Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I’m a novice fiddler, with a background in picked instruments (mostly in American old-time styles). My fiddle teacher is having me work on jigs right now, and I’m trying to understand how to get them to sound more traditionally Irish. I have a copy of "The Irish Fiddle Book" by Matt Cranitch, which is a big help, but there’s still things I’m not sure of. So here’s a list of things I’ve observed that I think I should be doing, or that I think I hear in recordings of jigs. I’d appreciate comments, corrections, clarifications and examples.

1. Swing or lilt: This is the emphasis on beats one and four. It seems like the slower the tempo, the stronger the lilt. It also feels like sometimes the swing varies across measures within a tune. For example, the first measure of Connaughtman’s Rambles feels like it should be swung harder than the second—the repeated A’s on beats 2,3, 5 and 6 allow for a different kind of emphasis than would occur in the next measure with a more melodic flow. Of course, the timing of the downbeats has to be the same and maintain a good dance-able rhythm. This is what I sort of think the tune should feel like—is this a misconception on my part? Can anyone find examples?

2. Adding double cuts: this seems like it’s always on beats 1 and 4. Adding them elsewhere just messes up the lilt. It also seems that cutting to a third above the melody note is preferred (major or minor third depends on the key), or to a note that appears in an appropriate backing chord.

3. Single cuts usually appear between beats 3 and 4 or 6 and 1. Trying to cut, for example in the first measure of Connaughtman’s Rambles, between beats 2 and 3 or 5 and 6 just doesn’t feel right to me. The ornaments almost need to be on the downbeats, it seems. (I haven’t really worked with rolls or trebles on fiddle yet, but I suspect it’s similar). In a single jig, a cut between a quarter note and eighth note that’s not on a downbeat works (as in the first measure of Kesh Jig or the Atholl Highlanders).

So those are my questions: how to add swing and where and how to place cuts. Are my impressions close to accurate? Where am I inaccurate? Am I going to start a flame war over different regional styles? I appreciate any insight and help in understanding ITM a little better.
-Chad

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Dance to them, or at the very least watch others dance to them.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

As far as beats go, I believe the emphasis is on beats 1 and 3. I could be wrong, though. I don’t know about any of the ornaments above, really. I’m fairly certain that the beat in a jig is 123 456 with the 1/3 and 4/6 standing out. I know that picked, most people recommend a down up down, dunno how that’d translate to fiddle 🙂 best of luck.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

@TheBlindBard: Wrong in your first sentence; right in your third. 🙂 You’ve got it though, I think.

To the OP: I’m not quite following some of your questions/statements.

I think "lilt" or "swing" isn’t to do with where the pulse is - it’s the difference in length and weight of the individual quavers within each three-note group, or half-bar. Heavier on notes 1 and 4 and then lighter on notes 2 and 5.

I don’t know what you mean by "double cuts" in this context; are you talking about rolls, where you play the note itself, a note above it, a note below and then the note again? I ask because, in my experience, double cuts per se are rare, to say the least, in fiddle playing. I don’t think I ever play them, and I don’t think I know anyone else who does either. Could be wrong …

As for single cuts, I do a lot of them, but I’m pretty sure that they can come anywhere in the bar, depending on the pattern of the notes.

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I think what a lot of people find difficult when they first learn to play Irish music is that there are no simple or straightforward answers to questions like the OP’s. There is no fixed pattern to where you emphasise the beat or to where you play ornaments. For jigs, you may generally emphasise 1 and 4 (as in 123 456), except when you don’t, and the degree to which you do so depends on how you want to play the tune, while some phrases in the tune may want emphasis on other beats (i.e. the first bar of Gander in the Pratie Hole, where people tend to put more effort on 2 an 5). It entirely depends on the tune.

The same is true of ornamentation. People use cuts to emphasise a particular note or phrase, but where they place them depends on the tune and how they want to play a phrase in a passing moment. I think you need to try to absorb the tunes more organically — listen to a good player, learn when and where they are using ornaments, but don’t then spend time trying to institutionalize it: "the cuts must therefore happen on beats X and Y." If you listen to a lot of good players and learn from them, you will pick up on how to make the tunes sound Irish.

