Finding the lift

Finding the lift

No, not the elevator… ;-)

I’m talking about the "lift" in Irish music. Many threads over the years on this site have attempted to define some of the terminology in our music - tempo, drive, swing, lift, lilt, groove, etc. Some of these concepts are a bit nebulous, but they are the essence of what makes the music sound "right". We’ve all heard people who don’t know what Irish music should sound like trying to play it. We cringe when we hear a midi player churning away on a tune.

One definition of lift that I have seen on this site sticks with me: ‘Lift: a sense of spacing, usually near higher notes in phases, giving the sense of "jumping in the air".’

I was recently in a session with some wonderful players from around the world, including a number of regulars on the mustard board, as well as a well-known flute player from Ireland. I was marveling at the way each player gets such wonderful lift in their music.

The fiddlers can use an exaggerated bow swipe, the flute players can give a different breath pressure, often followed by a intake of breath, which helps accentuate the lift.

My problem is that I play banjo - and all jokes aside, I find it difficult to put a lot of lift into my music. Drive and swing are not generally an issue. But the only "trick" I have found for generating lift is to cut a high note short by lifting the string off of the fret (or damping it with my hand), and then "jumping" on the next note (this is an idea that is stolen from the flute player taking a breath). Leaving a little space in the tune is important.

A banjo often provides a nice rhythmic drive behind the other instruments, but can also become a "machine gun" sound that is repetitive and annoying. I would love to hear from other banjo and plectrum players about how they think about lift. The plectrum and lack of sustain don’t offer you as much leeway for offering a smooth, lifting note.

Other than the usual suggestions of *where* to put an accented note (3rd beat in a jig, to lift the tune into the next bar, or the 2nd or 4th beat in a reel, etc), I am wondering if people have other techniques (or "tricks") that help them provide lift - on any instrument.

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

… kind of know where you’re going, apart from "3rd beat in a jig". In case it’s my stupidity, could you explain, please?

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Re: Finding the lift

I have wondered about "lift" too. I’m not very technical when it comes to things like beats and bar lines, but your quoted description reminds me of the highest note in the B part of the Roaring Barmaid—would that be a good example of "lift"?

Re: Finding the lift

Typically, the lift in a jig would appear by accenting the third beat of a bar… one - two - THREE, one - two - THREE, etc.

The "lift" that I’m referring to wouldn’t necessarily be on *every* third beat, but is the accenting of what is usually a high note, and is part of what gives the music its feel…

This stuff is hard to talk about, because it is there, but rather nebulous in nature… It would be easier if I could point to a part of a recording and say "that… right there… that’s what I’m talking about" :-P

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Let me preface this by saying I do not have the musical vocabulary to technically describe what you’re getting at - but as a fellow banjo player I know excatly what you mean. As of late, I have been going to school on Angelina Carberry’s style. I think she achieves what you’re after by putting in slight hestitations in her jigs - where other instruments can sustain or ornament to achieve lift. It could be a dampening of the string of just cutting the note short and leaving a rest in between. At least that’s what I hear with my unschooled ears - it seems to work.

Re: Finding the lift

Hang on - and forgive me if I’m still being stupid - but are you talking about slip jigs? ‘Cos other jigs have 2 beats in a bar, as far as I’m concerned …

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Re: Finding the lift

Goon on you Pete and good luck. My poor tenor banjo feels abandoned as I’ve re-dedicated myself to my first love, the fiddle. As you’ve noticed, this mysterious ‘lift’ business is much easier to achieve with a bow stroke, though for the life of me I can’t tell you how I do it.

I think you’re on the right track with your "cutting and jumping" routine, though.

Isn’t there a gentleman on here who runs a banjo website who always has some excellent info? Banjo Tutor? Mike Keyes, is that it? http://www.mikekeyes.com/

Re: Finding the lift

benhall, in this case, I am talking about the individual notes in each bar…

one two three, two two three… Ba da DA, ba da DA…

SWFL Fiddler, you calling me a "goon"??? ;-)

Here’s a bit of an example. http://www.youtube.com/user/georgikeith

If you look at Georgi (who is one of the players I was sitting next to in the aforementioned session) while he’s playing The Shoemaker’s Daughter, his lift often comes from an upswipe of the bow, and in a few cases, he actually lifts the fiddle up a bit, and is often sliding up to the note a bit…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

(My bad, oh the shame!!!)

