 2015 with Malanova.

Since 2011 he has been giving masterclasses in Germany and regular lessons in Turin. In 2015 he won the first price at the hurdygurdy challenge at ‘Le son continue’ festival in Chateaux d’Ars, France.

He now plays with Trigomigo, Controcanto, Bal là and has regular hurdygurdy classes in Turin and Cuneo.

Joel Turk is one of our regulars at Halsway Manor, as he has been teaching hurdy-gurdy to the most advanced players over the past 2 years. He is back this year to look after the beginners! Joel is well known for being a member of the great band Red Dog Green Dog.

Two really useful videos on modes and tonal centres

Knowing how to create modes from the major scale is a really useful skill here’s how to do it.

If you think about the tonal centre of the Hurdy-Gurdy as the drone string then changing it’s pitch can open up lots of interesting possibilities…using the same melody…

Brexit

Due to the uncertain political situation and the danger of crashing out of the EU with ‘No deal’ I’m having to do some research into factors affecting artists travelling in Europe the Arts Council have published some guidelines for arts organisations here:

ACE_EU_Exit_Guide_22jan19

Also with regards to travelling in my car I’ll need a special permit called an IDP (International Driving Permit) in the event of a ‘no deal’ Brexit, IDPs may be required for people intending to drive in EU countries after 28th March 2019.

Post Offices offering the IDP service can provide information on IDP requirements before 28th March 2019, or you can visit www.gov.uk/driving-abroad/international-driving-permit

Crikey it’s all happening! The Euro is really high – as I found out today when booking onto workshops in Germay and Holland. I’ll have to double check my health and travel insurances too… also my medical card is still valid.

I got the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

Inspired by the Muddy-gurdy film and remembering a deep teenage of love of the blues I’ve been doing some online and action research into playing the blues and blues improvisation and started to work on how to make it work on the Hurdy-gurdy.

I’ve looked at guitar blues methodology here:

https://www.musicradar.com/tuition/guitars/8-essential-blues-guitar-lead-tricks-640018

https://www.musicradar.com/tuition/guitars/25-blues-rock-guitar-licks-you-need-to-know-636061

I’ve looked at violin methodology here:

 

The structure of the music the 8/12/16 bars would lend themselves to looping and then soloing over the top… Remember if the tune if the tune is in D solo and improvise in D likewise G and C.

blues-chord-progression-1
images (1)

In D:
I = D IV=G V=A
IN G:
I = G   IV= C V=DIN G:
In C
I = C   IV= F V=G

Blues Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

The blues scale in D is: D F G Ab A C

The Blues Scale in G is: G Bb C Db D F

The Blues Scale in C is: C Eb F Gb G Bb

 

Major Pentatonic Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

Pentatonic Major in D: D E F# A B

Pentatonic Major in G: G A B D E

Pentatonic Major in C: C D E G A

 

Minor Pentatonic Scales in Gurdy friendly keys:

Pentatonic Minor in D:  D F G A C

Pentatonic Major in G: G Bb C D F

Pentatonic Major in C: C Eb F G Bb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gilles Chabenat and a hunt for the Hurdy-gurdy Blues

I’m booked in at Halsway Manor The national Centre for Folk Arts and will be studying with French Hurdy-gurdy maestro Gilles Chabenat. We’ll be working on these tunes:
valse à louis
dix petits grains d’or
bourrée prieur
allemande variations

Which are all pretty traditional Gilles Workshop covers the following areas:

Gilles Chabenat is regarded as one of the very best hurdy-gurdy players of his generation. He began playing the hurdy-gurdy at 13 with Les Thiaulins, an association devoted to folk arts and traditions. Following private lessons with Georges Simon, he won several music awards and subsequently devoted himself to his region’s traditional repertoire with a desire to branch out into other musical styles.

In the wake of Valentin Clastrier, he thus felt the need to reinvent the instrument and the playing techniques associated with it. Around that time and after several years of research, luthier Denis Siorat developed a contemporary-style electro-acoustic instrument which facilitated the integration of the hurdy-gurdy into the modern musical experience.

