At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I’d like to discuss at what point does Irish Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I believe that people have lost sight of what the word tradition means. When does a tradition of music stop becoming a tradition and not just another form or genre of music?, which in my opinion has started already in both the Irish and other traditions. That to me is how we loose a tradition, by making it as far away from the underlining tradition as one can. I understand that many contemporary genres have been influenced by traditional music, but they are well defined, unlike the new trad with whatever genre your having movement.

For me, if a group or solo artist is playing in a style/genre of mostly contemporary piece (Jazz, Blues, funk, Pop etc.) of music on a fiddle, concertina, uilleann pipes or any other traditional instrument used in ITM, its still a contemporary piece of music, its not TRAD, its Blues, Pop or whatever played on folk and traditional instruments, that alone doesn’t define it as traditional music.

Its a big topic at the moment and many will have strong opinions, which is fine as long as you stick to the rules for the forum and be nice.

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People have a tendency to create containers in which they can put things they observe to make the world around them a more understandable place. Even though we know all these preconceptions that are associated to these boxes are quite often not true.

Why does it matter if something is trad or not? And if something is or isn’t trad, what would you use to measure and in which units would those measurements be? I don’t think it’s sensible to make these statements.

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“Traditional” does not mean that something cannot be altered to suit different needs. As an acquaintance of mine puts it “tradition is the worship of fire, not the preservation of ashes” (or something like that. I’m working from memory.)

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When did the music stop evolving/changing, get set in stone, and become ‘traditional’ in the first place? 😉

Do traditions continue to evolve after they have been established, or do they produce spin-off genres that may themselves become traditions?

You’re opening a whole can of worms!

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I suppose that as long as it keeps changing and innovating then it is the tradition.

O’Carolan was berrated for being too innovative and mixing influences - but this is what made his music so powerful and relevant for century upon century.

There are those who like their music especially when connected to specific dates. I hope to preserve this tradition through its continual relevance to people who enjoy music in the broadest sense. This involves the traditional process of cross-pollination between traditions to make our tradition one that is still hitting at the heart of those listening to it.

I think the idea of a pure tradition is that like the concept of a pure race - it’s never existed and it can lead to needless upset if it’s mixed with the idea of universal superiority.

It can be tempting to feel strongly about personal taste - but I feel the ultimate value of the tradition is judged by the value of the tradition to all people.

Old music is undoubtably some of the best stuff out there - but it’s only as good as how much it is enjoyed or how much it gives benefit.

Mixers are an essential part of this continually changing and continually relavent tradition- In fact I would say it is the innovators like O’Carolan who keep it alive.

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Ebor_fiddler i think it was pass on the fire, I’ve seen it said somewhere before. as for the rest of the comments so far, thanks for the valid comments, but I understand and have said its a big topic. But one that needs to be trashed out. Its coming up as a topic in many sessions more than ever.

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I think Irish traditional music turned into a different genre in the late 19th century with the introduction of the banjo, concertina and accordion, (and I’m sure the old players had exactly the same conversation about the new-fangled polkas and mazurkas threatening their ‘tradition’) and again in the early 20th century with the Spanish guitar, and again in the 1970s with the revival bands.

Tradition and genre are two completely different things. Genre is classification of music by it’s style, as it is now. Tradition is about it’s origins and links with the past.

Tradition isn’t a static thing, nor is it linear. It’s like a living organism that evolves and spreads and branches - a tune like Soldier’s Joy gets played in a Ireland, Scotland, England, America, Cape Breton etc. etc. In each case it is played in a different way, a different genre. But the fact that it is the same tune shows that there is a link between the musician in those places - they are different branches of the same tradition.

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Hello everybody,
it was Gustav Mahler who said “tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire”. Here in Germany, where I live, traditional music is called “Volksmusik” - people’s music. So I agree with Choons: without people there is no tradition. To be a traditional musician you have to know who came before you and then take their spark and translate it into the presence without losing a sense of continuity. I agree with Boyen that the music matters, not the little boxes we put things into. In my opinion it’s “you have to learn the rules first, to break them afterwards”. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/558213-learn-the-rules-like-a-pro-so-you-can-break
As a plastic paddy it is not my task to define irish traditions, but the irishmen I had the honour to play with made me feel that everybody who shows genuine interest in a tradition becomes part of that tradition.

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“It’s traditional” is as meaningful as “it’s Irish”. Every person will have a different take.
The term itself (as it relates to the music we regard as being played by the native Irish)was invented by Comhaltas, and is a political term. I just go with the tide. Change comes, and sometimes it stays around!

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I think the question is “Are you a curator or an artist?” Are you trying to preserve an artistic statement from the past or are you trying to make an artistic statement? Both are important, as we would not have any artistic statements to preserve if someone hadn’t made them in the first place. All music was new at some point.

Some people consider brand new music to be “traditional” if it is written and performed to conform with their idea of “traditional”, but think that a traditional tune isn’t “traditional” if it is played on electric instruments with a backbeat. Parsing and analyzing music can be a worthwhile pursuit, but making judgements based on what pigeonhole you put something in is not.

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Traditional? Nothing’s been traditional round these parts since those pesky Italians arrived with their fiddles… :(

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…and those Anglicans with their union pipes.

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Anglicans with union pipes? As in uilleann “union” pipes. I’d love to know more about that.

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This is a long one…..
Given that the true tradition of Irish music has evolved so strongly from the historical and geographical and social experiences of the Irish people I feel conscious of the fact that as an Englishman of Welsh ancestry, I could not TRULY claim to be part of the’ tradition. At best, all I can do is study it and commit myself to it, which is what I do. As I imagine that most members of this site are not of Irish origin (??), I anticipate incoming rebuttal.
But this raises the question, not only of how tradition changes through time, from one generation to the next, but how it is inevitably changed by it’s geographical and cross cultural spread. It seems obvious to me just by listening, that each culture evolves its own (so called) ‘traditional’ musical character by way of its individual fusion of cross-cultural, geographical and historical circumstances. This is how it is easy for a knowing ear to identify the difference between say, Cape Breton and Appalachian music, mush of which has shared roots from Ireland and Scotland. I have a few times argued on this site that Australia as yet has no musical cultural identity (apart from the indigenous ones, that is). Just over 160 years of colonization, augmented by such a multi-cultural mix of immigrants simply doesn’t provide enough time to develop a tradition. In this, and also taking into account the large number of Irish convicts that first involuntarily invaded this country, I would argue that our interpretations of traditional Irish music, in general, tend to be more ‘authentic’ than say, in the U.S.A. (feel free to argue). Having expressed all of those thoughts I’ll now get down to my own personal opinion of, and approach to Irish traditional music.

I have already confessed that I am restricted to an outsiders view. But from my childhood, which although in the north west of England, had a large Irish influence which I took for granted, I feel like I was ‘infected by this strange and magical music which first made me want to dance, and which I only later identified to be traditionally Irish. You can’t kill such an infection and why would you want to.?

