Traditional Song Week Classes - July 7-13, 2013
SHAPE-NOTE SINGING (Josh Goforth)
Western North Carolina has a long history of shape-note singing. From the haunting melodies of William Walker’s Christian Harmony to the complex, moving parts of Stamps-Baxter Conventional Hymn Books, this class will be an exploration of the evolution of Shape-Note. You will be able to hear the differences through group singing. We will discuss a variety of singing styles that are most effective for each hymn and above all, have fun! Gospel harmony has always been an important part of traditional singing and you’ll get the chance to hear where Josh, along with many others, got their start in music. We will begin by learning the shapes, so no prior experience is required. Get ready to have lots of fun hearing some amazing harmony and experiencing it with a full group in four parts. (No class limit)
SONGWRITING & CREATIVE BRAINSTORMING (Josh Goforth)
Songwriting can be a challenge if you try too hard. This class will focus on ways to develop a song from the seed of an idea to completion without forcing the process. Traditional music will be the basis for our brainstorming exercises, BUT you never know where an idea might lead! All forms of word crafting will be explored as well as how to pair lyrics with music. Let’s write something together!
A HISTORY OF THE BLUES (Ben Wiley Payton)
The music of the Underground Railroad is one of the most fascinating chapters of American history, and the songs that evolved from that period inspire people today as much as they provided opportunities for freedom in the 1800s. Join renowned musicians Kim and Reggie Harris in a vibrant song-filled exploration of that great network of passengers, conductors, shepherds and stationmasters on the Freedom Train. We will sing the spirituals like "Wade in the Water," "Get on Board," "Steal Away" and many others as Kim and Reggie share information, stories and context of these inspirational songs of faith and freedom. "Get on board... Children, Children... There's room for many a more!" (No class limit)
THE ART OF SINGING (Ben Wiley Payton)
Kim and Reggie Harris lead this workshop for singers and would-be singers with songs both secular and sacred in the choral tradition. From spirituals, chants and hymns to songs in the world music canon... to contemporary songs with an "old soul", this course will be an experience of collaboration in a safe singing environment. Using written music sources and also teaching by ear, we will raise our voices in harmony to create a week-long vocal celebration, singing together in the spirit of community. As one of the features of the week, we will be singing sections from Kim's Welcome Table Mass of Spirituals (the foundation of her PhD) that was recently chosen for release by GIA Publications, as well as compositions and arrangements from Kim and Reggie's performing repertoire. It will be an empowering, inclusive, joyful experience for all. (No class limit)
SONGS OF THE FRONTIER (Ranger Doug)
An overview of the history of the music of and about the west from the 1830s to the dawn of the singing cowboy era. There will be plenty of aural material to be heard, and there will be a classic song learned each day. (No class limit)
SONGS OF THE SINGING COWBOY (Ranger Doug)
An overview of the history of the music of the singing cowboy era in film and on record, from the 1930s through the 1950s. There will be audio and video illustrations, and there will be a classic singing cowboy song learned each day. (No class limit)
BLUEGRASS HARMONY SINGING (Dale Ann Bradley)
As described in the lead Bluegrass singing class, we will begin with two songs as a group. We will then work with female trios, male trios, duets, mixed duets and quartets. Everyone will be able to explore each harmony part and rehearse. After initial concentrated classes, song selections will be considered to execute the harmony combinations we have learned.
BLUEGRASS LEAD SINGING (Dale Ann Bradley)
Lead singing is an important element in any bluegrass group setting. Without confident, in-tune and expressive lead singing, there is not a strong foundation for other elements that follow. In Dale Ann’s class, students will start the week working on lead vocals of two songs. The students will learn the songs as a group then work on individual performances. Pitch, phrasing, tone and expression will be explored. Toward the end of the week the students will select a song of their choice to perform in class to demonstrate what they have learned.