I will paste my posts into Word to be spell checked
I will paste my posts into Word to be spell checked
I will paste my posts into Word to be spell checked

(x 97 more times)

Re: Finding the lift

Rev - just out of curiousity, what picking style do you use for your jigs? DUD DUD? Or just DUD UDU etc… That can influence the lift a bit too ya?

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OK. Thanks, Pete. I understand what you mean now, concerning jigs at least.

I never (or hardly ever) emphasise the last quaver in each group of 3. However, I frequently slur from the 3rd quaver to the next, which I’m guessing may give something of the effect you’re talking about …

I love that rendition of Shoemaker’s Daughter from Georgi Keith - fantastic.

So there’s a good example of what you’re talking about for reels - do you have one to post which would illustrate for jigs?

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I always thought that the lift in any tune is the part when one of the musicians or listeners expels air ‘throught the mouth of course’ and makes a ‘Whooping sound’ thus causing the other musicians to raise their heads, exchange glances, and perhaps smile.

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JNE, I pick DUD DUD on my jigs almost exclusively.

Every now and then I decide to put a "backside" triplet in an interesting place, and then I might forego the pattern for another beat or two, but that’s only if the tempo is fast enough that I can’t get my hand back in time for another down stroke. I am actually trying to be a BIT more relaxed on the rigidity of the DUD DUD stuff, after spending some time with some great players that pick any which direction suits them, but DUD DUD is pretty well ingrained at this point. The picking rhythm helps with getting the note equivalence (or swing) of a jig to be steady, but isn’t necessarily too helpful with achieving a sweeping lift.

SWFL Fiddler, a spell check would have let "goon" through too, probably… So I think it must have been freudian slip :-P

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

benhall, a quick search of youtube found Kyle Borley playing Hammy’s jigs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPBiC_HhZvc


He is generally lifting before each breath. This is a pretty basic lift that I might do with my banjo "trick" of cutting a note and jumping on the next one. This certainly isn’t an example of the most "lifted" playing I’ve heard, but it is enough to demonstrate what I’m talking about…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

It is refreshing to hear you say that great players often pick any which way suits them - I have found this to be true also. I still think your idea of "pausing and jumping on the next note" is spot on to achieve the vibe you are describing. Thank you for posting this thread - this tecnique has vexed me for ages trying play this *&^%$# instrument.

Re: Finding the lift

Listen closely to Matt Molloy and Sean Keane on "Contentment is Wealth" then take your banjo and imagine it’s a fiddle…

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>> It is refreshing to hear you say that great players often pick any which way suits them…

Yeah, I will also point out that these are usually people who grew up immersed in the music, and play it the way it should sound rather automatically as well. For those of us who come at this a little later in life, DUD DUD is a useful tool for getting the jig rhythm to flow. Now that I’ve gained some immersion in the music myself, I am ok with relaxing the restrictions I put on myself a bit. And I still think it’s a bit weird to play reels in anything other than DUDU DUDU. Getting that hand rhythm is what gives a banjo player all of his swing, and makes it much easier to play up to the speed of many sessions…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

The flippin’ “n” is nowhere near the ‘d’ too on the keyboard, so I really have no clue what the heck was going on with that, sorry Rev. You’re a goof man, no offense intended.

(OK, that one was intentional, but it’s all in “goon” fun…)

Re: Finding the lift

Hmmm … that was nice playing by Kyle Borley there. I listened carefully, but I couldn’t hear any accents on the 3rd note of the 2 groups of 3 within each bar.

Also, what he was doing there isn’t what I think of as ‘lift’ - it stikes me that what he was doing was one of the classic ‘work-arounds’ to enable a wind instrument to be able to simulate the constant flow of music whilst still enabling the player to draw breath. In other words, what he was doing was great phrasing.

I see ‘lift’ as something different - nebulous, right enough, and therefore I’m going to have to think a bit more before I try to say what I mean by it …

In the meantime, I’m fascinated to hear others’ views on what it means …

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Re: Finding the lift

LOL millionyears_bc

>> then take your banjo and imagine it’s a fiddle…

Just the other day, I took my vacuum cleaner and imagined it was a set of uilleann pipes ;-)

The problem is: A banjo isn’t a fiddle. The banjo has no way to make a sweeping, sustained, lifting note. I have also noticed that players like John Carty and Kieran Hanrahan will use a sliding (or fingered up) two note triplet to accent a note. I love that sound, and can put it in place on occasion, but it doesn’t yet come naturally to me. Must make a note to work on that!

