Shaker's Fancy is an album of instrumental music featuring the Mountain Dulcimer, with Guitar,Viola, and Plucked Psaltery. The pieces range in styles from English Country Dance Tunes, to Irish Harp Tunes, to the Blues. Steve plays the Dulcimer, the Baritone and Tenor Dulcimers, and the Plucked Psaltery. Jerry Rockwell plays Guitar, and Brandon Smith plays Viola on the title track.
This album takes its name from the elegant, functional simplicity of Shaker style furniture. The title track is a composition of Steve's based on a simple, straightforward melody, but one that is a solid basis for decoration and variation. So it is with much of the rest of the album. The basic melodies are often simple, but lend themselves to variation and ornamentation, while still remaining true to their basic form. The last track on the recording, Shaker's Fancy Revisited, exemplifies this principle. Jerry Rockwell wrote this variation to Steve's composition and plays the Guitar in the performance. The melody goes somewhat far afield from the original composition, but always remains rooted in the fundamental form of the original. We hope you like it.
Descriptions for the individual pieces.
1. Shaker's Fancy (c) 1995 S.K. Smith 4:08
This piece is a mixolydian mode melody, with a simple elegance reminiscent of Shaker design furniture, functional, strong, and elegant. Steve plays mountain dulcimer and plucked psaltery, Brandon Smith plays viola accompaniment, and Jerry Rockwell plays guitar.
2. As Quick as you Please trad. English 2:03
This English country dance tune is mostly in the harmonic minor of A. Steve uses the 8+ fret to play this scale on the dulcimer.
3.Winter's Lament (c) 1996 S.K. Smith 3:56
A piece composed on a cold winter's day, remembering the warmth of summer.
4. Steven Foster Medley trad. American 4:25
A medley of three tunes written by the American song writer, Stephen Foster, Hard Times Come Again No More, Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair, and Old Kentucky Home. Steve plays this on the baritone dulcimer.
5. Ode to O'Carolan (c) 1997 S.K.Smith 1:56
This is played on the plucked psaltery in the key of Em.
6.The Black Nag trad. English 2:04
Another piece from the English country dance tune genre, but not played here as a dance piece.
7. Southwind trad. Irish 3:42
Steve plays this familiar Irish slow air on the baritone dulcimer and adds some variations as he goes through it.
8. Steve & Jerry Blues (c) 1997 S.K. Smith & J.C. Rockwell 5:10
This is a blues jam between Steve and Jerry in the key of F-sharp, captured in the in the studio as it happened, totally improvised.
9. O'Carolan's Concerto trad. Irish by Turloch O'Carolan 2.30
Perhaps one of O'Carolan's best pieces, the tradition is that he wrote this in response to a challenge from the Italian composer, Geminiani. Steve plays the baritone dulcimer, and Jerry plays guitar.
10. Minuet Formerly in G from the Anna Magdalenna Bach notebook trad.
ascribed to Christrian Petzold 5:22
This work was included in set of practice pieces that J. S. Bach compiled for his second wife for her piano study. This may be the most "recognizable" of the pieces in his book, and it turns up in a lot of places. Steve played both the baritone dulcimer and the four equidistant string tenor dulcimer on this piece, brazenly added some of his own variations to the original melody, and transposed the melody to the key of A.
11. Psaltery Improvisation (c) 1997 S.K. Smith 2:11
Captured as it happened in the studio. Sorry, I can't do it again.
12. White Coral Bells / Londonderry Air trad. English 2:41
A medley of two traditional English tunes with a bit of personal significance. The first was a favorite of my father, Albert Smith, and the second was a favorite of my father in law, Daniel Volen.
13. Dulcimer Improvisation (c) 1998 S.K. Smith 2:41
Another improv. captured in the studio. This one is in the key of D.
14. Love's Bidding (c) 1997 S. K. Smith 2:25
Reminiscent of the joyful, but sometimes bittersweet duties of love.
15. Mrs. Cole trad. Irish by Turloch O'Carolan 2:59
Another tune by the great blind Irish harper. This one is less well known, perhaps because it is somewhat more of a challenge to play.
16. Shaker's Fancy Revisited (c) 1997 S.K. Smith & J.C. Rockwell 3:57
Jerry Rockwell wrote this variation on Steve's original composition. The variation travels rather distantly from the land of D-mixolydian into the more wild territory of the A-dorian, but remains rooted to the fundamental form of the original throughout its journey, before returning. Jerry plays guitar and Steve plays the mountain dulcimer.