Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

All,
Was reading an interesting article/interview with Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh. Here are a few of his comments cut & pasted [and hopefully thereby not misrepresented]. Be interested in your thoughts on his thoughts re ITM and where it *isn’t* today and perhaps "should" be. I especially think the 2nd quote is interesting.

C. OR: "The educators in Sweden are highly critical of the downward spiral in Irish traditional music over the last 30 years. They were initially inspired by the developments we had, the incredible burst of creativity in the 70s, but in the 30 years since then they have been highly critical that we have been stagnant. And we are – we have been so stagnant. I mean, I don’t know if there has been any group that has done anything that isn’t derivative of the Bothy Band and Planxty. Kíla may be an exception. I think they have certainly done something new, but it is a fusion. You can’t really say it’s contemporary traditional. They use styles and rhythms from traditions that already exist elsewhere. It’s not an analysis of our music. It’s a marrying of something that already exists, and a very succesful marrying of it. "

"I guess that a lot of traditional music today is ego driven. The focus is on what do you do *to* a tune, what are the variations you can put in, how cool can you make it. A reversal of that for me is playing a tune, one tune, a very simple tune, that maybe takes 20 seconds to play. I would play it over and over and over for maybe half an hour."

"Well I have delved into traditional music massively and what I find of interest is generally in old recordings. But we have gone past the point of it being an oral tradition. We are at a stage where actually what is current in traditional music is depleted in terms of its musical richness, I would feel. We have defined things and thus other possibilities cease to exist. "

TQ: And you think that needs to be done in Ireland now?
CÓR: Yes, absolutely. Specifically in traditional music, because there doesn’t exist a progressive or contemporary traditional music scene. I think the best thing is to imagine where do we want to be in 30 years. Ideally we would have people who are very open minded coming out of a mind-expanding course where they are given all the tools. What I learned in Stockholm is that to create interesting contemporary traditional music you need to study the tradition in incredibly fine detail. That’s what they are doing.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

This is the same old complaint, as usual, and I’m sick of it. Quit whining.

"…I don’t know if there has been any group that has done anything that isn’t derivative of the Bothy Band and Planxty…"

"…to create interesting contemporary traditional music…"

It appears that the goal is to generate modern bands that are more popular and monetarily successful than The Bothy Band and Planxty, for only this is what can be considered "interesting contemporary traditional music".

@&#^$*#^$!!!

Nobody is playing, teaching and loving this music because they want to make a band that is the next Planxty, sorry.

Oh, and here’s the real kicker:

It’s Traditional music. It’s attractive, and people want to play it, because it’s TRADITIONAL. It’s not avant-garde, it’s not progressive, it’s not fancy shmancy, we like it and we love it because it appears to us that is HAS been played in the SAME WAY for years and years and years. We like that, and we want to play like just like that.

So, what should we be doing instead, exactly?

I am so sick of hearing this nonsense.

The music and tradition is just fine in the hearts of all the practitioners and lovers of it. It does NOT require a big materially successful and popular showband with exciting new progressive directions for the music to show that. In fact, that’s about THE LAST thing it needs.

When has it EVER needed that?

“ITM has done nothing new…”

Well thank the Lord. I like it because it’s traditional, not neuvo-Celtoid-progressive-jazz-hip-hop-trad.

End of rant.

P.S. Which one of these actions is more progressive? It’s the kids screwing with the tunes, that’s what. Is this guy complaining about how ITM has done nothing new, then he’s complaining about the kids doing something new with the tunes while he’s doing something quite ‘traditional’? Ooo, sorry, try again. Didn’t quite pass the logic muster, Mr. Nothing New. Complain again about how there’s ‘nothing new’ and then tell us how you play the same tune for 30 minutes.

‘"I guess that a lot of traditional music today is ego driven. The focus is on what do you do *to* a tune, what are the variations you can put in, how cool can you make it. A reversal of that for me is playing a tune, one tune, a very simple tune, that maybe takes 20 seconds to play. I would play it over and over and over for maybe half an hour."’

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Oooh, I’d really want to listen to Mr. Ó Raghallaigh play Egan’s Polka over and over for half an hour. Sounds divine.

Seriously, though. You can only have one folk revival. Of course stuff like Planxty and the Bothy Band sounded fresh and new, that’s because there was nothing from before to compare it to. Of course everything since them sounds derivative of them, that’s because it’s the same type of music. The only way to play something that doesn’t sound anything like them is to play a different type of music. Mozart sounds derivative of Bach because he IS derivative of Bach. But also very different.

Irish music is all about the tune. How can you do anything new if it isn’t "what do you do *to* a tune, what are the variations you can put in, how cool can you make it"? In the past 30 years we’ve had Lúnasa, Altan, Dervish, Flook, Beoga, Michael McGoldrick and countless others I don’t know or can’t think of. Yes, they’re building on the past, but also doing their own thing.
I don’t think it’s stagnant at all.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I don’t have time at the moment to delve into this deeply - I’ll be back - but a lot of what he says is true. Of course there will always be opposing views on the advancement of tradition but music should remain relevent to the society that listens to and respects it. If ITM is to have some relevance in the future it has, to some extent, move with the times and the times they are a changin’, quicker than we realise. When the old brigade die off, what then? will todays children embrace the music with the fervour and passion of their fathers, probably not. Bothies and Planxty were genuine innovators within the tradition and not much else has surfaced in the last 30 years that followed their lead. I am not saying to dilute the heritage, just make it interesting to the next generation. Miss one generation and it’s all over.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Just old men bitching about "these kids today", every generation does it, and yet, somehow, the kids are just fine and the music is still there. Amazing how that happens, eh?

In the meantime, let us all gather in the back of the pub and grumble appropriately about these lousy so-and-so kids today. 😉

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

And no, SWFL, ITM *has* done plenty new, and thank the Lord for it. Just because it’s traditional doesn’t mean it should stay still. And it’ also very big. If a few kids (or old people) screw with the tunes, it’s not as if they’re destroying the whole big edifice. It survives.

And actually, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s whole rant sounds to me like the usual "O, everything was so much better in the old days" syndrome.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

SWFL, you have a point, but my point is that the music scene in general has(very recently) seen a seismic shift in how it listens to, embraces and purchases the wares. There is no past precedent to compare with. Beware.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

‘Just old men bitching about "these kids today"’

Yeah right, what age is he, twentyfive or so?

Posted .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Cripes, he sounds like he’s 90.

It just cracks me up when people complain about the music being stagnant. For crying out loud, they’re tunes for dances that have been done for hundreds of years. What the heck do you want to do with them? What else do you need to do with them? It’s a reel, 1, 2, 3, 4. Now play it, dance and shaddup.

Strayaway, I understand the technology worry, and we’ve discussed the dangers of poor instruction via the internet on this board, and learning from folks who you shouldn’t learn from, etc., however, I think the technology is just a tool, like any other. It can be used properly or improperly. Perhaps all too often improperly, but…

I’m re-reading his quote again and can someone tell me what "Contemporary Traditional" music is? He used it twice up there.

See, I like tunes, reels, jigs, etc. I play them on my fiddle. I get together with my friends and play them, and they play whistles, concertinas, guitars, bouzoukis, mandolins, etc. Sometimes, I get paid to put on a performance of these tunes.

Is that contemporary traditional music? I have no idea what that means.

What is the difference between contemporary and non-contemporary traditional music? I’m currently playing those same old reels, jigs, and do on with real ALIVE people on a weekly basis, and did so yesterday, actually. Does this not make it contemporary traditional music? Am I doing it wrong? Should I be experimenting…or not? Should I be seeking to innovate so I can make a big huge ground-shaking band like Planxty or the Bothies, but then having people mad at me because I’m innovating and messing with the tunes and the traditional sound? See the Catch 22 here? NONSENSE!

OK, sorry, carry on. Breathing deeply now.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Kilfar, SWFL

I think he’s 27 to be exact. Also I think I’d side more with the comments of Strayaway…what S is saying is that Planxty and Bothy took something that had always existed in a non ‘super group’ form and gave it new meaning…and more improtantly, new enery without distoring [as far as my ears can tell] what came before or straying away from much of what came before. In Ezra Pound’s advice [circa 1922] they "made it new"…it didn’t mean they destroyed it [itm] but they re-minted it in their own way. I think what C O’R is saying is no one has done much in that regard since. Although personally I think his [and Mick O’Bs] cd Kitty Lie Over perhaps cut some new ground…with cross tunings etc., which many ears hadn’t heard quite in that style for a long time [witness the interest in The Raineys cd?] and it had a swing that no one had much "copied" [perhaps visited is a better word] since the days of O’Keeffe, Julia Clifford and Denis "the weaver"? Looking thru my cd collection of more modern ITM material I find music by such artists as Danu, Teada and Eileen Ivers languishing on the shelf. Even the Chieftans later efforts I never listen to because it doesn’t speak to me. I ‘m not sure why. On the other hand Iarla O’Lionaird’s solo efforts or even better, Peadar O’Riada’s music [who may be an exception to C O’R’s comments…because I think he HAS used the tradition and done some exciting/new/modern/revolutionary things with it while sticking close to it without being gimmicky or tasteless] interests me in the way that old boys [and girls] of ITM interests me.

The question is why? I’m not sure I can analyze it. Why would The Raineys be interesting and Mary Custy not? Why is Peadar O’Riada’s ‘arrangements"/experiments in music great and the Chieftans boring?

I just thought C O’R’s comments might shed some light on that.

best,

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

The existence of Lunasa knocks Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s rant into dust.

My .02

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

‘I think he’s 27 to be exact.’

I was at his 21st birthday party and it seems not so long ago, time flies doesn’t it. Anyhow, first time I came across him he was 13 and he had an enquiring mind then as much as he has now.

Iarla O Lionard has opened his ears to a lot of contemporary classical stuff and that has set his mind racing with possibilities.

But to give him credit, I do go along with what he says, maybe not all the way but a good stretch of it anyway.

Posted .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

In answer to the original question, Who Cares?
Or rather, it’s a non-question, if by ITM you do mean traditional music.
It’s like saying, is traditional music not traditional any more?
—-Well, no, if something is not traditional any more it isn’t ….erm…traditional.
By definition.
Is black white?
So, as I said, Who Cares?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Kilfar
What’s interesting is that I don’t think he’s saying he has any specific answers to the dilemma himself except to point to Sweden as a good example of what they’ve been doing [see the group Aminna’s MySpace pageor Sigur Ros] to revive the tradition in some new way without losing sight of the importance of the tradition itself.

But I do think he, in a way, and Mick O B did their bit to revive some of that wonderful old sound and swing and odd tunings that one hadn’t heard except in the older players [mrs. galvin et al]. She and Rose Murphy were often rough and not always "in tune" in the modern, music lesson sense of the word. And surely C did that in his own solo cd he brought out at 19.

The Raineys seem to me to be another perfect example of this wonderful sound that sounds great to recend modern ears deadened to the possibilities of the scale and the same old tunes played the same old safe ways [don’t get me wrong I play them that way myself not being good enough to venture out from the safety of the accepted norm].

I’m not even sure I understand his use of the term modern traditional. Here are some further comments from him:

"We’ve attempted to replace an oral tradition with a very poorly evolved education system", he says. "If you analyse the steps that a traditional music student goes through, and what they are taught, it’s almost non-existent. They get taught tunes, they get a few masterclasses, but they don’t get a coherent system of understanding that allows them to freely pluck the nuances of any particular style out and use them. That’s not a replacement for an oral tradition.

