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.