Kimberley Pipe Band 90th Anniversary Tattoo

 


 Tattoo Weekend Schedule

Friday, July 14th, 2017

  • 11:00 am     Musical Taste of the Tattoo – Free Platzl Concert
    • Cowichan Pipe Band
    • BC Regimental Band

Saturday, July 15th, 2017

  • 09:30 am    Rotary Pancake Breakfast – Centre 64
  • 10:00 am     Parade of Bands – Centre 64 to Civic Centre
  • 5:45 pm       Doors open – Civic Centre
    • Concession Opens – Support the Dynamiters
  • 6:00 pm       Kimberley Community Band – Civic Centre
  • ​7:00 pm       Tattoo Performance – Civic Centre
  • 9:15 pm       Ceilidh / Dance with Johnny McCuaig Band

For the past 90 years the Kimberley Pipe Band has been an integral part of most major parades and festivals held in the Kootenay region and beyond.  Every 10 years, since their 50th anniversary they have hosted a major music and marching performance known as a Tattoo. The 2017 Kimberley Pipe Band’s 90th Anniversary Tattoo featured a 2 hour show of music, pipes, drums and dancing; a street parade featuring over 200 drummers

FREE PLATZL CONCERT – FRIDAY 14th, 2017, 11 am

              

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AT THE KIMBERLEY ARENA, SATURDAY JULY 15, 2017 (in the evening)

Kimberley Community Band

KIMBERLEY PIPE BAND

 

JAMES NEVE “On the Road to Passchendaele”

                

That was not the end of the festivities, the evening concluded with a kitchen party in the Arena.

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Post script: Here’s something that puzzled me. I have been in Canada over forty years and as usual the Canadian national anthem was played during the evening but this is the first time in all those years that I have been at an event where they played “God Save the Queen”. I find the playing of “God Save the Queen” in Canada a little weird. That’s the British national anthem.

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S is for Sicily

The Green Door Presents Michael Occhipinti’s Sicilian Project at Centre 64, Kimberley,  July 13, 2017, 7:30 pm

Pilar, Tony, Michael and Scott

It is a long way from Sicily to Toronto and it is even further to Kimberley in the back blocks of British Columbia. Never-the-less, Michael Occhipinti (guitar) and his band of musicians, including the vocalist  Pilar (all the way from vacation land in Sardinia) and Toronto bassist Scott Kemp traveled west and managed to hook up  with the Kootenay’s “go-to” drummer Tony Ferraro for the Western Canadian tour of Michael’s The Sicilian Project. This is Michael’s nod to his Sicilian cultural roots featuring a healthy dose of folkloric musical themes and stories from the island of Sicily. Actually it is more than a nod. It is a full blown cultural experience that has nothing to do with the popular images of Sicily as presented in the novels of Mario Puzo and Director Francis Ford Coppola 1972 films of The Godfather. This was a wonderful evening of Sicilian culture as seen through the eyes and memories of Michael Occhipinti, his family and his extended visits to the Island. It was Sicilian culture with a twist. There is no way that Michael could deliver an undiluted portrayal of today’s Sicily or even the Sicily of yester-years. Michael is Canadian so it goes with out saying his perceptions of his parents homeland’s poetry and music is colored by his everyday Canadian experiences. That is not a bad thing, and as cultures change and evolve that it is probably the way it should be. Having said that, what the audience got was an evening filled with music, stories, language and humor. The music and musicianship was first class. Michael is one of Canada’s finest guitarists and to quote his website “Michael Occhipinti is a versatile, sound-sculpting guitarist and composer/arranger, who has spent decades freely moving between jazz, chamber music, world music, r&b/funk, and anything involving modern guitar sounds.  He is a nine-time JUNO Award nominee and leads several acclaimed groups including The Sicilian Project, Shine On: The Universe of John Lennon, The Triodes, and the 16-piece group NOJO (Neufeld-Occhipinti Jazz Orchestra. This barely scratches the surface of some of his current projects and collaborations. Surely one of his most successful endeavors  is his current collaboration is with the the Italian vocalist Pilar. What can one say? Well she is so, so, so ……… European and that is so refreshing in today’s homogeneous music scene. Tony Ferraro is from Trail and as they say in Trail you are either “a Mac or a Macaroni” ( ie. either a Scot or Italian) so I guess he has a legitimate Italian connection. Scot Kemp is a sessions musician in Toronto so he has the unique skills needed to fit into Michael’s projects.

