Getting Deep.

Getting Deep.

Since so many of you have mentioned playing this music for so long and not really getting into it until later in life, and having to relearn everything, i want to know what it means to actually get deep. I mean, what is the point when we *begin* to really get into a tune? Is it:

When we put in our first ornaments and articulations?
When when learn how to work them in several different places?
When we learn how to use several different ones to articulate the same note?
When we learn how to add them in wherever and whenever we feel like it?

Is it when we learn several different versions of a tune?
When we learn how to put the different parts together?
When we learn how to mix and match even the subtle variations that separate the versions?

When we learn how to mix small phrases from similar tunes to make variations for another tune?
When we learn how to create our own variations to the point of improvising over top of the tune?

When we’ve learned so much about this music, when we’ve spent so much time playing it, that it’s phrases and rhythmic patterns flow through our veins and it is evident no matter what style of music we play? Or by this time, are we already deep?

Re: Getting Deep.

All of the above is what I would call “getting deep”

traditional music is not some sort of mystical cult, it is….music.

Just play the stuff, ye don’t really need to think too much about it.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Just play the stuff, ye don’t really need to think too much about it.”

I’m trying to learn that, and a lot of these things have come to me naturally from learning tunes. But several folks have mentioned having to relearn everything. If it all possible, i would like to avoid that. I’d rather progress in the tunes as i progress in the music, rather than having to stop and reteach myself everything.

Re: Getting Deep.

Your relationship with a tune is a journey, with no end point. As time goes on, you become more and more familar with it, know where its essence is, and can play around with it without losing its shape and character. But there is always some thing more to find in the tune, and new possibilities to explore. Thus, you never really ‘learn’ a tune. A daunting thought, but also an exciting one–it never gets old, unless you let it!
If I got any deeper, I would start sounding like Yoda. The Red Sox just won, so it is time for bed.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Your relationship with a tune is a journey, with no end point.”

I’m not looking for the end. I’m looking for the beginning.

Re: Getting Deep.

Do you have access to a teacher where you are or is thesession.org your primary source of information on the music?

You really should consider getting your advice and tutelage from someone one-on-one, not crowdsourcing your musical education, IMHO.

Re: Getting Deep.

Regarding your question about “getting deep”, what would you do with the answer? Pick the players who’s style inspires you and listen, listen, listen. Emulate and imitate at first if that works for you, play the tunes a hundred or a thousand times by yourself or with others, in quiet and loud venues, with other fiddles or flutes. Listen some more and hear what you missed the hundred other times you listened. Getting deep is about seeing the distinctions within the distinctions, like a Mandelbrot set, there is no end to the work, which is what it makes it so incredibly addictive.

Re: Getting Deep.

If it’s got lift without speed, there’s a start.

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Re: Getting Deep.

@ fiddlelearner

I think it’s all relative really, the other day there on a different thread you mentioned to me that you and me were somehow different because you were starting out and I’d been at it a while longer (I did write a post in reply but then some time had lapsed between jottings and when I pressed post I was logged out and my browser scoffed my text). I’d say we’re all on the same journey, at different road houses perhaps, but on the same road. So we’re fellow travelers when all’s said and done.

So to summarise, both this and that, I’d say not to worry. You are where your at and thats it. Where your at isn’t a static position if you keep at it, you’ll keep moving. Deeper understanding comes with experience, experience comes with doing it. Just chill and enjoy the journey and the rest will take care of it’s self.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Just play the stuff, ye don’t really need to think too much about it.” - bodhran bliss

i’m sorry, but these sorts of comments really make me mad. if you don’t think about all this kind of stuff, then good for you. taking a holistic approach is just as valid as taking an analytic one. if you have leanings in either direction, you should learn from what the other side has to offer, but to just discount the analytic viewpoint because it is not yours is ignorant.

sometimes i like to calculate the bpm of different sets. it helps me get a sense of what tempos people are playing at and how it sounds. i am not disrupting anyone or doing it when i am on stage. i have a friend who feels for her heart beating to gage her tempo–i’ve tried to do it, but it does not work for me. asking me to stop what i’m doing is as ridiculous as asking her to stop what she does to get her tempos.

besides… of all the world famous musicians i have met, learned from, and played with, it is clear to me that they have not only put more time and effort into their music than the average player, but more thought and consideration as well.

