Tag Archives: melodeon

When At War on the Ocean


It’s one of those weeks when you can step up to the plate and learn a set of tunes, or just kick back and focus on one. Or of course just kick back…

Oss is an English trio playing English regional ‘gems and forgotten songs’ unearthed from manuscripts. The featured tune is John Dipper’s reworking of a traditional English tune, played second in a surprising set with the lovely ‘Dance’ from Purcell’s 1688 opera Dido and Æneas.

(Worlds collide for me this week — I sang chorus in this opera at school!)



John Dipper (viola d’amore), Nick Hart (duet concertina, voice), Tom Moore (violin)

(When At War: 3:20)



The self-titled EP is available from the Oss website.  You can also follow them on Facebook.



oss playing

Catch Oss live at Camden’s Green Note, MONDAY 21 SEPTEMBER




These guys really get around – here are just a few of their individual musical projects:


Nick Hart: melodeon and concertina player, multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, maker of beautiful bones.

Plays with many collaborations, including the Ceilidh Liberation Front, and for the Belles of London City Morris.

Co-hosts and teaches at East London’s great Trad Academy. (Look out for his amazing bones workshops, and read the fascinating esoteric notes on his handmade bones in his online shop!)


John Dipper: English Acoustic Collective and multiple projects/collaborations, including:

WORKSHOP ALERT! Acoustic Creativity and Exploration Workshop Days with Emily Askew: Guildford 11 October, Bristol 29 November.

2015 EFDSS Creative Artist Residency with guitarist Dave Malkin and dancers Hat Vail and Helen Penn.

Alma, with fiddlers Emily Askew and Nicola Lyons, and guitarist Adrian Lever.

And not forgetting… The Hobbit soundtrack. (See John’s website above for other projects.)


Tom Moore: False Lights, with Sam Carter, Nick Cooke, Jim Moray, Sam Nadel, Jon Thorne.

GIG ALERT! False Lights at the London Folk & Roots Festival, 30 October,  Sebright Arms.

Moore Moss Rutter, with Archie Churchill-Moss and Jack Rutter.

Duo with Nick Hart.


Phew! Great music played by great guys!

Don’t forget – they’re live at Camden’s GREEN NOTE, MONDAY 21 SEPTEMBER!



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A lovely American old-time tune with a title suggesting Civil War origins,  often associated with  Ernie Carpenter (1907-1997), an acclaimed fifth-generation fiddler from Braxton County, West Virginia.

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Andy Fitzgibbon

From the playing of Ernie Carpenter. The video was made for Andy’s students at the Wellington Bluegrass Society fiddle workshops. Fiddle tuned AEAE.


(‘Ernie Carpenter’s Gun Boat’ – Andy FitzGibbon’ YouTube video, 2.03. Posted by Andrew FitzGibbon, 8 Sep 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWfct6pXkAQ)


Ernie Carpenter

Fiddle/banjo duet, fiddle tuned AEAE. Ernie originally learnt this tune from family friend and neighbour Wallace Pritchard.


(From the Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes on the great Slippery Hill  website )


Andy Fitzgibbon plays with the Iron Leg Boys, and is part of the New Young Fogies project co-run by Anna Roberts-Gevalt (of Anna & Elizabeth: see ‘Billy in the Lowground’ 7 May 2015)


Ernie Carpenter‘s fascinating family history is outlined on the Berea College website.




Filed under American old-time

Jenny Pluck Pears

An attempt to conjure a golden September from this year’s grey English summer – if we all play it like mad, the sun will come out!

My beautiful namesake tune is from Playford’s Dancing Master of 1651. Two very different arrangements – it is traditionally played with the A and B parts in different time signatures. And (might have guessed!) any tune involving women and fruit had sexual connotations. Who knew…



Andy Cutting (melodeon), Rob Harbron (concertina), Sam Sweeney (fiddle)



The tune is on Leveret’s 2015 CD New Anything, available from their website.

Leveret are touring in the UK in October – starting with a gem of a format: an acoustic set, performed in the round. Cecil Sharp House, 1 October. Details and booking here. Don’t miss it! Full tour dates here (scroll down to Gigs/Autumn Tour 2015).



Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion, triangle), Jo Freya (vocals, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, whistle), Paul James (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones, whistle), Gregory Jolivet (alto hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin, octave violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar, octave bass guitar), Jon Swayne (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones)

Played here with the traditional time-changes, first in a set with Half Hanniken


(‘Jenny Pluck Pears / Half Hanniken’ YouTube video, 4.37. Posted by #Blowzabella, 20 Nov 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h49aR3R_g8U)

For upcoming gigs, band news and recordings, go to Blowzabella’s website here.




Filed under English folk/traditional

Idbury Hill

The many lives of an English hill and its tune: morris meets mediaeval meets mazurka in this varied trio of videos – topped off by a slow audio teaching file.

Idbury Hill is an Iron Age hillfort near the village of Bledington in Oxfordshire, England. The tune is a Cotswold Morris dance tune originating in the village.Charles Benfield

Charles Benfield (1841-1929), fiddler with the Bledington Morris in the second half of the nineteenth century. (Portrait by A. van Anrooy*)


Lester Bailey (melodeon)


(‘Idbury Hill, Bledington – Lester – Melodeon’ YouTube video, 2:02. Posted by Lester Bailey, 27 Sep 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibur3E4nFgg)


Paul Martin (Dunholmpiper) (vielle/mediaeval fiddle)

Lively version – with a belting rhythm section! Paul says he plays mostly in GDGD or GCGD (but nb this is a 5-stringed fiddle…) [Correction: Paul’s instrument is a 4-stringed medieval fidel – see his comment below.]