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

>> (OK, that one was intentional, but it’s all in “goon” fun…)

<snicker>

Re: Finding the lift

>> but I couldn’t hear any accents on the 3rd note of the 2 groups of 3 within each bar…

Agreed, benhall, he is almost exclusively accenting the first beat of a bar, and breathing afterwards. (Another sticky note to myself to try that on banjo…)

I’ll look around and see if I can find a good example of the accenting the third note for a lift… I recently had it demonstrated to me by Shannon Heaton on flute - wish I had a video of that!

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Its funny you should mention the vacuum cleaner in Irish music there was a pub landlord who used to sit in on our sessions playing a Dyson to the great amusement of the company.

People say I get a lot of lift into my own banjo playing but I’m damned if I can analyse exactly how it’s done - I think it might be to do with having slightly different intervals of time between the first and second, and the second and third notes of a group of three jig notes (the first two notes being slightly closer together), and similarly for the four notes in a reel group. I don’t know if that’s the same as "accenting".

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Re: Finding the lift

Pete, the two-note triplet is what I hear a lot of in John Carty’s playing that gives it lift. It simulates a slide and sustain on fiddle, and always reminds me of a hammer-on used for the same purpose in (gulp) bluegrass guitar. That delay in getting to the high note calls attention to it. It’s also full of nyaah.

The other thing I hear a lot of good banjo players do is melodic bridges at the turns. One example that springs to mind (shamelessly stolen from Lunasa; no banjo present) is at the end of the B part to Jimmy Ward’s Favourite (jig in Gmaj):

"Standard" Melody
end of B part: |ABA ABc|dcA AGE|GED DEF|
into A part: |GGG GAB|….

Melodic Bridge
end of B part: |ABA ABc|dcA dcA|dcA cBA|
into A part: |GGG GAB|….

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And millionyears has it for getting lift (here meaning swing) in jigs via the timing of the notes. It’s critical on plectrum instruments because you can’t slur or slide the way a fiddle or flute can.

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Heh, thanks CPT… now you gotta define "nyaah" ;-)

Pete

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The best explaination I ever heard of lift was "when the music makes the dancer feel more at home in the air than on the ground." Unfortunately, that is about as specific as it gets, I can’t think of any mechanical explaination that can help here. When I play or listen, I know when it is there or when it is not, but have no idea how to evoke it at times when it is not happening…

Re: Finding the lift

Nah. Nyaah is nyaah. It’s effing ineffable.
:-D

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Re: Finding the lift

benhall, I didn’t find a particularly great example of accenting the third note in a jig online anywhere. When Shannon was explaining it to me, she was exaggerating it to make a point, but it’s really a subtle thing.

Playing next to John Carty recently, I actually noticed that he sometimes taps his right foot on the down beat, and his left foot on the "lift beat" (2 & 4 in a reel, 3 in a jig). I even asked him about it, and he said it just happens, but seemed to be glad that I noticed it…

You can get some of the sense of what I’m talking about from this clip from Kevin Crawford. Part of it in this clip is the tune itself, which lends itself to the the ‘ya da DA, ya da DA" accent, but part of it is the way that Kevin is playing it: http://www.lunasa.ie/kevinsTunes.php?clip=2 (it’s in Quicktime .mov format)

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

LOL CPT, you sound kind of like that Aflac commercial with the goat…

I really don’t know what you’re referring to with "nyaah", so you have to try to explain it… Or is it really so intangible that you either have it or you don’t? (In which case, I don’t… Or, at least, I’m trying not to contract it…) ;-)

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

This is a good thread this, I’m enjoying it.

I find that just as sometimes people confuse pace with drive, they often confuse swing with lift. I think drive is to pace what lift is to swing. In that pace and swing are measurable qualities, where as drive and lift are more esoteric.

If we talk about swing first, it makes the explanation of lift easier. Swing is about accenting certain notes that are placed in specific places in bars. Every bar. The homogenous effect of the way a certain player might play the various forms of tunes we have.

I take lift to be more specific to the individual tunes themselves. How does the tune turn? Where does the line play through the bar lines? Where does the line interrupt. And, of course, how can you personally nudge the tune into playing through bar lines and pause it in interesting percussive places? I’m being quite specific here. My take on it is that while you can make "the music" swing, it’s "the tunes" that you can give lift to.

