does good backing matter?

does good backing matter?

ive played guitar for over 30 years; i’m pretty sure i know what i’m doing when i play accompaniment.

i’m also a half decent melody player.

i’m flabbergasted by the number of crap guitar backers i hear at sessions, but i’m also amazed by the fact that very few melody players notice when the backing is utter shite.

eg i was in cavan last week, i heard someone back an Am tune with what i think was Dmaj chords. it didnt work, but when i asked the melody player about this afterwards, he hadnt noticed at all.

i’m starting to think that the only people who spot bad backing are anally retentive guitarists (like me) .


so the question i have is, do you notice if the backing is shite? do you care?

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A good backer can make playing the melody a joy.

A clueless backer can make playing the melody impossible.

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Yes I notice when the backing is sh*te. Yes I care. Dunno though, if it’s bothering you that much, pick better sessions where the tossers who can’t play don’t go. Or just avoid sessions. But yeah it’s annoying as hell - but they went out and bought a guitar and learnt some chords, maybe they’ll get better some day… or..they will just smash away…smash out some chords! yay fun! i love sessions! (pulls out set of really loud spoons) smash smash on the table , yay!!! (where’s my bodhran?)….bang bang bang… (in comes the electric bass player) >;-o

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What do you mean you think you heard A major chords? Did you or didn’t you?

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I don’t think he heard A major chords at all…

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I think backing matters most when it’s one on one. When it works, it’s great for all around - the melody player, the backer, and anyone who might be listening. In a big session, it matters a lot less, I think. It’s one more sound in the room. If the chords are well chosen, that’s nice, but you won’t really hear them that much, and if they’re off, it’s usually no more or less annoying than the punters yelling at each other or the TV that catches your eye.

There are certainly exceptions - if you’re sitting next to a guitarist who thinks that F chords fit Am tunes, you could be forgiven for taking them out back for some trick bike riding, if you know what I mean. But for the most part, it’s really not that big a deal if the tunes are good, and if they’re not, it’s not going to make any difference if the guitarist is good or bad.

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Don’t blame the melody player. Since 99% (at least) of guitar backing in sessions is complete rubbish, melody players get used to mentally blanking it out.

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Mr. Blend’s got it. I’ll play through just about anything if the person is clueless and not flailing away out of malicious intent. If it’s my local sesh, I’ll have a private talk with them. If I’m the guest, I’ll either go with the flow or sit at the bar.

But it’s amazing what you can learn to ignore….

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Sorry about that! I meant to say D major. But I do agree with Jon. If a guitarist is not even sure which chords another guitarist is playing that tells you something about the session. The musicians probably cannot hear each other perfectly. That happens. Besides, in a noisy pub you want to hear good melody players. Most everything else is noise.

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…besides, backing itself, good or otherwise, is not necessary. The tunes are fine without it.

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< does good backing matter? > = YEP !

jim,,,

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It depends how loud it is in relation to everything else. Same with crap melody players, I make no distinction.

There’s a fella I see often, can’t play at all. But he’s a really nice fella I’ve known for years. He plays so quiet you can’t hear him, so that’s cool.

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…do you notice if the backing is sh*te? do you care?
Yes and yes. But what can we do about it? Not everyone, unfortunately, is perfect like what I is.

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A lot of guitar players seem to be song players, but try to fit in at tune sessions without working at it, so they’re constantly searching for the right chord.
It’s quite a skill to pick things up quickly.
I have tried it (with guitar) but it’s too difficult without knowing the tunes so I stick to guitar for songs and mandolin for tunes.

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"…if you’re sitting next to a guitarist who thinks that F chords fit Am tunes, you could be forgiven for taking them out back for some trick bike riding…"

F major chords do fit tunes in Am. The problem is most tunes that "are in Am" are not. They are in A dorian. The handful of tunes that actually are in Am are fine with F major chords.

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I’ve always disliked the term backer. I don’t want someone to back me/us. It’s just not how I play music. I wanna play "with" people. I want possitive contributions, not back seat drivers.

I’d say to someone, "hey, play this tune with me."
Not, "hey, back me up on this tune."

See the difference?

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Oh and to answer the original question, yes I notice bad accompanists from a mile off. It can make the tunes almost unlistenable and is a nightmare if I am trying top play a tune on the whistle.

On the other hand I am an "anally retentive guitarist" myself so I would do!

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>Do you notice if the backing is sh*te?
Yes.
>Do you care?
Yes.

If another backer asked me if the backer that just played was sh*te, I’d probably lie and say I didn’t notice.

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I think that playing tunes with good strummers is such a different thing to just playing tune with other people who play tunes. It turns it into a totally different kind of music. Or at least it should. I think that’s what really defines a good strummer.

I know strummers who are perfectly in time and play the right chords etc, but they just don’t contribute anything. It just makes the music the tunes with somebody strumming. It’s worse than pointless, it’s just a distraction. Sure, you can block it out and just get on with your tune playing, and that’s what you do do most of the time. It’s a shame.

So, does good backing matter? If it really is just backing, strumming perfectly in time and playing all the right chords etc, but behind, at the back, then no. I couldn’t give a f*ck about it really.

Does really good strumming - that is not backing - matter? Yeah, when it is great. I like playing that kind of music. And I like just playing tunes too.

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When we have a crack at guitar accompanists here it’s because we pent up our frustrations in the very different environment of a real session. Here is where steam is let off about guitar players. We’re all far too polite, and solicitous of preserving a convivial evening in the alehouse, to give vent about it there. Unless it’s really bad. Which usually means really loud, or, even worse, a jazz guitarist having a go at diddley.

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give vent ~to~ it I reckon

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"I think that playing tunes with good strummers is such a different thing to just playing tune with other people who play tunes."

Yeah, a jazzer/bluesie guitarist friend of mine came over for a kitchen session. He really wanted to give it go. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful either. He does have a good ear. He had to leave a little early, though. And, when he left we were playing so much better. It was like a strain on the tunes was lifted. I’d still have him over for tunes again. It was a fun night of tunes and beer. I don’t really think it matters (going back to the original post).

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Please don’t say that cfmgeek, you might encourage belters.
"A lot of guitar players seem to be song players" - yes and that’s part of the problem. The ignorance of "I play the guitar so I can join in". If you don’t learn the music you’re going to be sh!te. If you learn chords from a book and think you’ve got it you’re going to be sh1te. You don’t have to learn to play the tunes but you have to learn the tunes. Don’t think for a minute you’re getting away with it, you can fool a lot of folk but someone you’re trying to play with is highly weakened by your feckin jazzy/inappropriate/wrong/unsympathetic chords.

"does good backing matter?" - you might as well say "does playing the tunes well matter?". Some folk often don’t realize when someone is a chancer and that’s belter feed unfortunately.

