I had originally planned to go to Solstheim in this session, but it turned into a bit of a road trip. Partly because I was very close to level 61 and wanted to see if I could make it over, so I could do a new round of training at the mage college before I headed over to Raven Rock.
So that meant, checking out a few things that were still new to me, while having Jenassa at my back. The main action of this was checking out Frostflow Lighthouse and finding out what happened to the poor unfortunate family there.
Scales practiced: One-octave G, D, A; two-octave G
Techniques practiced: Being mindful of the position of my elbow while doing string crossings
Tune practiced: Feller from Fortune
This practice was pretty much all about me trying to remind myself that hey, playing tunes is fun!
And even more fun when I’m playing with a tune recorded by a band I love, like Great Big Sea.
So, this was more about the Feller from Fortune tune, which is the first of the three tunes in GBS’ Fortune Set. I do all have dots written up ages ago by fans of all three of the tunes, and I had to refer to the dots for the B part of this tune. I could kind of reproduce it in my head, but I was having issues actually bridging the gap between that and what my fingers needed to be doing.
Once I consulted the dots, I was better able to then try to reproduce on my instrument what I hear Bob Hallett playing in the GBS studio recording (as well as multiple concert recordings of the same set).
Mostly, I focused on the B part of the tune since I have a pretty good idea of how to do the A part now, including where I need to put slurs in it. With the B part, I mostly wanted to think about “okay, what’s the basic fingering pattern for this thing?” Once I have that down, I will be able to then refine it with questions like, where do the slurs go, and what my thoughts are on bowing directions.
I DID note that the opening few notes of the B part seem to actually work better if I start on a down bow on the pickup note on B, and then do an up bow for the E that comes next. But this was also playing the B part by itself, as opposed to starting it when coming out of the A part.
And now, at last, the conclusion of Merawen’s trek through the Forgotten Vale! Played through the rest of that locale rather faster than I had done with Alarrah; I skipped large parts of it. See below for details!
Trying to be mindful of a steady bowing pace for purposes of keeping a scale flowing
Trying to be mindful of keeping my elbow swinging smoothly when doing string crossings
Trying to be mindful of finger placement and specifically consciously telling myself “I’m putting my finger right there next”
Tunes practiced: Fortune set by Great Big Sea, A part of the first tune
Finding those angles on my double stops is still a damn problem. And it’s still entirely a matter of not being able to find the proper intermediate angle to hit both of those strings at the same time, at least in a timely fashion. If I do it slowly, and do the thing where you judge where the bow is resting so that you can actively tell “yes, I am on both strings”, i can do it.
But not if I try to do it quickly. Therefore, as with just about everything when it comes to the fiddle, more practice is required.
Today’s tune was the Fortune set from Great Big Sea just because I listened to that again recently, and it’s stuck in my head! Also because the A part of the first tune is pretty easy. I already knew I could kind of play it on the fiddle, but I also wanted to see what I could learn by dropping some slurs in it.
First immediate thing I learned: “do slurs on descending notes” is not quite enough for my satisfaction for this tune. It’s very obvious that if I want to try to emulate what Bob Hallett does on the recording, I need to slur the first few notes that start the A part of this thing.
After that, it becomes a question of where else to slur, and I think I did figure that out easily enough—there are parts with descending notes where yeah, I can slur those easily enough and make the A part come out… well, if not exactly rocking quite yet, then at least beginning to sound like I might actually know what I’m doing. Lol.
Also spent a little time trying to see if I could play the B part by memory, but I don’t have that bit of the tune as well engrained in my head quite yet. Clearly I’m going to have to listen to the recording a few more dozen times. Oh darn whatever shall I do.
Side note for the Great Big Sea fans who may be reading this: this A and B part I’m talking about is specifically for the first instrumental bit of the Fortune recording, which comes before the B’ys jump in with the vocals and start singing “There’s lots of fish in Bonavist Harbor!”
After that vocal bit there are two more tunes to round out the set and I do have eventual aspirations of getting to those, too. But for now I’m focused just on the first tune. :D
Now we’re down to it, the Forgotten Vale, definitely my favorite part of the Dawnguard quest line! I did not finish it in this session, but I did get through Darkfall Cave and Darkfall Passage, and made good inroads on Forgotten Vale itself once I got there.
It’ll probably take me another couple of sessions to finish it up and finally get Auriel’s Bow!
This session was all about moving the Dawnguard plot along, finishing up adventures in the Soul Cairn and then moving on to Ancestor Glade, to do the necessary ritual to locate Auriel’s Bow. And now we’re getting into my favorite part of the whole Dawnguard quest line!
This session finally saw the last of the Dawnguard side quests I wanted to do, i.e., acquiring the Dawnguard Rune Axe. Which meant I was also finally able to rendezvous with Serana and proceed with the next phase of the main Dawnguard plot: infiltrating Castle Volkihar in an attempt to find Serana’s long-lost mother Valerica.
And getting into one of my favorite bits of the Dawnguard plotline: the Soul Cairn!
This was another session all about the Dawnguard side quests, because I had to chug through a few more to finally get to the last one I wanted to do! With the obligatory side helpings of confronting dragons and bandits, and this time also Thalmor. And more building work on Heljarchen Hall as well.
Plus, Gregor the housecarl is now properly outfitted with his own suit of dragonplate armor, as well as dragonbone weapons. You work for the Dragonborn, you will be outfitted correctly!
Also, this post contains considerable saltiness about the Hide and Seek quest, since I got another round of that. And today’s favorite Skyrim bug: trying to rescue a kidnap victim from vampires, only to discover the kidnap victim has buggered off for home all by herself!