Here is the set list for the evening: Set 1

1 Di Pugno Tuo
2 Sacciu chi parla a la Luna
3. Cherchez La Femme
4. Nun ti lassu
5. Per tutto L’inverno
6  Muorica
7. Amuninni Razzietta

Set 2
1. Il Colore Delle Vene
2 Lingua e Dialettu
3. Suzanne
4 Last Day at the Beach
5. Autoctono Italiano
6. Vitti ‘na Crozza

With the exception of Muorica, Amuninni Razzietta and Lingua e Dialettu  from the CD MUORICA  for me the music is entirely new. However, nestled in the set list is Leonard Cohen’s Suzanne and until you hear Pilar’s version sung in Italian, backed by Michael’s artificial guitar harmonics and Tony’s subtle mallets on drum kit you have not yet lived. This has to be a definitive performance.

It was a wonderful concert that was only marred by the exceptionally poor stage  lighting. I am a photographer and I can be critical of stage lighting so I tend to complain about these things. I know it is a balancing act for stage directors to keep in mind the desire of musicians not to be blinded by the heat and the “in your face” lights, the needs of the audience to see the action on stage and the desire for atmospheric lighting to enhance the performance. However, the lighting system in Centre  64 is excellent and for this performance it was not used to an optimum advantage.  I did capture some images but it was struggle on the very edge of what was photographically possible without resorting to using a flash. Here are some images from the evening.

                    

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YouTube pick (#16) – Another way to play Mandolin

Mandolin music has a long European history that is usually associated with Italian  Neapolitan music. When the instrument migrated to North America in the early part of the twentieth century it underwent some physical changes. The traditional round back gave away to relatively thin flat backed instruments in a number of shapes (A-Style; F-Style and others). The most famous of these North American instruments were those designed by Lloyd Allayre Loar. He was a sound engineer and master luthier  with the Gibson company in the early part of the 20th century. His instruments, including the famous F5 model mandolin, are expensive ($100,000 +) and are much sort after instruments that have become associated with Bill Monroe and Bluegrass music. The mandolin “chop” that emulates the back beat of a snare drum is one of the most characteristic sonic signatures of Bluegrass music.

 

Now, theoretical physicists have often held sway with the notion that there are multiple simultaneous universes that can  co-exist. The notion does stretch the mind somewhat but in the world of mandolin music it almost seems that it is a possibility. While the Neapolitan mandolin migrated to North America, underwent physical changes and came to prominence in the hands of unique virtuosos like Bill Monroe, a similar but different transformation was taking place half a world away in Brazil. The mandolin in Brazil probably came out of Portuguese traditions and became rooted in a musical style called Choro. Although contemporary flat backed styles of mandolin are used in Brazil  the Portuguese instrument also underwent changes. An extra course of strings was added to a slightly larger body with a wider neck. The result is a five course instrument called a Bandolim (pictured below) that is tuned C G D A E.

North America has Bill Monroe; Brazil has Jacob do Bandolim. As documented in Wikipedia, he was born under the name Jacob Pick Bittencourt (December 14, 1918 – August 13, 1969). He adopted a stage name to reflect the the name of the instrument he played, the Bandolim. He has become intimately associated with Choro, a genre also popularly known as chorinho (“little cry” or “little lament”). This popular Brazilian genre is a musical synthesis of European salon music and Brazilian rhythms. As a  perfectionist, Jacob was able to achieve from his band Época de Ouro the highest levels of quality. Jacob hated the stereotype of the “dishevelled, drunk folk musician” and required commitment and impeccable dress from his musicians who, like himself, all held “day jobs.” Jacob worked as a pharmacist, insurance salesman, street vendor, and finally notary public, to support himself while also working “full time” as a musician. In addition to his virtuoso playing, he is famous for his many choro compositions, more than 103 tunes, which range from the lyrical melodies of “Noites Cariocas” , Receita de Samba and “Dôce de Coco” to the aggressively jazzy “Assanhado“, which is reminiscent of  bebop. He also researched and attempted to preserve the older choro tradition, as well as that of other Brazilian music styles. Outside of Brazil Choro seems to be under going a surge of interest. The Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen has recently released a number of new recordings with the Trio Brasileiro. The trio  features Dudu Maia on Bandolim; Alexander Lora on Pandiero (the driving Brazilian samba tambourine that is the heart beat of Brazilian music) and his brother Douglas Lora on seven string nylon guitar. Below is a YouTube clip of the Trio and a clip of David Benedict playing a Choro on a more familiar North American style Mandolin. Notice how different are the sounds coming from the Mandolin and the Bandolim. The mandolin seems to have a sharper, more percussive “bite” that fits so well into Bluegrass. The Bandolim seems, at least to my ear, to have a bigger, fuller sound that probably would not work in a Bluegrass setting.

