Thought for the day

Thought for the day

It is to be regretted, but it is inevitable that we should hear so much about Irish music from those who are not competent to discuss it. On the one hand we have musicians who deny the element of traditional intonation. As they refuse to study the matter in the only way in which it can be studied, i.e. by listening to the best traditional singers and violin-players, their opinion can have no weight. On the other hand we have the extremists who regard every native speaker of Irish as a true exponent of traditional singing. Sometimes he is only an exponent of singing out of tune.

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Re: Thought for the day

And your point is ?

Dave H

Re: Thought for the day

I think he’s referring to the "techniques for tune-learning" thread a few pages back, where people’s "credentials", competency and suitability to discuss (among other things) fiddle tone, was questioned.

The "tone" issue was off-topic to the original poster’s question, and sub-discussion on this started in the latter part of the thread.

You need to read that thread to put the "thought" in perspective.

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It’s an inevitable side-effect of an informal art form. Unlike say classical music, there is much less in the way of ‘standard form’ to arbitrate against - and I know that is an over-simplification. But where you have a situation that glories in individualism you are always going to find this arising. Different people have different benchmarks.

Much though I instinctively reject the confines of the grading structure (asnd upward) of classical training, it does at least serve to give people some perspective on their own expertise. That may carry over to how willing they are to pontificate .

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The Dunning Kruger effect was mentioned here a while ago I believe. Pretty much what is at play.

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To what extent are the assertions rhetorical? Some of it may be people just cutting their teeth. This forum is probably the best (and fiercest) place to try out your ideas.

Pickled eggs, Piccalilli, potted shrimp, pork scratchings ~

"~ those who are not competent to discuss it ~"

Yeah, I know what you mean, people that bad mouth sheep’s milk cheese and pickled fish and the like and they’ve never even bothered to taste them… :-/

So what has you in a bad mood this time EB? At least tell us the tale behind this one..

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Ok Ben [EB] Although I agree with your position to an extent, I have to question the phrasing of your post and your conclusions. You say this; <<the element of traditional intonation> and I think this is really the crux of the matter, Your assertion is singular, the facts are definitely plural. They form a large continuum from The Shetlands to West Cork and From Cape Breton to New Zealand with many tens of thousands of players over maybe hundreds of generations.

Now skating aside the ‘supposed ’ borders between Scottish, Irish music and its Derivatives, though Im happy to discuss this subject in detail ,we dont need to venture into the History of these Islands and numerous Direct traditional connections there are hugely controversial issues pertaining; political, religious…Nationalistic etc etc

Lets keep it stylistic and Irish [though quite where u draw the line is beyond me!] 8-)

So my contention is that your ‘tradition’ is infact a regional’ tradition, specifically [in your case:-)]West Clare and more generally South West Stretching up the coast there.
Now I wouldnt critisise anyone for rating this area of the continuum as being some of the finest, perhaps the finest music anywhere! But sure thats just a value judgement, one I subscribe to infact! 8-)

WE get it all the time here, Bullsh*te like; >> required ornaments> ie rolls….. Rolls are required? by who? I still cant believe I read that here! This view is formed simply as a result of a lack of musical education,a lack of exposure to Irish Music! FFS on a music site dedicated to Trad from some supposed ‘authority’; we get myopic statements that just embarrass. Give me a break.

Anyone with any real depth of experience knows very well that The Genre is,[ in reality not internet fantasy, ] a much Wider Musical Form than one or 2 regional style.[and welcoming, more inclusive and open minded than might appear here as well as it happens! ]

Just listen to the differences between Johnny Doherty, John Vesey, Bobby Casey ,Paddy Canny, Dennis Murphy..If your not familiar with these players educate yourself please …
As regards intonation Im a piper so its all about harmonising with the drones though there is a school of thought that likes to pick particular notes and detune them so they stand out more!

So I too wince some times when I hear the fiddle played with a different intonation system ,but thats the way of it nowadays with banjo’s , guitars boxes,and the like , and has it not always been that way? Can we justly ascribe our choices of intonation as a superior form? and if so then do we sit around here pontificating about others intonation just as they do about ours? No thanks.

The music is much bigger than that . WE can only sigh and wonder at these poor misguided fools who do it differently! ;-)

Discussion: techniques for tune-learning?

# Posted on May 30th 2012 by Becky-o
https://thesession.org/discussions/29970

I guess maybe I should read over what happened there?

Nice one piob-agus-fidil… And as to pickled fish, where it holds a tradition, each family had their own recipe, and even within the same family no two results seem to be exactly the same, and they vary from year to year too…

And here here to sitting around pontificating, just so long as we don’t take it too damned seriously that we start holding duels to see who can first poke out the other’s eye with a bow. Surely there are better things to do with a bow and the time, and a good laugh wouldn’t go amiss. In the meantime, back to my pickled fish and blue cheese. Don’t get me started on blue cheese either… Such things also vary with the seasons and the years, and everything else behind the end product… Now, black puddings ~ … ;-)

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[clarification] that was a general ‘you’ in the ‘;educate yourself ’ plea not directed at you Ben, and forgive my poor useage of punctuation :-)

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There you go about Bobby Casey again

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Bless ‘em… (directed generally!)

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@STW your point is? IWhen we are discussing Irish Fiddle Music and style how could we possibly have a conversation without mentioning these guys, I didnt Just mention BC did I? If you go to my member page there is a list of ‘required listening’ 8-) LOL

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I remember now, I stopped following that thread after ‘The Kerryman’ added his bit… There were some decent comments made among it all, even some few chuckles worth. It’s a shame if you let the few spoil the whole thing, which too often is the case. One as*hole can quickly lower the mood of a good party. How is it such things can happen, the old adage about ‘one bad apple’…

Don’t give it undue power by directing too much attention to such things. This is where bouncers might be useful, but then who is to control their decisions on taste? I haven’t worn a tie since I was a teen, and may I never every have to again, however that might limit me jobwise and otherwise… 8-)

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I have collected a similar quote expressing the same sentiment, Ben. It seems it’s been the frustration of musicians interested in traditional irish music for (just) over 100 years at least!

I disagree with other posters that this has to do with only one or two small regional styles, too. It’s obvious that stylistic intonation choices are different between Kerry and Donegal, Clare and Dublin, but the idea stands, and applies generally to all "regional" styles of irish music - to understand the style(s), one must study masters of it. (But generally not self-proclaimed masters.)

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Strong opinion is so often based on little else than fiction, myth and passion, while those in the know tend to be more careful and balanced, wary of blanket statements, generalizations, and at the least remaining open to learning more, raising their understanding, challenging it, and re-evaluating preconceptions against experience, or the shared thoughts of those with more experience and consequent knowledge in the subject in discussion. Where passions are present, as with the arts, it is so easy to get carried away, to lose balance and perspective. It is probably best to walk around the steaming piles, if not completely ignoring them, while having the courtesy and consideration to pause and help the blind and the inexperienced to circumnavigate the shight.

~ "listening to the best (& the worst) traditional singers and violin-players" ~ both extremes and all variations in between, this too has a value, to widen ones perspective and understanding - and respect… And, sometimes, the person behind the less than perfect take on an art can have a value in themselves, be an interesting character, if we can get past our own biases and take a thing for what it is, without letting a poor take on a thing spoil it completely for us. While too often failing, patience, understanding and diplomacy are good characteristics to nurture in oneself.

"Always look on the bright side of life" :-D However damned hard it can be, at least give it a try… "Duh-doot, duh-doot, duh-doot-duh-doot-duh-doot"…

Thought for the day ~ BBC Radio 4

Friday, 25 May 2012 - Point of View ~ BBC Radio - Will Self: A Right Loyal Toast

http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/pov

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"required ornaments> ie rolls….. Rolls are required? by who? I still cant believe I read that here! This view is formed simply as a result of a lack of musical education,a lack of exposure to Irish Music!"

Maybe not required, but your idol certainly saw nothing wrong with ornamentation did he? http://www.irishfiddle.com/caseyessay.html

"@STW your point is? IWhen we are discussing Irish Fiddle Music and style how could we possibly have a conversation without mentioning these guys, I didnt Just mention BC did I? If you go to my member page there is a list of ‘required listening’ LOL"

FWIW, as I believe I’ve said before, I think it’s restrictive. They’re not the only ones who play the fiddle and play it well. Go watch some Comhaltas videos, of some of the amazing Under-18 competitors out there.

But hey, what do I know? I don’t have 10,000 years experience. Maybe I’m wrong altogether. Fine by me.

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Go watch some Comhaltas videos, of some of the amazing Under-18 competitors out there. " Some even younger,you would think seeing ,hearing these fantastic youngsters would wake these experts up to themselves.What the prof suggests up there is spot on imho. I have managed to enthuse two youngsters and two older ex players to get into it again recently ,I cant teach myself as I aren’t good enough but I did give them two bits of advice.If they have to use the net sign up to Harry B or similiar class Irish players avoiding discussion boards like the plague. That and session leaders with no rhythm.Fekin tragic realy as the rest of the trad world is great craic and lovely and light hearted.

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Don’t worry about your punctuation, Will. Besides, it’s a helluva lot better than it used to be. You’ve been working on it! ;-) Oh, and thanks for the subtly implied compliment, chap. Gratefully received.

Meanwhile, it’s nice to see that one person at least is on my wavelength. Cheers, Nico. :-)

Although, to be honest, there’s some good comments up there. C, The Prof amongst others …

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Re: Thought for the day

Yes, I’m liking the responses, even the really clueless ones.

I’ve noticed at times a tendency among beginners / lower level ability players to like only what they have been told they should like, without really understanding why. When something is stated by an authority (or a suitably old text), it’s not questioned, or at least is given more consideration. If something similar is stated by a relatively unknown or less authoritative person, say on a website, especially if it’s someone that the reader/listener has already argued with, then the statement is immediately questioned.

It’s an interesting duality, where you have people who "like" Bobby Casey, Denis Murphy, etc, but don’t know why, and often don’t take the time to listen and learn why these masters should be respected and liked.

