Sarah’s music

Cake designed and made as a farewell gift on behalf of Crewe and Nantwich U3A Instrumental Folk group by John Minshull. I ceased leading the group when I moved to Shrewsbury.

As a violin and viola player, I have been involved in various genres of music: orchestral, chamber and folk/pop ballads.

I came to instrumental folk music relatively late in my life. A short course with Tom McConville and Robin Shepherd at the Yorkshire Dales Workshops revealed to me how rich the folk fiddle tradition is and how badly I needed to make myself play by ear instead of reading ‘dots’.

My first attempts at playing in sessions were in Shipley, West Yorkshire and later Addingham and Skipton, North Yorkshire. I owe a great debt of gratitude to other musicians at the pubs and club I turned up in, particularly Reuben Wilkinson and Julian Hide, whose confidence in me challenged me to progress.

Leading U3A instrumental folk classes first in Ilkley, then Crewe and Nantwich set me on a fast learning curve both in terms of discovering tunes that appealed to me and arranging them for a variety of instruments. I also attended inspirational classes at Benslow on improvisation and folk music. 

The COVID 19 lockdowns put a stop to group sessions of all kinds, including the string quartet in which I play viola. As a response, I began to go electric so that I could launch myself into looping and recording technology. I play Bridge Lyra and Octavo instruments and record on a looper (the RC300) before transferring files to Logic Pro. That experiment continues, and it is some selected results of it that can be found on this page: Solo FolkMost of these tunes are traditional, but where the composer is known, I attribute them.

Experimenting with harmonies took me further along the line of composing my own melodies from scratch. It is easiest to do this straight onto the looper/recorder and very convenient as I just need to depress a pedal to begin rather than having to put the instrument and bow down and fiddle with a keyboard and mouse. It is helpful to play around with scale and rhythm patterns in various keys before embarking on a tune or riff. 

So, early compositions on the page original compositions were recorded straight onto the looper, starting with the tune. Then I have added either one or two harmony parts. They are short as I’m making slow progress in keeping them memorised as I go along so that I can structure them to some extent towards a climax and a cadence. It is a profoundly satisfying process!

The group of tunes written in modes were written in a different way. I started by trying to get the modal scale in my ear by playing it several times, then from there experimented with tunes in various time signatures. After settling on something that might work, I recorded it and then wrote it onto manuscript. Transferring that onto Musescore, I edited it and then worked out a harmony. Final adjustments were made when I played through and recorded the piece on the looper before transfer to Logic Pro and an MP3 file.

© Sarah Rochelle 2020