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Review of 11th Meeting: 12 July, 2014

The best meeting yet? Some are claiming that, and it’s hard to disagree. We were graced by a visit from the American lute maestro, Ed Martin. Ed is very self-effacing, but is definitely a high-quality player with a lot of experience and knowledge. More about Ed later…

Dorothee O’Sullivan Burchard kicked off proceedings by playing a beginner piece from Diane Poulton’s tutor. Dorothee has been playing but a short time, but makes a beautiful tone, which some seasoned players fail to match. Well done, Dorothee, and keep at it!

Eric Thomas is another player with exquisite tone, and is our Resident Thumb Inside player. He played three pieces from the Rowallan manuscript, including “I never knew I loved thee”, eliciting a strong round of applause.

Bill Samson played two pieces by Attaignent on his self-made 6c lute: ‘Tant que vivray’ and the base danse, ‘La Roque’. Bill’s last few performances have been growing in strength and confidence, this one continuing the trend. Great stuff, Bill.

Rob MacKillop gave us a four-movement suite in Dm by Robert de Visee. Rob seemed relaxed, and drew forth some beautiful tones from his Bill Samson 11c lute, kitted out in all-gut strings by Damian Dlugolecki. There were a few remarks about how even the lute sounded from treble to bass.

James Jackson played a 12c hire-lute from The Lute Society, made in David van Edwards’ lute-making workshop within one week. It’s a fine, strong instrument. James played two pieces from the Balcarres manuscript. Nice to hear more Scottish lute music. James will soon be moving to Scotland permanently, so we hope to see and hear more from him.

Stuart McLuckie always entertains, and today gave two confident performances: Ricercha (Ness 84) – Francesco da Milano, and
Cessez mortels de souspirer – Pierre Guedron, arr. David van Ooijen. Great stuff, Stuart.

Philip Lord read Wilson’s Wild from Poulton’s book, and gave his best performance to date – a lesson for us all in not preparing, just turn up and read something! Sometimes we prepare too much, and worry about what we will play like. It was refreshing to see someone completely unprepared read something perfectly. Well done, Philip.

Chris Jupp continues to sound more proficient every time he plays, and today he was relaxed enough to allow some beautiful moments of sensitivity in Francesco’s no.40, to float around the room.

Chris Jupp and Eric Thomas then gave a wonderful duet performance of La Rossignol and a Canon by Milano. It is really wonderful to see members get together for small ensembles. Another couple next time, lads!

Ed Martin – What can we say about Ed Martin? He gave an excellent performance of a group of pieces in D Major by Kellner, on a lute he hadn’t seen before that morning. He also gave an interesting introduction to the music, full of fascinating insights into Kellner’s life. Thanks, Ed, and feel free to pop by any time!

Philip Lord and Bill Samson chaired a discussion about a future venue, as St Cecilia’s Hall will be closing for over a year. No decision was made, but it is a matter of urgency, which will hopefully be resolved soon.

Finally, the entire membership worked on our first ensemble piece: Awake Sweet Love by John Dowland, arranged by Rob MacKillop. After a shaky first read-through, we managed to make a fairly musical sound! I was impressed, and encouraged to arrange more pieces. Well done everybody. Watch this space for more ensemble music.

Also in attendance was Angus Robertson, a one-time lute and harpsichord maker. It was great to see Angus, and maybe one day he could give us a talk about his exploits.

All photos by Bill Samson, save for the one of Bill Samson, which was by Rob MacKillop:
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Group Playlist

We now have a SoundCloud Group Playlist which you can contribute to. It is on our MP3 Page.

How it works:

Record an mp3 of your playing.

Join SoundCloud – it is free (until you require extra space)

Upload your file

Join the SLEGS Group: https://soundcloud.com/groups/scottish-lute-and-early-guitar-society

Each file will have an icon which you can click to contribute your file to the SLEGS Group.

The group is moderated by me, mainly to stop people uploading irrelevant files, and remove spam, if we get any.

