It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And what newcomers learn it from just sheet music? Newcomers who never listen to any ITM CDs or hear any ITM played but just decide one day out of the blue to buy some ITM sheet-music for a laugh and learn a few tunes from it? Whence their motivation? Where are these people? This is just lofty, empty talk, Michael! :-D

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I’m also very confused about what’s going on around here, but don’t bother to enlighten me anybody.

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here in Australia there are a HUGE amount of people who attempt to learn their ITM exclusively through the written notes. The bizarre sight of a session full of music stands, with a whole lot of people playing music but no one playing music *together* is a path actively persued by more than few…

I often find when I’m teaching that these people get quite assertive about their right to learn their music by plonking O’Neill’s on the table, sticking a little post-it flag on the page that contains the tune I’m teaching (and it’s often quite a different version to the one i’m attempting to teach)and just playing through this regardless of what’s going on around them… and then get furious when i insist that the books have to be put away. ("i’ll never remember it!" "the O’Neill’s version is actually the ‘correct’ version anyway" etc.)

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I’m a ITM musician with a "typical" background. I started on the whistle with a tape and a tutor book (dots). Having a basic "parent-enforced" piano background, dots were the thing, so that transferred naturally to the whistle/tape/dots period. But I was told by many people that I needed to LISTEN to the music in order to "get" it. I did. That has included "learning" the tunes. I hung on to the sheets and the O’Neill’s, and others for a couple of years, but it soon became clear to me that people who played the dots (myself included) weren’t really playing the music as intended. Even the dots with all the ornaments added didn’t give me the true feel of the tunes. So, long ago, I quit looking at sheets of paper, and found the internal, mental path of "hearing" the music and trying to reproduce it with my fingers and my heart. Sorry, llig wins.

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This may come as a shock to some, but I totally agree with Michael on this one. I think the clearest way to explain what I think he has been trying to say is that while learning tunes from sheet music is USEFUL, the ability to listen is ESSENTIAL, especially when playing in a group with other people. How many times have you heard a guitarist thumping out chords which clearly don’t match the tune? I’ve even heard melody players playing in a different key to the rest of the room - and what’s worse, only one note away from everyone else; a whole tune of discordant intervals!

I’ve been leading a beginners session for some time now, and have experienced the same frustration as SirNose (is it just an Aussie thing?). The book we use for learning tunes has some errors in it, so occasionally the red pen needs to come out. I find myself often pointing out musical errors which many of the students seem oblivious to. I’m forced to ask "can’t you hear that that is wrong?" and the answer is often "No". It’s fair enough that some of the changes are merely preference, but others are definate mistakes - a G that should really be an A, backed up by the fact that there’s an A chord marked as accompaniment. Sometimes I despair that people can play the music by rote and not hear what they are playing.

On the plus side, there are also some careful sight readers who actually play the correct note even though that’s not what’s written in front of them, so there’s hope for us all ;-)
Eno

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And here’s another point that’s just occurred to me…

You know those annoying people who start another set or a song right on the coat tails of the previous one, even stepping on the last note? Could it be that they aren’t listening to what’s going on? I couldn’t do that simply because my mind needs the correct amount of time for the last note to die away before I could even think of the next set. And perhaps that’s why it annoys me so much and seems so rude to me - it’s upsetting my sense of what sounds ‘right’.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The dots have uses. For instance, there were no recordings of a lot of the tunes in Captain O’Farrell’s collection. So if you (or Jerry O’Sullivan) wanted to learn some of those tunes, you’d better be able to sight read them from sheet music.

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I respectfully disagree wth jtrout and Michael.You just can’t say that sheet music has no place in ITM. It has a different role than, say, classical music, for sure, but to blithely say toss it all away is taking away a valuable tool for many.

I can listen to Matt Malloy play Toss the Feathers for hours and still be unable to come close, but a quick peek at the notation and now I have something to build on.

I have my session.org tunebook printed out in standard notation, and refer to it all week long. I don’t use it at my session, and that’s where the ears come in. I have the framework of the tune, and now I can complete its construction.

I, too, would shudder at the sight of music stands and O’Neill’s at my session; you need to sit close and look at each other and listen; but to prepare new tunes, and to review old ones, the notation is a useful tool for me; perhaps for many others as well.

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I don’t think they were saying get rid of it completely, Greg, just don’t use it as the sole source to learn from.

Personally I find I need to ‘see’ the notes to make a tune stick in my memory for all time. Things I learn by ear then stop playing tend to fade. Tunes initially learned from the dots stick better. That’s possibly because I was classically trained. Now I’ve realised that is the case I make sure I write the tune out to help me remember it (and so I can go back to it in the future if I forget a section of it).

Having said that, I’ve heard several professional recordings which to me sound totally lifeless. I have a feeling these are exactly the phenomena that Michael is complaining about. The music is ‘not perfect’ but totally soul-less.

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That last line makes more sense if you realise I meant ‘note perfect’, not ‘not perfect’.

D’oh!

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It’s ‘The Phantom Button’s Allegory Corner’ again… :-D

Learning this music from sheet music would be like not knowing how to cook but trying to do so by only having the list of ingredients from a recipe. If you had no understanding of how to cook or how to combine the ingredients and all you had done was taste the food somewhere else a few times and liked it, then the odds are good you’d end up poisoning yourself or at least making you and anyone else very sick who eats what you prepare.

This concludes ‘The Phantom Button’s Allegory Corner’… thank you for your attention.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

A) Alone in your bedroom with Oneills for two years - It is naive to believe you could learn any form of music anything but superficially by this method (classical, bluegrass, whatever…)

B) Sheet music in groups
So the "music" gets beaten around the head with music stands wielded by the aforementioned "newcomers", big deal, this usually happens in slow session groups where you should know what you are in for.
Regardless of the method they employ they are enjoying themsleves and learning more about the music (at the very least there is a chance they may forget their sheet music one week!)

In my experience people have their little epiphanies and come to realise the richness of learning from what music they hear,

Is this not a valid path?
Will the printed page be inexorably burned into my mind leading me into Lady Macbeth style manias "Out damn dot!"?

I think not

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I personally play tunes that i’ve learned in a variety of ways. Some from dots, some from sessions. some from c.d.’s, some from people slowing them down and teaching it to me. I have never had a person say any of the following to me:
" you play like you learned that from dots"
" that tune was much nicer than those ones you learned from dots"
" you can’t play those tunes here because you learned them from dots".

The ability to play any tune well and in a sylistically appropriate manner comes down to an understanding of the elements that give irish music it’s particular style (ornaments, phrasing, tone etc) and the technical proficiency/time spent with the tune to execute these things effectively. I believe firmly that time spent absorbing and learning the way to approach and interperet tunes, irrespective of which way they are learned, is a much more worthwhile excersise to invest your time in than agonising over where/how you get your tunes. I understand whole heartedly the points raised against the "dot locked" method of learning, but i believe it has more to do with a flawed approach to learning a musical style than a flawed system of transmitting melodies. Used in conjunction with LOTS of listening (both recordings and live players) i feel dots can be quite useful. Just my two cents :)

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This really comes down to whether you think the major factor in what makes Irish-trad Irish-trad is the *style* or the *tunes*…

Irish music is a style and approach of playing. On one level the tunes are irrelevant, that’s why all the more modern recordings of Irish players playing Breton/Macedonian/Klezmer/Spanish tunes are still essentially *irish* music - just with the notes of a tune from elsewhere. I’ve been told by a luminary of the "Aussie Bush Scene" that the "Aussie Trad" tunes I’ve been getting into recently do not represent "Aussie" music because i play them too "irish".

And this style can ONLY be learned by listening and direct teaching. Sure, once you’ve done the hard yards and have a handle on the style and approach, knock yourself out with the dots, but you need to have the listening/playing experience to ‘extract’ the music from the dots!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Exactly my point beeno! The fact that someone plays in an innapropriate fashion has to do with a flaw in the learning process, not the demonic possession of written music. By the way, hope the winter school goes well. Can’t wait to crank it up on the black boards ;)

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I think llig was treated appallingly in that last thread. All he ever gets is rude and sarcastic comments and accusations back in his face, even though he’s genuinely trying to help.

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(of course it was your point. or more realitically, your point was my point. I mean, I gave you, like, what, 1 lesson? That’s more than enough time for someone to bask in my radiant glory, and essentially means that ALL your points are *my* points really. Dude, i like *own* you. ;-) )

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Sirnose - Aussie trad music?? I cant beleive you just told everyone that you are learning Bush music! :)

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

c’mon beebs, you havn’t heard the waves of rush until you’ve heard it with the subtle tinkling of the glorious lagerphone!!!

(on a tangent - I was at a ceili last night and someone told me they were at bush dance where they had re-named the dance "the waves of Tory" into "the waves of Bondi". God being Aussie’s embarrising sometimes :-( )

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Beeno with the likes of you frequenting message boards touting the benefits of larger phones i’ve never been more proud :). And as far as you owning me goes? I challenge you to a bodhran off next week. Tope end at 50 paces!!! (note i said bodhran off NOT flute off as you still obviously own my ass on that front although i’m workin’ on it). What say ye varment!!!!?

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Yes - but Beano you didnt even tell me what your doing learning bush tunes…whats going on? And you Ben - get back to work:)

See what I have to go through??? late in the evening and Sirnose are both named Ben and they both play flute and Bodhran it gets very confusing around here sometimes :)

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Top-end players, with their extra-long sticks and all that faux-black-leather taping on their skins, always make me feel like their compensating for something. REAL men play with both ends.

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Hey! Bush tunes…what gives?

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

brides, did you even *vaguely* get what undertones was about!?!? i’m so embarresed for you right now.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I wanna know too.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

?!?!?

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Undertones stuff and "Bush" tunes - there’s a big difference. Brides and I want you to tell us you’re kidding :-)

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Yeah - Undertones is not Aussie bush tunes,or at least I dont think so…I dont know what youve heard but you do realise that dads welsh right??? Not even Australian or anything :):)

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

for your contemplation, the music of :
Sally Sloane - considered by some to be "bush music"
Simon McDonald - considered by some to be "bush music"
Joe Yates - considered by some to be "bush music"
Joe Cashmere - considered by some to be "bush music"
Jacko Kevans -considered by some to be "bush music"
Mick McGarry -considered by some to be "bush music"
Declan Affley - considered by some to be the father of the savior of Aussie ITM ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I saw my first bush bass at the NFF and was mentally scarred by it. Still haven’t seen a lagerphone, or at least I might have seen one but haven’t known what it was. Surely you haven’t started associating with these people because of that Undertones thing have you, SirNose? I wondered what the beard was all about.

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Okay okay. I give up - but I still dont think Undertones sounds like bush music:)

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

That’s coz it’s *not* bush music! (at least not according to the afore-mentioned luminary). But the appropriation (and on one level, creation) of Aussie Bush Music is a discussion for another day (and probably another website)

(and dow, surely you’ve seen a lagerphone?! the largerphone player is the guy who looks like he’s whacking the severved, be-jiggled leg of a morris dancer with a vicious-looking serated stick. quite beautiful actualy)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s worse than that, beebs - don’t you have a Michaelbanjo that plays fiddle and a Michaelfiddle who plays banjo?

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Beeno just becaue it takes you twice as many ends to get the job done doesn’t mean your more manly.

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"Real men play with both ends" is a REALLY unfortunate sentence…oops

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Gosh! All this has happened overnight?! …including a deleted thread that I now can’t catch up on … rats …

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Two ends is more beautiful to watch, I have to say. One enders look like they’re whisking cake mix.

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Do we really want to go down the path that this thread is taking us?

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Um, no…

Sooooooooooooo, er, how about that 4 men and a dog then?!

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you guys crack me up. Yeah TIsh there is a michael Banjos who plays the fiddle and a Michael Fiddle who plays the banjo (ie greenwiggle) Sydney is a strange place!

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Getting back to the subject …

I can’t get over the image of all those folks down under crowded together in a room with their music stands. They’re just never going to learn it that way. Dots can be a very useful supplement to listening … but those guys aren’t listening, and they aren’t learning to listen. So they can’t possibly get it.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

benhall, it’s ok, I’m sure there are no folks in Ross-On-Wye who use music stands. Lucky you being in the centre of the world of trad and not having to worry about these things.

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HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! And here i was thinking it would be really low to make that exact same post. Good to know i can always rely on you to do my dirty work for me dowser!!

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Just goes to show that deep down, you’re as much of a sarcastic bitch as I :-)

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I know I know. Oh the shame!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (imagine jane austinesque fainting).

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But no-one will ever take you seriously in that pastry chef’s hat.

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Ay, well … Ross-on-Wye is indeed the hub :-)

You’ve got nothing useful to say to my point that they’re not learning music, then?

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I also, of course, do recognise that living in Ross-on-Wye means I’m not entitled to an opinion on this, unlike you guys immersed in the true tradition down in Oz.

(I can be a sarcastic bitch, too. :-) )

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I think it’s just that the pompous attitude seeping through your post out weighed any point you might have been trying to make :)

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… if only I could play bush music … THEN I’d understand what this stuff’s all about …

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Ah, right … pompous … mmm … suppose thinking it’s a good idea to listen, and to *learn* to listen *is* a bit pompous … I’ll obviously have to work on that …

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No just working on not thinking your better than others because of the way you go about learning things. I’ve heard a hell of a lot of self serving, ego centric, elitist hack musicians in my time who all learned their tunes according to the strict guidelines set down in the trad mafia hand book. I whole heartedly agree that listening is the corner stone of traditional music i just don’t believe that perscribing to one method of learning guarantees a great player or vice versa.

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I’m not speaking to you anymore, late in the evening. You learn tunes from sheetmusic eugh.

I resolve instead to speak to you early in the afternoon.

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hahaha!! Dow i love ye sure i always have. If i remember correctly it was YOU who supplied me with dots for the tune John Brady (shameless name drop i know) wrote for us so you’re aiding and abbeding this hideous slight against traditional music!!! I mean really dow if you’re not part of the solution you’re part of the problem. :) This really has been a nice distraction from working lads. I think it’s time for a new job given that this one has driven me to the longest continual posting session i’ve ever been involved in.!!

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"Sure, once you’ve done the hard yards and have a handle on the style and approach, knock yourself out with the dots, but you need to have the listening/playing experience to ‘extract’ the music from the dots!" - Exactly, SirNose!

