Week #402 ~ The Knotted Cord

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  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    This week's winner is The Knotted Cord, which was submitted as an Irish reel. The Session says that it is also known as The Bangor, Bridie Morley, Bridie Morley’s, Bridie Morley’s Favorite, Bridie Morley’s Favourite, Halfway House, Jr Crehan’s Favourite, Junior Crehan’s, Junior Crehan’s Favourite, The Knot On The Cord, The Knotted Chord.

    Here is the link to three settings on thesession.org.

  2. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    I recognised this tune as one of the many that gets played at our local session that I don't know. I'd recorded it on my phone in the vain hope of one day learning it, so this was the perfect excuse.
    A bit rough and ready and with a false start.

  3. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Great stuff James! I'm learning this one in a set with "Love at The Endings" - here's a great clip of Brid Harper and Harry Bradley playing both tunes (as an aging punk rocker I love that Harry is wearing a Black Flag t-shirt!). We're slated for a week of relentless rain here so I'll have plenty of time to get a version of this recorded!

  4. woodenfingers
    Very nice James! You can really wail away on that tenor now.
  5. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Thanks folks.
    Good to see you posting again Bob.
  6. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    James, nicely done. When I hear you play the tenor banjo it inspires me to give it another shot. Although I couldn't get it up to dancing tempo or put in the ornaments I'd like I did manage to record something in between power outages on a stormy Sunday in the Santa Cruz mountains. Oh and my acoustic needs to go to the shop so I tried the electric on this just for fun.

  7. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Fantastic David - really great groove.
  8. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    David, with that guitar backing it's reminiscent of the Byrds playing a reel - great stuff!
  9. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Absolutely lashing down with rain here so plenty of time to record stuff today. Here's a tenor banjo and tenor guitar version for ye all - no mandolin as the MTO is in need of a set up, the winter weather is playing havoc with it!

  10. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Surprise! I've actually recorded something! Here I am playing this tune rather slowly (for those of you who like to learn from a video!) twice through on my Collings MT2O mandolin!

  11. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Lovely stuff Barbara, and as always you pull such great tone out of your MT2O!
  12. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Great as ever Jill, you've inspired me to pick up my tenor which is usually just wall art. I should play it more often.
    Good to see you posting again Barbara - indeed wonderful tone.
  13. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Cheers James!
  14. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    OK, bear with me! I'm recharging the humidifiers in my instruments on this cold winter's day, so I thought I'd play the various instruments!

    So, here's the tune again, on my Mid-Missouri. Old dead strings, no arm rest, no tone gaurd (I have those two things on my Collings), the only thing that's the same is the Blue Chip pick (this one is a TAD 50, and I think the other one I was using a TAD 55, which is pretty much the same).

    I think this instrument sounds pretty decent too, considering the thousands of dollars price difference!

    In looking at my first video, I noticed that my right hand seemed pretty tense, so I was concentrating on holding my pick differently.... that's what I'm going to blame those missed notes on! Also, I'll blame that on the fact that I played 3 A parts the second time around, haha!

  15. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I did say bear with me, didn't I, haha!

    Here's the tune on my Martin mandolin, ca 1955. Just a little younger than I am, haha! I'll blame my missed notes on the fact that this mandolin has a bit shorter scale than the others I play!

    Again, dead strings, no tone guard or arm rest, using a Blue Chip TAD 50 pick. I also went ahead and found my stool that would put me in the right place so I could record, as sitting is how I usually play! The earlier two I played standing up... not my comfort zone!

  16. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    I love hearing how the same tune sounds on different mandolins! Really lovely sound out of your Mid-Mo, particularly when you consider the dead strings!
  17. luurtie
    I'm not into playing Irish reels on the mandolin, but with the versions I heard I think I have to change my mind. David, you sound fantastic on that banjo, fast playing is obvious not neccesary. Jill, as always you made very good versions. At last, Barbara it's great to hear you play again. Three nice versions played on different mandolins. I really love the sound of that Collings!
  18. Bob Michel
    Bob Michel
    Fun versions all around! David, the electric guitar backup is a hoot. I agree with Jill; I look forward to hearing how a given tune sounds on different instruments--not to mention how it falls on different ears.

    I can hardly play a reel like this one without trying to work it into a plausible set. This one occurred to me this afternoon. I don't think I've heard these three tunes together--though there's always the possibility that I unconsciously stole the idea from some old recording.

    Bob Michel
    Near Philly
  19. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Lovely stuff Bob, and I like it a lot in that set!
  20. Gelsenbury
    Yes, that's a nice set! This tune is growing on me. I didn't think much of it at first, but all these great videos advertise it really well.
  21. JL277z
    Fine versions all. David, awesome guitar too, love it!

    Gelsenbury wrote:
    "This tune is growing on me. I didn't think much of it at first, but all these great videos advertise it really well."

    Yup, I think so too. Really fine musicians here at SAW!
  22. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Wow - I totally missed out on what is going on here...
    Barb is back on stage!
    David in a top hat!!