So if you are a mandolin player and find the music attractive you should check out the Mel Bay publication Choro Brasileiro – Brazilian Choro: A Method for Mandolin by Marilynn Mair and Paulo Sa (MB21975BCD). The publication includes a CD.

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Poscript: I sent a link of this blog entry to the Hornby Island luthier Lawrence Nyberg to find out if he had any any interest in the Bandolim. As it turns out he has been experimenting with the instrument and has posted the following on his face book page.

Introducing: The Mini-Cittern. The newest in the mando-cittern line-up. Available as a flat or carved-top. Flat-top,…

Posted by Nyberg Instruments on Wednesday, June 28, 2017

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YouTube Pick (#15) – Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern

The best and the worst thing that has ever happened to guitar music has been  “the invention of electricity”. On the plus side, before guitarists could plug in the guitar was, and still is, a very quiet instrument with very limited dynamic range  and sustain. On an acoustic guitar, a note struck does not travel far and does not last long and in a group setting it is quickly overpowered by other instruments. In the days before amplification acoustic guitarists were forced to play very hard and as a result the sound coming from the instrument suffered. Even today Blue Grass flat pickers who prefer to play  hard and fast without plugging in run the risk of not being heard or ending up with a crappy sound. Electricity changed all of that. From the get go an amplified guitar could now hold its own even in the big bands of the forties. Case in point listen to the recordings of Charlie Christian and the Benny Goodman Orchestra. As instruments and amplification systems improved the guitar came into its own with more volume, more sustain, more dynamic possibilities and with effect pedals more sonic possibilities. The sky was the limit and unfortunately that led to the false conclusion that more volume became equated as more, not necessarily good,  music.  The possibilities of increased  sustain and sonic effects are very useful tools that have often become completely obliterated by the shear power and volume of the modern electric guitar. That has become the down side. The temptation to continually crank up the volume has become hard to resist  and it has affected every body. Drummers, bass players, keyboards are now all capable of immense volume and the result, often, is that musicality and nuance have gone out the door. If every body plays super loud there is no musical room to move.  Having said all that there are still examples out there of loud electric guitar music well worth listening to. This YouTube of Lee Ritenour and Mike Stern at the Tokyo Blue Note is right up there with great interplay between the two guitarists and with the great supporting musicians in Freeway Jam Band. The band features Simon Phillips on drums (that must be the biggest drum kit on the planet), John Beasley on a mass of keyboards and Melvin Dasin on a gigantic seven string  electric bass. This is a long video, over an hour, so grab a beer and kick back for some great “electric” music. Now is it Jazz or is it rock? who cares?

For most of the listening public and despite many albums, awards and studio session both of these musicians are somewhat under the radar. Lee Ritenour was born January 11, 1952 in Los Angeles. At 16, he played on his first recording session, with  the Mamas and the Papas, and was given the nickname Captain Fingers for his dexterity. He was a a studio musician in the 1970s, winning Guitar Player magazine’s Best Studio Guitarist award twice. Throughout his career, Ritenour has experimented with different styles of music, incorporating funk, pop, rock, blues, Brazilian , classical and jazz . He has 41 solo albums to his credit and has played as a sideman on many, many hit records including Pink Floyd’s THE WALL. He was also a key member of the groups Fourplay and L.A. Workshop. In 2004 he brought together some of the key musicians of his career for the two disc DVD Overtime. For anybody who takes music seriously this DVD is a must view. Strictly speaking Lee is not specifically a jazz player. He exists in that commercial arena that straddles rock / pop / and studio work. He is a musical chameleon who manages to slip effortlessly into what ever role is required. It is probably the reason he doesn’t figure highly in the DownBeat Jazz Critics and Readers polls. He is probably not a pure enough Jazz player to be considered. It is a bit of a shame really because he has an unbelievably high skill level. Just to demonstrate his Jazz chops check the the two clips below of him in two groups playing Oliver Nelson’s masterpiece Stolen Moments. His 1990 solo album of the same name is one of my all time favorite Jazz Guitar recordings.

