the fastest players of Irish MUSIC

the fastest players of Irish MUSIC

Frankie Gavin fiddle, Brian Finnegan Flute, Gerry O’Connor Bango, Brian Kelly

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….and MANY more.

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Johnny Doran

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Martin Hayes, on occasion.

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Liz Carroll

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Is this an aspect of play to be admired? I know we have the "Speed The Plough" competition at Whitby Folk Week, but that is just a bit of fun. Playing at sh*t off a shovel speed loses all rhythm and much of the spirit of any tune. You can’t dance to it, nor is there any joy in listening. Am I just a kill-joy (and don’t all say "yes" like that!), or do others share my feelings?

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I share your feelings Ebor_fiddler.

But I believe the original poster is asking for examples, not necessarily our feelings.

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"Speed is not a musical quality, and when a tune is played faster than it should be the subtle proportions between the notes and the larger elements are destroyed and the music loses its’ savour".
Breandan Breathnach.

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Depends on how well it can be played. If they can play fast and keep between the ditches then more power to them. I’d say there’s a time and a place for it, like all music. Sometimes you’ve got the need for speed and sometimes you’ve got a neediation for appreciation.


As with all things though, there’s no one size fits all. Listen to what you like, play what you like and if you’ve the skill/work ethic to develop the speed then go for it.

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I interpreted the title of the thread as being literal, nothing else.

There’s a video somewhere of Frankie Gavin playing a bit of the Foxhunter’s Reel on fiddle, at about 150 bpm (from memory), so that’s technically "fast" for a fiddle tune.

Cathal Hayden (fiddle) can also let rip at a fast pace too.

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25 years ago was De Dannan playing a concert in Denmark, in my town - and in fact me and my friends were BIG fans of them (their sound), but what happend after 30 minutes after start - I left the concert because they were playing so freaking fast, that the ‘music’ was gone with the wind, just muddy notes and a pain for me to listen to. When you know how fine Frankie CAN play, it is showoff-manship of the worst kind. Speed is NOT necessarily an option… 😉

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Any child under the age of 10.
Also, John Wynne - flute and Colin Farrell - fiddle.

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I’m getting into my senior years and I literally cannot listen that fast. Technical virtuosity demonstrated at speed is all well and fine but in the sense that one shouldn’t gulp down an entire goblet of fine wine in one gulp, perhaps music is best savored and appreciated when it occurs at a pace that the listener can immerse themselves in it.

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As they said in the last US election, I’m with Ebor!

Wayne

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It is not clear what point Michael Moriarty’s is making with this post but, judging by his previous posts, I assume it is more a condemnation that a commendation of playing fast.

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Vinnie Kilduff on the Whistle when he plays "Sean sa cheo"

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Martin Hayes has the world record (at some point). Is the point if this that he’s the best ITM player?

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[Martin Hayes has the world record (at some point)]

Really? I’m not doubting your word, I’m just surprised.

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I think who you are thinking of is Frankie Gavin.

"Footnote The Guinness Book of Records, that bible of bizarre human conditions & activities, lists Frankie Gavin as the world’s fastest fiddle player. On 20 September 2010, he played a traditional Irish tune, The Foxhunter’s Reel, at a breath-taking 150 beats per minute!"

http://cwm.illinois.edu/node/1560

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"bizarre human condition" says the man.

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« Vinnie Kilduff on the Whistle when he plays "Sean sa cheo" »…
… just checked and it’s a leisurely (!) 135 bpm.

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Really? sounded pretty fast to me, but I don’t know that much about what tempo would be considered fast so you’re probably right.

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hi mick, you can keep up with anybody and you know it. but you love a slow aire and i guess just want a reel to sound like a reel and a jig a jig or how do tunes get passed on.

