“You can do anything to Music, it doesn’t mind”
Dave Swarbrick as quoted by Martin Carthy in the booklet with a recent boxed set.
Any views ?
Dave Swarbrick as quoted by Martin Carthy in the booklet with a recent boxed set.
Any views ?
Don’t anthropomorphise the music. It hates it when you do that.
Mow the lawn, decorate the front room, make soup? Or is this a question of individual (or collective) musical taste?
Ah, OK, grammatically ambiguous out of context. A longer quote, this is what Carthy says
I was fooling around with an idea on the guitar, an idea that was developing into a fairly radical departure; I looked across at him and said “D’you think it’s OK to do this or is it a bit too much ?” He looked up, was quiet for a moment then grinned slightly and said, “You can do anything to Music, it doesn’t mind”
I was reminded of it by llig’s post on the end (?) of the “Just curious” discussion.
Carthy and Swarbrick are not traditional musicians.
Yes, you can do anything to “Music”, it doesn’t mind. But I think that if the statement is, “You can do anything to Irish traditional music, it doesn’t mind” then that is not entirely accurate. I think it’s very easy to ruin it. Does “it” mind when “it” is ruined? Does “it” have feelings. Considering a philosophical stand that the music exists only in the hearts and minds of those who play “it”, then maybe it does mind. I dunno.
I don’t know about Carthy but Swarbs can play a bit. Do you think he sounds too English when playing Irish tunes?
for me, you can do anything with music - or to music - as long as you what you’re doing : for exemple, it’s ok if you play irish tunes in a rock style, just say it’s irish tunes played that way, and not ITM…
Does he sound English when playing Irish music. - Reminds me of a time in a London pub when I was asked to play a hornpipe for an elderly gent. I tried a ‘few run of the mill’ hornpipes but he couldn’t dance to anyone of them. Then I tried The Harvest Home or as he called it The Cork Hornpipe. Yes that was the one he wanted…then after a few steps he faltered again…still something wrong. Ah! he seem to realise what was wrong and asked me in all seriousness, “Can you play it in Irish?”
I think that for all their fragile beauty, there’s an inherent strength in This Music – these are sturdy tunes, and can take a lot of abuse. A hacker can make them sound ok. You play ’em half-way decently and they sound pretty good. Play them well and they sound magnificent.
That may not go down well with the cognoscenti, for those who drink to savor the nose and finish. But sometimes I like to drink to get drunk.
Heard a quote on a cooking show the other night. It was about highly experienced chefs experimenting with different procedures to get different effects.
The line was: “You have to learn the rules before you can break them”.
Occurred to me that this applies to many things in life, including ITM.
You can do anything to music, it really doesn’t mind; only people mind. So to avoid complications with people, I simply don’t call any departures I make traditional Irish traditional music. I only play tourishional music. It’s way more fun anyhow 🙂
Unleash the hounds. 🙂
I prefer the tractor thread.
You have music, and you have noise…
It just happens that a lot of noise can sound good as music too
I’m just curious to know how llig learnt his music, after his comment on Carthy and Swarbrick..
If it wasn’t sitting on his grandfather’s knee as he scraped away at a fiddle-tune, then I think he has disqualified himself from these discussions.
Oh, by the way, llig; how do you qualify Eliza Carthy then ? After all, she certainly grew up listening to all sorts of traditional musicians and singers, from the earliest age. Does the fact that even one of your parents is a revivalist make you disqualified ?
Anyway, I reckon Martin Carthy has been playing the music for longer than you and me.
My dad sat onj his grest grandad’s knee listening to Coleman records and I sat in the car with my dad listening to the long note (he couldn’t get RTE on the radio in the house).
I don’t know much about English music, but I gather that Swarbricks style was kind of invented by himself. I’m not dissing that by the way, he’s a good player.
But I do know that swarbrick and Eliza Carthy are both hopeless at playing Irish music. Not that that matters to them of course, and neither should it. And anyone who thinks the two of them can play Irish music must not be able to play irish music themselves.
Carthy not a traditional musician? Yes, he is. No, he’s not. What’s the point? “Traditional” is always only a vague notion applied from a personal point of view and immediately subject to dispute from another personal point of view.
Yes, you can do anything to Music. Some people will like it; some won’t. Some will accept it into their “traditional” category; others won’t.
I thought music was supposed to be organized noise (as opposed to pianoized noise).
Yes you are right, Traditional is always only a vague notion applied from a personal point of view and immediately subject to dispute from another personal point of view.
But, as I said in another thread: If the concept of a traditional music can have any importance, you have to focus on the collective tastes of innovative individuals. There is no objective tradition. Only the convergence of subjective innovations fuelled by love, understanding and respect.
