Shetland Fiddling

Shetland Fiddling

I know you’ guy’s had this discussion a while back about shetland music played in session’s etc, I myself I am a shetland style fiddle player, going 10 year’s now. and I go to these sessions in so. California, its a place called the Celtic Art’s Center. and the session used to be called an Irish Session intill I cam along and did a bunch of shetland concerts and so it became the celtic arts center. traditional session. I have learned a great knowledge of Irish Tune’s taking up the Donegal FIddle Style as well for 2 year’s so far. and since the session was changed I learned alot of irish tune’s and play along with everyone else but when ever I start playin one of my traditional Shetland tune’s they look at me so weird. and start talking. and I occasionally play irish tune’s with a shetland flare to it. they think im a show off, what are you guy’s oppinion on that?

Bummer

Sorry, i misread, i thought you said "Shetland Farting". I don’t know much about fiddling, really.

I really need new glasses!

Re: Shetland Fiddling

Please show some more respect for other aspects of traditional music and get some glasses quickly!

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No one is perfect!

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I like Shetland fiddling,and try to do a bit of it myself,but in my experience Shetland tunes are not welcome in Irish sessions.I find it difficult to understand this attitude.A few Scottish,Shetland and American tunes add a bit of spice to the proceedings.

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I’ve talked to you about this before, man. It’s not that we hate the music, it’s just that whenever a set of Shetland tunes is started, it means that the rest of us have to sit on our hands for the next 5 minutes. It’s the same reason that you almost never hear airs played or songs sung at session. It leaves out everybody else. One suggestion would be to end each set with something we can all play, which you’ve been doing more often than not lately. Even better would be to start with a Shetland tune and then follow it with 2 Irish tunes. Or, if you really want to be proactive, you can print up transcriptions of some of theses tunes, so that those of us who want to (like me) can take them home and learn them. Actually, let’s get together and talk about starting a web site. Maybe that would help (it certainly wouldn’t hurt!).

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They are very rare but when the Boys of the Lough first came out a long time ago there used to be a couple of Ali Bain’s tunes in the Belfast sessions such as Chritmas Day ida morning and a Yow Cam to our door Yarmin.

Haven’t heard much of them in over 20 years mind you.

I actually wouldn’t mind if somebody brought a few of those tunes into our sess.

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You haven’t heard much of the tunes, or the Boys of the Lough?

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Ciamar a tha thu?
I was over at the Celtic Arts Center on sunday shooting the bull with your friend the bodhran player (with the funny hat) he mentioned you play shetland style. Works for me. I’d much rather treble than play rolls. I bet it’s the scots names, Nobody can pronounce them. Or maybe they don’t want to play Skinner and Marshall tunes in 5th position. I was looking through my Cd’s and noticed I have 2 dozen Cape Breton’s and one Irish. Maybe that’s the ticket, split the difference and play Cape Breton tunes. Jerry Holland and Brenda Stubbert - good stuff.
Ran-

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Re: Shetland Fiddling

brenda stubbarts is a great tune!!!! I get away with playing that at my session but i sometimes get some funny looks when i play scottish tunes. I haven’t tried playing shetland tunes yet at a session because i’ve only just discovered the music but i love the style, especially the ringin’ strings.
the thing is that a lot of shetland tunes are also played as irish tunes, likre miss macleaods reel, toss the feathers etc. i know they might not be exactly tradional to one country or the other but tradition is a living thing that invitably changes over time.
then again i can understand people getting annoyed when one person plays a big set of tunes and no one else can join in. I think th trick is to not dominate the session with a lot of tunes that no one else knows and mix and match tunes in a set(like "whistleman" said)…..works for me anyway.
hey…if i didn’t liv on the other side of the world i’d come and learn some tunes from you and then we could annoy everyone else at sessions by playing lots of sets of shetland tunes in a row :) that’ll teach those non shetland players:):):)

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I really like to hear the occasional Shetland tune, but I have never actually learned many of them, because they don’t sound right to me on the flute. A lot of their character seems to be defined by the bite of the fiddle, and a certain dissonance, that works great on the fiddle but sounds feeble on the flute. And what’s wrong with sitting on your hands for five minutes listening to something interesting?

