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Transcribing a Set

March 4th, 2014
contra, transcript, music

This weekend someone asked me what sort of things the Free Raisins do instead of playing the melody and chords through the same way each time. How do we interact with the dancers? How do we play with the energy level? How do we change what we're playing to better fit the dance? How do we add variety?

While that's a big question, and I could give long text answers about what we're trying to do and what effect we're going for, it might be clearer to work through an example. Here's a video of us playing at the Dance Flurry:


(youtube)

If you're interested in the answers to the questions above, start it playing and follow along on the transcript below. There are a lot of little things one of us does that's I've skipped, but this should have most of the big things.

1
Angeline the Baker (D)
mandolin gives potatoes
mandolin rhythm, fiddle melody
chords are 1-4-1-5
2
mandolin includes some high notes in chords
3
piano comes in
this is our default arrangement: piano and mandolin on rhythm, fiddle on melody
4
piano gets louder
fiddle drops the melody down an octave
5
mandolin switches to melody, fiddle to harmony
piano does a chromatic walk-up to the V at the end of the B2
6
brought it down a little, fiddle playing long phrases
fiddle takes melody, mandolin sits out the A
piano and mandolin play I-vi-IV-V slowly over the B
hints of half-time on the B
7
IV-IV-IV-V to end B2
8
brought it down, pretty, mandolin drops out
9
bringing it back up some, mandolin stays out for A part
hold IV chord (G) over second half of B2 in preparation to go into the next tune which is in A (which would be the V chord)
One beat break into the next tune.
10
Sandy Boys (Amix)
11
piano and fiddle do breaks in the B part to emphasize repeated balances in the dance
12
brought it down slightly in the A, hints of half time rhythm
B is played F-G-F-G
13
straight ahead, lots of fiddle improvisation
piano plays Am on A1
14
piano drops out, mandolin and fiddle play unison melody
15
piano comes in, kick drum comes in (downbeat)
16
B2 is played C-C-D-E
17
one beat break into the balance at the top of the B1
long ending, fiddle playing the seventh

Most of this is not planned; we call ideas to each other if we want to move as a unit (mostly mandolin and piano) or we just do things and listen to each other. For calling chords we're usually doing progressions we've done before, but some (ex: F-G-F-G above) are being tried out for the first time live.

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