This whole debate was started by bazouki_Dave asking about dots for a tune on a Four Men & a Dog CD & the point was that Dave *has*, I am reliably informed, already "done the hard yards"!

We sorted this all out in the last thread, so I’m not quite sure what this one’s all about!

We all recognise, don’t we, that:

1 - The best way to learn ITM is by using your Ear.
2 - Written music is a valiable resource.
3 - Being able to read music is a useful skill.

So what, if some newcomers have a lifetime’s experience of reading music & find that an easy way to get a quick handle on a tune. I’m sure, as mature, intelligent individuals, most of them will also have enough wit to understand that really knowing a tune only comes with lots of playing & lots of listening to different players & different versions.

If, on the other hand, we’re talking about young children coming to music for the first time, well, I already made my views very clear on that subject, in the previous thread.
I would caution that we should be mindful of others weaknesses & be careful not to discourage, through intolerance!

There is never only one way to Skin a Cat!

Here’s a thought - since ITM began, I wonder how many good tunes have been lost, because nobody wrote them down?

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Well put Ptarmi. Totally agree.

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I agree too with ptarmigan and it was my request that started this thread .
And you know what ?I dont read the dots I never learned I just wanted them for a friend who likes the music .Who had difficulty because the band played tuned up to Eb

Its a funny world

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I don’t think I’m better than others. I’ve re-read my posts, and I can’t see how what I said could be interpreted that way. Ah well, the power of the internet, I suppose.

Out of interest, I know I’m nowhere near good enough - for me, I mean. That is, for the sound I want to be able to make. But, even if I was, I’d still be entitled to an opinion. And, in my opinion, not bothering to learn to listen is not the way to learn this music. Just my opinion.

I also agree with Ptarmigan. As I said before - "Dots can be a very useful supplement to listening"

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I wonder if there would have been much point to this discussion 30 years ago.
Then there were very few sources of written music available, other than Tin Pan Alley and "art" music - remember all those great transcriptions: "Jumpin’ Jack Flash" arranged for pianoforte and voice?
Thirty years ago you were pretty much forced to learn by ear. If I remember correctly it was initially a very slow process. Tens of thousands of hours later I’m much quicker. Point: ear training can’t be done overnight. It’s HARD work.
Having said that, I will often listen to a tune and record it in dots as an aide-memoire. Like, you know, sometimes when I’m going to the shops I write down the items I want to purchase on a piece of paper. When I get to the shops I try to snatch the occasional glance at my list when nobody is looking.

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"I dont read the dots I never learned I just wanted them for a friend who likes the music" Ha Ha Dave …… so what your saying is that, if you’d said that sooner, say about *98* posts ago, you could have saved all this debate! :-(

I must remember to read between *your* lines, in future! ;-)

bazouki_Dave - the new master of the *Wind-up*! :-P

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DonaldK - you might be surprised by just how quickly some youngsters do learn to memorise their music & are actually able to *hear* subtle changes in a tune! All I’m saying is let’s try not to discourage those who aren’t gifted in that dept.

As a child, growing up, I learned many Hymns by ear & later loads of Pop songs too, aye including Jumping Jack Flash. I have no doubt at all that my years of doing that, helped to prepare my *ear* for the task of learning hundreds of IT tunes, a task I only started in my 20s.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

(I thought Michaelbanjelo was the painter.)

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Oh dear, someone on Footstompin’ has just accused me of being a member of the "folk police". Please be nice to me here. :-)

Anyway, on this occasion, I’m very happy to agree with Ptarmigan

" - The best way to learn ITM is by using your Ear.
2 - Written music is a valiable resource.
3 - Being able to read music is a useful skill."

I’d suggest that the "sheet music" option is probably more common in Scottish music as I don’t think the tradition has always been quite as alive or "living" as in Ireland. It’s much better these days, of course, but over the years much of the music was played by pipe bands, fiddle societies, fiddle and accordion clubs, Scottish dance bands and much of it was written by known composers, e.g the Gows, Marshall, Skinner etc and readily available in written publications.

The above is probably an over simplication, of course, and the music seems to be a lot "free-er" these days, especially with the younger bands and tunes are more frequently passed on via sessions and elsewhere.

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Hmmm…and to think I’m still learnin’ my abc’s. :)

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Reading the dots at a session is like doing an orienteering event with satellite navigation. But then I know someone who does this (reading) at session speed very successfully. Shame because he has to rummage through all his books every time there’s a change to a new tune (except if he’s leading of course.) He is slowly weaning off the dots though, so he is aware of the prob.

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"……so he is aware of the prob."

Exactly.
Those that hear themselves this way, usually progress to learning by ear, or getting a teacher etc. Eventually unlearning the bad habbits.

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General consensus here and I’m glad.
Phrases like, "progressing to learning by ear" and Pt’s 123 have it about right. And of course no one has ever said, "that sheet music has no place in the music".

As for Pt’s thoughts about how many good tunes that have been lost, because nobody wrote them down … what about all those dire tunes that should have been lost, but survive because someone did write them down?

And as for bazouki dave … If he’d answered "I just wanted them for a friend who likes the music" to my "why do you need the dots if you have a recording?" Then I would have said, "Do your friend a favour and knock the recording down a semitone in slowdowner, or whatever, and give them that instead. If you’re not sure how to do that, e-mail me an mp3 and I’ll do it for you"

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Or in the case of Martin Hayes, an "Amazing Speed Upper", eh Michael? :-)

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I’m totally with Michael on this. Different things go on in my tiny brain depending on whether I’m dot-dependent or playing by ear. Years ago when i played the piano more than I do now, I used to love just sitting down and improvising. But if i set my mind to learning other people’s music off dots, it generally took me a while to get my brain back into being able to improvise. I find something similar with the fiddle. It’s like i feel my wings clipped or something if I start playing tunes from the dots. A part of me that’s awake and on edge if I’m playing by ear goes to sleep.
Also agree with Sir Nose and others about the surreal experience of playing with dot-addicts who bang away with written chords or melody lines that bear no resemblance to the sounds other people are making. How do you catch someone’s eye and feel like you’re getting in there together if everyone’s looking at sheet music? It sorta just dumbs the whole experience down. If you haven’t learned a tune backwards by ear, it’s hard to play by heart, if you know what i mean.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ptarmigan, I wouldn’t want to discourage youngsters learning to play by ear.
Playing by ear, to me, is essential to being a good musician. Most of the time I play by memory (i.e., a fixed part like a tune) or by ear (an instrumental break in a song).
But in the first stages of learning a tune I might well work from dots. This is because too often in the past I have learned a tune at a session or workshop only to have partiall or totally forgotten it by the time I get home. So I’ll now probably quickly jot it down in dots, like my shopping list (which isn’t generally in dot form I have yo admit), and just like my shopping list it’s not definitive.

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And like you, it was all the improvising and learning guitar solos from LPs (often played at 16 and 2/3) when I were a nipper that trained my ear. That was my exact point. There weren’t the same written resources available then (in the 70s) so you had tae use yer lugs.

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"Playing by ear, to me, is essential to being a good musician."

Yes, a good musician of any genre of music. Let’s not forget that listening and ear training is essential to being a good classical musician as well. Written notes on a page are only a representation of classical music too. The difference is that with classical music it’s all about dynamics. With trad, it’s about variation, rhythm and articulation.

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That’s a very good point. Interestingly, you never see classical soloists in concert playing from sheet music. it’s always from memory.

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Yep, and the top classical players have developed much much better ears and memories that your so called top trad musos. It’s really not that hard. There is absolutely no excuse for not being able to pic up a mere 16 or 32 bars of more often than not repetitive stuff with just a single line that hardly ever modulates.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s funny how so many people say that reading notes is easier and quicker and that learning by ear is hard word and takes lots of practice. For me it’s the opposite—-I can pick up a tune fairly quickly by ear and it’s fun, like figuring out a puzzle, but give me a written tune and it’s a chore, almost boring by comparison. I force myself to read because I want to know how to do both.

It seems to me that the musicians with classical training can have a real disadvantage coming to traditional music because they’re so dependent on written music. I still admire that ability, though—-put me in front of a Mozart concerto and I’d be totally lost.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Yes. It’s no wonder some classical players scoff at trad players when they whinge and complain that they have to memorise a few simple tunes. Think of a top concert pianist memorising whole piano concertos. They probably have all the orchestras parts in their heads too. That’s the problem when you have a bunch of simple tunes. Music like that attracts lazy people who want to be musicians but can’t be bothered to put the time in and learn the tunes. So they pick up a drum instead. See? all this is interconnected. Poor Michael sings his protests seemingly every day, but unfortunately he’s wasting his breath, because people will always give him a hard time for stating the bleeding obvious. It’s a sad world.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The original assertion at the head of this thread, that newcomers to ITM learning it from the dots is the most awful thing to happen, is not proven. What you learn from dots is the bare bones of a tune, not "the music." These are two entirely different things, but those who condemn dot-learners are getting the two confused. It is entirely valid to learn a tune from dots then go and float it on that big ITM ocean out there, which the only place where you’ll learn "the music." I want to know where all these cancerous hordes of awful ITM wreckers are who put music stands up in sessions. I’ve seen folk passing around notation and discussing it but I have never seen anyone playing from dots in any session I’ve attended. Which is not to say it doesn’t happen somewhere or other but it’s scarcely believable that it’s so widespread that it’s having an "awful" effect on ITM. Take a hundred different ITM players and you’ll find a hundred different strategies for learning tunes/"the music." Singling out for condemnation those who choose to build up a repertoire from dots is something you’re really going to have to justify with some evidence that such people make "worse" ITM players than anyone else. There’s a challenge for you. And just in case anyone suspects from all this that I’m a dottist, I can hardly read sheet music at all and ABC and tablature are utterly foreign to me. Ear every time for me!

Never mind how people get there, for ‘tis only by their fruits that ye shall know them!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Steve, the thought of you rummaging through my fruits is vaguely disconcerting.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You’re OK mate. I’m more of a meat and two veg chap meself.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And I can see how that’s going to be taken wrongly…;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I think the phrase "*learning* it from the dots" (emphasis mine) is quite significant here.

I’m sure Michael doesn’t mean that there’s loads of people reading off music stands or from sheet music(in general) within sessions. The musicians may well have committed the tunes to memory but it will be the "written" version which may just be the bare bones or different from what is normally heard. So, that’s where listening is obviously important. If you can "learn by ear" well, then you have no problem. Otherwise, you have to listen to what others are doing and adapt accordingly.

I have seen some sessions where the players will play "off the sheet music" as a matter of course but not(usually) in pubs or traditional Irish sessions.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Learning it from the dots is learning the bare bones. Listening is learning "the music." I contend that you can do both.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

OK, you saw it coming, which may help lessen the horror. Now I don’t want to creep anybody out here, but which of the many possible combinations of fruit, meat and two (yet to be specified) veggies will lead to you being taken wrongly?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You must think I’m nuts. ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"I contend that you can do both."

So did I, I think. :-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Steve, you say, " What you learn from dots is the bare bones of a tune, not "the music." These are two entirely different things".

I’m sorry mate but you really can’t divorce things like that. Of course the bones are the music, all of it is the music. An animal is the flesh and the bones, and the organs and everything else etc. And music is the same. Please don’t tell me you are saying that it’s just the flesh that is the music.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s OK, Michael, Steve’s getting his body parts throroughly confused, in any case …

He’s just started talking about his nuts …

(Do nuts count as veg?)

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Michael, don’t you see? Steve views tunes in a different way than you do. He sees a tune not simply as "a tune", or "the music", but as a series of notes you play and that you can then embellish with some twiddly bits. That’s where he’s wrong of course, but you’d be wasting your time to try and explain it to him.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Just maybe, just maybe this once, must maybe there’s a tint tiny chance I’m not wasting my time

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

by the way, isn’t this best title for a thread in ages?

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

llig is guilty of a certain amount of inconsistency. In a recent discussion he complains (quote): I’m worried that there is a plethora of posts that have nothing whatsoever to do with … "The exchange of tunes is what keeps traditional Irish music alive. This web-site is one way of passing on jigs, reels and other dance tunes." How does he think it achieves this? er, transcriptions I think.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Nope, sorry, I’ve always said that there is nothing wrong with sharing tunes via notation among people you know and know can already play. And I’ve always said it’s a bad way to share music with strangers, you never know how wrong it’ll be interpreted. The main point of the argument remains that notation is a very very bad way of learning music. And the vast majority here, thankfully, agree

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Of course. It’s as plain as day. Music is stuff that we hear, therefore we learn it by listening. To say otherwise is like saying that the best way to learn to paint is by closing your eyes and listening to a picture on the wall. Michael seriously mate you’re wasting your time explaining this time and time again to people who don’t want to listen to you. It almost upsets me that you are so open-hearted as to want to help people unknown to you who don’t understand the obvious, and yet you take a deep breath and trudge on resiliently every time someone kicks dirt in your face. Fair play to you though, they should give you a knighthood or something.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

For services to Diddley music………

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Sir Llig. LOL.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

tee he, I’m just sitting in my office listening to Fats Waller, drawing pie charts and finishing off last night’s kink prawn jalfrezi. I’ve got plenty of time

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

king

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Literacy itself is highly over-rated - I bet Llig eschews even notes to the milkman, and prefers to warble "an extra pint today" from the window in a gruff baritone. We should go back to verbal culture, learnt by listening at the campfire and passed from generation to generation. The hero of our tales of derring-do shall be Sir Llig - arise, Sir Llig! (we already have SirNose). I like the idea that this Brotherhood can share notated tunes among people they know (secret handshakes? rolled up trouser legs?). Strangers may only learn aurally or they won’t do it right!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Learning this music is like learning a language. The language can either be your native tongue or it can be a foreign language to you. Either way it has to be learned. You learn it by listening, and to a certain extent watching what people are doing. With language, you’re listening to the pronunciation of the words and how to use them and how they link together to form long flowing sentences and phrases with differing intonation. You’re watching what native speakers tongues and lips are doing and looking at how they shape their mouths to form the sounds. With the music, you’re listening to how notes are articulated and how they’re put together to form phrases that are meaningful and pleasing to the ear. You’re watching how great musicians are doing with their fingers or whatever to produce a good sound. Then, with both language and music, you take what you’ve learnt and you make something new with it - something that’s your own. You can learn a language out of a book, but it’s going to sound awfully odd to a native speaker. You won’t be fluent enough to play about with the language unless you immerse yourself in it aurally until you can produce the same yourself. You’ll probably not be able to pronounce the words very well and native speakers will be able to tell you haven’t spent any time amongst native speakers. So if you learn only from the dots and don’t immerse yourself in the music and listen, then you won’t acquire the skills necessary to creating inventive variations and good articulation etc. In other words, your playing will be sh1te.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

If you don’t proofread your posts, your grammar will also be sh1te.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Michael’s oft-expressed view is "you can’t expect to make any progress with this music if you rely on printed music, so don’t bother to learn how to read it". It’s only the last bit that I disagree with (though I waited until I was in my 50’s before making the effort). Don’t wait that long: a whole world opens up to you.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

If you go researching in libraries you’ll find manuscript collections of literally thousands of tunes from the 17/18th centuries that haven’t been played for 150 years or more. If you want to play one of those tunes in a session, or even perhaps perform or record it, then someone (perhaps you) has to play it or, ideally, mentally assimilate it from the manuscript dots right at the very beginning of the process. And, when you come to play the tune, that’s when your previous experience of such music comes into effect.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"There is absolutely no excuse for not being able to pic up a mere 16 or 32 bars of more often than not repetitive stuff with just a single line that hardly ever modulates." Oh dear, is that a hint of the old dictatorial, or should I now say monarchial, (;-)) attitude shining through again! :-(

Llig, that’s like saying to someone - there’s absolutely no excuse for not being able to pick up that Javelin & throw it at least six metres, only to discover that a physically handicapped child is standing behind you! :-(

The truth is, we are *not* all born equal & I dislike this idea that just because some people don’t learn their music the way *you* are happy with & the way you feel they should, that they are therfore some sort of inferior, creatures that should really just crawl away off into the undergrowth, from whence they came, & not embarrass you further!

