Week 17: The Verdict - "Harvest Home/Off to Callifornia"

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  1. Mike Romkey
    Mike Romkey
    "Harvest Home/Off to California" continues to hold a commanding 1 vote lead over "Bluegrass Stomp," so let's call it a winner.

    I had a brief moment of terror thinking I'd overlooked "Bill Cheatham," but was able to find video of myself playing the tune to prove to myself that we'd learned it. The weeks are running into one another.

    Here's "Harvest Home":

    X: 1
    T:Harvest Home
    F:http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/ab...arvestHome.abc 2009-08-06 21:23:53 UT
    A2|DAFA DAFA|defe dcBA|eAfA gAfA|(3efe (3dcB (3ABA (3GFE|
    DAFA DAFA|defe dcBA|eAfA gece|d2c2 d2:|
    |:cd|eA~A2 fA~A2|gAfA eA~A2|eAfA gAfA|(3efe (3dcB (3ABA (3GFE|
    DAFA DAFA|defe dcBA|eAfA gece|d2c2 d2:|

    And here's "Off to California":

    X: 1
    T:Off to California
    F:http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/ab...lifornia_4.abc 2009-08-06 21:24:40 UT
    K:G Major
    (3DEF|GFGB AGED|GBdg e2 (3def|gfgd edBG|ABAG E2 (3DEF|!
    GFGB AGED|GBdg e2 (3def|gfgd edBG|ABAF G2:|!
    (3def|gfeg fedf|edef edBd|gfgd edBG|ABAG E2 (3DEF|!
    GFGB AGED|GBdg e2 (3def|gfgd edBG|ABAF G2:|!

    If you were playing these in an Irish session, you'd do the first tune twice (say), then go right into the second tune without a break, as if it were another part of the first tune, and do it for a while. If you were playing hornpipes, those would probably be followed by other hornpipes; if the first tune was a jig, another jig or two would follow. Of course, nobody ever says what they are going to play, you either figure it out or you don't. Hence the consumption of many pints of Guinness.

    "Harvest" is fun. Something about "California" has always rubbed me wrong; maybe it's that it reminds me of "Arkansas Traveler." The tunes might be cousins.

    Here's a vid of "Harvest" and "Boys of Bluehill," which I have to say is the way the tunes tend to be paired up at authentic traditional Irish music sessions here in the cornfields of Iowa. There are other versions over at YouTube.

    Here's "Off to Cali" played on the concertina. I love the concertina! To my ear the tune rolls better out of the box than it does a fiddle. Haven't tried it on the mandolin. We'll all see!

  2. OldSausage
    This guy plays them together, the other way round:

  3. Chris Hasty
    Chris Hasty
    I'm excited because I already know these two, but bummed because I already know these two.

    However, I'm totally stoked because I get to record them on my new DR-1... just gotta wait for it to finish charging. That's right... Chris is going big time! lol
  4. Chris Travers
    Chris Travers
    Here's mine... I threw "Boys of Bluehill" in at the end just for fun.

  5. Chris Hasty
    Chris Hasty
    Chris, that was great.

    I think my favorite part was the look on your face, like it was a walk in the part. Great gameface. I'm always impressed by your playing.
  6. Chris Travers
    Chris Travers
    Thanks Hastyman, That's my "Just get through this without messing up horribly" look.
  7. OldSausage
    This is a little bit different from my usual fare. Instead of playing two tunes on one mandolin, I tried one tune on two mandolins.

  8. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    Sausage, that was wonderfully refreshing. Where I come from that tune is played to death, literally. I love your version.

    Mike Romkey, if you wanted a demonstration on an English concertina you should have asked me.