Pipers use double cuts. I certainly do. The fiddlers I know don’t, and the one I live with didn’t really know what they were.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

@ DrSilverSpear: You’re right, of course, about the emphasis moving around a fair bit in Irish music. I don’t think that affects the underlying pulse though, which is constant.

But I have to disagree with you on The Gander in the Pratie Hole. I agree that a fair few people do put more emphasis on notes 2 and 5 in that first bar. I just think it sounds horrible when they do. 🙂

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

[*It also seems that cutting to a third above the melody note is preferred (major or minor third depends on the key), or to a note that appears in an appropriate backing chord.*]

I think (single) cutting just a tone (or semitone) above the note is gaining popularity these days. If you play the main note with your 1st finger, and cut using your 2nd finger, it’s more snappy sounding (2nd finger being the strongest). Of course if your main note is played with your 3rd finger, you have no option other than cutting with your 4th. Unless you have 6 fingers 🙂

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Ah, yeah, that’s a typo on my part :P I meant a 1 and 4, poor understanding of the question on my part 🙂

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Yeah, but the pulse isn’t created by strictly emphasising *1* 23 *4* 56 in every bar of the jig. That was the point I was trying to make.

I like leaning 2 and 5 in that first bar of the Gander in the Pratie Hole. If it’s good enough for Liam O’Flynn……..

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

"If it’s good enough for Liam O’Flynn…….."

He doesn’t, does he? 😲

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

That’s where I learned the tune from (I mean, not personally, but his recordings).

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Judging mainly from some lengthy, and sometimes very heated, discussions over at Fiddle Hangout I get the impression that players from an Old Timey background are used to feeling things in terms of patterns. In Irish music, as indicated by Doc SS, it’s best not to look for patterns, go with the tune itself.

As a "way in" to jigs I’d suggest avoiding the more foursquare and regular tunes and play some tunes like, say, Garret Barry’s quite slowly to get a feel of the push and pull of the rhythm and emphasis.

Listening to Martin Hayes playing "Tell her I Am" etc might be a good thing……

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I think the best way to learn how to play them is to listen to a lot of them, to go to irish sessions (good ones) and play the ones you know, and to take a few lessons from a master (someone like Frankie Gavin, for example).

Well, that’s what I did anyway

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Be careful. On fiddle, if you consciously try to emphasise notes 1 and 4 your jig will very likely sound ghastly. I have always felt they get enough emphasis just by being where they are - you don’t need to worry much about them. The notes that follow these ones are what you need to pay more attention to. As Ben Hall suggested, it’s all to do with the length and weight of all the notes _relative to each other_. There are various ways of divvying them up of course but you won’t go far wrong if you lengthen 1 and 4 a little and shorten/lighten 2 and 5. If you were playing all 6 notes with separate bows, you might use a couple of centimetres for 1 and 4 and only a couple of millimetres for 2 and 5

sort of 1 >———— <— >——— 4 <———— >— <——— kind of thing.

But of course any advice of this sort is dangerous if you attempt to apply it without copious, constant listening.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

TomB-R, that’s a nice observation regarding the difference between the tendency to look for patterns in American Old time and bluegrass, and the need to feel how an Irish tune flows. ‘Feel’ is subjective—and contextual, so one need not even be consistent. There doesn’t seem to be many hard and fast rules for Irish music. That’s not to say it’s totally free-form, but it seems to rely more on ‘guiding principles’ rather than rules. The key is just: listen to fluent players and try to absorb what they do. The OP’s thread title is a bit like asking, "How should I inflect a stanza of poetry for maximum impact?"

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

It is not just accenting the notes, it is the fact that some are played shorter and some are longer than the others. Kind of like the way notes are swung in jazz, but different. But I can’t really explain it in words, I just know it when I hear it. And in Irish music, what you are looking for is not called swing, it is called lift. When you do it right, the dancers feel like their feet are more at home in the air than they are on the ground.

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I’ve never had to think about it. I was amazed when some ITM players and myself welcomly crashed an open mic/bluegrass/jazz/old timey session thing. While I was playing I heard some of the Americana players commenting how they couldn’t understand how to strum like our guitarist was strumming. I think they said there is a certain smoothness to it all. I think if you are serious about ITM and you immerse yourself in the music you won’t know any other way to play a jig than the right way.

