Archive for the ‘Northumbrian Music’ Category

New Music Book: Doon the Redewater

Monday, September 4th, 2017

Over the last five years I’ve been helping out local mouth-organ player Don Clegg in transcribing all of his new compositions and now we’ve gathered them all together and published them in a proper book. “Doon the Redewater” is available at Core Music in Hexham and online

Doon the Redewater

Many of Don’s tunes are in the key of A, but he’s always happy to transpose for Northumbrian pipes – so we’ve also got a piper’s manuscript to accompany the book with all of the tunes arranged for NSP.

Don is also a wonderful dialect poet and storyteller and I’m currently compiling a book of poems & tales which should be available before Christmas.

Family Ceilidh – Kirkwhelpington Village Show 2nd Sept

Wednesday, August 16th, 2017

Kirkwhelpington village show takes place on the afternoon of Saturday 2nd September across the road from the memorial hall.

Cross the Wannies will be playing for a family Ceilidh in the evening: 7.30pm – 10pm – tickets available on the door

XYZ – James Hill Hornpipe?

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

Reading and researching old music manuscripts takes a lot of effort and is very much a specialised interest – but just occasionally it all comes to life in unexpected ways. I was recently playing in Devon and was sharing some music with some friends, when fiddler Paul Burgess played a lovely G minor hornpipe that felt strangely familiar:

modal_snippet

Paul had it from an 19thC manuscript as ‘A Modal Hornpipe‘ – whilst I’ve always known my version as a James Hill hornpipe called ‘XYZ‘ and commonly played in A minor a bit like this:

XYZ_snippet

I eventually found the G minor transcription in the William Irwin manuscript at the Village Music Project. Irwin was a fiddler in Langdale and two of his books dataed 1838 & 1850 were partially copied in the early C20th but the original MSS have been lost. The question then becomes which came first; Irwin’s Modal Hornpipe or Hill’s XYZ?

XYZ was a famous racehorse born in 1808 who won numerous races in the North East from 1811 to 1814. James Hill was born in c.1810 and wrote music through out his short life but many the sources and attributions to James Hill come from much later – a challenge addressed in Graham Dixon’s wonderfully presented & encyclopaedic book ‘The Lads Like Beer‘.

The tune explicitly named XYZ appears with a direct attribution to Hill in the Jock Davidson (Kielder Jock) manuscript and the Clough family manuscripts – both sources from the early C20th. Unattributed but named versions appears in both the Robert Davison and William Green manuscripts; both c.1850. The RD version titled ‘X.Y.’ is much closer to the Modal Hornpipe than many:

XY_snippet

In all of the earlier versions there are musical curiousities and what can only be called mis-transcriptions. The c.1850 version from Collingwood is transcribed in A Major and the Robert Davison version (included in the PDF) has a particular ‘double flat’ in the B part!

There’s nothing definitive in any of these manuscripts to say which (if any!) is the primary source and a good tune is still a good tune to be played and enjoyed – but I’ll still keep my ear out for such coincidences as they’re a constant joy. Here’s a PDF with three transcriptions: XYZ and Modal Hornpipe

Unnamed Schottische (NPS Book 1)

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

In the first edition of the Northumbrian Pipers Society Tunebook published way back in the early days of the NPS there was a tune called simply ‘Schottische’. In the 2nd edition, a number of tunes were dropped from the book including this unnamed Schottische. In the third edition, the tunes were restored and ‘lost’ tunes tunes such as Bellingham Fair have been re-appearing in the wild – but I’ve yet to hear ‘Schottische’.

I was dipping into my library of old books yesterday on a search for something completely unrelated when the tune at the top of the page tripped me up – it took me about 5 minutes to make the connection – and now our unnamed Schottische now has a name. Kerr’s Merry Melodies¬† has this tune as ‘Such Chiming’ a melody from the ‘The Magic Flute’.

The NPS tunebook version is printed a 4th down (key of D) to fit the range of the pipes – but other than that, the tune is practically identical. I’m also not overly familiar with Mr Mozart’s original, and Youtube seems to suggest a different medody line for ‘Such Chiming’ – I’ll have to look it up sometime to see exactly where it can be found.