KA/PO in Concert Extended Liner Notes
1. Another Jiggle Do - Another Jig Will Do/ Drops of Brandy/ Cronin's/ The Moving Clouds
This is our "sampler" of Irish tunes that we like to start our set with to warm up and get up to speed. This is a sampler in the true sense of the word – a collection of varied dance types. Normally in Irish music medleys consist of the same kind of tune, but we move from 9/8 to a 4/4 hornpipe to a fast reel.
Another Jig Will Do is in O'Neill's Music of Ireland (the classic bible of Irish dance tunes) and in the Fiddler's Fakebook - best money Paul ever spent in his life on his first transatlantic trip to NY City in the mid 1980s! Karen learned it from the playing of the Boys of the Lough. Around age 25 Karen synthesized what she learned overseas of Irish music in Playing the Hammered Dulcimer in the Irish Tradition (out of print but it can still be found online), which became a landmark instruction book. The medley came together starting with the tunes in the middle from Karen’s book and then adding an unusual take for the first tune, and ending with a killer reel! Drops of Brandy and Cronin's can be found in her book. This version of Cronin's is strongly colored by local Washington, DC fiddler Steve Hickman.
The Moving Cloud started life as a party piece composed by Northern Irish accordionist Néillidh Boyle but changed drastically through being replayed by many musicians. You can hear a recording of him playing it on his granddaughter Katie Boyle's CD "Back to Donegal."
2. The Continental Jigs - Avant Deux à Bourdounneau/ Muiñeira de Sando
Teaching at the Volksmuziek Stage in Gooik (Belgium) allowed us to hear many of the groups that are active over there and the kind of repertoire they play. We got the Avant Deux from the Duo Guerbigny Thébaut, who play traditional music from the Poitou region in France. The Muiñeira is a Galician jig we first heard by the Belgian group AmoRRomA.
3. Great Dames - Madeleine's Wals/ Soete Isabelle/ March de l'Archduchesse
Flemish piper and flautist Wim Poesen composed Madeleine's Wals. He has been active in numerous folk bands in Belgium for decades. Karen met him through their common flute maker Patrick Olwell. Soete Isabelle (Sweet Isabel) is from the early 18th-century collection Oude en Nieuwe Hollantse Boerenlieties en Contredansen (Old and New Dutch Farmers' songs and contradances). We first heard it from the Flemish group Kadril. The march comes from a manuscript of tunes notated in the 1700s by three generations of fiddlers of the Di Martinelli family in Diest. The Archduchess being honored in it is probably Maria Theresia, the only female ruler of the Austrian Habsburgs (who then governed the Netherlands) and mother of Marie Antoinette. Paul often spends his summers delving into old dance music manuscripts from Belgium and France and this is one of the gems he found.
4. English Branle/ I Love Too Many Women (Ik Hou van Alle Vrouwen)
Paul's home city Antwerp was a true cosmopolitan city in the 1500s. It was the richest city in Western Europe and center of the international economy. It's no coincidence that Thomas Moore's Utopia (published 1516) was supposedly first told in that city, and that the first modern world atlas was published there by Abraham Ortelius.
Emmanuel Adriaenssen (1554-1604) was a prominent lute player and composer there, who honed his skills in Italy and was very familiar with the English lute literature. A branle was originally a French couple dance and a number of English lute pieces also have that name. The flavor of this one is more modal than is usual in Adriaenssen’s other works. When Paul first gave the music to Karen, she neglected to look at the key signature and thought it was in the Mixolydian Mode (major scale with a flat 7). After discovering it was supposed to be in the Dorian Mode (minor scale with a raised 6) and in the spirit of the Belgian compromise, we decided to play it both ways!
Jacobus Hendrikus Speenhoff (1869-1945), aka "Koos" was an eccentric long-haired and bearded singer-songwriter long before such characters became commonplace during the folk boom.
This song dates back to 1904, and is perhaps the closest a Dutchman ever gets to singing the blues. Paul's translation introduces a bit of antagonism ("I love it when they fall") but retains the deadpan quality of the original. The singer (or his persona) gives his love freely to many women but his "generosity" backfires and eventually he finds himself single.
Coincidentally Koos, like Paul, played the harp guitar.
This classic musette waltz was composed by Michel Péguri (1883- 1958), a Franco-Italian accordion player. His father Félix was probably the first Italian accordion maker to find his way to Paris as early as the 1890s. Michel’s two brothers, Charles and Louis, were also accomplished accordion players and composers.
Musette originally meant "bagpipe," the favored instrument of working class musicians transplanted from Auvergne to Paris. When newly arrived Italian immigrants brought their accordions to the weekly bal à la musette, a turf war broke out between pipers and accordionists. According to legend, the conflict ended when Michel's brother, Charles, married the daughter of Bouscatel, the most belligerent of the pipers.
Although accordions, because of their flexibility, gradually pushed bagpipes out of business, the new genre that emerged retained the name, "musette."
Our friends played this musette for the first dance at our wedding. That’s when we discovered (the hard way) that Americans and Belgians move in opposite directions when they start to waltz – one of many lessons in our cross-cultural collaboration!
Bourrasque is a French word of Italian origin: una burrasca is a storm at sea or, by extension, some form of trouble (like a turf war between musicians?)
