what makes a good tune?

what makes a good tune?

I for one like a tune if I can play it.

Re: what makes a good tune?

you mean there are no tunes you like that you can’t play?

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Were there any tunes you liked before you could play? I just don’t get the logic. Do you learn tunes you don’t like so that you can then like them? Did you learn to play music in the first place because you didn’t like music? Hmmm

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Perhaps croxton just want a chat about tunes. Came to the wrong place, obviously!

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wants

Re: what makes a good tune?

I can play the theme from "Police Academy" and
"Runnin Down the Road" by Jackson Browne. Do I have to like those ones?

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I’d love a chat about tunes. Sorry. Yeah, tunes tunes lovely lovely tunes. The best are born from sublime invention. I think it’s possible that you can identify some bits of the best tunes that contribute to their greatness, and to a certain degree explain why. But I don’t think any explanation of why one particular tune is great can contribute anything to some kind of spurious formula that can be used to measure greatness in tunes in general.

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If anything, what often makes a particular tune great is when it breaks some spurious rule that you would otherwise apply to a measure of general quality.

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there’s no logic it’s called self depricating humor albeit maybe not that funny. And truth is, my first motivation for playing music was girls. Of cousre that never worked out so well, but the music stuck cuze’ it turnes out I kinda like it. But I digress, I still want to know what makes a good tune, because many of the tunes I like seem to be fodder for ridicule on this site.

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I got into playing ‘cause I didn’t like dancing. But I digress. Name a tune then and we’ll analyze it to death for you

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"many of the tunes I like seem to be fodder for ridicule on this site"

I bet that’s true for everyone who comes here.

For some visitors to this site their instrument of choice is fodder for ridicule.

The world is divided into two kinds of people - those who divide the world into two kinds and those who don’t.

Those who do choose to divide the world into two kinds might well divide it into those who are bothered by the tunes they like seeming to be fodder for ridicule on this site, and those who are not bothered.

So - in conclusion - don’t let it bother you, it’s not a personal attack, it’s a thing called craic / crack / banter / conversation (choose one).

Re: what makes a good tune?

guess what?" My instrument of choice is the 5 string banjo. Put that in pipe and smoke it! My patient is coding got to go.

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ha, and it’s important to note that whatever it is that makes a tune fodder for ridicule on this site will have absolutely nothing to do with whether it’s a good tune or not

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I glad he had time to tell us that all his patient’s monitors started bleeping, rather than just jumping up and dealing with it.

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hear, hear!

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What makes a good tune?
Easy, if I think it’s a good tune it’s a good tune! Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, they know nothing about what makes a good tune. They have no taste anyway and are in to this music for all the wrong reasons, know nothing of tradition, learn tunes the wrong way as well as learn the wrong versions and titles, they do not have the correct opinion on bodhrans, picking patterns, bowing, open vs. closed piping etc etc in fact, they know nothing so how could they POSSIBLY know what a good tune is!!!!

Re: what makes a good tune?

Or are you trying to tell us that your patient is sitting up in bed doing some programming work? I can see that you would want to discourage that, but perhaps the urgency isn’t so great.

Re: what makes a good tune?

What makes a good tune is what makes a good hat.

Different for everyone, and it frequently changes with the weather.

It is what fits at the moment.

My one cent.

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While it’s certainly true that almost any tune can have its moment, I do think that some really great tunes have some measure of objective quality in them. Maybe what marks them apart is their ability to create their own moments

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The Bothy Bandy do!…. or did.

Re: what makes a good tune?

Except they didn’t "make" good tunes did they. They "chose" good tunes.

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same thoughts : a good tune is one I like, not one I can play… and if I really like it, then I learn it, and if I find I can’t play it, I work on it till I can…
But me tends to think all tunes are good tunes… when they don’t sound good, it’s mostly because they aren’t played well enough…
and I love it when a tune I don’t like turns out to be a great tune because someone made it good…

Re: what makes a good tune?

I like the Otter’s Holt for different reasons than, say, I like the old standards like Out on the Ocean….or another standard I like to put with it The Rolling Waves. I simply LOVE playing The Brown Box/Coffin.