The Prof’s post is also great. I looked up the effect (I’ve known of it for quite some time, but not under that name) and it definitely describes many musicians, and especially the people I’m thinking of above.

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I also Googled the Prof’s post and thought, yeah, that fits a lot of people on this discussion board to a tee.

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[*I also Googled the Prof’s post and thought, yeah, that fits a lot of people on this discussion board to a tee. *]

It’s an intriguing condition. And here’s me thinking it only applied to golfers, drivers and teenage Brian May clones with acne :)

Well, the funny thing is, around here you will never really know who fits the Dunning Kruger bill. You will only think that you know.

You may even be one of them :)

*Very Important Note : * That’s "you" in the general sense, ie anyone and everyone. Not "you" personally.

Lost in space ~ (an obvious symptom of lost sleep)

Was lost but now I’m found ~ I couldn’t figure out what folks were on about, ‘The Prof’. And then I went back over the earlier comments ~ it is ‘The Prof’ I assoiciate that tag with, dear ‘Prof. Prlwytzkofski’. I’d missed it because we’d cross posted and I’d guess his terse and excellent contribution and ian stock’s two came in just before my first one. Now to go look up content with regards to ‘The Dunning Kruger Effect’…

"The Dunning-Kruger Effect"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

Very interesting! Now to continue reading. 8-)

I love the Bertrand Russell and Charles Darwin quotes given in the Wiki entry ~

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge"… Charles Darwin

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Yeah … I’m not so sure about that though, ceol.

:-D

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It goes both ways… ;-)

But,.worth taking note, he does quality it with ‘more frequently’…

Apologies EB, a long overdue email, with reasons for the delay…

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I’ve always known there was probably a proper medical term for what ailed me - now I know - "Dunning-Kruger." But I’m told recognition and acceptance are the first steps towards recovery. Here’s hoping…

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Your welcome Ben, credit where credit due. No I understand your point lads, I just feel that there is a place for everyone with their interesting intonation , tone, and stylistic variations. Some we might prefer more than others , some may be technically more competent than others some might fit in with some sessions but not others… some might display stylistic variation we like a lot, some not….but its all part and parcel of the music. Where would we be if everyone played the same way?

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I think a concept I mentioned earlier has relevance, That where particular notes are detuned intentionally to cut through., A piping thing just as much as a fiddlers thing.
The different flavours and harmonic relations being ‘brighter’ as a result.
A more casual and intentional use of dissonance and ‘moves’ that are quite distinctive to individual fiddlers. These result in a very individual character to the player.
Traditional music is, to an extent far greater than before, conforming to tuning standards that are definitely not traditional, this is a historical fact. Standardisation is making Our music poorer for it IMHO, yes it is more commercial, more acceptable on a wider international level but the range of colours we can freely bring to the table so to speak, is being limited . Or so it appears. I think there is a big movement in Norway where by they are retaining their traditional intonation systems and the music is all the richer for it.

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What we need is a Dunning-Kruger corrective mirror, like at the fun houses, that would realign a person’s self-image with reality.

Oh well.

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I guess the Dunning Kruger effect help explain why, the more I learn about music, and the more I practice, the worse I think my playing is. ;-)
Guess it all boils down to ‘ignorance is bliss,’ which reminds me of one of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes strips:
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2012/05/20

Dunning-Kruger snake oil

A potion Will, a potion, something potable and portable. If you had one of those in a fun house it would not be ‘fun’… By its very nature, a mirror, it would most likely make things worse… ;-)

For the day

Good Night, Good People.
;)

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Good night Al…

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I would just like to point out that I have learned a lot from this board, and a lot of that is actually due to the arguments and disagrements. It’s not just that I’ve learned, my mind has been changed on many issues. A declarative statement is just that, you can take it a face value or reject it, but a rousing debate is an education to the interested observer. So please rage on, all of you.

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Ah well, another day, eh? And *goodness* has some of this been interesting! I reckon there’s more out there somewhere …

;-)

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"I guess the Dunning Kruger effect help explain why, the more I learn about music, and the more I practice, the worse I think my playing is."

Haha, how come after listening to the new videos I posted a couple of times, they sounded JUST as bad as the old videos I made a year ago?

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"I would just like to point out that I have learned a lot from this board, and a lot of that is actually due to the arguments and disagrements. It’s not just that I’ve learned, my mind has been changed on many issues. A declarative statement is just that, you can take it a face value or reject it, but a rousing debate is an education to the interested observer. So please rage on, all of you."

-ditto.

Here are my ADD thoughts….
"It is to be regretted, but it is inevitable that we should hear so much about Irish music from those who are not competent to discuss it."

I thought about myself when I read this. I do try hard to speak from my experience in music in general rather than speaking strictly Traditional. Though I think i’ve learned a few things that I could contribute, like giving a new player some advice on who to listen to. But i’m a lurker in a room where a discussion is going on that I don’t know anything about the topic. I like to listen to.

On the subject of rhythm; a girl brought small-pipes to our session this week and played them very well. I told her that I was jealous of how strong her rhythm was. She said she had a masters in clarinet and was tied to a metronome for a long time. I asked her if metronome was the way to go and she said yes.

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"I guess the Dunning Kruger effect help explain why, the more I learn about music, and the more I practice, the worse I think my playing is."

…as opposed to the Gallien Kreuger effect, which makes the quality of certain types of music appear to increase in relation to volume:-

http://www.thomann.de/gb/gallien_krueger_mb150s.htm

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[*On the subject of rhythm; a girl brought small-pipes to our session this week and played them very well. I told her that I was jealous of how strong her rhythm was. She said she had a masters in clarinet and was tied to a metronome for a long time. I asked her if metronome was the way to go and she said yes.
*]

Well, that’s good to hear, and different from some of the replies here, on the subject, including "why don’t you just tap your foot?" :

https://thesession.org/discussions/29384/

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In the last twelve months, I’ve taken trips to Scotland and Ireland, and played some serious sessions with some great people. The reason? Partly, a determination to educate myself as the people on here said I should. I have indeed learned a lot, though not always in ways they might agree with.

What has struck me is the depth of the music in those places, the level of skill, the numbers of players and the richness of the session culture, compared with where I live.

I suspect that the ‘experts’ on here, many of whom live in such areas, have just as little awareness of how different it is in the rest if the world than I did heading the other way. I’ve been playing this music for over 30 years but it’s only in the last two that I feel I’ve become more than a lone voice in the wilderness, and that’s very largely down to the internet. (Luckily I’ve formed some good local connections too, now).

My point is, there must be many people in a similar situation, whose apparently gauche thoughts are simply part of a learning process. They may seem idiotic to those who live with the music every day, but we shouldn’t forget what it was like before the internet made forums like this possible. I made a comment to some one in Clare about what a privilege it had been to play with certain well-known ‘celebrities’ (tongue-in-cheek). He replied, "They’re not celebrities, they’re just my neighbours". But that doesn’t work for everyone. I just wish the experts on here were a bit less punishing on those who they consider to have inferior understanding - they may be destroying a valuable leraning curve in the process.

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Ian - that is a lovely sentiment and one that should be reflected upon and considered when replying to posts in the future. May I also point out that

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not all learning experiences are the same. Sometimes, as in my case, a good slap in the head is what’s needed. We who suffer the classic symptons of DK often do not acknowledge gentle wisdom or thoughtful comments. Sometimes only the harsh lecture will bring us around to a path of greater enlightenment.

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I like Ian’s post—I had a similar experience many, many years ago at sessions at John Vesey’s home in Philadelphia. That changed my whole approach to this music, to all music.

As far as the "experts" here being harsh, bear in mind that:
- Other people, with axes to grind, may accuse someone here of being an "expert" or "authority," but that doesn’t mean the targeted person is actually behaving that way. Too often this forum runs too close to American political rhetoric….
- Some of the most clueless people on this forum are also the most self-righteous and insistent. As JNE says above, subtle hints may not get through, yet a "good slap in the head" just might. :-)
- People well immersed in this music will likely rise to defend it against dilution and dumbing down. There’s a fair amount of that going on here. Don’t be so surprised (especially if you’re the one doing the dumbing down and don’t even realize it) when someone else calls you on it. And don’t be surprised if they lose patience if you continue to spout nonsense. Ignorance is one thing, but willful, entrenched ignorance is a killjoy, eh?

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Which is a long-winded way of saying humility goes both ways. :-)

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Will Harmon you have a lot to say.

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Well it *is* a discussion forum. :-/

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in this last week, I witnessed two sessions go extinct. Though the sessions expired in the same week, they died by inches, over the space of about a year, thanks to the ravages of people suffering from what I now know to be acute Dunning Kruger. So this thing has a name.

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In all likelihood, several of the posters on this thread are suffering from Auditory Processing Disorder. At least two exhibit the worst failings of autodidactism.

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[*In all likelihood, several of the posters on this thread are suffering from Auditory Processing Disorder. At least two exhibit the worst failings of autodidactism.*]

I’m laughing at that :) I was going to add "audiophobic", but I just looked it up, and the word doesn’t exist, evidently. I’m sure it’s just crying out for a definition :)

Will mentioned clueless people on this forum. It’s often hard to tell who these are, unless you know your stuff (eg are a competent and experienced player / teacher of a particular instrument), and can plainly see that factual drivel is being spouted.

But that’s where is stops - often there’s no point in pointing out an obvious error in subject matter, because the likelihood is that even more clueless replies will ensue.

Often, by the time another, truly clued-up member replies with sense, it’s too late. Emotions have been fired up to a high point, often by the well-meaning "clued", in response to posts where the facts (not opinions) are clearly wrong.

Then it’s time for the trolls to wade in (assuming it wasn’t one of them who started the thread in the first place).

So the cycle goes on.