the best players i have ever met have been the most meticulous and well thought out in their approach to the music. an 11 year old i know refuses to play if her “triplets are not good enough,” yet she plays better than most adults i have met (she is right: her triplets are NOT as good as liz carroll’s). a friend in california spends weeks transcribing tunes just to get more variations. i know a gradam ceoil musician of the year who tracks down bootleg concert recordings at every chance just to critique his own playing and improve.

asking anyone to not be themselves in their approach to music would be just as unfair as me asking you to “start overthinking it.” if that is not who you are, then i shouldn’t expect you to be someone different, and those of us who DO like to “over think” things will continue to do so.

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Re: Getting Deep.

fiddlelearner: it is hard to say when you really *get* into a tune. i think it just takes time. all the things you mention are components of it, but i think it is when you develop the automaticity of it all. to me, i don’t really know a tune unless i have all the things you mention AND it all happens without any effort at all. in cognitive psychology we call this “overlearning.” it is not a any of the components in and of themselves, but rather the automatic activation of all those components spontaneously that defines really “getting” a tune.

i can learn tunes pretty quickly and play them in sessions/etc, but i don’t feel like i really get to know a tune until i have spent several months or years with it.

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Re: Getting Deep.

daiv – in my experience there are many people who don’t really think about things too much. They are usually quite content, but not very good at anything.

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daiv, gam, to me the phrase“…don’t have to think too much“ implies that you don’t have to think more than what happens naturally. For example, today i’ve been working on “McFinns’” I only have 1 recording of it, and some of the phrases are muddled and blurry. So naturally my brain is trying to put in the notes that i can’t quite hear. Eventually, after trail, error, and some thought, i come up with the phrase that may be being played. This happens with a bunch of tunes, and currently also “Cotton Eyed Joe.” Maybe to some people this is considered “thinking too much”, but to me it’s natural and easy.

Re: Getting Deep.

Oh! i love what Daiv says here, –“…i think it is when you develop the automaticy of it all“. Gam, about my piano playing. It’s what’s mentioned right here. It took 2 years after my 11 years to develop my own impromptu compositions and freestyling in everything. It’s like “Before i thought i could improvise… Now i KNOW i can improvise”. But i think this “Automatic” thing has A LOT to do with knowing your instrument as well as knowing the music. As of right now, i still have quite a bit to learn about both.

Re: Getting Deep.

If yo want to “get deep” you have to play music from your soul - music you love.

As you get proficient on your instrument the music you listen to and the music you play merge. So think about what you listen to.

When you first came to this site it was because you were listening to Celtic Women and stuff, and loved it so much you were prepared to take up a new instrument.

Now you’re listening to the likes of Frankie Gavin and Tommy Peoples. Not because you love them, but because people here have told you that that is what you SHOULD listen to.

If you want to “get deep” go back to Celtic Women. You’ll never “get deep” playing stuff you’ve been told to play by others, it only happens when you play music you have a deep personal love for.

Re: Getting Deep.

Skreech, what *reignited my desire to play this music, was seeing Mairead Nesbitt, and the other Violinist/Fiddler, play an Irish Set of tunes on “Lord of The Dance”. It didn’t inspire me to take up a new instrument. I’ve wanted to learn Violin/Fiddle all my life, i could just never afford one. When i finally got it, i couldn’t figure out what i wanted to play. I tried Violin(Rock, Classical, and New Age) and that didn’t work out. So i tried Violin on and off for a year. One day i remembered, “Hey! I’ve ALWAYS wanted to learn Irish Music!” Then those videos came to memory. They were all i had, and i had no resources other than Mairead Nesbitt, but i didn’t find her playing a bunch of ITM. I looked up “Celtic Music” and found O’ Neills’ tunes collection at “www.celtic-sheet-music.com” I tried learning those midi files and the sheets for a couple of weeks, but something felt wrong. So after more despreate searching i found this place. I was accused of being wind-up, and teased for my taste. But thanks to Will Harmon, i found Exactly what i’ve been searching for. Thanks to Gam, i stayed here to learn and get more help. I know where my heart is. I know what i like and don’t like. I understand that you’re trying to help, but this is the right music for me. I `ve never been so hard working and diligent about anything ever in my life. I`ve liked this music since i was a little kid, but i wasn`t exposed to it enough to understand that it actually existed.

