The Waltz Books, compiled by Bill Matthiesen

"Must-haves for the waltz lover." ---Fiddler Magazine

Welcome to The Waltz Books page. As a backup pianist for contradances, Bill Matthiesen created the first waltz book in 1992 to give working musicians a wider common repertoire of these beautiful tunes. He had no idea how popular that book and its sequels would become. Each book is $25.  I will ship anywhere in the USPS for $7 extra.  To order any of the books using your credit or debit card, follow the link to my PayPal account (on the sidebar), or here.  Make sure you include your shipping address and a cell#.  The book(s) will be mailed usually within 48 business hours from receiving payment.

The Waltz Book

Many musicians have praised the wonderful tune selection ("finally -- a music book where I enjoy almost every single tune!"), the clear notation, a layout that makes it easy for several musicians to read off the same book, chord symbols for backup musicians, and the heavy-duty spiral binding. Beginning and closet musicians have found the tunes inspiring, slower and easier than jigs or reels, and very rewarding for the time and effort invested.

Waltz Book II
Waltz Book II followed in 1995, with 23 more tunes than the first book. A few of these are more challenging waltzes. As with the first book, the tunes are arranged alphabetically for quick access during gigs. Both include brief stories from the composers and/or information about the source of the tune. 
Waltz Book III

Waltz Book III was published in June 2002. Like its predecessors, it contains a mix of traditional and composed tunes. In addition to Scandinavian waltzes, it contains new and traditional tunes from bluegrass, French Canadian, Irish and Shetland tradtions. It also contains a number of Latin waltzes, plus French musette and Breton waltzes. 

Waltz Book IV
Waltz Book IV, published in 2013, was several years in the making. It contains 75 wonderful waltzes, with more newly composed tunes than previous books. Bill only intended to include 60-some tunes but had such a hard time narrowing down his long list of suggestions and large (!) box of submissions that he ended up with the longest book yet. This volume shares the same format as previous Waltz Books, with a similar mix of easy and more challenging tunes. 

REVIEW from Fiddler Magazine (Fall, 1996, Vol 3, #3) by Mary Larsen

The Waltz Book and The Waltz Book II are a couple of must-haves for the waltz lover. Book One (The Waltz Book) contains 52 waltzes, some traditional, and some from great fiddlers and composers such as Jay Ungar, Jerry Holland, Bob McQuillen, and Pete Sutherland. Many favorites are included: Midnight on the Water ... My Own Home ... Sheebeg & Sheemore ... Tombigbee Waltz ... Westphalia ... McQuillen's Amelia, and Ungar's Ashokan Farewell. Book One also includes a good article called Thoughts on Harmony by David Kaynor, and a very helpful section called Notes on Piano Accompaniment for Waltzes by Bill Matthiesen. Book II contains 74 waltzes, mostly less common than those in the first book, with a combination of modern and traditional tunes. This book contains several tunes that are more challenging, in their notes or their chords, but also contains plenty that will be accessible to even the beginning fiddler. 

Some of the composers represented in this volume include Kenny Baker, O'Carolan, Bob McQuillen, Jay Ungar, Johnny Cunningham, James Scott Skinner, Pete Sutherland, George Wilson, Molly Mason, and Varise Connor.
No matter what your favorite styles are, you'll find plenty in these books to keep you amused for a long time. Styles include old-time, Scottish, Irish, Cajun, Scandinavian, New England, French, and more. What they have in common is 3/4 time and the fact that they're worth playing and dancing to.

Another great thing about these books are the quotes from many of the tunesmiths on how the tunes were written, as well as their addresses, in case you want to tell them how much you enjoy a particular piece. In many cases, discography information is also included. Chords are given for all tunes in both books. If you enjoy waltzes, you'll be in waltz heaven with these books!

I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave

Here's a couple jigs the Thursday night Celtic Group Class is working on.  If you would like to join the group class, the only requirement is that you be actively taking private lessons either through the Studio, or with another teacher!  The group meets Thursday nights from 7-9pm here in Granby, MA.