    BTW English concertina is not appropriate for Irish tunes in some circles. The Irish players prefer the Anglo concertina to the English.
  9. OldSausage
    Thanks David - and that was great. I never knew there was a difference between an English and Anglo concertina - well, TBH I had no idea there was more than one kind of concertina. Can you post a list of the instruments you don't have? I imagine it will be quite short

    I posted the same video as earlier on Vimeo for comparison - I have to say the sound quality is much better on Vimeo, I'm tempted to use that instead of YouTube in future.
  10. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Great versions everyone!
  11. Susanne
    David, very nicely played on the English! I think you do this better than the guy in the first video. I'm one of those who despise all those attitudes that Irish music has to be played on an anglo (or for that matter, that bluegrass music has to be played on an F-style mandolin). That's a nice concertina you have there btw - what is it?
  12. mikeyes
    Here is an article I wrote about playing in sessions on www.banjosessions.com I used Boys of Bluehill and Harvest Home (a popular set at are session) as an example. Included is the music and chords.


    I'll try and get the video on youtube this week.
  13. Mike Romkey
    Mike Romkey
    Nice jobs, all. I love it when people pounce on a tune(s)! David, I am in awe. I would love to learn to play the concertina, but if I took up another instrument my wife would shoot me. (And I'd deserve it.) Can you suggest an affordable yet playable starter model? I feel the need to be shot coming on.

    BTW, please note the hornpipe feel to David's version. Hornpipes have a heavy accent on the first beat, which is a little disguised in this tune because of the lead-in notes. The rhythm isn't uniform between the notes in the measures or heavily on the one and three beats -- mainly it's the first beat that gets the accent.

    Please chime in on the subject and correct me if I am in error.
  14. OldSausage
    I thought any tune during which you made sailor-type gesticulations was a hornpipe
  15. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    Mike, the best place to buy a concertina is the Button Box:


    The inexpensive concertinas are harder play to play, don't sound as good and may require mechanical ability to repair. I learned on an inexpensive Italian instrument so it's possible. There are three different types of concertinas: Anglo, English and Duet.

    Anglo: Different note per key (button) depending on the direction of the bellows. Instruments are diatonic and come in different key configurations. G/C G/D for example.

    English: Same note per key (button) in either bellows direction. Instruments are fully chromatic but come in different ranges: treble, baritone, bass. A treble English concertina has the same exact range as a violin or mandolin.

    Duet: Same note on the push and pull but melody notes are on one side of the instrument and accompaniment notes are on the other so you can play a "duet" with yourself.

    Choose the one that seems right for you.

    Hornpipes in my experience are played with a dotted rhythm. In many cases standard notation does not show the dotted rhythm. I assume that this is because the rhythm is implied because it's a hornpipe. Note that in Mike Keyes examples the notation shows no dotted rhythm but the videos demonstrate the dotted rhythm feel normally associated with hornpipes.
  16. mikeyes
    Hardly anything in Irish trad is played the way it is usually written I think because most of those who notate just put down the basic notes and the interpretation is left to the musician. My reason for not putting a hornpipe in dotted form is that it is too hard for me to read that way so I just try to play it that way.

    The problem with not knowing what a hornpipe sounds like and looking at notation alone is that it gets played like a reel. Fisher's Hornpipe suffers from this in the hands of bluegrass players. It is a fine Irish style hornpipe too, but it has to be interpreted differently.
  17. CelticDude
    Nice job everyone, on the playing. I own a cheap Italian English concertina (Bastari), and it was fine to learn on, but does not sound nearly as nice as a good one. A couple notes need tuning, and the veneer is peeling.

    Interesting discussion on hornpipes. There are some I've never heard played "dotted", such as Fisher's (I learned this from contra dance musicians), while some I've never heard "straight", such as Off to California. Harvest Home and and Boys of Bleu Hill I've heard both ways.

    I agree that notating it "dotted" makes it harder to read, and doesn't quite convey the rhythm anyway.

    Not meant as a threat, but I'll probably get these posted this weekend...
  18. Tom Tax
    Tom Tax
    Here's my best take. I've been playing both tunes for a while but in different keys, hence the awkward bridge.

  19. CelticDude
    As "threatened", here is my take on these 2 tunes:

    Harvest Home is always a fun tune. Like Mike, I never really warmed up to Off to California, plus it's over-played. OTOH, my flute player just left for grad school in California, so I dedicate this set to her.

