“Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

“Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Hi All,

Zina brought up a great topic that obviously had deeper roots than our individual opinions of guitars or bodhrans. I think that question of what “traditional music” is has no easy answers, either for the musicologist or for the casual player or for the non-playing “fan,” and in my opinion Comhaltas’ determination to be the sole authority on what constitutes ITM all too often causes them to act counterproductively and look silly. With Fleadh Season upon us, I wanted to share this article:

Changing the Rules
Grupa

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Has anyone here heard Tony Ellis and the Musicians of Braeburn? To me they are a Chieftains-like approach to (mainly) traditional Appalachian-type music. (ATM?). Similarly Cauld Blast Orchestra and others have done the same thing in Scotland.

Sorry about the detour from the original topic. But I think that what we have of recordings of traditional musicians in the early days of recording, is all we will have of preserved tradition . (and even those players would have already been exposed to other influences)

Everything else is informed by internationally-available recordings, new instruments, new techniques, and ubiquitous broadcasting of all types of music. It is nobody’s duty to preserve the tradition. Where and what the tradition is can only be determined with hindsight and will never adhere to a prescriptive template. Play what you hear in your head and some historian will map the path of tradition through it at a later date.

It seems natural that musicians in a tradition, or perhaps from different traditions, would occasionally get together to work on arrangements and a slightly more formal presentation. I don’t see that as any threat to tradition and have enjoyed most of these projects, of which the Chieftains must be the longest running. We all know the individual musicians in such groups can play as freely in a session or solo as anyone.

What is described in the previous post sounds like a whole new genre (MidWest US Grupa Cheoil maybe?) , but so what? It could be something really good in itself.

The sort of dispute described in the link is what happens when you let clubs, committees, competitions and judges run music (or anything) for you. They have their role but it’s not a dominant one in the real world.
I will never know if I might have enjoyed this music or not until I hear it. Most of the music I know and love, be it “traditional” or something else, runs outside and beyond this world of clubs and committees.

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Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Huh…that’s interesting, Ostrich -- thanks for the link, I’ve never heard of this particular side of this stuff. Something new to learn every day -- I can’t comment, as I’ve never heard any recordings. I’ll have to go looking for stuff on the Web when I’ve the time.

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Anyone ever hear of the bowhouse quintet? A group formed by double bass player .Paul O Driscoll.A live album came out about six years ago.Or that mighty Breton group Archetype? With the great Jacky Mollard as its founder.

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Well, I guess it would be a lot easier if we could all hear what this thing is we’re talking about! I’ve been looking for sound clips on the web and very surprisingly have had no luck. The cds I was looking for are St. Louis Irish Arts Vol 1or Vol 2, or Cruinn by the Academy of Irish Music. It’s easy to find links to purchase those cds, but not to listen to samples, apparently. If I could figure out a way to post tracks from any f the cds here, I would. I have the Bowhouse Quintet’s live album which is largely on the same track as the sort of thing I’m talking about; some of the early Chieftains stuff before they started doing all the collaborations is also similar. I’ll keep looking for links and if I can find any I’ll post them.

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

This sort of reminds me of my time playing Old-time fiddle tunes in the southern U.S. I played straight guitar in the classic style--defined largely by one southern gentleman long dead who recorded a couple of records in the late 1920 and early ’30s--for a number of years until I just got bored with it (having been seduced by Celtic music). There is even less patience within that community with anyone who tries to push the tradition musically, and there are even those who intensely dislike anyone even from another part of the country who plays “their” music. In short, it’s extremely parochial, and the end result can be that the music is so rarified that few people play it, and even less get to hear it.

The additional irony is that much of this style of music wasn’t recorded until the 1920s, and that many of its current practitioners play it in the style of those early recordings. To be fair, there are some bands that have really pushed the limits, but they don’t come from the Sunny South of the USA--they’re mostly YANKEES, gawd forbid.

Perhaps another thing to keep in mind is that when you make the deal that folk traditions are going to be kept alive by institutions, rather than just folks, you have to realize that institutions are by their very nature conservative by nature as a function of self-preservation. Comhaltas may play a very important role in the preservation and dissemination of ITM, but it is what? 50-60 years old?

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Really, Stevie! I had no idea that the Old Time folks could be snobby as well. And here’s me thinking they’re such a paramount of virtuous diversity… ;) I don’t know why I thought that, I suppose people are people no matter where you go or what you play.

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Zina, many of these people can be quite snobby about their chosen art form. As with all forms of music, the best players can be quite charming and open-minded, but even then they can also be very opinionated, even chauvinistic. An acquaintence of mine who is a very well-regarded fiddler of SE regional tunes practically spat nails when he learned that another fiddler from the NE US who is internationally known in old-time music and song was coming to town to play a concert and dance. Something along the lines of “damn yankees coming down here to show us how to play OUR music!” Oh man, don’t get me started on their fondness for workboots, old instruments, rosiny fiddletops, snake rattles, even choice of whiskeys. They’re just as fancified and discerning in their own way as the most delicately Celtic-knotted, wool-wearing, Guinness-quaffing ITM enthusiast.

It’s human nature, all right, in all its grubby glory!

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

I agree with our Aussie friend Bren…(yay for thew freedom of downunder) …….clubs and committiees can get in the way of the heart of the thing, kindalike th Pope gets in the way of the spirit of the thing…………organized music and religion be damned. up with anarchy! I never get more pleasure than when I play freely at my sesions, for nobody in particular and with nothing in mind……….

Re: “Celtic Chamber Music” and Traditional Music

Hi there, first post so forgive me if I’m not quite up to speed. I have been playing Irish music for many years now and have competed many times at the Fleadhs. Every year I see the music and the sarcred ‘tradition’ evolving into many other things, some good, some bad. Even when traveling to Ireland for the Fleadh there about a week ago, the music was very different. There is a different air about it these days. While pretty much styles are staying the same, there seems to be more to just playing the tunes anymore. I believe that it is regarded more along the lines as Art. Someone had mentioned the St. Louis Arts and the Academy of Irish Music groups earlier and I acutally had the opportunity to hear tracks from both groups, and I have to say, esp. with Cruinn (by the Academy of Irish Music) they are quite evolved and perhaps a more modern style of Irish music than has ever come about. The same idea is applied to more well-known groups such as Lunasa or Solas, even older Cheiftan recordings.

As for the Fleadh Cheoil in America, Ireland and where ever else as far as the musicality is concerned, I can only really say one thing. St. Louis Arts won the Grupa Cheoil competition last week in Clommel.