(an important point to note is that it’s not just about the relative timing of notes, but also the dynamics of notes. It’s about the subtlety of the illusion that playing a note ahead of the beat can sound the same as playing a note louder)

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That’s interesting llig. I like the comparison of "drive is to pace what lift is to swing". (Still digesting it a bit too…)

To me, the swing is the note in-equivalence, or the differing amounts of time in between the pulses. So a hornpipe is often "swung" harder than a reel, etc. In a jig, I would say that the first of the three pulses is the longest, the second is the shortest, and the third is in between (not that I think about that specifically when I’m playing, but if you try to break it down and analyze what makes it sound like a jig, I think you find that…)

So in referring to accenting the third note, would that be referring to lilt, not lift?

It’s a really good point that the lift is something you do to the TUNE, not the MUSIC. Meaning, you would lift Tripping up the Stairs in a completely different way than you would lift Tar Road to Sligo, for instance… It’s your treatment of the shape of the tune, and how you phrase it. I like that. So, in that case, the lift can be achieved by leaving space, ornamenting, accenting notes, and choosing where to breathe or pause…

But I still find the plectrum to be something that holds back that process somewhat. I guess getting creative in other ways than bow strokes or breath is what it comes down to for me. I was just hoping people had some magic little tricks that they do to achieve that.

So how would you practice adding lift? Play slowly, and experiment with different things? Play with recordings of other types of instruments and try to emulate the lift that they achieve?

So far, this thread has been useful to me too - giving me some ideas of different ways to accent things, so that’s good. Except that now I’m caught up in wondering what the heck "nyaah" is!

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

i’m with jusa nutter about angelina carberry. i also think that mick o’connor, who, btw, is in more than one wonderful youtube video, has ravishing lift on banjo… check out his solo in "raggle taggle gypsy," a youtube treasure with bob n along singin’ & strummin’….there are actually a slew of mick videos on there….if this link to "raggle taggle" doesn’t work, it’s easy to keyword it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVcmftKCce8


i think it’s common at a certain conceptual point of the itm-journeyman’s journey to hear the lift but not know how it’s getting there and try to get it by doing things like stressing notes, (classical conservatory-speak has a word for syncopation achieved this way, i think it is called "agogic accent,", but not sure) which in itm actually drags down rather than lifts, in about 96% of cases….i think in itm you get it with subtle dotting, that is so small that it really sounds like the miniscule hesitations being discussed above….

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All good points Michael. I tend to think of every tune as its own entity, so each wants its own degree of swing, lift, pukse, drive, etc. All open to change and interpretation, of course, every time I come to the tune fresh again.

Pete, to me, nyaah is a personal feel for the tune, in particular a feel for the interplay of timing and melody that creates the groove.

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I can’t believe we’ve gone this long in this thread without a single bra joke.

…so I’ll step up and take one for the team.

Or two…

…two lifted, and separated, with a fine under-wire mesh…

Re: Finding the lift

ahhh, "nyaah", why didn’t ya just say so? :-P

OK, so I am not really sure that explains it for me… so is the nyaah something that is specific to the tune? So delaying a note a bit by sliding up to it gives it nyaah… I’m so confused! Where does this term come from? Is it derived from lilting a tune? "Nyaah en da deedle dee dotten da diddle dee dum…"?

And to say that you "think of every tune as its own entity, so each wants its own degree of swing", does that mean that you wouldn’t swing a tune differently on a given night? Or that it really only feels natural to you with a particular swing? What do you think determines that?

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

LOL, SWFL Fiddler!

I think you need to be referred over to the "Seriously…" thread :-/

Pete

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You must have the ‘Nyaah’ to play ITM. There is even a ITM festival called the ”Nyaah’ festival in Cavan every March started by box player Martin Donoghoe.
Here’s an example of the Nyaah and the lift combined. Some years ago I was playing in a session at a fleadh. We were playing the ‘9 Points of Rougery’ Every time we dragged on the first three single notes at the begining of the second part. C A B Everybody shouted Nyaah Nyaah Naah and raised their arses from the seat. Spilt a few beers but great fun.

Re: Finding the lift

I suppose the ideal is that each time you re-create a tune, it’s changed by the mood you’re in, the setting, the influence of other players, etc. And it’s fun to play around with the amount of swing, pulse, lift, etc., a tune will take. Even a tune that begs for swing, like The Scholar, say, can be fun to tinker with. Play it straight, play it with over-the-top swing, etc.

