How do you put a set together?

How do you put a set together?

Hi all, I’ll be playing my tin whistle in the music competition at a local feis. So far I’ve settled on "The Mist on the Mountain" jig, but it’s short so I’d like to pair it with one or two other songs. I’d greatly appreciate any pointers about how to put a set together. As a rule, should I pick another jig or two? Should the pieces be in the same key? Do you just flow on into the next piece or do you usually pause? If it helps, it’s a dancing feis and the only one in the year with a music component so the only rules seem to be pretty flexible, just that the song has to be of Irish origin. Thanks

Re: How do you put a set together?

Possibly the easiest way might be to use the session.org in this way:

1) Look up "The Mist on the Mountain".
2) At the top there are quick suggestions: "A tune by this name has been recorded together with Pay The Reckoning (a few times), The Boys Of The Town (a few times), Mac’s Fancy (a few times)."
3) Then click on "There are 108 recordings of a tune by this name." which takes you to a list of recorded examples of (hopefully) the tune you’re using.
4) Click on a few of these recordings and see what your favourite players have played along with "The Mist on the Mountain".
5) Try them out, see which one you like best.

Good luck, Clare.

Re: How do you put a set together?

Yes, another jig or two. Don’t need to be in the same key, just ought to sound good. 🙂 You can do a seamless transition or a short break, but keep the rhythm going without extra rests or fermata or something. For some ideas what to pair it with have a look at the new "has been recorded together with…" feature.
https://thesession.org/tunes/256

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Re: How do you put a set together?

I play this first followed by Lurghadan and then Donnybrook Fair

Re: How do you put a set together?

That’s a good question. I haven’t been playing ITM on my hammered dulcimer for very long, I’m not sure I can accurately describe what mental process I use to put my sets together. But I suppose I can come up with a few things I think about.
1) similar or contrasting tunes: I don’t think there’s a right or wrong, but I tend to gravitate toward the latter. For example, the very first set I put together is "Calliope House," "A Fig For A Kiss" and "The Lark In The Strand." The middle tune not only changes the key, moving my playing from the left side of the treble bridge to the right side (predominately), but changes the time signature as well from 6/8 to 9/8 time and back to 6/8 for the third tune. As far as mixing tune types (jigs and reels for example) I haven’t tried that yet. So far I’ve looked for contrast in key, mode, or mood.
2) Pause between tunes? No. I might stop playing notes using the momentary silence as a bridge feature, but I keep the rhythm going. (Although I may speed up or slow down if I’m playing solo.)
3) Same key? Not necessarily, but it’s rather easy to transpose on a hammered dulcimer (to some extent) so I do experiment with shifting the keys around. If you want to change key signature, be sure to come up with some kind of bridge- find the leading tone or dominant chord to the next tune (although if the next tune is a fourth or a fifth up, you might could just simply jump right into it.)
4) Find tunes that sound good together. I wish I could tell you how that’s done, it’s rather subjective. But your opinions are often the same as the listeners as we are all wired in more or less the same way. It’s a good idea as mentioned above, to listen to what other bands and players (especially professional ones) are combining with the tune you’ve picked out, that way you can get lots of ideas.
5) Find tunes you like to play. Not necessarily the ones you "like," but the ones you like to play. There are hundreds and hundreds of tunes I love. But not nearly all of them will fit me or my instrument (hammered dulcimer). Don’t struggle with a tune just because you like it. Sooner or later that’s a recipe for disaster.
6) Use the Session. Simply name your starting tune and ask here what might go well with it, this is a big place with many talented players so you most likely will get some good responses.

Hope this helps.

David E.

Re: How do you put a set together?

I really hate to directly contradict somebody like this, but yes, DO struggle with a tune because you like it. There’s no better reason to struggle, and no other better motivation for the struggle, than the fact that you like that tune.

Re: How do you put a set together?

"I really hate to directly contradict somebody like this, but yes, DO struggle with a tune because you like it. There’s no better reason to struggle, and no other better motivation for the struggle, than the fact that you like that tune."

Not if you have to perform that tune and you have a dead line to work with. Although I do take your point as "A Fig For A Kiss" has for some reason kicked my ass for the past six months. Yes I do continue to work on it as I want to improve my ability to play (and I’m a stubborn cuss) but at this point I would not want to include it in any set to perform, not yet. I am playing it much better than I was, say a month ago.

David E.

Re: How do you put a set together?

Clare: This being an Abc Notation site, I thought I give 2 cent’s worth here 😉

I love useing the ’ Making up Set’s ’ bit in the software in ABC Navigator .

http://abcnavigator.free.fr/abcnvgt.php?lang=eng

If I where you I’d start at Polkas, then Jig’s, and up to Reel’s. you’ll find plenty
of tune’s in ABC on here, lol. * And plenty of help with it I’m sure .
Get about 20 of more tunes of each ( Polkas ,Jig’s, and Reel’s. etc, )
Make up your own set/s on it, say 2 tune’s first, 3 next etc. I find it a Fun thing to do.
But it give’s you an Idea when you’ve got the Set and Speed fixed etc, and then,
listen to the Midi saved, playing all the tune’s, just to find out. And it let’s you hear
how the tune’s go together before you try them out as a set, in a session.
Better that than going out and making a fool of youself, as I often do, when the set dose not work 😉
ie/ Practice Make’s perfect. ’ Good Luck ’
f4

Re: How do you put a set together?

