Tag Archives: Video

Now Westlin’ Winds

Continuing to experiment with video…here is a hurriedly shot, and appallingly lit, rendition of Now Westlin’ Winds. This is basically an instrumental version of what Dick Gaughan does with Burns’ original on his excellent Handful of Earth album. I did this arrangement a few years ago and a couple of pupils played it their Advanced Higher programmes. The tuning is DADGAD i.e. strings 1, 2 & 6 tuned down a tone (2 fret’s worth). [kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/uNetgPnPh1o" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Just after writing this, I discovered that this is Dick Gaughan’s “favourite song of all time.”

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZDB0P57nQds" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]


Candid Camera

I remember with some fondness my old Amstrad PCW and how it obliquely encouraged me to generate a huge body of work in few episodes. This was due to having to load the operating system from a floppy disc and then each individual programme – the loading of one necessitating the disappearance of the last. So, once set up, the temptation was to bash on.

Such was the feeling yesterday when I had hoped to make a start on recording videos of ensemble parts for this year’s Showcase Concert repertoire. I thought I’d do two or three, call it a day and set aside some time later. However, once the camera was set up, and the school nearly empty, I found myself repeatedly saying “just one more” and pretty soon all 14 were finished. It was my ambition to do each one in “one take” and I stopped only three times – once when the phone rang and twice when the weekly fire bell test took place. Miraculously, all three events conspired to take place in the closing bars of largely error-free takes – thanks guys!

The funny thing was the set up. I asked a 6th year pupil to line up the Flip Video so that the frame would be pretty much filled with the fretboad – since fingering and articulation were the main points of interest. Somehow, I imagined that my head would be out of shot, but this was not true – and I didn’t ask. Consequently, the videos have the nature of someone being filmed unawares. I have to confess that I look quite bored throughout the process, but nothing could be further from the truth – it’s simply a mix of concentration and the paradoxical endeavour to remain relaxed under pressure, in order to avoid re-takes. I must remember this the next time I suspect a pupil of less than 100% engagement. Techies might notice that the music is (sometimes) being read, in Sibelius, from a laptop screen, which refreshes only at the very end of a page/section. This doesn’t really add to the chances of a relaxed performance as you can’t look ahead – but what’s life without a little challenge now and again 🙂

The films, which are all embedded in a new Video page, are pretty much a temporary affair – hence the lack of subtle editing. The East Lothian Showcase Concert, in which these pieces are to be performed, takes place in The Brunton Hall on Friday 27th Mar at 7:30. After that date there will be little use for the videos – unless any other similar ensemble would like to play the arrangements.

Mirror Neurons

These few thoughts began as a reply to a comment of David Gilmour’s on a post. As is often the case, the search for one illustrative link unearthed enough to necessitate a discrete post. The initial aim had been simply to launch one more ingredient into the mix of reflections on literacy currently taking place in the profession. In essence, the question was which, if either, is more literate: reading fingerings off the page or reading the movements of a hand on a video?

Although an ardent fan of traditional musical literacy I’ve lately begun to wonder if pupils might benefit from a supplementary option – watching the hands in a close-up video performance of pieces they are preparing – specifically ensemble material, where the moves they are required to internalise account for only a fraction of the overall sound. Preliminary canvassing of a few pupils suggest that they feel that this might be helpful.

I began to wonder about the role that mirror neurons might play in this and, in my search, stumbled upon this explanatory video. In the year of Darwin’s bicentenary, the question would seem to be, “why look an evolutionary gift-horse in the mouth?”

This train of thought is something of a slow burner, as this letter to New Scientist about this article in Feb 2001 might suggest.


Literacy – The Gr8 Db8

A pupil, who has no problem with musical literacy, would like more detailed fingering on an ensemble part – with nothing left uncertain.

Which of the following two appraoches (if either) would you say is a better example of literacy on the part of either the pupil or the teacher?

Option A:

Include comprehensive fingering on the written part.

Option B:

Upload a supplementary video in which pupil can see the teacher play the part against a recording of the ensemble piece.

Answers on a PC 🙂

p.s. the title of this post is a nod to David Crystal  – author of Txting: The Gr8 Db8

Read his blog here.


Periodic Table of Videos

I strive not to stray too far from the music/education area if I can avoid it, but occasionally something so impressive comes along that I feel I have to flag it up. I just heard on Radio 4’s Material World about a project by staff in the University of Nottingham‘s School of Chemistry, to create a Periodic Table of Videos. Each one could be sought out on YouTube, but it’s easier to find them on the team’s dedicated website. This really is a labour of love of which would surely have touched the heart of the table’s originator, Dmitri Mendeleev.

Professor Martyn Poliakoff has one of the bets science hair-dos of all time!

You can listen again to the programme until Thursday 4th August or download a podcast from the website.

There is another artistic representation of the Periodic Table here – flagged up by Brian a while ago.

Jadran Duncumb

I don’t normally watch BBC’s Young Musician of the Year – not because I don’t enjoy watching talented young people perform, but more because I find the competitive element a little distasteful. While I acknowledge that many a great career has been launched this way, I’d rather just enjoy the performance. This is now possible thanks to the BBC providing video footage. The videos contain far more of each soloist’s programme than broadcast time could possibly allow. May I recommend this fine performance by Jadran Duncumb on guitar. Once there, you’ll be able to navigate your way around the other performances and interviews.