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Folk Music and the Viol

Sleepy Rosie 10 Nov 08 - 06:27 AM
Harmonium Hero 10 Nov 08 - 07:13 AM
Paul Burke 10 Nov 08 - 07:14 AM
Sleepy Rosie 10 Nov 08 - 08:32 AM
Tootler 10 Nov 08 - 04:11 PM
Sleepy Rosie 11 Nov 08 - 07:22 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 11 Nov 08 - 08:58 AM
Sleepy Rosie 11 Nov 08 - 10:17 AM
Mr Happy 11 Nov 08 - 10:44 AM
Mr Happy 11 Nov 08 - 10:45 AM
Cats 11 Nov 08 - 12:35 PM
GUEST,Mason Brown 11 Nov 08 - 02:54 PM
Sleepy Rosie 12 Nov 08 - 03:44 AM
Hawker 12 Nov 08 - 03:59 AM
Mr Happy 12 Nov 08 - 04:27 AM
GUEST,Mason Brown 12 Nov 08 - 11:17 AM
GUEST 13 Nov 08 - 01:16 PM
Sleepy Rosie 14 Nov 08 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 14 Nov 08 - 04:22 PM
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Subject: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 06:27 AM

Some months ago I inherited a relatively unusual instrument, which I've literally only just taken a decent look at. I am considering learning to play it.

It's a Treble Viol (also known as a Viola da Gamba), an early music cousin to other still popular stringed instruments such as the violin and cello. While Bass Viols are similar in size to a Cello, my own (a Treble) is closer in size to a Violin.

I'm wondering if it is worthwhile me taking the time to learn to play this curiosity, and indeed whether or not, it might be an instrument which I could in some 'creative' way sucessfully incorportate into the context of playing and singing folk music?

Can anyone here, either play one, or even have a vaguely informed opinion??

Ta, Rosie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Harmonium Hero
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 07:13 AM

There's no earthly reason why you shouldn't use it in folk music. Bass viols have been used before; I can't think of anyone who has used a treble, but it's just a question of using your imagination and seeing what you can do with it. You can, for instance use it to play the dance music of the 17th/18thC - Playford etc. Learn to play it anyway, and get into an early music consort. It's fun - I did it for years (mostly playing early wind instruments), and miss it now that I'm out of touch. Go on - you know you want to!
John Kelly.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Paul Burke
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 07:14 AM

You lucky girl! They are gorgeous instruments, here's a sample, and you'll surely be able to work out wonderful song accompaniments and tune arrangements. I'd start with Dolly Collins's backings for Shirley.

There's a viola da gamba society, and lots of information about tuning etc. on the web, so getting started should be fairly easy, especially if you've played the fiddle or cello a bit.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 08:32 AM

John and Paul both, many thanks for the positive encouragement!

It was my Mothers instrument, so has strong sentimental value and as such I'm very curious to see what I could potentially do with it. And yes, they really do have a very beautiful and atmospheric 'voice'.

I know the bass is the only one that is traditionally played as a solo instrument, so I'm not quite sure what I might be able to do with a treble. But one good thing that I do know, is that if you learn one viol, you've learned them all. So in theory if I wanted to move onto a bass viol after learning on the treble, I could do so ...given a couple of years and a thousand plus K that is!

Rosie


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Nov 08 - 04:11 PM

Jo Freya did some recordings with the Rose Consort of Viols some years ago. I don't know what album they originally appeared on but several tracks of an album I bought at an English Heritage shop have accompaniments by the Rose Consort and they work wonderfully well. The viol has a distinctive tone which blends very well with the voice.

At a session I go to, one of the regulars plays a treble viol, so you can also use it to play jigs & reels etc.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 07:22 AM

Tootler, cheers for that. Very helpful to hear of someone that is using their treble viol in the way that I might wish to. I think it's time for me to start getting it out of it's case and terrifying the local cats...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 08:58 AM

If you mix in early music circles, you'll stop calling it a "curiosity". It was common in the Renaissance.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 10:17 AM

Aye, and further to another thread regarding Englands national instrument, it was popular in England for a long time after it fell out of favour on the continent.