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Batlady summed it up for me;
"A good backer can make playing the melody a joy.
A clueless backer can make playing the melody impossible."

and I still find it amazing how many ‘experienced’ players can wind up being ‘clueless’ in this context. There can be no excuse for taking all the joy out of playing or listening to a cracking tune.

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Bad backers drive me nuts. If they can’t work out the right chords or even what key a tune is in, why don’t they just shut up!
On the other hand I really enjoy playing with a good backer who knows what they’re doing.

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Apart from wrong chords another thing that really irritates me with bad backers is the ones who don’t listen to your speed, and thrash along speeding you up.

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Yeah yeah, we all know about not knowing the tunes and having the wrong chords and the wrong rhythm. But knowing the tunes, having the right chords and the right rhythm is still not enough for me. It might well be enough to back me. It might well be enough to back me really well. But that doesn’t matter, that’s not what I want.

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Perhaps you want a comfort zone where the accompanist takes care of your basic worries and allows you to concentrate on enjoying the fact that you are free to have fun with the tune.

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Llig
So what do you want from a backer ?

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I’ve said that. I don’t want a backer. I like people to play with.

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If I’m playing I don’t care about backing. It doesn’t matter. I’m in touch with the tune. I’m in the zone.If I’m listening (audience, CD etc) then good backing can add a lot. Think of the tune Lost in the Loop without John Doyles guitar. Still a good tune but his guitar adds a lot to it.

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His guitar is part of it. Part of that piece of music. Playing "with" the tune … not at its back.

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For me, basically, no. It doesn’t matter.

I’d be happy to never see a guitar at a session - and there are several very good guitar backers who play at my local (sorry!). Maybe I’ve got cloth ears, but guitars in sessions always sounds superfluous at best to me. Like ethical blend, I just tune them out, so the quality becomes irrelevant unless it’s really bad.

Backing in duos or other performance stuff is a different matter.

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The question is asked "Does good backing matter?" and as usual most of the posts here are about bad backing.

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Correct. Does good backing matter? No.

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Does good fiddling matter?

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if it does, I’m in big trouble

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If as Llig maintains that good backing doesnt matter then a lot of people have wasted a lot of time! My heart goes out to poor oul Lunny and Cooney and McGlynn and Finn and Lennon and a hundred others.Their music doesnt matter. I love this site..Did I leave out an s there?

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No can do,can’t block anything out,just not able.
I hear every wrong chord and fluctuation of rhythm
and it unfortunately or fortunately for me seriously effects
the quality of my playing and the playing of most other musicians I know.
People should speak up more about it.
"Go learn the music"!
"Buy a metronome"

Gtr and or zouk/bodhrΓ‘n is the rhythm section,
responsible for gelling it all together,and creating a comfortable foundation to play over.
If the guitar is rhythmically out then you can guarantee that most of it is out,and if you can block it out without any trouble,you’re blessed,or it just means you’re not aware of your musical surroundings.
Playing with others is about communication,not just about individuality.
1st and foremost if the rhythm sec is bollixed,I for one,and i’m so not alone on this, find it very hard to play and just go through the motions,at that point you’re better off without and accompaniment.

A good accompanist needs to have sharp ears(like spock),
(to know what the most obvious harmony is and what chordal variations can be used)
know his way around the instrument.
good chord voicings,
good tone,
versatility for playing with different people,and be sensitive to the needs of the situation.
has to have listened to and studied recordings of the best in the field.
rhythmic solidity no matter how subtle the musical situation.
and if there’s a bodhran or another stringed inst. they have to make an effort to lock into each other,and compliment each other as well as the tune at hand.

haven’t got the time to really elaborate but.

Is it important,

It’s fluppin paramount!

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The guitar is a much maligned instrument. Unfortunately, this is more often than not, well justified.

I’ve always preferred to use the term accompaniment rather than backing, though I do like llig’s "playing with" comments above.

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Re: does good backing matter?

I wonder how Michael Coleman would weigh in on this conversation (seeing as he had the worst piano "backing" ever)

big_tab The question is asked "Does good backing matter?" and as usual most of the posts here are about bad backing.

I think the problem is there is so little good backing around that most people’s experience is with brutal hacks that know how to play guitar but have no clue about traditional music. Guitar playing is very very hard - you have to know the tunes just like a melody player and can’t just dum some chords. ‘Good backing’ lifts everything and is a huge asset to any session. Then again, it’s nice if there is an accompanist but nobody notices if they aren’t there!

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Great stuff there from Peter Browne. The big problem here is the difference in the standard of the sessions. It sounds to me like some of the music described in some sessions here would leave you unable to play. It is pointless even discussing this kind of session. The session that leaves everybody with space to play and enjoy playing is the only session worth playing in or discussing. Thankfully there are many of them.

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As someone who has taken up (and is quite taken with) Irish guitar - back, front, wherever - I have sympathy for both sides, for the side that’s trying to learn the music and doesn’t always play it perfectly (and yes, Jon - an F chord does fit into an a -dorian tune : - ) )but hopes to be shown a little patience and mercy - and for the side that can’t tolerate bad accompaniment while I’m playing fiddle, but oh, how glorious, when striking up a tune and hearing a guitar pick it up and add to it beautifully - ‘tis a wonderful thing. Call it playing together, or call it support.

The thing I can’t stand, not that I’ve heard it at a session, but have in recordings, and that is piano accompaniment. Dreadful! Most piano accompaniment I’ve heard is simply ever so much thumping and banging. Now that’s a great way to spoil a tune if there ever was one.

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Yes. Without good backing the tile won’t stick to the sheetrock. You wouldn’t want the stuff pealing off the walls a few weeks later in the shower would you?

Oh, wait - is this the home make-over forum? No? Yet another guitar rant on an Irish music forum? Oh.

In that case I second whatever Will Harmon and Yhaalhouse said.

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Side note - I just got my new Lowden! Yay!

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I’m with Llig on, "Let’s play some tunes!" as opposed to "Can you back me up?"

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?

Marmaduke, what was the A minor tune?

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I wonder what Father Jack would say about backing.

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(and yes, Jon - an F chord does fit into an a -dorian tune : - ) )

No it doesn’t!

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I appreciate the distinction Michael makes between backing and playing *with* the melody players. But strumming harmonies is still non-essential. The tunes without harmony are fine on their own. Harmony without tunes, on the other hand, would be silly.

I don’t mind good strumming, and there are moments where I truly enjoy what it adds. But I don’t find myself missing it when it isn’t present.

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So all the experts here,as per usual,say strumming is not neccessary. Yet when the top musicians in the tradition decide to make a cd or do a big gig ,weirdly enough, decide to play with an accompanist. Its a strange world on Session.org. Now if it was just pipers discussing this thread I could believe whats being said as the pipes are the full package and accompaniment could be reasonably deemed unneccessary.