(‘Idbury Hill’ YouTube video, 2:12. Posted by Dunholmpiper, 13 Oct 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rhJsxwiYO4)


Anahata (melodeon)

Meet Idbury Hill the mazurka! Wonderful resetting of the tune, followed by the original morris version.


(‘Idbury Hill’ YouTube video, 2:56. Posted by anahatamelodeon, 14 Mar 2012. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UX–KYRn4YU)


Laurel Swift (fiddle)

Slow audio file for Laurel’s beginners’ fiddle class at the EDFSS Saturday Folk Music Workshops, Cecil Sharp House, London




Lester Bailey, Anahata, Paul Martin (as Dunholmpiper), and Laurel Swift all have websites/channels bursting at the seams with great tunes.

See also Fiddletails 8 July for details of Laurel’s forthcoming fiddle and multi-instrumental retreats.


* Reproduced under Creative Commons license  CC for Idbury Hill from The Traditional Tune Archive, which has fascinating notes on the history of the tune and the characters associated with it, including a lovely story about Charles Benfield and his fiddle.





Filed under English folk/traditional

The Miller of Perth

Boldwood play mainly forgotten tunes from 18th century England, painstakingly researched and liberated from lost manuscripts and the extraordinary (to us) phenomenon of dance fans. This 3/2 hornpipe was discovered by Becky Price in an unpublished handwritten manuscript in the British Library.



Becky Price (accordion), Miranda Rutter (fiddle, viola), Matthew Coatsworth (fiddle, viola)


(From Boldwood’s 2012 unreleased second album Mudlarking, available on Soundcloud here.)


Boldwood-Dancing-Master-front-cover-300x210The dots for The Miller of Perth are published in The Boldwood Dancing Master, available from the Boldwood website – along with a brilliant new CD – and also on  Matthew Coatsworth’s fascinating website ‘English and French Music: an online manuscript’.

For more information and another great Boldwood tune, see Fiddletails post Jackson’s Shaving Brush (June 2015).




Filed under English folk/traditional

The Muffler/Bhaskar’s

(NB: This set of tunes is a double post to cover next week as well, when I’ll be fiddling away on the EAC Summer School somewhere in deepest Gloucestershire, and nowhere near a computer!)


The Muffler composed by Jon Swayne; Bhaskar’s composed by Barn Stradling. From the Blowzabella album Strange News.

A pair of breezy mazurkas to wish Cool Spinnings to Alasdair Paton and all the courageous amateur cyclists taking on the gruelling Étape du Tour in the French Alps this Sunday 19 July.



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Andy Cutting (diatonic button accordion, triangle), Jo Freya (vocals, clarinet, bass clarinet, soprano and tenor saxophones, whistle), Paul James (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones, whistle), Gregory Jolivet (alto hurdy-gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin, octave violin), Barn Stradling (acoustic bass guitar, octave bass guitar), Jon Swayne (border bagpipes, soprano and alto saxophones)




For upcoming gigs, band news, and to possess Strange News in the flesh, go to Blowzabella’s website, here.



Ernesto Voena (diatonic accordion), Angelo Girardi (bass guitar), Giulia Tomasi (violin), Arcangelo Divita (clarinet), Luigi Mingoni (flute), Marco Gajon (guitar)

This group from the Piedmont region of north-west Italy specialises in playing for folk dances. The dancers in this video show the lilting rhythms of the mazurka steps.


(‘The Muffler / Bhaskar’s (Mazurka)’ YouTube video, 4:16. Posted by girando49, 23 Feb 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LC9BzvTd1g8)

For more information and videos of many more named folk dance tunes, see Controcanto’s website, here, and girando49’s Youtube channel, here.




Filed under English folk/modern

Silver Strands

A delightfully almost-danceable crooked Kentucky tune that repeats across the whole fiddle range.


fhofstepp2William Hamilton Stepp (1845-1947) recorded the tune in 1937 for the Library of Congress – the last of the Kentucky fiddlers to be captured on disc machine by Alan and Elizabeth Lomax during their Kentucky song-collecting expedition. ‘Fiddler Bill’ Stepp was a close friend of fiddler John Salyer (see ‘Last of Harris’, 22 May 2015).




Andy Fitzgibbon

Andy’s teaching video for the 2014 Cowan Creek Mountain Music School. Standard tuning GDAE.

Andy notes: ‘As played by William Hamilton Stepp for the Library of Congress in 1937.’


(‘William Stepp’s Silver Strands – Andy FitzGibbon’ YouTube video, 2.55. Posted by Andrew Fitzgibbon, 4 Oct 2014. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTwmXpKrBbk)


Andy Fitzgibbon plays with the Iron Leg Boys, and is part of the New Young Fogies project co-run by Anna Roberts-Gevalt (of Anna & Elizabeth: see ‘Billy in the Lowground’ 7 May 2015)


Filed under American old-time/traditional

Swaggering Boney

With media recently marking the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo, I offer this jaunty Morris tune (for those who prefer their titles rather more pc, sometimes known as Travel By Steam.)


Nick Hart (MacCann duet concertina)

A brief (but beautifully-formed) in-house recording from a Saturday Workshops Ensemble class, Cecil Sharp House, London.


(For more on the versatile Mr Hart: http://www.nickhartmusic.co.uk)


Battle of Waterloo, Sunday 18 June 1815

This savage event was the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars. On that one day, some 47,000 died (not including prisoners and missing). Just three years earlier, French Neoclassical painter David had painted a portrait of Napoléon Bonaparte, of which this is a detail.


(Jacques-Louis David: The Emperor Napoleon in His Study at the Tuileries, National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC)

For a fascinating real-time simulation taken from eye-witness accounts, see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/battle-of-waterloo/11676475/The-Battle-of-Waterloo-as-it-happened-on-June-18-1815.html

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