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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Got to play trad flute for people at the flute talk yesterday afternoon. Norbert had wanted to look at my trad flute earlier in the day, so I brought it to one of our instrumental sessions later in the afternoon. He had me play a few tunes just to see what the flute sounded like, and he evidently was very impressed, because then he decided that I needed to talk during the flute lecture (joint for the Baroque and Medieval camps) about the idea that the older flutes migrated into different traditions.


EMV's medieval workshop is structured so that in the morning everyone sings, and everyone learns the chant by ear. The vocalists however are the only ones who get singled out to sing by themselves or to try discantus improvisation. That, however, changed this morning. Singing a melody we learned a few day ago, with Eric picking people singularly to sing each line.

"The next line, Mac."

Me stunned: "Me?"

And on we went.....including improvising discantus lines above the sopranos. Holy freaking crap it's high. :) After the open season on instrumentalists ;), we went to our instrumental section, where Norbert and I worked on my solo piece (Beata Viscera by Perotin), and added Roomie on Rebec as accompaniment. Sooooooo incredibly cool.

Loving every single minute of getting my ass kicked!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:07 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, July 28, 2008
Back to classes today after a restful (not) weekend in Vancouver. Session on Friday night was nice and welcoming, although the drunk to musician quotient was rather high. Most of the rest of the group tracked out to see us, which was really cool. Even got to sing, as it was a tune/song alternating session. Sung/played my version of Arthur McBride and Three Fishers (it was too loud to do anything lower in my range, unfortunately, high carries). Anyway, spent most of the weekend hanging out with new friends in Vancouver.....including several different restaurants and thrifting ( I managed not to buy any used books....congratulate me.... ;) ). Specifically The Naam could be my favorite place in Vancouver......24 hr gourmet Vegetarian/Vegan food. I think most of us are planning on visiting once more before the end of the trip (which scarily enough is Friday). Saw the American portion of the International Fireworks competition which was nice and laid back (we chose a beach that was nice and AWAY from downtown). Absolutely mind-blowing concert last night, followed by a long wine/chat session that relocated several times after being thrown out of certain buildings on the UBC campus. And this morning leads us to the second and last week of the camp. I think most of us are shell shocked about the fact that in 5 or so days we go back to our own lives without 14 other people who GET the medieval music thing. Roomie and I are extremely lucky to have people who get it and can (and do) teach it all year long, but there's something about being completely surrounded by people who geek out just as much as you do. I'll leave you with this:

We're studying the Codex Calixtinus, which is all about St. James the Apostle. James and John were called sons of thunder by Christ, which is a repeating theme in a lot of the chant we're singing. One piece specifically called Dum Esset starts with a big Latin flourish basically saying Christ came down from the mountains. Which in my head turned into:
Christ'll be comin' round the mountain when he comes.

Which someone went further with:

He will call you sons of thunder when he comes.
He will call you sons of thunder
He will call you sons of thunder
He will call you sons of thunder when he comes.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:10 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Friday, July 25, 2008
Many many technology issues. Sorry if anyone has emailed the FPU address and I haven't responded.....it doesn't work at the public computers here at UBC. Great stuff going on. Early music boot camp rocks! :) Much intensive work on chant and learning by ear (I would have been dead by now had I not been used to learning things by ear). Aside from that, bonding with other musicians who are into the same things I am. Great discussions and geek outs aplenty. Basically we'll go to afternoon classes and then we're off until Sunday night (Sequentia concert!!!!!!!!!). Roomie and I are attempting to find a session tonight, which the rest of the crew decided would be fun to watch. I think we found one at the Wolf and Hound in Vancouver, but it's not really clear as to whether it's an open or closed session. The Session.org makes it seem to be an open session, while the website makes it out to be a gig, and the manager that I talked to was completely unclear.

Mac: "Do you have any live music tonight?"

Manager: "Yes, we have an Irish traditional music session going on that starts about 8:30pm."

Me, feeling encouraged by the fact that she called it an Irish traditional music session instead of spouting off about celtic music: "So it's an open session then?"

Manager: "Well, I'm not sure if it's an open session. A bunch of the same people play here every week, but if there's a chair open you might be able to squeeze in."

