Next Meeting: 7 March, 2020

The 33rd meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 7th March, 2020.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 32nd Meeting: December 14th, 2019

Due to the inclement weather, only a few diehards emerged from their hovels today, but as ever the bonhomie and that rare thing theses days – the opportunity to hear lutes and historical guitars – made the effort worthwhile.

Philip Lord got us off to an interesting start with two Renaissance lute pieces played on his Paul Thomson vihuela. The first was given a fine performance, the second proved a bit more demanding on player and listener, but both were well received.

Bill Samson introduced his new self-made guitar, which has some unusual sources for the main timbers. The soundboard is of “sinker” cedar – trees that were swept down a Canadian river by loggers, only to get stuck in undergrowth, and discovered decades later. One farmer used it for fence posts, with shavings from that eventually finding their way into Bill’s hands. Four panels from the fence posts were needed to form the soundboard of this relatively small Bouchet-influenced guitar. The back and sides were made of walnut from his grannie’s old kitchen table!

Bill played three “lessons” from the second book by by Julio Sagreras, an Argentinian professor of the guitar in the early years of the 20th century. Bill’s playing was fine, really stylish in appropriate ways for the repertoire, and he pulled some beautiful tones out of his instrument. Bravo!

Rob Mackillop for once had nothing prepared, but borrowed Bill’s guitar, and read more Sagreras lessons, including a tremolo piece. Emilio Pujol – an authority on the technique of his teacher, Francisco Tárrega – described the no-nails tremolo as sounding “ethereal”, unlike it’s more articulated nail equivalent. The sound Rob produced was indeed a murmur, very gentle.

Chris Jupp treated his 6c Luke Emmet lute to three fantasias by Francesco da Milano, all found in British manuscripts: N62, N40, and the wonderful N33 which must have been heard – and surely approved of – by John Dowland. We look forward to further 6c adventures by Chris at future meetings.

Stuart McLuckie brought proceedings to a close with a Branle, Corrente and a curiously-timed Galliard in 4/4, all by Emanuel Adriaenssen, which were pleasant enough, at times sounding like 16th-century Belgian pop songs, very tuneful and danceable.

Members seemed reluctant to wander back out into the cold and sodden streets, so a wheen of blethers could be heard for some time. Well done, all.

B&W photies by Rob Mackillop, colour by Bill Samson. Click for larger versions.

Date of Next Meeting: 14th December 2019

The 32nd meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 14th December, 2019.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 31st Meeting: September 14th, 2019

Well, this was a very interesting meeting! Sorry you missed it 😉 Though maybe you didn’t 🙂

Bill Samson got the ball rolling with music in Renaissance tuning on his self-made 12c lute, the first to be made since the 17th century. It’s getting quite old itself now, though not yet a museum piece! And that goes for the performer too!

Bill gave a short history of the 12c, and “for a warmup” played What If A Day. Although not Bill’s best-sounding lute, it sounded clear enough, warm in the treble and transparent in the bass. He played with some stylistic flair, which got proceedings off to a good start. Suitably warmed up, he launched into an Almayne by Robert Johnson – I believe this was Johnson’s premier hearing for SLEGS, and very refreshing it sounded. The imitative passages and deft ornamentation were well received.

Rob MacKillop gave his debut performance playing a 7-string Viola da Gamba. Little did he know that its maker, Anthony Edge, was going to turn up to a SLEGS meeting for the first time. Anthony just happened to pop in, not knowing Rob was going to play his viol…

Rob gave a very short history of the viol, then proceeded to perform three student pieces, one by cellist, Joseph Reinagle (1762-1825), and two short dances by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755). Judging by comments given to the performer later, the instrument was very well received, with many comments about the tone of the instrument, and a few encouraging comments for the performer too. I’m sure Rob will bring the viol again, hopefully in tandem with a lute player.

SLEGS stalwart, Stuart McLuckie gave further evidence of his progress with three pieces from The Lute Society’s publication, 70 easy to Intermediate Pieces for Renaissance Lute: Ballad, Españoleta, and a Balletto.

These were all tastefully played and interpreted. The Españoleta was intriguing, with an opening so like those from Gaspar Sanz, before heading off into unfamiliar territory. I’d like to hear that again sometime. And encore of a French chanson rounded off a fine performance.

Eric Renshaw introduced his new instrument: a mandolin copied from an Embergher original. Embergher is the Stradivari of the mandolin world, and Eric’s instrument was clearly in the top class. Learn more about Eric’s mandolin world HERE and Embergher HERE. It is hope we will one day hear Eric play his beautiful mandolin.


Pav Verity treated us to some melodically and rhythmically fascinating Greek music on his Cretan Laouto. There could hardly have been a starker contrast to the quiet and warm lute music either side of Pav’s performance, but it was a sound clearly enjoyed by the audience!

Chris Jupp was up next, playing an 8c lute by Dallas Sutherland. Chris sensitively performed a beautifully-searching prelude by Laurencini Romanus – a composer worth hearing more of at future meetings. This fine performance was followed by a sublime Pavane by Alfonso Ferrabosco from the Variety of Lute Lessons of 1610. The tone and phrasing were exemplary, and an encore was demanded and granted: Dowland’s sublime Solos Cum Sola. Beautiful stuff, well appreciated.