Perhaps it's gentle reserved melencholy suited the English temperament?

The only music I know where I've heard viols being played, is in music by composers such as Dowland and Byrd. And something more 'English' sounding I'd find hard to imagine.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 10:44 AM

Here's someone doing a shanty!http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Z1G_qzEV4


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Mr Happy
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 10:45 AM

Sorry, that should be http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=-8Z1G_qzEV4


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Cats
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 12:35 PM

It might be useful to pm Crowdercref. He knows about these things.


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: GUEST,Mason Brown
Date: 11 Nov 08 - 02:54 PM

I play viols and do almost exclusively folk music on them. I play the bass, which is great for slower things like O'Carolan, but not quite the thing for jigs and reels (it can sound fine on these, especially at slower tempos). I played the treble for a while, mainly working on Irish dance music, and had some success, but the range of the treble is a little lower than the fiddle, and requires shifting up to the higher notes in many tunes. about 7 years ago I discovered the pardessus(fr. "above treble")which is like a treble with one high string added and the bass string removed, and that really is the ticket! you can see and hear it here:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbIb3QBpySI&feature=channel


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 12 Nov 08 - 03:44 AM

Thanks for that Mason Brown, as I have one now but know little about it, just hearing that it can in practice work in a musical context other than an early music consort is enough to make me consider it worthwhile to learn to play.

I have to confess I find it a little hard to imagine myself becoming involved in a more formal early music consort - though who knows - so I doubt I would wish to learn to play if that were the only likely outlet for me. But they are lovely sounding creatures.

Yes, I've heard of the pardessus, and somewhere I recall reading that while the violin was considered a tad vulger or lewd for ladies to play, the pardessus viol was demure enough to be deemed suitable in it's stead.

When I looked at your You-Tube posting I noticed another featuring the pardessus, I hope you don't mind me linking here:

http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=0AVXHlIA5uQ&feature=channel

The clips that you show are interesting to see and hear. Compared to the violin the tone adds something quite unusual. I wonder what those you play with, or other fiddle players think of it?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Hawker
Date: 12 Nov 08 - 03:59 AM

My friend Barabara plays the viola da gamba, I am sure she would be happy to help, should you need it, pm me and I'll put you in touch if you would like to. I have no idea where you are, I am in North Cornwall, She plays with us on occasion and it is a lovely sound, She also plays music with Crowdercref. It would be sad not to learn to play it!
Cheers, Lucy


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Mr Happy
Date: 12 Nov 08 - 04:27 AM

Certainly the playing position of this instrument looks far more comfortable & natural than that of the conventional fiddle.

Why can't they be played this way?


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: GUEST,Mason Brown
Date: 12 Nov 08 - 11:17 AM

There is no reason a violin couldn't be played "a gamba", in fact, a cellist friend of mine would sometimes do it. As for the people I play with, they seem to like the pardessus, or at least are polite enough not to object. One thing about it is that it is not as loud as most fiddles, so it's hard to be obtrusive in a session! It really is a beautiful instrument which it's a joy to play any kind of music on, so I encourage you to go for it!


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 01:16 PM

I've posted another video of the pardessus here. you can see and hear the instrument better.
here


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: Sleepy Rosie
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 09:36 AM

Cheers for that, I can see that my treble is indeed larger than the pardessus you play here. Even so, I think I've seen enough to think it's worth giving the instrument a go, hopefully with a view to learning to incorporate the playing of it in a folk music context. A tutor book shall shortly be on its way, ordered from Amazon through mudcat of course...


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Subject: RE: Folk Music and the Viol
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 04:22 PM

It's strange that this subject should raise its head now as I've only recently "discovered" the wonderful music of William Lawes. He wrote a lot for viols, and was a musician at the court of the English king Charles 1.


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