Reference – Sets Workshop Notes

Here are some notes from our workshop on 20th May with Rebecca Brown.
Rebecca is a great fiddle teacher if anyone is looking for lessons
What Makes a Good Set?
– Create a “lift” when you can, using the following:
– Key signatures
– Time signatures
– Tempo
– Dynamics
– Some tunes just work well – use your ear
– If it sounds good, go with it!
Using Key Signatures:
– Think about major/minor
– Minor to major will create a lift, the major one sounding bright compared to the minor one
– Major to minor will create a “darkening” feel, which could then be lifted again by going into something major.
Using Time Signatures:
– Going from a jig to a reel creates a good lift
– Two contrasting waltzes could be placed together
– A common combination is the “MSR” (March, Strathspey, Reel), which works very well.
– Some pieces work well on their own
– Some tunes are nice starting slow and speeding up.
Using Tempo to Create a Lift/Change:
– The first tune could be slow, and the second could be speeded up. Or the last tune in set could speed up if doing a longer set. Go with your ear on this one.
– When changing between tunes in a set, if the guitars keep the solid rhythm and “lead”, then the rest of the group will follow.
– If the whole group felt comfortable with any particular sets, it may be worthwhile considering speeding some of them up, such as jig sets and reel sets.
– It may be worth having a think about jig rhythm – should be nice and rounded and dotted, rather than a straight rhythm. This would help both the fiddles and the guitars.
Sets that we experimented with:
1. Lovely Stornoway (A) / Skye Boat Song (G) / Something else
(The first two tunes could be interchangeable.)
2. The Flowers of Edinburgh (G) / Soldier’s Joy (D) / The Mason’s Apron (A)
3. Calum’s Road (D) / Flett From Flotta (A)
4. Rakes of Mallow (G) suggested would go with Mrs. McLeod in (A) if we wanted to learn that – some folk know it but some have not been taught it so it is not on our list.
6. Jimmy Ward’s (G) / The Milltimber Jig (D)
7. Rope Waltz (D) / Margaret’s Waltz (A)
(These are possibly interchangeable.)
8. Lisnagun (G) /  Reel of Tullochgorum (D)
The wish list consisted of the following:
– Find another hornpipe that’s not in D, to pair up with Harvest Home
– Could learn My Cape Breton Home, in order to pair off with Starry Night

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