The Wren and The Bear Dance (set)

  1. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    In our Week #507 John Kelly gave me and Simon an assignment to learn “The Bear Dance” and the Breton tune “The Wren” as a set. Therefore I open this new thread.

    The Bear Dance has its own thread as an Other tune twice in 2011 and recently and additional it comes along in some sets for Week #507.

    I couldn’t find The Wren here other than as Wren's Hornpipe what seems to be a different tune.
  2. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Today I deliver the result of my effort so far. This recording is meant as work in progress so I allowed myself a few weak points. I turned off the metronome for the recording and tried to increase the tempo a little for the Bear Dance.



    I hope some fellow mandolin players will join in.
  3. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Nice Frithjof! And well done for taking the initiative.
    You probably saw that I had to finish ‘The Red Haired Boy’, and get it recorded as the snows have arrived early this year. (I was still on the colour theme, ha, ha)
    I’ll hopefully get these two Christmas tunes recorded tomorrow.
    I must admit that trying to get through two tunes is a bit of a hurdle, and I agree with you about the metronome, it’s not so easy to use when recording.
    Thanks for the motivation.
  4. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Thanks, Simon.
    In many of my recordings I used the metronome. Without this terrible thing I tend to stretch some measures with triplets or other complications. But I know no good solution to use the metronome while recording in changing tempi.
  5. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    One of the problems I have is that when I record, I get tense and as a result my focus narrows.
    I’ll forget the metronome for four measures and then have to speed up to get back in time. It’s like a concertina or cars in heavy traffic on the freeway.
    I’m actually (as I think Ginny said) better off without it.
    Another one is losing concentration two or three measures before the end...
  6. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Frithjof, that was really good. When John and I did The Bear Dance earlier, I did not know it was as popular as it is. I'm the same as Simon with the metronome..I tense up and lose my place or it just sounds wooden. But while I'm learning the tune, the metronome is helpful so that by the time I think I'm ready for the red light I have a pretty good idea of the tempo. The downside is, if you want to be creative (as in the case of John and me) it's hard for him to accompany me when I'm all speed up, slow down..or when we try and synchronize a tune, it needs to be pretty well note value accurate. If I could play the guitar myself, I wouldn't have this problem..but that'll never happen. Plus I enjoy the 'international partnership' John and I have. Great playing by both of you guys.
  7. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Ginny – Thanks for the nice comment.

    Simon - Losing concentration two or three measures before the end... seems to be a general law of nature.
  8. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    Great effort there, Frithjof. Consider the assignment successful. Now, where do you go next?

    The comments re the metronome and its intrusion into your playing consciousness are very valid (certainly in my own experience) and Ginny's remarks re playing the tune "as you feel it" are what we try to aim for. It is interesting that midi music has a facility labelled "humanizer" which attempts to put the human element back into the music by varying the strict value of the notes to give them the human touch. When I play along with Ginny's tracks we are reaching a stage in our collaborations when we can more easily synchronise our lead and backing, and the removal of the metronomic rigidity is a thing we certainly aim for.

    That said, I would certainly agree that using a metronome is a very valuable learning tool. So too is playing for dancing! Dancers will quickly let you know if your playing is off.
  9. crisscross
    crisscross
    Sounds fine to my ears!
    Maybe at 2:40, you accelerate a tiny little bit.
    But that is barely audible...
  10. Robert Balch
    Robert Balch
    Well done Frithjof. I really enjoyed these tunes together. Whatever weak points you see they weren't obvious to me.
  11. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Thanks John, Christian and Robert.

    John – I like to work on these sets a little more to make my playing more stable in the (for me) higher tempi. And the new Week #509 tune is so lovely …
  12. Gelsenbury
    Gelsenbury
    I thought I'd never heard, or heard of, The Wren. But it sounds almost identical to the first tune I ever learnt on mandolin, under the name Andro. The Bear Dance is a melody I know, but can't play. This may be a good opportunity to learn it.

    You play both tunes very nicely. John has taught you well!
  13. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    The Wren is also known as An Dro.
    Like I understand it “An Dro” is the dance you may do to this tune.
    According to Wikipedia "An dro or en dro (Breton: "The Turn") is a Breton folk dance in 4/4. It is a form of a circle dance."
  14. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Here it is.
    Of course I always use eye protection for handling heavy equipment, and the bodhran.
  15. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Great rendition, Simon. Nice to jump in another key for The Bear Dance.
    I thought about using percussion as well but don’t have access to such proper eye protection like you.
  16. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Thanks Frithjof, it was actually nice thinking just get the work finished! The glasses are a protection against self-consciousness too.
    And yes I like the key change. The drums need... a bit, a lot of practice.

    The Bear Dance versions that I’ve heard a lot in the past (in France) for diatonic accordion and hurdy gurdy are a lot simpler than some of the other ones. On thesession.org there are 20 settings. Not sure but I read that an early source for the tune is Michael_Praetorius wiki.
    Lots of bears where he lived in the 16th century, some quite tame, like dogs.
  17. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Gelensbury - if you want music and/or tabs..at the end of my Bear Dance with John on Celtic Mandolins - I put the music up on the screen. Someone said they can screen-shot it -although I wouldn't know how - if I see that on someone's page, I pause it and write it all down by hand. (old school)
  18. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Ge-lens-bury! Ge-lens-bury! Ge-lens-bury!
    (ok, I admit it, I miss your posts, though it’s not very manly of me to say that, ha ,ha)
    Here’s the link to Ginny and John’s The Bear Dance page.
    The TAB there is the more elaborate version.
    I might do another post of it and put it there or maybe there’s another page?

    Simple version pdf: The Bear Dance
  19. Robert Balch
    Robert Balch
    Well done Simon. I really like the bodhran with the Octave but I am somewhat of a minimalist when it comes to music.
  20. Gelsenbury
    Gelsenbury
    OK, I've started practising. Those tunes are too good to miss!
  21. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Great! We are looking forward to your contribution, Dennis.
  22. Gelsenbury
    Gelsenbury


    Here's my take on this set! I've added a third tune called Fire Dance, which I learnt at the time to go with the Andro/Wren.

    They may not be in the best order for a recording, but I hope to continue practising this and take it to sessions. So I thought I'd start with the tune that's least likely to be familiar to the other players.

    Can I also be one of John's students now?
  23. Simon DS
    Simon DS
    Nice. Very authentic medieval playing there, fellow student, Sir.
    I like the tone on your mandolin too, and especially the Bear Dance with flute, joyful like a carnival piece from a film. Well done.
  24. crisscross
    crisscross
    Simon and Gelsenbury: two fine versions of this medley with percussive elements!
  25. John Kelly
    John Kelly
    That is a good set, Dennis. Your versions are a bit different from the ones I played, and certainly add to the enjoyment of the tunes and the set.
    Consider yourself a fully enrolled member of the student fraternity as of now! And it is over sixteen years since I retired from teaching.
  26. Ginny Aitchison
    Ginny Aitchison
    Nice full set, Dennis. Is John the headmaster now? If gets us doing a bunch of strathspeys with Scottish snaps and such, I wouldn't want to see my report card. (or is it Scots snaps?)
  27. Gelsenbury
    Gelsenbury
    Thank you all! I'm honoured to be part of this student group.
  28. Simon DS
    Simon DS
  29. Frithjof
    Frithjof
    Great you brought us your medieval version, Dennis. I have to find a source for this Fire Dance.
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