Musical Historical Fiction

September 9, 2015

 

I love reading historical fiction. I like the combination of exciting stories and learning something about our past found in well researched and well written historical fiction.

The other day I realized that when choosing songs and materials for our shows, what I am striving for is something very similar. I have a passion for digging up obscure, half-forgotten songs and stories, brush them off, give them a new finish and then share my find with an audience.

 

Traditional ballads were shared in cabins, castles and bars. The ones that have survived and been transferred must have told of stories or feelings that people   felt a need to vent and share. I find it fascinating to think that the song I sing would have been sung for hundreds of years before me and I like trying to imagine why a particular song attracted singers through the generations. Did people identify with the dilemmas presented to the characters? Did it just work really well, mesmerizing an audience of family, friends or strangers? What do these songs tell us today?

 

In ballads there are often an interesting tension between the lyrics, the refrain and the melody. They at times convey a mixed message. The murder ballad with the sweet melody, the romantic tale with a refrain telling a completely different story, or the upbeat song telling of deep sorrow and longing.

 

We had a wonderful time performing at Elena Gallegos Open Space Sunset Series in August with wonderful Celtic singer Liz Madden and Chad Sheer on Bass. As usual in this place the sunset played up a spectacular back drop for us and though it started to drizzle mid show we just kept on singing.

 

For our next show at Apple Mountain Music in Albuquerque we have decided to go completely acoustic. Electronics are great. I often work with live sound on sound recordings. But this time we thought we would challenge ourselves to create all the ambience and feelings without the help of black plastic spaghetti. Let’s see what happens. More info on our Calendar Page

 

The video above is from our show at the Outpost Performance Space with AMP Concerts in May 2015. (with guests Liz Madden, Larry Otis, Alicia Ultan, Frank Bramlitt, Tej Bhavsar) It is of an ancient tale from the Finnish Epic The Kalevala, telling of a mother who searches for her child.

 

She asks the road, a tree, the moon and the sun if they have seen her child.  These songs used to be performed a cappella, telling long tales of heroes and adventures.  We have added various percussion as well as guitar, bass and willow flute. The willow flute is an archaic flute, without finger holes. The notes are created by covering and uncovering the end of the pipe. These flutes used to be made in the spring in Scandinavia, using a willow shoot, where the inside was pushed out to create a cylinder out of the bark.

 

This song will also be on our next CD that we will release in 2016.

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