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Reviews of the Don Penzien workshop Apr 15, 1999

by Lloyd Gibson, (Abacus Records)
Just returned from big plain records workshops.  I missed most of the guitar work shop because I was in the fiddle workshop.  I arrived at the guitar work shop just as they were ending the DADGAD section.  Yep, I copped a copy of those DADGAD chord charts right away.  Don was excellent.  Well versed in the style and very able to communicate what he does to the students.  I learned something I did not know about backing jigs, 'down down up'.   I found it hard to do as I play jig rhythms completely differently.  Old habits are hard to break I guess.  But when done correctly it sounded very authentic.

by Shelton Alsup
The guitar workshop covered some important points about the accompanist's role in traditional celtic music. Don proved to be an entertaining instructor, with good insight regarding the learning of new tunes and maintaining a positive session environment.
Many (most?) traditional celtic guitarists use a DADGAD tuning instead of the classical EADGBE, which makes fingering some modal chords (usually no 3rds) much easier. This tuning also allows a unique droning or sliding continuo that fits well with traditional pipe, flute and fiddle melodies. Don showed us several tricks not in the official chord charts which I will probably be experimenting with for the next decade or so. We also discussed keeping the proper rhythmic structure for common types of dance tunes.
Overall, the workshop was very informative and well worth attending. If Saturday's events are similar I'd highly recommend them.

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