Sunday, February 26, 2012


I just wanted to clarify something. I play the viola and the violin. I don't play the fiddle. I can't tell you how many people have asked me if I have a fiddle in my case, or if I would fiddle for them.

Really a fiddle is a violin, but there's a little more to it than that. Officially the definition of fiddle according to my Harvard's Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians is any bowed instrument, but I'm pretty sure when I'm asked to fiddle, this is what they mean:

It is a specialized style of music too, just like jazz, and not everyone is trained in those styles.

Common distinctions between violins and fiddles reflect the differences in the instruments used to play classical and folk music. However, it is not uncommon for classically trained violinists to play folk music, and today many fiddle players have some classical training. A lot of traditional (folk) styles are aural traditions, so are taught 'by ear' rather than with written music.

Folk Music: Music in oral tradition, often in relatively simple style, primarily of rural provenance, normally performed by nonprofessionals, used and understood by broad segments of a population and espeically by the lower socioeconomic classes, characteristic of a nation, society, or ethnic group, and claimed by one of these as its own. (pg 236 of Harvard's Concise Dictionary of Music and Musicians.)

Unfortunately for me, I wasn't trained in jazz or fiddling. I can't swing beats or improvise very well... I can play a glissando (a continuous or sliding movement from one pitch to another) which you can hear in fiddle music a lot.

Fiddling is also stereo typically associated with Appalachia, country folk, and bluegrass but it goes deeper. You can hear irish and scottish fiddling in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada.

It's making some headway in pop culture, I'm sure you've heard of Celtic Woman, well they have they're own minstrel, Máiréad Nesbitt.  In fact, they'll be at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford on March 17th and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on March 18th.
I'll leave you with a video of her playing and dancing like a crazy person haha.

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Exciting Opportunity

On Friday, March 9th at 6:30pm, Park Church will be hosting the Destiny Africa Children's Choir from Uganda. They will be performing a concert featuring African singing, dancing, drumming, and story-telling. They are an internationally known group who have performed all over the world-- including for the Queen and Prime Minister of Britain!

Here is a little more about the group:

Destiny Africa is a children's choir from Uganda that will be touring New England from March to June 2012. Destiny Africa choir members are 10 to 16 year old boys and girls who are orphans from Uganda and their choir has performed in the USA, UK, and Europe. They began performing publicly in 2007 and have since performed for the Prime Minister of the UK, and for the Queen’s birthday!

The children are dynamic singers and dancers that love sharing their talents with others. Despite the trauma in these children's lives from surviving in a country torn apart by civil wars and losing their parents to violence, diseases, and poverty - the children want to share their talents and hope for a better world. Destiny Africa will be performing throughout New England (providing 150 performances). Children and their families attending the performances will learn about the culture and life in Uganda, and will be directly impacted by the choir members' inspiration and hope. Please visit for more information.

Park Congregational Church
United Church of Christ

283 Broadway
Norwich, CT 06360

(860) 887-3747
Visit them on Facebook at

Monday, February 20, 2012

Just put it on the bed, I hope it's nice and hot.

No, it's not what you think. It's a line from Sir Evelyn Oakleigh, a character in Anything Goes, referring to his cup of tea.

Yesterday afternoon was the closing performance of Anything Goes by the Colchester Community Theater at Bacon Academy, and it was excellent! Congratulations to the entire cast and crew for a wonderful production.

Friday, February 17, 2012

additonal upcoming chamber events

this just in: I was alerted to another chamber ensemble performing in the area in the near future.

The Genesius Piano Quartet
"Romance a la Carte"
A Savory Menu of Classic and Romantic Works from Haydn to Vaughan Williams
Sunday, February 26th
3:00 pm
Free and Open to the Public
Handicap Accessible
Champagne Reception to Follow
Christ Episcopal Church
78 Washington Street
Norwich, CT 0660
Please call 860.425.0663 or visit for more info.
Join us on  FACEBOOK !

