The best thing you can do now is to retire from the trials and tribulations of the world and read a good book ... and please do not only revisit the Decameron with its backdrop in plague-ridden times ...
A Collection of Modern Tunes in Old Styles
Now well established as a flute-player and guitarist, performing with CrossHarbour and new trio The Wilderness Yet among others, Philippe Barnes' music spans trad and jazz, folk and classical. The majority of these compositions are designed to be played on the wooden "concert" flute, in keys with a few sharps and not too many accidentals, but two or three venture into flat keys and are probably more at home on the silver Boehm flute which Philippe also masters.
Playing through the 42 tunes here, adorned with bar numbers and some fairly demanding chord suggestions, it soon became clear that this music is intended to be played at speed. The first few melodies which instantly appealed to me - The New King's Road, The Green Room, Chalice Well and Stratus Reel - are all at their best when the semiquavers become ornamentation. One thing to note is that Philippe notates quite a bit of ornamentation, although he leaves the longer notes to the player's discretion.
This Collection of Modern Tunes in Old Styles, which may be the first of many, is organised by tune type, with reels followed by jigs, plus a final handful of other forms ranging from 3/4 to 7/8. There are some little quirks which struck me. The first tune is titled 1.UP - a hint of one-upmanship? You have to wait until number 38 to get Down, and until the very last tune to get Home. Also, please note that The Last Reel is not actually the last reel, as it is followed by one for each of the McAuliffe sisters. Lots of fun to be had with the tune names here! If you're looking for a simpler start, try Pete's Jig or Ed's. There's a modern Irish trad feel to many compositions, a Scottish flavour to others, and at least one with hints of Breton music. Nice clear printing, good thick spill-resistant paper, and some nice photos make this an attractive book.
- Alex Monaghan
Irish Music on the Silver Flute
Guitarist-flutist Philippe Barnes grew up in Brighton with roots in Ireland, Scotland, France and Germany. He graduated from the University of Limerick in 2008, since then he toured with David Munnelly's trad group and folk-funkers All Jigged Out. In 2014, he released an album with the exciting and promising CrossHarbour quintet and is reportedly working on a sophomore album. With vocalist Rosie Hodgson and fiddler Rowan Piggott he also formed The Wilderness Yet which debuted their self-titled album right now.
Philippe's speciality is playing traditional Irish music on the classical Boehm flute, because back when he started it was hard to find a decent wooden flute. So he was trying to make the silver flute sound like a wooden flute. He developed a style of playing that the renowned flutist and composer Gareth McLearnon calls expressive, complex, energetic, sophisticated, authentic, soulful, and with a tremendous groove and ethnic flavour.
Irish Music on the Silver Flute is suitable for all those who mastered the basics on the Boehm flute. Philippe exhibits rhythmic ornamentation such as cuts, rolls, cranns and slides. He insists upon removing vibrato and letting colouration and articulation come from the fingering only.
All along the way, Philippe teaches a few tunes that are particularly suited, including the slow air "May Morning Dew", the slip jig "O'Farrell's Welcome to Limerick" and the reel set "Mrs McLeod / Mason's Apron", the latter arranged for a flute quartet. A lot of tunes are his own: He already recorded "Eilidh's Reel" and "Noogleshifty" on All Jigged Out's 2007 album "Wish Hill". The first one he dedicated to fiddler Eilidh Campbell, and the second obviously is named after Scottish group Shooglenifty. "Ali's Reel" (fiddle playing wife Ali, that is) and "New Kings Road" (their rehearsal location in London) already turned up on the CrossHarbour debut.
- Walkin' Tom
"You have to meet this guy who makes guitars like Bo Diddley," bluesman Lightnin’ Wells said. For more than 50 years, luthier Freeman Vines created hand-carved guitars from tobacco barns and mule troughs. He had heard a particular tone from another man's guitar that haunted him for years and he is still searching for it.
Vines owned two planks of black walnut wood, and it was claimed that an African-American had been lynched on that particular tree. Vines himself grew up with many stories of lynchings in eastern North Carolina, where his family has lived since their enslavement, and he firmly believes that the music of his guitars embody the spirit of the dead. It is not just history over and done. When researching the specific circumstances of that hanging, a friend warned him not to ask too many questions: "These white folks around here are still white."
Freeman Vines' work is the subject of the haunting beauty of Hanging Tree Guitars. The book is a collaboration between Vines, folklorist Zoe Van Buren and photographer Timothy Duffy of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. Music Maker, whose mission is to help eldery blues musicians in need, has facilitated medical treatment for his diabetes and also refurbishment of his workplace.
Vines' exhibition debut recently took place at the Turner Contemporary in South East England in early 2020, his exhibition in his home community in North Carolina had to be postponed due to the Corona pandemic. However, Music Maker initiated a virtual exhibition. The Hanging Tree Guitars website features Vines' instruments, Duffy's photographs, as well as a documentary and articles to put anything in the proper historical context.
Photo Credits: (1) Monty Python, (2ff) Book/CD Covers, (4) Kilkelly, (8) The Wilderness Yet, (9) Philippe Barnes (from website/author/publishers).