Button Box styles/ preferences?

Button Box styles/ preferences?

Hey,
I’m a button box player of just over to years and I’m starting to develop my own style. There seems to be a change in the type of play comming from younger players.

Rolls: My teacher is encouraging the common five note roll, but i find it’s alot to squeze in and am leaning towards something that sounds more like a banjo roll, where I hit the same note rapidly. Some people seem to feel is sounds distasteful.
I feel that the difference may have something to do with age, as its mostly young players doing this. Also it appears that a lot of young palyers are favouring light quieter boxes with the dry single reed sound, like Sharon shannon or Beoga, as opposed to the luod wet Joe Burke sound which many older players use.
Is this related to music being played more for listening than dancing nowadays?
Do other musicans perfer a specific sound?

Thanks,
Cian

Re: Button Box styles/ preferences?

I don’t play box anymore Cian but I’d say learn and absorb different styles. Don’t be to quick to dismiss what your teacher (older, reading between the lines) has to offer - that’s what tradition is about, after all. If it’s a lot to ‘squeeze in’, then maybe that’s a hint to slow down the tempo a bit until it does fit nicely and then work to get it back up. I’ve often observed that a good musician seems to be playing at a somewhat casual pace when you first listen to them, but try joining in or tapping your foot and you quickly realise, it’s fairly quick. It’s their good timing and technique that gives the laid back/ easy feel.

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Re: Button Box styles/ preferences?

On solo or duet recordings and playing I really like the wetter sound like the Burke (I love the olde Finbarr Dwyer recordings that I have).

Very wet can be too dominant though in a session.

I don’t like dry tuned or single read boxes much at all, no character, there needs to be some moisture there for me :-)

Similarly I don’t really like the modern style with same note triplets, although it isn’t necessary to play loads of 5 note rolls. I don’t hear nealr as many rolls in c#d style playing for instance. There are lots of different ways to play.

I’m speaking mainly as someone who loves listening to button boxes, mind. I’m a mediocre banjo player that has onlyb taken up the box in the last year or so.

- Chris

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My box is swing tuned, which is just enough wetness to make it interesting. Most folks today tend to dislike the old very wet sound. But I was not ready to go as far as some people, and get the thing tuned bone dry.

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cian, the issue is not what your teacher thinks or what "younger people" or anybody else does or thinks. the issue is what YOU like and what fits best for you. if five-note rolls don’t work for you (and that could be on the aestheetic level of what you like, or on the technique/motor skill level of what works for you playing-wise), then find something or more than one thing that you like or that works better for you but that still fits the irish trad genre, and develop that. that is called the development of "style." same with box tuning—-it doesn’t matter what the "trend" is, it’s about what YOU like. and if YOU like the old wet low-reed sound, do that. but if YOU like the dry middle-reed sound, it is there for you…..

somebody profound said that when it came to art or aesthetics, "style is a product of your limitations." of course, that’s not the whole truth. "style" as meant in the creative arts, is also a product of your affinities, what pulls you. but it is true that "style" does develop out of what does NOT work for you.

i personally do not like the classic five-note roll sound on accordion. love it on fiddle, hate it on accordion. if you like that modern staccato same-note-pellet-gun ornament better and/or it works better for you motor skills wise, you are free to learn how to do it well and do that. i know from experience that some of the master box teachers, particularly on b/c box, are very doctrinaire about what ornaments are "good" and what ornaments are not good. i spent three years in the advanced b/c box class at clancy week and saw up close a maestro who without being mean about it or anything, made clear to the young hotshots that he totally disapproved of the staccato same-note ornament but approved of the classic five-note rolll….but at the end of the day, the artist is you, and it is your decision. and he would be the first to admit that.

the caveat is that if you care about things like fleadhs, b/c box in particular is an instrument where the judges tend to reward certain technical F/X more than others. don’t have a clue if this is true for pipes or flute or fiddle, but with box or concertina, they tend to want to hear and see certain ornaments and turn up their noses at others. i personally don’t give a sh*** about this, but if you do, you’d probly have to learn the five-note roll to show it to them. they may also like that staccato same-note thing, no idea whether somebody like damien mullane won doing that, or won doing the classic five-note rolls, or both.

i myself like NO ornaments, or as simple as possible, because that is the way box music sounds the most beautiful to me. if you go on the comhaltas live video site and punch in "ned kelly," you can see a gorgeous player from tipperary playing these very simple ornaments, with an unbelievably patronizing "comment" below it by damien mullane saying something such as (not exact quote), "this is the way i played as a child, how charming to stick to the old ways." but then, some players who like the same-note staccato damien mullane-type ornaments would think even full five-note rolls were old-fashioned.

at the end of the day, no matter what your teacher thinks, it is your choice (and your responsibility as a creative artist) to make based on what pulls you the most……i hate the phrase, "it’s all good," but……hey….."it’s all good"!