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Sounds like there’s a story in that :P

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Play what you know as continously as possible with actual real live musicians until you unavoidably pick up the accent…

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Tola Custy suggests thinking "rashers and sausages" for the rhythm.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I’m not enough of an player to say what is "right" (if indeed there is such a thing), but my listening tells me this: The lift (or swing if you wish) is not applied continuously throughout the a section or piece. Taking a bit from the various discussions of word patterns for rhythms it seems to me you might hear "rashers and strawberry strawberry strawberry" or "rashers and sausages strawberry strawberry." or other variants. And, my ears also say that those folks who say it varies with the piece have it right. Maybe it also varies with the place where a given tune is played…

It also seems to me that the lift rhythm of "rashers and sausages" is more strongly evident in Scottish jig playing than Irish. Anyone want to help me with that one??

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

The spaces between notes are very important. If you try playing each note with a separate bow, keeping the movement as short as possible, and making the time between notes as long as possible (without slowing the tune down too much), so that the bow acts in a way like a pick on the strings, you should hear the ‘clicks’ of the bow-hair as it grips and releases the string. Listen for this sound as you play, and try to reinforce — to emphasise — these rhythms as they emerge from the tune. Not all tunes are the same, which has been said already, as the various rhythm patterns will depend on different sequences of notes, and change according to slurs, ornaments and bowing pressure.
I would suggest not — repeat, not — trying to swing tunes by lengthening and shortening notes in any sort of pattern, if at all. Keep all the notes as equal in length as you can, even in places like, as you suggested above, the first part of Connaughtman’s Rambles. Use dynamics, volume, if you like, to create the swing instead. Really emphasise the difference between loud and quiet, so that the quiet notes are barely audible and the loud ones are as loud as you can make them. In doing this, you will also hear patterns emerging — the loud notes will not always fall on the same beat or with the same number of quiet ones between.
By combining the rhythms of the bow-hair with the patterns of volume change, you will find the underlying structure of each tune begins to emerge. Listen for the rhythms and emphasise them, bring them out as much as you can and try to avoid bow-changes, ornaments etc. that contradict the patterns. Each tune has its own character (I initially wrote ‘each tune is its own master’, which might be misleading; but the Freudian phrase arose for a reason that I hope you will understand) and the ‘best’ tunes can often be recognised from the rhythms alone.
As to ornaments, I, like everyone else apparently, don’t know what you mean. All I will say is that you don’t look for places to add ornaments. Ornaments are used to separate notes, to emphasise them, to create rhythm, character, style and interest, and should never, in my opinion, be added either to make you look clever or because you think they should be included. If it doesn’t sound right, it isn’t right.
I will say that if you think the note you are using to cut with should be selected from the ‘appropriate backing cord’, then you are wrong — the finger strikes the string so rapidly that the actual note is not sounded.

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I wouldn’t be brave enough to second guess Tola Custy. Imagine an Irish guy from Clare disagreeing with Prince on how to make it funky

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

But does Tola never throw in an egg or a farl to his breakfast? Isn’t rashers and sausages every time a bit boring?

I don’t know the context of the opinion being attributed to Tola Custy, but it’s fairly standard advice on the basic rhythm of jigs. If he’s actually saying that’s what all jigs should sound like all the time then yes I would disagree, and I’d say you don’t hear that in his own playing either.

To me that variation is essential to Irish music. Much as I like Scottish and Cape Breton fiddling I find the playing of jigs in them often far too regular for my taste.

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@ DrSilverSpear: re: Liam O’Flynn and The Gander in the Pratie Hole.

I’ve just had a listen to him on Cold Blow and the Rainy Night:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2WSKERlUKXQ


As I thought, far from emphasising the 2nd and fifth notes of the first bar and others like it, he almost cuts it out altogether, making it way-y-y less emphasised. He does that by ornamenting the first and fourth notes in those bars in such a way as to make the second and fifth notes nearly disappear. There’s a bit of a bump on the third and sixth notes as a result, which is quite common in jigs, and I wonder if that was what you meant rather than an emphasis on the second and fifth notes?