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For fecks sake I said "strumming". I am being indoctrinated here! its too powerful to resist.If I mention the term diddley I will have to go to therapy!πŸ™‚

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Re: Help with Backing, chord missing
Posted on February 11th 2007 by irisnevins
https://thesession.org/discussions/12638#comment258973
" …if you go through that door and leave the ego behind, I really believe most will become a better backer. You stop devoting a big part of your brain power to "look at me" and can apply it to focusing on the music and overall sound."

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Jusa Nutter Eejit: Errr!?? I haven’t said anything yet!????

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Tab, I’m not claiming to be an expert. You’re barking up a tree where no tree exists. πŸ™‚

And I can imagine all sorts of reasons that top players would use accompaniment at gigs and on their cds. For one, it sells. People are accustomed to hearing strumming and drumming—it’s in the bulk of popular music. So if you want to give your wee little tunes broader appeal, you bring in the guitars, drums, maybe even bass.

I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But it isn’t essential to playing the tunes themselves. Which is what I prefer to do.

I’ve played guitar for 36 years. I like it in blues, rock, and bluegrass. I’m particularly keen on fingerpicking guitar—delta blues, ragtime, Hawaiian slack key, etc. I simply don’t much like what it "adds" to Irish traditional tunes. That said, I’m lucky that the lone guitar player at my local session knows the tunes, plays with sensitivity, listens, and plays *with* everyone else. She’s a tremendous musician. So I don’t mind at all playing with her. But that still doesn’t make her chords necessary. When she sits out, the tunes carry on just fine. If the melody players sat out, it would no longer be a session, eh?

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LOL, yhaalhouse, that’s when you’re most agreeable! πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€

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I was wondering about that, thought I missed some wig glue info.

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Will. People dont have accompanists on their cd s just to sell them. That is the ultimate in cynicism. People make cds of the best music they can produce and then hope they sell or at least give pleasure. Tommy Peoples, I would completely agree, needs no accompaniment.

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Toemato, tomahto. Cynicism, realism. [shrug]

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Yhaalhouse - since this topic has been covered more often than Brangelina v. Aniston in the tabloids, (and with equal amounts of vitriol I might add,) I can simple refer to the dozens of past posts of yours I have agreed with and enjoyed regarding six string devils etc.

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Oh yeah! Six string devils! That’s the stuff.

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Dont you usually buy the cd in order for it to give pleasure, or does its mere existence emanate pleasure?

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Sorry - I think I meant a- minor Aeolian.
Whatever it’s called, there are tunes where am-G-F work together (same as em-D-C)

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Tab, you seem hellbent on making the worst out of anything I post. I wish you’d stop that, but that’s up to you.

I didn’t say selling cds was the *only* reason, just one possible reason. And I’m not being cynical, just practical, as any gigging musician has to be. Though there are pitfalls, I don’t begrudge good musicians exploring ways to broaden the music’s appeal to a broader audience.

And since you agree that Mr. Peoples needs no accompaniment, then can I presume a small glimmer of hope that you might also understand it when I suggest that accompaniment is not *necessary.* I’ve been very careful choosing my words on this thread, and I say what I mean. I’m not saying accompaniment is outright and always "bad." I’m simply saying that it is not *needed* to play the tunes well, as Mr. Peoples adroitly demonstrates.

And you don’t have to be Tommy Peoples to make that point. Any decent melody player can play a tune without someone else strumming or drumming along and that tune is whole, complete, fulfilled.

This is such a simple point—I’m surprised anyone familiar with unaccompanied tunes would argue against it. Notice the absence of strumming or thumping on Ceol an Clair or Casey in the Cowhouse. The tunes are complete without it.

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Will. Sorry if I am abrupt or seem to be trying to create problems. I appreciate your opinions above most here and your integrity is obvious. Pointing out a few classy unaccompanied albums only says those albums and musicians are good. But to compare like with like I think Eugene Kelly provides some lovely simple guitar accompaniment on Paddy Cannys cd which you would expect to be unnecessary. Likewise Joe Ryans album has tasty guitar accompaniment designed in both cases I suspect to give the musician comfort in a possibly difficult environment.

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You’re looking at it the wrong way, big_tab.

Look at Bobby Casey on Casey in the Cowhouse. Is something missing, without the accompaniment? Would it be better with guitar or piano or other backing?

If you say yes to either, then you disagree fundamentally with Will. If you say no to both, then you are agreeing completely, 100% with his statement that accompaniment is not necessary. (ie "needed, 100% of the time.)

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Nico and Will, Of course those boys didnt need guitars. Only a complete gobsh*te would maintain that accompaniment is neccessary all the time. I maintain that there are a huge amount of musicians who are more comfortable and play much better with accompaniment. 95%?? Its not really an issue to pull out a few names that started performing in the 1950’s.

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jayz, tabber, yer a brave one, yer! good man yourself.
accompaniment is grand of course, and better sometimes than others, but it is another voice to add to the mix. I keep thinkin’ of the great backing of Cyril O’Donoghue thereabouts, tabber; and the songs too, just great.
(did you get your mail, tabber?)
Fill yer boots, man!

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Thanks, Tab.

I understand a melody player wanting some accompaniment for courage, but does that make it necessary? Tommy Peoples has made it clear that he doesn’t like the pressure of performing. But apparently he also doesn’t *need* the camouflage or reinforcement of strumming.

Sure, there are examples of guitar (and zouk) accompaniment I like—a lot of Dennis Cahill, Donal Clancy’s work on many albums. I even enjoy the overall sound of Lunasa, guitar and bass included. Of course, that’s different than just playing the tunes.

In this music, strumming is an add-on, and a historically recent one at that, at least as widely as we find it used today. Dancers don’t need it, and this is dance music. If a melody player *needs* accompaniment—to help keep the beat, or to flesh out the tune—then that melody player has yet to fully learn the music.

I suspect our ears are so accustomed to guitar in popular music that we accept it with the tunes more readily than the traditional players of 100 years ago would have. No way to know for sure, of course.

But I really like the freedom of playing without accompaniment—to change notes and timing without worrying about clashing with someone else’s sense of harmony or rhythm. Many of the tunes are ambiguous when it comes to what chords might fit them, which is why two guitars in a session rarely works—people hear different chords behind the melody. I *like* the ambiguity, left undecided. And I like hearing all the subtle touches of a deft melody player, unclouded by chords.

I cut my teeth in this music listening to recordings of Bobby Casey, Junior Crehan, John Doherty, and Tommy Peoples, none of which had accompaniment. That sound is still a part, for me, of what distinguishes this music from so many other genres that center on chordal accompaniment. It’s a breath of fresh air to get away from the constant strumming of rock or folk or bluegrass. YMMV.

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Cross posting. Took me too long to type that last comment.