Re: Getting Deep.

I think it’s broadly right to think about the music. (but not necessary if all you are doing is banging a drum, of course.)

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Re: Getting Deep.

and also Skreech, my *infatuation for “Celtic Women” died when i heard my first “Celtic Woman” CD. I only liked them because of the song “Nella Fantasia”. I was impressed by Chloe’s voice. Then i found their gorgeous pixie like Fiddler, Mairead. Of course i got distracted by a beautiful woman that dances while playing her fiddle. What teenage boy musician wouldn’t? Lol, at least i’ve found the music i wanna play.

Re: Getting Deep.

>“Your relationship with a tune is a journey, with no end point.”

>I’m not looking for the end. I’m looking for the beginning.

You also need to recognize where you are, and in which direction you are heading.

Re: Getting Deep.

What we have is a bunch of dance tunes, formed around and oriented toward a largely exinct culture of dancing and socializing.
Good tunes, many of them fun for simply listening as well, and a joy for the players.

Anything beyond that you have to graft on yourself.
Styles?
Traditions?
Customs?
Journeys?
Spirituality?

Go ahead, create yourself something.
It is all equally valid, IMHO.

The mystique and cult aspect is a sham. There is only the music and the stratum of people it attracts.

I get grumpy in the morning, eh?
(Ahhh, there’s my coffee!! Mmm…)

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Re: Getting Deep.

‘oriented toward a largely exinct [sic] culture of dancing and socializing’

If I go out tonight, I’d find hundreds or more people attending ceili’s in town. Granted, it’s the extreme end of the year here but people dance sets all the time throughout the year around here, both young and old.

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Re: Getting Deep.

Fiddlelearner, I think you’ve misinterpreted what I was trying to say. I was only using Celtic Women as an example( and I’m very glad for you that your tastes have move on from there). But the point I was trying to put across is that to get deep you have to play tunes that touch you personally. Forget about asking her for recommendations, forget the ‘list’ that your local session gave you. Concentrate on tunes that, when you hear them, make you go ‘WOW! I wanna play that!’.

‘Getting deep’ is about playing from your heart, with passion. It’s not about whether you can play five note rolls or not, or any of the other stuff you mentioned in your opening post.

Re: Getting Deep.

@piece,
That’s a wee bit presumptuous mate. Plenty of socializing and dancing in my experience. No shortage of it in fact.

Re: Getting Deep.

Skreech, actually articulations are very important in expression. This is how i look at it. We use letters to put together words. Words makes sentences. Sentences make paragraphs, so on so forth. Now the more we know about our alphabet, the clearer we speak, making our words clear. Now, the more we learn about words, the many more different ways we can express ourselves. Then putting things together and making sense so our expressions are clear to others. Then we get into our tone of voice, dynamics, how we word things, the words we emphasize, etc. All of these things are important in making our emotions clear. Music is the same.

Re: Getting Deep.

@piece: the mystique and cult may be a sham, but they kqeep it from going extinct.

for example: i told my grandma i was learning sean nós dancing. when she didnt know what it was, i described it. she cringed a bit and laughed. she told me that is when the meneen did. that was their word for an old man that had “never left the village” and did quaint/strange things like that. she said that no one “of her generation” would have been caught dead doing that.

so, they did not value the way “meneen” danced, and instead learned step dancing, foxtrot, and ballroom (keep in mind that the village was and still is in the middle of nowhere). they let the sean nós die completely off because they thought it was annoying and strange.

fast forward a bit, and i buy into the mystique so much i pay good money to learn how to do the sean nós dancing. it wouldnt have taken much effort for my grandma and her friends to learn the meneen dancing, if only to preserve it, and then she could have taught me (for free). so, without the mystique it just becomes old fashioned (and she taught me step dancing instead, yuck).

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Re: Getting Deep.

dfost- the argument is that it is impossible to notate irish music on paper, while it is par for the course for classical music. That’s the difference. One of the things I love about this music is the freedom, and “the dots” do repress that freedom, but not enough so that I think they deserve the negative connataion they get. Maybe that’s just cause I’m American who just doesn’t get it. Maybe it is just easier to just dismiss the dots altogether instead of accepting any exceptions of the rule.

