Monday, July 29, 2013

Waltz: L'Urosa Jardiniéra

Here's a humble but wonderful waltz, found in Mally's Bal Folk tune book (actually, I found it in the Massif Central Tune Book, pink volume). Playing it on the Baffetti almost entirely on the F row.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Tribute: Le Cotillon Vert

I am obsessed with this tune, a scottish/valse called "Le Cotillon Vert." Here I am in my kitchen taking a crack at it.



The scottish/valse is exactly what's on the tin. You dance the A section as a scottish (medium tempo, 4/4 dance), then you switch to a waltz for the B section. Then back to a scottish. Then waltz. Et deliriums cetera. The trick -- and it is tricky -- is that the ones of the scottish have to be the same distance apart as the ones of the waltz. So, the 1-2-3-4 of the scottish has to fill the same amount of time as the 1-2-3 of the waltz. Got it?

"Le Cotillon Vert" is a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune. A bog norm standard that I found in Sylvain Piron's tradfrance. Here's the sheet music:


(UPDATE: And here is a link to diatojo's tab of the tune.)

And here is Sylvain's recording, a bit scratchy, maybe, played on his Castagnari Giordy:

Sylvain Piron, "Le Cotillon Vert"


You can hear that it's a bedeviling ear-worm of a tune! A few weeks ago I was listening to cabrette player Dominique Paris, and heard the same tune, though under the title, "Dis-moi Donc Suzon." Here it is as part of a set of scottish/valses.

Dominique Paris, "Dis-moi Donc Suzon - Pendant la Messe (scottishs-valses)"


UPDATE: Jim Besser, over at concertina.net, posted this version because I'd asked if anyone had done a concertina version. Thank you, Jim!



Sunday, July 21, 2013

Accordéon History Book

Philippe Krümm, music columnist and editor of both Accordéon et Accordéonistes and Trad, has come out with a corker of a book. L'Accordéon: Quelle Histoire! (roughly Accordion: What a Story!) is a 120 page book packed with pictures and "iconography" from the 1930s to today. The book is featured at the AMTA website, and is available through Auvergne Diffusion.

This is the second accordéon history book to come out in a the past few months. See the other one here!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

L'Autre Diatonist Physical CDs Now Available

Enough folks have asked, and I've decided to produce physical CDs of L'Autre Diatoniste. I'm not doing a mass run, but will do quality duplicates packaged in very attractive, crafty sleeves (something we're good at, here in Maine). Thanks to those who have ordered the download so far. Your response has been very gratifying!

To order a physical CD, go to my bandcamp page. I will begin shipping on Friday, June 19. Thank you!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Download my new CD!

It's finally ready! Download!

My new CD, L'Autre Diatoniste, is now ready for download over at bandcamp! Minimum cost is seven dollars, which was bandcamp's recommendation. Here's a track list:

L'Autre Diatoniste at bandcamp
1. La Souflette 3:29
2. FRLO Anthem 4:53
3. Polka Piquee & Polka de l'Aveyron 2:42
4. L'intermittent 2:29
5. Les Filles de Saint Nicholas 2:57
6. Catherine's Psaltery 3:15
7. Two Mazurkas 2:34
8. Hanter Dro 3:16
9. Not That Guy's Gavotte 2:00
10. Two Scottishes 2:55
11. Twentieth Century Rondeau 3:41
12. Ballad Of The Bachelor 4:40


I am very pleased with how this all turned out. The recording itself came out great and the process that made it was fantastic and joyful. I'm going to miss working on this project.

I am grateful. Producer Caleb Orion was generous in his time and expertise. And excellent critical friend. Steve Gruverman - of clarinet, sax, and bombarde - has been a part of my musical journey for years. A good number of tunes here, I learned from him. He is an amazing tune finder! Thanks to Will Leavitt. Thanks to Thierry Laplaud, Frèdèric Bordois, and Au Gre des Vents (Danyéle Besserer and Gilles Péquignot), for letting me use their amazing tunes. Thanks also to all the folks over at melodeon.net who have been an invaluable and general support over the past two years.


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Letter to a Similarly-Aged Accordéonist

Shortly after publishing my piece on shifting to a three-row, I got the following e-mail from Troy Bennett, of Mystery Jig Studios.

Hi Gary,


The seductive Beltuna A/D/G 
Long time, no-see. How's the new three-row Baffetti treating you? Currently, I've got a three-row, three-voice, 12-bass Beltuna in A/D/G on spec from the Button Box. It's a far cry from the two-voice Saltarelle Bouebe I've had since last fall. The Beltuna is much more mellow and creamy. The action is better and it's heavy at about 16 pounds. The Bouebe is more brash and light. I'm torn. I'm also fumbling over the extra set of buttons on the bass side.

What should I do?