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an example that comes to mind would be to contrast someone such as dermot byrne, who plays a very dry middle-reed sound (not sure if it’s single reed or just a dry two-mm sound) with ornaments more in the sharon shannon or damien mullane vein, versus someone such as joe burke, who does five-note-fiddle-rolls on a low-reed box in the classic style of the late paddy o’brien. believe it or not, there is enormous mutual respect and admiration between these two players, which is how it should be!

don’t forget the in-between, using middle reeds rather than low reeds but still playing classic five-note-roll style (somebody like colm gannon is a gorgeous example who often does this…)….

for a super-beautiful example of dry middle-reed playng using that same-note staccato ornament, hunt down john redmond of wexford, now in new york, another multiple AA winner…..he had a cd called east to northeast, don’t know if it’s still available, but there are clips of him on youtube…..

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@ceemonster: I’m curious to know where you have heard Damien Mullane doing staccato same-note Sharon-Shannon type ornaments. I’ve listened to quite a few clips of him on YouTube, and one playing melodeon on a Comhaltas tour record, and I don’t think I’ve heard him use such a device once. He does lots of what sound like the half-rolls you often talk about, and on earlier Comhaltas videos he shows that he is very adept at five-note rolls, among many other beautifully executed ornaments.

The comment that offended you on the Comhaltas site reads:

"Lovely music and a sweet tone ,I rem starting
and playing like that as a kid ,its great to see
that Ned still plays like that in a good traditional style
and not let the modern music change him ,keep it up"

I doubt he meant to be patronizing: it sounds almost as if he feels nostalgia for that good traditional style. Worth bearing in mind that comments on web pages can’t usually be edited or deleted, so if you write something in haste that is open to misinterpretation, there’s not much you can do about it.

Apologies for the thread drift, Cian. Lots of good food for thought in the above posts, including ceemonster’s.

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except for the obvious positive replies it’s such a pity that the other ones are mind boggling boring dribble. Let alone just a misquote of things on the web, oh, let’s see if I can turn something positive into something negative. Some people just have a knack for it I guess!!

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funny, i find you absolutely scintillating. others may differ as to interpretation, but yes, i did find those words patronizing, and my post was very careful to specify, not an exact quote. but, oh, let’s ignore that, because it’s so delightful to be vile.

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@Jeeves, patronising is not usually deliberate, and IMO comes across as worse when it* isn’t* being done deliberately .

I think the comment quoted comes over very poorly (I’d noticed it myself some time back). I am willing to accept the possibility, and would like to believe, that it may just have come down to poor word choice by DM. But as it stands the comment does read as very patronising to me. I cringed with embarassment when I read it.

- chris

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Hey,
great comments guys. I appreciate the effort u put into your response ceemosnster. Thanks 2 evry1 else, I’ve got some good names?stlyes to look up now.

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I think you’ve been most unfair to DM, ceemonster. My interpretation was that he remembered people playing in that (good) traditional way years ago and emulating it for a while, before being unable to resist the more modern influences of his peers. Your later comment to Jeeves was unnecessarily defensive.

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I don’t read Damien Mullane’s comment as patronizing at all. To me it comes across as nostalgic for the way people used to play and expressing approval that the fella in the clip hasn’t hopped on the "modern style" bandwagon.

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I imagine that Damien Mullane enjoyed the clip and decided to post his appreciation. That it can be described as "unbelievably patronizing" is not fair.Damien Mullane and Ned Kelly are two great,really great,musicians.

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Hi, well looks like my earlier reply hasn’t showed(?). Well apologies in advance for the convulted message below, but I’m not deleting now :-)

@jeeves, we might have been at cross purposes earlier. It occurs to me that (possibly) patronising statements can be unintentional in two very different ways:

(a) the person is not conscious of how condescending they are being

(b) the person has made a statement that conveys, ambiguously or otherwise, a condescension that they do not feel (consciously or otherwise)

When I read DM’s comment, without any bias against the guy, I was dismayed as I read as an example of (a) above. Sure the second half of the statement conveys nostalgia as Emily and Dow noted. But the opening part about when I was a kid is open to being interpreted as ceemonster and myself (and others) did i.e. revealing an underlying sense of superiority.

I’m more than willing to accept, and indeed would like to believe, that in fact the comment is just an example of (b): a statement that is open to conveying unfortunate conotations, that do not reflect DM opinion, to some readers.

I still find the comment unfortunate in its ambiguity, but I’m willing to accept that the reading that seems natural to me doesn’t reflect DM’s personailty.

- chris

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A musician leaves a comment after watching a link of a fellow player. It is scandalous that it should be picked apart to end up with some contributor to this forum saying it reveals an underlying sense of superiority. Total and complete bollix! You have no idea if he feels superior or inferior. It is awful to witness somebody who gives their life to the music getting fecked around here.

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So many good and interesting threads get deleted here. Here is a nasty unneccessary one that should be deleted straight away.

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@Big-Tab, if your comment above was aimed at myself then reread what I wrote.

When i read DM’s original comment some time back, yes it read to me as condescending and I was disspointed in it, quite taken aback. Taken its own that’s how the _comment_ reads to me.

If you read my last message above I’m _willing, and indeed would like to, believe_ that the comment may have been unfortunately worded and _not_ revealing of a condescending attitude (conscious or otherwise).

This would hardly be the first time that a comment on the internet has been open to misinterpretation, find me someone that hasn’t posted a message that has been misinterpreted, whether through misredaing or through the words actually being ambiguous.

In fact if your comment was aimed at me this is a case in point as you seem to have missed the point of my message.

- chris

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I feel very fortunate to be living in a country whose justice system holds that one is innocent until proven guilty. It’s a great principle and worth carrying over into our daily lives.

To get the thread back on track - Cian, have you listened to Damien Mullane? Maybe you’ve never heard of him :-) but he’s one of the younger players who doesn’t play those same-note trebly things, and doesn’t go for a bone-dry sound either. Very gifted and very musical young man, check him out. He has yet to display the same maturity in his writings as in his playing, but no doubt that will come.

Another younger player I admire who favours for the old wet sound but not necessarily all the five-note rolls that often go with it is Fiachna O Mongain (sp?). He channels Joe Cooley - good job somebody is doing it.

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Jeeves there is a distinction between critisising an action, attitude or statement etc and criticising a person.

I’d like to inhabit a country (and browse an internet) where that was a guiding principle

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Yep rambling it was aimed at you and ceemonster. Two of the contributors I would have most respect for here. I think your criticisms were unneccessary ,unfair and probably incorrect. I only met Damien once and thought he was exceptional.Met Ned a few times and again thought him a great player and Damien was expressing his admiration too. I am sure he didnt expect the two of you to be bringing it up for examination here. It was between the two of them and I still think this voyeuristic thread should be deleted.

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it occurs to me that the fact that read ("RED" past tense) and read ("REED" present tense) are spelt the same. e.g. my message above was intended as :

"When I read (RED, past tense) DM’s comment, without any bias against the guy, I was dismayed as I read(RED, past tense) <it> as an example of …" etc.

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RP when I red your first comment I assumed you meant red and not reed. I don’t think we disagree very strongly about this matter. Cheers!

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Hi, this Damien Mullane.
I don’t know where that comment came from as I did not write it. I never leave comments. I haven’t even seen the comment but from what I gather it does sound a bit patronizing. Those of you that know me would know I would never leave comments and definitely not a patronizing one. Just for the record, I love Ned Kellys playing and always have. If you do a 3 finger roll or a 100 finger roll that’s all down to preference. Just because I don’t do the 5 finger roll as much as I used to does not mean I have lost the ability to enjoy other styles.
I Love music, not politics.

If you see anymore comments left with my name, its not me. I do not leave bad comments about anyone.

Damien Mullane

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I have been learning the reel the Gooseberry Bush by playing along with your Comhaltas video for the last couple of evenings Damien, beautiful, inspirational playing, it’s nice to have an opportunity to thank you.

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