Tab, my own improvement on fiddle has led me from depending on accompaniment to cover my nerves and mistakes, to now enjoying the hell out of playing without any camouflage at all. I would hope any melody player would aim to develop past the stage of "needing" accompaniment.

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Will . What you are saying is that you prefer music , mostly, without accompaniment.That is fine. Someone else might hate pipes. accordeon? Todays music involves accompaniment and to go back to the question …Accompaniment ,of course, matters.

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Cross post. They dont" need" accompaniment. They prefer accompaniment.

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Sorry for only reading the first 2/3rds of the posts, bit want to get a reply in before the doorbell goes.

P.Browne:
>Gtr and or zouk/bodhrΓ‘n is the rhythm section,
>responsible for gelling it all together,and creating a comfortable >foundation to play over.

actually, whilst in parctice I’d maybe disagree less with what Peter thinks, I really disagree with that bit above. I really dislike it when a guitar or zouk etc assumes responsibility for setting down the rythm and becomes too dominant. This can happen even when the standard of the musicianship is high. It starts to feel like a cage and as a melody playuer you can feel shunted in directions that you don’t want to go e.g. when the rythm is driving forward, but you want to be leaning back, and I don’t necessarily mean simply speeding up. Sure this can happen with melody players too, but it is most noticeable when a dominant backer does it (too me at least).

That said I do like backing. I just don’t like it when it the backing assumes it is responsible for rythm, or for that mattre when it plays backing that is too full or complex defining the tune in ways that the simple melody doesn’t. I think this happens more often with guitar than with zouk.

- chris

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Rambling. I hope the doorbell hasnt gone yet. How can you think that when Peter is talking about" a comfortable foundation to play over" he is saying anything like what you describe as "a dominant backer"?.

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Tab, sure, I’m voicing my own preferences.

Does backing matter? Yep. It changes the music, as I’ve described a bit above. Whether you like the changes it brings to the music is up to each of us. But there are an awful lot of people listening to this music without much experience of hearing it unaccompanied. So their opinions aren’t fully informed and they certainly lack historical depth for appreciating this music.

A lone melody player can play the melody, articulate all the traditional twiddly bits that help distinguish this music from other genres, and fully provide the rhythm and pulse that make people get out of their seats and dance. Given the history and cultural purpose of this music, nothing else is needed. An appreciation of this situation surely leads to a more informed understanding of where this music came from, which then shapes how it moves forward. I’m not sure I like how rock-n-roll it’s starting to sound with many of the guitarists’ approaches.

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Flynner. Got your Pm. Thanks!! Got a load of pm’s and I dont want to answer them in private preferring to deal with all the skullduggery prevalent here in public on the board. See you in Co Clare ,a chara.

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ok, the tabber. see ya there.
Keep it up! πŸ˜‰

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Will . Your last post indeed is correct and unaccompanied music does lead to a more informed understanding of where it comes from. Most people just want to play the music as well as they possibly can and with the sound they want. Accompaniment Matters!

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You can ignore what I wrote following this quote from Will Harmon, who is spot on,
"A lone melody player can play the melody, articulate all the traditional twiddly bits that help distinguish this music from other genres, and fully provide the rhythm and pulse that make people get out of their seats and dance."


my drivel …
The short answer is no.
The 2nd shortest answer is no, because you play tunes with other musicians.*

#3 no: because the so-called backing rhythm is in the tune (not something extraneous or secondary).


#4 yes, though the term "backing" is misleading.** Yes, because it is possible to have an interpretation of a tune with someone playing a harmony, but it’s never just the harmony. There are plentiful examples of this, each brilliant in their own right.

* "backing" being an unfortunately paradoxical term.

** accompany may be the better term, but backing seems to be more conventional.

p.s. overloading on semantics.

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More than a few musically-challenged people bash out melodies at sessions. Perhaps their ‘contributions’ embolden the bad strummers and drummers to jump on the dog pile, as it were. A piper visiting from Cork had this insight: "If your contribution can be heard, and it is adding nothing, then it is subtracting." He had to have been thinking of us.

Re: does good backing matter?

Tab, yep, and "the sound they want" for most people is heavily, heavily influenced by years of listening to pop and rock music—it’s everywhere, on the radio, in the grocery stores, even piped outside of bars and shops. So if that influence bleeds into Irish traditional music (as it has as far as I can tell), then it’s dramatically changing this music.

Speaking only for myself, I don’t find that change to be much of an improvement, especially at sessions where every Clapton wannabe can have a go.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

Atahualpa, that’s a great quip, and one I’ll pass along when people ask me how to fit in at a session.


Tab, when you play in a session, what instrument(s) do you play?

(FYI, I usually play fiddle, but have been known to play flute, whistle, mandolin, and tenor banjo.)

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Re: does good backing matter?

Playing Irish traditional dance tunes to the pulse of another genre is a roundabout way of playing the other genre … rock, blues, reggae.
Playing Irish tunes with the pulse of the traditional dances is different.
That’s in response to the comment about players wanting to emulate Eric Clapton.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Random, what I was getting at is the common scene of guitar players from other genres showing up at a session expecting to fit right in. Even if they soon realize that the pulse is different and refrain from doing rock or bluegrass rhythms, they still tend to make a muck of it.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Isn’t that still because they intentionally or unintentionally bring much of their past experience with them rather than actually listening to the style in which the music is being played?

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Re: does good backing matter?

Once again you talk of guitar playrs from other genres messing up your session. You shouldnt tolerate that. I am thinking of all the fine guitar players I know from the trad genre who when they sit into a session improve everything.

Re: does good backing matter?

It’s not off topic given that the OP asks 3 questions.
- "does good backing matter?"
- "so the question i have is, do you notice if the backing is sh*te?"
- "do you care?"

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Re: does good backing matter?

I am not saying you were off topic .. I am just sorry you have to put up with sh*te guitar players. However it could just as easily be sh*te accordeon or flute players that you might notice are sh*te.

Re: does good backing matter?

Yes?

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Re: does good backing matter?

No Tab, that’s not all we’re talking about. Even great guitar players aren’t necessary for this music. The tunes did fine for a couple hundred years without guitars.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

They did fine for thousands of years without the fiddle. Lets taik about now Will.

Re: does good backing matter?

He has been talking about the present, big_tab. We all are talking about today, but also making references to the past.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Tab, the tunes have only done fine as long as people have played or lilted their melodies. Strumming, good or bad, doesn’t change that.

Now? They still do fine, excellent even, without strumming. But they need a voice—larynx, strings, wind through a cylinder, reeds. Strumming? Extraneous.

Tab, I’ll stop when you show me someone strumming without a melody and it sounds like This Music.

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Re: does good backing matter?

So this clip is from 2007…is that close enough to "today" for you Tab?

