In this EP we demonstrate the wide variety of styles we can cover. Medieval and Baroque music on period instruments, modern compositions that recall folk traditions, Native American and Metis melodies, and, of course, a little bit of classical music too.
About the Music:
This anonymous Italian dance from c.1400 is played on early baroque violin and recorder. Yes, we play all the percussion instruments, too! In live performances we use a phrase sampler / looper to create multiple tracks – our friends call it the “village band”.
This is from the Flute Sonata BWV 1031 by J. S. Bach. Originally for flute and harpsichord, we arranged it for baroque flute and late baroque violin played pizzicato (plucked strings instead of using the bow). The mandolin – like sound of the pizzicato violin brings out the folk music elements in the Bach sonata.
Three Reel Studies:
This piece was written by the Canadian composer Robert Daigneault in 1977. When we found it in the Canadian Music Centre library ten years after it had been written, we wrote to the composer asking for permission to record the work. He wrote back and told us that, as far as he knew, we were the only people to have played the piece, as the group that he had originally written it for had disbanded shortly after he finished it.
Red River Dances:
Our arrangement of the Métis fiddle standard “Red River Jig” incorporates all the historical influences that merged to create the Métis fiddling style. It begins with an old French court dance from the colonial period played on early instruments, introduces an Ojibway melody played on Native American flute, segues into a Scots country dance, and finally ends up in the Métis fiddle tune with a traditional accompaniment using spoons.
Variations on an old Swedish Air:
This classic piece of “house music” from the 19th century by Fredrich Kuhlau is one of many flute duets that he wrote and gave to his friends and colleagues to play at home. Lucky he did so, as many of his other compositions were lost in a tragic house fire at the end of the composer’s life.
About the Instruments:
Baroque Flute: A wooden flute with only one key. The flute on this recording is a copy of one by G. A. Rottenburgh, the original of which is dated c. 1730
Flute: This is the silver flute used in modern bands and orchestras.
Recorder: The recorder used on this recording is a copy of one by H. Kynseker from the mid 1600’s
Native American Flute: This is a six hole “PF series” flute from Amon Olorin Flutes.
Baroque Violin: Two baroque violin copies are used on this recording. Both violins use gut strings and a baroque bow. One is set up as an early baroque instrument in an old German style (c. 1600) and is played held against the performers chest. The other one is set up as a late baroque instrument on an original Stradivarius pattern (c. 1750) and is played in the customary position on the shoulder.
Violin: This is the violin with metal-wound strings used in modern orchestras with a modern bow.
Percussion: We use an array of traditional hand drums (Celtic, North African, and Native American), tambourines, finger cymbals, and wooden spoons.
About the tuning:
The Baroque flute and violin are tuned to A = 415 Hz. which is a semitone lower than the modern pitch standard. The early baroque and renaissance instruments are tuned to the modern pitch of A = 440. simply because there is so much variation in pitch amongst the original old instruments it is difficult to standardize tuning for that era. Interestingly, the Native American flute is available in two traditional tunings, also a semitone apart, which allows us to play it with both the Baroque and the modern instruments.