Isn’t the land of ITM supposed to be a warm, cuddly place where strangers & newcomers are welcomed into the body of the kirk & encouraged in a friendly manner …… not scorned, shunned & laughed at because they haven’t learned all *your* rules yet. ;-)

Dow came out with: "So if you learn only from the dots and don’t immerse yourself in the music and listen, then you won’t acquire the skills necessary to creating inventive variations and good articulation etc. In other words, your playing will be sh1te." I don’t believe anyone here has ever suggested, or hinted, much less advocated, that anyone should learn their music *only* from the dots.

I’m not convinced that your comparing this to learning a language is a useful one either Dow. For example, how many of us experienced say a French or Spannish child joining our class at School & having them romp away at the Aural exam, only to fall flat on their faces when it came to the nitty gritty of spelling, grammar, syntax, morphology & semantics. So the foreign student will be great at speaking the language, but may well not be a hot shot when it comes to actually writing it down! So with languages, a good knowledge of the dots [letters, words etc etc] is very valuable.

Obviously the only way to learn to speak a language fluently is to hear it spoken, & then mimic what you hear, but to really fully understand a language, I believe, requires an element of bookwork too. So if you are trying to promote a no notation at any cost approach to learning, perhaps adopting a big Ian P. *Never, Never Never* approach to the dots, I think perhaps you need to find a better example for comparison.

Llig says - "The main point of the argument remains that notation is a very very bad way of learning music." We all know you can’t learn a language unless you can hear it & you can’t play ITM unless you can listen to it, but nobody here has said, or is saying that you should only learn your music by the dots. Just that it should not be regarded as a hanging offence if someone finds it useful to use the dots for cross reference when trying to get their ear around some tricky 6 part hornpipe or 4 part reel they heard & taped Tommy Peoples play in the pub last night.
After all, the likes of Tommy, it seems, never repeats a phrase the same way twice, so mere mortals of ITM often need all the help they can get, fitting the pieces of some tune jigsaws together.
For this, I don’t think they should be condemned!

After all, where would we all be without the excellent ABC dots on this site?
Let’s hope Jeremy doesn’t catch your bug llig & decide to delete all the ABC & notation from this site - just in case someone might be crazy enough to try learning a tune from them!

I know what you mean RichardB. I only started learning how to read the dots in my mid 40s, after playing for twenty odd years, simply because I started teaching & I could see how useful it was for some of my students. Some kids love learning by ear, some love reading the dots, so I encourage the learning of both skills ……. but I always emphasise the vital importance of being able to listen carefully & learn tunes by ear …… even with my Bodhran students!

As for myself, I can sometimes join in 2nd or third time through a simple tune in a session, so I can assure you there’s nowt wrong with my ear ….. whatever, about the rest of me! By the way, I have never actually learned a tune by the dots myself, but I do find them very useful in so many ways.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I have indeed learned some tunes from the dots for my own interest (and this is in my present happy state of being able to learn by ear most of the time), but those are tunes I’ve never heard before, either in sessions or on record. I suppose this remark follows on logically from my previous post.

On the other hand, there are a number of tunes that I have learned entirely from sessions and have never seen the dots.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"I suppose this remark follows on logically from my previous post." Shock Horror! I believe you have actually set a precedent there, Hound! 8-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Very well said, Ptarmi…I love the way you can explain things.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ptarmigan, you’ve just shown that you haven’t got the point. Of course the dots are a useful tool. Never said otherwise.

My point was, you can’t learn a language well by only learning about its syntax and grammar from a book.

Similarly, you can’t learn music just by looking at dots on the page. That’s all Michael was trying to say, and you and others have scorned him for saying so on this and previous threads. It’s amazing really that Michael gets such a reaction from people.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Dow, I think it’s fair to say that, most of the time, each of us receives the reaction we court, by our manner of posting.

Perhaps that’s why Llig & Bliss get on so well! :-P

"My point was, you can’t learn a language well by only learning about its syntax and grammar from a book." Agreed, but just remember, I never said that you could.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Dear Llig and Ptamigan
Sorry but you were all having so much fun I didn’t want to interrupt.
This issue has obviously been brewing for some time and I think there have been a lot of valid points made.
Is there a prize for starting off the longest discussion ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Aye Dave, there’s nothing like a good old thrash on the mustard page, is there!

However, I’ve absolutely no idea what the longest thread is here …….. but just remember one important thing, it’s not the length that’s important! :-P
After all, we don’t get paid by the word here!
Oooops, shouldn’t have mentioned the idea of money.
But just think, if we were paid to post here, every post would then become a performance! :-D

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The longest thread had 1000+ posts. Can’t remember what it was called…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Dow,
When I lurk through long posts Michael and Bodhran Bliss have been involved in, I always chuckle. Great office reading…Usually good posting from both.

I think Michael gets that reaction cause he comes across rude and patronising. I generally am in agreement with what he writes, but he does come across rude.

I know this is intentional, I ike it.
I wonder though would some young one or young lad think so after plucking up all their courage to post on an online forum?

Do you not notice this at all???

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I should have guessed what the posting would be about Dow :-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

To be honest I think a lot of people totally overreact to much of what he says. A lot of it is him saying "but hang on a minute, [states bleeding obvious fact] blah blah blah" and then someone goes "god Michael you’re so rude and patronising and you make such snide and horrible remarks and this and that blah blah blah", and he must be sitting there going "um, all I did was [state obvious fact]". I’m amazed he manages to keep going. I can only assume that he finds people’s reactions amusing. I just find it rather weird and a little bit disturbing…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I agree,
Firstly, lets not imagine what he’s doing when he’s sitting there reading…
Thats not really for you to say is it? (Although I know Michael would probably cut your post and paste as a reply to this.
All I’m doing, is…..sitting here going "um, all I did was [state obvious fact)")

People usually post because they don’t understand the "bleeding obvious"! (although they may not know it yet)
So therefore more constructive is better….no?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Yes, that’s why Michael explains the bleeding obvious to them, every single time. I think he’s tremendously patient.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

So you keep saying, but its not constructive……

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

What isn’t?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

his replies..

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

ie "Michael explains the bleeding obvious to them"

I understand what you are saying, and what he is saying alot of the time.
but its not done constructively.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Some are, some aren’t. Like everyone else on the board. Sometimes you write crap and sometimes you get into a good discussion - depends on your mood and the general mood of the discussion board. A lot of what I’ve read of Michael’s posts as made for very interesting reading, and I can’t be the only one here who thinks so. What *isn’t* constructive is jumping down his throat every time he opens his mouth to tell him he’s snide or whatever, even when he’s being perfectly well-behaved and sensible. So just give the guy a break fer feck’s sake.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

OK!
Agreed thoroughly - Lets get that out of the way …
But if he can give, he has to take no?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Sorry to come into this so late……..
My feelings are that if anyone on this board discourages even one person for one hour……. from learning new Traditional tunes -

then it is a sad day indeed.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"Sorry to come into this so late…….."
I’m not.

***

My impression of Michael.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

There we go again, implying that Michael has been going around discouraging people. Sorry, but I think it’s largely in the heads of the already-discouraged.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I half agree with you, Morning Star. But I think it’s an impossible goal. Even your own post may have discouraged someone, who knows? We take things differently and somtimes, no matter how carefully we - or, say, Michael - try to say things, someone will get offended.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Er, excuse me, but:

I wrote recently: "I believe I can feel the presence of past generations of musicians and dancers with us. They draw nearer to the sound of the pipes and fiddle, their involvement and longing are a tangible thing in the room, sharing again something that is forever new and forever timeles"

Llig wrote: This is worse than mere twaddle, it’s self delusion of the highest order.

How nice to have the final authority around.

Cheers.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

He says nice things sometimes …

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I disagree with everything above.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Dow a écrit:
"Michael, don’t you see? Steve views tunes in a different way than you do. He sees a tune not simply as "a tune", or "the music", but as a series of notes you play and that you can then embellish with some twiddly bits. That’s where he’s wrong of course, but you’d be wasting your time to try and explain it to him."

Oh yeah? And how do you know this? You haven’t the foggiest idea of my concept of "tunes" or "the music" and I will thank you to keep your gratuitous and cynical insults to yourself. You are the one person (no, there’s another…) whom I would NOT buy a pint of Doom Bar for if you disgraced Cornwall with a visit. Why don’t you just stick your own twiddly bits where the sun don’t shine, cobber. Even Michael would only get a half. Actually, push him overboard, Michael, why don’t you! He’s only off preparing his next piece of trollery! :-D

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

WAHEY!!! Rebel against Dow! I’m afraid I think that any way of getting into the music is fine and people should move on with the times and not be completely stuck in the tradition and unwilling to accept new ideas! Who are we to judge the way anyone else learns music?!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Would people rather they just didn’t learn it at all? Rather than from sheet music?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

…… & I absolutely agree with everything you disagree with, Eliot!

The fact is Dow, Llig’s manner & sense of humour can, & I know for a fact has, upset a number of folks in the past. However, I know he is certainly not alone in that regard, & I’d be the first to admit that I myself have also trodden on a number of toes in the past, but I’d like to think that while I’m eejit enough to give out $hit sometimes, I’m also big enough to take it on the chin when others throw it back at me.

I also reckon that Llig too, has a broad back & a solid chin & is therefore well able to fend off any $hit I, or anyone else, throws at him, without you having to try & nanny him! ;-)

Mind you Dow, have you considered for a moment, the possibility that I may actually be a plant, snuck in here by Llig’s camp to throw mud at him, so that he might gain the sympathy vote?
Or had you forgotten about the - "the next Scottish Parliamentary and local government elections ….. on Thursday, 3 May 2007."

P.S. Has anyone spotted Llig’s campaign posters up in Bells yet?

P.P.S. I’ll let you into a secret Dow, here’s his own personal Blog, with a photo of him & his trusty geetar!:
http://www.blogger.com/profile/4636362

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I am not upset but I am severely irritated when a couple of tossers waste bandwidth with their weird concept of "wit" that has nothing to do with discussing ITM but everything to do with boosting their own pathetic egos. Apart from that I love life and all its tunes. I’m even prepared to discuss the mechanics of learning ‘em, shock horror! Twiddly bits and all. But mine, not his.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

There’s nothing hilarious about Doom Bar, what?!!? me old fruit. It’s a serious Cornish beer that’s won competitions. But it’s only suitable for proper ITM tune-learners, big-ears or dotters both. Cynics have to get by on Aussie gnat’s-p*ss. That’s why they turn out all gnarled.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

This may be a new record: long, weird post, The Dots Discussion, with a mention of The Performance Discussion, references to Private Parts, and Danny has re-used a screen name. If you get in a reference to Cr*p Tunes I Hate to Play and The Hierarchy of Traditional Instruments, a discreet whine about bad session etiquette, my day will be complete.

I love this Board!!!!

;-D

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Couldn’t agree more Steve, so much of this valuable space has been wasted on bull$hit (no that’s not a Beer!) which has absolutely nothing to do with good old ITM, like Cornish Beer & Aussie’s gnat’s-p*ss! :-D

"I’m also very confused about what’s going on around here …" - don’t worry Steve, just stick around for a while, it’ll all start to make sense …… eventually! :-P

You can see from above that Batlady can … *Dig It*.
You see, to some, this is simply a discussion board, but to others it is actually an *ASTRAL PLANE* …….. heavy Man! ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Just woken up ready to fight another day for truth and justice only to find this magnificently rabid post still in full stride! Now Steve, having sung in the bass section of a number of community choirs I’m well familiar with Doom Bar…it’s usually part of one of those Gospel numbers where the bass section goes "doom bar doom bar doom bar doom bar doom diddly doom..etc". After singing such things we used to toss back a bowl of nuts, drown our sorrows in gnat’s-p and dream of balmy Cornish summers.

You mustn’t be too upset by Michael and Dow. Their calling (and it’s a noble one) is to drop boiling oil on the infidels at the gates. Okay, some of it splashes up on the true believers sometimes…but just think of it as collateral damage and dip the burnt bits in some Doom Bar (if it’s not too warm that is ; ))

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s an interesting point that when notation was first used (circa the sixth, seventh or eighth century) in neumic form it existed in a manner that would do nothing more than serve as an aide memoire to the monks singing the plainchant in question. They had to learn tunes by ear, and the idea of a fixed 5 line notational system was (again, from my slightly sketchy memory) developed from a simple 2 line system to a five line system by the 16th century.

