Date Of Next Meeting: 19th April

The next meeting of the Scottish Lute and Early Guitar Society will be Saturday, 19th April, St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh. Assemble from 1pm for a 1.30pm start. All welcome.

If you wish to make a presentation, please get in touch: robmackillop AT gmail dot com.

Review of 9th Meeting – 1st February 2014

A fine meeting indeed! Good to see more new faces and a few guests. Thanks go, as ever, to the staff at St Cecilia’s Hall.

Rob MacKillop started proceedings again, and acted as MC throughout. First he presented a Turkish tanbur, which was a new (one day-old!) eBay acquisition for him. He gave a short talk about Ottoman music, with its many microtones, then proceeded to give a searching doodle on the C Major scale – you have to start somewhere! Hopefully Rob will perform a complete piece at the next meeting.

Next, Rob got out a ukulele, and gave a short presentation about the 19th-century machete from Madeira, itself a very small 4-string guitar. More about this instrument and its music on Rob’s website HERE. He gave a performance of the delightful Clara Polka from the manuscript of Drummond de Vasconcelos, Madeira, 1846.

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Chris Jupp bravely used a borrowed lute (as one of his strings was at bursting point), but gave a fine performance of a really beautiful and interesting piece: a pavan, attributed in its manuscript to Anthony de Countie, who may have been one and the same as Anthony Holborne. I’d love to hear this piece again sometime, Chris.

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Next up was Stuart Mcluckie, who, playing a 7c lute, gave a good rendition of  ‘Rogero’ and ‘The Division of Rogero Before’ both from the
Dallis Manuscript (via The Lute Society’s ’58 very Easy Pieces’) and, by audience demand, Kemp’s Jig. Stuart plays well at every meeting, and I always look forward to hearing what he has been working on.

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Bill Samson just seems to grow in confidence with each performance, due in some part to playing pieces below his level of ability – something we should all think about. What we just get through at home on a good day, is likely to fall apart under the pressure of performing to other players. No problems here with Bill, who not only played Galliard Les Cinq Pas and an Allemande by Guillaume Morlaye (1552), but did so on his own home-made 4c guitar – and it sounded beautiful!

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Graham Wylie gave an interesting and thoughtful introduction to two pieces by Robert Ballard on his 10c lute, placing the instrument at the crossroads between the dying embers of the Renaissance, and the birth of the baroque. Graham then performed A Courante, originally published I think in 1618, and Ballet number 9 from Ballard’s “Premier Livre” of 1612.

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Eric Thomas was a new face to the society, but I’m sure he will become a familiar one. He got an exquisite, sweet tone from his Barber-Harris student lute. First he gave a ripping rendition of the Calata Ala Spagnola by Joan Ambrosio Dalza, then a thoughtful interpretation of Sir John Smith’s Almaine by someone called John Dowland…a fantastic piece!

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Gordon Ferries performed some really interesting and beautiful pieces on the 5c guitar: a suite in Bb Major by Francois Campion – written in an unusual scordatura. I’d love to hear it again, and hope it will form part of Gordon’s next recording.

After the playing, Bill Samson gave a very useful illustration of how to tie gut and nylon frets, using a dummy lute neck and a cigarette lighter – I was terrified the museum’s sprinkler system would burst into operation! Thankfully it didn’t. Thanks to Bill for making the effort. We are looking to the membership to put forward ideas for future talks. If you would like to make a presentation, contact Bill Samson or Philip Lord via the circular emails, or contact me – robmackillop AT gmail.com.

Much discussion in huddles followed, as ever, and continued long after this reviewer had time to stay.

The above photos were by Stuart Goldie. The ones below, by Bill Samson.

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Date of Next Meeting: 1st Feb, 2014

The next meeting will be in the usual place, St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh, on Saturday 1st February, gathering from 1pm for a 1.30 start. It usually lasts two hours or so. All welcome!