Jerone-it’s my experience that in most cases people do get bound to what is written down, especially beginners and those who can’t sight read at tempo. So generally speaking it’s true. This is why “the dots” are discouraged for those starting to learn Irish music.

Re: Getting Deep.

It only has mystique because it was reviled and forgotten by one generation, an ‘re-discovered’ by another. The step-dancing you dislike may well have a certain mystique in the eyes of the next generation, for perhaps the precise reason sean-nos has mystique in yours. It’s a continuous process of invention and re-imagination…

Re: Getting Deep.

Ugh, I just posted in the wrong thread. Ignore that last post.

Re: Getting Deep.

>>“Skreech, actually articulations are very important in expression. This is how i look at it. We use letters to put together words. Words makes sentences. Sentences make paragraphs, so on so forth. Now the more we know about our alphabet, the clearer we speak, making our words clear”.

Jerone,
That’s probably true if you want to play the musical equivalent of a scientific paper. But you can write beautiful poetry with the vocabulary of a seven year old child. And it’s the same with music. You don’t need fancy words or ornaments to express yourself.

Very often less is more. Maybe it’s time to start listening to some Scottish fiddlers, and noticing how, where the Irish tend to ornament a tune by adding notes, the Scots often to do it by leaving notes out.

Ornamentation might make your playing ‘clever’, or ‘competent’, but it won’t ever make it ‘deep’. Depth comes from somewhere else, somewhere totally unconnected with technical ability.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Just play the stuff, ye don’t really need to think too much about it.” - bodhran bliss

i’m sorry, but these sorts of comments really make me mad. if you don’t think about all this kind of stuff, then good for you. taking a holistic approach is just as valid as taking an analytic one.
d on July 3rd 2011 by daiv

The advice was specific in this instance.

I realise that Fiddle learner is steeped in musical theory, and that can be a drawback with Irish traditional at times as SOMETIMES some players become stilted.

I was merely advising Fiddle learner to relax, chill out, don’t be in such a rush, and do not get hung up with the type of “deep2 stuff his original post was about. To be honest I have no idea what he was talking about.

hence the advice to “just play the music”.

I realise on a thread you cannot know this, but perhaps it was a trifle foolish to “get mad” and begin talking about different approaches and Holly Istic the well known flute player. 🙂

Re: Getting Deep.

daiv – in my experience there are many people who don’t really think about things too much. They are usually quite content, but not very good at anything.

# Posted on July 3rd 2011 by gam

Seen that in sport, George Best, Lionel Messi, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, never think about the game, just go out and play, naturally.

And all useless.

Re: Getting Deep.

If yo want to “get deep” you have to play music from your soul - music you love.

As you get proficient on your instrument the music you listen to and the music you play merge. So think about what you listen to.

When you first came to this site it was because you were listening to Celtic Women and stuff, and loved it so much you were prepared to take up a new instrument.

Now you’re listening to the likes of Frankie Gavin and Tommy Peoples. Not because you love them, but because people here have told you that that is what you SHOULD listen to.

If you want to “get deep” go back to Celtic Women. You’ll never “get deep” playing stuff you’ve been told to play by others, it only happens when you play music you have a deep personal love for.

# Posted on July 3rd 2011 by skreech

Brilliant.

Re: Getting Deep.

I think it’s broadly right to think about the music. (but not necessary if all you are doing is banging a drum, of course.)

# Posted on July 3rd 2011 by llig leahcim

Shame on you Michael, encouraging people not to LISTEN to what others are doing but just tear away.

Mind you, most melody players are like that.

Thank heaven we have bodhran players, because they have to listen to the others, they have no choice.

Re: Getting Deep.

The mystique and cult aspect is a sham. There is only the music and the stratum of people it attracts.

# Posted on July 3rd 2011 by Piece

EUREKA.

A convert, just play the stuff and stop inventing mystique and all the other sham stuff which people in Ireland laugh at.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Seen that in sport, George Best, Lionel Messi, Michael Jordan, Lebron James, never think about the game, just go out and play, naturally.”

I don’t know that that’s a fair comparison, BB - since any player on a team (or nearly any professional athlete, just in general) depends largely on a coach who DOES spend quite a bit of time intellectualizing the sport.