Clearly things have changed since the end of the dark ages :-)

Then again, when I arrange stuff I quite like sitting in front of my computer with Sibelius.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

No fear, Dick and Ger. I’m an old hand hereabouts, just with a long bit of exile, that’s all. These guys feel threatened when an unfamiliar presence threatens their stranglehold on the board. They’re pathetic. And as for you, Batlady (howya!:-)), I regard the harmonica as second only to the hurdy-gurdy in the hierarchy of ITM instruments, and it’s well-documented that I regard Drowsy Maggie as the most cr@ppiest tune that I hate to play. Happy to make your day! Now, we could of course discuss the hierarchy of the most useless list-lizards…

Bugger, I forgot about session etiquette…don’t believe in it personally…;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Interesting that the board allows "bugger" but not "crap" or "p*ss." I could spend my life pondering these things. Beats learning tunes from dots any day. ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Excuse me, but I got crap and Batlady didn’t …:-D

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Well, lots to agree with and some to disagree. So here we go again …

Dow’s language analogy, despite Pt’s disagreement is a good one. Pt’s argument self evidently misses the point. His example of the foreign kid at school doing great in the aural exam but badly in the written one is a spectacular blunder. Considering the whole point of playing the music is to "sound" right. Think also of the way children learn to speak. They really are very fluent well before they learn to read. All I am advocating is the same approach to music.

I was miss quoted earlier: Michael’s oft-expressed view is "you can’t expect to make any progress with this music if you rely on printed music, so don’t bother to learn how to read it". I have never said this. All I say is, if you are beginning the journey of getting into this stuff, leave the music aside until you are well on your way. If you can’t read music, wait until you can play until you learn (if you want to learn). If you can already read music, leave it aside and force yourself to use only your ears, at least until you can play. If you use the sheet music as a short cut to learning tunes, you will, in the long run, be doing yourself a disservice.

And the example of the tricky 6 part hornpipe or 4 part reel from Tommy Peoples who never repeats a phrase the same way twice is perfect for illustrating the futility of trying to nail it down on paper.

And this analogy: "there’s absolutely no excuse for not being able to pick up that Javelin & throw it at least six metres, only to discover that a physically handicapped child is standing behind you!" is a bad one. If you have a physical/mental disability that bars you from playing music, then find something else you can do. I know I’ll get grief for saying that, but, to quote dow, I’m only stating the bleeding obvious.

Steve, you stated quite clearly that your concept of the music was the separation of flesh and bones. This is what dow and I reacted to.

Rook, sorry mate, but it’s still worse than mere twaddle, and it’s still self delusion of the highest order. And I’m sorry, but that’s stating the bleeding obvious as well

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Congratulations, llig.
You now own Irish Tradional Music.
It’s all yours, so please use it wisely.

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well, mr/ms morning star. That’s a darn stupid thing to say. And that’s also stating the bleeding obvious

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:-D
and it’s Ms. to you.

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Ah so that’s Ms. MS?

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I don’t have multiple sclerosis, if that’s what you mean…..

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i agree with the allegory and all pro-listening thoughts. but for the record, a surprising number of players in ireland…..use written notation. perhaps they are getting their listening in the air they breathe, as it were, since they are hearing more itm in their environment if they are taking lessons, getting cds, going to shows, etc. but a surprising number learn from, and use, written music. whether that is a gotterdammerung of some kind, no clue. after realizing i was serious about playing itm, i went to school at night for three semesters of ear training classes because having been acclimated to written music as a kid, the ear thing was so counterintuitive for me. and it was worth all the pain and suffering. but i’m just saying….i’ve been in so-called master classes at clancy week with irish players who were learning by reading music…..now, most of the students were "ace" at ear learning. but people are learning with written music, and i was told by another clare teacher that many top musicians, particularly fiddlers (why fiddlers i don’t know), use notation.

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At Michael’s request - something I put in the "A question of BPM" which is probably more to the point than my ramblings on Gregorian Plainchant…….

"Hang about…..dancers dance in 2/2 to a reel. Surely the difference in playing is interpretational - ie. how the notes are stressed within the bar? Which in itself seems to be what time signature defines? Having spent a chunk of today notating some tunes I’ve reminded myself the extent to which notation seems to be only useful to within certain tolerances."

From https://thesession.org/discussions/13136

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Yes yes yes, use it. It’s a great tool. But learn to play first

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"Oh yeah? And how do you know this? You haven’t the foggiest idea of my concept of "tunes" or "the music" and I will thank you to keep your gratuitous and cynical insults to yourself."

Har har har - this coming from the guy who can look at a musician playing and beleive that they have "no soul".

Ha hahaha!

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thanks andy

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thanks bb

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And actually - has anyone noticed that the insults seem to be getting very below the belt here - but it all seems fine if you put a smiley face next to it………

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I strongly feel that anyone claiming to be a veritable "master" of their instrument would be able to hear a tune a couple of times and, much in the manner that they could sing it back to you, they could play it back to you. That’s how I would define a mastery.

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I wonder how many people might discover that they agree with Michael if they’d quit misrepresenting what he actually says.

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I agree Will.

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God, the bleedin’ cobbers are gangin’ up tonite! Grab a tinny, guys and gals, and chill!:-D

To be "serious:"

Quoth Michael:
"All I say is, if you are beginning the journey of getting into this stuff, leave the music aside until you are well on your way. If you can’t read music, wait until you can play until you learn (if you want to learn). If you can already read music, leave it aside and force yourself to use only your ears, at least until you can play. If you use the sheet music as a short cut to learning tunes, you will, in the long run, be doing yourself a disservice."

Michael. I should like to reiterate my request. Try not to ignore it this time, please, otherwise I’ll acquire an inferiority complex and that just makes me go all nasty. Would you please provide evidence for your assertion that people who learn tunes from dots are doing themselves a disservice or doing ITM a disservice. You will of course have to show that people who have learned this way are less good than those who have learned by ear. Come on, pal. Checkable statistics applied to an objective standard or long lists of names, in two columns natch, of the illustrious versus the less so would also be acceptable. Or save yourself the homework and just admit that you’re talking lofty bullsh1t. Gawd, where’s the bloody eye-roll emoticon when you need it. Prepare for evasion, chaps…

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When I first joined the Session I hardly ever agreed with what Michael said. Now, I agree with most of it. I find that sort of interesting. I think I’ve learned to look past his blunt way of posting and been able to see what he’s actually trying to convey.

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Michael doesn’t "say." Michael postures.

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I’ve seen loads and loads of people who are in so called ‘trad irish’ bands with their silver flutes and music stands…and never once have I thought any of them were any good. I cant give you statistics….but it stands to reason doesnt it..that if you dont listen….then you wont know how to play the stuff. Michael did not say dont learn music off the dots - he said learn to listen *first* and actually that is a bloody good piece of advice….it seems to me most people who are reacting badly to his posts are not actually reading them…as soon as they see its written by Llig their back just goes up.

PS - what is the cobber thing that you keep going on about? I’m sure it means something about aussies - but you do realise that Dow is a Pommie just like you Steve.

And there was a guy who recently tried to get the word "Pommie" banned in Australia you know cause he thought it was racist- he took it to the high court and he lost…..bloody typical pom:)

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*Yawn* Do I have to realise these things? Maybe that’s why he’s so bleedin’ cantankerous. I’m an aficionado of all those Northumbrian tunes too but then I can get up there in an hour or six. As for this confounded dots stuff, just listen to yourselves rattling on about it all theoretical like. Jeez, close yer eyes and listen to the music and see if you’re enjoying it. Never ask how the tunes were learned as the answer may give you indigestion. If Beethoven were alive today he’d be turning in his grave. Now go and have another Fosters.

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Yawn….yawn…yawn. Its obvious that you actually know that this is just bleeding obvious - you know to listen. If Beethoven were alive today then I’m pretty sure he’d be……alive.

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Fosters? I find it funny so funny that often the most ignorant people are the ones that are the most self-a-SHAWED :)

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I sit forlornly at my lonely, Fosters-free keyboard and await the arrival of those statistics (as opposed to those "it stands to reason innit" posts). If I didn’t know better I’d be thinking I was going all dotty in my dotage.. or is that my dottage…flippin’ ‘eck, I’m all mixed up…

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Define "iggerant" s’il vous plonk… Would it be "an attribute shared by all those with whom I disagree" perchance? Have you an opinion of your own?

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Ah, another Aussie! :-D

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Steve, this is you: "I was simply trying to make the point that to say that "the only way to learn a tune right is to learn it by ear" is to erect a barrier against newcomers learning to play ITM"

Let me juxtapose that with:
"Tommy Peoples who never repeats a phrase the same way twice is perfect for illustrating the futility of trying to nail it down on paper".

You have stated your bones and flesh theory. Please think again.

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Steve - all late in the evening was trying to point out is you obviously dont have a clue about aussies or australia - as its very rare that you actually get fosters here…its an export thing.

You seem to have a thing about aussies -dont worry mate - if I was from Cornwall - I’d be jealous of Aussies too.

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In this particular context i use ignorant to define anyone who is so oblivious to the actual cultural specifics of the ethnic group he is slagging as to stereo type them via a beer that no one in said country actually drinks.

Clear enough?? :) It would be like me slagging all british people because you made the unfortunate decision to devote your life to the harmonica :) hehehe i really need to stop hanging out with you dow!!!

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You disingenuous ol’ thingie you, Michael. So let’s see if I have this right. A tune learned from dots is an immutable thing, as unchanging as that lump of kerbstone down there. It can never be taken out and used as a foundation for building on. The player must always play it exactly the same, note for note, for the sheer act of learning it from the dots has condemned the player to play it thus forever. A Damoclean sword shall hang over his head lest he dare insert even the merest ornament or variation!

Come off it, Michael. Hypothetical, theoretical bullsh1t not founded on anything remotely to do with real life. ITM is played by thousands of enthusiasts like me who are determined to try their best to do it right but we want a repertoire some time before we reach the age of 199. You and your purist adherents would deny us that. Well tough luck. This is the age of the CD, the iPod and the tune-book and there’s no going back and it’s going to work for ITM just fine. A little bit of faith from old fogies stuck in the pure droppist past would be nice but we’ll just have to wait till they’re all in the churchyard I suppose!

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Gawd, all these sensitive Aussies and their Fosters! Well, we all wear smocks in Cornwall and suck straws and play Wurzels CDs incessantly and go "oo-arr." Go on, have a go - we lurve it! :-D

Oops - sorry, wurzel…not you…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You can’t play a harmonica by ear anyway. You have to put it in…oh, never mind. It’s late in the evening late in the evening and it’s time for beddiebyes. Enjoy your rooburger brekkie, y’all down under! ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumbelow
We were up long before the day-o
To welcome in the summertime
To welcome in the May-o
For summer is coming in
And winter’s gone away!

It’s got round to that half of the year when the clock in my car is right!

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I think anyone putting a harmonica in their….."oh never mind" would be an improvement. At least it would keep the bloody thing quiet :)

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I’ll swear I bought a radio cassette in Rumbelows once…oops, I’m s’posed to be abed…

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Not on my bloody diet it wouldn’t.

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Lots and lots of venom, so very little real disagreement. Par for the course.

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Aw, you came in and said that just when we were trying a bit harder! Bad timing! :-(

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HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! I do appreciate someone who, even over the internet, can appreciate when the p**s is well and truly being taken :).

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Morpheus calleth.

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…….last word from me on this:

Most of my music students learn faster with reading than by listening, but I encorporate both methods.
I agree that a room full of people reading & playing ITM sounds flat, but who’s to say that they are "awful" or "wrong"? If & and when they want to, they will move on and develop their playing skills at their own speed. Who cares, anyway? It’s not as if you’re forced to listen to them or anything.

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Although trad is a very small world - you never know who you might run into…

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I laughed long and hard at this post till my eyes almost popped out of their sockets:

"Er, excuse me, but:

I wrote recently: "I believe I can feel the presence of past generations of musicians and dancers with us. They draw nearer to the sound of the pipes and fiddle, their involvement and longing are a tangible thing in the room, sharing again something that is forever new and forever timeles"

Llig wrote: This is worse than mere twaddle, it’s self delusion of the highest order.

How nice to have the final authority around.

Cheers."

That’s like popping your head round the door at a party and saying "excuse me everyone, I’d just like to remind everyone that I’m a complete idiot. Thank you!" And then expecting people not to laugh and make sarcastic comments. I mean, how can you really expect Michael *not* to react to posts like this?! And you wonder why he makes snide remarks?!!!

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I once thought i could feel the departed players from sydney pulling closer to a fiddle being played by a particular canadian visitor once until i turned around and realised it was beebs and cors kicking me :) Hey i’ll be late tonight dow but i am coming so don’t pike! mmmmmm townie?

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‘mon, Mr. Shaw has a fair point. If you play by the dots and don’t bother to listen, then of course other people playing by the dots sound just as good as anything else.

See, if we’d all just listen with the same disregard for what it sounds like, everyone would be happy….
:-/

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late in the evening, I just wanted to let you know that every time I session with you guys on a Tuesday, the music reaches such an intense peak that I can actually sense the ghosts of past ITM masters around me as I play. They caress my skin yearningly with their cool but gentle touch as they perform their whirling, swirling, dervish-like airdance to the music, which drifts out onto the streets below, causing children to stop playing and look up at the window of their local alehouse. And their grandfathers and grandmothers smile too, as they are reminded of past times and the fervour of their youth.
BOLLOX!!!!

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Whassha madder, Dow? Y’ can’t see ‘em? Why, Mashter Crowley hisself ish here beshide me, sipping outta same bottle o’ Powers as we shpeak. Hic. A shmart little quiver he putsh in the aire, too.

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38+189 comments posted so far dont stop yet we are on a roll. 4 men and a dog Recordings and its nothing to do with 4 men and a dog. Bet the lads never thought they could cause such controversy .At 4.45am have to say its entertaining .I am working the night shift and its filled in a good hour getting up to date with the Banter.As I am half blind I cant read the dots to learn and I am half deaf so I cant learn by ear think I will take up the Bodhran;-) Oh sh!t Ive done it now ;-)

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sorry got the count wrong 38+194 now yippie!

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Maybe you could make a bodhran from your mandola

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Steve writes: "If Beethoven were alive today he’d be turning in his grave."

If anyone was alive in their grave I think they’d be turning.

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Well, back from work and this one’s still going. I wonder if we’ll make 40 days and 40 nights eating nothing but locusts in this particular desert. Someone needs to do something…so…

On a related topic, I have to play at a wedding on the weekend, and i thought it would be really lovely to play something really traditional sounding. I have something in mind, but I don’t have the dots. Does anyone know where I can get the music for that song Celine Dion sings in Titanic…you know, the one with the tin whistle bit that sounds all sort of…well…authentically irish? I’d learn it by ear but sadly i don’t have the cd…unless someone could hum it for me on YouTube or something? Michael? Dow? Steve? Ptarmy?

