Evolution of the Fox Hunt!

Work on our new CD is progressing!   W're working our way through the recording and mixing process.  I shared one of thre first cuts of the box with my firend, Kate - we call it the Fox Hunter's Set.  It starts with a light skippy tune called Pilebachial (it's not spelled like that - I'm just guessing) - then rolls into a fun march with a long Gaelic name that I can never remember - much less pronouce (Vern can) - and finishes with a lively slip jig called The Foxhunters. 

Kate loved it!  She's a classical musician and started questioning me about how in the world we put tunes together and arrange a set like this.  It was fun to think back and try to recall how it all came together.   Every arrangement has a story - and an evolution.  Here's what I remember about how this set of tunes came about:

Years ago, I'm talking ten or eleven years ago, I remember Vern bringing the first tune to our attention (we weren't even all part of EQUINOX at that time).   He and I learned the whistle part - but it's a tricky one - got those C naturals all over the place and lots of jumps in the intervals.  We were both fairly "young" whistle players - and the fingering was difficult.  So we played it very slowly and paired it up with other tunes (I think we put it ahead of My Match It Was Made and Dunmore Lassie which ended up on our Wake the DEAD CD - without the tricky tune).   At some point we dropped it, but Vern never forgot about it.

The march in the middle, Vern also brought to us - he'd heard it on some other CD from some other band - and liked it enough to look it up and learn it.  But it didn't used to be in the middle!   It was the end of the set  when we first started playing it.    We tried out a number of other tunes to go with these two before we settled on Foxhunter's.   Leslie had played it before, I had heard it from my sweetie's pipe band, and we all just liked its energy. 

So we started learning the tunes - and deciding how we wanted to play them.   I remember a lovely summer evening rehearsal that started on my back patio with just Leslie and I on fiddle and high whistle- and my sweetie, Dennis, listening - playing it over and over while we waited for the rest of the band to arrive.  One by one they joined in as they got there - adding guitar (Kath), low whistle (Vern), and bodhran and bass (both Bobbie).  They were just fun to play!

That year we added it to our set lists at the Renaissance Festival and our fall concerts - still not in the order we use now.   But what we noticed is that audiences were so into the 2nd tune (which was then Foxhunter's) that they would break into applause spontaneously when we finished that and not realize that we had one more to go.  Our fiddler friend, Judy from the Faire, listened to it and immediately suggested that we switch the march into 2nd and save the rousing slip jig for last.   We did and the arrangement was cemented.  After that, it's just fine tuning and polishing - deciding on the stops in the march, the change in dynamics in the slip jib, the right tempo for the first one.  

Then it takes on a life of its own every time we share it with an audience - lately, for me.....I hear the whole set as "the foxhunt".    I can see the happy-go-lucky fox trotting through the forest and meadows during the skippy first tune.  The march makes me think of the hunters on horses making their way in a line to through the trees, dogs out front sniffing eagerly.  Then the call of the horn signifying that the fox has been spotted - and then it's on.  The baying of the dogs, the panic of the fox, and the chase ensues.   And since it's my story in my head, I have to tell you that the fox always gets away to run another day!

And soon we'll be able to share it with you on our new CD, AUTUMNAL EQUINOX....Or at one of our upcoming concerts!   It'll be on the set list.  Sure hope you like it!

What others say ...

"EQUINOX can bathe you in seemingly effortless melodies one moment and then turn around and amaze you with a ferocious musical barrage of sound and dance the next."

– Joy Butler | Bay Arts Council director