SCOTTISH SONG (Brian McNeill)
his class will deal with Scots language song of all types, including ballads, love songs, work songs, story songs, political songs, humorous songs, childrens’ songs and songs of the Scottish music hall era. Scottish song’s relation to other traditions - the Gaelic, English, Irish and American in particular, will be discussed, with practical examples. The aim of the class will be for students to learn at least four Scots traditional songs through the week, with access to many more - the goal being to produce two of these songs as singable group entities by the week’s end. The class will be taught on a master/apprentice basis, orally, but printed versions of words will be available. Modern interpretations of traditional song will be covered, including the use of harmony, and regional variations will be discussed. Pronunciation will be covered. The lowland Scots historical context of the songs will be explored, in particular its social aspects, and Scottish song’s relation to the country’s instrumental traditions, and also to myth and story, will also be covered. The social and musical wellsprings of such important Scottish traditional singers as Jock Duncan will be discussed in depth, and also, the influence of songwriters whose work has now become to all intents and purposes traditional, such as Mary Brooksbank, Lady Nairne and Hamish Henderson. Students should bring a small audio (not video) recorder and a big heart, and should remember that the ethos of the class will be that no student shall be left behind. (Class limit: 30)
SONGWRITING IN THE TRADITION (Brian McNeill)
This class will explore all aspects of writing songs based on the models the various English language-based traditions have already established, using examples from the best of modern songwriting. It will explore form, metre and rhyme. It will deal with the reasons for writing, the mechanics of writing, the conjunction of lyrics and melody and the voice the writer uses. It will deal with characterisation, the use of personal experience, the summarisation of historical events and processes, and the expression of political views and controversial standpoints in song. It will also deal with the practical issues of method, of starting up from an idea or a phrase, of collaborative effort between melody writer and lyricist, and of the tensions between creating one’s own work and performing it. Above all, this class will deal with the subject of honesty in songwriting. The aim will be for putative songwriters to complete already begun projects, to better their existing skills and to create new ones, and the goal will be for each student to bring to fruition one complete new song by the end of the week, as well as to further existing projects. As exemplar, the Brian will also complete one new song completely from scratch. Students will be expected and encouraged to criticise each others’ work and participate as both listeners and advisors. They will take part in individual one-on-one seminars with Brian as well as group classes. Students should bring a small audio (not video) recorder, a big heart and no prejudices, and should remember that the ethos of the class will be that no student shall be left behind. (Class limit: 30)
CHOICES: HOW TO GET THE MOST
OUT OF THE SONGS YOU SING (Matt Watroba)
Bringing traditional songs alive is all about choices. In this interactive class, Matt Watroba will show you the choices great singers make to get the most out of a song. Participants will then be encouraged to apply what they’ve learned to the songs they choose to sing. This workshop promises to be a safe, friendly place where beginners and professionals alike will benefit from the wisdom of the instructor and the group. Phrasing, style and performance techniques are just a few of the areas this class will explore on the way to wowing any audience with the power of traditional music.
FOR THE SAKE OF THE SONG (Matt Watroba)
This class will be all about the singing and the song. This will be an opportunity for you to learn what you need to know to unleash the power of song in your community. Matt will share his experience as a song leader and community performer by teaching and leading a wide variety of songs in a wide variety of styles. After learning song leading and Community Sing organizational techniques, participants will be encouraged to bring in songs and try out their song-leading talents on the class. You will sing everyday and leave on Friday inspired to take what you’ve learned back into your community. (No class limit)
FIDDLE & SONG (Brian & Nicole Christianson)
Most think of the fiddle as a solo instrument, but have you ever thought of accompanying a singer with just a fiddle? Or have you ever thought of harmonizing a singer with a fiddle? This class will explore the power of the fiddle backing up a singer. Different bowing techniques, rhythms and double-stops will be covered as well as discussing how to tastefully improvise behind a singer. The main focus of the class will be centered around the fiddle however, you need not play the fiddle to join this class. Strong vocal techniques will also be taught throughout a wide variety of styles including bluegrass, old-time, Irish, country, swing and gospel. There will be plenty of songs covered and we’ll have a great time of just singing with a fiddle! Most songs will be taught by ear, but sheet music will be provided for those that are more comfortable learning by note. We are excited to explore the simple, beautiful voicing of a fiddle and a song.
ACCOMPANIMENT (Brian & Nicole Christianson)
This class will explore the different ways of backing up a singer with a mandolin. Different rythyms, chord structures, and improvising will be discussed throughout a wide variety of styles including bluegrass, country, Irish, swing and gospel. This class will be primarily focused on the role of a mandolin accompaning a singer, however, strong vocal technique will be taught as we pick our way through it. Most songs will be taught by ear, but sheet music will be provided for those that are more comfortable learning by note.