On the other hand Mike Stern (born January 10, 1953) has impeccable jazz credentials. Because he has a very non-jazz sound I find the the situation a little ironic and yet despite this he is a six-time Grammy-nominated American jazz guitarist. After playing with Blood Sweat and Tears he landed a gig with drummer  Billy Cobham, then with trumpeter Miles Davis from 1981 to 1983 and again in 1985. I guess it takes a Miles Davis imprimatur to be taken seriously as a jazz player. Following that, he launched a solo career, releasing more than a dozen albums. Stern was hailed as the Best Jazz Guitarist of 1993 by  Guitar Player Magazine. At the  Festival International de Jazz de Montreal in June 2007, Stern was honored with the Miles Davis Award, which was created to recognize internationally acclaimed jazz artists whose work has contributed significantly to the renewal of the genre. In 2009 Stern was listed as one of the 75 best jazz guitarist of all time. He was presented with Guitar Player magazine’s Certified Legend Award on January 21, 2012. He has 16 solo albums to his credit.

I tend not to find solid body electric guitars visually pleasing. To me one Telecaster electric guitar looks much the same as another. However, Mike plays a signature Yamaha Pacifica – Mike Stern Model. Years ago, because he really liked Telecasters so much he had Yamaha make him one to his specifications. It is one beautiful looking guitar.

This is loud music but with lots of good stuff there to hold one’s interests. Of course at the end of the performance the question remains. Is it Rock or is it Jazz?  ….. Enjoy

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Alan Holdsworth August 6, 1946 – April 16, 2017

I have to admit that although I was aware of the name Allan Holdsworth I had not paid any attention to his music. It was only the article Remembering Allan Holdsworth in July 2017 edition of DownBeat that prompted me to do a little research. Here is part of an entry in Wikipedia:

Allan Holdsworth (6 August 1946 – 15 April 2017) was a British guitarist and composer. He released twelve studio albums as a solo artist and played a variety of musical styles in a career spanning more than four decades, but is best known for his work in jazz fusion. Holdsworth was known for his advanced knowledge of music, through which he incorporated a vast array of complex  chord progressions and intricate solos; the latter comprising myriad scale forms often derived from those such as the diminished, augmented, whole tone, chromatic and altered scales, among others, resulting in an unpredictable and “outside” sound. His unique legato soloing technique stemmed from his original desire to play the saxophone. Having been unable to afford one, he strove to use the guitar to create similarly smooth lines of notes. He also become associated with playing an early form of  guitar synthesizer called the   SynthAxe, a company he endorsed in the 1980s.

Holdsworth was cited as an influence by a host of rock, metal and jazz guitarists such as Eddie Van Halen, Joe Satrriani, Greg Howe, Shawn Lane, Ritchie Kotzen, John Petrucci, Alex Lifeson, Kurt Rosenwinkel,  Yngwie Malmsteen , Michael Romeo, Ty Tabor and Tom Morello . Frank Zappa once lauded him as “one of the most interesting guys on guitar on the planet”, while  Robben Ford has said: “I think Allan Holdsworth is the John Coltrane of the guitar. I don’t think anyone can do as much with the guitar as Allan Holdsworth can.”

Check the full Wikipedia entry https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Holdsworth   for more info.

Well, he obviously has a bucket full of credentials so I went to YouTube  to get a taste of what he is about. There are lots and lots of clips. This is not relaxing music. It offers very significant challenges for  a potential audience and I for one am not sure I am up to the challenge. The one I have selected is interesting because it was recorded April 3, 2017. He died on April 15, 2017.

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An Interesting Fact

“Consider Sweden, which offers the most reliable historic records. In 1800, life expectancy at birth was 33 years for women and 31 years for men; today it is 83.5 years and 79.5 years, respectively. In both cases, women live about 5% longer than men.”

Just goes to show – the more things change, the more they stay the same. On another level – at my current age (76 years) I have live 2.3 times longer than a Swedish male in the 1800s and I am still not finished yet.