I think Tony McManus is an outstanding guitar player, and well immersed in this music. And here he is on stage with Maeve Donnelly, a fine Irish fiddler, eh? I greatly appreciate Tony’s guitar work on this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pEGW7NHsqUo&feature=related


😎

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Re: does good backing matter?

Tony’s grand! The whole clip is. How do you find a YouTube with decent sound & the camera not moving?
Cheers.

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Re: does good backing matter?

big_tab : what’s with the fiddle hate? Don’t be jealous because you can’t play the greatest instrument out there….

Re: does good backing matter?

Good "backing" does matter—says the man who has made a musical career out of accompanying other musicians most of the time. If you are an accompanist, you must be sensitive and listen to what is going on around you instead of just playing in your own little world and ignoring what the other musicians are trying to play.

I think Llig Leahcim makes a very good point when he says that the other musicians who aren’t playing the melody are playing with him instead of behind him ("backing") or in front of him or through him or whatever preposition you want to use to describe the situation. You are supposed to be working together to produce the music instead of against each other or playing "through" each other without caring or noticing whether or not it fits or clashes with what the other musicians are attempting to play.

I can just see it now:
"Warning! Warning! Danger! Danger! Bad and Insensitive accompanist coming through—hide the music and yourselves and get out of the way before this fool destroys the session beyond the point of no repair"

And, last but not least, one thing which does bother me is melody players who can’t maintain a steady beat or play at a steady beat to save their lives and bodhran players who have the same problem.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

Of course it matters. The question has been asked and answered. Now, quit bickering and get on with your lives! πŸ˜‰

Re: does good backing matter?

I wonder if this will make sense to anyone who thinks accompaniment is an integral part of this music:

Scenario A:
You walk into a pub and hear music. There are two fiddles, a flute, a whistle, and a concertina. The players aren’t recording-star caliber, but the pulse is lively and the tunes come out strong, in tune, in time.

Scenario B:
You walk into a pub and hear music. There are a guitarist, a bouzouki player, and a bodhran player. The two stringed instruments are being strummed, in time, and well synched with the drum. The pulse is lively, and the strings are in tune. But there is no melody, just strummed chord progressions.

Which of those scenarios is Irish traditional music?

Which would you sit and listen to for more than 10 minutes?



Yes, accompaniment in this music "matters"—because we can’t put it back in the bottle. Most recordings and sessions these days include accompaniment. The sound of the music has changed, dramatically, in less than two or three generations. That really *does* matter to those of us who prefer to play this music rather than some blend of this music and rock/folk/grass/jazz.

To be clear: I enjoy playing with the guitarist in my local session. But I also enjoy opportunities to play without any accompaniment. Sometimes I wonder if, in 60 or 100 years, the music will be heard without accompaniment. Or if it will have become yet another genre defined by chord progressions.

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Re: does good backing matter?

(Maybe I should mention that I started going to sessions back in the day when, other than the odd bodhran, accompaniment instruments of any kind were basically unheard of at the Irish sessions in my area. No zouks or guitars yet on the scene. This was ust before the Bothy Band’s seminal "1975" album….)

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Re: does good backing matter?

Will, I’m partial to that quip too. It needs someone like an old, angry nun standing there with a birch rod to make it work, though. Otherwise, it’s just another session platitude many people would choose to ignore.

Re: does good backing matter?

LOL, I’ll wear my habit and swish my bow menacingly….

πŸ™‚

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Re: does good backing matter?

‘Night, Will. ‘Night, all; even you session wreckers. You guys don’t even know it’s you I’m talking about. PS We also had a visiting piper from N. Ireland who had a militant dislike for time signature in The Music. He insisted that any fool could play Irish music to a fixed tempo, but that it took creative genius to abandon the constraints of time signature. He was pretty much a solo player, and didn’t stay among us very long.

Re: does good backing matter?

"I am thinking of all the fine guitar players I know from the trad genre who when they sit into a session improve everything."

I’ve yet to either hear or meet a single one.

Re: does good backing matter?

ethical has never met a single guitarist that has improved the music. He has never even heard one! Sometimes its posts like this that make this place great or awful depending on my humour. This morning I am a bit narky so it annoys me.Imagine wasting your life discussing guitar backing on a music forum witjh someone who has never heard a good one. Should I do voluntary work or collect stamps or do serios drugs so as not to be wasting valuable time here? Maybe its not valuable at all and we just breathe till we die and thats all there is to it.Ethical is living in a music world that is fairly isolated but I will take a small bite from this tempting apple and ask "ethical. Is there any accompaniment or accompanist that pleases you?"

Re: does good backing matter?

I didn’t say I’ve never met a good guitarist. I said I’ve never met one who’s "improve[d] everything". As Will say, they’re just not necessary.

Re: does good backing matter?

If they didnt improve the music they werent good.

Re: does good backing matter?

Tabber, what about all the things Will posted above? Also, fauxcelt’s great post? All these things coming in response to you and yet you pick out ethical and bang on him? Why not interact and accompany the tune Will and fauxcelt are playing? πŸ˜‰

Re: does good backing matter?

I’d have to disagree there. I’ve met - and played with - some extremely good guitarists.

Re: does good backing matter?

Mine was in response to the sizeable patch.

Re: does good backing matter?

You have played with some extremely good guitarists and you have never met or heard a guitarist that has improved the music..? Swfl unlike you I wasnt impressed with most of the thoughts here. Peter Browne knows what he is talking about and posted very interesting stuff.I think "I accompany his tune" better.

Re: does good backing matter?

Good thing you come here to interact and engage with everyone then, if you’re going to ignore them. Brilliant.

Re: does good backing matter?

Who exactly have I ignored? I think if you look back I have interacted. You just want me to agree with them which is not possible as I like nice guitar players!

Re: does good backing matter?

So do they.

The point is that the music is complete without accompaniment. The music is a tune expressed.

Re: does good backing matter?

Not for everyone. For some of us the music is all kinds of different situations and combinations which could include those dreaded guitarists.

Re: does good backing matter?

"I like nice guitar players!" big_tab
"So do they" SWFL Fiddler

Exactly, SWFL. Nice to know that *someone* is actually reading what’s written, not just choosing to attack some mythical and unexpressed sentiment.

Re: does good backing matter?

The music may surely be complete without backing - perfect and pure - but a big part of this music for me is the community aspect. Playing music with other people. I could stay home and play unaccompanied all day long, but it sure gets lonely. I prefer the mix of sounds - the sheer humanity - right or wrong, even - of playing music with other people, hopefully with a mix of good musicians, but forgiving the times it’s less than perfect.

Re: does good backing matter?

Make it clearer for me Ethical.Have you ever heard a guitarist that has improved the music? Lets not be mythical now..

Re: does good backing matter?

No.

Re: does good backing matter?

Ah … hang on a minute - there was this one guy. Finger picked. Only played the tunes. He was pretty damn brilliant. Never played a chord though. I’m wondering if he counts. I met him up near Easkey.

