Category Archives: Rhythm

Recording 2 – the technicalities

First a quick word about types of audio file.

wav – a wave file or normal sound file, like a CD. These are quite large files (3 minutes = approx 30Mb) which has implications for disc space, up/downloading, attaching to email etc.

mp3 – short for Music Protocol 3 – a form of reducing a wav file to approx 10% of the original (3 minutes = 3 Mb)

Uploading wav files would require my blog to have enough memory to rival NASA. So, mp3s are what we need.

If you could guarantee perfect performances every time, then the time-saving option would be to record directly to mp3, name the files appropriately, and upload.

However, Continue reading Recording 2 – the technicalities

Pathhead Music Collective

I was taken by friend and colleague, Steven Polwart to the inaugural concert of the Pathhead Music Collective (PMC)  – a double-bill featuring Tangalgo  and Lau. The welcome was warm, the atmosphere congenial and the response to these two great bands, enthusiastic to say the least. This was in no small way due to the presence of many of the village’s young people. The fact that the following afternoon was to feature a family ceilidh suggests that this is a community drinking from the glass half-full side of life.

Tangalgo (Phil Alexander  – piano, Mario Caribe  – bass & Mattie Foulds  – drums) are a trio who specialise is their own take on tango music, especially that of Astor Piazzolla.

Lau, (Kris Drever – guitar.vocals,  Aidan O’Rourke – fiddle, Martin Green – accordion) another energetic trio, feature two traditional music award winners. To describe their style simply as folk/traditional would be to miss out on the imaginative, atmospheric arrangements and unusual stylistic features e.g punk accordion and Hendrix-style fiddle.

PMC comprises a pool of local musicians (Karine Polwart, Mattie Foulds, Sophie Bancroft, Tom Lynne, Inge Thomson, Martin Green, Tom Bancroft  , Gina Rae, Sandy Wright) who, in addition to performing, are involved in music education projects in the neighbourhood.

The next concert, another double-bill, features Karine Polwart Trio (musical samples with a slightly larger band here) and Sophie Bancroft Duo (musical samples here) and takes place on May 5th. There is also a vocal workshop with both singers 3.00-5.00 p.m. Pathhead is, after all, a mere hop, step and jump along some lovely back roads from many East Lothian towns.

Red Light

I’ve spent that last couple of days recording MGS pupils playing some examples of their repertoire. This was sprung on them as the idea was not to record material currently being honed, but rather to see how quickly previously learned tunes could be resurrected. Results were mixed and some were very encouraging. Two S2 pupils quickly reheated a tune which we performed when some former pupils of Wallyford returned to the school to join forces with P7 pupils. That concert took place last May and the pupils did not even ask to get the music out. We had a couple of “run throughs” and then recorded two versions  – the latter of which, being the better, was kept. Three S1 pupils (former pupils of Campie PS) win the prize for most professional approach to recording -a very expressive performance in one take after a quick run through.

Once processed, I’ll post these performances on the Pupil Performance Page.

Double-edged Ploughshare

I was moved to see Dick Gaughan performing an old favourite this weekend in a programme relaying highlights from Glasgow’s Celtic Connections. The song in question, Now Westlin’ Winds by Robert Burns, is featured on Dick’s fantastic 1981 album “A Handful of Earth.” In a short introductory film, he said that he had been learning this song for thirty years – one of the most magnificent ambiguities I’ve heard for a while. At my age (approaching 47) I understand this to mean that every exploration of the song unearths a gemstone. At the age of a pupil performing an instrumental arrangement of this song for Advanced Higher (17), a more alarming connotation may spring to mind – something like, “he’s still not mastered this after nearly twice the length of my entire life, and I have to play it in a couple of weeks :-0″

 I hope to check next week which meaning the pupil (would have) understood.

Berliner Cellharmoniker

You can’t beat a surprise on the radio on the way to work – and I’m not referring here to hanging on Radio Forth’s every winter word to see if your school is closed. I heard an impish piece this morning by Wolfram Huschke and his Berlin Cellharmoniker. The opening bars were in such contrast to how the thing was going to turn out that I had to hear it again. Check it out (until Wed 31st) on Radio 3’s Listen Again facility: (hit the forward 15 mins button 4 times and then wait for the news to finish). It’s a very short piece. At one point it sounds as though Tom Waits has joined in. I will buy a drink for any ‘cello colleague who tunes in and does not like this tune.

Connect 8

It’s Science, Jim, But Not As We Know It.

There are three elements in music – rhythm, melody and harmony. Like other elements, they combine into the various compounds which constitute music. When tricky moments occur, the problem could be caused by one or more elements and some degree of separation may be required to locate the culprit. This is a process with which pupils may be familiar, through Science. Examing the relationship between component parts in a given scientific field often involves: Continue reading Connect 8

Once In A Lifetime

Yesterday during MGS’s coffee & biscuits at playtime, a colleague (Gordon Gallagher) flagged up a little known gig. An extraordinary jazz quartet featuring Buster Williams (bass) Lenny White (drums)  George Colligan (piano) and Steve Wilson (saxes) was due to be playing in The Jazz Bar in Chambers Street. They had been playing at Ronnie Scott’s in London and had been tempted up by BBC Radio Scotland for two gigs and the promise of a broadcast on The Jazz House. If you get the chance to hear the broadcast, listen out for the unusually free rhythmic play – especially in the second half.

For those not into jazz these names may not register much of a reaction. This is the equivalent of a pal inviting you to a barbeque round the corner from your house, promising a bit of a kick-around in the back-garden, then discovering that the guests included Pele, Ronaldinho, Zidane and George Best. Continue reading Once In A Lifetime

Arranging 3

There can be few composers/arrangers who use pencil & paper in preference to software. There are many reasons for this:

  • having written the score (conductor’s version showing everyone’s notes), the parts (what each individual player sees) are extracted automatically and do not have to be written individually when writing for a large ensemble this is a saving of dozens – if not hundreds – of hours
  • ease of rewriting sections or fixing errors Continue reading Arranging 3