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session reports

About Me

One week surgery recovery report

So far so good.

I’ve been very sleepy a lot for the past seven days, as you’d expect with a lot of Percocet in my system. Percocet also kicks my ass harder than Vicodin does–for a lot of my previous medical crap I’ve had, I’ve had Vicodin rather than Percocet, and I’m pretty sure I have to go clear back to when I broke my arm for the last time I was on Percocet. This stuff makes me have very weird, very intense dreams, and sometimes sensory hallucinations as well. I get into a half-dreaming state dozing off, and imagine things like people coughing outside, or somebody tapping my shoulder, or the cats making prolonged, siren-like whining noises.

The dreams have been weird, too. This morning’s involved my dreaming I was Liv Tyler, the actress who played Arwen in The Lord of the Rings, only this was on the set of The Hobbit. (Note: Liv Tyler is not actually in the Hobbit movies, but this was dream logic at work here.) Dream-me (as Liv) was on my way to a scene, only I came across one of the actors playing one of the hobbits in the movie. Somebody had attacked him and stuffed him into the bottom of a remote-controlled barrel on wheels that was out of control on the set. I had to retrieve the poor guy–he was a little person, actually hobbit-sized, as opposed to a more typically-sized actor being shrunk down via CGI for the role–and get him to security. And then get to my scene.

I remember that the set was laid out bizarrely like a cross between a theme park and bits of the Harrison Hot Springs resort that we were in this past July. And that I had to work my way back around to the front of the grounds and go through a VIP line to show them my credentials and demonstrate that I was, in fact, one of the cast. Which is the last thing I remember before I woke up.

So hi yeah, this is my brain on Percocet.

Not too much pain to deal with, thankfully. I’m sure most of this has to do with the aforementioned Percocet, though there are bits of me suggesting that they’re still tender enough that once I slack off on the painkillers, they’re going to be crankier at me. Which suggests that I’m probably going to need at least one more round of pain meds to finish up recovering; this is consistent with my recovery patterns with previous medical adventures.

Also, working from home was the exact correct plan here. I’m getting coherent enough that I can actually accomplish stuff on the computer but I am not physically up to my usual commute patterns of bus + four miles of walking in a day. I’m barely managing to make it through a full day without needing a long nap in mid-afternoon, and even with a long nap, I’m going to bed rather earlier than is normal for me as well.

Still not letting George on the lap, either, which bemuses the poor kitty. But he’s 14 pounds of cat and periodically pointy on five of his six ends, so if he gets on the lap at all right now, it’s with the buffer of the largest pillow we have in the house.

I have at least gotten to the point where I can work from home and will be working on automation updates for my team this week. And I’ve also managed to do a lot of operating system upgrades on my personal computers as well as on my work laptop. Put Mavericks on my main Mac laptop, and it did not explode, so I figure this is an accomplishment on my part.

Session happened this past Wednesday and my session peeps actually played a song for me. (heart) They did “La Fée des Dents”, which I’ve posted about before, being partial to that one as one of the ones I can actually play. Looking forward to having enough physical strength back so I can actually stand to play my various flutes. Not too sanguine about wanting to strain my stomach with necessary breath control quite yet. But I do have the small carbon fiber flute on the way! Hope to be able to show y’all pics of that real soon.

Be another couple weeks before I can start pulling words out of my brain again, but starting in December, come hell or high water, I will be editing Bone Walker. And also starting planning for Victory of the Hawk. Somewhere in there will be a copyedit round on Vengeance of the Hunter, and hopefully soon I’ll be able to show y’all some cover art for that.

More news as it happens, and as I continue to get my brain back.


Session report!

I begin to feel like I’m getting my feet under me at our local Quebecois session! And that every so often, my feet can actually do something interesting! Literally and figuratively. ‘Cause really, at a Quebec session, I want my hands and my feet to be doing interesting things. 😉

Tonight though was mostly about the hands. I did in fact play my actual flute in front of actual people! Since most of what I’ve been able to learn so far has been slower things friendlier to the flute and to my skill level at picking up stuff by ear (read: not happening in an active session, not yet), I’m still mostly hanging back and just trying to figure out the structures of tunes and get familiar with the style of how they’re played. But tonight, when asked to play something, I was able to more or less play through André Brunet’s “Ciel d’Automne”, and I only sorta kinda maybe messed it up in only a few places. *^_^*;; But everybody was very encouraging, and one of the gents at the session told me he liked my flute’s voice.

Also, I got to show off my new teeny guitar and let Dejah see that why yes, actually, for such a little guitar he actually does have a good voice on him, and surprisingly responsive strings. Courtesy of Dejah I also learned a new guitar term: parlor guitars, which are smaller-bodied guitars. Like Ti-Jéan, really! So that was all lovely.