    Apologies about any tuning issues. It's humid here, and although I cooled the room down first, it got stuffy fast once I turned the A/C off. Does great things for the strings.
  20. Joe-TN
    Lots of great inspiration here - thank you all...I'm working on it..and for anyone who's interested, Jay Buckey has a version of Harvest Home in his free tab collection, along with a variety of backup mp3's, all at a modest pace.

  21. OldSausage
    Your strings sound pretty good to me CD
  22. Mike Romkey
    Mike Romkey
    More nice additions. Let's have some others! ... I think an English style box would be the way to go. Changing pitch with the direction of the bellows is a truly frightening idea to me. ... Here's my versions of these tunes. I'm pretending I'm playing a concertina even though I'm not. ... BTW, I'm going to post a version uploaded to Vimeo below the YouTube take to see if their algorithm crushes things equally bad. Hopefully it will look less like it's been run through a meat grinder. ... Later: Vimeo embed code won't work, though Chris seems to be able to make it work. Heck with it.

  23. Eddie Sheehy
    Here's my thruppenceworth... Played on my Gypsy Octave Mandolin. Everytime I tried to smile or act naturally - like Dave Hansen - I flubbed... I'll stick to being serious. I added in the Boys of Blue Hill at the end and half-way through I realized I was playing it in G and I normally play it in D... I should have left my brain in neutral...

  24. Joe Nobiling
    Joe Nobiling
    Better late than never even though I did have trouble remembering to repeat the B parts. Guess the memory's fadin'.

  25. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    Eddie - that Gypsy octave sure is lovely! I recently got Dan B.'s "Shatter the Calm" CD and it's had me hankering for an OM a wee bit.

    Joe - I meant to mention in another thread that your mandolin really seems to have more "ring" to it since you got that bit of work done to it awhile back, noticeably improved tone to my ears.

    I decided to pass on recording these two tunes - they've never been particular favourites of mine, further compounded by the time I was trying to teach them to a pal of mine a few years back - she'd just taken up the fiddle and all I remember is playing these with her over and over til I never wanted to attempt them again!
  26. Eddie Sheehy
    I hear you Jill. These are amongst my least favourite ITM tunes.. but if someone can pick something up from it then it's all good. Besides, I think anyone that can post, should. If we were all together in a session I don't think anyone would "sit out" a tune unless we were getting food or drink...
  27. Joe Nobiling
    Joe Nobiling
    Jill, yeah taking the pickguard off that A-50 allowed her to speak better, no doubt.

    I understand how you feel about playing a tune over and over and over and over. Playin' Civil War Reenactments for as long as I did, I feel that way about Dixie!

    What was heartening to hear on a lot of the postings for these two tunes was the more laid back tempo to the postings. I would like to know if hornpipes are generally played slower such as was posted or does it depend upon the event for which they are played. I suppose, too, it matters what style or county the player hails or has learned from?

    I have heard that dancers dancing hardshoe hornpipe dance prefer or require a slower tempo than the jigs or reels.
  28. mikeyes

    Best I can tell, hornpipes are played at various speeds in Ireland. I asked Matt Cranitch about this after he played a hornpipe at what I considered blistering speed last year. He said that that was the way he played it.

    The difference between a fast hornpipe and a reel is still the hornpipe "feel" of ONE, two, THREE, four emphasis rather than all four beats evenly. You only tap your foot on the first and third beats to get the feel.

    And yes, at least according to the course I took on feis music, you do play hornpipe slowly for the contest dancers.
  29. Eddie Sheehy
    I have played hornpipes badly at all speeds. I guess it depends on the session or the dancers. A dancer will slow you down or speed you up with hand/finger motions (with his arms held rigid by his sides). I play some hornpipes deliberately slooowly - e.g. The Rights of Man and King of the Faeries - because they sound really beautiful slow - they seem to lose something when played faster.
  30. KeithMcIsaac
    I learned this back in week 17 but I've only just got around to doing a video. I have so much trouble finding quiet time in my house for recording that I've decided to take my chances doing quick takes and hope they turn out OK. The chief video spoiling noise maker wanders through the background near the end of the video but is uncharacteristically quiet. I also just noticed that I should have brushed the bread crumbs off the table before filming!