For me, each tune asks for its own degree of swing, etc., but there’s a range within which you can vary that and it still feels "natural" for that tune.

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Particular tunes, like "The Road to Lisdoonviagra" have the lift regardless of how they’re played, but then there’s no swing to them.

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Pete, have you tried using DDU as picking pattern for jigs? I used to know great mandolin player back east who used it to great effect. In playing jigs one often wants to " borrow" a tiny bit of time from the second beat and add it to the first beat. It’s not the same as a dotted rhythm, it just swings the pattern just a bit. Using DDU causes a slight,natural pause between the first and second beats. This might help imitate the fiddle practice of slurring "toward" the downbeat.

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Re: Finding the lift

I have tried the DDU DDU thing. Dan Beimborn has been known to pick jigs that way. But since 1 and 3 are longer, and more likely to be accented, it really does make sense to have them as a down stroke, which is naturally stronger physically.

I am fairly comfortable with DUD DUD, as you know, Murph, and I would completely ruin your sessions for about a month if I tried to change that ;-)

But it’s not so much the timing or swing that I’m worried about. It’s lift that I’m looking for. And as llig mentioned, this is really more about where you leave space in the tunes, and how you decide to accent a specific tune, as opposed to how you get the jig rhythm out of your hand motion…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Hey Pete…
When playing a tunes you could also try playing the accents at different points to add lift to the music.

eg .Jig:one-two-THREE… one-TWO-three… ONE-two-three.

This adds a lift by keeping the listener waiting for those accents rather than expecting them in the same place all the time.

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Leave notes _out_ - use the space between notes

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The reference to the hemeola intrigued me, but I’m not so sure that forcing this kind of rhythmic thing on to a tune where it isn’t actually in the tune is such a good idea.

/123,123/123,123/12,12,12/123,123 etc.

It just seems a bit forced to me. There are some good tunes that do this (that jig of life on the kate bush album is a good example) but they just don’t sound that Irish to me. I think there are plenty enough clever rhythmic phrases within all the best tunes anyway, and the knack is finding the things inherent to the tunes themselves, not forcing things on them.

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Puddy Tat

I know what swing is, and that wasn’t really what I was meaning. It’s more like what someone’s said about bringing beat notes slightly forward. Interesting stuff.

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Let’s get this right, shall we? *How* many beats in a bar for jigs?

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It’s a shame he can’t really help, even though he’s so inherently confident with his lightness of approach. It’s a shame his use of commas makes his syncopated sentences sound like William Shanter.

It’s a shame he wasn’t listening when I stressed the importance of the melody indicating the rhythm. Yes, you can use different dynamic stresses in a performance to indicate different rhythms. You can do what you like in a performance.

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I’m confused. Shouldn’t a person accent beats one and •four* for jigs?
ONE two three FOUR five six

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When we play The Dingle Regatta we all stand up on the C part on the very first note. Quite literally, we interprit the ‘lift’ in that tune by ‘lifting’ our behinds out of our seats.

The concertina player (who can’t really stand while playing though she tries) keeps threatening to bring a whoopie cushion to slip under me when I do that.

So it would be: "DEE [stand up] da [sit down] THBBPPT! [whoopie cushion] da-dee-da-da…"

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‘…melody indicating the rhythm…’

Dingle Regatta re: whoopie cushion

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Hmmm … the other, minor, beat has to be either the second, or the fourth, depending on how you look at it. It can’t be the third …

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I see what M. Gill is saying..even as I don’t have near the wealth of experience as most here, I play a jig such as Out in the Ocean a lot different than say the Leprachaun Jig…it is the tune that will dictate the lift, not a structured bowing pattern (or plectrum or whatever)

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Here’s a stupid question: can lift be produced by slightly pushing the beat, hitting a note or series of notes ever so fractionally ahead of the beat, then relaxing and riding back on top?

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Maybe that ahead-of-the-beat produces drive rather than lift? I always thought of lift as synonymous with swing, now I’m not so sure. Still trying to get my brain around “Drive is to tempo what lift is to swing”. That needs to be on a T-shirt. Or at least a small placard inside my fiddle case. Is swing merely one component of lift? Along with dynamics, attack etc? If so, what’s are the “cetera”?