In terms of Irish music, I think one would err on the side of caution to say most of the ‘greats’ did think about or analyze their music to a good degree. Even if you take an example like John Kelly, who grew up with music around him and whose music Tony MacMahon describes as very natural, earthy and un-self-conscious, the man had very strong opinions about how Irish music should be played, and must therefore have thought very strongly about what the music IS, and should be.

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Hey hey now, nothing’s wrong with thinking. When i play my piano improvisations i think about every note i hit, before i hit it. It’s like a constant stream(flow) from my brain to my fingers to play with i heard in my head(or what i wanna hear). My music comes directly from my soul, and the *mind* is apart of that soul.

Re: Getting Deep.

That’s deep.

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Re: Getting Deep.

I very strongly disagree that those great sportsmen mentioned above don’t think about the game. I think you’ll find that during their non-playing days they often talk about tactics, strategies, moves, analyse and think about their own approaches and the approaches of their opponents.

During the game I am sure that at times they are ‘thinking’ about the game, but mostly they are playing in the flow. I think that the best players of sport allow their conscious minds and their unconscious minds to work in harmony producing sublime movement.

The beauty of a session is that we play music with friends and hopefully no opponents. Like great sports men and women, many great musicians I’m sure do often think about their music, but while playing they let the consious work with the unconscious and not against each other - to produce wonderful, fulfilling,fun, adventurous music that lifts their friends to other places alongsides them.

Re: Getting Deep.

I’d just like tp point out that my previous post was a combination of parts stream-of-consciousness and planning and reviewing… 😉

Re: Getting Deep.

I agree Brown. It’s not that we don’t think. It’s that we have so much practice thinking, and doing, eventually everything is 2nd nature. I remember when i first started really improvising on piano. I would just hit a bunch of random notes and see how they sounded. Tie up both hands(mentally) so they would have to flow with each other. It was months before those “chimes” and that “harping” sounded like actual “chiming” and “harping”. At first everything was all muddle, blurry, dissonant in places i didn’t like, consonant in places i didn’t like. It took a while just to get out my own natural musical “Chi” i guess you could say lol. But i found my water pattern. My circle of flow. And everytime i learn a new chord or phrase, that circcle gets bigger and stronger. Now i can tell whole stories without saying a word.

Re: Getting Deep.

“while playing they let the conscious work with the unconscious and not against each other “ Brown Creeper

“It’s that we have so much practice thinking, and doing, eventually everything is 2nd nature” fiddlelearner

Those two together seem sum up a lot of what goes on in the shallows as well. Much more so than phrases that include words like “automatic” and “finger memory”.

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I can lift heavy weights.

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I can type heavy weights

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I just want to play the music, explore the music, let it speak, let its voice be heard, letit live, let it flow from the fiddle to another’s mind without words, without sight, intangible, evernescent, only a memory when over.

Do we have to dissect everything to shreds so we can no longer see what it is made of?

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There’s a difference between dissecting and understanding. I like to know what’s happening, even if I don’t know exactly how it happens. In the post above, Sky fiddler, you’ve just analysed what it is you want to do, viz explore the music, let it speak, let its voice be heard, let it live, let it flow from the fiddle to another’s mind without words, without sight, intangible, evernescent, only a memory when over. Sounds a bit like getting deep to me, which is what the OP was asking about.

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As gross a word as “dissecting” can be, sometimes it’s more like rereading a really good book, and it tends to lead to “fridge brilliance” - suddenly have a flash of HOLY CRAP THAT’S ACTUALLY AMAZING while you’re staring into your refrigerator getting a snack.

Denis Murphy, for example, plays a lot of really sweet double stops, and at first all I thought was, “Awesome double-stops!” But when I went back and listened to what he was actually playing, rather than just appreciating the effect it had, I realized he was doing some pretty (as I thought at the time) weird stuff. Listen to the opening strains of Rathawaun on Star Above the Garter and you’ll notice big open G chords, and a nice sexy B-minor one in there as well. That led me to find those sorts of harmonic irregularities in other players’ music, and now it’s greatly informed my own playing. So dissection turned into understanding, given time.

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Re: Getting Deep.