Chamber Music Upcoming Events

Announcing two Chamber Events in New London:

Wednesday February 22 at noon – The MetaFour String Quartet will perform selections by Alexander Borodin, Rami Levin, and Claude Debussy at the “Music and Soup for the Soul Concert Series” at the Second Congregational Church, 45 Broad Street, New London. Donations will be accepted, and a selection of homemade soups will be available after the concert. Further information, call 860-501-5551 Members of the MetaFour String Quartet are Julia Pettersson and Lisa Gray, violins; Irene Mrose Rissi, viola; and Barbara Metz, cello.

Sunday, March 25 at 2 PM – The MetaFour String Quartet and Friends presents a chamber program at All Souls Unitarian Universalist Congregation at 19 Jay Street. Suggested donation $20 to benefit the New London Homeless Hospitality Center. The MetaFour String Quartet will perform Mozart’s “Dissonant Quartet,” and will be joined by Charlie Suriyakham for the Brahms clarinet quintet. Members Julia Pettersson and Barbara Metz will be joined by pianist John Metz for the Beethoven Trio Op. 1 No. 1.

For more information please call 860-437-7170

Mark another date in your calendar: Sunday, April 22nd at 4 PM, also at All Souls, pianist Sarah Masterson in a solo recital.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Well now that we've had our own duration between posts (yeah I know that was awful), I'll tell you about musical duration.

Notation of Duration
The notation of duration is illustrated in the following chart:

The Tie
The tie is a curved line that connects two adjacent notes of the same pitch into a single sound with a duration equal to the sum of both note values. In other words, it will make the note sound longer.

The Dot
placed to the right of a note head, the dot lengthens the value of the note by half again its value. A second dot (yes they do that sometimes just to mess with us) lengthens the dotted value by half the length of the first dot. Dots may also be used with rests and affect them the same way.

Irregular Division of Notes
A note value may be divided and subdivided into any number or equal parts, as shown in the chart below. Those divisions and subdivisions that require added numbers are called irregular divisions and subdivisions. 
Rhythm is a general term used to describe the motion of music in time. The fundamental unit of rhythm is the pulse or beat. Even a person untrained in music generally senses the pulse and might tap their foot or clap their hands.

Meter Signatures
Meter can be defined as a regular, recurring pattern of strong and weak beats. This recurring pattern of durations is identified at the beginning of a composition by a meter signature (time signature). This may also change throughout a composition, and is identified at every change.

The upper number indicates the number of beats per measure, and the lower digit indicates which note gets the beat (2 signifies a half note, 4 refers to a quarter note, 8 for the an either note, etc.).

For instance: 
3 beats per measure, and quarter note gets the beat

Forgive my crooked pictures, I haven't perfected the art of scanning yet haha. I'll pick up next time with simple and compound meter, they require more room and attention that I really should force into this one entry.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Anything Goes

When I was in high school, a friend of mine talked me into going with them to a rehearsal for the school play. They were working on the stage crew and asked me if I wanted to help too. My options were crew or go home, and well at that point I would do anything to keep from having to go home. I sat and watched the rehearsal for the first play (of quite a few) that I would love working on. Anything Goes.

You've never seen it? Lordy are you missing out. First of all, its music and lyrics are written by Cole Porter.

Cole Porter is an Indiana-born composer and American songwriter who's great success was in the 1920s and 30s with musicals including: Paris, The New Yorkers, Jubilee, Anything Goes, Kiss me Kate, Can-Can, and Silk Stockings.

Still not sure who I'm talking about. Ok, maybe you've never heard of these plays, perhaps you've only heard songs from them and never knew they were from a play.

Let's Do It (Let's Fall In Love)
keep in mind his work was from the 20s and 30s so it's not all exactly P.C.
Anything Goes
I Get a Kick Out of You
Don't Fence Me In
It's De-lovely
Let's Misbehave

Anywho, as I was saying, Anything Goes... The story concerns madcap antics aboard an ocean liner bound from New York to London. Billy Crocker is a stowaway in love with heiress Hope Harcourt, who is engaged to Lord Evelyn Oakleigh. Nightclub singer Reno Sweeney and Public Enemy #13 Moonface Martin aid Billy in his quest to win Hope.

Sound exciting? Not sure why I'm rambling on about it?