    And all playing so well - nothing I could top. I'll be a while yet for this, and late as usual, since my queue is blocked by another tune for another week.
  23. Uncle Choppy
    Uncle Choppy
    Right ho. This is really difficult for me. I'm forcing myself to participate and, in truth, I'm deeply uncomfortable with playing anything in public or on camera (which feels like pretty much the same thing). It's made worse by having to follow the monster players above.

    I'm a few weeks in from returning to the Mandolin after a few years off so my limited chops are bordering on the non-existent. Apologies for the poor quality smartphone footage, the gurning, the playing, the mistakes, the jumper, the decor etc.
    I just think it's probably good to do something rather than nothing and, as our fearless leader was kind enough to post a mandolin version, I had something to learn from.

    Anyway, here goes nothing....

  24. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Wonderful stuff Uncle Choppy! Very fluid and nice sweet tone - is that a Pomeroy?
  25. Uncle Choppy
    Uncle Choppy
    Thanks Jill but I recognise a train wreck when I hear one! Funny how it's easy to play OK until I hit the record button. (Actually it's not that OK but better than this.)

    Yup, that's me ol' Pumpkin Pomeroy A-style. Way too much mando for my ability but I took a chance when the pound was strong and got a US-built mandolin for the price of a mid-range Eastman. The brief was to use plain woods and just have front binding to save a few bob which I spent on the features I wanted (single rosette, James tailpiece). In the end, Don used some nice, subtly-flamed maple for the back and sides and I definitely prefer this look to the ultra-bling timbers.

    Only thing is that it's so full sounding. I'm experimenting with thinner picks as it's so bassy. I guess that comes with this type of mandolin but even compared to the old Gibson As I hear on YouTube (I've never played one) it seems very "tubby". I love the sound of the Collings Ovals that you and Barbara play but they're completely out of my league, price wise. Anyway, my current mandolin is far better than I deserve so I need to work on actually being able to play the thing.

    Oh, and I'm a better graphic designer than I am mandolin player. Not sure if the group has any use for this but fancied doing some retro typography to chill out this evening.

  26. Gelsenbury
    Great tone, Uncle Choppy! I agree more with Jill's assessment than with your own. You're too harsh on yourself. I've been playing for 7 years now and still wish I could play a reel as sprightly and comfortably as you do.

    I don't need convincing about the detrimental effect of that red Record light, though. That seems to be a nearly universal experience.

    Nice to hear you!
  27. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Love the graphic too - how cool would that be on stickers and t-shirts!!
  28. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Uncle Choppy, I like everything in your video:
    - the playing (no frills, but who needs that - where is that alleged trainwreck?)
    - the naturally brylcreemed hairstyle
    - the facial expressions
    - the final slide and wave
    - the vintage style graphic group ad

    I attribute most of that to the red light effect, which I know, of course. Adrenaline is your friend, and you should make the most of it while it lasts. It makes the entertainer in you come forth. It's invigorating and improving
  29. Bob Michel
    Bob Michel
    Uncle Choppy, I concur with Jill, Gelsenbury and Bertram: it's lovely playing, with a real ease and grace to it. No doubt it can improve, but that's true of all of us. Well done altogether.

    As for the tone, by all means experiment with picks--not just thinner ones, but different materials, shapes, bevels and angles of attack. You might notice a change with different strings as well. But one very simple adjustment is the placement of your hand relative to the soundhole. In the video you seem to be playing almost directly over it, which is guaranteed to bring out the bassiness of an oval-hole instrument. Playing closer to the bridge should mitigate that; somewhere there's a sweet spot that will strike the balance you prefer. In the end, though, it comes down to the sound you like; to my ears the fullness you describe is very pleasing. It's a warm, sweet-sounding mandolin.

    Bob Michel
    Near Philly
  30. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    Uncle Choppy, lovely fluid paying, great tone, no train wreck. Look at my version, I actually stop and start back at the beginning. I've given up thinking of these as performances - they are for my own benefit to document my progress. If others get something from it then that's fine. That helps with the red light.
    Can I have a poster?
  31. Uncle Choppy
    Uncle Choppy
    Thank you for the kind words Gelsenbury, Bertram and Bob. I feel a bit crappy now as I wasn't fishing for compliments, just wanting to force myself to actually play something from start to finish, rather than just noodle.
    The "hairstyle" is currently based on the "I've put my head on upside down" principle. I grow it where it grows and shave where the coverage is sparsest. Play to your strengths!
    Bob - Interesting comments regarding the picking position. I'm just on the edge of the soundhole on the video but I have recently experimented with moving a tiny bit nearer to the bridge to get a bit more top end. Seems like I've slipped back to my old ways!
    I quite like the sound nearer the bridge. It gets a bit more banjo-like and "plunky" but gives a more old-timey sound to my ear. Not a million miles from some of the tones on the Norman and Nancy Blake teaching DVD, which is a real favourite of mine. Cheers, Brendan

