Saturday, September 11, 2010

Fiddling, Again

I hesitate to mention this, again, but, once again, I have made a concerted effort to learn fiddle tunes on the cello. I have been working on learning fiddle tunes for years. I learn a few. I stop. I forget. I decide to try a tune again an octave up or an octave down, trying to make it more playable. I learn a few more tunes. I play with other people. I have memory lapses when I am playing with other people. They play the tunes differently from the way I play them. They play them too fast. They know a lot more tunes than I do.

But, I persist because I like playing fiddle tunes and I like playing them with other people. Eventually, I will stop trying to memorize and focus on learning/playing by ear. I will learn how to accompany. I have lots of fiddling books, lots of information about how to play the tunes and the backup. It is just a matter of finding the time to practice. Well, mostly a matter of finding the time to practice. But no matter what I do, I am still going to have problems with the speed of some of these tunes. I need to simplify these tunes or figure out accompaniments.

This fall, I have orchestra pieces, the cello trio pieces, and my regular lesson work, in addition to the fiddle tunes. So, I am just picking a few tunes ("Irish Washerwoman," "Coleraine," "Red Wing," "Liberty," and "Flowers of Edinburgh"), and a couple of Scottish ones that I "learned" at Scotttish Fiddle Camp from Abby Newton a few years ago. No one plays these in sessions, but I like them, and eventually I will find a group to go with them: "Willie's Auld Trewes" and "The Corbie and the Crow."

I am planning on attending a fiddle weekend in November: one day of workshops and 2 days of playing together. So, that's my goal, to be able to play the handful of tunes I know, these, and, hopefully another batch, by the time mid-November rolls around in two months.

There will be a CD provided, for learning-by-ear purposes, but it won't be available until the end of September. And, of course it is a violin CD. There was only one other cellist when I attended last year. I do have a list of tunes, and it is similar to the list of tunes played by our local fiddle group. Unfortunately, I keep missing those sessions, in part because I just need to learn more tunes to feel like I am contributing. I know, most people go to sessions to learn the tunes. It is a little different when you are the only cellist, but I should just go. The people are supportive.

I do plan to play with the local fiddle group on Halloween, for the Cape Cod Marathon. We play along the route to encourage the runners every year, and it is lots of fun, if sometimes a bit cold. In exchange for playing, we get sweatshirts or jackets, so, except for our fingers, we should be warm.


Dave said...

Cellos are few, but we do really appreciate their depth and warmth at Fiddle Hell :-)

Marisa said...

You're inspiring me to pull out the fiddle fake book... Coleraine, haven't heard that name for a long time.

Maricello said...

Thanks Dave! That is a great inccentive--to bring my warmth and depth to more fiddle tunes! Dave runs Fiddle Hell (click on his name in his comment), the fiddle weekend I am attending (and attended last year).

He also wrote "Anthology of Fiddle Styles," in which I found "Coleraine." Lots of other ones there too, Marisa, like "Flowers of Edinburgh," which I know you know, and a duo version of "Liberty" which we could play if we ever meet. Ah, you should come to Fiddle Hell too!