Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

I am interested to know if Tony MacMahon’s playing is an example of the East Galway, Clare or other county/area styles in Ireland. From reding Wiki, etc., I believe he was a student of Sonny Brogan and Joe Cooley. Didn’t Tony start on B/C, later converting over to D/D sharp? I am curious if he plays D/D# using B/C fingering patterns. The reason I ask is when I try to pick out what he is playing on
IN KNOCKNAGREE, I slow the music down and lower the pitch 3 steps (from D/D sharp to B/C) to play on my B/C box, I still have difficulty deciphering the finger patterns and figuring out what keys he is playing each tune in. Any hints?

Don

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

I do the same thing to play Tony MacMahon’s tunes on my B/C Don. I can’t add anything about the regionality of his style (I’ve visited Clare but live in West Australia) but it I like it a lot and try to emulate it - particularly on the slow airs like The Wounded Hussar or The Dear Irish Boy. He doesn’t rush his reels either (Ships are Sailing). I’d like to add some bass/chords as punctuation in his style, but suspect the D/D# gives him a different set to play with.

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

i too love tony macmahon’s style. perhaps he is my favorite living irish box player, with the caveat that i’m naming a favorite, not a "best -list best." well, jackie daly has to go up there, and the younger paddy o’brien, who is also very influenced by sonny brogan, and tony macmahon.

about your question regarding "b/c fingering patterns." i know people use phrases like "c#/d fingering" or "b/c fingering," but these are misnomers that confuse. what they really mean is, "on the row" fingering, versus "across the rows" fingering. or, "back-and-forth" fingering versus, "smoth, flowing" fingering. if you play "D" tunes flat in C on the c row of a b/c, you are playing "on the row" or "back-and-forth" or what i sometime think of as "one-row-melodeon" style. that is the sound people inaccurately often call "c#/d" fingering. you can do it on b/c just the same, but in different keys. and you can play "smooth, flowing, across-the-rows" style on c#/d or d/d#, just in different keys than you’d do it on b/c.

so…..when tony is playing b/c, as he is on that wonderful youtube of him at age 17 or whatever, playing "my love is in america" and "castle kelly," he is playing IN C, ON THE C ROW, of a b/c, so that it is fingeringered and phrased using his usual style—-namely, "on the row" or what i call "one-row style." he plays "my love" in C, and then plays "castle kelly" in a minor, which is the relative minor of C, so that one is ALSO fingered on the row……on b/c, that is. that clip, my all-time favorite youtube irish box clip, comes and goes because it keeps getting pulled for copyright and then re-posted. couldn’t find it this time around, but tony is a serious lad in horn-rim glasses, doing some of the most haunting playing you’ll ever hear. as you note, the slower speed is the key. you can swing playing at high speed, but not the way you can at tony’s speed….

when tony is playing on d/d#, he is playing all those great knocknagree tunes "on the row" on his d# row, and getting them in d sharp (e flat), a sharp (b flat), etc—-and their relative minors, which also fall "on the row."

i was lucky enough to see a gorgeous late-night concert he did by candlelight in feakle a couple of years back. he mentioned his d/d# had been retuned by charlie harris (tony said charlie called it "a sex change operation,") for another project tony was doing with kronos quartet. so that evening he played in D, A, and relative minors, "on the row" of his D box.
lucky me.

see?

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

some gorgeous playing "on the row" on a b/c box are the cds by peter carberry (the family one, "memories of the holla,") and the gorgeous solo cd of music from longford. b/c player from ennis johnny mccarthy is doing it on his b/c on the beautiful cd "solo run." both johnny mccarthy and peter carberry also know the secret of slowing down the reels a bit to really get the thing itself……danny o’mahoney of kerry often plays in c, a minor, and f on his b/c, and the younger paddy o’brien as well…

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

in terms of what tony’s playing would be an example of—-he has said repeatedly in interviews that he learned to express the music by listening to bobby casey and willy clancy. he has also talked much of his association with and learning from joe cooley, and there is great material out there about tony learning musical points as well as some pointers on feeling the music from seamus ennis….

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

in mentioning tony’s box being retuned (having a sex change), and him playing it in D and A, etc, at the concert, i left off that it was re-tuned from D/D# to C#/D. so at the concert, he was playing "on the row" on his D row. same style of playing and fingering, but in different keys depending which row of which box tuning you’re playing "on the row" on.

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

Why does it keep getting removed? Seems ancient and with trad public domain tunes. Does Tony himself ask for it to be pulled?

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Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

i dunno…..interesting question. the "come west along the road" stuff seems to stay up. on the other hand, the elusiveness adds to the aura of that clip, no?….🙂

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

i don’t always get my transposing guesses right, but i believe andrew mac of tulla, clare, (a nephew of tony macmahon) is playing "on the row" on a b/c on much of the duo cd by himself and his sister, clare concertina player mary macnamara titled "open hearth." wonderful stuff……other refs if you’re a b/c’er starting to play in this style (like me) are the clare concertina cds featuring kitty hayes, who played and recorded largely in C and F, "on the rows" of her concertina. one solo, one with piper peter laban, and one posthumous cd of live tracks….

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

Brilliant clip.

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Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

Tony himself is removing that clip because he’s embarassed about the big frame glasses he was wearing!

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

where i live and hang out, we consider them hip. we wouldn’t be caught dead in mainstream glasses. so he’d better get with it….🙂

Re: Tony MacMahon’s "style"?

not mentioning any names, of course, but some of us actually buy frames like this on ebay and have the optometrist fill to order…