I am pleased to announce the release of my latest album, Rondos Vol. I, a collection of original tunes in rondo form. This first volume of music features demonstration recordings for fifteen tunes and a PDF booklet. (CD and print versions to come!) Check it out here:
Jack Dwyer On Mandolin Mondays
Here’s a video of Rondo No. 6, as featured on the YouTube series Mandolin Mondays:
Included with the audio download is a 36 page PDF booklet with complete music notation for all fifteen tunes and an introductory chapter on the origins and structure of the rondo. Here is a look at the sheet music for Rondo No. 1 The Homecoming Rondo:
Great Jack, But What Is A Rondo?
Oh wait a minute… You don’t know what a rondo is? No worries! I didn’t either, but I went and found out. Now you can read all about it down below (nerd alert).
A Word From The Author: (From the Bandcamp liner notes)
These tunes are an exploration of the rondo form, which originated in European baroque and classical music and entered folk traditions around the world including Brazilian choro, and French musette. The rondo form is characterized by a primary refrain that alternates between two or more novel themes. As an example, the rondos in this volume generally follow an AA BB A CC A form.
This particular rondo form is also known as the “French waltz form” for its presence in French musette and is also a major feature of Brazilian choro music (of various time signatures). Choro developed in Rio de Janeiro during the early 1900s in parallel to American ragtime and is a similar amalgamation of African, Indigenous American, and European influences.
Both choro and ragtime feature syncopated rhythms, recurring melodic themes, complex harmony, and modulating tonalities. However, the two styles developed somewhat independently of one another, and this created notable differences between them. Whereas choro relies heavily on the rondo, ragtime’s main European formal forebearer was the march form popularized by John Philip Sousa. The march is a more recent development, and bears a stronger resemblance to the sonata.
That is all to say: the Northern American rondo is a rare thing. Some rags are rondos, like Scott Joplin’s “The Entertainer,” but most are not. There are a handful of American fiddle tunes that come close. Bill Monroe’s “Big Mon” features an alternate A part: A B A1 B. The Texas contest tune “Lime Rock” or “Limerock Rag,” is sometimes played as a rondo. However, aside from a few exceptions, this form never flourished in the United States the way it did elsewhere even in the Americas. This was likely due to the popularity of ragtime, as well as the longstanding hegemony of the AABB form.
Which brings us to a question… what if this were not the case? What if there were rondos in America? What would they sound like? Well… no need to wonder! Just sit back and enjoy this alt-history musicological experiment. Partake in some parallel-universe folk music. In this spirit, I submit a first volume for your listening and playing pleasure.
Keep a look out for Volume II!
Thanks for listening,
Port Townsend, WA