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Yes, ahead of the beat is more likely to produce drive than lift. However, it’s even more likely to produce speeding up, so be careful.

And I think I said "drive is to pace", not "tempo". Tempo is an absolute, pace is more about how fast does it feel. We all know bad players who sound too fast no matter how fast they are playing. And others who sound positively stately, no matter how fast.

tradpiper:
"Finding the lift is not easy."
"My playing has ‘lift’. I think it may have to do with the inherent confidence of the player."

And your dum da badaba is a slide.

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I think you are discussing a specific "articulation" when you refer to lift in ITM. A lot of the devices discussed here follow what singers do naturally:

+stop to take a breath - adds the "spaces" in between phrases
+use more air to hit high notes - results in increased volume going up the scale, decreased going down the scale
+accent constinants - as opposed to vowels
+cut words short for accent - use more breath volume in a shorter period of time - like shouting, staccoto
+slide up into the pitch at the start of a note, slide down at the end of a note/phrase
+move the length of notes around to fit all the words in
+use regional phrasings to pronounce words

So it might help to stop thinking like a banjo player for a bit when analyzing all the devices that specific instrument players employ to reproduce them.

So there is a mix of various things you can do - accent certain notes with volume, accent certain notes with percussive sounds, chop notes off at varying degrees (staccato), delay specific rhythms to emphasize the up/down beats, etc.

How to do this with a plectrum and frets?
+deliberately arrange down vs. up strokes to force a pattern of articulation (as mentioned already),
+deliberately arrange string crossing (cross picking) to force a pattern of articulation ( the act of moving over to a different string forces an accent, as well as the tone change
+bend strings with your left hand
+slur notes ("hammer ons", not picking every note) in a phrase and employ a system of slurring to force a pattern of articulation (might have to change your left hand position where you normally wouldn’t to enable a free "finger" for this)
+use your left hand to deaden a ringing note (cut it short - produce staccato)
+"pick" the string up a bit when you pluck it for a percussive accent
+deaden the strings to place "holes" in stategic places ("hit vs. hole" approach to produce an emphasis - produce an accent by leaving a space) - can use the palm of your right to accomplish this also
+deaden some notes while letting others ring
+get a smooth tremolo and use it to remove articulation
+use a tremolo across two strings, alternating each note on each string, the double stop will produce more volume and tone - a subtle articulation
+"pick" a string with a free finger instead of the plectrum - to get a drastic tone change

Anything I missed?

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One more thing.. It isn’t anywhere close to ITM, but there are plenty of old Earl Scruggs medium tempo recordings where the net result is a lot of swing with just some subtle articulations in the right place all in the confines of his basic 3 finger rolling patterns. Foggy Mountain Special comes to mind. The style is way out of line for this group, but the basic techniques used to produce the effect has to be very similar to what you are after in your pursuit of achieving "the lift".

Specifically for the banjo, the techniques might be more obvious to discover in other styles where banjo is more prominent and that don’t have 100s of years of various regional complexities compounded into the them.

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>impressed by your succinct delivery and comprehensive knowledge…

No, I just have a lot of nasty scars from repeatedly realizing how badly I suck as a musician compared to everyone else around me.

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monkey440, thanks for the comments!

>> So it might help to stop thinking like a banjo player for a bit when analyzing all the devices that specific instrument players employ to reproduce them.

Agreed, and that’s to a certain extent what I have done so far… And to a larger extent now because of some of the discussion on this thread.

>> I’m confused. Shouldn’t a person accent beats one and •four* for jigs? ONE two three FOUR five six

There is a natural accent on the down beat like that. Partially because that note is longer than the other two. But if ALL you’re accenting is the down beat, it is not lifted at all - it is a march, basically. To achieve lift in a jig, there has to be some accenting of other bits, and accenting the 3rd (and 6th) notes can help provide a yearning for the next note, and can actually help accentuate the down beat as well.

This is hard to get across with typing…. But if you try saying to yourself "ONE two three, ONE two three", you might notice the march-like nature of that. If you say "one two THREE, one two THREE", the natural thing (for me, at least) is to accent that THREE with a higher pitch, lifting it, per se. (I know, the notes of the tune may not be higher in pitch, but it’s the accent there that gives it that lifted feeling…)

Another way it was described to me from a dancer, who also plays, is that the "lift" in the rhythm is where the dancer would be the furthest off the ground in a jump. If the dancer was to jump repeatedly (which wouldn’t really be dancing), they would land on the ground on the down beat, and they would be at the apex of their jump on the 3rd and 6th notes in a jig rhythm…

Re: Finding the lift

And tradpiper/Hard to pin down,

I will make a friendly suggestion to you - hopefully, you can take it as such. Your tone of typing on this site so far often comes across as rather formal: "That not a stupid question sir…", and "i am consistently impressed by your succinct delivery and comprehensive knowledge." And backhanded insults like "…perhaps too subtle for you…" generally don’t go over well.