TRADITIONAL COUNTRY & HONKY TONK SINGING (Mark Weems)
This class will study various country vocal styles that emerged in the South after 1945. We will discuss the styles and techniques of several influential country music voices and learn a batch of classic songs by the likes of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizell, Wanda Jackson, Buck Owens, Leona Williams and George Jones. Special attention will be paid to phrasing, pitching your voice, ornamentation, and feeling and communicating a song. We will also spend some time creating an actual honky-tonk band with which to put all this knowledge into practice. Maybe even put on some harmony! Sounds fun to me! I am bringing an upright bass and drum kit. Guitars and basic knowledge of chords are encouraged. Let’s go honky-tonkin’!
DUET HARMONY SINGING (Mark Weems & Julee Glaub Weems)
Learn some of the specific techniques and nuances of duet singing. We will work towards choosing keys, finding parts, exploring different types of harmony, building harmony mathematically, blending voices, feeling and phrasing, learning to sing with different partners and developing listening skills. We will learn how to adapt harmonies to different songs and various genres such as Appalachian, Irish, gospel, and country. The initial classes will focus on singing with instruments, to hear the chord structures of the harmonies, consider how they affect the overall harmonic sound, and discuss the creation of tasteful arrangements. As the week progresses, we will work towards freedom from chordal structure in order to encourage experimentation with more diverse kinds of harmony. It is not necessary to read music, as we will be learning by ear. Bring a partner or find one in the class! Note: students should come to this class with some experience in singing melody. (Class limit: 14)
SINGING TRADITIONAL APPALACHIAN BALLADS (Sheila Kay Adams)
I started learning what my family called ‘them old love songs’ as a five-year- old. No one said I had to learn them, or pressured me to listen to and sing back, one at a time, twenty-seven verses. First, as a child I loved the stories of knights and ladies riding on snow-white steeds, or what all could take place in “her father’s great hall,” or why a bird perched in a willow tree would speak to a woman who had “just murdered your own true love.” I could go on and on but the stories were fantastic, mysterious, believable and I heard them every day. The people I learned from were born in the 1890s and early 1900s and had learned them from their parents and grandparents – generation after generation after generation had learned them and passed them on. The words aren’t a problem. They’re written down in more collections than you can shake a stick at. But, if the story was the initial reason my mind chose to learn, it was the way they sang that took my heart over fifty years ago: the odd phrasing, the choice of words and the way they put those words together. This is what I hope to share with you in this class. I promise you, the songs are wonderful, but what will keep you singing is the way I’m going to teach you to do it. I’ll provide you with the words; the rest I’ll help you with, and those that really “get it” by the end of the week will help me carry this beautiful, ancient tradition a bit further down the road.
OLD MEETING-HOUSE SONGS (Sheila Kay Adams)
This class is all about singing the many “meeting-house” gospel songs – mostly by ear and full-voiced, “off-the-porch-strong” as Aunt Inez would say – that I grew up hearing in the churches in and around Sodom, NC. You might be familiar with most of ‘em, ones like “I’ll Fly Away,” “Where the Soul Never Dies,” and “Build Me A Cabin,” to name a few. We’ll also work together on some shape-note songs, but the majority can be found in The Baptist Hymnal. Please bring a copy if you have your own, but handouts will be provided as needed. And don’t go worrying about harmonies; trust me, you’ll find the one that works for you. These old hymns really do rock right along, and there’s a power to them that’ll grab your heart and spirit from the get-go ... no collection plate needed. But don’t expect to sit or even stand in one place as these old hymns will, quite literally, move you. (No class limit)
ARRANGING TRADITIONAL SONGS
FOR GUITARISTS AND GROUPS (Dáithí Sproule)
This class is for guitarists and other instrumentalists who would like some guidance on arranging songs from all the traditions, not just Irish. Dáithí will share his life-long experience as a song and tune arranger in the solo setting and in groups such as Altan, Skara Brae, Bowhand, and Trian. Dáithí’s hints and insights will help you to notch up the quality of your performance, also give you a wide variety of options. You are welcome to bring in songs and tunes you would like to arrange, and Dáithí will guide you through the process and steps to producing an arrangement that is just that little bit better and more effective. For guitarists Dáithí will show how to explore options – picking, strumming – the use of various tunings, particularly DADGAD, G and standard tunings. Experience working with students has confirmed Dáithí in the belief that often a little change of focus in the right-hand guitar work or in the view of chord options can transform a person’s playing, making it much more enjoyable both for player and listener! You will find a relaxed, encouraging atmosphere, but some hard info!
IRISH TRADITIONAL SONGS –
AND THEIR RELATIVES! (Dáithí Sproule)
The gentle sound of the mountain dulcimer is a perfect and beautiful blend for complementing the voice raised in song. Using traditional Appalachian and Celtic songs, we'll explore how to creatively accompany the voice with chord accompaniments and harmonies.