In 1992, Gilles Chabenat began a twelve-year partnership with the Corsican group I Muvrini. During that period, he met and worked with a number of renowned artists: Véronique Sanson, Stephan Eicher, Jean-Jacques Goldman, Sting, as well as Frédéric Paris, Edouard Papazian, Alain Bonnin, and Gabriel Yacoub to name but a few. More recently, he has been collaborating with jazz musicians and also works regularly with Eric Montbel, Didier François, a Nyckelharpa player, Gabriel Yacoub and Patrick Bouffard.

Gilles’ musical experience and evolution are thus constantly shaped by the people he meets. In his approach to hurdy-gurdy playing, he draws essentially on the multifaceted nature of an instrument which has been in constant evolution for more than one thousand years.

Recently Gilles has been working with the Muddy Gurdy project

Andrey Vinogradov has also been exploring the playing of blues on the Hurdy-gurdy

So this started me to wonder how does one approach playing the blues on the Hurdy-gurdy what are the stylistic elements of the form and approaches to leadlines chordal structures etc.

Learning Languages

I’ve been studying Spanish using the Duo Lingo phone App since the summer and have now started to brush up on  my French and German.  I have a  daily routine and my hope is that I will be able to talk to people in their own language when studying the Hurdy-gurdy in France, Spain and Germany.

download

I do about 40 minutes a day on the app usually first thing in the morning it stops me listening to the news and keeps me in a good positive mood for playing.

The Hurdy-gurdy has a very precise language all of it’s own and it varies from country to country I’m asking people on the Facebook Hurdy-gurdy Community page to fill in this document to help Hurdy-gurdy players understand each other.

word art

Learning should be fun

I’ve been brushing up on my sight reading skills and found this food chart to help me with the rhythms it makes me chuckle every time I look at it. It’s is great fun to play using the buzzes on the Hurdy-gurdy and short melodic phrases that ape the sound of the words. It’s a quick and easy way to brush up on those sight reading skills in a hands on way.
music-notes-rhythm-guide-1523624520

Developing Your Creative Practice Award

drq_hurdygurdy-1

I’m really happy to announce that the application to the Arts Council to develop my creative practice has been successful. I’ll be working on my Hurdy-gurdy playing and developing a new body of work. I’ll be working with some of the best Hurdy-gurdy players in the world to develop my skills, refine technique and musicality.

It will take my Hurdy-gurdy playing to a standard that enables me to tour as a soloist performing music that I have composed, laying solid foundations for the development of new solo and ensemble work in unusual and exciting contexts. I will grow a professional European touring and support network to help me achieve this.

I will be mentored by the recognised leading players from the global Hurdy-gurdy community over a year to develop: playing skills; contemporary performance technique; composition; exploration of traditional and contemporary repertory; the use of new technology; looping and effects; recording techniques; professional performance opportunities; a unique musical voice.

For each experience I will write and record at least one piece of music that reflects and internalises the learning gained. I will document techniques taught on film. I will share the story of my musical development as a soloist over the year on a website. I will perform short solo pieces at various gatherings during the process concluding with a solo show.

This will be a life-changing opportunity to develop and refine my solo practice so that I can learn from the best, compose new work and reach new audiences. When I first learnt to play the Hurdy-gurdy, 33 years ago, opportunities to meet with other players were very limited. Now there are more platforms to meet and study performance techniques and repertory with leading exponents of the instrument across Europe on a one to one basis and in group settings. The activity will take place over a year allowing me to digest, internalise and institute these new techniques and music. I will be building my international professional network by meeting and talking with players and promoters.

I will be raising my public profile as a player by sharing my experiences with an online audience through my website and social media. These activities will raise my status as a player and create opportunities for new performance and recording to take place. The process will allow me to develop the skills, knowledge, technique, confidence, flexibility and resilience to be able to work as a soloist in many musical contexts. To demonstrate learning and gain feedback I will present a solo show. I will record and showcase new compositions along the way online using my website, You-tube and Face Book and also at specially-selected events that feature new acoustic music, including festival appearances and concerts.

After the development phase is complete, I intend to record an album of my compositions for Hurdy-gurdy and tour it internationally.