Tonight we focused on our tuning. We started off by playing a G scale, played in lower octave. We played long slow notes, concentrating on blending and playing in tune with the others around us. Then we did the same thing playing the G scale in the upper octave. We played both octaves together, with alternate people round the room playing each octave, so we could hear our own sound more clearly. We followed this by playing both octaves of the G scale with the players in between playing the G scale in harmony. the we added in a couple of people playing an open G drone. The fiddlers playing drone worked on tone, and keeping smooth transitions between down and up bows, while those playing the scale and harmony were focusing on playing in tune.

We played the G arpeggio in both octaves, to identify the notes – G,B, D and G. Then we created a plucked riff, using just the notes from the arpeggio. One person started with a 4 beat riff, then each person round the circle added their own riff on top. We tried the same thing again, using bowed notes from the scale of G.

We played Sitting in the Stern of a boat, thinking about tuning

Then we moved into the large room, without our fiddles, and did a short Interplay exercise. We started off by walking around the room, exploring the space. Then we tried either walking or stopping, so we had 2 choices. We added in walking fast or slow, and played around with these options. The we added in the option of following what someone else was doing. This was an easy way to explore some of the options that are open to us when we start improvising with music.

Playing around with walking

We returned to our fiddles and tried a new riff, with each person in the circle adding to the basic starting riff. We tried stopping for 4 beats, then starting the riff again – that took a bit of concentration if your own riff didn’t start on the first of the 4 beats. People also tried following what someone else was playing, then varying it. We fed back in pairs, then to the group.

We played through Sitting in the Stern of a Boat again, and also had time to play Young Betty before heading off to the pub.

Next week is the last week of term.