@bodhran bliss: if you want to open the “michael jorda doesn’t think while playing” door, we can dip back into cognitive psychology terms to show how your comment is totally missing my point.

first, i want to summarize my point: those athletes do not play naturally, they think about the game a lot: they play with automaticity. they spend countless hours thinking and analyzing during practice sessions to get that “natural” and effortless style to their playing.

in cognitive psychology, we delineate two types of processing, based on when it is happening. this goes back to information theory, and we use these words today for the internet, for the same REASON but with a different meaning.

1. online: this processing happens in the act of doing something. this is while reading, while watching tv, which engaging in conversation.

2. offline: when you are not in the process of doing something. examples could include answering reading questions AFTER you are done reading, trying to remember what happened in LAST week’s episode while the opening credits are starting on your tv show, or trying to think what your friend really meant during the conversation after it is over.

so, you are correct in saying that during a game the athletes you mention engage in very little effortful processing online. they do, however, engage in a lot of AUTOMATIC processing, i.e. not subject to conscious effort/awareness.

all those athletes assuredly do engage in heavy offline analysis and thinking. you better believe that when they spend several hours practicing a particular shot it is not “spontaneous” or

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“i’m sorry, but these sorts of comments really make me mad. if you don’t think about all this kind of stuff, then good for you. taking a holistic approach is just as valid as taking an analytic one.
d on July 3rd 2011 by daiv

The advice was specific in this instance.

I realise that Fiddle learner is steeped in musical theory, and that can be a drawback with Irish traditional at times as SOMETIMES some players become stilted.

I was merely advising Fiddle learner to relax, chill out, don’t be in such a rush, and do not get hung up with the type of “deep2 stuff his original post was about. To be honest I have no idea what he was talking about.

hence the advice to “just play the music”.

I realise on a thread you cannot know this, but perhaps it was a trifle foolish to “get mad” and begin talking about different approaches and Holly Istic the well known flute player.
# Posted on July 4th 2011 by bodhran bliss“

so, this is exactly why i got frustrated. if you didn’t know what he was talking about, then why are you so sure you should discount it? telling the original poster to relax does not answer his question.

i don’t think it is foolish to refute your advice, because your advice was towards a different situation. fiddlelearner did not say that they wanted help in STOPPING the deep thinking, but rather was asking for some experience-based comments from other deep thinkers.

some of us DO think of tunes they way fiddlelearner identified… if you don’t get it, then why are you telling them not to think about tunes that way? this made me mad because it is not helpful.

please note that i did not get belligerent, accusatory, or attack you in any way. i identified my reaction, and then gave good reasons for it. i think too often on this site the “holistic” thinkers bombast the “analytic” thinkers as if there is one right way to go about playing traditional music. this prevents beneficial discourse for those of us who take an analytic approach.

being overtly analytical allows me to think myself out of issues in my playing. perhaps some of these issues are caused by overthinking in the first place, but you can’t just tell yourself to STOP thinking… you need strategies and techniques to do so.

as i described above, i would agree with you that excessive thinking online (i.e. while you’re playing) is not beneficial. however, offline thinking and deep analysis (when you’re not playing) can be essential to those people who thrive on that sort of thinking.

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So are you saying daiv that anything not subject to conscious awareness is automatic ? Does that include the process leading up to Danjo’s flash of revelation while staring into the refrigerator ? Where does suddenly realising what your friend meant during an earlier conversation *without having been conciously thinking of it* fit it ?

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Must go, just remembered something. Back tommorow.

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Analysis/synthesis and holistic nativism don’t have to be mutually exclusive. We can choose when to consciously take one approach, when to take the other.

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@sky fiddler: if you don’t want to dissect everything, then you don’t have to.

the metaphor doesn’t really work, anyways. we are not destroying it while it is happening… by definition we are NOT playing music, because we are here on the mustard board. so, i agree that we might all be better off practicing right now, but should we be discussing things shallowly instead of deeply?

there are all sorts of approaches to music. james kelly, for example, is deeply analytical. according to you he is shredding the music until it is unrecognizable. if you ask me, he is elucidating and expanding the tradition by offering another way of thinking about the music.

i took several lessons from james (on musicality, not on fiddle cuz i don’t play it), and we spent a significant amount of time on counting and what i’m thinking when i’m playing. he taught me to “think ahead,” “take my ‘square’ notes and make them ‘round,’ to give them space to ‘breathe’”, and to “not stop in the middle of the street, pet the dog, have a smoke, and drink some whiskey” while playing a cut, because i’ll “get run over.”

these things were all VERY helpful, and helped me learn how to let go and let the music speak for itself, just as you describe.

a friend of mine took lessons from martin hayes when she was young, and he used to say things to her like: “play me how you feel,” and he meant it. needless to say, she is a fantastic fiddler because of it. different strokes for different folks.

i myself prefer to take your “holistic” approach and my “analytic” approach at the same time. i will not, however, tell you that you should not approach the music the way that works for you the best.