Part of our session tonight was outside on a deck, which was also awesome. We were overlooking a bit of a nearby park, so joggers were going by and clapping as they saw us playing! I hung out out there until it got a little cold and pollen started irritating my throat; then, inside, I got to listen in on a lovely conversation about crankies. Then everybody else came in and Dejah showed off her shiny new cranky, telling a great little story about four French Canadian lumberjacks who want to go to a party in Montreal, and who make a bargain with the Devil to borrow his magic flying canoe (like ya DO) so they can get there. I was particularly charmed by the lumberjacks all having different colored caps and big beards, so of course where I go with this is the dwarves in The Hobbit, so I’m pointing at the cranky art and going “So this is Dori, Nori, Ori, and Jean-Baptiste?” 😉

Dejah’s dad Louis also very, very kindly provided me a couple of PDFs of tunes that were played tonight, which I deeply appreciated. I overheard the names of three other tunes that were mentioned, and promptly discovered that I either had them immediately available in the store of tunes I’ve amassed so far, or that I could immediately find them on

Also deeply pleased by another reminder that why yes, I do in fact need to be learning Genticorum’s “Valse de poeles”, which was called out to me tonight as something that would be very friendly to me to learn. I do not actually have this tune in my store of tunes, so I’m going to have to do something ambitious and see if I can learn it by ear off the recording on the most excellent album Nagez Rameurs. 😀

(Because as I’ve previously lamented, I am NOT good at picking up stuff by ear quickly. However, I have learned that I can do it slowly. Alexandre of Genticorum helped me demonstrate this to myself, that if somebody sits me down and feeds me a tune in bits and pieces I can, in fact, pick it up. But I can’t do it quickly. This is why I have to slow stuff down in Tempo Slow, too, if I don’t have an actual live musician in front of me to learn from. I occasionally get bits and pieces just trying to listen in session, though. Kind of like bits and pieces of French firing off in my brain as I study, really. I’m hoping as I learn more tunes I’ll start getting more of these bits and pieces firing off faster and maybe eventually I will in fact be able to whip out a tune as I’m hearing it.)

And then I was very kindly offered a ride home so I wouldn’t have to take the bus. And “Maison de glacé” was played, and I got to go OH HEY AWESOME I KNOW THAT ONE, because yay tune by Réjean Brunet! \0/ So I played my actual flute in front of actual people TWICE! Go me! And the Sheepskin Reel was played, better known by me as BEST GODDAMN LA BOTTINE SOURIANTE TUNE EVER. And I overheard three other tunes identified, which I was able to immediately find either in my personal tunes store or on Valse des Petites Jeunes Filles, Valse des Jouets, and Reel à Toto.

Tonight’s session: definite success!


Hey look, I made a MUSIC!

Internets, I cannot tell you how much I needed to forget dealing with computers for a couple of hours, and go play me some music with the local Quebec session crowd. We had a pretty tiny group tonight, and things were relaxed and groovy–all the better for a newbie player like myself to try to figure out how to play along with unfamiliar tunes, while not making too much of a nuisance of herself in the corner.

This time, however, I had the distinct pleasure of being able to ask for specific tunes. Namely, the ones Alexandre of Genticorum had taught me! (6/8 d’Andre Alain, and Gigue du Père Mathias!) I wasn’t able to play through them perfectly at speed, but I got within range of it–and it’s worth noting that a couple of passes through where I had to drop out was because I had to get my breath back, not because I’d forgotten what I was doing. Such is the peril of being the only flute player in a room full of fiddlers and accordion players!

I also asked about playing Ciel d’Automne, a.k.a. Autumn Sky, which has the distinction of being the first Quebec tune I fell in love with ever. This is because it’s the loveliest instrumental on the La Bottine Souriante album Rock and Reel (as it was called when it was released in the States), and to this day, stands out for me as one of my favorite slower tunes. I was particularly happy recently to learn that OH HEY it was written by André Brunet–so no wonder I like it–and so naturally I was determined to learn it. Bonus points to me for figuring out that I could practically whistle the whole thing from memory, which helped a lot in figuring out how to play it.

And I’m here to tell you, when you’re a session newbie facing a room full of musicians WAY more familiar with the material than you are, and the phrase “you’ll have to teach it to us” gets winged at you, that’s SCARY. Maybe only slightly less scary than “HEY ANNA! Get up and play this for us, will you?” However, that scary was leavened with a generous dose of AWESOME. Particularly when I was able to point people at’s writeup of the tune!

