dots and staff lines…

dots and staff lines…

Interesting how many trad folks dis the dots, and yet the background design of this site is staff lines…mmm…

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What have you been drinking, smoking, inhaling, injecting or inserting?

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~

Perhaps there is more to this than meets the eye.
;)

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Yes but how many letters are on this page? More to the point what key is the text on this page in?

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…again…

~

I believe I know how to resolve this.

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…….. which is ? ……….

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Actually, there’s nothing like a good old dots vs. ears dustup every so ofteh to spark up a quiet Sunday afternoon

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I never diss the dots. I like em. Very handy. What I think is wrong is using them to distribute diddley tunes among strangers. And the problems arise because this is the primary function of this website. I could leave, as many suggest, but like a socialist in the Brittish Labour Party, I prefer to fight from within

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I did notice a few weeks ago that the old yeller board had had a subtle addition,[ the bar lines mentioned here] but saying that Im on a different PC and the board is back to its old way. So perhaps some browsers dont show these lines?

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I don’t see any staff lines on my computer.

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Me neither. I’d like a colour change though - to purple (my favourite) .

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Dots - Like unto the sound of one hand clapping. As the Zen master sez, if you have to ask, you have not understood.

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Interesting analogy Mr Llig.

Perhaps the same might be said about most occidental parliaments.

Oppositional debate resulting in a zero-sum game.

I won’t say what consensus should be, although reflexion on a process of bringing pedagogical tools to anyone that may want to bring this music to others might be in order.

This would depend entirely on acknowledgeing the value of both the aural/oral and theoretical (written) approaches.

Where should we start?

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Check your browzer for the latest update?….
Purple?! Eugene Hutz has something to say about that!

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Bredna;
In Firefox use the Tools tab . . .
Tools > Options . . . > Content > Fonts & Colors >
Colors > Background: {Purple}
uncheck [Allow pages to choose their own colors, instead of my selections above]
> OK
Only problem is all websites will have the purple background.

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llig, if you were ever to begin a website, for traditional music, would you limit the use of abcs? Also, would you include audio?

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‘Purple?! Eugene Hutz has something to say about that! ’

I started wearing purple some time ago and indeed my sanity and wits did all vanish as promised.

I’ve never looked forward since…

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How about this? We start a social networking website, and you can only give ABCs or dots to people who are your “friends”? 😛

I applaud llig for keeping up the good fight, even though he often comes across as absolutist (which he qualifies from time to time with more reasonable-sounding statements…)

My problem with the dots is that they’re only the “bones” of a tune. A setting, frozen in time, which is often taken as some authoritative setting by some folks. Listen, the dots of a tune are the equivalent of a “Fun with Dick and Jane” book for children. They’re simplistic. They convey very little information. It’s like the difference between the “See Spot run” book, and the Lord of the Rings films.

Some people might argue that those books are how we learn to communicate in the first place, but it’s not true. They’re how we learn to read, but we’ve already learned to speak by then. So using the dots as a learning aid only helps you learn how to read dots, not how to “speak” with your instrument.

The breadth and depth of this music aren’t realized until you *let go* of the notes, and start dealing with the music in phrases - musical ideas, which can be expressed in a variety of ways, such that they evoke emotions within us. And even then, the exploration of the beauty of the music is a lifelong pursuit.

So use the dots as a way to get new ideas, and discover new melodies… But *please* don’t use them to learn how to play this music, or you will forever be “speaking” with the musical vocabulary of a pre-schooler.

OK, done with my weekly rant against the dots… 😉

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I miss SoundLantern.

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I think most of us agree; as a way to learn the music, no…but as a shorthand for those who already play, then yes…at least, that’s how I see it.

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Greg, I am an excellent sight-reader. I still come across tunes which are written down yet, do not give me all the information which my ears provide if I hear the tune played.
For me, & this is how I have resolved the two sources, it is listen 1st, 2nd & 3rd. Then ( if I choose) look at the notation.
Of course, I can sight-read first. But I prefer to hear the tune first.

To sum up: listening & playing from ear is my primary source.
Using sheet music, as a primary source, adds a step in the process of hearing the tune. Most important though, playing by ears is much more fun than reading.
I am joining you & llig in saying ~ I am not dissing the dots.

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re background - is just parallel lines, not staff lines

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I use the dots and like the dots. Once memorized, I never look at them again (unless I’ve forgotten parts of tunes) and seek out variations. I think dots are beautiful, showing one the shape of the tune both melodically and harmonically, a beauty and symmetry ABC’s are totally unable to duplicate. I use my ears as well--helpful, funny looking things. Maybe one day I’ll be a true ITM badass and learn tunes by ear alone. For now, I’m cool with the dots as a tool.