Re: does good backing matter?

Good. You did say no? Therefor I am not expressing a mythical statement there . Now maybe you could answer this part. How can the guitarists you have met be good if they cant improve the music?

Re: does good backing matter?

Tabber, He is not saying the guitarists cannot improve the music, he is saying that they are not necessary, that the music is complete without them. A symbiote can provide valuable services to the host organism, but that host would also be just fine without the presence of the symbiote. The benign nature of a symbiote can be contrasted with a parasite, whose presence is adverse to the host, sucking its life away without providing any service or value in return. It is the parasitic accompanist that everyone always thinks of, probably because there are so many people who can strum a guitar or pound a drum, and wander into a session thinking they can contribute, when they really don’t have a clue.
But in the end, could a session live without an accompanist? Absolutely.

Re: does good backing matter?

big_tab, what do you mean by improve the music? From what I can suss out you prefer sessions with accompaniment & perhaps regard it as a necessary element of traditional music being played today. At least this is how I read the following.

"Will . What you are saying is that you prefer music , mostly, without accompaniment.That is fine. Someone else might hate pipes. accordeon? Todays music involves accompaniment and to go back to the question …Accompaniment ,of course, matters." Posted on August 27th 2010 by big_tab

& I’ll repeat what seems to be most relevant in the current discussion, "Todays music involves accompaniment "

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Re: does good backing matter?

Random. The context of that was in relation to will and old fiddlers who rarely came across guitars. I dont neccessarily need accompaniument to enjoy a tune. I also dont neccessarily need pipes or flute to enjoy a tune . In my mind it is musicians I like and the way they grab me with their playing and not neccessarily with the instument they are playing but fiddle and concertina seem to grab me the tightest!

Re: does good backing matter?

So, from your perspective Will’s experience with guitars in sessions is "rare"? I read his posts prior to the one of yours which I pasted above. He makes specific references to his own guitar playing as well other guitarists he has played with in sessions.
No one seems to be missing the point that backing happens.
So, hopefully whatever Will said might not be the best way to answer the question I am attempting to ask of your kind person.
What do you mean by improve the music?

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Re: does good backing matter?

Not will. The musicians he was referring to had never heard too many guitar players. Improve the music? Eh.. make it nicer,happier,bouncier ,more fun, more pleasing to the ear and maybe give the other musicians the impetus to play better.

Re: does good backing matter?

You seem to know a lot about how Will thinks big_tab
How do you think guitarists make the music more fun nicer etc etc
Do you play guitar?

Re: does good backing matter?

Good answer big_tab. There are different ways to help musicians play better & certainly a guitarist can do this. I hope you take the time to read the link I gave above, to a discussion from 2007, which discusses that in detail.
Cheers,
Ben

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Re: does good backing matter?

Sara, I suspect most of us here enjoy the community aspect of playing this music almost or as much as the music itself. But you can get that without a single strummer in the mix. Great sessions with great craic can be had with nothing but melody players.

I’d go so far as to say that strummers and drummers are happily, sincerely welcome at my local session precisely because they are good friends, fun people, and an essential part of the craic. That doesn’t change the realization that their strumming and drumming are unnecessary for a good night of tunes.


When Tab points out that "today’s music involves accompaniment," it sounds to me as though he’s saying, "accompaniment is here to stay, learn to live with it." And that’s exactly what worries me about the trend with this music. Many people who came to this music after the Bothy Band simply assume that strumming is a native, integral piece of the music. It’s not.

And the music has changed, in many ways for the worse, because of this very shift in understanding.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

I’m still curious, Tab, what instrument(s) you play. No dark ulterior motive here, but it would it help me understand where you’re coming from.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

Will Harmon
in what way do you think it has changed for the worse?

Re: does good backing matter?

Specifically, strumming establishes rhythms over more nuanced timing and harmonies over tonal ambiguities, where without strumming, these nuances and ambiguities are free to resonate through the melody.

For example, when a tune like Killarney Boys of Pleasure lacks a "C" note (natural or sharp), a melody player is free to hear his or her own sense of the harmonic context, and this shapes his or her note choices in playing variations.

Or when I play the 5th part of Kid on the Mountain like: |edB =cBA G2…| instead of the more common |edB dBA G2…| and I want to hear my own sense of the relationship, the intervals between those pitches, not muddied (or smothered) by a strummer’s choice of chord there.

There’s also the tendency of even sensitive strummers to simply overwhelm the subtleties of a good melody player. This is dense, ever-changing, subtle music when played well. It’s a shame when accompaniment smothers that, and sometimes the presence of strumming inhibits melody players from even trying.

Again, I’m not saying I *never* enjoy playing with strummers. Just that these things can and often do happen. And I’m more concerned with the notion that strumming is becoming perceived as an unquestioned, native part of this music.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

I enjoy Yvonne’s playing of the *tune.* It’s the only essential part of the video.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

Sheezam Will, that was good. Now what if a guitarist, just one, does play on that 5th part of "Kid on the Mountain" with the C nat in the melody… what works? No strumming, different chord, the c nat followed by a chord … none of the above.
I’m only asking because I do not play guitar & it would be good to hear from someone who does.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Random, I’m not sure, but what I’d normal hear against the |edB dBA G| would probably be a G major chord over the whole phrase. And the C nat would blend ok with that, while sounding "different." I suppose someone could slip a C major in there.

But the point is, if I do that spontaeously, on the fly, how would any strummer know what was coming? And even in a small session, would other melody players be able to hear the C nat and respond to it in some way? Or would that be more likely without the strumming? Just theorizing.

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Re: does good backing matter?

[does good backing matter?] no. get the schlockiest, most overly busy, most intrusively fore-grounded "backing" you possibly can. at all costs, get backing that plays counter to what you are playing so that the tune is rendered completely unrecognizable.

the only thing about quentin and eoin, (who i think are great) is….that brogan’s sesh of theirs, you have to go braced to solo all by your ownsome (that is, but for their lovely backing work) when you think you’re merely "starting" a set πŸ™‚ it is an open, welcoming sesh that gets many travelers with varying repertoires, and, people will not always know your set, including eoin and quentin. so unless you’re totally unflappable, don’t start anything unless it’s from your solo stock!!! i almost had a total collapse there last summer when i found myself "starting" a set and playing it alone for a packed house of tourists. i’m afraid i gave the assembly the Arnold Schoenberg setting of "down the broom" before collecting my wits and delivering a semi-recognizable "gatehouse maid."

Re: does good backing matter?

but the real question is, what tune is yvonne casey playing in that youtube clip????? god, her phrasing and her syncopation are so lovely. and the two lads would be doing my favorite kind of backing….i lost my "ceili bandits" cd and there don’t seem to be any more around…..:(

Re: does good backing matter?