Also notable: recognizing Réjean Brunet’s “Maison de Glacé” and being able to jump in on it, even though I had title server failure and only confirmed later that OH RIGHT I actually knew that tune.

(Yes, folks, I’m apparently slurping up All The Slow Tunes By the Brunets. There are worse ways to be spending my musical time. ;D )

So that was three whole tunes I was able to more or less play along with. And there was a fourth tune I recognized by ear once they hit the B part; I’d heard the session group play that one before. I could even sorta kinda pick up on the B part, though the A part was harder for me to parse. I asked about that one and was informed it was called Hommage à Edmond Parizeau. Not long after that, another fun-sounding one called Reel Ti-Mé was played–though I have to stop myself from thinking of that one as Reel Timmain. Which is what I get for being an Elfquest fan!

And now I have two more identified tunes to add to the list of Things Played in Local Session. I have homework to do!

Many many thanks to the Legers for giving me a ride home, and to our hostess Pascale, who gave me guidance on how to get to her place by bus (even though I had to leave work late and THEN had bus fail that wound up getting me there half an hour late)! A lovely little evening of music all around!

Music, Quebecois Music

Session and general music geekery!

I have made some happy discoveries, and the first of them is this: I am not entirely hopeless learning things by ear. I kinda knew this already–I do, after all, I have a history of playing along with Great Big Sea, or Elvis, or now also Le Vent, and just picking out melody lines on whatever flute I’m playing. I’ve also found out in the last couple of sessions that I can also pick out a melody line on a tune if it’s a slow one.

For example, I haven’t looked at the sheet music for either “Foggy Dew” or “Arran Boat Song”, and yet I’ve managed to more or less stumble my way through both of those at recent sessions. They’re slow, and not terribly complex, and so hey, I was actually able to manage them!

Faster jigs and reels though are still beyond me. This may be a matter of just not having a big enough musical vocabulary yet to be able to reproduce what I’m hearing as soon as I hear it–or, rather, a big enough musical vocabulary to do it with my fingers on the flute. I can whistle along almost instantly, or even dum-da-deedle if I’m feeling like trying to be Quebecois-ish about it. But I haven’t made that connection in my brain yet between “I hear this” and “I can reproduce it on my instrument”.

The core skill’s got to be there, though. I can do it with slower tunes. In theory, surely therefore I can learn to do it with faster ones!

In the meantime, Éric Beaudry, in his capacity of “one of the lead singers of La Bottine Souriante”, has now joined Le Vent du Nord in flinging me songs that are demanding I play them NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW. In particular, “Au rang d’aimer” on the new La Bottine album has pretty much parked itself in front of me and looked cute and expectant and unwavering, like Cync’s dog Kosha used to do in Kentucky!

So I went OKAY FINE, since this IS a song of one of the Beaudrys we’re talking about here, and first actually picked out the melody line on my piccolo–see previous commentary re: I can TOTALLY do this “by ear” thing, if it’s a slow enough song, and “Au rang d’aimer” is! This let me figure out though that this thing is totally in D mixolydian. The tonic of the melody line is D, but C is natural rather than sharp.

Thanks to throwing the song through a chord app I have on my iPhone, I was also able to figure out that there’s an awful lot of F in these chords, another marker of it being in D mix. Note: the chord app is pretty nifty; it takes recorded tracks in your iTunes library and flings you what chords it thinks are being played in it. From the songs I’ve flung through it so far, it does a fair to middlin’ job. Which is actually very, very good for my purposes, because it leaves enough wiggle room for me to exercise my ear some and figure out where it screwed up, and what the chords I actually want in there are.

Related to this same song, one of the lines in it that totally makes me swoon is “Je serai toujours ton serviteur”, which means “I will always be your servant”. I appear to have just enough of an ear now that I can tell when I totally screw up the pronunciation of “serviteur”–I keep wanting to say “servateur”! And I can’t tell if this is because I am an Anglophone, or if I’m an Anglophone from Kentucky who is totally drawling her infant French.

Dara says it would be hysterical if, in my efforts to learn to sing Quebecois French lyrics, I wound up sounding Cajun.

Quebecois Music

My first Quebecois session: Incroyable!

Tonight, O Internets, I participated in my very first “Chanson et langue” group and Quebecois session at the home of La Famille Léger. And I am here to tell you that that was unmitigated, 100%, home-grown organic AWESOME!

(This post is long, so clickie on the cut link for the evening’s adventures!) (And I need, NEED I TELL YOU, a suitable podorythmie icon now for Quebecois music posts, at least the mirrored ones y’all on Dreamwidth and LJ are seeing. It needs to say My Fandom Wears the Smiling Boots on it. I need this icon like the BURNING OF A THOUSAND FIERY SUNS! Until I have it, I will have to make do with hugely grinning Elvis!)

