April 2004


Well, after a bit of work we have a couple of tracks together – here’s a live recorded track to listen to :-) Let me know what you think – it’s a couple of Irish reels called Paddy Fahy’s No1 and Gravel Walk… more like a run really!

[I have removed the recording so it doesn't clog up slower servers - hope you enjoyed it while it was there. I'll be uploading some MP3s of the band on our soon-to-be-established web page - JE]

Cheers
Jerry

Finally found the music to a tune that has been driving me nuts for months – Green Gates reel – I keep hearing it in my head to the point where I have been able to pick out the broad shape of the first part of the tune, but not close enough to be able to do a pattern search among the ABC notation sites and some great Irish music collections online, such as O’Neills Music of Ireland and Allens Irish Fiddler And my favourite tune finding site: The Session.org And last night i found the tune – with the sheet music. Big learning binge this weekend with me learning “The Musical Priest” and “Star of Munster” reels.

Must get back to recording tomorrow. Today was the garden – I’ve been extending the garden watering system so that the whole garden gets watered.
Cheers
Jerry

Well, recording is coming along – very happy with the results so far. Here are a couple of images from our preliminary recording session live at the National Folk Festival in Canberra, Australia:

Full Circle Band in concert

and a more intense moment :-)

Full Circle Band in concert

Cheers
Jerry (Canberra, Australia)

Okay recording prelims begin tomorrow – this time we’ll get a CD out!

I have bought Tracktion software to run on the mac and I’ve found I can get reasonable levels from the band’s yamaha 8 track mixing desk and using the stereo out from the desk into a Y adapter and stereo input. Still getting used to the Tracktion interface – it’s simple but different from anything I’ve encountered elsewhere. But it’s still logical.

Did some levels testing by playing a duet with my daughter on mandoline and me on fiddle – seems to work okay, although mike-ing the mandoline seems to give rise to a fair bit of extraneous noise – including feedback when I’m not careful. I reckon using direct inputs for both instruments should improve things dramatically. I’ll test that setup tomorow when our guitar play comes over. When I start getting some good results I’ll upload some samples here :-)

Cheers
Jerry

Who would have thought that my hardanger fiddle would end up being discussed in Norway eh? Well, my good friend Enok in Norway asked me in 2000 about my music so I sent him a couple of photos – and within minutes they were on his website :-0

I thought I might share them with you too …

So, what is a hardingfele? Basically it’s a violin with eight strings (don’t try this at home folks) – it has the normal four strings tuned the Australian way (G-D-A-E – which spells “G’day” – the classic Aussie greeting) plus there are four sympathetic strings that run beneath the fingerboard, through the middle of the bridge, and these are tuned various ways – my favourite is D-E-F#-A. The effect is like having a delay pedal – accoustically. When you play strings normally dampened by fingers, the sympathetic strings keep vibrating, giving a haunting echo-like sound. There are some sites with recordings of hardanger fiddles – one of my favourites is this one: Hardingkvartetten – the hardingfele quartet which has some mp3 downloads of hardanger music.

So how did these amazing instruments come about, and when?

The story I heard is this: Back around 1750 music was undergoing a revolution – Bach was playing with the new well-tempered scale which allowed fixed tone instruments to change keys without too much clash; and, due to government cut backs, orchestras were being scaled down – the problem then was to make the same amount of sound from fewer instruments. The solution went in two directions:

* firstly, the whole music scale was raised by nearly a semitone – “A” went from about 360 cycles per second to 440
* and secondly, instruments grew more strings and better sustain – like the hardanger.

Urban legend has it that the hardingfele (named after the Norwegian town of Hardanger – already famous for its distinctive white-work embroidery) was invented by a Norwegian schoolteacher from that town. Whoever invented it, there is some debate about the dating of the oldest known hardingfele – the “Jaastad” fiddle (allegedly 1651) with subsequent hardingfeles known only from the mid-1700s.

And so to my hardanger, eight years in the (partial) making (in South Australia), and subsequently expertly rebuilt properly (with larger internal structural blocks) and beautifully completed by Scott Wise of Perth (now Margaret River), Western Australia.

