Archive for January 14th, 2010

Swing la baguette dans l’fond d’la boêtte à bois!

Day 4, tune 4. And it’s non other than the hangman’s reel, le reel du pendu,  a fun tune from Quebec. I’m even more excited about this tune than I have been for Jerusalem Ridge, that’s how good it is. And on top of that, it’s a suggestion from my sweetheart and a tune my friend and mentor MC Marteau and I had meant to work on over last summer. So it’s high time and it’s with great trepidation that I set about tackling this maple syrup and fèves au lard fueled beast.

To whet your appetites, none other than Ti-Jean Carignan.

Things you’ll quickly notice about this tune:

  • It’s in an unusual tuning – AEAC# (from your lowest string to your highest)
  • You get to pluck your strings with left and right hand!
  • The rhythmic phrasing is interesting, so be forewarned  – your expectations will go one way and the tune another.
  • It’s hard.

I’m practicing very slowly, with the intention of having both bowing and fingerings well ingrained before speeding up. I am very thankful to this fiddler, Tania, who learned it from Pierre Schryer. She does it a  breakneck speed,  looks completely relaxed doing it and then kindly offers a tutorial on it (one of the best instructional videos I’ve seen, actually). I highly recommend her video, whether you are a Hangman expert or beginner.

A quick report on the progress of tunes one to three: I practiced, I swear. Though after this, I feel I should give them another whirl or two. A friend of mine came over to jam, and though he called it the ‘bane of [his] existence’, agreed to play Shady Grove with me and let me squeak and squeel as I tried to figure out a (vocal) harmony for the chorus. And of course, we played it in none of the four keys I have previously practiced it in (in Am this time).  Be careful what you wish for…

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