"I feel that people are coming out of third-level musical education at the level of understanding that they should have been at going in to it."

and

"That is what has happened in traditional music. If you take something like the scale, with an oral tradition, like Irish traditional music was, we never defined what the scale is. We never defined the twelve-note scale. We had a cloud of possibility from which something could emerge rather than a series of definite, quantised steps.

So for instance if somebody now learns the fiddle they will be taught the twelve notes of the scale. And whenever they hear somebody else playing an F, they hear it as natural or sharp. Whereas in fact what the other person might be playing is something that is 17 cents sharp of F natural. So it’s a question of when you define something all the other possibilities cease to exist. And that’s the Schrödinger’s Cat analogy – when you open the lid all possibilities cease to exist.

When I listen to the playing of Willie Clancy, what I hear and what really excites me are all the things he didn’t do, but you hear them. You hear everything he could have done, the cloud of possibility. Whereas when you hear most people playing traditional music today, you only hear the one thing they did do. I get massive inspiration from going back and studying old recordings in detail. Let’s say Colm Ó Caodháin, the sean-nós singer, the playing of piper Willie Clancy, people like that. I continue to revisit those and look at things in detail, extract things from it."

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Swedish educators, that’s who, Danny.

Posted by .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Just an aside.

SWFL Fiddler wrote ‘It appears that the goal is to generate modern bands that are more popular and monetarily successful than The Bothy Band and Planxty’.

Even the most inept busker on Grafton Street would be likely to be more ‘monetarily successful’ than The Bothy Band and, also certainly, the first incarnation of Planxty.

The Bothy Band never made a penny from recordings (and still doesn’t!), and barely broke even on tours (and, indeed, on at least one European tour had to busk to raise funds for petrol to transport their van to the next gig).

Posted by .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

It sounds like what he’s really complaining about is that modern Irish musicians have stopped looking back into the tradition to learn how to play the music, and instead are only using modern western musical concepts and influences from other cultures.

He didn’t explicitly say this, but that’s the inference I get…

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

kennedy,
esp. this comment: as above:

"When I listen to the playing of Willie Clancy, what I hear and what really excites me are all the things he didn’t do, but you hear them. You hear everything he could have done, the cloud of possibility. Whereas when you hear most people playing traditional music today, you only hear the one thing they did do. I get massive inspiration from going back and studying old recordings in detail. Let’s say Colm Ó Caodháin, the sean-nós singer, the playing of piper Willie Clancy, people like that. I continue to revisit those and look at things in detail, extract things from it."


I’ve just finished listening to a radio interview with him where he says

"Yeah, I’ve been experimenting with playing very quiety. Playing very gently allows things to happen. A lot of people — certainly me in former years tried to IMPOSE THEMSELVES ON THE TUNE [my emphais]…I’ve been trying to play lately very quietly to the point where the music almost breaks up…almost disintegrates. That gentleness allows things to happen. It’s almost like whispering….like that girl Feist, or Lisa Hanningan. It’s nearly disintegration of tone. …seems to be something that was very strong in traditional music going back 60 years BUT SINCE THEN THERE’S BEEN A LOT OF POLISHING DONE [my emphasis]. I’m interested in playing it where you reach a point where things happen that you didn’t really intend."


…..interesting stuff! ;)

michael

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

COR I think makes a good point when he says that it is necessary to "study the tradition in incredibly fine detail" to make interesting contemporary traditional music. (Evidently it took a group of Swedish educators to point that out to him.) Players who do this, in addition to enjoying, mastering and transmitting the music itself, will know which ideas, innovations and combinations have exciting possibilities and which are only likely to produce monstrosities - unless the latter, of course, is what they want.

Setting thirty-year targets, though, might be inadvisable. ITM players will be emitting just as much CO2 and other noxious gases then as now, to the disgrace of their governments and minders on the international stage, however many million miles of red tape emmesh them.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Well,

I’ll be catching young CO’R in the act on Wednesday night.

It’ll be interesting to see what he plays.

Posted by .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Nicholas
Wasn’t the Swedes who pointed it out to him. He had a couple of summer jobs stints at the Irish Trad Music Archive in Dublin [and some great early mentors including Tony McMahon et al] who pointed him on the right road…the time spent in the Archives was of course where he soaked it all in. See his first solo cd and you’ll see what I mean. As I said, he produced that at 19. It’s more than a tip of the hat to the "old guys"….it’s the personification of a sound that our ears have forgot…due to polishing and bands like Lunasa, Danu, Teada and the like. imho of course.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Yes, but it’s not true.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Aaagh, cross-post. That was directed at Kennedy’s last post.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Interesting what he says about playing quietly, and why he does it. I saw him play last year and noticed that he did have those quiet moments, but it came across (to me, anyway) as a way of incorporating dynamics into the music, the way a classical or a jazz musician might do. But I guess I got the wrong impression. I’ve noticed the same tendency with Martin Hayes—-he also goes into those quiet spots with his tunes.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

What’s not true?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"that modern Irish musicians have stopped looking back into the tradition to learn how to play the music, and instead are only using modern western musical concepts and influences from other cultures"

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

mtodd - thanks for telling me.

I hadn’t heard of him or his music. I understand now he’s finding and recreating things in the old recordings that people don’t know are there, and wants traditional players to know more about these things than perhaps they do.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I don’t know about that. Certainly it’s not true for many musicians. But if you go by sound only, I’ve heard many musicians and bands where I really wonder if their main influences are U2 and Bob Marley and the Saw Doctors. Okay, I’m exaggerating a little, but I really think that there’s a whole lot of fusion going on, with very few places to escape from it unless you go back to the older recordings.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

nicholas, IMHO, one of the most interesting musicians around, so surprised you hadn’t heard of him. He’s on My space and you tube and there’s samples of ‘Kittie lie over’ on CD baby. Love that CD myself. I’m very interested in what he’s saying but maybe the snips out of context may misconstrue his meaning. Is the complete interview available somewhere ?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Kennedy

Your comment:

"Interesting what he says about playing quietly, and why he does it. I saw him play last year and noticed that he did have those quiet moments, but it came across (to me, anyway) as a way of incorporating dynamics into the music, …"

I think in fact that’s it exactly. In fact, further in the interview he talks about the "spectrum" of the tonal "palate"….he mentions the old playes often had that very quiet [you’d hear it for sure in O’Keeffe’s Old Man Rocking the Cradle] passage contrasted against very rough passages full of "barks and squeaks"…again…you’d hear that on Padraig’s Old Man or The Foxhunter’s reel for sure. Perfect illustrations of what C o’R talks about. Denis Murphy isn’t a bad example either… or how about Tommy Potts? albeit in a diff way i suppose.

what I think he’s saying and you’re implying or I’m intuiting from your remarks so far is that we’ve LOST that spectrum to a degree due to perhaps several factors: playing insanely fast, lack of knowledge of what’s come before [tonal possibilites, micro tonal possibilities], the rise of the riverdance/supergroup/jazzy pseudo celtic thing [lunasa] and the worst of all —- POLISHED sounds. Maybe technology should receive some "blame" ;) here too…perhaps we’ve come to expect "great" playes who sound "great"….

I like Pat O’Connor for instance because his playing isn’t polished. He reaches something older. He ain’t Lunasa…that’s for sure. And thank god for it.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Complete interview below:

Wolfbird,
Re the complete interview. Here it is. As i mentioned many posts above, yes I cut and pasted, but hoped in doing so I didn’t slant the interview to only "my" take on things. But here’s the whole sheebang. I’m sure many will find it thought provoking.
……………………………………………………………………
From Rathfarnam in County Dublin, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh is a fiddle player, whistle player and uilleann piper. On fiddle he has recorded one solo album, Turas go Tír na nÓg (1999), and made a widely acclaimed duet recording with uilleann piper Mick O’Brien, Kitty Lie Over (2003). Now aged 27, Ó Raghallaigh has this year produced a solo recording which stretches beyond the boundaries of traditional music. This interview took place in An Spidéal, County Galway, on 23 July 2007.


Toner Quinn: You have just independently released a new twenty-eight minute CD, Where the one-eyed man is king, and it is an unorthodox recording for a traditional Irish fiddle player. Could you tell me about it?
Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh: It started in December 2006. I went to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Monaghan and the plan was to experiment with recording music in a way that I hadn’t done before, overlaying fiddles and playing around with them using Logic Pro to manipulate the sound, really simply. It’s just something I hadn’t done before and I wanted to dive straight into it to see what would come out. Basically, being a traditional fiddler, I wanted to see what happens when you stop playing tunes.

TQ: How long had you been thinking of that idea of doing a recording where you weren’t playing tunes?
CÓR: I guess it started when I met Iarla Ó Lionáird in 2005 and had a great chat about music which led to him suggesting certain recording equipment for me to buy. I followed that up. I applied to the Arts Council’s Deis scheme and got funding for it. Where the one-eyed man is king is basically a record of stuff that popped out when I went to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. I think I was there three weeks in all, but I think six of the tracks are from that first week in December.

TQ: You have composed about half the material on the CD.
CÓR: I wouldn’t call it composed. What I tend to do is just find a little phrase and then repeat it, and that phrase gets shorter and shorter until it’s a rhythmic thing, a four-second segment and you repeat it over and over. And then you listen back to it, and while you are listening back something else comes into your head. I didn’t intend to write it at all. I had no idea of where it was going.

TQ: And were you conscious at the time that you were doing something different to normal traditional fiddling?
CÓR: I was conscious beforehand that I wanted to.

TQ: What were your other terms of reference when you were approaching the whole project?
CÓR: One would be Sigur Rós who are an Icelandic ambient rock group. Probably the second time I met Iarla he recommended a load of music and said, look, you need to listen to these guys. I always follow stuff up like that – with films, books, music, anything. I will write it down. I will follow it up I will order it on the internet, and generally people are spot on.

MySpace is something that has also liberated my mind recently. It is because you realise the vast amount of musicians out there – the vast amount of people doing sub-standard stuff, but also the vast amount of people doing amazing stuff. You go onto something like MySpace and you realise you can do absolutely anything you want musically and you will still have an audience for it. I was finding friend requests coming in and I would go through all the people, listen to everything they do, and there are two places where I think things are really happening. One is Stockholm and the other is Toronto. You realise that the traditional music world is so small and narrow minded.

For instance, I haven’t put Where the one-eyed man is king in shops. I didn’t bring it down to the Willie Clancy week. I don’t think people in traditional music here would be interested in it. It’s only for sale at certain gigs and on the internet. I wouldn’t even sell it at certain gigs because I know if you sell it to somebody from a really traditional background they are not going to be interested. They are going to say, what the hell is this?

TQ: Do you still find inspiration in traditional music?
CÓR: Well I have delved into traditional music massively and what I find of interest is generally in old recordings. But we have gone past the point of it being an oral tradition. We are at a stage where actually what is current in traditional music is depleted in terms of its musical richness, I would feel. We have defined things and thus other possibilities cease to exist.

One way of thinking about it that I find useful is to use the Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment. Erwin Schrödinger was a major physicist and he actually briefly lived in Dublin in the 30s. He had a famous thought experiment, in which you put a cat in a box with a radioactive element which if it decays will emit a cat-killing mechanism. You close the lid and conventional reasoning would say that at any subsequent point the cat is either alive or dead. It has either been killed or it hasn’t. But what quantum physics actually tells you is that the cat is simultaneously alive and dead until the moment when you open the box. Once you open the box all other possibilities cease to exist.

That is what has happened in traditional music. If you take something like the scale, with an oral tradition, like Irish traditional music was, we never defined what the scale is. We never defined the twelve-note scale. We had a cloud of possibility from which something could emerge rather than a series of definite, quantised steps.