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Hey Hup,

By jove, I think you might be right. Maybe it’s just my own mind turning the parallel lines into staff paper. In that case, forget this whole thread, rewind, erase, never happened…now where did that white rabbit run off to?

. . .

Cheers Jason

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I am unclear as to what the fuss is about. Music is ephemeral, one one stops singing/playing and the memory is already different. Use what ever you want to learn a tune; it not about what you learn, it is about what you hear when you play or sing the melody.

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No, it’s not about what you want to hear. It’s about being able to hear all there is to hear. IIt most definatly is about what you learn. It’s about learning all there is to hear.

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Ceci n’est pas une pipe!

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Ceci n’est pas une tune!

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Allons enfants de la Patrie…

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Didn’t Edmund Burke have some thoughts on this topic…or was it Salvador Dali?

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Naw, it was Descartes.

I think (I am playing like Frankie Gavin) therefore I am (playing like Frankie Gavin).

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That’s a fundamental flaw, SLL. When Descartes asserted ‘Je suis donc je suis’ (or ‘Cogito ergo sum’, if you prefer), he could only claim verification of his own existence.

Following Cartesian principles, only Frankie Gavin is able to determine whether or not he is playing like Frankie Gavin.

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Jean-Paul Sartre for Dodge Dart:
“In my journey to the end of night, I must rely not only on dialectical paths of reason. I must have a good solid automobile, one that eschews the futile trappings of worldly ennui and asks only for basic maintenance. My Dodge Dart offers me this elemental solace, and as interior parts fall off I am struck by the realization of their pointlessness. I might not know if the window is up or down. It is of no consequence.”

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Isn’t not knowing if the window is up or down a bit like Schrodinger’s cat - you don’t know if the cat [window] is alive or dead….

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Hmm, and I thought Sartr-e drove a Dart-re?

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Cher M Floss

En parlant des erreurs fondamentales, je crois que ce qui M Descartes a ecrit etait “Je PENSE donc je suis”. Ca je comprends. Je ne comprends pas du tout “Je suis donc je suis”. Vous pensez, peut etre a M. Sartre ?

“Cogito ergo sum” melior notus est. Latina lingua eruditio in vicis Descartis erat.

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To be is to do – Socrates
To do is to be – Jean-Paul Sartre
Do be do be do - Sinatra

That’s sorted now.

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Afore yiz all jump on me - I know - genitive - Eruditionis

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Not trying to jump on you Sean but, as pedantry seems to be in fashion, shouldn´t “ce qui M. Descartes a écrit…” be
“ce que M. Descartes a écrit ” seeing as “ce que” is the object of the verb “écrire” ? 🙂

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& the Schroedinger’s cat matter should be familiar to all traditional musicians. The point of Schroedinger’s illustration was that the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics, to wit, that observation collapses the wave function, and hence leads to determinacy, meant that the cat, prior to observation was in two juxtaposed states - being simultaneously alive and dead.

That observation influences experiements - Remember all those occasions when the warm-up came straight from heaven - The you go on stage - to wit, in front of observers and there is a blast of cold air from somewhere that plays hell with tuning, and the sound mixer is an idiot, and you can’t find the source of the 50 Hz hum (60 if you’re American) and you all sound like carthorses trying to play wearing mittens………. Proves the Copenhagen interpretation, in my book

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We had a 50 Hz hum in our gig last Saturday - it disappeared when one of the fiddle players hung her fiddle on the stand and reappeared when she picked it up and started playing again.

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Murfbox - fine point, for which I thank you. Colloquially, I thought “Qui” was used for emphasis, particularly in conjunction with “Etre” ,as follows my “ecrit”

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Could be, Sean. Language is changing all the time and the gap between what is written in the books and what is spoken in the street is getting bigger.

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monsieur murfbox est correcte

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>“ce que M. Descartes a écrit ”

who’re you calling a “ce que”?

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Murf - Thank you for your gracious response. I have no doubt but that your grammar is correct.

Pipewatcher - Did someone mention Magritte ?

