Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 9, 2019 at 9:55

I failed to record the second of the two Cornish dances. I can play it without a mistake, but apparently not when the red light of the camera is on. I can't believe after making a few hundred videos, I still get anxious when the red light goes on. Anyway, maybe I'll record it as a sound file. 

This is a very interesting piece by Cammeyer, which he did not think everyone would like or understand - I can't remember his exact words. But you are all connoisseurs of good composition, so I don't think you'll have a problem with it. The performance, on the other hand... 

Comment by Richard William Ineson on May 9, 2019 at 10:43

Well played Rob, this piece and Cam's  'Bolero', 'Down Devon Way'. Marche en Passant' and Danse Bizarre' are my favourites. I think Sheaff remarked that they never played the 2 Cornish Dances in concert and that Cam said that he'd 'gone right over their heads this time' when referring to the Cornish Dances. CD No.2 is not my cup of tea, I heard it played some years ago by Lowell Schreyer I think, and although he played it magnificently it still didn't appeal to me. It would have been good to hear Sheaff and Cammeyer playing this.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 9, 2019 at 10:53

Cheers, Richard. Nice to hear from you. It's a lovely piece, despite my occasional hesitation - playing from memory is becoming more difficult! 

I quite like the second dance, but it's too fast to read, so I have to rely on my memory again, and it trips me up at least once, often twice or thrice during the piece. I still hope to record it on video, but an edited sound file might have to suffice. 

Comment by thereallyniceman on May 9, 2019 at 13:48

Superb interpretation Rob and that is a fine sounding ZB. Don't you just love Classic Banjo?  Cammeyer's compositions were/still are amazing and Cornish Dance No1 is one of my favourites.

Thank you Rob, your skill really does amaze me and I wish I could make it look so easy..

Maybe we would like to hear another interpretation of the piece as played by the late Derek Lillywhite?

Cornish Dance No1 by Derek Lillywhite

I had the great pleasure of meeting Derek in the 1970s when I was first learning. That was probably the first time I saw a Zither banjo being played "live". Derek was a very pleasant and helpful guy, and a superb player too.

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 9, 2019 at 14:08

Cheers, Ian. I've heard Derek's recording. He really was superb, but I think the microphone was too close to the piano overall. Great player, though.

It's difficult to know how exacting to be with the rhythm, as the whole piece seems to made up of different sections with different characters, which might not all want to go at the same tempo. Well, mine is just a work in progress - I just started it a few days ago - and doubtless I'll change my interpretation of it over time. 

Thanks again for your nice comments. 

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 10, 2019 at 2:40

I have the Lillywhite record...it has always caused me to cringe at the poor recording techniques...a very difficult listen. Really, the little Sears cassette recorder I had as a kid could do a better job.

As far as comparing the two recordings, I certainly think Lillywhite had spent more time with the piece than our fabled Scot. I think Lillywhite's interpretation puts the "dance" in those sections that call for it. Also, the piano helps give the piece some bottom.

They're both lovely and simply two ways of interpreting it. I can't help but smile when Rob drops a big dynamic leap F to ppp. How does one coax such soft tones out of something as coarse as a banjo? ;-)

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 10, 2019 at 7:28

Easy. By not hitting it so hard :-)

Again, I don't see this as music to be danced to, although a good ballet dancer would work with the ebb and flow. Most banjo players see the word dance and immediately relate it to social dancing to a regular beat. It's certainly possible to play it regular all the way through, but I think Cammeyer was a much more subtle composer, and very possibly had ballet in mind. Equally I might have got it completely wrong! :-)

Comment by Trapdoor2 on May 10, 2019 at 14:31

LOL. I guess I need to put down that hammer...

Danceable: nor do I, Rob.

When I see "dance" in a title, I expect the composer was thinking about dancing. Whether he actually wrote out the dance motifs or simply was thinking about them when he wrote it... I do agree that Camm probably had ballet in mind. It does not really sound like the stomp, tap and scrape of Cornish girls dancing!

Without the composers direction (and I believe there are none in the sheet music), I would be pulling out what little hair I have left, attempting to find a dance rhythm or motif in this one...but I think Lillywhite did just that...except for those ghastly Hawaiian slides at the end. No wonder ZBs died out! ;-)

edit: now that I have done a bit of googling, I find that there is a specific traditional tune called "Cornish Floral Dance"...doesn't appear to have anything to do with this piece!

Comment by Joel Hooks on May 10, 2019 at 15:13

Not that it matters as any interpretation is as good or "true" as the next with this music, but have we scanned the BMGs for any hint if "how to play Cornish Dance No 1?"  In the issues I have read I have picked up all kinds of tips about specific pieces.  I would be surprised if there was not a mention of this piece in the stacks. 

Comment by Rob MacKillop on May 10, 2019 at 15:21

Well, a lot of it is in straight 3/4 time, so could be regarded a waltz, and there are a good few places he is writing (but not notating a change of time signature) in 6/8, and also a few phrases of 4/4 scattered in there to break things up further.

You could set a metronome and stick to it all the way through, with some syncopated accents, I suppose, but I personally do not like to hear it that way. But I've often change my interpretation of things as time passes, so I have no fixed opinion. As long as the performer plays with conviction, I'll accept most things. 

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