Rolling Stones or Snowballs? The Countdown …

They say that a rolling stone gathers no moss. On the other hand, a snowman starts with a snowball, and a pearl with a grain of sand.

Last week’s Bass Culture plenary faced the reality of our October 2015 deadline hurtling towards us with increasing speed (not so much a rolling stone as an avalanche), as we contemplated what needed to be done before that date.

We looked with interest at another project involving MEI – the Lost Voices Project (“Companion resource to Les livres de Chansons Nouvelles de Nicolas Du Chemin (1549–1568), hosted by the Centre d’Études Supérieures de la Renaissance in Tours, France”), in which Zoltan has also had a hand.  It’s great to see MEI in use, and to begin to imagine what our own functionality might look like.

So what do we need to achieve?  There’s the website (  Karen has input the relevant data into our BIG, detailed spreadsheet for the books that have been digitized, and now needs to edit the main spreadsheet – much longer but not quite as wide!

We’re still hoping to get some more incipits transcribed, and David and Barnaby are planning recordings, with David looking forward to the North Atlantic Fiddle Convention in Cape Breton this October.  And of course, there’s also the necessary planning to keep the whole website running after our project officially ends.

Does that sound busy?  Too true!  So with that, and preferring the snowball metaphor to that of a rolling stone, it’s time to get back to that thumping bass …

Just a wee comment – there’s just a holding page at at the present time of writing. But do bookmark it, because that’s where it will all be happening when we launch the website!



index, locate, define

Index, locate, define is Karen’s neat summing-up of what she and I will first be concerned with over the next year or so, when we have our bass culture hats on (officially that’s two days a week).

So much of this work has been done already by Charles Gore, and is now available online at – fiddlers, pay your tenner and get access to an enormous library of old tunes. But the books which escaped Charlie’s notice won’t make it into our sights or anyone else’s, unless there is a record somewhere of which tunes are in them, so some indexing is required. Of the making of lists there is no end, so we’re aiming to be discriminating over which sources get Karen’s attention and which don’t.

Once we’ve narrowed down which books we want to look at, in most cases we still have to find a physical copy. Once our spiffy web resource is up and running in two or three years’ time, this will be less of a problem for everyone. But in the meantime, given that most of the books are over 200 years old, this means visiting libraries.

When we have located our fiddle basslines, we’ll have to develop a vocabulary to describe them in words, using terminology that as many musicians as possible can understand. This is more difficult than you might think and will no doubt be the subject of many a blog post in the future …