So for instance if somebody now learns the fiddle they will be taught the twelve notes of the scale. And whenever they hear somebody else playing an F, they hear it as natural or sharp. Whereas in fact what the other person might be playing is something that is 17 cents sharp of F natural. So it’s a question of when you define something all the other possibilities cease to exist. And that’s the Schrödinger’s Cat analogy – when you open the lid all possibilities cease to exist.

When I listen to the playing of Willie Clancy, what I hear and what really excites me are all the things he didn’t do, but you hear them. You hear everything he could have done, the cloud of possibility. Whereas when you hear most people playing traditional music today, you only hear the one thing they did do. I get massive inspiration from going back and studying old recordings in detail. Let’s say Colm Ó Caodháin, the sean-nós singer, the playing of piper Willie Clancy, people like that. I continue to revisit those and look at things in detail, extract things from it.

TQ: Did you have a typical traditional fiddler background?
CÓR: Yes and no. I think I have gone into way, way, way more detail than most people in my learning. I started at 10 and up to about 16 I was in the system, going to Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann in Ballinteer for lessons. I was very lucky with certain teachers. I had Michael Tubridy teaching me flute, Phelim O’Reilly in Clontarf teaching me fiddle. I had pipes as well. Joe Doyle was teaching me pipes. They were hugely inspirational. But in terms of goals and aims and peers it was Comhaltas. So the aim is to win an All Ireland, to go on a Comhaltas tour, and so on. It’s very narrow and the way you judge music is really narrow in terms of what is acceptable and what is not. At 16 something made me realise that nobody was teaching the thing that mattered, the difference between music that lifts your heart and music that doesn’t, which is the thing that makes life worth living.

I guess I was a reflective person anyway. I remember one of my favourite things at that time was a television series called The Blackbird and the Bell which Tony MacMahon produced. The first time I met MacMahon we talked for hours and hours and hours about The Blackbird and the Bell. I would have identified MacMahon as a person that had that thing in their music. I asked him about that and got some good advice. MacMahon was somebody I was hugely inspired by. I discovered his music through that album with Noel Hill, I gCnoc na Graí, and his solo record from the early 1970s. I would have been listening to them for years before I met him. So he was a major inspiration. Meeting him, I was interested in finding out why his music had a power to it that other people didn’t have. That’s what I was curious about. And I think it is pretty obvious because he is an extremely powerful person. He introduced me to some amazing music, a lot of music from outside Ireland.

I guess that a lot of traditional music today is ego driven. The focus is on what do you do to a tune, what are the variations you can put in, how cool can you make it. A reversal of that for me is playing a tune, one tune, a very simple tune, that maybe takes 20 seconds to play. I would play it over and over and over for maybe half an hour. For the first ten minutes, my brain churns out all the possible variations and different things it could possibly do – that was very much me doing my thing to the tune. But then it would go through a period, again probably about 10 minutes, of the tune just being completely empty of everything, just the bare notes. And then something happens – things would start to come from nowhere. I think that’s probably pretty common with all sorts of artists, where you are no longer in control. Everyone talks about that, but it happened for me at age 17, and since then that for me is what music is about.

TQ: You studied theoretical physics in Trinity College. Why not music?
CÓR: I was aware I didn’t want to study music because there I don’t think there is anybody coming out of the third-level traditional music education system doing anything interesting. In other countries, such as Sweden, I have seen the education system produce incredibly interesting music from folk traditions, but not in Ireland.

TQ: And why is that?
CÓR: Because of the music education system and the lack of it. The third-level music education system in Ireland in general is mind narrowing rather than mind expanding. The one exception I have seen is Donnacha Dennehy’s Music and Media Technologies course in Trinity College. People come out of that incredibly curious about everything. Actually, third-level students and educators in Stockholm – I travelled there in March – perceive our third-level traditional music courses in Ireland as not particularly innovative: mind-narrowing rather than exciting. What we might consider as being innovative here, they perceive as being hard-line traditional.

TQ: What does this say about the overall traditional music scene in Ireland?
CÓR: It’s so narrow. It’s not very progressive. We don’t have a progressive traditional music. There is maybe one or two people doing something interesting. Traditional musicians are afraid to break out of it. There is amazing Irish contemporary classical music, amazing contemporary Irish jazz, but non-existent contemporary traditional music. That’s why Stockholm was so interesting. I went there to try and figure out why there is interesting contemporary folk there. I met the products of the system and the educators, the designers of the system, and talked to them, and had amazing conversations, and we are basically at the point they were thirty years ago. They put in place a system to deal with the gaping holes in their then system of education. And it basically boils down to a handful of people realising what needs to be done and just doing it.

TQ: And you think that needs to be done in Ireland now?
CÓR: Yes, absolutely. Specifically in traditional music, because there doesn’t exist a progressive or contemporary traditional music scene. I think the best thing is to imagine where do we want to be in 30 years. Ideally we would have people who are very open minded coming out of a mind-expanding course where they are given all the tools. What I learned in Stockholm is that to create interesting contemporary traditional music you need to study the tradition in incredibly fine detail. That’s what they are doing.

For instance, the guy who interested me most there, Petter Berndalen, a percussionist, a young fellow. He has studied old fiddle players and current fiddle players in minute detail, and his drumming consists of non-metric clusters. He actually plays the tunes on his percussion. It’s not a drum set really. It’s a sound, a soundscaped thing. He came down to the Willie Clancy week this year for two days. He sat in on some sessions playing a snare drum, and you can imagine the look on people’s faces when they saw this crazy looking dude coming in with a snare drum. Within ten minutes people thought he was the best thing ever.

The educators in Sweden are highly critical of the downward spiral in Irish traditional music over the last 30 years. They were initially inspired by the developments we had, the incredible burst of creativity in the 70s, but in the 30 years since then they have been highly critical that we have been stagnant. And we are – we have been so stagnant. I mean, I don’t know if there has been any group that has done anything that isn’t derivative of the Bothy Band and Planxty. Kíla may be an exception. I think they have certainly done something new, but it is a fusion. You can’t really say it’s contemporary traditional. They use styles and rhythms from traditions that already exist elsewhere. It’s not an analysis of our music. It’s a marrying of something that already exists, and a very succesful marrying of it.

But you can’t view it in the same way as what I am talking about in Stockholm, where their innovations, their progressiveness, is completely based on their own music. They have rhythmic movements completely based on folk music, concepts of temperament and tuning that are completely based on folk music. Sven Ahlback has developed a system of teaching temperaments that doesn’t reference classical music or jazz at all. It is completely based on Swedish folk music.

A music education needs to evolve, to come right from within Irish traditional music. It needs to begin with, and be defined by, close analysis of the details of what we are doing, and then evolve out of that. I think it needs to start with a movement. It will probably start with a group of six or seven people who collaborate, churn things out, talk in depth, analyse in depth, produce a whole body of work together or separately, possibly in collaboration with composers, all sorts of things. But it will be a body of work which will create a movement.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Wonderful ! Thankyou so much ! 🙂

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I’m mostly trying to put together what C O’R said with what I’ve seen and heard in his playing—-and the man is one fierce fiddler. I don’t hear jazz in his playing, or "world" rhythms—-it’s obvious that he’s not looking outside the tradition for inspiration, and yet he doesn’t sound like any other player, he has his own sound. He does play quietly, but with intensity too—-he broke at least two bow hairs every tune!

Thanks for posting the interview, mtodd…

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

My sentiments exactly, Danny. Who gives a toss? Just play, FFS. Fair play to all the head stuff on this thread, but in the end you just play the tunes and f*** it.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

You can stifle any argument in the world with a "who cares?". But where does it get you? We play the tunes anyway.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I see what he’s saying, but I don’t understand it.

What is the problem? What is this contemporary traditional music he’s so upset about not having?

I see the claustrophobic structure of music education there in Ireland and for a totally self-taught wacko in the wilderness of the Diaspora, that’s very upsetting to hear and understand, for sure.

I’m simply not understanding what it is he wants, what Sweden is doing that is so wonderful that’s not being done in Ireland. He’s moaning and complaining, more about Comhaltas and ITM as it’s known to be, and he’s simply not being clear on what he wants to bring about this new movement.

I mean, is that it? A drummer with a snare drum? This is what’s going to do it for him?

My word, he doesn’t need a revolution, he just needs to go to sessions in America. We got every drum banging Bluegrass hippie with a shaky egg and a dijembe blowing a didgeridoo hanging around. He can come here and take a few off our hands, we’ve got plenty, and he can get a great exchange rate on the Euro right now.

No but seriously, sorry for the vitriol. I get so tired of reading about people playing this music and bitching about it. Well, quit bitching and go get yourself a Swedish snare drummer. Go do something about it and leave us alone.

Not sure about Schrödinger’s Cat. What is he getting at exactly? Yes, we have defined the mass chaos of musical possibilities into 12 notes and specific rhythms known as Irish Traditional Music. If you remove that, then anything is possible, but it’s not ITM anymore, you’re removed that definition.

My head hurts. I wish I knew what he wanted us to do. I’m not getting myself a Swedish snare drummer, that’s for sure, and I’m not going to stop playing tunes. How can I help the glorious progressive revolution? I hate to think of creative minds that love the music being beaten up metaphorically for being ‘progressive’ or ‘experimental’ if that’s what he’s on about. That’s rotten and lousy, for sure, I agree, and “for shame!” on any who “poo-poos” the kids being creative.

I think our man here is engaging in a fine example of that great Celtic ability to talk all around a problem with ever coming out and saying what the heck he’s getting at. Circular Celtic Conversation-itis. 😉

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I wonder if this topic title might be a little misleading. It’s likely that Caoimhin wouldn’t say "Irish traditional music has repeated itself in the last 30 years" - he’d say something more like, "Irish traditional music hasn’t really been played in the last 30 years!". It should be evident from this and some radio interviews that he is one of those frustrated with the Comhaltas system, which frequently gives people notes but no music, and that what he’s hoping to break from is that idea of standardization in the music: all your Fs sound like this, all your rolls have this cadence, all your triplets crunch like so, etc. That’s never good for the music, and what he’s suggesting is certainly that people check out the Archives, listen to the old players, and see the abundance of sonic exploration they were doing in the first three-quarters of the last century, within the tradition itself.

And in his defense, he’s really a nice guy. He’s not Neilidh Boyle, anyway XD

—DtM

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

He’s obviously very intelligent and thoughtful, and now that I finally understand what he’s saying (I think) I’m in total agreement with him.

However, I can’t tell if he’s on the side of the jazz-didjeridoo or the cult of O’Keefe, Murphy and Clifford. Perhaps both? I guess I am on both sides as well. I appreciate a decent drum circle as much as the next Generation X’r, however I’d prefer a personalized lesson from Padraig O’Keefe’s ghost more.

As a hermit in the wilds of the Diaspora, I don’t have the perspective needed to understand the claustrophobic, rigid educational system in place for ‘the music’ in the home island, but I certainly understand the need to break free from oppressive conventions and structures.

Strangely enough, that’s how I came to the music in the first place, to get away from the claustrophobic, rigid, oppressive structrure of classical music education.

Now that’s heartbreaking, to think that some kids studying Irish music are suffering from what killed classical music for me, that’s beyond a shame, it’s a tragedy.

So then yes, if that’s what he’s on about then good for him, and carry on. I see it now.

I think he’s right on here, he’s firmly entrenched in studying the tradition while understanding and recognizing the need for music to be and feel free, not hemmed in and caged by any artificial structure which people may have designed to preserve it.

It is an organic art form, home grown from and of the people, so why would the opposite of that have any benefits towards the form’s development?

I think I finally got Mr. Ó Raghallaigh here.