I think some tunes capture the feeling of what their title’s [ostensibly] allude to, ie, for example oceans, water. The Brown Box is a rather cheery hornpipe which makes it’s title all the more rich. It’s also great under the bow hand, as is Out on the Ocean.

Some tunes are merry, some have quirky bits [as Llig alluded to], that surprise. There’s sort of a little horn honk in the second bit of Lucy Campbell’s that always amuses me.

I guess good tunes surprise, lull, flow under the bow hand and/or fingers…they almost have their own "shape" that’s theirs in particular. And while there are many other equally worthy tunes, some tunes just seem to capture the ear and offer endless avenues for variation…and maybe even more importantly grow with the player. That is, as you get better…your ear, your appreciation of the music, your appreciation for the possibilities of the music…certain tunes seem to lend themselves and grow with you…for lack of a better way of putting it.

I think Mountain Road is outstanding in this regard…at least on fiddle.

I also never tire of The Sally Gardens for the same reasons.

For what it’s worth…

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I like a tune that somehow violates my subconscious expectations of what a good tune ought to be, yet immediately seems perfectly appropriate. Which, I guess, is a ‘round-the-arse way of saying that I like surprises.

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In reply to llig

Holy Mackerel. Not everything needs to be taken so literally.

Although- of course the Bothy Band ‘chose’ the tunes , but they also made them. …… Check out The Maids Of Michelstown for example. They ‘Chose’ as you say, the basic tune. However, only one instrument at a time is actually playing that tune. The counter melodies and all the tremendous accompaniment was all ‘made’ by the Bothy Band.

Re: what makes a good tune?

Personal choice is my other answer.

For example:
The Irish Washerwoman leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

The hag at the churn , I always go back to.

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I’m a lucky guy. If the wee auld man from Galway I get to play with once in a while leans over to me and says "Ian, that’s a fine old tune there" after we’re done the set, then I know it’s a good tune. I feel pretty secure about that. :-P

Re: what makes a good tune?

The person playing it.

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I likes any ol’ tune what gets Milady hot
Make her swang her head of hair
Stir the hubbly-bubbly pot

Why do people forget music’s vital, liquor-like function? Well, I’ll tell you for a quarter.

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This discussion seems rather stilted, probably because the best place to ask this question is when all are sitting in a circle, with instruments at the ready! Then take the rest of the evening to explore the issue!

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I enjoy a tune that has an element of surprise…..even though it can’t continue to surprise me, I remember the shiver it gave me when I first heard it.

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A Melody —-
A Rare thing in some modern Irish, and other-wise
Traditional Tunes - lol…

jim,,

Re: what makes a good tune?

RichardB — no, I don’t know what that noise was, but it’s not
the theme music to the movie ‘Police Academy’ — god, I can’t
believe I’m using up precious seconds of my lifespan to write this

Re: what makes a good tune?

Me.

…..?!..?.. :-)

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Diddley.

Re: what makes a good tune?

A composer is a guy who goes around forcing his will on unsuspecting air molecules, often with the assistance of unsuspecting musicians.


f. zappa

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If traditional tunes weren’t good tunes, they wouldn’t have hung around long enough to become traditional.

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Gam nailed it.

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Yes!

I stand by what I posted above, but I failed to specifically mention that - the artist’s investment in the playing/performing.

Dead on.

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a good tune does it’s best to move, or bend, or articulate it’s way around & through conventional music theory. a good tune probably works despite attempts to explain why. Never too tame.They’re fun.
& of course the players.

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Sometimes the surroundings can make a tune good. I was backpacking this summer and took my whistles (d and low d) I played tunes on the side of a cliff in the morning rays, another sitting on a rock in some rapids, various along the path, and different types around the fire in the moon light.

Snappy, happy ones at a pub’s brief birthday celebration, and somber, haunting ones in church service programs. Others for dancers.

They are all wonderful in their own way and the setting just could make them so.

