Ornamentation, all you needed to know about it

Ornamentation, all you needed to know about it

Interesting youtube clip, listen between 0:30 and 0:40 to learn all you need to know about ornamentation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ItZuGpqIUCc


The "Anyway" at 1:46 speaks volumes…

There’s nothing worse than a feeling of superiority to close a person’s mind indefinitely

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"The "Anyway" at 1:46 speaks volumes… "
Priceless!!

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lol

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James Galway - the world’s foremost expert on traditional music. Or so he says.

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James Galway - the world’s foremost expert on traditional music. Or so he says."
Did he say that, I don’t think he did. I think you are misunderstanding James Galway.

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As another native of Belfast Mr. McDonnell most likely understands James Galway, I’m sure.
Anyway…

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Ha ha! shtick dat in yer pipe Jimmy!

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Just shows how easy it is to make a fool of yourself when as an expert in one field you stray into another. I enjoyed the full programme when it was on the telly, many years ago, but at the time one got the impression there was a fair amount of underlying tension. I seem to remember another scene where JG misses the point and offers to play a note on his flute as a pitch reference, but fair play to him for giving the whole thing a go.

One doesn’t want to sound like the local yokel who’s never gone five miles from home who laughs at the world traveller because they don’t know the footpath to the next village!

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I love the way the light reflects off his sheriff’s badge
or was it just the sun rising?

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Great artists aren’t necessarily great people. In fairness though that interview did seem rather ad hoc and neither of them looked particularly well prepared for it. It was probably more a case of speak first engage brain afterwards, being generous about it.

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Not knowing the context, I too was perplexed by the sheriff’s badge. Was he fixin’ to have a flute-out with the dreaded note-slinger and all around bad hombre Molloy?

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I think he’s wearing a lumberjack American shirt so the sheriff’s badge is a little joke. Matt’s silver cross positively dazzles on first look. One could read symbolic meanings into both emblems, but probably shouldn’t.
Very interesting clip. Thanks.

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I watched that and found it entertaining. He almost seemed…. condascending towards Matt when he was talking about ornamentation.

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Does anybody have a link to the full program? I’d be interested to see the rest of that.

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agreed. I get the impression he thinks what matt does is inferior to what he does. gobshite if you ask me.

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« Matt Molloy, ever gracious, would never say such things about another musician…»

From this old thread: https://thesession.org/discussions/26221

I remember a review of a Bothy Band concert in Melody Maker or one of those mags in which it was reported that, after Matt M had finished one of his spectacular solos, a punter yelled out, "James Galway is dead!" whereupon our Matt replied, "James Galway is God." (I’m not making this up.)
# Posted by Stiamh Ionas 3 years ago.

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I haven’t heard a whole lot of JG’s playing, but I’ve heard a fair deal of Matt’s playing, which is beautiful in its own right. I almost wonder if classical musicians are trained to be snobbish about trad music :P

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I don’t think anybody is denying James Galway can play. Of course he can - he’s a genius on that typewriter. He doesn’t really "get" traditional music, though, and I’ve heard him time and again in person or on the telly proving that point.

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Re: "[Galway} doesn’t really "get" traditional music…"
What doesn’t he get about traditional music? I bet a lot of people posting here don’t "get" classical music.
I agree that Galway is a bit flowery. We tend to think that the pure drop should be spare. We don’t like too much schmaltz with our music. A little vibrato goes a long way. But criticising someone who comes from another tradition for not being solidly within our "own" tradition seems chauvinistic to me. We should appreciate what he does, not what he doesn’t do. What Galway does he does very well. He isn’t playing dance music and he doesn’t claim to be a "traditional" musician as we understand the term. So, he misspoke. So what?
Should people not talk music except about and within their own tradition? I almost wonder if traditional musicians are trained to be snobbish about classical music.
I agree that Galway’s remark about ornamentation was off the mark. But that is all that needed to be said. To call him a gobshite reflects poorly on the speaker.

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I wasn’t trying to say anything against classical music. I like it in it’s own right. JG and Matt are both beautiful players in their own genres, but JG’s comment seemed a bit snobbish towards trad flute playing. He said he didn’t need ornamentation because it’s used to get "from one note to the next". The ornaments are there for variation and flavor. I mean, playing the same tune does get boring.

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I agree with TBB’s last comment. JG also demonstrated how he could play chromatically which apparently is a problem with the keyed simple-system flutes. I think most people only disagree with those two comments and any comment about calling him "gobshite" is of course ludicrous.

Getting mad about people commenting on something someone said on a recording is also silly. If people didn’t do that then what would be the point of politics…

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The difference is - no-one who posted in this topic claimed to "get" classical music, although I’m sure that actually there are plenty of people on this board who do.
If you make unqualified pronouncements on a genre you know little about, on telly, with one of the best traditional musicians next to you, you leave yourself open to criticism or at the very least a bit of slagging. No-one criticised JG for not being solidly within the tradition - where are you getting that from? It seems to me you are trying to generate an argument out of nothing.

David, I’ve met and spoke to JG several times, and listened to what he thinks regarding how Irish music should be played. Take it from me, he doesn’t get it.

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I just said this on another thread, but I guess it bears repeating: I think what Sir James is getting at is that ornamentation likely evolved as a means for a solo instrument to get a full sound playing only melody. When one can only play a single note at a time without benefit of accompaniment, harmony, or multiple parts, tunes can sound pretty spare. That also explains why dance tunes don’t contain sustained tones or rests. Something is happening all the time.