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funny you should mention it

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if you look a little closer, you’ll notice that it’s just a clever illusion (possibly background emulsion), which i see as a giant, hot yellow-brick staircase leading both ways to hell and heaven, feelings i’m sure felt by the more intense players of this genre

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I think only llig can determine if Frankie Gavin is playing like Frankie Gavin. Yes, I’d love another cup of tea🙂

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“ce qui M. Descartes a écrit…”

murfbox : 1
Sean Lead Liath : 0

Nous écrivons à propos de ce *que* le vieux René a écrit.

“Qui” means “Who”, and “Que” means “What”.

There is no change in spelling caused by emphasis in the language of Molière insofar as I know.

Je ne m‘attendais pas à trouver un tel niveau en français ici. C’est une plaisante surprise.

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exactement

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Holy sh*te--French on an ITM site8)

Pardon ma mauvaise traduction

Est-ce possible, en français lors de l’intrusion, nous voulons seulement à lire la musique?

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Que / Qui - What / Who - Not as simple as that - But let us not stray too far off topic.

qui est?

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En ce qui concerne la date, mes enfants (de la patrie, sans doute) - veuillez noter qu‘aujourd’hui c’est le quatorze juillet.

Les sessions chez Johnny sont-ils toujours en cours ?

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Je suis pas sûr des sessions chez notre Johnny national, et si elles seraient fréquentables…

Toujours est-il que l‘état va lui débourser un million d’euros pour la présentation de ce soir. C’est obcène.

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Pas qu’un million ? Pas plus ? Un tel montant me parait pas beaucoup pour la Grande Nation

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“Dots are just bones” interestting metaphor. However, if you are experienced with “dots” you know that “dots” can be more complicated and varied than someone who can only read simplisitc “dots” can say. There are plenty of “dots” out there that offer complicated, interesting renditions. You just have to be well-versed in reading them and music theory to understand what they are saying. I wonder how many people that dis the dots actually can REALLY read music?? I would agree that the dots on this site are simplistic. But not all dots are. I think they are a useful tool, just like some people might use ABC or rely on a program that slows a track down, etc. I still don’t understand why everyone gets so bent outta shape over these discussions…🙂

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The horror, the horror, the dots…

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Hi Fiddlechick -

Might I expand ?

Yes, I can read music, and yes, I am well versed in music theory. Written notation is indeed a useful tool. I think that the point that the hard core (in which I count myself) seeks to make is that it is not possible to capture all of the subtlety and nuance in any form of notation.

The tradition is fundamentally aural, and there really is no getting around the fact. This is not to say that some people cannot get great fulfilment from reading and playing music at the level at which it is possible to write it.

I can think of one reasonably accessible good analogy - Consider the power & passion of Luke Kelly’s rendition of “Raglan Road” & juxtapose with what a nice Bunratty harpist might do to the same song. The two would look identical if written.

Getting perhaps somewhat more vague to the classical ear / eye - I have introduced clasically trained musicians to trad. The first challenge is to get them to loosen up - Stop abstracting against the formalism of what’s a quaver, and what’s a crotchet or what’s a bar - you’ll know you’re there when it’s not you playing any more, but a ghost that is working your hands to do impossible things, impulsively, against phrases, phrasing and ornamentation that simply occur. I had some classical training in my early youth, but even then I would no more have thought of applying classical methods to ITM, or the converse, than I would put salt in my coffee or sugar on my eggs.

Some of the hard core react rather emotionally when it is put to them that there is actually nothing beyond the written rendition. (Very privately, I consider the averral rather arrogant). ITM is not unique in this regard. In my other life, I train young engineers on occasion. It is an utterly futile exercise to try to drill people in material for which nothing in their respective backgrounds & life experiences has prepared or conditioned them.

It is in my view, as you state, rather pointless to get upset about fundamentally erroneous contentions. Those who hold that the entirety of the ITM form can be captured in the writing are missing out. (I can sight read at speed, but it is a pretty empty experience). I hope no-one gets upset at this - there are no value judgments here - As I say, if people play and enjoy so doing - terrific.

If I can expand on Llig’s above - Sometimes I do indeed learn new tunes from the “Dots” - but then I have to absorb them in to my DNA to understand what they are about - their characteristics, what can be done with them, the correct phrasing, what ornamentation is appropriate, and what is not - …..Difficult to explain, unless you’ve been there. I couldn’t do it at all though were I not formed in the aural tradition.

The Zen analogy I used in an earlier posting on this topic is indeed apposite. If the question is asked, the questioner is not ready for the answer. I do not mean that in any exclusivist, arrogant or opinionated sense. I actually wish well to those who are seeking to learn, & hope for each that s/he comes to full communion with the core tradition. Thus spake the Hard Core !!