 

Review of 8th Meeting – 12th October 2013

A smaller turnout than usual, but with a few notes of absence from members who are away at the moment. Big welcomes, though, to two new members: Annie Pia and Reyyan Khawlah Özer!

Another surprise was the absence of any lutes or guitars in the museum’s collection. They had all been put into storage to make way for a wonderful bagpipe exhibition.

We started with an hour of playing. There then followed a discussion about the future of the society.

Philip Lord got the performance part of the afternoon underway, with three pieces on his Paul Thomson vihuela, only one of which was a Spanish piece. I for one don’t mind hearing 6c lute repertoire on its Spanish cousin.

First we had Sellinger’s Round  [from a manuscript in Trinity College, Dublin (MS 408/2) published by the Lute Society 1999] which was well played, the vihuela’s round, warm voice providing a welcome and soothing antidote to the Edinburgh traffic outside.

There followed two versions of the so-called Toy –  from the Jane Pickering Lute Book – one slow, and one fast.

Philip signed off with a performance of Fantasia No. 1 – from Luis Milan’s El Maestro, 1536. Although one of Milan’s easier pieces, it is far from easy, but Philip coped reasonably well with its intricacies. It would be nice to hear more vihuela music from him in the future.

Bill Samson played next, the difficult Pavana a la Ferrarese by Joanambrosio Dalza. It’s not easy on a 6c lute, and less so on a 10c, although this one was Bill’s home made (in the best sense) 10c lute, which despite being new revealed some beautiful, sparkling trebles. Well done, Bill, both for the lute and the performance.

Another Bill Samson lute was next heard in the hands of Rob MacKillop, who prefaced his performace with a little information on the Scottish “port”, pronounced porscht, which is attached to a number of pieces in the Straloch manuscript. Port refers to an air or tune which is not a dance. Rob then gave a committed performance of A Port and Port Jean Linsay, from Straloch. Everyone was in agreement that the lute sounded lovely.

Graham Wylie was up next, playing music by Nicolas Vallet and Robert Ballard on a 10c/11c lute by Martin Shepherd. Graham gave an interesting foreword, before playing a piece which to this reviewer’s lugs sounded very much like a piece in the Rowallan manuscript. This should be no surprise, as trade was rich between the two countries at this time, and a couple of Dutch pieces can be found in Scottish manuscripts. It was nice to hear Graham perform  this – not easy – music.

Then we had a short but very beautiful performance on Baglama Saz by Reyyan Khawlah Özer, a student at the university, who had just had her second lesson in saz playing from another university student. It was wonderful to see Reyyan, and everyone seemed very interested in the saz and Turkish music in general. The saz is very much a minority instrument in Scotland (!) so it is only right that the Scottish Lute and Early Guitar Society should provide support to Reyann in her studies, and I hope we can hear from her again at the next meeting – which should be in January: watch this space.

The discussion which followed touched on many subjects, not least the character of the society, and would that change if we opened up to other instruments in order to build up a membership. There seemed to be a general feeling that the present membership valued the small scale, intimate and supportive meetings, and feared that that might be compromised in a drive to attract other musicians. There was no great plan of action decided upon, so business will be as usual. We are, however, on the hunt for speakers. If you have a topic you’d like to present at a future meeting, please contact Bill Samson [billsamson at hotmail.co.uk] or Philip Lord [Philip at philiplord.net].

Photos by Bill Samson, other than the photos of Bill Samson, which are by Rob MacKillop, as is the photo of Philip Lord  :-)

Philip Lord:

Philip LordBill Samson:

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Rob MacKillop:

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Graham Wylie:

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Reyyan Khawlah Özer:

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Rob MacKillop:

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Next Meeting – 12th October, 2013

There have been a few changes to SLEGS over the summer. Rob MacKillop decided running the whole show was too much for one person, so stepped down to see who might step up. A small committee has now formed itself, and will be discussing the new version of SLEGS at this next meeting.

