mp3eme VOX: Unplugged

Post an Acoustic Tune from Your Personal Library
Week 7
a·cous·tic (ə-kū’stĭk)
  1.  Of or being an instrument that does not produce or enhance sound electronically: an acoustic guitar; an acoustic bass.
   2. Being a performance that features such instruments: opened the show with an acoustic set.



The Lament for  the Viscount of Dundee / Dr MacPhail's Reel
Tony McManus
The first time I heard this I couldn’t believe my ears and knew immediately that I would start playing this kind of music on guitar. It’s an example of piobaireachd, the classical music of the Great Highland bagpipes, arranged for guitar. Tony gets the bagpipe drone sound by tuning three strings to A and capoing at the first fret to give Bb, the drone note of the pipes. The tuning is DAAEAE.

I’ve never learned to play this and really ought to. I do play some of Tony’s arrangements, but the tuning is a bit whacky and laziness means I don’t bother changing tunings. I can get to DADGAD and even CGDGAD easily enough, but DAAEAE just seems nuts.


mp3eme VOX: It Takes Two



[doo-et, dyoo-]

a. A composition for two voices or two instruments.
b. A group of two singers or two instrumentalists.


Tony McManus is one of the finest guitar players I have ever come across. He plays, among other things, fingerstyle arrangements of traditional Scottish and Irish tunes and was the first successfully to arrange Scottish highland bagpipe tunes for the guitar. This recording shows how well he can play accompaniment as well, backing up Scots fiddler Alisdair Fraser and getting jiggy (or rather, ‘reely’) with the flatpick as well. Enjoy.

Ross' Reel No. 4, Reichswall Forest
Alasdair Fraser & Tony McManus


Looking for a raven image

The name of my blog, Quoth the Raven, comes from my favourite poem, The Raven, by Edgar Allan Poe.

It would be fitting if I were to have an image of a raven as my avatar on Vox but, not being the artistic type, I’m not really sure how I would go about creating such an image. I could just Google Image search for one, but it would be kind of nice if a fellow Voxer were to throw something together for me. Just a silhouette of a raven sat perched on a branch, or, better, still, a chamber door.

Any takers?

Meanwhile, enjoy the Raven Simpsons-style!

The Raven
I also like this version of it from Lou Reed’s album, The Raven, inspired by the works of EAP. Read by Willem Dafoe:

Lou Reed


Guitar practice season

Now that my monster translation is out of the way, I can really get back into my guitar playing again. The problem is that I have no focus to my practice and my time is limited, so I really need to put a schedule together.

Here are the things I would like to work on:

  1. Accompaniment – working through my Frank Kilkelly book (Accompanying Irish Music on Guitar), first brushing up on the four sets of tunes I’ve already worked on and then getting onto another set;
  2. Open mic stuff – since finding the local open mics and meeting a bouzouki player, I’d like to start playing with him more. This will involve accompaniment as well as some flatpicking and fingerpicking. I also need to keep working on my songs and have asked a girl at work if she’d be up for joining me on some vocals. I also know a violin player whom I’m trying to turn to the light of trad music. She’s coming around I think!
  3. Flatpicking – I noticed at a recent UK gathering I attended that if one does not practice flatpicking, one gets rusty. I thought I’d share that, just in case you didn’t know. My Parking Lot Pickers book is a heck of a lot of fun to work from, particularly playing along with the CD. This will cover accompaniment too.
  4. Fretboard knowledge – I really would like to finish Volume 2 of the Skeptical Guitarist, work through Steve Kaufman’s Figuring out the Fretboard DVD and work through Mary Flower’s Fingerstyle Ragtime DVD.
  5. Sight reading – I’d like to progress through my Fred Noad book. I’ve started going through it from scratch about four times, and each time I get a little farther. I’m about a third of the way through it and it gives me a great sense of achievement when I learn a new tune from that book. I know it will do a lot for my playing.
  6. I really must work on El McMeen’s arrangement of The Mist Covered Mountains of Home. It’s one of the most moving arrangements I’ve heard and I could play it fairly well a couple of years ago. I’d like to get it to performance standard.
  7. New tune to learn – I’ve had a desire for a long time to learn El’s arrangement of Fanny Power. There’s just something about it that moves me (as is the case with a lot of El’s arrangements, but this one in particular).

Fanny Power

So I’ve put together a spreadsheet of things to practice each day and will try to get in 30 minutes a day of what it says on the spreadsheet for each particular day. That will take the thinking about what to do when I get the time each day and should go a long way to helping me to progress.

Vox Hunt: Rocked My World

Audio: Show us cover art or share a track from the first band or solo artist you flipped for.
Submitted by Red Pen.

That would be Adam & the Ants. My dad had Kings of the Wild Frontier on tape and I loved it. The first “album” I bought (it was a cassette tape) was Prince Charming. I had Adam Ant posters all over my wall and was a big fan. Definitely the first band I “flipped for”.

Stand and Deliver
Adam & The Ants

This is the Sea

This is the Sea is the third Waterboys album and most probably my favourite album of all time. It’s certainly the album in my collection that has been listened to the most. I’ve bought it probably four or five times. I’ve had two cassette tapes bite the dust, bought the CD then lost it, bought it again and, this Christmas, I was pleasantly surprised to find the remastered edition in my Christmas stocking (from my loving wife).

The remastered version also includes a second CD of extended versions of the songs and songs which never made it onto the original 1985 version. It’s nice to hear the extended versions of Medicine Bow and Spirit, my two favourite tracks from the CD. It also has some liner notes written by Mike Scott which are illuminating.

It’s interesting to note that the tunes do not seem to date. Since I went into Alcoholics Anonymous back in September 2004, I’ve increasingly tried to live a more spiritual life and this has given a whole new meaning to Mike Scott’s lyrics. I know from having pretty much everything Mike Scott has written that he himself is a spiritual person, so it’s nice to have that perspective on songs with which I am so familiar. Spirit and Be My Enemy are two polar opposites of the spiritual side of Mike Scott’s writing (at least in my interpretation).

This was pretty much the culmination of the “Big Music” concept of Mike Scott’s writing – they “went folk” after this one with the fantastic Fisherman’s Blues album in 1990.

As a musician, it’s interesting to note that This is the Sea shows the power of the three-chord song. I have recently come to the conclusion in my own guitar playing that, at least in this genre, the music serves the song. Old England is a case in point. I’ve recently started performing Medicine Bow and may start playing The Pan Within a bit more too!

So, for now, enjoy Spirit (the original version).

The Waterboys