So many people I played tunes with over the years... Some I only vaguely remember but I remember the tunes they gave me (or the ones I took). 'The Moon and the Seven Stars' (and the tune that goes with it) has a vague memory of musicians from Hannover attached to it. I had forgotten about the one to go with it until I stopped in Hannover for a tune last year.
Two Breton tunes are connected with Christian and Moritz and Daniel when they were all living in/near Berlin.
I wouldn't know Meikel in the street - even with a fiddle - but I'd recognise him after the first bar of 'The Steampacket'.
I'm absolutely awful at remembering names! There's this irish banjo player... he was a tutor in Ennis at Meitheal - he has a tune attached to his memory - 'Under the Willow she is sleeping' - Kiaran Hanrahan! That's his name!
Tunes store memories. Names and faces and places and lots of little detail. Sometimes tunes can't be called up to be played without remembering any of that detail first. Sometimes tunes come out of nowhere.
Sometimes I think we play this music with other people so we can store tunes in each other's heads. And hearts. Not in Conny's head, though. Sorry to say, Conny but if I need a tune to really cheer me up I remember the night you came up with tune after tune after tune... the bright smile and "Oh! I have another one!" And they were all 'Cuz Teahan's Barndance'!
It's lovely to meet people again and remember the tunes they play. It's great to meet people for the first time and find out what tunes we have in common. Sometimes that works amazingly well and things really click. Like with that wonderful flute player in St. Andrews. But meeting again can be amazing. Even after years and years vague memories turn into tunes.
But maybe that's just me. Maybe others are better organised. I'm a little... messy ... with my tunes. A bit like in real life - if I just dump things somewhere I have a good chance of knowing where they are. If I tidy them up and put them somewhere that seems a good place for them - a logical place - I'll never, ever find them again.
Same with tunes. Dump them somewhere. On random "hooks" in my brain. Don't bother with tidiness. Smells, sights, moments, ... sometimes I know the hooks and can use them to retrieve the tunes. The memory of Kenny reciting what became my favourite poem by the sea retrieves 'The Grey Dawn Breaking' - but I don't ever forget that one anymore - so much more has been attached to it...
'My love is in America' I can retrieve (well, bits and pieces) by thinking of my old dog's cuddly toy pigglet lying under the bed.
Late nights with Sirko at the Schmiede used to retrieve tunes that haven't been played for ages. I miss those sessions. We probably played the same tunes each time and just forgot in between sessions that we did. It was only a monthly session after all...
I wonder how the better organised people do it. Do they have all of their tunes neatly stored and labelled?
I know there are people worse than me. There was this flute player in California who didn't have any storage system at all. He said he can't call up a tune consciously. He joined in with any tune thrown at him but to start one on his own he just wriggled his fingers on the flute - hoping to hit a pattern the fingers recognise. Father...someone. In Catoty or Cotaty or somewhere Kenny took me. EVERYBODY at that session told me (whispered in my ear) that he is a priest but doesn't like people to know that he is a priest. So all I remember is that he is a priest - and has to wriggle his fingers randomly to come up with a tune.
Sometimes being so disorganised about tunes tricks me into playing them without "learning" them first. Until I realise what I'm doing and they are gone the second time through. Happened a year ago tomorrow (which was a tuesday - like yesterday - so thinking about it today seems about right). The man off the boat who claimed that all accidents can be avoided got part of my tune-ish memories this way. The tunes of the night got drowned in memories.
Maybe it's my chaotic memory system that makes me need music as much as I do. There are single tunes with millions of litte moments stored with them. Starry Night in Shetland brings up Fransje's and Peter's living room in Northumbria. When we tried to play a two voice version from sheet music. Peter remarked that it didn't sound too bad and that probably nobody in Shetland had ever heard of this waltz. Weeks later that nice german piano player at the Asta Golf Club got stuck on to the tune (well, my memory of her) - as did the english musician who roughly knew where Dresden is because it is "near Zschopau" - where his MZ motorbike was made. And a special moment in which I finally saw ONE star in what passes for night in a Shetland summer.... a lot of memories for a tune I hardly ever play.
There are lots of tunes I don't know well enough to play on my own but if someone plays me through (or remembers how the B-part starts) I can let myself "fall into it" - the tune is there and I can enjoy the little columns of air dancing under my fingers. Once Sirko and I had a magic 'Maids of Mt. Cisco' moment when we both felt the tune "was there" and we just followed it along. Both of us glowing with the joy of it. And a couple of weeks back I thought about not going out for a tune for fear of missing too many notes to enjoy the night. But I started thinking about all the people I played music with and how many of them would be playing tunes that night. And it felt like someone, somewhere was playing my missing notes and it didn't matter if I played them. (Judging by the speed some bits were played by someone in Wroclaw!) One of those magic nights. To smile and enjoy.
We said goodbye to Alan that night who was going back to Ireland after a million years in Dresden. One of his friends was forced to sing his one irish song. I heard him sing it once before - at the final farewell for another musician. The song is pure kitsch but whenever the singer hits the high note and my ears start to throb I can't help but smile and think of all of you who shared tunes with me. Some of you became friends.
Some of you I hope to play tunes with again - lots and lots of times. Some of you I won't ever meet again. Some of you I play tunes with in my dreams.
So here's a kitschy song for all of you (I chose the kitschiest picture I could find on my phone to match it 😉)