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I think that my appreciation of jig rhythms was helped by reading these two articles by Pat Mitchell:
http://www.seanreidsociety.org/SRSJ1/Rhythm%20and%20structure%20in%20Irish%20traditional%20dance%20music.PDF
http://www.seanreidsociety.org/SRSJ2/Rhythm%20and%20Structure%20-%20part%202.pdf

In particular how, after saying:
"So the basic time might be shown as “ta-ta-ta, tata-ta” and with a pulse “TA-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta” or “TA-tata,TA-ta-ta”.
He goes on to discuss double jigs and say:
"Looking again at the two phrases depicted in Fig 6, the basic jig rhythm structure of ‘ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta’ has changed to something resembling ‘ta ta-ta-ta taa’ ‘ta ta-ta-ta taa’ with the sequence starting before the bar in each case. If you care to try singing or playing the sequence I believe you will find there is a greater feeling of movement inherent in this structure than in the plain ‘ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta’."
and:
"…it is difficult to break away from the ‘ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta’ style. By the way, I do not believe there is anything intrinsically wrong with this style of phrasing. In fact, analysis of the rhythms used by some of our favourite pipers will show that ‘within-the-bar’ phrasing is the prevalent one."

I find it so easy to slip into ‘ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta’ that making an effort to hear ‘ta ta-ta-ta taa’ ‘ta ta-ta-ta taa’ is useful - even if sometimes I am imagining it.

I think this goes alongside cboody’s " it seems to me you might hear ‘rashers and strawberry strawberry strawberry’ or ‘rashers and sausages strawberry strawberry. ’ or other variants."

(crossing several while doing all that cut and paste from Mitchell)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Ah, so Pat Mitchell might be having:

"A rasher and sausage for breakfast at Tiffany’s" rather than starting on "rashers and sausages"

😀

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Having read the crossing posts I not only agree with Randy’s "Isn’t rashers and sausages every time a bit boring?" but think that reading such things (rashers and sausages) on the internet set my jig playing back for *years*.

I always seem to be having to start again…🙁

(🙂 to Ben’s post)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Well, he plays the FGA (or there an E in it somewhere? who cares?) triplet every time through, which I do sometimes and don’t at other times. I think that does emphasise that beat but if you don’t play the triplet, you most certainly play with more emphasis on 2 and 5, which I think is part of the character of this tune. Indeed, I went through assorted recordings on iTunes of that tune last night and found most people playing it in that way.

I doubt the rashers and sausages thing is entirely attributable to Tola Custy — I have heard it from assorted teachers giving vague guidance for beginners, but by no means absolutely set in stone rules. At the East Coast Tionol some years ago, a few of us were coming up with X-rated little phrases. I wish I could remember them.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

We’re going to have to agree to disagree. I agree with Liam O’Flynn on this one, and, like him, tend to emphasise 3 and 6 in those bars, and minimise the impact of 2 and 5. 🙂

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

However you play it (maybe I’m wrong about the beats; I actually never sit around and count the beats of a tune in that way, as I have far better things to do, like play them, and I hate math) my whole point of using it as an example is that you *don’t* play it like "rashers and sausages." Surely you would agree with that, Ben.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

DrSilverSpear, I believe you are right in your analysis, but (if I understand what you mean) the second and fifth beats are not emphasised so much as the first and fourth are given impact by cutting them short. The lengthening of a note does not give it more prominence, especially if it flows straight into the next note. Cutting a note off abruptly, however, does add impact, even though the note becomes shorter. This is what I meant earlier about
not trying to swing tunes by lengthening and shortening notes. It might sound contradictory; but it if the time between the *beginning* of one note and the *beginning* of the next remains constant, the lengths of the notes can be cut or not, and the spaces between notes varied accordingly.

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Yes, I think you are right, gam — 1 and 4 are cut off, which I suppose gives it kind of the feeling of 2 and 5 having more weight. However, I think this goes to show that when you get into abstract theorizing about whether you’re cutting off a beat, emphasising a beat, lengthening a beat, etc., you can talk yourself into a tangled mess. You are far better off listening to how people play the tunes and imitating it based on sound and feel.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

SilverSpear: can you describe how you do a double cut? (uninformed fiddle player asking)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

FWIW I hear the beat marked by the start of whatever he is doing with 1 and 4 then 3 and 6 emphasised by being long single (not ornamented) notes. ‘Within-the-bar’ phrasing (but not rashers and sausages).

