kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Despite living in London for the last four years, I'd never seen Billy Bragg before. I've been a fan since about 1991, but opportunities to see Billy in the southern US are few and far between, and I haven't had a lot of concert money in the last 20 years or so. ;-)

How did a girl from South Carolina become a Billy Bragg fan? Well, it happened like this.

In 1991, when my first husband and I broke up, I moved to Alabama to live with my mother, and I took at job at Kinko's in Auburn, Alabama. I worked at the separate Lasertype location, which was really just a desktop publishing shop with some Mac SEs for rent for students and community people who really needed to use a computer but didn't have one of their own. We were in a little indoor shopping centre, with a hairdresser, a used record shop, a comic book shop, a little shipping store, and a kiosk that sold Hawiian shaved ice in various flavours. That was good stuff in Alabama in the summer. But anyway.

Directly across the hall from my store was Wildman Steve's Used Record Store. He doesn't have the store anymore, but that link is definitely to Wildman Steve. He catered to all kinds of alternative tastes, would only buy so many Madonna albums a month, and did the usual buy, sell, trade business that a used record store usually does. He found out I was interested in music, and when the shop was quiet, we'd banter about this and that.

One day, we had a conversation about politics. I figured Wildman Steve was safe to discuss politics with, and so I talked, one day, about my opposition to the first gulf war and the big lies of corporate power and lockstep patriotism.

"You know what you need?" Wildman Steve said. "You need you some Billy Bragg." He produced five or six CDs, and he put on Worker's Playtime. Wow! I was hooked. "You buy this one first, and then you come back if you want more," he said. "These don't move fast in Auburn, Alabama; I can tell you that."

It must have been sometime in August or September of 1991. I had a CD player in my car for the first time ever, and my commute to and from work was nearly an hour on Alabama back roads. I went back for more.

One of the things that should have alerted me to my basic incompatibility with my second husband, aside from his admission that he could not stand the Beatles, was his dislike for Billy Bragg. "I don't know how you can listen to that stuff," he said. Bragg's accent really got to him, and I'm sure the politics weren't a big hit either-- assuming he ever got around to listening to the lyrics. ;-)

Last night, Otis Gibbs opened for Billy, and we were late to that, since I have an appointment on Monday evenings. He was fun, and his "American, but not an asshole" attitude went over very well with the Empire audience.

Billy came on right at 9:00. He opened up with "To Have and Have Not", which is one of my favourites. It was a standing crowd, and I happily stood for three hours to get the privilege of seeing him perform a straight-up two hour set with no breaks. Other stuff he did that I have been waiting to see live for years: Sexuality (ha, [ profile] ktnboo!), Greetings to the New Brunette, Levi Stubbs' Tears, The Milkman of Human Kindness (big audience singalong on that one), Must I Paint You a Picture, Waiting for the Great Leap Forward, and of course A New England. Yes, [ profile] delchi, he's still singing new lyrics to Waiting for the Great Leap Forward. I understand why he changed it, but like you I love the old lyrics. He also performed his electric cover of Leon Rosselson's The World Turned Upside Down. Two special treats: Badly Drawn Boy Damon Gough showed up to play Walk Away Renee (Billy changed the lyrics on the last line to "She voted Tory"). And Kate Nash appeared to sing a Shangri Las song.

All in all, it was a good evening. We got home late, and my feet hurt, but wow and lovely wow, it was good to finally get to see Billy Bragg.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (nostalgia)
I totally forgot how good Robbie Robertson is. Wow. How did I ever not listen to this for who knows how long?

I fucking love the speakers on my 17" MacBook Pro.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
First of all, thanks to [ profile] otherdeb for asking for this one. Because it is kind of political and not really relevant to the UK (it was written for a UU church service I played where I was specifically asked to write a church vs state song with an eye to education), I rarely play it over here, and I don't think a lot of my UK friends really get it. I swill really like the song; I just don't get the chance to play it very often. So I hope someone back in the US will choose to sing it, if they like it well enough.