The first is called "I Buried My Wife and Danced on her Grave".  Also known as I Buried My Love, I Buried My Wife, I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her, I Buried My Wife And Danced On Top Of Her Grave, I Buried My Wife And I Danced On Her.  It's a double jig in D Mixolydian with two parts of 8 bars.  The earliest source for this tune is 1927, which indicates that it's a relatively modern tune, probably written for the first Irish Feis in 1929 as established by the Gaelic League. 

The second tune is Connachtman's Rambles.  Also known as Bean Ag Baint Duileasc, The Connacht Man’s Rambles, The Connachtman’s Rambles, The Connachtmann’s Rambles, Connaght Man’s Rambles, The Connaught Man’s Ramble, The Connaught Man’s Rambles, The Connaughtman Rambles, Connaughtman’s, Connaughtman’s Ramble, The Connaughtman’s Ramble, The Connaughtman’s Rambles, The Duck From Drummock, Gathering Dilisk, Mickey The Moulder, Mooney’s.

 Here’s an anecdote from the dancing side of things: “Connaughtman’s Rambles” seems to be the most popular jig among sean-nós dancers in Connemara. If they’re going to dance a jig, then nine times out of ten this is what they’ll want. The jig is also one of the most commonly played pieces in the Irish repertoire, and has even spread to other genres. It is, for example, one of the commonly played jigs for English rapper sword dancing (along with “The Blackthorn Stick” and “The Ten-Penny Bit”). It comes up at most sessions most of the time.  Kevin Burke teaches it on his first DVD of a pair: Learn to Play Irish Fiddle: Polkas, Jigs & Slides (Homespun Videos, 2005), where he teaches it with “Saddle the Pony.”

Connaught was one of the five old provinces of Ireland (along with Ulster, Leinster, Meath, and Munster), named for the ancient tribe who lived there, the Connachta. It is, of course, one of the present four provinces. The title of this tune appears in a list of tunes brought by Philip Goodman, a professional and traditional piper in Farney, Louth, to the Feis Ceoil in Belfast in 1898 (Breathnach, 1997).  It is #1003 in O’Neill’s 1850  (1903), #218 in O’Neill’s 1001 (1907), and in both the Roche Collection (1891) and Ryan’s Mammoth Collection (1883).



I Buried My Wife and Danced on Her Grave

About the Feis

Feis (pronounced Fesh) is the Irish word for a festival. Feises are Irish Dance competitions which promote Irish culture and music. An Irish dance competition, feis (pronounced fesh), can be found somewhere in the United States every month of the year, although the spring and summer months are the busiest. Competitions are also held in Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Regional competitions (Oireachtas--pronouned uh-roc-tus) allow the best dancers to qualify for national competitions and thus for world competition. The All World Championships are held every year at Easter-time in Ireland.

Modern Feises

More formalized competitions began in the late 19th Century. This period begins in 1893 when the Gaelic League was founded (Conradh na Gaeilge). This group encouraged the revival of Irish culture, a culture that the English had suppressed for centuries. The first Feis was held in Ireland in 1897 and was a celebration of the Irish culture including language, song, dance and creative writing. The Feis did not arrive in America until 1964. Though many Feisanna (plural for Feis) include language, writing and soda bread competitions, the focus is on Irish dancing.

The Irish Dancing Commission was founded (An Coimisiun le Rinci' Gaelacha) in 1929 to establish rules regarding teaching, judging, and competitions. It continues in that role. Prior to 1929, many local variations in dances, music, costumes and the rules of feisianna existed. Part of the impact of the Commission was standardization of competitions.

During the 20th Century, Irish dance has evolved in terms of locations, costumes, and dance technique. For example, during the period of the dance masters, stages were much smaller including table tops, half doors, and sometimes the "stage" was simply a crossroad. (An old poem called dancing "tripping the sod.") Tests of dancing ability involved dancing on the top of a barrel or on a soaped table! As stages became larger, the dance changed in at least two ways. The movement of dancers across a stage increased greatly (a judge would now subtract points if a dancer did not "use the stage"), and dance steps that require substantial space became possible (e.g., "flying jumps"). The location of competitions also changed over time from barns or outdoors where flat bed trucks were (and still are) used as stages, to predominately indoors in hotels, schools, or fairgrounds. (Note that fairgrounds are particularly appropriate in a historical context of where ancient feisianna were located.)



