How to pick up a tune?
Ok, I have decided to do this "Living Room Session" project. Where do I start from? Which tunes should I pick up? New ones, shaky, unsteady, in progress, or something I'm quite confident with (never 100%, though!)? As first project, I decided to go for a tune I played for one of my performances in Limerick last year, that I already knew, but that I haven't played for quite some time. Last year I asked every teacher and tutor I had during my master to play three tunes for me, and "Julia Delaney's" was one of them. It is an amazing, beautiful tune, and each one of the musicians I asked to, played it in his/her own style: some played it as a single reel, some with repetitions, some with very few variations, some completely changing the structure, some fast, some slow, and so on. But this process of listening to many different ways and styles of playing the same tune really helped me to make out of it my own version, with my own variations and, mostly important, in my own STYLE.
How to work on variations?
Ok, I have the tune, I learnt the "bones" of it (=the basic structer), I listened to a lot of different versions of it. And now? Just play it. If I heard anything that really fashinated me fom any recording, I'll try to replicate it, to male it mine, and to add my own things. The more you play and get confident with it, the more freedom you have to variate and add your own personal style. Sometimes crazy ideas come up at your mind: why don't I play the reel as a jig? Its internal structure works as a 6/8 tune, without changing completely the melody and the feelings that it evokes. But it's an add on. Try it. Does it work naturally? Yes: keep digging in that direction. It doesn't? Do something else. Variations need a reason to be there.
The jig version for "Julia Delaney's" really worked for me.
What about the major part? "Julia Delaney's" was actually originally written in D major, but nowadays, because of major recordings of the tune, is everywhere played as a minor tune. I discovered that once I started researching into the origin of the tune, and in the Francis O'Neill's I found out that the tune was never written in a minor key. What about using a variation to bring out the original version of the tune? Did it!
And here we are at the end of the story of how I worked on this tune.
Well, there will never be an end to this story, because everytime I'm gonna play this tune, it's always gonna sound somehow slightly different.
That's what I love about Irish music!
Enjoy it, have fun, and show me your own version of "Julia Delaney's"!