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After consulting his preacher to make sure there was nothing sinful about playing blues records on the radio Mr. Wright decided to give it a try. He did it six days a week almost until his death on what became one of America's longest-running radio programs. From 6 o'clock to 9, he was the 'Soul Man' playing the blues. For the last two hours he was 'Brother Early' playing gospel music - Early Wright, obituary to the DJ, WROX Clarksdale

Author Topic: A little blues on a Cavaquinho  (Read 797 times)

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Offline Stumblin

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A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« on: December 02, 2013, 02:51:24 AM »
Here's a little ditty I composed after watching the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode, and ruminating on my present situation.
My little cavaquinho is tuned to the traditional Coimbra tuning: GGDB. I think the Lisboa open tuning is DGBD, both tunings are mostly like playing in Spanish, although the paired Gs at the bottom of the Coimbra tuning do present novel obstacles and opportunities.
It's a high pitched instrument and a little on the quiet side, so pitching the voice to fit is tricky. Any road, I hope you enjoy this meagre offering.

Offline Johnm

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2013, 02:53:18 PM »
Nice job, Andy!  The tone of the cavaquinho suits your voice very well, and I particularly like the bends on it--I've not heard that done before on a cavaquinho and it works great, they really scream.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stumblin

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2013, 11:26:29 AM »
Thanks John.
In rural Portugal, you only get one take: first you wait for the dogs to stop barking, then you do your song before they start again.
I really wanted to start some speculation about the origin of the term "Spanish Tuning." As I said, Coimbra tuning is GGBD, Lisboa tuning is DGBD, which is identical to the top four of a Spanish tuned guitar.
Is it possible that someone in the late C19th in the USA mistook some Portuguese immigrants and their music for Spanish people/music?
It would kind of make sense in a way, because I'm not aware of any actual, de facto, Spanish tradition of tuning in these or similar ways, but it's very popular in Portuguese chordophone traditions.
Do we need a new thread for this?
« Last Edit: December 06, 2013, 11:28:38 AM by Stumblin »

Offline Johnm

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2013, 12:03:45 PM »
Hi Andy,
My understanding has been that Spanish tuning was so designated because it was the tuning that "Spanish Fandango" a popular parlor guitar piece of the 19th century was played in--just as Vestapol supposedly derived its name from "The Siege of Sevastapol", a tune commemorating an engagement in the Crimean War that was played in that tuning.  You can see how quickly the use of the tuning gets pretty far removed from any musicologically "Spanish" derivation. 
I know there's a thread where this stuff has been hashed over before, but I can't even remember what Board it is on.  Rather than duplicating that discussion here, maybe the thing would be to track that thread down, if you wanted to keep going with it.  I found what you did especially interesting because I'm most accustomed to hearing the cavaquinho used in Brazilian music, where it is used as a rhythm instrument in ensembles, strummed ferociously and is loud.  It's cool to hear your altogether use of it and sound on it.
All best,
Johnm

Offline Stumblin

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #4 on: December 08, 2013, 01:24:30 AM »
Thanks John.
I'll try to locate the thread you mentioned right after breakfast.
I was aware of the "Spanish Fandango" connection, it was precisely that, and the absence of open-G tunings from the vast majority of Spanish guitar music, which made me wonder about a possible Portuguese connection, perhaps coupled with an Anglophone misapprehension of the tuning's socio-geographic point of origin.
Incidentally, the cavaqinho is often used in Portuguese festa music as an accompaniment to a battery of accordions.

Offline Stuart

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #5 on: December 08, 2013, 09:12:13 AM »
Some ancillary evidence is the tuning brought to Hawaii by the cowboys from Spain and Portugal (and perhaps from Mexico and South America, IIRC) in the 1830s--Taro Patch--which is open G. Being geographically separate from the mainland Americas, it seems to indicate that the tuning was used in Spain and Portugal early on. This doesn't speak to the the etymology of "Spanish Tuning," however, but perhaps to the path(s) of transmission. There is some info on Dancing Cat and also in John Troutman's article. Here are a couple of links:

http://dancingcat.com/slack_key_info_book_01a.html

http://johntroutman.weebly.com/uploads/1/7/3/9/17394191/19.1.troutman.final.pdf

And don't forget Jas Obrecht's article:

http://jasobrecht.com/blues-origins-spanish-fandango-and-sebastopol/

(A lot of other good stuff at Jas' site: http://jasobrecht.com/)

John's correct about the other thread being worth re-visiting as there is some very useful information there as well.

Here's one thread I found, but there may be others that also discuss the topic:

http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?topic=513.0

Offline Stumblin

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #6 on: December 08, 2013, 11:10:48 AM »
Thanks Stuart.
Yes, Mr. Obrecht's article is fascinating, I read it quite a while ago and again today.
I'll follow up the links you provided.
Cheers

Offline alyoung

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Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2013, 06:14:33 AM »
Interesting discussion on Spanish Fandango and its origins (and its relationship with Vastapol) in Stephen Wade's "The Beautiful Music All Around Us" (University of Illinois, 2012); it's in the chapter on Pete Steele. One factoid: 31 versions of "Fandango" appeared in sheet music for guitar and bajo between 1838 and 1903.


Offline Stumblin

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  • Got the Blues, can't be satisfied
Re: A little blues on a Cavaquinho
« Reply #8 on: December 19, 2013, 10:40:10 AM »
Thanks, Al.
I guess I'll wait for the paperback edition.

 


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