Dan the Man, you helped a lot, thanks.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Irish Traditional music may not be specifically Irish, it is more or less traditional, but the key word here is music. It is music.

It is not a religion with ten commandments or seven deadly sins, with threat of excommunication for not obeying the rules.

Enjoy it as music, and argue about it or discuss it, but it is music, to be enjoyed. Some might like the "Drop Kick Murphy’s" others "The Chieftains" others "Flook" but each to their own taste as long as they enjoy it.

Some of those mentioned above may or may not be your idea of traditional music, but then Planxty were a folk group and they are admired by many purists.

So just enjoy the music, if you can.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

So basically what he’s saying is that standardised, regulated music education is a bad thing, and that if you wanna be good, listen to the old masters. Yes?
Well, that’s radical! Wow, who’d have thought that telling people there’s only one way to do things isn’t going to help? And who’d have thought that listening to recordings of really good musicians is going to improve your playing?? Mind-blowing!!

Sorry for the sarcasm, I just can’t find anything new in what he’s saying…

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I don’t get that bit about a cat in an unopened box being both alive and dead till someone opens it to make sure the cat is one or the other, because of some operating of quantum physics, though I’m sure Schroedinger was brighter than I am. Does quantum physics deny the cat some autonomy in the matter of shuffling off its mortal coil?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Aww, give the kid a break - plus we need to have these discussions now and then, and we just don’t get enough incendiary posts on this site. Also I saw him climb a signpost - all the way to the top. It was very impressive…

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

The point about Schrodinger’s cat is that it is the interaction between the observer and the observed that brings about a particular result. Before the box is opened, the cat has the possibility of aliveness and deadness and exists in both states; as soon as the lid is opened and you look inside, one of these possibilities disappears (the "wave function collapses") and the cat is either alive or dead. Quantum mechanics is about probabilities - certainty has no place in it.
Can I have my snare drum now please?

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

This is such a no-brainer and I am often struck why this is not discussed more. The man is so right, and anyone who thinks he’s ranting or even merely whining is an idiot. And the very existence of Lunasa is the proof in the pudding.

I’m constantly astonished to meet very talented youngsters who don’t even look as far back as The Bothy Band for inspiration, let alone further. It saddens me deeply.

I really really loved that hardanger fiddle with the flat set thing. I’m gonna but that CD right now.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"buy" that CD right now

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Sorry folks, thanks for bearing with I throttled that to death.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

SWFL, I think you’ve made one of the best points so far in the thread—-O Raghallaigh said that Irish traditional music was stagnating, especially in comparison to Swedish traditional music—-and that we have no way to understand what he means because we don’t know about what’s happening in Swedish music. It kind of bugs me too—-I would love to know what he really means by "progressive traditional music". And he gave no examples. Very puzzling.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

It would appear that everyone now agrees with the broad sentiment of the interview. In my initial post I said "innovators within the tradition". The blindingly obvious point of this is that we must sometimes look back and relearn the basics. Thanks llig, for pointing it out again. Innovation does not always mean bad. Now then, how about we all dissect a well known tune and reassemble it using only the basic components, there, see how much better it is.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Llig, Lúnasa are very good. They’re extremely good. They’re as good as the Bothy Band ever were, and as innovative. The only reason you don’t like them is because they are modern-sounding, and often use stuff from outside ITM. Fishmonger’s right: they - among others - are living proof that Irish music is moving forward and flourishing. In 30 years or so everyone will hold them in the same reverence that people today hold the Bothy Band.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Yeah, so Swedish Educators are all worried about this. And COR, great player that he is.
"Downward spiral"? Really? I think he must have been caught on an unguarded moment. I was under the (obviously erroneous) impression that the tradition has never been stronger….oh but wait a minute….oh yes, I’m obviously talking about the profusion of local sessions and players world wide as evinced by the very existence of this website for example. Aahh…but are we talking only about the "high end" of the tradition, not the commoner garden sessions which dilute the pure drop? They are just "folk music" sessions after all. This high end, which, like other forms of art music, should be constantly reinventing itself? In which case he is correct. But then is it still folk music to use a broad term (as in, played by ordinary Folk, PS - I don’t mean Folk Music = singing with acoustic guitar accompaniment.)
Please someone clarify this for me.
Confused of Catford

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"Llig, Lúnasa are very good. They’re extremely good. They’re as good as the Bothy Band ever were, and as innovative… In 30 years or so everyone will hold them in the same reverence that people today hold the Bothy Band."

They said that about Benjamin Britten too, and Jaysus, don’t we all just love him to bits now.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Yes, the chaps in Lúnasa are very very good players indeed.

Though I’m not so sure what is meant by "modern sounding". After what period does "modern" become "old"? Or does the phrase "modern sounding" now actually refer to a specific type of sound - like "avant garde" now often refers to a style of painting rather than the advance guard of art.

You see that’s the nub of it. A lot of people are of the opinion that Bands like Lúnasa build upon what The Bothy Band had. But do they really? Do they even sound different? Better recordings yes, and a bass, but more or less the same instruments. Fierce traditional music and heavy on the strumming. In the 70s it was indeed the advanced guard. But is fiddle flute pipes and heavy on the strumming with clever arrangements still the advanced guard? Is Sharon Shannon the advanced guard? Is Comhaltas? Are the grass roots sessions around the globe the advanced guard?

Every one will have a different answer, which proves the music has lost it’s way.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

It is inevitable when someone speaks out like this that they will get misunderstood. Caoimhín is a very serious and thoughtful musician just like most of the great trad musicians over the years. The whole idea of ‘f*ck that, I just play the tunes’ is a pessimistic, unimaginative attitude only adapted by hacks.

Do you really think that Willy Clancy, Seamus Ennis, Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, Ed Reavy and all the other greats didn’t think seriously about what they were doing?!

What Caoimhín is talking about isn’t relevant to many people who play traditional music because it is just a hobby to them, they just like to learn the tunes and play them in sessions which is perfectly fine but it has no relevance to musicians of a more advanced level. There has always been those who brought the music to another level, the famous names endure because they did just that, perhaps Caoimhín is concerned that there aren’t many who’ve been doing that in the past 30 years or so.

For Caoimhín and others the music is much more than a hobby or even a career, it as an essential, major part of their life and people like this constantly seek to explore the music they are playing and find new avenues of expression. Playing a simple tune over and over for 30 minutes is a way of doing this. You don’t just play the same thing over and over, you explore all the variations that could be put into the tune.

Variation is such an important part of this music so what Caoimhín does is far more part of the tradition than the approach of those who just go to sessions and bang out 50 tunes three times each over a night at the same tempo and dynamic!!

Everyone from Caoimhín to Martin Hayes, Tommy Peoples and back to Michael Coleman, Padraig O’Keefe, John Doherty, Tommy Potts etc have followed the former path. They’ve all created individual styles that are somehow traditional but innovative, I think that’s what he means by contemporary traditional, i.e. doing something with the music that is new but still very much recognisably within the tradition.

I think he is absolutely right that no bands have made any significant developments in this regard since the Bothy Band and Planxty. The most popular bands today are either clones of these bands or verging on bad soft rock music.

Caoimhín seems to be concerned that very few musicians with their own distinctive voice have emerged in recent years. Now there are of course lots of very talented young musicians, some of whom have their own styles but these musicians seem to be ignored in favour of trendy bands.

Even so some of them aren’t perhaps as adventurous as their predecessors because there is this God forsaken fear of not being considered ‘traditional’, so conservatism has taken over the tradition.

If John Doherty was an unknown young fiddler today and he tried to play as he did I’m sure he’d get some people frowning at him for not being ‘traditional’. This is the sad way the music has developed in recent years, the top traditional musicians years ago were incredibly creative and adventurous with the music in a way that very few are today. Traditional music can’t be frozen in time, those who play exactly like Coleman are just stagnant, its like the trad equivalent of the Bootleg Beatles!

The most important thing to do if you treat this music as more than just a hobby is to find your own voice within the music. Incidentally anyone who says the music has always been a simple hobby of the Irish people is entirely mistaken.

I’ve used the following quote before elsewhere but I’ll use it again to illustrate that the music is more than a mere hobby, it is and has been an essential part of life for many Irish people over centuries….

"..The music expresses joy, terrible loss, hope, love and defiance. It has stayed with us when we had our own people crushed by oppression, our language killed by force and intimidation… Irish music was a joy to me…it spoke to me of the people who bore all this hardship and came through singing." - Tommy Peoples

Anyway, if you’re still a bit confused about what Caoimhín is on about the best advice I have is go see him play, his music speaks louder than any of his or my words. He’s doing new things with the music yet it still sounds as old as the hills……

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"In 30 years or so everyone will hold them in the same reverence that people today hold the Bothy Band."

They already do! And in 30 years, as now, it would still be a crying shame.

"They’re as good as the Bothy Band ever were, and as innovative."

Why, because they have a bass player? Seamus Ennis, Willie Clancy, Tommy Potts were far more innovative, imho.

"The only reason you don’t like them is because they are modern-sounding, and often use stuff from outside ITM" and "Irish music is moving forward and flourishing"

Is it still ‘irish traditional music’ if it’s Breton tunes with Breton rhythms? (as an example). ‘Modern-sounding’ and ‘stuff from outside ITM’ — sounds like it isn’t ITM anymore.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Oh and for an example of interesting recent Swedish music listen to the group Vasen, start with the track "Kapten Kapsyl (Captain Bottlecap)". To me it is new yet traditional, when I heard this for the first time it must have been what it was like for some who heard the Bothy Band when they first came out. It blew me away with its power and originality.

p.s. credit must go to Sam Proctor for introducing me to Vasen

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"I really really loved that hardanger fiddle with the flat set thing. I’m gonna but that CD right now."

I musta missed something. Which CD, please? I love Swedish fiddle.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Planxty were a folk group. For tradition they had one musician and three backers.

Personally I would have reservations about the quality of the backers, although Donal is good on the bodhran.

But they were a great folk group, innovative with pipes, and what a piper.

Look, Belfast is full of kids who can play 2,000 tunes and they never heard of Michael Coleman or the Bothy Band. Probably only heard of the McPeakes, but these kids can p[lay, and respect the music as well. However, when they are late teens or early twenties they will perhaps "experiment" a la Lunasa and such.

It doesn’t mean they lack knowledge of the tradition, the tunes are the tradition, not the past players. They are merely the conduit.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Bob, that was in reference to the youtube video. Caoimhin’s only hardanger album was Where the One-Eyed Man is King, which is available on CDBaby for a listen and buy.

—DtM

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"The existence of Lunasa knocks Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh’s rant into dust."

I don’t think so. Lunasa were inspired by the Bothys. By Sean’s own admission:

"Sean began to incorporate a vision he had for the sound of a band - which was to include both flute and uilleann pipes along with fiddle, bass and guitar. Sean had long appreciated the sound of the Bothy Band, but wanted to take it further and a bit edgier and without a vocalist." — http://www.folkmusic.net/htmfiles/inart648.htm

I thought Hardanger fiddles were Norwegian rather than Swedish (not that it matters)

It sounds like CO’R is trying to philosophically have his cake and eat it too. He laments the lack of a progressive Irish music contingent, and accuses those who do play progressively of not paying adequate attention to the history (or dismisses them as derivative).

For the record, I don’t think Irish music is stagnating at all. Never has there been more of it. Having to separate out the wheat from the chaff is an unfortunately difficult side-effect. But there’s plenty of interesting wheat in there (including mr O’R himself).

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"It sounds like CO’R is trying to philosophically have his cake and eat it too. He laments the lack of a progressive Irish music contingent, and accuses those who do play progressively of not paying adequate attention to the history (or dismisses them as derivative)."