    Edit: James, I missed your post while replying to the others. I can't for the life of me hear any mistakes in your version so I must be living in an alternate reality
    I also think there's a huge difference between your "full on" session speed version and my leisurely plod. When I hear triplets done so quickly and cleanly I realise how far I have to go!
    As for the poster, do you mean the song-a-week graphic? It's just a throwaway thing but I could bash it into an A4 format if you really want. It was only supposed to be a mildly comical retro thing rather than anything too serious. I'm not even sure that Barbara wants her name on there so I should really hold back in case I've offended her!
  32. James Rankine
    James Rankine
    It would look great on the wall of my music room. I'm sure I'm not the only one who would be in the market for it. Maybe better check with Barbara first
  33. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    oh, you guys! It's not MY social group.... I'm the just the one who has to do the mundane and not always on-time, typing! But, I don't mind my name on the graphic, and anything you want to do with it.... for fun, not for profit, haha!

    Uncle Choppy, I thought your video and your playing was just perfect! It does seem, though, that you WERE channeling Bertram on the intense facial expression!!!
  34. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Here is mine. Once I was in Dorian mode, I couldn't stop and paired it with Sporting Paddy.

  35. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    Nicely done Bertram, that's a good pairing of tunes, I will have to remember that.
  36. Gelsenbury
    Great playing, Bertram! Right, this one is going on my to-do list of reels to learn although I can't play reels ... Probably related to my inability to play fast!

    As an aside, how do you go about pairing tunes for sets if they're in Dorian mode? I can grasp major keys and relative minors, but what keys would go with this one, for example?
  37. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Thanks David and Dennis.
    I am revealing a little secret here: it's not quite clear if The Knotted Cord is really A dorian - thesession.org notes it as such, but the tune avoids to play an F#, and it might as well be A aeolian (aka Am). I exploit this ambiguity by playing an F in the bass pedal accompaniment.

    I do not really have an algorithm for building sets. I just try a lot and sometimes find some nice and easy transit or some dramatic transit, and if the scales are outrageously ill-fitting I either tweak the end of the current tune harmonically to make a "ramp" into the next, or I dramatically fall completely silent for a half-note and yell "HUP!" before launching into the next tune (in sessions, that is - you have to think outside the box sometimes to not lose the other musicians in your rollercoaster ride).
  38. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Here's my very short, unadorned version
  39. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    It's not unadorned*, Colin. It has triplets and a hornpipey pointedness. It has good timing and character.

    (*) unadorned is what a Midi converter makes of the ABC code.
  40. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Thanks, Bertram! in our sessions we pair the Knotted Cord with the Boyne Hunt or with the Hunter's Purse.
  41. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Great stuff both of ye! I play this one in a set with "Love At The Endings" first, followed by "The Knotted Cord".
  42. gortnamona
    some great versions here people , enjoyed them all, might have to attempt a banjo one later. wonders will never cease , this is my first take

  43. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    gortnamona, your right-hand technique is fantastic. Bravo!
  44. Gelsenbury
    Colin, I see you have spotted Gortnamona's magic triplets too. They've been an inspiration to me for years.
  45. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Cracking version there Lawrence, nice one!
  46. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Good one Lawrence: The triplet machine, sturdy and unstoppable - exactly what the Dorian mode is all about. And the cat badly wanted to hear it, too
  47. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I love it that this tune has so much activity! Everyone's submission is great! As I was watching Gortnamona's, the thought came to me.... so many of us (me included) make our videos showing just our mandolins and not our heads, I realize that if we all came together, I would identify many of you, not by your faces, but by your tattoos! My tattooes are on my legs, so they don't show in my videos, haha!
  48. Uncle Choppy
    Uncle Choppy
    More cracking versions here.

    Some wonderful harmonies and counter-melodies in Bertram's version. It's great that someone can understand the tune so well, enabling such a rich and interesting backing.

    Colin's "unadorned" version has some lovely adornments and a great rhythmic feel. It's also one that made me want to dance (not really a good thing for anyone nearby) and that's something we often loose with these tunes.

    Gortnamona is vying with Jill for the best "set the triplets to stun" playing, where there's something amazingly Zen-like going on that enables them to twist the fabric of time and get those notes in there! Fantastic stuff.
  49. gortnamona
    if only that were true Colin, believe me there's a multitude of sins going on behind that front view, not least that my thumb leans quite heavily on the g strings, dampening sound and restricting movement, muscle memory is very unforgiving when you trying to change something you've been doing wrong for so long.
  50. Frithjof
    Hi every one. I like this tune and what you all did with it.
    The last year I developed the bad habit of not contributing something to our group. Some time I was close to deliver a video but wasn’t satisfied with my performance. But since I am never ever satisfied with my playing me never would post anything. And may be scarcely anybody would.
    So you have to deal with the following (I allowed me a complete change of scene after a minute).

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