year of the plague

March 17, 2020

As the year of the plague is getting into full swing, I’m afraid there won’t be any folk sessions for the next few months. (Apart from crowding in pubs that may be more or less hygienic, I would also be worried about the age mix which we normally enjoy and appreciate – young people may carry the virus without even getting noticeably sick, while older folks may very well die if they catch it.) So please stay home and safe if you can, and keep sharing your musical inspiration online.

To keep the spirit up, I might post Galician related videos here every once in a while, so do send me yours if you have any.  Here’s Xabier Diaz’s tutorial for Baile de Noro to start us off with:

 

 

PS news just in after I posted this entry, the Folk Weekend Oxford is now off / postponed as well. It was due to be held on the weekend of April 18, but realistically there is no way it could have gone ahead at that time.

Galician Session Oxford February 2020

February 7, 2020

The February session will take place on

Tuesday 18.2. from 20:30 h (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses. A car park is available behind Tesco if you have to drive.

This month, in the thirty-first session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. In the spirit of international understanding, we are also open for input from other traditions, especially other Celtic and Iberian ones. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines (pandeiretas) and sing some of their songs. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box full of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.

gal6680

One of my photos of the January 2020 session, when we said farewell to Mick, who is now moving to California …

Looking ahead, the next session dates scheduled are:

Tue 31.3.

Sun 19.4. as part of the Folk Weekend with special guests, don’t go anywhere that weekend.

 

Galician Carnival in London

January 22, 2020

There will be a Galician Entroido (Carnival) festivity happening in West London on Saturday Feb 8:

entroido-london2020

 

organised by REGA UK, who are also on wordpress: https://regauk.wordpress.com/

 

The venue is in West London, not too far from Paddington – you can walk along the canals via Little Venice, which is a lovely walk.

There will definitely be lots of Galician music as well, and if enough people come with their instruments there may even be a session (TBC).

 

Galician Session Oxford January 2020

January 12, 2020

The ship is still sinking, but we’re still here, and still playing music …

The January session will take place on

Tuesday 21.1. from 20:30 h (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses. A car park is available behind Tesco if you have to drive.

This month, in the thirtieth (!) session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. In the spirit of international understanding, we are also open for input from other traditions, especially other Celtic and Iberian ones. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines (pandeiretas) and sing some of their songs. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.

gal6146

photo taken at the November session …

Looking ahead, the next session dates scheduled are:

Tue 18.2.

Tue 31.3.

Sun 19.4. as part of the Folk Weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

Cantigas de Santa Maria

December 13, 2019

In recent days I have been obsessing about the Cantigas de Santa Maria a bit, so here’s a copy of a blog post I made on my personal blog (I’m more likely to keep it up to date there than here, as I log on to blogspot every day):

The Cantigas de Santa Maria – 420 songs in mediaeval Galician (aka Galician-Portuguese) collected by Alfonso X. in the 13th century – are an important foundation of Galician culture, and one or two of them have been played (as instrumental tunes) at our Galician sessions as well. However, our harper who plays them from memory, had learned them without numbers or titles, so they were almost impossible to find.

 

 

I recently attended a seminar on the cantigas (the relevant paper is here), where I learned lots of things about their structures and storytelling. Also about the fundamentals – for instance, the images of musicians, like the ones above, appear only in one of the four known manuscripts. Two others include illustrations relating to the stories of miracles told in nine out of every ten cantigas.

The seminar inspired me to look at the mystery of our harper’s cantiga again and I discovered that the lovely database Cantigas de Santa Maria for singers has a forward arrow on the pages displaying the modern notation for each cantiga. Until now I had assumed that I had to access each one separately with several clicks each time, but in fact I can just flick through them. Which I did, and starting at number one, I found that the cantiga we play most often is actually number seven. Quick and easy – not sure if I’d have had the stamina to find it if it had been number 407.

So it’s called

Santa Maria amar devemos

and here is a lovely version with karaoke text lines, so you can sing along (and unlike some other versions I found, the melody sticks very close to the version we play):

In other CSM news, I just acquired a big book of solo pieces for alto recorder (Altblockflötensolobuch by Barbara Hintermeier and Birgit Baude, Schott 2014), and that also contains two of the cantigas, namely

No. 353 Quen a omagen da virgen (lyrics video here)
No. 166 Como Poden

I really like the 353 as a recorder piece, haven’t quite gotten my head round the 166 yet.