And I had a look at the trace in Audacity. The start of 1 and 3 seem to be accented by being cut off by the change to something else and 4 and 6 each are roughly as long as 1/8 of the 6/8. Not, I suppose, that how long they are in milliseconds need correspong to how long they sound.

(crossing - not sure who that agrees with 😏)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Listen to Paddy Canny.

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

@Kennedy, what I think of as a double cut is when you bring your finger down on the hole for the note you are going to play, but you bounce your finger off the chanter, so you get a stuttery "d-da" sound along with your normal cut sound. I think there are other terms people use for that but can’t recall what they are.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Ah, thanks. Piping fascinates me. Will have to study it in another lifetime (too old for it now!)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

In flute lessons at summer schools, I’ve had teachers teach me that thing you’re talking about there, DrSS. But they’ve distinguished it from a double cut as being a different ornament (unless I’ve mistaken them). They’ve just called what you’re talking about a "bounce", a double cut being something different, whereby you go for a note that you would normally approach with a cut, and do the cut again. The bounce thing’s great, but I think (only think, mind) that it’s a different thing from what I think of as a double cut. It may just turn out to be me categorising these things by the different sounds that different players use. Still, since I use both, on flute, I’m sticking with it. 🙂

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Yeah, the other thing I have heard called a double cut is where you cut a note with two different notes instead of one, in a space where a quarter note (or maybe a dotted quarter) would be. You get the effect of a cran-like sound on notes like A and G.

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Oh yeah. That’s good, too. 🙂

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I’m just smiling here, because OP’s question was "Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?" and everyone’s now talking about how to do it on pipes, flute, and the Youtube clip is showing whistle.

Like the dynamics are the same as on fiddle … haha 🙂

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

No one’s talking about slurs. I’ve been taught that slurring into the downbeat, rather than on the downbeat, is important. Not as an inflexible rule, but generally speaking.

Matt

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

What do you mean by "dynamics," Jim? Do you mean the mechanical elements of playing? Such as the bow etc?

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

‘Dynamics’, in a musical sense, usually refers to variation in loudness - all your ‘pp’s, ‘mf’s, crescendos, diminuendos etc. I assume Jim is referring to the way variation in loudness is (on some instruments), used to emphasize notes and create a rhythmic pulse. Flute, pipes and whistle, of course, have a much narrower dynamic range than the fiddle (the pipes, almost none at all, save for the inherent and invariable loudness of each note of the scale, and the addition of one or more regulators [Dr. Spear - correct me if I’m wrong here]), so other techniques (cuts, rolls etc.) are used in place of dynamics. A note emphasized with, say, a cut, can give the impression of being louder even though it may not be.

Since, to the classical musician, ‘dynamics’ usually implies a general increase or decrease in loudness (either instantneous or gradual) from one phrase to the next, I am tempted to refer to the kind of intra-phrase dynamics used for rhythmic emphasis as ‘microdynamics’. It has a certain ring to it.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

CreadurMawnOrganig-Dynamics in classical music means the same thing as in any other type of music-changes in volume on anything from an individual note to an entire symphonic movement.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

… which is exactly why I queried it, since Jim seemed to be implying that dynamics were somehow different on flute than on fiddle. Since that is patently not the case - they are exactly the same, with the same degree of control on each instrument - Jim must have meant something different when he used the term "dynamics".

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Creadur is right — pipes have pretty much no dynamics as a classical player would understand it, though they excel at microdynamics, since you can vary the tone and to a limited degree, the volume, of any given note.

To Jim, I would say that one way a lot of fiddlers try to "sound Irish" is emulating what happens on the pipes.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Cranitch teaches the double cut a being a cut with two grace notes - the first being the main note, and the second being the usual cut note - i.e. the third finger for all except use the fourth finger when the third is the main note.