Now, I like to listen to many kinds of music (not so much singing). But when I play my fiddle, which is my greatest passion, I’m only interested in Irish trad. And by Irish trad, I mean Irish TRAD;- as pure as I can get it!Once again I admit that I can’t truly know what that is, but that doesn’t stop me from reaching for it the best I can. And what I can do is identify what definitely ISN’T Irish trad. I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy the fiddle playing that distinctly comes out of say, North West America or Canada, Scotland etc, but I distinguish the difference and I only ever play such stuff as a novelty. I don’t intend this in a derogatory way but to me it’s corruption. I’m not even saying I don’t like it;- just that I distinguish the difference and choose not to include it in my obsession with Irish traditional playing.
I would go even further and say that I don’t even enjoy modern(ish) Irish bands that corrupt the old music with their orchestral embellishments, technical perfection and amplification etc. That’s just commerce to me. It’s like when people talk about fashion (in regard to clothing)… what they really mean is marketing. I don’t even like The Chieftains for Christ sake. That sort of commercial stuff is a corruption to traditional music to my ears. But for those of you who do, go ahead and enjoy it because sure, music as a matter of personal taste.
I make a distinction between what I enjoy listening to and what I want to play. No doubt the two overlap but I am more conservative when it comes to what I play. I like my Irish music as raw as possible. I focus just about only to the old recordings. I would rather struggle to learn from the likes of Paddy Killoran and John Doherty than from any modern fiddlers. I totally prefer old individual fiddlers and pipers to modern orchestrated bands, and, dare I say it, even sessions..
Despite my mention of Doherty, I try hard to commit myself to a Sligo style of fiddling, and that’s because (a) I feel drawn to it, and (b) regional style was always part of the tradition. People here have argued with me previously that there is no such thing as a regional style, and who knows if they aren’t right? But there USED TO BE, and I feel committed to at least adhering to whatever part of ‘tradition’ I can imagine.
Being largely a recluse I only play solo (fiddle and low whistle). I doubt that I would ever want to play in a session, (although I would enjoy listening). I will only play acoustically, or at least into a mike that maintains the true essence). I’ve played solo in pubs a few times, I play in a local park sometimes, just for the fun of it. I never play for money,. And yes, I play in peoples kitchens. I keep it as earthy and raw as I can, and do my best to maintain the style of the old players that I study. I have never played without people jumping up to dance and loving what they often tell me is a new experience to them. But most of all I play only for myself, where I can at least feel like I am staying within the bounds of tradition and not being distracted any kind of consumerist driven ‘fusions’. I kind of dread the future when all music will have fused together. Thank God I’ll be gone by then (probably fiddling away with the Devil himself).

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And sorry… I just realised i didn’t even answer the question!!

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Gobby, I’m thinking lately there’s been a rash of that going around.

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Hello who ever you are. Gobby here! All the usernames names seems to have dissapeared!! Is there anybody out there?

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Hello, Gobby, it’s Ben. I posted just before you. Wow! No usernames, eh?
That’s freaky!! Hang in there. Hopefully it’s not just a momentarily lapse.

;)

aka AB

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I thought it was you Ben. I don’t know what went wrong there. I was feeling all alone for a while (over here in Oz). I sent an e-mail to Jeremy, and it all fixed again now, so on with the thread!

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After Achim Hofman’s thoughtful post, I should just shut up…

That’s the trouble with post-modernism. We have too many choices because we’ve seen too much. It’s like Jazz after John Coltrane. You can’t “un-Coltrane” Jazz. And if you are a Jazz musician, you have to choose whether you’re going to be cutting edge or vintage. But even then is it possible for you with your John Coltrane awareness to really play (for example) 1930’s swing with a good 1930’s style.

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Nice video Cheeky Elf.
Can I just say I feel I’m just responding to a computer and not to a human with all the incognito names. Why are people hiding behind nicknames. I recently changed mine from piperotoole to my real name. I’ve nothing to hide and I realised that my nickname looked like I had something to hide.

Anyway. I would be on par with Gobby in that I too have distinguished the old trad and the modern. 95% of the music I play is based on old recordings and the older the better. And I would have to agree again with Gobby that the fusion movement is creeping into sessions and becoming more popular with the young folk. My reckoning is that there is so many new influential bands out there calling themselves trad bands when their not. Then the young folk listen and learn from the bands as they think it’s trad and bring that to their sessions. Furthermore, I’m again with Gobby when he says he’s trying to learn a regional style, which is nearly or close to being lost in modern playing, again thanks to the cermercialing of a vernacular music i.e. ITM.

Look, it’s staring us in the face. It’s perception. Modern trad bands from the late 60’s till today had to try in some shape of form to fuse trad with blues, funk, jazz and so on in order to appeal to a wider paying audience. So, to someone who’s never heard trad before hears this, they see it as Trad because that’s the label on the sleeve notes. I do like listening to it because I listen to many genres, but I have clearly divided my CD shelf into trad music (from around the world) and the modern genres including the one with a hint of trad.

It’s my opinion that If it wasn’t for the cermicerlizing of trad, to make money, people would be still playing old fashioned tunes in an old fashion way. What’s so wrong about playing Rackish Paddy in the style it was composed in decades ago. Isn’t that the reason one gets interested in trad in the first place. It’s such a beautiful piece of music, why would anyone need to colour it with funk or something. I believe it to be true and would agree with Tony from the video that the fusing of trad with modern genres is tinning the real or old trad out of existence, Sean Potts also said the same and he was a very open minded man. When we play a trad tune from 150 years ago we are trying to replicate it. That’s what traditional music is about.

For those who don’t know what the word traditional means:
http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/traditional

So traditional music is all about preserving the past by playing it into the future, unchanged and passing it on to the next generation. It’s a vernacular music played by local people of a certain geographical area. Trad in essence was meant for the few, the locals. But turning trad into a business changed that.

There is a huge difference between vernacular trad and cermercial fused trad and that for me is where ITM becomes a new genre. Even the sessions are becoming cermercilized and fused, but that’s a debate for another time, but connected to the topic.

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… As soon as it starts to be played in tune …
🙂

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<Can I just say I feel I’m just responding to a computer and not to a human with all the incognito names. Why are people hiding behind nicknames.>

Privacy. I don’t care to have a google search of my name turn up every internet discussion I’ve ever participated in. You can PM me with any questions you might have. I’ve nothing to hide.

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The Cambridge definition of traditional………………“following or belonging to the customs or ways of behaving that have continued in a group of people or society for a long time without changing”
Thanks for that Denis. The issue for me, is that some one had to mark a point in time, eg. the earliest recordings, as being the beginning of the tradition. The earlier recordings were made by an elite (financially) few musicians. I don’t think those recordings represent even 1% of the music as it was played at that time. that’s the crux for me.

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I don’t get the username criticism. Robots can’t have names like Daniel O’Toole? They only have non-human names like piperotoole?

Since I’ve never met Daniel O’Toole, both names seem to be equally ambiguous.

My thoughts on “tradition” are mostly the same as stated above. Playing outside the tradition seems heretical until the next generation is doing it too. Then it’s being passed down and thus becomes tradition. Most aspects of ITM came into the tradition at different times, at what point was it locked so that the current state is now “tradition” to be passed on eternally?

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>>“The Cambridge definition of traditional………………“following or belonging to the customs or ways of behaving that have continued in a group of people or society for a long time without changing”

I think if you are looking for a definition you would do better to look up ‘tradition’ on wiki, they have rather more than just one line. The section on its use in musicology includes this: “tradition refers to the belief systems, repertoire, techniques, style and culture that is passed down through subsequent generations. Tradition in music suggests a historical context with which one can perceive distinguishable patterns. Along with a sense of history, traditions have a fluidity that cause them to evolve and adapt over time.”

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Who’s Danial O’Toole, a cousin perhaps! Lol.

I can understand the point being made about a specific moment in time it became trad, but a good reference would be the traditional music of the traveling people who played the music. Their culture is very strong and holds traditions very close to there hearts. They pass on traditions exactly the way they where passed to them. So the music of the traveling people would be a good maker for what was before. They were the main bearers of the tradition.

About the nickname thing, I feel it’s better and more polite to address someone with a first name that would be in common use, guess I’m old school, huh.

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Wikipedia, not exactly the most scientific or reliable source of information. Anyone can add what the like on Wikipedia. Cambridge is one of the triple A for definitions used by academics across the world.

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“So traditional music is all about preserving the past by playing it into the future, unchanged and passing it on to the next generation.” What evidence have you that the music played in 1800 that you would regard as traditional has passed *unchanged* into the music played in your lifetime that you regard as traditional?

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>>“Wikipedia, not exactly the most scientific or reliable source of information. Anyone can add what the like on Wikipedia. Cambridge is one of the triple A for definitions used by academics across the world.”

If it’s good enough for medical students to use as a reference, it’s good enough for me. Certainly I’d prefer to take my information from an article that is specifically discussing the use of ‘traditional’ in a musicological context rather than basing my assumptions on a one line definition written to encompass all possible uses of the word.

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“They pass on traditions exactly the way they where passed to them. So the music of the traveling people would be a good maker for what was before.”

Were there not innovators among the travelling pipers too? e.g. did Johnny Doran simply play exactly what he learned from his own people or did he put his own distinct stamp on his playing/on the tunes? (Genuine question - I don’t know the answer myself).

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Hi @David50, please refer to my post about the traveling musician above and maybe listen to some of their music. a good reference would be the Doran’s, Keenan’s, Doherty’s and Dunne’s to start with. These families have carried the tradition from father to son and in some cases to daughters and still do today. They take pride in the fact that the music has been handed down from their forefathers. How do I know this, I’m a descendant of that tradition.

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@Denis O’Toole. So you don’t include things like polkas and other music for set-dance forms adopted in the 1800’s as ‘traditional’?

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@ David50, Never said that, you just said that, you said I don’t include. If you researched the nature of the traveling musician, you would find that they had a huge selection of trad music. They traveled from place to place county to county picking up the traditional tunes being played from one place and passing them on to the next along their travels. A good reference to this would be the friendship between Johnny Doran and Willie Clancy. Doran being from the travailing side and Clancy from the settled side. Clancy could wait for Doran to show up and get some tunes from Sligo or some other far fetched location that was hard to travel to. So Clancy would be delighted to know what the local polka rage was in Kerry or the latest Reel from Donegal. That’s how the music traveled at the time.

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Denis, if the father/son handing down amongst a few families is sufficient to preserve the pure tradition while other people are playing and listening to classical, pop, hip hop etc. why do you think it is threatened by other people playing fusion and ‘impure’ traditional music? Surely if those families want to preserve their music in a pure form they will, regardless of what other people are playing around them?

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“What’s so wrong about playing Rackish Paddy in the style it was composed in decades ago.”
This made me laugh 🙂

I also have a preference for what some people might call “the pure drop”, solo, duo, trio playing in a pretty traditional style… But I also recognize that musicians like Johnny Doherty, Johnny Doran, Willie Clancy, Michael Coleman, and more, definitely were innovative and changed the music.

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@Mark, I think you’re misrepresenting or undermining my point. Not only where the traveling families handing it down father to son, but to all people interested in playing the music around the entire country. Anyone that wanted to listen or play another form of music was welcome to it, as it is today. I don’t think ITM is threatened, never said that, that would be misrepresenting what I trying to communicate. It was you that said if it wasn’t for the fusion trad was going to die because of the the old men in kitchens.

The question I asked is “At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre”.
What I’m saying is that today we have two forms of trad, one that preserves the tradition of old and another that doesn’t, having its origins or hints in Trad, but mostly fused with contemporary pop music but evolving into something else, another genre perhaps.

I hope you understand what I’m saying there are people playing trad in sessions, concerts and recording without the influence of blues etc. and there are people that do play pop with hints of trad, but want to be recognised as trad musicians and so on.
To me it’s like the Calypso vs Reggae - What’s the difference argument. They are now different genre, one is the original and the other is a contemporary with hints of the origin, but people think there both the same, but there not. This is what is happing to ITM presently; it is dividing, just like Calypso and Reggae.
Mark, there will always be people that want to play old trad tunes in the kitchen and pub corners keeping true to what was before from across the centuries and the people who want to play modern pop and trad music. So is what’s happening at the moment is the Calypso vs Reggae syndrome, a different genre, maybe, I think it is.
Frankly, anyone that thinks fusion trad and the old trad are the same just doesn’t get it. There is a huge difference in music between the latest so called trad bands/players and what they do and the influences on people to the generations of lennons, Dunnes, Mulligan’s and Crehan and their music. It’s totally different, it’s very clear to see, it’s not just a taste thing it’s a difference thing. People are entitled to their opinions, I respect that. But you can’t call a donkey a horse!

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@Nico, why the laughter. doesn’t matter. I would agree with you to a certain extent. but not totally.

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I thought you were making a joke, because of course Rakish Paddy was not “composed”. In fact Rakish Paddy is an excellent example of the process of change and innovation that happens in this tradition.

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The music handed down by the traveling people is surely a separate tradition, and even if one accepts the aspect of continuity of tradition in the traveling community,(which I do), when you include it in the overall music scene, it still is a tiny part of the Irish culture.

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> What’s so wrong about playing Rackish Paddy in the style it was composed in decades ago.

I can tell you that if you attempted to play Rakish Paddy in the style it was composed in you would get laughed out of your session. The original version - which goes back to Playford, I think - is unrecognisable.

This idea that traditional music (of any stripe) is a fossilised replica of what was done a century or two ago is just nonsense. Tell the tourists if you like, but celebrate it for what it is, not for a false origin myth.

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Denis: >>“I don’t think ITM is threatened, never said that, that would be misrepresenting what I trying to communicate.”

I’m sorry if I have misinterpreted what you are trying to say, but your opening post contained the line “That to me is how we loose a tradition, by making it as far away from the underlining tradition as one can.” And the rest of your posts both here and on another thread seemed to me to be conveying the same message - that you thought all this modernisation of the music was killing off the tradition.

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While I certainly treat the tradition much more like the wikipedia definition as it applies to musicology, if you really want to go with the Cambridge definition, I still don’t believe that “without changing” means that music has to be static to be part of the tradition.

And my reasoning for this is that the push and pull of old vs. new, traditional vs. modern, or stagnant vs. alive has ALWAYS been there. Lúnasa aren’t the first artists to push the tradition in unexpected ways. The Bothy Band, Planxty, DeDannan, all did it. As did Séamus Ennis, Willy Clancy, Ed Reavy, and Martin Wynne before them. As did Coleman, Morrison, and Killoran… Certainly Turlough O’Carolan pushed the music in a different direction…

My point being that the push and pull of innovation against history is *part* of the tradition. We, the players are the living tradition, staying grounded in the history of the music, while keeping the tradition alive by playing the music and passing it on to others in the same way it was passed on to us. Change is part of the tradition. New tunes, evolving regional styles, influential virtuosos, and even new instruments throughout time are all part of the tradition. And since we *are* the tradition, it’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves how far it can get pushed before it should be considered outside of the tradition, or even a different genre.

For my part, I lean toward the Pure Drop, but that doesn’t mean it’s a stagnant thing that needs to be carefully preserved and set on a museum shelf for future generations to wonder at. What it means is that I try to play the music in a way that people that played it before me would approve of, while still being myself, and using my love for the music as it was played in the past as inspiration for my own personal expression of it now and into the future. To me, *that* is the tradition.

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@Denis. I don’t think you are getting my point. You were the one who said “preserving the past by playing it into the future, unchanged “ and I am asking how you can include things like polkas in the tradition if the tradition has a past that they were not part of.

And I am skeptical about people who used playing at fairs as a source of income were not to some extent following the fashions of the day.

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Well, here’s something to think about - or not, as the case may be. Traditionally, in the foggy not-so-distant past, probably in whatever tradition of folk music you care to look at - although I don’t claim to be a great authority on any of them - big changes to what was accepted within the tradition did not tend to be made by just any Tom, Dick or Harry. The accepted innovations came from the most highly respected musicians within the tradition. In other words, you had to pay your dues and more before you started innovating, if you wanted to be accepted within not just the musical community, but the community generally. Even then, that was no guarantee that your innovations would be embraced; there could well be those who felt they did not belong, and their feelings might have been valid, if futile. Of course, there were exceptions, no doubt. For instance, a new dance craze might require every local musician to adapt a new tune-type - e.g., polka - and we can imagine some top musicians in the tradition getting their backs up about it, and trying to buck the trend. The problem now - if it is a problem; maybe it’s not, but it is the situation - is that a great many musicians who are not deeply grounded or particularly accomplished, let alone recognized, in the tradition are doing all kinds of innovating. This is the difference between a traditional tradition and what we’ve got now.

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I think that recordings are useful in setting down a version of a traditional tune.
However, the process of making the recording, the state of technology, the attitudes and expectations of all the participants all affect that recording, at that point of time.
Therefore I might be wary of taking such recordings as an accurate account of a tune, at that time.

