Friday, February 25, 2011

Homegrown Radio 2/25/11 – Eberle Umbach

We’re a bit behind our time this morning—computer woes, busy schedules, & the fact that Eberle has gotten a bad cold in the past 24 hours have all acted in concert to put Homegrown Radio a bit behind its time.  But we’re here now, so let’s see what Eberle has to say about today’s song, “Picnic Dance,” again taken from our Moominpappa at Sea soundtrack:

This piece, like the one last week, was composed for a stage production of Tove Jansson’s Moominpappa At Sea and recorded in the Plum Alley Music studio/living room. The Moomintroll books are so wonderful, I really hope you check them out.

Picnic Dance takes place as the story’s storm has gathered to the breaking point. Tensions, both nameable and unnameable, are swirling across and around the island, and Moominmamma says one day: If we don’t have a picnic right away I know that something terrible will happen.

So the family sets out together with a basket of treats, and they frolic in the calm before the storm, chatting and cavorting in the moomintroll way that they used to know so well...

I’ve always loved the accordion- I started playing the melodica as a kind of substitute accordion before I fell in love with it on its own merits. The accordion had always daunted me a bit – but the great thing about writing music for a play is that it’s a chance for John and I to try out all those instruments we’ve been wanting to play around with. The bouzouki, bowed psaltry, yayli tambur and accordion were all new for me – also the first time for some new combinations – like thumb piano and cocktail drum kit – also my first compositions for steel drum.

I’d been listening to some Finnish music to get into the mood or mode of Tove (Finnish farmers were among the first settlers in the town where Moominpappa At Sea was performed) and my heart had been completely captivated by Maria Kaleniemi, a Finnish accordion performer and composer we’d seen on a very cool documentary called Accordian Tribe. Maybe John will post one of her songs (not very subtle hint—editors note: check in on Sunday for some Maria Kalaniemi!)  The color shifts in her music, the perfect summery joy that could change in a heartbeat to the moody solitude of long dark winters seemed just right for the play.  I just wanted, in the way of a novice, to echo what I heard in her music as best I could. On the video she says, in her glorious voice, that the accordion breathes, you must let the accordion become your own lungs – I have come nowhere near that in this song, which is a tribute to her. I hope you get a chance to listen to her gorgeous music.

Hope you enjoy this delightful song, & many many thanks to Eberle for providing us with such wonderful music this month!


  1. Feel better, Eberle.

    Lovely piece. I especially liked the passage beginning at around 32 seconds (and then repeating at 1:23).

  2. Hi HKatz: I've passed your good wishes along to Eberle--thanks! It is a lovely piece isn't it? So glad you liked it!

  3. Regards to Eberle. As Always,Love The Music.

  4. Yup, that certainly sounds like picnic music to me. I actually got the impression of sitting in the shade of a tree watching children play in the sunlight of the field beyond the tree. Good work, Eberle! As for the cold, think Zinc!

  5. Hi Tony & Roy

    Tony: Thanks--I'll pass on your regards!

    Roy: That's a great word picture--looking out at all this snow, I wish I were there. Will pass on your get well wishes! Thanks.

  6. What a beguiling tune. Delightful - real earworm stuff! And the first mention of Maria Kaleniemi I've seen since Emma and I bought a CD of her music in Dublin back in the mid-'90s.

  7. Hi Dick: Ah, we like good earworms! Yes, I'll have a post on Ms Kalamieni on Tuesday--I decided she deserved her own day!


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