outdoor sessions

August 20, 2020
as it may still take a while before we can return to playing music in  pubs, Ray has floated the idea of an outdoor Euro session (ie a merger of French, Scandi and Galician sessions), if anybody’s interested in joining I can put you in touch.
Also, if anybody would like to reclaim the Florence Park bandstand for music making I’d be interested in that. There’s an octagonal bench in the middle of it (probably to discourage the use it was built for, making music), so there are essentially 8 spaces for people standing on each side (or sitting down and turning their backs to each other).
In other outdoor session news, there are occasional slow sessions happening at Grandpont Nature Reserve (https://oxfordslowsession.com/about/tune-of-the-month/)
and English / Irish session in South Park (organised at short notice via a facebook group).

dia da matria

July 24, 2020

Galician culture always finds a cause for celebration, and tomorrow it’s the dia da matria, the day of the motherland. I can’t find this in the otherwise excellent Galician wikipedia, but I suspect it is not just a feminist word manipulation but a reference to the emigration experience, the country from which people’s lives emerged and then moved elsewhere.

So, anyhow, REGA UK is organising an online romeria (one of the 400 words for musical celebrations), which is advertised on Facebook:

 

romeriadiamatria2020

I do believe they mean 6pm British Summer Time, not GMT.

 

 

 

Muiñeira do Chao

June 9, 2020

Sorry it’s been a bit quiet here, I’ve been focusing on other musical adventures including some unaccompanied Bach which makes a perfect quarantine project for this plague year.

Jenny (who in normal times runs the harp session) pointed me to this one-hour harp workshop on the Galician tune, Muiñeira do Chao. It also includes some general raving and info about Galician music at the start:

 

In the caption of that video you’ll also find some links to performances (eg Susana Seivane) and a video of people dancing to the tune.

It is a nice and easy tune, and after scratching my head for a few minutes, I remembered that Nadia had done a gaita tutorial for it on her youtube channel, years ago, which at the time I hadn’t watched as it wasn’t one of the tunes we played. But maybe we should play it. Here’s Nadia’s take:

 

Nadia also provides a score for it, in C, very easy, only has 6 notes. Will try that on the alto recorder later.

Stay safe, and see you on the other side …

 

 

o maio

May 5, 2020

Oxford’s traditional May morning celebrations had to move off the streets and into cyberspace this year. The Oxford Pandeireteiras also recorded their traditional contribution, O Maio:

 

I reckon that here in the UK, which is on track to have the worst Covid-19 outbreak in Europe due to failure to respond in the early days, it will be 2021 before people can return to play in crowded pubs. Basically, as you can now see in Italy, Spain, France, the curves decay a lot more slowly than they went up before the peak, so for every day the UK didn’t act (let’s say 13.3. to 23.3. = 10 days) we’re now paying the price of an extra week of restrictions remaining necessary.

So, well, if you want to try folking around online , the Oxford Slow Session is running on Zoom now. There may be other Zoom sessions happening too, there certainly were some during the Folk Weekend.

Personally, I am staying away from Zoom and focusing on learning some more unaccompanied Bach. The cello suites should keep me challenged for three years of so. Stay safe and see you on the other side.

 

 

Folk Weekend Oxford happening online

April 17, 2020

In contrast to what I said in the PS to my last post, the Folk Weekend isn’t cancelled or postponed, it just moved to become a virtual festival.  See details on their website. There are even some “sessions” happening via Zoom – it has to be clarified though that Zoom sessions are a bit of a one-way experience – one person (or eg family gathered at one webcam) can lead the tune and broadcast it to everybody else playing along in their rooms, but the sound from everybody else coming back would be too slow so it has to be turned off.  So more like a performance where you can play along.  A few of the sessions are going ahead in this format, but I haven’t taken up the offer to do it for the Galician as well – I’m not keen on trying this and haven’t heard from anybody else who wanted to do it either. So if you want to try the experience, check the Slow session (Sunday 2:30) or the Euro session (Saturday 6pm)  – there are a few others on as well, check the PDF programme of the weekend.

In terms of dance events, there is a Covid kitchen ceilidh on Saturday, that sounds fun …

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.