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
"Love Song for a Friend" is one of those songs that might actually be quite a lot easier to play on the harp than just about anything else. I'm sure you could approximate the accompaniment I use on the piano, of course. I'll illustrate the introduction/harp motif clearly for you, but I am not sure how easy it is to produce parallel thirds on a guitar. Guitar Gods and Goddesses? :D

Right, I'm tired of saying my songs are simple. This one is slightly more complex tonally than I usually get, but it makes up for it by having a really boring melody. ;)

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )

I like this song, for all it's not very interesting melodically in my opinion. A lot of people have come up to me and told me that it says something they've always wanted to say. Unofficially subtitled "the polyamory love song", it appears on my solo CD, Box of Fairies.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
I'm glad people ask for "Ghosts", because if it weren't requested, I simply wouldn't play it. It's about behaviour that I don't like, and I really don't like the bridge. Why did I record it? Well, there are things about the song that I do like, the refrain for one. I like the accompaniment as well. I just happen to think that the song would be much nicer if only I could find a way to rewrite that bridge.*

"Ghosts" is another four-chord song, but really the Dm only shows up a couple of times, so you might as well consider it a three-chord song. ;)

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )
*Please note that my saying I am unsatisfied with the bridge is not your cue to step in and become my cowriter. That way lies madness, not to mention a frosty response from me and a redefinition of our friendship on my part. Trust me: if I want to write a song with you, I will invite you to write a song with me, and you will know you have been asked. This is not that time. :-)
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
When I'm done with this little project, you're going to understand, in excruciating and possibly painful detail, that everything I write is incredibly simple and that all those fancy harp accompaniments are really all flash and no substance. But that's all right, because that's the point.

The harp accompaniment is a little different from others I've talked about recently; it's made almost entirely of fifths and octaves, and not broken up chords with lots of passing tones. The only time a chord gets a passing tone is at the end of a musical phrase. The passing tones are just stepwise, and they are the only thing making this accompaniment sound even the least little bit complex.

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
"Stepchild" has only four chords. What you hear in the harp accompaniment on the record is, once again, a trick. It's me breaking up chords like you do on a piano and adding some passing tones to fill out the accompaniment, and you hear that only between verses. While I'm singing, I'm really only playing the broken-up chord itself. And again, the chords in this song are so simple that if you've played through the first half of a guitar instruction book, you probably already know them. I think you can tell what I've been getting at with the little transposition matrices at the end of these posts, so I'm going to leave them out from here on out. I'm sure you know what to do by now. ;-)

The dirty secret about "Stepchild" is that it really is not the easiest song to sing, I'm afraid. Like all songs that tell a story, it's better to sing this with a lot of expression, but the melody has a fairly wide range, so it's not the easiest thing to do in the world. I had to move it around a lot before I found the right place for my voice to sing it. Don't be afraid to move a song around. Unless you have the dubious blessing of absolute pitch recognition, it won't matter to you. What will matter is where the song is placed in your vocal range. I'll reiterate what I said in the first song transcription post: I love it when people cover my songs. Hearing somebody else sing this would be great. :)

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
I've been going through replies to the transcription posts (linked at the bottom of this post), and these are the songs people have asked that I transcribe next.

Stepchild (at least I think [ profile] callylevy asked for this-- I'll include the harp riff again in the transcription)
Love Song for a Friend
Cinderella Sleeps
Six Days
Ordinary Love
Free Fall
Sugar From the Moon
Rite of Passage
Common Land
Falling For Lancelot
My Fairytale
Gwen's Lullabye to Ygerna

I'm sure I won't get to them all today, but I do have a free morning, so I figured I could at least knock one out. We'll see about the others. Tagging on my LJ is not perfect, but new songs have mostly been under the "song" tag, except I appear to have used that one for lyrics when I started the tagging project (that is not finished yet) awhile back. All but the most recent songs are on my website, at the lyrics page. So if you'd like a transcription of anything else, please leave a comment either here or on the earlier post (the general notes post linked below).

Earlier transcriptions and notes on transcriptions:
I: "Like Their Feet Have Wings"
General notes and call for other songs
II: "Night Shuttle"
III: "Last Run"
IV: "Song of Fey Cross
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
If you haven't seen it already, take a peek at this post to see why I'm doing this. Next on the list (because [ profile] lordofthewheel asked in comments) is "Song of Fey Cross". Fey Cross was the first song I ever wrote, in 1999, and although I think it's flawed, I've been flattered at how much people have liked it over the years. It was nominated for a category Pegasus (Best Song That Tells A Story) in 2002, and it appears on Three Weird Sisters first CD, Rite The First Time.

It's the simplest of all the songs I've posted today, with only three chords, and these should be pretty easy to play on the guitar, though I'll include some transposition notes as well.

OK, Harper-- How do I play this song? )

...And I think that's all the transcribing I will do tonight! Goodnight, LJ-- and if you want more transcriptions, just ask for them.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
If you haven't seen it already, take a peek at this post to see why I'm doing this. Next on the list (because it was requested as I was talking about doing the first one) is "Last Run".

You're going to get tired of hearing this, but "Last Run" is much, much, much simpler than it sounds on the record, particularly if you have been listening to the Box of Fairies recording (and why haven't you, if you haven't?) with [ profile] fleetfootmike and [ profile] bedlamhouse adding a little electricity to the song. Originally, I played this song totally acoustic, and mostly I still do: Mike and I have had a single opportunity to play it together in public, which we jumped on despite the fact that I had the Wrong Harp that day.

