Ears or dots

Ears or dots

Now don’t get your nickers in a bunch, this is NOT a pro/con question. I thought it would be fun to see which gender uses dots or ears the most. We’ve explored ears and dots to death but not from this angle.

A simple reply of dots, ears or both then your gender will do.

I’ll start

Both Female

Mary

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Ears Male

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ears male
I’m curious to see if they correlate - my hunch is, not significantly.

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Both - does that also make me unsure of my gender?

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I can’t imagine how gender could be a factor in this.

Both, male.

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Osmosis hermaphrodite

;-)


Real answer:
ears 90 %, dots 10% (based on decades of ears only). male

Posted .

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both, male

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both, male

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ears, male

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A more interesting question might be how your mentors have taught you tunes.

ALL of mine (male and female) taught exclusively by ear. Only one handed out sheet music as a memory aid after the tune had been learned. That’s John Vesey, Linda Danielson, Kevin Burke, Sean Smith, Oisin MacDiarmada, John Carty, Cait Reed, Brian Conway (the lone sheet music provider), and Liz Carroll.

Posted .

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Ears, female
But it seems that a huge majority of trad musicians seem to be male. Thats what i wanna know the answer to. Why are there so much more men than women playin?

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Me:

Male and I use both systems, but I get the most out of using the ears.

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both, male

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ears 95%, dots 5%, male. Used to be more dots in the earlier learning stages.

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flippin heck

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ears, femme

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Lanefest rec. wrote: Why are there so much more men than women playin?

My impression is that women tend to be less focused in hobbies; especially when you are a bit older when starting to learn ITM you have to be a bit one track minded to make real progress and learn a bunch of tunes. Besides: women tend to spend more time socializing (incl. familiy and children matters).

My 2 cts, maybe it’s rubbish.

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Wow, well thanks for the trip back to 1950 though! Our session’s divided fairly evenly gender-wise. Henk - you should visit, and bring Lane with you!

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Scheme me up, Botty.

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Both; male.

The Snouts And Ears Of America is a tune, I believe; there’s obviously scope for one called The Ears And The Dots.

More men than women play trad because it is a last-gasp means of trying to impress girls for blokes with no money, prospects, social skills or ability to play three chords on rock guitar. It still ranks above train-spotting, carp fishing and throwing up in public, but is probably not as glamorous as computer hacking, writing for The Sun, owning an Austin Allegro or being dead.

("Speak for yourself!", I hear you cry…)

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teeth

Posted .

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both, female.

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Ears ~ speaking for both of us ~ so non-gender specific. ;-) (M&F)

Actually, it’s a whole body experience for us…

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Interesting Will CPT, my first teacher was Johnny Cunningham and he started right off with sheet music.

Mary

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I use both my eyes and my ears to learn music and am a male human being.

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Yeah, airport, that’s the way it is round here. Glad to hear that there is something that has gone right in the US though.

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That was mean, but you asked for it. If I add ’ My 2 cts, maybe it’s rubbish’ I don’t expect an insult if you don’t agree, just informing me would have done the job..

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Mary, I suspect the Scottish tradition doesn’t mind the dots—there’s much more cross over there (than in Ireland) between trad music and classical.

Posted .

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I didn’t think it was THAT insulting - I thought it was kind of funny. And I didn’t think yours was mean - I actually agreed with that one. In the future if you’d like me to edit your comments for chauvinistic content before you post them, I would be happy to do that.

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Ears, male.

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Ears, Male

Taught by Ears, Male :)

Dots with ears and ears with dots

There are no dots without ears.

Without ears they are only smudges…

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Hmmm. I’d put it differently.

Without ears, the dots are silent.

Posted .

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And the eyes have it.

Sorry wrong sense organs….

And the ears have it…..



(coat please?)

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…and without dots, the ears still work just fine.

Posted .

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Both - male

Posted by .

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I’ll add another from my wife:

50:50, female (obviously!!)

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Going off on a tangent here, but is it a true story about O’Keefe scratching the staff notation of a tune along a turf cut, and walking back and forth pointing at the notes as hummed them to a student?

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Both, male.

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Ears female

Posted by .

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The ears are dots…

Ears eat dots and dopes eat dots and without sense aren’t lively…
A tune would be lively too, without dots…

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C, I think you’ve had enough Hendricks for now. Put the bottle down….


;-)

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Yeah Will - thats what I was thinking :)

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Aww Will…after all he’s only "kidding"….

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LOL

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Both, Male

Mostly I hear a tune once or twice, then find the dots to work from as a reference. Mostly I use dots to learn different versions.

My first mentor (Grandfather) ears only - he couldn’t read dots. I learned later to read sheet music in school.

Posted by .

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both, female. I prefer to learn by ear, but sometimes the dots speed the process up a bit.

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both, female

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Ear ~ Male
&
Ear ~ Female

…. is anyone keeping score?

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"…. is anyone keeping score?"

Jesus Christ, I hope not. I teach college statistics for a living, and if I can prevent a single student from trying to cull actual data from an internet conversation-cum-self-selected-survey, I will consider the semester a success.

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Dots. Male.

When first learning a tune, I much prefer the dots. After a few minutes, you don’t need them any more. I don’t see the point in listening to a phrase over and over just to figure out exactly what they’re playing, when you could just look at the dots and be on your way to making the tune yours.

It’s true that the dots can’t tell you HOW to play the tune, but that’s your own responsibility anyway. If you know this music at all, you should be able to pick up O’Neill’s (for example), and play a tune you’ve never heard before. It’ll usually be fairly obvious how the tune should be played, at a fundamental level anyway. You can then decide how you hear it, and add your own phrasing, punch, etc.

If you learn strictly by ear, you may be more apt to play the tune just as you heard it. And what’s the point of that? Obviously we already HAVE a player who does it that way. How do YOU hear it? I don’t mean you should go off on some sort of Celtic fusion thing. Play the tune as written, but make it say what you want it to say.

My two cents…

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Both my ears are male.

Oh…hang on…let me read that again, I’ll just get my glasses.

The comparison would be better, wouldn’t it, if it asked also whether you could read dots but prefer ears.

I used to be dots, but now ears. I can slow the music down, but dots get away from me. :-)

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"If you learn strictly by ear, you may be more apt to play the tune just as you heard it. And what’s the point of that?"

Yes, I see what your saying here, it’s a bit like those folks who learn a song by copying exactly how another singer performs a song, accent and all. It always sounds poor when they are just imitating, but with experience a singer will learn to use their own accent & automatically put their own stamp on a song.

I believe that’s also the case with learning by ear. In the early stages you might find yourself sounding ‘almost’ exactly like the player you learned the tune from. Like all those Kevin Burke clones I used to hear back in the late 70s & early 80s. However, as a player develops their own style they will overcome this.

I personally don’t believe that either ear or note method is right or wrong. I’m sure most people are more comfortable with one method rather than the other & likewise, I’m sure lots of folk can also learn using both methods. So I reckon there should be more acceptance of both methods. I certainly don’t like the kind of Ear snobbery you get at some workshops.

I reckon good teachers should be prepared to provide notes, ABCs & ear tuition in their class

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Uh Steve, I’m sorry - but that is the worst advice I have ever heard. Really, really bad.

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By the way - you dont usually come across a tune that is only played by one person in the whole wide world. I learn tunes by ear - but I would never sound like the person I got it off. Ive got my own style. And everyone has a different settings.

Posted by .

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"that is the worst advice I have ever heard"

Ah, but bb, did you hear it or did you read it? Hmmm??

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Good point DD - that is the worst advice I have ever read. Ever.

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Yeah I heard someone else say that about learning tunes from dots and I think it’s complete rubbish.

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I dont mean it doesnt have its place. But to actually imply that it is somehow better than learning by ear? What the???

Posted by .

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Doesn’t matter, bb, it mightn’t have been any better if you’d heard it anyway.

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"But to actually imply that it is somehow better than learning by ear"

But better for what, bb? To me, the danger is the unknown of what limitation (if any) that learning by dots holds compared to the expectation of what the learner wants to do with this music.

I’d like to hear (or see), whatever, a survey which explores what proportion of players at fast sessions learned from dots compared to ears. Whether you’ve learned by dots or ears may not matter so much if both people for example are playing at 80 bpm, but ramp it up to 110, or 120 and I wonder if there would be any difference then.

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Maybe you’ve got some information about that from your observations / knowledge at sessions. I know it’s probably could be a different situation again in Australia compared to Ireland.

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Just general observations, anyone worth their salt as a muso can pick up tunes by their ears.

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Anyone who learns purely from the dots tend to be crap - I know its not everyone, but a big percent, it just boils down to the fact that alot of them dont have a clue. Those videos pipewatcher put up the other day are a great exaple.

Posted by .

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In your opinion, can people who have learned primarily from dots, as far as you know, keep up with fast sessions?

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And learning purely off dots means you’re not going to get the rhythm and nuance- not to sound exactly like who you heard playing the tune, but just to get it to actually sound right. Most of my tunes are learnt from listening to several different versions anyway.

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On closer reflection - my last post seems very harsh. I have no problem with people learning from the dots as long as they use their ears as well. Steves post was the first post Ive ever heard that basically disses using your ears. Which I found very, very strange indeed. I know most of the people on here who use dots use their *ears* as well, so my comment was in no way directed at them. More like the people in the vidoes pipewatcher put up.

Ear versus notes has nothing to do with speed does it, anyone can play fast —although not always very well.

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Sorry for the hijack Mary - I was just really shocked at the above post.

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I dunno, bb, whether dots learners can play as well at a fast pace, or even keep up over a certain speed, with players who learned by ear. That’s exactly what I wonder about.
Maybe that’s the downside of learning by dots, (apart from the nuance, rhythm, etc issues as well)

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What about you, Will. Have you observed any difference over the years as to whether dot-learned-players can keep up at fast sessions, and / or play well?

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I think everyone I play with uses ears more than dots.

But I don’t think speed would be an issue for dot players, assuming they’re competent on their instrument. I mean, classical and jazz players can riff as fast as anyone, and they lean heavily on dots to learn their music.

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ok. Thanks. I just have a theory about this, because in other aural skills I know well about, it is recognised that if you learn primary visually rather than learn by ear after the very early stages, then the "visual" learners end up hitting a wall later on and just have a very hard time getting faster and maintaining accuracy, so much so that they have to go back and re-learn if they want to progress to a professional level. Not all, but a good proportion. For that reason, there is great emphasis placed on learning by ear, so as not to jeopardise your progress (in terms of speed and accuracy) later.
I always just wonder whether the same thing can happen in iTrad (sorry couldn’t resist), as well, as it seems to me a similar skill set.

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Will, btw, would you classify your session(s) as *fast*?

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both but rely on dots too much - male

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Started learning using dots to understand the finer details of technique (i learned to read dots as a child so it made sense to me to start learning that way) once i’d got the techniques sussed in my head i switched to learning by ear.

I have multiple personality disorder so i won’t get into the gender thing - trust me, it just gets messy. :-D

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Dubh, we play at all sorts of speeds, from slow to ripping. We may actually hold the land speed record for Mason’s Apron. I have no trouble playing along to Bothy or Dervish cds with all the twiddly bits and lift intact, and my session mates can keep pace with me.

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and so, Will, you reckon that "dot-learned" players with the same degree of experience, practise, have no problem either?

If that is the case across the board, then what is the problem learning from dots, there wouldn’t seem to be one then?

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no problem (either) - I mean, keeping up with the ripping pace.

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Dubh, this music isn’t just about speed. People who learn from the dots without listening don’t know where to put the accents, what the timing is supposed to sound like, how the music comes in phrases, how to create lift, and so on. I’ve heard classically trained violinists play jigs totally straight (as written) and wonder why no one’s dancing. Reels turn into aimless strings of notes.

And they have no idea what to do with the twiddly bits.

Posted .

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Once was dots
Now am ears - (and have improved 1000%)
Female

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Depends …

Learning tunes - mostly ears, male

BUT … and I would think this applies to Will, ceolachan etc, I do use dots very much as a reference source. I look up tunes I’ve learnt, read the comments, weigh them with versions/comments from other sources. I just do it for background knwoledge on tunes. If I didn’t I wouldn’t have visited this site in the first place.

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Dubh, here’s what dot players tend to sound like. Never mind the woman in the bikini. But do listen all the way to the end, where the violinist speeds up. Not exactly flying along, but you’ll clearly hear that speed isn’t his limiting factor.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hb0f8ivrjBk&feature=related

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Possibilities?

1. Learning by ear and copying exactly what you hear
2. Learning by ear and then making the tune your own
3. Playing the dots exactly as written
4. Learning a tune from the dots and using your skill and knowledge to play it in the appropriate style.

Simple. 2 and 4 require intelligence and thought. If you arn’t willing to bring those to the music you shouldn ‘t be playing it. (Ducks behind wall and puts tin hat on)

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Great examples, Will. Thanks. Ok, thinking out loud, if dot-learning doesn’t limit speed, then I suppose if someone learns from dots, then listens to others playing with lift, accent, etc, then they would be doing as well as someone who’s learned by ear…as in "People who learn from the dots without listening don’t know where to put accents".
(The bikini girl seemed to like the tune though eh.)

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So, it seems that ear-players would tend to agree that you can learn from dots, provided you listen to appropriate playing and pick up the stuff that’s missing from dots.

Why don’t they?

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For me dots are by far the quickest, then the memory has it quite soon, then the dots again to remind how the tune starts. Male.

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I’m not sure I haven’t heard music played like in your dot-based you tube links there, Will, by ear-learned players. Maybe they’re classically trained, maybe not. Dunno.

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Picking up tunes by their ears might hurt the tunes and damage their ears.

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Lovely. Love the tempo too, seems to be around 100 bpm.

So it is arguable possible for someone to learn that tune from dots, but listen to Aidan, for example, playing it, and learn the nuance that way. End result - dot-learner and ear-learner, should end up playing the same way. Isn’t it?

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Great clip, bb. I couldn’t watch his left hand, though. Spidery … but when you produce a sound that’s *that* good, who cares? It seemed to be a beautiful fiddle, too, didn’t it?

Oh, and the answer to your question, DD, is probably ‘No’.

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DD

We’ve had this analogy before, but I think it’s a good one. If you took two people with similar skill/intelligence levels and sent one away for a year to learn to speak Russian first from a book, then modified by listening to native speakers, and you sent the other to Russia for the year on order to learn the language … which do you think would sound more ‘Russian’? Which would be the better speaker?

But I don’t want to hijack this thread, which is an interesting take on the subject.

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I’d say it might actually be a close call. If the person went to Russia for a year and just heard the language being spoken without any learning program around it, I would have thought the person who learned from the book then listened to native speakers might have the edge, and may actually be the better speaker. Who would sound more "Russian"? Maybe too close to call.

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Neither Ears nor Dots - it’s the brain that learns the tune with the ears and eyes acting as transducers. I think that both methods are useful to access the music but unless it’s internalised in the brain, then you’ll never become a traditional musician. The pros and cons of each have already been discussed at length in this thread and I can see no reason why musicians should be ashamed of using either method.

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75%/25% in favor of ears, male.

DD, I think yes you could get the same result, no matter how many unrelated analogies are made ;-)

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bb, that Youtube clip of Aiden O´Neil was the most beautiful fiddle playing I´ve heard in a long time. Reminded me a bit of Martin Byrnes.
Thanks for posting it.

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So glad I got here late. Mentors used both, I use my brain more than both, as it’s in charge of it all anyway, and my gender has nothing to do with it. How sexist. [stomps away, deeply offended]

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I’m starting to see spots, something like dots. They won’t stop moving around and vibrating, pulsing. Damn, there’s another bunch of them moving out of view… :-/

Would that it were Hendricks gin. It’s French bier…but it ain’t half bad… I’m making a Sunday roast dinner on a Saturday, does that mean I’m reverting to a Saturday worshiping sect? There’s roast veggies, tatties and parsnips, and a lovely homemade stuffing and gravy… Must go turn the bird…

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SWFL ~ too often in my experience, both sides in the tradition equation, the brain tends to get in the way… I much prefer that the ‘thinking about it’ came later…

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Sigh… I really, really should just let this lie…

BB, I think you might have read (heard?) my note the way you wanted to. I re-read it, and don’t think I dissed anyone. I won’t dis people who learn by ear, and it’s not right to dis those that prefer the dots IF they play it well. I know people who learn by ear, and still play in a very mechanical way.

I don’t say that learing by ear always creates clones of the original musician. But it’s easier for ME to pick up a new tune by starting from the dots (and that, after all, was Mary’s question). With all the listening I do, I can’t help but hear other versions of it - there’s no lack of that.

The "ear is best" side of this coin seems to be very well covered in this discussion by the proponents thereof, and I’m simply chiming in for the alternative.

I’ve heard people from a strictly classical background play Irish for the first time by sight reading, and it’s truly, truly painful. (GREAT tone, though!). Mary’s question was "which do you use to learn a new tune?", and by extension, "why"?

If you don’t know Irish from Zydeco, then you had BETTER learn by ear. And if you say you understand this wonderful music, but then play a new tune from the dots like a treadle sewing machine, you need to as well. The bottom line is how you play. If you can quickly pick up the notes from the dots, then put them down and play it well, why should you not?

I respect your preference. In fact, from all the above, the ear seems to work best for most people. I won’t call your point of view "rubbish", and you might extend the same courtesy to others.

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Steve, I think the salient point is that to learn tunes from the dots, you have to first have a clear aural understanding of what this music sounds like, eh?

As I said above: without ears, the dots are silent.

The two clips I posted clearly show the potential pitfalls of relying on dots over ears. Really horrid playing.

From my own experience, I know that it’s entirely possible to learn a tune from the dots and play it authentically and well because the sight-hearing off the page is wholly informed by aural immersion in the music. People who haven’t learned how to sight-hear the dots often discount this—they don’t understand how you can genuinely *hear* the tune by looking at ink on paper or pixels on screen. That’s the marvel that is our brains. We can translate the info from our eyes so that it stimulates the same aural synapses and generates the tune in our mind’s ear. But this only works if we first listened and so know how the music is supposed to sound.

Ultimately, the ears are ***essential*** for playing music. Eyes are not. There are plenty of blind musicians, but no deaf melody players. (Beethoven had years of listening to music before he went deaf.)

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All session players (each gender) use their ears! Some well. some poorly, some constantly, some intermittently, all selectively.
Oh yes the question …
ears (for the period 9 July 2008 - 9 July 2009.
both ~ for the period prior. & presumably after as well.

The players who play by ear yet play (the tunes) poorly are probably not good listeners.
The players who play (the tunes) very well, & do use dots, are good listeners.
;)

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That’s it in a nutshell, eh?

Good players listen well, no matter how they learn the tunes.
Poor players need to learn to listen better. Without listening, all the dots in the world won’t make them better players.

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So, if you can’t play diddley music, you need to use you ears until you can play. And if you can play, you can learn tunes from dots and interpret them in an authentic manner.

I understand this argument. I can buy into it. But still there is something about it that niggles me. I tell you what it is:

When do you make that decision that you can play? I’ve thought for a while now that I can play, arrogant I know, but where do you draw the lines between arrogance, reality and false modesty?

But, the one thing I’ve never lost and I’m convinced I’ll never loose is the joy and fascination with how other people play tunes. What little turns they put in where. Those cheeky snappy little rolls in unexpected places. That lovely languid lazy link from one part to the next. The absolutely untranscribable subtlety of swing. Variation. That lovely replacement of just one note with the same note an octave above or below that completely changes the character of the phrase. ect etc etc.

I’m utterly disinterested in a form of communication that, by its very nature, is powerless to convey any of the above.

I’m fascinated, in love and constantly surprised with how people play tunes and I love to assimilate it all.

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Choose your weapon: Ears or dots

Steve. I am carefully reading your posts & think you got a bum rap. I sincerely believe you are merely presenting an alternative to the status quo. I do not agree with everything you say. However, I think you present an alternative perspective in a thoughtful, civilized manner. I have no idea whether you are a good tune player or not.

I am going to go out on a limb here ~ I just bet you are a good listener.

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Yeah, but Steve (we can rebuild him) has really only one defence … he finds it easier.

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Why I love it here

You are too cool Mary~
"Now don’t get your nickers in a bunch, this is NOT a pro/con question."
Posted on October 10th 2008 by Antikhntr

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Steve - you’re right, each to their own. I didn’t say anything about anyone being ‘rubbish’ though. I think you got that from another post. I have yet to meet a trad musician who I thought was amazing who learns tunes exclusively from the dots, maybe one day I might be surprised.

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Male. Fingers…

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Fingers? Sounded more like creativity and imagination to me.
;-)

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I’ve just done my own mental survey of musicians in my own town. Out of all 5 male fiddle players i selected that would be considered "the business" in town, each with a very different
style, all 5 are very good readers.
Out of 5 female fiddlers that fit the above criteria , 3 are very
good readers, and 2 are very good ear players.

This would suggest , if the figures are indicative that 80% of fiddler’s read.
Women are more prone to ear playing.
The dots do not dictate interpretion or style, but can indeed
contribute to great musicianship.

Other interesting Stats.

Flute and Whistle players - 90%
Box players - 45%
Pipers - 95%
Banjo - errhh nope. hyuk, hyuk ( followed by kind of donkey noise)
Bodhran - 0%
Mandolinists - similar to fiddle
Guitar - 5% at the outside.

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"Women are more prone to ear playing".

That can be really distracting.

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Play with my ears and I’m anyone’s.

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Ceolachan, if your brain is getting in the way of either playing music and/or your ability to worship a certain day of the week, I might be able to help you because I work at a teaching hospital. If you need your brain removed, some of the doctors-in-training at this hospital could probably use the practice.

What works for me is both reading the dots and listening to more experienced musicians play the music. Then putting it all together. This method has also worked well for me and been helpful when I was trying to learn how to play other genres of music such as ragtime and blues. Sometimes I read through the dots first and sometimes I just listened to the music first and then I read through the dots.

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The dots vs ears discussion is becoming a little tedious now. However I am female and a dot person trying to move further towards my ears…

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‘Ears or dots’ is a false dichotomy. And there’s a kind of snobbery going on here.

I doubt that anyone decides to learn a tune from the dots before having heard the tune. So dots will generally be interpreted (mostly all the stuff that actually cannot easily be notated) through the memory of hearing it. And i doesn’t end there, the learning process will continue when the tune has been learnt well enough to join in with others - because listening is an inevitable part of the process. This can happen consciously or unconsciously. And like fauxcelt, some player may delberately seek to listen to the better players to guide their learning after learning the basic tune from the dots.

None of this is really any different from learning any other type of music, including classical where the dots might always be in front of the player. You think classical musicians don’t learn by listening?

The question ought to be whether people learn tunes by listening alone (which seems to give some people a feeling of superiority - best keep it to yourselves, eh?) or whether they use written-down music to save a bit of the work. I almost always do the latter. But I rarely end up playing the tune exactly as the noted version I learnt from. I’ll adapt it: because it sounds better, because I hear others play it that way, or because it’s just plain easier to play that way and it works.

Maybe I’m missing something important doing it like this, but I really don’t think so. I’m sure I’m as good or bad a player of tunes as I can be at this point, regardless of how I fixed the framework of any particular tune in my mind’s ear and fingers.

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It has nothing to do with snobbery, it’s about getting it right. It’s about realising that short cuts do exactly what they say: Cut stuff out.

And changing a tune for no better a reason that it makes it easier to play is really not the way to go about things. It’s this kind of lazyness that smoothes the lovely sharp distinctivness from many many tunes and makes it all sound the same.

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"teeth"

I prefer to swallow them whole, Michael. Then they get broken down into their constituent parts inside.

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Agreed - it’s about getting it right. But there is a conception of what’s right that is rather subtler and broader than just a right version of a tune - whatever that may mean.

Who would deny that in ITM there are many many different ways to play the same tune? Some of these are naturally easier to play on certain instruments than others - in all probability that’s how some of the variations were introduced. Would it be laziness to adopt the more user-friendly version?

Admittedly some variations work better than others (and that’s why I originally addied the proviso ‘and it works’). But that’s what it’s about - what works in context - not tying yourself to a version that’s been played or written down by someone else. I’m sure, llig, you would agree with that last bit.

It is expedient perhaps, but not laziness, for a player to solve a genuine technical difficulty by altering the way a tune is played that works in context. Think of it another way - that the characteristics of the instrument are a factor in how a tune ends up getting played. Now who would deny that that process has contributed hugely to the development of ITM?

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Interesting (but ultimately fruitless) discussion!! I was classically trained on the accordion, so dots were the norm. I then found trad, aged about 15, and culled a lot of tunes from dots, simply because it enabled me to get the bare bones of tunes a lot faster than buttonholing some poor bastard for hours on end while I learned the same amount by ear.

However, I give it to you as gospel, people- you cannot play ITM authoratively or convincingly if you only go by the dots- you have to learn the idiom, then develop and apply the patina of your own style. Musically, what we play is simple; idiomatically, it is not. You only get a convincing style from listening to and playing with other players. Does anyone else recall Sean Keane and Yehudi Menuhin playing (and playing about) together on TV many years ago? It was fascinating to watch one of the world’s finest concert violinists demonstrate his inability to play trad music. I rest my case……

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Speaking as someone who was a music major in college….. Yes, so-called "classical" musicians do some of their listening and learning by ear. Otherwise, I don’t think music majors would be required to attend so many recitals and concerts each semester (or performances by the local symphony orchestra) and write reports on them.

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A famous story about Mozart shows the level of listening and learning by ear he had attained by the time he was 14. This sort of level is still expected of classical musicians at degree level.
Here is a relevant quote from the Wikipedia article about Mozart:

"In Rome he heard Gregorio Allegri’s Miserere once in performance in the Sistine Chapel then wrote it out in its entirety from memory, only returning to correct minor errors; thus producing the first illegal copy of this closely-guarded property of the Vatican."

Allegri’s Misere is an unaccompanied choral work for 9 independent voices divided between two spatially separated choirs, and composed in the 1630s for special use in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. This very complex work was extremely jealously guarded, and writing it down or performing it elsewhere was punishable by excommunication - until young Mozart came along. The historian Charles Burney obtained the transcription from Mozart and published it in England in 1771. The cat now being well and truly out of the bag, the Vatican lifted its ban and the Misere has been deservedly one of the most popular religious choral works from the late Renaissance ever since.

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Why is it that dot readers (the hardcore ones I mean) always go on about people who learn by ear being snobs? Bit of insecurtiy maybe?

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Lisagriffin, I’ve run into plenty of trained violinists who open a tune book and proceed to slaughter the music because they’ve never bothered to listen to it being played first. They just assume it’s all there in the dots.

And Trevor, I have yet to meet a Mozart clone interested in Irish music. Usually it’s the second string violinists who haven’t yet learned to listen to their own orchestra, let alone another genre of music. Players at a Mozartian level are exceedlngly rare, eh?

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Use both. Female. I find the dots useful for learning the melody but rely on the ears to pick up on rhythm, swing and the overall dynamics. Can’t get that from the dots alone - whether in ITM or any other form of music.

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The keyboard player I played with went to Oxford to study music. (he left after one term, feckin hated it). Of course he could read music, sight read really complex stuff for ten fingers etc etc. But his interview to go to oxford never had any music reading in it at all. He sat behind a piano, where he couldn’t see the keyboard, and the prof played chords, 10 note chords, one after the other, and he had to tell the prof what notes were in them. Kept going, getting more and more complex, more and more dissonant. He got them all.

I played with him for ten years and he never once asked me for a sheet of music.

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glogs, do you think that the only information not in the dots is rhythm, swing (same thing) and dynamics?

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He didn’t get "kicked out "for being a smartarse ?

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No, that’s the point of the story, they only let people on the course who could do that thing, name all the notes in really complicated chords … by ear. It was a classical music course and they weren’t interested in your music reading abilities at all. Only how good your ear was.

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The ears seem to be leading

Hello Mary ;)

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Glogs? Is that me? I’ll take the question at face value. You’re right that good rhythm and swing are one and the same. It’s easy to bash out a standard jig rhythm from the dots but really hard to get it to lift in all the right places. And no I don’t think that the only info not in the dots is rhythm, swing and dynamics…but I guess, writing in the shorthand of this board, they were the main things that came to mind. The other elements would probably include the smiles on the faces of happy dancers, the Atlantic wind blowing across the Inishowen Peninsula, the nice feeling you get from a glass of Guinness and the buzz from being in good company playing great tunes. And I’m only the bodhran player.

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Skillful ornamentation can’t be found in the dots either.

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Hello clogstepping. Enjoying those vinyls. Slim.

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Why are people still discussing learning tunes from the ‘dots only’. I completely agree that no one can play trad or any other sort of music worth listening to if that’s all they do. Any musician worthy of the name will listen and absorb (even if only subconsciously).

Can we at least all agree on that?

The only point where we seem to diverge is over whether it is possible to learn the basic shape of a tune from notation and still eventually manage to produce an authentic traditional sound. I don’t know enough about ITM to judge what is the authentic sound and what is a shade off. I do know that I know some very fine ITM players (including All-Ireland champions, if that means anything) who use notation for both learning and teaching.

People keep implying that players who use notation at all cannot play true ITM, without really defining what it is they are blocked from playing for ever and a day because they happened originally to learn the basic tune from a written version. My point is that if you listen, you have just as much chance of getting there as anyone else.

I admire people who never need to refer to music notation (as long as they don’t make it a shibboleth). Learning quickly from the music you hear is a skill I never fully developed - though it’s admiitedly a useful skill worth working on. And one of the things I love about ITM, having discovered it late in my musical life, is its ‘freedom from the dots’. What I mean by this is that the dots are soon discarded once the basic tune is there (which can take as little as 5 minutes for straightforward tunes), after which it’s pure listening, learning and adapting - and enjoying making music with some generally great people. And being able to go almost anywhere and finding a musical language in common.

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"People keep implying that players who use notation at all cannot play true ITM". I think that’s in you head. No one has said this and no one has implied it.

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I’m sorry if I’m reading some of these posts wrong (e.g., llig, decribing learning from the dots as a shortcut that ‘cuts stuff out’). But if true ITM is after all available for the dot learner, what then is some people’s problem with notation used in the limited way that I and several other posters describe?

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I think thats disingenuous llig, you certainly give that impression, going on about ‘the music’ and how you cant play ‘the music’ unless you learn by ear. Except that learning by ear from midi is not good enough.
I certainly agree that to perform trad in a traditional style its important to listen to a lot of it to pick up the various idioms of the different styles.

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I can’t believe I’m not making myself clear. Oh well, I must try harder … onwards:

Yes, you can’t play the music if you can’t play by ear. Being able to play by ear is a prerequisite. You have to be able to get it, all of it, be hearing alone. What you should never be using sheet music for is as a substitute for hearing because you feel you are struggling to hear.

Quite simply, the only people who should be using sheet music at all are people who don’t need to. Once you get to a stage where you don’t need it, then, and only then, can you use it. And very useful it is too.

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You’re disappearing into the fog again… What is sheet music useful for?

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"I can’t believe I’m not making myself clear."

I’m not sure I understand.

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…or I’m not sure I don’t understand, anyway.

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I’m pretty sure I’m not sure that I do understand. Altogether, for sure.

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Is that how you did it llig? you learnt all your tunes by ear for years ? How did you do this? why did you learn to read at all then?

But clarify this; what are you talking about? learning by ear? or playing by ear? do you view them as the same?
Recently you said that learning tunes by ear from a midi file is no good . So you are not talking about training the ear to pick up music at all are you? You are talking about the various details of performance, phrasing, ornaments, etc etc. and how to pick these up. Is that correct?

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"very useful it is too."

If you don’t need it, how is it useful?

The only purpose I can see for it, if we all subscribe to Michael’s view, is to learn tunes which we have not yet heard.

Why would we wish to learn a tune we haven’t heard though? Generally, we don’t.

(Having said that, I do know there’s occasions when some of us have to do so…for a performance etc, we’re requested do so, or maybe one has been recommended)

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To aid your memory, if you struggle with that. It’s also good for sending tunes to your mates, or scribbling down tunes or bits of tunes when you’re in the pub for your mates.

Of course you could always record a tune and e-mail it to your mates, but sometimes you or they don’t have a computer. And you can always just play tunes or bits of tunes for people down the pub, but it might be late and you’ve packed up. It’s pragmatism.

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"Why would we wish to learn a tune we haven’t heard though?" Surely I can’t be the only one who really enjoys scanning through an unfamiliar book of tunes to find one or two gems I’d never heard before!

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I was playing at a wedding once and the bride asked for a specific dance that had a specific tune. I’d never heard it but she found the music for it. I went round the back of the stage for a couple of mins, got it more or less together, wrote out some basic chords for the strummer and base player and away we went. It was pretty useful then.

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"To aid your memory, if you struggle with that"

OK, I’ve got you now although I’m not sure about the first point. If you’ve already learned the music by ear, how would you need to "aid your memory"?

Or do you mean just remembering which tune is which?
I’ve seen lots of players who keep a list of tunes with just the first bar or so notated. A quick glance and "they’re away". :-)

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Yeah, resurecting dead tunes is another use. But only if you are completely versed in the genre.

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"Surely I can’t be the only one who really enjoys scanning through an unfamiliar book of tunes to find one or two gems I’d never heard before!"

I like to do that too but, more often than not, I’ll stumble upon many that I’ve actually heard before but didn’t know their names etc. Then, I’ll check them out more thoroughly.
That is useful as well.

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"Why would we wish to learn a tune we haven’t heard though?"
Because it might just be a good one.
"Generally, we don’t" - Speak for yourself.

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OK, Kenny… Put me in my place, as usual! :-)

There are many instances in which I’ll want to learn a tune a tune I haven’t heard.

As I said, we might have to learn them for a performance, they are requests(as Michael suggested), they might be recommended by fellow musicians whose opinion we respect, or composed by musicians whom we respect.

Yes, there are even times when I enjoy looking through books like Bannerman.

Generally though, I’m more "drawn" to tunes I’ve already heard and will tend to seek these out first. I’d imagine most of us are the same(but I’ll not speak for them :-) ) as this is mainly an "aural" tradition.

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I’m not so sure you should be learning tunes you’ve not heard. OK in certain circumstances when you have to. And OK if it really is a dead one that nobody plays. But as a rule, if you come accross a tune that takes your fancy in a book, I’d say to do you best and find an aural source. OK so, if you are good, you’ll be able to make it sound fine,

We went through this one earlier:
So, if you can’t play diddley music, you need to use you ears until you can play. And if you can play, you can learn tunes from dots and interpret them in an authentic manner.

I understand this argument. I can buy into it. But still there is something about it that niggles me. I tell you what it is:
When do you make that decision that you can play? I’ve thought for a while now that I can play, arrogant I know, but where do you draw the lines between arrogance, reality and false modesty?

But, the one thing I’ve never lost and I’m convinced I’ll never loose is the joy and fascination with how other people play tunes. What little turns they put in where. Those cheeky snappy little rolls in unexpected places. That lovely languid lazy link from one part to the next. The absolutely untranscribable subtlety of swing. Variation. That lovely replacement of just one note with the same note an octave above or below that completely changes the character of the phrase. ect etc etc.

I’m utterly disinterested in a form of communication that, by its very nature, is powerless to convey any of the above.
I’m fascinated, in love and constantly surprised with how people play tunes and I love to assimilate it all.

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So basically, I’m saying that I’m not really interested in tunes as mere things that exist as seperate entities. As things that are made out of paper or pixels. It doesn’t matter that the inky marks are just representations of vibrating molecules in air (all be them poor representations).

What I am interested in is real people making air molecules vibrate. Real people who have dedicated many many hours to listening and enjoying other real people making air molecules vibrate.

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"if you come accross a tune that takes your fancy in a book, I’d say to do you best and find an aural source"

I agree and this is something I usually try to do. Fortunately(You’ll maybe not necessarily agree here), I have a fairly large music collection but there’s also lots of good sources on "The Net" these days. Another option could be to ask someone(in a session or elsewhere) to play it although I don’t tend to want to pester people too often in this way.

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As regards my last sentence, that’s probably another good reason for mainly concentrating on those tunes I’ve already heard, in the first instance.

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Oh dear, should this and should that…if a tune strikes your fancy, learn it, play it as you choose, in whatever style you like, be Scots, Clare, Sligo, Euro, German, whatever, damn all these should’s.
However you play there will always be someone to say doing it wrong.

Llig ,did you learn all your tunes by ear for years before you learnt to read? or are you telling us to do something you did’nt do?

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I’m afraid I have a lot of sympathy for Lonannas’s point of view that we’re getting far to prescriptive on how one learns Irish music with the word "should" cropping up far too often. While I always advise anyone looking for advice to listen as much as possible I equally have no problem whatever with written music. Without in any way trying to sound arrogant, I’ve occasionally stumbled on tunes in books which I’ve learnt only later to be very disappointed when I heard a recorded version. At the end of the day it’s all about interpretation and it’s the individualism of different performers that’s part of the magic of what the tradition is all about.

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Well, go listen to the Tommy Peoples tribute on TG4 and hear about keeping the personality of the person you learn a tune from in the music. That’s a longstanding and honored part of the tradition, best (or only) done face to face.

What some of us are on about here is that learning from recordings and sheet music is a way of distancing yourself from the heart of the tradition—and that’s people sharing tunes together. More and more, I run into people who’ve picked up most their tunes from a cd or book. That’s sad.

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Read the post before mine ^^

Now that I am completely devoted to learning by ear I think the phrase may be slightly inaccurate.
When I listen to someone playing I am ‘learning by ear’.
When I hear a (new) tune in my head I am ‘learning by ear’.
If I can hear the entire tune & then play it I am ‘learning by ear’,
Now here is the rub ~ when I hear a new tune, & there is a difficult phrase, then I need something besides just hearing the phrase repeated over & over again.
I lilt the tune. I am still ‘learning by ear’ but not the ears alone. I require a collaboration between my ear & my (lilting) mouth.
Lilting also helps me remember more familiar tunes. Lilting helps me in many ways.
Excuse me now. I must iron my knickers.
Wait a minute. lisagriffin; lots of things are implied on various forums. Always be skeptical of .www information. Having said that, many of the ear people, on this site, will (or have used) written music to a limited extent. The important thing is to do more listening & less reading. I believe most of ‘us’ can find the value there.

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Another part of this problem is that different students learn differently. I have noticed this when I have tried to teach people how to play an instrument. I am sure that anybody who teaches music has noticed this also.

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What would you do if you found a book titled;
‘Tunes I have played but never recorded; & very few people have ever heard" ~ Willie Clancy (1970)?
I don’t even know if he could write music.

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*

fauxcelt please expand on your comment. Every musician has to use their ears.

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That’s a good point, Will - how rare it is that I hear someone tell me they got a tune from an actual person. And R_N - if I listen to a tune 30 or 40 times and then resort to finding dots because I’m stuck on a part, I still call that ear-learning - half the time the dots don’t match my recording anyway and sometimes admitting defeat leads to renewed determination. I get better at hearing every time I go through the process.

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Sight - hearing airport. It is a given that sheet music is only a representation of the aural. i was going to put that in my post but hey my knickers are way twisted already.
Later

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It sounds like you have your knickers sorted - I was just agreeing with you.

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I’ve taught music since I was 15 (am closing in on 50), and I suspect that catering to different learning styles is one reason the dots are so accepted in some circles. But to be a musician, even visual learners have to commit to using their ears. It’s *music,* not painting.

I can say this because I’m strongly visual, tending to an eidetic memory. I can see the sheet music in my mind’s eye when I play from the memory of a visual source. But I’m better off as a musician relying on my ear.

Consider the age old compiment: "S/he has a gift—an ear for music." We don’t say someone has the eye for music….

I think it’s important to learn most of your tunes from other people, directly. Best if who you learn them from are friends immersed in the tradition. But even if they’re strangers or new to this music themselves, that interpersonal exchange is a richer experience than learning from the dots ever can be. And it’s at the core of what makes traditional music traditional in the first place.

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On my way to work this morning I watched some Canadian geese heading north (probably to the wetland nearby) and it reminded me that I’d seen some the other day grazing near the river and looking completely relaxed despite the stream of bike traffic on the trail next to them. Now maybe this is all just because I’m temporarily working full-time instead of my usual slacking, but I admired their ability to work so hard (as in commuting thousands of miles), but then go back to lounging when given the opportunity to rest. I imagine that’s how some of the innovators of this music were (although I could be wrong - Padraig O’Keefe ditched his teaching job). Anyway - if Willie Clancy did have such a book how could you give it the life and joy it deserved unless you’d heard him play it, or someone else who’d heard him play could show you?

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You’ve confused me, airport. How do you mean, "if" Willie Clancy had such a book?

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I was rambling - sorry. Random_notes posted this up a ways:

What would you do if you found a book titled;
‘Tunes I have played but never recorded; & very few people have ever heard" ~ Willie Clancy (1970)?

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It sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but when I said looking at the dots occasionally is still ear-learning (as long as you have the tune in your ear), I meant that it’s okay to cheat a little. When I was trying to figure out how to do crosswords I allowed myself to look at the solution if I got stuck. I’d never do it now though.

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and since I’ve sunk myself now… the best way is still to have someone teach you, even though it’s hard and humbling at first.

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Just returning to this site after a few hours’ absence. I think Ionannas has got it right about a dozen posts back - there”s rather too much of the "’should" and "shouldn’t" being offered.

What in any case is so special about ITM that it cannot be learnt properly with some recourse to notation? Listening - really listening - is vital in whatever genre of music. And dare I say it, there are just as many, if not more, subtleties of expression in for example classical music styles (there are many) that cannot be notated effectively and can only be learnt by aural immersion in the idiom.

But hey! Isn’t there room for everybody somewhere - all abilities and learning styles?

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exactly - and weren’t all of those classical players distraught when the traditions of kings and courtesans died away? That’s just my point.

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Maybe there are too many “shoulds” in this discussion, but you cannot, and should not (ha!), eliminate them all. Most of the “shoulds” represent a passionate commitment to a not-overly-broad vision of the ITM tradition. Whether you exactly share that vision or not, it represents something very close to the heart of the tradition and, as such, is worth taking seriously and remembering and testing on your own path. Or something like that.

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"Yes, you can’t play the music if you can’t play by ear. Being able to play by ear is a prerequisite. You have to be able to get it, all of it, be hearing alone. What you should never be using sheet music for is as a substitute for hearing because you feel you are struggling to hear.
Quite simply, the only people who should be using sheet music at all are people who don’t need to. Once you get to a stage where you don’t need it, then, and only then, can you use it. And very useful it is too." - llig
That made perfect sense to me.
There are should and shouldn’ts in every type of music - there is nothing wrong with should or shouldn’t. But see, the only people who *really* care about should or shouldn’ts are the ones who want to be really good at this music. Not the ones who sit there and say things like ‘lets all share the music no matter what our ability and no matter how well we play - group hug. Because its all about sharing and having a good time.’
The whole thing about the classical person learning off a sheet of music and then slaughtering the tunes and coming into sessions and completely wrecking them. That is where my problem lies. I mean - I’ve only ever played trad - so I wouldn’t never go down to the local amateur orchestra and start thrashing my approximation of classical on them, because I don’t have a clue about it. I have seen the classical sheet reader ruin sessions many, many times - and I always wonder why? why can’t they see just how bad they are,? Why do they have that weird self satisfied, smug look on their faces?

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I think will makes 2 interesting points here.;

>>I think it’s important to learn most of your tunes from other people, directly. Best if who you learn them from are friends immersed in the tradition>>

I thoroughly agree with this, I wouldn’t say its the essence of trad but a very important part of it.

His second point;

>>But even if they’re strangers or new to this music themselves, that interpersonal exchange is a richer experience than learning from the dots ever can be >>

I feel is interesting because I think that this is a problem: The passing on of knowledge only partially understood.

I am all for well rounded musicians familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the music passing it on, whether its written down or not because those dots are taken as only part of the story. However it doesnt matter if tunes are learnt entirely by ear , if the person playing them has little grasp of the idiom.

Now looking at CD’s as source , OK, if the source is a great player recorded in their heyday, but what if its a poor attempt at trad, by a jazz or bluegrass musician? (I was going to say classical but decided they get enough stick already!)

Now I agree totally that learning to listen, and learning by ear are important parts of the traditional process, but taken in isolation they actually mean very little if the source is poor.

The argument IMO, becomes unbalanced when ear learning is pushed to the extent some push it here. What I feel is as important, is that we point people in the right direction to hear the music as we feel it should be played, then they can make their own minds up.
If the source they use as ‘trad’ is actually a poor unformed and uninformed version then all the ear learning in the world wont help them play ‘the music’ .
If we listen exclusively to pure drop then it will be absolutely clear as to the ‘right’ ways to play the music, whether we get the bones from dots or not.
Yes learning to hear is important, but so is the source.
see https://thesession.org/discussions/19350

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Yep, Bob’s got it. The "shoulds" are coming from those of us who strongly value the aural, person-to-person tradition of this music. That’s being diluted by so many people learning the music from recordings and dots. Something important, essential, is being lost.

Not that I expect everyone to care or change their approach to the music. I’m not that naive. But I see nothing wrong with championing this aural tradition on a site dedicated to this music. Maybe a few people will deepen their approach to the tunes as a result.

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Ionannas, I agree that learning aurally from someone who doesn’t know the music well isn’t a good way to learn this music authentically. But the personal interaction is still better than sitting alone with a book of dots. Personal interaction is how this music evolved in the first place—neighbors getting together to play and swap tunes.

Personally, I’d rather hear people play any sort of music that’s based on friendships and community, than slaughter one genre learned off the dots.

We’ll probably end up agreeing to disagree—I think that personal interaction more than merely important. For me, it is essential, at the heart of this music.

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BB, are you perhaps getting your frustrations with classical musicians getting mixed up in this argument? I too have been similar situations, But that doesnt mean we have to condemn everyone who learns tunes from the dots!. I made a point on the other thread linked above, that even if someone learns a tune entirely by ear, doesnt mean for one moment that they will play it ‘right’!! if they learn it from the classical musicians you mention!
What IMO the argument boils down to is source. What do we use as the model for our playing? Otherwise lligs argument falls down completely if we talk about learning from a midi file, by ear, or from the classical musician you mention above.

Of course here we get to personal interpretation and judgment. If you have never heard , what I consider to be the real thing , say John Vesey for example, then how would you even know how its’ meant’ to be played?

OK with youtube etc its easier than at any other time in history to hear the real thing, unless you are immersed in the tradition of course, and its here that I think this site excels, simply the links, suggestions, recommendations that get offered. If you don’t know what to search for, then how are you going to search?

For example, John Vesey. IMO thats it.

Ok a particular regional style, but still If you have never heard of him, how would you know that he was ‘the business’ so to speak?

There is little today that IMO matches his stuff, so much seems watered down, with those damn synths and jazz chords!

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I heard John Vesey play on many occasions. I grew up just outside Philadelphia. Mr. Vesey held sessions at his house in West Philly.

Recordings of him don’t do the experience justice.

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I don’t think I am Iona - I’ve yet to meet a person who learnt exclusively from the dots that I thought was any good. No matter what type of music they had played previously.

I do agree with your thoughts about source though.

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No, I think I confused myself, airport. I automatically thought Random was obliquely referring to tune books of Willie Clancy tunes that *were* published around the 70s. I thought she might be being ironic, in that not all that many people living now heard him play all the tunes in, for instance "The Dance Music of Willie Clancy" (Pat Mitchell 1976), yet here they are, with all the ornamentation and stuff apparently ‘preserved’.

As I say, it was me who was rambling and confused, I think.

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PS - I have never heard of John Vesey before, so Ive found a site with a few Mp3s on it and will give it a listen tonight. Thanks for the tip Iona.

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But are we talking about exclusively from the dots? I agree that will put a person on the wrong track without hearing the real thing. But so will learning entirely by ear if the source is ‘corrupted’.

I really think this site is an excellent resource for the passing on of music through the links and listening suggestions we post.
I also think the database of tunes is great.

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Well, the culprit I’ve been imagining is someone who relies heavily if not exclusively on the dots to learn tunes, without listening to the music much. I’ve seen many trained musicians try to play this music off the page after hearing Riverdance once or stumbling on an old Chieftains cd and thinking all they needed was the melody line and their educated chops would do the rest.

It doesn’t work that way. And de-personalizing the exchange of tunes only makes things worse.

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Do you know that there is actually a violinist here who charges $60 an hour to teach people how to play "Irish music" . I have seen said person at a gig where they read the tunes off the page while playing in the plastic paddy band they are in. It was foul. And its a joke that they have the audacity to charge money teaching something they know nothing about.

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I’m getting confused by all sorts of people tonight. Now *you’re* confusing me, bb. I thought you didn’t like that term? :-/

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What term Ben?

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"Plastic Paddy"

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Only when used as a racial slur. I wasnt using it as a racial slur.

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OK. You were using it as a musical slur, so that’s all right. :-)

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…ooh … "musical slur" didn’t quite come across as I intended …

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Yup - that is really, really alright!

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Rakish Paddy, Sporting Paddy I know but Plastic Paddy I’ve never heard of ! - does anyone have the dots?

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Learn it by ear, ye lazy b%$$^£x :)

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bb where do you meet all these classically trained musicians who learn tunes exclusicely from sheet music?
I have met some though most of the ckassically trained musicians (who also play tunes) that I have met ‘do’ listen to Irish music.

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benhall1 there is a video on the "Full Set" program with Liam O;Flynn & Paddy Glackin.
Liam is discussing one of the tunes for which he was able to see a rare old manuscript. From that I created a hypothetical tune book. goes something like this …if you were in Milltown Malbay …if you found a tunebook …if the inside cover had the name of a highly reverred traditional player … if it had his or her handwritten notation of versions of tunes never heard by trad musicians around Clare … what would you do with the tunebook? Toss it on the fire, warm your hands & play as you had before.
No worries ~ those dots are only dots

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If you were Liam O’Flynn you could learn from any source and it would still sound brilliant. Somewhere amongst these 200+ posts I believe it was pretty clearly articulated that after you’re steeped in the vernacular you can do as you please. So noone’s burning any mythical books, right?

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I’ve met classical musicians who do listen to Irish music, but still haven’t quite grasped how it’s supposed to sound. My newly hatched theory is that it should take them almost as long as someone who’s just learning to play to really get it.

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Random_notes, did you mean my comment about teaching people to play an instrument?

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bb airport & anyone who is still hanging in there .. . mary?
I have 2 vastly different experiences with a couple of classically trained violinist. I met each at the moment they began playing traditional music. Each one took to steeping herself in the vernacular. One tended to be the type bb describes ~ exclusively learning tunes from sheet music. The other player always tried to find out, from session - mates, how they like to play tunes ~ style, rhythm, ornamentation/articulation .. .I could go into great detail about how the steeping proceeded. Suffice it to say the 2 fiddlers’ have each arrived at different ‘places’ in their playing of trad.
The one, who spends more time dependent on sheet music, is not confident enough to keep up with a full tilt session. The other fiddler, who has learned as much as she can ‘in the flesh’. will session for hours fully capable of leading off on almost any tune.

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Steeped in the vernacular

Liam O’Flyn refers to the manuscripts of
Canon James Goodman, who collected tunes from uilleann pipers. The originals are in Trinity College.

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fauxcelt sorry not to get back to ypu I am reading through bb’s posts.
bb I see why you keep bringing up certain issues. It seems you have met a number of session crashers & a number of musicians who use sheet music exclusively for learning & playing traditional tunes. I feel your pain.
Thankfully most of the people I have sessioned appreciate the importance of listening. There are exceptions though they always sem to lose interest.
Hope you get more good sessioning.

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Wow! A *mythical* tunebook. I don’t know how I was so stupid as not to get that from your earler posts, Random …

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Hello benhall1 thanks for the tip about SoundLantern. I am listening (lots &lots) to Will’s clips.

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Good for you. Don’t forget the others too. Some great stuff on there.

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:)

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That’s okay Random_notes, I am not in a hurry either.
I suspect that all of us have had the unpleasant experience of dealing with a session crasher. On the rare occasions when I am allowed to sit in at a strange session out-of-town or out-of-state, I do my best not to be a session crasher because I am there to enjoy myself making music with other musicians.

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Hello fauxcelt ~ yes it was your post about learning to play an instrument. At that point in the discussion I was assuming you agree ~ ear training is important for all students. However, I was not certain (about your teaching method) so I asked.

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I find it very depressing to see how lengthy this discussion has become. It’s hardly rocket science.

And as for the original question: I learn by the osmotic ear, but I will admit to playing one tune I’ve never heard played by anyone else - but I was very familiar with the source, so knew without thinking, caring, or worrying how that person would have made it sound.

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Both, female