Playing like your influences

Playing like your influences

Hey everyone. This question may seem really stupid… But oh well. I was wondering how you could play like your influences? Particularly mine, Michael Mcgoldrick. Especially on his use of ornaments. It seems like he plays them on every note, especially rolls. How do you use rolls when playing fast or even on every note? Its so fluid and smooth. How would one play like that? Has anyone else wondered something similar?

Re: Playing like your influences

Listen loads and then tryr to emulate, perhaps slow the audio down and figure out what he’s doing with the ornaments.

Re: Playing like your influences

It takes a long time and a lot of playing. To use a lot of ornamentation while playing fast comes from using the ornamentation while playing slowly. Then you will get the hang of the ornamentation and be able to use them faster and faster, and it will get smoother. McGoldrick got there from years and years of playing. I would definitely listen, like Bard said, but I would also watch videos of him to see what his fingers are doing. There is no shortcut to becoming better. It is a gradual process.

When you get more experience, you will be able to pick out what he is doing easier. You will be able to hear what kind of ornamentation he uses, and other great players.

Re: Playing like your influences

—Sorry, forgot about the visual aspect. Watch, for sure.
lol
There is really no shortcut, I agree.
have fun with it, though!

Re: Playing like your influences

Sounding like someone else is not simply a matter of reproducing the movements: no matter how you analyse what they are doing physically, you will never know what is going on in their head. Just as you can repeat someone’s words and sound nothing like them, you can repeat their fingering and not sound the same. Even given the same instrument, you would sound different using the same notes, because you are thinking different things — your control centre is not doing what theirs is doing.

The best, the only, way, IMO, to achieve your goal is to listen to yourself *as though you were listening to that person*.

At first you will sound nothing like them; but don’t give up. Look for sections — anything, however brief — where you could almost believe it was them playing, and try to fix your mindset there. Expand the section as much as you can before the illusion dissolves. Do this throughout the tune, and gradually the bits will expand and the gaps will shrink, until you could almost believe it was them playing.
In order to do this, of course, you need to be able to listen and hear critically and honestly, with an open ear, without prejudice or bias, overcoming audio-illusions and delusions, and to adopt a Zen-like suspension of ego while concentrating with the single-mindedness of a courser.
No easy task.

Posted by .

Re: Playing like your influences

"The best, the only, way, IMO, to achieve your goal is to listen to yourself *as though you were listening to that person*."


Wow, that’s an impressive bit of advice. It’s never crossed my mind. Though, I try to imagine they’re in the room with me while assessing if my sound fits in with their sound. I also ask myself if "so and so" would’ve done what I just did when dealing with melodic variations and ornament placement. Not sure if it would work to the same affect. What’s a "courser"?

Re: Playing like your influences

Ha, nice analogy bro.

Re: Playing like your influences

When I started playing Irish flute back in the 1970s it was all about trying to copy my heroes.
I copied Michael Tubridy on some tunes, my first teacher Chris Moran on others, Paddy Carty on others, even a couple from McKenna back from the 1920s. Then Matt Molloy became ‘the’ sound and I tried my best to copy him (good luck with that!)

What I didn’t realize about my own playing is that there was nothing original about it: every tune I learned came attached to a particular player’s style.

When it hit me was when I would go to Looney’s in the 1980s and I would play tunes with Ray Tubridy (cousin of Michael). Ray had learned his flute music beginning when he was 8 years old, in Miltown Malbay, learning from an old man then in his 80s. Ray played everything in a wonderful old style the like I’ve not heard anywhere else.

Anyhow Ray seemed to regard me as some sort of marvel, because of the chameleonlike way that my style changed with each tune. I wasn’t aware of it, of course. I was just an American trying to sound as ‘authentic’ as I could. So I would go into some tune and Ray would say "He’s doing Molloy!" and I would go into some other tune and Ray would say "He’s doing Carty!"

Ray found it amazing and wonderful but to me it only showed that I was a very immature player.

Immature players copy their heroes; the next step is synthesizing these influences into a sort of hybrid style; last comes true maturity when a player is being his own self.

Re: Playing like your influences

Awesome post, Richard D Cook! :-)

I’m a stickler for semantics, and before I read your post, I was thinking, "Hmmmm, if you’re not ‘playing like’ them are they really ‘your influences’?" In other words, "playing like" someone is kind of the literal definition of having been "influenced" by them, and your post really drove that point home. For my part, it’s been similarly along the lines of, "Oh, you got that tune from the Paddy Carty album," "Oh, you must have learned that one from so-and-so’s workshop," "I’ll bet you got that tune from NNN, didn’t you?" etc. Unfortunately, I’m probably doomed to be perpetually in that state of immaturity, because I still enjoy playing in their styles so much. :-( :-)

Re: Playing like your influences

First off, let me say to the original poster, there is nothing wrong with trying to imitate your heroes. If you were to ask them how they started off, they would probably tell you that they also imitated someone. We will only copy someone, who has something special to offer. There is no need to copy "the fellow down the road". I have a very strong musical ear, and can give a very good impersonation of many trad musicians. I’m sure a lot of people here, can do the same. Another side of it is, that their talent won’t be lost, while there is someone who can carry it on. It is quite hard, to imitate some musicians. They just have some special technique, which takes some time to master. 3 good examples for me, were Vinnie Kilduff, Micheal O’ Suilleabhain, and Tony Mc’Mahon. I enjoyed coping their styles. The same thing will happen in folk music. There will always be some singing voice, that someone will imitate. Let me say again to the original poster, enjoy copying your heroes. Without them, we probably wouldn’t be playing at all.

Re: Playing like your influences

Emulating musical influences is a lifelong learning curve that ultimately leads to your own style. Heavy practice is essential if you are trying to achieve fluency in a certain style, but also in general. One of the things that could help is a headset, preferably a leaky one, to listen while you play along. Sounds simple but it has a different effect than speakers.

Re: Playing like your influences

How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice, man, practice.