Video transcript
The Ballade of Anne Bonny

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[intro music]

SUSAN SUKKAR: 'The Ballade of Anne Bonny' was commissioned by the Arts Unit from Andrew Robertson, who is a composer and jazz musician. And this piece features the descant 2 as the star of the show. And it is based on a tale about Anne Bonny, who was an 18th century female pirate who sailed the seas of the Caribbean and did the things that pirates do. So we also have words written to this song, which you will hear sung later on. So to perform this piece, I'm going to introduce the ensemble to you.

HANS-DIETER MICHATZ: Hello, I'm Hans-Dieter Michatz. I teach at the Conservatorium of Music and with Symphonia Jubilate. And I'll be playing the descant 1 part.

ALICIA CROSSLEY: My name's Alicia Crossley from Birchgrove Public School, and I'll be playing the descant 2 part.

SUSAN SUKKAR: I'm Susan Sukkar, and I'll be playing the treble part.

JOANNE ARNOTT: My name's Joanne Arnott. I work at the Central Coast Conservatorium of Music, and I'll be playing the tenor part today.

DANIEL MURPHY: My name is Daniel Murphy, and I teach at Strathfield South Public School. And I'll be playing bass.

[music - 'the ballade of anne bonny']

SUSAN SUKKAR: I hope you enjoyed that piece. Now we're going to talk about some of the small challenges that you might have and teaching points. So first of all, I'd like to say as a general thing that the quavers are swung.

So this is a jazz arrangement. And so one of the conventions of jazz is that you play quavers in a swung fashion, which only just means that they're played unevenly. And you'll notice that we did it. And you will pick it up very quickly when you listen to the track too. For instance, at letter C, we're all playing--

[plays recorder]

So a swung version of the quavers. Secondly, you'll also notice that there's no treble 2 part. So that's deliberate because the treble part is very straightforward and everybody should be able to manage it. It stays within a range of about 5 notes. Just be aware that you're always playing F sharps-- 2 fingers, no thumb at the back.

And the other thing that I'd want to point out to you is the first and second time bars. So that can take a little bit of work with your children, explaining that when we play through at the repeats, you play the first time bar for the first time and the second time bar for the second time, skipping over the first time bar.

So you might need to sit down and just work that through yourself to be sure that you understand how that works, the first and second time bars. You play the first time bar the first time, the second time bar the second time, leaving out the first time bar. Thank you. And I'm going to hand over to Hans now to talk to you about some other things.

HANS-DIETER MICHATZ: Other things being the descant 1 part. There's not that much to talk about in here, but a few tips. For example, while the piece is generally quite legato and at smooth, you want to make a few notes a bit shorter than others, like, for example, the first note in the third bar.

[plays recorder]

Would be nice to be a little bit shorter to give a little bit of a mark there because it's also quite unusual. You will feel quite lonely in some places, descant 1's, because you're holding notes for a very long time when other people playing something different. For example, the end of the first phrase, make sure you really hold it, hold the long A for 5 beats. So--

[plays recorder]

And then be very careful with all the C sharps. So these are your C sharps. If you play very loudly--

[plays recorder loudly]

--they sound very bad. But you can make them sound quite sweetly, and then they will be in tune. So don't overblow them at all. The other places that you need to watch is where it says 'melody.' So make sure that you breathe well and that you play with a beautiful sound--

[plays recorder]

--in those places with melody. And then in bar 43, that's a little bit of a challenge for you.

[plays recorder]

Note that the B is absolutely not important in this, but the notes are.

[plays recorder]

And you just play the B--

[plays recorder]

--in between. The rest is just counting well, watching the rests on the first beats.

[breaths exaggeratedly between playing notes]

So I gave you a breath on that, and it's probably a good idea to breathe every time you've got that rest so you can play in time. Enjoy.

ALICIA CROSSLEY: For the descant 2 part, as Susan mentioned before, we have the melody for most of this piece. So you need to have nice confidence when you're playing, even breath in a nice doo, doo, doo, except for, like when Hans was mentioning before, on our third bar, the first note of the third bar, where you want a little bit more of 'teh' make it a little bit shorter and give the note a little lift.

And just as in the descant 1 parts, a lot of the time, we end our phrases counting 5 beats for our notes, except for we have a high D. So we need to make sure that we're playing it softly because high Ds are notorious for being out of tune, particularly with descant 2's. So we need to play it nice and gently.

Even though you have the melody, I still want you to play that nice and gently so we don't have a really out of tune note or play with a crescendo where you go [vocalises a crescendo] to end the phrase. So we don't want to be doing that. So we need to end our phrases nicely there. The other part you might have is you've got an E, F sharp, G, which is your upbeats in around, for instance, the upbeat to 33.

[plays recorder]

Because you've got the swung rhythm, the F sharp comes quite quickly.

[plays recorder]

So you might want to practise just getting that so it's nice and smooth-- not sliding your fingers down, making sure you're alternating from E to F sharp, middle finger staying in this correct position.

JOANNE ARNOTT: For the tenor part in 'The Ballade of Anne Bonny,' it's good to mind at letter A where we have a dotted rhythm. And then in bar 3 of letter A, the dotted rhythm slightly changes, where the crotchet is the first one in the bar. So it sounds like this.

[plays recorder]

So just watch that rhythm and make sure that you play those correctly. Just towards the end of letter A section right at the end of the second time bar, there's a high D. Now, the other parts are playing a really beautiful, soft note here. So resist the temptation to play a really loud D just because it's high and fun. So we don't want--

[plays recorder]

We don't want it to stick out like that. Let's play it really soft-- doo tonguing.

[plays recorder]

And then skipping down to bar 44, we have a little bit of a tenor solo, so in the bar before the descants play that melody. And then the tenors have it by themselves in bar 44 and then again over in bar 82, towards the end. So this might be a part that requires a bit of extra practise.

[plays recorder]

And you'll notice that after that bar of quavers, in bar 45, there are 2 separate notes. So you can choose to play a low E. Or if you're feeling adventurous, you can pinch your thumb at the back and play a high E. And that's it for the tenor.

DANIEL MURPHY: In the bass recorder part, it's fairly straightforward. There's a bit of a note-- a couple of notes we need to look at. And that's the high A. So 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 fingers and half a hole at the back. We just gently drop our thumb. And in bar 84, we have our high B. So it's not in any other pieces. It's 1, 2, 3 4 and our middle finger with our thumb venting at the back. So just make sure our high B is this fingering.

SUSAN SUKKAR: Now to help children learn to play the melody, Andrew has written words for the song. And so Michaela is going to actually now sing that for you so that you can teach the children to sing the song that goes with the piece.

As a general rule, as recorder players, we encourage this cantabile, beautiful singing style. And if children imagine that they're singing while they're playing their recorder, that promotes a really legato, connected sound. And so it's much easier for them to transfer from the singing into the playing. So enjoy this little performance. Anne Bonny, the female pirate who plundered the seas.

[music - 'the ballade of anne bonny']

(SINGING) Fiery, red hair from the island of green. Oh, who can she be, this lass of the sea? 19 years old when she started her spree and plundered the Caribbean Sea.

Anne Bonny, Anne Bonny, a pirate she be, and no man in a red coat her captor he be. Anne Bonny, Anne Bonny, a pirate of old, and her story shall ever be told.

End of transcript