I think traditional music is unregulated, in respect of style or pace or technique. Local music may favour some tunes or types of tunes depending on the tastes and expertise of participants. It has little to do with who you know, or the proper way of doing things, or your roots.

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“…a great many musicians who are not deeply grounded or particularly accomplished, let alone recognized, in the tradition are doing all kinds of innovating.”

Don’t you think that’s always been the case? And the tradition as a whole rejects it as non-traditional… So the system works! 😉

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Actually, I don’t think that’s always been the case. I think the tendency to free-for-all innovation in ‘traditional music’ is very modern. The tendency in folk traditions generally is toward conservatism - not only in judgement, but in practice.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Music stops being my tradition when I stop recognizing it as my tradition. Plato said we recognize something by comparing it to an ideal we carry round with us and that makes sense to me. When I go to a “folk” concert and I am presented with overloud electronic mush, complex orchestration which loses the feel of the tune, totally tuneless arpeggios or choppy rhythms which make me seasick then I just think “Oops!” because I can’t even do the comparison to any ideal. I just don’t recognize the stuff. It doesn’t matter how accomplished the musicians are.

I can listen to a terrible musician playing a melody all wrong and accept that they are playing in my tradition and - as they might improve given encouragement - I even usually encourage them to make me suffer some more.

I quite like going under a nickname. I’m not really very anonymous. This is one side of my character and lots of people know it’s me. I think it would be quite easy to find out who I am for anyone who doesn’t know and I don’t mind people doing that. When I started contributing to the session it was a long time ago and I was working and I suppose I preferred that some of the people I worked for didn’t know the contributor to the session was me. I remember we recruited someone against whom there was a lot of prejudice because she ran a completely harmless fan site people considered infantile. I think a teacher, for example, would have good reason to be anonymous when doing absolutely anything. We retired people can usually afford the luxury of being whoever we are!

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

For me the distinction is not geographical but personal. I am not from a Trad music background, and like most Irish people it just didn’t feature much in my upbringing. Even my IRB/IRA kerry grandfather was quite flippant in his dismissal of ‘diddly aye’ music as he would refer to it. When you grow up in Ireland you realise what a narrow and family specific tradition it is. It is passed down and across family and community groups, but could just as easily pass unnoticed or unwanted by whole other segments of a community. Snobbery and class distinction were ingrained in the middle class world I grew up in. In the modernising & outward looking world of ‘50s - ‘80s Ireland it was seen by many as ‘backwards’ & embarassing, something to be shed in case anyone thought you might be lower class, or heaven forbid “a bit of a gaelgoir” who might embarrass the rest. There’s still a hint of that left, but nowhere like it was. The groups like The Chieftans, Sweeney’s Men, The Clancy brothers etc have to be viewed against that background of a wide lack of appreciation for the music, indeed there was an air of wanting to dissociate from that among many middle class families. The role of RTE shouldn’t be over looked in managing to stoically promote traditional aspects of irish culture, it took people of a particularly dogged nature to push against that tide of wilful amnesia.

So I approach Trad music as a stranger to the lineage and inheritance involved in the actual tradition. I’m someone with a musical interest and hunger for it, but no matter how much I learn it will almost certainly be someone else’s tradition I’m lucky enough to be able to explore. People tend to value a sincere effort to understand and assimilate the nuances of their culture, and are normally welcoming if a little wary of potential misinterpretation or misunderstanding.

Those of us who come at a tradition from outside need to be very attuned to what matters and what can be disregarded as unimportant to those who have assimilated the tradition from their youth. I don’t look on that as putting them on some kind of false pedestal, but rather tuning in to their sensibilities honed through years of experience. You can find yourself very surprised by what people don’t consider crucial to their particular tradition, certainly in terms of instrumentation and repertoire.

But just as people like me look in to a tradition, those inside look outward from that ‘bubble’, often finding excitment and inspiration in experimenting with those influences. But they have the better advantage of someone like me every time, they know where the boundaries of their tradition lie, they know when they’re moving outside their ‘parish’. I’d need to keep looking at my maps, but they grew up there. Imagine me telling them when they were in the ‘wrong field’?

The boundaries between the various traditional lineages are not clear, even to those that are part of that lineage. They may not even see the unique aspects of their particular strand of the tradition, or have deliberately moved away from it in their quest for something a bit more modern, after all it’s still there inside and can be brought out as easily as I’d recall a nursery rhyme. It’s perfectly normal for younger people within any tradition to want to do more, move beyond the stuffy rooms of their childhood and explore beyond the boundaries. For many it’s only once they can do this that they can appreciate what makes and defines their own tradition.

Bit of a ramble, but basically, if you come from within a tradition then you know where you stand. If you come from outside you have to have the humility to realise you’re the one asking for directions.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I re read the last few paragraphs and realised that I didn’t explain very well how I think that there’s a dichotomy for all of us in knowing the boundaries and exploring them. Smaller excursions can be treated as a bit of flavouring when they come from someone brought up in a tradition, as everyone assumes they know where they’re pushing the tradition. Similar experiments by someone outside a tradition can be interpreted as just not knowing where the boundaries are at the time.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Good stuff, Beanzy!

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Beware of fossilising the music!
A case that is pertinent is that of the English Folk Dance and Song Society during the 60s and 70s. At that time their attitude was very prescriptive and dogmatic. There were only certain ways of playing and singing and certain instruments were proscribed (english concertina for one). Some academics still hold this position, that the past be preserved in aspic and nothing must change. As a consequence of this restricted view audiences and performers drifted away from the hard-line trad scene. The rest of us just got on with the music and song and took it wherever we wanted, having a great time on the way. Folk-rock bands like Steeleye Span appealed to a new audience and opened many ears to the value of traditional music. Performers and listeners were attracted by this more modern style but, once into the music, they came to an appreciation of the roots of the tradition and now respect both the origins and the new style. Since that time the EFDSS has loosened up and there has been a new revival.
The Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland has been through a similar evolution over the last decade or so but they too are embracing the newer styles of performance and have incorporated them into their competitions.
My view is that our music comes out of a different time and originated in very different social conditions. There was no radio or television, little exposure to virtuoso performers and performance was in very small groups and venues. In addition the communities of that time were very conservative with a very slow rate of change. Times have changed, however, and are changing fast. Now the benchmark of musical performance is set very high by all the studio music we hear every day. This leaves hard-line trad performance very lacking to modern ears and I have encountered lots of people who are put off by this style. They subsequently decry all folk music on principal. However, on hearing a more modern style of performance they are drawn in, the consequences are then as stated above re Steeleye Span.
By all means play in the style of old recordings but it is a mistake to think that by doing this you are preserving the tradition. By not allowing the music to appeal to a broader audience you may well strangle it and you will become an inward-looking elite with no relevance to modern life. By your exclusive attitude you will bar new blood from being introduced to trad and will stifle the future . If no-one new comes to the music, from whatever route, the music will die with you.
End of opinionated ramblings.
Dick.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

On the question of change within the tradition, I recall a radio interview with James Kelly. He was asked something along those lines and had an anecdote from his childhood, accompanying his father on a visit to a venerable fiddler (sorry can’t remember the name ) . At one point in the conversation, this old fiddler said to John Kelly Sr “Now modern fiddlers, such as yourself ….”

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Interesting thread. I once did an MA thesis on the traditional ballads, and my ‘take’ on it is that tradition involves change, but it has to be ‘organic’ change where what is new still has very much in common with what has gone before. Thus a nineteenth-century version of a ballad in oral tradition will still have the basic story line and many of the stanzas the same as a version from the previous century, even though it may introduce new stanzas that change the characterisation or feel. Robert Burns’ version of ‘Tam Lin’ is much superior to other versions but it’s still ‘Tam Lin’. On the other hand ‘Kinmont Willie’, which glorifies one of Sir Walter Scott’s ancestors, is thought by many scholars to be the work of Scott himself - but yet in style it is very much ‘a border ballad’, so Scott was working within the tradition.