Collings Mandolins

Collings MTO
Collings Guitars is an Austin, Texas based stringed instrument manufacturer. The company was founded in 1973 by Bill Collings (August 9, 1948 – July 14, 2017) who in 2008 was called "one of the most recognized and respected names amongst aficionados of modern acoustic instruments". Their acoustic guitars have been highly regarded for decades. In addition to acoustic guitars they also make electric guitars, archtop guitars, mandolins, and ukuleles.

Bill Collings dropped out of medical school in the early 1970s, and instead worked in a machine shop for five years. At the same time he built his first guitar. In 1975 he moved to Houston, Texas, where he worked as an engineer with a pipeline and oil field equipment company by day and a guitar builder by night. Three years later he met renowned musician Lyle Lovett and built him a guitar.

In the early 1980s, Collings intended to move to San Diego, California, but never made it further than Austin, Texas. He started out sharing work space with fellow luthiers Tom Ellis, a builder of mandolins, and Mike Stevens. A few years later he continued on his own and took the craft more seriously, moving into a one-stall garage shop.

George Gruhn, a vintage-guitar collector and seller in Nashville hired Collings to make 25 guitars in 1987. Collings soon received considerable attention from other guitar stores as well as magazines for his guitars. Two years later he hired his first employee and the company began to grow.

At the 2006 summer NAMM show, the company moved into the electric guitar market, releasing three models: the I-35, the CL (City Limits), and the 290.

In addition to acoustic and electric guitars, the company makes mandolins and ukuleles. Their mandolins are highly regarded; they "more or less rule in the bluegrass market" in the United States.[4] As of May 2012 the company had about 85 employees and manufactured six to seven acoustic guitars, three electric guitars, two mandolins, and two ukuleles per day.

In 2014, it was announced that the company would be making a guitar based on a currently popular Depression-era design. These guitars are sold under the "Waterloo" brand.

Collings began producing mandolins in 1999, and offers A-style and F-style mandolins as well as mandolas. In addition to making the A and F body shapes, Collings also makes f-hole and oval hole mandolins. Collings mandolins are one of the most highly regarded brands of quality, USA built, mandolins and mandolas.

References

  1. Jump up to:a b Feser, Phil (April 2008). "Super Semi-Hollow, The Collings SoCo Deluxe"Vintage Guitar. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  2. Jump up to:a b Nobles, Tony (November 2006). "Soul in the Details"Vintage Guitar. Retrieved October 22, 2014.
  3. Jump up to:a b c d Hall, Michael (May 2012). "The Working Life: Bill Collings, 63"Texas Monthly. Retrieved October 23, 2012.
  4. Jump up to:a b "Interview: Bill Collings". Acoustic Guitar. November 2008.
  5. ^ Marten, Neville (November 2006). "Collings I-35 Deluxe". Guitarist.
  6. ^ "Waterloo by Collings Guitars - Handmade in Austin, Texas"www.waterlooguitars.com. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Collings D1 AV Review". Acoustic Guitar. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  8. ^ "Collings 290". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  9. ^ "Collings 360 Electric Guitar Review". Premier Guitar. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  10. ^ "Collings City Limits (CL) | Guitars, Reviews, Tabs, Gear on". Fretbase.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-30. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  11. ^ "Collings CL Jazz (CL Jazz) | Guitars, Reviews, Tabs, Gear on". Fretbase.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-31. Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  12. ^ Kemp, Mark (January 2016). "Robert Earl Keen: Confessions of a Front-Porch Picker"Acoustic Guitar. Retrieved July 10, 2018.

Open Slots

I have the following evening slots open as of 10/10/19:

Wednesdays

  • 5-6pm, 
  • 8-9pm


If you would like to register for classes either of those times, please contact me!