Any questions, ask me: robmackillop AT gmail Dot Com

Next Meeting: Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Our 11th meeting will take place at the usual venue, The Laigh Room of St Cecilia’s Hall, Cowgate, on Saturday, 12th July. We will gather from 1pm, for a start at 1.30pm.

It is hope that as many members as possible will be tuned to A=440 (modern pitch) so that we can attempt ensemble playing.

Please go to the Ensemble page, and download the music for the Dowland ensemble piece (choose a part) and the Grounds and Spices pdf – try to memorise The Buffins.

Any questions: robmackillop AT gmail DOT com.

Scottish Lute Recording Project

Some of you might be interested in Rob’s Scottish Lute Recording Project – already about 4 CDs-worth of sound files available for free.

Check it out at: http://scottishlute.com

It’s an ongoing project to record most of the tunes from the Scottish lute manuscripts.

 

Review of 10th Meeting – 19 April, 2014

A lower turnout than usual due to the Easter holiday weekend, but certainly enough people to create a lively and interesting meeting.

Importantly, the decision was made to have an agreed pitch of A=440 , with Renaissance lutes tuned to g on the first string, where possible. The reason being: we are going to attempt some ensemble playing. Rob MacKillop will be arranging some four-part music for members to play at the next meeting. Keep looking at this website, as the parts will appear in tab soon. The music will be in four parts. Choose the part which suits your playing, and let Rob know – robmackillop AT gmail dot com. Any parts not selected will be covered by Rob.

To today’s meeting…

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Stuart Mcluckie (on the left, above) started proceedings with two items from the Lute Society’s curiously named, 58 Very Easy Pieces  – very easy they are not! Stuart gave a good account of numbers 34, the Spanish pavin, and 52, the Pars A Measures Pavion by Lodge. I liked these pieces, and always look forward to Stuart’s contributions.

Rob MacKillop played some vihuela music on a 7c lute made by Bill Samson: the Fantasia del quatro tono, from Narvaez’s Book Two; then two “duo”s by Miguel de Fuenllana, one composed by Fuenllana, the other taken from a Fecit Potentiam by Josquin. This is great music, which the performer enjoyed playing, and everyone appeared to enjoy hearing.

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Eric Thomas (above) played Arthur’s Dump – one of the one’s from the Marsh lute book. It is a long and interesting work, with some harmonic twists and a good driving rhythm. Eric seems to be the only dedicated thumb-inside player in the membership, but the tone he produces is bound to get others thinking about it. Fine playing.

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Bill Samson played his “new” 5c lute – some bits of the lute were made in the 1970s, some in the 1980s, and some just last month! It was originally made as a 6c, but Bill felt it might be more comfortable as a 5c. It was really interesting to hear late medieval/early Renaissance polyphony, with pieces by Richard Loqueville (? – 1418), the teacher of the great Guillaume Dufay. Some really interesting rhythms and ear-tingling harmony. Good stuff! Bill also brought along his one-day old 6c lute – a fine wee beastie!

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Philip Lord played Robert Johnson‘s Princes Almaine, and despite a faltering start, gave a good account of it. Philip played a vihuela de mano by Paul Thomson, and it sounded magnificent.

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Reyyan Ozer performed a very interesting soundtrack to a poem called 33 Bullets . Her saz playing is delicate, and haunting, with it’s microtones really sounding beautiful, if unusual among the other music we had been hearing. But I wonder how much of what we had played might originally have sounded closer to the saz interval placements? Anyway, it was a very welcome, and beautiful performance.

After the playing, Rob MacKillop gave a demonstration on how to play grounds, and all participants created a cacophony of different pitches and temperaments, strumming the buffins, and  la Romanesca. We might try this again when we are all at the same pitch!

NB Our venue, St Cecilia’s Hall, will be closing for almost a year, and we are on the hunt for an alternative venue. Watch this space for news of where that will be. A million Thanks to Darryl Martin and the gang at St Cecilia’s for helping us out thus far.

Looking forward to the next meeting!

Colour photos by Bill Samson. Black and White photos by Rob MacKillop.

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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:

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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.