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YouTube Pick (#14) – Nostalgia

Every body has memories that float to the surface from time to time. A lot of people have fond memories of their  high school and college years,  and a million other times that are filled with many pleasant memories. Nostagia has become a great marketing tool and the market place is rife with commercial attempts make money from the emotion. Just stop for a minute and think of the popularity of classic rock, the numerous tribute bands and fading rock stars on their last, and final, farewell tour. I am not immune to the emotion but my favorite nostalgic musical  memory has nothing to do with the pop music of my youth. Rather it concerns a particular memory from the time of my immigration to Canada. In 1971 the transport method of choice to get to Canada from Australia was by boat (or is it ship?). In those days air fares were too expensive. I traveled on the P&O ship The Oriana from Auckland (New Zealand) to Vancouver with stops in Suva (Fiji) and Hawaii (USA). The trip was laid back and leisurely and although it was a nice respite from the rigors of road travel in New Zealand to this day I cannot understand why anybody would willingly imprison themselves on a luxury cruise ship. We arrived in Suva Harbor in Fiji on Thursday May 20, 1971.The sights, sounds  and smells of Suva were like something out of the past, or perhaps straight out of the pages of  a Somerset Maugham short story. After a little wander around town I headed back to the ship for the most memorable part of the day at departure time in the late afternoon. I  had met a couple of Canadian Engineers who had been on the islands for a few months and to a man they all expressed the sentiment that they had to get out of there or as they said “they would never leave . This place is paradise”. Similarly, I have a friend, Gordon Rae, here in Cranbrook, who had spent time in Fiji, and any time Fiji came up in a conversation he would get misty eyed and mutter  – “every young man should have a Fiji in his life”. Obviously the engineers on the deck of the Oriana that afternoon felt the same way. When the Fijian Police Band on the wharf played “Isa Lei” –  the traditional farewell song – there were tears running down their faces. I thought they were going to jump off the ship. If you want to hear a South Pacific farewell song at its emotional peak then there is no better way than from the deck of a ship. To this day any time I hear Isa Lei I get really choked up.  Here is the song as played by the Fijian Police Band

You can check any one of many other versions on YouTube but for me the one above is the most evocative. I can still see those Canadian engineers standing on the deck of the Oriana in the late afternoon sun with the tears running down their faces as the tune wafted up from the wharf.

The high emotional content of the song is understandable. In the old days when some one left the islands it was unlikely that they would ever return. Without a doubt it is one of the most beautiful tunes on the planet – bar none.

Here is another less traditional version that was recorded by Ry Cooder. It is good but for me it doesn’t quite match the emotional content of the Fijian Police Band

Ed Gerhard’s version is also worth a listen.

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Studio 64 Spring Concerts – The Jason Buie Band

The Jason Buie Band at Studio 64, Saturday May 13, 2017, 8pm

This band is a “Power Trio”  of lead guitar, bass and drums to accompany mostly blues/rock vocals. In Jason Buie’s words the trio plays “West Coast Rockin’ Blues”. The concept of the “power trio” evolved in the 1960s out of the Chicago Blues tradition of the likes of Muddy waters. The invention of electricity and the expanding virtuosity of musicians made the concept of a high volume, powerful trio viable. Prior to the electrification of the guitar the instrument was too quiet to make its presence really felt in most ensembles and situations. Electricity changed all that. With the vast increase in volume and the availability of numerous effect pedals the guitar trio came into its own in the 1960s. Now, here was a configuration that could hold its own in the largest of venues and circumstances. The concept went onto fame and fortune in the music of The Jimmy Hendrix Experience, Eric Clapton in Cream, and later on in the music of Motorhead, ZZ Top, The Police, Nirvana, Rush, the John Mayer Trio and many, many others. In the economically stressful times of today a three man unit is much more employable than larger bands and I think that is a contributing factor in the longevity of the format.