I think basically he’s saying that the raw material is there within traditional music itself for it to progress without having to bring in the outside influences. .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

and if not, you can take that to be my statement. 🙂

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

somewhere in this interview or another one contemporary with it, he contrasts his point of view, say, 10 years ago, when he says he was super-traditional, with his point of view now that he has had his big epiphany about Art Music….and i’m not wildly impressed by his thinking or his rhetoric right now. the experimentation and fusion of traditional forms with jazz, classical, etc., that has been going on on the european continent is indeed fascinating and cool, but it has been going on for about fifteen years. and it has not for one second replaced "pure-drop" roots traditional music, which has been going stronger than ever all over europe since the 70s. one example of european trad-influenced art music is the finnish composer & chromatic accordion virtuoso maria kalaniemi. she is on the faculty of one of finland’s great conservatories, and she combines finnish trad with jazz-esque, classical-esque, forms in her experimental compositions. and she is only a drop in the bucket. it’s fascinating stuff—-but it is not traditional. it is, tradition-influenced, or tradition-inspired. kind of like a classical version of the pogues’ tradition-flavored punk rock……there has been some of this stuff in ireland. CO’R is just getting aware of it now, and he’s goopy over it at the moment, and more power to him, but for my money the "either/or," dualistic, disparaging tone of some of this rhetoric is fatuous and sophmoric-sounding. don’t get me wrong—-fair play to him if this is the artistic direction that beckons to him, and i’ll listen to his fusiony attempts at capital-A Art with interest and curiosity……hey, so will tony macmahon. but at the end of the day, tony and i will be swaying to backbeat in "the college groves," and we won’t be one whit less artistic or creative than this stuff. if CO’R just doesn’t find playing a pure traditional form interesting enough for him anymore and wants to go play artiste at the conservatory, i somehow think the music will survive the loss…..i just saw Louisiana’s answer to the Tulla Ceili Band, the Marc Savoy family Cajun band, at a sold-out show to a packed auditorium the other night at no less of a highbrow & often experimental art venue than the Getty Museum, and down-home, booty-shaking soul music is gonna be around for a very long, long, time. CO’R is a wonderful musician, and super-talented, but his rendition of mournful West Clare soul music has also benefitted from generosity and sharing by deeply serious traditional musicians. if i were one of those folks and i heard or read the tone of some of these comments, my feeling would be, don’t let the door hit you on your way out…..there’s a great passage in roddy doyle’s novel "The Commitments" that addresses this very issue, (it’s when the soul band’s newly minted young sax player decides he wants to be an artiste and play bebop)…..it’s hilarious, i’ll have to see if i can dig it up….

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I’d like to say something right now. But my had is too full of good beer and a contemporary polka. So uh, nevermind.
LMAO

Cheers, to those of us who are so passionate about this great music to have an opinion.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Dontcha love the hurdy gurdy? Feckin’ cool intrument.
I want one.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

InStrument

~ Beer is proof that god loves us and wants us to be happy.

Benjamin Franklin

😀

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

This is the first time for a very long time that I could be bothered reading a long thread on thesession.org all the way through. A big thankyou to mtodd for posting this topic!

I have a huge amount of respect for the music of Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh - I think I understand what he means here, but am not necessarily in full agreement with him. I’ll be watching with very great interest to see/hear what emerges from his thoughts and work in this regard - and indeed from other like-minded philosophers.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Thanks for the clarification of you attitude frisbee. Now we know that if one is not particularly bent on playing a tune 30 times over, and believes that CoR’s view does not reflect the general state of traditional music, and that what he refers to (it seems to me) are bands not individual musicians, and if you express that this view is just a view and does not greatly impinge on the tradition, then you are a pessimistic unimaginative hack. Yeah right.
My point was that sessions are the bedrock of the tradition, and, apart from not being accurate in his assessment, it is not really that important and doesn’t affect that bedrock, so the tradition has not suffered in the past 30 years.
I think he is doing a bit of the angels on the head of a pin thing, really. And that is a very truncated version of Schrodinger’s ideas that everybody seems to want to quote nowadays because the words Schrodinger’s cat sound very intellectual, but is in fact a misrepresentation.
I have to go now - maybe I’ll post more later.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

“I thought Hardanger fiddles were Norwegian rather than Swedish (not that it matters)”

Yeah, they are. I should’ve said I love all the Scandinavian fiddling, but I had Swedish on the brain from this discussion.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"i’ll listen to his fusiony attempts at capital-A Art with interest and curiosity……hey, so will tony macmahon. but at the end of the day, tony and i will be swaying to backbeat in "the college groves,"

- I guess you haven’t heard Tony MacMahon’s collaboration with the Kronos Quartet then. Don’t equate yourself with Mr. MacMahon in this situation ceemonster. He’s a lot more open-minded to these things than you realise. I recently saw him at an Arvo Part festival obviously enjoying himself listening to contemporary classical music, imagine that!

‘My point was that sessions are the bedrock of the tradition’ -

Sessions as we know them are a relatively new addition to the tradition and while they have become hugely important they have also taken away from many of the important aspects of the tradition which for many, many years was primarily a soloists tradition. Paddy Glackin often refers to this as a soloists tradition. Perhaps this is one of the things that CO"R is lamenting, this seems to have been lost with the whole session culture.

Don’t get me wrong, sessions are great, can be fantastic fun and stimulating music experiences, but they aren’t the bedrock of the tradition, the tunes are the bedrock of the tradition.

Finally I think people including Key Maniac Lad misunderstand what CO’R means when he says he plays a tune 30 times over and over. He doesn’t do it in concert or a session, he does it when he’s practising. Now he will often play a tune a lot more than 3 times in a concert but so do a lot of great musicians, in fact you can’t really explore a tunes possibilities unless you play a tune at least 5 times.

This is an antidote to the whole ‘play a tune in D 3 times then move to another in G and play it three times’ attitude which has only come to dominate trad in the last 30 years or so. People used to often play one tune a load of times with constant variations as a set piece of music. Listen to James Byrne’s playing or try Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill’s new album for an example of how this can be interesting.

It is indeed unimaginative to always play traditional music in the same manner, it has nothing to do what the tradition is really about and that is why I call those who practice it hacks. All they do is hack away at the tunes without putting any imagination into it. I’ve no problem with learning musicians doing this as you must learn the music before you can explore it, but once you’ve reached a level of competency with the music then don’t stagnate there, use your imagination to bring yourself to another level.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Being but an accompaniest for this music, I’m perhaps not sufficiently eligible to contribute much to this discussion - but even with my poor knowledge of the tradition, I have say that I think frisbee is talking a lot of sense here..

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

you forgot to put "for a change’ at the end of that last sentence there Ron 😉

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Fair enough frisbee - yes , I did realise when he was talking about playing a tune 30 times it was in the privacy of his own campervan, not in concert or session; and I know hacks also, and may even be one without knowing 🙂
but the standard protocol of 3 times each tune then the next one is a tried and tested method in session so that people know when to change. But also, we often do a good tune 4 or 5 times over for the reasons you say.
And, oh please - spare us the stuff about the session being a recent phenomenon, invented in London in the 40s or New York in the 30’s. No-one actually knows that. Anyway, for most adherents, sessions are the bedrock of the tradition nowadays as much as the tunes. But I do take your point that sessions per se may have degraded the pure drop - in fact I said so several posts up.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

The problem is not the session per say, it’s that sessions almost invariably follow the "same speed all night" thing complained of in the other thread and the three tunes three times through thing and the same dynamics etc etc.

The thing is to be more creative than this. mix it up. Play a set of 6 reels as quietly as you can, all in the same key. Play just two single reels really fast on their own. Play tunes inside of tunes (A part of one AB of another, B of the first). Play a jig and simultaneously play the reel version of the jig on top of it. Just let your imagination run away with it.

What’s needed is to protect this vulnerable baby of ours and not allow it’s skin to shrivel up in those luke-warm suds which are "the session" and the recent spate of derivative bands.

Throw out the bath water.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

When COR arrived in Toronto with Mick o’B a few years back he also agreed to do a small "workshop". It was interesting in light of what has been discussed here. I took two workshops…but really they were more an introduction to the wonderful old players…and not a tune learning experience per se. For about 70% of the time, C stood at the front and talked about people like Mrs. Galvin, various sean nos singers, Willie Clancy, Mrs. Murphy and the like. And then we spent a long time LISTENING to tracks that he’d taken from old vinyl and the Archives and comparing things. We talked about the strangeness of the tunes [to our uneducated ears]. For many of us, no one had even really heard much of, say, Padraig O’Keeffe or many of the other Sliabh Luachara players for that matter.

We talked about what it was that was so interesting about the music: the "lifty", how could we get that into our playing? how could we inject some life into those sad old tunes [but, really, great tunes] most of us knew such as Out on the Ocean. How could we get the "nyah" in there? And we found it’s not easy. We didn’t know who to listen to for that "old" sound which, I think, COR was suggesting was lacking in much of today’s offerings.

At one point —- and this I thought was truly sad but instructive — a couple of older American women piped up and said, "Are you going to teach us some tunes? We came here to learn some tunes." [now these workshops were not expensive…$20 Canadian….so really, price wasn’t an issue]. It struck me as truly sad [sorry my fellow americans…i’m not US bashing here] that we had come to this…here was this guy who was literally blowing our minds with new ideas, new ways of listening, pointing to where and who we might listen….and all these women wanted to do was learn tunes? Well, there was sort of this strange pause…but COR being a consummate gentleman picked up the ball and in fact we did learn a tune or several as I remember, but not inthe way one might normally. For about 1/2 an hour we sang a tune before even putting bow to string…we sang it to get the "nyah" ; we sang it to feel it. I’m not sure about the two American ladies, but I still play those tunes to this day and they are among my favourites [one being the sean nos non sense song Bean Paudeen …sorry about the spelling] and the other’s name escapes my mind.

My point is, COR is genuinely concerned I think that because the "old boys" are not much in many people’s musical sights, that we perhaps ARE losing or have lost that link. And so, we do in fact get amazing competent musicians/groups such as Lunasa….but with not much to say. Not much truly new anyway.

His workshops for me were a truly mind blowing experience. We talked about notes between the notes. No one had ever done that. We talked about notes the didn’t "exist" — at least not in Comhaltas methodology anyway. It was amazing! and it changed the way I both listened to and felt about ITM and set me personally on a quest to listen to all those people from whom the Bothies, Planxty and Altan and others perhaps learned so much.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

sorry, Sliabh Luachra [bad typing]

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I’m confused about the cat thing. I thought the point was also that that in opening the box, because the isotope would react with the air, would release the poison and kill the cat. Hence, the cat has a 50-50% chance of being alive or dead inside the box, because there has a 50% chance it would break down within the timespan of the experiment, so the cat was both alive and dead inside the box; if you opened the box up you killed the cat (i.e. by measuring the state something you enforce that state on it). Rather like how light behaves like a wave and like a particle, and its in the measuring of it that you force it to behave like one or the other.

That’s not really my point though. I think C O’R is missing the point a little bit. It’s all very well to prattle on about making Art music out of traditional melodies, but then this seems contradictory with his point about teaching. The reason why many of the Old-Style, the Auld fiddlers, or whatever you want to call them sounded the way they did was because they had been exposed to the tunes for years and years before they ever started playing, through dancing. And then they’d be playing for dance sets, often solo, repeating tunes many times per night on a very regular basis. And, because they were playing for dancing, they were also having to focus on getting a rhythm into their music that encouraged people to dance. And from this grew innovation.

