The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

I’ve read a few times that the ITM music of County Clare is very different from the rest of Ireland - but of course these articles/sources don’t go on to say just what these differences are.

Can anyone throw any light on the subject or perhaps point me in the right direction of where I can find out (Short of actually going to County Clare - that will have to wait until October! ๐Ÿ™‚

Regards
Morgana

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Well, it depends… East Clare or West Clare?

:*)

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Yay, this is something I’d like to know more about, so I’ll look forward to reading what people have to say on this.

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

You might not get a reply to this for about a week cos Clare beat Tipp on Sunday, no one in Clare will be sober enough to talk not to mind type.

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Someone once said that Donegal ‘s music is "jaggy", Sligo’s is "white-water" and Clare’s is "roly-poly".There’s a lot of truth in that statement.

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Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Hi Ptollemy
I think that the diversity of Irish traditional music has much reduced in recent years, ironically partially due to comhaltas attempts to preserve the tradition by selecting a few great players as examples of good playing.
Here in Manchester there are older players from all over Ireland and the diversity of style is amazing.
I can’t help thinking that something important is being lost as younger trad musicians move to a more homogenous style.

All the best PP

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Originally I had typed out my take on the regional styles, but deleted it since I am far from an expert and don’t want to get anyone angry if I say anything totally wrong or too general. So since it is a topic I am very interested in I will wait on those who really know to respond.

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Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Well I’m from Tipp and learn music in Tipp and North Clare!! My fleadh was on last Sunday. I won some competitions so even though we lost the hurling I was still happy at the end of the day!!! Clare music is generally fast and lively with great volume. Reels are the commonest tunes played and Clare musicians will admit that they can’t play polkas and slides like the musicians of Kerry, Limerick and West Cork! In Tipperary we play "nice, sweet, relaxed music". It’s not very fast and generally doesn’t have much volume. Personally I love the North Clare style of music. It’s good craic and always full of life.
Carrie*

Carrie’s Fleadh)

Off at a slight tangent here, from a previous posting, but Carrie - did you win the banjo, and which tunes did you play? I’m sure those of us who made suggestions would like to know. Well done.

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Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

While I can identify most of the tunes played in the sessions in Sligo and Galway areas, I could name just one or two tunes when I heard "Old Kilfenora Ceili Band" playing in a pub in their native town.

So, I’m not familiar with Clare music in general, but Mary MacNamara’s website has really nice information about East Clare music. Her view on music and musicians’ biographies are particularly informative. Probably I’ll post a link shortly.

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

I was interviewing Verena Commins at one point. I asked her what made East Galway music East Galway, ie: what the musical differences were. (This was the subject of her thesis.) She more or less told me, well, that’s difficult to say, and that was about it.

I asked Buddy MacMaster what made the old style of Cape Breton, how could you tell it was the older style you were listening to, and he told me, "Well, it’s an older way of playing, I don’t know how to describe it, but you know it when you hear it."

Neither of these things are very helpful, but they’re quite germane to the discussion. ๐Ÿ™‚

Each county had its own way of playing the same tunes, and they tended to use ornamentation in similar ways…in fact, some *villages* had very idiosyncratic styles. (Buddy MacMaster told me that you could tell which village a Cape Breton player was from by his playing alone.) I agree with Pied about it being a shame to lose some of those old styles — short of taking away transportation, roads, radios, CDs and electricity, you can’t help that, though. I don’t think it’s just Comhaltas homogenizing the stuff, although certainly that has had influence — I think it’s that players have always picked up what they liked of what they heard, and now they’re hearing a wider range than they ever did before.

But there’s little things that you can pick up. Joan Hanrahan in Ennis (Clare) gave me a lesson and told me not to switch bow directions until I switched strings. I was told elsewhere that that was a very Clare kind of way to play. (And Joan smiled after she told me that and then said, "unless, of course, you do.")

I was also once told that East Clare and East Galway is a much more slide-y way of playing, and that the music itself tends to be more minor and dark. Dunno if it’s true, guess I’ll have to visit and find out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Zina

Kenny

I was playing the piano and I won that. I was looking for a banjo tune because I had a banjo player for the piano accomp. I came second in that. I was beaten by one of my friends and I beat him last year so ….. now we’re even!!
Thanks for all the advise etc…..
Carrie*

Bannerman…..
Awaiting your comments (on the music and not the hurling!!) You must be one of the experts on Clare music!!