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The naming of instruments is a Serious Matter

My new applewood fife and mopane flute have now been officially broken in at session, to the satisfaction of all parties involved. Those who attended session along with userinfosolarbird and me last night (which would be userinfosutures1, Matt, and Marilyn) expressed their approval in particular over the voice on the flute, which was very nice indeed in the pub. 😀

I learned pretty quickly though that I’m not quite up to speed with my known tunes on these instruments yet. This is in no small part due to the fingerings on keyless flutes. The fife and flute both are in D, which means that the good part is, the fingerings are therefore very close to my piccolo. All fingers down means D on these instruments and on Shine alike, for example.

The bad part is, however, that the fingerings are not exactly like the fingerings on the piccolo! Shine being a concert C instrument (kicked up an octave) of course means that it’s oriented around the C scale, NOT around the D scale. So one finger down on Shine means C, not C#. I therefore will have to get the cross-fingerings for accidentals into my muscle memory on the fife and the flute in order to make these tunes work properly. Relatedly, I’ve also discovered that “Da Slockit Light” requires a G# and THAT in particular is going to be amusing to finger on these instruments.

Likewise I have learned that while the new instruments are going to be in regular session rotation, this does NOT mean Shine gets to stay home. I discovered VERY fast that if I’m trying to follow the others by finding sheet music for tunes in TunePal, I will be much, much more able to play on Shine than on either of the new guys. This is very clearly because when I see sheet music, my visual association with those notes is still solidly attached to the fingerings on keyed flutes. So next time, Shine comes to session along with the new ones.

On a much easier note though I have also discovered that the “Road to Lisdoonvarna / Swallow Tail Jig / Morrison’s” set we’ve been doing is surprisingly easier to play on the fife than it is on the piccolo. No half-holing is required for any of these tunes, and I seem to actually have an easier time playing Chirp, the fife, than I do Shine! The required embouchure is not as intense.

Which of course leads me to report that the fife is well and officially Chirp, now. The jury is still out on what to call the mopane flute, though. Ellen has opined (and I am inclined to agree) that this instrument should be named something Irish, since I am after all intending to use it primarily for Irish music, even if it’s made out of African mopane! She has proposed ‘Selkie’, which I must consider with due consideration–since this flute’s got a deep, rich voice and a deep golden brown color, both of which I could see being evocative of a selkie. I need to commune with the flute some more though and see if it agrees with me on this important matter.

Dara and I were discussing instrument names last night, too, and I shot down naming the flute either Herp OR Derp, pointing out that if any instruments in the world would be named those, they would clearly be kazoos. Dara now wants kazoos for the express purpose of naming them Herp and Derp.

And for that matter, I further opined that an accordion is too complex an instrument to be named Herp or Derp. To which Dara immediately replied that an accordion is NOT too complex to be named PAMCAKES!

I think her squeezebox has a name now.

Music, Quebecois Music

Session tunes status check!

As of this post, I appear to be able to pull “Si Bheag Si Mhor”, “Road to Lisdoonvarna”, “Swallow Tail Jig”, “Morrison’s Jig”, and “Banish Misfortune” out of my brain and into my fingers, at least on the piccolo, without resorting to sheet music. I can’t do them (well, the latter four anyway, as Si Bheag is played slowly) at speed, and I can’t do them reliably–but they’re in the fingers now. Practice will make them stronger.

“Blarney Pilgrim” is on the way. I’ve got the A part in my fingers, though I don’t have the B and C bits down yet.

I think my next direct targets are going to be “Apples in Winter” and “Cliffs of Moher”, as the latter is in Matt’s handy tunes PDF and the former, pulled off of TunePal, is frequently paired with session. Meanwhile, in terms of tunes I TOTALLY want to learn just because of all the Quebec music I’ve been listening to, “Jig of Slurs”, “Irish Washerwoman”, and “Atholl Highlander” are now all on my radar because La Volée does such an awesome set of them on their live album. And, I have discovered to my glee that several tunes of Quebecois derivation DO appear to be in the TunePal database–all I had to do was search for “le reel” and “reel du”, and I got several hits of tunes that are all over my La Bottine albums.

My advanced homework remains parsing the nameless tune of M. Demers’ in “Lanlaire”, though! 😀 And other advanced homework will be starting to try to think about not only what tunes I like the sounds of, but also which ones might go together amusingly in combination. One of our experienced session players is strongly in favor of not chaining too much E minor together, which makes me want to think about what transitions of keys are good. There’s also the question of figuring out if a jig-jig-reel combination would work. A lot of instrumental tracks in my collection do that and it would serve me well to emulate their example.