Well if you'd like to see this musical, you have your chance. The Colchester Community Theater is putting on Anything Goes at Bacon Academy High School  Friday, Feb 17 at 7pm, Saturday, Feb 18 at 2pm & 7pm, and Sunday, Feb 19 at 2pm.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and children 12 and under.
Tickets are available at Colchester Parks & Recreation Dept in the Town Hall or at the Wild Geese Gift Shop (191 Broadway, Colchester, 860-537-4010)
Tickets are available at the door on performance days, however audience members are encouraged to purchase tickets in advance.

Now if my co-worker's brother was not in the cast, I never would have known about such an event. But I'm glad she told me, I hope to see a packed house for the performance I will thoroughly enjoy.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Whistlin Dixie to All that Jazz

On February 15th, at 7pm in Shafer Auditorium at Eastern Connecticut State University, the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band will hold a free concert as part of ECSU's Arts and Lecture Series.

The United States Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band was organized in 1970 to perform classic jazz, blues, and rags with a “New Orleans” flavor. The Dixieland Jazz Band has entertained audiences across America, in the former Soviet Union and in England. Notable venues include the open-air theater in Disney World, the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, at the “Galaxy Jazz Festival” in Milwaukee, the Embarcadero in San Francisco, the John F. Kennedy Center Millennium Stage in Washington, D.C., and at Mardi Gras in New Orleans. The five member group has also performed on numerous radio and television broadcasts across the nation.

Jazz can be described generally as music rooted in improvisation and characterized by syncopated rhythm, a steady beat, and unique tone colors and performance techniques. Although the term jazz became current in 1917, the music itself was probably heard as early as 1900. We do not know exactly when jazz started or how it sounded at first, because this new music existed only in performance, not musical notation. Very little jazz was captured on recording before 1923, and none at all before the Original Dixieland Jazz Band recorded in 1917.

Since its beginnings, jazz has developed a rich variety of sub-styles such as New Orleans style (including Dixieland), swing, bebop, cool, free jazz, and jazz rock. It has produced such outstanding figures as Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. Its impact has been enormous and worldwide, affecting not only many kinds of popular music, but the music of such composers as Maurice Ravel, Darius Milhaud, George Gershwin, and Aaron Copland.

I, myself, have attended performances from this ensemble in the past and will tell you that it's a concert worth attending. Although I am not the biggest jazz fan in the world, Dixieland jazz is such a treat you cannot help tapping your foot along. I highly recommend anyone who can to see this performance.

U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Jazz Band
Shafer Auditorium at Eastern Connecticut State University 
83 Windham St, Willimantic CT 06226 (see map here)
Admission is free, but seats are limited. 
Please call (860)465-0036 or email  for more information.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

don't knock the notation

Where did I leave off? I think it was accidentals, intervals, enharmonics, and duration.

Accidentals are symbols used to indicate the raising or lowering of a pitch, they are placed to the left of a notehead.

Sharp ( ) raise the pitch a halp step
Flat (  ) lowers the pitch a half step
Natural () cancels any previous sharp or flat and returns to the natural, or unaltered, pitch
Double Sharp ( * ) raise the pitch two half steps (or whole step)
Double Flat ( ♭♭ ) lowers the pitch two half steps

Although the movement of half steps and whole steps would make a lot more sense if I explained intervals.
An Interval is the relationship between two tones. If you think of a piano keyboard, a half step is the interval between any two adjacent keys (black or white). This is the smallest interval used in Western music.

the interval between every note is a half step

Enharmonic Equivalents:

Remember the scene in The Goonies, when Andy has to play the organ made of bones and she gets stuck and says "I can't tell if the next note is an A#(sharp) or a Bb(flat)!"   Well really it doesn't matter, since they are actually the same note, they are enharmonics. (these 2 notes are shown in the 3rd pair shown below)
Enharmonic equivalents are tones that have the same pitch but different letter names.

To see and hear enharmonics, click the play arrow in the upper left corner of the window below:

Half Step Motion:
In passages of music involving half-step motion, a flatted note is followed most often by a note with a different letter name a half step lower.
A sharped note is followed most by a note with a different letter name a half step higher in passages involving half-step motion.

I think I'll leave duration out for now. It is very detailed and requires special attention. I should probably spend a whole entry discussing just notation of duration so until next time...

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