As a band, we play a mixture of traditional and modern tunes, with a lot of our newer material written by James, our box player. It’s become quite a regular thing for James to turn up at rehearsal with something new for us to try, usually with a complicated back story as to where he was when it came to him and how he chose the name.
Over to James:
Two of my recent tunes were written during a family holiday to Texel – a small island off the coast of North Holland, with beautiful protected dunes and heathland. It’s now a peaceful place with farms and holidaymakers, but during the Dutch “Golden Age” it was very different. The Texel Roads – the narrow stretch of sea running between the island and the mainland – were full of ships running in and out of the Port of Amsterdam. Texel was heavily guarded, with forts maintained by the Dutch East India company.
All now gone. I wrote “The Old Shield”, a slow repeating mazurka, to capture the quiet peace of the modern Texel. The name is an Anglicisation of Oudeschild, the main port on the East of the Island, and now a quiet harbour with pleasure boats and seal trips. The other tune I called “Texel Roads”, a fast and driving jig, remembering how busy and different it all once was.
This tune is a fast hornpipe, with a circling offbeat theme in the B part. I was wondering what to call it whilst sitting on a Manchester tram. The tram was full of Indian cricket fans heading to the cricket world cup semi-final at Old Trafford. One of the fans was very concerned about his team’s chances: “I always worry when we’re the overdog.” His friends joined in, generally agreeing that it was bad luck to be considered so clearly the overdog. I hope this tune doesn’t bring bad luck! (For the record, India lost, badly, to New Zealand later that day….)