(Visit the news archive for past announcements)

(To post a news item,
e-mail mcherkasky@verizon.net)


November 3, 2008


Meeting Notes

At our October 19 meeting Rik Kaplan took us on a trip through the music of southwestern Louisiana. Before the end of the meeting he had us playing “Away in a Manger” Cajun style! It is clear Rik has a passion for this music, and we’re grateful he was willing to spend a Sunday afternoon with us and share his knowledge. Thanks, Rik!

Here’s a summary of the presentation:

Southwestern Louisiana Genres

Cajun originated with the farmers in Southwestern Louisiana, the white descendents of French Canadians, playing single-row diatonic squeezeboxes – instruments that originated with the German immigrant shopkeepers in the area. These farmers exploited the instrument’s limitations, i.e., it plays only eight notes, so no flats or sharps, and only two chords -- no minor, diminished, etc., chords. Cajun music usually uses a C instrument that plays C and G chords on the bass side.

Creole and La La music originated with the area’s black population and developed into Zydeco styles. Rik described a La La as a house party in the Creole community. Creole people are mixed African and French and/or Spanish. Call-and-response from field songs shows up in Creole and La La. These styles are less metronomic than Cajun.

Southwestern Louisiana also has roadhouse music, which is closer to rockabilly, Texas swing, and big band music but is accordion-driven and more bluesy.

Juré – African American a capella community singing


Cajun Techniques

Instead of playing a half or whole note, play a series of 8th notes. The music is “busy.”

Play octaves - 2 notes simultaneously or “rocking.” Rocking can be done fast like a trill or “shuffled,” that is, syncopated and “pop” the higher notes.

Play thirds rather than 1-3-5 chords.

Add grace notes.

Place as dry a register as possible. (Zydeco is wetter.)

Play single notes.

Metronomic beat.

Concentrate on upbeat. (In Zydeco there is more attention to the downbeat.)

In a Cajun waltz accent beats 1 and 3.



Rehearsals for Holiday Concert

If you plan to play in the WMAS Orchestra at the holiday concert on December 14, please be sure to mark your calendar with these rehearsal dates:

Sunday, November 2, 7 pm – About 10 people showed up for this rehearsal last night, so that’s a start.

Sunday, November 16, 4 pm (regular meeting – see below)

Sunday, November 23, 7 pm

Sunday, December 7, 7 pm

Sunday, December 14, 2 pm

CONCERT December 14 at 4 pm

You must come to the rehearsals is you plan to play at the concert! No matter that you sightread like a dream, it is important to practice playing with the rest of the orchestra. All rehearsals take place at Sleepy Hollow United Methodist, the same place as our meetings.

Please let us know if you would like to play a solo (or duet, etc) in the concert. If the list gets too long, though, we will assign some people to play during dinner. We encourage everyone to join the orchestra so we can keep the concert to a manageable length. Thanks!


Next Meeting

At our November 16 meeting we will have a rehearsal, and a two-part workshop led by Joan Grauman:

1. “Working with a Conductor” will be brief and upbeat. It will focus on preparing for the Holiday Concert. We encourage ALL club members to join in and play the holiday music with us. Even if you can only play a few notes, join us for the rehearsals and you will find that your playing improves and that it is a lot of fun to play in an orchestral setting. If you haven’t received your music yet, Joan will be handing it out at the meeting and we’ll play through the selections while following her baton.

2. “Getting To Know Your Accordion” will be a three-part, very brief talk and demonstration of (a) how to wear your accordion and why to make changes where needed; (b) musette tuning versus dry tuning and the versatility of both, and the purpose of a tone chamber; and (c) how to travel with your accordion, including a demonstration of how to “lock” your basses and safely take the accordion apart (into two pieces) for placing in an overhead of a plane.

Also at the November 16 meeting, SqueezinArt will set up a table with gifts for accordionists for early holiday shopping. If you have a used accordion to sell, please bring it to the November meeting.


Trio Zur CDs

We still have CDs of Trio Zur, Antonio Barbarena solo, and marimba player Javier Nandayapa for sale. If you’re interested, please get in touch with Karen at wmas2002@cox.net or pick them up at the next meeting.


Question from Stacie Keenan

Do any accordionists out there use Sibelius at home to write or arrange their own sheet music for accordions? I was wondering how to notate the counterbasses using Sibelius. I've already figured out how to indicate treble fingerings with tiny text, but counterbass font seems kind of unusual. Anybody familiar with it?


It looks like WMAS will get to play the National Anthem for a Nationals game next spring or summer. We’ll need to start practicing soon if we’re going to pull this off, though. Joan Grauman will find a good arrangement for us.


Blob’s Is Back!

As it turns out, the economic downturn has an upside. The plans to develop Blob’s Park into an office and retail park have been dropped, and this beloved venue will reopen for Saturday night dances, probably by the end of the year. Blob’s was founded in 1933 and closed at the end of 2007. More info at www.blobspark.com.


Announcement from Dominic Karcic

When you get the chance check out my "Heard It on the Gig" column which now is published online at the AAA web-site, http://www.ameraccord.com/

Once at the site, click on AAA Newsletter and then click on Click Here for Heard It On The Gig by Dominic Karcic.

Hope you enjoy .............. Dominic