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Thread: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

  1. #1

    Default Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi all...

    I hope everyone is staying safe and sane in these disrupting and troubling times.

    I thought I'd take the opportunity to give an update on The Irish Mandolin, the website I started to put together towards the back end of last year.

    The regular visitor to the site will notice that I haven't posted a lot of new tunes in the "learn some tunes" section of the site lately. You'll not be surprised to learn that this is mainly down to the current virus crisis. For quite a few weeks now both myself and my partner have been largely preoccupied with domestic matters, ensuring that our parents and my son are safe and providing reassurance and whatever practical help we can to get them (and ourselves) through this in one piece with their (and our) physical and mental health intact. And, of course, we've both been pretty much confined to base - for 24 hours a day more or less for the past couple of weeks.

    It makes recording difficult. We don't have a massive flat and I've tended to record stuff only when I'm alone because a) it's a bit unfair to inflict endless takes of tunes on my long-suffering partner (what? you thought all those recordings were one-takers? I wish!) and b) because that minimises the risk of unexpected sounds (a tap running, a toilet flushing, a phone ringing) intruding on a take that otherwise might have been good to go.

    But I haven't forgotten the project. Not by a long way. As we settle into our lockdown routine, I'm sure I'll find a way of carving out an hour or so each day to set aside for recording some more tunes.

    The enforced confinement to base in London hasn't only impacted on my recording tunes for the website, it's also interfered with a resurrected friendship with an old friend of mine who drifted off-radar for a time. He's a superb flute-player and whistle-player and a fund of amazing tunes. Since the start of the year we've been meeting up once a week for tunes in his kitchen - sessions which have gone on into the early hours. I really miss those long nights of tunes, familiar and novel. I always came away with one or two tunes that I simply *had* to learn before we next got together. Here's to more of these kitchen sessions to come when the veil lifts...

    Mind you, a very similar experience happened recently in virtual space. Michael O'Meara from Dublin sent me a solo recording of himself playing "The Nightingale" by Sean Ryan. As soon as I heard it I was itching to learn it. It's a superb A Dorian jig which just seems to fit the fingers instinctively. You can hear Michael play the tune here https://crosseyirishmandolin.files.w...ightingale.mp3

    Which leads me to suggest that if any fellow mandolinists have recordings of tunes or tune sets which you'd like to see featured in the "notable players" section, please feel free to get in touch. I'd be delighted to showcase some fine Irish traditional mandolinery (or mandolin versions of tunes from neighbouring traditions) in an effort to inspire and to delight the ear. Let's maybe use some of the time spent at home to create some lovely recordings for the benefit of our fellow traditional mandoliners!

    Many thanks to everyone who has visited the site and especially to all those who have made a small donation to help keep it afloat and to those who have made helpful comments since its inception.

    Stay well and there'll be some almighty tuneathons when we eventually get the all-clear to emerge from our dugouts.

    Aidan

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  3. #2

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Aidan,
    I was unaware of your website until this morning. What an absolutely fantastic and well-needed resource in the community. Thank you for taking the initiative and embarking on this project!
    Thomas

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  5. #3

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Thomas. Thanks for the words of encouragement. Much appreciated. Aidan

  6. #4

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Two splendid tunes arrived with me over the weekend, from Roy Johnstone. Flatworld - a waltz composed by the excellent melodeonist Andy Cutting - and Millie's Waltz, composed by Roy himself. Well worth checking out. Two beautiful pieces of music, sensitively played with lovely arrangements.

    (A quick shout out to Andy Cutting while I'm writing. I emailed Andy to check that he was OK with my including Roy's version of his tune on my website. Andy came back within a few hours and was incredibly gracious about giving his permission for the tune to be included. What a gentleman!)

    The usual encouragement to all mandolinists who are into Irish trad (and any of its close cousins). Please don't hesitate to send me recordings of your work if you'd like to see it featured alongside the other tunes in the "notable players" section.

    I’m afraid that my own interest in playing tunes has taken a hit during the current lockdown. For me, a large - the largest? - attraction of the tunes is playing with others, with the bits between tunes being as appealing as the playing itself. Without that stimulus, my tools sometimes seem like an irritating reminder of just how easy it was to have the very best of good times in the recent past. Here’s to a time when they can safely return!

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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Flatworld is a fine waltz. I'll have to look up Millie's not familiar with that one.

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  9. #6

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi all

    A quick favour if I may.

    I've recently added "A Tune For Fee" to the original tunes part of my site https://theirishmandolin.com/origina...aidan-crossey/. I've called it a slow reel but I'm not entirely convinced that it's a slow reel at all. But it's not a hornpipe, strathspey or barndance so by process of elimination, slow reel seems as close as makes no odds...

