Historic song for Forbes

Two concert bands combined last Saturday night to bring a piece of music written for Forbes to the community.

The Forbes Town and District Band was joined by the South Pacific Concert Band at Forbes Town Hall for the premiere.

The music was drawn together by composer Tim Ferrier from old tunes in a hand-written manuscript book by a local musician from the last century.

Harry Schaefer (1876-1954) was known as Forbes’ one-man band and – in an era when many musicians learned and played by ear – he also wrote tunes down so they could be recorded and shared that way.

Ferrier drew on five of the tunes Schafer had recorded, starting with a well-known Scottish Air 'Will Ye No Come Back Again' that introduces itself in a traditional way before being given a faster bush dance backing and a style change to a 'strathspey'.

“It's this very untraditional style that appears in Harry's notebooks,”  Mr Ferrier said in his notes on the project.

Forbes Town and District Band and South Pacific Band premiere Harry Schaefer's Old Time dance tunes.

“An interesting feature of his arrangement of the melody is sections have been repeated presumably to suit the steps of the dance he used it for. You certainly wouldn't sing it this way.

Next is a waltz section that uses two almost unknown Australian Bush tunes - 'Echuca Waltz' and 'Schaefer's Waltz'. 

A 6/8 section follows to the tune 'Going To Scotland'. Mr Ferrier said this traditional folk dance tune has a number of other names, different dance steps and is played at different tempos around the world. It is also known as 'La Native’, ‘Le Moulinets’, ’For The Life Of A Man’ and to some in Australia ‘The Magpie Jig’. It’s originally from a set dance known as ‘The Lancers’ and is still performed. 

The finale is a fast tune in 2/4 that Harry simply names 'One Step' - a popular dance of American origin from the early 20th century.”

Mr Ferrier came to Forbes on Saturday to conduct the bands as they performed the piece together in public for the first time.

The band’s regular conductor, James Whalan, said in preparation for the concert it was wonderful to have the composer return to Forbes for the premiere.

“It’s a really interesting piece of music, a wonderful piece of music,” Mr Whalan said.

“It’s so nice to have a piece that’s so connected to Forbes and to the community – music that has been written in our community and played in our community, for dances at Town Hall, and now we get to bring that music back to life.”