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Fastest I ever heard which still sounded musical and more to the point, as a one-off bhlassshttt wasn’t destroyed by the speed would be Electric Ceili’s version of Jackson’s. I know the fiddle player fromwho is also in Slide and he’s a fine player. Once in a while, it’s just exuberance, a bit of craic. Its not meant to be taken ultra-seriously. Nor is it an attempt to parody the tradition. (As a diehard whistle player, I’m annoyed I simply can’t play anything at that tempo. I love ornaments, also i have to breathe at some point, so no chance. Also I learned the Oisin mac Diarmada version of Jackson’s first, and like it more, and the way he plays it just isn’t feasible at the speed of Electric Ceili. (Just from curiosity, how fast is it?). (Even though Oisin’s version is fast by playing standards, it doesn’t sound it because of his light touch.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkpGNm9pXeI


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LsC5i6oEDOQ


And, just to stir the pot, I’m going to say that playing fast - in and of itself - does not prove a player ‘doesn’t get it’. It all depends on what a player hears in a tune, and whether he can interpret it. Someone mentioned Martin Hayes earlier, and i think that’s a smashing example. on the Live in Seattle album he plays a 30-minute set where i feel he coaxes something out of every tune, and the whole set engages as it builds up, then slows down and then builds up. There’s tension and restraint. The last few reels, he’s playing at a rare lick, but by then you want that, and it feels natural. Even the fact that the last tune is a musical joke, turning Pachelbel’s Canon into a reel doesn’t feel awful or disrespectful. For the very best, there’s a whole palette to paint from, and humour is a part of that, an integral part too, whatever the begrudgers say.

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@kellie, yes, Frankie Gavin. Thank you. I don’t know why I thought Martin Hayes…

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> Just from curiosity, how fast is it?

Varies between 130 and 145.

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If I’m asked to play a reel for a solo dancer wearing ‘hard shoes’ or a reel set for Set Dancers I know I’m going to earn my keep. "Come on ya boy ya, a reel as fast as you can" is usually the cry. As I sit there playing the box with my arms dropping off and me knocking seven colors of shite out of the Merry Blacksmith, I think to myself WTF am doing this for. I’m getting too old for this carry on.
"It’s Irish Trad alright, but not as I remember it Jim"……

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Michael Moriarty, have you listened to The Gloaming?
If so, what do you think of their music?

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A solo dancer wearing hard shoes will rarely want you to play as fast as you can - otherwise they would struggle to fit all their clicks in in-time.

Playing fast reels for ceili setdances is a lot of fun!

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That it is!

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High speed doesn’t do it for me either: I like to be able to distinguish the tune!
Reminded of one concert with Phil Cunningham and Aly Bain (Ok, Scottish, not Irish): after Phil had played at breakneck speed, Aly looked at him witheringly, and said "That was so fast even dogs couldn’t hear it"!

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Some musicians can play fast, and some try to play fast. There is a big difference.

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irishfiddleCT - A solo dancer wearing hard shoes will rarely want you to play as fast as you can - otherwise they would struggle to fit all their clicks in in-time.
So the next time a solo dancer asks me to play a reel as fast as I can, I’ll say to him "are you some sort of rarity then" Then again maybe the dancer wants to show just how fast he can dance and to hell with the clicks…

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Though I am not any kind of speed demon myself, and usually prefer more moderate tempos, I have to admit I really loved the Phil and Johnny C duets (duels?) where mostly good-natured fraternal competition was matched with impeccable musicianship and technique.

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What Ceili said.

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If it sounds too fast, it usually is.

Actually, you don’t realise how fast most of the better players are until you try to play along with them as they can still play all the notes clearly and accurately at speed.

Also, there’s a big difference between playing fast and speeding up or "rushing" certain passages within tunes.

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The (perceieved) speed depends on the actual BPM, the musician’s technical skill level, the listener’s skill level and possibly the listener’s ability to process the audio. Usually a beginner isn’t good at processing notes at fast speed, so everything you throw at them will sound faster than their preferred level, and possibly won’t even be recognised. I know one fiddler who at a session suggested a certain tune, without even recognising that everyone else had played that very tune just a minute ago…

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Speed is nothing ,timing is everything
David

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True