These threads take our traditional music and make it seem like the most complicated thing in the world, when in reality, it’s not. Tradition is tradition. Different styles and ways in the tradition will most likely depend on who the musicians early influences were… We pick up on the styles of our teachers and other influences. When these influences come out all at once, we seem to have a “style of our own”, which probably explains the difference between lets say the “Donegal Style” and The “Clare Style” etc.
But that’s just my opinion! No doubt someone disagrees with me! 🙂
The “it doesn’t mind” made me think of “it will survive”, “it is not sacred” ,“it is there for us to work with” . From comments here maybe “it is people that will mind”. The context was innovation, not change or loss through ‘chinese whispers’ or lazyness.
I guess there are those who would treat it like some precious seed or yeast to be guarded and regenerated from a preserved source so that it doesn’t evolve into something else. But don’t sound recorders do a better job of that now? And before them we do we know what it sounded like ?
Three hundered years ago (or whenever it was) would some english sailor in Cork have been grumbling that a well known irish fiddler didn’t know how to play hornpipes ?
I suppose the evolution into something else would be a whole new sprout of the tradition, and is that not a good thing when you think about it? The likes of Beoga, The Pogues, and even that fella Droney with his crazy fiddlin’, as opposed to the likes of the Cheiftains, the Ceili Bands, and the Grúpaí Cheoil. New traditions workin’ alongside the old ones that are still goin strong, and are they not all equally amazing?
“Only the convergence of subjective innovations fuelled by love, understanding and respect.”
I like that. Not bad for a cynic.
To be quite clear: in one sense of the word, there are no traditional musicians left - not in ireland or any of the first world countries.
What we have left are musicians who think that irish traditional music (as they understand it) is something valuable, to be “loved, understood and respected”. And other musicians just see it as music that can serve as an inspiration for more music.
Session music is a fragile thing. Take it too far in any direction and it can no longer be played in a session according the the habits, abilities and desires of people who play in sessions.
Dance music is fragile in the same way.
Musicians who “claim” a “traditional” influence should be very careful with their words. Are they just playing lipservice? are they mistaken?
That music “doesn’t mind” depends who the audience is and the long-term effect it has.
This thing called “Music” has been crap since the invention of the damper pedal. (I mean, undampened strings allowed to vibrate sympathetically though not even struck!?! Hello? Somebody wake up Euterpe. Bee-yotch been sleepin too long, yo.)
So: purity, my friends. Move toward the soft, blinding purity—very soon any dangerously individual notions will become just bad, icky memories. Purity, Unity, Hegemony. The One Is Here.
“…undampened strings …”
Well, who would want wet strings anyway?
Depends on the string. Bach insisted that there be air on his G-string, probably a dampness situation.
There’s a reply from llig above, beginning “Yes, you are right.”
Bearing in mind the rest of that reply, can we assume that he has turned over a new leaf, and from henceforth will he be“…fuelled by love, understanding and respect.“
I look forward to that.
Oh, and by the way, I never said, or implied, that either Martin or Eliza Carthy was an Irish traditional musician. Wouldn’t dream of it.
I’m not sure I wanted to know that about Bach…
In the Olden Days, Swarbrick had to be reined in (on stage!) when he slid into his jazz roots; first by Ian Campbell, then less often by Martin Carthy. I haven’t heard anything from him recently, but leopards and spots….
Must be a slow news day
I can’t be passionate with with my wife “ to music “…
I listen to it too closely and “ lose the stiffy “…!!
too much info, zoukboy - waaay too much
I you’re trying to make a career in music, unlike myself,
I guess it does matter what you do. You have to define yourself as
a product to your customers. For example, if you buy a ticket to a
Martin Hayes gig you know what you’re getting and he knows what his
fans are looking for. He’s probably not going to blow that away by
switching to Donegal style or playing a 5 string nuclear powered fiddle.
But if you don’t care about that and don’t care about fitting into a particular
musical social scene then sure, do whatever you like in your kitchen or
I like Hup’s reply. As much as I love Irish traditional music and love to TRY to play it, I know for a fact I won’t live long enough to get it right and I know I butcher it every time I play it, but the fact is I’m trying to get better, as most people are, and I really think the music doesn’t mind as long as I’m honest and put in an effort. It’s just that the people listening might mind, but, oh, well, can’t please everyone and wouldn’t dream of giving it up just because someone doesn’t think what I play is pure enough.
Well………this is a serious topic innit ?…..one that needed a serious response ;)
Yeah, zoukboy, but I seriously didn’t need to know that!!!!