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In my experience (partly due to the fact that London’s small Scottish session scene has a significant Orkney/Shetland contingent), Scottish sessions welcome Shetland tunes and most Shetland musicians include a fair few Scottish tunes in their repertoires (Shetland music has been profoundly influenced by mainland Scotland, especially since gramophones and wireless).

The Irish traditional music scene is a strange animal. Tunes which come from a ‘foreign’ repertoire are frowned upon. Yet a great many tunes in the Irish repertoire are of foreign origin. A few Shetland tunes have managed to sneak in and make themselves quite at home. The reel, ‘Far From Home’ was apparently in circulation among Irish musicians as early as the 1900s, as it appears in O’Neill’s. The New Rigged Ship (the reel) and Donald Blue (after a fashion) are heard in Irish sessions with increasing frequency.

I enjoy playing Scottish and Shetland tunes, when I find people to play them with, but I do not see it as my place to introduce them into irish sessions. If a group of musicians chooses to define itself as ‘Irish’, I am more than happy - ecstatic, in fact - to go along with it.

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Whenever we play Scottish or Shetland tunes at the Herschel Arms in Slough no-one minds a bit. All the guys there recognise that cross fertilisation can only develop all the traditions and save them becoming inbred. Shetland and Donegal styles have a lot of similarities as Donegal trawlermen used to fish regularly off the Shetlands …the sessions whilst in port must have been fun….and the two styles complement each other very well. There are some great new Scottish tunes around at present which are becoming regulars with all my Irish muso friends..The Tongadale and Waves of Rush (written by one Aidan O’Rourke,,,Scottish, despite the name). They sound great trebled or rolled..please yourself. I also agree with Ottery…what’s wrong with sitting and listening once in a while?

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O.K. So, "The Session" is supposedly for Irish music but there are lots of contributors here, myself included, who come from different musical backgrounds and, although we may love Irish music, we also appreciate listening to/and playing tunes from other traditions. It’s often a similar situation in the "real world". Quite often, there isn’t a "pure Irish" session available for the "diehards" or maybe that’s all that’s available and you might be a predominantly Shetland/Scottish or whatever player. In many cases, the sessions fall somewhere in between.

We’re fairly lucky around Edinburgh and can pick and choose a bit but I’m sure that some of our more remote members might not be so lucky.

Basically, I’ll have to come out with usual response, It depends on the type of session, the attitude of those there and your own attitude. I always believe that you should try to "go along with the flow" in a session. If it’s "pure Irish", then it might not be advisable to introduce tunes from elsewhere but I’ve been to many great Irish sessions where Shetland and Scottish tunes frequently get played albeit often in an Irish style—-so it just depends.

Some sessions can be very (often far too) open and just about everything goes from Parisian waltzes on the box, Ouds, Ocarinas, songs from the musicals etc, etc. This gives people a chance to "do their own thing" often with disastrous results although occasionally you might hear something really good. Of course, these aren’t Irish sessions but there are many different arrangements falling in between the "pure Irish" session and the "hotch potch" I’ve just described.

Personally, I prefer sessions to have a little bit of cohesion, regardless of the style of music which is being featured. If it means refraining from playing my own favourite tunes, whether they be from another tradition or just party pieces, then so be it. Also, if I don’t know any of the tunes, then it’s just too bad. I can "sit on my hands" and enjoy listening to them. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

John

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"We have to sit on our hands"?
Don’t we go to sesions to learn tunes?
What is the difference between a Shetland tune and an Irish reel you have never heard before? Do you suddenly launch into a fast reel, even though you have never heard it before? I think not.

I suppose a lot more people ought to sit on their hands if the tune is a new one they cannot play. (Especially owners of the goatskin or shakey-egg).

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Sorry, Geoff. I was just quoting Whistleman from earlier. Yes, of course, you can learn new tunes at a session—sometimes, just after the second or third time around—or maybe after a one or two visits. Some people might disagree about this being the purpose of a session, though. What I really meant was that you shouldn’t just introduce your own tunes if the only reason is that those which are being played don’t suit you.

John

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I’m on the side of whistleman and John J and think some compromise is necessary when we play "exotic" tunes. I’m always repressing my Scottish/Shetland side of me in the session. Feeling very frustrated, I sometimes play some of my favourite Shetland tunes mixing Irish or Cape Breton ones others might know. The reaction of them is not so bad so far. If I don’t do this so often, there will be no problem.