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

I’ll start out by saying that I am by no means an expert on this, but just last year I wrote a paper on general regional styles of IT flute music for an independent course at my university. My advisor for the paper was a Crehan, and she got an interview with Kevin Crawford when he was in town, so I trust that my sources are fairly credible. My paper focused on John McKenna from Leitrim, Matt Molloy from Sligo, and Kevin Crawford from Clare (from England originally).

In brief, McKenna played short phrases, didn’t use much ornamentation, used glottal stops as a sort of note punctuation, and did very few variations. His style was considered fairly primal and was probably used for dance music

Molloy (from Roscommon, but influenced by Sligo style) uses long phrases, lots of rolls, and the music sounds very smooth. He also uses lots of variations and often incorporates slight melody alterations.

Crawford has a very sweet, rolling, lyrical, and almost laid back style that seems pretty typical of Clare (I wanna say East Clare, but I’m not positive). If you listen to Kevin Crehan’s CD, you’ll hear wonderful examples of this gentle style.

I understand that styles will vary even within a region, but it was my understanding that these three styles are fairly representative of the regions. Also, in addition to Comhaltas (I think PP had mentioned them) having an affect on the styles, also consider the impact of the recording industry. In the old days when music was simply passed on by ear each town often had their own style, but nowadays the music and different styles are accesible by anyone, so it’s my understanding that in general while different regions still have their own style, the lines are gradually becoming more blurred.

Again, this is just some of what I gathered from pretty good sources, so hopefully this information helps answer the original question.

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Clare 2-17 Tipp 0-14 UP THE BANNER

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Wild guess ……. I’d say Bernie is from Clare!
Let’s just say … we were sick and tired of beating ye!!! We beat ye in the last 3?? matches. We didn’t want ye to feel too bad by beating ye four-in-a-row!! (or else we just had a bad day!!)
Carrie*

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

I dont feel that Matt Molloy and Kevin Crehan are good representives of Sligo and Clare flute styles. One reason for this is that both of them have developed rather individualistic and unique styles. I don’t think they fit it easily in the discussion of generic "regional styles".

Matt Molloy has a (arguably) revolutionary flute sound with lots of piper influenced ornaments and long phrasings. His style has influenced a whole generation of flute players. Earlier samples of his playing might fall under the umbrella of a Sligo style but his later playing has evolved to whats seems to be of a major, highly influencial style by itself.

Crawford has a highly ornamented style, with a straight drive. All the recordings I’ve heard of him have him playing in a fairly fast tempo. Not exactly what I would call laid back in the Kevin Crehan sense. Despite playing very smooth with very little heavy articulation/pulsing, and him currently residing in Clare, I think he has very little to do with any Clare style of playing. I suspect he is to some extent influenced by Matt Molloy too.

Catherine McEvoy and Patsy Hanly might be more apt examples of the Sligo-Roscommon style. For Clare, maybe Peadar O’Loughlin, Eamonn Cotter, and PJ Crotty? It seems like there isn’t a very prominent Clare flute style - probably with the exception of a few outstanding musicians. And even so I think these guys are probably Galway flute, Sligo flute, or Clare fiddle influenced (like Eamonn Cotter is said to be).

For more information of Irish flute styles there’s this page with nice comprehensive but general write ups on the topic:
http://www.oblique-design.demon.co.uk/flow/

When people refer to a Clare style, its more often than not its the fiddle they’re talking about. The fiddling style is undeniable more prominent and well recognised than any other instrument style in Clare. The playing tends to be very laid back, smooth, slurred, rolling and very groovy (there are exceptions of course). Notable exponents of this style include Paddy Canny, Bobby Casey and Kevin Crehan among many others.

Apart from being famous for flute players, Sligo also has a strong fiddle tradition. The fiddling tends to sound more ornamented and more fragmented (in a lovely way - probably because of more frequent changing of bow directions) Despite this, Sligo fiddling can sound very laid back and lifty - its hard to explain the sound in words. Great Sligo fiddlers include Michael Coleman, Michael Gorman and Oisin Mac Diarmada. (who describes himself as a Sligo influenced Clare fiddler)

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

OOps! Correction.. my first mention of "Kevin Crehan" in my post was supposed to be "Kevin Crawford"..

Re: The Regional (Musical) Differences of County Clare (and other places)

Why not tune into Clare FM on the internet at http://www.clarefm.ie/
Monday night at 7.00 pm GMT, Trad Irish Music presented by Joan Hanrahan - not to be missed!