Lord, he was born a ramblin’ man.

Tabber, you’re all right. I guess the problem is that you think we don’t like accompaniment when we say it’s not necessary.

The other thing that hasn’t been said on this thread is that there is a different tolerance for beginning melody players versus beginning accompanists. Whether that’s right or wrong, it is what it is.

I think the reason why is because if a beginner comes to a session and murders a tune with a melody instrument, at the least they took the time and effort to try to learn the instrument and the tune.

When a beginner comes and murders a tune with accompaniment, well, how hard is it exactly to bang a drum or strum three chords and a cloud of dust in comparison to trying to play a tune?

What that does is lead a lot of beginners to murder tunes with accompaniment in a desire to play in sessions before they should, much to the detriment of the music.

Some of us have seen quite a bit of bad accompaniment, we run beginner sessions, we mentor, so perhaps we come off as a bit prejudiced about it on here.

Re: does good backing matter?

what about that tune?????

Re: does good backing matter?

It’s an anonymous tune.

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Re: does good backing matter?

The tune we are referring to is from MacCruiskeen’s YouTube clip. No one seems to have its’ name, though everyone thinks it brill.

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Re: does good backing matter?

does no one know the name of the feckin’ tune!!

Re: does good backing matter?

Brian Rooney labelled the last tune on the video clip "The Chancellor" on his brilliant recording The Godfather.

Upon checking, it seems missing in the database… there are a few Chancellors about, but they do not seem to be related …

Re: does good backing matter?

By staying away from the local sessions and occasionally skipping the local sessions, I have tried to show the other musicians at the local sessions that this music is fine without accompaniment. However; apparently some of them don’t agree with me because they keep trying to persuade me to continue to show up at the local sessions with my electronic keyboard and play it as a piano. I guess the musicians who think this music doesn’t need accompaniment are the ones who no longer come to the local sessions. These are the same musicians who started bands but didn’t invite me to perform with them or their groups.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

The biggest thing that’s irritated me about this thread is the continual equating of "need" and "want". It’s happened on threads before and it’s irritating as hell.

OK, so my 3-year-old boy confuses need and want, but he’s getting there. If he’s not got it by the tuime he’s 4, I’ll be surprised.

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

The first tune was a Paddy Fahy hornpipe and the name for the second tune was unknown.

Re: does good backing matter?

he said it was unkown to him, not that it was unknown per say

Posted .

Re: does good backing matter?

Yes, llig leahcim is absolutely correct….."needing" and "wanting" are not one and the same thing.

I wish the other musicians at the local sessions would quit giving me confusing messages about this difference. It would be nice if they could learn the difference, make up their minds, and get their act together concerning whether or not a piano is either "wanted" or "needed" at the local sessions. For some of these musicians, I guess their psychological, emotional, and mental age must be three or under because they can’t seem to learn the difference between "want" and "need".

Sometimes I feel like screaming at them in a very loud voice to "BE CONSISTENT!" (especially since it seems as they don’t want to be and don’t understand the concept) although I know it would do no good whatsoever.

I am still unhappy and disappointed with some of the musicians at the local sessions because they denied me the opportunity to spend some of my precious free time (when I am not working at my day job) doing one of the few things in life which I genuinely enjoy doing and that is playing music. They did say I was welcome to come and listen to them perform.

Life is too short to spend it in activities which you don’t enjoy such as having to sit there passively and listen to music. I play music both because I want to and I need to. It is good for me psychologically, emotionally, and mentally. I don’t think I am wasting my free time playing music although it may not always be the ideal performing or playing situation for me.

While I am typing this, my fingers are hurting and tender because I did a lot of bass playing yesterday and Saturday. The situations where I played weren’t exactly my first choice for playing but at least I got to spend my free time doing one of the few things in life which I genuinely enjoy doing. I played music with people who both need me and want me to be there playing music with them unlike the local Irish sessions where there seems to be some disagreement and misunderstanding about whether or not I am wanted or needed or even required to be there at all.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

Now I am confused. In the previous post you said they were encouraging you to come along. Now you are saying they said they didn’t want you there. It sounds like they were being very clear both times about what they wanted. It is just that they did not want the same thing both times - was it different musicians?

Re: does good backing matter?

Yes, I am too. Is it two things here, a session and then a band?

Re: does good backing matter?

Miniature golf, bingo, bowling, these are all fine substitutes for sessioning for those whose primary need is community. One wouldn’t have to work at these passtimes anywhere near as hard as one would need to work on playing a musical instrument. If only American bars stopped giving ‘musicians’ free beer, and if only American bingo parlors started giving free beer…

Re: does good backing matter?

But, um, fauxcelt, are you talking about the same group of musicians? Session, or paid gig?

Re: does good backing matter?

"But the point is, if I do that spontaeously, on the fly, how would any strummer know what was coming?" Posted on August 28th 2010 by Will Harmon
Fair play, locally (for better or worse) melody oriented sessions are not the norm. While it does happen, it is not most of the time. One difference between an Irish session & others is, at the other sessions backers only ask for chords ever 3rd or 4th tune, if that often.

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Re: does good backing matter?

I wasn’t trying to confuse anyone with my comments about the local Irish sessions. I was thinking about all of the musicians at the local sessions. Some of the musicians (two in particular) have encouraged me to continue to participate regularly; some of the musicians don’t seem to want a piano there; some of the musicians seem to be neutral; and the rest of them are probably so confused that they don’t seem to have a definite opinion one way or another. Some of these same musicians do play paid gigs outside of the sessions and some don’t.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

Hmm, and it seems like it’s one of those anarchist collective type sessions with no clear Alpha to make a call one way or the other.

I’m pretty blunt. I guess I’d show up next time with keyboard in tow and be like "So, y’all want me sitting in or no? I stopped coming before because I couldn’t figure it out." πŸ˜‰

Re: does good backing matter?

…and as I’ve said before there’s always room in South West Florida for ya big guy!

Re: does good backing matter?

It is almost as if they don’t want to see me outside of the session unless I am in the audience listening to them.

Since there seem to be so many different and conflicting opinions as to whether or not the piano is welcome at the local sessions, I just show up early and plug it in when I feel like participating.

I haven’t forgotten the invitation to sit in at your session in Florida. We don’t have enough money to travel while my wife is going to school full-time and not working.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

Fauxcelt, are you playing tunes or accomp primarily?

If it is the latter you might want to try a piano accordeon?
I’m not saying you *should* do this, do what you like, just suggesting it as an option. It could be that some of the attendees don’t electronic instruments at an otherwise (I assume, perhaps wrongly) accoustic session.

It would be very unusual around here (Glasgow) to see an electronic keyboard at a session, although they are quite common in ceili band set ups.

- chris

Re: does good backing matter?

