BlogJacob deGroot-Maggetti

Oliver Schroer and Nuala Kennedy – Enthralled

Enthralled is the second and title track of Oliver Schroer and Nuala Kennedy’s album Enthralled. It features Schroer on fiddle, Kennedy on flute (it sounds to me like a wood flute in an alto range), and accordion. In contrast to many of the tracks I’ve transcribed so far which display Celtic influences, Enthralled has a Scandinavian feel to me, with its lower-neighbour ornaments, counterpoint between two prominent voices, and Schroer’s particular use of double stops. I encourage you to take a look at my full transcription.

Form

Here’s my transcription of the main tune of Enthralled.

Transcription of the main tune of Enthralled
Transcription of the main tune of Enthralled

The tune of Enthralled is in AABB form, with each section lasting 9-10 measures. The first 8 measures of each section are literal repetitions, while the last 1 or 2 measures of each section are varied, depending on whether the measures lead into an A section or a B section.

Section Number of measures
A 10
A 10
B 9
B 10

Over the entire track, the tune is repeated four times. For the first repetition, the violin and flute play the tune in unison, and in the following repetitions, the two instruments alternate playing the melody and playing accompaniment lines. An accordion accompanies the flute and fiddle throughout.

Sections Fiddle Flute Accordion
AABB Melody Melody Accompaniment (enters 2nd A)
AABB Accompaniment Melody Accompaniment
AABB Melody Accompaniment Accompaniment
AABB Accompaniment Melody Accompaniment

Rhythm and Meter

As seen above, Enthralled can be neatly notated in a regular 6/8 meter. This fact wasn’t immediately clear to me when I first listened to it, however, since the tune has several rhythmic features that serve to disguise this regular meter. To begin, and as discussed above, each section of the tune has an uneven number of measures. When listening to and learning a new tune, I frequently get my bearings by listening for melodic patterns that return after 4 or 8 bars, yet the form of the tune makes this approach less effective.

The A section begins with 4 measures of fairly straightforward 6/8, with a simple 2-measure idea stated and then varied in the following 2 measures. In the 5th, 6th and 7th measures of the A section, however, even as the musical idea from the first four measures begins again, a combination of rhythmic factors work together to obscure the meter. The four notes of measure 6 are grouped in pairs of eighth and quarter notes: short-long, short-long. I tend to expect long-short groupings in 6/8, so this moment suggests that the meter has shifted by an eighth note. The last note of measure 6 and the first note of measure 7 are both B’s, played with an accent and an added E in the fiddle. This pairing reinforces this perceptual meter shift - what could easily be heard as a long-short grouping within a single measure actually reaches across the barline. Another pair of accented B’s is heard at the end of measure 7. This repeated-B figure is heard 5 eighth-notes after the first repeated-B figure, create a “snapping back” effect: in the context of the “actual” 6/8 meter, this second pair of B’s is in fact a long-short grouping. The figure below is an attempt to notate this perceptual meter shift, with one measure expanded, one shifted by an eighth note, and one telescoped to reflect this possible metrical interpretation.

The first several measures of the A section notated in two different ways, to show a perceptual meter shift
The A section of Enthralled, notated in regular 6/8 meter (above) and with barlines shifted to reflect long-short groupings (below)

The B section begins with a similar process: a 2-bar idea is stated, then repeated, and then varied in a way that disguises the underlying. Rather than eighth-note and quarter-note rhythms starting on different parts of the bar as in the A section, the varied repetition in the B section takes the form of a brief passage of double time. Occupying the time of two bars of 6/8, Schroer and Kennedy play what could be heard as four bars of 6/8, played at twice the tempo.

The first several measures of the B section notated in two different ways, to show a possible alternative meter
The B section of Enthralled, notated in regular 6/8 meter (above) and as a combination of 6/8 meter in normal tempo and in double time (below)

During this double-time passage, the melody touches on many of the notes in the the 2-bar idea that opened the B section, but additional notes are inserted between the main notes of the 2-bar idea, in order to fill out the faster meter.

Transcription of bars 1-2 and bars 5-6 of the B section, with corresponding notes labelled
Many of the notes in the first two bars of the B section (above) have corresponding notes in the fifth and sixth bars of the B section (below)

Accompaniment

In the second, third, and fourth repetitions, either the fiddle or the flute plays the tune’s melody while the other instrument plays an accompaniment line. Each time the fiddle accompanies an A section, it plays a line that has evidently been worked out ahead of time, but is varied or improvised upon. The flute follows a similar approach, but its accompaniment lines are quite different from the accompaniment lines heard in the fiddle during corresponding sections of the tune. I’m not going to attempt to spell out all the similarities and differences, but I’ve set up a comparison of the flute and violin accompaniment lines for several sections below, as well as a comparison of the different fiddle accompaniment lines as played throughout the tune.

Comparison between the fiddle's accompaniment part and the flute's accompaniment part
The fiddle's accompaniment line (middle staff) is quite different from the flute's accompaniment line (lower staff). "2A1" indicates the second time through the tune, first repetition of the A section.
Comparison between the fiddle's accompaniment part during the second repetition of the tune and the fourth repetition of the tune, A section
Comparison between the fiddle's accompaniment part during the second repetition of the tune and the fourth repetition of the tune, A section
The fiddle's accompaniment line varies slightly between the tune's second repetition and in its fourth repetition.

Final Thoughts

There’s a lot more that could be said about this track – in particular, the accordion, whose part I’ve transcribed only a little of, adds additional chords and countermelodies throughout the piece. If you have any thoughts or ideas about this tune or this analysis, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Posted: Apr 14, 2021. Last updated: Apr 14, 2021.