Our gaiteiro, David Carril says he can play No. 100, Santa Maria strela do dia, so I will learn that one as well. Stop press – here’s a video where you can read the manuscript while listening to the music.

In terms of recordings, there are lots of them on YouTube, obviously. This channel has so many, it may well be all of them, but they are in no particular order and mixed with videos of other early music, so it’s hard to tell. The ones I checked usually had the lyrics displayed in some form.

This video: Fiesta en el corte de Alfonso el Sabio combines recordings of some 14 cantigas by different artists with a large number of the musicians miniatures from the manuscript.

I have a CD by Ensemble Alcatraz, called Vision and Miracles (1988) which includes CSM 103, 333, 117, 34, and 42 along with an instrumental suite using several cantigas and some other medieval pieces.

The Dufay Collective has recorded a CD full of cantigas, which is called Miracles.

Estampie have recorded a few. No. 120 Quantos me creveren (the numbers ending in 0 are songs of praise as opposed to stories of miracles) is included in their “Best Of” CD (2007) and a few more are on their album Signum (2004) including Non e gran cousa (26), Non devemos (27) and Quen na virgen (this could be 186, 256, or possibly 59, 103, or 276 – I don’t have this CD).

La Capella Reial de Catalunya have recorded a dozen cantigas with Hesperion XX and Jordi Savall, available on CD as “Cantigas de Santa Maria – strela do dia”. I’m a bit confused as Amazon seems to think it dates from 2017, but since the millennium the ensemble has been known as Hesperion XXI, so I suspect it may be a re-release of a 1990s recording. Oh, and somebody posted it on Youtube in 2013.

Galician Session December 2019

November 30, 2019

While the idea is to have sessions on the last Tuesday of each month, this is obviously difficult in December, so the next session will be exceptionally early and on a Wednesday, namely the 11th of December (NB not on the third Tuesday, as was previously announced).

This event will complete our three-month trial period with the Bullingdon Bar. I am happy with the venue and am hoping to agree regular dates with them for the new year, but if anybody has any other ideas, let me know.

Obviously, there is also the risk that the election on the 12th will go horribly wrong. If Bojo and his DeathEaters get a majority in parliament, I will certainly consider moving to safer shores, as quite a few people already have done. This may turn out to be the last time, so let’s party on the sinking ship …

The December session will take place on

Wednesday 11.12. from 20:30 h (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses. A car park is available behind Tesco if you have to drive.

Here’s a snap from last month’s session, you can see there’s still space for more people to join …

 

In its current incarnation, the former “Bully” is not the usual kind of folk session pub, but it has a number of key advantages, including the great location, large open space, and long opening hours. There is also a nice wooden floor which to me looks very dance-friendly, but I’ll take expert opinions on that.

This month, in the twenty-ninth session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. In the spirit of international understanding, we are also open for input from other traditions, especially other Celtic and Iberian ones. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines (pandeiretas) and sing some of their songs. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.

 

 

 

Galician Session November 2019

November 10, 2019

The November session will take place a week earlier than normally, namely on

Tuesday 19.11. from  20:30 h (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses. A car park is available behind Tesco if you have to drive.

We will be in the back left corner which looks like this:

bullingdon

In its current incarnation, the former “Bully” is not the usual kind of folk session pub, but it has a number of key advantages, including the great location, large open space, and long opening hours. There is also a nice wooden floor which to me looks very dance-friendly, but I’ll take expert opinions on that. I’m aiming to have the session there on the last or 4th Tuesday every month, but as these dates were already booked for Nov, I’ve settled for the third Tuesday this time (apologies to Tim and his lovely Early English session – will try to avoid clashes in the future). (UPDATE: The date for the December session has now moved back to a Wednesday, namely 11.12.)

This month, in the twenty-eighth session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals. In the spirit of international understanding, we are also open for input from other traditions, especially other Celtic and Iberian ones. The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines (pandeiretas) and sing some of their songs. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.