All the other transcriptions I've done today and will do over the next few weeks can be found under the "song" tag; that will separate them from other posts just generally talking about filk and music. The "song" tag is where I have been filing new songs (what few there have been over the past four years), and so it narrows things down nicely, I think.

But back to "Last Run." Unlike the other transcriptions I've posted today, I feel like I should give you some rhythm notes. This song is in three, and that means you count it like this: ONE two three ONE two three ONE two three. If you find yourself counting to four, or taking a really long breath between three and ONE, go back and try feeling it in three again. It's a waltz, a slow dance in three. Put on a Strauss recording, and you'll see! :-D

Right, on to Last Run:

OK, Harper-- how do I play this song? )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
If you haven't seen it already, take a peek at this post to see why I'm doing this. Next on the list (because it was requested as I was talking about doing the first one) is "Night Shuttle".

Night Shuttle is yet another one of my songs that sounds much more complicated than it actually is. Like "Like Their Feet Have Wings," it's in C. I write a lot of songs in C/Am because that's the key the harp is in naturally, and it works for my voice, so there you have it. If I played more guitar, I suspect I'd do a lot of writing in D or G.

OK, Harper. How do I play this song? )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
Just a couple of notes.

The song transcription I posted earlier has garnered some requests for other transcriptions in IM and on #filkhaven and in comments, so the next-to-transcribe-and-post-to-LJ list stands as follows:

  1. Night Shuttle
  2. Last Run
  3. Song of Fey Cross

Please let me know if you'd like to see anything else.

Also, my apologies: my LJ is set to 'friends only' as the general protection level when I post from the web page and 'private' when I post from a client. The protection on the LJ page itself is new to me, and whenever I make an edit on the earlier transcription post, it keeps setting it back to 'private'. It is supposed to be public, so if you notice a friends lock appearing there, will you please tell me so I can reset it (again)? :) Thanks.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
I love it when people cover my songs!

Somebody told me that after I'd left yesterday's housefilk, there was a mini-Pegasus Nominees concert, and noted that there was nobody there who felt they could play "Like Their Feet Have Wings."

"Like Their Feet Have Wings", like all my songs, is very, very simple. I am not kidding. Only the flashy harp riffs make the song seem difficult. If you can play simple chords on the guitar, you can play this song. Now, it's in C, and there is an F chord in there, but don't let that throw you. In fact, I'll transpose it into some easy guitar keys when we're done, OK? Further, I do not mind if you simplify my arrangement: I do this with songs all the time when I cover somebody else. Remember that the point of a good cover is not to create a doggedly loyal copy of the original, but to reinterpret the original and make it your own!

And just so you know: You, anybody on this planet or any other, are free to sing this song or any of my songs as much as you want, in front of anybody as you want, as long as you don't tell people you wrote the song. It's good if you tell people that I wrote it, but not required. If you record it, you have to give me credit, and there's the issue of mechanical licensing, which will not cost you very much money with any of my songs, since my songs are not terribly popular and famous.

OK, Harper-- how do I play this song? )

If you like this post, and you're interested in seeing more transcriptions and playing notes, please comment and let me know! I think of my songs as very simple, and it never occurs to me that they might not seem simple to other people.

ETA: Some guitar folk have said that it would be even simpler in G, so there are now some more chord transcriptions beneath the cut tag.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
About three weeks ago, I was gobsmacked and delighted to receive an email from [ profile] catalana inviting me to accept a nomination for a Pegasus Award.

My song "Like Their Feet Have Wings" has been nominated for a best filk song Pegasus this year. I'm honoured. Thanks, y'all. :-)

You can check out the whole ballot here.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Please, if anybody made a recording of my GOH concert at Consonance, I need one. Thanks.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
For part (but not all) of my set, I am looking for:
-Somebody who can play the guitar to a reasonable standard;
-People who might be willing to sing backup vocals/bang tambourines/that kind of thing.

You'll need to be confident playing and singing with others, and you'll need to be able to learn quickly, probably.

Let me know if you're interested.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (two sisters)
I was saddened to learn tonight that Peter Kennedy died yesterday. His Folksongs of Britain and Ireland was one of my first introductions to traditional music.
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (telynorharp)
Reconnecting With an Important Book: Lies My Music Teacher Told Me

One of my Sisters sent me an gift certificate for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to use it to replace a couple of music books that have been a staple part of my collection for ages but went missing around the time I left the US. Now, one of them I now know is in a good home: GZ reminded me that when she couldn’t find it, I’d told her just to keep it, and her house is a good place for it. The other I’m still not sure about, and I know for a fact that this is the third copy of this book I’ve had.

