October Snow

Last night The Hanshaw Trio got together for another recording and practice session. It’s been raining here for weeks, but by the end of our session there was snow on our cars.

The first snow came in October two years ago, too, and I ended up writing a tune called “October Snow” in response — thinking about the childlike excitement for the first snow, mixed with the dread of long months of darkness and cold. I don’t play the tune exactly like I first wrote it down, but the MIDI at least gives an idea of it.

Anyway, unaware of the coming white stuff, we began our session by revisiting Irksome Girl / Midnight Maze, a pair of original jigs. I wasn’t happy with our previous arrangement of this medley, so I’d made some changes.

First of all, we now start with a guitar intro, then dulcimer playing the A part twice, then fiddle playing the A part twice, then both of us playing the B part. Before, we’d also tried doing four A parts the third time through the tune, but I think it makes for a better transition to Midnight Maze if we just do the A part twice.

I had also been trying to play bass notes along with the melody. It’s hard to do that both accurately and expressively, and the bass notes tended to be too loud. So this time I left them out, and perhaps I’ll add them back in later by recording them on a separate track. That way I can also control their volume better relative to the melody.

For Midnight Maze, I ended up writing new fiddle parts to add syncopation and interest, and also to hopefully avoid the awkward bowing and fingering the melody involved. Jerry hasn’t had time to learn these parts yet, so he’ll add them in later, too.

I have three full takes and two partials (just Irksome Girl) to listen to; I hope they’re good enough to use this time — we’re all a little anxious to finish this project.

After recording, we started reviewing Christmas repertoire. Last year we developed trio arrangements of nine pieces from What Child Is This?. Two of them, Fallen and Easter Thursday, we play all year. Last night reviewed the others: The Lord at first did Adam make, Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus / Planxty Irwin, O Come O Come Emmanuel, He Shall Feed His Flock, Three Ships Medley, Noel Nouvelet / Wexford Carol, and Hewlett / Silent Night.