FINDING YOUR VOICE:
SOPRANO, ALTO, OR TENOR? (Shirley Smith Montgomery)
This class is for the person who has had trouble in the past knowing for sure what part they sing. In this class we will use different types of gospel music to help you choose which range fits you best. You will love the light-hearted approach, disarming you of your inhibitions, to be the best singer you can be. We will also spend time learning to breathe correctly to maximize our capacity to hold air to sing beautifully.
TRADITIONAL GOSPEL SINGING (Shirley Smith Montgomery)
Gospel is closely related to the sound of the blues. We will learn and sing songs that bring exuberance and joy, and songs that will provoke serious thoughts of how awesome God is. During our time together we will develop a gospel choir from the class. The gospel choir will perform some of the songs we’ll learn this week. If you love to sing and want to be a part of an awesome time of camaraderie and singing, this class is for you. (No class limit)
Note: A highlight of the day's schedule is when we gather together each day after lunch for these special events. No advance registration necessary.
SAY NO MORE, IT”S FREDDY LABOUR!
How does this veteran of over 6300 Riders In The Sky shows, creator/writer of hundreds of public radio shows and TV specials, and a darn good yard man, see himself? “I’m the pickle,” he says. “You know, you go into a fine deli and order a sandwich, and you didn’t go there for the pickle. You didn’t ask for the pickle. You never even think about the pickle. And yet, when your sandwich comes, there it is, the pickle. And you like it, and it adds something to the meal. That’s me. I give the audience the pickle.”
VALIDATING OUR MUSICAL SELVES
Beth Magill will help us affirm that we are musical beings, born to embrace and express that music within us. While some of us were encouraged mightily when we were children, some of us were not. Many of us need to heal those musical places in us so we can move forward, finally making the music we were meant to make, have and be for ourselves, for our children, for our communities.
A VISIT WITH BRIAN MCNEILL
In this interview to be recorded for radio, Brian chats with Fiona Ritchie about his globetrotting years with Battlefield Band, his song- and novel- writing, and his projects uncovering Scottish connections in North America and Europe, all of which have inspired new music. As a consummate multi-instrumentalist, expect Brian to share a few songs and tunes.
TRADITIONAL SONG – WHY DO WE STILL CARE?
In this panel discussion to be recorded for radio, Ben Wiley Payton, Matt Watroba, Shirley Smith Montgomery, and Mark Weems join radio broadcaster Fiona Ritchie to explore the timeless appeal and consider the future prospects of traditional song.
A VISIT WITH CATHIE RYAN
In this interview to be recorded for radio, Cathie chats with Fiona Ritchie about her recording career, her early days with Cherish the Ladies, her love of the Irish language, her songwriting and her many musical collaborations. Cathie will share songs that help tell her story.
We offer a full-day program, taught by Denisa Rullmoss, for children ages 6-12. Children must have turned 6 by July 1st to participate. No exceptions please. Evening childcare for ages 3-12 will be provided at no additional cost.
Beneath the wind and waves lies the melody and magic of the OCEAN. This summer in the Children’s Program we will visit the watery, wondrous world of the SEA and all of her inhabitants. We are likely to find sea horses, crabs, dolphins, fish, whales, mermaids, giant squid, sea serpents and much more. If King Neptune allows, we may take a ride in a Yellow Submarine to visit an Octopus’ Garden! Colorful coral reefs, mysterious deep sea creatures, smelly seaweed snacks and a scary shark or two.... who knows what may show up at the Gathering? LOTS of arts & crafts (with many shells), LOTS of water (and dry land) games and LOTS of fun will be our goal. Can you find the pearl in the oyster shell, the lost city of Atlantis or the homes of Sponge Bob, Patrick and Squidward? Let’s not forget the sounds of the sea.... as we sing silly sea songs AND create a band led by Sue Ford (singer, songwriter, percussionist). As a special treat, we will be visited by wandering musicians and artists (Gathering staff) who will perform just for our kids. We will, of course, continue our long-loved traditions of shaving cream hairdos day, movie night, pie-eating contests and the Gathering Scavenger Hunt. Each busy day will close with free swim time in the college pool. Non-swimmers must be accompanied by a parent to swim. So get your snorkels on and practice your fish faces as we dive into some nautical nonsense!! There will be a $30 art/craft materials fee for this class, payable to Denisa, the Children’s Program coordinator, on arrival.