I'm finding the Beltuna a bit intimidating. I certainly don't play well enough to really justify such a magnificent instrument. But, I feel like I might, some day. But I'm drawn to the light little Bouebe, too. It's very unpretentious. Will I ever get used to all the bass buttons? Is a three-row really that much better than a two-row? Is the extra weight justified.

And I have to decide by Monday! Eeek!

--TROY.

To three-row or not to three-row??? An existential dilemma! I responded:

Thinking about accordéons, Mr. Sartre?
Hey, congratulations on the dilemma you've placed yourself in!

"What should I do?" you ask.

I'm pretty sure I'm the wrong one to ask, being as I'm besotted by my Baffetti. According to Sartre, when you go to a priest for advice, you've already decided on the advice you want to get.

Letting it into your living room may have been a mistake!  

Is the three-row better than the two-row? Of course, not … not in any intrinsic sense. It depends on what you want to do. I am absolutely loving my three row. I've been fascinated by the three-row for years, wanting to try one out. And the opportunities it offers me (playing for singers and with other instruments) and the challenges are already making me a better musician and engaging me thoroughly. I worried that I might be sacrificing some of the "melodeon-ness" by moving away from the two-row, but that hasn't been the case. I don't know if you know Andy_from_Vermont, but he plays a ton of Irish and Contra on his ADG.

The thing about the three-row is that it does promote a more fluid way of playing, and offers more opportunities for right-hand chords, and it does give you that extra key (and A is pretty common in the Celtic/Contra world). But you can play up and down the rows and get the push/pull people like.  The extra weight is such that it doesn't slow play (especially if you play while sitting). You WILL acclimate to the extra bass buttons. Really. You will.

Bethany, reading over my shoulder, recommends that you examine your three year growth plan, if you haven't already: How do I want to grow musically in the next three years? Will this instrument challenge me in a way that is enjoyable? These are the questions she asked me when I talked about investing in the Baffetti … even though it ended up being an even trade for the Nik.

Also, I had to make adjustments to the straps to make the Baffetti sit well with my body and its various back aches, etc.

Obviously, i can't tell you what you should do. William James posited that the right-ness or wrong-ness of a philosophy depends more on the temperament of the philosopher than the truth of the philosophy. The fact that you worry that it might be "pretentious" might point to some required self-examination on your part.

Are you worthy of this beautiful thing? Of course. 

Hope this is helpful, but suspect not.

P.S. what made you consider a three-row in the first place?
--Gary

To which Troy replied:

I decided to have a go at the big A/D/G, like Hillary, because it was there. I was perusing the Button Box website and it looked like a good deal and sounded great in the video. The price seemed more than fair. I'd be wanting to get a G/C, really, because I wrote some words to La Marianne and G is too high to sing them in. D is actually a better key for the song and French tunes sound better on the A row that the D row of my current box. I guess it was a bunch of factors, really.

But, when I got it, it seemed very heavy. I wondered if it'd just end up sounding like a piano accordion what with its three reeds and extra buttons. I'm not a very experienced player, so working with the extra four bass buttons feels like it's setting me back months.

However, I believe you when you say it'll come. When I first started on the two row, I didn't think I'd ever get the 3/4 time right on the bass side. But I did. I'm already better with these 12 buttons than I was two days ago. It's a bit frustrating, though.

The best piece of your eloquent advice/warning is the bit about the three year plan. That makes sense. Will this instrument take me, or can I take it, where I want to be in three years? Yes, I think so. Also, saying that Andy in Vermont plays contra with his is nice to hear. I'm very much interested in the New England repertoire, pre-Celtic tiger. You know, before the 1990's when everyone started playing as fast as they could with as many grace notes a s humanly possible?

So, yes, I think I'll keep it and trade in the little Bouebe so I can actually afford the Beltuna. Thanks for being there in my weak moment.

--TROY.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Alsatian Dance in 7

Here's a tune I learned from storyteller Catherine Piron-Paira and her husband Sylvain Piron, both of Saverne, Alsace. Catherine played it on psaltery, thus I tend to call it "Catherine's Psaltery." I feature this tune on my new CD, but with added clarinets and recorders, and with vastly improved sound quality. I recorded this to include in the melodeon.net Theme of the Month for July 2013, French Tunes.



I'm not sure why my pants figure so heavily in this video.  I apologize.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Announcement: My CD!

My new CD is coming out!

Last week I wrapped up work on tracks for my new CD. I've kept quiet about it. Letting it incubate. Now, I'm pleased to announce that it's almost ready to be let loose on the world.

L'Autre Diatoniste (or, "The Other Accordionist") will be made available at bandcamp early next week. It features tunes from centre France, Brittany, Alsace, and other places and two songs. It's mostly accordéon with a lighter mixture of guitar, tenor guitar, recorders, spoons, clarinet, and bombarde. That's right, I said bombarde!

UPDATE: Totally unnecessary spelling error fixed. Thanks, Oolong!