Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Hi everybody, I’m new here and I have a few questions about Irish music and the fiddle.
I’m just starting to learn how to play the violin and I’m so exited about it. The reason I started playing is mainly because I love this kind of music so much.
The thing is I’m from Argentina and as you’d expect there’s not many people that plays this kind of music. I’m learning with a teacher, but he’s a classical musician, so I’m learning classical music and a more classical style to play (if that’s even a thing).
I was wondering if you have any advice for me now that I’m learning, I really wouldn’t want to find out in a few years that I have to re-learn a bunch of things just because I learnt them in a different way when I started.
So that’s basically it, I’m looking for a few pointers since I’ll have to learn your music by myself.
I hope my english wasn’t so bad!
Thank you! :)

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

listen to music from more than 30 years ago.learn as much by ear.phrasing is the most important thing.look at sean nos dancers.keep listening to the music and enjoy.It will take years to find the music in the tunes .have fun.

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Thalendrah, you can learn good basic technique from a classical teacher, but you may also learn stuff you don’t need, and some stuff that you’ll need to unlearn later. For example, Irish fiddlers don’t typically use vibrato on every note. Also, many classical teachers spend a lot of time right at the beginning on using long bow strokes, from frog to tip and back. It’s actually easier to play using shorter bow strokes, mostly in the middle or top thirds of the bow, and many Irish fiddlers use mostly shorter bow strokes when playing jigs, reels, and other dance tunes.

I think it really helps to learn basic fingering and bow mechanics from a teacher in person, right in the room with you. But then you might consider taking Irish fiddle lessons by Skype. You can check into Skype lessons with Brian Conway (http://www.brianconway.com/index.html) or James Kelly (http://jameskellymusic.com/) for starters.

But if you really search, you might be surprised to find a teacher in Argentina—there are people playing Irish music all around the world. Sometimes they’re right next door.

Good luck!

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…and you can take these lessons anywhere. www.oaim.ie

They help a lot. Good luck!

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hi thelandrah if you go here;
http://ceolalainn.blogspot.ie/

there is a wealth of great Irish music to listen to and play along with. Bobby Casey is a particular favourite of mine.. check it out. Also try and find some playing of Paddy Canny. IMO

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Hey Thelandrah, the biggest difference is the sheet music dependence. Much of what is going on in an Irish tune, is not written anywhere on the page of a transcribed tune. The tunes are not basic at all, it’s just the notation that usually is. Much of what is going on in a tune is passed by ear, or from one player to another. Read directly off paper the tunes are lacking much of their color. The notation is really just short hand.

Best not to use paper at all at first, and learn from recordings if necessary. Better to learn from friends if you can.

Ask your teacher to teach you "Waltz’s", "Reels" "Jigs" "Hornpipes", and familiarize yourself with the dance time stay away from symphony pieces.

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There is nothing a classical teacher can teach that would hinder you for playing Irish music. The classical playing style is meant to allow a musician to express any rhythm, any note combination, any tune type at any speed. In contrast, learning purely a traditional folk or Irish fiddling style will always hinder you later, because you’ll never learn things like subtle bow control, vibrato, or positions. The best modern players of traditional music play using classical technique.
You should continue learning as you are and listen to as much traditional music as you can, and if you can find others with your interests you should get together with them and play. But don’t forget the classical technique! You’ll be thankful for it one day.

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There’s isn’t much in wolfuhl’s post I can agree with. In fact, nothing.

I’ll leave it at that.

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I found something in there to agree with, Will.

>> listen to as much traditional music as you can <<

Nothing else, though.

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Maybe we need to separate Irish from Scottish here?

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The OP asked about Irish music on an Irish music site :)

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Dave35, your bio says you play mandolin and guitar, are you a fiddler?

To anyone who disagrees with Wolfhul would they provide a few links to support their position ?
I ask because I see the classical bow grip being used by many top fiddlers today, in fact I cant off the top of my head think of any who dont so It would be good to get a few examples.
Specifically which classical technique would a person need to unlearn?

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>>The OP asked about Irish music on an Irish music site

Indeed so, but wolfhul’s profile professes an interest in both, and it’s his/her comment which is being disagreed with. Maybe s/he is confusing the two.. ;-)

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(I’ve certainly seen a few top Scosttish players recently who were clearly borrowing from classical technique as needs suited, and I had a fiddle teacher next to me at the time to confirm this.)

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The Irish and Scottish musical traditions are interlinked , see the numerous Irish tunes played by Scottish stylists and countless Scottish tune played by Irish stylists. There are regional stylistic differences and regional tune differences but they are merely sub-tributaries.
This web site is about Irish dance music , there is no mention of a particular regional style of Irish Dance music such as a ‘West Clare’ tradsite or Sligo style site or A Sliebh luachre specific site.
‘Irish music’ encompasses a broad spectrum of traditional styles . Some that never use the Roll, playing styles that delight in technical virtuosity and fancifull flights up the fiddle neck as well as the playing of the old farmer and wannabe’s who scratch away.

IMO limiting the fiddle discussions to one particular style serves no purpose other than promoting that particular style.

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@Will Evans
I used to play fiddle a bit when I was younger, if that is relevant.

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Well of course comments regarding fiddle playing technique require at least an understanding of how to play the fiddle! how could it not?
Its like someone who has never learned to play the pipes telling us how easy it is! or a virgin giving sex advice. :-)
You state you dont agree with the opinion of wolfhul and of course your entitled to your opinion but surely you see the difficulty others might have with the validity and value of that opinion if you cant actually play the fiddle! ? and questioning the basis of the understanding expressed is valuable for the OP in particular.
So as you say you have some understanding based on your prior experience then maybe you can anser my questions to help the OP out? :and would you kindly provide a few links to support your position ?
As I said I see the classical bow grip being used by many top fiddlers today, in fact I cant off the top of my head think of any who dont so It would be good to get a few examples.
Specifically which classical technique would a person need to unlearn?

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"For example, Irish fiddlers don’t typically use vibrato on every note. Also, many classical teachers spend a lot of time right at the beginning on using long bow strokes, from frog to tip and back. It’s actually easier to play using shorter bow strokes, mostly in the middle or top thirds of the bow, and many Irish fiddlers use mostly shorter bow strokes when playing jigs, reels, and other dance tunes."

I think these are the techniques that Will Harmon suggested unlearning to play Irish fiddle.

I’m not a fiddle player but I have a friend who started with classical and now plays fiddle and I know for him it’s not as easy as just "not playing vibrato". It’s something that has become habit to him.

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I know a number of trad players who , if the fancy comes on them are highly adept at all sorts of classical technique that they normally only display in Aires and the like. Doesnt mean to say they cant play trad!, on the contrary !
Long bow strokes are a basic technique for teaching a number of different aspects of playing, but Im sure no one is suggesting that classical players who spent their time as students practising long bows cant therefore play with a short bow! :-)
Just as in piping the fundamental practice is holding long notes with no audible wobbles of pitch. This doesnt mean you only play long single notes! its just basic practice for attaining and maintaining good tone.

Vibrato is a particular technique that is not used by baroque players as far as I am, aware. Does that mean that classical musicians cant play Baroque?

Its like saying that if you learn to poetry you cant write prose! or if you learn to write in English that you will have to unlearn stuff to write in French . The basic fundamental techniques of writing are the same in whatever language or style of writing you choose.

Look at the basic ’ Classical bow hold’ Its almost universal nowadays . So Its complete nonsense to suggest that this basic technique has no application because you can see and hear it being used .
Does learning this classical grip preclude one from using a baroque grip? Does learning to play with a baroque grip therefore preclude the use of the classical grip? Does one have to unlearn one to use the other?

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I think the important thing is that good basic technique be taught, whether by a classical teacher or a trad player.

By good basic technique I mean at a root level, which can be applied to any kind of music.

That would require good intonation, a decent tone, bow control at all points of the bow, and an awareness of sounding points and dynamics.

There are many trad players who do not have one or more of these, and the sound they make is "different", but this issue has been thrashed to buggery in other threads :)

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Your English was better than most of ours!

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Wow thank you all for your help! I knew this was the right place to ask :)
I think the online lessons are a good idea once I get more experienced with the instrument, I hand’t really thought about it.
I’ll start contacting people so that someday I’ll have someone to play with and hopefully learn how to really play this kind of music.
Listening lots of irish music won’t be a problem at all ;)
Who knows, maybe I could even visit Ireland again, being able to play some. I went there when I was fifteen and being in the pubs just watching and listening to the sessions was really one of the most happy moments of my life!
Thanks again to all of you for your advice! :)

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good technique is important, the classical violin bow hold allows the player to use a lot of wrist.
holding the violin in the classical manner allows a player to change position easily
listen to as much music s you can and not just fiddle, listen to pipes and other instruments.
try to develop your ear, learn as many tunes as you can by ear, learn to sing the tunes

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"the biggest difference is the sheet music dependence"

Oh yeah?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_method

That’s probably the most popular pedagogical system for classical music in the world.

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One of the great things about diddley music is that it doesn’t matter how you hold your fiddle or your bow. You can spend a deal of time learning how to hold the things in the classical manner … and of course it won’t hinder your ability to play diddley. But it won’t help either.

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Good technique is handy for people playing Traditional Irish music though. Some players get away with poor posture, tone and intonation because they make up for it with musicality and inventiveness .
One of the things Ive noticed about really good trad fiddlers Ive met, sessioned with and studied under is the way they bring good technique to their playing, and to be honest these various players appear to have little time for the scratchy poorly intoned approach.
In this day and age with the open flow of high quality music through mass media the expectation is to play at as high a standard as we can, anything less receives, if not out right disdain, a polite dismissal. Not of course for the old guys because we all know they grew up in different times but circumstances change and for up and coming fiddlers there is an expectation that an effort is made to play well when judged in relation to all genres of fiddle music.

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I disagree, it does matter how you hold your bow, in fact I saw Seamus Creagh correct a pupil who was holding it with a sraight thumb and with two fingers pointing up the stick.
afterwards I asked him why he changed the pupils hold he replied her wrist was completely rigid.
I will go with Seamus Creagh, I notice that Matt Cranitch also recommends something that looks like a classical hold

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Another thing Ive noticed about really good players is their open mindedness to learning new stuff, a curiosity and willingness to reach beyond boundaries and their own limitations. Adventurousness both musically and in life. In fact Id say these aspects are crucial for any player to continue to progress, reaching a plateau and having the determination and desire to move beyond that place even though all around them might consider they are already at the top of their game, they know there is more and are determined to explore their individual potential to its utmost.

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I would direct the original poster to www.petecooper.com, he talks about bow hold, his advice is different from michael gill

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Pete Cooper - Tutorials
www.petecooper.com/tutorials.htm
How to hold the violin bow, using balance not tension… Holding the Fiddle. How to hold the fiddle, again using the principle of balance not tension

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To state that it makes no difference how you hold your fiddle or bow, is very bad advice, it makes a lot of difference, for example using a bent thumb in the grip enables the player to get more wrist action.
there is nothing wrong with holding the bow up the stick, but it does imo have certain disadvantages.
when playing a slow air it can mean having less stick gives you less stick[or power],
however many people play like this and still make good music, but perhaps they are limiting themselves their possible potential when it comes to airs?.
incidentally i noticed a distinct difference between the first two videos and the third, I did not care for the tone of the third fiddler who was holding the bow up the stick, her[imo] poor tone was probably caused by her position of the bow, she may have been playing too far from the bridge, central position of bow between bridge and tail piece, gives a different tone than playing close to bridge or far away from bridge, or maybe her tone was caused by something else

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Hey, Will, you going to ask Dick Miles if he plays the fiddle?

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Idont think much of SeanMcGuires taste in ..jumpers

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"or maybe her tone was caused by something else"
It’s pointless to assess a fiddler’s tone from a field recording that has then been horribly compressed by being uploaded to Youtube. Listen to some Altan tracks on some decent equipment if you want to make a judgement about Mairead’s tone. The majestic ‘Tune For Frankie’ would be a good place to start.

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In trad, tone is one component of the whole individuals style. It does not attain the pre eminence afforded it by classical stylists, that doesnt mean to say that as individuals we dont need to strive for a tone that we enjoy listening to and others hopefully! just that its not a primary consideration.
The most important aspects of a trad players style IMO is inventiveness and playfulness .
Thats why many technically competent players are dull to listen to, thy have all the ‘articulations’ ornaments, tunes, stylistic aspects of their chosen style but they are still dull and uninteresting players because they have mistaken the external form as the be all and end all.

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I am surprised by the advice given by a member above "that it doesn’t matter how you hold your fiddle or your bow". But it does, very much, because failure to hold fiddle and bow effectively and ergonomically is likely in at least the medium to long term to result in aches, pains, and even joint and tendon problems, causing difficult problems at neck and shoulder level. This, incidentally, happened to one of the greatest violinists of the last century, necessitating a fundamental reappraisal of his technique before he was able to return to his previous standard. In his case it was believed that he had been incorrectly taught at an early age, and this caused big problems 30 years down the line.

At the very least, poor holds and posture are going to put a brake on the player’s command of even basic technique and his or her ability to get the best out of the music they are playing. Sadly, this is seen only too often in sessions - and I’m not talking about beginners who have only just started.

There has been mention above of the "classical bow hold". In fact, there is not one, but several such holds, the principal ones being the Russian, Franco-Belgian, and Galamian methods. There is not much to chose between them - they all have their proponents - but as long as a technique is properly taught by a teacher who takes into account the pupil’s individual anatomical characteristics, it doesn’t really matter which method is used. Fwiw, the hold I use is the Galamian.

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Trevor, you gonna tell Eileen Ivers and Mairead Ni Mhaonaigh that they are putting a break on their ability to get the best out of the music they are playing?

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I certainly can tell the difference, but my opinion differs from yours, furthermore I have earned my living for many years from playing music.
Pete Cooper is a highly respected fiddle player who does not make ill thought out statements such as;
One of the great things about diddley music is that it doesn’t matter how you hold your fiddle or your bow.

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Thanks for the correction there trevor, I did infact find in my research that there were a number of ‘classical’ bowholds . I was taught its ‘western art music’ anyhow but to communicate here I just used a catch all phrase.
I also noted a ‘Classical’ player take her little finger of the bow at one point. I could probably find the link if anyone is interested.
Out of interest I also pre ordered the I. Galamian book. I presume its a reissue of the original? and that its his preferred hold you use?

IMO one important benefit of learning from ‘classical’ streams of pedagogy is the emphasis on good basic technique to prevent bio-mechanical errors leading to physical ailments in the long term. as well as the more obvious advantages of tone etc.

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[*One of the great things about diddley music is that it doesn’t matter how you hold your fiddle or your bow.*]

From Michael Gill, earlier in this thread. On the face of it, that’s clearly a ridiculous statement to make, and everyone knows it. Even non-fiddle players would question it. However, if you read that alongside Michael’s later post, "a reality check", and watch the 3rd video where Mairaid holds the bow almost 1/3 way up the stick, his statement makes more sense, and of course, in that respect, he is right.

But, only in a very limited way - he’s referring to a very small subset of "diddley", which is in turn a small subset of the greater world of fiddling. Yes, it’s still possible (not necessarily easy) to get a good sound only ever using 2/3 of the bow, or clamping the instrument down with your chin (when you really need a shoulder rest), or persistently playing with a pancaked wrist. However, it’s plainly silly to promote those elements as being correct and acceptable, in any style of playing. As for the reason for the up-the-stick hold - I think it’s because proper bow balance was never learned, and so changing the balance point and shortening the usable bow length to avoid bow-bounce, was one way to overcome this insecurity. It’s not a "trad" thing, for sure.

In an earlier thread, I complained about the scratchy, scrapey, skatey tone and dreadful intonation of some trad players (contemporary ones included), and was shot down in flames for it. By whom? By those who played with a good tone and were careful to ensure their own good intonation. Double standards, or what?

On that point, I notice that Michael uses all of the bow when playing. Michael, how about playing with an up-the-stick hold, and ditching the shoulder rest? Or start using one, and see if it makes any difference to your playing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPZ7FiXQeUU


Can’t comment on tone - you’re playing in unison with another fiddler, it’s YouTube, it’s in a noisy pub and it was recorded on a phone or similar, etc, etc.

I know nothing about flute playing, but that guy’s a star :)

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Will, I have been taught my bow hold by my teacher who was a personal pupil of Shin’ichi Suzuki, so it didn’t come direct from Galamian’s book (which I have yet to read!). As a young man Suzuki was taught in Germany by Karl Klingler, one of several eminent pupils of Joachim, the great 19th century violinist and teacher. Follow the who-taught-whom trail back from Joachim and you get to Corelli in the middle of the Baroque era.

One thing about the little finger (‘pinky’ for our US friends) is that it is used mainly to balance the bow when bowing near the frog end. In fact, my bowing is based on the index finger being wrapped round the stick, and the other fingers hardly touching the stick and not doing anything much at all until they’re needed for bow balance, extra strong bowing or some special technique. A _stiff_ little finger permanently perched on the stick does no good for the bowing whatsoever - it stiffens the whole hand and ruins the tone. A relaxed little finger gently resting on the stick until balancing pressure is required, is an entirely different matter, as Pete Cooper illustrates.

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Jim, one point about holding the bow well up from the frog (as opposed to an inch or so, which is OK), is that it immediately reduces the volume of sound you can get. Probably due to upsetting the complex interaction between the bow and string. A good bow has more effect on tone and dynamics than anything else.

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The book was recommended by Itzhak Perlman I think it was . I didnt think you got your hold from a book Trevor! :-) I was just checking that the hold you described was named after the man. Just a coincidence I guess as Id recently picked up on the name. . I always like to maintain momentum by staying involved in the learning process, buying books , watching videos, studying with masters etc
. It was interesting in the red desert clip she mentions placing the pinkie not on top but on the next angle closer to the hand . Keeping the little finger curved[basic good form in any field] was a lesson I learnt awhile ago but Ive been placing it on top. I will experiment with her suggestion for awhile to see how it feels.

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Trevor, about holding the bow well up the stick - maybe the reduction in volume is because you are limiting the amount of pressure you can apply before the hair touches the stick, because the fingers get in the way!

And, it’s yet another way to mank up the hair with sweat, etc :)

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Well I was told by someone its about holding the bow closer to the point of balance and is I gather similar to a hold referred to as the baroque grip. Trevor can probably elucidate this matter further?

I know that over the course of playing my own hand shifts up the stick and every now and then I have to adjust.

A point i think is important is that there are many levels of players and teachers in any genre. IMO its really important not to just go to any old ‘classical’ teacher just because they are ’ classical’ or or ‘trad’ or cheap!!
Starting out IMO its worth while researching to find a teacher /s who have a good professional reputation and who can show the fine detail Find the best possible source of information advice and instruction.
Its worth travelling distance, going out of your way, making a big effort to both study advance and progress .
I myself in my younger days would literally travel to a different country to study for a week, sleep rough to train with the best. I would cycle through the snow at night to be where I wanted to be, because I had, and still have a hunger to learn. Obviously not everyone is prepared to go to these lengths but IMO this type of dedication is what is needed to excell in your chosen craft. Dont do a little… do a lot.

I know from my own experience that 2 people can be teaching ‘the same thing’ but at such different levels they might as well be 2 completely different things. One person can be showing a half understood way of doing something learnt from someone else without much of a clue, while the other learnt from a master and really dedicated themselves to the craft. BIG difference .

Question question question, if the teacher cant or wont answer, in depth in a clear and informative manner go else where . IMO .

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Sorry, i’m off on holiday in a few hours so I’ll be off-line until Monday week. I’ll just say that I am seriously learning baroque violin and using a baroque bow.

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Going for baroque, eh, Trevor?

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Jim, did you post the wrong link after this comment?

"On that point, I notice that Michael uses all of the bow when playing. Michael, how about playing with an up-the-stick hold, and ditching the shoulder rest? Or start using one, and see if it makes any difference to your playing?"

In the YouTube Michael is not playing fiddle.

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Ben, it is Michael playing fiddle. See here :

https://thesession.org/discussions/29622/

..the double joke about Michael smiling, and the flute player tooting away randomly during the set.

Around 01’20 you can clearly see Michael using a full bow in both directions (which he couldn’t do if he held it up the stick and not at the frog).

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That IS Michael playing fiddle on the video posted by Jim Dorans. Don’t know why you’d think otherwise, Ben.

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Thanks for clearing that up. Until now I thought he was the mandolin player who seems on the verge of laughter.

In which case, Jim, your observation & questions bring up a good point. Perhaps we’ll receive a response from Llig after garden duty.

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But, it’s not about how M plays it. It’s about how anyone can play the music, and how others have been quite successful playing this music (as in cranking out good tunes in a good way), without the admonishment of "proper" technique, shoulder rests, bow hold, etc.
I don’t know how they do it, but they do.
It’s not about M. Sheesh, some of y’all are obsessing over him as if he’s squashed a crush or something.

Kenny, I was wrong. At some point I put the idea in my mind that it might be Michael (on mandolin) & then falsely jumped to the conclusion it was him. I do remember Michael’s thread about his mandolin. But that’s no excuse for my mistake.

Re: so, I inherited a mandolin
Posted on February 28th 2011 by Michael Gill
https://thesession.org/discussions/26904/#comment569666

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You’re correct Wyogal. It’s about the comment it doesn’t matter how you hold your bow & that learning to play in the classical manner will not help one’s playing.

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But it also doesn’t hinder it (if one can "get over it."). So pointing out how M plays is irrelevant. It’s about listening to one’s playing, making adjustments to one’s playing so you get the sound you want. However one does it. The micromanagement of the pinky is pointless.
Of course, when a student comes to me wanting to play the fiddle, I start them out with "correct and proper" holds and stuff, but that’s because it’s what I know. I have a couple of adult students right now, wanting to play fiddle, not violin, and so the approach I am taking is different. a difference that I will carry over into my classical students: do you like the sound, if so, great! If not, change it! If it feels (and sounds) good, do it. Much more laid back in my approach these days.

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Funny, I remember a time when this forum was about Irish traditional music, without so much emphasis on formal training and "proper" bow holds ("the Russian, Franco-Belgian, and Galamian methods") and tone production. Of course, it’s people here who have classical training and play classical music who give weight to such things.

Here’s a non-Russion, non-Franco-Belgian, non-Galamian bow hold—and left-hand position—that works just fine for this music:

http://journalofmusic.com/radar/twenty-fifth-feakle-festival

We’ve heard the arguments over and over that proper technique helps you sound better, makes you more facile on the instrument, spans all genres. While that’s not wrong per se, it’s also not a focus or concern for many, many traditional fiddlers. Instead of wasting time worrying about technique, traditional fiddlers concentrate on making their music.

Classical violin pedagogy is mostly about technique. Traditional fiddling is mostly about the tunes. Focusing on one when you really want to play the other doesn’t make much sense.

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yep, making music

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"You have to play a long time before you learn to play like yourself."

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No your wrong Will, I have no ‘classical training ‘and I dont play Classical music , Im just interested in learning from anyone be you black or white trad jazz or Classical. . And IMO Players with the depth of experience like Trevor here are a great source of usefull and interesting information . Same with WF ,His clips show he has an impressive command of his instrument. Im sure Jim is happy to learn from anyone here just as I am and as far as Im concerned It makes little difference what style of music people play. If there are aspects of that style such as tone , third position etc I am interested in then I will make enquiries. We are free to discuss whatever aspect of playing, technique, tone and sound production we choose if thats al-right by you. …
In fact he only person who has mentioned <<formal training and "proper" bow holds>> is you Will. Why is that? and why did you put ‘proper’ in quotation marks when its not a quotation.?


Technique is what people use to make music, advantages of good technique are numerous, disadvantages of bad technique are also. I dont think you will find anyone ‘worrying’ about technique? However perhaps there are plenty of people interested in playing trad with good tone and good bow control. Did you teach yourself your bow hold or were you taught by a ‘classical’ player ?

<<”Classical violin pedagogy is mostly about technique. ”>> Is that a fact or an opinion? I feel its rather a broad brush to paint with and by doing so IMO you smear an entire range of genres with the same blunt brush into one inaccurate generalisation.

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Where did I say I was addressing you?

You’re clearly not interested in learning from others, as your post above well demonstrates. You prefer to argue. Good luck with that.

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The use of the quotation marks refers to what is generally accepted by the term "proper."
As someone who has studied and played classical violin for a very long time, I think he has it about right when it comes to describing classical music training (pedagogy) as having a very strong basis in technique. Believe me, thousands and thousands of dollars were spent improving my technique. Not much was ever said in my lessons about making music.
Now, I play tunes, making music, and really, don’t give much thought about technique when doing so. I’m thinking about the tune. Where it’s at, where it’s going, or better, where it’s taking me.


btw: you’re

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It also condenses the list of the various classical bow holds to one word, "proper."

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

yep, Will H, that’s the whole point of all of those posts…. how many angels are dancing on the head of a pin.
I can hear him stomping his feet from here.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Well, just as many, many traditional fiddlers concentrate on making their music, it seems they are uncomfortable talking about technique. I don’t think it’s that the subject is irrelevant or unimportant, it’s just that they don’t seem to like talking about it.

This whole thread started by questions being asked about learning to play Irish fiddle, while being taught by a classically-trained teacher, so the responses by and large have been fairly relevant. Then Will Evans expanded on the classical side, talking about pushing the envelope, or words to that effect, but that post seems to have gone. Is it me or have other posts been deleted too?

Classical violin pedagogy might seem like it’s mostly about technique, but I think it’s about the music - far, far more diverse musically and geographically than Irish trad is, and much more than "tunes".

The technical requirements across the range of we loosely refer to as "classical" are far greater than anything required for traditional fiddling, so the techniques required need a lot more teaching time and are thus more intense and rigorous. I know there are many here who don’t bother much with classical, and that’s fine. It’s a trad site anyway :)

Here’s a clip of someone I think plays Irish trad pretty well. Good fiddle, good bow, good technique - he’s actually a classical virtuoso, as you probably all know. Does it get any better than that? Classical musicians playing Irish, I mean?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5WeC_ScPas&feature=related#t=0m55s

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Well, if you compare what he is doing on that Tommy Potts tune, which he is trying to copy without any input or insights of his own, he doesn’t have at all what made Potts’ playing so exhilarating. It’s a poor copy.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Maybe I need to expand a bit on that.

When you attempt to copy a style so idiosyncratic and personal as Potts’ you need to do more than copy everything he did verbatum to make it anywhere interesting. I mean, I can listen to Potts do the same tune and be gripped by his mood and the way he expresses it, his inventiveness and the way he puts his personality into the tune. That is after all what (this) music is about isn’t it? Processing what is handed down and insert your own personality and life’s experiences into the music that comes out of you. The turns and twists the individual player adds, even while acknowledging in his/her music where it all came from. If that’s not there, it’s merely second hand stuff with little interest.

Seán Keane and Paddy Glackin have processed Potts’ influence and can put their own stamp on his versions. Martin Hayes has recorded Potts’ Star of Munster and while he goes through the whole set of Potts’ variations, you never really get the sense you’re listening to anyone but Martin Hayes.

For all the technique you so admire, that sense is completely absent when watching the bits in the video.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Now that Mr. Evans has adopted his own name, and no longer goes by the various ‘jigaguspiobagusfidilagus’ noms de guerre, I was waiting for him to clash with Mr. Harmon, just so I could see the Battle of Wills. ;-)

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

As to the youtube of that French fiddler playing Irish tunes, I have to say, "je ne comprend pas." It is a good example of good fiddle playing, but I don’t see it as a good representative of the Irish style. Jim, from my persective, some of the youtube clips you show us imply that you are missing what is central to the Irish idiom.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

I think that conclusion had been reached some time ago Al.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Martin Hayes ~

"Whenever I hear music that’s set out to impress me, I’m unimpressed largely. I’m amazed and dazzled at the proficiency and technique and the intelligence of the language and the complexity at times, but if that’s what it sets out to achieve, it’s absolutely pointless. It’s missed the initial point, the core meaning of music. And an awful lot of music does that. You’d almost want to have the childlike simplicity again and just go, "I like that. That’s nice." A big thing with a lot of musicians is the fear to play something very simple and delicate, in case somebody would think you weren’t a great fiddler or something. In order to get your own individual expression, would you have to become a highly technically proficient musician? The answer really is no, I don’t think that that’s as important as getting your head straight, and getting your heart in the right place."

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

I’m not sure about his hold, but it’s interesting that the classical player in Jim’s clip felt the need to pancake his wrist and move the fiddle out from under his chin!

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

As regards technique, I find it quite strange that it could be a controversial subject, just as were scales etc. It appears Its only fiddlers who have this a issue as they play the same instrument as Violinists and perhaps for some there is some complex ? There is no problem with Pipers talking about technique, or Whistlers….
Any player worth his salt makes music, whatever instrument or genre is quite irrelevant. Some players have a very technical approach and are short on spirit some vice versa and some exhibit both technique and spirit These IMO are the masters, they are few and far between.

Lovely playing from the French man.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Maybe this will help distinguish between the real thing and the copyist. Playing at home, october 1964:

https://www.box.com/s/0bb4a7099c6df0eabf14


This never fails to move me, the forward drive, the urgency of the emotions and the inventiveness of the playing. All the things the other one lacked.

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Jim, if you’re at all implying that I’m a fiddler who’s uncomfortable talking about technique, you’d have to be ignoring my 11 years of posts here, an awful lot of them about technique. :-)

The following will come off as more of a rant than I intend. So if it ruffles your feathers, Jim, or anyone else’s, that’s not what I’m after. But I’ll be blunt.

I just don’t think the emphasis for Irish traditional fiddling (or Appalachian, or Missouri fiddling or a whole host of other traditional musics) should be on *classical* technique. It’s simply misplaced, and the proponents of it here, yourself and Trevor included, clearly don’t understand that. Your praise of the clip of GIlles Apap only demonstrates a further misunderstanding of traditional music.

Misunderstanding it is one thing. But several people post here as though their ideas on formal technique should also be the dogma for traditional fiddling, and that’s misguided at best.

I say this as someone who has several years of formal, classical training one-on-one from "pedigreed" violin teachers at a university. I did that some 25 years ago, after many years of playing Appalachian and Irish fiddle, to see what classical violin pedagogy was all about. The main thing I got out of those two years was a surprising confirmation that my bow hand was doing what it’s supposed to do, in a very effective, natural way, without having been taught a "proper" hold. I also learned a nice relaxed vibrato that I use when playing other genres and a formal approach to shifting into higher positions, which I used to figure out some bluegrass and swing tunes (that I hardly ever play).

When it comes to playing Irish traditional fiddle, I’ve learned far more from mentoring from and simply playing attentively with actual Irish traditional fiddlers, few of whom had any formal music education at all (and at one—Oisin Mac Diarmada—who says that his formal training on classical piano doesn’t much apply to teaching Irish fiddle). Which all seems like championing the obvious. I mean, you wouldn’t have gone to Paddy Canny for fiddle lessons if you wanted to play like Yehudi Menuhin, right? So why push the obverse here?

I also know that some Irish fiddlers have very clean, proper technique (I teach at a camp with Brian Conway, who has impeccable technique. Of course, he doesn’t waste time correcting students’ technique—he teaches phrasing and pulse and bowing ideas by teaching tunes…imagine that). It’s also becoming more the norm for many younger Irish traditional players to have some Suzuki or other classical-oriented training. But that’s a relatively new development in Irish traditional fiddling, and time will tell whether it’s a healthy direction or not. As I said above, I don’t think that approach is necessarily wrong, but emphasizing it isn’t right, for this music, either.

Jim, I’m not sure classical musics are more diverse than Irish. Irish music is played all around the globe, absorbing influences from the Americas, Australia, Africa, Asia, and Europe. New tunes continue to enter the tradition from all those places and cultures. In sessions in Ireland last summer I heard tunes from the U.S., Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Finland, and Japan, all "Irishized" to some extent and slipped in between old pure drop tunes. And bear in mind that there are things good fiddlers do that confound classical violinists (an utter ease with infectious dancing pulse being chief among those). I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had good classical players come ask about bowed triplets or syncopated shuffle bowings or improvisation or playing by ear.

The bottom line is that classical violin and traditional fiddling are different things. One isn’t necessarily "better" than the other, just different. And while it can be interesting to consider the overlaps and what might be learned from cross-fertilization, it also helps to clearly understand each world on its own merits, rather than insisting that what works for Perlman must also apply to Paddy.

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Cheers, Professor!

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Pott’s playing always makes the hair on my head stand on end.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Well, if you compare what he is doing on that Tommy Potts tune, which he is trying to copy without any input or insights of his own, he doesn’t have at all what made Potts’ playing so exhilarating. It’s a poor copy.

# Posted on July 29th 2012 by Prof. Prlwytzkofski
entirely a matter of opinion, personally I cant stand Tommy Potts, two players i purposefully avoid are Tommy Pots and Sean McGuire.
I could listen to Paddy Canny or SeamusCreagh all night, all a matter of taste

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

although, I have to sat that is the best potts recording i have ever heard, none of that bowing that makes him sound like his timing is off

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Paddy Canny could take a Potts setting (and he did so often, see the Gael Lin 78 rpms for example where he ‘does’ Potts) and still be himself.

Look at this:

https://www.box.com/s/6a30aaca2571bd80336a

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

That said, the hand of Tommy Potts is very obviously present in that playing, it’s just that Canny has enough of his own to retain his identity and personality.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Nice Martin Hayes quote up above, Ben. You always have something interesting to contribute to the discussions.
And on a non-musical topic, if imposing their real names on people was supposed to make them less argumentative, it seems to been somewhat less than effective. And I feel for poor Mr. Evans, forced to wear a name he continues to deny.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Will Harmon, I wasn’t talking about you in the context of trad fiddlers - far from it. Of course you’re comfortable with the discussion of the mechanics of technique etc, a evidenced by your posts over many years. You’re a fine player too, and you know it :)

I do (and have done in the past) disagree with you on the detail and mechanics of some elements of technique, but that’s just the way it is.

No, I was referring to players (some of whom are very good) who are uncomfortable "dissecting" their playing, and would far rather just give a giggle and say, "It’s just the way oi plays." That’s all on that topic for now.

As for the Giles Apap clip, the point I was making was that he did a damn good job. Whether he had the feeling, introspection or whatever, of Tommy Potts, is totally irrelevant here. He did what he did - very well, and no-one can deny that.

I bet if I’d posted that as an anonymous audio, the response would be totally different. I know it would.

This thread is "Questions about Fiddle & Irish music" - not the aesthetics of the inner sanctum :)

Whilst I do respect the playing of Martin Hayes (and I can’t fault it), I do not agree with his opinions and thoughts, as posted by Ben. I really can’t take him seriously. What if he advocated using WD-40 on the left-hand fingers to speed up the reels? You’d have to give that some serious thought, wouldn’t you?

@Cheeky Elf : At the beginning of the clip, I think he is trying to demo some things to people all around him (and talk too, turning his head round a lot). I think that’s the reason for the odd posture.

@Ben - yes, I was give a new screen name without being told. It’s fine. I only changed the original "Worldfiddler" name because of Michael Gill’s slanderous comments about me in his own profile. That in itself didn’t bother me in the least, but someone pointed it out to me (a potential fidle student). I hadn’t even seen it at that point!)

I didn’t think it was fair for anyone to be reading that about me without being given the chance to hear me first. You’d be surprised how many people read this stuff :) Anyway, my screen name is my real name and that’s fine. I’ve sorted my profile too … hehe ;)

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

That’s grand, Jim! I look forward to hearing you play something very simple & quite delicate.
;)

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Jim, I can assure you that Martin is dead serious and would stand behind that excerpt of his Ben posted. I’ve had that very conversation with Martin. His whole purpose is to get inside the tunes and get to the heart of them, not to clutter them with technique and pizazz. And he greatly appreciates it when other musicians do the same.

If you don’t agree, that’s fine. But you’re missing exactly what Martin’s getting at if you don’t think he’s serious about it.

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Jim, some of the fiddlers who decline to dissect their playing aren’t just being coy. They really haven’t thought about it that much. They know what it feels like when they get the sound they want, and that’s what matters.

And they’re right.

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What it feels like & what *matter*

If Martin Hayes reads this I hope he forgives me for stealing away with his words …

"The outward shell of this music, however, was just a reflection of the musical aspiration; as with any artistic expression, the message is often more significant than the artistic vehicle. They spoke their inner aspirations through the musical vernacular of their locality with a naive innocence and purity that the most accomplished of artists have a hard time achieving. This music wasn’t widely appreciated because they played in a local, almost personal, vernacular and the outward form wasn’t often very refined."

http://journalofmusic.com/focus/tradition-and-aspiration

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Championing the obvious yet again: For some of us, playing from the heart, using a "personal vernacular," is what making music is *all* about. Getting hung up on technique isn’t where it’s at. Irish traditional music allows that, enables it, even (in some circles) celebrates it. Thank goodness.

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Will H, whilst "playing from the heart" and using a "personal vernacular" may be admirable, if the sound coming out is unpleasant then I have issue with that. End of story for me. Life’s too short, etc….

You”ll notice that the apologists for "rough sound " and "lack of refinement" wouldn’t dream about having those features in their own playing.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

I don’t think anyone is argueing FOR lack of refinement or rough sound, Jim. They just seem to be pointing out that these things are way, way, way down on the food chain of what is important in Irish fiddling.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Jim, with your:

As for the Giles Apap clip, the point I was making was that he did a damn good job. Whether he had the feeling, introspection or whatever, of Tommy Potts, is totally irrelevant here. He did what he did - very well, and no-one can deny that.’

I think you’re quite eloquently underlining the point that’s been made here a few times. The one you seemingly object to in Michael’s profile, the one that says you haven’t an inkling about Irish music.

The clip showed a very fine violinist letting loose his technical skills. But what he produced was an outline, an image of Irish music. My point was there was no content, just reproduction. Which made his rendition completely uninteresting to my ear. And it doesn’t matter whether or not the clip is anonymous or the player is named.

If you dismiss content as ‘irrelevant’ what have you left? An empty shell. Muzak. Elevator music.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

<< Getting hung up on technique>>

No one here, apart from you it appears is ‘hung up’ on this subject . There are people who consider the techniques people use to make their music -irrespective of genre- interesting. If trad players put so much emphasis on bow hold and technical matters then Im sure they would get just as much interest and the main reason that ‘classical’ players are mentioned is because they do.

I disagree prof, IMO the fact that the fiddler is also a classical player is irrelevant , he plays the fiddle very well and seeing as how he was just mucking about its hardly fair to compare it with Tommy Potts. And who could be compared with TP anyhow in this era, very few indeed!

Comparison is also in general unfair, would you like to be compared with Seamus Ennis or Willie Clancy? The guy is a fine fiddler and plays very well. You think he is just ‘copying’ but so what? How many good pipers/fiddlers in this day just copy? Many ! How many of the fiddlers posting here are as good musically? technically? imaginatively?
Anyhow Its not a competition . how many years has he been fiddling? we dont know , maybe 2 or 3? maybe 5 or 10….

Individuals have different tastes , I dont accept that your taste in music is ‘better’ than mine, you found it uninteresting, fair enough, and? There are many players even with CDs out that I find uninteresting and dull.So what? some people like them and even if no one likes them so what? Is music making about pleasing others or being true to yourself and expressing yourself ?
Topmmy Potts was slagged a lot in his day but now hes ‘feted’ There seems to be a process of ‘canonisation’ going on nowadays, ordinary guys who play an instrument are put up on a pedestal and can do no wrong….. Thats rubbish if I may be so frank Jeremy?
They were just ordinary blokes who sat in the pub for the tunes.

Copying is a stage in the learning process, a stage unfortunately many people get stuck at Which is why there are so many technically competent fiddlers whos playing is dull., they might have just the right scratchy/smooth sound as per their heroes, all the rolls, trills and whatchamacallits but They might have an impressive command of their instrument but no ‘Duende’ ‘nyah’

In fact I did have Classical guitar lessons many years ago and one of the disagreements we had was that he felt that I should approach a piece from the dots without listening to a master because then I would just be copying. While as far as Im concerned thats complete bunk and Im not afraid to say it . IMO listening to the masters play a tune Is the ultimate way to learn, preferably as they sit down in front of you.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

I think, and I believe I made that clear above, that if you choose to copy a setting of a tune so personal as your man did there with that tune comparisons with the original are inevitable. The Canny version I posted is obviously taken from Potts, it’s only natural to compare the two.


Why would anyone object to being compared to accomplished musicians? Especially if they so obviously take their clues from them. I take my clues from certain pipers. Compare away if you like. I think I am fairly well aware of my own strengths and weaknesses.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Fair enough Prof comparing Canny and Potts is comparing like with like. Its not the comparison , rather the judgement. I mean The French fellow is no Potts agreed but like I say who is? Perhaps he just learned the tune by ear from the one recording he has? I dont know, but I think its fair to say he didnt get it from the dots….I dont have the Liffey Banks to hand as Im moving house so I cant compare settings but Life is a learning process and he might well personalise the tune as he gets familiar with it.
His is playing is very good, we can quibble about the ‘;authenticity’ but at the end of the day this ‘Classical’ player is just another bloke who likes the tunes, has learnt to play them in a style that might be loosely described as Irish and in fact were he sat in a session would be appreciated for what he does , not for where he comes from. Thanks for your reply.

So What exactly is the problem people have with his playing? too much vibrato? not enough rolls? long bow strokes? :-) What would he have to do more to be ‘one of the guys’ ? or is he forever condemned as a trad fiddler because his background or learning process is not ‘authentic’ enough? Just because he was originally a ‘Classical’ player?

Is it that ‘Classical’ players have nothing to bring to the fiddling game? Should they not contribute here because they might have a different focus? If trad players are interested in picking up tips from ‘classical ‘players is this not an ‘appropriate ‘forum for it? Where is?
Im interested in the fine detail of bow holds,. am I not ‘allowed’ to discuss that with like minded people just because they come from a different background? We are all interested in Trad where ever we come from, we are all on the same journey of exploration. Some folk might think they have arrived but they couldnt be further from the truth.



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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

I think I made my point above, if you read it. The problem is not his technical ability. As I said, it’s a well able violinist ‘doing’ a traditional tune.

It’s the lack of personal touches, deeper layers. It leaves you wondering, as Tony McMahon quoted John Kelly, ‘where’s the call of the curlew on the mountain?’

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

And the ‘judgement’ is a response to Jim setting up his dream of musical heaven : ‘Does it get any better than that? Classical musicians playing Irish, I mean?’

That response is ‘Well, yes it does’ and to be honest if that is your ideal, things would be rather dull and uninteresting musically.

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firstly, i enjoyed the clip and I think you[prof] are over exaggerating your point, i think there is a little bit of himself in the playing. furthermore it is possible for classically trained fiddlers to play trad irish music well , they just have to spend a long time listening to it first.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Sure it’s possible, but is that because of the classical training or in spite of it?

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

There are quite a few examples of traditional players who have polished up their tone and bowing by taking lessons and cues from the classical. The Dublin Crehans, Terry, Niall and Kieran, Paddy Glackin I believe and others.

I think the disconnect between Jim’s outlook and at least some of us begins where he sees technique as the be all end all while really for the same some of us it’s only useful to discuss technique as a means to an end.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

very well put,prof.having good technique allows the player to use expression[if he she has it in the first place ] and be unfettered by the restraints of poor technique, but technique should only be a tool to be able to express, technique without artistic expression is not good.

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I certainly agree with you prof regarding ‘where’s the call of the curlew on the mountain?’
But Who nowadays has that quality in their playing IYO?

So this intangible quality is missing in general IMO and Its certainly not limited to ‘classical’ players. What is the underlying issue as regarding this factor and its absence in most modern players? How can we attain this in our playing?
Its not technique anyhow but that does not preclude us from discussing technique .. Is there anyone here with that quality ? but if not that does not preclude us discussing technique anyhow!
Singling out a lack in one player that is almost universal in players of all generations is hardly fair is it ?
Who today, apart from Tony MacMahon, in peoples opinion does have this lyrical quality in their playing?

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

For a brief moment of levity, and maybe of warning as to where these things may lead initially, mention of the Crehans made me think of the lps they produced during the early 70s. Trad heaven or music for airports?

https://www.box.com/s/024774226bed5dcb3743

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They seemed to have removed the curlew from the mountain and placed it in the zoo. And that was after studying classical technique you say?

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They freed it again a few years later later though.

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@Prof :

["I think you’re quite eloquently underlining the point that’s been made here a few times. The one you seemingly object to in Michael’s profile, the one that says you haven’t an inkling about Irish music."]

I don’t think expressing an opinion about an "outsider" playing Irish music warrants the "not having an inkling" tag. I’m wondering if you are so steeped in your traditional thinking that you are missing the beauty of some of the things outside of it.

As to the value of technique, I place it high up on the list, and many don’t. No problem. Each to their own.