We’ll talk about that book, The Musical Life and How to Live It, by W.A. Mathieu, sometime soon, I promise. But today I want to talk about the more important of the two books, the one I told GZ she could keep. It’s a slim little volume, under 200 pages, and it’s the most important music theory book I’ve ever owned.

It's Lies My Music Teacher Told Me, by Gerald Eskelin )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Here are the top answers to this poll, which is now closed. (Well, I don't know that you can actually close a LJ poll, but I'm not going to be checking answers any more, and I'm going with the numbers I have in front of me; I think three days is long enough.)

I only looked at things that got at least five votes: luckily, lots of things got more than that.

But show us the results, Harper! )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (two sisters)
I've been familiar with "Two Sisters" for a long time, and of course I love all the English versions with harps and stuff, but I fell in love with a "Wind and Rain" version I heard on an Armstrong Family CD years ago, and that's the version that stayed with me.

I don't particularly like "Bonny Swans" versions, although [ profile] bardling sand me a "Binnorie" one that I liked very much.

The "Wind and Rain" version I learned so long ago was very short, and I knew there must be a little more to it. Now, some Appalachian versions add a tag where the miller/fellow who builds the instrument from her bones is hanged for her murder, and some add a version where the sister is executed because she is accused by the sister, but I'm not sure I like that ending. But it can be evocative when you add a little imagery.

Anyway, here's the version I'm working on learning:

Two Sisters/The Wind and the Rain )
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
In the interest of giving something back to all you nice people who show up at gigs and concerts and all that stuff, and, OK, because I haven't got a clue what I actually want to play at 1812Tone, here is a happy shiny poll for you all to fill out. Although it looks like it has more than one question, really it has only one question with many, many answers, and you can choose as many answers as you like. The LJ Poll thingyhoppy won't let me have any more than 14 answers to a checkbox question. Anyway, the answers are all song titles. Based on your responses, I'll pick the top X songs (whatever will fit in a half hour set) and that'll be the set list for 1812.

Don't be shy. Lyrics to my original material can be found here, and I'll try to include references to covers as well, or you can try Google.

This is a long poll, so it is behind a shiny-happy cut tag! )

Please accept my apologies for the many typos in the poll. Poll text cannot be edited; be assured I have winced over each of them at least once at this point. :)
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (aran)
I haven't made a public post to this journal in ages, because there has been so much going on with life that I haven't had much time to think about knitting or take photographs of projects in progress. But this morning, as calls of "The new Knitty is up! The new Knitty is up!" rang out all over web-land, I do have something to say.

The new Knitty is up, and for once, I like more patterns and designs listed there than I hate. Now, that's a feat.

And speaking of feet, I'm doing my usual have-three-socks-going-at-once-in-order-to-alleviate-sock-boredom thing. Can't ftp photos right now, but I have just finished a great 100% wool sock for me, made from Bearfoot's "Bitterroot Rainbow" colour. It was knitted from the toe-up, with gussets and a slipstitch heel. I'm also just starting the second sock for [ profile] hrrunka from Opal's silk wool-- this pair were originally going to be for me, but I just decided he should have them. Socks make great plane, train and bus knitting, and I spend a lot of what downtime I have on trains and buses, so that, aside from the fact that I am an addict, is the reason I knit so many socks these days.

In addition, musical things are going well: my primary harp teacher, Bill Taylor, who lives up in Strathspfeffer, Scotland, has said he's sure he can help me out with some students down in our neck of the woods, though we're waiting until first October when my visa will be in order to start that process. He says there are a dozen people at least in London and south of London who are looking for wire harp teachers, so that bodes very well.

I've been to two folk clubs this week: on Monday I was at Waltham Abbey and last night we were at the Tudor Barn in Eltham. The Eltham Folk Mob is only a fifteen-minute train journey from our place, so I may very well be there every Wednesday night once the traveling is all done.

In the next month, you may see a change in how I handle public entries in this journal. More on that later. :-)
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (performing)
--continuing the theme of the previous post:

I have a solo concert on Friday afternoon at Worldcon. Any requests? :)

(again, crossposted to the filk groups and my personal journal)
kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)
Whether or not you are going to WorldCon, I'm curious:

If you could pick up to five Three Weird Sisters songs that you'd really, really like to hear in a WorldCon set, what would they be? We have 90 minutes to fill on Sunday afternoon at 5:30.

(Crossposted to [ profile] twsnews, [ profile] filkhaven, [ profile] filk, and my personal journal).


kniteracy: You can get this design on a card or a picture to hang! (Default)

April 2011

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