The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Hi!

Can someone detail what "playing in the Sligo tradition" involves. Different tempos? Embellishments? I am contemplating a workshop with Rose Flanagan and this would be very helpful.

Thanks!

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Taking a workshop with Rose would answer some of these questions!

(Although I might quibble and call it the New York Sligo style, but such distinctions are probably unnecessary).

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Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Ha :) thanks Nico. However I’d like to know a bit more prior to signing up to a work shop with Rose. How would it differ from say County Clare? What makes the counties so different?

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

I guess I opened a can of worms for myself. I’d love to know what makes the counties different in their actual techniques of playing. If anyone can detail this…many thanks!!

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

For a glimpse into what went into what people think of as Sligo-style fiddling, look for clips on YouTube of Michael Coleman, Paddy Killoran, James Morrison first, and then Andy McGann (a pupil of Coleman’s and almost certainly the biggest influence on today’s proponents of the NY Sligo style such as Rose, her brother Brian Conway, and Tony De Marco). And many others.

For Clare, you have Bobby Casey, Joe Ryan and Peter O’Loughlin on the west end of things and Paddy Canny, PJ Hayes and Martin Rochford further east.

Have a listen and draw your own conclusions. :-)

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

A classic track from the later end of Michael Coleman’s recording career, with very sweet and delicate phrasing which Andy McGann took up (and exaggerated somewhat I feel) and which has percolated down into the playing of many US-born fiddlers of today, especially but not exclusively those professing an allegiance to the Sligo heritage.

https://youtu.be/OV_EAkcSfhY

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Thank you Stiamh. I am going to take a look at the videos you posted with hopes I can begin to hear the differences in the approach. It haas always escaped me and I want to hear and learn the differences.

Ency

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Sure thing, Hannah. It can take a while to get sorted out in your mind, and these styles are not watertight, especially today. But I think most people would tell you that classic Sligo fiddling is a little brighter and faster and more driving, while classic Clare fiddling is a little darker and slower and moodier.

But the boundaries get blurred and you’ll surely find Clare fiddlers whose music fits the first description and Sligo fiddlers whose music fits the second. :-)

Re: The “blur-the-lines” tradition of playing fiddle

A little more blurring might help. It’s more than just fiddlers playing & I think a few of the fiddlers from Clare & Sligo may agree.

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Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

I disagree with Nico, I think making the "New York Sligo style" versus "Sligo style" distinction is worthwhile. Obviously closely related on the Irish style family tree, but distinct.

Though now that I’ve said that, I do wonder how reliably I could tell the difference in a blind A/B test.

(Checks CD collection, is astounded to find he does not have a NYS recording of "Fred Finn’s". Nor the "Providence". But aha, found Fred playing "Martin Wynne’s 1&2"…)

At a quick listen, it almost sounds to me like the main difference is Fred Finn’s tone is sweet and a bit tentative, and Brian Conway’s is more assertive and solid. Might be as simple as Brian having some classical background.

But I’m not a fiddle player, and people who are might hear lots of subtle things that fly right by me.

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

This is great info and such wonderful videos. Thank you all, very helpful! I am going to continue on with listening and discovering.

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Are there tunes which have been recorded by fiddlers from many counties, even just a handful? Bright Sligo tunes vs. dark Clare tunes - do the fiddlers even play the same tunes? To what extent?

I mean, it’s easy to talk about "style", but if there’s nobody from the neighbouring countries (or the more distant counties) playing the very tune - it could as well be the tune itself that makes certain stuff easier/more preferable.

I’m asking because there has been a number of discussions about the supposed "Donegal" style lately, some of them with a technical aspect in mind. And there are many opinions.

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Paddy on the Turnpike was recorded by all 3 of the Sligo masters (Coleman, Morrison, and Killoran) on 78s, and there are also recordings of it from Clare fiddlers Paddy Canny and Patrick Kelly, and also Sliabh Luachra fiddler Paddy Cronin - although Paddy was a big Coleman fan too so you might say he wasn’t strictly a SL fiddler - you could say that about Canny too. But their locality’s style dominated their playing, in the end. There’s also a tape with Johnny Doherty playing, for a Donegal take on things. So it’s the rare tune that got recorded for posterity in all parts of Ireland, from musicians who learned their stuff back in the day.

There is definitely a technical aspect to these regional styles, in case you think people are making this stuff up. Donegal fiddlers indeed don’t bother much with rolls, apparently they do in the southern part of the county, eg Liz Doherty, but none of the ones from the rest I’ve heard rolled things up like they do in Sligo. Between that and repertoire you have plenty of regional style going on. Barry Taylor’s book on West Clare music documents how isolated communities used to be very well, it’s eye opening how cut off little pockets of the landscape used to be, even ones that were only a few miles apart; so it’s no surprise that regional takes on things were a reality.

Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

jeff asks - "Are there tunes which have been recorded by fiddlers from many counties, even just a handful?"
Here’s one :

https://thesession.org/tunes/517

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Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Kevin,

I agree with much of your posting above, apart from one thing.

Liz Doherty is from Inishowen, the far north of County Donegal.

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Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Sol, you don’t disagree with me because I think that, too. It just may be too much distinction for this specific thread/person :)

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Re: The “Sligo” tradition of playing fiddle

Thanks all. I am taking a workshop with Rose and loving every minute of it! Onward with New York Sligo we go!