Whilst its all very well to complain that higher education in traditional music encourages stagnation. But it’s the nature of those kind of courses and its also, if I’m blunt, the nature of the average student on those courses, at least initially, to really be looking to become equal to their immediate heroes; thus advancement occurs slowly. Part of the Scandinavian thing, certainly at the Sibelius academy in Finland, is to teach traditional music, art music and jazz as equal musical forms, simply taught with a different focuses.

The cynic in me, though, can’t help but wonder of C O’R is simply trying to stir up some discourse that will enable him to market his album (which, from what he says about it sounds more like an album of studio composition) to a contemporary-traditional audience.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Following on from mtodd’s point: actually there’s been a number of authors and academics who’ve tried to engage a discussion of infra-rhythms (i.e. how you get the lift into the music), but invariably get shot down in the popular traditional musical press by ethnomusicologists who aren’t interested (and usually have no concept for understanding) quantitative research. Which I have to say, I think is very sad.

I meant a *small* number….

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

No musical tradition exists in a vacuum - it’s subject to the influences of other traditions and the trends and variances in modern instrumentation and arrangement as anything else.

I think CO’R makes a good point in that people learn the tunes based on the western 12-note scale. Many people learn the tunes from a set of dots rather than learning by ear firsthand from another trad player and this introduces a rigidity in the transmission of the tunes - the tune could be learnt by two players at the same time and might come out slightly differently - and so on. This was how the music was transmitted for years and now we have recordings and tunebooks and, er, thesession.org to iron out those essential wrinkles in the passing on of a tune from one person to another.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Andy, in reply to your point

"The cynic in me, though, can’t help but wonder of C O’R is simply trying to stir up some discourse that will enable him to market his album (which, from what he says about it sounds more like an album of studio composition) to a contemporary-traditional audience."

His most recent cd Where The One Eyed Man Is King is an interesting mix of the "experimental" and the recognizable traditional [ie, the ITM norm more or less but with non-GDAE tunings]. His 1999 would be considered "hard core" trad [such silly terms] I would say, as would, surely, Kitty Lie Over with Mick O’Brien.

Doubt he’d want to stir up controversy/discourse to promote his cd that simply because he *wouldn’t* care that much. See clip from former interview below, which in itself is VERY interesting for what it says about his perceptions of his audience, both open minded and closed minded within ITM…which this discussion itself has somewhat mirrored perhaps?
*********************************************
"I haven’t put Where the one-eyed man is king in shops. I didn’t bring it down to the Willie Clancy week.

I don’t think people in traditional music here would be interested in it. It’s only for sale at certain gigs and on the internet. I wouldn’t even sell it at certain gigs because I know if you sell it to somebody from a really traditional background they are not going to be interested.

They are going to say, what the hell is this? "

*****************************************************

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Re: Padraig O’Keefe and playing for dancers:

"Pádraig played slides and polkas for dancers, but if they demanded faster music he had the habit of breaking a string!"

http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/sites/CCE/archive/billeog/pocaoimh.htm

My hero…

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Actually I had read the full interview, and I’d read what he said regarding the promotion and sale of his CDs . Trouble is, studio time isn’t free (six weeks is a fairly generous amount of time to spend recording and pre-producing), mastering is time consuming and quite expensive, neither will anyone press CDs for free, nor print liner notes gratis. Even as a very limited run, he’s got costs to cover. And giving interviews in the traditional music press is a good way to get interest and stir up a bit of controversy.

And it’s far more interesting to say that stagnation has occurred in the art end of the traditional music spectrum and that a handful of semi-geniuses are needed, than to say that the real stagnation is occurring because too much emphasis is being placed on the traditional music-as-art performance style, and not enough on creating dance music for communities.

To illustrate this, take a look at the following: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYv5CGeQSLU

It’s music that I could dance to, and would really enjoy dancing to, and clearly the fiddler (Troy MacGillivray from Cape Breton) has experience both playing for dancing (particularly if you check out his website) and, if you look at the last minute of the video, is evidently able to dance well enough to be able to play the fiddle at the same time. To be honest, I think it’s more useful to get a sense of lift from playing for a group of dancers (and it’s probably more enjoyable, too) than sitting in a room playing the same tune for 30 minutes waiting for some sort of artistic loss of control which then manifests itself in a manner that requires access to top-end recording software.

I’m all in favour of using technology, and doing interesting things with traditional music (and, if he’d let me buy it I’d be quite interested to hear the album), I don’t think you need to do it in the manner in which C O’R has done; namely accuse traditional music of stagnating and then propose the solution is to further depart from the common denominator, playing for dancing and instead look to self-proclaimed innovators and ‘by the way, I’ve just done an album which is a little bit innovative - perhaps you might like to buy it?’

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Schrodinger only used the cat thing as an example to show how strange quantum mechanics was. And it was to do with the probability of the state, or position, of a subatomic particle, whether it hits the detector or not to eventually kill the cat.

More than one of my playing friends has a direct connection to many of the so-called old guard, Lucy Farr, Bobby Casey, Martin Byrnes, Jimmy Power and so on. So maybe that’s why I’m bemused that this discussion has taken on the momentum it has.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Andy V, the thing about the whole dancing thing is that there’s a lot more to trad than playing for dancers, it became known as the Dance Music of Ireland, but many of the old the musicians who played for the dancers also often played solo and were listened to and appreciated for this.

Dancing is an important part of the tradition but no more important than slow airs, which are not danced to. So I think there always has been this serious listening side to the music, people are just afraid to call it serious Art.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

It’s fecking typical some try to defuse what was said by suggesting the interview was a marketing device.

Do I hear the begrudgers stirring there?

FWIW the One eyed Man is a CD singtle. It was recorded at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre and, like many albums both traditional and not, was grant aided by the Arts Council.

I thoroughly enjoyed it, for the new ground Caoimhin explores on it, even if not all ideas contained in it are fully formed and worked out. It doesn’t pretend to be traditional in any form, nor does it search to ‘improve’ traditional music. It’s a development in a person’s musical thinking, a path explored.

www.stateof the chassis.com

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Yes, kilfarboy. Makes me wonder what the guy should have done ? Not mention that he’s made a CD ? Or produce it with a pseudonym ? Most people on CDBaby are lucky if they sell 50 copies to cover basic costs. Somehow I don’t think C O’R is doing what he does to get wealthy. He’d surely be better paid using his physics degree. I liked what he said about not being interested in what people thought about his music, and not being interested in his own estimation of it. I don’t understand the indignant responses on this thread. Surely a musician is entitled to explore music in whatever way they feel is right for them. Nobody has to listen to C O’R if they don’t want to.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Well said Kilfar. It’s a sad and pathetic comment on our cynical age where everything’s interpreted as a gimmick and/or "getting ahead"…when all the guy is trying to do is actually preserve the tradition in his own way [and let’s be fair….he CAN play traditionally with the best of them….and better than most of them]

Point is, he can walk the walk AND talk the talk.

He earned it. More power to him. May he keep experimenting and being curious…that’s the only way the tradtion is going to survive and find something new amidst the best of the old. When you stop putting your stamp on the music in a way that respects the tradition, heightens it, deepens it, you’re dead. And I think a lot of stuff that comes out now is just that….competent, but boring. Same old, same old. It’s dead. The spirit has gone out of it. There’s no colour, no complexity. No in-betweeness.

May the nabobs negativity do as much as C O’R has done in his short 27 years on this earth.

Music happens between the notes.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

My only complaint about C O’R is that I can’t find his solo album Tir na Nog. I want it! Anyone know where I can find a copy?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I got it when it was new and hardly anyone was interested because he didn’t have the ‘name’ he has now. He made it to raise funds, which it did so it has served it’s purpose. Only 500 were made.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Actually frisbee, if you analyse the Shetland tradition, there is no native culture of playing airs, and the majority of music was playing for dancing. Which means that it can be relevant to talk about dance music in isolation from the playing of music for listening. Have a look at Peter Cooke’s "The Fiddle Tradition of the Shetland Isles" for some very interesting analysis, particularly in terms of quantitative stylistic investigation.

Hang on a minute. C O’R must either have been approached by the Journal of Music in Ireland for an interview, or his agent arranged for a interview. It’s naive to think that the JMI decided to interview him, and by chance he’d just released a CD. And to be honest, the thing that genuinely annoys me about that interview is that he’s set himself up in a position whereby anyone who does not like his CD can be dismissed as being part of the problem of stagnation. Whether it’s deliberate, or inadvertent, it would now be very difficult for any reviewer to assess that CD negatively.

I’m under no illusions that he’ll make a return on it - and I wouldn’t begrudge any that he did, but I DO strongly disagree with his comments in that interview. And they’re comments that would irritate me less if they weren’t linked to his promotion.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

‘Hang on a minute. C O’R must either have been approached by the Journal of Music in Ireland for an interview, or his agent arranged for a interview.’

His agent? For godsake in what world do you live?

Why wouldn’t JIMI decide to interview a musician with a vision he can talk about well? And if it is connected to a CD, why not?

I don’t see your point about him ‘setting up the interview’ his CD is not traditional music, nor does it want to be. (Well, I said all that above). I just don’t seem to follow your type of reasoning.

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I’m a bit confused here Andy V - I thought this discussion was about Irish traditional music, not the music of the Shetland Islands? Maybe you know better, but I thought they had some quite unusual tunes up in the Shetlands, like trowie (troll) tunes, and what about that odd tune "The Day is Dawning", or is that a Scandinavian tune (ok, I know many Shetlanders consider themselves more Scandinavian than Scottish).

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Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I don’t understand your negativity, Andy V.

You seem to be suggesting that C O’R is trying to stir up pointless controversy to get himself some celebrity and sell CDs

I don’t see any sign of that. I mean, he’s paid his dues. He’s learned how to play, to a high standard, and I, for one, bought the CD because I liked what i heard, knowing nothing about his opinions. But now i read his ideas and like those too…

"People don’t realize that those in-between notes are such an important part of our music. The in-between notes that you get in sean nos singing contain an awful lot of power and history and that ancientness of our music, and if you take them out you just have a pile of notes. Certainly in fiddle playing if you play every note bang on, equal temperament, it doesn’t have much appeal. If you listen to all the old fiddle players, they had all sorts of things going on with strange notes and strange sounds, and a lot of that hasn’t really been taken up by modern fiddle players, probably in the quest for acceptability to a larger audience.

The whole idea of polishing up music to make it acceptable isn’t in line with the spirit of the music. That whole thing of making something acceptable and taking off all the corners, rounding them all off so that it’s palatable. You end up with something that doesn’t have an awful lot to offer something deeper than the mind."

from

http://www.brendantaaffe.com/caoimhin_oraghallaigh.html

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Andy, I can say flat-out that any idea of self-promotion or indulgent controversy on Caoimhin’s part is patently wrong; anybody who knows him can tell you that much. You don’t have to look at his income taxes or look inside his head to figure out what’s going on - he’s a really sweet guy who’s in love with the music. As was mentioned, he doesn’t put One-Eyed Man out there for everyone: he presents it where he thinks people might like it, and elsewise he still has Kitty Lie Over and his bit from last year with Breanndan Begley as well. He doesn’t need to stir up fame in any way either, since he’s been moderately famous since he released Turas go Tir na Nog and Kitty Lie Over, especially in the heart of the music community tied to the Archives in Dublin.

As far as your other concerns may go, I’ve seen him play for dancers twice and I know he’s a regular session-goer, so there’s no reason to think he’s disconnected from the larger Irish trad community in any sense either. He’s a damn good musician and a good person, as well - to question his integrity in his pursuits is laughable.