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If you don’t play with any depth, emotion, or enthusiasm, it could mean that you’re actually mad.

“He is a piper and plays when asked, but it is without enthusiasm and spirit and even of pleasure which always accompanied the piper’s exercise of his art.”

That’s from the case notes of the Inverness District Asylum.

Re: Getting Deep.

For those from the Highlands who are probably like, “what?”…. It acquired the name of Craig Dunain later, in the 1880s-90s.

Re: Getting Deep.

“Do we have to dissect everything to shreds so we can no longer see what it is made of?” What’s that called? A contradiction right? Last time i checked, dissecting showed us exactly what things were made of. That’s what anatomy is about aye? Studying everything that we’re made of so we can learn more about ourselves? I don’t like how people treat our educated methods like they’re “wrong” and “unnatural”. They say “ i don`t wanna learn music theory cause i feel like it’ll take my soul away“. The more i learn about music, the closer i get to it. I don’t see what’s so wrong with learning, thinking, analyzing, working. Everytime i learn something new, wheather its about a tune, or a method, or just a theory, i get excited! It’s fun, refreshing, fulfilling! This is what makes music so amazing, we never stop learning. Don`t judge me cause i use educated methods.

Re: Getting Deep.

“holistic nativism” ? 😏 Anyhow, I don’t think that either that or “Analysis/synthesis “ cover fiddlelearner’s
“It’s that we have so much practice thinking, and doing, eventually everything is 2nd nature”. That seems related to “experience”.

I could be persuaded that some of the things in fiddlelearner’s list in the OP represent a newly created piece of “wiring” and have become “automatic” . At a more basic level, for example, thinking of a phrase and the fingers finding the notes ‘automatically“. But experience is bringing something else - in fiddlelearner’s case the ability to improvise. I am uneasy (in a non-academic discussion) about the non-concious aspects of the the processes that we call “creativity” or “inspiration” being described as “automatic”, which is what daiv’s distinction would imply. I don’t think doing that helps answer the question in the OP.

Re: Getting Deep.

Good Lord, I am gone for a few days, and everyone has gone all Rousseau on the topic. If we were all just noble savages, unfettered by our modern notions of learning, and studious pursuits, uncorrupted by academic training, we could find perfection, eh?
For myself, I have never found a gifted athelete or musician whose natural and unconcious skill was not the product of years of hard work and training.

Re: Getting Deep.

Not true, I’ve known loads of diddley musicians who’ve never had to “work” at it (let alone “hard work” at it). That’s not to say, of course, that they havn’t put in the hours … both thinking and actually doing.

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Re: Getting Deep.

Might some people regard “had fun, learned a lot, felt tired afterwards” as “hard work” ?

Re: Getting Deep.

“Might some people regard “had fun, learned a lot, felt tired afterwards” as “hard work” ?”

That’s not what she said…

Re: Getting Deep.

Who said work, evn hard work, couldn’t be fun?

Re: Getting Deep.

@david50: i think that creativity and inspiration are grounded in the ability to access these resources on the fly. i would argue that a person who can play amazing variations spontaneously has actually practice making creative variations so MUCH that the process of making them becomes automatic.

i am not saying that creativity and inspiration is nothing more than automaticity… it all depends on what exactly it is that you are making automatic. when you say the word automatic, most people think of playing without feeling, passion, or inspiration. i would call that mindless.

for learned behaviors, cognitive psychologists use the world automatic to describe behavior that has been practiced so well that it no longer needs (or can have) conscious awareness to engage in it. by extension, i would argue that creativity and inspiration must be cultivated and–dare i say it–practiced. this is the automaticity i talk about…. pushing your boundaries and using your creativity more and more makes it easier to do so in the future. that’s all i mean.

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Re: Getting Deep.

