I’ve been thinking of the tune “Plant a Cao,” lately (sheet music down below). It was nominated for tune of the month over on Melodeon.net. It was voted down, but a fascination was still sparked. This is a scottish I first heard on the Musaique CD, by Ad Vielle Que Pourra. They play it at light speed, which suits me some of the time. My current favorite version is this one by Jean Luc Gueneau and Gilles Poutoux:
I heard the Gentiane version, featuring the great Jean Blanchard some years later. It has a gentler, more playful tone:
And here’s a solo accordion version by Jac Lavergne, from his Cadence d’Auvergne cassette tape.
The “lightspeed” version I mentioned above is the second tune in the set below:
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:
The Dino Baffetti Tex-Mex II/34 arrived on Thursday! Very exciting! I had intended to do an internal examination of the box, a laOwen Woods or Daddy Long Les, but I found I couldn’t bear to take a screw driver to it, not even to remove the grill. I’m made of less stern stuff than that, it seems.
Instead, I’ve been playing the heck out of it. Here are some first thoughts:
Big one! Playing a three row is different from playing two or two-and-a-half row or even two-row-plus-accidentals. Possibly this is obvious. The three row quint box can do different things that I don’t yet know how to do. New frontiers!
The two row repertoire works just fine on this one. Even if it is obvious that playing up-and-down the rows is not what it was built to do, everything I’ve been learning for the last 15 years is essentially transferable!
At melodeon.net there is a recurring discussion about stepped keyboards vs. flat keyboards. Playing a flat keyboard for the first time in years has made no difference to me.
Even though this is an F/Bb/Eb box (which is exactly what I was after) I’m choosing to name it as G/C/F and recognize that it’s a transposing instrument. All of the sheet music and tab is for G/C/F, so this seems simplest.
It sounds AMAZING. Essentially, as one colleague mentioned, it’s a clone of a Hohner Corona, done to a absurdly high level of quality. The sound is so very sweet. And the touch is effortless. I do have fond feelings for Hohner accordions, but this is a cut above.
I love it.
It is a little silly that with five rows of box to my name, I still don’t have a D row. What sort of psychological block am I dealing with? Is it PTSD from the Minneapolis Irish sessions?
Here are three videos with the Baffetti. The first is a hanter dro written by Sylvain Piron.
The second is another hanter dro, traditional, that I learned from Steve Gruverman.
The third is a Breton March, traditional, that I learned from the playing of Daniel Thonon.
Here’s a new polka written by myself and clarinetist Steve Gruverman. I improvised the theme in connection to a recording project, a song called “The Ballad of the Bachelor.” Steve took the theme and morphed it into this, “The Bachelor’s Polka.” I did mess around just a bit with Steve’s harmonies, which I hope he doesn’t mind. Here’s the tune. The sheet music is below.
I was asked if I could perform this wonderful and famous chanson at a gig next November. Listening to the Yves Montand and Edith Piaf versions, I thought, “Very lovely. How would this be done on the diatonic?” Then I found the following performance of the tune by Anders Johansson. I might need to take a few days off after that. Wow.
UPDATE: I have taken the time to learn this. My first serious attempt is HERE.
My colleague Lester Bailey has been posting a sheaf of tunes over on his Tune-a-Day blog. A few days ago he posted this old French tune (perhaps best known for its Blowzabella rendition, but originally collected in the 16th century). Check out the tune and the rest of the blog.
Continuing my fascination with asymmetric tunes — and my fascination with the Alsatian duo Au Gré des Vents — I present one of their most infectious tunes. “L’intermittent” is the opening track of their album Fraxinelles. It’s a scottisch-marche-valse composed by Danyèle Besserer. Here’s their recording of the tune.
“L’intermittent” excerpt by Au Gre des Vents
And here’s a recording of my band, Le Bon Truc, performing same. As Gilles pointed out to me, we take the tune much more freely in this context. He calls it “Wagnerian,” which is fair. For dancers, of course, regularity is everything (all of the “ones” are an equal distance apart).
And for those who want to try such a thing for themselves, here are the dots for the tune, as transcribed by the inestimable Steve Gruverman.
Last night I played a free gig at the Hubbard Free Library, in Hallowell, Maine. It was short — about 45 minutes was requested — and cookies were provided. It was a great time!
The room was filled with some very appreciative people who seemed more than reasonably fascinated by the music I was playing. I live so much in the accordéon world that I forget that it’s an uncommon — dare I say, revelatory? — experience for some. I video taped the whole thing. Here’s a set of Scottishes. Notice that even though I’ve been playing all of these tunes for nearly a decade, I still have a glitch in the last tune. Grumble.
Note: I am retroactively including this in the Bal Folk Tune Book Project!
Here are four two-beat bourrées done in a very straight-forward (bog norme) style. The tunes are Le Ruban Bleu, Le Bergére de Coulandon, Le Timide (not in the tune book), and Youp’ Nanette (also called Bourrée à Six de Briantes).
UPDATE: Found this very charming video of a group performance of La Ruban Bleu.