Mandolin New England

Mandolin New England is a classical mandolin orchestra that performs compositions from the Renaissance period up to the 20th Century and beyond, as well as modern, local compositions by area musicians and composers. The Orchestra meets several times a year for a gathering where we rehearse, eat delicious food, play and perform. These are mandolinists from all walks of life that come together to do what they love most, play beautiful music.
“It’s fun, it’s incredibly fun, it’s thrilling … It gets your blood moving … it’s not just nine adults sitting in a room staring at notes on a page, it’s nine adults present together, breathing and listening and playing and singing. It’s a very beautiful thing.” If you or your ensemble would like to become a member of Mandolin New England, please join us by emailing your information to info@sweetmusicstudio.net. You will be added to the mailing list and invited to attend open concerts and other events. Rehearsals are held at Sweet Music Studio in Granby, MA. Any and all are welcome! More information about MNE: https://mandolinnewengland.comfacebook.com/groups/mandolinnewengland/

The Portland Collection: Tunes for Contradancing

For this ninth printing of The Portland Collection, the electronic files were completely recreated to make them compatible with today's computers. While there are no changes to the music in the book (other than the correction of a few notation mistakes), this update provided the opportunity to make some improvements in formatting. There are 7 titles changes (incorrect in prior printings). Alternate tune settings and chords are now on the same page as the original tune rather than in the Notes on the Tunes section in the back of the book. As a result of these two changes, the order of the tunes and pagination is different from earlier printings. The basic information about the book remains the same and follows below.

The Portland Collection: Contra Dance Music in the Pacific Northwest is a collection of 318 traditional and recently composed jigs and reels played for dances in Portland, Oregon. National standards and local favorites are included. The music derives from New England, Irish, Scottish, Quebecois, Appalachian, and English sources, all of which are included in the book. Chord suggestions are provided. There is an extensive commentary on each tune. Discography, bibliography, indices, and more are included.

Since its original publication in 1997, The Portland Collection has become the standard for contra dance musicians all across the United States and has also become popular among fiddlers of many other genres. The book is praised for its clear, readable format; its sturdy covers and binding; its informative, entertaining commentary; and especially for the repertoire itself. This music is suitable for any acoustic instrument. Beginners and accomplished musicians alike will find tunes that match their skill levels in this book.

There are two companion recordings for this book. On A Portland Selection 2 editors Susan Songer and Clyde Curley, joined by fiddler George Penk, play a representative cross section of the music in the book using a variety of tempos, harmonies, and other variations on the music. A Portland Play Along Selection is a 2-disc album of 97 tunes from both of the Portland Collection books engineered for ease of playing along. Fiddler Betsy Branch joins Clyde and Susan on this recording. Both of these recordings are for sale elsewhere on Amazon.com.

You can buy a copy of the Portland Collection Volumes 1,2,3 from us, only $28 plus $7 for postage.  You can pay online with your credit card by using our PayPal.me/SweetMusic link, or you can pick it up here at the studio in Granby.

Sweet Music on Facebook

We have a Facebook page of our own, simply called "Sweet Music Granby".  You can search for it using those keywords, or you can follow this link.  We use the page to update people with various events, classes, podcasts and other things we think you will find interesting.

See you on Facebook!

Guitar Lessons

Guitar Lessons
I have been teaching adults and teenagers how to play the acoustic guitar since 2006.  Lessons are approached from a traditional or folk music standpoint, in other words, the student will learn traditional Celtic or Acoustic Country music.

There are several ways you can take guitar lessons: 
  1. In person at my studio in Granby: Private lessons in Granby are sixty (60) minutes per week for adults, and 30 minutes per week for children under 9.  For children over 9 I offer a 40-45 minute lesson (depending on their readiness).
  2. online using SLACK: Online lessons are held through Slack (you will need a laptop with a webcam, or a separate webcam with a good microphone on your desktop computer).
  3. or for an extra fee, in the comfort of your home or office.
NOTE: I wrote a blog recently about what private lessons are like.  Read it here  Read and understand my Policies before coming for your first class.
    Beginning students will learn the basics: music theory and how to read music, how to count, meter and rhythm, keys and chords; how to hold the instrument and pick (or bow for violin players); how to practice scales, arpeggios and exercises; how to play basic melodies.  At some point, usually within a few weeks, beginning students may be ready for more advanced material which will be assigned at that time.

    Beginning students may want to also join the Adult Beginner's Group Class.  Check it out here.

