An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

Now that we all have the recording, do you have the dots for us, Jack. 😎

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

Of course it was written by his father and Seamus is one of the most well-known and excellent pipers ever… and if anyone can sort out dots correctly it would be him. I just liked the video and wanted to post it. 😉

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

George did the grunt work for the dots on this one.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

If it’s ok with Seamus, It’s ok with me. What Seamus says goes. By golly !
But, I could never ever no way no how get that tune right from just the dots.

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Then again, I can’t get it right from the recording either. LOL at meself.

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There’s nothing wrong with dots…they help the ears. But you need the ears…

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

Fantastic vid. Brilliant playing, of course. I love his rhythm in particular.

But he seemed to be arguing for not learning *just* from the dots. The thrush outside his window seemed to have taught him some of it. 🙂

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

I agree… great performance!

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This website spreads a bit of misunderstanding. There is a huge difference between learning from the dots and learning a tune from the dots. Once you’ve learnt the music to a decent standard you can learn tunes from the dots. The vast majority of great players I know learn tunes from which ever way is handiest at the time. Beginners and those who don’t yet get it will learn much more by ear.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

And of course he knew his father’s playing intimately, and could readily have interpreted the ms. Nice to hear both Seamus and Katie O’Sullivan from the above link playing at around 100bpm.

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

What Bogman said.

It’s not the dots, it’s how they are played, or performed, if trying to wind up twice with one thread. Now that’s a performance! 😉

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Here’s the way I look at it. However you learn a piece of the Music is fair game. I don’t think it’s dots vs. ear. It’s becoming aware of the Music and letting the hands just play it.

Over the past four years I’ve trekked through alot of techniques in learning ITM. It’s alot like when I started playing. Very different from the way I learned when I was forced to take "lessons" .

Recently I’ve gone back to the way I learned when I was a kid. Tell the little voice in the head to find something productive to do. Listen. And let the hands play. If the dots are there, use them and listen. If not play listen.

Personally, I find the dots to be a bit of a crutch and have become just more comfortable when things start to flow.

When the flow happens, the memorization just happens. I even have started to ‘just play’ my church c**p. Learning goes much faster.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

"Now that we all have the recording, do you have the dots for us, Jack. "

While the cat’s away,…………..

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

"While the cat’s away,………….."

The irony is that some cats will tell you you can only learn by ear, perhaps unaware that their getting a worked up version from manuscript rather than a drip hand me down from the bog.

If you want to come up with something original or new(ish), you either have to write it or dig it out from some some old recording to do this by ear. Old dot collections have heaps of seldom played gems just waiting to be found and worked up, in that regard the dots have it (IMVHO that is). There’s nothing wrong with being able to do both.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

at this point in my musical semi-carreer -

In terms of using dots, I seem to have arrived at the following:
1. Hear tune, and like tune
2 .Acquire dots and recordings
3. Sight read through dots version of tune (usually somewhat different from what I heard -a version, or interpretation)
4. Play through dots for a feel of the notes as the tune goes
5. Once fairly comfortable, discard dots and simply practice as per normal for me

Dots are the "complimentary medicine" of traditional music -
they do not replace any of the other tools, but can be a fine enhancement for learning new tunes.

Redundantly yours,

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

This is what I’ve been trying to say all along, Rook and bogman. Not aruging in favor of dots over ear… just don’t understand why some get so worked up over those of us that use both methods. I also find, however, that my dots are a crutch. It’s something I’m slowly trying to remedy. But it’s a slow process indeed.

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I believe for most people learning to play the tunes, as per traditional styles, is a slow process. Listening to Seamus Ennis playing "The Morning Thrush" I think, IMHO, he may have taken more from listening to his father’s playing than he did from the manuscript. My best advice for doing this is listen to a tune as many times as possible. True, some tunes are only *discovered* from old sheets of music. Yet the playing, the playfulness, of the tunes really happens by a different process (if that makes sense). I have no concept of how Seamus Ennis does what he does. For most of us, developing an ear is playing with & learning from other tune players. For anyone struggling with playing tunes by ear it really does come from listening to & absorbing the sound, hopefully with one of your mates. So, lots of time in a session if you can when there are plenty in your vicinity. For the rest of us; as many sessions as we are able to find (grab strangers off the street if you think they have tunes in them) & lots of woodshedding.

~ spot on bogman, your comment.

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

And yours too I would say random. The importance of being able to learn by ear can’t be understated. Otherwise the dots really are just loosely defined blobs on a bit of paper. I don’t think anything can be taken on the dot issue from the fact that Seamus Ennis talks about learning the notes of a tune from the dots. He was immersed in the tunes and will have learned countless tunes by ear.

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Fair enough, Fiddlechick7 -

But why are the dots a crutch? They are undeniably a valid learning tool, even those here who most strongly prefer not to use them do not call them useless (just, rather, undesirable in as far as they may be counter-productive to one’s development of other necessary skills).

Are you dependent upon them to play a tune?
Do you have to bring sheet music to a session to be able to participate?
Is there a music stand in front of you down at the pub (or wherever you jam)?

Say it isn’t so!!

The horror!!
The HORROR!!
(another pint, please…)

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Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

My point in posting this wasn’t to suggest dots are necessary, but rather just another tool that comes in handy if the person interpreting it has a proper understanding of the music. I’ve seen dogmatic anti-dots opinions expressed in these forums that Seamus will put to rest knowing that even someone as entrenched in the tradition as he was able to make good use of it. Had it not been for the dots we might never have heard or been able to share and enjoy The Morning Thrush.

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I have to say my learning process is very similar to Rook’s, and I have always seen dots as a useful tool, when used in moderation. While I have disagreed with Phantom Button on some issues, on this one, we are on the same wavelength.

Re: An argument in favor of learning tunes from the dots.

Rook

I am with fiddlechick on the ‘crutch’. I kind of use the dots as a guideline…or maybe a road map, but like any good trip, the fun comes in the exploring.

But the decision has to be made to get off the road map and explore. I find it too easy to relax and watch the dots flow in front of me- a habit in my non-ITM music side (even though my techniques in both are merging rapidly- for the better IMO)

In order to move on with a tune, you have to get off the dots and not look back.

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It’s music, It’s heard. Capable musicians know what it should sound like and can turn dots into music. Novices can’t. Capable musicians use their ears to make music, not their eyes.

That’s usually what these discussions properly distill down to. Not rocket science. Not Frankenstein. "DOTS, BAD!" No.

Dots bad if you sound like dots. Dots good if you make music with them, using your ears.

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Rook, unfortunately for me, yes on 2 of those. I think the crutch is because even after listening, I can still pick up the basic tune quicker and more readily from the dots. However, when I learn something by ear and lock it in, it’ll stay. I’ve used dots for like 21 years. Need I say more? That is why it takes sooooo loooonnnnggg to do anything with my little ears. But at least I’m trying, whether the passerby who just sees a stand realizes that or not.