 

PS after a few months of forgetting about it, I have now updated the events diary. I’ve also added new sections with non-Galician tunes to the tunes list and updated the sessions list. So I’m hoping we’re all up to date now.

 

Bridging Celtic and Iberian traditions

October 27, 2019

At our new venue, we now have a lot more space and a lot more time (until 1am) to make noise. To make sure we can fill that space and time I will from now on emphasize a bit more what we’ve been doing anyway, namely the fact that we welcome music from other Celtic and from other Iberian traditions, essentially celebrating Galician folk as the crossroads between these two overlapping cultural worlds. We have already got Asturian and Portuguese songs, a Basque tune and a Scottish tune in our repertoire, and we have had amazing moments when participants shared other things with us including Welsh songs and Irish tunes.

 

To capitalise on this I have changed the description of the session (Galician Session in the sidebar) and the subheading. I might also use terms like interceltic and celtic connections (both of which are the names of very popular festivals) to describe the sessions. All of this doesn’t actually change the range of the music we have been playing anyway, but may encourage a few more people to come who might have otherwise felt excluded, thinking they don’t know enough about Galician music. So if this applies to you and you have any Scottish, Irish, Welsh, Manx, Cornish or Breton music to share or anything from the Iberian peninsula, do come and share what you’ve got. It’s an open session after all.

See you on Tuesday!

 

new venue, new date

October 24, 2019

It’s all change this month, we have a new venue and a new day of the week! The October session will take place on

Tuesday 29.10. from  20h30 (NB we can make music until 1 am if we want to !!!!)

at the

Bullingdon Cocktail Bar, 162 Cowley Road, OX4 1UE

This is just opposite the Tesco supermarket, and very close to the James Street Tavern, so easy to walk from the St. Clements coach stop for people coming in from London or elsewhere on the buses.

We will be in the back left corner which looks like this:

bullingdon

photo source

I have played jam sessions there and it’s a lovely place to play. And there is a nice wooden floor which to me looks very dance-friendly, but I’ll take expert opinions on that. I’m aiming to have the session there on the last or 4th Tuesday every month, but as these dates were already booked for Nov and Dec, I’ve settled for the third Tuesdays for those two months (apologies to Tim and his lovely Early English session – will try to avoid clashes in the future).

This month, in the twenty-seventh session in the new sequence, we’ll again play lots of lovely tunes from our vast collection of Galician traditionals (and maybe the odd one from other traditions as well). The Oxford Pandeireteiras will play their tambourines and sing some of the songs they practise in their weekly meetings. Sheet music will be provided for anybody who brings an instrument and wants to join in (I also have a PDF file with 19 of our favourite tunes which I can email on request). There is plenty of space for dancing. A box of miscellaneous percussion instruments (including the very Galician cunchas, i.e. scallop shells) is also on hand if you would like to rattle along with the rhythms.

For further info about the sessions and sharing audio and video recordings of the tunes we play, subscribe to this blog or join the Facebook group. There is also a mailing list for email reminders I tend to send out a week before each session.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking for a new home

October 8, 2019

Unfortunately, the Galician, French, Scandi and harp sessions can no longer rely on getting the usual slots at the Port, so we are looking for new venues. The French and Scandi sessions are moving to the Victoria Arms, the harps session is still undecided.

For the Galician session, I am hoping to stay close to the coach stops of the Oxford Tube, so our friends from London can easily come and join us. At the Vicky Arms that would be tricky to do.  I have sent out inquiries to the Royal Blenheim and St. Aldates Tavern, which are both very close to the St. Aldates coach stop and which have both hosted lovely sessions during the Folk Weekends last year and the year before. I am also considering a couple of places near Headington Shops coach stop. Around St. Clements, all options have been checked the last time we were looking, and the Port ended up being the only one around there.

The October session is definitely happening on the 30th, but as yet we don’t know where it will be, so watch this space.

PS in more positive session news, Oxford has a brand new Old Time session, which happens on Thursdays at irregular intervals at the Up in Arms, Marston Road. The next one will be on the Thu 24th, at 8pm.