6. Leslie's Bourrées -Bourrée à Stéphane (Stéphane Durand)/ Bourrée la Charge (Manu Paris)/ Les Héritiers (Stéphane Durand)
Bourrées are very popular within the vibrant traditional dance scenes of France and Belgium. Here are some new tunes we learned from our fiddling friend Leslie Barr’s repertoire, She has spent many summers in France dancing, playing music and walking to Compostella.
7. The English Dance Set - Well Hall (1679)/ Jamaica (1670)/ Barbarini's Tambourine (1747)
Both DC and Baltimore have weekly English Country Dances (ECD) with live music where the old dances are revived and new dances and new music in the tradition are created. Paul plays often for the gatherings. Much of the ECD music comes from Playford’s The Dancing Master. It is similar to what was used by the Dancing Masters who were popular on the continent from the same time period of the Flemish and French music manuscripts Paul has spent many a summer transcribing.
Well Hall, Eltham, was once a magnificent mansion outside London dating from Tudor times.
Jamaica started its life as "Jameko" in Playford's 4th edition (1670) and after it was introduced in France became known on the continent as La Bonne Amitié (Feuillet).
A tambourin is a type of dance that originated in the South of France and was accompanied by a hand drum. Italian ballet dancer Barbara Campanini, aka la Barbarina, became famous in London (and many other European capitals) for her prodigious agility, her tambourine dance and her stormy affairs with noblemen, including King Frederick the Great of Prussia. She ended her career as a German countess, which was quite unusual for the daughter of a cobbler, who --according to Voltaire-- had "a man's legs." As recently as 1983 the Berlin post office made a stamp with her picture.
8. Ghent Jigs - La Prudente/ La Folie - from Robert d’Aubat St Flour
Roger d'Aubat Saint Flour arrived in Ghent in 1752 from his native Auvergne (Central France). He soon became a cornerstone of the musical life there playing second violin in the theater orchestra and teaching dance and choir in Jesuit colleges and girls’ boarding schools. We found these jigs in his collection published in Ghent in 1757, One Hundred Contradances in a Circle, which can be played on all sorts of instruments, with the figured bass for the harpsichord and a reasoned explanation for each contradance.
Belgian caller Philippe Callens explains that the "in a circle" really means that they are square dances (go figure!). These particular tunes jumped out at Karen for their similarity to Irish jigs.
9. Cancro Cru/ The Ivy Leaf/ The Skylark
Multi-instrumentalist Anxo Pintos from the Galician group Berrogüetto composed the first tune. Galicians are the Spanish Celts, and you can clearly hear the Iberian influence in the intricate rhythms. We follow it with two favorite Irish reels.
The Ivy Leaf was the emblem of the followers of Charles Stewart Parnell, the revered founder and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, who fought tirelessly for Home Rule. Karen learned this piece at Noel Rice’s weekly Irish session in Chicago.
The Skylark was composed by legendary fiddler James Morrison and was recorded by him along with Maud Miller in 1935.
10. The Carolan Set - #172/ Kean O'Hara, third air
The first of these two O'Carolan pieces doesn't have a name but was number 172 in the authoritative Donal O'Sullivan Collection. As High Sheriff of County Sligo from 1703 to 1713, Kean O'Hara was the representative of the King and a very important patron to O’Carolan, an itinerant harper – no wonder that Carolan devoted three airs to him! We play the last one of those three. It always feels appropriate to play some harp music on the harp guitar!
11. Irish Polka time - The Newmarket Polka/ Nell Fee's Polka (traditional)
Karen learned the first tune from the playing of Jackie Daly, the Irish button accordion from County Cork. Nell Fee’s pops up occasionally in sessions. It became an "ear worm" that wouldn't go away. Paul thought for the longest time it was Melfi polka (as in Tony Soprano's fictional lady psychiatrist).
12. Sous le Ciel de Paris
A memorable ode to romance and/in Paris, composed in 1951 by Hubert Giraud as the theme song for a little known film of the same name. French people are likely to know the song from chansonniers Édith Piaf or Yves Montand. When we played this at a concert at the Belgian Ambassador's house in Washington, DC, everyone sang along! American pop singer Andy Williams popularized it in the US in the 1960s as Under Paris Skies. The piece sits surprisingly well on the hammered dulcimer, using just about every chord it has and allows the harp guitar to use its bass strings to great effect.
On a trip to Wisconsin’s Door County, we were pleasantly surprised to discover the Wisconsin Belgians. About four thousand settled there in the mid 1800s and gave their towns names like Belgium, Brussels, Namur, and Rosière. To this day the old folks still speak their Walloon dialect and still have the annual Kermiss, but none of their music seems to have been preserved.
When we were invited by the Peninsula Belgian-American Club to come play some "Belgian" music, we put this set together. It consists of three 19th-century dance tunes associated with Habiémont, a small town in Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium.
Maclote, is Walloon for matelote or sailors' dance, but the term became generic for any contradance. The Allemande has a long history as a type of dance, not just as a figure in square or contradancing. This one was originally in 6/8, but Paul folk-processed it to 2/4. The Amoureuse, which starts with Karen using her mallets as sticks, used to be sung with these words: