How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I read abc notes and i was wondering if you got the bones of a tune how to add trebles, rolls and triplets etc?:)
And also, what is that fast, scratchy sound that fiddlers make in between notes and what is an easy way to learn it?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"what is that fast, scratchy sound that fiddlers make" ….my first thought was "the tune"

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

you’re not going to get much abc. i recommend finding a recording or video of the tunes you want to learn. listen to them in conjunction with the abc (or without), and then try to go from there.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think the scratchy sound is probably a bowed triplet or, as it’s called in Scotland, a ‘birl’. When I was learning that, I googled ‘bowed triplet’ & got the video that’s posted up above (the first one) but also one by a woman called Fiona ?Miller, which I found even more helpful. At first I got panned by my fiddle teacher for moving too much of my arm but now I’ve developed a good wrist action & can zizzle quite well! And if I can do it, anyone can… :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Thanks everyone:)
Haha Nate!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

After more than 20 years of working to learn and play this beautiful music I’ve had a recent insight (a slow learner): in order to become a better player, it is of great benefit to become a better listener.

Once I learn the basic structure of a tune through listening to the ABC, and/or any recordings I can of the tunes by good players, or, last resort, learning from a written score, I go through the tune slowly and evaluate the ornamentation, as best I can, of what I heard. Eventually, I end up playing that tune with a combination of some or none of what other players are playing. The none might be because I’m not good enough to play a particular ornament, or because I prefer something different there, such as a double stop, or partial chord, or a different ornament.

An important consideration with ornamentation is that, for some of us, when the playing gets fast, we have to abandon the ornaments or be unable to keep up. It’s prudent to practice these scenarios before encountering them in a session.

Another consideration is that the rhythm and melody of the tune must not be disrupted - the melody is sacred, and cannot be compromised for the sake of ornamental effects.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

You don’t put ornamentation into a tune, because ornamentation is the tune. If you are regarding ornamentation as some kind of bolt-on, to be added once you’ve learned "the notes", you are misguided. Assuming you have reasonable mastery of your chosen instrument (virtuosity not required), you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well Mollie my advice is to forgoe ornamentation untill you can play a[few] tune[s],the bones the straight melody, 3 times round with no mistakes, good tone, intonation and form and ,be able to vary it with your phrasing and emphasis, timing, and pauses enough so as to make it [them]a rhythmically exciting piece of music. Once you can do this, and the third time through is no mean feat I can assure you only Then gently add in ornaments varying them and experimenting, so crann once, roll once, triplet once, slur, scratch etc etc in various places .Obviously you need to treat each ornament as an individual unit for practice as its impossible to crann effectively as a rhythmical device untill the physical mechanics of the embellishment are second nature .So practice your tunes straight while also practising the various ornaments . by the time you can play the tune[s] 3 times well you will also have the mechanics of how to ornament it [them]too. then play away.. Enjoy

I think lilting the tune to yourself and also listening to a lot of master players and how they approach it are 2 good recommendations, and from day one aim for your music to be driving and dynamic but dont rush. enjoy

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Mollie, you’ve just got back to back opposite recommendations in the most recent responses for your question.
Welcome to The Mustard! Good luck with that, you may need it.

Your ornamentation will come from a variety of styles depending on which one, or which ones, you’re drawn to. So listen to different players & learn from those which move you ~ literally.

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Liz Carroll Re: ‘scratchy sound that fiddlers make in between notes’

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5232287
@ 1:19
Melissa Block: "I wonder if you could demonstrate something for me. When I’m listening to your music, you’re doing something which is I think pretty common in Irish fiddle music, and it’s sort of a fluttery, stuttery thing with the bow."

..

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think the short answer to the question is "Carefully after much listening."

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve and Will’s recommendations may be reconcilable. If we can do what Will suggests in his first sentence and the rhythm sounds ‘Irish’ then we are probably already using some techniques that Steve would regard as ornaments but not using others that we have not yet mastered in their correct context.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"that fast scratchy sound that fiddlers make…" is someone trying to start a fire.
sorry, i couldnt resist!

"its a sort of a fluttery, stuttery thing with a bow.." i love it! tears!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

dfost wrote:

"Eventually, I end up playing that tune with a combination of some or none of what other players are playing. The none might be because I’m not good enough to play a particular ornament, or because I prefer something different there, such as a double stop, or partial chord, or a different ornament."

Same here. There a numerous recordings of most tunes, so even the "bare bones" can vary. If one single source is what I have when I decide to learn a tune, it’s likely that the bare bones and any possible ornamentation come from that one. Maybe the player on the recording doesn’t even play a tune the same way twice, not even during the first round, so there’s a lot of room for variation right there. Of the tunes that I’ve transcribed in detail, I’ve found that nearly every player does different things all the time. Take a basic two-part reel with eight bars per part, plus repeats… it’s highly likely that "the same phrases" are played differently, although they no doubt present "the same melodic content".

I believe a question like "When/how do I add ornamention?" come from the idea that there is one definite version of a tune (the skeleton), and that there are "levels" of proficiency which you must reach, possibly with predefined ideas of variation and ornamentation.

I learned my first tunes on the fiddle complete with rolls, triplets, bowing variations… It was kind of relieving when I heard a recording with an Irish band where the fiddler didn’t play a single roll or any other kind of embellishment. And it still sounded great.

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The fiddlers’ triplets shown so far have been quite ‘clean’ in that the notes are sounded, albeit very quickly. I’ve noticed that there are some players who make the triplet bow-travel so short that it just chokes the string, and produces scratches. (I’m not trying to detract from their playing). Just a difference in style.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I don’t meana treble, it’s like a treble with notes in between..

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*You don’t put ornamentation into a tune, because ornamentation is the tune. If you are regarding ornamentation as some kind of bolt-on, to be added once you’ve learned "the notes", you are misguided. Assuming you have reasonable mastery of your chosen instrument (virtuosity not required), you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.*]

Some in-depth discussion of this here : https://thesession.org/discussions/31724

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[*I don’t meana treble, it’s like a treble with notes in between..*]

Sounds like you mean a ‘roll’ - roughly speaking, five notes, including the starting note : bcbab , starting with 1st finger on the A string, fingered 1-2-1-0-1. Again, roughly speaking - 5 notes in the timespace of 3.

Just one example …

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Cross-post with gam.

I saw that vid - decided not to post it :) I would have put an Ian Walsh one on ‘rolls’ if I could have found it.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

snap :)

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Molly, all instruments require a degree of manual dexterity and technical control, some require a lot more than others sauch as fiddle and whistle. I play both. I dont play concertina because its too confusing :-) So I cant comment, but as a fiddler I would recommend that you follow my advice to the letter.
I aspire to play like Paddy Canny , Bobby Casey and a half dozen other fiddlers combined but in my own style, Does anyone think these guys were born playing like that? they started like we all do, as raw novices who didnt know one end of the bow from the other. they started simple and over a lifetime developed holistically.Playing simple tunes and making harmonious music is a fair enough achievement on any instrument for anyone ,thats stage one The ornaments and virtuosity and facility of personal expression will come in time….

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Not reconcilable, David. He talks about the melody as being separate from the ornaments. My opinion after years of picking up tunes by ear is that that is a poor way of regarding Irish tunes. By treating ornamentation as a later add-on you are simply giving yourself an extra, unnecessary layer of difficulty to address. Now we’ve been here lots of times before. Before I leave this discussion I simply want to assert that Will Evans’ notion is not universally accepted and may constitute bad advice which needs to be challenged.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

No I normally learn tunes along with the ornaments it’s just if I were given the bones of a tune how to go about it:)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Hi, Mollie -
I shall just tell you my own experience without making recommendations or commenting on the advice given by the proficients above, as I myself like to hear how others get on.

I took up the fiddle last year after 30 years away. I turn 62 tomorrow & learned classical music at school, then when I was 30, I had 6 months of lessons learning folk fiddle - just the tunes. When I came back last year, I could still play the same simple traditional tunes quite well - much to my amazement. I have found a teacher & he showed me how to do rolls, crans, flicks & bowed triplets. I was useless, but I tried playing scales (health warning: anathema on The Session!) with rolls on every note except open strings, where I did crans. I got better, but was still useless, & my fiddle teacher ordered me to return to simple tunes.

BUT - I went on playing my way in secret. If I know a version of a tune that has ornaments, I thin them down so I only have to worry about one or two rolls. This means I can ‘learn the tune with ornaments’ but ‘not fluff up my learning process with too much ornamentation’. e.g. when my teacher set me The Kesh Jig originally, he made me ornament it every which way, but now I just play it with crans on the open A. It’s my cran practice tune.

Recently I have started playing my lightly ornamented ITM tunes for my teacher again, and - ta da! - I have been complimented on my crans & rolls! :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Michael G would be proud of you Steve S! (Though not, of course.)
But yes, "ornamention" (unfortunate word) is not something to be bolted on to "the tune."


Fiddle Aunt - Crans on fiddle? Would you mind saying exactly what you’re talking about.
Do you mean open string "rolls"?
Thanks, Tom

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve, the ornaments are part of the idiom, the melodies often exist in other idioms where they played with different ‘ornaments’.

Here we have a couple of tunes - that most players of Irish music will know - being played in different styles. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDCIKxL-hEY


The Irish bit starts at about 10:40 but one needs to watch it all. Is the third tune Irish ?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’m not bothered whether different idioms have different ornaments. I’m not bothered whether individual players develop their own takes on ornamentation. That’s all great (I didn’t much care for the forty-fiddlers-style clip, to be honest). What bothers me is talk of bare-bones tunes. A bare-bones tune isn’t a tune any more than a bunch of bare bones is a working human body.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Merriam-Webster, Unabridged Dictionary: or·na·ment /ˈôrnəmənt/

Noun
A thing used to adorn something but usually having no practical purpose.

Verb
Adorn; beautify.

Synonyms
noun. decoration - adornment - ornamentation - embellishment
verb. decorate - adorn - embellish - garnish - trim - bedeck

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Martin Hayes, having just demo’d a tune in a workshop:
"Anyone notice anything else about the way I played that tune … no? … well I played it without any ornamentation".

It sounded great, of course, but there again it was Martin Hayes who has many other ways of making a tune sound beautiful.

Is the ornamentation integral to an Irish tune? I would say no, insofar as any specific ornament can always be replaced by the bare notes and it will all work just fine.

Is the ornamentation integral to the playing of Irish music? I would say yes, as it would be exceptional to hear an established player play a tune completely unornamented.

The ornamentation is a cornerstone of the music and as such I would recommend that you learn it from the outset. However I do agree that you should keep it sparse at first and that you will also need to practise the playing of ornaments in isolation.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Instead of thinking of ornamentation, think either articulation or variation.

I always feel there is a slight paradox because you are both supposed to learn from listening, but then you have to find you own voice. You can either let it come, or work on it. One way of working on it is going back to the "bare bones" (or starting from the bare bones). And then, the "bare bones" are whatever the pivotal point would be between different forms of variation and articulation. Sometimes the abc is too restrictive (making you think you have to play "those notes", some times it’s too permissive making you think you can actually play bg g2 instead of bg ~g2 or bg g/g/g or b ~g3 or bg fg or bg g/f/g etc.

For every note, you could articulate:
- make a bow change or a slur.
- make a cut or a tap or a nothing
- dig the bow in

For every quarter note, you could vary:
- put in a short roll
- make 2 8ths with a cut,
- turn it into a triplet,
- slide up into it from the previous note

For every 8th note pair, you could
- try inversing the order
- insert a passing note to make a triplet
- eliminate the second and put a silence in
- eliminate either and just play a quarter note

Every time you have a phrase that begins or ends on a bar line, try to "borrow" a few notes before or after

There are bunches of other things you could do, which basically are just "playing the tune". The possibilities are endless. Where listening comes in is that the vast majority of these variations and articulations are not in good taste. A very bad rule of thumb would be
- try (as in try these ideas out, not as in try to consistently do) cutting at the top of a melody line (the highest note) or in the stronger notes in the phrase (some players tend to do mainly the one or the other)
- try tapping or sliding up from a lower note after a big downward shift in the melody
- try slurring across barlines
- try putting rolls and triplets everywhere, try putting them nowhere
- try never playing the same thing twice, then add some regularity back in (too much variation sounds chaotic, too little sounds repetitive)
- try only varying a single part of the tune

Will Evan’s advice is misguided. Although you should of course remain rhythmically sound and be able to get through the tune multiple times, his suggestion will engrain a single set of bowed articulations into your playing and make it all the more difficult to actually play Irish music. Doing exactly what he suggests but including some "obvious" articulation and variation (rolls, cuts and triplets in easy places) and selecting a single phrase to vary while keeping the rest of the tune consisten may well give the best of both worlds.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Dfost: exactly why it’s misguided to call twiddly bits "ornaments". Bonus points for thinking that a dictionary definition will provide guidance when it comes to Irish music

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Following on from Tirno’s excellent and comprehensive dissertation, I would just like to say here that ornamentation (in the musical, not the jewelry sense) is not *merely* something added on to make a tune sound better, or more Irish, or cleverer, or anything else adjectival.
My point is this: an ornament has a definite effect over and above mere embellishment. The choice of ornament can of course be partially predetermined by the tune, or rather by the preceding and suceeding notes; but only the player can decide what sounds — feels — right at that particular moment.
Ornaments affect the emotional content as well as the rhythmic and melodic. You can play, say, a triplet, and know instantly that wasn’t what you wanted. You can re-set the balance, as it were, by doing something else right away, or a little later, to keep the ‘zen’ of the tune going, for want of a better word. Or failing that you can just file the knowledge under ‘doesn’t work’, and make amends next time round.
I like to compare it to riding a unicycle:- the destination and starting point determine the tune, with a road map as the ‘bare basics’, the ABC file. As you ride along, everything you do determines to a small extent what you must do next in order to satisfactorily continue the journey (I hate that expression, but what the heck), and every time you travel that route, you do it differently.
I hope this makes sense. The main point is that there is no objective right or wrong way to play something — you can only play what sounds and feels right to you. The more you listen — to yourself as well as others — the more you educate your ear; but when it comes down to it, you have to play what you want to hear.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

(Just fiddle for now) .. I often wonder if people who are taught this music by a skilled player, get taught the tunes in their basic form and are then taught how to embellish afterwards, or whether everything else (accents, tone changes, ornamentation) is all shoehorned in at the same time as learning the tune.

If we could get success rate statistics on these two methods, the question would be answered :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Cross-posted with gam, again. Actually, I think he’s quite a smart geezer :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Bonus points for thinking that a dictionary definition will provide guidance when it comes to Irish music*]

Well, there are some on here who (in the past) used the dictionary in an attempt to beat me into submission :)

(not anyone on this thread, btw)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Who (if anyone) is suggesting shoehorning anything in when learning a tune, Jim?

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Sean Smith reporting on an interview with Martin Hayes in the Boston Irish Reporter (Oct 30, 2010)

http://www.bostonirish.com/arts/berklee-student-little-martin-hayes-goes-long-way

"Martin told me that basically the tune should just flow — the tune alone, without all the fancy bow and finger tricks, should be the main part of the music. The ornamentation is only used to enhance the already perfect melody. This was an important thing for me to hear, because in my playing I like to emphasize the ornamentation. The tunes in Irish music are so beautiful and rich in themselves that I now realize that the music can really speak to me in so many different ways than I thought.”

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yes, there’s no need to emphasize the ornamentation.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

The whole idea of playing a tune , 3 times round, with no ornamentation, and make it sound lively, inspired, interesting, varied, and intricate without the use of ornaments is to avoid ingraining any negative patterning. IMO teaching highly ornamented versions of a tune to a beginner can kill off any inventiveness, and real musical understanding . The very essence of the music, personal expression, is subsumed to a preset template, I cant think of a worse thing to do to an upcoming student. If they just parrot some technical piece as played by whoever they give a superficial and shallow playing because its only an external form they have adopted. It has every appearance of being the real thing, but its not, its a good copy.
Sadly this does seem to be common. Why is it happening? because people come to the music and think they have to reproduce everything they hear on commercial recordings and sessions etc and that these recordings actually represent the whole corpus of traditional music . they dont , that’s a fundamental misapprehension.
Its like jumping into the deep end with arm floats and thinking your swimming….
Its by playing a tune , 3 times round, with no ornamentation, and making it sound lively, inspired, interesting, varied, and intricate without the use of ornaments that you will cut your musical teeth, when you can do this and they start to dance a set ,your on the right path. You need some muscle you see, take the bones and build a functioning , working and powerful body before you start paying too much attention to the ornaments .


Id say this particularly to 12 -16 yr old players who have a high technical competence, you think your flash and your parents are justifiably proud of you but if you want to really progress, then go deeper into the tune and discard much of the ornaments and superficial stuff you’ve grafted on until you can really make your music swing without it.once you can do this, you will understand why.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"teaching highly ornamented versions of a tune to a beginner can kill off any inventiveness, "

So who teaches people "versions"? In my experience, you don’t "teach people tunes", ornamented "versions" or not. Well-motivated people catch tunes on the fly, and, if they’re listening well, they won’t need you, me or anyone else to "teach" ornamentation. That’s the whole beauty of this music. You listen, you emulate, you develop the independence of thought not to exactly copy. Evolution, it’s called. It needs people teaching "versions" like it needs a hole in the head.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will, fair play in warning beginners to not start off learning from highly ornamented recordings (or written versions). Fortunately no one has recommended that on this thread.

Steve, would that be the derivative of evolutionary theory commonly referred to as ‘survival of the fittest’ (aka ~ Social Darwinianism)?

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

And they’re off.

Seriously, if someone just plays a tune as a series of notes, no "ornamentation" articulating the PHRASING, it doesn’t sound good.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

For example, a scenario, your in session with John Kelly, now as a fiddler what are you aiming to do? fit in? show of your ability, or listen and learn, maybe all of the above, they are not irreconcilable because its the ability to fit in, listen and learn that really shows off your ability as a real musician.If you can just play the tune, three times, with lift and verve while listening and learning ,and fitting in, your doing really well, all the ornaments and tricks wont help you here, only sheer musical ability will.
Thats one reason why I always simplify the music as stage one, get rid of all the excess that is un necessary for the tune to still be the tune, Strip it down then slowly as I get to know it better and as variation I will add in various twists and turns , over the decades this process holistically develops, I hear a clever twist i might adopt part or even all of the idea, or just pay passing reference to it so someone cognoscente of the source will recognise the reference and raise a smile or a nod. the more space you can open out in a tune the more it can breathe and fly, It has to fly remember , otherwise its not real just an illusion, a facsimile. The more you open the tune up the more you can eventually put in if your so inspired, or not….
Often a 1/4 note will give real phrasing if used instead of 2x 1/8th or a triplet or roll or cran or whatever and the myriad fine rhythmical accents can be highlighted once you let it breathe.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"otherwise its not real just an illusion, a facsimile. "

Yes, we’ve all met that guy in sessions who appears to be playing along to all the tunes, but no one has ever heard a single note come out of his instrument.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

you hit the nail on the head their DSS, precisely, The art of making music is making what you play, thats each individual , sound good.

The exact idea is to make the tune, sound good, because its a good tune, its only your playing thats letting it down… make it sound not just good, but brilliant, amazing, wonderful. it simply doesnt need anything else,to be complete, it is what it is and it has no need to be added to. That said, its the art beyond this that incorperates ornaments IMO, not instead of or before it.
Ornaments are merely tools in the box and secondary to the life and soul of the melody, they are relatively inconsequential despite the over excessive attention and exaggerated importance attached to them here.
The essence of music is making sounds that evoke human reactions, in youyrself and others. Without that reaction, if you bore yourself and others or make yourself and others cringe, then however[technically] brilliant you might think yourself to be , actually youi have nothing much at all.
Music comes from and goes straight to the heart, or its not really music.So the best way to learn any tune on any instrument is as a lyrical line, a melody, sing it, lilt it ,. play it a thousand times in every possible fashion and variation. Play the simple tune and make it sing.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Often a 1/4 note will give real phrasing if used instead of 2x 1/8th or a triplet or roll or cran or whatever and the myriad fine rhythmical accents can be highlighted once you let it breathe."

Equally often, the opposite is true.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yes, Dr. Spear, "ornamentation" becomes a catchall to the point where it’s meaning is either assumed, lost, or partially ignored. So, playing with or without ornamentation is relative to how you’re using the term.
With all due respect to Mr. Hayes, most likely he’s always articulating the phrasing ‘to glorify the melody’ in ways which, in traditional music, have been referred to as ornamentation.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Ornaments are merely tools in the box and secondary to the life and soul of the melody, they are relatively inconsequential despite the over excessive attention and exaggerated importance attached to them here."

This is the most dismal sentence about Irish music I’ve read here for a long time, and it would appear to have been born of a complete misunderstanding of what this music is all about.