Well, enough of the good bits. I can’t think of anything that’s bad :)

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Here, here Ian! And Jusa Nutter Eejit, I’ve regularly the bruises to prove it, though I much prefer and appreciate more "gentle wisdom" & "thoughtful comments"… :-/

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Another quote (with my qualification of ‘often’) ~

“One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are (often) stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are (often) filled with doubt and indecision”…

~ Bertrand Russell

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Three insights worth citing here:

"The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.”
- Bertrand Russell (apparently this is one of his favored themes)

“It’s not getting any smarter out there. You have to come to terms with stupidity and make it work for you.”
Frank Zappa

"Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you are not, in fact, just surrounded by antagonistic idiots."
- Anonymous

:-)

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:-) Thanks Will, I needed that… :-D

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There must be something akin to a WD-40 or 3-in-1 for that…

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Perhaps that’s where the 2X4 upside the head comes in.

Quick to action, eh?

Actually that implies assault, & if carried out would be battery. Penetrating oil takes more time; you need to be patient for it to work.

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"Penetrating oil…."
So *that’s* what’s in the black pints everyone’s always swilling at sessions….

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Just what I was thinking, not forgetting the golden liquor too, being fond of boiler makers myself… ;-)

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A nice pint and a good whiskey ~ sigh!

Whiskey with those oily legs… Mmmmmmm!!!

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I see no sign of the problem even being addressed, let alone resolved. All it needs is a bit of sensitive thought and some self-awareness.

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EB - trying to hold a discussion of any kind with someone who is ‘cocksure’ is like trying to hold a conversation with a rock. The latter would grant the greater satisfaction… Sometimes, faced with a brick wall and wanting to go forward, you need to walk around it, as there’d be no use in trying to convince it to step aside, and "open-says-a-me" (or ‘sesame’) just doesn’t work, however gently or with heartfelt understanding you try to deliver it. Here’s where JNE’s ideas could work ~ a sledgehammer or jack drill? Personally, I’d rather take the long way round… ;-)

In other words ~ bypass the irritation and keep the course. At least try to move past and not be too distracted by such niggling things. Don’t get equally stuck, keep fluid, even if it requires lubrication of the inebriating kind… Just don’t let them drive you beyond the state of a gentle but still conscious buzz…

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Well, the day may come the the almighty Kevin Burke advocates the used of WD-40 on the fingertips to give the music more flow.

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In the OP, ethical, you mention listening to the best singers & violin players. What about listening to players on other instruments? Do they carry less weight?

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I’m also unclear as to why (or perhaps who) you are referring to someone **refusing** to study the matter. Do you simply mean listening but not hearing; is that the refusal?

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~

beg pardon
hearing but not listening

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anyone?

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I wouldn’t want to put words into the author’s mouth, but I think you’re misreading or just misunderstanding the quote. My reading of it is a discussion of how people often assume they can read sheet music and get the music. Or perhaps have lessons with a classical (or any other genre) violinist, and be able to magically play irish traditional music, without ever taking the time to learn from masters of the tradition. That’s what I think the author is commenting on.

I think it’d be a less punchy paragraph if effort was made to list all instruments, but it also probably seemed that those were the two main culprits - there are no classical union pipers after all.

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Nico, thanks for the response. True that may be exactly what ethical means. I’m only asking because I am not clear if your interpretation, since I’m not assuming anything, is the meaning of the OP. More specifically if it is how he is using refuse.
Regarding other instruments. There too I would like to know how they fit into the idea of studying the best musicians. The punch of the OP will always be there, ethical has a good, strong delivery. But, at this time (way down the thread) I’m wondering how best to resolve with sensitive thought & self awareness. I listen to fiddlers & singers, yes. In fairness though I probably listen much more closely to fluters & pipers. It’s one reason I’m asking. That and I spend alot of time, on this site, reading about fiddlers. It’s hard not to.

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I read it as EB’s rant about people who preach here, despite not being grounded in the tradition. So they have little or no understanding of traditional norms of intonation, tone, timing, and at least in two instances I can think of, show little interest in learning about them or even developing an appreciation for them.

You’ve seen the famous cartoon: "On the internet, no one knows you’re a dog."

Well the frustration for the delusionally superior is that the obverse is also true: On the internet, no one knows you’re a god.

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Reread the quote: It is describing people who dismiss the masters (Such as Vincent Campbell, John Doherty, Paddy Cronin, etc) and think they know better. Not something that describes ethical_blend at all.

Since I doubt this thread will continue much longer, I may as well let you in on a little secret, Ben: ethical didn’t write the quote.

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How can you SAY that, Nico?

:-D

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So EB, who are you quoting? Tony McMahon?

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Right. Nico is spot on. I have a slightly different interpretation *in addition* to Nico’s interpretation: it’s also saying exactly what Will Harmon says it’s saying. It’s saying, loud and clear (to me at any rate), that there are plenty of people around who don’t even know that they *have* to listen to people who actually DO know. And here, again, Nico is spot on: I’m not talking about me.

But it really REALLY bugs me when people who can’t play this music try to tell me how to play. I’m OK, but not brilliant, so still loads to learn, but sh1t! at least I’m listening. You have to listen - *really* listen - to yourself and your own playing and to learn how to listen to people who *are* what the tradition is made of. You have to *know* that there’s something you’re not (yet) getting. And I’m afraid that, if you aren’t prepared to accept that, then you’ll never get this music.

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Tony McMahon!!!?!! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

Good one,Will.

:-D

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Hehe, nice try Will. You might have to go back a little before Tony’s time for this one. Let’s just say it that it seems this is an old problem.

I agree with all of ethical’s interpretations, and would have said as much, but feared putting words in his mouth. There definitely are people who think that because they have technique, they are therefore better at the music. But with irish traditional music it’s easy to have the wrong technique (or the wrong focus).

The flip side is that just because someone is "Irish" doesn’t mean they will be good. Which makes this whole game so much harder when you’re a beginner and you don’t understand the style/tradition, especially if you have some skill in another genre - you might easily think Vincent Campbell is out of tune, but the last link of Will’s is not, therefore he’s the better player.

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Honestly, I think some of this comes down to people with formal training (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) who play the *instrument,* as opposed to people with little or no formal training who play *the music.* This music.

People trained to honor the conventions of another genre can have a hard time letting go of those priorities and adopting—even simply *hearing*—other priorities. It’s like a non-native speaker mangling your language—they may get the word choice and syntax basically right, but the pronunciation, inflection, and use of idioms is all wrong. Until they take the time to immerse in native speakers, they won’t likely get it. Fine if you’re just on holiday for a week or two. But don’t expect to be welcomed if you start to instruct the locals on how their language ought be spoken.

The irony is that Jim (he of the Tom Billy’s clip above) labeled as "erroneous, misguided….bullsh!t" insights and ideas I’ve passed along here, yet he had no idea whose insights those were. He didn’t bother to even ask. So it’s silly when he praises the playing of Kevin Burke and James Kelly, yet insults the very things they’ve told me, in person.

Jim and jig (piobagusfidil) have both roared their superiority here and insulted anyone who disagrees with them, and yet both posted clips (go to their member profiles) that reveal a superficial understanding of this music at best. This repeatedly drags the forum into the scuppers. Meh.

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One must listen - fully and open, and, hopefully selectively, less dross and more of the truly inspiring…

The best way to get through a swamp is belly down and carefully, not putting up a fight, which only drags you down into the muck…

I’m all for doing our damnedest to try to keep things afloat and in focus.

Like it Nico ~ "~ it’s easy to have the wrong technique (or the wrong focus)." And also Will’s "~ people with formal training (sometimes a little, sometimes a lot) who play the *instrument,* as opposed to people with little or no formal training who play *the music.*"

But I especially enjoy contributions that contribute and nurture seeds for thought, or if not, at the least raise a smile or a chuckle…

Uh oh! ‘Conradh na Gaeilge’ - our children are not safe…

‘Tongue in cheak’ - and full of connotations… Thanks for the link and read Scutcher, appreciated…

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What’s "tongue in cheek" ceol? And what "connotations"?

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Sorry, I know I’m daft much of the time, it was to do with the use of the word ‘children’. I’ve had some awful run ins with the ‘Conradh na Gaeilge’ ~ would ‘mafia’ be appropriate? They are responsible for considerable damage where ‘traditions’ are concerned. I hope things have changed, but in the past they were bullies, not far removed from that concept of ‘red necks’. Just Scutcher’s mention of them made my hackles prickle… So, maybe metaphor more than connotation, but connotation does work also, things that we care about, feel passionately about, love - and represent promise for the ‘future’, and who we promote this tradition for, for ‘our children’…

~ figuratively speaking… :-D

Re: Thought for the day

Did that just happen?

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I’ll try again. Got it eb! Your thread is a rant about frustration with members whose names shall not be spoken.
Cheers!

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Scutcher, Thanks for posting that page from the original article, it puts it all into context.

Quotation for the day

Credit where credit is due, "It is undoubtedly a fact that the intonation of the traditional Irish singer and the traditional Irish fiddler differs from the intonation of the modern singer and the modern violinist. It is a fact also, that the old melodies lose much of their savour when rendered with any but the traditional intonation. Dr. Henebry who has the advantage of being able to play the violin in the traditional Irish style, is investigating this matter in a scientific manner, and we may expect much valuable information as a result of his inquiries. He has already issued a brochure on the subject, but as it appeared when he had little more than begun his investigations, it would not be fair to regard it as his final statement of the case. No investigation of this subject can be regarded as complete which does not include the method of tuning used by the Irish harpers. The harp was the most characteristic instrument of old Irish music. It was used not only as an independent instrument, but as an accompaniment to the voice. Might it be that there were two elements to be distinguished in early Irish music, the folk music which would be preserved for us by the traditional singer, and the music of the harper or professional musician, of whom no specimen survives? Any good traditional Singer or Violin player can reproduce for us the tradition of the folk-music. It is only when listening to Owen Lloyd that we can form an idea of what the educated harpist must have been.
It is to be regretted, but it is inevitable that we should hear so much about traditional Irish music from those who are not competent to discuss it.
On the one hand we have musicians who deny the element of traditional intonation. As they refuse to study the matter in the only way in which it can be studied, i.e. by listening to the best traditional singers and violin-players, their opinion can have no weight. On the other hand we have the extremists who regard every native speaker of Irish as a true exponent of traditional singing. Sometimes he is only an exponent of singing out of tune. As far as music is concerned we in Ireland today are like the Queen in her counting house. We are counting all our money."