Here’s my take on it : of course it is a means to an end - no one is disputing that. People talk loosely about "technique", "feeling", "playing from the heart", "musicality" and a host of other things. A player’s technique and the sound he / she makes is inextricably linked to technical ability - the end of chain, if you like.

If you played from the heart, with feeling, sincerely etc, and knowing what you are doing, musically, those things would shine through. But ultimately, it’s your level of technical ability and command of your instrument that gets the final sound out - for better or worse.

How we interpret that, is, I think where the debate and differences of opinion start.

Michael Gill always used to say something like, "Christ on a bike, use you ears." Well, I’m using mine, and if I like / dislike the sound of something I’ll say so. It’s got absolutely nothing to do with understanding / not understanding the tradition, or "this music", or not "getting it" or anything else.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Jim, do your ears not like the recordings Prof. has posted above?

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I know what you do Jim, you listen and say what you don’t like.

I would like to repeat the suggestion made here and elsewhere, and more than once too for that matter that you may not be listening for the right things. That’s what Michael, myself and others have been saying all along. You’re so focussed on a few superficial technical bits, you’re actually unable to hear the things that are at the core of traditional playing. You don’t know the things you don’t know.

Which is fine, you can look at this music and like or dislike as you please. When pontificating however, it may be good to realise you’re looking at it from an aesthetic that is not only quite different but in many ways alien to it.

That’s my take on it anyway.

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Tone is a social construct.

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Exactly, DrSS!

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@Prof : I hear the same as anyone else. My reaction may be different to others’, that’s all.

@Ben : On the Tommy Potts clips, I can see that there is a lot of inventive playfulness going on, and it’s lively. The timing is a bit out, though. Thanks for posting it (Prof).

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To clarify : Prof, I think that you are implying that I’m hearing and reacting to some Irish music in the way that someone might react to hearing Indian music for the first time in their life. They may fall in love with the sound and crave more, and be fascinated by its haunting melodic sound, and highly complex rhythms - or, they might simply hate the sound of the microtones and slides, perceiving it only a whining racket.

Maybe that’s an extreme example, but I think I see what you’re getting at.

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I go away for a weekend and miss out on another classic thesession.org discussion, about my main instrument, and my favourite genre of music? :-(

Well that’s the last time I go on holiday.

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Jim, study after study have shown that hearing is highly subjective. It also depends greatly on past experience shaping the aural pathways of our brains. So, no, you do not "hear the same as anyone else." Compared to non-musicians, musicians in general have more developed areas of the brain for processing aural inputs. But how you listen and what you listen for will shape your processing capacity. Bottom line is that some people have a greater capacity for listening than others (my wife could tell you that). :-)

If you want the scoop on the neuroscience behind this, read Oliver Saks’ "Musicophilia" and Daniel Levitin’s "This is Your Brain on Music."

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

It’s not whether a music is "new" to you, but whether you listen to it with an understanding of the cultural and social conventions that make it what it is, distinct from other genres. Or whether you impose some other conventions on it, from outside the genre.

I used to good-naturedly tease the heck out of Trevor because in response to questions here about Irish traditional fiddling, he would routinely relate some experience of his with orchestral cello. As much as you might want to find some overlap, those anecdotes simply weren’t relevant here.

I think what the Prof. and Michael and myself have been saying, repeatedly, is that your focus on formal technique, the mechanics, and the conventions other world genres may not be the best way to understand Irish traditional fiddling on its own terms, for its own sake. In fact, your approach continues to get in the way of a deeper understanding.

And that’s your prerogative. It’s just not at all helpful when it comes to advising others about how to learn Irish traditional fiddle. Anymore than it would be for Tommy Potts to advise someone wanting to learn to play like Joshua Bell.

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<<he would routinely relate some experience of his with orchestral cello. As much as you might want to find some overlap, those anecdotes simply weren’t relevant here>>

As It happens I play cello a bit and all it is is a big fiddle. Trev also plays the little trad fiddle, so he actually knows what he is talking about. Unless Will is a closet Cellist how would he know what relevance Trevs experience might have? and after all its Trev’s business what he posts and how he contribute isnt it?!?
This site is for the free discussion of Irish music, not any particular regional style,. From Tommy Potts to Johnny Doherty, from Joe bloggs to Reginald Smyth-thompson-Faulkner . :-) Should there be a ‘trad test’? before being allowed to post by the trad police? 8-)

Do you learn tunes from the dots? Ans yes… sorry cant comment here.
have you had classical lessons ? ans yes.. sorry go else where

Ok Im being facetious but there is an importantr point there amongst the mick taking…

Yes individuals have their preferred take on the music but thats their opinion and I dont feel it should be forced down anyones throat.
Jim Doran… hmm Ive heard that name before… has as much right to play the tunes how he chooses, whether we feel it is ‘trad’ enough is neither here nor there.
I dont think he has uploaded any Irish tunes anyhow… I think Jim plays very well in his Scottish style and his music is lively, interesting, original and clever. No its not particularly Irish and why would it be? Why would a Scotsman with a highly individual style try to sound like 1001 Irish fiddlers? Jeez its been done to death hasn’t it? this faux Irish fiddling! where’s the originality in that? where’s the expression in that? People trying to sound like Kevin Burke or Martin Hayes FFS ending up like second rate clones,.
Jim actually reminds me of Tommy Potts with his wild quirky tunes and approach.


This site is about Irish trad music, a catch all phrase that encompasses Scottish music and Irish music played by people other than the Irish! not 1 or 2 particular Irish styles….

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

That’s what Michael, myself and others have been saying all along."
no no no, Michael has been saying it does not matter how you hold the bow or the fiddle, and he has been shown to be contradicting the advice of Matt Cranitch and Seamus Creagh and Pete Cooper, all of whom are highly acclaimed musicians and highly respected fiddlers they are not mediocre charlatans.
I find Jims comments very useful and helpful, a good technique enables the player to be unlimited. , hoever if the player caanmot transfer his emotins into his playing technique in itself will not make him an interesting player, SEANmcGuire [imo] is a good example

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Dick, you not reading the right bits in Prof.’s reply. Here’s more context, "I would like to repeat the suggestion made here and elsewhere, and more than once too for that matter that you may not be listening for the right things. That’s what Michael, myself and others have been saying all along."

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~

… & I’m not typing all the right bits ~ you *are* …

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Well I think Sean McGuire was a really interesting player, not my favourite musician but very interesting nonetheless I play one of his tunes I think and its a cracker!

Different people look and listen for different things in their music. I think Tommy Potts was a very interesting player. I dont find Seán Kean’s music particularly calls me for example .
Bobby Casey , would be my all time favourite, John Vesey P Canny and Johnny Doherty would also be up there .
But I still like to keep an open mind and there are a few modern fiddlers I rate . Cathleen Collins , Eileen Ivers Paddy Glackin amongst them..

Each to their own.

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WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO BOBBY CASEY

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"Different people look and listen for different things in their music." Yes, & in regards to what I just posted above it can be put in the context of a long series of previous posts by those mentioned, i.e. Michael, Prof., Worldfiddler, & others.
It goes on & on & on.

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You fiddlers!
Willie Clancy ~ WOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Casey and Clancy. Like peas in a pod. Wild imagination and devilment in spades, what more can you wish for?

https://www.box.com/s/54643b422cf35fde1f2b

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Thanks prof, those are some great clips you’ve uploaded your on form today! Classic stuff .

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:-)

Re: Questions about Fearless Fiddle (et. al. {fearless}) & Irish music [also fearless]

Good God, Man! Do you have a million recordings or what?
It’s grand;; Grand!!!

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Left speechless?

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Last one was for Will E.