So....I'm using the normal trick......which is to ask the musicians if it's ok to sit in. Supposedly Mary Brunner (pro fiddler) runs the session, and they did specify that no beginners were supposed to come, so I'm thinking the level of musicianship should be fairly high even if we don't get to play. There's definitely an open session on Wed.....but that's in the middle of early music boot camp's last week, and China's fireworks portion of the international fireworks competition is that night. Hopefully we'll get some tunes!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:13 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Finally made it to Vancouver. Had a good meetup with friends in Seattle, one of whom let me borrow some of his flutes in the hopes that at least one of them would work. Finally made it and met up with everyone. Still a little dazed and trying to get my bearings....that's just the way I work at really intense workshops. Everyone's really nice, and Dharmonia was right, everyone bonds here really quickly. I think it took us all of 15 min into dinner to decide that we should declare war on the Baroque camp when they get here. The first day of actual classes (there was just a meet and greet and dinner the first night) was really intense. Lots of learning by ear (thank God I'm used to it) and a lot of communicating what we want out of the course to some of the instructors. This morning started out well, with a trip to the library to see an AMAZING copy of the Codex Calixtinus, and a great class of chant and learning by ear. The instrumental class is this afternoon. There are only 4 of us instrumentalists. Myself (flute), Roomie (vielle/rebec), 19-year-old recorder phenom, and Aussie studying at IU (vielle). What's truly amazing is the calliber of musicianship here. It makes you really want to work on your craft, plus it's nice to be with people you have to make sure you keep up with. Last class of the day coming up, and I'm hoping to snatch some coffee before our instrumental class.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:41 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Another long day of traveling. Much better road food karma today. Breakfast was at a nice local place called Connor's Cafe. This is what Cracker Barrel wishes it could be. Great hash browns, eggs, and sourdough toast with good diner coffee. Finally make it to Oregon. Lunch was a great place off the road called The Hungry Redneck Cafe. Roomie had fabulous french toast, and I opted for grilled cheese (again on sourdough), french fries, and coffee to go. The owner, Bo, greeted us as we sat down. "My name is Bozhou, but everyone calls me Bo." As for the Pacific Northwest? I may not go home......of course if I lived here I'd probably have to migrate during the winter. Anyway, made is through to Ellensburg, WA tonight, and had great chinese food at a local place about a block from the hotel. Tomorrow into Seattle to see some of the sights and rest up for Vancouver!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:24 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Arches National Park
Woke up this morning, played a little. Grabbed some coffee and started to drive off. Roomie and I were sufficiently impressed with our time yesterday, so we decided that we had enough time to relax a little today. So what did we do? We took a detour to Arches National Park. Now for the Rock Hound (aka me) this place was amazing.

Drove for the rest of the day.....Utah has an insane amount of construction going on....not to mention that we hit Salt Lake City exactly at 5 pm rush hour. Needless to say, we made it Idaho, but not quite as far as planned. Below is Roomie playing amongst the scenery.....we played our estampie out amongst nature this morning.....if roomie gets her picture of me playing, I'll make sure to post it.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 11:42 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
On the way to Vancouver
Long day yesterday. Roomie and I drove about 12 hours and made it all the way to Utah. Relatively uneventful trip. Roomie got attacked by large beetle like bug in the car (he tried to stow away), she freaked out while on the phone with mom, and about gave her a heart attack, because said mom didn't know we were stopped at a gas station and was convinced we had careened headlong into a mountain. Also spent a decent part of the morning talking over the phone (until my reception gave out) to various parties about a flute appropriate for the workshop. About three weeks ago I got the word that none of the flutes that I own are really appropriate for this workshop.....to which I said, "Great.....what do I do now?" Which led to me trying to find a relatively inexpensive but workable instrument at Mid-east music. Ordered a bansuri in an appropriate key, but unfortunately when I got back to FPU to check it out, discovered that the flute is about the length of the floor to right above my knee.....and while my right hand can handle the stretch, my left hand isn't really cooperating (aka I can play half notes and then eventually my hand cramps). So I'm trying to find another flute that will work and mid-east has nothing. So I'm actually ordering a small cheapy from Lark in the Morning, plus trying out some (awesome) flutes I might be able to borrow once roomie and I get to Seattle! I love looking at weird and quirky flutes! After the bug fiasco, and the finding a flute project, the only other memorable thing was trying to find food for dinner. I'm a vegetarian, and roomie is a vegan, so road food is a bit difficult for us.....easier for me than it is for her. Once we decided we should probably eat dinner....we sort of ran out of civilization. With the exception of a small restaurant called Lamp Light, which evidently is THE place to go in Monticello, UT. So we walked in, and things looked like a weird blend between fancy and normal off the road diner. We sat down, and the cheapest thing on the menu was 14.99......for a salad. While I might spend that much for an awesome meal in either Seattle or Vancouver, I'm not gonna waste money for a salad in Utah. So, basically we got up, muttered at the waitress and left. Other than that, really fairly uneventful drive.