@fiddlelearner: careful when you start throwing around the word educated. your methods are not necessarily more educated… they are probably moreso rooted in your personality and thinking style (genetics? experience?) than how educated you are attempted to be.

charlie lennon may have a phd in nuclear physics, but you’d never guess that from seeing the warm and genuine smile he so often has. throwing around one’s so-called educated approach as being innately superior is not fair, nor is it justified.

i never said the “holistic” approach was invalid, just different. i think approaching music analytically is great if you think naturally in that way. every day i try to be more holistic in my playing, but i acknowledge (and love) that i just happen to be very analytical.

this isn’t an “us vs. them” kind of them… i am just tring to make sure people know that there is more than one way of doing things, and they are all valid and offer different merits.

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Re: Getting Deep.

daiv- i like what you’re saying about the cognitive psychology-is there a clinical diagnosis for the absent- minded twitching of most pipers’ fingers? What would this syndrome be called?

Re: Getting Deep.

@llig: ok, you saying these diddley musicians are at the level of martin hayes or matt malloy? come on now…

the most “natural” players i have ever met work unbelievably hard. they put their time in, but it is a different sort of time, and a more efficient use of it. instead of practicing mindlessly, they will imagine how they want it to sound, and work at it until it happens. what makes it natural is not that they don’t work at it, but how they work at it.

what i have seen is that a natural musician will tend to focus on the sound they want, moreso than the sound they are doing. i myself will listen to my sound, agonize how it is wrong, and work at making it right. a more natural approach is to focus on the sound you want, and just reach towards that sound, almost ignoring the reality of your playing.

i can offer an example from the teaching of noel hill. he was teaching a complicated fingering pattern. he told us that he doesn’t focus on the fingerings when he plays, but rather on the sound he wants to come out of the instrument. he told us that if you focus on the fingerings instead, you get tied in knots (and he himself does too).

i grilled noel later on this, trying to figure out what is going on in his head when he plays. he said that he very vividly hears every note in his head–and tries to match his playing to what he hears. in his “mind’s ear” he hears the attack of the note, it’s shape, dynamic, duration, and other subtleties.

this is a VERY natural way of playing. he is very aware of his playing (fingering patterns, techique, etc.) but is holistically/naturally aware, rather than analytically so. i have also seen this sort of thinking reflected in the approach of many great players i have run into over the years. they are all very deliberate, but not very calculated in their playing, if that makes sense.

although i am not at that level, i still find myself being unaware of things i am doing intentionally. although i might be able to tell you how i try to engage my pectoral muscles and deltoids for different things (i know… i know… it’s bad), there are many things that slip under my radar. recently, a friend of mine listened to a recording of me playing. this friend has an ear 10 times better than mine, and playing ability to match his ear. he told me: “i thought you were playing out of time, and then i played with you. you were completely in time. it’s just built into the way you naturally phrase things. you just… make some notes long that most people normally don’t accent”

i had NO IDEA what he was talking about. he described it, and i couldn’t figure it out. after i listened to the recording, i guessed at what it might be. it was not until i thought about it for a few days until i realized what he was referring to.

it turns out that i had spent YEARS trying to develop this particular way of phrasing. to me, this is what irish music sounded like. i did not even realize that, going back, none of the recordings that “i got it from” were really doing quite the same thing at all.

now that i have a better awareness of this tendency, i can turn it on and off. before, i couldn’t control it, because i wasn’t even aware that i was doing it, even though i had worked so hard on it.

in other words: even though i spent a lot of time analyzing my playing, there are major facets of it that come from a naturalistic approach. i had spent years chasing after a sound that i didn’t realize i had come up with. is this significant? no. everyone does this. some people do it exclusively, others do it less. the bottom line: it’s still work.

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Re: Getting Deep.

…which is a long was of saying that you CAN’T know what your subconscious is doing - otherwise it wouldn’t be subconscious.
😉

Re: Getting Deep.

Daiv, when i said “don’t judge my educated methods”, i wasn’t calling my self superior, i was defending being called inferior. People treat me like using theoretical methods is wrong, like i’m less of a musician because i think about motifs, and passing tones, chord progressions, intervals, and different structures that make up organized music. Like it’s bad that i think about these things a work towards learning more of these things. And you were right “experienced” would`ve been a better word. But a lot of my iknowledge and application does come from things i`ve learned from school.