Sara Lee Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Kitchen Musician's (No. 3) O'Carolan Tunes for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc. (Kitchen Musician, 2001)
Sara Lee Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Kitchen Musician's (No. 4) Occasional Collection of Fine Tunes for Hammered Dulcimer, Fiddle, Flute, etc. (Kitchen Musician, 2001)
Sara L. Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Kitchen Musician's (No. 5) Mostly Irish Airs (Kitchen Musician, 2000)
Sara L. Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Kitchen Musician's (No. 6) Occasional Jig for Hammer Dulcimer, Fiddle, etc. (Kitchen Musician, 2001)
Sara Lee Johnson (compiler and arranger), Favorite Scotch Measures (The Kitchen Musician's No. 9) (Kitchen Musician, 1990)
Sara Lee Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Airs and Melodies of Scotland's Past (The Kitchen Musician's No. 10) (Kitchen Musician, 2001)
Sara Lee Johnson (compiler and arranger), The Litel Renaissance & Medaeival Faque Booke (Kitchen Musician the 13th) (Kitchen Musician, 1994)
Sara L. Johnson (compiler and arranger), A New Collection of Songs, Airs, and Dances of the 18th Century (The Kitchen Musician, Vol. 14th) (Kitchen Musician, 1997)
Sara L. Johnson (compiler and arranger), Popular Music of Cincinnati & The Ohio River Frontier from 1788 to 1825 (Kitchen Musician, 1998)
Sara L. Johnson (compiler and arranger), A Further Collection of Dances, Marches, Minuetts and Duetts of the Later 18th Century (The Kitchen Musician, Vol. 16th) (Kitchen Musician, 1998)
I've always held the opinion that one can never have too many tune books, and over the years I've built up a sizable collection. Collections like Cole's or O'Neill's are classics jam-packed with good tunes. Some of these books, though, while valuable resources, present a problem from their sheer volume. Say you find yourself in the dilemma of needing a good dance tune, a nice flowing jig in A minor to pair up with "Jefferson and Liberty"; the 246-page revised O'Neill's is pretty unwieldy. Something smaller would be easier to use in a situation like that.
This is where the Kitchen Musician series comes in handy. These tunebooks are almost tunebooklets; they are very slim volumes, the thickest ones being twenty pages long. That doesn't leave room for a lot of tunes, as you might guess. What makes these so convenient is that each volume is compiled around a theme -- Volume 4 might be an exception, but someone might be able to argue a case for that one, too. In the situation mentioned above, I was able to sit down with a mandolin and Volume 6, and within minutes located the tune "Behind The Bush In The Garden," which completed the pair nicely.
Volume 3 begins with a very short biography of Turlogh O'Carolan. The rest of the book is taken up with pieces composed by (or attributed to) him. Every tune has some brief commentary to go along with it.
Volume 4 is the least organized, in a thematic sense, being, as the title states, simply a collection of tunes. The tunes are an assortment from the British Isles and North America, and aren't arranged in any pattern. Again, every tune has some commentary, although some only merit a single sentence.
Like all of the books in this series, Mostly Irish Airs is truth in advertising; a few of the tunes aren't Irish, and a few aren't airs, but the contents are, indeed, mostly Irish airs. A few O'Carolan tunes are present that weren't included in Volume 3.
The tunes in Volume 6 are all in compound meter: 6/8 time except for a few 9/8 slip jigs. Following the initial tune (the old standard "Pop Goes The Weasel") is an explanation of the differences between single, double and slip jigs.
Volume 9 is filled with fiddle and bagpipe standards from Scotland. Many of these will sound familiar even to those who don't listen to much Scottish music -- "Hundred Pipers," "Green Hills Of Tyrol," "My Love Is But A Lassie Yet"....
More Scottish tunes are found in Volume 10. This volume begins with some conjectures as to why Scottish music is less popular than Irish music among American fiddlers (the names aren't as catchy, and then there are those flat keys). The tunes aren't as familiar as the ones from the previous volume, but not terribly obscure either. In some instances, the tunes have been transposed into more finger-friendly keys. Some would undoubtedly call this sacrilege, but in each of those cases, both the source and original key are noted.
Volume 13 is a fun little book of (mostly) Early Music pieces; I have to admit that French tunes sound medieval to me, too. Music is included from Playford and Fitzwilliam, plus older tunes from various western European traditions.
Volumes 14 and 16 contain music from the 18th century. Except for some Playford tunes, the music was new to me. Occasional song lyrics or dance figures are included. The text is in a period-style calligraphy, pretty to look at, but difficult to read by eyes not used to reading such. Rather than accompanying the music notation, the commentary is in the form of end-notes, which I find to be a hassle. These books would probably be of greatest interest to reenactors of the 18th century period.
Popular Music of Cincinnati... is divided chronologically. Tunes are introduced based on history, as music is brought in by new arrivals, and music collections are published. This volume has the most text of any of the ones reviewed here, almost a quick history lesson of the early years of the city.
The series as a whole is well-researched, without being stuffy. Sources are listed, most of the time. The formatting is uneven from volume to volume. Some have bibliographies and discographies, others do not. Two of them don't even have a table of contents, but that's a minor quibble in books of this size. These are short but filled with music and background; welcome additions to any music library.
Samples of the tunes from these
books can be found at the Kitchen Musician Web site.