I have a preference myself for traditional tunes, but when a ‘new tune’ is innovative in rhythm, say, but has many features in common with popular ITM tunes, then I accept it as part of the tradition.

When a newly composed tune is played on traditional instruments but the basic feel is jazzy or romantic, then I don’t accept it as ‘traditional’ in the same way.

It’s a matter of degree & the basic ‘feel’ of a new piece - though individuals will argue about where the line is drawn.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

“Beware of fossilising the music!”

I don’t think a few old coots grumbling (Guilty, m’Lord) here is going to fossilise anything - the music will do what’s it’s going to do, regardless of what we say or don’t say ……

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Fair play, meself. Although I’m noticing there is an old coot currently grumbling on Twitter who has a potential to fossilise quite alot.
;)

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Fiddle Aunt, thanks for your post. I appreciate your prespective, especially about organic change. What is the title of your thesis?

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

My tradition came from my grandmothers and others of their generation - so these were people born in the 1880s and 1890s in Perthshire and Lancashire. I have added many melodies to what I got from them and I suppose I have my own style, but I hope they would recognize what I do as their tradition. If I changed it so that they wouldn’t recognize it and it was no longer ours then it wouldn’t die with me because it would have died before me, the day I threw it away.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

That concept of ‘organic’ change is - or should be - central to consideration of this issue. I believe it’s been brought up a couple of times, now …..

****************

I learned my first batch of tunes from my mother’s playing - and these included tunes she had learned from her father, born ca. 1890. He died before I got to playing tunes in front of people, but I am sure he would be satisfied with my playing of those tunes - his wife, my grandmother was. Some of the other tunes I’ve picked up they would find a bit of a bore, probably …..

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

It seems to me that we are arguing about something senseless here. I always enjoy the discussion, but on themes like this it strikes me that there can be no right or wrong opinions because all the opinions on this matter boil down purely to personal taste and judgement. I have already expressed my approach to ‘tradition’, but that’s all it is;- i.e., my own personal approach. It basically depicts the goals boundaries of what I PERSONALLY set myself to study and attempt to play. I imagine we are all pretty much flexible in what music we like to listen to and to play, and when it comes to playing so-called ‘traditional’ music, well like I indicated in my previous post, we all come from different cultures, and so-called ‘tradition’ is a different thing for all of us. The boundaries overlap and eventually the word ‘traditional’ can have no commonly agreed definition. I may have given the impression in my first post that my dedication to what I personally narrow down to the Irish traditional fiddling is inflexible, but that’s not wholly true. I only dedicate myself to that study. Outside of that I am willing to, and often enjoy taking a trip into other areas of fiddling. Not all of the tunes I play, but most of them, would, I am sure, still fall under the umbrella term of traditional fiddling in one country or another. I like Cajun fiddling, but I don’t play it because it feels too alien to my own culture. I like loads of North Western American and Cape Breton fiddling .I nearly like Scottish fiddling! And I could go on and on, but the point is that I feel in any kind of study it’s best to set limits and focus on them, and the limits I set myself are those of Irish Traditional fiddling as I CHOOSE to interpret the words. Music is music and we all have different tastes, approaches, interpretations and opinions. The only thing we can really have in common is our love of playing it, and in terms of our membership to this site, the common Irish ‘flavour’ of what then falls under that umbrella term of ‘Traditional. It would be a Terrible Ting if it wasn’t like that….oops, I just spoke Oirish!.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I agree with Gobby completely that is boils down to personal opinion. I Also think that tradition is something that has numerous separate strings - if a classical orchestra plays a traditional tune, it is still a traditional tune, if traditional musicians play a pop song it can still be traditional music.

And I’m not at all convinced by people who claim that their musical lineage automatically adds authority to their idea of what is traditional. My grandfather and his father before him were Scottish fiddlers. Grandpa got me started but he died when I was twelve. I still have his tune book which, apart from a few Scottish chestnuts which are now considered too cheesy to play in public, is full of stuff like ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Cherokee’ and ‘‘One O’clock Jump’. I’m quite glad I didn’t grow up thinking that was traditional Scottish music.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I don’t think it does just boil down to personal taste. Musicians are like any other artists in this sense. A poet without language who just strung together sounds he or she liked might provide a noise which was reassuring to themselves but without form or order it would be quite unsatisfying even to themselves and certainly would communicate nothing to anyone else.

To get further than that as artists we need a language and set of forms which others have developed over many lifetimes and which is mutually understood - and this debate has turned into a discussion of where we get those from as well as what happens when we move outside them - which is the original question. How do we know we have moved outside the forms which are built into our brains by tradition or early education? Well, how do we know when someone isn’t speaking our language? We know!

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I know the comments of I’ve been posting seem very black and white, I’m more or less on the side of Gobby and others. People within this forum that knows me, knows that, but someone has to be devil’s advocate, right! LOL.
I don’t think it’s a senseless discussion. I think it’s a healthy exercise in discussing a topic of ITM that many people are talking about in sessions and elsewhere. I value all the contributions that people have made to the discussion and I thank you all for that, before AB robs my limelight! LOL!
I want to close my contribution to the discussion by say this:
I’m a traditionalist at heart when it comes to ITM. What I mean by that is in the way I play, learn and foresee ITM. I like to listen to many genres, but ITM is my baby. I’m very open to the idea of influences from other countries that have traditional music, I listen to a lot of that, but I don’t let it influence the way I play ITM. If I’m going to play music from another tradition, I’ll try and play it as of that tradition and I will always make it clear that it’s not part of ITM and it’s from a different tradition.
I also like listening to modern trad (let’s just call it that for name sake), trad that has say 80% tradition in it. However, I won’t be influencing the playing of my music for reasons set out above.
I also listen to contemporary and world music.
What I don’t like is extreme trad (again, let’s just call it that for name sake), music that has no reference to trad. What do I mean by that?
I mean a piece of music labelled ITM that is 80% to 100% Pop, House, Trance, blues, jazz and so on, played on what’s known as traditional acoustic instruments that clams to be based on ITM. They like to be called experimental musicians and/or bands. Like it or not that’s what’s trending in ITM at the moment and is part of the future of ITM. This extreme form of trad I feel is a threat to the legacy of ITM today and into the future.
We are the people, who plays ITM, are responsible for the future of this long traditional legacy. We have to draw a sensible line in the sand to say when something is not part of this tradition. There is a myth that is becoming a reality in ITM that ITM sessions are a free for all. I mean that some people think that ITM sessions are open to anyone from any genre to join in. It sounds elitism, but it’s not. It’s an example of what ITM sessions have become and where do we draw the line. And it’s because of the extreme introduction of other genres to today’s ITM, that’s my belief anyway.
Story time:
I was invited to playing in a session (ok, it was a gig) in the Cobblestone Pub in Dublin. A guy from the USA (no disrespect to my American friends) who played guitar, just sat himself down beside me to join in, grand, I understand that some people don’t want to say hello. It’s when he started to back or accompany the tunes that a problem. The guy was a jazz and country guitarist/singer and clearly had no idea about the accompaniment of ITM. I’m very polite and I did ask him not to back us up and I would give him plenty of opportunities to sing a beautiful song. But his response shocked me. He told me that back in America he plays in lots of ITM sessions (well, that’s what he called them) and its fine there. He went on the say that musicians from all walk of genres where welcome to the session and that it was the norm from his part of the world across all states. The guy ignored my request and continued to “back” the musicians, for the rest of the session. What’s even more troubling is that he hung around to play in the session after us, which was full of more established ITM musicians.
Some people will say that people are entitled to play whatever they like, which is fine, PC and all that. But we have to draw some sort of line in the evolution of ITM at some point.
We can’t carry on with the attitude or notion that we have to except the changes, extreme or otherwise, as the evolution of the tradition for the sake of preserving the music into the future. A line has to be drawn at some point to what is and constitutes ITM as we know it and what is not or it will become fossilised, never mind the Kitchen Grandads. Somewhere in the middle would be nice, maybe. I feel that if music from around the world continues like the journey ITM is on, the end result will be a single genre, a wish-wash of everything. I think it has to be a bit more than just personal tastes that define what ITM is. Ask yourself, what defines rock, what defines blues, what defines classical music, think about it for a while, then ask what defines ITM. You’ll find it very difficult, hence the responses and contributions from this discussion.
Oh, I nearly forgot. lol.
1. It’s no wonder we are all sick if medical students are handing up projects and reports using quotes and footnotes from Wikipedia.
2. If Rakish Paddy wasn’t composed, how did it come into existence in the first place?
3. I’m very proud of my family musical lineage and feel very lucky and honoured to be part of it and ITM. But I would never assume that it is the definitive solution to preserving trad, well maybe as a Devil’s Advocate, lol.
Thanks again to all who contributed to my discussion and maybe we might meet somewhere for a tune and that.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

