Monday, May 15, 2006

New Tunes

Continuing on this Gypsy theme, I've been learning some new tunes lately. All three in the French Musette genre, they are challenging my understanding of the dulcimer and of music in general. It's really enjoyable stretching out of my familiar Irish Trad domain. It's also enjoyable because it allows me to return to some of my percussion roots, because this style is more closely related to jazz.

Musette is a style of waltz that is associated with cafes in Paris. Often, these cafes were owned by people from the rural region of Auvergne. They would hold dances at these cafes, from which the musette was essentially born. The music is influenced by Paris, the Auvergne region, and also the Manouche gypsies that found work in these cafes. The gypsy connection with American Jazz through the influential playing of Django Reinhardt is what gives these quaint little waltzes their "jazzy" feel. The gypsy influence also provides the dark, minor scales, that these tunes often reside in.

Anyway, I've been working on three musettes:

Java Manouche, which I'm learning from a seminal LP of Jazz Manouche by Gypsy accordionist Jo Privat (I believe a 'Java' is a specific dance. No relation to coffee).

Beritwaltz, by Richard Galliano, an Italian accordionist who mixes Musette seamlessly with Tango and other forms.

Annie-Zette is the third tune, which I first heard on the "Paris Musette" compilation CD. It's a great, rare find. I heard it likened to the Buena Vista Social Club of French Musette. The recordings capture old masters playing alongside a new breed of musicians, carrying on the tradition. Annie-zette can also be heard on Swing Gitan's first recording.

Hopefully, with enough time in the woodshed, I'll be playing these out soon.

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