Jason Buie (guitar and vocals) resides in the capital, believe it or not, of West Coast Blues, Victoria B.C. Bass player Murf Martin is a local freelance musician who performs in many situations. I am not sure where the drummer Jimmy James calls home. Collectively they are a tight group performing mostly blues/rock material that dips deep into the huge repertoire of the genre. They kicked off the evening with an instrumental and followed through with a number of well known tunes and songs that included Randy Newman’s classic Louisiana and its unforgettable refrain “six feet of water in the streets of Angeline”. Considering the current flood situation all across North America this would seem to be a very appropriate song for the day. The evening featured a few originals (Drifting Hard) and lots of well known tunes such as Big Joe Turner’s 1955 hit Flip, Flop and Fly (“a tune to get you out of your seat and onto your feet”); Van Morrison’s Into the Mystic; Prince’s Purple Rain; Eric Clapton’s cover of Big Bill Broonzy’s I’ve got the Key to the Highway; The Band’s The Weight; Muddy Water’s I’ve Got My Mojo Working and a marvelous version of Carlos Santana’s melodic masterpiece Black Magic Woman. To sum it up my buddy Bill St Amand described the music as “Two O’clock in the morning music” and given our age it is not music we get to hear very often so the evening of loud free wheeling music was real treat for us old folks.

          

This was the last performance in the Stage 64 Spring Concert Series and the first one on the newly installed stage. As always the concert was a screaming success with another sold out crowd. The organizing committee would like to thank the Columbia Basin Trust, Telus and various organizations that made funds available for the installation of the stage. Thanks also to the Burrito Grill and B&B at 228 for the musicians food and accommodations and also the organizing committee and volunteers who have made this season another great success.

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YouTube Pick (#13) – The Blackie O’Connell Set

Basically I prefer instrumental music. Singer / Song writer music is fine but it is instrumental music that, for me, is a distillation of the real magic and mystery of music. I particularly like jazz and at every jazz performance I come away wondering “how did they do that” and the answer always escapes me. Its magic.There are also classical performances that amaze me with their perfection. Glen Gould’s recordings of The Goldberg Variations I have listened to more times than I could possibly count and it still sounds as fresh as the first time I heard it. Instrumental Celtic music falls into that realm of magic and mystery where one forgets the beginning and the end and gets lost somewhere in the middle. A perfect example of what I am talking about is this performance by The Blackie O’Connell Band featuring Cyril O’Donoghue on Irish Bouzouki; Meabh O’Hare on Fiddle; Blackie O’Connell on Uillean Pipes and, off camera, Eamon Cotter on Flute. Why do Celtic performances, and this one in particular, appeal to me?

Well here are some of my observations:

  • I like the tunes. Even some Irish citizens disparage the music as “diddly i-di-di music” and prefer more modern genres. I can see why some audiences, including my daughter in law, think that all the tunes sound the same. To begin with, to appreciate the tunes one needs to be able to hear the differences between the various dance forms – reels, jigs, slip jigs, mazurkas, hornpipes, marches, Strathspeys, highlands, slides, polkas, etc, and that requires a lot of exposure to the music over a long period of time. Being born into the tradition helps.
  • I like the repetition of the tunes and the repetition within the tunes. Celtic instrumental music is dance music and dancers demand and expect predictable repetition. The basic format of a dance tune is an eight bar segment, Part A, that sometimes has a repeated four bar portion within the eight bars. The A part is usually repeated in total before moving onto the second B part that may, or may not be, similar to the A part. The B part is usually repeated and this can be followed by a C part  with repeats or even a D part with repeats, depending on how many parts there are in the particular tune. So, the basic format of the tune is  AA BB played two, three, or more times depending on the whim of the lead musician. If there are extra parts to the tune the format can be seen as AA BB CC DD etc also played as many times as the circumstance permits. The tunes in this example are in the AA BB format.
  • I like the way musicians can string together a batch of similar or dissimilar tunes to create an extended performance  into what can be heard as a seamless composition. For me the more tunes strung together and the longer the performance the better I like it. The idea is to create a musical grove. In this instances the tunes are The Mullingar Races , The Mountain Top and Lady Gordon. In this YouTube example the band kicks off with the first tune and plays the usual AA BB form of the tune until the Piper, Blackie O’Connell, gives a subtle nod to switch to the second tune. The Bouzouki player deftly slides the capo up to the fifth fret without missing a beat. I suspect that, for whatever reason, he wanted to keep playing a D chordal pattern as the band changed up to the Key of G and the way to do that was to slide the capo up the neck to the appropriate fret.  On making the switch to the second tune the fiddle player gives Blackie a sly wink and a smile as she hits the tune in lock step with the other performers. And so the performance goes on until Blackie looks across to the flute player and the fiddle player and gives the nod for the change up to third tune. The Bouzouki player slides the capo back down the neck as every body makes a seamless switch to the new tune.  The piper finally gives the  nod for the end repeat and the run down to the finale.
  • I like the lack of false theatrics. There are no flashing lights, fireworks, fog generators and gymnastic leaps around the stage. The musicians just play the music. Anything else is just unnecessary distractions.
  • I like the fact that instrumental Celtic music is not guitar based. The guitar can have a place in the music but it is essentially in a secondary role. The predominant instruments tend to be strong melodic instruments like the fiddle, flute, accordion, harmonica, mandolin and Uillean pipes. This gives the music a sonority that is very different from the run  of the mill pop music. In this performance I particularly like the “wailing” sound that comes with the blend of pipes, flute and fiddle. The guitar as a rhythm instrument is not present on this performance and has been replaced by the Irish Bouzouki. In other performances the Irish frame drum, the Bodhran, can add punch to the rhythm.
  • In a jazz or classical music sense instrumental Celtic music may not sound as harmonically advanced. Although, that may be because the music is based on modal melodies and concepts and perhaps we just don’t hear what is happening in a conventional harmonic way. Any harmonic elements present are usually very simple. Bouzouki players, guitarists and piano players may enhance harmonic sensibilities by playing complementary bass lines and counter melodies and unison playing behind the featured melodic instruments.
  • Melody is a prime component in this style of music and the melodies tend to have a flowing line with few gaps and significant spaces in the music. The exception to this generalization would be slow airs. Most Celtic melodies, but not all,  do not readily lend themselves to improvised solo treatments and that may be the reason that when Bluegrass musicians play these melodies that just don’t sound Celtic. Bluegrass musicians just love to solo and that concept is largely foreign to Celtic music. Wide variations in the melody are not usual. There is a tendency to just play the melody as it is “written”. Having said that it must be understood that “written” versions of a tune may not reflect the actual way a tune exists in a particular performance. “Written” versions are just the scaffold of the tune on which to hang the performance and musicians will interpret the melody as they see fit.
  • Rhythmically, depending on ones point of view, Celtic music is more varied. Most Jazz, Bluegrass and pop music is 4/4 in nature. Every now and then a waltz or a 12/8 blues shuffle will sneak in but the 1-2-3-4 beat is the rhythmic underpinning of most of our familiar music. Variety is provided by the use of “swing” and syncopation. Celtic music, like most ethnic based folkloric cultures seems to rely on eighth rhythms and triplets  rather than standard four rhythms. 6/8, 7/8, 9/8 and various “dotted” rhythm syncopation co-exist along with the familiar 2/4 and 4/4 rhythms.

Having said all of the above. Nothing is cast in stone and like all rules they are there to be broken. In one form or another Celtic music has existed for hundreds of years and the reason it continues to exist is that each generation of performers literally re-invents the music. As the traditional fiddle player Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh of the Celtic band Altan has often mentioned in interviews “When I play a traditional tune I don’t play it the way my father played it. That would not be possible. I have been exposed to too many other musical  influences to be able to do that”. That is why the music keeps evolving.

I hope you enjoy this YouTube clip.

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You know you are from the Kootenays when………

(I came across this is an old email from Kim McCavenay. It is a variation on a theme – “You know you are in Saskatchewan when…….. “)

  • Your idea of a traffic jam is ten cars waiting to pass a tractor on the highway.
  • You get angry when the only traffic light in town makes you 30 seconds late for work.
  • You measure distances in hours.
  • “Vacation” means a trip to Calgary.
  • You know lots of people have hit a deer more than once.
  • You often switch from “heat” to “A/C” in the same day.
  • You use a down comforter in the summer.
  • Your grandparents drive at 65mph through 13 feet of snow during a raging blizzard without flinching.
  • You see people wearing hunting cloths at a social event.
  • You install security lights on your house and garage and leave both unlocked.
  • You think of major food groups as deer, fish and berries
  • You carry jumper cables in your car and your girl friends knows how to use them.
  • There are seven empty cars running in the parking lot of Canadian Tire at any given time.
  • You design your kid’s Halloween costume to go over their snow suits.
  • Driving is better in winter because the potholes are full of snow.
  • You think lingerie is tube socks and flannel pajamas.
  • You know all four seasons – winter, winter, still winter and construction season.
  • It takes you three hours to go to the store for one item even when you are in a rush because you have to stop and talk to everyone in town.

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