Francis Roche - Collection of Irish Airs, Marches and Dance Tunes, Volume 1

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Wow, it’s been many years since I read Roche’s essay. Completely forgot about it, though I’ve occasionally gone to my copy on the shelf just to cross-reference a tune, to see how it was transcribed in Roche’s day.

The link above wouldn’t open for me, so thank you, Ben, for posting it here.

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Thanks, but I dug out my hard copy.

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It’s not Roche’s essay, although it is included in The Roche Collection.

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Essay, essay? We don’t need no stinkin’ essays! It’s the foreword.

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Whew…glad that’s all sorted. :-)

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"Dr. Henebry who has the advantage of being able to play the violin in the traditional Irish style, is investigating this matter in a scientific manner, and we may expect much valuable information as a result of his inquiries. He has already issued a brochure on the subject, …"

Would that be this ~

http://www.itma.ie/digitallibrary/print-collection/henebry-richard-irish-music/

"Highly idiosyncratic in his behaviour and a stubborn public controversialist, he nonetheless inspired admiration and affection in many of his colleagues, some of whom published the manuscript of his original and substantial Handbook of Irish Music (Cork, 1928) after his death."

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Oh my aching head… :-D

Aching head for the day

Sorry for the bother. I’m really trying to follow ethical’s point. I’m becoming skeptical if there is much worth considering (thought for the day) beyond the 1st sentence in the OP. There’s the mention of studying the element of traditional intonation, which I was hoping I do by listening to the players who are often mentioned on the forum. Now I find out, in the full source for the OP, he states, "No investigation of this subject can be regarded as complete which does not include the method of tuning used by the Irish harpers." This is the first I’ve heard about such tunings, don’t know what they are, suspect it may be an overzealous theory from the musical priest. Fair play if you don’t agree, eb. Just that it is in the original source for the quote used in the OP.
I know ethical blend has posted some solid information & I have learnt a few things from his post. So, is this a rant with nothing which has not been repeated a number of times on The Mustard Post?
Or, is it important to find out something about the method of tuning used by Irish harpers? I posted a question about intonation, excellent replies, but not a hint it might be worth looking into harpers intonation.

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It’s not "the musical priest" aka The Reverend Dr Richard Henebry who wrote that about the "tuning used by the Irish harpers". It is, as you later hint, a passage found elsewhere in the Foreword written by Cathaoir O’Braonain in 1909.

If you read the whole piece, you’ll see that he says two other things about the harp tuning - a *tuning system*, rather than the *intonation* of violin players and singers discussed elsewhere in the article.

He says that there is only one player (Owen Lloyd) who can give some idea of what the old harpers may have been like, and therefore implies that it was already too late in 1909 to actually know what the old tuning systems were, for sure.

He also strongly implies that the completeness of the study requires an acknowledgement of the old harp tunings because they were - and, of course, must have been - different from the special intonation used by violin players and singers. Therefore, for a "complete" study, you’d need to study both. (Even though it was already too late for one of them - the harp tuning.)

If it seems that there is a fair degree of uncertainty in these old writings, I think it’s probably fair to say that there was. But at least they were trying to get to something that was, and is, important.

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It’s important to know what the tuning systems were, but it isn’t possible to know what the tuning systems were?

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Some of it seems speculative, an open ended question ~
"Might it be that there were two elements to be distinguished in early Irish music, the folk music which would be preserved for us by the traditional singer, and the music of the harper or professional musician, of whom no specimen survives?"

Perhaps it is just as speculative today. i.e. intonation is & always has been open to interpretation.

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He doesn’t say that it’s important to know what the harp tuning systems were. He says that you can’t consider a study of Irish intonation and tuning systems complete without considering both the special intonation of violin players and singers and the old tuning systems used by harpers. He then goes on to imply that we don’t know what the harp tuning systems were, but we do know what the special intonation used by violin players and singers is. (Provided they’re not people who play or sing out of tune.)

It seems easy enough to me.

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Yes, it is easy; or at least simple enough. But the result of considering the tuning systems is speculation. We may actually be agreeing, Ben.

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Eureka!

IMHO this is a very important statement, & one (if true,& I think it is) goes right to the heart of the matter,

"It has been claimed that the Irish scales differ from modern scales not only in the distribution of the tones and semitones, but also in the very important matter of intonation; that is to say that the intervals between the notes in the Irish scales and in the modern scales are not identical, …" Foreword written by Cathaoir O’Braonain

Those who do not recognize this aspect of traditional Irish music will not understand what ethical blend is meaning when he says, " … we do know what the special intonation used by violin players and singers is. (Provided they’re not people who play or sing out of tune.)"

Cheers, eb. Didn’t mean to be such a prat. Just wanted to sort out the speculation from the facts. And I think this does.

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Hmm. All very learned, and nothing wrong in that. I don’t pretend to come near the musicological knowledge needed to take part. But two thoughts come to mind (for the benefit of anyone inclined to SHOUT I’m playing a degree of devil’s advocate…)

Firstly, I suspect that some of the dustiest museums in the world have been created by the urge to over-preserve supposedly-precious things from the past. I’m not for one moment advocating the creeping commercialisation of the music - quite the opposite - but the desire to preserve/recreate sounds from the past strikes me as but one legitimate thread of interest.

I do wonder how much of this is over-intellectualisation of the music that traces back to the early collectors, and how much of those early characteristics were more a product of chance than design, than the musicologists would care to admit. Nothing wrong in studying them nonetheless, but perhaps there is in contriving the idea that it was all heavily premeditated. It may also bring into question the importance of preserving/recreating those sounds, as opposed to letting the music continue to develop more organically.

Secondly, as I have noted before, I have yet to see anyone actually manage to put on paper what these distinctive qualities actually are. O.K., I know that you have to ‘just listen’, and I know (to a fair degree) what to listen for - but it doesn’t do much to help the uninitiated.

I’m putting myself in a student’s shoes here. Most forms of music seem to be capable of simplistic definitions of their characteristics and qualities which might not please the connoisseur but would probably help a newcomer. I had a discussion with my casually-interested father over the weekend, having subjected him to a fair bit of music. He’s a seasonaed classical-listener, but I found myself unable to answer his well-meaning comments about Trad being repetitive and unfamiliar to his ear with much that might help him ‘access’ it more easily (to use the current educational jargon).

So here’s a challenge: following all that discussion about tone etc., what would you say to a newbie to help them know what to listen for? What are the defining things to identify, that would help a complete necomer make sense of this music in the way most seem to agree they ‘should’?

And "just listen" is off-limits.

Re: Thought for the day

Just listen. :-D

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Ian, I think your father’s problem is that he is trying to access the music with his classically trained ear. He should be trying to access it with his feet. Start him off with a ceilidh, not a concert. The music was made for dancing, and (to me at least) that is what sets it apart - the way the rhythm is incorporated into the melody, rather than added on by a rhythm section. Even if he doesn’t dance, the foot taping has to come first, the listening second.

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One could argue that many player past and present played for the head and the heart, not for the feet and that while rhythm is of the utmost importance players would switch to a different mode of playing when playing for dancers.

Ian, to address your first point, anyone who has sat down with players of an older generation will know they knew very well, and in some cases were very articulate about it, what they were doing, what they wanted to achieve and how they achieved it. Martin Rochford of Bobby Casey’s (to name but two) take on rhythm and intonation was not a freak of nature or a lucky accident. It was a matter of deliberate and informed aesthetic and stylistic choices, handed down through previous generations of players.

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Thanks skreech, though I do always get the feeling of "If I were going there I wouldn’t start from here." with this one… (And this isn’t a dig at EB either.)

But surely one has to start from where the student is, not where you want them to be. I know a number of others who have failed to catch on because they were starting from a point that we might consider inappropriate in terms of their past listening habits.

What did seem to work a bit better for my pa was playing him some Iain McInnes’ small piping, where he uses harpsichord and even plays a Handel hornpipe and saying "compare with baroque’. That resonated a bit. Trouble is, his real preference is the late Romantics…

If we can’t give people some reasonable guidance - especially those with less attuned ears - then we can hardly complain when they hear the ‘wrong’ things, or when they fail to hear anything much at all.

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Why does it matter? If people like the music enough, they will "just listen" and they will hopefully spend time around real live players who know the music. I have never been bothered about justifying or explaining Irish music to people who aren’t that interested in it in the first place. When people — such as friends who are subjected to it when riding in my car — have mentioned to me that "it all sounds the same," I usually tell them that it is, in fact, just one long tune.

Even if you gave me "reasonable guidance" as to what I should be listening for in a symphony, you couldn’t make it accessible, or make me like it any more.

In any case, you have been advised, on this very website, as to what you should listen for. Like the whole "microvariation" discussion in your Liz Carroll thread. You just didn’t like the answers you were getting. ;-)

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>>You just didn’t like the answers you were getting

Not so, Emily, they just needed thinking about. As I said, I wasn’t coming at this from or for my own benefit anyway. Though FWIW, I ‘ve had plenty of discussions with pretty credible players including some in Ireland, in the meantime, who didn’t subscribe to those views anyway.

What I’m needling at here is this assumption that anyone can get it if only they want to, and if they don’t it’s just because they didn’t work hard enough. Some people, my father included - who isn’t setting out to get deeply into trad, but is nonetheless interested enough to know what it’s about - start from other points and they can benefit from some help. In his case, he would find it helpful to have a few signposts, especially with the things he finds more challenging.

My real suspicion is that no one provides the answer ultimately because no one can really articulate it - me included. But I also think it may be a weakness of the music if is it not able to explain itself somewhat to sympathetic outsiders.