—DtM

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Regardless of any of that, how nice he is, what a great musician he is, how connected he is with the community - all of which I’m sure are true - I’m with Andy V: I strongly disagree with his comments that Irish music is stagnating. It’s stronger that it ever has been, and I don’t think anything’s been lost in the past 30, 40, 100 years.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Interestingly enough, an old hand that likes simple tunes was at the pub the other night, and started the Pigtown Fling, the simple little version with two four bar parts. And we repeated it over and over and over. I was the only one playing along, as not a lot of people knew the tune, and I was barely able to focus on my harmonica, because I was so interested in what he was doing. Every time was interesting, every time was special, every time was different, and every time what he did was blending with the simpler setting of the melody that I was playing. You don’t have to be cool or hip to breath life into the traditional. And like someone said above, the different twists that one generation puts on the music is what the next generation says ‘uuugggh, I wish they hadn’t cluttered the tune up with that crap." Such as the piano players who played with Coleman, those icky electronic keyboards from the Bothy days, and who knows, perhaps the busy and percussive guitar accompaniment and wild chord voicings so prevalent today.
I am going to seach out that Kitty Lie Over CD, I know a number of people who liked it, and this excellent discussion has stirred my interest.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I’m not sure that more people playing the music than ever before makes it "stronger". More abundant, yes, but stronger? The argument is that it is the same strength it was 30 years ago. Its strenght has stagnated, not it’s popularity.

Posted .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

[Don’t equate yourself with Mr. MacMahon in this situation ceemonster. He’s a lot more open-minded to these things than you realise.] gosh, thanks for the instruction, but as it happens, i’m more aware of mr. macmahon’s openmindedness than those who were having conniptions after that manifesto of his addressing themes involving tradition versus "innovation." (it used to be accessible on his site, but the site seems to be down.)

contrary to those who took him for a rigid purist or what the beop advocates used to call "moldy figs" in the jazz day, tony macmahon’s position in that manifesto was, all in favor of experimentation and innovation, but virulently against the discarding, devaluing, leaving behind, or considering obsolete, of "the pure drop." that is on-the-nose where i stand. and it is not CO’R’s yen to experiment that bugs me, but rather his disdainful-sounding rhetoric turning up his nose at traditional music for "failing" (my quote, not his) to change or innovate. it has no obligation to. and a hundred years from now, playing it will still be as artistically valuable as anything this lad can come up with, and i do consider him a nifty artist.

there are those who fulminate against Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, but i’ll happily drink a toast to the guy…..just as soon as i finish playing "o’reilly’s greyhound"…..

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

on the self-promotion question, i got not even a whiff of that feeling reading this interview and i’m surprised that people had that impression. i think CO’R is kinda like martin hayes right now, a traditional player who is interested in the larger world of art music, and who the larger world of music, particularly in ireland, finds exciting and interesting and wants to hear commentary from, and it would seem right up this particular periodical’s alley to do an interview with him concomitant to his new cd of mostly composed music…..

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I doubt if he was consciously self-promoting. But by making it a big point in the interview, he is inferring that he IS one of the few innovative musicians around today.
His rhetoric doesn’t bug me I just think he is wrong and it’s not that important — but then I’m a hack who doesn’t take this site seriously :-0

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

With respect to Wolfbird’s excellent earlier post re COR talking about the in-between note from the Brendan Taffe interview [see below]… surely a piece like Padraig’s O’keefee’s The Old Man Rocking the Cradle — where he uses the pub’s door key in his mouth and touches the fiddle’s bridge to imitate the sound of the baby fussing/squalling — would be a perfect example of what C is talking about? those "barks" and "squeals" he speaks of in an radio interview as being part of that older almost shamanic sound of the earlier times…and then those amazing quiet passages where the sound of the tune/air almost disintegrates? That dynamic range, that tone pallete is what he’s talking about — what I think he feels has been lost in the "souped up" music of the last little while. [As an aside, I think it was Matt Cranitch in his PhD thesis on Padraig, who pointed out that using a skeleton key wasn’t Padraig’s idea…that items like that to elicit strange sound for "set" pieces had been around before Padraig’s time…interesting though. It’s certainly a startling sound to your ears the first time you hear it…I personally had no idea what was going on/how he did it. So, really, wasn’t he exploring sonically in the same way that Finnish/Swedish musicans and C O’R are doing today? ]

quote: "People don’t realize that those in-between notes are such an important part of our music. The in-between notes that you get in sean nos singing contain an awful lot of power and history and that ancientness of our music, and if you take them out you just have a pile of notes. Certainly in fiddle playing if you play every note bang on, equal temperament, it doesn’t have much appeal. If you listen to all the old fiddle players, they had all sorts of things going on with strange notes and strange sounds, and a lot of that hasn’t really been taken up by modern fiddle players, probably in the quest for acceptability to a larger audience"

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I would be surprised if most professional musicians don’t have someone who represents them and acts as their stop-gap between people who would want to book them for gigs and themselves, and who provides gigging opportunities the musician might not of have been directly contacted for etc. It’s not exactly uncommon for traditional musicians to have representation who deal with the logistics of performing, although it’s also possible he represents himself if he has the time to do it. Is that really the point though (particularly considering I did say "either he or his agent")?

Regarding the Shetland music; whilst I agree this is a discussion of an Irish musician playing Irish music, I felt the Shetlands provided precedent for discussion of all traditional music as a non-art form and was a response to frisbee’s point. My source for that statement is Peter Cooke, who was a fairly well respected and innovative academic and researcher of a variety of musics, ranging from Shetland to Uganda - if you’re interested how he came to that conclusion you’d probably have to read his books, as I’m afraid my interest in his research is more in terms of his approaches to stylistic analysis (particularly the use of spectral envelopes to quantify infra-rhythms) than his ethnomusicological studies and as such I don’t have any notes on it. Sorry!

I didn’t intend to question the man’s integrity, however, on the whole I do think that, whilst suggestions of self-promotion are a base and vulgar way to challenge his opinion, he leaves himself open to that kind of discussion and it’s a perfectly reasonable point to make. Irrespective of whether C O’R does have ulterior motives in that interview, it’s still essential that the point is raised. Otherwise there’s no critical thinking, you’re just blindly accepting what he said because it was published in a (actually very interesting and diverse) magazine. Irrespective of how much you agree or disagree with his viewpoints, discourse should be allowed and rebuttals should be allowed to range from the simple to the exquisite without people taking it as a personal attack. Perhaps, particularly kilfarboy and wolfbird, rereading my comments in light of this might explain why I felt the urge to put forward the possibility that there were ulterior motives for the interview.

Main my disagreements with the issues raised in the interview are two-fold, one technical and one slightly more personal. My first issue lies with his mention of the "non-metric clusters" in relation to the percussionist, presumably meaning that the drummer, as opposed to playing hard, metric quavers and crotchets, follows the infra-rhythms of the tune. I guess it comes down to a matter of personal perception, but regarding tune transcription I take the following approach: Imagine a tree, in it’s infinite (or thereabouts) complexity - from its basic outline to the veins that run through its leaves right down to cellular, and sub-cellular, level. A painting of a tree is not that - it can never have the resolution of a real tree, it’s only a representation of a tree. Tune transcription, to my mind, is much the same. Whilst in a strict metric sense, no music consists of anything notatable because two adjacent quavers will not be played so that they are the same length, or that they begin or end at their metric location within an equally divided bar. Personally, I don’t see any reason why, in a trascription, two quavers should be equal and I think that there’s no reason why the duration of two quavers can’t be in ratio of 5:4, 4:3, or even 2:1 yet still be regarded as quavers. To argue that, because it is not possible using the metric notation system to totally and fully define those notes, that what the musician plays is therefore non-metric is not something that I agree with. C O’R might call that non-metric clusters, and I would quite cheerfully discuss with him why I don’t agree with him. And probably neither of us would change our opinions.

The other thing I take exception to is his comments regarding third-level education in traditional music. There’s a number of things that I don’t agree with, and I think some slightly unfair comparisons made. For a start, I get the impression that there’s a better level of basic understanding of traditions in Scandinavian traditional music students before matriculation, and a higher general academic standard. And traditional music degrees have a much longer history in places like Sibelius and have established themselves more in the academic community. I also think that traditional music sits in a different public perception in Scandinavian countries and has less of a dogmatic label attached to it, and that it needs less bolstering in the national conciousness. I also challenge the idea that most, or indeed many, of the graduates from traditional music degrees will go on to pursue performance careers, or indeed that most of them want to. Personally, the idea of attempting to become a professional musician causes me to shudder: my personal ambitions involve sitting the bar in the next 5-7 years. But nonetheless, I do believe that what I’ve learnt will stay with me for the rest of my life, and that I’ll endeavour to use what I’ve learnt to encourage support traditional music wherever I live - and that’s what I think the aims of courses like mine truly are.

As such, I don’t see the issue with a relatively narrow minded method of teaching. Creativity is something borne from experimentation with the familiar, not spending three weeks with ProTools to create half and hour of music. Whilst I strongly believe that working with multi-tracking software enables musicians to learn a great deal about their arrangement styles and develop how they make music, I don’t think that students of traditional music should be being taught how to be creative or forced to create in a certain way. Creativity lies in the mind of everyone, and endeavouring to foster creativity (and as such, due to the nature of these universities, grade creativity) only results in a certain type of creativity that is approved and destroys other, less acceptable types. And, given that traditional music courses have been around for very few years, it seems unfair to subject them to criticism and compare them to institutions that have existed for much longer and are on a more stable footing.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"The educators in Sweden are highly critical of the downward spiral in Irish traditional music over the last 30 years." ~ Who? ~ & how many make a respectable quorum? Where and when was this said, and to risk repetition, by who? ~ in passing or in print or just imagined? Who are ‘they’? Not ‘them’ again…

I guess you can say anything to get a point across, eh? ~ especially when you worry you might not have enough validity to just state it as your own opinion…

"there doesn’t exist a progressive or contemporary traditional music scene."

~ & what the hell does that mean, really? If it exists, well, it is ‘contemporary’, if it has carried over from yesterday and is varied, not confined to one single ossified identity, well, then it continues to be ‘progressive’… 😏

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

yes, that stuff about the "highly critical" "educators in sweden" gave me a hoot as well…..the educators in europe that have anything to do with musical experimentation and cross-pollination between genres tend to be not traditional, but in the academy. and yes, many conservatories are now opening up to adventures in cross-genre stuff including traditional, but they are academies of music with classical heritage, now adding jazz & world traditions. some of that has also been going on in ireland’s conservatories, though if they aren’t this open, maybe they should be. but to tut-tut and shake your finger at traditional music as such for not doing this shows a certain lack of awareness. i don’t have the impression he is saying "anything to get his point across"….i just think he has stars in his eyes about some new flavors he’s gotten an eyeful of (sorry about those mixed metaphors) but doesn’t quite know what he’s talking about. and i must say, i find it very revealing that in either this or a contemporaneous interview on the same themes, he also whinges in the same fashion about scientific education at the university level. you see, the science academies just weren’t "with it" enough for mr. O’R either. and he was talking about america, apparently……they must have gotten a good laugh out of that at , er, MIT and Caltech……that not one, but two, disciplines just are too rigid and uncreative for this fellow indicates to me that perhaps it’s more about limits in him than in them. and it also brings to mind Charlie Lennon, who seemingly without breaking a sweat, has been PhD research scientist, stone-virtuoso-level fiddler, music pedagogue, and oh, yes, composer of more than one tune that will be in the repertoire probably in perpetuity, along with volumes of other interesting compositions.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I really don’t understand the negative responses towards Caoimhin O’Raghallaigh and his ideas. IMO, he’s exactly on the mark…the quote bears repeating :

"People don’t realize that those in-between notes are such an important part of our music. The in-between notes that you get in sean nos singing contain an awful lot of power and history and that ancientness of our music, and if you take them out you just have a pile of notes. Certainly in fiddle playing if you play every note bang on, equal temperament, it doesn’t have much appeal. If you listen to all the old fiddle players, they had all sorts of things going on with strange notes and strange sounds, and a lot of that hasn’t really been taken up by modern fiddle players, probably in the quest for acceptability to a larger audience"

I just listened to Mrs. Ellen Galvin for the first time ( many thanks to mtodd and macruiskeen ) and I’m totally blown away…

Woohoo !! What that lady could have done with a strat and a Marshall stack ! Listening to track three, i was expecting the chords of Hendrix ‘Purple Haze’ or ‘Voodoo Chile’ to come in any second…whatever happened to that part of ITM ??