Back to the original question:

"they think im a show off, what are you guy’s oppinion on that?"

Well, I dunno. Are you a show-off? If you are, then probably they have a reason to think so. If you’re not, then obviously there’s a disconnect there somewhere and perhaps a discussion might be good to clear the air, because you’re probably not a person who shouldn’t be liked, are you?

One thing I’d like to offer as something to think about while planning your campaign to change other people’s minds and session. What is your reaction to these words:

"You know, you’re doing this wrong. You ought to be doing this my way, not the way you’re doing it. It’s stupid to do it your way, and you should change over to my way of doing it, because it’s better than your way. If you want to do it right, you have to do it my way, because your way is wrong."

If you don’t particularly like those words aimed at yourself and would automatically have a reaction opposite their desired course of action (I know I would), then I think it might, if you care about getting along with other people or want to talk them into following your desired course of action, be useful not to use the equivalent (or even a remote echo) of those words in any way.

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Trowie: Shetland + Donegal, my favorites!

My personal experience playing in San Francisco area was that there were a lot of show-offs about, people with fairly toxic personalities who liked to dominate sessions and make others feel unwelcome. However, there were also some amazing sessions with wonderful people at them that I dearly miss!

My guess would be that your style & ornamentation techniques vary from the normal Sligo/Kerry styles I heard there.. I’d get bad reactions from playing Scottish or Donegal tunes. Typically if you play outside the material a session normally plays, you’ll be playing alone.. and if you’re good, perhaps that where the label came from.

If I’m at a session for the first time, and I realize that I’m not in to it or that the material is different from the way I like to play, I might rip one off after an hour or so just to release pent-up energy, but I’m unlikely to come back if it’s not really welcome. Sessions are all about playing together. I’d hunt around a little if I were you, and just keep asking people if the know any Shetland or Donegal tunes- eventually you’ll find someone!

I can tell you this though, I’ve only been to one session where folks knew a lot of Highlands, Donegal settings of reels etc.. and it was my old local in Milwaukee during the peak of the Altan craze!

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Just for the record, I have nothing against a Shetland set every now and then and neither does anybody else I know, but what most people object to at particular sessions would be for every 3rd or 4th set to be a Shetland set started by the one person at the session who plays Shetland music. Not even Aly Bain had that kind of ratio with the Boys of the Lough. Disciplined restraint is key.

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No, there is only one key problem, Im living in Southern California, or the United State’s for that matter. If I were t o be living in say Lerwick. or some place like that I would not even have that problem. You see sometime’s their be a time when a couple of musician will play their set’s together when no one else can play as well, and then some people would get together and learn those tune’s. I remember when I first started wanting to learn fiddle and it was Irish fiddle music I was interested in. but eventually I just took a long journey north. and landed in shetland and even some scandinavian thing’s. jesus even classical musicians are not as stubborn as some as the sessioners are. and I play classical Music at USC. I agree not to dominate a session with you’re own tune’s. but you don’t make it into you’re own gig niether. I geuss its an entire democracy at the session’s for example, every session you go to in scotland fiddles seem to be in the ascendant. well that’s great of course, but, er what exactly are you likely to be hearing? not much doupt what you will hear in shetland but in other parts of the country it’s mostly Irish or eve cape breton sometime’s, sometime’s I could not work out why scottish fiddle music had never managed to get the same stage as our celtic cousin’s. I mean for me the tunes are just a strong and in many cases scottish music as a whole, highlands and islands have a diversity and range that is missing in the other’s, take a research. (I love all style’s, besides my favorite fiddle player’s are Martin Hayes, I usually ask for fairness but life and sessions are not that way lol (learning the hard way)

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I know lots of people who like Mahler (I love Mahler) and who can’t stand Bach (I love Bach, too), but most people don’t insist on playing Mahler at Bach symposiums just because all styles are valid. I’d agree with Dan — you can’t force an entire session to decide that they want to play Shetland when what they want to play is Irish. Go find another session where people are more open to playing a wider range of music, or start one yourself! That way, everyone will be happier.