I’ve always thought it was a fine facsimile of the days of old when every pub had a stand up piano in it. We have a couple of friends here who play with us, they stop by from time to time with them. They use good taste and discretion. They plug in, play gently on a piano setting and do their best Felix Dolan impersonation.

Better than some three chord six string devil haunting ya! πŸ˜›

Re: does good backing matter?

SWFL F. I like Felix Doran’s playing in the videos and cd’s I’ve heard. I like piano bettre as an accomp than as melody instrument (in trad anyway).

Keyboard can also really bulk out the sound of a ceili band very effectively.

OTOH I’m not sure I’d necessarily be fond of continuous piano, particularly electronic piano, at a session though. I’d be open to being convinced as I don’t have much experience of elec keyboard at a full session.

I have played with elec keyboard informally with a couple of mates whilst hiding from being roped into some groupa ceol at a CCE branch, and in that situation I prefered PA (by the same player), but it might have been the settings used or the small numer of particpants that made the electronic nature of the intrument sound intrusive to me (the player’s skill was high).

At a session though factors such as being mates are a big factor in what gets accepted. We tolerate most things πŸ™‚

- chris

Re: does good backing matter?

I guess I will need to repeat some of the history of the local Irish sessions which I have mentioned before.

When I went to the second Irish music session here in central Arkansas in October 1995, I sat there quietly all evening and listened. When the musicians quit playing, they announced the time, place, and location of the next session. I asked if I might join them and they wanted to know what instrument or instruments I played. I told them piano and bass and was asked to bring my genuine imitation piano (a Roland EP-9 Digital Piano) to the next session.
Since then, I have been the piano player at the local Irish music sessions. At first, the local sessions had the luxury of some good melody players who showed up regularly. And then, when the melody players began missing sessions for various reasons (for example, one of them had to move out of state to find a job), I started having to play melody which I wasn’t used to doing. My understanding is that the piano is supposed to be only a backup or accompanying instrument in this particular genre of music. I shouldn’t have been playing melody at all.

Also, over the past fifteen years, there has been some turnover in personnel and management changes at the local sessions. Not all of the original culprits who invited me to bring my genuine imitation piano are still participating in the sessions. And some of the newer people seemed to have attitudes similar to the title character in the "Song Of The Folk Nazi" by Bob Kanefsky.

It is confusing since some of the other musicians seem to want me there and some don’t. Yes, some of the original culprits are still participating but not as regularly as they did fifteen years ago.

Laurence

Re: does good backing matter?

Well it sounds like you have as much right to be there as anyone else, it seems a bit of a liberty to be made unwelcome after 15 years.

Nor do I think you "shouldn’t" have been playing melody on a piano (I know you didn’t imply I did, I’m just clarifying), but I personally prefer piano as an accomp rather than melody instrument in trad music. That’s just my personal preference, not an objective yardstick.

Bear in mind though that I mostly play tenor banjo, and there must be more or less as many folk who dislike tenor banjo in trad music as dislike piano. Same for boxes or various description. Some folk would like to outlaw all singing. etc etc.

- chris

Re: does good backing matter?

Some of the RSAMD students play piano at sessions in the Ben Nevis and Waxy O’Connor’s, both as melody and accompaniment.

Piano accompaniment, when done well, can be amazing. Reg Hall and Felix Dolan come to mind as two excellent accompanists. After 15 years in the session, you should be able to tell your folk nazi where to shove it and give him the Paddy in the Smoke album.

Re: does good backing matter?

Anyone messes with you in the pub?

Give them a Paddy in the Smoke

Re: does good backing matter?

Those damn hippies and their guitars. Ruined the music in the 60s, I tell ya what.

That’s what ya tell ‘em! πŸ˜›

Re: does good backing matter?

"it sounds as if you have as much right to be there as anyone else" (thank you)
I suspect part of the problem may be one of those species or sub-species of Session Wreckers who were mentioned in a recent discussion. They come to one session and observe. Then they start participating regularly in the sessions and try to "improve" the local sessions by trying to change them.

Actually, at one session, I had to do most of the melody playing because I was the only person there who could do a halfway decent job of playing melody. My own personal preference is to accompany instead of playing melody.

Some of the musicians with the Folk Nazi attitudes don’t seem to show up at the local sessions as often or as regularly as they used to.

I do get frustrated with some of the musicians who don’t show up regularly. I feel like telling them that if they really want a local session and want it to keep going, they must make a serious effort to actually show up and play instead of expecting someone else to bear the burden of keeping the session going.

Laurence

Perfect backing?

"I know strummers who are perfectly in time and play the right chords etc, but they just don’t contribute anything. It just makes the music the tunes with somebody strumming. It’s worse than pointless, it’s just a distraction."
This is spot on regarding distraction. At least for me. Sometimes, when this happens, I need to stop playing in order to hear the tune itself & filter out the backer(s). What is unusual is how often it comes from someone is otherwise a very good musician, but not so much in the context of playing certain dance tunes.

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Re: does good backing matter?

No! there shouldn’t be any background noise…these guitars and bouzoukas destroy the music as well as the primitive drum known as the bodhran by imposing there own rhythm or lack thereof on the solo artist or indeed a collective of musicianers. The great Michael Coleman’s played was severely marred by piano thumpers and guitar hackers, and it hasn’t changed much. Now these guitar hackers poison the purity of the traditional ancient music of Ireland with trendy rock rhythms which are utterly and thoroughly unsuited to the music. The great masters of yesterday would be disgusted with the current state of the music!

Re: does good backing matter?

Hey there Mr. Tansey, do you mind tuning up? You sound a little flat…

Re: does good backing matter?

"The great Michael Coleman’s played was severely marred by piano thumpers and guitar hackers, and it hasn’t changed much"

As has been Seamus Tansey’s, on several recordings, such as :

https://thesession.org/recordings/1127

See comments…

… and maybe use your own name, Shane.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Kenny, I think you’ll find that Sligo Ceili is the only of Tanseys many fine albums that has terrible accompaniment, so I don’t know where you found "several" albums! I think the likes of Josie Keegan, Charlie Lennon etc can hardly be described as piano thumpers! Also, shouldn’t you be off writing another book Tansey?? πŸ™‚

Re: does good backing matter?

We’ll disagree on that, - I wasn’t too keen on Reg Hall’s piano-playing on the 1st solo album, [ but loved Tansey’s own "tambourine" playing ]. I also didn’t like the accompaniment much on "Easter Snow". The guitar playing on "Music From The Coleman Country" didn’t add anything either, IMHO, so that’s 4 in total = "several".
If you thought those accompaniments added to Tansey’s playing, you are entitled to that opinion. You are also politely requested to respect mine.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Kenny I think you’re talking through the back end of your flute

Re: does good backing matter?

I do notice and I do care.

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Re: does good backing matter?

Rather that than the backside of a feckin’ bodhran.

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