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When ~I write a tune I do so by creating it phrase by phrase and then balancing and simplifying. Then I learn the tune as written. Once I have the bones I then proceed to ornament. The structure that I learnt from the dots is always there as the ‘form’ This is the tune. How I play it, varies, and its never the same twice.
. This is how I use the dots with stuff I did not write. I take the dots as a structure, the form, the bones , upon which I build using various tricks, ornaments and melodic , chordal and rhythmical variation. etc


I have to say that I spent the first 20 yrs playing by ear before teaching myself to read music so that experience colours my outlook.
Those decades of ear learning were very valuable but ~It was only by learning to read, and so assimilate tunes that much faster, that really allowed me to build up a repertoire. I have forgotten some tunes, but I would be able to play them if someone started.

Although I have never used slow down software I think its a great idea. Learning by ear is matter of only building up listening skill and having a mental ‘picture’ of where these sounds can be found on your instrument.Learning to sing the phrases of tunes at the same time as paying them is a little trick that can pay dividends in building up the skills of learning tunes by ear. As in anything once you can do it slowly then over time, speed can be built up and after a while it becomes easier to pick up tunes at sessions on the fly.

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With all due respect to sheet music, may I repeat;
playing by ear is fun.

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Fiddlechick, there are plenty of traditional musicians who do write, transcribe, notate Irish tunes with the goal of representing articulations & rhythms which might be considered inherent to ITM.
Grey Larsen immediately comes to mind. He has compiled an encyclopedic tutorial for Irish flute & tinwhistle. His book includes individual players versions of tunes, 2 CDs. Fintan Vallely uses notation & description quite well. Geraldine Cotter has an excellent whistle tutorial . . .
I think it is grand!

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Togha fir, Ionannas- Well said & excellently expressed.

If this is about learning

about learning outside of session (not woodshedding mind you; that’s another matter).
I have been in a few whistle & flute workshops. Excellent workshops. & some poor ones as well. In some there was sheet music made available. In others, not a sheet. But in every last workshop which was worth the time it was universal .
The 1st thing we ever received from the instructor was the tune ~ played. The aural tradition only asks one thing of you.
1st thing, the place to begin, opening up of the world tunes begins with listening ~ hearing the tune.

with all due respect to sheet music ;)

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All this talk about philosophy reminds me of a story I once heard about Rene Descartes when he was young.
He was out running errands one day with the family carriage, and while he was on his way home, a thunderstorm arose. The horse was spooked, and young Rene got out of the carriage, took the bridle, and began to lead it home. As he approached his house, his father looked out of the window, saw his son, and called out in anger. “Rene,” he said, “get back in that carriage where you belong. How many times do I have to tell you not to put Descartes before the horse?”

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I happen to know something about Mr. Craic. Every so often he shows up at the local for some tunes and this past Sunday he appeared and sat in the back row despite efforts to encourage him to sit in the empty seat up front because he’s a good player and knows some great tunes. During a break for the singers I noticed that he stepped outside where suspicious looking character emerged from the darkness with a small envelop which appeared to hold quite a few dots. All I saw was a quick exchange between the two and then Mr. Craic disappeared around the corner but I knew he was getting his fix. A few minutes later in walks Mr. Craic with with an odd smile on his face. He sits down in the empty seat up front and plays a great set of reels! So Mr. Craic, if you need your fix of dots now and then to play the tunes, so be it.

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OK. I’ll ‘fess up too. I have on occasion hidden a copy of O’Neill’s behind a porno mag so’s people will think I’m only reading porn

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And I’m sure you feel much better now that you’ve come clean, so to speak.

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With all due respect to those that have obviously more experience playing within the tradition more than I probably have, what I’m trying to get people to understand is a point of view that I know is difficult to process if learned the instrument strictly or mostly be ear. There seems to be this sense that reading music adds an extra step: for someone like me, who has read music for over 20 years and formed those hardwire links as my brain was growing as a kid, there is no extra step. When I see music, the TECHNIQUE and MOVEMENT are automatic. It’s like reading a novel: I don’t think about what I’m reading, I just read it, it makes sense, and I “feel” the story. However, when I’m looking at middle Welsh, I have to analyze the parts of speech, etc. as I’m trying to comprehend it all: that’s what playing strictly be ear is like to me. I think, personally, I just want other musicians to realize that playing by ear is important in this tradition, but it isn’t completely necessary to “feel” the music. I’m not saying not to listen to the music being played, but that you don’t have to learn it all by ear, either, to be any good at it or to enjoy it or to convey the feeling within the piece. I think both are important. I’d rather be able to both play be ear and read music proficiently. I’m working on the ear part, and it may take another 10 years to hone that ability. In the meantime, I can still play a tune picked up from the “dots” and I can garantee that MOST on this site wouldn’t know the difference if they heard the tune without visually seeing any sheetmusic. A good reader can interpret what they read as they’re reading it. Now, some of those on here that have played for upteen years, that might be a different story. But many players here, I’ve noticed on profiles, have been playing the music and/or the instrument for 5 years or less. Just my take on the “banter” ;)