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English humour, Jack ‘n’ beeb, English humour. No Brit would ever have picked me up on the Beethoven gag. Try this one too. Teacher yells into face of naughty boy: "…and don’t DARE open your mouth when you’re talking to ME, boy!" See, it’s the way you tell ‘em. Now who bloody woke me up so early? Ah, maybe it was Will with his incomprehensible intervention. Plus ça change…

And this is an important subject worthy of civilised debate. Maybe I’ll start a thread.

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I like English Humour - you know…when its actually funny….maybe I’m missing something.

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Yeah, you’ve never met me. That would make you laugh.

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Dows post about the ghosts and music was very funny - and he’s a Pom….see - I find English humour funny….

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Right then, one more time for the cloth eared:

A good player can take a tune learned from dots and use it as a foundation for building on. A learner can’t do this. For a learner, it is an immutable thing, as unchanging as that lump of kerbstone down there. If the learner learnt the tune by ear, they would be acutely aware that the very nature of the music is it’s shifting sand.

Unfortunately, this music is played by thousands of enthusiasts who are determined to try their best to do it right but, want a repertoire some time before they reach the age of 199.

There was an intelligent post from the morning star:
"Most of my music students learn faster with reading than by listening. I agree that a room full of people reading & playing ITM sounds flat, but who’s to say that they are awful or wrong? Who cares, anyway? It’s not as if you’re forced to listen to them or anything."

Maybe Dow is right, why should I care? It’s an open question I suppose, and I will ponder it. But for now, all I can say is I do care. I love this music and I hate to hear it ruined by the clamour for repertoire. Maybe you should just dig that hole in the churchyard for me.

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Time we settle this debate with a drinking contest, aye? :)

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OK, for an example of how sheet music can be misleading taking a transcription off this site of "The Heights of Cassino" which I’d transcribed yesterday - https://thesession.org/tunes/3833

For starters, it’s not a jig, it’s a 6/8 march. This aside, many of the semi-quavers which litter the piece, plus the demisemiquavers which crop up in the anacrusis, would be better notated as appoggiatura to give a *better* (and it’s by no means perfect) representation of the way the peice is played (on any of the recordings / live performances I’ve ever heard). But anyone who tried to play what they saw on that sheet music would play semiquavers unless they were able to listen to the music and pick up the difference - a skill aquired by learning by ear.

Which is why learning from the dots initially isn’t the best idea, untill you have enough understanding of the way tunes sound to interpret the sheet music.

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When do you stop being a learner and start being a good player? Ah, such musings make life worth living. Anyway, less of this theory and back to reality. Now - where did I put that friggin’ tune book…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

When you don’t want your tune book

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Michael, you keep reiterating one more time for the cloth-eared, but you must realise deep down that you’re wasting your time. You surely must only be doing this for amusement. Surely you must get sick of it after a point.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

…Sorry, did someone speak? I had two cloth-bound tune-books clamped to my head…

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I’m not convinced I’m wasting my time. Someone earlier said, "When I first joined the Session I hardly ever agreed with what Michael said. Now, I agree with most of it."

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I might end up like that one day if it’ll make you nicer. ;-)

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I have to side with Leah and Cim, the two honorary Sheilas, on this one. It’s better to learn tunes by ear than with the dots. I know many hundreads of Irish musicians who can barely read music or not at all and it hasn’t stood in their way, whereas anyone who wants to learn Irish music properly will find that a total reliance on just the dots will hinder them.

By all means use both methods if need be but concentrate on aural learning.
Any Newcastle made a point earlier to the effect that he regarded a mastery of Irish music, (among other qualities, I suspect) included the ability to hear a tune three times and play it back. I would say that this is actually a given among most half decent trad musicians and not confined to those who have mastered the music.

If you want to stick to dot learning that’s up to you but I suspect you’d be missing out; many’s the time I’ve heard a great tune at a session and hummed it to myself as I went home so that I would be able to pick it up and play along next time. After a while it doesn’t take much effort at all - it’s just brain exercise and it’s worth it for those who can be bothered.

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I agree that learning from notation should not be your exclusive method. In fact it’s far better to pick up tunes by ear and sort the little things out with the dots, and only then if need be. That’s the only way I can do it. But I throw my hands up and freely admit that I need a lot more than three hearings to pick up a tune well enough to play it back. I’m not going to be alone, am I. It’s far too extreme to cite this as a sine qua non for "half-decent trad musicians." It is an ability I’d love to possess, but I don’t . If I’m rubbish it will be for reasons other than that. We really should try not to keep saying things that are designed to put off enthusiastic but impressionable beginners.

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I don’t think it is a sine non qua at all! And I certainly don’t think it will put off beginners; I’m scratching my head wondering where you got that from in my comment.
Simply put, there are no shortcuts in this game. Accept it and get on with it - the rewards are much greater in the long-run.

if you don’t want that ability, don’t cultivate it. It’s not a special skill you are born with, otherwise I must be hanging around with a bunch of geniuses.

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Ah ha, you lot have been busy since I last looked in! Broken the 200 barrier too! Yippeeeee But hey, why should you have all the fun Steve? …… move over!

Hmmmmmmm where to start.

Back to the language analogy. Llig says - "Considering the whole point of playing the music is to "sound" right." Aye, but when I teach music I am not just trying to cultivate a load of Parrots who can simply mimic me, I am trying to get kids to *understand* the music & it’s many facets, as well as play it. The more they understand it, the better will their playing be.

When I was travelling around parts of Europe in the late 70s & early 80s I came across quite a few foreign Fiddlers & it was so obvious that their hero was Kevin Burke. It must have made him squirm to hear all these robots! Hopefully they have all gone on to develop their own styles by now. But enough of Parrots.

Llig also said - "… if you are beginning the journey of getting into this stuff, leave the music aside until you are well on your way." Well, personally, I find that another reason for introducing the dots early on is that it’s so easy for youngster to learn to read music. As so many folks here have found, the later in life you leave it, the harder it is to learn, so why wait? I say, let them develop those skills in tandem & just watch their talents blossom.

Someone was telling me recently about some young musicians who went to a days classes. They were taught 3 tunes by ear, but had not been told to take recorders as the tutor was a stickler for learning *only by ear*. This meant that not only did they not have a tape to listen to when they got home, but neither did they have any sheet music nor any abc, so most forgot those tunes.

When I teach a class at a workshop, I play the tune over a few times for their ears & their recorders, then I teach them all the tune by ear, but I make sure they all go home with the dots too. I don’t see any harm in the belt & braces approach.

And of course, no prizes for hearing how Llig would handle the situation of the Javelin & the physically handicapped child standing behind him! Most folks here would first apologise & then encourage the child to have a go & praise them for their efforts & admit that they were wrong in what they’d said. But what does the bold Llig advocate …. no hint of an apology, no hint of any remorse or attempt to encourage the child, no, no, he basically just tells them to feck off because, after all, he’s - " only stating the bleeding obvious."
That’s absolutely priceless Llig! Your sensitive, caring nature clearly knows no bounds!

& Conan - "If you want to stick to dot learning" Nobody here so far, to my knowledge, has ever suggested that anyone should *only* learn their tunes from the dots. But I don’t think there should be this great Taboo built up around their use, which might just discourage some learners.
Next thing you know, the purists will be issuing *fatwas* against anyone caught learning a tune from the dots or abc & instructing Jeremy to delete the tunes section here! :-(

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Well Ptarmi if you read carefully I didn’t discourage anyone from using the dots - it’s how they’re used that bothers me.

Funny that you mention the Abc section; I’ve never tried to learn a tune from the Abc notation; rather, I’ve pasted them into a player and learnt by ear. much faster and sticks in the memory.

I agree the dots are useful as an aide memoire for more experienced players or if you have to be able to play 10 tunes by tomorrow for a ceilidh and you don’t know any of them (i.e. in an emergency).
In fact I know plenty of people who have learnt tunes direct from O’Neill’s but as soon as they’ve found one they like, they do their damndest to get a recording of the tune. I really do think that if you are teaching beginners (note the word "beginners") you should try to teach them exclusively through learning by ear if possible.
If anything I’ve written has put off someone from learning this music then I apologise, but I think that reading too much into what people are actually saying or extrapolating a point of view in the wrong direction is a bit of a habit on thesession.

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Many is the time I’ve learned a tune by ear at a workshop, and gone home thinking I had it nailed, only to find next day that it had evaporated. And I hadn’t recorded it and had lost the piece of paper on which I’d scribbled its name - also forgotten (all of which is about par for the course for me) …
The odd thing is, that "lost" tune often comes back into my head quite unexpectedly a few weeks or even months later. My teacher has confirmed it also happens to her. There must be a psychological explanation for this.

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That happened to me with, believe it or not, a Morris tune. Some of them are really excellent (honestly) :o)

Anyway, I thought I’d memorised the tune. When I got home from the festival (Chippenham, I think) it was gone. About a week later it suddenly came to me out of the blue.

As I said, the dots are great for helping you remember "lost" tunes; I prefer recordings but anything is better than nothing.

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"I really do think that if you are teaching beginners (note the word "beginners") you should try to teach them exclusively through learning by ear if possible"

Why? I’m not trying to be argumentative, but why the exclusivity? My teacher uses printed music, which I pretty much ignore, but that’s because I’m lazy. I like watching him point to the notes as he talks about the tune, though. I feel like I’m learning more about the structure of the music that way.

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Yes, ear comes first in this music and sheet music a distant second. For this music, I use the dots as an aid, not the primary means of learning, as do most of us.
But that being said, me writing down dots when I hear a new tune, or cracking a book to find the dots to help me learn the tune, is a lot more traditional way of doing business than those people who claim to "learn by ear," but are aided by digital recorders, amazing "slow down" software and other gadgets that help you break a tune into small digestible pieces and spit them back to you at any speed you like. I have no problem with them doing that, if I was a young enough dog to learn new tricks, I might use those gadgets myself.
So, if you claim to learn by ear, but then use devices to aid that learning, don’t scoff at me for using the dots as my crutch. Of course, I know there are a lot who truly learn by ear without resorting to aid of any type, and more power to you—I wish I could do the same.

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I was slightly misquoted - I opined that an important part of being able to claim to be a master of one’s *instrument* was to be able to hear a phrase (or tune) in your head and recreate it on your instrument; be that in a sense of hearing a tune, remembering it and playing it back; hearing a chord sequence to a tune in your head and being able to play it; or imagining an improv line just before you play it.

To be a master of *music* (or even just Irish music) requires many more skills and I’m in no position to even begin to speculate what they might be. Thankfully.

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"I really do think that if you are teaching beginners (note the word "beginners") you should try to teach them exclusively through learning by ear if possible." Well Conan - "if you read carefully" (;-)) you would have read that I do teach the tune exclusively by ear. However I also teach them to read abc & dots as a backup - makes sense to me.

Ha Ha Conan, you almost had the words Morris tune & excellent in the same sentence - "a Morris tune. Some of them are really excellent …." :-O :-P

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It’s been about 3 years since I started on the fiddle. I had classical lessons as a youngster; don’t ask how long ago. I started with Matt Cranitch’s book which includes a disc with his playing the tunes from the book. I listened lots, and used the sheet music.

Some of you may recall, I had some difficulty at 1 point and the royal "you" suggested throwing the book out, learn by ear. Did I listen to you? Well, not right away. About 4 months ago, I graduated to learning by ear. And d*mn if you all were/are right. The ear training is in itself, ardous and frustrating. But. I now have tunes in muscle memory, I am able to play with a little life to them and am playing them faster. They sound half way decent, well some of the time.

You may not like the way the message is delivered, but the message is correct. (And Michael, darling, you owe me $$ :).

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I don’t think it continues there at all, Dave. You’re just trying to distract us.

Over there, they’re talking about bloody Tam Lin and Moving Cloud and things. Here, folks are trying to talk about music.

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Conan. I thought you regarded the "three times through and it’s learnt" rule as a sine qua non for half-decent trad musicians because you said this:

"Any Newcastle made a point earlier to the effect that he regarded a mastery of Irish music, (among other qualities, I suspect) included the ability to hear a tune three times and play it back. I would say that this is actually a given among most half decent trad musicians and not confined to those who have mastered the music."

Your opinion is that it’s a "given. " I hope you can see my confusion (have pity), but it seems that neither of us thinks it is so that’s OK.

It’s also good to see a post like Ptarmigan’s that deals with this subject in the light of extensive personal experience in teaching ITM. Beats reading all that stuff from the usual pontificators who regurgitate all that theoretical hoo-ha and refuse to produce any evidence to support their assertions (in spite of numerous requests. Cloth ears if you ask me!).

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Er, yes, Dick, but then again…;-)

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Ptarmi said: "Back to the language analogy. Llig says - "Considering the whole point of playing the music is to "sound" right." Aye, but when I teach music I am not just trying to cultivate a load of Parrots who can simply mimic me, I am trying to get kids to *understand* the music & it’s many facets, as well as play it. The more they understand it, the better will their playing be."

In language learning, you have to start by copying, then once you know what you’re doing, you learn how to do your own stuff with it. Same with learning the music. Therefore, language analogy holds. Therefore, endov.

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Fraid not Sir Dow!

When I was at school, which I admit wasn’t yesterday & things may have changed, but back then, they didn’t have us all only speaking & listening for months & months on end, before being introduced to the writing & reading aspects - the fact is these were all taught in conjunction with one another.
So, like I say … a bad analogy from your point of view! b … endov .. er! :-P

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

‘usual pontificators who regurgitate all that theoretical hoo-ha and refuse to produce any evidence to support their assertions (in spite of numerous requests. Cloth ears if you ask me!).


I agree with you 100% - but It seems to me you are the one who does that exact thing all of the time……right off to learn The Blarney Pilgram off you website - by EAR!

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What particular exact thing? Grand jig, Blarney Pilgrim, but I bitterly regret playing it too slow on my CD. Thing is, I learned it by ear from Irvine-Brady’s seminal CD and thought it went great at that slow tempo. OK for them, not for me. :-( Course, if I’d learned it from the dots…

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Now - now - I dont want to get into a bitch fight - but it seems pretty obvious steve….that you have got it in your head that you dislike a few people on this website - without even really reading their posts you jump down their throats and swear a whole lots and call said people names. To the point where even if they said the sky was blue you would disagree….I see no constructive stuff coming from you in regards to said people (me included of course - now I wouldnt want to be left out as said people are dead on as people and muscians and I wouldnt like to hang out in that group) I see nothing but pure spite - Ive let it slide but to be honest its getting a little stale.

