Posts Tagged ‘northumbrian music’

Old Year’s Night – 30th Dec, Wall

Sunday, December 11th, 2011
Old Year's Night 2011

Once more Christmas and New Year are almost upon us and we continue with our annual night of entertainment in Wall on the 30th December. It’s Old Year’s Night, being the last full night of the year (And definitely not New Year’s Eve!)

Supper is a Bring and Share affair, the Prize Draw will no doubt prove highly rewarding but the highlight of the night will be the truly talented local performers who have been persuaded to provide the evening’s entertainment:

  • Fiddler Gillan Burnie will be joining us from Elsdon with a fine repetoire of Northumbrian tunes
  • Mike Tickell of Wark will regale us with songs of shepherds and their shenanigans
  • Perenial village favourite Graham Dick will be out with his songs and stories.

We’ve also got a pair of champion clog dancers, a border piper and I’ll be putting in a tune or two. So all in all it’s going to be a busy night. Tickets are just £7 and everything starts at 7.30pm in Wall Village Hall. As ever there is no bar (takes up too much audience space!) – bring your own drinks.

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Contact me if you’d like more information / tickets. (Advance booking is essential!)

Northumbrian Night – Thurs 8th Sept

Monday, August 29th, 2011

A very local gig for me – it’s Wall Village Hall. Northumbrian night with fiddler Roddy Matthews, singer Roly Johnson, pianist Cathy Anderson (& friends) and myself on Northumbrian Pipes and Concertina. Pie and pea supper included and anyone who has tasted Billy Bells’ pies baked by Jackie will know they are in for a treat. Tickets are £5.00 per person or £2.00 if you are still at school available from Richard Dodds.

It’s great to have such a vibrant local community with lots of people organising events. If you haven’t got contact details for Richard – drop me a line for  details

Jock Wilson of Fenton

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Traditional music is a bit of an oddity in the music world in that the authors of tunes are rarely known and seldom recorded. Northumbrian music has long been a semi-literate tradition and composers can often be found for pieces from the 19th and 20th centuries. So while ‘Trad’ is still the standard attribution, I prefer ‘Unknown’. Someone came up with the musical idea and it’s always satisfying to find out who. In some cases however authorship can be assigned where in truth the story is perhaps more complicated.

I learnt the rant ‘Jock Wilson of Fenton’ on the concertina many many years ago from the likes of the Shepherds and Andy & Margaret Watchorn. It’s got a great rhythm and structure and I’ve always known it as a Bryce Anderson composition. Bryce was the accordion player with the Cheviot Ranters dance band and composed a great many tunes but it seems that this might not have been composed as much as adapted.

Thanks to the Village Music project, I discovered a much earlier version of the tune. For many years now the VMP has been cataloguing and transcribing all of the english fiddle manuscripts they can find. John Clare was a fiddler in Northamptonshire who wrote down many of his tunes in the first half of the 19th century. One of the many untitled tunes (#170) in the manuscript bears a striking similarity to the modern Jock Wilson. The tune was transcribed by Flos Headford who gave the tune the title ‘Jock Wilson’s Hornpipe’. Here’s the first line:

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A bit of further research throws up a very similar tune in Kerr’s Second Collection of Merry Melodies – No. 346 Cooper’s Hornpipe:

Different versions of Cooper’s can be found in a variety of places (it even has a touch of the Old Morpeth Rant in the B part).

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Jock Wilson of Fenton starts in an almost identical fashion:

The B-part diverges a bit more – starting on a minor chord but the structure is still reminiscent of Cooper’s.

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Here’s the manuscript for all three tunes in full: Jock Wilson of Fenton (PDF)

In times gone by tunes were frequently renamed with local references – Jimmy Allan (Reel of Tullochgorum), Lads of North Tyne (Boys of Bluehill). This may have been to make them memorable, because the original name was unsuitable or because the original name was not known to the player. Deliberate passing off is a possibility but it’s more likely that some musicians quite simply forgot whether or not they wrote a tune. I’ve played composers’ tunes back to them and had them ask where the tune came from. Tunes also evolve when a musician knowingly changes sections of the tune – either due to replacing ‘missing’ pieces or out of musical choice, it’ll get a different name to make the distinction from the original.

So my theory is that Bryce had a bit of a tune going round his head and by the time he filled the gaps in it got recorded as his. Alternatively; somewhere somebody asked what a tune was called and was given the name “Jock Wilson of Fenton” and then further down the line someone called it “one of Bryce’s tunes”. Either way history now has it as his and it’s been distinctive and popular enough to remain in the local repetoire for at least the last 30 years.

Hexham Piper’s Gathering – May 7th

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

My local piping event – the Hexham piper’s gathering is fast approaching. Session on Friday night in the Abbey undercroft (trad F pitch), group playing during the day on Saturday followed by an  evening concert and dance. There’ll be a follow up sesison at the Dipton Mill Pub on the Sunday but I don’t think I’ll mkae it this year.