I am obsessed with mountains, or really any type of large rocks that in my head seems to approach a mountain, so the drive was great. Really looking forward to getting further north and seeing lots and lots of mountain-like stuff.

More driving today, and pictures to come!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 9:39 AM ¤ Permalink ¤ 2 comments
Sunday, July 13, 2008
Rule #1
Yeah, Rule #1 of blogging should be something like:

Thou shalt not blog when thou art grumpy and tired.

Notice me breaking rule #1.

Fairly uneventful drive back from MS. Arkansas was freaking scary though, with crazy clouds and torrential downpour and lightning striking where I could see it hit the ground from the Interstate. Ended up grabbing a hotel room, because I forgot to set the alarm (like a moron) and ended up sleeping until 11 am (holy crap I haven't done that in forever), at which time I still had to pack and straighten up the apartment I was crashing in. So yeah, stopped on the side of the road in random town and proceeded to basically not sleep the rest of the night. Got up Friday and drove the rest of the way back to FPU, went to session, and then got back home and crashed.

Trying basically not only to get things ready for Vancouver (we leave on Wed.), but for NFA as well, and doing work on the thesis as usual. Got in some good practice yesterday, and ended up finishing a song I was working on (although "finishing" is a concept that doesn't really apply to songwriting I think, because most of the stuff I have is continually in flux). Anyway, I'm going back to the apartment and see if I can reclaim my good mood!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:53 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Holy Crap, It's Hot Out Here

Today went really well. Not a big information day, but a huge day for interpersonal connection. Met up with one of the local artists who's huge into blues and hung out with her the rest of the day. We headed over to the only real restaurant in town, and met up with major informant. We got to talking about what she was going to do now that she had graduated high school, and what her life plans were. Interestingly enough she wants to do something I already have a degree in (Music Ed), so we talked a little bit about that. They all wanted to see the trad flute, so that got dragged out, and she tried it out, which was really cool. Then she said she need some more cane (bamboo) for making fifes, so she asked me if I wanted to come with her. Off we go with local artist, main informant, and me to a local house where MI and I cut bamboo cane for the next hour or so....occasionally with me interspersing questions like, "How often do you do this?" and "What are you looking for when you cut this stuff?" She had to leave after that, but we're meet up again tomorrow to head out to another "have to talk to" person. Anyway, if I can figure out how to post the pictures from today (my cell phone), they'll be up soon!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 8:33 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Monday, July 07, 2008
Everything's going really well.

Yesterday's thing was basically a picnic hosted by one of the families in Marshall County, MS. Some really good music, much more like what Alan Lomax saw than the big huge HCP thing on Friday and Saturday. The family hosting it was really nice, and promised to hook me up with a few people they think I need to talk to.

Spent most of the morning hooking up with people and scheduling interviews in town. Hooked up with a really nice local artist (she does castings of the local blues musicians in the area). I'm meeting her for lunch tomorrow, and staying overnight with her. She's gonna basically take me around town and introduce me to people, including some of the ones that are harder to get in contact with. Interestingly enough, she's a flute player who's just getting into Irish music, so we bonded over that, and I'm bringing instruments over so that we can share some music back and forth.