I really wish I could have all the time back that I spent fretting over the sound of my double cuts before realizing that no one else was actually playing them! It was a glorious day when I realized that the single cut was what I was hearing and wanting to play.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

OP back again—thanks to everyone for taking time to respond. The consensus I’m getting out of this discussion is that the best way to learn to play an Irish jig is to immerse myself in Irish jigs. Ben Hall’s discussion about the Planxty set he posted above seems to be saying that they’re doing about what I thought I should be doing in placing ornaments and emphasis. Tom B-R’s comment about the focus on patterns in American traditions certainly seems true in my experience (Nashville shuffle bowing versus Georgia shuffle, for example). I’m also a scientist by education, so looking for patterns and structure just feels natural to me.

I realize now that I was asking an essentially unanswerable question (as Joe Fidkid said, it’s like asking "How do I inflect a stanza of poetry for maximum impact?) I would say that my impressions about what I thought to do aren’t wrong (as in sounding out of place in ITM), but are simplified and overly mechanistic. Once again, it comes down to familiarity with the genre.

Here’s a little story that serves as an analogy to what I was doing when asking this question: I have friend who recently got really enthusiastic about photographing birds. He regularly sends me pictures and asks me to help him identify them. Yesterday he sent me picture and asked if it was a flycatcher. He listed the field marks he thought supported that—a gray bird with a white ring around the eye, blackish wings with a white bar, and so on. Those were all marks that appear on some kinds of North American Flycatchers. But just looking at his picture, I could tell he missed the overall form and shape of the bird and got distracted by the superficial markings. I could tell it was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, just by shape and posture, and probably some other subliminal cues that I’ve developed over a couple of decades of watching and studying birds.

I think i just need more experience with the form and shape of ITM before I can really use and apply the smaller details.

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The ‘rules of thumb’ aren’t nearly as bad as everyone makes them out to be. Just bear in mind that you’ll eventualy have to discard them like training wheels on bike. Lots of listening really is the key if you really want to get to know this music.

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[*What do you mean by "dynamics," Jim? Do you mean the mechanical elements of playing? Such as the bow etc?*]

By dynamics I mean the combination of variations in volume (bow pressure, bow travel speed) and tone (using different sounding points). These don’t apply to whistles, pipes or flutes. Yes, a good fluter can produce dynamics, but that doesn’t help answer the OP’s question. That’s all 🙂

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"The ornaments almost need to be on the downbeats, it seems." This is logical if the player is using ornaments to accentuate emphasis, in my opinion an overall system that is too rigid, does not work
Ornaments can sometimes work on both up beats or downbeats. for example fiddlers sometimes use a cut to seperate 2 notes of the same pitch, so that they can play the two notes of the same pitch with one bow stroke, alternatively a fiddler might choose to play 2 notes of the same pitch with a broken slur. In my experience the latter is more unusual.

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

If you are seriously asking this question then you have no buisness playing a fiddle or Irish Traditional Music. Nobody can answer this all you can do it listen, listen listen and listen some more, that’s the only way you’ll learn.

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"No business?" That’s a bit harsh isn’t it? He’s coming from outside the tradition and asking for advice from folks who claim to regularly play it. Everybody starts from someplace. Just because your place began closer than his place isn’t a reason to crush his question right out of the gate is it?

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"If you are seriously asking this question then you have no buisness playing a fiddle or Irish Traditional Music."……
A gobsmackingly ridiculous comment!

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Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Jeez Tradmadguy that’s really harsh. You are dead wrong. There’s nothing wrong with asking these sorts of questions.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Tradmadguy, try the decaf! 😉

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Hey! Down with that sort of thing!

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

[*Nobody can answer this all you can do it listen, listen listen and listen some more, that’s the only way you’ll learn.*]

From a mad guy who plays trad. It’s all in the name 😛

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Have you tried wearing a big green top hat? Seriously though, I think a big part of it is trying to find a balance between swing and what I think of as ‘flow’. Lots of different players seem to find different balances, and it can depend on the tune, who you’re playing with etc… I think a lot of this kind of thing is probably being picked up on and copied via the subconscious rather than really thought out and applied so the advice to listen to lots of Irish music is important. Keep playing too! Once you’ve been listening for a while you’ll know how it’s meant to sound and then it’s just a question of getting the technique together to make it sound like it’s meant to. A few years of practising and playing with other people ought to do it! (Although bear in mind that very few people reach a point where they sound exactly like they want to sound.)