  31. CelticDude
    Keith, You were sure busy this weekend. Great playing on all the tunes. Your triplets are well-done, an inspiration for some more practice on them.
  32. KeithMcIsaac
    Thanks CD! Yes, I decided this weekend to finally record some of the tunes that I've been working on from this group.
  33. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Late as usual, but here is.
    After I discovered that Harvest Home is just Home Ruler played backwards it came together pretty quickly. Kind of a runaway version, I'm afraid, the speed creeping up surreptitiously, but I got tired of more takes.
  34. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Nice Bertram! I always love the sound of your OM! So deep and boomy... but a lot of that is 'cuz you play it so well!
  35. KeithMcIsaac
    Good stuff!
  36. cjprince
    Here's my attempt at Harvest Home. I can only seem to manage 1 tune at a time....

  37. Jill McAuley
    Jill McAuley
    lovely version cjprince! Very nice bounce to it indeed!
  38. Susanne
    My first mandolin video since AGES and AGES. I'm in a new house and my studies will be over in exactly one month! Yaaay!! I think Harvest home followed by Off to California is extremely awkward to play and sounds weird, much better the other way round. I do lot of mistakes but who cares, I'm back at playing the mandolin and life is generally great!

    (Hi everyone, by the way)

  39. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Susi, welcome back! I agree, that medley sounds better that way!
  40. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Susi is back! Drop whatever you do, open casks of whatever you drink and rejoice!

    Steady rhythm, lots of interesting variations on the melody - where are those alleged mistakes?
  41. Susanne
    Bertram, I'm blushing!!!!! I never realized anyone would miss me that much Thanks for your comment, I think I do something weird in Harvest home but maybe I can just call that a variation? And my starting triplet is ugly but really, I don't care, I haven't played for ages and I'm just happy to be playing music again.
  42. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    You are very welcome Susi.

    Now, y'all all got me all incentivized with this thread revival, plus listening to my 1 1/2 year old version gave me the impression that it's time for an update. Feel free to compare this with my previous one above. I had more fun this time.

  43. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Got back into using the camcorder again on the new computer, so here is my attempt at the two tunes, played on my JK octave. Tried to keep the hands on camera.

    Trailing lead is from my mp3 player on which I had my version of the medley downloaded so that I could synchronise my playing with my recording, as I much prefer the sound I get via my Reaper software and condenser mic rather than the sound from the wee camera.
  44. Susanne
    Bertram, are you from West Cork??? You play it at their speed... more like reels. You have some nice ornaments in there that I like. Some day when I have more control in my playing I'll add some of that stuff too.
    John: that octave sounds lovely. Is it your own home made?
  45. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Very pastoral and relaxed, John, taking your time to pick every single triplet note in Harvest Home, giving the OM time to ring out.

    Had me thinking.

    I dimly remember that I tried to play it like that in the beginning but got left in the dust in our sessions, the others rushing past me on the fast lane - the result was that I can give those triplets no more than a HOPO each. Paradise lost - on the other hand, fast is also fun: Paradise found?

    Susi, I've never been to West Cork, but you don't have to get there to find fast players. Germany is fast enough. This is a session mate of mine, go figure...
  46. Susanne
    I like the hornpipey rhythm and having time for ornaments so I sort of like the slower pace...also don't think super fast sounds good most of the time.. (but yours was good, Bertram, clean and nice!!) it may be a sign that I'm getting old, since most younger musicians I see like to play everything at a blazing speed?
  47. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I for one, think hornpipes should be played a little slower, and hornpipey. So much is lost when you play them at blazing fast reel speed... they turn into a reel! Great videos... ya'll!
  48. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    I wonder what the reels turn into when they are sped up as well - because that's what's happening
    Any name suggestions? Based on what happens to dancers if they follow?
  49. Susanne
    Super-reel? LOL Or maybe that's what the bluegrassy name came from... based on dancers... breakdown
  50. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Thanks for kind remarks re the octave's sound, Susi. It is indeed one of my own builds, just 5 years old last month. At the moment I have a bouzouki almost finished and am quite excited to hear this when it is strung up - or maybe after hearing it I'll be the one in danger of being strung up!
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