This is an informal discussion forum. When you call someone ‘sir’ when you’re arguing with them, it comes across as insulting or condescending. And even when you’re praising someone, doing so formally comes across as almost patronizing.

Two things I would suggest to you. 1. Relax the formality a bit. 2. Realize that there are other people on this board who have not only been playing as long as you, but also have been valued members of this site for a long time.

It’s OK if you firmly believe in what you type, but if you relax a bit and realize that not everybody is going to agree with you about things, and it doesn’t MATTER whether they agree with you (the discussion back and forth is what is important), then you may find fewer people jumping all over you when you post in the forums. This is a community, and people should be treated civilly and with respect the same way that they should in person…

Just my 2¢

Oh, and thanks for the Hemeola suggestion. I’ve never had a name for that before. I agree with llig, it doesn’t generally sound "traditional", but it’s an interesting thing to have in one’s bag of tricks :-)

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

>> i choose my own mode of address thank you

I certainly wasn’t trying to force anything upon you. I was just hoping to help you understand why you seem to be maligned on this website a lot. You’re free to ignore my advice.

Just be aware that there are people on this site who have been friends for years, and take offense to people that don’t seem to fit in well.

As far as finding a lift to Westport, at least you’re not making the ‘ignorant American’ mistake of looking for a ‘ride’. I offered a ‘ride’ to a female fiddling friend of mine at a festival in Killarney earlier this year, and felt rather embarrassed when it was pointed out to me what that generally means on that side of the pond :-O

(Speaking of cultural differences…)

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Pete - "Looking for a ride." I can imagine the reponse. Probably similar to my first day in Canada when I asked a secretary in work where I could find a rubber.

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Re: Finding the lift

Back to the lift, and adding an accent to the 3rd and 6th notes of a jig rhythm.

For another way to think about this, listen to a recording of your favorite jig, and try tapping your hand on a surface that makes some sound. First try just tapping on the down beats (1 and 4). Then try tapping on notes 1,2 and 4,5. Then try tapping on 1,3 and 4,6. That feels very different to me… You sort of get a horse clip-clop clip-clop feel (where the down beat is on the ”clop’).

When I do that, I get more of a sense of bounce… So I think the 3rd and 6th notes are delayed slightly (2nd and 5th notes are shorter as well). So just by being delayed slightly, they are accented. And if you occasionally give one an accent with volume, it really can add lift. (And if you do it on one with a high note, or do any of the other suggested things from this thread to make it stand out, it is really noticeable!)

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Off thread or otherwise, don’t care. Just saw the youtube thing of George Keith thing.

That is lovely, lovely playing. Fair play to you. The very best!

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Re: Finding the lift

Yeah, Georgi is the man! I finally got to play with him recently, and he was a large part of the inspiration for this thread, because he really does play with some neat lift!

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Aw shucks. Thanks guys. Very kind and generous of you.

I love lift. It’s one of my favorite characteristics in Irish trad. Much like a good tannin in a fine red wine, it’s not for everyone, but I think most people tend to come around to enjoy it eventually…

I think there are half a dozen different technical things that one can do to add "lift" in ones playing (slurring into the beat, "breathing" after the beat, hitting the beat a little early, especially when the beat is on a high note, etc), and many of us mix and match different technical tricks to get the effect at different times (often depending on with whom we are playing).

But in spite of my general left-brained tendencies towards overanalyzing musical technique, I’ve found that the most effective way to learn to play with lift is:

1) Listen to people that play a tune with "lift".
2) Try to sing the tune (even if just in your head) like they play it
3) Try to play it like you hear it in your head.

For the record, very few of the big-name bands out there play with much obvious lift (in my opinion), and this is a large part of the reason I don’t tend to listen to bands that much anymore. Lift is largely about the phrasing of the tune (where the "breaths" are), and different people tend to phrase a tune differently at different times. Getting the phrasing of a tune straight between 3-5 people is really hard, and the other folks in the band often flatten out each other’s phrases unintentionally.

