Actually, it’s hardly a lazy afternoon… In fact, I’m enjoying what feels like a miracle that I can take a moment to play a dulcimer and have fun improvising a bit with a tune, in the midst of all the folk school work. I’m pretty much obsessed with the Folk School of Chattanooga and all its potential (mixed with actual momentum, which makes it exciting). But still, like a meditation, it’s sweet to come back to the dulcimer once a day, and remind myself that if it weren’t for this trapezoidal magic plinko box, there’d be no folk school, no Chattanooga (for me, anyway), none of the friends I know and love… I know CDs are a bit passe at this point, but I’m forging ahead anyway. It’s time for a new shiny little CD to have my name on it, and with that in mind, I’m starting to consider all my favorite–really most favorite–tunes.
What a wonderful surprise in my mailbox a few days ago, right in the dead of winter, a cd reminder of a summer week spent in Gooik, Belgium. I’ve written on this blog before about working with Maarten Decombel, and what a pleasure it was to get to know his music. This recording is from the concert we gave inside Gooik’s giant church. My favorite track is still this one: “Dodecamedita”, a piece composed by Maarten himself. I love the main melody, the harmony that goes with, the interesting rhythm, the improvisation sections.
Maarten Decombel, bouzouki, and Christie Burns, hammered dulcimer, August 2009:
More progress on the RC-50, and still loving it. This was my first time trying a whole song in live performance mode. I mean, tonight my only audience was a sleeping Simba, but still I played it as though it were a performance. Up ’til now it’s just been playing with loops and not giving much more than a single thought towards arrangement or structure.
More fun with the Boss RC-50. Still learning how the darn thing works… Haven’t figured out starts or endings yet, but anyway, it’s loads of fun!
I know, I know, the official twelve days don’t start ’til later, but I’m calling this MY twelve days of Christmas, because I will post twelve different Christmas songs between now and… um… when the wise men get here. I guess.
So that’s the goal. Creative people need projects and goals. Even goofy ones help!
Enjoy this post, celebrating MY first day of Christmas. Day two might come tomorrow, maybe the next day… And I’ll see which Christmas song inspires me then!
I Saw Three Ships
I was never going to forget these five musical minutes of my life anyway, but I’m super glad that Laurie McCarriar captured it all on video. Maddie MacNeil, Tom White, Ken Lovelett and myself were all on stage together for the teachers’ concert at the Northeast Dulcimer Symposium, and our setlist consisted of things that each of us had brought to the table to share and be played on by everyone. So this was my contribution, my arrangement of Amazing Grace that I’ve been living with and working on for a year now (or more, if you count back to when I first started playing around with it back in Ireland). I think we’ve reached an all-new level of perfection with it now. What could ever be more beautiful than Maddie’s voice? And the rest of the band made us sound like we were some Irish super-band, like Altan or something. Love it.
The Colorado Dulcimer Fest was asking its performers to donate something to the door prize prize pool, and I didn’t want to be like everyone else and just put in a CD. So I made up a little certificate instead, which entitled the winner to an original tune, composed by me, in the winner’s honor. I’ll call this the “O’Carolan tactic”… or in other words, self-assigned homework. I was lucky that the winner of the certificate was actually a hammered dulcimer player herself, and a pretty cool gal at that. It has been an honor for me to compose in honor of her, even if it has taken me two months to write the tune. I’ll be seeing Rebecca, the winner, soon. It’ll be up to her to title the tune.
I’m my own worst videographer, so nevermind the headlessness in this clip. Just enjoy the music, and focus on the hammers, because that’s what it’s all about anyway. Oh, and by the way, those are Paul Haslem hammers I’m using, and he’s about to make a new batch of them to send to America. Contact me if you’re interested in buying a pair!