The Clearing - Favorite Moments

What are some of your favorite moments on the first Dréos album, The Clearing?

Eliot responds:

"The Clearing was a really exciting project for me because there were so many unknowns. There were regular trips to Seattle, long conversations on the phone about common and new repertoire, on-the-spot arranging that took place in the studio, and some over-the-top pizza from Zeke's.

One of my favorite sets is Brandon's Islenska/Flight of the Penguins/Dancin' Thro' the Gates trilogy (track 13). What interests me about this track when I listen back is the increasing energy that builds through each tune. "Islenska" is such a demure, continental European kind of composition, and the flute harmonies that Brandon wrote for it fit--I think--really well with both the tune and the instrument.

The build between the "Islenska" and "Flight of the Penguins" really ramps up the energy, and "Flight" has all these brilliant syncopations in the A part. The syncopations, while less conventional in traditional music, bring a certain playful freshness to the reel (as a genre). Glen does a masterful job grabbing these in the guitar parts, which bring the whole tune together.

In "Dancin' Thro' the Gates," there's a certain power in the second time through the whole tune, especially in the A part where the fiddle gives some extra crunch to the lowest A on the instrument and drives the set to a finish.

We had so much fun cranking out track 1: Devil in the Kitchen/Tie the Bonnet/The Sound of Mull. The Strathspey is incontrovertibly Scottish through and through, and because of there, there needs to be a real tightness in the rhythm between melody instruments. It's great when Irish melodies are played tidily in duet as well, but Scottish Strathspeys just need that extra edge.

I was excited when I discovered the C-nat key triplet on my concert pitch Lynch chanter. In normal circumstances, I'd play an A roll in the first measure of the tune, but that did not quite synch properly with Brandon's double cuts on the fiddle. I ended up trying a key double cut on A, which runs something like A-back d-C-nat key-A, giving four notes in rapid succession.

For "Tie the Bonnet," we went for an adapted version that emphasizes the G (subtonic) in the A part. I feel like this makes the tune fit a bit better with "Devil in the Kitchen," since so many Scottish tunes emphasize the subtonic. "Tie the Bonnet" fits really nicely into "The Sound of Mull," and that's the set!

I think it might have been Mark Twain who said that "talking about music is like dancing about architecture." While I'm not completely sure what he was talking about, you can listen what I'm talking about HERE."

[photo by Chadd Ferron]

Eliot Grasso