Date: 12th October 2013

Venue as before: St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh. Gather from 1pm for playing from 1.30. The venue will be open to the public from 2pm – so if you don’t like playing to a potential audience of the general public, play early!

Looking forward to seeing everyone again.

Review of 7th Meeting – 11 May, 2013

The earlier start of 1pm, to avoid the hoards of the Great British Public, seemed a bit over-protective, as only one person came through the doors after 2pm. Still, one never knows how many people will visit, so – if we can – it might be worthwhile making 1pm the regular time.

First up was Bill Samson, who played a 6c lute he made in the early 1970s, complete with fluorocarbon fishing line strings, and it sounded beautiful. He played Dowland’s Fortune My Foe, which was greatly appreciated – its original use as a gallows song reminding present players that they were up next… [photos by Stuart Goldie - click on image for larger version]

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Stuart Mcluckie played Judenkunig’s version of the famous Calata al la Spagnola, and took it at quite a lick, which then got faster. The performer did say afterwards that that was not his intention! But, actually, he pretty much got it. Good performance, Stuart.

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Philip Lord performed on his stupendously beautiful Paul Thomson 7c lute – possibly the best 7c I’ve ever had the fortune to play, alas all too briefly. Philip played The Lady Rich’s Galliard by Dowland, with some really beautiful moments.

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Then we had another visitor from foreign climes – my old cyber friend from Finland, Timo Peedu, who was visting Scotland with his wife, to see their daughter who is studying at Aberdeen University. Timo played a borrowed baroque guitar, and gave a wonderful performance of some Swedish and Norwegian 5c guitar music. What a fine player Timo is! Really deft playing of some interesting repertoire. Thanks, Timo. I hope it’s not the last time you play for us.

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At a previous meeting I asked if performers could tell us more about the music they were playing, or the instrument. Well, Chris Jupp gave us a very interesting illustrative prelude to the Prelude by Dowland, from the Margaret Board lute book. Chris’s prelude last much longer than Dowland’s, but it was full of interesting titbits about technique and musical choices – whether to arpeggiate or not at cadences, decoration, rubato, etc. Very interesting, Chris, and nicely played. For this performance, Chris played the 8c by Jonathan Santa Maria Bouquet, which sounded very nice in Chris’s hands.

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Next up was the rare sighting of two 8-string Viennese classical guitars, both made after Stauffer by the Canadian luthier, Scot Tremblay. Rob MacKillop and Malcolm Cooper played four waltzes from Giuliani’s Opus 116, The Adventures Of Love. This was the first time Malcolm has played to the Society, and he acquitted himself really well. Looking forward to more from Malcolm!

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Rob MacKillop improvised a prelude to a Caprice in Cm by Legnani. Paganini’s duet partner is often seen as a mere show off, but every now and then he writes a beautiful piece, worthy of repeated listening.

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Rob then performed three short pieces on an Edward Light harp-lute. The instrument gives a soft, delicate and quite charming sound.

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Gordon Ferries brought the performances to an end with the famous Prelude and Chaconne by Corbetta. Gordon recently changed from nail to nail-less playing. He seems to have adapted to the new technique very quickly, giving an assured performance. Excellent playing, as ever, from Gordon. [This image by Bill Samson]

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When the playing stopped, the socialising began. Bill Samson put out a display of his lutherie tools,

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and a small but animated huddle gathered around that table, while elsewhere playing of various instruments could be heard.

A good meeting, with about an hour of performances followed by two hours of socialising, with opportunities to try out the instruments brought by members. Looking forward to the next one.

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The following images by Rob MacKillop:

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7th Meeting – 11th May, 2013

The date of the next meeting is Saturday 11th May, 2013, from 1pm to whenever.

Note the hour earlier start – the hall opens to the general public at 2pm. Please only attend between 1pm and 2pm if you are a member. If you are not a member, please attend from 2pm.

Usual venue – St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, Edinburgh.