If the shoe fits

Last night we worked on Irksome Girl / Midnight Maze, two original jigs.

The title Irksome Girl comes from one of those band name generator websites. We decided it didn’t work for us as a band name — it doesn’t exactly fit our “kind of Celtic” style. But it does fit for a description of our band’s sole female.

Guess who’s the most picky, the most demanding, the most likely to be in a foul mood, the most sensitive, the most whiny, most likely to send too many, too-long emails? Fortunately we all (seem to) tolerate my rough edges and still manage to get along quite well and enjoy one another.

Anyway, since we weren’t going to use the title for a band name, I figured I’d at least use it for a tune title.

Irksome Girl is in Am for the A part. There’s some walking bass stuff, but essentially the A part centers on that Am chord. In the B part, the key changes to A mixolydian, and the chord progression rocks back and forth between A and G or Em.

We start with four A parts, first just dulcimer and guitar, then adding in the fiddle. The third time through, we do a sort of re-intro, with fiddle and guitar doing two A parts and then me building in a rhythmic bass thing for two more A parts, leading nicely into the B part.

Midnight Maze might be the first tune I wrote here in Ithaca. There was a community-wide reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein going on, which I thought was a cool thing to do. The introduction to the book talks about its origins in a contest, and how Mary’s idea came to her in a dream.

I think dreams are fascinating, with their weird yet familiar landscapes, people, and events, juxtaposed and jumbled together. Midnight Maze nods to Mary Shelley and to the world of dreams.

It’s in Bm, and I tried to write a melody full of jumps and turns and shifts. We start with a single guitar chord and a long low B fiddle drone while dulcimer plays melody, then the guitar returns in the second A part and the fiddle joins the melody in the B part. Second time through I drop an octave, and the last time we repeat the second-to-last phrase to make a kind of tag ending.

It’s a difficult medley, especially for me. Playing the bare melodies is a bit awkward, and I’m also trying to throw in some walking bass notes in Irksome. We also had to decide between guitar strumming all the time, or fingerpicking some parts and strumming others. We like the fingerpicking, but there’s not enough time to grab a pick for strumming, so if he fingerpicks, he’s got to strum without a pick.

I’ve got seven full takes plus two partials; I hope there’s enough good material in them to edit together a good version of the medley. If not, it’s still useful development and practice.