Support this blog, thanks!

So, I have been laid off, thanks to the pandemic. I’ve kept this blog since 2011, and have never run ads or asked for support of any kind. I’ve been genuinely grateful just to connect with folks. But there are associated costs. Today, I’m asking, if you’ve gotten joy out of this work, please contribute something. I know some can’t or just won’t and that’s okay. But if you wanna … it would be appreciated. Paypal me at or Venmo at Gary-Chapin-7. Or head over to bandcamp and download my CD. As I said, any help is appreciated. Thanks. Gary

About this blog:

I go through phases of writing a lot and then not writing much. Right now, I’m in the middle of the lengthy and obsessive Bal Folk Tune Book Project. The posts written over the years seem to stand up pretty well. From tributes to heroes of mine (e.g., Yann-Fanch Perroches and Daniel Thonon), or an interview with Frédéric Paris or Andy Cutting. I take deep dives into specific tunes (e.g., On d’onoren Garda and Le Cotillon Vert). On the menu bar are links to a bunch of things: interviews, a great tune book, my own CD, and a story about my trip to Alsace.

What I’m saying is that there’s a lot of cool stuff here that I had a lot of fun writing — all of it about French and Breton button accordion (and related environs). I invite you to explore the 270 or so posts that are here.



Featured post

Scottish Nérondaise (plus another one, #11 and #8)

Dedicated to Arch Stanton!

Two scottishes from page two of the book. Just a reminder for US listeners, a scottish is NOT Scottish. And it’s not a schottische. It’s a scottish, a French couples dance, medium tempo, in four. These are two scottishes played on my A flat organetto.

Valse à Bargoin with Brigid

This is #94 in the Bal Folk Tune Book Project. A beautiful three part waltz that is very much in G, until you get to the third part and there’s an extended bit in D minor! I ask you! So fun.

Recorded on June 20, 2020, this is the first time I played with another human since the shut downs started in March. Brigid came up the day before Father’s Day and — though it wasn’t her intention — it was her gift to me. We used two phones to record, one near her facing me, and the other near me facing her. This way, both instruments can be heard well — I am very pleased with the outcome!

Love on the IV Chord (Bal Folk #26, 131, 132, 140)

Something of a theme for this entry in the Bal Folk Tune Book Project. I noticed that a number of mazurkas I play have a characteristic of beginning the B section with the IV chord. It creates a lovely sense of levitation and, if the song were telling a story, I think that’s when you would know the two of them were really in love!

Mazurkas for love

It happens often enough in mazurkas that I am beginning to think this is a defining trait of a subset, but it doesn’t only happen in mazurkas. As I was recording the mazurkas, I remembered the tune, “Mominette” (by Maxou, in the tune book as untitled #26), which also goes to the IV chord at the B section and is quite lovely (especially as the A section has a ominous tone. Will things work out??? Yes, yes they will. You know because of the IV chord.)

Also, with the mazurkas, the first is a sans nom tune that I began to call “Hannibal’s Mazurka” some years ago (I was teaching the ancient Romans at the time). If anyone knows a different name, let me know. I can be taught!

“Excursion (Huaka’i) Waltz” (#114)

Actually, this is “Villapourçon,” which I have used as the soundtrack for an excursion (huaka’i) on the Parker Pond Headlands. It’s an interesting tune, with the A section in D, but being played on the G/C accordion (the Mory), and then it changes to G for the B section and seems to have this amazing feeling of levitation.

I have been learning video editing during the quarantine, and I used this 1:36 to experiment with a bunch of stuff. It ended up being very time consuming. If I continue down this rabbit hole, I will never get through the Bal Folk Tune Book Project.

Bourrée d’Aurore Sand (#155)

This one was actually in the process of entering the Le Bon Truc repertoire thanks to Steve Gruverman. We tried it in a bunch of places on a bunch of accordions, and think we ended up in G minor. Here, on the G/C Mory, it fits on the pull minor (Amin), but I’m playing it here on the push minor (Emin), as notated in the Bal Folk Tune Book. My harmonies are simple Emin to Amin and back again (repeat). For the video, I tried something different. Doing a slide show of Auvergnat postcards. I did this at a performance at the Hubbard Library in Hallowell a good number of years ago — projecting the slideshow behind me while I played. It was nice, I think, for the audience to have something to look at besides me. Part of the Bal Folk Tune Book Project.

And for a bonus, here’s a troupe from Berry doing the same piece, probably with more authenticity, and certainly with nicer hats.

Bourrées à Deux Temps (#143, 152, 151)

Here are three of the good-old old ones. Le Ruban Bleu, Youp’ Nanette, and (the other) Youp’ Nanette. Yes, there are two. That Nanette! Must have been something. Like that lovely Nancy who keeps showing up in English songs. Played on the Hohner Erica A/D.

Powered by

Up ↑