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Its on loop the last 10 min !

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Savour the moment of contentment.

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:-)

& then all hell breaks loose

This has to be the height of technical virtuousity (Seán Keane @ 1:00 - 3:00) though I feel the vernacular expressed in pure espresso ~ straight up; http://www.youtube.co/watch?v=nDvxT53nILo

This too can be you if you practice your scales & arpeggios. Where anything is possible.

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This argues for a urinalysis program for fiddlers, to prevent doping—that man is juiced!!!

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LOL I wonder why he started the Baker and then abandoned it halfway through for the Hurricane… I suppose it’s better as a showpiece…

The only thing I didn’t enjoy about that was the Hawk played as a reel with rolls - yuck!

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Brilliant clip Ben, thanks! It’s a good reminder for everyone too :)

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Reminder of what?

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I was reminded of what a great tune the Hurricane is, and how the only time I got to play this with someone in a session was with one of our members here in a session in Bristol, otherwise I generally get left to play it on my own ‘cause none of my mates over here will get off their backsides to learn the damn thing.

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Reminds me why Im not a fan of that style of playing! 8-) Not to diss it in anyway but the style that interests me, that I can listen to for ever is exemplified by the Clancy/Casey clip the prof so kindly unloaded… But thats not to say that one is any better or more ‘trad’ than the other. Peoples music is a product of their influences .
For example Johnny Doran’s Piping does not particularly interest me, brilliant and Wild though it is.

I think there is an element of showmanship that Im not keen on in his playing , which is obvious when you consider the way he used the music professionally.
This same quality is IMO present in Sean Keane’ and McGuire’s playing for example, Its a product of their influences and professional needs IMO. Earning a living from the music can require an approach that means we have to push ourselves ‘above the competition’ Push our sound above the noise of the crowd, promote ourselves with commercial requirements, ‘impress’ with feats of endurance and exhibitions of technical prowess.
Its not my personal way and Im attracted to music that is more inward looking, introspective perhaps, that draws me in rather than demands my attention.

Its the yin and yang of fiddle playing!
But both sides are as valid and traditional as each other and just as in the unending ‘session as performance’ discussions both sides can look to the other with a lack of understanding! but tolerance demands that we acknowledge each others needs and requirements and personal choices.

live and let live

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As usual I have seen plenty of Keane two weeks ago

On his own:
http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii19/Kilfarboy/Willie%20Clancy%20Summer%20School%202012/Willie12013.jpg?t=1342046157

with the one time reunion of teh Castle Ceiliband:
http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii19/Kilfarboy/Willie%20Clancy%20Summer%20School%202012/Willie1200066-2.jpg?t=1342464840

and with his brother and a load of others:
http://i260.photobucket.com/albums/ii19/Kilfarboy/Willie%20Clancy%20Summer%20School%202012/Willie12102.jpg?t=1342131048

He’s a fine fiddleplayer ofcourse but playing on his own his music often makes me nervous, it’s too busy, there’s no peace or humour in it. Casey can make you smile at his devilment and baffle you with the amount and density of his musical ideas at the same time. I feel no warmth in Keane’s music and it fails to draw me in. But that’s fine, plenty of other to listen to him and plenty of other fiddleplayers for me to listen to.

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"Reminder of what?"

@Prof - of how good Sean Keane is.

@Will E :

I did enjoy that clip of Sean Keane. Sheer excitement and virtuosity.

As for Sean Maguire, I still have the "Ulster’s Flowery Vale" vinyl and I love his Black Swan track on that, and of course the Mason’s Apron with if 72-odd variations :) Not to everyone’s taste I admit, but it was 1969 …I still have another (odd-sized) LP somewhere, and he’s playing Ned of the Hill on pipes.

Later albums and later YouTube clips I did not enjoy at all. There was way too much incongruous bowing used in the
reels, imo, and as you said the circumstances seemed to cause him to promote speed and volume at the expense of tone and rhythm.

it does make a welcome change sometimes to listen to the more relaxed pace of the "old boys".

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Jim, with the utmost respect for Seán Keane’s virtuousity, when listening to the clip I posted I wholeheartedly (& seriously) agree with Martin Hayes in the quotation about music played with the intention to impress. I have no idea if Mr.Keane’s primary intention is to impress. But I honestly cannot tell from listening where his heart lies. Paddy Moloney, on the other hand, I love his playing on the video.

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Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Malena, if you’re still following the thread give a listen to this clip of a session playing at Matt Molloy’s pub (there’s a CD). What ever you might learn from it I doubt you’ll need to worry about unlearning anything ~ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icjXtyI-Mjw

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Ben, I tend not to let anything distract my enjoyment of the music. In some ways, in the days of audio only (long before video and YouTube) you could only use your ears, and not have visuals to distract you, and I think it was a better way to appreciate the music you were listening to.

In this case, in your clip, it was a performance, so one would expect the performer to exude confidence, and express his talent openly and proudly, which is what I think Sean did admirably. Notice he stood up too, to add to the effect of the delivery. Remember that the subtitles on the opening include "watch out for Sean Keane’s spectacular performance on the fiddle" - so you wouldn’t expect him to be exuding the humility and false modesty so often seen in sessions :)

I’m not sure what the context of Martin Hayes’s quote was, but as well as being a fine musician, he himself is a performer, and (sorry to have to say it) an entertainer too. Maybe if I knew the full context of the quote I would be more undertanding and less cynical :)

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Now, while I have spent many happy hours listening to Mr. Keane’s playing with the Chieftans, I myself found his playing in that clip to be an example of musical gymnastics. More of an athletic performance, and a demonstration of ‘chops,’ than an expressive musical performance.
Kind of like the old Maynard Ferguson Orchestra was in the jazz world. More focused on high notes and fast playing, in making the audience’s jaw drop, than in really getting at and expressing the heart of the tune (to paraphrase Martin Hayes).
I am leaning in the same direction as Ben and Prof. P, I guess.

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lovely playing, thanks for that STW .

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Yeah, a little faster with some more ornamentation and he might be on to something. :-P

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Jim, too bad you missed a recent discussion I began regarding the particular interview with Martin Hayes. Regarding the context of the quote, you can find it in Martin’s response to the question;
‘But don’t you have to be at a very advanced level to be able to individualize it like that?’
http://ceolas.org/artists/Martin_Hayes/interview.html

I agree with you about listening without being distracted by visuals. When listening to YouTubes I tend to not watch most, if any, of the video. Except, of course, Worldfiddler clips. I never can seem to look away for even a second.
;-)

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What about when playing ? Do visuals (of others playing) distract then ?

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Of course they do, David. That’s why I play wearing a blindfold.

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Do all of you wear blindfolds? You must spill some of the beer that way.

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Oh, I thought people wore blindfolds in sessions because they felt self-conscious. Same logic as the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal.

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Ben, thanks for the link. The quote makes a lot more sense in the context of his interview.

Interesting that he said his fiddle was a "reject". Not sure if he still plays the same one today (that article was from 1994) but I’ve always like the good tone he draws from his fiddle.

An interesting article all round :)

Re: Questions about Fiddle & Irish music

Get Taafffe’s thesis on Patrick Kelly as well while you’re at it, and some of the other winterviews:

http://www.brendantaaffe.com/writing.html

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Thanks Prof. there a wealth of information there and loads to read and learn.

I was a fiddle instructor at the Groton, MA Fiddle Hell from 2007-2010. One of the girls in my workshop in 2007 later went on on have regular fiddle lessons with Brendan, and got some good results.

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@Prof .. meant to say … as a friendly heads-up, you might consider putting your copyright notice *inside* the frames of your photos. At the very least it’s a deterrant for people wanting to nick them :)