Friday, August 24, 2018

Punching Alexander Walker

I punched Alexander Walker last week, but I am neither a pugilist nor the violent sort. My punching resulted from a reprint of an old book and a search for the original.
Alexander Walker was a composer of Scottish dance melodies who published a collection of self-penned compositions in 1866. Cape Breton musician Paul Stewart Cranford published a reprint in 1997, and many tunes in that edition are his own arrangements. I wanted to play the originals, and I found a digitized version of the 1866 collection on the National Library of Scotland website, which offers many Scottish tune collections. That website is
I downloaded the Walker pdf and printed it at the library last Saturday, and once home I punched holes in it using my three-hole punch and put it in a binder. Now I can play the original versions.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

Online Classical Mandolin Lessons

Rodman Public Library in Alliance, Ohio offers online music lessons from ArtistWorks, and included in those are lessons by classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg. The link for all research databases on the RPL site is

The link for all ArtistWorks lessons is

The link for classical mandolin lessons is

Lichtengerg's lessons are divided into beginner, intermediate, and advanced, and each of those is divided into lessons addressing specifics, such as the down stroke, tremolo, etc.

You must have a Rodman library card or an ecard to use this resource, and you must register with ArtistWorks. Once you do that, click on "Get Started" and choose a course.

This is the link to the RPL ecard:

I recommend perusing the RPL website for its wealth of online information. Click on, then on "Find Information", then on "Research Databases".

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Baroque versus Modern Violin

This article by Baroque/Scottish violinist David Greenberg explains the differences between Baroque and modern violins and bows and playing techniques:

18th-Century Earworm

"The Yellow-Hair'd Laddie", an 18th-century Scottish song, is my earworm of the week. I have two versions (at least): one with a complex variation in "The Caledonian Pocket Companion" vol. 2 and the melody with a harmony part in "O'Farrell's Pocket Companion". I played it on mountain dulcimer and violin, and I recorded the version with harmony on mountain dulcimer.
Here it is in the National Library of Scotland:

We plan to rehearse this song at practice tomorrow. I have the arrangement in my head, just needing to convert that internal sound to physical reality. My only lack is a cellist.
(16) Page  [14] - Yellow-hair'd laddie

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Guide To Celtic Mandolins

This article provides a good introduction to the various Celtic mandolins:

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Pick Planting Technique

This is a good video by guitarist Rick Graham showing pick planting technique, which helps to develop good right hand motion. Another idea I work with is picking down and stopping on the next string. That trains the hand in the proper motion, which is perpendicular to the strings.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Open G Tuning

This week I have been practicing my Trinity College bouzouki, which is tuned in open G, GDGD. I often play with the capo at the third fret to create a B-flat bagpipe sound. The effect is rich and pipelike .This week I have been practicing a tune written by my late friend Tom Perkins, "The Last Hundred Yards to the Pub", which he said was a quickstep. ;)