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I wish I could hear the actual playing of people offering advice to questions like this. Sometimes this website seems like a place where people can pontificate on something they can’t themselves do.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

My favourite ornament now is to leave gaps in the tune,
large and small. The small ones are just a tiny space between
bow strokes (or dropping the air pressure). The big ones are
dropping notes (or taking breaths). This gives solidity to the
rhythm and it can give structure to a big jumble of noise.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Irish fiddle includes various styles (eg Sligo, Clare, Donegal & others). Some are more ornamented, & some put more emphasis on tone or rhythm. Plus, the Irish tradition has always allowed for individual fiddlers having their own style. I love Michael Coleman’s ornaments & I love Martin Hayes’ lyricism.

Unicycles, gam. Funny you should say that. They seem the latest craze among fiddlers, my own teacher included. But why?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

‘A big jumble of noise?’

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Fiddle Aunt. I thought your teacher was a one-off!
But maybe it’s because you don’t need your hands to ride a unicycle. Seems expensive if you fall off though.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I like those things as well Hup. Trouble is that they are not specific to Irish music so some people in this discussion won’t regard them as ornaments. I think they were part of what Will meant with his "vary it with your phrasing and emphasis, timing, and pauses enough so as to make it [them]a rhythmically exciting piece of music"

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Yes, the ‘Bach on a Bike’ was a one-off, gam. But then - ahem - ‘my husband & I’ saw that zany bagpipe-playing Darth Vader on a unicycle that someone posted on a thread on The Session and - ahem - we posted it to him. A couple of weeks later, I arrived to find him practising riding a unicycle, very badly, outside his house. I pleaded with him to stop but apparently some other fiddler is setting a ‘unicycle challenge’ (doing so many miles within a given period) to raise money for charity.

Latest report: Fiddle Guru is ‘not doing too badly’ at it, though he smashed his foot in the other day, but never mind, because ‘he has got a spare one’ (foot).

I feel really guilty! See what joining The Session can do…

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[*I wish I could hear the actual playing of people offering advice to questions like this. Sometimes this website seems like a place where people can pontificate on something they can’t themselves do.*]

Yeah, but it’s only got like that recently, like in the last eleven years or so :)

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[*Who (if anyone) is suggesting shoehorning anything in when learning a tune, Jim?*]

Ben, look at my post again. I was referring to people being taught, not referring to experienced players who begin to learn a new tune.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Very good hup but Im afraid taking away, simplification, is not ornamentation, rather the opposite.
@david, exactly and the best players exemplify my points.
>>Martin Hayes, having just demo’d a tune in a workshop:
"Anyone notice anything else about the way I played that tune … no? … well I played it without any ornamentation".
It sounded great, of course, but there again it was Martin Hayes who has many other ways of making a tune sound beautiful.<<


dfrost approach is commendable and clearly has a good understanding , and cboody answered the question succinctly and wisely.
on a lighter note I saw a tightrope walker playing a fiddle on the rope at Willie Clancy week once, you know, the year the sun shined :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

A tightrope is one hell of an ornament. Beats Tommy Peoples’ triplets hands down.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

..

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’m amused at the idea that varying and articulating (i.e. playing) the tune without "ornaments" is somehow considered to be different from playing them with. If you think of ornaments as "flashy bits that don’t serve the tune", then yeah, always play the tune with as little ornamentation as your ego will let you get away with.

Call them articulation and variation. Don’t consider a bow stroke or a silence as any different from a cut or a roll.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Also, teaching to play fiddle is different from teaching to play irish music is different from teaching a specific tune and will lead to a different pedagogy.

In learning a tune, the most difficult to memorize may well be the melody line, so it makes sense to think of it as only a series of pitches. But it will also help to relate them to the rhythm and to the shape and phrasing of the tune. This absolutely cannot be realised without articulation.

As usual, the phantom button is spot on. Fortunately the playing of several people in this thread can be found online and helps lend credence (or not) to their suggestions. (Mine can be found on Tirn0 with a zero, not an oh, at the end on youtube - and as you can see, 5 years ago I was really crap and I haven’t seen fit to try to persuade the internet of my improvement or lack thereof)

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

As regards the term ; ornament, it is standard and accurate. , ‘twiddly bits’ is not 8-) and just masquerades as some sort of naive attempt at humour but is actually up there with ‘diddly’ as being subtly derogatory. They are not called ‘articulations’ either, they are ornaments which can be used to articulate a melody, but can also be used to obscure and complicate it while simultaneously acting as a cover for lack of imagination and/or poor musical ability.

@gregory you make some good suggestions for the OP but Im not convinced you actually understand the ‘why’ behind my advice .

There are a hundred and one ways to vary a phrase, the roll, triplet etc etc just add a few more. Its the other 101 ways that Im recommending people explore. they are all fundamental to every genre of music. Yes these cranns and turns are important if not essential for some instruments but they are to be added to a solid, imaginative, playful, inventive, exciting and powerful foundation of melody full of subtle variation.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"I just take the fiddle and start, play it plain, play a tune plain. Take it out of the book and play it as plain in the book. Well then as I learn it, I get it off, I put in a little bit of faster rhythm with the bow and the fingers. Give it a little bit of a quiver and..<snip> You just give your hand a bit of a shake, that’s all I do anyway. It comes out all right and the fingers they go down themselves, I don’t know how they go. They go down that fast I can’t know what they are doing. The mind and the fingers they work together I think" (from https://thesession.org/recordings/1471 Track 19)

The snipped part is "it’s not so [pause] You want to start very young at it. Its very difficult for anyone in years to try to get to try to play a reel and put variations into it the same as the one that’s brought up to it, that’s learned from the start." So don’t start here ;-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will:
I’m glad we seem to be in more agreement than I’d thought. I think we agree that rolls, triplets, etc (whatever we call them) just add a few more ways of articulating and varying? But seeing as they’re fairly simple (in the same way that playing irish music is simple: i.e. it’s simple once you know how) to play and the question is not about learning them, but about the role they play in the tune and how they get in there in the first place, I would include them in my variation regimen at the same level as all the other exploration aspects you encourage.

I would disagree that "ornament" should be the standard and accurate term (though of course nobody cares that I and others think it’s a bad term). It is borrowed from a different musical culture and carries some baggage with it (the idea that it’s just there to be pretty or expressive or something - the dictionary definition, not to mention the classical music definition). Traditional music has that peculiar, honest and powerful mix of form and function. The very things that make it function are the things that make it expressive and vice versa. Ornaments that are pure form and no function have little to no place in irish music (which I guess is why there is very little vibrato, and much more rich ornamentation in airs than dance tunes).

I would argue that it is by placing a small portion of the variation/articulation repertoire available in irish music under the "over there" category of "ornamentation", that you get people playing ornaments in poor taste - because they are trying to layer them on "on top" of the tunes, rather than finding them inside.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jim, it wasn’t a random question when I asked you," Who (if anyone) is suggesting shoehorning anything in when learning a tune?" I was fully aware then & now you were referring to people being taught (‘this music’).
Sorry if it wasn’t clear I was ‘implying’ this detail from your earlier comment.

Having said that. ~ Who (if anyone) is suggesting shoehorning anything in when learning* a tune?

* https://thesession.org/discussions/31844#comment681745

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think it would be more productive to address the first part Jim’s post "I often wonder if people who are taught this music by a skilled player, get taught the tunes in their basic form and are then taught how to embellish afterwards" rather than jump on the (perhaps badly chosen) word "shoehorn" in the same way that Will’s "bones" was jumped on.

I am quite happy that one player who’s playing playing we can listen to recordings of (Michael Gorman) refers to learning a "plain version" of a tune, as might be found in a book, and later putting in "in a little bit of faster rhythm with the bow and the fingers". No need for analogies like "bones" or "embellish".

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

To answer your question Jim , in being taught by top level guys ive never been taught a tune with ornamentation and certainly the kids all start off like that. In master-classes things can be different where by a number of variations can be taught and analysed.
If its good enough for them then surely its good enough for any learner IMO Many adults suck at getting anywhere its because they already think they know so much, their heads are so full there is simply no room for anything.
Well put Tirn0, but still the essence of the music is the priceless unique melodies, the ornaments are of little relative consequence as martin Hayes demonstrated in the quote above. . For example Johny Doherty never did a roll. rolls are not available on the banjo/mandolin/guitar etc crans are only available to pipes/flutes etc. So what tune is lacking cranns? etc etc etc .
Of course If your personal style evolves in a certain direction, such as fiddlers rolls, then go for it but its by starting out plane that an individual can really develop their underlying musicality. we’ve all heard the ‘fiddle teacher’ playing a tune a number of times through and sounding awful with no ornaments, but its not the ornaments that make a player. The art is making the music sound good, to set off the tune , to lift the spirits and peoples feet with the joy of life, its doesn’t matter how many tricks or turns you might have without that. What Im advising is to learn ‘these’ aspects of making music , how to put this into your music and to prioritise these aspects so :

>>Forgoe ornamentation untill you can play a[few] tune[s],the bones the straight melody, 3 times round with no mistakes, good tone, intonation and form and ,be able to vary it with your phrasing and emphasis, timing, and pauses enough so as to make it [them]a rhythmically exciting piece of music.<<

If im just sitting around with a friend and being shown a tune or picking it up live as it happens by ear, which I’ve done 40 yrs, I get the underlying harmonic movement and basic melody while unconsciously disregarding ornaments etc after I can play the basic setting of a tune then I will be listening for other peoples ideas;that trick Brendan Mulvahill with his bow does that no one else does….

this is just what I do and what I recommend in my posts here.
"I just take the fiddle and start, play it plain, play a tune plain. Take it out of the book and play it as plain in the book. Well then as I learn it, I get it off, I put in a little bit of faster rhythm with the bow and the fingers. Give it a little bit of a quiver and..<snip> You just give your hand a bit of a shake, that’s all I do anyway. It comes out all right and the fingers they go down themselves, I don’t know how they go. They go down that fast I can’t know what they are doing. The mind and the fingers they work together I think"

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"To answer your question Jim , in being taught by top level guys ive never been taught a tune with ornamentation and certainly the kids all start off like that." ~ Will Evans

:-/

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will wrote:
"ive never been taught a tune with ornamentation and certainly the kids all start off like that."

Using Tirno’s ABC examples, does the above mean that you (or the "teacher") would play "bg g2 instead of bg ~g2"? Playing "bg g2" (and similar) where many people would use something different (e.g. "or bg g/g/g or b ~g3 or bg fg or bg g/f/g etc.") doesn’t always sound that great (to my ears). Maybe those tunes are avoided? Maybe tunes that are actually more "melodic" than others are the ones that are usually taught? Now that I think of it, tunes that I’ve got straight from Jackie Daly or Conor Keane haven’t had a lot of ornamentation (if any). Just "melody".

At the same time, I’m not convinced that all tunes are like that. In fact, I’m sure they’re not. Take a tune from the flute or pipe repertoire - some of them just wouldn’t sound all that great without ~B3, ~d3, AF~F2, EB~B2 and so on.

In my own playing, "ornamentation" depends on the tune itself (and what I want to do with the tune). Some tunes are actually more melodic than others (no need to kill a good melody with rolls, as long as there _is_ some kind of melody), while some have a lot of tones that would be quite long unless rolled, cut, tapped or what not.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

:-/ How can you discuss how bg g2 or alternatives would sound outside the context of a particular tune ? (and instrument if that’s not off topic)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

i disagree with steve shaw.
the tune is learned then different ornaments are put in, and sometimes different ornament just happen so that it is not the same every time.
in my opinion, learning the ornaments as part of the tune results in a tendency to play the piece the same every time.
my approach is learn the tune unornamented, then try and play it as differently as you can each time you play it, even for a change playing it totally unornamented, in my opinion it is about playing the tune differently each time, including, occasionally playing it totally without decoration.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"in my opinion, learning the ornaments as part of the tune results in a tendency to play the piece the same every time. "

I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement, but you are, of course, entitled to your opinion Dick, as am I.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Ornaments are merely tools in the box and secondary to the life and soul of the melody, they are relatively inconsequential despite the over excessive attention and exaggerated importance attached to them here."
this statement is in my opinion correct, and brings me on to the subject of comhaltas, this organisation started out with the intention of preserving irish music, but through their system of marking, which gives a large proportion of marks to ornamentation, they have inadvertently encouraged players to put loads of stuff in thus altering the music.
i have had pupils come to me with the express intention of winning competitions, saying we need more ornamnents more stuff , i tell them to go away

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Hopefully this will help resolve that I’m not intending to harass anyone here for their observations about (beginners) learning from the bones, or basic tune. I don’t object to those terms, though I appreciate what Steve is getting at.

Beginners each play, & learn, at different levels. Even so this doesn’t preclude learning tunes with (& without) ornamentation relatively early in the process. Presumably simple ornamentation is learnt first. But before a beginner picks up their instrument to play their first say, jig (i.e. not say exercises, or scales, or ‘Twinkle, twinkle little star’ .. but one of the tunes)… it’s good (imho) to start with them listening to the tune as it would be played (I’m not suggesting this should be at all full-tilt). Some preconceptions are inevitable as there’s always going to be a tendency for the student to learn from the instructor’s style of playing.

Here’s a video which a beginner can use for learning a jig with ornamentation. It is taught with the basic notes; the style of teaching Will Evans is familiar with. The ornamentation is then taught *in the same lesson*. I think it’s important to point that out. Beginner’s progress will vary from one person to the next. So too will how ‘basic’ a tune they play first time through when learning subsequent tunes.

Clare Style Fiddle Lesson with Tola Custy from Online Academy of Irish Music
"The Geese in the Bog"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbZgA5mlhiA#t=8m58s

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

This topic always causes a lot of controversy.

One well known member here always used to maintain that the ornaments are part of the tune and should it always be learned "as one".

I’ve asked several musicians about this at workshops and their opinions and advice vary. Many will say that the choice of ornaments is very dependent on your own taste and playing style. That’s fair enough but it’s not necessarily that helpful to a beginner or someone who is still learning and developing his or her own style.

Kevin Burke(Sorry, I didn’t mean to name drop) once stated at a workshop that regardless of where or how he learned a tune, he added the ornaments automatically or sub consciously.
I’m sure most experienced players do this and they neither learn just the "bare bones" nor a fully ornamented tune from the playing of someone else. They just learn a tune and, in terms of playing style, it becomes their own.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

David50: as a counterpart to your quote I always like the quote about an old guy in France who someone had visited to record him. They asked him to play a "less complicated" version of the tune - and he just played it slower with the same articulation.

I like this (tune starts around 3/4 of the way in) by briantheflute. But even this "bare bones" version has some "ornaments" thrown in.
http://www.kaled.org.uk/flutelesson/Welcome_files/part_1.mp3

But it’s incomplete without having the ornamented and up to speed versions as well:
http://www.kaled.org.uk/flutelesson/Welcome_files/part_2.mp3

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

johnny j,
similiar to the way a good singer learns and performs song.
in my opinion the ideal is to be able to get to a stage where the tune, and the ornaments are never played the same every time the player plays a tune, it does not really matter if this approach is truly spontaneous or calculated as long as the effect appears to be spontaneous.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

So actually, scratch part of my comment. The consistently unrolled BE E2 are fine as a means to help a beginner to irish music find the rhythm, but it’s kinda strange to make this the only consistently non-played ornament. And pretty much any reel played like that as a default will "not work" - hence being able to discuss that kind of pattern disregarding the tune

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"i disagree with steve shaw.
the tune is learned then different ornaments are put in, and sometimes different ornament just happen so that it is not the same every time.
in my opinion, learning the ornaments as part of the tune results in a tendency to play the piece the same every time. "

Dearie me. I’ve never in my life heard of "learning the ornaments as part of the tune". You listen to tons of this music. You play it yourself, you emulate good players, and you get the whole idea of ornamentation under you skin. As you pick up tunes you’re seeing the melody and ornamentation as inseparable parts of the whole. You don’t learn ornaments for tunes. Come to think of it, even that’s wrong. They are not parts. They are both the whole. I hope you got that, Dick: you listen to this music a ton; the ornamentation is then second nature. You don’t have to think about it. You don’t need to add it in or get some teacher to give you "an ornamented version". I’m not saying you can’t learn how to do particular ornaments on your particular instrument as part of developing your chops. That’s entirely different. The reason this keeps coming up as a controversial issue is that several people here persist in peddling some very bad advice. It would be quite instructive to hear the playing of some of these bolt-on ornamenters of tunes. I think it would be a bit of an eye-opener.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Brendan Breathnach was not a renowned musician yet his comments on irish music are respected. what is bad advice is a matter of opinion, i happen to think your advice is bad you clearly think mine is bad, let us agree to disagree.
as regards learning ornament as part of the tune, yes i do know teachers who do this, they slow the tune down and teach The ornaments this way, as if it was part of the tune , the pupil goes away and ends up sounding exactly like the teacher, I know at least 4 who do this, Their pupils are instantly recognisable and sound like clones of the teacher, they and their ornaments sound the same every time they play, their is also no variety in their ornamentation it is always the same.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’m not giving advice. I’m describing a process that most good musicians would recognise.

How come you’re mixing it such a lot with "teachers" anyway? Tell us who these guys are so that we can avoid ‘em!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well, in fairness, we have heard the playing of some of the more vocal proponents of the "ornaments and tunes are totally separate" theory. It’s out there on the internet. Just sayin’.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Their pupils are instantly recognisable and sound like clones of the teacher, they and their ornaments sound the same every time they play, their is also no variety in their ornamentation it is always the same."

Are they robots?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"You don’t put ornamentation into a tune, because ornamentation is the tune."
# Posted by Steve Shaw 2 days ago.

‘Dearie me. I’ve never in my life heard of "learning the ornaments as part of the tune".
# Posted by Steve Shaw 57 minutes ago.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

To answer Jeff, its quite impossible to convey the subtleties im talking about in words or dots, way beyond that. Look what Im suggesting is a physical process, without having gone through the process you have no ability to actually comment on the process, merely what an outside observer might see . Its the actual experience of the process that evinces a change . The view point from after, is different than from before.

>>in my opinion, learning the ornaments as part of the tune results in a tendency to play the piece the same every time.
<< yep, just look at the regimental Highland Piper for an extreme example of that, every grace and crann precisely positioned and written out so that almost every note is ornamented. A player spends the hundreds of hours needed to fairly play it as written is not going to then spend a hundred hours unlearning it you can count those that do on one hand.

@Tirno, every tune sounds good without rolls, if the player is good. Zero tunes require a roll, None. or a crann, or a triplet . they might sound better with them, to some and different instruments have different ornaments: As a piper there are loads, as a fiddler hardly any in comparison , banjo guitar, its just triplets and a few cuts, concertina ? Box? cuts and triplets? So Unless one has learnt to ornament as a fiddler one is not competent to comment on the ornamental skill a fiddler might need or the ability and effort gone into attaining it. Like wise as a Piper I laugh when I hear non pipers going on about ornaments, as if they had the faintest clue 8-) Some instruments require a lot of technical ability to play well and the pipes is one of them. they require a lot of finger practice to Play a cran or backstitch etc Fiddle too IMO to play well is a considerable feat and requires a lot of determination and effort much more than other instruments I play and consequently the depth of potential for expression is greater . this is in no way value judgements just observations .


Back to playing a tune straight , but vary it ; heres a first line to out in the ocean,
GE|D2B BAG|BdB A2B|GED G2A|B2B AGE|
D2B BAG|BdB A2B|GED G2A|BGE G:|
so to start I would minimise to;
GE|D3 B3|B3A3|GED G3|B3 A3|
D3 B3|B3 A3|G3 G2A|BGE G:| I wouldnt play it like this but any bar
of it can be played in this fashion as a variation
so the first chord is G the melody are the 3rd and 5th ALT; G3, D3,B3, B2G,dDG, DdG G2B, BAB, OR DGB , DBG etc
next 3 notes;
BdB , dBG, BGB, BGd BGD. that gives 5 to the power of 10 ways of playing the first bar without ornaments or any more subtle stuff and once another bar is included then things can get really complicated :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

dBG BGD |GBd BGA .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve - I would appreciate your thoughts on my quote from Michael Gorman about "learning it plain".

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Tirno:
"The consistently unrolled BE E2 are fine as a means to help a beginner to Irish music find the rhythm, but it’s kinda strange to make this the only consistently non-played ornament. And pretty much any reel played like that as a default will "not work" - hence being able to discuss that kind of pattern disregarding the tune"

I agree. There might be some tunes (or places in tunes) where a pattern like that sounds OK, but if I’ll deliberately avoid doing something with E2 (~E2, E/E/E/ etc.) I probably won’t like the sound. :) (Hint to aspiring ITM players: that’s a typical quarter note which you’ll eventually want to embellish in some way)

Will - your minimized version is of course a bit exaggerated but I see what you mean! Bars can be changed, simplified, unornamented etc. for variation. Some tunes are easier to simplify, though. Some will sound strange. What I decide to pick up from a tune on a recording/in a session depends a lot on the tune itself. I doubt I’d "change" a polka, but a newly composed reel is another thing, so is a triplet hornpipe, a pipe jig, a slow unornamented reel from Martin Hayes…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>"You don’t put ornamentation into a tune, because ornamentation is the tune."
>># Posted by Steve Shaw 2 days ago.
>>‘Dearie me. I’ve never in my life heard of "learning the ornaments as part of the tune".
>># Posted by Steve Shaw 57 minutes ago.

># Posted by dfost 2 hours ago.

The two aren’t the same.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Thank you, Smash. I was just about to say that I’d covered that in a earlier post.

I happen to think that constant recourse to the declarations of "the masters" in these discussions is utterly bogus. And, if you asked ‘em , I bet they’d agree. The people referred to have had to follow a different path to most of us. They are constantly in the spotlight. They can’t afford to be doing glitches every two minutes. They rehearse what they put in front of a particularly discerning public (us lot here for example), whether on CD or at gigs. In other words, they are performing. Nowt wrong with that, but it is not the same as sitting in a session with your mates in an informal setting. If you ask Kevin Burke et al. what they do about ornamentation, you are asking someone who does not do what the vast majority of the rest of us do. It may be a poor guide. They may well have to contemplate what ornaments they put where a damn sight more "carefully" than most of us have to. They may have to make sure that what they do chimes exactly with the rest of the band, or make sure they are consistent throughout the piece. We don’t have to do that. We may well be doing it anyway, to a degree, but we won’t be doing it consciously. They are making careers out of this music. We are out for having fun. It is not the same thing and you might have to go about things in a very different manner.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Well, in fairness, we have heard the playing of some of the more vocal proponents of the "ornaments and tunes are totally separate" theory. It’s out there on the internet. Just sayin’."

Some of it is. Dick is. If you have links to the playing of Will Evans, in which we can actually hear him, that would be good.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"So Unless one has learnt to ornament as a fiddler one is not competent to comment on the ornamental skill a fiddler might need or the ability and effort gone into attaining it. Like wise as a Piper I laugh when I hear non pipers going on about ornaments, as if they had the faintest clue"

That’s like saying that a lifelong football fan is not qualified to comment on the skills of his favourite team. Or that I’m not qualified, in spite of forty years’ appreciation, to comment on the singing in versions of my favourite operas. Or that an eminent art connoisseur is not qualified to comment on the use of the brush in great paintings. Of course a discerning and experienced listener can validly comment on the finer details of the playing of a fiddler or piper. You may rest assured that a very large number of non-pipers understand very well the use of ornamentation in piping. You are seriously misjudging your listeners, not to speak of underestimating them, which is far worse and not especially wise.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I don’t "put ornamentation into a tune." I do value playing extemporaneous variations while I play, and this can sometimes seem like ‘ornamentation’. I do think that my variations grow out of the tune, but that is not ‘putting stuff into the tune.

Your Friend, Joel

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

If that’s him, after all he’s told us about himself, well….no comment, I suppose, save to say I look forward to better evidence.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Does that also mean that Greg Wallace, who is not a chef, isn’t qualified to comment on the plates of food put in front of him by Masterchef contestants? Where would we be without his wonderful comments? "I could eat a whole plate of that!"

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Diddley doesn’t get tougher than this….

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yes people can comment all they like 8-) but only on the external form, the visible , what about the invisible? will someone ever understand love from watching porn? , people who cant do something can comment and judge but they do so from that position and their comments and judgements have a value in proportion. Ability to comment and competence to comment are different matters. @DSS ah no… we can all appreciate art, thats not what I was saying.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

It might be fair to say that short interludes at particular places in a tune may be thought of as ornament zones where it’s acceptable for a player to, in effect, improvise - ideally within the best of the tradition.

As discussed previously, the ornamentation would be influenced by type of instrument, amount of experience, skill, etc. It would be different for every player, and in that sense something improvised. Yet, such places and spaces would be inherent in the tune. One may choose to play something there, or not. If not, then we could consider silence as a type of ornament.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Interesting, Steve. On the one hand, you don’t have to play the pipes to comment on the pipes, but on the other hand, you’ll use people’s recordings to judge the value of their comments on playing and learning to play?

Not that I don’t agree with you, it just seems a bit of a hypocritical stance.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well heres some advice; ”every beginner should practice the scale of D” and ” that 3 months is not an unreasonable length of time for a beginner to practice reading and playing the scale of D” and that ”above all he must avoid playing dance music except very slowly for at least 6 months.” what aspect of this basic plan of action is somehow unacceptable here?

Same with my advice on this thread, to me its bottom line basic common sense, requires little explanation so why then is it treated as anathema? start simply and build on that. take your progress a stage at a time and enjoy the ride. make music as soon as possible , simple strong music, bang a drum, strum a guitar ,sing a song play a bass line, explore other aspects of music making , realise that Its all one, its all music from the heart to the heart and that this you dont get with fancy ornaments on a set of bones. All the technique in the world is there for you to tell a story through your song , the bones are the plot, the story line, its up to us as musicians to fill out the body and make the tune dance only then do I advise ornamentation , once the tune, the melody and its myriad possibilities has been explored and once the player has the technique to do so. Enjoy.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Your advice would be more valid if your own playing was better. One reason I choose to comment rather than give advice.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Interesting, Steve. On the one hand, you don’t have to play the pipes to comment on the pipes, but on the other hand, you’ll use people’s recordings to judge the value of their comments on playing and learning to play?

Not that I don’t agree with you, it just seems a bit of a hypocritical stance."

I advise you never to openly agree with a hypocrite.

Have you heard those whistle tracks? What do you think of them? Would you buy a CD of that standard of playing? Is it the requisite playing of an accomplished teacher of many years’ standing, as we’re led to believe?Personally, I’m underwhelmed, shall we say. I’m pretty certain that you’d be underwhelmed by my stuff too. But, then, I’m merely passing comment based on my own learning experience and not giving guru-style advice, am I? I like to think that I for one do my best to represent myself accurately. It’s a fair question to ask yourself about anyone here who proffers advice to those of allegedly lesser stature than they claim to possess. I recommend the approach!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Heh… sometimes there is a fine line between "comment" and "advice". For my part, I’m fine with the advice I give only ever being interpreted as the opinion of some guy on the internet (although to be fair, I do honestly believe that my advice is good and well argued, but then again, who doesn’t?).

Playing scales is an absolute waste of time (for instrument beginners in trad music). Play tunes. You get the same out of them and they are much more motivating. (If you have to learn intonation, you need to know what what you’re playing should sound like. Tunes have both advantages and disadvantages for this).

Reading music is a waste of time and a bad crutch (for musical beginners in trad music).

I will say that Michael Gill’s advice to not attempt reels for a whole year was, in retrospect, quite good. Nowt wrong with jigs and polkas though. (played at a variety of speeds, including too fast). Getting up to speed may take some time though.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

so, mr ”guy on the internet ” reckons ;Reading music is a waste of time and a bad crutch (for musical beginners in trad music). and Playing scales is an absolute waste of time..
Vs
Patsy Touhey; ”that 3 months is not an unreasonable length of time for a beginner to practice reading and playing the scale of D”

and there is still discussion as to the value of the 2 opposing recommendations…., ? not general Mirth. ? hmm….8-)
Anyhow, I leave you with this
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJX4uRwgR4Q

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Heh… sometimes there is a fine line between "comment" and "advice"."

Very true. Which is why I’m constantly at pains to point out that I’m responding to comments in threads, not giving anyone advice. If you want advice from me it would only ever be to give you a few wrinkles about playing Irish music on the harmonica. And even then you’d only get it if you asked. Having said that, dammit, what’s the worth of a music forum if we let blatantly bad advice pass without remark? Accurate and honest representation of oneself is the key. It is occasionally missing around here.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I don’t see Steve’s comments as hypocritical. You can tell from people’s playing, along with an idea of their relative skill, and regardless of the amount of polish, whether or not they get what the music is all about. On the other hand, while it is more difficult to tell if they know what they are talking about if you don’t hear them play, there are those who are students of the music who might not play very well, if at all, whose insights I have found valuable over the years.
(And really knowing how to play buys you a good bit of credibility in my book—I always give Phantom Button more credence because of what I have heard of his playing on the radio—and in addition to playing really well, he also gets what the music is about.)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Anyone who has fallen in love with Irish trad is usually attracted by the decorations as much as the melody. The decorations define the style very clearly, and anyone learning trad endeavors to employ them. The decorations become a support structure for the melody defining time and space poetically. They add life and meaning to the spaces between the notes and provide momentum and lift. If they aren’t there the structure loses it’s form and often collapses or appears uninteresting and weak. Learning a tune without the decorations is like building a house and leaving out the corner braces and other supportive structural details.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

(oh a beginner on pipes - that’s a whole different animal - only people who don’t get bored stiff playing the scale of D for 3 months are likely to have the patience to survive the pipes)

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve. Do you have *anything* to say about Michael Gorman’s "play it plain" before putting in "a little bit of faster rhythm" ? That is very similar to the advice that you are only countering by belittling the playing of the people who give it.

If your rejection of "recourse to declarations of ‘the masters’ " was a way avoiding it then going on the explain why and using Kevin Burke as an example doesn’t work because Gorman did not have that sort of musical career (he gives a summary on the recording I quoted from). And the only previous reference to Kevin Burke in the thread was not a recourse to a declaration.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

To answer the original question, There are a number of ways.
in my opinion the best is probably to listen to three or four good players giving a rendition of a particular tune, and to decide for oneself which ornaments from which players to use, this is only a starting point, the eventual goal is to be able to do it naturally without much thought, and to be able to vary ornaments.
copying is part of the learning process , but it should only be a stepping stone, the eventual goal should be able to develop an individual style in my opinion this applies to choice of ornamentation.
Steve, I live in ireland there are music teachers all around me, some follow the method described by Will Evans, some teach in the way I described earlier.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think the Soundcloud clip above is relevant because of Will’s semi-hysterical pronouncements from the mount that his is the one right way to do it. I’m sure that if you went around polling the best players, you’d get a load of different answers. As Dick said, there are indeed a number of ways.

My own experience of being in workshops with a few Big Name Pipers over the years suggest that this is the case. They all, of course, taught people in the workshop fairly simple versions of tunes, but never did they complete remove *every* cut and tap, nor did they say you should.

What’s the point of playing the scale of D for three months? Unless you’re a piper and it takes you that long to figure out bag and bellows control — which seems like a long time in my view — so you can’t quite manage anything else. On a wind instrument especially, it’s merely moving your fingers straight up and down the thing, isn’t it?

Like Steve, I don’t offer advice — I only comment — unless someone were to ask specifically about something. I’m not remotely good enough to be a music guru so I don’t feel any need to prove it here (besides, some session.orgers have heard me play anyway). Then, it can only ever be, "Well, I did it this way and it worked for me." Or conversely, "I tried this and it was disastrous."

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

" the best is probably to listen to three or four good players giving a rendition of a particular tune, and to decide for oneself which ornaments from which players to use, this is only a starting point, the eventual goal is to be able to do it naturally without much thought, and to be able to vary ornaments."

Well said. After you’ve heard half a dozen takes of a tune, maybe even "played along", it’s hard not to incorporate a thing or two in your own playing. I tend to add stuff more or less randomly. Trebles/bowed triplets just happen by chance, that’s just the way it is. Sticking to a certain rendition (my own or not) for the rest of my life isn’t going to happen.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Some good comments here.

Personally, I agree that listening to good players and incorporating the ornaments you like is probably the best way to go and, after a while, it comes naturally.
Also, traditional musicians don’t tend to play the same ornaments each time especially in an informal situation. They will vary these according to mood, the style of playing in the session and even sometimes(As often happens, in my case) just so that they can keep up. :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

<i>Steve. Do you have *anything* to say about Michael Gorman’s "play it plain" before putting in "a little bit of faster rhythm" ? That is very similar to the advice that you are only countering by belittling the playing of the people who give it.</i>

David, your posts are generally measured and respectful, but this one annoys me intensely because it completely misrepresents what I’m saying. The fact that I didn’t find the whistle playing on those three tracks very good (have you tried them yourself?) has no bearing on my opinion regarding ornamentation. They were, in my view, not good enough to inform my view. They were not grist to my mill. They do demonstrate, however, that the fellow here who sets himself up to be the teacher-guru of this music needs to provide more evidence than that of his proficiency. That’s what I said. Like Silver Spear said, and like I think, setting yourself up as a guru may be unwise if people here know your playing. You’d better be really good before you even think of doing it. The test has yet to be passed.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I am tending towards the process described by Michael Gorman and it seems to be working for me.

The first tunes I learnt (on whistle) were "with the ornaments in" and that had the bad result that for those tunes I have only recently recently regained the flexibility needed to adapt to the situation I find myself in.

That was aided by listening to versions by lots of players and trying to get (as someone said on another forum) "a understanding of how a tune works, where the nuts and bolts of the structure are, which notes are the foundation and which are passing notes and fill ins."

(crossing with Steve due to a network glitch)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

You ask what is the point in doing the work suggested by Patsy touhey. this really is the crux of the matter. When you are humble enough to accept the advice of a master, without your preconceived ideas and confusion, you will be on the road to progress to the status of musical guru :-) The words of patsy touhey are not to be judged or commented on by a musical beginner and novice , by a non piper, and by non musicians because basically they know nothing, they have next to zero understanding of the craft and their value judgement is based on that lack of understanding and ignorance.
secondly; Will’s semi-hysterical pronouncements from the mount that his is the one right way to do it’, indicate more about the person who made the comment than me. They are your words, concepts and ideas projected upon me, they dont fit, sorry to say but they rather show up the poster in a rather embarrassing light.

I find SS comments amusing, when he uploads his whistle track we can compare.
My advice is for beginners in their first 5 yrs of playing. after 5 yrs they are not really beginners any more., but if your past the beginner stage and into intermediate 5-15yrs but still are not happy with your own playing then I suggest betting back to basics . good luck.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Oops, a quick edit as I misinterpreted previous post.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

But Steve, your post immediately before Will’s first post was very dogmatic (almost as if you were channeling someone else ;-)) whereas Will’s *first* post was measured rather than " semi-hysterical".

There are three people posting on this thread who’s playing (available on the web) I don’t take as much of a guide as to how Irish music should be played. But they all have experience that I do not have and I think their suggestions should be taken at face value and disagreed with on the basis of their content.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>Anyone who has fallen in love with Irish trad is usually attracted by the decorations as much as the melody.>>
firstly, thats an assumption, and not true in my case and many others.

>>The decorations define the style very clearly, and anyone learning trad endeavors to employ them. The decorations become a support structure for the melody defining time and space poetically. They add life and meaning to the spaces between the notes and provide momentum and lift.>> I agree with this but this ;

If they aren’t there the structure loses it’s form and often collapses or appears uninteresting and weak>>

yes because the fundamental musical skills required are lacking. not the tune!!Its the player that makes the music sound good, not the ornaments!!

<<Learning a tune without the decorations is like building a house and leaving out the corner braces and other supportive structural details.>>
oh nonesense jack ;-) there are thousands of players who play basically without ornaments to a degree or other, its only pipers that have the full complement available for a start!! banjo guitar mandolin are left with triplets and that about it. the ornaments are extras available to certain instruments. and not available to others……

The tunes can and are played brilliantly basically with out ornaments as evinced by numerous players.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"banjo guitar mandolin are left with triplets and that about it. "

Well, I’d disagree with that.
Mandolins etc may have more limitations in terms of ornaments but there is plenty of scope for much more than merely triplets.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

And they are Johnny? could you enumerate and list them? cheers Ive played mandolin/guitar banjo for 30 to 40 yrs, if you can point these ornaments ive been missing then id be grateful 8-)
As a piper there are at least 60 ornaments. how many are there for fiddle or concertina.?


https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10150430656392576

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will, even the "experts" ;-) have different terms and descriptions for certain ornaments and techniques these use depending on their style of playing, tradition, and location…. even with fiddlers although expressions such as "cuts", "rolls" are fairly universal.

However, I will frequently use techniques which are similar to "cuts", "flicks" etc although I don’t do full "rolls". Also, things like "hammer ons", "pull offs", occasionally sliding etc.

I’m not sure if I’m using the right terminology here or not but I’m sure most people will understand.

There’s also the option to use notes from (Open or otherwise) adjacent strings or part chords. These are not necessarily ornaments as such but are possible techniques.

I’m not a guru. These are just things I do myself as and when i think it’s appropriate.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well answered Johnny! But ways to vary a tune are endless, we are talking about ornaments as a separate sub category because they are instrument specific and basically only found in Irish Music.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"……basically only found in Irish Music":

Don’t think so:-)

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"As a piper there are at least 60 ornaments."

Name/describe them. I want a list with no fewer than 60 items.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

There are not names for most of them. I suggest that if your interested you can refer to Pat Mitchel and jackie Smalls ’ the piping of Patsy Touhey’ , there you will find them and many more.

Interesting Ron, Certainly there are plenty of pipe ornaments unplayable on any other instrument, of course some , a few, can be played on whistle/flute.
Where else is a roll or a crann found? Puru maybe? south American Flute/whistle?
So if that instrument is used to play other music then fair enough, but bar the odd christmas carol, and the like who is doing it for anything other than a bar trick or curiosity?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I said name/describe, so them not having names shouldn’t be a barrier to you answering my request. You need to back up the claim. Are they 60 distinct ornaments? Or are they related to others in sub-groups?

I can play over 60 ornaments on my banjo. One triplet per fret on each string.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I dont need to back up any claim, I really couldnt care less whether you or anyone else takes up the advice I offer, thats entirely up to yourselves. You want me to do your research for you?
Saying that I will give you some hints; Each note of the chanter has numerous possibilities for ornamental figures, every note is different, some have a lot of possibilities some have many more. its not like a mandolin where each note can be varied in similar ways.
So one note can have all sorts of different note combinations added. the possibilities only limited by the physical instrument, Imagination, technical virtuosity and finger speed.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Presumably, if you know there are 60 piping ornaments, you have already done the research. You would have to be enumerating them fairly carefully, making sure they were all truly distinct, before claiming that there were as many as 60. So you wouldn’t be doing his research for him. You’ve already done it. So name names. 60 ornaments, please. Or put up a track of you playing them one after the other, all 60. We’ll forgive you if it’s 59 or 61. Come along now…

And I note how you’ve leapt on the thread drift about different ornaments for different instruments. You know as well as I do that that is not what this thread is about.

Incidentally, apropos of an earlier remark of yours, I don’t play the whistle. You’ll have to wait a long time for my whistle tracks. Mind you, I know a few people who do…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Its ok steve, I dont really play the whistle either, cant you tell? 8-)
Regarding the piping ornaments, i find it amusing that a figure of 60 is questioned,I didn’t mention each of those has a subset of between 4 and a dozen or so variations…. but tell that to a non/novice
-piper, and they dont believe you [said in broad northern pythonesque accent.]

anyhow tunes in cooleys tonight … see ya.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Hah, I had forgotten that jeff_lindqvist (or rather it was a vague memory amongst many similar ). If that discussion is anything to go by it is an easier subject to discuss if the instrument is flute.

The "So leaving out rolls is fine. You want to get the timing of your cuts and taps down till they’re spot on, And by doing that, you’ll be well on your way to having the timing of your rolls spot on" was from Will Harmon. It’s what I did at sessions (but not so often in practice) but recently the rolls have been creeping back - all by themselves ( as the man said "the mind and the fingers they work together I think" :-))

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

So there are 240+ ornaments?

You’d have no room left to play the tune.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*So Unless one has learnt to ornament as a fiddler one is not competent to comment on the ornamental skill a fiddler might need or the ability and effort gone into attaining it.*]

I’d agree with that. As Will also implied, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and some are also entitled to be wrong :). OK, not his exact words, but I can understand his logic. I can have an opinion about a footballer’s skill, but since I haven’t kicked a ball since school days, that opinion won’t have much value compared to another footballer in his team.

I have heard Will’s whistle playing, and Tirno’s fluting, and I will not comment. Why? Only because I don’t play those whistle or flute, and whilst I’ve heard a great number of players, I only have a fairly basic knowledge of the instruments. So, is my opinion of any value compared to an experienced player? I doubt it. Am I qualified to evaluate a piper? No, I’m not.

Am I qualified to comment on someone’s fiddle playing? I’m an experienced fiddler player of many years in many styles, and I think I am - more so than a non-player of that instrument, regardless of the type of music. If someone puts up an example of atrocious scrapage, then that’s what it is. No excuses. Maybe explanations of why it is that way. (It’s nobody on this site, btw).

Some have drawn attention to their own and others’ playing, on Youtube clips, and audio hosting sites. I don’t think it’s ever a good idea in situations like these. If it was straightforward discussion and the purpose was to demonstrate a point of technique / nuance, then fine. But it’s not discussion - it’s debate, and (whilst it’s not actually been said), imo it’s heading towards person or persons using the clips against the owners to try to prove a point. I know. It’s been done to me here in the past (and also by non-players). However, to be fair, even though I believed what I said to be true at the time, I made the mistake of shouting my mouth off about it. So, hell mend me and I’ll shut up now :)

Back to ornamentation (or no ornamentation), it was interesting to read from Will that in the classes, the tunes were taught without ornamentation. I sometime like to play a tune and just leave them out totally - let the music breathe a little and let the notes linger. There are enough ways on fiddle to get in all the dynamics and nuances with bow speed, pressure and tonal variations, without cuts, rolls or anything else with the left hand. Like I said, sometimes it’s nice to do that for a change, be it playing alone, in a session, or at a gig. Some tunes are better for that than others, obviously.

It’s great for pattern-busting, too :)

Smash : [*So there are 240+ ornaments? You’d have no room left to play the tune.*]

Sometimes it can go that way !

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Playing scales is an absolute waste of time (for instrument beginners in trad music). Play tunes. You get the same out of them and they are much more motivating. (If you have to learn intonation, you need to know what what you’re playing should sound like. Tunes have both advantages and disadvantages for this). *]

I understand you logic, but I’m assuming you mean fixed-pitch (or almost fixed-pitch) instruments?

Yes, tunes can be much more motivating, but my point here is that if your intonation is bad, practicing scales with a reference can help to cure that. Left unchecked, one could simply propagate that fault to all the 7,534.5 tunes they learn.

Many do.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"I have heard Will’s whistle playing, and Tirno’s fluting, and I will not comment. Why? Only because I don’t play those whistle or flute, and whilst I’ve heard a great number of players, I only have a fairly basic knowledge of the instruments. So, is my opinion of any value compared to an experienced player? I doubt it. Am I qualified to evaluate a piper? No, I’m not."

Well, the instrument and player are there to convey the music. You might not be au fait with every technicality of the instrument, but by golly you can still recognise skill, timing, rhythmic security and musicality, including idiomatic use of ornamentation and variation. Should a would-be guru put up their music for public consumption I can put it alongside the playing of other accomplished players of the instrument and make those judgements. I’m highly suspicious of anyone who tries to tell me that I can’t possibly get it because I’m not a fiddle player or piper or whatever. The whole point of the thing is the music, let’s not forget, the stuff that enters one via the lugholes.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Re: Learning flute ornaments
Try not to think of it as ornamentation. It’s not like you are hanging baubles onto the tune. Instead, think of it as articulation. The the cuts and rolls an taps etc are how you articulate the music

# Posted by Michael C. Gill 2 years ago.
Say what you will about the man,he has a way of cutting to the chase. This is the most insightful remark on the subject that I’ve seen in many a day

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yes. It’s a shame that folks like Michael Gill and Will Harmon are no longer here to argue against spurious advice given by people who simply can’t play this music themselves. Luckily we still have the archives though.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Insightful?! lol That argument leads one very quickly up its own backside; if rolls are ‘the’ way to articulate a tune then banjos, box etc cant articulate the music, which is patent nonesense. there are thousand and one way to articulate a tune, rolls are A way that SOME instruments articulate the music IF the player so chooses or not….. if rolls are essential to Irish music, ‘required’then its not possible to play trad on the banjo /box etc etc which again is obvious rubbish. or not? ;-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Mate, can you read? Michael’s comment includes "etc".

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will,

Are you now seriously suggesting that it’s impossible to play rolls on an accordion? If so, you’re utterly wrong.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

This thread began with the OP asking for advice on how to play tunes on the fiddle (by inference) to include ornaments and ‘the scratchy sound’. Answers from fiddlers - whether experts like Jim (Dorans) or learners like me - were therefore especially relevant.
Very soon it turned into a discussion about how integral ornaments are to Irish Traditional Music & about whether the conventional word ‘ornaments’ was wrong or not. You don’t have to play anything to argue your opinion in this debate. You just have to have listened to ITM & know about it. Therefore attacking someone’s argument on the grounds that you don’t think they play very well is, in Mr Spock’s word, ‘illogical’. And also somewhat boorish. I’m not sure that the appeal to the authority of master-players is always relevant either, especially as different masters have different practices and opinions.
A third strand of this thread is whether ‘ornaments’ are more suited or easier to play on particular instruments. Here, the poster’s playing experience/expertise is clearly relevant.

We haven’t heard from the OP for several days now, & I can’t say I’m surprised…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will-take a deep breath,or maybe a valium. If you read the quote llig did not specify rolls,he said "cuts and rolls an taps etc"
Different instruments are capable of different types of articulations-plucked string instruments can use left hand articulations,right hand or a combination thereof. Likewise fiddle players can articulate with left hand,bow or a combination. With flute and whistle it’s fingers,tongue and breathing.I have no real experience with boxes(although my dad who’s turning 80 soon just bought a concertina and I’m looking forward to playing tunes with him) but it seems clear to me that you articulate with fingerings and the bellows and if I’m wrong I’m sure someone will quickly correct me.Pipers,not having most of these options have to articulate almost entirely through fingering,hence the greater variety of "pipe ornaments."But there is no such thing as no articulation in music.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

cross post with Smash and Scutcher

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Therefore attacking someone’s argument on the grounds that you don’t think they play very well is, in Mr Spock’s word, ‘illogical’."

I don’t think this has happened. What has happened is that self-styled guru status has been questioned when not-very-good playing has been put up. That is valid. You expect someone who appears to be giving expert advice to be, at the very least, a pretty accomplished player themselves. I’m not saying that isn’t the case, but the evidence has not been forthcoming (not for want of asking down the years), and there does in fact appear to be evidence to the contrary. The argument about ornamentation in tunes has not, as I understand it, been hitched to to the playing proficiency or otherwise of anyone here.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

OK Steve. I have heard samples of your playing. FWIW I liked them and the Irish tunes sounded OK to me. Now, help me out with what seems to be a contradiction between:

"you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them."

and "I just take the fiddle and… …play it as plain in the book… … then as I learn it, I get it off, I put in a little bit of faster rhythm with the bow and the fingers" (full quote above)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

What works for Mr Gorman works for Mr Gorman. He does not appear to be explaining what he does in the terms we’re discussing them here. He says he doesn’t know what’s happening. That’s the same as my saying that ornamentation should be second nature. You’re not having to think about it (I did say that - remember?). He starts off slow and gets faster. I’d call that normal behaviour with a new tune. He seems to imply that he gets tunes from books (yikes). Well if that’s the way he learns, generally books don’t show ornaments. He doesn’t say, though, I add the ornaments later. He does not articulate his process in those words, does he? I don’t know what else you want me to say. We need him here to pin him down. I suppose that’s impossible. As for me, here’s the facts, not advice. I might have to play a new tune slower than I’ll eventually end up playing it, but not much and not for long. I don’t consciously put ornamentation in. I just don’t see tunes that way. I don’t understand learning a bunch of notes and bolting ornaments on later. I doubt whether I could do that. To me, it’s counter-intuitive. Yes, I know (before some wise-acre tells me) ornamentation on harmonicas is "restricted". But it’s still possible. I’m going to resist naming any masters, if you don’t mind.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’d just like to mention that this is folk music we are playing.
I more or less gave up with the highland pipes in favour of Irish precisely because there is nobody standing over you with a cattle-prod waiting for a mistake.
If you like something, play it. If someone else likes it, they’ll play it as well — that’s how it works.
If you hear somebody play something you like, you try to incorporate it. Listen and practise. If you can’t figure it out, ask for guidance, like the OP here. If somebody has a few words of wisdom that might save a bit of frustration, then that’s great.
Nobody can tell you what you should or should not be doing.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"I more or less gave up with the highland pipes in favour of Irish precisely because there is nobody standing over you with a cattle-prod waiting for a mistake. "

I remember watching Piping Live on the BBC once, and a grown man actually cried because of an early chanter.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Sure enough, it’s about listening (a lot) and having a go. And having fun. And sack the gurus! Fun police!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Re: Learning flute ornaments
Try not to think of it as ornamentation. It’s not like you are hanging baubles onto the tune. Instead, think of it as articulation. The the cuts and rolls an taps etc are how you articulate the music

# Posted by Michael C. Gill 2 years ago. *]

…advice from someone who doesn’t play the flute.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"…advice from someone who doesn’t play the flute."

It’s good advice. Very good advice.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Thanks Steve. I thought that quote was long enough. He doesn’t say he starts off slower and gets faster (though he might). He says "I put in a little bit of faster rhythm with the bow and the fingers. Give it a little bit of a quiver" So faster rhythm, not tempo, "quiver" - twiddly bits. Things he does not do to start with.

I doesn’t matter what they are called, its that they are things he does not do to start with.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"…advice from someone who doesn’t play the flute."

He plays low whistle though, the restricted dynamics of which are not relevant in the context of that advice.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Fred, Harry & Tom joined a Scottish Dance Class. The teacher made no concessions, but taught each dance in its entirety, with no separate tuition in figures & footwork.
Fred was a natural. He picked it up effortlessly & was soon admired for his pointed toes & precise pas de bas & strathspey step. The more complicated Highland Schottische & rocking steps were his speciality.
Harry learned the figures but the footwork so bamboozled him that sometimes he ended up in the wrong place & spoiled it for everyone. So he went to a private teacher & learned the steps separately, then combined them with the figures - went back to the class, and was soon accounted almost as good a dancer as Fred.
Tom found it tough going. He loved the music but had trouble with the footwork & on Harry’s advice tried the private teacher. But it didn’t work. He just couldn’t hack the footwork, and pointed toes were beyond him. But after a while, he made friends in the class and the dancing ‘just came’. His footwork was a disgrace but he was always in the right place at the right time & he danced with such style and joie de vivre that anyone who watched the class’s dance displays always thought that Tom was the best of them.

Yet they were all three excellent dancers; they just were different people & needed a different way of learning. :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well, "quiver" is pretty vague, isn’t it? I don’t quite know what he means by that. And as Steve said, what worked for Michael Gorman worked for Michael Gorman!

I thought I could count out all the ornaments I play on the pipes and work out whether or not it came out to anywhere near 60. Of course, it begs the question, do things like the shortened cran you might use in the third part of the Fermanagh Gold Ring count as a different ornament than the longer cran you might use in the first part of the Bucks of Oranmore? Then I realized I probably have better things to do.

I remember one workshop I took with a Big Name Piper where he showed us his pared down version of the tune. One fellow student asked him, "What exactly are you doing in that last section of the B part?" He said, "Huh?" And had to play the phrase a couple times through to figure out what he was doing. Turned out, he was putting in some "ornaments," just to phrase the tune, and didn’t consciously realize he was doing it.

I also think Will’s reference to Patsy Touhey is an interesting one, given that Will is simultaneously harping on about not losing the tune in a sea of ornaments. While Touhey is undoubtedly a technically astounding player, I think that some of the musicality in the tunes he plays is lost in a sea of backstitches. I suppose I’m opening myself up to accusations of being a philistine and not truly understanding music with that statement, but that’s just what I think anyway, so there you have it.

Could I add a backstitch every other note if I’d practiced D scales for three months. Uh, probably not. And the better question is, of course, would I want to?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I was waiting for the punchline of Fiddle Aunt’s post. The first line sounded like the opening to a joke. :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

‘"…advice from someone who doesn’t play the flute."

It’s good advice. Very good advice.’

It certainly is. The reason is because it comes from someone with a broad knowledge and deep understanding of traditional Irish music. Technical expertise on an instrument is a great asset in expressing the music but does not entail any understanding of, or feeling for, what really matters in Irish music. That’s a point that’s so obvious it shouldn’t need to be made, but this discussion seems to spend some time on the whether people have sufficient knowledge on a given instrument to hold valid opinions - it’s not about that, all you need to do is listen.

My early years of playing were in pubs with folk who didn’t play much if at all (some could play the odd tune on a borrowed box and probably all had a song or two) but they knew the music well and certainly knew when the music was good.

No expert status or knowledge, just ears and using them

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will Evans writes: "The tunes can and are played brilliantly basically with out ornaments as evinced by numerous players."

If anything, leaving them out is done for effect or variation. Learning how to get them to sound right is quintessential, and the mastery of them is critical to making the music sound like it belongs in the genre. If you don’t execute them right the music will sound odd or awkward. I think the importance of them is underlined by the size of this and other threads on the topic. You seem to downplay their importance, but if what you say is true then using ornaments would be the exception in trad and not so predominate. But that simply isn’t the case; ornaments are fundamental feature and the way they are used is one of the defining hallmarks. Learning to play them well is one of the most important aspects of performing trad, they are one of the basic structures that holds this music together.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Oh, sorry, Dr Silver Spear! Feel free to supply a punchline… :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Isn’t the punchline "they spent the next ten years arguing on the internet about who had the right way of learning"?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Spot on! :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Auntie F- I liked your analogy and I appreciate that everyone learns things differently,but I have to say that in your fable I would not recommend taking advice on footwork from Tom,let alone dancing lessons

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

If it was a joke, they would have walked into a bar…
…but I have to give Randy credit for providing that suitable punchline. ;-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"…advice from someone who doesn’t play the flute."

It’s good advice. Very good advice.
no its bad advice, the cuts and taps are not the only way to articulate the music… the use of staccato in irish traditional music is another way to use articulation, it may be restricted to northern counties of ireland, but that should not make it invalid, for the same reasons tongueing on the tin whistle is valid

Posted .

Re: How do you articulate a tune?

Jim, Michael Gill plays whistle.
I’m sure you can figure out how ornamentation on whistle relates to ornamentation on flute.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

We re-visit this ornamentation question so often that it drives me potty. And Fiddle Aunt (happy birthday BTW) is right to point out that the OP doesn’t deserve it here. That said, it’s too late now and I just can’t help myself:-

We can’t deny that this thing called ‘ornamentation’ exists. Otherwise what is it that we are saying doesn’t exist? Individually we all know what it is we are pointing to when we use the word, and the only question seems to be to what degree it can be seen to have any separation from the tune itself. Well okay, some of you see it as a separate thing;- i.e., an add-on, an embellishment etc. I can understand how you can SEE that (on paper), but how the hell can you HEAR that? The end tune is simply the tune. But if you prefer something visual, take dancing as an analogy:-

If you want to learn (say) ballroom dancing you might buy one of those books that show you where to put your feet and hold your partner. You could also get a teacher to show you the same. But to call yourself a good dancer in any sense, you have to dance with an added personal flair and style. Why then is that not called ‘ornamentation’ ? (Please don’t anybody tell me that it is). The end result is just a dance to which the individual contributes the gestalt. Why should we consider this any different when playing music?

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Gah… I wish thesession.org didn’t allow nickname changes. Then I wouldn’t not visit for six months and come back and debate with people who have a track record for posting opinions I disagree with and using an argumentation style that makes it pointless for me to ever engage in the discussion.

As an example, Dick Miles, I know you dislike Michael and everything he stands for, but, as 5stringfool pointed out to Will, there was an "etc." at the end of that. Of course tonguing is part of the articulation repertoire of flute playing.

My advice at the right at the top of this thread is basically the same as Michael’s. I probably picked up the idea from him many years ago. After careful consideration and several years of learning and playing, I would say that it’s excellent advice (my playing ability does not serve as proof of this, but I really think that considering ornaments in this way helped me achieve a breakthrough in my playing, without which I would play even worse).

Also I happen to think that lack of ability to play *irish music* is a lot more worrying in advice givers than lack of ability to play *some instrument*.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Speaking of the OP she doesn’t just play fiddle. She also plays concertina.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

As a dancer, i would heartily disagree with the specifics of both dance metaphors of this thread. Although I agree with your general sentiment, gobbo

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Re: How do you put a tune?

Lack of desire to lilt a tune, when one hears a good one, is likewise worrisome.

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Fiddle Aunt, would you leave Tom be? He’s having a grand time with the music & dance.

;)

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Tirno, what about the Barbara Eden articulation ‘metaphor’?

a. like
b. no

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Try not to think of it as ornamentation. It’s not like you are hanging baubles onto the tune. Instead, think of it as articulation. The the cuts and rolls an taps etc are how you articulate the music"

articulate verb (used with object)
9. to utter clearly and distinctly; pronounce with clarity.

10. Phonetics. to make the movements and adjustments of the speech organs necessary to utter (a speech sound).

11. to give clarity or distinction to: to articulate a shape; to articulate an idea.

12. Dentistry. to position or reposition (teeth); subject to articulation.

13. to unite by a joint or joints.

I assume that MG is using the word in the sense of 11 or 13, so possibly what he is saying that these devices help to define the phrasing of the tune. I’d agree that they can have that function but I also think that at other times they can provide a sense of ‘flow’ which actually has the effect of making the music less articulated (i.e. less angular or jointed). So in the case of the highly ornamented style favoured by some flute and pipes players the music becomes almost a continuous bubbling stream, highly effective when done well.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Good job we have dictionaries hey? Otherwise I wouldn’t be able to look up what my fingers are doing when I fiddle a tune.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Jim, Michael Gill plays whistle.
I’m sure you can figure out how ornamentation on whistle relates to ornamentation on flute.*]

You mean articulation.

OK, just ribbing you there and giving you back one of your own :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I happened to be looking at paul de graes how to play irish guitar for a tune, and i noticed he taught several tunes Plain first, and then taught them with ornaments.
yet another example of a well known player teaching in the style suggested by Will Evans
PAUL DE GRAE, plays guitar with jackie daly.
I do not dislike Michael [I have never met him] I disagree with some of his opinions.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Good post, johndsamuels. You hear that sense of flow (giving the illusion - and I think it is just an illusion, and a clever one at that - that articulation is almost being overridden) in the playing of good players. Matt Molloy (one of Michael’s favourites, as it happens) is one of the best when it comes to illuminating the technique, I’d say. Just listening to the way he plays gives the lie to any notion that ornaments are bolt-ons of some kind.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"What a tune conceptually is is a very interesting and pertinent discussion."
# Posted by Michael C. Gill 2 years ago.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>If anything, leaving them out is done for effect or variation. Learning how to get them to sound right is quintessential, and the mastery of them is critical to making the music sound like it belongs in the genre. If you don’t execute them right the music will sound odd or awkward. I think the importance of them is underlined by the size of this and other threads on the topic. You seem to downplay their importance, but if what you say is true then using ornaments would be the exception in trad and not so predominate. But that simply isn’t the case; ornaments are fundamental feature and the way they are used is one of the defining hallmarks. Learning to play them well is one of the most important aspects of performing trad, they are one of the basic structures that holds this music together.>>
I mostly agree with that, but you seem to misunderstand me, the process i describe is for beginners, its a temporary process that opens up the music
.As regards one of the basic structures that is simply incorrect, I agree for certain instruments, pipes fiddle whistle flute, but beyond those instruments the facility for much if not most ornamentation is unavailable.
For eg A poster above says its possible to roll on accordion. can any one show us in a link. I have all sorts of box recordings but dont recal ever hearing a roll. I await enlightenment.

Anyhow >>n. The the cuts and rolls an taps etc are how you articulate the music"<<makes no sense, it can only apply to a small section of traditional instruments, everey one else has to make do without ornaments bar triplets and… well thats about it. name me some more ornaments say for harmonica, ? So how on earth could they be fundamental? it makes no sense, defies basic logic and intelligence .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"For eg A poster above says its possible to roll on accordion. can any one show us in a link. I have all sorts of box recordings but dont recal ever hearing a roll. i await enlightenment."

That would be us doing your research for you, no?

"makes no sense, it can only apply to a small section of traditional instruments, everey one else has to make do without ornaments bar triplets and… well thats about it. name me some more ornaments say for harmonica, ? So how on earth could they be fundamental? it makes no sense, defies basic logic and intelligence ."

Once again, the quote reads "etc.". Perhaps because he didn’t want to list all 60 ornaments for the pipes to make his point. Sound familiar?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Oh dear STW, its called sarcasm. i dont believe possible to roll on the box, I have recording from Daly , macMahon, cooley you name them…. if it is, then lets hear it.

…and you completely miss my point, there are no ornaments that are fundamental to the genre, to specific instruments yes, but the genre, its a big definite no. how ever many etc you add makes no difference , unles you remove the suggestions and all ornaments bar triplets then it could be said that triplets are fundamental and not really ornaments… debateable, but the rest, there is no debate, its simply inaccurate and misguided to think that ornaments are fundamental, It defies belief that there is any argument when a simple exercise of the brains logic department will clearly show that Irish music can be played very well on the banjo, that you cant roll or crann or any other tricks from the pipe , bar triplets on the banjo , therefore they are not essential to Irish music. QED

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"…there is no debate…"

This discussion seems to suggest otherwise.

"…its simply inaccurate and misguided to think that ornaments are fundamental…"

In your opinion, yes. In my opinion, no.

"…It defies belief that there is any argument when a simple exercise of the brains logic department will clearly show that Irish music can be played very well on the banjo, that you cant roll or crann or any other tricks from the pipe , bar triplets on the banjo , therefore they are not essential to Irish music. QED"

So you are saying: Irish music is played well on the banjo. Crans* are not possible on the banjo. Thus crans* are not essential to Irish music?

(*replace crans with other ornaments not possible on the banjo)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

It could be suggested that Irish music on the banjo and Irish music on the pipes are not the same thing, no?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Are you now seriously suggesting that it’s impossible to play rolls on an accordion? If so, you’re utterly wrong.*]

Be careful of how Scutcher has phrased the question. It’s not impossible, but it would be extremely difficult to execute at speed, which is why I think you won’t hear it done. If I’m wrong, please correct me.

A roll is 5 notes (including the start note, agreed?) If not, read no further.

On fiddle, that would involve moving only two fingers (for arguments sake, let’s say it’s a 2nd finger roll), then 2nd and 3rd finger move. On an accordion, for a full roll, you’d need to start with 2 down, then move 3, 2, 1 and then come back down on 2. You can’t keep the fingers down like you can on a fiddle - each needs to be lifted for a single note to sound. Agreed?

All I’ve heard in the way of ornaments on accordion are triplets, eg a rapid 3-2-1 on the same note, or a rapid 2-3-2 on two adjacent notes. Other than that all I can think of is a rapid ‘flip’ from a black hey to the adjacent upper white key, eg F#/G, with the same finger. People like Phil Cunningham and Alan Kelly are masters of all these, imo.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Interesting link of Joe Derane, playing some lovely tunes,. interesting how many other players incorporate that technique ? not many I feel. Its pretty rare no?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

,<It could be suggested that Irish music on the banjo and Irish music on the pipes are not the same thing, no?<< Exactly, but they are both Trish trad. Thats precisely why people who make statements based upon their limited understanding are so far off mark…. a fiddler with no understanding of banjo say might suggest that rolls are essential .
Its not a matter of opinion, its a fact as demonstrated by martin Hayes for example. Beautiful expressive trad can be played with no ornaments. Fact. Therefore ornaments are not required for someone to play beautiful expressive trad. Thats not to say the ornaments arent of value, I use a lot personally but they are not the essence, the tunes, the universal melody, that is the essence, the spirit, the soul, the heart…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Although I haven’t done an in depth analysis of Jackie Daly’s playing, I’m convinced he plays rolls (in jigs and reels at least). Surely someone else than me must have heard the bursts of notes here and there. There IS a difference though, and those rolls (or whatever we should call them) are more like "five notes in the space of three" than "three notes separated by a cut and a tap" (or whatever the "widely accepted" definition is). And before the ornament police steps in and says "that’s not a roll!", remember that not everyone has the exact same "space distribution".

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

The second edition of ‘The Companion to Irish Music’ (in the section on ‘Ornamentation’ written by Liz Doherty and Fintan Vallely) has this to say about rolls:

‘The roll is popular with players of most instruments, the extent of its usage differing according to regional styles and popular tastes. Its execution differs from pitch to pitch and from instrument to instrument. It is particularly fluid on, and characteristic of pipes, flute and whistle.’

This thread - http://forum.melodeon.net/index.php/topic,8150.0.html - describes exactly how to do it on a B/C accordion and provides some videos examples (check Joe Burke in particular - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qcThzEOBv30&feature=youtu.be) and note also the reference in that thread to Jackie Daly teaching someone how to do a long roll on a C#/D.


Tony Mac Mahon (whose main influence is Joe Cooley) regularly uses rolls in his playing.

As for the D/G accordion, here’s the Mustard board’s own Cathy Cook - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14fUQy5QLoo. She explains how she does it in the notes below the video.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Thats not to say the ornaments arent of value, I use a lot personally …"

Yes Will, of course you do, every established player does. Players like Casey and Canny who you say you model your playing on used them by the bucketload. Even players like Mary Macnamara and Micho Russell who are often mentioned as having sparse ornamentation still use/used some.

Anyone starting off with this music will do so having been inspired by listening to the playing of established musicians. So they are going to want to play with ornamentation and they are not going to want to wait until they can play a tune three times through perfectly before they make a start on it. Nor can I see any compelling reason why they would benefit from doing so.

"… but they are not the essence"

No, I don’t think that anyone is saying that they are. But they are one (just one) of the fundamental aspects of the music.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

thanks scutcher, duly noted. Sigh Ive played with Jackie many times and never noticed, full marks for observation then to will :-) duh

Johnsamuels, thats entirely your prerogative. good luck with that. 8-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

<Anyone starting off with this music will do so having been inspired by listening to the playing of established musicians. >>

Thats a ridiculous assumption,certainly not true in my case. IMO What people should be looking for is what makes top guys so good, its not the ornaments for sure is it? cos everyone plays ornaments to a greater or lesser degree…….they are just a distraction to the meat of the music that we put on the bones, UNTILL the body works , then…. start ornamenting.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

To answer the question, first get good at the ornaments as individual units and get a bunch of tunes played well then add the ornaments in where you feel like it..
seems simple enough a concept to me….
I mean does anyone really suggest that the ornaments should be played in the tunes before the ornaments or tune can be played well?
huh? somehow I wonder on this site, people seem to stand hard next to arguments they’ve borrowed as naive beginners from someone else, so of course they cant really defend them because they dont even understand them or whether they have any real value.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I place my ornaments in a box and take them out once a year. I can never get them in the same spot on proverbial tree so I just put them wherever and add lots of lights and tinsel.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Its not a matter of opinion, its a fact as demonstrated by martin Hayes for example. Beautiful expressive trad can be played with no ornaments. Fact."

I’m sorry, what? I don’t think that is a fact at all. That the Earth is round is a fact, not an opinion. Whether trad is beautiful and expressive sans ornaments is an opinion Will.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Newflash! People on the internet confusing opinions with facts! I’m shocked.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

:-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will Evans writes: "I mostly agree with that, but you seem to misunderstand me, the process i describe is for beginners, its a temporary process that opens up the music."

When I’m helping beginners I try to give them what they will be capable of playing, and I suggest leaving out the ornaments they can’t yet execute… "leaving out" being the operative term. I explain to them the role and importance of the ornaments and provide them with different ones to practice that can be inserted when they achieve the ability to execute them. This is for instructional purposes only.

Will continues: "As regards one of the basic structures that is simply incorrect, I agree for certain instruments, pipes fiddle whistle flute, but beyond those instruments the facility for much if not most ornamentation is unavailable. For eg A poster above says its possible to roll on accordion. can any one show us in a link. I have all sorts of box recordings but dont recal ever hearing a roll. I await enlightenment."

I play concertina, flute and whistle, and I have collected a variety of rolls, cuts, grace notes, triplets, etc… and of course, the phantom button. Every instrument has its own unique collection of decorations, so I don’t really understand what exactly the "enlightenment" is you seek.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Really? the Earth isnt round! have you not noticed the surface is not flat? and did you know gravity squeezes it into more of an egg shape.
Look either beautiful expressive music CAN be played with ornaments, or it CANT there is no halfway house, its like a Girl being half pregnant… You can argue definitions of beauty and expression if you want but To be honest when an argument degenerates into that level , well its not really an argument anymore.
So is there anyone who proposes that Martin Hayes can not play beautifull expressive music without ornaments? or that its a n impossibility? .
The fact of the matter is that Martin Can, and many people can and do, day to day , this is not debatable, its A self evident fact.

Every instrument Jack? what about the ones you dont play? Banjo? guitar? mandolin?

Yes , so you do exactly as im recommending, you don’t teach ornaments and expect that they should played by people who have not the physical abilities at that time to make them work.
Right, so our disagreement is to the degree that ornaments should or should not be taught and at what stage. Fair enough . I have explained why I recommend a student play a few tunes well first without ornaments. Its a process that is universal to all the instruments I play, 9 and all the music styles I play and listen to, universal from Jazz to Bach to trad to Indian classical music; a progress from the simple to the more complex. Why then should trad players start out from the complex? are they then going to successfully simplify from then on? So how are they going to progress on a musical level? Music is not about what you can cram in, but as much what you leave out. This is the area I feel most novice and intermediate players need to work on.


A student, beginner of 5 yrs or so, how on earth are they going to have the faintest clue about the universal aspects of music if its not addressed and they are not given the opportunity to experience them? These skills are experimental not theoretical, its only do, watch, listen ,learn, no amount of intellectual understanding will come close. People have to feel the music they make, it has to be associated with their heart spirit soul. otherwise its just sound.
You see its very easy to tell the level of a musician, not by listening to them so much as by the reaction of other people in the room its actually happening in. the feeling in the air, the buzz…. The very air is expectant.

This ability, the ability to pull a standing ovation out of a hat, is not [just/]a technical achievement, its a result of a unified approach, one that marries feeling and spirit and the physical technique is an outgrowth of this .

IMO too many players lose the music in extraneous baubles, the things we do with the tunes need to grow from within to just ‘happen’ , to be a holistic development for to support serious musical ability. This is why I suggest people play their tunes in a simple and powerful manner and build up from there. Enjoy.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

For heaven’s sake if you want to get technical model it as an oblate spheroid if you like.

It is not a fact - just because you think Martin Hayes plays beautiful, expressive music without ornaments doesn’t mean everyone does. You aren’t an authority on this in the same way I’m not.

"Look either beautiful expressive music CAN be played with ornaments, or it CANT"

To one person it CAN, and to one person it might NOT

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"The fact of the matter is that Martin Can, and many people can and do, day to day , this is not debatable, its A self evident fact."

In your opinion…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Then you base you argument on a definition of beauty and expressiveness? Theoretically someone might find an object not beautiful? therefor its not beautiful? no , its not beautiful for them…. that simply does not mean its not beautiful, just that some people are blind. The beauty is there, its just whether you see it. because you dont see something does not mean its not there…..So an amazing dawn is not beautiful because your not awake to see it? or because your in a bad mood or sick? no my friend, the beauty is there for all to see and hear. Your theoretical construct shrivels in the light or reason.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’m not basing my argument on anything. I don’t even think I’m arguing for or against anything really.

I was pointing out originally that (a) you misread the quote from Michael above, and (b) you were basing your argument on a "fact" that is simply your opinion.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"The beauty is there, its just whether you see it. because you dont see something does not mean its not there"

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

.<<that is simply your opinion>>In your opinion :-) As far as im concerned its a self evident fact

i didnt misread any quote from Micheal, your completely mistaken there, a projection nothing more. I dont bother reading his stuff. I was referring to a post on the other thread where Martin Demonstrates his ability to play beautiful expressive music without ornaments. [ which you deny he is capable of, or that you or some theoretical person might not consider beautifull……]

”beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ahh, thats a matter of opinion….
Its certainly not a statement of fact. You could say beauty is in the mind of the beholder, its a way of looking rather than something we see….

You seem to argue that something is only beautiful if people can see it,[ no perception; no beauty]. I I propose that beauty is innate and that whether someone is there to see the flower bud or not, the budding flower, the dawn, are still beautiful.
Beauty comes from within, no amount of ornaments or make up can turn a sows ear into a silk purse.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

i didnt misread any quote from Micheal, your completely mistaken there, a projection nothing more.
https://thesession.org/discussions/31844#comment681987

"As far as im concerned its a self evident fact "

"AS FAR AS IM CONCERNED"

???????

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Smash, once again , I didnt read micheals post ive had plenty of it here, enough already . I already know the argument is a sieve. these ETc you go on about he mentioned… what are they… which ornaments are available to me as a banjo player[ex]?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

https://thesession.org/discussions/31844#comment681985 you clearly read it… you rubbished the use of the word "insightful".

I’m done here Will. This is going round in circles thanks to your refusal to accept anything other than your own advice as gospel. God help those you are teaching.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jack, Will doesn’t understand the term "roll". It’s about time someone said it. There are many other things Will doesn’t understand (mostly to do with Irish music, though I’d never question his knowledge of ancient Greek literature or the works of Pliny), but the fact he doesn’t understand "roll" is particularly telling in this thread. Anyone who thinks Jackie Daly doesn’t play rolls doesn’t get this music. Or is stone deaf. Simple as that.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

It’s interesting how Will argues that the ornaments can be left out but doesn’t seem to see the part about being "left out." What are you leaving out? That seems to answer its own question. If the ornaments aren’t part of the music you wouldn’t have to leave them out.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I can’t believe the uninformed nattering that went on up above for so long about accordion rolls. Despite not having any experience with the matter, the comments just went on and on and on. I saw them at lunchtime at work, where I do not have the ability to comment on things, and am glad to see that some correct information has been posted on the topic.
I have not mastered accordion rolls myself, as my dabbling with the accordion has never progressed beyond playing airs, accompanying songs, and mastering only a couple of dozen or so dance tunes at session speeds. But I have had instruction on how to do it, and it is not impossible, and the results in the right hands are not notey or odd sounding. A good crisp roll on the accordion is like it is on any other instrument—the cut and the tap are not as much notes as they are almost atonal chirps of sound—and at session speeds, the result can sound not too different than a triplet.
A good thorough primer on the topic of accordion ornaments is an old instructional tape done by Peter Browne, who occasionally posted on this website in years gone by: http://www.amazon.com/Irish-Button-Accordion-Techniques-VHS/dp/B000HRLWMG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368668497&sr=8-1&keywords=peter+browne+accordion . I am not sure if there are 60 of them demonstrated, but there are a lot of ways to adorn or articulate tunes on this instrument.
If I had stated definitively that accordion rolls were impossible, and then was presented with clear proof that I was dead wrong, I would have been too ashamed to continue pontificating, and instead would have retreated and rethought some of my opinions. Alas, this is not the case with everyone…

Re: Alas, this is not the case with everyone…

I don’t mind someone making a fool of themselves. Nobody’s perfect. But using those foolhardy missteps to fashion a soapbox to stand on & continue babbling is as good as saying, "I haven’t a clue what I’m saying, but I cannot find my *off* button. Where might my off button be?"

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Yes. It’s a shame that folks like Michael Gill and Will Harmon are no longer here to argue against spurious advice given by people who simply can’t play this music themselves. Luckily we still have the archives though."

I have stayed away from this thread for a variety of reasons, but when I saw how many comments were here, curiosity got the better of me and I skimmed it. I quickly decided to stay out of the fray, but then I saw the above quote and decided to break my silence on that particular subject. I don’t want to be ratty, so I will simply say this: Over the years I have sometimes clashed and sometimes agreed with their respective posts. They have, from time to time, defended me when I became the object of others’ scorn. Still, I will never, ever miss them here. I think the site has benefited mightily from their absence. I won’t argue the point beyond this, but I am glad to finally get that out.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

So All, you play your accordion tunes with rolls? or you leave them out as I suggest, because you cant do them? but steve says you should ! your doing it wrong then? or your not, IMO its pointless and stupid to try to use an ornament fluidly that you cant do …. my argument in a nutshell. while steve says that you should .,
Scutcher pointed out that the odd genius can play rolls on accordion. minor correction. duly noted my basic premise is as sound as ever.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

@ Ailin: I disagree, but respect your opinion. Let’s leave it there.

As for this discussion: It is part of the reason Will isn’t here. To destroy an old saying: Opinions without knowledge are the hobgoblins of little minds…. Will doesn’t appreciate that and neither does Michael. They attack. You can react to that however you wish, but I, at least, respect the experience and expertise they have. And, I have called each of them out in the past and found that they graciously admit their mistakes when they make them. I hope I’ve done the same. More than I can say for some….

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Re the comments about Michael and Will not being around any longer - I won’t say anything about that (the archives are still there, as was mentioned before, and they contain all the advice, and the disagreements that resulted). What does seem to have happened is that a lot more people are now posting here since their departure, and at first glance it seems they are new members. Some are, but there are a whole load who’ve been here all along, perhaps feeling uncomfortable or afraid to post anything.

On learning a tune without the ornaments, maybe it’s a good thing? If someone has both the tune, and the instrument to learn, why attempt to reduce complexity to simplicity (the ‘bare bones’), by adding yet more complexity (the ornamentation)? That’s just one way to look at it.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"So All, you play your accordion tunes with rolls? or you leave them out as I suggest, because you cant do them? but steve says you should ! your doing it wrong then? or your not, IMO its pointless and stupid to try to use an ornament fluidly that you cant do …. my argument in a nutshell. while steve says that you should .,"

Excuse me, please. steve [sic] has never said you should anything. If you misrepresent a very simple matter such as this, it hardly speaks well for your credibility in all other matters, does it?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I am sure my partner Cathy Cook would be flattered to be called a genius, I would like to remind people that her dg accordion was stolen in Kenmare, it would be much appreciated if everyone would keep an eye out for it, dgs are unusual in ireland, so we are still hopeful.
both steve shaw and will evans can play competently, they have different approaches, I prefer as do some others to think of the ornaments being an extra, others prefer to think of it as an integral part of the tune, it really does not matter as long as people are enjoying playing music.
on reflection I do not think one approach or the other will stop a player from playing well, my only reservation is that some players with the method Steve prefers[ not all players] will end up not varying ornamentation , that does not make them bad players.
in the end with both approaches if the player realises that ornamention if varied makes the tune more interesting, then the players music will be more interesting to listen to.
I prefer one approach, but in the end all that matters is how the music is finally played, maybe one system works for some and another system works for others

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Mr. Evans, By using me as an example that accordion players do not play rolls, you are trying to prove the rule with an exception. Competent Irish button accordion players can play rolls, it is not limited to a few ‘odd geniuses.’ I made it clear that my ability on that instrument is limited—I do not claim to be a good accordion player (yet), and the tunes I play are diminished by my lack of ability. And, along with trying to twist things to fit your preconceived notions, you also misquoted Steve Shaw. Not to mention implying the very nice person Cathy Cook was ‘odd’ (albeit a ‘genius’). You are certainly on a ‘roll’ here!
You discredit your own arguments by continuing to cling to notions that have become untenable.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think deliberate misrepresentation should be treated as a cardinal sin fully equal to ad hominems, Al, but ‘tain’t my gig!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

lads, can you not read? Steve do you not remember what comes from your own pen? perhaps its a good idea to refrain from slanderous false and inaccurate accusations not based on fact but on fantasy? Here is the quote;>>you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.
# Posted by Steve Shaw 6 days ago. <<
>>Excuse me, please. steve [sic] has never said you should anything. If you misrepresent a very simple matter such as this, it hardly speaks well for your credibility in all other matters, does it?
# Posted by Steve Shaw one day ago. <<

hmm credibility steve?

there is this >.Assuming you have reasonable mastery of your chosen instrument (virtuosity not required), >>
People learning the music often do it from a position of not playing instruments previously , in fact every child for a start!! I certainly learnt to play the fiddle playing trad, the whistle, pipes, banjo, mandolin. I had nothing on any of those instruments before I started playing scales then tunes. I make no assumptions in giving advice, They are simply projections of ideas and fantasy. Its like telling someone what they think, or what they meant ! ! only the person who does the thinking knows what is in their mind !!
In fact, and I could be wrong, that quote sounds to me to come from from a person who plays next to no ornaments, someone who doesn’t understand even what they are, certainly cant play most of them , has no comprehension of the difficulty in introducing them as a beginner. so Id love to hear a few rolls or cranns or whatever ornaments he uses.
I asked him earlier what ornaments he plays, specifically. No answer as yet. perhaps his playing is available to peruse, not in a mass crazy session please. links? just curious….

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

That is not advice, Will Evans. That is a statement of the only possible prevailing scenario. If I say the chimney sweep should be here in a minute, that is not advice. It is a statement of the ongoing situation. Learning a "tune" with no ornamentation may be something or other, but it sure ain’t this music. I’m describing a situation as I see it (and from what I read here so does almost everyone else bar you and Dick). You’re not doing that. You’re giving out advice after advice after advice and I don’t agree with it and I think you’re dead wrong to be propagating it. It wouldn’t be half so bad if you, as an adviser, could demonstrate your playing skills, unequivocally, to us. We’ve been asking you that for years, haven’t we? And this:

"In fact, and I could be wrong, that quote sounds to me to come from from a person who plays next to no ornaments, someone who doesn’t understand even what they are, certainly cant play most of them , has no comprehension of the difficulty in introducing them as a beginner…"

…is an unwarranted and unsupportable personal attack. You haven’t a clue as to what I do or don’t do. And if you want to find out, well you’ll have to come and hear me playing in the pub. I don’t have to show you my playing because I’m not the one peppering advice all over this forum. In any other situation in life in which you had a role giving out advice like you’re doing here, you’d have to demonstrate your credentials first. As I see it, you have yet to do so.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"lads, can you not read?"

Says Will Evans.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Hmm, this debate has degenerated into mud slinging. I dont feel I need to demonstrate anything to you Steve !? , A few friends I play with , and a ‘student’ made a few comments that speak for me, you can read them at my profile…. if it were a few internet warriors who called my playing , ; ‘amazing,’ wonderfull’ beautiful ‘, a ‘great musician’ excellent ‘, if it were just a few novices that were ‘very impressed by my skill and talent’ I wouldnt be so confidant here, but its not is it…. 8-)


Actually Steve,Ive seen plenty of you tube clips.clips and heard your album. so i have a fair idea. hers an example
;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJbysZmFQWM


Anyone spot anything other than a few cuts? My point is that even though it is a simple plane setting of a tune with almost no ornaments, its still perfectly acceptable,.
Thats why I wonder about the advice from steve>> you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.
# Posted by Steve Shaw 6 days ago. <<

Advice from someone with 1 Traditional ornament! , on their first! instrument that we should do what he does/can not….hmm.
I note no apology coming from you for your false accusations. Rather inconvenient eh? best scoot over that.

To be honest I have no real interest in debating with mr Shaw and if the only person who is prepared to maintain the argument is steve then see you later .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I totally agree with Will. I think Steve made a comment earlier that had merit ("What Will says is not universally accepted" - fair enough), but then ruins it by adding that he thinks it is bad advice. Given how often this issue has been discussed, I think it is reasonable to say that Will’s advice is not "bad" simply because you disagree with him. The proof of that is that many of us (and I include myself) did and do exactly what Will recommends and my playing is a lot better than Steve’s stylistically (IMO, of course). I don’t say that in an effort to sound superior to Steve, but only to make the point that his approach has nothing on mine or Will’s. So to say that Will is wrong is simply beating on one’s chest to emphasize a point that doesn’t need to be emphasized. Steve said all he had to say in his first post and I think he would have done well to leave it at that.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Why, that’s very kind of you! Now if only I could work out how to stick a tune up on Youtube with a photo…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

‘My point is that even though it is a simple plane setting[…]’

And sure, doesn’t he make it fly!

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Matter of opinion Peter but nonethe less the link clearly demonstrates my point that the tune is the tune, the ornaments are the ornaments and they are not in any way the same thing. The tunes can be played on banjo, guitar harmonica , whatever and they are still the tunes just because there are no ornaments or next to none does not mean that the music is incomplete. For many its a stylistic choice, for others its the limitation of their instrument and for other a limitation in technical ability. and any combination of the above.
I wouldn’t argue that Irish pipe music can only be played properly on Irish pipes because its the only instrument that has full access to the full repertoire of ornaments [though some might…. ] I wouldn’t argue that its not possible to play Irish music on the banjo, or harmonica . because its obviously not true….

all im saying, and i wonder sometimes how on earth such basic advice is scorned here, is that its well worth working on the tune and experimenting for hours at the other possibilities for variation before and as well as , incorporating the flavours of traditional ornamentation.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Matter of opinion Peter"

Was Peter not just making a joke about the use of the word "plane"? Where does opinion come into it?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

STW - You are right, but I also understand what Will is saying. I don’t, however, understand Steve’s latest post. Anyone know what he is on about? Or was the video not of Steve?

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I have nothing to add to that.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

That was cross posted. I have nothing to add to STW’s post.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yep, it was meeeee! If someone chooses to flag up my playing, I have a much better recent example than that but I can’t work out how to get the bugger on YouTube…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I have never heard any playing of Irish trad by its luminaries either in person or recorded that only plays the melody sans any decoration, i.e., ornamentation. If people leave it out, it is intentional as either an exercise or a demonstration. If anyone can produce recorded samples of Irish trad dance tunes played sans ornamentation as the music and not an exercise or demonstration… I’d be interested to hear it. But if it can even be found… it would be an anomaly and hardly represent the state of the music.

(I posted this on two different treads because Na éisc managed to split one discussion between two threads.)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

You people are funny. You let the same eejits drag you into the same arguments year after year… That’s the reason that a whole slew of respected players have thrown up their hands and walked away from this forum.

>> "What does seem to have happened is that a lot more people are now posting here since their departure…"

Maybe, but the quality of infomation for the newcomer has suffered quite a bit, IMO.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Maybe, but the quality of infomation for the newcomer has suffered quite a bit, IMO."

Hear hear.

Invert the "Recent discussions" thread so it starts at #1 :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

i disagree with Dick Miles

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I disagree with the Rev.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Reverend, I’m sorry, but I can’t agree. People like Gill and Harmon (but especially Gill) delighted in saying the same thing over and over so many times, it became a joke (especially in regard to all things bodhran). I can’t remember a post by either of them that was enlightening or helpful whether or not I agreed with them, and I often did. To state that the worthy informed posters have left in despair over those who know far less is ludicrous in the extreme. Sites like this attract many self-appointed gurus. I stopped posting on Chiff & Fipple because I got grief over help I gave a flute player. The advice I gave was not even my own idea. It was information I had received from an expert and backed up by Fintan Vallely and Ralph Sweet. Plus, what I suggested worked, according to the OP! Not good enough for our "experts." They offered no substantiation for their disagreement and had nothing to say about the documentation I presented. I have no patience with that kind of attitude, so now I PM anyone on the site I wish to help and they can take or leave my advice as they see fit. Lately, that site is all but dead, but I’m sure things will pick up eventually, just as I think this one has. However, there will always be those who enjoy beating dead horses; it is the nature of forums. But as I said previously, there are several I do not miss, and although I don’t know Will Evans, as far as I’m concerned, this thread could have stopped with his advice. So if the quality of information to the newcomer has suffered, how do you justify your own post on this thread?

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Very nice, Steve. One of my favorite reels and played quite well, so I take back what I said about being better stylistically than you. However, you and I both achieved similar results by different approaches. I learned the tune from sheet music and had two very different interpretations of it from YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDF7xYn_yu8&feature=related

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

Between these, I worked out how I wanted to play the tune, but only after I had learned the basic tune without any ornaments. So, to me the only "right way" is the way that works, but to the novice, I would recommend mine.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Trouble is Ailin we now have the evidence of our own ears that Steve is a fine player. From yourself and Will all we have is words.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’d take advice on any aspect of traditional Irish music from both Michael Gill and Will Harmon before anyone who’s posted above, with one exception. This website is much the poorer for them not being here. "The Rev" hit the nail on the head.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Was Peter not just making a joke about the use of the word "plane"? Where does opinion come into it?*]

If we assume that Will, in haste, simply missed the little joke on plane / plain, then his reply is relevant and makes perfect sense, whether or not you agree with his viewpoint.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I don’t set out to achieve results. I set out to have fun. Sheet music? Blimey. Like nearly everything I play, I can’t remember where I got this from. Maybe a bit from Music at Matt Molloy’s, though mine doesn’t chime with that one. There must have been somewhere else. Noel Battle plays it superbly and I might have picked something up from that Tribute to Cooley CD. Somebody permanently borrowed all my tune books years ago and I care not a jot.

"People like Gill and Harmon" know yards more about this music than anyone else here I can think of. I hated both their guts when I first came here but you really do have to ditch that and listen to what they are really saying. Will H. and I were still prowling round each other like caged tigers at times but I’ve come to miss his input, which was incredibly sound. Michael has insights that I haven’t seen here in anyone else. Suffering fools gladly is not his strong point. Unfortunately, telling someone around here that they are foolish don’t wash, so it gets hard to sort the wheat from the chaff at times. Not my gig though.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Cross posted, Kenny. I’m right with you.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Clearly, there are two camps on both Gill and Harmon (and I never heard them play, Johndsamuels) and how best to do ornaments. Readers can digest and make up their own minds.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I have heard both of them play, Ailin, in real life sessions, and would happily follow the advice of both.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

that’s some nice harmonica playing there in that vid of the landscapes

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I have heard both of them play, Ailin, in real life sessions, and would happily follow the advice of both.
# Posted by DrSilverSpear one minute ago.

I and others respectfully disagree. The good news is, they’re gone. Let’s see if the site survives or better yet, thrives.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"and I never heard them play, Johndsamuels"
Here you go then Ailin. Both ensemble clips unfortunately, but you get more of a sense of Michael’s playing, second clip, fiddler on the left. For the first clip I’m not actually sure which one is Will H, but I’m sure someone will oblige.
https://thesession.org/discussions/31649

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

So Michael Gill ‘didn’t suffer fools gladly’?
Seems a bit high-handed, dividing the world into fools who are fair game & non-fools who can be tolerated.

I do suffer fools gladly. Why wouldn’t I? They’re my kith & kin! :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Sorry about the random landscapes. I am useless at video and I just mucked around with Windows Movie Maker for a bit, which was alien territory to me. I was very cross and that video was my kneejerk. I’ll video my cat next time. Suggestions for (well-ornamented) tunes to go with a cat video would be most welcome.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

It would have to be An Phis Fhliuch .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I think a crucial point is being missed, here. I’ve never implied, nor do I think, that Gill and Harmon are not good players. The point is, this is a forum; no one needs to present credentials. One assumes that anyone offering an opinion has a basis for so doing. I take that on faith and when I’ve disagreed with someone, have never once wondered about their competence as a player. Being a brilliant player does not confer enlightenment, anyway. I’ve taken workshops from some of the best (Seamus Eagan and Chris Norman among them) and found they were much better players than they were teachers. My bottom line on this topic is that we can all present our advice and opinions without adopting an attitude no matter our credentials.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I would never call it "good news" if somebody leaves this site.
But this has gone on for long enough, and strayed a million miles from the OP’s original question. Can I suggest we all leave it at that ?
( A forlorn hope if ever there was one ).

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Of couse anyone can offer opinions and advice. But in the face on conflicting advice on a topic for which I don’t myself have a clear position then I’m going to go along with the views of the person who I know can ‘walk the walk’.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Sites like this attract many self-appointed gurus.*]

I agree entirely! There is no content moderation here.

As for the Mr Gill and Mr Harmon comments, all I can say is that since they left, it has been a happier place for many who visit this site. I honestly believe that. More and more people are posting - and serious discussions on subjects like ‘the bodhran’ are allowed to run their course, unhindered by rude and pointless jibes, often masquerading as jokes.

Everyone gets different things from the ‘advice givers’. There are many people here who believed and valued the advice from both Mr Gill and Mr Harmon, and I have to accept that (after all, I didn’t read every single post). I don’t dispute that Will Harmon did ‘know his stuff’ when it came to many aspects of Irish music.

However, imo this was often overshadowed by advice given which was clearly outside of their remit / area of expertise (mostly on points of fiddle technique and teaching), but also often on instruments which they didn’t actually play. Arguing with people who did play those instruments, and played them well.

Add to all this some chronic behavioural issues, and you can have a situation where you get a divided ‘camp’ - supporters and non-supporters, and much sycophantic chiming-in at the prime moment, by those who felt brave enough. Not healthy, not pleasant either. Yes, I have been guilty of bad behaviour in the past (usually in response to baiting, but still no excuse), but I’ve had my arse kicked and I’ve apologized to all concerned.

So, I can understand both why they are missed by some, and glad to be missed by others.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Johndsamuels - Based on what you’ve just posted, I must assume that you hate bodhran and would rather die than learn a tune from the printed page, since that is the opinion of some experienced and well-regarded players here. BTW, I liked what I think was your first post in this thread and I don’t know how you play, either.

Kenny - We can afford to stray from the OP. There’s really nothing to say on that subject that hasn’t already been said, is there?

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Ailin, the bit of my post that you seem to have missed is ‘for which I don’t myself have a clear position’.

For the record I much prefer to learn by ear but I can read music and I don’t mind a bit of bodhran in moderation although I have succumbed to the odd bit of bodhran-baiting in my time here. I strongly disagree with Gill’s stance on the use of slowdowners.

My standard of playing is a good way short of Steve’s but I am improving at a steady rate.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Don’t be daft, Ailin. No one here has ever said or implied that they would "rather die than learn a tune from the printed page." If you ever bothered reading any of their posts, especially Will’s, you’d learn that he would in fact learn tunes from the dots. The argument has always been that if you simply *cannot* learn a tune, not one, ever, without relying on sheet music, or worse, be unable to play it thereafter without reading, then you’re going to be pretty limited in what you can achieve in your playing of Irish music.

What is all this nonsense about people being in one camp or another. I suppose it’s a way of dismissing people who disagree with you. "These guys don’t agree with me, therefore they must be followers of these other guys who don’t agree with me." So the whole thing becomes about people, personalities, politics, rather than the fact that a lot of people might just disagree with you and maybe your argument has some holes in it that bear reflecting upon.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

‘Arguing with people who did play those instruments, and played them well.’

Jim, I’m curious as to who you think these people are, given that much of the above discussion has been about how we don’t get to hear the playing of those posting.

We’re back with the notion that technical ability on an instrument is a higher (or even equivalent) credential than the ability to play and understand this music at a high level, plain (or plane) wrong to me and many others.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Dr.SS - I made the statement about two camps because I am seeing many who agree with you and many who agree with me. Obviously the evaluation of the merits of any member or past member is purely subjective, so there is nothing one camp can say that will influence the other. It was my way of trying to put the debate to rest, but I guess it didn’t work.

Regarding the "dots" debate, we just went round on this one again. I know you maintain that Michael and Will did not disparage dots. However "daft" you think I’m being, the simple truth is that Michael continuously thread after thread kept harping on the fact that you can’t learn this music (as opposed to learning a tune) from dots, as if we didn’t all acknowledge that. Post after post reiterated that if you don’t know how the music is to sound, dots most certainly won’t help you. Yet, Michael kept arguing that point as if someone were arguing with him. He couldn’t take yes for an answer. I could never understand that.

Posted by .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*What is all this nonsense about people being in one camp or another. I suppose it’s a way of dismissing people who disagree with you. "These guys don’t agree with me, therefore they must be followers of these other guys who don’t agree with me." So the whole thing becomes about people, personalities, politics, rather than the fact that a lot of people might just disagree with you and maybe your argument has some holes in it that bear reflecting upon.*]

Doc, if you read some of the past threads (those which have not been deleted) you can clearly see that there are people who agree with, eg, Michael Gill, and not with me (or someone else). My comment on ‘camps’ is based on general observations on the events in various threads, often on threads on which I had not even posted anything.

Sadly, at times the whole thing *is* reduced to people, personalities, politics etc. It happens.

I suggest you get off your high horse.

OK, that last one was a just a friendly little joke, OK? :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*‘Arguing with people who did play those instruments, and played them well.’

Jim, I’m curious as to who you think these people are, given that much of the above discussion has been about how we don’t get to hear the playing of those posting.

We’re back with the notion that technical ability on an instrument is a higher (or even equivalent) credential than the ability to play and understand this music at a high level, plain (or plane) wrong to me and many others.*]

Randy, I don’t know how long you’ve been around here, but I have been here around 10 years or so, with a few short breaks.

I ran, and funded a project on this board called the ‘Mighty Craic’, several years ago, where site members submitted their tunes, either solo, or in a session / band setting. All the tracks were then published on a separate site, for all to hear (this was in the days before Youtube, etc).

There were, imo, some *amazing* players playing *excellent* music, and I’m sure that was evident to all who heard them.

As to your question "I’m curious as to who you think these people are", sorry, but it would be unfair to name them. All I can say is that they were involved in the discussions I mentioned previously, and were challenged by those who were clearly *well* out of their depth in the relevant subject matter.

As for the technical ability aspect, sorry - I’ve had a bellyful (and more) on here from people promoting all manner of scrapage, trying to justify it in so many ways, whilst at the same time being very careful to make sure they themselves did not sound that way.

If you want to know more, or discuss honestly, feel free to contact me.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"the simple truth is that Michael continuously thread after thread kept harping on the fact that you can’t learn this music (as opposed to learning a tune) from dots"

It pays not to misrepresent. Michael has always said that learning from notation is a very bad thing for beginners. He has never said that experienced players, with loads of tunes under their belts, mustn’t learn from dots. The truth may not be as simple as you seem to think.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

@Steve - I just watched that first clip of yours. I liked the tunes, and your playing, too. Nice and clean.

As for the other clips, esp. the one referencing Michael Gill, it’s ensemble playing, and not a way to show an individual’s playing. He could be playing well. Or playing badly. Or miming.

Like with like, and all that.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Sorry, Steve, but that won’t wash. I went round and round enough with Michael to know. There were enough debates on this subject that I cannot say definitively he never specified it was bad for beginners, but in the debates in which I engaged, he kept trying to tie using dots to learn a new tune with using dots to learn how to play ITM. As I said, I’ve never seen a thread that promoted the idea of learning ITM from written music, but Michael continuously steered the threads in that direction. He was debating with himself because no one ever argued that point. He’d also talk about his horror of anyone using dots at a session. I suppose some on occasion may attempt that, but that has seldom if ever been the thrust of a debate on dots. Still, Michael simply had to vent on that point even though few if any would dispute that dots at a session (except maybe a slow session for learning new tunes) is not very practical and annoying to those with even moderate experience.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Hey, Ailin (wherever you’re from), I know the guy in the split-screen video! (I spoke to him yesterday, will see him and the band again tomorrow).

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jeff - I’m in California, and you can tell him that I’ve played Irish flute for 30 years and I can hardly believe he could sound that good in a year (at the time of his video). Impressive montage!

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

If someone was playing badly in that clip, you wouldn’t be able to hear that, Jim? It seems to me that everyone in that group is playing pretty well. Can’t exactly distinguish who is playing what, but there aren’t any clinkers. From the testimony of others, and from what evidence we have (and regardless of whether he had a sometimes prickly persona on the web) Mr. Gill is a quite accomplished player of the music. Why is it so hard to accept that and move on?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*From the testimony of others, and from what evidence we have (and regardless of whether he had a sometimes prickly persona on the web) Mr. Gill is a quite accomplished player of the music. Why is it so hard to accept that and move on?*]

From the evidence we have, approx 2 billion people believe in a sky-monster.

Al, all I’m saying is that we saw a clip of Steve playing solo, and we saw a clip of Michael playing *not* solo. Big difference, and in a session, where you really couldn’t tell what he sounded like. I really don’t care if he is a good player or not, I would just like to hear his playing, solo. But, it’s not going to happen. So, I’ve moved on. OK? :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Slightly unfocused post there, Ailin…???

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Unfocused, Steve? How so. I responded to your allegation that I am misrepresenting Michael and I cited two points of argument that he consistently reiterated even though it was not relevant to the overall issue of using dots to learn a new tune. I realize that it’s probably a lot later where you are. Perhaps some sleep and a re-read of my post? Either that, or be more specific about what you find unfocused.

If it’s not clear, when I talk about using dots to learn a tune, I’m talking about learning a new melody to ultimately be played in the Irish style. When I’m talking about learning ITM, I’m talking about learning how ITM is played stylistically without regard to a specific tune.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

There’s a good few people on this board, Jim, who will attest to the fact that Michael is a damn good player. He happens to be somewhat averse to demeaning himself by sticking his playing, whatever of it has ever been recorded (discuss that, actually, chaps), up in public. It appears to be getting to the point on this board where we’re adjudicating on people’s playing by what they say here instead of what they can actually do. I bloody hate that, and I bloody hate myself, having been somewhat stung, for posting a YouTube that shows me in a damn sight better light than Mr Evans would have me characterised. Having said that, if you have self-evidently set yourself up as a guru, you really do need (by posting stuff that clearly - and I mean clearly - demonstrates your skills) to show that you’re worth listening to. In my view, no-one in this thread, including those who have been so profligate with their "advice", has , as yet, done this. Beginners beware. The rest of us, polish the bullshit filters!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"I realize that it’s probably a lot later where you are. "

Good for you for saying that.

Ailin, I find both your posts to be convoluted and dense. I try to express myself clearly |(too simply, some would say) in order to spare the reader an excessive amount of mental processing. Michael must be pissing himself laughing here (and I know the bugger’s probably reading this). It’s quite simple. He thinks, and I think, that using notation to learn tunes is just about the worst thing a beginner can do. He thinks (and I agree, though ‘tain’t my path) that experienced musicians who have already learned hundreds of tunes by ear can occasionally resort to a tune book. Now if he thinks I’m talking shite he’ll be on to me any minute, I assure you. You’ll be the first to know. Bye.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*There’s a good few people on this board, Jim, who will attest to the fact that Michael is a damn good player.*]

With respect, sir, I’ll be the judge of that!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve, I’ve been reading your posts for years and do not find them to be any more straight-forward than mine. I strive for precision so as not to be misunderstood. It seems like you’re moving from substance to style in order to sidestep the issue. However dense, I think I was clear and certainly not unfocused.

BTW, it has also occurred to me that Michael may be reading this and highly amused at being the topic of conversation, but rest assured, I do not confine my comments to Michael, or Will Harmon for that matter. They are simply representative of a breed that I hope is diminishing here.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

You can be the judge of his playing if and when you hear it, Jim, but you can’t be the judge of whether other people attest to it or not!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well, it’s a breed that has provided a lot of good comment and, dare I say it, sound advice over the years. Maybe other stuff as well. Let’s agree to disagree.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

<i>It would have to be An Phis Fhliuch .</i>

Don’t worry, I didn’t miss that, John… :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Steve, I am attesting that he sounds to me like hundreds of other competent to good fiddlers, fortunately those other fiddlers did not come on here pontificating.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well, it’s a breed that has provided a lot of good comment and, dare I say it, sound advice over the years. Maybe other stuff as well. Let’s agree to disagree.
# Posted by Steve Shaw one hour ago.

Steve, I agreed to disagree a number of posts ago.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

My 2¢:

Since we’re commenting on the quality of the forum with Will H. and Michael G. being gone… Will H. forever apparently; I never questioned their abilities playing fiddle. As for their advice on that instrument, I don’t play fiddle, so I have no opinion. But judging from what fiddlers here say, their advice on that instrument was helpful. I think the aspect that I had difficulty with was their intolerant attitudes towards other people’s opinions, both in their own way of course. Michael became arrogant and hostile, and Will would assert himself as the ultimate authority on things like, what a session is or isn’t. Being instructed by him that I should inform visitors to our sessions here in SF that it, "isn’t a real Irish session" simply because it didn’t conform to his ideal in Montana was the height of pomposity. I think this is the sort of thing that disheartened so many people about the discussion forum and drove them, (and myself) away… at least that was what almost all of the session dotters whom I met in person would agree on. I think the helpful aspects of those two leaves a gap for beginner fiddlers seeking advice, but it’s outweighed by the lifting of the authoritarian attitudes that unfortunately came with it.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

There is tons of counterbalance here, Jack, to anyone you see as being pompous or arrogant. In other words, you don’t really get away with it. There are two views about this place: first, that it’s bloody useless, and second, that it might just be a place where beginners come to pick up a few wrinkles. Were the latter to prevail, that would be mighty; unfortunately, it’s next to impossible to decide which is which, and, to be honest, the latest clampdown doesn’t help. You can’t tell someone not to be a total git, otherwise you get banned. So the total gits prevail. The law of unintended consequences! A healthy atmosphere in which we can all disagree and call each other names every now and then is, to me, a lot better than pussyfooting around trying not to get banned in the teeth of idiocy. There are those of us here who honestly and diffidently pass on their experiences of playing out and getting this music under their belt. Others are not so humble, in spite of the fact that humble ought to be their middle names, going from their playing.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

""People like Gill and Harmon" know yards more about this music than anyone else here I can think of. I hated both their guts when I first came here but you really do have to ditch that and listen to what they are really saying. Will H. and I were still prowling round each other like caged tigers at times but I’ve come to miss his input, which was incredibly sound. Michael has insights that I haven’t seen here in anyone else. Suffering fools gladly is not his strong point"

Thank you Steve.

I’m within an inch of leaving myself, though I’m certain neither my expertise (which definitely isn’t ITM) nor my venom will be missed. But if I do leave, it will be because of the sort of drivel that has been posted in this thread. Far too many self appointed experts (from which I exempt you Steve).

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"You people are funny. You let the same eejits drag you into the same arguments year after year… That’s the reason that a whole slew of respected players have thrown up their hands and walked away from this forum.

>> "What does seem to have happened is that a lot more people are now posting here since their departure…"

Maybe, but the quality of infomation for the newcomer has suffered quite a bit, IMO."

Amen. Good that some folks still see that.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Since we’re commenting on the quality of the forum with Will H. and Michael G. being gone… Will H. forever apparently; I never questioned their abilities playing fiddle. As for their advice on that instrument, I don’t play fiddle, so I have no opinion. But judging from what fiddlers here say, their advice on that instrument was helpful. I think the aspect that I had difficulty with was their intolerant attitudes towards other people’s opinions, both in their own way of course.*]

I’d just like to add a bit here. I didn’t read every single post on fiddle advice from Will H and MG, and I don’t dispute that they did give help to some players. However, I had ended up having disagreements with them when often the nature of the poster’s question made it quite plain that it was a root level problem, and absolutely zero to do with playing ITM, but on points of essential technique - stuff you need to master to play any music at all. When you’re wrong at that level and can’t see it, there’s really no hope.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Ah, just because its a plane,doesn’t mean it can fly…. Ah steve who could possibly counter balance you?! a zen monk perhaps… Anyhow, the thread seems to have been dis-railed somewhat.

As far asI am concerned if the OP has to ask the question, it means they are not at the point in their progress where most if not all ornaments are either available or suitable.

As regards advice for beginners, IMO their advice was generally pretty bloody awfull, directly contradicting the considered and sound advice of respected serious players like Kevin Burke and other amazing musicians.
In any situation on here , IMO the advice of real players like Kevin is worth 100 times the advice of a few internet warriors and the session.org ethos should recognise that.


This thread was one that really made me realise that he who shall not be mentioned is really actually pretty clueless, as regards trad, I mean really… jeez and the newbie sycophants sigh….
https://thesession.org/discussions/22880

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Don’t you leave, cboody! I for one appreciate your posts. Whatever that is worth.

Session etiquette is different and we’re all experts on the etiquette in our own sessions.

I used to argue with them about Slowdowner software, as they both insisted that you should learn from real people who will slow down the tune in "real life" and teach you. Which would be nice, but is simply not an option everyone has. Will, in fairness, at least puts his money where his mouth is and he run a slow session in Montana and brings on beginners. Michael, well, not so much in my experience.

You know, Jim, that several people, not just them, disagreed with you about what techniques required mastery to play Irish music. It’s not so simple as you make it.

If I ever took up the fiddle and wanted a question answered here, I’d dig through the archives and find their old posts, as well as those of other ex-members who I know can play. I wouldn’t post a new thread.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

If you wanted to learn fiddle Id suggest you follow the advice of a verifiable and reputable fiddler rather than a session.org self appointed expert. cheers

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Awww…. a proper old-style session.org bust-up. I miss Bogman and Bob Himself and a few others on that thread!

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

You see, Will, they are not mere "session.org self-appointed" experts floating around in the cyberspace ether, but real live people I have actually sat next in sessions. And in the case of Will H., he even came to the slow session I used to attend a long time ago and taught us all a tune (was it the Piper’s Despair? Cannae remember). We then played tunes with him later that evening at the "real" session. They are quite "verifiable" from my perspective. Or are you saying I just don’t know good playing when I hear it?

And if I wanted Kevin Burke’s view, I’d take a workshop with the man. I wouldn’t trust "Kevin Burke as channeled through Will Evans on thesession.org." That’s following the advice of some self-appointed expert, isn’t it?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*You know, Jim, that several people, not just them, disagreed with you about what techniques required mastery to play Irish music.*]

Yes, often from those who did not play fiddle themselves, and who often disagreed with tried, tested and successful methods of teaching *the very basic stuff*, which are necessary for mastery of any kind of music. That’s my point. Once you’ve got past that stage, then you can start evaluating the myriad of advice on here, and much of it was good, as I have already said, and many others have agreed that it was too.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Trouble is Spear, that back in that "KB does" vs "KB doesn’t" bust up Will E was reporting Kevin Burke correctly and Will H was disagreeing with him.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

DrSS a workshop is a very limited forum for teaching, Ive been to hundreds of workshops and what is taught there is not at all what is taught in a standard weekly class. IMO its mistaken to think that a few internet videos or workshops will give an insight into the deeper tradition and longer term teaching methods.
As regards Will H and your slow session….. Even a blue belt looks like an expert to a whitebelt,. A hack shodan can run his own class and award belts as and when they chose. BUT its the 5thdan + guys, WITH official accreditation and teaching certs who are actually qualified to instruct.

Do you think a real expert is going to be fooled by the blue belt? or hack shodan? not at all. They can simply look and listen , ask a few basic questions and ascertain the depth of understanding as expressed.
I mean look at the thread above! what a joke…. you or anyone took that guy seriously for more than a few hours? !! :-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

No need to be condescending, Will.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Trouble is Spear, that back in that "KB does" vs "KB doesn’t" bust up Will E was reporting Kevin Burke correctly and Will H was disagreeing with him."

Well even the most clueless folk in the world are going to be right on occasion. Anyway, I clearly missed that thread and don’t know why Will H or indeed any of the others, left.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will,

Not everybody has access to the "black belt" teachers and tutors all the time. We sometimes have to settle for a little less, in the first instance. After all, we don’t have University Professors teaching kids in Primary One.

However, as we progress, we become a little more discerning and seek out better tuition and advice or, at least, that which is more appropriate for our needs at the time. Of course, one has learn how to separate the wheat from the chaff but we usually learn this through experience.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

some comments from another member on another thread;
<<Learning without ornamentation for a beginner and getting good with the rhythm is vital and once the rhythm of the tunes are fine the ornamentation will fit in effortlessly.”>># Posted by big_tab 2 years ago.
>>Here in Co Clare a man called Frank Custy is the best known music teacher having thought thousands of musicians over a thirty year period. Over a hundred pupils gathered every fri night in Toonagh school. The difference between Frank and other teachers was that he got peoplr playing tunes straight away and enjoying the session.Many,many of his pupils are now major figures in trad. Many, many more are just enjoying the fun of tunes.Many of them are now teaching music using Franks system and passing it on to many more. It is completely ornamentation free. When you can play the tune well then it is time to find a teacher that can bring you along with the addition of rolls and triplets and grace notes and all the other stuff that can frighten people off at an early stage. This means that literally thousands of musicians in Co Clare have learnt their music concentrating on rhtyhm and FUN.It seems to be working alright .
# Posted by big_tab 2 years ago.

Ah but Frank Custy Must be getting it wrong because according to our resident guru ;-) >>you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.<<

as if…

@ johny , very true, what im saying is that , beginners are pretty much clueless in general and their judgement on the ability of others is based upon that cluelessness and their prior constructed fantasies. That is precisely why there are accreditation systems in place . It doesn’t stop the cowboys , but it does offer an alternative.

@DSS what goes around comes around.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Its not just a case of "being right on occasion". As Mr Gill once said "jig [Will Evans] has read a lot of books". Even the clueless can pick up a piece of advice and repeat it in what seems to be the correct context. My quote from Michael Gorman higher up the thread could be just that.

What often happens here is that people with strong and different views don’t give a rational explanation of why they disagree but simple take the easy option of attacking the messenger and justifying it by pointing to the messengers previous errors or dodgy playing. Or they simply ignore contributions that might challenge their views.

Kevin Burke has said in interview, and is reported from workshops as saying, things that don’t fit the consensus of the mustard board gurus. The response to those things being quoted here has never, that I am aware of, led to a sensible discussion of the apparently different approaches. I think the different approaches can be reconciled. But it is not something anyone will ever read on this board, which I think is a loss to its readers, especially new ones.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>Even the clueless can pick up a piece of advice and repeat it in what seems to be the correct context. >…
I disagree, they clearly have a clue if they pick up advice from the likes of Gorman.
The clueless wont recognise sound advice because they have no framework in which the information can rest. No structure in which to incorporate the advice.
Its our mental constructs that we use to understand . Information is only comprehensible when placed in an overall picture.
I could say things here, in plane :-) inglish 8-) and quite possibly no one would have the faintest idea what I was going on about because the prior level of eduction is missing.
Actually that happens all the time here….. 8-)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

That goes both ways, David. I have yet to read anything from those liberally quoting Mr. Burke and the like that there may, in fact, be more than one valid approach to learning Irish music. If someone got started by playing scales for three months and it helped them, that’s fine. Similarly, you can start off by playing easy tunes and trying to place the odd cut. If you get to where you want to go in your playing, I don’t see the problem.

The nature of internet arguments, whatever the subject, is that people often end up espousing a more extreme version of their assertions than they might themselves believe, or tell you over a pint in the pub.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

very well said Dr. But because you dont see the problem, doesnt mean its not there. Perception itself rests on prior understanding.
My point is that some top class players and teachers are very clear about their recommendations and teaching. We quote them freely. so where are the quotes for the ‘opposing’ side in the argument granted that we are all learners, we all deserve to hear both sides of the story. but Ive yet to read a quote from a master espousing the Gill/Harmon/shaw approach and in my own playing and understanding i consider that approach as being both fanciful and misguided .

So if the >>you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them.<<
School of thought is supported by a wider selection of masters [anyone?] then surely they will have said as much and be quoted…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I can only paraphrase what I’ve been told by well known pipers. I don’t write these things down in the midst of a lesson, with a view to needing to quote it on thesession.org nine years later. It does generally involve learning simple tunes and trying to place ornaments as and when you can.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Doc, here’s an example of what I mean about ‘gurus’ not understanding ‘the basics’. See link below.

Someone is asking a question on fiddle fingering (and it’s a very simple one, by any standard). This is what can happen when you miss out on the basics, and start playing tunes.

The OP is someone who is learning a few polkas, and asks a perfectly sensible question in the circumstances.

The situation is this : as to the fingering of the note in question, there is a free finger right above that note, right at the time when the note needs to be played, and that same finger is not required for the next note after that. The most economic and ergonomic solution. Fact. It seems our two ‘gurus’ missed that totally. Ah well.

So now they can start on ornamentation.

https://thesession.org/discussions/21079

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Crap. I don’t even know which thread I’m posting in anymore.

See my misplaced comment on the thread you linked to. Everyone on that thread, including yourself, more or less told the OP the same thing.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"beginners are pretty much clueless in general and their judgement on the ability of others is based upon that cluelessness and their prior constructed fantasies."

What an unbelievable thing to say. There are hundreds of great players who never had a lesson from anyone in their lives and who got where they did by interacting and listening.

I just wonder whether Will would take a class of absolute beginners and start off telling them that they are utterly clueless and it’s a good job for them that he’s here. Frankly, "clueless" is just the wrong word. "Beginners" would be a good substitute.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>way of reducing cognitive dissonance is to straight up decide that the new information is not true, or that the person is lying to you. You see this all the time when someone actively refuses to believe something, or attacks you for telling them. Sometimes people even invent reasons that the fact could not be true, just to calm themselves.>>Do we ignore the new information or fight against it, or do we stop, think, and evaluate it objectively? Do we use the inner tension created by dissonance to research the subject and learn more, or to demonize and insult those who disagree with us?>>

lol, just a random quote from the net but very relevant to this place …..

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Everyone on that thread, including yourself, more or less told the OP the same thing.*]

You missed the point. Entirely. I’m not going to spell it out for you. Sorry.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Seeing as everyone’s weighing in:

I’ve been reading the mustard board semi-regularly since I first started. Will Harmon and Michael Gill are the two contributors who most influenced my thinking, consistently providing advice that I am either very happy to have followed or, in hindsight, frustrated that I ignored it. What I also like about both Michael and Will was their consistent quality of argument/reasoning and lack of tendency to put words in people’s mouths. Some people might not miss them. I definitely would miss them and their ilk. (DrSilverSpear, always ready to be modest about her own playing - possibly rightly so, I wouldn’t know)

I have a recording of Michael’s that he recorded for me one morning before going to work. It’s a standard of playing I aim to emulate (along with a local fiddler who also gets a lot of flack for not suffering fools gladly).

Now of course, that’s just me. In John Wayne’s words in Tall in he Saddle: "I like grumpy old cusses; hope to live long enough to be one". I also have no problem with people stating absolutes when they are well reasoned, because it’s easy to know how to disagree with them.

Michael’s (former?) stance on banjos and irish music (that they can’t play rolls, so can’t play irish music), for example, is clearly untenable, particularly when you consider his stance on articulation/ornamentation. Clearly irish music has to be articulated like irish music - and different instruments use various amounts of "ornamentation" (in combination with other articulatory means) to achieve that effect. To suggest that ornamentation is something you add on afterwards (like spices in a meal that could sit without them) is either suggesting that certain instruments are underressourced (for playing irish music) because you can’t add so much ornamentation afterwards, or to suggest that all the irish music with non-negligeable quantities of ornamentation (i.e. the vast majority) just put in stuff that is superfluous.

The very fact that banjo is perfectly capable of playing irish music with few ornaments tells us that it compensates with other ressources to make it possible to easily play irish music on it in way that is much harder to achieve on, for example, a saxophone. I would claim that this illustrates that (most) ornamentation is articulatory - seeing as it can be adequately replaced by other forms of articulation on some instruments but less on others.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I’m sure your backhanded point is that the OP "should" not be playing tunes if he/she can’t work out that finger movement and should instead be practicing their scales. The other argument being, of course, that the OP can work out, in the context of those easy tunes, how to move their fingers in order to get the notes they want.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

With regards to learning with/without ornamentation:

First it’s separate from whether ornaments are added in later or not (btw, I don’t mean specific ornaments in specific places, I mean "including ornamentation in the articulatory ressources of the tune"). But if ornaments can be added later, it’s obvious that learning without them will be fine. And if ornaments are something one typically adds later, then yes, learning with ornaments might "fix" them in certain places.

If including ornamentation in the articulatory ressources of the tune is not optional on certain instruments, then learning without them can work (particularly for figuring out the intervals), but should be well considered and might have a tendency to "fix" in non-ornamentation articulatory ressources (again a habit that might be difficult to shift out of).

So how someone first teaches a tune does not tell us whether they consider ornamentation optional or not.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

(woops, the bracketed comment about SS meant to finish in that her kind of always well reasoned participation I would also greatly miss)

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

practising, it is a verb.
I would suggest to the op, to start off with the simplest ornamentation.
Matt Cranitch who is a far better musician than all the self important gurus on this forum,teaches by exercises he suggests practising rolls on certain notes for example, in a double jig a dotted crotchet E followed by the QUAVERS. ef#e,
he then uses a tune as an illustration, he also does this with cuts, he shows how trebles and rolls can be used as alternatives,he also shows alternative ways of bowing a tune, in my opinion it is a good tutor.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

With regard to playing. This is just me, but I have the (somewhat untenable) belief that there is a bar. On one side people are playing irish music. On the other side they are not. Sometimes people with a different bar than mine alternate between sides. Although I would love to rule the world and get to say that my bar is the right bar, it’s probably a good thing that I never will. It’s very simple and easy to get to the "right" side of my bar (beginners of a couple of years have passed it, you don’t have to be very good, just be playing something that sounds like irish music to me). On a good day I’m there. On a bad day I’m not.

Jim Dorans, your playing on youtube doesn’t pass that bar for me (because you have a tendency to string notes together without lift). Now this is fine (I mean… it’s irrelevant to you what I think of your playing - or at least I hope it is). But from what *you* apparently think of your playing (that it might not satisfy everyone, but that it’s a matter of opinion?), it makes me doubt that any of your advice on playing could help me pass *my* bar for myself (and makes me smile a lot when you talk about "basic fiddle technique", seeing as all your technique you are so certain about and are so certain is relevant for irish fiddle apparently doesn’t help you play irish music - to my ears).

I’m not saying this to attack Jim’s music, but to explain how someone’s playing influences the relevance of their opinions to one specific person: me. This is why I don’t read Chiff and Fipple any more: too many people who, regardless of their correctness, just are not interested in the same version of irish music that I’m interested in.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Very well said, Tirno (and thanks for the compliments earlier…awww :-) )

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*I’m sure your backhanded point is that the OP "should" not be playing tunes if he/she can’t work out that finger movement and should instead be practicing their scales. The other argument being, of course, that the OP can work out, in the context of those easy tunes, how to move their fingers in order to get the notes they want.*]

OK Doc, I re-read my earlier reply (typed in a moment of exasperation) and the phrasing was a bit curt, so I apologise for that.

I came across that thread by accident very recently (when you go to the discussions page, on my browser at least, in the search box is a greyed-out "eg fiddle technique"). Out of curiosity I typed in ‘fiddle technique’, saw the results, and picked that discussion at random. I posted a reply there, even though the thread was years old. It could help others, I thought.

In the course of this ‘ornamentation’ discussion, the ‘gurus’ were mentioned. I had already been surprised at the answers given on the aforementioned ‘fiddle technique’ question, which is why I made a post here about it.

My point is that I stated a fact on that thread (the correct ie most economic and logical fingering to use, and backed it up with sound reasoning). No-one else did that.

Many poo-poo the practicing of basic scales, maintaining that you only need to play tunes. That does work up to a point, till something like that little polka comes along and you get confused about which finger to use (because you’ve skipped the essentials early on). Sure, many can work out fingering for themselves, but could still end up making things un-necessarily difficult for themselves if they are doing things arse-about-face (like two of the three options offered on that thread).

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Tirno, I read your comments on my playing. I appreciate your honesty and impartiality.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

i disagree with Dick Miles

Response #33o :-(

"As I said, I’ve never seen a thread that promoted the idea of learning ITM from written music, but Michael continuously steered the threads in that direction."

Offhand I’d say there probably have been no threads ‘promoting’* learning traditional Irish music from notation. Regarding the second part of Ailin’s response I instantly recall the phrase now etched in Mustard Stone ~ "If you have a recording why do you need the dots?"

… Back to the idea of learning ITM from notation. Short of an OP promoting their use it is often helpful if those responding are allowed to sort whatever sources are being used & how much weight each source is being given.

On this discussion the OP indicates (Mollie, please correct my mistakes if anything I say is in error) .. she indicates that normally she learns the tunes from hearing them played. Her question in this discussion is about putting ornamentation into a tune for which she has abcs; & presumably has not heard the tune(s) played.

There have been previous discussions asking about using ornamentation. Each one is unique and best answered according to the particular needs and experience of the person asking the original question(s).

*countless, extended, continuous threads though w/several mustardiis steering well away from the stated topic.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I agree with Tirno about your playing, Jim. The technical stuff is there, but your playing lacks the lift that one looks for in Irish music. I would think that, when this music is involved, you should be doing a lot less talking, and more listening. And, like Tirno, I say that trying to give you honest feedback, and because I think you will listen. I certainly think you have good intentions, and do your best trying to contribute positively to this discussion board.
I will not comment on what I have heard of Will Evans’ playing, which I didn’t think was too good, because I have never seen any sign that he listens to anything anyone else says. And his contributions to this board have diminished its quality for years.
There has been a lot of discussion of Will Harmon and Michael Gill here, while they are not around to defend themselves. Will could be a bit condescending at times, and Michael seemed to often be snarky just for the fun of it, but I have heard both their playing on line, and they are both fine musicians.
I myself am certainly no paragon of the music, but I try to limit myself to talking about the basic fundamentals that I do know something about, clearly label my opinions as such, and try to approach the whole endeavor with some humility. In fact, one thing I think is notable about Irish music is the humility that its greatest players exhibit. If there is one thing that we could all learn from the masters, I would say that is a good place to start.