Definitely staying until Thursday, but coming back in August for the Gravel Springs picnic (which I have housing for as well, thanks to the nice people in the area). Will be offline for awhile, but getting good info!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 1:52 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
Sunday, July 06, 2008
Good Day Yesterday
Yesterday was great. Good music, even if it was hot as hell. Some interesting things I noticed about the crowd demographics vs. the performer demographics. Going out for my small once a week splurge at Bottletree (bagel and the GOOD coffee), I found a flier for blues stuff this afternoon and tonight, featuring some of the same performers as the HC Picnic, so I'm gonna go off and see what I can see. If nothing else, it'll be good music, and while it's outside.....there's _shade_ and places to sit. I'm really happy with the media I got (pictures, video, and audio). I was right up front, so I got to see without anybody (except the big burly backstage guys) in front of me. The only downside was that I didn't hook up with my informant, but I think overall it was a fairly positive experience. I'm still planning on trying to hook up with her, but if it doesn't happen this trip, that's ok (I'm still trying to convice myself of that fact, but at least I'm not at the "If I don't get to interview this person in the next week, my entire thesis is gonna go down the drain."). Interviews and tracking people down on Monday and Tuesday. I'm supposed to leave on Wed to head back to FPU, but if I'm making good progress, I might put it off until Thursday. Either way I'm looking to drive straight through as I want to save some money by not staying in a hotel. Anyway, I need to go grab my camera and recorder before I head off to this thing at 2. I'll try and post some more videos and pictures later on tonight or tomorrow!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:57 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Saturday, July 05, 2008
Tired after standing out in the 800% humidity for several hours with no shade.....got rained on AGAIN, but at least the sun was out for the set I needed to see:

posted by Mac Tíre at 9:21 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 1 comments
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Do I really have time to look forward right now?
So, I'm starting to look at various programs/things to do after next year (assuming I finish the damn master's degree of course). I tend to freak every time this happens. My motto since undergrad has pretty much been fill it out and see what happens. Inevitably I've been put in pretty good places, that have given me skills that I needed. FPU is a perfect example. The professors, community, and colleagues were exactly what I needed at this point in my life. Unfortunately I don't really do the whole change thing well, so the idea of leaving the wonderful people at FPU scares the crap out of me.

However I'm a little better situated than I was after my undergrad studies. I know what degree I want, all I have to do is find somewhere that offers ethnomusicology and early music (medieval please god), hopefully has a decent trad Irish music community, and is financially feasible to complete it. No biggie, right? Riiiiiiiiiiiight (insert sarcasm here).

As if that weren't enough, I have been overrun by the sense that I'm a little more than egotistical in assuming that I'm going to finish the master's in ethno by the end of the year. Is that bizarre? Has anyone else felt that? It's hard for me to believe that this time next year I'll have THE THESIS written and defended, and a shiny piece of paper with my name and Master of Musicology plastered all over it. I guess the biggest thing for me to remember is that I don't have to write the Norton Guide to Blues F & D. I do feel that I have some good and important things to say about this music that haven't been said before, which is something that not everyone can say about their thesis topics. But I want to do it well, and sometimes when I get caught up in the "Oh God don't screw it up," like sometimes in papers/presentations, that I can't get what I want to say out in a coherent presentation (either spoken or written). Something to work on.

Right now, it's look for programs and do the fieldwork time, so I guess the other worries will just have to be pushed to the side right now.

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 4:09 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments
100th Post
Yep....this is the 100th post. I don't really have anything to say about that, so on to more stories about fieldwork.

Yesterday was a pretty good day. I had an early morning meeting with one of the churches in the area. The minister hooked me up with this nice woman who gave me names and addresses of people she thought I should talk to. All of this over a very southern lunch of fried chicken, peas, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, rolls, and sweet tea. So much for being a vegetarian. Also got the dates of one of the big picnics at the end of August, so that should be good. Tomorrow and Saturday are the big days for fieldwork with the musicians.....I'm ready to talk to those guys, and get some musical information. Although some of the people I talked to had great stories about Napoleon Strickland (the other fifer that people don't talk about as much as Othar Turner). I've scheduled some interviews with people in town on Monday and Tuesday, and then back to FPU on Wednesday so that I can get a few coachings in with Dharmonia before roomie and I truck on up to Vancouver.

On the upside, another coffee shop opened up last week in Oxford, and it has a much calmer vibe to it......I guess it helps that it's only me and the staff in the place. Anyway, I don't have to worry about 2 hour parking and the wifi seems to be flawless.

Small comment from the broadway field......

Holy crap, Patti Lupone!

Peace, Love, and Tunes,

posted by Mac Tíre at 12:59 PM ¤ Permalink ¤ 0 comments