And Mark M, it’s no good having ancestors who were this or that if they have left you nothing. My Scottish west highland grandfather who heard no music except metrical psalms as a child (and used to say he only knew they were playing “God Save the Queen” because everyone stood up) conveyed no music to me and I have no west highland tradition, just as I have virtually no Gaelic language. I have tried to play modern west highland music but the tricks of it defeat me.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I once heard this issue nicely summed up with the term “contemporary trad!”

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I think the thing to remember about your jazz/country guitarist is that he isn’t taking anything away from your tradition. Next week he’ll be gone and you can play your tunes exactly as you always have. And he might just add something. Somewhere back in your grandfather’s day someone must have been the first to add strummed accompaniment to traditional music, and when they did they changed it profoundly. Not just the sound, but the way it is played. For a fiddler playing solo maintaining the pulse dominates everything, but as soon as you add a strummer they can maintain the pulse, leaving the fiddle free to be more expressive. It hasn’t wiped out solo fiddling, most fiddlers can still maintain the pulse and play just like your great grandfather did if they need to, but now they have more options, still within the tradition. And that is how I see modern innovations - take them on board if you want, ignore them if you don’t, but don’t think that they are taking anything away from you.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@Mark M,
You keep saying it’s my tradition, it’s not mine man, it belongs to the people that can play and understand it.
Of course he added something to the session I was playing in, he added a bad atmosphere (you could cut it with a knife), for me, my fellow musicians and the listeners, it was hard to keep my own time and rhythm with his playing, his was playing Jazz and we were playing ITM, but I struggled through it and worst still he thought he was playing ITM! That’s the core of my point! And this wouldn’t be the first time this happened in an ITM session. It was the worst sound that could hit a human ear! Why did he think this was ok, because of the free for all attitudes similar to yours he had and experienced back home, he thought that his playing was the norm for ITM, when clearly it was not! And of course he is and was taking something away from me and not just ITM.
The first mistake you are making, as far I am concerned is looking at ITM as a modern innovation when in fact it’s got a long history. ITM just didn’t pop out of the sky and land on the lap of people. You are only looking at the future of ITM, because it probably suites you and your music and that’s where you’re coming from, it’s all over your comments. What you are missing is a true understanding of the ITM past, it’s clear that you don’t, especially the Irish story of ITM. What should be done is looking at the past, present and future as a collective, again you don’t.
Oh, can you please stop referring to my granddad or other family relations, you mentioned it once or twice, which sufficient for me to understand, thanks. And don’t try to accuse me of hating guitar or other strumming accompaniment and don’t expect me to except your persuasive attitude to try and modernize ITM. I don’t agree with what you have to say, sorry, but you are beginning to hit a nerve with me

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

“And I’m not at all convinced by people who claim that their musical lineage automatically adds authority to their idea of what is traditional. “

This gets to be a bit like the snake biting its tail … because it depends on what we mean by traditional. If “stuff like ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Cherokee’ and “One O’clock Jump’” is played long enough along with the older or otherwise unquestionably Scottish tunes, it could be argued that it has become part of the traditional music of a given place, whether we approve or not. And you would have the authority to say, ’My grandfather was a Scottish fiddler, and he played those tunes.” You might also be able to say whether he recognized a distinction between those and the more bona fide Scottish tunes, and if so, what that distinction meant or didn’t mean to him. That doesn’t mean that everyone should take what you say as gospel; however, those who have no direct experience with the time, place & people you are talking about should allow some measure of respect for your impressions, I would think.

By way of comparison, someone mentioned the Gaelic. Now, if your grandfather spoke Gaelic but you don’t, then you are not an authority on the Gaelic language, of course - however, if someone were to make some very general statement about the character of Gaelic-speakers, you might well be able to support or refute their claim - with some authority based on your impression of grandfather’s character.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

If you might need a target for all this, we could blame bicycles and the new tar roads. Where tunes went on world win tours due to someone riding over the next hill with some tunes and a bottle of the stuff. Then, light bulbs were added to the front of the bikes and damn nab it, the music changed forever due to the distance one could travel (my source, wiki,piki poe)

Anyway, the music decides for itself what it wants and we just go along for the ride

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Your point being, I suppose, that there’s no real difference between the man on the bicycle who takes a trip to the next village for a tune, and commercial music from half-way across the world being piped into homes, businesses and public spaces 24/7 …..

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Denis:

>>“Oh, can you please stop referring to my granddad or other family relations, you mentioned it once or twice, which sufficient for me to understand, thanks. And don’t try to accuse me of hating guitar or other strumming accompaniment and don’t expect me to except your persuasive attitude to try and modernize ITM.”

Sorry, I was just using your grandad as shorthand for where the music was a couple of generations ago, it wasn’t intended to be personal. And I wasn’t accusing you of hating the guitar, I was simply pointing out that it’s arrival brought a large, and irrevocable change in ITM. That first guitarist probably met with exactly the same reaction that you are giving your jazz-man, but some people liked it, and adopted it, and eventually it became part of the tradition. No doubt those who didn’t like it carried on playing solo as they always had, and maybe their linear musical descendants are still playing that way today, keeping their particular tradition alive. But tradition as a whole is a tree with many branches, and just because one branch is flourishing doesn’t mean it is harming the others. There is plenty of room for you to keep your interpretation of traditional music alive whilst others experiment and modernize. Maybe the jazz-man did screw up the evening for you because his music didn’t fit with your taste. That’s sad, but its not the end of the world. I’ve had similar experiences many, many times. But so what? When someone turns up and sings country songs all night I don’t throw my hands up and say ’ That’s it, traditional music is ruined, were all going to have to play country from here on.’ I just make the best of it, join in where I can, and go back to playing the music I love the next day.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

“2. If Rakish Paddy wasn’t composed, how did it come into existence in the first place?”
I’m afraid this question shows a lack of understanding of the tradition. Rakish Paddy traces its ancestry back a long time, to Scottish and possibly English sources. It wasn’t “composed”, it developed from an (or more than one) earlier tune that was changed through being passed around orally. The idea that all tunes were composed at one point isn’t true, although it is true that quite a lot of tunes were!

Another example of this is the family of Lark in Morning / Lark’s March / An Buachaillin Bui tunes. Or the Pol Ha’penny / Moll Ha’penny / Hawk’s family of tunes (which span more than just hornpipes). It’s why there are families of related tunes at all, or why some people play 3 or 4 part Rakish Paddy settings…

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Mark M I think you’re confusing the instrument with the player.
The guitarist in question appears to have no manners nor any idea of what he is doing there.
He has confused a session with a jam and in doing so through his ignorance has derailled the gathering for his own selfishness. That does have an effect and quite a detrimental one, it’s him this week then another the next and so on until everyone os wasting their time going.
Consider what happens when he goes back to tell his friends in his “celtic jam” or whatever they have back where he is. He’s now an authority on what gets played at an Irish Trad session and so it continues on and on. Meanwhile people have their evenings together ruined by this ignorance.
Luckily there seem to be plenty of proper Trad sessions left in amongst all the celtic mish-mash in the US and they seem to be a bit less polite about setting someone straight about what’s what.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

No, I wasn’t confusing the instrument with the player, I wasn’t even thinking about that particular player, but outsiders in general. Yes, they can be very annoying, but at the end of the day if it’s an open session he has as much right to be there as anyone else, and very often what these people do is more popular with the punters than the regular session is. I think if you are precious about your music you always have the option of running private sessions, but if it is an open session you just have to take what comes. Sometimes it can be deeply frustrating as in the instance above, but other times it can be a real joy when someone brings something new and unexpected to the table.