Re: off-topic .. responding to the humility in all this

Developing your technique, good tone, dedication to practice, efficient fingering, so on & so forth. Each bit is worthy in it’s own part. But it all comes down to "music", which involves a certain homage to how the musician learnt it, her or his interpretation, some personal expression, & an emotional connection with those who hear the music (those who make an effort to listen).

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Regarding the second part of Ailin’s response I instantly recall the phrase now etched in Mustard Stone ~ ‘If you have a recording why do you need the dots?’"

Because learning from a recording tends to influence how you will play the tune, since one tends to copy not just the tune, but the style and ornaments used in the recording. Not necessarily a bad thing, but probably not the best, either.

Second, for many like me, learning from a recording is much slower and harder. For years, I learned everything by ear. I’ve been an ear musician most of my life because in the old days, sheet music for anything I wanted to learn (ITM or otherwise) was either hard to come by or too expensive. Now that there are so many good (and free!) sources available, I learn most tunes from written music. Once I get the tune down, I search YouTube for recorded version to hear how others play the tune (regardless of instrument) and adapt accordingly if I hear bits I like. It’s a great system for me and I highly recommend it to the OP and everyone else.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Regarding the ornamentation as it applies to beginners: when I’m helping someone get started I play the tune with all the ornamentation as the example, but I teach them the melody without ornaments. I want to make sure they understand what has to be eventually inserted to complete the picture and play irish trad as opposed to just a clever melody. I isolate the ornaments I used in the example and provide them as exercises. I explain that when the student has acquired enough memory muscle to execute the ornament effortlessly, they are ready to try inserting them where they go as per my example. This is how I teach beginners taking into consideration the difficulties of the ornaments but not smoothing over their importance. I have received instruction early on that I wish would have followed this same MO.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Al, I have read your comments about me and my playing, and I have no problems with you expressing your opinions about both.

I did have to smile though, when you said you would not comment on Will Evans’ playing, then you just did :)

‘If you have a recording why do you need the dots?’

.. & learning from the "dots" doesn’t?

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jack Gilder, I want to say how much I appreciate your insightful commentary in this discussion. And if you missed it I’m linking to a previous link I posted regarding Tola Custy’s approach to instruction on ornamentation;
https://thesession.org/discussions/31844?newcomment=682753#comment681865

w/a tip of the hat to what Will Evans may be attempting to demonstrate although not exactly in the same words.

;)

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"In fact, one thing I think is notable about Irish music is the humility that its greatest players exhibit. If there is one thing that we could all learn from the masters, I would say that is a good place to start."

Excellent, Al. My exceptionally late new year’s resolution is, though, to avoid at all costs referring to anyone, no matter how good their playing, as a "master".

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

If you called them a master, Steve, they would wave their hand dismissively, tell you that you must be mistaken, and go back to making wonderful music…
(and yes, Jim, you caught me in awkward phrasing there, I was trying to say that I wouldn’t provide feedback to Will Evans on his playing, not that I wouldn’t say anything about it at all…)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

@Dr.SS

"Don’t you leave, cboody! I for one appreciate your posts. Whatever that is worth."

Many thanks from one Dr. to another….

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Perhaps this discussion might have some use if at some point "ornamentation" was defined. We tend to think of the "twiddly bits" but we often forget that bowing, tonguing, accents, and a host of other similar things are part of the issue. Music (any kind) without phrasing is lack-luster regardless of whether it is filled with tiddling. Music with phrasing comes to life even without the twiddly bits. For example:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCwut-wg7fE


Not too much in the way of ornaments as we’ve been talking about but fine phrasing and use of the "other things" that I think about as part of the broader concept of ornamenting, or perhaps better phrase making.

So, while I agree that you can’t make music without ornaments in the broad sense you may well be able to do so in the narrower sense of few twiddly bits. Contrast some of the whistle players for example. Names are escaping me at the moment…(1:00 AM here).

Thus the whole argument here seems specious to me and totally lacking in content…except for the over-riding lambasting of a couple of absent folks which has nothing to do with the topic at hand….

(How’s that Dr. SS? :) )

Edited for clarity…which it probably still isn’t

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Cbooty, the "lambasting" became more of an off-topic commentary about the state of the forum sans those two.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Yeah, but Cboody, that was a Scottish air, you wouldn’t expect it to feature "fast scratchy sounds", if you hear Jenna Reid playing a faster (dance) piece she scratches away like nobody’s business, as here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMC6ovIZa28

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"Regarding the ornamentation as it applies to beginners: when I’m helping someone get started I play the tune with all the ornamentation as the example, but I teach them the melody without ornaments. I want to make sure they understand what has to be eventually inserted to complete the picture and play irish trad as opposed to just a clever melody. I isolate the ornaments I used in the example and provide them as exercises. I explain that when the student has acquired enough memory muscle to execute the ornament effortlessly, they are ready to try inserting them where they go as per my example. This is how I teach beginners taking into consideration the difficulties of the ornaments but not smoothing over their importance. I have received instruction early on that I wish would have followed this same MO."
Isn’t this what Will Evans is saying.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Isn’t this what Will Evans is saying*]

Pretty much, yes.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

No its not what will was saying. Different context. Teacher-student. For example "try inserting them where they go as per my example". I would be very happy with a teacher who used that approach.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

David, I’m not trying to be argumentative - Will made quite a few posts on this subject. This is the one I mean, then following that, much later on, is Phantom Button’s post. I thought they meant pretty much the same in meaning and intent. The essence of both :

Will : "Well Mollie my advice is to forgoe ornamentation untill you can play a[few] tune[s],the bones the straight melody, 3 times round with no mistakes, good tone, intonation and form and ,be able to vary it with your phrasing and emphasis, timing, and pauses enough so as to make it [them]a rhythmically exciting piece of music. Once you can do this, and the third time through is no mean feat I can assure you only Then gently add in ornaments …"

PB : "Regarding the ornamentation as it applies to beginners: when I’m helping someone get started I play the tune with all the ornamentation as the example, but I teach them the melody without ornaments. I want to make sure they understand what has to be eventually inserted to complete the picture and play irish trad as opposed to just a clever melody. I isolate the ornaments I used in the example and provide them as exercises."

These imo reflect one general methodology, as opposed to any else who thinks that the full package (tune + ornaments) be taught as one.

Qualifier : Mollie is not a beginner, according to her profile, but there seemed to be good reasons for her asking the question in the first place.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

How do you put ornaments into a tune?

It depends on where you are on your musical journey.

In the beginning, you listen very carefully to one (or maybe two) players that you really admire and want to emulate. Youu listen to the ornaments they use, and where they tend to put them, and you try to do the same. remember that the way you ornament a tune becomes a major part of your ‘style’, so it is best to concentrate on one or two players only (or better still, one teacher) rather than picking up a mish-mash of different styles for different tunes, depending on who you learned them from. The ornaments are NOT (as some have suggested) part of the tune, they are part of your playing style. And as such it is important to see them as something separate from the tune - something that can be changed and adapted to suit your instrument and personal style, without changing the tune.

When you get a bit further along your journey, you don’t put ornaments in. You start off playing a new tune straight, and by the time you’ve played it through a couple of dozen times, the ornaments have put themselves in place without you noticing.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jim, I think those two are distinct . PB’s student is his using his playing as an example, under PB’s guidance. Molly is asking about putting the ‘ornaments’ in herself. That is along the same lines as ‘making the tune her own’ but asking for some hints on how to do it. A third approach is Steve saying "you should be playing tunes complete with ornamentation (your own take) from the minute you start learning them".

I think what the anti "added baubles" contingent need to take into account when explaining their view is this business of "making the tune your own". Worth another thread (but their is a good old one - that went lighthearted as it started drifting). I suspect a lot of added baubles come from *trying* to be creative.

(crossing with skreech - I wrote this 45 mins ago but went back into the garden before it submitted)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Maybe it would simplify things a bit if we say that ornaments are not notes ‘added on’:— the tune consists of the notes, and the ornaments are the way you play them.
Or maybe not.
Ah well — *I* know what I mean.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

" You have to allow a tune time to sink in before you can open yourself up to its inherent possibilities. Then, gradually, you can find all sorts of turns and twiddles, all kinds of ways of bringing out the different aspects of a tune to best advantage. " (John Kirkpatrick)

That is sort an ‘and also this’ follow on to skreech’s post.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

The thing about ‘ornamentation’ and ‘articulation’ and ‘phrasing’ is that it is not something discrete, something you can pin down. You have some things that are obvious, like rolls and double stops, that are easy to distinguish. But then you have some things that are quite subtle, like how much value you give to each eighth note in a phrase, where you take your breaths, which notes you lean into a bit more than others. The tiny little things you add (or subtract) that give a tune lift. If you just look at ornamentation as things that you glue onto the tune here and there, you tend to miss the importance of the feel of the whole thing, the gestalt if you will.
There are times when it is useful to look at ornaments as things that can be added and subtracted, especially in learning. But you also don’t want to get boxed into this kind of viewpoint, because, like all analogies, it can also limit the way you think about the music.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*"In fact, one thing I think is notable about Irish music is the humility that its greatest players exhibit. If there is one thing that we could all learn from the masters, I would say that is a good place to start."*]

Al, all things are good and valuable when taken in the right context. After Earthwatch duties (that be diggin’ the ef’n garden), I cracked open a cold Golden Pride and fired up ‘Fierce Traditional’ by Frankie Gavin, and again I smiled when I thought of humility :)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well, David, before you adopt John Kirkpatrick as any sort of guide to Irish, it’s worth remembering that he also hates the very concept of sets! You picks and you chooses…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jim, you lost me with, "all things" are good and valuable when taken in the right context.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

[*Jim, you lost me with, "all things" are good and valuable when taken in the right context.*]

Ben, you may be taking all this too seriously. Further up the thread, Al, (in his comments about me and my playing) mentioned humility as one of the attributes of some of the masters. And, he makes a good point, because it is true in a lot of cases.

Frankie Gavin is acknowledged as a master by many, but humility is most certainly not one of his attributes. If you knew him personally, you would know that.

That, coupled with the CD titled ‘Fierce Traditional’, well …. :)

Efn brilliant player, and so too is the music, imo.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I understand your meaning perfectly, Jim. I caught the tongue in cheek & intentional irony. What I don’t understand is the bit I quoted; it doesn’t make sense.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Ah Ben, now you’re baiting. Stop it, you naughty boy.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Jim, sorry but it simply does not make sense to me. I’m not baiting you.

And, yes, I do take humility ( and context) seriously.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Maybe someone could help me out here and try to explain, if you can? I really am lost for words at the moment.

Ben, Golden Pride is a very strong beer we have over here.. Right now I’m enjoying it while listening to Fierce Traditional :)

Here’s the only bit which doesn’t make sense ..

"Al, all things are good and valuable when taken in the right context."

Everything else works.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"You picks and you chooses". Sure do. 8-) But, so far as that observation is concerned, is Irish music different ?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Here is a little segue. Who here thinks its fine and OK to simply drone, drag, or ignore portions of tunes that normally contain triplets, and rapid string crossings? The reason i include string crossings, is that fluid, and clear and playful string crossings and on a fiddle or banjo, causes a great layering effect that is mistaken for droning too often. I find that beginners or "on the fly" learners at sessions will just play a big fat quarter note, or double stop/drone, and put some swing in it, and it undermines some great parts of the tune. I hope this is an American problem, and I blame bluegrass and American aesthetics for it, because bar patrons love it- it makes the tune more of a rock tune, and to me its a total drag. So who here— show of hands thinks that is a totally fair way to ornament a tune? Maybe I am just a stick in the mud, and need to get over myself, but triplets and runs of bouncey airey string crossings keep things lively and trad sounding (to me anyway). To be fair, I think a little bit of that is OK-but when its a fall back move when somebody hasn’t bothered to really learn the tune, it can be quite pathological, and just make a session boring when tune after tune gets truncated in this way-not to mention I think it leads to speed up problems-another rant for another time. Rolls and cuts don’t seem to suffer in this way, I think because rolls get a lot of attention at workshops and lessons, and they just seem to be more attractive to beginners.

Re: How do you put humility into a tune?

Jim Dorans, I guess it comes down to my thinking what makes one humble is the music, the time honoured traditions, "all" the different players (rather than a hierarchy) each one going into a tune the best way she or he knows how. And when the music being made doesn’t get a spotlight pointing on an individual ‘star’ the best player(s) still appreciate it’s music which matters (humbly so).

Maybe this is just my fantasy but I think at some point humility, in the realization of this great music, comes to each player who plays the tunes well. Even Frankie Gavin, et. al.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Somewhere above, I cautioned against using the exception in an attempt to prove the rule. When it comes to humility in Irish music, Mr. Gavin is the exception. In fact, I never anticipated using Mr. Gavin’s name in the same sentence as the word humility. ;-)
And SandyBottoms, I know exactly what you mean, in fact, I am guilty of it more than I would like to be, and work to eliminate those practices from my own playing. The ornamentation you use should be picked based on its appropriateness, not limited by what you don’t know how to do. Or be replaced by speed, which is often used to cover up lack of attention to detail.

Re: How do you jig to a tune?

Cheers, David! As it is I’ve heard "Cliffs of Moher" a number of times recently led by a fiddler who, in my humble opinion, provides more drive than is needed (makes me want to jump off the tip top). It’s a jig afterall.
;)

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Sandybottoms, I used to do a kind of ‘vamp’ as a variation, when playing along with pipes.

It’s frowned upon, I know, but this is what it sounds like - fiddle and pipes both playing melody, then pipes ‘solo’, with the 2-note chord ‘vamp’.

http://worldfiddlemusic.com/guest/mb.mp3

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Nicholas Jelinek writes: "Isn’t this what Will Evans is saying."

I think the difference is that Will seems to suggest that the music stands on its own sans ornaments and that they are extra more or less, whereas I see them as part and parcel to Irish trad.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Re: It is a slow Scottish air:" Sure, but the point is the music lives, breathes and makes sense without twiddly bits, but NOT without all of the phrasing things. i.e. you need to phrase the music. I don’t care whether she scratches with the best of them on a reel, but rather that she phrases the music by using lots of things…that aren’t twiddly in the example I provided.

@ Phantom Button: Would it be reasonable to ask that you get my handle right when you post immediately after mine? Thanks…

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

A player may play an A part or a turn once through without ornaments this has the effect of highlighting ornamentation once it starts to be used, so in my opinion they are not part and parcel but an addition.
I agree with cboody about phrasing.

Posted .

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Fiddlers, help me out here. That clip above of Paddy Canny and Frankie Gavin. What are the main ‘ornaments’ they are using in Cliffs of Moher and what would it sound like if they left them out ?

I guess they are usually starting with a roll, but that’s still three notes where the basic rhythm has three notes. What else ?

(I don’t know Pipe on the Hob yet so its harder for me to try to hear what is going on)

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Main ornaments are rolls, cuts and trebling (triplets) -FWIW.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

I read somewhere that Paddy Canny, from East Clare, said that East Clare fiddlers thought West Clare fiddlers use too much ornamentation.

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

>>"Regarding the ornamentation as it applies to beginners: when I’m helping someone get started I play the tune with all the ornamentation as the example, but I teach them the melody without ornaments. I want to make sure they understand what has to be eventually inserted to complete the picture and play irish trad as opposed to just a clever melody. I isolate the ornaments I used in the example and provide them as exercises. I explain that when the student has acquired enough memory muscle to execute the ornament effortlessly, they are ready to try inserting them where they go as per my example. This is how I teach beginners taking into consideration the difficulties of the ornaments but not smoothing over their importance. I have received instruction early on that I wish would have followed this same MO."
Isn’t this what Will Evans is saying?
yes thats pretty much the system I use and recommend .

I think I need to clear up a point though, ;Obviously if you are after a particular traditional style/sound , such as east Clare/west Clare etc, on a specific instrument then certain ornaments are crucial to the sound you aim for. This is taken for granted. Im not arguing against this. Im saying that there are fundamental skills that are universally applicable to music as a whole. These skills I suggest are Primary and in fact beautiful music can be, and is , made with these alone. Instrument specific and stylistically specific techniques are supplementary to these, not instead of. That IMO the basics should be covered in depth before the stylistic/instrument specific ornaments are introduced to allow the player to develop holistically and on a firm foundation of competent playing.

“I suggest leaving out the ornaments they can’t yet execute”

Will, this is the bit I’d like to hear you respond to,
"When I’m helping beginners I try to give them what they will be capable of playing, and I suggest leaving out the ornaments they can’t yet execute… "leaving out" being the operative term. I explain to them the role and importance of the ornaments and provide them with different ones to practice that can be inserted when they achieve the ability to execute them. This is for instructional purposes only."

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

"That IMO the basics should be covered in depth before the stylistic/instrument specific ornaments are introduced to allow the player to develop holistically"

The irony here, apparently lost on you, is that a holistic approach would absolutely demand that you do NOT dissect out the ornamentation of tunes, as you suggest. ‘Tis your adversaries here who are advocating a holistic approach. You are recommending the precise opposite.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

well it totally depends on the instrument obviously. There are no ornaments in the tunes, we put them in, or not ,and where we choose. Would it be fair to say that that every banjo player leaves out rolls ? or every player bar pipers leave out most ornaments? IMO no.
A holistic approach revolves around understanding an underlying ethos behind trad, that being; its an improvisational art form and that the main area for this improvisation is in ornaments and variation.
So to teach tunes with ornaments in particular places such as;>>this is where a slow roll goes… [anything else] merely means that you’ve replaced the bit where the slow roll goes<<
IMO is a fundamental misunderstanding.
So a holistic approach starts with this fundamental principle and is designed to allow a player to progress at their own rate , and incorporate whatever influences into their playing as they see fit over the course of a life time.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

So Will,I’m curious-if you were teaching a beginner whistle (or flute) player a simple jig like,say, My Darling’s A Sheep how would you have them articulate the first couple of measures |fdd cAA|BGG A2G|-would you have them tongue the repeated notes? Or take a breath in between each?Or perhaps a glottal stop? Or would you just have them play |fd2 cA2|BG2 etc?

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Well I dont play flute and Im not a whistle player but I do have a few tunes and although I never actually learned the tune Im sure Ive played it hundreds times, so I would simply tongue the note as It might be played on pipes with closed fingering.
I would also teach how to break a note in 2 with a top or bottom hand grace as a preliminary exercise well before teaching tunes because IMO a good grasp of scales and arpeggios are basic so thats actually what I teach beginners. I really dont see any point in complicating things at an early stage by teaching tunes before the fundamentals have been covered .
IMO once a student has control of the instrument, can blow/bow steady single tones then groups of tones then tunes like this are fairly straightforward to pick up by ear .
You see a big part of scales etc is to educate the mind as to where the sounds come from on the instrument, so when the tune is in the head, its also basically in the fingers bar any particular triky bits.

So if possible Id rather teach tunes through lilting and let the student feel their own way into a tune through their instrument, whatever instrument that might be.

Anyhow for example; whistle triplets, by tonguing the notes as basic technique its not so far to go to break a note up into single pitch triplets in the same way. So a basic technique, tonguing, can be also part of a more advanced technique, and that can in turn lead on to 3 pitch tongued triplets .

if I were to simplify the tune it would be f2d c2A

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Excellent post, Will. I also agree with having the fundamentals covered first.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Alas, two wrongs don’t make a right.

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

lol minerva, then tell us how youd do it……

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

lol, empty vessels make the most noise……

Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Will no need to be modest. It’s obvious you know quite a bit about whistle playing;

"Jim Kline one of the worlds foremost guitarists ; Will is ” a natural teacher. I came away with a wealth of information about Irish music and whistle playing; phrasing, ornaments, repertoire, ("the swing!") and enough of his infectuous enthusiasm to keep me going for a long time! I am very impressed by his skill and talent”,James Kline."

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Re: How do you put ornamentation into a tune?

Since we are mentioning names, I was at the (late lamented) Gaelic Roots festival at BC about a decade ago, as a beginning whistler Jimmy Noonan taught us cuts, taps and rolls right from the start, and showed us how to put them into the three tunes he taught us that week. And a few years later, at the same festival, Joanie Madden taught us ornaments as she taught the tunes, and said if you can’t play the ornaments up to speed, play the tune slowly until your ornaments improve. She said different ornaments can go in different places, but if you learn your tunes without ornaments, you will tend to leave them out, or treat them as something apart from the melody. I remember discussing it with her and taking the opposite view. If I kept putting all those ornaments in, I said, it would take years to develop a repetoire of tunes I could play at session speeds. She said that I would develop sloppy playing habits that would be hard to break. After a few years of whistle playing, I now see the wisdom of what she taught.