Greater emphasis is given to stylistic aspects of the music. A number of considerations are given to the selection of tunes, including: their interest to Stewart in his studies; their interest to the general musical community; their demonstration of particular stylistic nuances; as being representative of a composer’s style. These workshops can be fiddle specific, or tailored for multi-instrument workshops. Subject matter includes:
1. James Hill & Associates – Tyneside’s most famous fiddling son and composer of many wonderful (and notoriously tricky) hornpipes was a member of a thriving musical community. The tunes they have left behind form the core of the North East fiddler’s repertoire.
2. Early Northumbrian – the manuscripts of Henry Atkinson (1694) and William Vickers (1770) form the basis of this fascinating repertoire, including some fine tune forms that have been much neglected, but which now are finding fresh admirers.
3. North East English from the 20th Century – the fiddle tradition has continued uninterrupted in the North East. Moreover, it has been added to by the likes of Jack
Davidson, Willy Taylor, Robin Dunn, Kathryn Tickell and a host of young talent frequenting the sessions around Tyneside.
4. English – for so long the poor cousin of the fiddle repertoire of these islands and often dismissed as a small collection of simplistic tunes for morris dancing, suitable more for beginners than serious fiddlers, this repertoire is finally receiving the long overdue attention it deserves. Thanks to the diligent efforts and generosity of key individuals, what has emerged is a melodically rich and stylistically diverse repertoire, every bit as rewarding and worthy of consideration as its more celebrated island relatives.
5. Own Compositions – Stewart has been writing and recording his own tunes for many years. Some have been been recorded by other artists and used in radio, TV and theatre productions. There is also a substantial number of tunes written as teaching aids.
6. Irish – still the most popular repertoire heard in sessions, and not surprisingly given the number of fantastic fiddle tunes and so many wonderful exponents of them.
7. Scottish – a hugely rich repertoire, very influential on both the Irish and the English, and including not only a fabulous traditional repertoire, but also many outstanding fiddle composers.
8. Contemporary Folk – arguably we are living in a golden age of folk music, with so many outstanding performers on the scene, many of whom are writing tunes in the traditional idiom, but with all the diverse influence of our modern multi-cultural society.
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