And even with the bad ones you can usually reign them in a bit if you go about it tactfully - far better to help them learn to do it right than to drive them away.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

If someone doesn’t know what a session is MarkM then they need to learn first. An open session is open to all players of the genre, not to any old genre.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I think the logical conclusion would be to outlaw Americans from Ireland. You could build a wall and elect your man here, Donald o“tool.

Then, like Rome, you can burn all the sheet music, melt the bicycles, dig up the highways and try to save your precious music, which was supposedly “saved” by an American already. Go figure.

Dublin is a Mecca of hybrid tunes so the orig arguement is flawed to begin with and perhaps a windup. But alas I find humor in being wound up so

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

>>“If someone doesn’t know what a session is MarkM then they need to learn first.”
And where are they going to learn, if not in a session? Apparently that is the way the music gets passed on.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

You know, I wouldn’t go to New Orleans or New York City, walk into a club where some jazz guys were jamming, take out my guitar and start banging away on my cowboy chords. I just wouldn’t. I don’t think I have to explain why, do I? (Hint: it has nothing to do with wanting to melt bicycles and tear up highways, or even to build walls).

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Dublin is a different genre. That’s the way it was explained to me, anyway. So maybe you are right

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Mark we’re talking a trad session here, not a folk session. In a trad session you learn a bucket load of tunes first, and you go along and listen in on them while you’re doing that.
You listen and learn & practice. Then after a while you may feel brave enough to answer “I do a few tunes” instead of “not really, but I’m learning” when someone asks if you play. That’s when they might ask if you’d play them a few tunes. Kitchen or house jams are good spots for trying to get things up to speed. But you just don’t go stomping in cluelessly on a trad session. It’d just be just careless & rude. In a way this highlights when it turns into a different genre. There are expected norms of behaviour and there are boundries in Trad music, it’s not just about the tunes.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

>>“You know, I wouldn’t go to New Orleans or New York City, walk into a club where some jazz guys were jamming, take out my guitar and start banging away on my cowboy chords. “

But then the jazz cats didn’t invent the open session. If you guys want to pretend you are warm and welcoming to strangers then you have to live with the consequences.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Go back to the original story: there was no mention of an “open” session. In fact, it was a “gig”.

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No he mentioned “session” as in “it is a topic in many sessions” before mentioning gig

Gig never mentioned

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Who are “us guys” by the way - and, by extension, who are “you guys”?

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Are you using a dis ambiguous end point, I am the kernal. You are yourself

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

MarkM, are you suggesting Denis has to live with the consequences of having his request & offer ignored & dismissed by the visiting musician?
“I did ask him not to back us up and I would give him plenty of opportunities to sing a beautiful song.”

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

We cross-posted - that question was for Mark M. But as for: “ … before mentioning gig

Gig never mentioned“

You’ve lost me again. First time was with the Dublin/genre thing. Too subtle by half for what’s left of this old brain …..

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Well it was a gig and at the same time an open session for other ITM musicians who could play ITM. Me and my wife where responsible for leading the Gig/session.
@Nico: Thanks for the response. Every day is a school day, I learned something new and your answer sounds logical.
@Beanzy: Thank you for explain that.
@Kernal: It’s Denis O’Toole and I wouldn’t have the money to build a wall, hell I can’t even get a grant from the arts council for my books, lol. And we shouldn’t be isolating the poor Americans; there are plenty of other nationalities that fit the bill of the jazzman.
@ Mark Mitchill:
I happen to like Jazz a lot actually. And there’s no maybe the jazz-man screwed up, he did screw up the session.
It’s because of your ignorance and other people like the jazz-man thinking that ITM is a free for all genre session/jam mixed into one that’s really threatening ITM with what you think Open ITM session means, thanks to Beanzy WHY THEY ARE NOT OPEN TO ALL GENRE. If you don’t play ITM you have no right participating in an ITM session, go and learn the music and come back when you have. You’re twisting the word so people like you can come into ITM sessions thinking you may improve it. I haven’t spent my lifetime learning as much as I can about ITM for Ignorant people like you and the jazz-man to come along when they feel like it to muddy the water of any session just because they think they can. Some people in music can’t take a hint even when you’re being tactful; you would know anyone like that mark would you? There are some people who just don’t get it and the whole ITM thing. They should stay away until they do.
It’s a load of trip the “we are all branches of the same tree” crap. That’s like saying “we’re all part of the same family if we go back far enough”. Reading your comment about where they go to learn is a total joke, if you knew anything about ITM would know that the majority of people learning ITM go to a teacher, where they can, that’s how the music is passed on. Christ, I’m getting back flashes of the jazz-man. Sessions are a communal gathering of ITM musicians to practice and develop their skill. It’s not a classroom. If there’s a tune you like in the session, you record it and learn it and practice it out side of the session, like at home and you come back to the session to practice and develop the tune with other ITM musicians. Why am I explaining this to you I don’t know for the life of me. It’s like trying to talk to a brick wall!

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

“It is coming up as a topic in sessions more than ever”
-Donald o“tool

He mentions sessions before gig. And yes, Dublin musicians play differently in my opinion. A broad sweeping statement about PPL from Dublin. I like it, don’t get me wrong

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@Mark M: sorry I didn’t mean ignorance I meant to say unawareness and ill-informed do except my apologies.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@ Kernal: my name is Denis, not Donald. Please refer to my actual name thanks.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Your name is o’tuathail if you are going to preach to the choir

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

That’s your actual name no?

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@ Kernal: That’s my surname in Irish, thanks. But I prefer to be called Denis O’Toole, if you don’t mind. Thanks again.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I think someone sent in a plastic yank with a guitar to ruffle your feathers. No offense, you seem like an easy wind up like my self.

I wish you the best and wish nobody yanks your chain in the future. All the best mr Denis O’toole

Do you travel? looking forward to a session with you.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@Kernal:
Thanks, but I’m not that easy to wind up, sorry pal. No offense taking. I’m just a bit fussy with my name and I understand it’s humor you where using. The only person allowed to yank my chain id my wife! LOL. Travel, I do, never been to the states for tunes, but you never know. Travel a lot to Europe for tunes though.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

>>“It’s because of your ignorance and other people like the jazz-man thinking that ITM is a free for all genre session/jam mixed into one that’s really threatening ITM with what you think Open ITM session means, thanks to Beanzy WHY THEY ARE NOT OPEN TO ALL GENRE. If you don’t play ITM you have no right participating in an ITM session.”

Hang on there. I’ll overlook the personal insult, but you are the one who is claiming that what you are doing is steeped in tradition that hasn’t really changed in hundreds of years. So let’s just remember what sessions in Ireland used to be. The essence of a session was that a group of friends and neighbours got together on a cold winter’s night to entertain each other. Each person would take a turn at entertaining the company. If there were musicians there they might play a tune, solo, or if there was more than one musician someone might join in quietly in the background as they learned the tune. (That is why there is little harmony in Irish music - because it was a solo tradition, not a tradition of multiple musicians playing in unison.) But getting back to our session, when the musician has finished his tune someone else might get up and sing, recite a poem or tell a story. If there was a stranger in their midst he too would be encouraged to get up and do something to entertain the company - he could play or sing or recite, and if he was from foreign parts it could be music from his own home, he didn’t need to learn the local venacular to be accepted. Whatever he did the people would listen politely and clap appreciatively at the end (they’d probably heard all the local songs and tunes a hundred times and welcomed something new, regardless of the skill or otherwise of the singer/player). If you want to carry on the tradition it is that ethos of inclusion and welcome that you need to preserve, not just the music.