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Hup: you prompt me to explore further, though I only would have watched said film with brain switched off when my son was very small. The theme appears to be Tanha Shodam Tanha an Afghan tune: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rt5rxV3KMgU

This possibly does come under the definition "good tune"

Re: what makes a good tune?

feardearg, I said that earlier, that there can be a moment for every tune. But in looking for some kind of thing that objectively marks out the very best of the tunes, perhaps they are the ones that you can play anywhere, because they create their own moments. The very best tunes can simultaneously be snappy, happy, celebratory, somber, haunting and great for dancers. They have enough depth and flexibility in them to be all these things.

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Diddley……..
and…..or……
nnyyyaaaaaaa……….

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"The very best tunes can simultaneously be snappy, happy, celebratory, somber, haunting and great for dancers. They have enough depth and flexibility in them to be all these things."

I must agree, Llig, but so much of it seems difficult to pin down.

I think there are tunes which more or less lend themselves to a certain type of interpretation that many people find agreeable, like a certain rhythm or tempo for dancers. The fiddle and piping tunes I usually seem to favor are usually of a "dark" tone - they have some sense of melancholy, or gravity, or seriousness to them.
i liken it to a party on a Sunday night - it is a party, but Monday morning is coming.
(I am grasping at straws here, trying to define undefinables that, take note, others might not hear that way at all.)

http://www.emusic.com/album/Various-Artists-Saydisc-Traditional-Dance-Music-of-Ireland-MP3-Download/10604198.html

Tracks 13, 21, 36

All have woven into the thread a touch of melancholy or wistfulness I tell myself I can hear. BTW, Mr. doherty is playing for the recorder a lot faster than I would, or could, and still keeping the elements I mentioned above.

At least I think so.
:-)

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Re: what makes a good tune?

A tune that can encompass cliches and well-worn riffs, but either embrace them very full-heartedly (like the polkas Maggie In The Wood, John Ryan’s), or, one way and another, consist of something more; or both.

Some tunes may be ahead of the game when it comes to ‘avoiding the obvious’, but making that the *main* aim might just lead to novelties without much staying power. Can’t think of examples at the moment, but I think they’re out there.

Re: what makes a good tune?

The reason you can’t think of any is because such tunes are so forgettable.

The art of good composition is create changes that are unpredictable and yet, after you’ve heard them, there is a sense of satisfaction that where the tune went was really the only place it could have gone.

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Gentlemen:
Don’t you think that "cliches and well-worn riffs" are what makes a style definable in the first place? And that the point of a tune fitting into any definition of a style or tradition is being predictable, is it not? The only way to have a "place" to go is if there are expectations created by previous musicians and music.

If it was, hypothetically, a "4/4" Gmajor world" before anything else was thought of, I would love to know the fate of the first piper to play a slip jig in Aminor. The tune could not have gone where it was supposed to, since it would have broken all the rules to begin with.

If there were no precedents in place, we would be innovating, but we are not - we are preserving and carrying on tunes written by others, often many years ago, and making them our own using time-tested guidelines for ornamentation and interpretation.

And the moment we stray too far from the familiar and time-tested, we may find ourselves called progressive, modern, rogue, anything but TRADITIONAL. This despite the fact that the very musicians who created the style or styles were innovators themselves, and possibly not recognized in their own time. At least not politely.

Your thoughts?

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In the end as far as I see overall acceptance depends on whether a critical mass of individuals find a particular tune positively agreeable, or tedious and unsatisfactory.

Meanwhile, there are plenty of ‘standard’ tunes that not everyone likes. There are also tunes that never got popular or fell out of popularity years ago, which individuals discover and like very much (they are invariably referred to as ‘neglected’). But the spaff *does* tend to get winnowed out, as far as I see.

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Rook, you are describing style & tradition as one in the same. Each individual style has it’s own characteristics. Tradition encompasses several styles. Yet even in a single style a player can pay homage to earlier players & still create variations.
When nothing, at all, changes in tradition it dies.

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My notion of a good tune changes daily. At the moment Cunla is a great tune but I’m enjoying the thrill of playing it for the first time and that wears off quite quickly. But the good tunes are emmerging, I love Lilting Banshee it has a strong feel an openness or something that pulls you in; its almost like playing a duet. And then there are tunes I just dont get. Hag at the churn - just a featureless clumsy pattern
I’m also aware that I’m learning "beginners" tunes, are they spaff that hasn’t been winnowed out because they’ve become beginners staples? But then Lilting Banshee is a good begginers tune not just because of its simplicity but because it allows/invites expression more readily than other tunes, allowing a beginner to enjoy playing music at an early stage. I’m not so sure about some others.