You yourself said that you learn by ear….its obvious that it is impossible to learn tunes purely by the dots and not listen. We all agree on that - every single person on here - excpet when said enemies of yours say that exact same thing you are there to beat them down with your bitterness.

So anyhow - even though I dont have the statistics - I do have to say one thing - a few years ago this site was great. great bunch of people - good mix of jokers and hijackers and people who gave advice who knew what they were talking about. Most of those people have left this site due to the rise in bitchiness and people who dont have a clue spouting pure nonscene. Its a pity -I miss all those lads and ladies - you know who you are.

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"and I *would* like to hang out with them" of course - doh

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The hair shirt’s well and truly on. :-(

While you were typing that tirade of contumely, I was simultaneously typing something else on another thread. Great thing about the Session is that you can’t unsay what you’ve said..

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ptarmi: "Fraid not Sir Dow!

When I was at school, which I admit wasn’t yesterday & things may have changed, but back then, they didn’t have us all only speaking & listening for months & months on end, before being introduced to the writing & reading aspects - the fact is these were all taught in conjunction with one another.
So, like I say … a bad analogy from your point of view! b … endov .. er! :-P"

Didn’t say anything about school. I’m talking about child language acquisition. When was the last time you saw a baby read before it could talk?

Re: 2nd language acquisition at school, Ptarmi, how many of those kids in your class do you think can still speak the language your teacher was trying to teach you, and how many do you think care about it two hoots still to this day?

Endov.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Look this has been an acumulation of stuff that has been going on for months….I dont want to unsay it - I dont want to get into a bitch fight either. But I do want you to maybe at least try read peoples posts even if they cant provide you with statistics….

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Well Steve - at least you can spell nonsense - which is more than I can claim

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I hope you guys are *just* slagging Steve. He seems to me to be going out of his way to be friendly. Maybe it’s a culture thing …

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"I am severely irritated when a couple of tossers waste bandwidth with their weird concept of "wit" that has nothing to do with discussing ITM but everything to do with boosting their own pathetic egos. "

Maybe it is a culture thing……I just dont know.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Take the rest of his posts, bb. Take ‘em in total. There’s quite a lot of self-deprecating humour in there - the sort that can only be communicated with a rueful look about the face …

I reckon that earlier post was at a point in the discussion where he just didn’t get what was going on … and, frankly, neither did I.

I haven’t met him … but I will. And I reckon he’s probably a decent enough guy.

(Mind you, I’m also trying to book my complimentary pint of Doom Bar ;-) )

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Yeah - I think it might be a culture thing as well:) Anyhow - Steve knows that I am a windup merchant!

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Hey, I’m just an ITM unpure drop hairy-arsed untutored enthusiast. What have I said? :-( :-( :-(


;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Excuse me - I am the unpure drop one! :)

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Sorry to break this up guys, but why don’t you just tie Steve up in that chair over there, get the spotlight in his eyes & find out what makes the wee so & so tick! If he doesn’t talk, just start removing his hairs one by one …. long & straight …. or short & curly … the choice is yours! [well he did say he was .. "hairy-arsed"] :-P

Meanwhile back on topic, I think, … well, it’s been so long!:
Dow, it is a sad fact that today here in Norn Iron, although all children can speak English when they leave school primary school, their reading & writing skills are sadly lacking:
"The report said 25% of children leave primary school without reaching the expected level in reading and writing."
So when you say - "You learn it by listening" - I say, does someone really know a language if they are not skilled in the reading & writing of it? … I think not!

So for someone to have a good command of a language must include their ability to read & write it. However, we all know here that it is possible to play hundreds of IT tunes to a very high standard *without* being able to read or write the music at all. So your comparison with language learning is, I’m afraid, a spurious one … sorry!

In other words, a musician can of course function perfectly well in ITM circles without being able to read or write a single note, but a member of today’s society would be at a total loss if he could not read & write his language, no matter how well he or she could speak it!

However, what we established on this thread, I believe, was that the ability to learn tunes by ear is essential, while the ability to read & write the music is also a very useful skill that everyone should have. Where the difference of opinion lies, I think, is basically down to the timing of it’s introduction to students. I reckon that there is no harm in teaching it as a valuable back up, at the same time as you are teaching ear learning, while Llig appears to believe that it shouldn’t be introduced until the musician has really mastered the art of learning by ear. One problem I have with that approach is that I know from my own experience that I pretty well mastered the art of learning tunes by ear, so much so that when I was finally faced with learning to read & write it, I just couldn’t be ar$ed, because I couldn’t really see the point, being a lazy kind of a bar$tard you see, and it was only when faced with the prospect of teaching children that it finally dawned on me just how valuable the ability could be & I wish now that I’d started learning it a long time ago.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ptarmy, I’ll be damned if I don’t hear trumpet and drums at the end of each of your proclamations! A bit like the Wizard of Oz (o the irony!), smoke and fire belching after every sentence. It’s entertaining—all bombast and flourishes. Bravo!

Of course, I agree with you anyway….

But I also agree with Michael and Dow….

Learning to play music? I say learn by hearing and listening, no matter what the source is. The end goal is to be able to hear the music in your mind, and breathe life into it with your voice or an instrument. None of this is rocket surgery—yes, learn by ear. Yes, learn to sight read—the dots, abcs, tablature, chord charts, whatever.

Now for something completely different: I’ve never understood why they call it "sight reading," as though using your eyes to read marks on paper was somehow different than just plain reading. What actually happens, at least for me, is "sight hearing," which is how I convert rorschach blots on a stave into sounds in my head. It doesn’t have anything to do with reading, really. Seeing is sound. No doubt someone who doesn’t hear the dots would find this strange beyond belief, but that’s how it works.

In fact, one downside of being fluent with abc notation, is that certain words in print (face or egad or baggage, for instance) suddenly become melodies in my ear, totally unrelated to the semantics of the fine print on my air plane ticket or Shakesperean scene and line. Disorienting, it is….

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I was making some seafood sauce t’other day to go with me Morrisons prawns and avocados. I got the recipe from Delia Smith’s seminal Complete Cookery Course, 1978 edition. SHUT UP AT THE BACK I’M COMING TO THE POINT! After I’d made the sauce about 20 times over the years I went and got all cocky and tried to manage without the cookery book open in front of me. Did this for years and years. I’VE WARNED YOU ONCE! Eventually, in an idle moment, I thought I’d recheck the book to see if I was still doing it right. Nah! I was adding way too much mayo and tom puree and not enough lemon juice and Worcester sauce, and forgetting the salt. I was also adding too much garlic, but then I’ve broken my cardinal kitchen rule there by putting the words "too," "much" and "garlic" in the same sentence. Thing is, over the years it sometimes tasted bloody good, in spite of my straying. I’ve tried to stick to the original recipe more recently, but, well, you know how it is…a bit more horseradish wouldn’t hurt…doesn’t tabasco contain lifegiving antioxidants anyway…hey, I think this sundried paste is better than the puree…

No learning by ear here. That would have been my mum showing me how and making me do it while she watched, but seafood sauce is akin to poison to her, so no way. No rude comments about mine please. No, I learned it from the dots, i.e. the recipe book. Didn’t stop me tinkering around and experimenting though. I served up my "strayed" version in prawn vol-au-vents at the folk club once and they were immediately devoured - didn’t even get one meself! Nowt rigid about that bit of dot-learning!

How’s that for an attempt to out-allegory Jack. :-D Extrapolate at will (but preferably not at Will). The next 20 posts are now exclusively reserved for picking holes.

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AND I made the bloody vol-au-vents.

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Hey Cheezy, if your going to sit on the fence, make sure it’s not electric:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q89b40nelpo


Re: "sight hearing" - Fellow I know teaches choir & I know he knows very, very little about ITM, but anyway, I once put a book of tunes down in front of him & he opened it up & began to *sing* a tune to me, one which he’d obviously never seen or heard before … it was uncanny!

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Does anybody really take up traditional music just from the dots anyway? Why would anybody decide to invest time learning trad without getting an earful first?

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I dont know what its like where you live Taocat - but as Sirnose said before *Yes* people do learn just from the dots here and have sessions with music stands and play tunes at gigs with their dots in front of them……it is actually dire. Of course not all people do it - but there are some alright.

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Ptarmi when someone makes an analogy and tries to make a point by comparing 2 essentially different things with similarities, it’s all too easy to point the finger and show their differences. Well done for pointing out that music and language are two different things. I never knew that - you learn something new every day.

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… thought I’d make Steve happy with some nit-picking: neither yours nor Jack’s (much earlier) were allegories. They were metaphors. Possessive ‘its’ doesn’t have an apostrophe ( are you sure you’ve learned to read and write Ptarmigan? ;-) ).

And, while I’m moaning on, when *I* said it must be dire to have things like sessions and gigs with music stands, I was being "pompous". So there, bb, pompous, pompous, POMPOUS!!!

Ha!

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Well I’m glad to see that the penny has finally dropped, Dow …. at last - endov!

Speaking of education, I see the spelling police have arrived! :-(
Great idea though Ben! Yes, I agree, we should all have to pass grammar & spelling tests before we are allowed to post here, …… this would prove to Jeremy that we haven’t just learned our English aurally but that we do, in fact, have a complete grasp of the language, which only being able to read & write it too, can produce! ;-) :-P

Mind you, once the spelling police arrive, that’s usually a sign that the thread has run its course. So I guess we should all …. run away …. run away …………….. 8-)

Awwww, so we’re not going to reach 300 after all. :-(

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Er, I’m sticking to "allegory" for mine if yer don’t mind, Benhall me old fruit. I’m not saying it isn’t a metaphor but "allegory" fits it OK. Metaphor or allegory, now that I can read it again without the benefit of three bottles of Thatcher’s Katy swirling around me bloodstream I can see it was a bloody waste of ink and paper anyway. :-(

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

That’s it, TaoCat. It’s what I was trying to say 3000 miles up the thread. We either base a discussion on what real human beings may be doing in the real world or we come up with a load of lofty, predigested, highfalutin’ theory and neat pigeon-holing. There may well be a few poor souls scraping studiously away at their jigs and reels from behind music stands but I hardly think they represent the looming apocalypse that’s going to see off ITM once and for all. I don’t even think it comes close to being one of the most awful things that’s happening in ITM, certainly in terms of any baleful influence on how the world sees us. Let’s talk celtic dream mood music! :-D

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And before that there was always Barney O’Shamrock cassettes for sale at £1.49 on Holsworthy Market!

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Well, it’s impossible, of course, to argue with anyone who could say, "I do teach the tune exclusively by ear. However I also teach them to read abc & dots as a backup". And can then say, "makes sense to me".

It continues: he was taught speaking and reading and writing at school in conjunction. But did he learn to speak before he learned to read and write? (Dow spotted this also)

So despite not listening, the difference of opinion remains: "the ability to learn tunes by ear is essential, while the ability to read & write the music is also a very useful skill that everyone should have". No, useful skill that you can have if you want, there is no "should have". And if you teach it to early, students often use it instead of using their ears.

And poor Steve will never understand that by supplementing his inaccurate ear by filling in the gaps with looking at the dots, perpetuates his inaccurate ear. The whole point of putting the music away and forcing yourself to only use your ears is to train them. Steve asks for proof. This is disingenuous because all I could ever quote would be anecdote, which is not proof. He knows this.

However, I played a tune last night, most of the company knew it, and had learned it from me. I learned it out of O’Neil’s and it’s the only tune I’ve ever learned just from the dots, without hearing it anywhere. I was saying this to a mate who was unfamiliar with the tune and you know what he said, straight up, I kid you not, "I can tell … ‘cause you played it the same way 3 times." And he was right.

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Hmm. Micahel I think at your level of playing, the fact that you learnt a tune from the dots is no reason to omit variations or play about with the tune. If that were so, then you should be arguing for the learn-by-ear approach at any ability level, not just at the beginner level, i.e. no sheet music for anyone, ever, because it makes you play it the same way each time, and I’m not sure that need necessarily be true.

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Is it not more likely that you failed to vary the tune because you had learnt it too recently and had not given yourself time to get comfortable with it and hear the possibilities for variations in your head? Just speculating here…

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Maybe you failed to vary the tune because you knew it was the only one you’d learned from dots and you knew needed an anecdote for this thread. You see, Michael, this is the kind of stuff you like to dole out yourself. I shall in future refrain from having such unkind (though plausible) thoughts about you. I suggest you refrain from speculating about the imperfections of "my ear." At least until we’ve met and you can confirm your prejudices for yourself. And, while we’re at it, there’s nothing "disingenuous" about requiring some proof for an assertion that you’re so fond of reiterating. It’s very simple. You contend that learning tunes from dots is a thoroughly bad thing. I want you to show that people who learn from dots are not as good as those who learn by ear. You must have good reason to think it so let’s have it.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

you knew you needed.

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Steve, I agree with bb, you make many of these discussions entirely too personal.

My guess is that Michael just wasn’t comfortable with the tune because he learned it from a book—-he learns by ear, and the tune didn’t feel right because he wasn’t familiar with the method he used to learn it.

I’ve seen my teacher read a tune he’s never seen before and play ornaments and variations on it the very first time through. It’s really quite amazing. He’s been trying to teach me how to do it, too—-it seems that it all comes down to understanding which notes are the best places for emphasis, and then understanding how the ornaments can emphasize them in different ways—-and then there’s the memory of other variations you accumulate from years of playing tunes like the one you’re learning—-with enough practice, and experience, and some creativity, it can happen.

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For goodness sake, kennedy, who was it who wrote:

"And poor Steve will never understand that by supplementing his inaccurate ear by filling in the gaps with looking at the dots, perpetuates his inaccurate ear. "

It’s rude, patronising and insulting. He doesn’t know me from Adam! I suppose we can all just shut up and hope he’ll go away. You don’t mean that though, do you?

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There’s a strategy not enough people use on internet discussions—-IGNORE. Try it, it really helps to elevate the level of the conversation. People don’t always express themselves in the most polite way possible, but it helps if you try to focus on the positive, topic-oriented things they say, and not respond to what you perceive as rude.

Anyway. Back to…what was the original discussion?