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No Ian IMO its not a weakness of the music at all, far from it. Maybe Its an over analytical approach , an over intellectual approach .

Try to explain the joys of sex to a virgin….it doesnt matter what words you use, its simply impossible to verbalise the reality, to represent experience with symbols.

Just listen… :-)

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Why can’t any tell me why I should appreciate poetry??

It’s a similar sort of question you’re asking isn’t it Ian? Where to start at what level, which type of music which player? There’s a multitude of specific answers. But how to catch the intricacies of a whole artform in a forum post, for a vaguely interested party? What sort of reply are you really expecting, if any?

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>>What sort of reply are you really expecting, if any?

I’m not, Prof. - nothing in particular. I just lob ideas into the ring to see what comes out - surely a reasonable use of a forum? Sometimes I learn from it, sometimes I don’t. With any luck it’s of use to others as well. I don’t think that makes me a troll as there’s no bad intent and I’ve never hidden the fact.

In this instance, a three-way coincidence between the comments further up this thread, my attempts to explain the music to a non-believer and discussions over lunch yesterday with Ethical Blend led to a particular thought. Hence the comment.

I’m fully aware that it is not possible to rationalise any aesthetic experience in more than a superficial way - but that goes for trying to reduce any complex cerebral process. It doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. It can even help some learners; I can’t imagine going into a classroom (even a music one) and saying to the students, "just pick it up" - especially if I’m going to be hard on them when they don’t then get the ‘right’ answer. But it is an indisputable fact that I struggled to explain the music to my father, and have done on so several occasions over the years. (This is of course a metaphor for a wider issue…)

He is an enthusiastic music-lover, but not a player. I don’t think his request for guidance was unreasonable - it’s what some people need. He’s not a pub type to go to a session - but how should I persuade him that it’s worth parting with some of his pension to go and see a trad group if I can’t give him any answers?

I don’t really buy Dr. SS’s comment since we were all new to it once; I agree that trad does have the abiity to grab people - even my little band has had ‘em dancing in the aisles, but that’s not the same as understanding the music. Her comment is a bit like the Christian rationale that it’s true because the Bible says so.

I don’t mean we should deconstruct the thing into sterility, but I do think we ought to be able to do better than ‘just listen’ for the sake of those who aren’t (yet) equipped to know how to listen or what to listen *for*. In that context, all the discussions about tone etc. are rather academic for all but the cognoscenti.

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I don’t know so much about that, Ian. Here’s a simple little problem, posed in two different ‘directions’ as it were.

Somebody who has been a trad Irish fiddle player all their lives, is suddenly asked to play a Baroque Double Violin Concerto. (This is a real scenario, btw.) The other fiddler says "But you’re playing it all wrong. It’s out of time, and your leading notes are out of tune." Trad fiddler looks amazed and aghast. To them, they were playing perfectly in tune and perfectly in time. They absolutely *know* they were. And what’s all this guff about "leading notes"? But the classical fiddler can’t say anything to them to explain what they’re doing wrong, except, in frustration, to say: "Listen to this - it goes like this," which, of course has no effect whatever on the performance of the trad player.

Now take the host of classical fiddlers who think they can play trad. To me, what they’re doing is out of tune and out of time. But they absolutely *know* that they’re doing it right. In fact, they’re doing it better than I am (they think). All I can do is to say "But it doesn’t go like that; it goes like this," to no avail.

What do you suggest that I do, in either circumstance, Ian? An answer to either situation will do …

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To develop a clearer understanding of this music, I would start with the music itself, as played by people well immersed in it. I’ll take a stab at it. (And then someone else can pick it apart. :-) )

You could start with something like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MrtctwuVCY&feature=related. What are the most prominent features or qualities?


A rock steady rhythm and a focus on creating a lively pulse—the players tap their feet loudly, the bowing accentuates a pulse by pouncing on the beats and this is unbroken through the entire piece. Yet it’s lively, not static because it’s slightly swung and the emphasis shifts from downbeats to backbeats and back again. This is music that can be danced to even when it’s played just for listening.

An intricate, flowing melody, dense with notes, played up tempo. What gaps there are—pauses, silences—are tiny. No rests in this music. A newcomer might have to recalibrate their ears to keep up with the stream of notes. That’s important because most of the spontaneity and variations and personal style come from continuously changing little bits of that stream. If you can’t accurately hear the intervals and sequences and build a sense of the overall structure of the tune out of that, you’ll likely miss 90% of the musician’s interpretation.

For example, when they come around to the start of the tune again at 1:04, a low drone is added to the opening note. It’s also changed from a quarter note to a dotted quarter note. Small but beautiful moments.

Another aspect that jumps right out is the relative simplicity of the sound. The same tone quality and volume is used throughout. There are no broad crescendos, though small sweeps of dynamics happen over the slur of 2 or 3 notes. The tone is clear and strong, but not enhanced by vibrato, shifting into the oaring octaves, or movement across the bowing lanes. In short, the sound is unadorned, accessible, not virtuosic. Anyone with the basic skills on their instrument could replicate the overall tone and range of notes. This puts the focus on the music itself rather than the technical mastery of the player.


Maybe I’m way off base, but to me, this feels like a decent start at listening for some of the more obvious qualities of this music, that begin to help distinguish it from other genres. From here, you’d go into listening for specific variations, use of the twiddly bits, etc., and then find the same tunes played by other musicians to hear the range of interpretation across the tradition.

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P.S. In response to EB’s post, it is possible to open a classical player’s ears, but in most cases, I’ve found you have to deconstruct the music on paper, show them how the timing differs from how it’s written, how the phrasing spans bar lines (and can shift—more than one sense of how the phrasing might go), point out the downbeats and backbeats and experiment with moving the emphasis among them, etc.

They have to wean themselves from the paper, of course, but the shock of seeing the sheet music interpreted far differently than they would have done with their training can be a convincing way of spotlighting how this music is different from what they’re used to.

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An answer hopefully in *both* directions, EB: Just listen. And be prepared to unlearn a great deal. That’s not easy when your ear is totally conditioned by a particular convention.

But I think you are using an untenable analogy.

This may almost be a version of the DK Effect - as an experienced player, you’re forgetting how much you know and how little the uninitiated know. Your forgetting that the handles that are second nature to you and me may be totally absent. With another musician - certainly of the calibre you implied - I think your approach is completely right. But I am much less convinced it is good for a non-musician. (This is also being thrown at me almost daily at present as my wife grapples with the music from an almost standing start - I assume far too many things when I try to help her, if I’m not careful).

We forget, for instance, that modality sounds really strange to a lot of people, most of whom have been conditioned to expect the classical western scale. That. plus the speed makes it very hard to distinguish the tunes. People are reduced to admiring what they perceive to be technical skill. (That is what happens when even *I* play for them :-s ). They have very little else to judge by.

I accept, of course, that not everyone wants to be very analytical about their music, but some do - my Pa would be more persuaded to go to that performance if I could say to him, "Here are some things to help you get a handle on the music." He would just find that reassuring and help him to get more from it. From there, he might indeed start to "just listen".

I think the same is true when I occasionally let slip with some of the teenagers I teach and confess about trad. They generally want to know "what that’s all about" - they’re looking for a way in, especially coming from the pop scene that most of them do. They can get the rhythm, but then they seem to lose interest. My Pa the same - polite interest but no equipment to go further, even though he is interested enough to listen to what I feed him, and he’s no fool…

What do *you* suggest that I do, in either circumstance? ;-)

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Will, IMO that is a really good stab at it. In fact. I might give that a try on him at an opportune future moment…I might leave out the bit about how much you’re likely to miss unless you’re really astutue, or at least dilute it to, "there are lots of other subtleties that come out as you listen deeper". I think a classical listener would relate to that.

I’ve also taken some good thoughts out of that response. And I think you might be right about putting it on paper for the classical player too.

Thanks.

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"What are the defining things to identify, that would help a complete necomer make sense of this music in the way most seem to agree they ‘should’?"
Listen for the lift. You hear it in the rhythm &, if it’s there, you feel it in your feet. Have them dance. Just dance (& listen)

"I found myself unable to answer his well-meaning comments about Trad being repetitive and unfamiliar to his ear with much that might help him ‘access’ it more easily (to use the current educational jargon)."
Music is repetitive. But, more to the point of the question. Music played for dancers tends to be more the same than music played for listening. Repetition serves the dance. This isn’t to say the players must play each part exactly the same. But, depending on the dancers, the music may tend more toward repetition than variation. Yes there is repetition in session playing. But there’s more opportunity for variation. Take the "Kesh Jig" for instance. Whenever it seems highly repetitious it’s probably being played each phrase, exactly the same, each time through. But the simplicity of these tunes invites variation with players who know them well. Listen to the phrasing & variation of those players. Listen to your own phrasing & variation (& repetition).

Shannon Heaton has been downloading a Tune of the Month for a few years for learning tunes. Here’s something she says on one of those tapes. The last sentence being where I wish to draw your attention, Ian.
"… you might have noticed … that I’m employing a bit of variation, in other words, the 1st & 3rd phrases of "The Sally Gardens" which are the same I’m not playing exactly the same each & every time around. I was trying to scale back my variation metre just a little bit, trying to limit it mostly on those 1st & 3rd phrases. But (& here’s the part relevant to your question, Ian) using alot of variation can become a great way to move the tune forward, keep the ear interested, & have a bit of fun with it."

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p.s. I played my Pa some Hayes/Cahill and he was pretty taken with it…

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Oh, then Ian, you really should get hold of the Hayes/Cahill ‘Live in Seattle’ album, just for the utter glory of the second track - eleven tunes gloriously seamed together.

https://thesession.org/recordings/display/16

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Martin Hayes seems to be a common entry point for people accustomed to classical music. I wonder why that is. I would think Sligo would suit their ears better.

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Thanks Ben - some useful thoughts. I think the point about repetition of pattern is fine - by analogy with baroque again. Perhaps less so for the Romantics? Not an issue for those coming from popular music.