Llig; I always take my medicine without complaining and need no sweetners (or protection from mustardia militia) baffled by your ban.

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The vast majority of so called beginners’ tunes are terrific tunes. Well worth learning and playing. And it’s a shame that familiarity breeds contempt, but it does, and that’s that. I’ll always play these tunes with beginners. My only regret, however, is that you rarely get to play them with more experienced players.

(Eòsaph, glad to hear you don’t require the sugar. Jeremy, on the other hand, requires six spoons in everything. I can’t be arsed with that and that’s why he’s always barring me.)

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Random: Point taken, but re-read my posting, I think I was not painting with too broad a brush about style/styles. But you are correct regarding semantics. Thank you.

As for the statement "When nothing, at all, changes in tradition it dies", it sounds good but does not, IMHO, hold up.

Documented well-defined regional styles "froze", in the sense I am talking about, with certain elements identified with them, and carved in stone as rules by various scholars and experts.

If this were not true, there would be no "Donegal style", no "Clare style", no "Sligo style". Read Tao - to BE one thing, it must essentially NOT be another, and vice versa.

No response from Llig, I see.

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What was I supposed to giving a response too?

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Many pardons Rook. You are correct, traditions never die. They will always be of interest ~ in the academic sense.

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;)

excellent point about beginners’ tunes!

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Random:
Webster’s has Traditon down as:

1 a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (as a religious practice or a social custom) b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable
2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
3 : cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions
4 : characteristic manner, method, or style <in the best liberal tradition>

It seems to be all about preservation, and legacy, and the continuance of something valuable. But not necessarily about evolution, I guess.

Your point about change being mandatory for long-term survival is very well taken. Without creative progressive efforts in the folk scene, many art forms might be prone to real stagnation, and a session where everything you heard was merely cloned from someone else, living or dead, would be a real drag.
So I have to agree, without change there is no growth or survival (‘Course, that’s an easy one - growth IS change, although not always progress or an improvement).

My other one cent.


Sorry, Llig, I meant comment, rather than response. Only a question demands a response.

I thought my reference to your point might have drawn a comment.

Clearly not.
My bad.
Have a good one, sir.

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Rook, I do not know if you will read this. I obviously did not take time earlier to comment on your post, directly above. I admire your follow through. Tradition may be where the immutable & the ambiguous meet.
Cheers!
In hopes you may yet receive another response you were curious about I’ll copy these earlier comments.

"The art of good composition is (to) create changes that are unpredictable and yet, after you’ve heard them, there is a sense of satisfaction that where the tune went was really the only place it could have gone." ~ llig leahcim

"Gentlemen:
… And that the point of a tune fitting into any definition of a style or tradition is being predictable, is it not? The only way to have a "place" to go is if there are expectations created by previous musicians and music. " ~ Rook

{" … where the immutable & the ambiguous meet." (?) ~ Random}

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Re: what makes a good tune?

"where the immutable and the ambiguous meet"

Ouch, my head! Wonderful!

Seriously, RN, change is one of the things that has most depressed me with ITM of late.

A piper of my acquaintance, and quite the piper for the last 40-50 years, observed to me recently that he had not much use for clean, precise, calculated technique at the price of spontaneity and "soul". (The man being a veteran of numerous bands, trad and progressive, I assume he did not refer to playing in groups, where you have to be together to a certain extent, else all becomes chaos)

The subject of the comment was a fiddler playing in a rather coarse rustic style, but on pitch with a genuine respect for the elements of the tune. It was really very good, I thought, but perhaps not likely to get him a lot of session work, based on what I hear lately - just not technically polished enough.

But "soul" or "expression" in music is about as ambiguous a concept as one can try and express, IMHO.

So where does it meet immutability?
By definition, can it?

Rook rambling…on…on…on…and…

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