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I’m sorry fiddlechick but you are wrong. Playing by ear is vital in this tradition, but IS completely necessary to the music. You say you have an automatic hard wire link between the note on the page and the note as it comes out of your instrument. Concidering that the note as it is on the page, is more often than not, NOT the note a decent player would be playing, you have a handicap.

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When I started the fiddle just over 8 years ago I had a lifetime of orchestral cello playing behind me. It took me 2 - 3 years to “lose” sight-reading for Irish music and to acquire the ability to learn and play by ear. That’s my take.

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llig~~

“Thus the ability to read music fluently is strongly linked to the ability to understand music fluently. A well-trained musical mind anticipates how rhythmic patterns will be transformed, melodies transposed, chords filled in, phrases concluded. A brian equipped with such knowledge can ignore individual notes and pat attention to larger patterns, and it will know where to piont the fovea to gather just the information required to verify that anticipations are correct. We do something similarly when we read a book. A combination of anticipation and peripheral vision tells us that a frequently used word like ‘the’ is coming up, and our foveas skip right over it. There’s a good deal of research confirming the role of anticipation in sight-reading. When experienced sight readers are shown traditional music doctored with harmonic errors, they usually correct the errors without noticing them. Often they can’t even find the errors when told of their existence. They know how such music should sound and they’re able to play it merely by observing its outline rather than every note. Significantly, music that is structurally complex is harder to sight-read…. Masterful sight reading can be married to sharp auditory imagery to produce a skill that was once quite common: the ability to imagin music by reading its score. The benefits to general musicianship are tremedous. Schumann summed it up well: ‘He is a good musician who understands the music without the score, and the score without the music. The ear should not need the eye, the eye should not need the outward ear.’” ~~ Robert Jourdain

If you really read my previous post, you would see that I believe ear training in this tradition is important. My point is that being able to read music isn’t a handicap, but a tool. And that an extensive trainting in music is in no way a hindrance to learning the nuances of a genre supported mainly through an aural tradition.

You are a “right-fighter”. I’m not even sure if you really take the time to understand posts you disagree with. Or respect them.

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To lazyhound:

I garantee it will take at least that amount of time. Doing away with “dots” is like relearning to play the instrument, I find. I can’t wait until the day, as I said, when I can do both: read the music and also play it all by ear as well. It’s a long road to travel. I just have a problem with having my training dissed like on the technique thread. I don’t understand how someone can think any musical training is a bad thing just because they haven’t experienced it. I’m learning to play be ear now. It’s not easy, but I think my training is actually helping is some respects, as stated in the quote above, regarding “anticipation” and “understanding” of musical phrasing.

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Fiddlechick, here’s what you wrote: “I just want other musicians to realize that playing by ear is important in this tradition, but it isn’t completely necessary to ”feel“ the music. I’m not saying not to listen to the music being played, but that you don’t have to learn it all by ear, either, to be any good at it or to enjoy it or to convey the feeling within the piece. I think both are important.”

I agree with llig: you’re wrong. In any music, playing by ear is necessary. In this music it is absolutely essential. It is *all* that matters.

I learned to read music when I was 7 and have been sight reading for 43 years. But in this music it’s a crutch that will hold you back more than it will help you. If you rely on the dots to help you get the “feel” for this music, you’ll miss most of the crucial stuff because it can’t be notated. The nyah isn’t on the page.

The dots can be a memory aid, and even a source for the bones of a tune, but ***only if you’ve already learned to play this music by ear.***

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I’m curious to know as well, llig… do you sight read well? Do you have any training other than ear training? If you say yes, I think I’ll take more stock in what you say; however, I’m just wondering if half the banter is stemming from a lack of understanding of anything other than your own experience? I’ve admitted I have a long way to go with my ear training and respect it’s importance. I’m just wondering why you are a “right fighter”? I’ve read some other posts where you seem to think anything other than just sittting and playing is horses**t. So I’m just curious to further understand where you are coming from (in all sincerity, not being facitious here at all 🙂

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>> “There are plenty of ”dots“ out there that offer complicated, interesting renditions.”