Music for dancing - well why would you sit and listen actively to that, then? The tricky bit is convincing that there’s enough in the music to stand listening, too.

The bit about variation starts to go beyond the lay-listener again, I suspect. To be honest, it’s an issue that I too, as yet, feel ambivalent about - and as I said, I know that to be true of some Irish players too. I’m sure it adds playing interest, but starts to presume a pretty advanced ear again, I think, for all but the most obvious variations.

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Ian, it might also help to take one track and slow it down to about 3/4 speed. Though it tends to murder the music, it is easier for a newcomer to hear the nuances, particularly if you’re the tour guide, pointing out the twiddly bits, the shift between downbeat and backbeat, the variations. Just a thought.

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An aside, that has almost nothing to do with what we’re talking about, but it just occurred to me …

From what I’ve read from contemporary sources (Quantz, in particular) we probably play Baroque music completely wrongly these days. In the Baroque period they probably did play it more like Irish music than like the classical-sounding slant we put on it today. At least, that appears to be the case from what I’ve read.

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EB - are you talking tempo/lift there? It’s well known of course that Baroque never sounded the same after the Victorians got their hands on it. I have always personally preferred ‘period instruments’ performances - though even there, I suppose we may be guessing. If you look at some of the sections of even something really obvious like the Water Music, the crossover is clear, especially on old instruments. Iain McInnes’ smallpipes (OK, modern Scottish revival instrument… ;-) ) do sound perfectly fine (to my ear) playing baroque - and if you regress it all further, of course, you end up in medieval music…go back further and you get to the ravanastron!!!

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‘From what I’ve read from contemporary sources (Quantz, in particular) we probably play Baroque music completely wrongly these days. In the Baroque period they probably did play it more like Irish music than like the classical-sounding slant we put on it today. At least, that appears to be the case from what I’ve read.’

Hmm, so how do Carolan’s compositions fit into that equation?

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Ian, playing for dance is part of the social experience of this music. The tunes are appreciated in many ways. The social aspect not being the least. But, no I wouldn’t think someone would be sitting & actively listening to other players playing for set dancers. Now the players, they are actively listening. The approach to variation may be mimimalist with dancers. But that can be fun as well, & very subtle on the variation. So, yes, I have sat & actively listened to music in that way.

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I suppose I’m talking about things l;ike tempo and lift, Ian, but, funnily enough, about timing and intonation too. If you read contemporary accounts, such as the Quantz stuff, you’ll see that he goes into the intonation thing a lot, but also how to get the particular rhythms of different types of pieces. And he specifically states, over and over again (he tends to go on a bit ;-) ) that this sort of stuff isn’t to be found in the notation. He talks about some types of pieces needing to have the written out quavers stressed differently and even given different note lengths. If you follow his descriptions, you’ll find that he’s talking about what we would now call "swing". It’s interesting stuff.

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When I was playing piano that’s the way we played it. With the swing eb is talking about. I just figured those composers weren’t really so dry as they are made out by some players.

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GF Handel Water Music: The Englsih Comcert/Trevor Pinnock. Try that if you want jaunt :-D

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You reckon Trevor Pinnock is jaunty??!?!

Sorry, Ian, just a taste thing. But I find his stuff about as dry as it comes. Can’t listen to it. IMO, it’s over-thought. I just want someone to let rip. Think Nigel Kennedy and The Four Seasons - a trite example, maybe, but brilliant.

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I’ll agree with that too! But I would rather an early instrument. Academy of Ancient Music?

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Can you have ‘restained jaunt’? :-D

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On second thoughts, I’m not sure an ancient instrument would stand up to Kennedy ;-)

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Another aside, back to your question, Ian, "What I like about this diddley stuff is that it *does* all sound the same, and every tune has something unique and subtly different that makes you think - "ooh, *that’s* a different way of putting it". It’s the little things that make it great."
;)

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Agreed Ben, me too. But try explaining that to a non-musician raised on a diet of almost anything else, let alone mainstream pop music…

Err, actually - that all sounds the same too - or maybe that’s just my age…

Credit where credit is due

It’s a quote from Ben Hall. Unless you lifted that one too, Ben. ;-)

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I said that, did I? A while ago, I’d guess. Not bad, really … :-)

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I think my chemistry teachers in high school used to try to make chemistry interesting to us, but at the end of the day we only got on with it because we had to pass the class. Except for the kids (not me) who were genuinely interested in chemistry.

I guess I still don’t understand why you feel as if you *need* to construct an argument for why Irish trad music is worthwhile to someone who doesn’t have any affinity for it in the first place. If I had to set out an argument for why someone should come to a concert with me, I wouldn’t ask them to the concert. Conversely, if someone thought I could be convinced to go to an opera if only they could explain in a way I could "access," I would just wish that they didn’t bother.

Re: Thwacks on the way

If it’s the Four Seasons your on about, I much prefer Carmignola to Kennedy…

Ahhh, chemistry, what we are all made of in the end, a complex soup that’s mostly water…

I’ve still got that headache, but not just from following this and all those links…

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Emily, I don’t think Ian is hoping only for a persuasive argument, although you tend to Ian. Perhaps he feels there can be ah-ha experience when his father, or someone new to the tunes, hears them in a previously unexpected way. But, yeah, if it ain’t gonna happen ~ why bother?

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Good question DrSS. How trite an answer do you want?
1. The instinctive educator.
2. The evangelist wanting to share what they find to be good. Since my wife got more seriously into the music, the sharing of it has been a great thing for both of us…
3. I was asked. My Pa is interested in what his family do. He likes music. He’s curious about this stuff he hasn’t really encountered before - or at least taken seriously. He also makes fiddles, including the one I now sort-of play. He is interested in fiddles and what they do.

All I’m looking for personally is a form of words to do that job. More widely, isn’t Trad a case worth making to the wider world, especially in these (slightly) more home-spun anti-corporate times?

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4. Pulling wings off flies :-)

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Ian, your dad sounds like a good candidate for sharing the joys of this music with. It may take simple, repeated exposure to it, rather than a sea of words, though.

"More widely, isn’t Trad a case worth making to the wider world, especially in these (slightly) more home-spun anti-corporate times?"

Erm, no. Moths are drawn to flame. Bees, not so much. You can talk about fire all you want, but until the flame is lit, the moths won’t come. And the bees will stay away regardless.

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The tunes are great for passing along amongst your mates, with your family, people close to you. Still others will find it in a similar fashion. Every now & again, such as Michael Coleman recording, Liam O’Flynn playing with Planxty, or Paddy Keenan playing with Bothy Band more people in the wider world will sit up & take notice; but even that isn’t trad making a case for itself. It’s them playing the music each of them loves.

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Why would you want to teach trad to bees? Or moths, come to that?

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Why would you want to take photos of taxis too?

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I think this all lost its way a bit. Mea culpa too.

No desire to go out and ‘spread the word’ - agreed, you can’t force people to like what they don’t want. On the other hand, when people *ask* me what I like about it, it’s good to have a reply, though of course it has to be linked to sound for it to mean much.

I referred to my dad simply because he is a recent real-life example, but he was no more than an analogy for the purposes of the discussion.

But I do think that the music has much to offer more people than it perhaps currently reaches, though they may need a bit of gentle help finding that ‘way in’. Some (many?) of us also did to begin with. We had this discussion in the band when it started out; so far, all of our audiences have been non-specialist, and the level of interest has been far higher than the other guys mostly expected. It’s good to be able to develop the conversation with people a bit, about the music when they ask.

Nothing more than that - and a sneaking desire to remind people how academic some of the discussions can get on here :-) Not all of us want or need to go to such hair-splitting degrees in order to enjoy it.

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I am not convinced that the majority discussions on this board get all that academic. Trust me, they don’t. Not even a little bit.

As for the .5% of discussions which do drift vaguely towards the academic, you don’t need to click on them if you don’t want to read about all the hair-splitting. In any case, most discussions here are about wig-glue, trouser changes, slagging, and what tune is that (because the OP can’t read the text below a YouTube video). The detail and hair-splitting, when it occurs, may be of no interest to you, but it is interesting to other denizens of this site.

Will is right anyway. The people I know who have come to like the music, as players and listeners, came to it because they like the sound, not because I (or anyone) could explain why they should appreciate it. Either your dad will like the sounds, or he’ll be like "WTF is this sh*t," which is how I feel about quite a lot of other types of music.

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DSS - the thought of my dad ever thinking that is hilarious :-)

I never used the word ‘should’…

And academic has more than one meaning…

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Maybe I should have said "explain why it’s good?" Equally as meaningless. It’s all subjective anyway, innit.

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What meaning of "academic" are you referring to?

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Ian, have your dad logon to the discussion boards & everything will become clear to him. That, or he’ll strangle you.

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Acadcemic: Theoretical or speculative without a practical purpose or intention; Having no practical purpose or use.

Ben, I wouldn’t wish the indignities of this forum on my dear old dad. In any case, he was just the personification of a wider issue; rather a shame if some people couldn’t understand that.

One thing he couldn’t understand though, was why a group of people would sit in a public place playing music with utterly no regard for others around them. He found that myopic and rather selfish; I couldn’t change his mind on that one. Maybe he had a point.

Very disappointing too, that nobody here seems prepared to speak out for traditional music in the wider world, should they need to. . Appears to reinforce his point. He might even have described it as academic.

In my opinion, traditional arts in general have much to recommend them as a cultural/artistic/recreational form; certainly there’s no point in forcing it on people, but there are plenty of people with a passing interest, who might like a little encouragement. Or is that a bit too democratic? Luckily there are plenty out there who don’t take that line and are prepared to share.

And so what started as another hopefully-level contribution heads, mangled and bleeding, into The Session sunset…

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I’m surprised to see you, Ian, as an academic, espousing that somewhat bastardised use of the word. ;-)

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"Very disappointing too, that nobody here seems prepared to speak out for traditional music in the wider world, should they need to."

