Sunday, March 02, 2014

Prairieland Strings -- notes and links on "Sumer Is Icumen In" (but don't mention the name so the snow doesn't jinx us again)


Blast email, lightly edited, that I sent tonight to my Prairieland Dulcimer Strings and Clayville Pioneer Academy of Music lists --

Hi everybody --

It looks like maybe -- cross your fingers, get out your mojo beads and bury a frog in a crossroads at midnight for good luck -- the weather will cooperate and we'll be able to have our "first Tuesday" session of the Prairieland Dulcimer Strings from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, March 4, at Atonement Lutheran Church, 2800 West Jefferson.

We've got a couple of new songs now, since we've been snowed out several times, including an English round from the Middle Ages (think "Row Row Row Your Boat" on steroids) that I think may have been jinxing us because it refers to another season of the year when it doesn't snow … so I won't mention it by name. But I'll attach dulcimer tab and link you to my Hogfiddle post below. The other one is "Lee's Waltz," a nice dulcimer tune that's getting popular with people who play other instruments, too, when they hear it.

Our tunes for Tuesday night are:


Since we've tried to practice this song since January, but we've been snowed out all but once, I'm still not going to mention the title in case that's what's been jinxing us!

It's in two parts. One of the parts is a round for two to four voices, which can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it, and the other part is kind of like a walking bass line. At our last meeting, my wife and I were the only ones there. So Debi just banged it out on the piano and I backed her playing the low rhythm part on the bass string of my mountain dulcimer. Then we swapped off, and went back and forth from the melody to the rhythm line on the tab. Once we got into the swing of it, it was as good as having a metronome -- and we were cooking!

I think we can have a lot of fun with this one …

When Playboy magazine asked English singer-songwriter Richard Thompson to list the best popular songs of the last 1,000 years, he suggested this one (which I dare not name). He never heard from Playboy again, but it gave him the idea for a successful night club act. Here he is, with Judith Owen and Debra Dobkin, in live performance. Notice how much music they get from a medieval round with just a guitar, a drum and two vocalists. The song starts at 1:33, but the background information is fun ...

And a group of English folk singers and fiddle players (I think I also hear banjos playing the backup part) at Cecil Sharp House, headquarters of the English Folk Dance and Song Society in London. I especially like this one because you can tell how much fun they're having with it …

* * *

Back in December I posted a lot of background and more links to YouTube clips on Hogfiddle at …

Also here's a link to the lyrics. They're in Middle English, and they make Shakespeare look very up-to-date and trendy (the letter that looks like a "p" at half-mast was called an "eth" and it was pronounced like "th" so the word that looks like "blowep" is "bloweth" and "u" and "v" were interchangeable), but they're kind of fun, and there's a translation below. Link here ..

A group of singers called Cliar Cu Buidhe (Society of the Yellow Dog) that's part of the Society for Creative Anachronism has an accessible YouTube clip that flashes the lyrics on the screen as they sing it in parts. It's a very cool way to learn the song, especially if you play by ear, at ...

It's well worth watching.

You may never get a better chance to learn how to say "the billygoat farts" in Middle English!

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