Saturday, 5 January 2013

Into the New Year

I've tried to do some practice every day - twice if possible, as I think that breaking up your learning is more effective. So I'd rather do two (or even three!) shorter sessions, than one longer one. The only day I didn't get to practice was when I was staying in a Travelodge in Loughborough, and it was torrential rain outside - I couldn't even go and practice in the car, as that was some distance away in an NCP car park.

During December I played quite a lot of tunes from Paul Hardy's Christmas Tune book, but in the end I concentrated on four tunes, and tried to learn them: Good King Wenceslas; Ding Dong Merrily (Branle de l'officiel); In the Deep Midwinter; Sussex Carol. They were chosen either because I like them, or because they were themed on, or, in the case of Wenceslas, I found that I'd learned large chunks of it, 'by accident', anyway.

I now sort of 'know' about 15 tunes, although I can find myself getting completely confused at times. I've decided to drop the Christmas ones, to pick them up again when I need them in December, and substitute some more folky tunes - including 'Buttered Peas' and 'Buffalo Gals'. I'll also be working to really learn the ones that I 'know', so that I won't have to think about them.  

I've also started to try and get to grips with the 'grumpy end' - the bass. Oh, wow, that is hard! Trying to do different things with different fingers at each end - not easy. A little bit each session at the moment, and don't feel guilty when I trip over my fingers, or make horrendous noises. It will come.

I sometimes feel that almost everyone playing the melodeon plays just folk tunes, or ones that have been specifically written for the melodeon. I do wonder about the 'melodeon etiquette' of playing pop tunes, etc. There are examples where accordions are used in modern popular music, although they are rare - Jona Lewie played accordion in 'Seaside Shuffle' and there are Finnish Metal Bands with accordion players.  I love Ed Rennie's version of 'Flowers in the Rain', but these examples seem very rare to me. (ADDED: my son has just reminded me of this version of Mamma Mia  - not sure what I think of that!)

Don't get me wrong. I want to play folk tunes. However, I do wonder if there is a reason why there seems to be so little cross over with pop/rock? Is it that many of the tunes can't be played on the diatonic keyboards? I'd be interested to know, as there is so much modern 'folk', which perhaps could be played (and is often very available in guitar books). As an example, I've been playing 'Fields of Gold', which appears in a simple guitar book that we've bought now that my husband and son are having another go at learning the guitar that we bought 30 years ago. It seems to me to have many similarities to more traditional folk songs - or perhaps in my ignorance, it doesn't.


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