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

to the OP. You are thinking too hard. Many people have answered with the simplistic "Listen"…I agree with that, but to help you listen… you need to help yourself to listening. Not just in your car, or in the back ground, but literally take a few moments out to listen to the jig being played well… just listen… don’t over think it. Think about it just enough to get a feel. Then go to your instrument, and pay attention to the TIMING… of what you are doing, are you spot on or do you need to clean it up? Heavy swing, and lilt and what ever sounds so terrible when a beginner is trying to apply it, because those personal style additions, require that a person knows exactly what they are doing.. otherwise you just sound like someone who is imagining him/herself playing like a studio recording, its really obvious and unattractive to hear actually. Just ease off the over thinking and the mimicking, play with clear tone, and confidence in your timing, your flow… and accent… or lilt or whatever will come out over time. Just like the accent to your own speech, you don’t TRY to sound like where you are from… you just do. Speak the music clearly and in good pitch, tone, and time… and your voice will develop, have faith.. don’t rush it… and have fun just in the moment.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Try slurring from the 3 to the 4, or from the 6 to the 1 on an UP bow. It’s not the end all be all, but work it in and see what happens.

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

Take this with a grain of salt. I still consider myself a newbie despite playing for 5 years.

I’m sharing what I was taught that helped a ton. I don’t know how "Traditional" it is.
I’ve had another teacher at a camp teach exactly the same thing.

This took a long time to get what my teacher wanted. But seems simple now.

I didn’t read this whole thread and I might be repeating what was already said.
If so, just take it as a different way of explaining it.

It goes like something this.

For the three 1/8 notes of a half of a 6/8 measure try this.

The first 1/8 note is a little longer and a little more emphasized.
The 2nd 1/8 note is the trick. It is DE-emphasized. It is VERY short and VERY quiet.
My teacher likes to call this middle note a ghost note.
Then the 3rd 1/8 note is normal volume normal length.

In terms of bow length I’m using rough numbers just to give you the relative differences.
Depends on how fast your going.

So lets say that first 1/8 is an inch of down bow and let’s just call the volume 10.
The 2nd 1/8 might be 1/4 inch up and Volume of 2. Yes 2.
The 3rd 1/8 might be 1/2 inch down and a Volume of say 7.

Note that you use more bow not just because it’s longer, it’s louder, it’s not a dotted 1/8.

So and the end of three notes you gone down further than you’ve gone up.

Now do the pattern in reverse.
Up an inch, down a 1/4, up a 1/2 inch.

If your playing slow this might be 2 inches, 1/2 up, 1 inch down.

The teacher at the camp drew a lighting bolt with a tiny zig-zag in the center to represent the bow motion.

You can vary the lengths and emphasis. But the main thing is that middle 1/8 note is deemphasized. You could almost play nothing and it would sound right. Occasionally you playing it so light and short you might miss it. But nobody would notice.

Videoing my teacher and playing in slow motion helped a lot.
Another thing that REALLY helped was visually looking at my teachers recording in Audacity.
When I saw how tiny that middle note was, it was like, wow.

It gets harder to maintain this at higher tempo (for me anyway).

Some Jigs are much easier to apply it to than others and you don’t have to do it on every measure.
I used the A part of Irish Washer Woman to learn it. Only a small portion of B part fits.

I see so many explanations talk only about emphasizing the first 1/8 and maybe holding that longer. And you end up with basically a shuffle. It is NOT a shuffle. And when learning I said to my teacher, oh you mean long short short, a shuffle. No. Same question came up at camp.

This adds a nice lift or lilt to the Jig. I don’t know which regions or Ireland, if this is Scottish or Cape Brenton thing. But I love what it does to a Jig. I had to be able to do it, to recognize it in other players.

So I won’t claim this makes it "More Irish".

Re: Making jigs sound "more Irish" on the fiddle?

I went back and read most of the thread. I can’t edit my post.
But the post by Stiamh Ionas is saying the same thing I tried to say in my previous post.