While the dots of an “interesting rendition” might be interesting to study, it is still rigid. So, for instance, studying the idea of variation by using dots would often lead a person to do very regimented variation, following what is written. (I know some people who play lovely variations, but by the third or fourth time you play with them, you come to realize that they play the exact same variations at the exact same part of the tune every time… That’s what I mean by regimented…)

The “interesting renditions” should flow from within. It is the difference between being able to speak eloquently and reading an eloquent passage in a book. I agree that reading an eloquent passage in a book can help you learn to speak eloquently, but only if you approach it that way. I think the tendency for a lot of people when reading music is to play what is written. And even if you’re playing it with a proper style (that you learned by listening to Irish music), you’re still reading it, and not expressing it from within.

So, in that regard, to me, it’s preferable that if you learn a tune from the dots, you do so from a simplistic, “bones” version, and then use your experience to extrapolate from there, and express the tune from your heart, not from some rigid written rendition, no matter how “interesting”…

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Will~~

I respect your advice here. As I’ve said, I’m working on the by ear thing. I’ve seemed to have learned “backwards” then: music before ear, seems to be the understanding. I’m wondering why there seems to be a divorce from visual and aural learning. All I’m suggesting is, is there a possiblity that it’s not all black or white? When I read something, I don’t just play like a metronome without feeling. That’s all I’m saying. I do AGREE with you on the importance of learning to play by ear, I’m just wondering why I’m supposed to completely disregard anything I’ve learned previously to play this music well… why can’t I use the skills I’m learning with the skills already honed?

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Fiddlechick, before you dismiss llig’s points, or lazyhound’s, or mine, recognize that we’re all taking the time to post not because we want to be right, but because we hope to help others get the most out of this music. The three of us have been posting here for years on topics like this--we got over “being right” a long time ago.

Frankly, given how little time you’ve spent playing strictly by ear, I’d sincerely suggest that you give it all your attention before spending any more time defending sight reading. You’re seeing this advice from people here who are experienced sight readers *and* experienced trad musicians. We’ve tried both routes and are offering our best insights. In contrast, you are a relative newcomer to playing solely by ear--don’t dismiss something you haven’t fully experienced yet.

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Reverend… interesting thoughts there. I’m wondering, because I honestly don’t know, how this then translates into a session setting, where everyone is supposed to play the same thing and playing lots of variations or your own version isn’t always taken in stride becasue, I quote, “it messes up the other players”? How do the session players decide which person’s version is “more from the heart”?

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Will, on the contrary , I’m not defending or disrespecting your expertise. I think I’ve said that very thing in the above posts. I’m posting these prompts to get responses to learn from you. I respect your advice. I admit, I have a problem with llig’s advice, because I’ve read his responses to other posts as well, and he seems to respond in the same way to everyone. He rubs me the wrong way. That doesn’t mean I don’t consider what he says. I just would rather read your posts because I get more out of them, even if in general, you agree with what was said before🙂

Re: dots and staff lines…

Cross posting.

It’s okay to use your previous musical training. It can help you understand the structure of this music, how it’s organized (and how it breaks the rules of more “formal” music).

But you’ll find more often than not that you’re trying to cram this music into the conventions of formal music, and it won’t fit. This is particularly true when this music is converted into dots. Play any tune straight from the page and it won’t sound like Irish trad.

I suspect you’ve already sussed that out and are using your ears pretty well to hear the nyah even when you play from the page. But the notes of a tune are the least important pieces of this music. The notes are always changing, being left out, being stretched or cut in half or replaced. Far more important are tiny differences in timing, articulation, dynamics, etc., that can only be heard if you learn to listen super closely.

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Will--- that’s all I wondered. I think I get what everyone seems to be saying. I just perhaps misunderstood. I thought I was being asked to think of music theory, etc. as irrelevant. Perhaps it would be best to say, then, that I should maybe find someone around here to work with? Anyone know anyone in and around Blair County, PA? I really do want to become a better fiddler. This is, as I’m sure you get, since you started reading at a yound age also, a very difficult thing to retrain the brain. I think part of the problem, also, is that I do play in a band (they were fine with the fact that I read music) and have to learn quickly, so I (this is going to sound totally strange, I know) listen to the song, but also notate it out on sheet music as I learn it so I won’t forget it (I have crappy short term memory, so this is probably a crutch). However, I know that I need to lose the stand on stage… not only is it frowned upon, but I don’t like being tethered to the same general spot for 80 % of a gig. It makes me feel silly. I think If I found someone to play with outside the band, that would help. I haven’t found any slow sessions around this area that I wouldn’t have to drive over 4 hours to access. Any help there?