    Grateful for people's thoughts on this tune. I've been playing around with it for several years now and think I've got it to the point where I'm ready to "let it go". But that's often a nerve-racking moment. :-)

    And go gentle!

    Aidan

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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan Crossey View Post
    Hi all


    Grateful for people's thoughts on this tune.

    Aidan
    REALLY lovely, Aidan. Especially on that instrument. Well done.

    MikeyG

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  12. #8

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Thanks Mikey. Encouraging words and much appreciated. Aidan

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    Registered User John Kelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    A lovely composition and great sound from the octave, Aidan. If you step away from the Irish tradition for a moment it might be classed as a 4/4 march, perhaps. Or even better, just categorise it as a rather fine air!

    Thanks too for posting the notation.
    Last edited by John Kelly; Apr-18-2020 at 4:06pm. Reason: addendum
    I'm playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order. - Eric Morecambe

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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    What an absolutely LOVELY tune! I could hear that as part of a sound track to a short documentary film of some sort, great stuff!
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
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  17. #11

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    John ... thank you very much for your comment. I think I'm with you that it doesn't really matter so much what the "tune type" is. Interestingly, I sometimes play this at a much MUCH slower pace and ignore strict rhythm conventions. In which case the slow air aspects of the tune come to light. (I have also - somewhere! - a version of the tune from around 2 or 3 years ago played on electric guitar tuned DGGDAE with lots of heavy metal type distortion. If I can find it on a hard drive stashed away somewhere, I'll post it as well. Simply as an illustration that tunes can be played in any number of ways on any number of instruments...)

    Jill ... thank you, too, for the very encouraging comment. When we last "spoke", you were recovering from surgery. Hope that you're making good progress. And if so - *embarrassed cough* - perhaps we could continue that earlier discussion. I would be very excited to see where that might lead.

    Y'know what? In these very testing times when it feels like we're all bearing the weight of the world on our shoulders, it's lifted my spirits no end to be able to have this conversation with fellow musicianers about music. Not just a pleasant distraction - a lifeline, a constant, the thread which will link the "old normal", the strange "now normal" and, hopefully, whatever "new normal" emerges.

    Warm thoughts to both of you.

    Aidan

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  19. #12

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    PS - John. Thanks for the comment about sheet music. I'll add sheet music versions of the other tunes in the "original tunes" section of the site. I don't read dots myself, so often overlook the fact that others do! Thankfully I can read and write abc, so there are lots of places on the web which will convert abc into sheet music.

    Aidan

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  21. #13

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Right - so I've found that "electric" version of A Tune For Fee and I've posted it to the site. And I've included sheet music for all other tunes in the original tunes section of the site. Thanks for the comments which prompted this, John!

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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    You are right, Aidan. The contact with fellow players is so very positive and such a big boost in this time of seclusion. I am regularly swapping material with some of the folk I generally play along with. We are pretty much Scottish-based in our selections, but also have lots of other material including Irish, and Canadian, etc. I play with several fiddlers so the fiddle repertoire is a strong influence, but being a westcoaster by location and birth I have a great liking for pipe tunes!
    Stay safe and keep playing.
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    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan Crossey View Post

    Jill ... thank you, too, for the very encouraging comment. When we last "spoke", you were recovering from surgery. Hope that you're making good progress. And if so - *embarrassed cough* - perhaps we could continue that earlier discussion. I would be very excited to see where that might lead.


    I've made decent progress with my recovery, but then of course the virus restrictions came into play, so we've been "sheltering in place" here in San Francisco for over a month now. Planning to get something to you re: our earlier conversation soon!

    Cheers,
    Jill
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  27. #16

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Thanks, Jill. Good to hear that you're making progress. Onwards and upwards hopefully. No rush on "our earlier conversation" ... just thought I'd mention it, given that we are in contact again. Stay safe, keep making good progress and here's to better times when we emerge into a new normal. Aidan

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  29. #17

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Absolutely delighted to say that Jill has taken enormous time and trouble - despite having a lot on her plate! - to record four tracks which I've now posted to The Irish Mandolin. All are stunning. But I have a particular weakness for mazurkas and I've found myself listening time and again over the past few days to Jill's version of "Fowley's Mazurka", a 3-parter whose appeal is very difficult to overstate. Let's just say that if I *wasn't* into the trad and I heard this tune, I'd become an instant convert. Many many many thanks Jill. So appreciated!

    Secondly, I'm also delighted to have been in touch with a regular here at The Mandolin Cafe who's been sharing ideas with me about possible developments to the site. Early days yet but I think we're about to launch a new feature ... more to follow when we've fully worked the ideas up.

    In the meantime get on over to the site and give Jill's lovely playing a listen!

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  31. #18
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Cheers, Aidan - delighted to contribute, thanks for the kind words!
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Aidan, I have been delving into your site. There are some great resources here, especially the recordings of notable mandolin players and your own compositions. You have done some great work and I plan to make good use of it in future. A couple of suggestions, though, one is when I try to make a paypal donation, paypal invites me to pay myself rather than to pay your site! There seems to be a problem with your paypal link. If corrected you might find you get an income boost. Second, it could be easier to navigate to some material, e.g. it is not immediately obvious how to reach the great recordings by Jill McAuley and others. You mention there will be developments with the website soon so perhaps you have these issues in hand. Anyway, keep up the good work!
    Kevin
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    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

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  34. #20
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Aidan Crossey View Post
    Absolutely delighted to say that Jill has taken enormous time and trouble - despite having a lot on her plate! - to record four tracks which I've now posted to The Irish Mandolin. All are stunning. But I have a particular weakness for mazurkas and I've found myself listening time and again over the past few days to Jill's version of "Fowley's Mazurka", a 3-parter whose appeal is very difficult to overstate. Let's just say that if I *wasn't* into the trad and I heard this tune, I'd become an instant convert. Many many many thanks Jill. So appreciated!

    Secondly, I'm also delighted to have been in touch with a regular here at The Mandolin Cafe who's been sharing ideas with me about possible developments to the site. Early days yet but I think we're about to launch a new feature ... more to follow when we've fully worked the ideas up.

    In the meantime get on over to the site and give Jill's lovely playing a listen!
    I have been enjoying Jill's playing on this site. I have also grown fond of mazurkas recently, in fact I have been exploring all kinds of 3/4 tunes from waltzes to Swedish polskas to French bourees and steering away from faster stuff; either it is lockdown syndrome or I am just slowing down. I have been fond of the slower 3/4 and 9/8 tunes played by the likes of Filarfolket for a while but you don't come across these in Irish sessions.

    Except for the odd mazurka. The one Jill calls Fawley's is usually known as the Barnacle Redowa (a redowa being a Bohemian version of a mazurka, I understand) and you can find it on www.thesession in various versions, including one close to Jills'. Other mazurkas I can recommend are the Donegal Mazurka (a.k.a. the Irsk Mazurka) and the Limerick Redowa. Some Irish tunes called waltzes seem like adapted mazurkas, such as Mrs Kinney's, can go well in sets with mazurkas.

    Kevin
    Anglocelt
    mainly Irish & Scottish but open to all dance-oriented melodic music.
    Mandos: Gibson A2, Mike Black A4, Taran Springwell, Shippey Rosewood; TM and OM by J E Dallas (London) & Davidson.

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  36. #21

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Kevin

    Many thanks for the comments. Much appreciated.

    Regarding the website. I'm genuinely puzzled by the paypal link issue which you mention. I've had a look at the source widget in wordpress and the button is definitely set to send the money to my email address. And the occasional donation arrives my way, so I'm assuming that it works for at least some people.

    Navigation... Hmmm... Not sure I've cracked that 100%. I'll have a think. Perhaps I need to add a few more words to some of the link phrases. I'll put my thinking cap on.

    Finally, thanks for the gen on Fowley's Mazurka. Now we know! The obtuse, arcane fog of tune names! I'll add the name at thesession.

    Very best.

    Aidan

  37. #22

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    A few updates.

    I have made a few tweaks to the homepage which, hopefully, provide a better explanation to visitors how the various parts of the site link up and enable better navigation!

    I've recently posted two new tunes to the "original tunes" section. "Michael Gregory's" and "Benedict's Rambles". The first is in honour of the eponymous Mr Gregory who has been a very good friend to the mandolin community over the years and has collaborated with me on various parts of my website. (At the time of writing I have been fortunate to be able to include two tracks of Michael's playing in the "notable players" section of the site - one of them not on mandolin but on C#/D box, which shows Michael's versatility!

    Finally - I've launched a "favourite sets" section of the site. This is intended to be a showcase for all those who love playing Irish music on the mando to share some of the sets you instinctively go to when you're sat at home playing or when you're in company and called upon to start off a set. You can email your sets using the contact form on the site and I'll do my best to post them as soon as possible after I receive them.

    That's all for now.

    Stay well.

    Aidan

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