The first photo is from the Canberra Times newspaper of Easter 2000:
Jerry at National Folk Festival 2003

And now the hardingfele:
Hardanger fiddle (hardingfele)

hardanger fiddle (hardingfele)

hardanger fiddle (hardingfele)

Hope you enjoy – I may put up some sound files later
In the meantime here are some music samples from the Hardanger Fiddle Association of America
Cheers
Jerry

Easter weekend – I know I haven’t been blogging for a few days – here’s why:

National Folk Festival Four days of fiddling, concerts, guinnesses (guinnaeii?), and *ahem* recording…

You see, it was like this… I met up with some old mates, including ex-Mucky Duck Band (like myself) and now poet extraordinaire, Roger Montgomery – who won this year’s recitation trophy; John Angliss of Dingo’s Breakfast fame (and also ex-Mucky Duck Band and Ten Pound Tourist Band (like myself), and a raft of other West Aussie and South Aussie mates. Much sessioning in the Bar (with the likes of Billy Moran, and Scott and Louisa Wise (Scott made my hardanger-fiddle about 20 years ago!). More sessioning until about 4.00AM. Sleep.

Dawn (well crack of noon actually). Analyse reason for headache… it wasn’t the two bottles of wine; nor was it the five pints of guinness; nor was it the three cans of Fosters Light Ice… but perhaps the combination of these? Better put the mute on the fiddle – at least while I tune up…

*Carefully* began learning a new reel – Star of Munster – and met my neighbour from the next tent – a New Zealand fiddler.

concert highlights: Wongawilli Band – Jane Brownlea’s excellent fiddle playing was truly outstanding – awesome. Finnish band called Jepokryddona and you can hear some of their music here. Other highlights included the Toe Sucking Cow-Girls, a guy with a two-metre unicycle! and a recording offer…

A what?? Well… I was checking out the market stalls, and stumbled (can’t think why) into a stall full of bodhrans [Irish frame-drum played with a single, double-headed stick] (okay I was a champion player once – many years ago) and the stall owner said “Maaaate, have I got a deal for you!” – I thought hello, he’s going try to sell me a bodhran – next thing he’s saying that he saw me and me guitarist mate for the last couple of National festivals in the session bar and was wondering if we’d like to record some instrumental tracks so he could market a CD for aspiring bodhran players to play along with… I hesitated for, perhaps a millisecond bfore saying, er… okay. The upshot was that we ended up the following day recording some preliminary live tracks courtesy of some borrowed equipment (thank you National Festival) so we could test the concept. The real work still lies ahead – I’ll blog you later on that little project.

More sessioning, some concerts – some great young talent and a whole new repertoire of classy musicians. And so to sleep…. Or try to… Canberra’s freezing nights saw me awake more than asleep.

Up at the crack of noon (again!) Argh the frustration of finding all five volumes of Brendan Breathnach’s Ceol Rince tune collection – at fifty dollars apiece! Missed a blackboard concert slot by about three people… back to the session bar. A short afternoon nap – in the van this time – much more comfortable, and ready for a Kranski German sausage moment. More wonderful concerts, more sessioning with my daughter (who plays mandolin) then retiring early (about 2.00AM) for the first full night’s sleep

Awoke refreshed – finally after a good night’s sleep. Greeted the early morning sun with some spirited tunes (other happy campers provided some vocal accompaniment with lyrics like “shurrup!” “b*gger off” and “what tha?”) A truly good start to the day :-)

A little light rain settled the dust a bit and took the edge off the mild sunstroke – I was glad we brought the tarp for some cover. Got a bit more of the Star of Munster reel down – I hope whoever was recording the radio interview on the sportsground just ahead of me enjoyed the backing track of me playing the Star of Munster over and over and over…

All too soon it was time to pack up and leave – my daughter was to stay on for a couple of days as she was a volunteer so we left the camp site up. I took my leave of many good friends and and new – until the next festival! it was adieu and back to the day job. Great festival – well worth it if you are in Canberra over Easter

Wongawilli Band
Wongawilli Band

Cheers
Jerry

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