Re: dots and staff lines…

There are different levels of variation, several of which aren’t appropriate for a session setting.

But there is variation that fits as part of sessioning, including (but not limited to) variation in articulation, ornamentation, simple harmonic substitution, and phrasing. Combining these ideas can help you express the tune in interesting ways, without stepping on anybody else. You’re saying the same thing, only in a slightly different way. That adds an incredible amount of interest to the music (for the players, at least). But this expression comes from within, with the whim of the moment, and basically can’t be written down, because it’s too fluid and dynamic.

One of my favorite moments ever in playing this music, in fact, was a few months ago, when I had the pleasure of sitting next to Will (who is a much more experienced musician than myself). We were playing tunes in a fairly small session, and we were throwing variation at each other like a playful conversation. I would play something that would elicit a raised eyebrow and a response, and then vice versa. It was almost like slagging each other, musically. There was a whole different level of musical communication going on. This is what I mean by letting the music flow from within.

Re: dots and staff lines…

Yeah, what Will said: “The notes are always changing, being left out, being stretched or cut in half or replaced. Far more important are tiny differences in timing, articulation, dynamics, etc., that can only be heard if you learn to listen super closely.”

Damn, I hate it when he expresses things more eloquently than me! 😛

Re: dots and staff lines…

Fiddlechick, you might contact David Yates, a player in Pittsburgh (he’s a member here: https://thesession.org/members/3576) and see if he knows of any Irish players in central PA.

Also, realize that “sight reading” is redundant. If you’re using your eyes, of course you’re reading. The real trick of using the dots is in “sight hearing.” If you can look at the dots and instantly hear the music, then you’re on the right track (as far as using the dots is concerned). But far, far better to upload the tunes into your brain, sing them there every waking moment, and then let them spill out on your fiddle. No need then for reams of inky paper or music stands. Free your music.

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Heh, Rev, I thought we *were* slagging each other, musically. At least I was. :-8

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It was Wyogal who said on another thread a day or two ago something to the effect that eyesight overrides other senses such as feel and sense of muscular behaviour (she was talking in this instance about the advisability of not looking at your fingers while playing). The applicability to this present discussion is obvious.

I’ve told the story here before about when I attended a big workshop on playing music for dancing. Because attendees were coming from far and wide with unknown musical backgrounds printed music was provided and the ability to sight-read was essential. I discovered I knew nearly all of the 90-odd tunes given us (we played through them all!), but when it came to playing them from the dots in session there was an immediate conflict between what was in my head and the slight differences in the printed versions. This caused me to make silly mistakes. The only way I could resolve the problem was to push the music stand away out of focus.

Re: dots and staff lines…

Fiddlechik -

re your quote from Jourdain - yes- I can read a score and imagine the music & I can memorise a score without playing it. I can even over 15 or 20 minutes figure out what the tune is probably about - how it should be phrased, expressed, teased, played, turned with c &c &c [I love the one about Will & Rev tossing variations one to the other - Pure magic of playing within the tradition…..]. Anyway - I still have to play it to get the definitive verdict, as it were. No musical notation can express that - the ‘nyah’ - & it is not something I could ever have learned from reading. This tradition is aural.

If you were to avail of some software that slows down music - mTrax or GDT or similar - and slow down some very proficient players, I’d be fascinated to hear of your views afterward. Listen around. Sometimes I suggest contrasting Frankie Gavin playing Martin Wynne’s reel with Edel Fox & Ronan O’Flaherty playing the same one. I was going to give a one-liner summing up - but I won’t - Don’t want to spoil it for you !

With regard to variations when playing with other people, might I suggest listening to what Martin Quinn does when playing “Rogha Thomais Ui Dhubhda” & “Quinn’s Reel” with Angelina Carberry ?

As a general matter, listen to ANY proficient player with the score of the tune in front of you - As they say on Star Trek - Set Your Faces to Stun. You might want to slow down the music while so doing - some of the defter work is very subtle.

Of course you shouldn’t lose your theory background, but I would refer to the comments I made in an earlier posting on this thread re some of the challenges classically trained players face when they come to ITM.