Ian, you may be misinterpreting what people here have said. I support Irish traditional music. I play it in public, I play for step dancers and ceilis, I teach it privately and at camps and festivals, I even help organize a week-long Irish music camp (www.portalmusicweek.com). I routinely get in trouble here on the yella board for speaking up against what I see as the dilution of traditional norms, particularly when people more in tune to other genres bring those influences to play without first developing a deeper understanding of *this* music.

Beyond that, I don’t see the need to push it on anyone. If they want to listen, they will. If it’s not their taste, that’s fine, too.

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I would hope that academics have an acute sense of their own wider uselessness, E.B. Nothing wrong with the Ivory Tower, though, IMO. Even business-led academia hasn’t entirely got rid of it… And I don’t claim to be one anyway, never did!

Will: possibly - I’m always open to having my mind changed by a good argument ;-) But I didn’t advocate pushing it on people either, though my use of the word evangelise was one that I almost immediately regretted. I knew people would take it too literally.

Most recently, members of my family and friends have shown much interest in my renewed musical life, and more especially in my wife’s smallpipes. Boy, have we had some fun trying to play those (- eh EB? :-) ) Net result - people wanting to know more, and I have been happy to oblige with what I think the music is ‘about’ and why I think it’s special. Three recent ‘general public’ gigs with the band - similar reaction - again it’s the (uilleann) pipes that do it - massive interest. Why not respond to it? That’s all I was saying.

And more widely, most interest-groups seem to get very wrapped up in their own doings and tend to lose sight of their relationship with the wider world. The earlier part of this thread seemed to be a case in point, hence my earlier comments. Nothing worse than that.

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[*The irony is that Jim (he of the Tom Billy’s clip above) labeled as "erroneous, misguided….bullsh!t" insights and ideas
I’ve passed along here, yet he had no idea whose insights those were. He didn’t bother to even ask. So it’s silly when he
praises the playing of Kevin Burke and James Kelly, yet insults the very things they’ve told me, in person*]

Will, that’s not quite true. If you re-read the posts where that came from :

https://thesession.org/discussions/29970

…you will see that :

we had a disagreement.

insults were traded : you to me, with the "need to get your ears checked, and implying I exhibited the DK syndrome, and me to
you, with the "giant toilet", "get your own ears checked" and "safe playing" comments.

Actually, all of these comments, as banter, could have been quite funny, if they had not instead been used in the way that
they were.

The thing that prompted my "possible bullsh*t" comment was the fact that you were prepared to publicly diss my playing, (even re-posting a video clip of me to get your point across), technique, knowledge and understanding of *this music*, plus my posts on some of the playing techniques that are at its core - whilst at the same time denying that you are an authority on the subject, and subsequently issuing "disclaimers."

I didn’t mention the names of Kevin Burke or James Kelly in the original post. You added their names in later, in your reply. I really think that’s a bit unfair (and quite manipulative, too).

If you simply repeat something that someone else has told you, even with the best of intentions, surely that is not the same as knowing it for sure for yourself?

Me - I say what I believe to be true, esp in matters of fiddle technique, trad or otherwise. You and anyone else may
disagree, if you so wish. If it turns out I am wrong (and there is sufficient evidence / authority to show this), then I will
admit I’m wrong. Simple as that. Nobody is foolproof.

I don’t use the safety net of a "disclaimer".

Will, I really don’t think you are being fair.

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Currently my flatmate is watching Apple’s developer conference, which was evidently earlier today in San Francisco. You think we’re geeky………

What do you think the music is about, Ian?

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>>a group of people would sit in a public place playing music with utterly no regard for others around them. He found that myopic and rather selfish; I couldn’t change his mind on that one. Maybe he had a point.<<

I think he does! I suppose Its defensive attitude. If no one is interested in what some folk do, the audience ignore it, or worse, actively dislike or campaign against someone’s playing , then an attitude such as you describe Ian would make sense, ‘Well we are not playing for you anyhow’ kind of thing…. and in reply ignore the audience.
I cant imagine any one is going to ignore a crowd that actively enjoys and ‘joins in ’ with the music through dance and yelling and exuberant approval, as its very hard to do 8-)
I cthink its rather a sad attitude Ie ”we dont care about you other human beings here at all and involving other ‘non musicians ’ in the occasion is beneath us.

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Jim, I sincerely hope we can quit bickering about this and remain friendly. My poke about DK syndrome was meant at least partly in jest, though I certainly understand why you didn’t take it that way. Sorry.

As for my disclaimer. Well, I’ve played Irish fiddle for 27 years now, and Irish music on other instruments before that. I’ve anchored my local session for 14 years. I’ve been asked to teach Irish fiddle at several music camps, including ZoukFest (as the "second" teacher; Martin Hayes was the star), and I taught last year alongside Brian Conway. I’ve taught music lessons and classes (bluegrass banjo, guitar, mandolin) for more than 35 years.

But I’m not arrogant enough to think that any of this makes me an authority or expert. I know what I know, and I’ve applied nearly everything I’ve learned in person from a wonderful circle of well-known Irish fiddlers (and other musicians, too), including some of your favorite players (you mentioned Burke and Kelly in another thread going on at the same time as this one).

Here, little of that matters much. I’m just voicing my opinion. Is it informed? Yes, by years of experience and help from others. Is it an "expert" opinion? Personally, I’d defer to James Kelly or Brian Conway or Martin Hayes. In a heart beat.

It’s great when you question the range of traditional norms here, Jim. Stimulates good discussions. But when you disparage them or imply that something else is better, those of us who love this music will challenge you on it. It’s not about whether you’re a good fiddler, or the considerable chops you clearly have in your playing. It’s about appreciating this music for what it is in all its forms, which includes a Frankie show piece and the latest syncopation from Cathal Hayden, but also the music of Junior Crehan and P.J. Hayes where the virtuosity is in the plaintiveness of it, rather than the technique.

Peace.

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Thanks for the reply, Will. Sorry for the bad words, too

Peace also :)

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I’ve deleted what I was going to say. But something has to be said, lest anyone has the idea that there is general agreement on this. There isn’t. I disagree with most of your last post, Will. And I think you’re just encouraging someone - Jim - who appears to have (from his clips and from his posts) no knowledge of, or interest in, the music that you and I mostly play.

That’s why people "challenge [him] on it". It’s like someone who’s ridden a tricycle telling the local Angels chapter how to ride. Something’s gonna give. ;-)

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"And I think you’re just encouraging someone - Jim - who appears to have (from his clips and from his posts) no knowledge of, or interest in, the music that you and I mostly play."

That’s not true. I really don’t know where you get all this from.

I may have different opinions on intonation, the sound people make - I have a different way of playing than you do, I attack rolls and triplets in a different manner - but I love the music just as much as anyone else. As I said before, I say what I believe to be true. Just like you do :)

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Emily, nothing wrong with being geeky – hell, I’m a railway enthusiast! I actively encourage the geeky kids at school.
And btw I’m all in favour of academics being ‘useless’ – it’s a tragedy that this country is less and less prepared to support people to ‘think for the sake of it’.

>>What do you think the music is about…?

Asking me to score an own goal here are you? ;-) But as I’ve challenged others to put things into words…

‘About’…(‘the music’ not necessarily being ITM here)

• A massive sense of exuberance, genuine good-time music, infectious rhythms, tunes etc. – but most importantly, a totally ‘authentic’ experience, i.e. genuine, from the heart, natural rather than rarefied, not manipulated by over-intellectualisation, financial gain etc. Just an honest good time.
• A wide and deep emotional response – music that speaks to and from the heart.
• A fascination with the huge variety that can come from such a constrained musical form.
• For me at least, it’s also connected with the instruments themselves.
• For some people, an expression of identity via the specific culture they belong do or descended from (or maybe in some cases, simply admire).

But also…

• A highly sociable activity that creates bonds between people (I believe there is something profound in sharing music with people, though not quite sure how/what…)
• A form of culture that is, by definition, very accessible to ‘ordinary people’ – unlike most other forms of music/culture that are increasingly being hived off by the professionals.

…which admittedly does all make it sound rather sterile.

I’m all for enjoyable technical discussion, but something within me also shouts when I feel it’s losing all connection with outside ‘reality’. And one of the things I have learned on my travels is that the music, as expected, *is* wider than the views expressed on this forum.

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Piob.,
I found it difficult to explain the relationship between sessions players and the wider pub-goers. I think we all know it’s not (always) as disparaging as my comment implies. But IMO it’s also hard to defend the view that says the rest of the world doesn’t matter. It smacks of arrogance and/or selfishness to disregard the fact that, in a public place, one is having an effect (albeit hopefully good) on other people. I have seen sessions that seemed to have that view, though luckily they were the minority. It’s the same sense of divine right that sometimes comes through on here…

I think the ‘defend the tradition’ argument is rather spurious – from what I can see, ‘the tradition’ has always been composed of diverse people, of diverse abilities, personalities and outlooks doing what *they* felt was right. The whole is greater than the sum of *any* of its parts.

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Ben Hall, what are you on about? Will Harmon does challenge Jim’s opinions about as thoroughly & indepth as anyone on this board. If you don’t know that perhaps you are refusing to listen to what Mr. Harmon has said in the whole of all his posts.

Will, regarding that last post, it’s good to hear you extend your hand to Jim & acknowledge that differing opinions are necessary for good discussion.

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Jim, a different way on rolls & triplets? You’re too modest. To hear you say it, it’s your way or the highway. To you it’s unacceptable to have less than impeccable tone with each & every *note* heard in a roll. You may disagree, but that’s what I hear you saying about what constitutes a proper ornamentation in any style of (fiddle/violin) playing.

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Ian, I love to be able play with, or for someone who appreciates the music being played; & I don’t expect everyone to understand it. But, I do hear some misconceptions & stereotypes which can distracting, even off-putting. An example, out in public, is when someone walks up with a request, expecting me to play something like this; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OiaiRVN7UXQ

Don’t get me wrong, that’s the way Tommy was with his muisc. But, if I’m playing a flute ( & not singing nor playing guitar) where does anyone get the notion that I can (or should) just launch into "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ya"? But, some folk do.