    Advanced students that can already read and understand the basics of their instrument will study more advanced theory including the modes, advanced timing and rhythm, advanced chords, harmonization, improvisation, and will be introduced to a wide variety of music depending on the genre and style they have chosen to study.  For example, Classical musicians will be exposed to a variety of composers from the Renaissance Era up to the Romantic Era and everything in between.  Folk musicians will be exposed to a wide variety of western European traditional dance music styles including Celtic, Quebecois and Cape Breton music as well as American styles such as Bluegrass, Country, Western Swing, Jazz, Blues, and more.

    Advanced students may be eligible for either the Classical Group Class (Tuesdays at 7pm), the Celtic Group (Thursdays 7-9pm) or the Bluegrass Group (Fridays 7-9pm).  Some advanced players may want to play in all three.  There is a $5 discount per class for students that wish to join more than one as long as they attend on a weekly basis.  The discount does not apply for one-offs or trial periods.

    Violin & Fiddle Lessons

    Depending on your musical background, what instrument you want to learn (I teach violin, viola, mandolin, mandola, mandocello and guitar) and what style(s) of music you want to concentrate on, I will formulate a lesson plan tailored specifically for you.  I don't use the same books and materials for all of my students because everybody is different!

    I like to get the introductions/interview part over in emails before the first lesson, so we can dive right into it when you get here.  The things I need to know about you are
    • what is your musical background (if any)
    • can you read music
    • do you understand key signatures, time signatures, scales, arpeggios, chords, basic music theory
    • what instrument you want to learn
    • what style or styles of music you want to concentrate on 
    • do you own an instrument or will you want to buy one or rent one from me
    The 7 Church Modes
    Depending on your answers, the first lesson could cover the basics of scale theory including intervals, modes, circle of fifths, basic reading and an introduction to the care of your instrument.  Assignments will include buying the books you will need and some basic plucking of strings (mandolin), bow exercises (violin).

    Sample Violin/Fiddle Lesson

    Subsequent lessons will delve more deeply into scale and mode theory, circle of fifths, practice tips, first tunes.  As you improve, we will be able to learn more complicated tunes, I will determine what exercises you need to work on and give you lots more practice tips.

    Depending on the amount of time you have to practice every day, the average learning curve for the violin is 3 - 10 years.  3 years before you can play competently with others and 10 years before you will be able to play with confidence and beauty.  The learning curve for the mandolin is 1-3 years.  1 year before you can play with others, and 3 before you an join a mandolin orchestra or group.

    Mandolin Lessons

    Depending on your musical background, what instrument you want to learn (I teach violin, viola, mandolin, mandola, mandocello and guitar) and what style(s) of music you want to concentrate on, I will formulate a lesson plan tailored specifically for you.  I don't use the same books and materials for all of my students because everybody is different!

    I like to get the introductions/interview part over in emails before the first lesson, so we can dive right into it when you get here.  The things I need to know about you are
    • what is your musical background (if any)
    • can you read music
    • do you understand key signatures, time signatures, scales, arpeggios, chords, basic music theory
    • what instrument you want to learn
    • what style or styles of music you want to concentrate on 
    • do you own an instrument or will you want to buy one or rent one from me
    The 7 Church Modes
    Depending on your answers, the first lesson could cover the basics of scale theory including intervals, modes, circle of fifths, basic reading and an introduction to the care of your instrument.  Assignments will include buying the books you will need and some basic plucking of strings (mandolin), bow exercises (violin).

    Sample Mandolin Lesson

    Subsequent lessons will delve more deeply into scale and mode theory, circle of fifths, practice tips, first tunes.  As you improve, we will be able to learn more complicated tunes, I will determine what exercises you need to work on and give you lots more practice tips.

    Depending on the amount of time you have to practice every day, the average learning curve for the violin is 3 - 10 years.  3 years before you can play competently with others and 10 years before you will be able to play with confidence and beauty.  The learning curve for the mandolin is 1-3 years.  1 year before you can play with others, and 3 before you an join a mandolin orchestra or group.

    Give the Gift of Music This Christmas!

    Call: 413-998-4171 Text: 413-200-2628 Email: info@sweetmusicstudio.net Details