When it comes naturally…

When it comes naturally…

I’ve just had an epiphany moment - ornaments have started coming naturally. When I learn a new tune I have started to put ornaments in automatically! I used to always listen to others and copy the ornaments from people or CDs but now I’m getting the hang of where they sound hot and where they do not…

(okay I appreciate that most of you probably got the hang of this decades ago, but cast your minds back to your first years of ITM…)

Re: When it comes naturally…

That’s a great feeling when something finally clicks. And, I think, no matter what level of playing you reach, you’ll always have those moments, when all of a sudden you can do something you’ve practiced months/years to do…it’s an amazing thing!

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Good, but remember never to stop copying from other players also. It’s how we keep the music knitted together

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What a rush, eh? Congrats! Mr. Llig has good advice, as usual. It’s the blending of you with what has come before that makes it truly Traditional.

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One thing that can be rough is for players of tunes on other instruments than fiddle (assuming you are looking at where fiddlers put the ornaments, and you may be a fiddler), and trying to make the other instrument fit into the same box. You do the ones you can do, but others may be too convoluted, or even not possible, without making the sound of the tune become awkward and bulky as to timing.

Often times other things fit better, esp. on other instruments, and they will, or should in time, come to you naturally. Sometimes they are a nice bridge into the next note, and in some ways it is easier to play with ornaments in certain spots than to not play them.

On mandolin or banjo, same config as a fiddle, you can try to get them in, as notated for fiddle, on fingerstyle guitar tunes though, it doesn’t always work, and personally I would rather hear the tempo, life and swing to the tune, rather than try to stuff in every proper ornament and sacrifice flow and timing. Other ornaments just happen for me too and for many others. It’s a great moment when you do it without thought or planning, it’s just part of the music coming out.

Keep the tradtition as much as possible though, and try copying them as llig says and practicing them until they just happen as part of the tune…. but again, sometimes it just doesn’t work where there are different amounts of strings in other than fiddle tuning. Not sure how it works for flutes and whistles, they seem to be able to get them in though. Harp too, there are different kinds of ornaments. As a new harp player, and loving every minute, I am surprised at ornaments suddenly appearing too.

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I agree with llig leahcim when he advises us to keep copying from other players because that is how we keep the music knitted together.
However, speaking as a pianist who has been reading some of the comments about keyboard accompaniment on this site; apparently I should avoid (like the plague) and never try to listen to the recordings of a fiddler named Michael Coleman because the pianist who tried to accompany Coleman was totally lost and did not have the slightest idea how to accompany Coleman properly.

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"apparently"?

If you don’t know this yourself simply by listening to it you must have cloth ears.

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Funny thing … and, obviously Michael can speak for himself, but I think he may be being misinterpreted here. When he spoke of copying others’ ornaments so as to knit the music together, I don’t think he meant copying from the past, or from records, or even from present day performances. I think he meant that one should copy from one’s session chums, so as to knit the music together in a live session context.

… and if he didn’t mean that, then he should have done …

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Oooh, I’d like to speak for Michael too! ( ;-) )

I think he DID mean copy from all the old codgers and recording artistes, and anyone else whose playing you hanker to. So when you absorb the twiddly bits into your own playing, they’re informed by the players who came before you, part of the community of musicians going back into the misty mists of time. Plus meshing with your session mates….

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You’re right Will, I did mean that.

When I was new to this music I remember telling myself that when I can play toss the feathers like Kevin Burke, I’ll be able to say to myself that I can play. But the revelation was amazing when after I actually could play toss the feathers like Kevin Burke, I knew I couldn’t really play this music at all, all I could really do was copy Kevin Burke. But this in no way denigrated the effort to copy him. It was very important.

And when I learn a new tune now off someone (usually someone, but occasionally a record), the first thing I do is learn to play it exactly how they play it. (challenging when they play it different every time, but that’s half the fun of it)

But I must stress, I dislike the separation of "absorbing the twiddley bits." You absorb the tune. The twiddley bits are part of the tune. Learn it all, exactly. Then mess with it.

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Sorry, didn’t mean that twiddly bits and the tune are separate things. Yes to "Learn it all, exactly. Then mess with it." Yes, yes, yes. From every decent player you can.

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OK. So the point I made was an additional one then - even when you *know* how to ornament, you should listen to what other musicians are doing in the session, and blend with/complement their playing.

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i spent £3.50 on a pint last night.
pubs are too expensive to be sitting around learning "twiddly bits".

i just do the "twiddly bits" on the computer.

:)

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"i spent £3.50 on a pint last night."

You could buy a musical instrument for that.

Re: fauxcelt’s comment
I suspect Michael was referring primarily to the tunes rather than accompaniment. Nevertheless, listening to and copying other accompanists has as much value as does listening to and copying tune players. Coleman’s accompanist just happens to be a bad example (actually, I believe he had various accompanists on his recordings, some better than others) - and, at the very least, you can learn how *not* to play from it. Speaking generally, harmonic accompaniment of Irish music was very much in its infancy in the first half of C20th (You could say it ‘came of age’ with the Bothy Band and De Danann in the early 70s), so good accompanists were much fewer and further between in Coleman’s day than they are now.
To crack the accompaniment of tradtional tunes in the 30s, you had to have real musical vision - there was no-one to copy. Nowadays, there are 1000s of recordings to listen to, gigs to see, teachers, several tutor books and the likes of Iris Nevins at thesession.org to seek advice from - you just need an instrument, a pair of hands, a pair of ears and a handful of grey cells in between.

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"you just need an instrument, a pair of hands, a pair of ears and a handful of grey cells in between."

On second thoughts, I’ve got all of them. So what am I doing wrong?

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granma, do you know all the tunes?

ben, You say, "even when you *know* how to ornament." Re phrase this to, "even when you *know* a few tunes."

Then You can say, even when you *know* a few tunes, before you do anything with any tune new to you, learn to play it like the person/people you learned it from.

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Yep. I agree with that too, Michael. I also agree with your correction of what I said. But I’m also trying, but not succeeding very well, to say that, even on tunes you know ever so well, and once you’ve done what you suggest, you should still never stop playing them differently depending on what others in the group (bunch of people, session, whatever) are playing on any given occasion.

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Yep. Which is why being able to pick up tunes on the fly is such an important session skill. It’s no different from playing tunes truly *with* your session mates….

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"granama (sic) , do you know all the tunes?"

No. I like to think I know some of them. It’s just so hard to find the sheet music for *all* of them.

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…or should that be ;-)? I can never remember.