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Well, I agree with everything you said there, Ian. I think "the" music is all those things. And I like the way it sounds. I don’t care if other people do, although if they do, that’s nice.

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>>when someone walks up with a request, expecting me to play something like this;

Been there, done that, got the T shirt Ben - and I feel completely the same. Had two instances of it in Ireland at Easter…

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>> I don’t care if other people do, although if they do, that’s nice

Fair enough, Emily. I’m glad we agree on something!

But I think there are vastly more people out there who *do* like it than may be apparent. Or maybe even than some people feel comfortable with (quite often, minority groups are actually happy to remain as such…) .

I’ve seen that both in the numbers of non-music people crowding into the music bars in Scotland and Ireland (not *all* of them are tactless numpties) - and indeed the very real interest that we’ve created round here. Last week, we played a charity gig where a number of people paid nearly £30 a head (they said) specifically to come and hear our music for a second time. That’s not because *we’re* brilliant… Heck, I’m in the wrong job! 8-)

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"Ben Hall, what are you on about? Will Harmon does challenge Jim’s opinions about as thoroughly & indepth as anyone on this board. If you don’t know that perhaps you are refusing to listen to what Mr. Harmon has said in the whole of all his posts."

If you say so, Ben. But I think you may have misinterpreted what I said in your turn. I’m pretty sure that Will understands exactly what I meant.

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[*Jim, a different way on rolls & triplets? You’re too modest. To hear you say it, it’s your way or the highway. To you it’s unacceptable to have less than impeccable tone with each & every *note* heard in a roll. You may disagree, but that’s what I
hear you saying about what constitutes a proper ornamentation in any style of (fiddle/violin) playing.*]

If you mean that in the context of my last reply to Ben Hall ethical), I meant just that. Different.

Ben Hall would know know this, as we have both heard each other play, in a session back in 2009.

As we all know, different players play rolls and triplets differently. Depending on the player, sometime the notes are clear and distinct, sometimes they are not, but so what? I don’t have a problem with that.

I prefer to sound all the notes when I play rolls or single/multiple bowed triplets, but that’s just me.

Regardless of the amount of disagreements Will and I have had about technique, attitude, or whatever else, there’s really no doubt that on this general subject (esp after reading about his musical background and experience which he described), he is a very knowledgeable guy, and I’m glad he posted a reply to my earlier comments.

I think Ben Hall has a sneb on, about : my attitude, my level of knowledge, my musical skills, my skills in fiddle playing, and possibly even about me personally. I have no idea what he is thinking, or why.

It’s really not my problem, nor is there much I can do about it.

@Ben Hall, why don’t you just send me a message if you’ve got something to say?

btw, if you don’t already know, "having a sneb on" is just an old Glasgow expression for being unhappy about something or
someone :)

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So, Jim, it is acceptable to have less than impeccable tone & not every note* heard in a roll? Not for yourself, but it’s O.K. if you hear another musician playing rolls in this way.

*those notes being how the roll would appear on paper.

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Ethical Blend I’m not presuming to speak for Will Harmon. If I did, sorry Will. You’re quite capable of speaking without any interference from me.

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… speaking for yourself …

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:-) This discussion reminds me of an anecdote Zina used to tell, about taking a lesson with Kevin Glackin, and then a few months later taking a lesson with Sean Smyth.

Sean wanted Zina to work on her rolls, and she said she was doing them the way Kevin Glackin had taught her.

Sean then said, "Tell Kevin his rolls are sh*te."

Which Zina texted to Kevin.

To which Kevin replied, "Ask Sean when he’s going to grow into a full size fiddle."

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Gotta love those Glackins.
;)

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What a stupid debate. If a piper or whistle player or flute player played a roll where you could clearly hear the tone of every note, it would sound like sh*te. Rolls are rhythmic. Duh.

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More than anything, for me the take home from this thread is that it’s dire to base your understanding of someone’s playing on a couple of audio or video clips. I have no idea what Jim sounds like in person, or in a session (in contrast to his clips on YouTube), or from one night to the next. And the flip side is also true—Jim has no idea what I sound like in person, in a session, or as I swing wildly from one session to the next.

We’re all being a bit silly and full of ourselves to think otherwise, unless and until we sit down and play some tunes together. *Then* we can really spit on our hands, draw the broadswords, and start hacking away at one another. :-)

Seriously, I know that we’d get along better in person, in the company of pints and tunes and arse-numbing chairs and drunken lorry drivers roaring requests for Fields of Athenry.

Even if Jim’s rolls are sh*te and my playing is prophylacticly safe.

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Ach well. I’ve played tunes with Ethical Blend in real life and he has done with me. He can judge my judgment accordingly.

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Cross post.

Yes, Emily, but there *is* a camp of Irish fiddlers who do play their rolls with audibly pitched cuts. It’s most common among old school Sligo and NY-Sligo fiddlers. Seamus Connolly and Brian Conway are notorious proponents of this approach, and I can vouch that Brian becomes visibly irritated when a fiddler persists in playing unvoiced cuts in rolls.

Brian persuaded me to play them open and notey for a while, and I’ll do that when playing with him. But most of the time, I prefer the other way, particularly when playing in unison with pipes, flutes, or whistles.

I like having the option (and a range between)—it’s just another tool in the expressive kit. At least for a fiddler. I never voice the cuts and taps when playing flute or whistle.

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Fairy nuff, Will. I’m not a fiddle player. I suppose the wind instruments are more limited and it really does make you wince if a piper "voices" his/her cuts. My fiddler OH might be sad indeed to know that I’m going to be paying sharp attention to how he plays his rolls.

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I agree that rolls with voiced cuts tend to sound sloppy, and even at best, they do little to enhance pulse and lift. I really don’t like them that way on wind instruments—just kills it for me.

But who am I to argue with Seamus Connolly?

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Funny you should be discussing ‘voiced cuts’ in rolls. I didn’t know what that was called, but in deconstructing my rolls recently I realized I was doing it in my whistle, and I have been working on not doing it—because to my ear, it does tend to make the rolls I play sound more flabby and less rhythmic. You never know where you will find a useful nugget of information on this site! ;-)

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James Kelly is an example of someone who can make voiced cuts in rolls sound great

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I talked with James Kelly about this last year. He does both types of rolls, and yes, his voiced cut rolls sounded great.

Al, I’ve never heard anyone else talk about "voiced" cuts. But it’s a good description—I might just keep using it. :-)

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A friend of mine talks about "noting" a roll, which means don’t do the roll at all but play notes in its place, so instead of ~f3 you’d play fef or fgf instead. I quite liked that too :-)

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Oh, yeah, Dow. That’s a pretty common piping trick.

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"More than anything, for me the take home from this thread is that it’s dire to base your understanding of someone’s playing on a couple of audio or video clips. I have no idea what Jim sounds like in person, or in a session (in contrast to his clips on YouTube), or from one night to the next. And the flip side is also true—Jim has no idea what I sound like in person, in a session, or as I swing wildly from one session to the next."

What took you so long, Harmon? In a nutshell that’s what Ben Hall was saying with his quote in the OP, a few responses, few days back ~ IIRC.
;)

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Um, no, Ben, I don’t think that was EB’s point in the OP at all. And I agree with the main point in the OP, that "It is to be regretted, but it is inevitable that we should hear so much about Irish music from those who are not competent to discuss it." It happens all the time here. Can’t help it that some people here are more knowledgeable and others less so, that’s natural. But it would be nice if those less knowledgeable would bring a little humble pie to the table, a more open mind, open ears, so they might learn to appreciate the things that make this music what it is (and that distinguish it from other genres and traditions). Being an expert musician in some other music doesn’t immediately translate to being a good traditional musician. Understanding the norms of another music doesn’t mean you can apply them to this music and find acceptance among the native players of this music. Disbelieving and disparaging the very existence of those traditional norms (e.g., intonation, tone, timing, articulations) won’t help anyone "get" this music and only demonstrates how far they are from being able to play it well themselves.

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Just re-reading the opening post at the start of the thread(wherever it originally came from), and the logic of it makes perfect sense. The only thing I find odd about it is the phrase "violin-players".

That has connotations of a different instrument and a different music altogether - everything un-traditional. Surely the writer meant "fiddle players" - esp as it was paired with the phrase "traditional singers"? Picky? Maybe, but the post has spawned over 200 responses …

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Jim,

The phrase ‘violin-players’, in the original quote, was written in 1909.

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It’s a bit like the white bread/brown bread thing, IMO. Once upon a time, white bread was the ‘posh’ bread - more refined, more genteel. But it’s good ol’ artisan brown bread that commands the ‘posh’ vote these days.

Similarly, until really very recently (certainly within my lifetime and my own experience) it was classical players who referred to themselves as ‘fiddlers’ or ‘fiddle-players’ and yer genuine old guys playing trad, played it on violin.

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Yep, Ben,

That’s an interesting and accurate analogy.

For those from outside the UK, where white bread was first produced, it was ‘posh’ because it didn’t show your dirty finger marks when you grabbed a slice.

‘fRoots’ magazine still insists on calling those who play the flute ‘flautists’. I’ve tried to persuade the mag that ‘fluters’ or ‘flute players’ is more appropriate but with little success.

** Things are getting way too serious round here **

[*Even if Jim’s rolls are sh*te and my playing is prophylacticly safe.*]

Will, we need a new tune called "Johnny, Get It On". Wanna write it, or should I?

You can’t say my rolls are sh*te. That doesn’t sound right. It would sound better if there were rubbish rolls … or trashy triplets, crap cuts, dire double-cuts, sloppy slides, scabby smears…and I’ll stop my Rick O’Shea bowing too .. I promise.

[Worldfiddler, FFS give it a rest. -Jeremy]

:) :)

;) Thought for the day ;)

You really are Jimmy Stewart aren’t you. I see that horse you’re riding is ready to go the distance.
;)
;)

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