Proceedings were brought to a close in a fascinating and unexpected way, with the presentation of a keyed classical guitar, carefully and beautifully reconstructed by PhD organology student, Daniel Wheeldon.

The instrument looks like a regular 19th-century guitar, but with a hole cut out of the soundboard, as if for inserting a pickup. Hidden in the side of the body is a keyboard attachment. The player presses a “piano” key, and a hammer rises from inside the guitar, through the hole, and strikes a string. Daniel demonstrated with some arpeggios, before playing a typical guitar study from the early to mid 19th century.

The guitar Daniel presented was a copy of an instrument made in 1810 by Mattias Neüner in Mittenwald. He is also building a copy of a guitar from 1843 by Mattius Sprenger and Franz Fiala. These are the only two keyed guitars known to survive.

How did it sound? Well, a bit percussive. Dynamic variation is possible, but not tonal. It therefore seemed more suited to Giuliani song accompaniments or less emotional solo pieces. I can’t imagine it at all being useful for the Romantic repertoire. The forte-piano came to mind. It wasn’t unattractive, but the right repertoire would have to be found in order to present it in a very positive light.

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So, a fascinating meeting, much appreciated by all in attendance, including a lovely couple from far off Devon, Sue and Graham Hodgson. You are both welcome back for future meetings! Likewise the sprightly Anthony Edge!

Colour photos from Bill Samson, B&W from Rob MacKillop:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Date of Next Meeting: 14th September, 2019

The 31st meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 14th September, 2019.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.

Report of 30th Meeting: 8 June, 2019

Torrential rain doubtless encouraged a few absences, but there was enough of a quorum for some playing and discussion, making this a very enjoyable meeting indeed.

Rob MacKillop got the ball rolling, as he often does – this time on a borrowed lute – with a couple of beautiful Scottish pieces from the Straloch manuscript: A Port and I Long For Thy Virginitie. Rob played with great feeling, making the instrument sing sweetly.

Stewart Mcluckie introduced his new Busato 11c lute, and proceeded to play good renditions of three pieces for beginners from Miguel Serdoura’s Method: two minuets and Les Tricotine. The baroque lute is not an easy instrument to feel instantly at home on, but Stewart seemed unconcerned with that, bringing out a lovely tone. We look forward to the return of the instrument.

Chris showing his new technique…

Chris Jupp presented a mini recital, much to everyone’s pleasure. He started with a rarely-heard arrangement of Dowland’s famous Lachrimae, this one signed CK. A Fantasie and Fuga followed by Maffon, which I had never heard before. Likewise a Ballo Polaco dance. To finish off, Chris gave a beautiful rendering of Dowland’s setting of the folk song, Robin Is To Greenwood Gone. As Rob MacKillop mentioned, one of the pleasures of coming to SLEGS meetings these many years is to see the progression of Chris’s playing. Keep it up Chris, and we’ll be buying CDs from you afore long.

Bill showing his air-guitar technique…

Bill Samson played a self-made cedar-top Torres-style guitar, which sounded beautiful. The repertoire by Calatayud included a Bulerias, a Fandanguillo, and a Soleá. The composer had lessons when a young boy from Francisco Tárrega, and it was easy to discern the 19th-century approach to these flamenco titles. Bill gave a fine performance, with not a little fire and nuance.

Occasional SLEGS attendee, Pav Verity, brought an unusual instrument for our perusal: a Milanese mandolin, complete with six single strings and a scalloped fretboard. Very interesting, though we could have done with a performance – next time, Pav!

Rob MacKillop gave a short demonstration of right-hand technique for baroque lute, and the importance of having the bass fundamentals higher off the soundboard than the octave pairings.

Rob also mentioned his new album of 19th-century Spanish music between Sor and Tárrega, played on a 19th-century Spanish guitar. Details here: https://rmclassicalguitar.com/download-album/

Bill Samson made two announcements: a Lute Society stall promoting the lute should be staffed by SLEGS members for the visit of the BMG (Banjo Mandolin and Guitar) Federation Festival to Edinburgh in 2020. See this website for details: http://www.banjomandolinguitar.org/rally.htm

…and a Glasgow school is looking for lutes for their pupils’ Early Music ensemble.

Cheeky B&W photos by Rob, sensible colour photos by Bill.



 

 

Date of Next Meeting: 8th June, 2019

The 30th meeting of SLEGS will take place on Saturday 8th June, 2019.

Visitors are most welcome.

The venue is Chris Elmes’s place – 1F1, 25 Haddington Place, EH7 4AF (the left side of Leith Walk between Annandale St and MacDonald Rd). Parking is unrestricted off Leith Walk on weekends; MacDonald Road or Hopetoun Crescent is the best area.

Time: 1pm for a 1.30pm start. Two or three hours, depending on contributions from members.

There will be a charge of £1 a head for the use of the venue.

If anyone wishes to make a presentation, please contact Rob MacKillop with some details: robmackillop@gmail.com. Otherwise, just turn up at the address stated above. Any questions, ask Rob.