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Ha Ha ‘fraid you are starting to sound a bit desparate now Llig …. even contradicting your ally now, in all of this.
After spending ages trying to link the two, Language & Music, Dow finally came out with: - "Well done for pointing out that music and language are two different things." Only for Llig to go back to trying to link them again, in his last post! :-O
Ha Ha. Come on lads get yer story straight will yez, or Steve & I will be forced to use the old - Good Cop / Bad Cop routine on you! :-P

Anyway, I’ll leave Llig’s clutching at straws & address Kennedy if I may. "I’ve seen my teacher read a tune he’s never seen before and play ornaments and variations on it the very first time through. It’s really quite amazing." Yes, I’ve seen that done too Kennedy. I remember someone producing a book of Scottish Music at a Concertina class & Noel Hill rattling off a couple of *ne’r seen afore* tunes, with ornamentation too …. & he even managed to make them sound Scottish.

This phobia that some folks here are trying to create, in relation to the ability to be able to read music & the advantages to a musician that this acquired talent can have, seems to me to be totally uncalled for. Obviously I have no idea where their obvious prejudice somes from, but I sincerely hope that nobody is actually being dissuaded from learning to read music, by this anti element & their negative comments on this thread.

Thanks for your positive input Kennedy - so refreshing. Written Music is a very valuable resource & we shouldn’t encourage beginners to be afraid of it!

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My impression: at the beginning post Michael indicates his concern is that newcomers try to learn ITM from sheet music, rather than indicating sheet music is a "Tool of Satan". He indicated later that his opinion is that a seasoned musician uses sheet music as an aid. It’s the novice’s inexperience that is of concern.

I don’t have a built in prejudice, I have experienced this first hand. Using sheet music will be an aide-mémoire as Conan says. I’m glad I have the skill.

"Many roads to OZ", but I am now convinced learning by ear is the best road to take for a beginner. I am "relearning" all those tunes with my ear alone, they are finally moving into muscle memory.

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What is sheet music?

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Nothing you need to be concerned with, go back to sleep, oh blissful one…….

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I said. he said, you said, then I said then, you said .. … . . . . . . phew, this always bloody happens.

Steve said, "it’s far better to pick up tunes by ear and sort the little things out with the dots, and only then if need be. That’s the only way I can do it."

He chastised me for saying: "Steve will never understand that by supplementing his inaccurate ear by filling in the gaps with looking at the dots, perpetuates his inaccurate ear."

Dow, you win, I give up

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Taaa Raaa …. The drinks are on me, Steve! :-D

Al, you do know that Bliss is a wee devil on the Mandolin, too?
I suppose this isn’t the time, or the place, to introduce the fact that I have my own Bodhran *Notation System*? :-P

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I chastised you for being rude, not for whatever minimal content there was in that passage of yours you’ve quoted When you’re rude you’re less likely to be listened to for anything constructive you may be saying.

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He won’t give up, don’t you worry! Good cop, bad cop, eh? Can I be Gene Hunt then please? :-D And sad to say, you won’t be the first on the planet with a bodhran notation system. I took a book with one of those in it to the Oxfam shop only the other day! What, with all these trendy new John-Joe types playing it these days I think we need a bloody bodhran tune-book!

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"a bodhran tune-book!" - You’ll find one here:
https://thesession.org/members/15086

Incidentally, I find them quite useful for the first few weeks …. & then we throw them away!
So you see, I don’t find them nearly as useful as tune books … in the long run.

Gene Hunt eh, well OK then, but only if I can be Gene Hackman!

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Excuse me… I’m looking for the "sessions ARE performances" thread. Is this not it?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

No …. but it could be! ……. Care to elaborate!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Here, PB, I’ll help you out:

Sessions ARE performances if they’re being conducted in a public place. If it makes the session participants feel better to pretend this is not so, that’s okay! But that doesn’t change the essential reality-based truthiness of the situation ;-)

See, I’m finally getting the hang of this place! *goes off to make some popcorn*…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Wow… impressive… now if you can add something about dots and bodhrans we might have something.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

See llig, I told you so. They just won’t listen, so it’s not worth it.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

We are such ignorant philistines around here, aren’t we?
;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Heh. I listened to various types of Irish trad based music for about 20 yrs before I ever learned to play an instrument. Then, I learned tunes by ear at lessons every week for another 4 or so. They came pretty easily and fast. Because I already knew what they were supposed to sound like. After that, I started teaching myself to read the dots because I was curious to hear all those tunes in O’Neill’s and Ceol Rince that I’d never heard played.

No-one I have met who plays tunes from sheet and not by heart can make it sound like Irish music. And they all got very upset when my version deviated from theirs in the slightest degree. Mayber there are folks out there who *can* play just off of dots and make it sound right. I just haven’t met them.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I’ve still given up, but for the record, I learned that tune maybe 25 years ago, when I was a beginner. I know I should put more effort into it. I think I’ll start singing and whistling it to my self. See if I can make anything decent out of it. Also, I’ll make more of an effort to hear what other people who learned it from me are doing with it.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I hope they didn’t just go and look it up in a tune-book… ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Without wanting to be controversial, there are instances where the dots can be superior to the audio version of a tune. It’s a bit like the book and the film where the latter can sometimes be disappointing as it’s only the director’s interpretation of the story. My advice is don’t always rely on someone elses interpretation of the dots whether it’s Kevin Burke, Frankie Gavin or whoever but have a go yourself and decide if you like the end result. Examples which immediately come to mind are Jenny Picking Cockles (O’Neill’s 1001) and Kitty in the Lane (Kerr’s) which I’ve yet to hear a recording that surpasses the written version.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

That makes no sense to me at all. There are no "written versions" vs "audio versions". The tune is just the tune, full stop. Any written version is just a representation of someone’s playing, or perhaps the tune playing in someone’s head or something, but transcriptions in books don’t just appear out of nowhere, like they dropped out of the sky or something.

Michael, I’m interested to know what tune it was that you’re talking about.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Maybe it’s that the written version allows the musician to give his/her interpretation of the the tune while the audio version is already interpreted!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The tune is just the tune full stop? Where does this leave us with Carolan tunes then, which were passed down to us as dots, yet are treated with considerable liberty by ITM musicians? Take twelve ITM musos and get them to play Carolan’s Concerto and you’ll hear twelve different "versions." I don’t think the old boy would have minded. Of course there are "written versions!" It’s just that we know what to do with ‘em!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I really can’t imagine anyone trying to learn O’Carolan tunes without having a reasonable grounding in how to play traditional music……

The important point would appear to be this — unless you have learnt some tunes by ear it is not possible to understand what any tunes learnt from notation should sound like. Thus people should learn by ear when they start playing and only should start learning repetoire from tunebooks when they have developed musically.

Or at least that’s my opinion, and one I think most of us agree on?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s a reasonable proposition as long as you don’t make it a diktat. I’d rephrase the first bit to read "unless you have listened to a lot of ITM it is not possible…." You just never know how people can evolve and develop as we’re all different. And as long as you allow people to learn how to read music from whatever age circumstances permit as it can only be a good thing. To deprive them of that, as has been suggested, in order for them the better to learn ITM, would be tantamount to grooming them for ITM!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ah, but if you’ve listened to a lot of traditional music to the exent to which you can "sing" the tunes back and hear them in your head then you’ve learnt the tune. Just not learnt how to get the tune out on your instrument.

And yes, the ability to read western notation in treble, bass, alto and tenor clef is useful. Ditto reading tablature, abc & drum notation. But it isn’t essential as it isn’t music, just a visual representation of it to within certain tolerances of personal expression. Even in classical music, when the breaths are dictated for wind istruments, bowing patterns for strings etc etc.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

(I’m sorry Dow, I don’t know what it is but I just can’t help it)

Steve, if you were deprived of your dots, you would make yourself "sort those little things out" with you ears. You say it’s not worth it. And sadly, you’ll never know.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Good point that first one!

Blimey, I struggle with just treble, let alone all the others. No-one’s saying that a piece of sheet music is "music." My G harp sitting on the desk next to me keyboard isn’t music, nor is my gob, nor is my brain. But put those elements together and you get (yeah, a twit squawking down a gob-iron…:-D) music. Hopefully! And why can’t sheet music be one of those elements too? For some people, some of the time, not everyone, not any of the time, etc., whatever stirs yer loins! I have a fabulous recording of the Lindsay string quartet playing Beethoven’s late A minor quartet, and I also have the score, which I can just about follow as I listen. You couldn’t put a gnat’s crotchet between what you hear and what’s in the score, they’re that faithful to it. But it’s transcendently wonderful to listen to none the less, not in the least bit mechanical. And do you know why? I’ll tell you! It’s because music is a total bloody mystery, that’s why!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

My post was a response to Andy.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Anyone like to go up the thousand miles of the thread and count how many times Michael has said "I’m sorry, but…" or words to that effect? Don’t miss the very first post now, ‘cause there it is! :-D And, Michael, sadly, you’ll never know what I’ll never know. You haven’t a clue what I already know or don’t know for a start, which kind of puts you at a disadvantage. Sorry. ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Yeah, that about sums it up. I’m sorry. It’s a bit depressing really. The other thing I say a lot is "of course". And, of course it’s tough just stating the bleeding obvious again and again. But at least I can be heartened by people like Dow and Andy and Christine.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

:-(

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Don’t be sad, Michael. I’m sure if they gave it some thought for a few seconds they’d realise that you’re right :-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Don’t be sad Steve. I’m sure if these tyrants gave it some thought for a few seconds they’d realise that you’re right too! ;-)

We need tolerance & flexibility in ITM, not rigid rules!

What was Billy Connolly’s answer to today’s brigade of John Knox disciple’s & their "Thou Shall Not" diktats?…. em, oh yes, I remember now, it was along the lines of ……… "Oh Yes we fecking shall!"

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

So if you advocate learning music by listening to it, then you’re a tyrant dictating rules. Oh. Ok. I guess I’ll just have to continue my membership of Llig’s Tyrant Club then.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Meanwhile… back at PB’s allegory corner…

If you know how to cook, and you’re well acquainted with the food — you can follow a list of ingredients and it will taste right. If you have no idea how to cook or what the food tastes like, you won’t have the same results.

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I don’t think we’ve had this yet:

It’s an aural tradition. So, if you learn it from the dots, it’s not traditional.

(Just thought I’d get that one in. ;-) )

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Seriously, though. I’ve been going to a lot more sessions of late … and it’s great! I’m picking up more tunes than I’ve learnt for years.

But, I *then* go and look up the tunes - as a sort of background research, because I want to figure out what others may be doing/have done with the tune. I may want to look it up in O’Neills, if it’s there, to see what it might have like at some point in the past and in a different place. And here, and maybe Norbeck as well … wherever …

Dots are great for the above.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Well Dow, before you sign on the line and pay yer dues to the Llig Tyrant Anti-Dottist League, perhaps you’d like to muse on where you’ve seen this before:

"For the tunes that I’ve submitted here, I’ve tried as much as possible to research the history of each tune, and include abc transcriptions of some manuscript settings and sheetmusic from my own collection, and also transcriptions of sound recordings made by some well-known musicians. I hope that people can use it as a resource. There are some really good tunes in the Northumbrian repertoire which are fully compatible for use in a set of Irish tunes, and I’d like to pick out the best of them and provide easy web access to different versions in abc, so that people who can’t read dots can download the abc files and play them as midi files or whatever. I believe that if you want a tune, you should simply be able to google search it and get some transcriptions and as much historical info as you need at the click of a button. This website is ideal for that purpose because google seems to like it. If you’re a tune addict like me, you don’t want to have to faff around looking for tunes that should be just there for you to feed upon :-) "

Er…????

(I don’t in any way want to detract from the fact that it’s an excellent resource).

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You’re wrong, Jack. If you have no idea how to cook or what the food tastes like you go out and buy a fish supper. :-D

Come to think of it, you could work that into your allegory…No idea how to cook = don’t get ITM at all…so buy fish supper = go out and buy Enya’s latest CD… ;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And thus dictated the Llig Tyrant Anti Dottist:

"Sorry, I’ve always said that there is nothing wrong with sharing tunes via notation among people you know and know can already play. And I’ve always said it’s a bad way to share music with strangers, you never know how wrong it’ll be interpreted. The main point of the argument remains that notation is a very very bad way of learning music. And the vast majority here, thankfully, agree"

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I thought of another, Painting by numbers. (And before you go and look for ways that the allegory doesn’t work, remember what dow said, that’s not the point of an allegory)

Sheet music is like those drawings in black lines of uniform thickness. Between the the lines are areas of blank canvas, each of which has been given a number. Each number relates to a pre-specified colour which is supplied, with the drawing, as a little pot of paint.

Let’s say, for example, the drawing is of Edinburgh castle. Now there are a number of ways you could go about making the painting. The easiest, of course, is to very very carefully fill in the white spaces with the allotted colours. Depending how well the original drawing was made and how many little pots of numbered paint were required, you may end up with something quite good. (There will be a philosophical argument about whether the painting is yours or not, but we needn’t go there.) This is what a newcomer to painting will automatically do. Plenty of people never get beyond this and there is a whole industry willing to supply them with more and more of these drawings.

You could however, try a little poetic licence. And being familiar with the techniques of painting will help here. You see the sky is number 4, which is a particular blue. But you reckon that if you make a graduated tint of a slightly darker blue at the top, fading to a slightly lighter blue towards the bottom, it would look better. You base this decision on the fact that you are familiar with blue skies. You’ve seen hundreds of them.

Now let’s get to the castle bit. If you are familiar with Edinburgh castle, this will help immensely. If not, the next best thing would be to find a photograph of it. The photo will be from a different angle, of course, and, knowing Scotland, the chances that the weather is even similar would be very small, but it’s better than nothing. However, if you can’t find a photo, you could find a photo of a different but similar castle. It might be made of the wrong kind of stone, but at least it is stone. Or you might even just try to remember what stone looks like and go with that. If you are really good at painting stone and have done it lots before, it will end up looking like a pretty good painting. It won’t be of Edinburgh castle though. Some one who is familiar with the castle would easily spot the mistake.

Or you could take your canvas and paints and set up in Princes Street Gardens, right on the spot from where the drawing was done. It’s a cloudy day so you paint the sky in greys instead of blues. There are no deep shadows in the stonework so you have to be much more subtle. If you have a good eye and you’re are well versed in the techniques of painting and have been painting for years, you will know that this really is your best option of making anything half decent out of your canvas.

