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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
Project – Comparative Analysis:
‘Sleep Soond In Da Mornin’ and ‘Sleep Soond ida Mornin’
I have made two transcriptions of the same melody, a traditional version and a
contempory version. The traditional version of the tune, ‘Sleep Soond In Da Mornin’,
was recorded by Margaret Scollay and the modern version, ‘Sleep Soond ida
Moarnin’ by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas. Margaret Scollay is playing solo fiddle
on the album Traditional Scottish Fiddling whereas Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas
have the instrumentation fiddle and ‘cello on the album Fire and Grace. This is a
well-known tune from North Yell, one of the Islands that make up Shetland. The
fiddle tradition in Shetland is vast and this melody was part of a collection of tunes
that were discovered in Shetland between 1970-73.
The melody is in binary form with an ‘A’ and ‘B’ part and is a reel in 4/4 time.
This tune is mainly made up of quavers and arpeggio patterns. A feature that is
prevalent in both interpretations of the melody is question and answer or antecedent
consequent. The even bar numbers ‘ask the questions’ and the odd bar number
have the ‘answering’ phrase. Bar four, once again, answers the phrase and ends
with a perfect cadence and an anacrusis is added to take the melody into the next
bar. Bar six, in both excerpts, is identical to bar two with the arpeggio answering
phrase but finishing on an imperfect cadence (See Figure 1).
Figure 1: Bar Two
Bar Six
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
‘Ringing strings’ is an extremely prevalent feature in Shetland fiddle music
and is found, to different degrees, in both excerpts. For example, in the opening bar
of the version by Margaret Scollay; there is a very slight use of ‘ringing strings’, whilst
playing a high ‘A’ she lightly double - stops it with the open ‘A’ string; whereas,
Alasdair Fraser uses this technique many times throughout the tune and, in fact;
whenever available, he double stops with the nearest open string. The bowing they
use is similar in the last two bars: They both choose to make the first two quavers
slurred followed by two separate bows (See Figure 2).
Figure 2
Another feature in both versions of the tune is the melodic shape of the ‘B’
section as it is built up and mainly consists, of broken chords and arpeggio patterns.
The patterns alternate between the third, first and fifth of the chord of ‘A’ minor; then,
in the next bar, the focus moves to G major (See Figure 3)
Figure 3
Common to both versions is the ending. The final two bars consist of an
ascending scale that then falls back down to rest with an inverted G major arpeggio
with an added fourth culminating on chord one to finish.
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
One recorded example of this tune is ‘Sleep Soond In Da Moarnin’ played by
Shetland fiddler Margaret Scollay. Margaret is from Yell in Shetland but her playing
has been influenced from not only Yell, but other Shetland Islands as her family
came from Cullivoe. This is a solo player performing the melody with no
accompaniment. The metronomic marking for this recording is 96 crotchet beats per
minute. The key signature is primarily A minor. The first half has G#, F# and C
natural so is more likely modal. In the second measure, the G#s drop to G natural
making it closer to A minor.
This is quite a traditional version of the tune and has many characteristics of
the playing in Shetland. The second and third notes are tied together, creating a
small amount of syncopation, which is very effective as it highlights the back beat of
the music, which is a really common feature in Shetland playing. Bars one, three,
five and seven are very similar and all begin with the same opening phrase and they
all have an acciaccaturas between the fourth and fifth notes (See Figure 4).
Figure 4
In the second half of the tune she also double - stops the ‘B’ and ‘G’, creating
the harmony of a major third. Following this in bar 12, she inserts a ‘birl’ before the
first two notes in the bar. Then continues by double-stopping the ‘G#’ then the ‘A’ on
the string below with a sliding finger, thus creating another double-stopped effect
(See Figure 5).
Figure 5
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
Throughout the tune, the bowing she chooses to use is primarily single bows
with little slurring or cross bowing. Margaret adds a good amount of vibrato to the
notes, giving a really good tone quality although there is an unevenness in her
playing in the ‘B’ part.
