Over the past couple of months I’ve been jamming and singing with a great fiddle player and singer: Elle Osborne. After the first time we played together I met Elle at her ‘off the gird’ place on the South Downs overlooking Lewes. We performed and sang some great tunes in the end of summer sunshine with the crickets and birds joining in with the music. Since then we have played many times together and I have been working at filming some of the pieces that we performed under bright blue skies.
It really is amazing how easy it is to produce a quality recording even without power. There have been some issues such as wind being picked up in the mics (Elle’s socks double up well as wind shields) and Fifi (the dog) having excitable moments with pheasants and other wildlife during recordings. There is other noise to deal with too such as overhead aircraft (that we could never see!) or the neighbour along the hill setting to his trees with his chainsaw during all our good takes on a perfect recording day a few weeks ago… (Grrr). But playing in a beautiful environment with the sounds of nature around you can’t be beat!
I’ve learnt masses doing these recordings. Musically it has been a great journey, discovering Elle’s extensive repertoire and learning so much about the history of folk music in Sussex and across the water. Working out how to accompany another voice on the banjo and really following tiny nuances to get a performance with freedom that is still totally together. The fiddle and cello work so well with the banjo, sustain and harmony pairing with percussion and rhythm, I’ve also learnt back in my studio about the practicalities of video editing, syncing and mixing acoustic folk music too…
A couple of weeks ago we finally got together a recording that we were really happy with. The light was right, (the chainsaw didn’t intrude too much) the equipment all worked, and we got a good image paired with a performance we were really happy with.
So please enjoy our version of The Ballad Of Alain Bain
Elle and I have also recorded a studio version of this song which is has been released on Shirley Collins: A Life In Song
You can find out more about Elle’s music at www.elleo.com