Somewhere else

August 14, 2011

Spinning Wheels and Squeeze Boxes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , , , — waltersdaughter @ 2:41 pm

Spinning Wheels and Squeeze Boxes

Originally written on March 19th 2011

Two disparate objects which one might not expect to see in the same room, but both contributed to a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at The Museum of Lincolnshire Life today.

Housed in former barracks built in the mid eighteen hundreds for the North Lincolnshire Militia, the museum now houses a collection of exhibits celebrating the social, agricultural, industrial, commercial and domestic history of Lincolnshire from 1750 to the present day.

My visit, though, was to take part in a craft session, open to all-comers and organised to help bring the museum to life. There were knitters, crocheters and weavers, but most numerous were the spinners. I can only imagine the feat of transporting a spinning wheel on the bus, as one lady had done this morning, but any stress caused by such logistics was plainly soon dissipated, judging by the relaxed and gentle rhythmic motion of hands and feet as she spun fleece into a fine thread and chatted to interested onlookers.

I had been told that there would be folk music after our craft session, so stayed to listen. What I hadn’t expected was for the ladies who had been sitting either side of me to put away their knitting and bring out fiddles, one lady to pack away her spinning wheel and replace it with a delightful little harp and yet another crafter to swap her loom for a dulcimer! More musicians ambled in and took out various instruments – each player taking his place in an ever-expanding circle until there were roughly a score ( no pun intended, for there were no scores for the music they played!) seated informally around the room. I counted: three fiddles, one harp, two guitars, one banjo, two tin whistles, one recorder, a mandolin, a flute, a couple of bodhrans, the dulcimer, a rather unexpected (well I was surprised) cornet and no fewer than nine accordions!

The music began when a lone fiddle player offered a simple melody which the assembled group gradually embellished and reinforced. No one spoke, except to call the tune and perhaps a key and one by one each member led a piece of their choice.

I learned that this was an unrehearsed session (my youngest would call it jamming, but I’m not sure that’s the appropriate term for a group of folk musicians?) Each added to the whole, to their own ability and the result was a toe-tapping, jolly sound which had my friend and me adding some vocals and dancing our way through the group and out of the room when we, regrettably, had to take our leave.

Folk jam


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