Best wishes & happy immersion !

Re: dots and staff lines…

“Set Your Faces to Stun” - that itself is a variation! It never stops…

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Re: dots and staff lines…

Faces / Stun - Would that I could claim it as my own. It is from that great contemporary social commentator, Bart Simpson

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Yes, he’s my guru.

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face the face

Re: dots and staff lines…

This concurs with and expands upon parts of the above posts.

We speak language (however well) before we read it (however well). We hear, and copy what we hear.

Once we speak a language, there are methods to record what we hear and say. Notation is not the music, written words are not the story, until they are heard -- in the head or in the air.

Listening comes first in all cases. Even when one learns a tune or story from a paper, it is necessary to hear (inside and out) what the tune is, what the musical or literary phrase means.

Some people can put this all together with a first reading, others must parse it out and study the result.

In all cases, “sight reading” should not be reading something you don’t have any idea what it is. When a good (expressive) reader reads words, they might scan the whole, and always look ahead during reading out loud. Looking/thinking ahead is necessary for smooth and comprehensible reading of all types, including music. A “sight reader” should always scan the page to learn what’s there, then play each note in order, but always looking ahead so phrases are phrases. This skill is not impossible, and for some is natural. Thus “sight reading” is not first note then !panic! before each succeeding notation. Looking ahead allows what’s ahead to be known before you sound it, so the meaning is clear.

Think Ahead is one of my mantras for students. Playing music is a time warp -- what you play depends on what you just played and what you will play next. It is necessary to be aware of the whole while playing the bits.

I always teach students some simple tunes by ear, regardless of their type of music, history and ability. When the student can sing and play some tunes fluently, only then do I show the music notation, so they correlate their hearing and playing with translating notation.

In all styles of music (folk, jazz, karnatic…..) except standard classical playing, music is learned by 1st hearing, 2nd singing, 3rd playing. Otherwise, you have no internal basis for what you are playing. Just as saying words in your head while reading silently, when playing (both from memory and “at sight”) it is imperative that you first hear the result, and sing while you are playing. You must sing (in your head or out loud -- thank you Glenn Gould) before and during playing all music to produce a musical result.

To get away from the page, just learn the tunes. How? By constantly singing them over to yourself during the day (the interior recording plays and learning occurs during sleep also). Thus you learn tunes, and you may find you have your own version. When playing, you sing what you learned, and playing is fluent because you Know the tune. Begin with short, understandable tunes, and work up to more. In a band you must have a limited number of tunes to play, so just learn them all, starting now.

Musicmaking is not a finger thing. Music is a hearing art, regardless of the ways it is transmitted.

When I notate my tunes, I include alternate possibilities. When I play them, they vary with the moment, tho always recognizable. Others will have their own ways to play them.

Happy playing!
vlnplyr

Re: dots and staff lines…

vlnplyr, you miss two important points.

When Traditional Irish Dance Music is notated, it uses the symbols of the classical tradition, but they represent different sounds, different timings different rhythms. This renders the notation worse than useless to anyone familiar with only the standard meanings.

With the standard classical tradition, while the notation doesn’t give any where near all the amount of information needed to actually create a piece of music, it does give you the vast majority of the notes, in the right order. This is not the case with standard notations of Irish tunes.

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Llig, I’m not baiting you or trying to start anything, but I’m wondering if you can clarify your last post here. I’m not sure I’m understanding what you mean with the notation in trad. not being represented accurately, in this case with dance music. I’ve played for my dance group from the dots before, and it was fine. The timing was fine. The rolls made sense and “fit”. This isnt’ a post to oppose anything with “feeling”, etc. Just wondering what exactly you mean here. Playing dance music isn’t like playing a solo. There are conformities that the dancers expect, and those are usually notated and understandable.

Dots and staff lines… 5-6 month old thread

Excellent question Fiddlechick7. Llig seems to be saying this,

With the {standard notations of Irish tunes} while the notation doesn’t give any where near all the amount of information needed to actually create a piece of music, {neither does} it give you the vast majority of the notes, in the right order. This renders the notation worse than useless to anyone familiar with only the standard meanings.*

I recognize 2 points being described by Michael
1. familiarity of how Irish tunes sound (& how played) by someone using sheet music
2. limitations of written music for someone who does not have the familiarity described in point 1

we anxiously await his freedom.

* I did not use quotation marks as I was editting llig’s comments.

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Typo

. . . editing . . . {w/1 t}.

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