Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Fiddle

And, speaking of fiddles and instructional videos, here's a link that ended up in a recent FootStompin' newsletter. It's just plain clever. The full demo of the tune starts at 0:50.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Here is something I have seen, and am certain of: I am the deeply contented, if lazy, owner of the excellent video advertised by this clip:

I sent away for Sarah-Jane Summers' Highland Strathspeys for Fiddle a few months back, and if I haven't memorised every nuance of every phrase of each of the five strathspeys presented on it, I have only myself to blame. It is a most beautifully presented instructional video, very easy to follow, and with nice features like having the demo played in a separate "chapter" (the clip above is one of these) for easy reference, as well as having it played, unseen, whenever you bring up the sub-menu for the given tune. And in case this, plus the movement-by-movement breakdown which makes up the bulk of each lesson isn't enough to drive a tune home, the DVD also comes with a little booklet of printed music.

Here is something else, which I have never seen and which I am still, nonetheless, certain of (yes, I know I'm ending sentences with prepositions; I'm rather enjoying it): I really, really want a set of these strings. One of my friends (who has not yet tried them, but also really, really wants them) brought up the subject yesterday, and it would appear to be highly contagious. Here's a great little article on the same subject (octave strings, not contagious fiddle fads) from Darol Anger, who has actually tried the like.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Keeping Up Appearances

The fun in reading Dickens often lies, not so much in what he is saying, but in how he is saying it. In Martin Chuzzlewit, that archetype hypocrite Seth Pecksniff is about the most royally annoying creature who might be comprehended by a human mind. . .but it is an unspeakable amount of fun to follow the deadpan tone in which his inventor describes him, as in these passages from Chapter 3, where he endeavours to make a favourable impression on (very rich) Old Martin Chuzzlewit:

'No,' said Mr Pecksniff, keeping his hand in his waistcoat as though he were ready, on the shortest notice, to produce his heart for Martin Chuzzlewit's inspection, 'I came here to offer my services to a stranger.'

* * *

It would be no description of Mr Pecksniff's gentleness of manner, to adopt the common parlance, and say, that he looked at this moment as if butter wouldn't melt in his mouth. He rather looked as if any quantitiy of butter might have been made out of him, by churning the milk of human kindness, as it spouted upwards from his heart.

* * *

. . .Mr. Pecksniff, towering on tiptoe among the curtains, as if he were literally rising above all worldly considerations, and were fain to hold on tight, to keep himself from darting skywards like a rocket. . .