Alastair Fraser and Natalie Haas devised their version for the instrumentation
of fiddle and cello. Alasdair is from Clackmannan in Scotland and Natalie is from
California so there are a vast amount of influences that go into their music that are
evident in this contemporary track. The metronomic marking for this version is 132
crotchet beats per minute. The key signature of this version is difficult to define with
elements of both A minor and A Dorian. There is a significant harmonic shift between
the ‘A’ section from A minor with the use of ‘F’ sharps and ‘C’ and ‘G’ natural. The
emphasis then shifts more towards ‘A’ Dorian for the ‘B’ section.
There are a select number of features that are prevalent in the tune. One of
the main features in this contemporary version of the tune is repetition. An example
of repetition is that there is a recurring phrase that appears in the melody every two
bars making the total number of appearances four; however, the phrase is varied
each time it is played. The first time it happens, the fiddle plays one quaver then
another that is tied to a crotchet then playing a minim all of which are the same note
thus creating the effect of a short inverted pedal. The answering phrase is based on
the G major broken chord with an added sixth in the first half of the bar (See Figure
6).
Figure 6
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
Bar three is a variation to bar one in which, instead of the notes being tied together
making a sustained sound, the notes are almost all played separately. This is except
for a tie across quaver beats two and three, adding syncopation to the melody (See
Figure 7).
Figure 7
Another example of a feature that is repeated is the grace notes within the
tune. At the end of each phrase, in bars four, eight, twelve and sixteen, Alasdair uses
the same grace notes. Each time there is an open ‘A’ he inserts a ‘C#’ and ‘B’ as two
acciaccaturas before the main note, which colours the potentially dull sound of an
open string (See Figure 8).
Figure 8
An example of question and answer comes in bar four as it is an answer to
the phrase that has come immediately before; however, this time it ends with a
perfect cadence. There is also the addition of an anacrusis which carries the melody
into the next bar. In the second half of the ‘A’ part all the notes are now separate,
giving a very energetic and lively feel to the tune. Bar six is identical to bar two with
an arpeggio answering phrase but finishing on an imperfect cadence.
The accompaniment is a large part of this track and adds to the contemporary
nature hugely. Natalie uses a relatively new technique on the cello called ‘chopping’,
which involved working hard with the heel of the bow. This drives the intensity of the
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
track immensely. The chord pattern stays on a pedal ‘A’ minor for the ‘A’ section of
the tune, then forms a chord sequence following that.
In the second half, in bars eleven and twelve, the mirror of the two previous
bars is evident but this time it ends with chord one on a perfect as opposed to an
imperfect cadence (See Figure 9).
Figure 9: Bars Nine & Ten and Eleven & Twelve
The bowing changes in the second half to being much more uniform across
the section. The common pattern being two quavers slurred then two separate notes.
This creates accents which adds intensity to the tune and also highlights the back
beat. The rhythm and drive continue and the piece peaks with emphasis and vibrato
on the high ‘A’ to finish.
The version by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas is a much more contempory
interpretation than that of Margaret Scollay’s. Alasdair Fraser makes his version
stylistically more challenging through the addition of many double – stops and
ornaments whereas Margaret keeps her arrangement reasonably simplistic. The
tune is a traditional melody from the Shetland Islands and both arrangements do it
justice.
Word Count: 1,411
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Theory 2 Transcription & Analysis
Talitha MacKenzie
100002473
19/01/2012
DISCOGRAPHY
FRASER, Alasdair and Natalie Haas (2004) Fire and Grace (Greentrax: CUL121);
Track 8, ‘‘Sleep Soond ida Moarnin’’ in ‘‘Shetland Set’’.
SCOLLAY, Margaret (2002) Traditional Scottish Fiddling (Skye: Taigh na Teud);
Track 37 ‘Sleep Soond In Da Mornin’.
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