And don’t be misled by his cheeky attitude. Look at some of his master classes on YouTube and hear what he has to say about classical music!

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Seems to me that JG’s talking more about the difference in instrument design and the style that it suits, rather than trying to imply any kind of superiority.

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I don’t know, I mean, how is this any different from someone saying that all Irish music sounds the same, or that joke where an american went to Ireland and they played the same tune the entire night and then stood up and played the same tune again. People are oblivious to things they don’t know about. Many people that post here look down on pop, rap and country music with a statement that it all sounds the same. You see those kind of statements everywhere about every genre.

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I came to a realization recently. No matter what the style of music, we all love it because it gets us moving, whether to dance, or sing, or bob our head to the beat. No matter if it’s heavy metal, or classical, it all is beautiful and it all is art. At the end of the day, it’s just music. We may not like rap or country (I personally can’t stand country twangy voices) but, it means something to someone out there, and that’s all that matters.

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Classical music is mathematical and logical. Traditional players generally understand it but want something else out of music. If you don’t have enough knowledge of the particular tradition then traditional playing really can make no sense to you at all as Boyen says (- and as I discovered when I set out to learn West Highland fiddle after 50 plus years of playing Scots, Irish and English music and found it initially difficult to identify the melody at all - even though I had heard Gaelic melodies all my life). I love the meeting between Ally Bain and Nicola Benedetti. It’s on YouTube in three parts: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwyYoUPjRw4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9i6q7LNm6Ao and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zgDNSDadqos.

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"Classical music is mathematical and logical"……
As is ANY music!

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I’m afraid I’m not as tolerant as TheBlindBard (whose post crossed mine). Only yesterday I ran to get past buskers in town and came back a different way to avoid them again. I could hear their canned backing noises, electronic keyboard, distorted guitar and strange whoops from hundreds of yards away and I was not happy! It might have been their own traditional ornamentation and the only way they could get from one note to another… but I didn’t like it!

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Had to laugh at that gallopede. I can relate well to that need to go out of your way just to avoid such awful buskers.

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Thank you, Gobby. I feel that I’m constantly defending classical music from those who seem to feel it’s far more sterile and boring than any other kind, which is only true if it’s being played badly. Or from those who will say, ‘in *this* kind of music (meaning Irish, or gospel, or blues, or fill-in-the-blank) there’s more to the music than what’s written on the page’ as though there’s no such thing as rubato in, say, Brahms. You want mathematical and logical, I’d say a good reel would fit the bill far better than opera.

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And Brahms, I suppose, can be regarded as being in a tradition of international, classical music. Plenty of people listen to classical music but then play traditional music because it is part of their identity (not just because it is simpler to play, which it may not be). The feel of the traditional music has been set by the instruments on which it was played in the past. A lot of whistle and flute ornamentation, for instance, is played as if there was a drone which couldn’t be stopped, making you unable to move sharply from one note to another - and that is because the tunes were once upon a time played on the open-ended Pipes which are always making a sound and cannot be silent - so even if you are playing your Irish or West Highland music on James Galway’s natty and extremely expensive flute which - as he so ably demonstrates - can play chromatically and clearly straight up and down the chromatic scale, you might well still, as a traditional player, play the old tune in the old 9 note scale and play the ornamentation as if you had a continuous drone. That is what gives the music the traditional sound and feel so that is what you do. Many classical or jazz musicians would say with James Galway that musicians used to have these constraints of a less good instrument - but now they don’t - and they see traditions as just the imposition of an unnecessary curb on exploration, novelty and complexity.

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Ah! Answer ‘3.’ pops up again!

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I ‘get’ classical music. Couldn’t play it to save my life, though.
You can always tell classical music because there is almost never just one fiddler, and all their bows move in the same direction at the same time. Kind of spooky, actually.

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…. it being put like that, that does sound spooky. :D

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Ha! That was the part I always couldn’t stand, having to make sure my bow was always going the same way as everybody else. Definitely part of why I play only Irish on my fiddle and Brahms & Monk on the keys.

Pro tip: You can do a decent impression of a bagpipes on the right reed stop of a pipe organ. You just have to remember to leave the cuts in, as though that was the only way you had to articulate, as Sir James says. Only then will people say ‘hey, that sounded just like those weird Irish bagpipe things!’

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"bows all moving the same way shetland fiddlers society"

The guy in the middle often moves in the opposite direction.

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he plays all the same apart from at 2 .09 at the end, when he goes up, he has a Trostkyite Deviationist moment for just one second.

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What happens when classical music runs out of ideas? We know what happens. Someone goes out and gets inspiration from a tradition. (The Gamelan was the last tradition I noticed being ripped off by the classical mob, but I’m out of touch). Fat lot of inspiration they’d get from traditions of clones doing extreme synchronous bowing or playing naice, clean notes on silver flutes!

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…… lol.

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Thinking about the original clip, and trying to be fair to JG, I guess one could say, as tdrury suggested, that he’s assuming that the "grace note"/ornamentation/articulation that is "necessary" on continuously sounding pipes such as GHB (and pastoral pipes, ancestor of Uilleann) is the reason it exists in ITM. Taken that way, what he says becomes a lot less patronising.

(Everyone else may have worked this out ages ago. I only just got there!)

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….. that does make sense. I haven’t listened to a whole lot of piping, but I think I have an idea of what you mean.
That’s a cool little fact :D