Point taken David E. For a performance, yes, you do want to choose something you can play well, not necessarily something really awesome that you like a lot but can’t quite make work.

Side note: Good luck with the fig and the kiss. Can you play any other instruments than the hammered dulcimer? I learned from painful experience with piano accordion that some instruments really don’t work as well with this music as others, and from what I’ve seen hammered dulcimer would definitely be in the former group. I might suggest taking up the tinwhistle at least, especially since you say you’re new at this; it won’t cost you too much, and the worst that could happen would be that you’d learn more about the music and the tunes.

Re: How do you put a set together?

Whatever pops into my head at the very last second that I can actually remember how to start. And sometimes not.

Re: How do you put a set together?

HaWmmer Dulcimer @ Tony. Its not my ‘pure drop’ but there are plenty of talented folks who make it work here in Appalachia. On my radio show last week, I played a couple of groups with a H. Dulcimer, ‘Boys of the Hock’ from Athens OH, ‘Devlish Mary’ from Pittsburgh PA, ‘Appalachian Celtic Consort’ from Charleston WV. And as far as that other way out west instrument goes, the piano accordion goes, been listening to a bit od James Keane, he wrote, ‘Horse Keane’, and the ‘Charleston Reel’. Watched a you tube vid of him ‘horsing’ a monster PA around with Martin Hayes. Me I’d just prefer a fiddle and button box, but if it makes you happy go for it.

Re: How do you put a set together?

Jason_Van_Steenwyk : < Whatever pops into my head at the very last second, that I can actually remember how to start. > That’s how I use to do it at fleadh’s/session’s when I was Younger. But, now its more as you also said, < And sometimes not.> 🙂
Best,
f4

Re: How do you put a set together?

"Side note: Good luck with the fig and the kiss. Can you play any other instruments than the hammered dulcimer? I learned from painful experience with piano accordion that some instruments really don’t work as well with this music as others, and from what I’ve seen hammered dulcimer would definitely be in the former group. I might suggest taking up the tin whistle at least, especially since you say you’re new at this; it won’t cost you too much, and the worst that could happen would be that you’d learn more about the music and the tunes."

Thanks for the good luck. I used to play piano but haven’t in many years. But I still know the music theory so that helps with my hammered dulcimer. The HD is the only instrument I can play right now. Actually, the layout of the HD (for those of you not familiar with it) makes it very easy to play most ITM tunes. It’s laid out in what could be called a diatonic circle of fifths. The major and minor modes of ITM are easy to play. It’s non-linear arrangement across the two bridges makes scales and arpeggios quite easy once the technique is learned, but the unique layout does create a steep learning curve for the beginner. I think my problem with Fig is that I tried to learn it too soon, before I really got used to playing the instrument, so I picked up some bad playing habits playing the tune. I was too eager, I should have taken more time learning the instrument instead of jumping right into the deep end. I learned Humours Of Westport more recently and I can play it much better at this point. Still, I’m making great progress now with Fig, I guess everything comes with time and practice.

The HD has been a popular ITM instrument for decades here in the States. Check out Karen Ashbrook (who has published a great book on ITM on the HD), Jerry Read Smith, Ken Kolodner, John McCutcheon, and Malcolm Dalglish for a good start. My experience with keyboard instruments mirrors yours, they don’t seem to "fit" ITM as well as other solo instruments.

David E.

Re: How do you put a set together?

The problem with the hammered dulcimer is the players. Not everyone of them is a "celtic mood/ Ren Faire " type.
Listen to John Rea. His music is excellent and completely appropriate to Irish ( and Scottish ) tradition.
There is a recent tradition of hammered dulcimer players from Glasgow. It’s not all a revival.

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Re: How do you put a set together?

Clare, I apologise for helping to change the nature of the discussion from the question, often the way around here. Nigels advise is very good, go down the road well travelled and play a tune that others have paired with ‘The Mist on the Mountain’. Some people use tricks to give tunes in sets a jump by changing keys, perhaps G into A. I would suggest that you pick a simple tune that you know the melody of already, and then you will be a lot more comfortable playing it. Whatever that tune may be, it will probably work on the front or the back of the one you know. Just work out which is easier to go into with where your fingers end up.

Re: How do you put a set together?

While I have not been involved with competition myself, I have heard that there should be no hesitation or gap between tunes. Going from one to another without skipping a beat is something I hear the judges are looking for.
Go into competition with tunes that you know backwards and forwards. Nerves can shave off a bit of your ability, and you are much less likely to go awry with tunes you know well.
Practice, practice, practice, and best of luck to you. No matter how you do, and what the judges think, you will have achieved something admirable just by throwing your hat into the ring!

Re: How do you put a set together?

I think the recent thread on Banish misfortune had some commentary in this matter too, more generally.

Re: How do you put a set together?

Thanks everyone for the feedback, much appreciated. Sorry to resurrect an old discussion, I did search through before I posted but obviously not thoroughly enough. At the moment I’ve settled for Mist on the Mountain followed by Banish Misfortune.

Re: How do you put a set together?

It went well, II had fun and got a trophy for my efforts. Thanks for your help 🙂

Re: How do you put a set together?

Good for you. The fun is the main thing — the trophy a bonus.

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