If you want suggestions on recordings/musicians with good lift, try checking out Ben Lennon, Fr. Seamus Quinn, or any of the recordings of the old Sligo guys: Coleman, Morrison, and Killoran. Morrison in particular had a really agressive bounce to his playing. Other musicians like Frankie Gavin, Brian Conway, Andy McGann, and John Carty also have/had lift in spades, but I think they are a little more (pleasantly) subtle about it, as are hundreds of other great musicians.

But in the end, I think lift is mostly about rhythmic style, which make this a good segue from the previous discussion about rhythm from a couple weeks ago. If your rhythm is either dragging, racing, or irregular, any work you do towards adding ‘lift’ to it will likely be lost in the mix.

Re: Finding the lift

Nice to see that your jigs/slides have been sorted out for you, Michael. Why, not two days ago he sorted out my reels for me (they’re all hornpipes as it turns out). Where would we be without this chap? (Regard that as rhetorical, please…)

Re: Finding the lift

Thanks, Georgi, useful stuff! The idea of getting the lift into your head, and then playing what you have there is a good one. I must sit down with some of this stuff and woodshed a bit…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

Yep, it really is all about playing with fire. Which is easier when you can side along with someone who already has it….

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Re: Finding the lift

you’re saying the fire is contagious? One of my favorite sayings:

"Build a man a fire, he’s warm for a day
Set a man on fire, he’s warm for the rest of his life!"

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

is anyone still here? a week has past since the last burning post.

i havent logged on for ages but your lift and drive discussion piqued me.. does anyone remmeber the old hilarious discussion where lift and drive were discussed ad infinitum and then someone said drive is how far you have to go to get to a session if you live way far away, and then someone said lift was what you got when you couldnt drive yourself, uh, cuz of being to fiull of beer.. it was very funny

Re: Finding the lift

Ahh, yes… just reread this thread… twas a good one!

https://thesession.org/discussions/3769

To reiterate some things that were discussed in the two threads, lift and drive are related, but drive has to do with the tempo, and lift has to do with the rhythm. And lift is achieved in various ways.

I think Michael put it best when he said you drive the music, but you lift the tune.

And there’s probably a bunch of people reading this thread that are still scratching their heads, thinking "wha?!?" :-D

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

goodnight then, nice to meet you rev .. i will pass through your neighbourhood one day as i go south often

Re: Finding the lift

By all means, "swing" on by with your banjo, box, or guitar, vboyd100, if you ever leave the great white north and venture as far down as the mile high city…

Pete

Re: Finding the lift

merci, will do

Re: Finding the lift

Has it really been 10 years? I was thinking about this archived discussion recently when the matter of demonstrating "lift" was mentioned in a current thread.

Re: Revisiting An Old Argument posted by Jim Dorans December 7th, 2017
https://thesession.org/discussions/41634#comment836000

"Will [Evans], all I’m saying is that everything to do with beat, pulse, rhythm, lift can be demonstrated on a single instrument using only a few notes."

Jim, I get your meaning but how far should we go in reducing more esoteric concepts such "lift" to non tune-related demonstrations and exercises? I appreciate the usefulness of learning this way. But is "lift" significantly different from beat and rhythm?

~

https://thesession.org/discussions/14869#comment306468
posted on August 21st, 2007

"I think drive is to pace with lift is to swing. In that pace and swing are measurable qualities, where as drive and lift are more esoteric…

Swing is about accenting certain notes that are placed in specific places in bars… The homogenous effect of the way a certain player might play the various forms of tunes we have.

I take lift to be more specific to the individual tunes themselves. How does the tune turn? Where does the line play through the bar lines? Where does the line interrupt…"

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Re: Finding the lift

It’s all very simple if you’re both a player AND a dancer: considering a 6/8 jig you put your foot DOWN on 1 and 4 and you "lift off" on 3 and 6. Nothing more complicated than that, except that as a player you can give 3 and 6 a wee boost to get the "lift". I have spoken before about John Kirkpatrick and the English folk dance scene: he also talks a lot about the "lift" -even demonstrates it while playing along on accordion - "actions speak louder than words"! I’m sure it all translates well to Irish playing and dancing too. (and I’m not particularly talking about "swing" here which is different!)

Re: Finding the lift

Yes, lift is simple to describe.

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