Fantastic music !

https://thesession.org/discussions/13960#comment287095

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Wolfbird, it’s simply that he elects to take a destructive rather than constructive approach. As opposed to talking about solutions, he simply lists problems. I’m afraid it’s not like taking the fifth amendment - you can his opinions selectively. That paragraph is nothing new in terms of argument, it’s been well accepted as a legitimate standpoint for decades and has been discussed ad nauseum. I have no issues with that quote. However, I won’t be pinned into agreeing with all of what he says on the grounds that he has a few opinions that I do agree with. The issues that I don’t agree with are listed in my previous post, if you’ve read it you’ll know that your quote isn’t terribly relevant to either the responses or the issues disputed.

Put another way: one indisputable statement does not create an indisputable argument. One positive statement doesn’t create a positive argument.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Can you imagine if he’d come on and said: "Such and such is what’s wrong with Irish music, point A, point B, point C etc. And this is my/the solution to it."

Come on chaps. He’s getting blamed for being arrogant, but it’s not like that at all. He’s just speaking his mind. He has no real solutions other than to listen more closely to what has gone before and don’t disguard anything. And you take this as destructive?

Posted .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Andy V, I did indeed read your previous post, and I’m afraid you lost me somewhere between the Shetland Isles and paintings of trees…and BTW, Schroedinger’s Cat has nothing to do with isotopes reacting with air; it’s a ‘thought experiment’, an attempt to illustrate something bizarre to do with quantum mechanics. There are many different interpretations.
I think several people on the thread have confused what the man is saying about his personal, individual explorations as a musician, and his various comments regarding Irish music and broader areas, but it’s not my job to speak for him. Personally, I enjoy his playing, got the impression he is quite modest and self-effacing, refreshingly sensible for a 27 year old man.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Eh? No, no, I meant that in Schroedinger’s cat, it’s normally required that opening the box to look at the cat will kill it (which is normally done by stating that the isotope/particle in the box will decay if it interacts with air). Which….ah, that’s a bit off topic.

His comments ranged on a number of subjects, all of which I felt were available for comment and discussion. And yes, I do think that by stating a number of problems, and not even offering his opinions on what his solutions might be isn’t terribly constructive. Other musicians offer their opinions in interviews, and occasionally act upon them. They inspire people, and at the very least inspire debate. I do think, for a little pre-planning, he could have stated his opinions and justified them, which could have been a very positive thing (as evidently he is looking to explore the boundaries of traditional music).

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"but I don’t think I’m a teacher. I just try to inspire people: maybe there’s a role for that as well."

I do find his music and ideas inspiring. The idea of playing very quietly, of taking the note down until it’s on the point of disintegrating, is a nice idea. As is the idea of the listener, who completes the circle. Perhaps best of all, he pointed me towards Mrs.Galvin and her extraordinary wild playing. there’s certainly boundaries there to be explored. Track three works beautifully with bottleneck acoustic guitar, I’ve been working at it for a couple of hours. It would work even better on electric with a bit of feedback or Jimmy Page type effects. The only problem is that probably nobody would believe it was trad, or even Irish… but it gives me goose bumps 🙂 Don’t know the tunes name. It’s listed in one place as ‘Air’.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Was watching this gem again recently:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHq9Yv_1d58


There’s one auld gent who remarks about how musicians have tremendous freedom to find and apply their own style to the music, how absolutely vital it is to the tradition, and how standardization is causing experimenting with different styles, and finding an individual unique style, along with one’s own variations, or collections of favored variations, to disappear completely.

Isn’t that really all our man here is talking about?

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Opening the box kills the cat? I’ve read some misreadings of the Schroedinger’s cat hypothesis in my time but few have so spectacularly misunderstood it than this.

Posted .

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Whilst it’s not the original hypothesis, but I’ve certainly been taught that Schroedinger’s cat can be used for wave-particle duality. In that situation, it’s surely its required that in opening the box (or defining light using the photo-electric effect, or the double-slit crystal refraction thing-y) forces the outcome of the cat’s life? I was under the impression that the same was true when it came to measuring the quantum state of electrons and the bit about collapsing the probability waveform was caused by measuring it, and that whether or not you find the electron in its ground state depends the action of looking for it? Isn’t the purpose of the whole thing not to represent how ridiculous quantum mechanics is though, not to ‘prove’ or ‘disprove’ the Stockholm theory?

I’ve not studied quantum physics since I left school though, so I’m most probably a little off target & am thinking in a simplified way. I’d be surprised to discover that I’m in entirely the wrong area though - although I’m probably not helping by trying to reconstruct the hypothesis from what I remember of quantum physics.

As in, trying to remember the hypothesis from what I know about quantum physics (which isn’t a lot, I’ll grant you!)

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

i disagree with his current posture vis-a-vis some perceived obligation of traditional music to "advance" and perceived failure to do so, but i don’t disagree with his wish to explore other stuff himself and smooth sailing to him…….i was just reading an interview yesterday with one of the masters of indian classical music, who was commenting about a phase of his life where he detoured into fusion experiments, and he said something like, "fusion is the refuge of a frustrated musician" and noted that for himself, he did it, ultimately found it a dead end, and returned to his tradition refreshed for deeper expression within the tradition….

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

"…refreshed for deeper expression within the tradition…."
Thats exactly what he is doing….??

I don’t get your posts cee, or where you’re coming from. I’d suggest not taking it as a personal insult on your precious conception of the music.You could always Listen to his playing (more), find out about him, and then re read.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

well, for one thing, the musician i alluded to found fusion tiresome and was saying that he had used it as an escape from his own frustrations as a musican, and had found that a futile gambit. for another thing, this person managed to make his journey without taking the tone about his tradition that comes across in the interview under discussion here. there are 118 comments on this thread, some of them a bit excercised in terms of pejorative tone, including not a few that wouldn’t be the way i would see things……..and your feeling the need to direct sarcasm at mine out of all of them is quite amusing. i’ve heard plenty of CO’R’s playing and have complimented it on this thread, perhaps in one of the posts that you "don’t get."

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

‘there are 118 comments on this thread, some of them a bit excercised in terms of pejorative tone, including not a few that wouldn’t be the way i would see things……..and your feeling the need to direct sarcasm at mine out of all of them is quite amusing.’

OK good. I’m glad you saw the funny side, and didn’t get all sensitive.

Bye

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Caoimhin has received praise for being an imitator of Sliabh Luachra style music for years(even though he is from Dublin). Now that he is listening to the modern comtemporary stuff Iarla O’Lionard and Peadar ORiada are advocating he does not know how to abandon the formula of direct copying of a regional style and create a new sound within the traditional boundaries. Hence, he goes on a frustrated rant which is littered with contradictions.

P.S. I truly believe that neither Iarla or Peadar have succeeded either in creating any new music which does our tradition justice. Eg The Crash Ensemble’s noise at the TG4 awards. Emperor’s Clothes Trio me thinks

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

hello snowflakes
you wrote today:
P.S. I truly believe that neither Iarla or Peadar have succeeded either in creating any new music which does our tradition justice. Eg The Crash Ensemble’s noise at the TG4 awards. Emperor’s Clothes Trio me thinks


Has anyone else listened to Peadar O’R? I have and quite a bit recently, and as recently as last night. I’d really have to disagree with you there. I think both of Peadar’s were quite brilliant in that I wouldn’t call them ‘fusion’ exactly, but if you listen you will hear strictly trad tunes as well as Indian instruments, bones, peacocks, his chidrens voices, his fireplace, his piano [his dad’s piano actually], the river near his house, the local choir singing his songs and of a local SL poet, penny whistle etc etc etc. And let’s not forget the irish language itself. There are even hints [more than hints] in some pieces of Steve Reich while O’Riada is playing xylophone or marimba in the background…but playing around with ‘trad’ melodies that he himself has composed [as opposed to inherited through other well known tunes].

dunno. I’d say in fact his brilliance in this matter is somewhat underrated and under recognized. Hardly anyone I know on this side of the pond has listened to him. Don’t know about Ireland or Europe. As Joyce said, "Ireland, the sow that eats its farrow." Perhaps things have changed tho since 1922. Have they? ;)

O’Riada’s a genius in my book — and all without "fusion". Imagine that!

best,

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

mtodd you say "O’Riada’s a genius in my book — and all without "fusion". Imagine that!"

A genius isn’t a term that should be thrown around lightly. You say he does all without fusion but surely using indian instruments, xylophones and marimbas is fusion of a kind. Anyways his skill level on these instruments is as low as his concertina profeciency or his keyboards skills then i guess you must think everybody who talks like a druid is a genius. He has fantastic irish and i loive the choir’s sound by the way.

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

Snowflake

Well, honestly, I rather liked his concertina playing. And his piano playing? Wow. What’s to complain about? It’s brilliant. However, I know what you mean about "fusion" [hard word to define…doesn’t really define much]. It seems to me though he uses instruments in a different way from, say, O’Lionaird on his cds…so while I might say, tentatively Iarla’s are more "fusion" I don’t think I’d say the same of Peadar’s. But maybe we’re just splitting hairs. We’re really talking personal taste I suppose. Honestly though? I really think O’Riada has taken Irish music ["new Irish"?] in a different direction…one that blends [not fuses ;)] sounds…be they trad [ie, within the tradition] or imported [marimbas for example]. The result tho seems quite harmonious to my ears and, more importantly, not egregious…not simply for effect, not gimmicky in other words.

He speaks like a druid? Interesting. Not having any Irish myself I wouldn’t know and I’ll take your word for it that his is brilliant. Like the choir stuff myself too snowflake.

Don’t know…I still think his melding of influences is genious…I haven’t heard anything quite like it in irish circles but I’d be happy to be more "evovled"…Snowflake can you suggest anyone who’s done anything as like and as good or better? Love to hear it. [that’s not a challenge btw…just a genuine curiousity]
cheers

Re: Has ITM done nothing new in the last 30 yrs except repeat itself? Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh interview in jmi mag 07

I honestly feel his muscianship is very faulty and substandard when compared to average to good players. If he were to play behind a curtain at a fleadh ceoil under 12 competition he would not be out of place. Compare him to top concertina player. I realise that he started learning music very late and it is difficult to catch up but a degree of profeciency is neccessary in my opinion.

I understand that the sounds could be interesting to people and yes it is a matter of taste. However i do not hear any influence of the great true trad masters in his playing.

I agree that he is taking it in adifferent direction but i don’t think he represents the core values of our tradition.

If you liked these type of experimenting then Paddy Glackin’s album with Jolyn jackson is very interesting. The main difference being both musicians are very skilled instrumentalists. They could play anyway they liked on an array of instruments whereas Peadar i feel is confined to very basic stuff covered over by helicopter sounds and really basic stuff because he can do no other.