That was a traditional Irish session, and that would be a lovely thing to preserve if it still exists anywhere (I suspect not, but it would have been killed off by radio and TV, not people playing jazz). But your ITM session (was it a session or a gig? If it was a gig I’ve no idea why you let him up to begin with, you’d have been well within your rights to just tell him to feck off) Your modern session of a big group playing together in unision in a pub has absolutely nothing to do with tradition, it is that tourist board myth that you so fervently denied earlier on. Invented in the 1970s, in London not Ireland. But still the sense of inclusion should prevail, after at is said and done a session is just a bit of fun, the key thing is for everyone to enjoy it together, not to get upset because someone is doing it wrong. Most musicians who take their strand of trad as seriously as you obviously do quickly grow out of sessions and find other outlets for their music - ways and places where they can perform and share their music exactly as it should be. Then they can go to sessions and let their hair down, enjoy a bit of serendipity and who knows, maybe develop a taste for dixieland piping?

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

you just killed the argument with “Dixieland piping”. 🙂

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Actually Mark M you description sounds more like an original céilí rather than a session.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@ Mark M,
Sorry, but I didn’t mean to insult you. Thanks for overlooking it, let me say that.
It was a gig, but the pub has an open invitation for other ITM musicians who can play to join us. I did ask him nicely to stop, on more than one occasion, isn’t that what I’ve being trying to tell you.
I hear what you are saying, but you’d be happy to know that those type of session your describing are now called rambling house sessions and still exist, I’ve been to plenty throughout my life. But that’s more to do with folklore than music sessions which is more to do with the playing of music rather than songs and that.
I’m sorry, but from my conversations of old musician I talked to who were playing in the 50’s and 60’s told me that they had music sessions, no singing or dancing, just tunes, mainly in houses, but sometimes in pubs and in whatever venue was available. Surly that has to be part of the tradition I talk about. And those men would have travelled to the UK with their music to places like London for work in construction or whatever and started to play in pubs more rather than houses. That’s what they told me. If they are telling the truth and they can’t all be lying, it would have more to do with the tradition than you say. The tourist boards both here and there along with publicans did however promote the music sessions. It was good business for them and good for the musicians to have a place to play and get paid, on occasion.
If you really knew me you wouldn’t say I was a serious chap. I’m always encouraging people to learn and play ITM in sessions I play in or don’t play in, but no free for all. Inclusion is one of my key principles of ITM, but not a free for all like my jazz-man, that’s for a rambling house session (but even that is not a free for all) and must have some ability to play ITM in the music session. Now that can’t be too serious, can it? Unfortunately I can’t let my hair down as nature has sorted that out for me. You won’t ever catch me playing anything else other than trad music, I’m not for converting. Sorry again.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Mark M, I think you’re missing the point in Denis’ story about the guitar player. This was apparently a destructive individual, someone oblivious to both the tradition and session norms. There is a difference between something a little “outside” that might be interesting, and just being completely oblivious and willfully ignorant.

There actually are people like that. I know at least one local example, who has been effectively dis-invited from most local OldTime jams and Irish sessions, due to a combination of awful “jazz chords” that aren’t even remotely in the same key as the music, combined with timing off the beat. He will insist that he’s in the right key when the rest of the group – melody players and any other chordal players alike - are telling him he’s wrong. He refuses to learn, and worse, he’s arrogant about how he’s always doing the right thing. A bad combination, that.

When someone like this waltzes into a session, it has nothing to do with broadening the musical horizons, or whatever it is we’re talking about here. Instead, it’s an issue of how session leaders and the group in general can manage to shut it down. Maybe we’re a little more forceful about this here in USA sessions, because the odds of it happening can be higher when you’re surrounded by guitar players in the acoustic folk/blues/oldtime scene.

On the flip side, most local sessions are very inclusive and willing to help someone who actually does want to learn, and can accept a bit of friendly guidance if required.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Conical bore that’s exactly what happened in my session/gig. The chords, the key, the beat, your bang on. It was awful the worst session I ever played and I’m fairly open to people coming in. But man alive, I hope I never have an experience like that again.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Yes, I hear what you are saying. A disruptive player is a disruptive player, regardless of what genre they come from. Every session deals with them differently, personally I still like to cut them a little slack and try to steer them in the right direction, but sometimes that doesn’t work and you have to be more forceful. I thought from the thread title that Denis was objecting to this guy purely on the basis of style rather than bad attitude or incompetence.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

It’s was all three mark.

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Re: Cobblestone

I’ve heard good things about the Cobblestone. Sorry to read tunes there were ever disrupted.
How is the music lately?

;)

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@AB, the music is brilliant. But not the session I was playing that day. I’ve played there and gone there more than a few times and have to say its great. Have you been there yet, it’s a must if your in Dublin.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

I have not been there. I’m in California (northern Sacramento River valley). I only know of the pub from this site & a few videos online. Mary MacNamara (concertina) is the first one that comes to mind.

Thank you for responding.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

@AB: no problem. I wonder do you mean Mary Begley. She would be a regular there, not so much Mary McNamara from Clare. They are both concertina players.

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Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

There is a fellow who has showed up at our (folkish) jam. He played the saw with random pitches and intonation. After a few tunes, I was relieved to see him pull out some bones to play, as I figured that would help the situation. Well, not only did he have no sense of pitch, he had no sense of rhythm. Luckily, he hasn’t returned much.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

WOW!

I am so heartened by the earnest honesty and wisdom in these replies!

I find tradition in my art and craft.
And I find it durable, but evolutionary.

Tradition does move - but it moves after it has collected-up all before.
There are a lot of very significant people honoring tradition.
They might not be well known, nor rich. But they know what they are doing.

You all found your way into this “ITM” thing by one way or another - and none of you think it was a mistake.

The thing about tradition is that it draws you to the root, and you you will build on it.

I can trust you to do that, and you can trust me.

The ice cannot melt all at once - only tradition can demand the pace of it.
Yes, I see appropriation of the music for short-term advantage.
So good. Someone fed their kids.
But the short term does not go at the pace of tradition, and those who had no space for the sacrifice to the tradition will have any lasting affect.

I am also a student of complexity theory - and I can say: Be of good heart.
The tradition is safe.
It is not only safe, it is essential.

We all do our bit - and all our “bits” add-up to the survival of tradition as it moves at the speed of tradition.

Thank you all for your wisdom and sacrifice!

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Defining the Indefinable

Hi Dennis and everyone, and thanks for your insightful discussion so far.

There’s a lot of misconceptions about traditional music being bandied about here.

There was a time, not so long ago, that the very concept of two musicians playing together was considered “untraditional”. The very sessions you play at, Dennis, I would wager, follows an “untraditional” concept under that model. The idea of the structure of 1980’s programmes like “The Pure Drop” was to try and subconsciously revive the idea of “one person playing while everyone listens” that various purists consider to be the backbone of their idea of the “tradition”.

There is no tradition without evolution.

Unless you play a whistle made out of bone or a Brian Boru harp, and stick rigidly to tunes composed before Carolan, and only learn these tunes by ear, the “traditional music” you speak of is in fact a product of many different genres, influences, and countries. Your idea of traditional would have been regarded as new-fangled and non-traditional sixty years ago, and in sixty years, the Moxies, Flooks, Beogas of this world will probably be regarded as an innovative branch and development of the genre of ITM.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

In my experience it is only the genre known as ITM which has such a prescriptive approach to a session. In most other genres of folk a ‘session’ is usually what you would call a ‘jam’. To me the idea that to participate in a session you must have learned to play a particular set of tunes in a particular way seems alien. Now I quite understand the reasons for this, and I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with it, but before condemning outsiders for not understanding what an ITM session is you should perhaps consider that your conventions are different from those of most other areas of folk music, and it is perhaps not their fault that they are unaware of them. The question then is how to educate them in the particular ways of ITM.

Of course any type of session requires that you should be sociable and should fit in with the other players. Overbearing or boorish behaviour is unwelcome anywhere.

Re: At what point does Traditional music turn into a different genre.

Mozle, Fluther and Howard Jones thank you for your contributions.

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