Monday, February 14, 2011

Tunes from the Vault

In our Tunes from the Vault class last week, we looked at The Ash Plant, a single reel. First we played it a few times to familiarize ourselves with it again, then we listened to the very funky version from Mike McGoldrick's album, 'Fused', and borrowed a few of his ideas and infused our version with them. We played along with his recording, and we played along with a vintage rock rhythm from Garageband, just because its way more fun than a metronome, and it gave us a chance to even out all the beats and not rush any passages.

Meanwhile, Tania was teaching the tune to a group who hadn't learned it the first time round. We had supper (choc cake, of course), then came back together as a group and played the Ash Plant. For people who were still struggling with the newness of the tune, we set up a two-chord rhythm, led by Bec on cello and played on several other instruments including whistle, to create an underlying groove for the tune.

It was fun! After that we had just enough time to have a look at Lannigan's Ball, the jig in Em. So, two Em tunes from the Vault are now much closer to hand when we need them.

This week, Nicole is on tour with Cloudstreet in NSW and going all the way across to Perth on the Indian Pacific, so Cath Ovenden will draw on her vast repertoire to teach a new tune.

And here's the chocolate cake recipe we have been enjoying:

Moist Chocolate Cake for Tunes

Makes a dozen slices.

200g self raising flour
150g brown sugar
40g cocoa
175g butter
2 large eggs
150ml yoghurt
a dash of milk as required

The quick way: put all the ingredients in a food processor and process til smooth and thick.
The next quickest way: Melt butter and sugar in microwave til butter is almost all melted. Don't let it get hot, just melted. Mix together. Add eggs one at a time and beat in to mix.

Measure flour and cocoa together. Thin yoghurt with some milk (about 50ml). Add flour alternating with milk and mix all together.

Pour into a greased and floured tin, cook in preheated oven at 180oC for about 50 mins but test with a thin skewer from around 40mins. When skewer comes out clean cake is done.

Ice, or just sieve some icing sugar over the top.

Friday, February 4, 2011

The Scholar

The first class of the year was like a party, with 14 players, a chocolate cake, chocolate crackles and a reel. We learned The Scholar, and a slow and medium version are now in the slow tunes sidebar on this blog.

To keep intermediate players challenged and to welcome new players into the class, there is a little bit more structure to this year's classes. Only a little bit. This is how the month will look:

Week One: New tune. Everybody learns a tune together, as usual, slowly by ear with lots of relaxing repetition to get it nice and solid.

Week Two: Tunes from the Vault. We have a look through the archives of tunes classes past, and choose a couple of tunes to get to know better. If possible I will post the likely tunes on the blog beforehand so you can revise if you would like to, and we'll work on ornamentation, groove, tempo and style. There will be a second teacher on Tunes from the Vault night, to introduce new players to at least one of the tunes in question, so we all build up the same repertoire.

Week Three: New Tune. Just like week one but a different tune.

Week Four: Ceili Practice. With two teachers again, the intermediate group will play through sets of tunes and put new sets together for the Maleny Ceili Band. Everyone is welcome to be in the band, and we plan to play for some dances this year for extra fun. We'll be working on playing the tunes at the speed required for dancing, and new players will learn at least one of the ceili tunes with the second teacher, so they can work towards playing at dances.

Some months have a week five. This is a bit of a wild card, and we'll decide what we'll do with that when one turns up!

I have invited a number of terrific players from around the Range to be the extra teachers.

On Wednesday 9 Feb, we will unearth The Ash Plant (reel in Em) and Lannigan's Ball (jig in Em) from the Vault, as they've been requested.

And here is the recipe for Chocolate Crackles without copha (much nicer):

About 60g butter and 4 tablespoons of golden syrup, cooked up together til it bubbles for about 5 minutes.
Two or three cups of rice bubbles with a couple of tablespoons of cocoa mixed through. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ones, fold, and add more dry ones if needed to get a nice consistency. Quickly spoon the mixture into patty pans and let it set. It might set before you've finished if you don't work fast! Enjoy this yummy gluten-free snack!