Or, you could be sitting in that spot in Princes Street Gardens, your canvas in front of you and simply decide that if you move 40 yards to the right, you’re view of the castle is much more interesting. The drawing is all wrong now but that’s not a problem, just ignore it and work from life. In fact, you wasted your time bringing the drawing in the first place. Edinburgh Castle is such a wondrous thing. The colours of the stone are constantly shifting with the light. Skies are universal, but the sky’s effect on the stone is magical. You paint a picture as it is. Throw it away and start another. Finnish that, then throw that away. Shift position and start another. You can never tire of it.

Some sneak grabs one of your pictures and takes it home and hangs it on the wall for posterity. Or you might even sell it to them, man’s gotta live. One day they take a photo of your painting and post it on the internet. Some one in the US sees it and makes really a pretty good copy (from that angle and with that weather of course). Some one else sees that and traces the outlines in black and white and puts numbers in the white bits to designate the colour it’s supposed to be. This time it’s number 2 for the sky. grey. Uniform flat featureless grey. Et-cetera …

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I think Michael should take up exploring tune books. It’s a great pastime, and he’s obviously got a lot of time on his hands!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Steve, I’m not a beginner, and these days I don’t think there’s any harm in me getting tunes from written sources.

***This is because I know how the tunes should sound.***

I put that in stars because it’s really important.

You quoted me talking about Borders tunes. I grew up with that. I was listening to the tunes when I was a nipper and playing them during school lunch and break times.

I’ll be the first to admit that if I’d just been given a bunch of sheetmusic and no aural stimulus, I couldn’t have learnt how to play.

What you wrote above just proves that you have no interest in trying to understand what I’ve been saying on this thread, so at this point I’m going to back off with a shrug of the shoulders and leave Michael to it. I’m off to educate myself by picking apart Edel Fox’s ornamentation and variations. By ear. See ya.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Steve,
Unless your transcription of the Beethoven string quartet is littered with bowing instructions and pretty much every single note has articulation above/below it then it isn’t quite what they play. The only way I could explain this aurally would be to instruct you to buy a top of the range midi sequencer that can deal with all the info thrown at it, sequence your score exactly into it and play it back. It will sound close to the recording (hopefully), but it won’t be quite the same. There is a centimeter difference between the sound of a brilliant trascription and that of the Lindsay quartet. But it’s in that centimeter that music gains its emotive qualities.

Back to trad. - most transcriptions aren’t brilliant, they simply dictate note pitch and a rough indication of how long to play it for. I’ve never seen trad transcriptions with much more than the beginnings of articulation notated in them. And even if they did it would have to show many different styles of articulation. Perhaps there’s a dissertation in that somewhere……. :-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The whole point about a string quartet (or similar ensemble) is that it should sound and behave as one (very complex) instrument. It takes the four musicians many years of hard work to reach that level.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

One of the first things said in most instructional tunebooks is that the transcriptions are just a shorthand for what is played. Hornpipes for example won’t even be dotted. Then the reader is always encouraged to listen, listen, listen. No-one ever says that you can just use printed music, particularly if you’re a beginner. If you do your classical grades (which I haven’t ) you have to do listening tests, singing back melodic phrases. All the teaching is about demonstrating. This whole debate has really just been about ways of putting over perfectly sensible points of view in a manner that provokes opposition from people who don’t like being told categorically that one thing is right and another is wrong. It’s just another example of the sort of thing that puts people off from going to sessions because they think they’re going to be torn to shreds.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I’d have to agree with Richard who has made the obvious point that tunebooks are just a shorthand method of transmitting the music and in my opinion a very useful tool in any musician’s armoury. He also makes the point that "listening" is essential for all musicians who wish to become traditional players and I’ve yet to meet anyone who disagrees with this. I’m therefore a bit puzzled how this thread should have generated so much heat and, with over 300 contributions, must be heading for the record books!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The difference of opinion it that I think reading music actively inhibits the playing of this music, most especially with beginners. It inhibits the training of your ear. It prolongs an inability to listen.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

But Dow. You are are seriously at odds with Michael here. He says that sharing sheet-music with strangers is a very bad thing. But that’s exactly what your website not only does but also what it is intended to do. Nice attempt at a sidestep but not very convincing.

And when I woke up yesterday with the cider having worn off I reread my cookery analogy and thought I’d created the last word in persuading people to give up the will to live. Now, though, I realise that I’ve been comprehensively outdone by Michael with his painting by numbers.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Why only in this music, Michael? Why is reading music not a general all-round bad thing, then, if it compromises ear-training listening? What genre of music does not require listening?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

It’s a sideline really, but just a couple of little things about Beethoven’s late quartets. First, the score is not a transcription in the usual sense but a fair copy of the composer’s original handwritten manuscript. Second, you need to look at one really to inform your opinion. They are nothing like ITM sheet music! The composer gives incredibly detailed instructions all the way through as to feeling, tempo, dynamics and articulation, sometimes on an almost note-after-note basis. He knows exactly what sound the music should have and he almost "micro-manages" his forces. The Lindsays are very faithful to the score in all its detail, yet they lift it off the page and take it to heaven, somehow. Like I said, a sideline!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Dow, Steve does understand you, he just disagrees with you.
And Steve, I have learned that our stalwart web-mates Dow and llig are not to be swayed from their thoughts on these issues, no matter how many times you post counter-arguments.
Isn’t it time everyone agreed to disagree and just moved on?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The consensus seems to be that attempting to learn the music by reading dots instead of listening to the actual music is not a good idea. Most people seem to feel that the dots have a place, but only as a tool that you use after you’ve learned the music by ear. In other words, sheet music is something very handy that’s kept in the cart but never on the horse.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

PB - Other than your use of the word "consensus" to describe this conversation (consensus implies agreement, which seems to be in short supply), I would say that your statement is a pretty fair summation of what most people have given as their opinion!
;-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ta, but I do know what a full classical score looks like and how littered with articulation notation they are….otherwise I couldn’t have brought up the point! Why assume I am ill informed, given that if I’m bringing a point concerning the degree of fermenta, appogiatura etc within a written version of a piece it would stand to reason I’m not unfarmiliar with western art music and notation. Whilst I agree a composer will "micro-manage" the piece to limit the number of interpretations of it the casual listener should still be able to tell the difference between two different recordings of it.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

The difference between dots for western art music and dots for diddley music is really straight forward. The score for western art music has all the notes in the right order that will be heard in the peice. Of course it takes a good ear to turn the notes into music, but you are not required to change any notes, add notes or take any away.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

AlBrown, Steve plainly doesn’t understand me, if he’s saying that I’m suggesting people learn how to play the music from dots. That’s never been why I’ve posted tunes here. My posting of tunes here is to give access to tunes and a discussion thereof, not to provide a means to learn how to play. This is obviously where we disagree, and I’m happy to disagree. More than happy to leave it there.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read." - Groucho Marx

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I’ve always viewed the dots on this site as a medium by which we could discuss tunes we either already knew or were familiar with. One of the first things I do when I encounter a tune I don’t already know here is to see if it might be on a recording I might have or can find. Then I’ll investigate the comments to get more clues about specific versions and what their source is. I do my best to track down the tune before I set out to learn it. I will learn it from the dots only as a last resort. But I could never imagine being at a place where I wanted to learn the music from the beginning and read dots before listening to the tune being played. And the idea of learning from the midi file sends chills down my spine.

The first tune I learned was "All the Ships Are Sailing" and I learned it in isolation from other musicians and from sheet music. When I first met people who could play, I was astounded by how different they played it. From that moment on I realized sheet music wasn’t the way to learn the music. Instead I got recordings and made friends who already played and began to learn the music that way. Now I can learn a tune from the dots with success, but I still want to hear it played as reference. The way I ultimately play the tune will still be determined more by how I heard it played rather than by the dots.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I don’t know why you’re being all spiky, Andy. I have said nothing to offend apropos classical scores as far as I can see. Oh, well. Steve’s posting therefore Steve’s point-scoring. Guess I’ll have to weather it. I’ll just have to grow cloth ears. Trouble is I don’t have allies like Michael has Dow like Dow has Michael (though they ARE terribly at odds with each other! ;-)) and Ptarmigan appears to be having an early night. Don’t spill too much of that fermenta on your classical scores now!

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Michael, your view of what you refer to as "western art music" needs revising somewhat. Very many classical pieces allow for the player to add embellishments, especially (but far from exclusively) in solo instrumental music. These can certainly include the addition of notes. Then, of course, there are cadenzas and other shorter passages in concertos which allow the performer considerable freedom. Then again, many composers are deliberately spartan in the matter of score markings, leaving plenty of scope for the performer, and this is usually deliberate rather than careless on the composer’s part. The edges are more blurred than you seem to think.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I know, but the places for the cadenzas are specified.

The premise remains. The notes on the western art music score say "play me, do not deviate, unless where I specify".

But it’s your use of the cocept of embelishment that shows the way you look at it. We already know that you think along the lines of having tunes and then decorating them.

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You really are being quite ridiculous now. I went to some trouble to outline examples of where classical music is less rigid than you appear to think and all you come back with is a not entirely accurate comment about placement of cadenzas. Talk about clutching at straws. You have no idea what I do with tunes. I have no idea what you do with tunes apart from the one you were at pains to tell us about that you couldn’t vary or whatever the problem was. Your technical knowledge of classical music (not your appreciation, which I couldn’t possibly comment on) is clearly limited, at least if we’re to go by your pronouncements. Better to say nothing, Michael - well, you know the rest of that saying.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Hmmmmmmm Hello Steve, just back from my *early night* ….. at the Session!

Llig, your last statement makes me wonder if in fact you have ever actually taught young absolute & complete beginners how to play a tune? :-O
Now this might come as a shock to you Llig, but with complete beginners, which is after all, what we’re talking about here, & especially I find with 7, 8 & 9 year olds, I would not advocate that you try & teach them to play a tune with all its grace notes - rolls, crans, cuts, triplets etc. It makes much more sense, I find, to teach them the *basic* tune first & then, when they have a good handle on that show them how & where they can put flesh on the bones. So I teach them the tune & then we decotate it …… works for me.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

.. decotate ……… damn, where did I leave my teeth?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Ptarm, do you teach them the basic tune by ear, or do you give them the music? Are they reading the dots as they play?

Do you tell them how to do your so-called "decorations" by ear, or do you transcribe each one?

Do you explain to the kids that those "decorations" are there for a purpose - to underscore the rhythm of the tune?

When those kids are playing the basic tune with no ornamentation, would you say they were playing Irish music, or are they just playing a bunch of notes?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

And most importantly:

If you’re so convinced that they could learn how to play from the dots, why are you even bothering to teach them? Why don’t you just e-mail them a bunch of links for some online tune indexes and sit back and wait till they become the virtuosos they’re destined to be if they use your failsafe approach to Irish traditional music?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You know that link you keep posting here, Ptarm, with those schoolkids playing tunes? How do you think they learnt to play so competently so early in life?

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

I hold my hands up and admit that I don’t know a lot about any kind of sheet music writing. But I do know that there is a fundamental difference in the way a classical score should be respected and a scribbling of a diddley tune should be marginalised. Surely we can agree on this?

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Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

No, but I could agree that a classical score and a piece of ITM sheet music should be differently respected. They have much in common, apart from the obvious. Neither is "music," and both allow for interpretation by the performer, whether we’re talking about embellishment of passages and rubato, etc., in the case of the classical piece or the inclusion of ornamentation and variation in the case of the ITM piece. Both require a foundation of extensive prior listening in the genre before the interpreter of the score can make the most of it. Oh, you’ll jump on that, but please don’t use it as an excuse to deprive children of "learning the dots!" In classical music during the 20th century there was a kind of purist fascism applied by many critics. I remember listening to a Radio 3 review programme once in which the whole performance of a symphony was condemned because the conductor had inserted an E flat in place of an E natural in just one little passage in the third movement, something very few listeners at any level would have spotted. The reviewer referred to the tragedy of the use of a "corrupt score" and he spent more time talking about that than he did about the overall quality of the performance, which is ostensibly what he should have been talking about. Thankfully, there has recently been much "looking back" to the way things were done at the time the music was first composed and performed, not only in respect of "original instruments" but also in performance style. A pianist in Mozart’s time would have been regarded as very odd had he or she played just the notes in the written score. He or she would have been "expected" to embellish passages considerably the second time through (for example) and insert small cadenza-like passages at frequent points. You were giving the impression at least of improvisation (something at which Mozart was stunningly excellent and in which, as a child, he was encouraged greatly by his father. In fact, his improvisational skills were the basis of his "child prodigy" status as much as his early compositions were). In contrast, you could probably buy a dozen different versions of, say, the Piano Concerto no 21 in the 60s and 70s and find they were played note-for-note exactly the same except for the main cadenza. It’s refreshing to listen to modern young players going back to the spirit of what was intended by the composer. Viewing classical scores as immutable things is fallacious, not least because that view ignores history. It’s also damaging when it is used as an Aunt Sally to reinforce the view that a piece of written-down music in ITM is something to be feared and abhorred, which is just plain nonsense. (there, bb, spelled it right again! ;-))

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Heheh. I hope you’re not suggesting compulsory reading of that thread as punishment for posting to this thread…

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

That’s interesting Steve, and I’d love to hear Mozart play. Though yes, the straws i am clutching at are the attempt to get some consensus so we can finish this debacle.

Where do you get "feared and abhorred" from marginalised?

By this I mean to "place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power" (dictionary.com).

Posted .

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

What you said in your very first post. Just because it’s thread in which you’ve met opposition doesn’t mean it’s a debacle, but I’m more than willing to agree that the thing’s more than run its course. I’ll let you have the last word.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

it’s a thread.

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

You’re dwelling, Steve …

:-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

Steve, I wasn’t being spiky; merely I interpreted your suggestion that I "need to inform my opinion" was another way to suggesting I was uninformed, which I suggested might have seemed illogical given the content of my post, however that depends on there not being some possible other interpretation of it and my post.

Re: "western art music" - I had a friend a few years ago who would always tell me off if I called it "classical" - I had it drilled into me that "classical is a period of western art music". So I gave in. Curiously though, I could have sworn I read some conductor lamenting that these days the soloists are often encouraged to "copy" the cadenza of the late "masters" as opposed to devising their own.

I think I’ll leave this one here, I think all that’s to be said has been said twice. Gentlemen, best of luck. :-)

Re: It’s got nothing to do with 4 men & a dog

"One needs to inform one’s…" is what was intended. I see how that could have raised your hackles. Sorry!