Examples of lift

Examples of lift

Hello I know I’ve been starting ALOT of threads recently, but this topic I just couldn’t get out of my mind. I won’t start the whole "what’s lift" discussion Reverend already created a great thread about that 9 years ago , but I will ask if anyone has any examples of this. I personally do not hear lift, but perhaps if anyone posted some examples of where they hear it(recordings for example) I could start to grasp the concept. Might be a long shot, but hey it’s worth a try.

Thanks!🙂

Re: Examples of lift

Also accepting examples of "nyaah"

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Kellie, have you played for dancers? You have to play for dancers, in my opinion, to get the feeling for lift as it applies to dance tunes.

Find the dancers!

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No I haven’t. I can barely find sessions in Toledo.(though I actually did find one) I highly doubt I could find any dancers. (not like I’m experienced enough yet to play for them anyway)

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Your 2nd post; that is an example of lift. Lift is the anticipation. It’s the opposite of how the blues are played.

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No dancers? What do people do in Toledo?

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I know, Toledo is sssooooooooo boring.

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Try Indiana. It probably has 1 dancer.

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Probably does have at least one, and hey that’s more than Toledo.

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Toledo! Ohio!
Anyone there dancing?

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"I personally do not hear lift" - There’s your problem: ‘lift’ isn’t something you hear; it’s something you feel.

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Too much backbeat though, and you risk sounding like a country hoe down. At a certain point, it begins to feel more "old timey" than Irish.

Finding the lift

I don’t know why it would be something not heard. Of course lift is felt. That is why dance (movement) helps;
but instrumental musicians sometimes tend to be more cerebral than dancers and thus ‘feel’ more with their ears and less with their feet. It all depends on your perspective.

Hearing… feeling; same difference.

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Backbeat is not lift.

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Maybe … and maybe that’s why so many players are lacking in ‘lift’ - in my humble opinion, of course ……

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I don’t know anything about Old Timey but that Kevin Burke album is definitely in my top 5 trad list. Fiddle is not my main instrument but anyone interested in Irish trad on any instrument would benefit from listening to that album.

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My comment wasn’t directed at the Kevin Burke clip, but as a response to Aaron’s comment "backbeating the heck out of tunes to create that pulse".

Re: Examples of Kellie’s lift

Kellie, you already know how to ‘find the lift’. The fact you’re frequentlty posting discussions with the unbridled anticipation you are is the proof you seek.

😉

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You know AB I think I hear it.

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Grand! Keep your ears open, lad.

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I will.

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I’d say keep reading discussions and comments posted by Reverend, he’s pretty smart and has helped me a lot with my playing.

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From a technical perspective, lift is, I think, down to ‘microdynamics’ - what happens dynamically within each note and in the transitions between notes. At least, I suspect that is what an oscilloscope would tell you. But analysing it that way is unlikely to help you find it.

Lift is not something you *do*, it’s something you *find*.

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As per posts above, adding a ‘backbeat’ pulse is probably the easiest way of adding immediate lift. Essentially that’s emphasising the "ands" in 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and.

""Too much backbeat though, and you risk sounding like a country hoe down. At a certain point, it begins to feel more "old timey" than Irish"
That is true, although that hasn’t stopped the Sliabh Luachra albums ‘Kerry Fiddles’ and ‘Star Above the Garter’ being considered classics of Irish trad music and they’re the most ‘hoedowny’ sounding examples I can think of in Irish music.

A more subtle way of using the backbeat to add lift would be to emphasize it on the first bar but not the second, or in the first half of the bar but not the second half. So instead of thinking "on which beat of The Bar do I place my accent?", it’s probably more useful to think of longer four-bar phrase; then you’ll start accenting one bar differently to another, which is a bit more sophisticated and less crude. You can only really do this by practising slowly and really thinking about it in my opinion (and probably recording yourself too). It’s worth listening to a great player simply to pay attention to where they place the emphasis and how it changes, nothing else. And then listen to whether they do the same on a different example of the same tune-type.

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it is very much a dancing thing, but with whistle/flute it’s easier to find the lift in jigs through breathing and spacing.

https://youtu.be/F4VqwHnLcUE


June McCormack is doing lift when she takes a breath playing this set. Not always, but it gives it a pulse and a pattern, An ebb and flow to the tune. If you play along to her and focus on where she takes a breath/leaves out notes, you will find the lift. (This is starting to sound all Jedi-like)

"Nyah" has been described as the whole package of what a Irish trad tune will sound like. Everything from the beat, slides, ornaments. I like to describe it kinda like a cat’s meow on the whistle (Interestingly enough "Nyah" is the Japanese word for "meow")

https://youtu.be/V8_gRxfcwbk


Also, this is a very nice write up about Nyah

https://singersongblog.me/2016/11/04/in-search-of-the-nyah-a-fiddle-workshop-with-brendan-mulkere/

Just my 2 cents anyways…

Cheers,

Melany

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Sean Keane’s ‘Gusty’s Frolicks’ is a good album to listen to with your eyes closed, paying attention to the pulse: it’s very ‘emphatic’, you’re never in any doubt where he is clearly and precisely marking an emphasis. He’s a player that’s sometimes criticised for being all ability and not enough toe-tapping soul, but I don’t find that on this album: I find my head nodding along to a very insistent pulse and always end up smiling at some very wry and mischievous ornamentation.

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For me, lift is a feeling transmitted by the musicians through their music, a feeling of excitement, energy, that inspires people to dance, that puts the notes under the dancers feet. It’s not a technical thing, though folk here might be able to offer technical hints , rather it’s an energetic thing where the personality is put aside and there is no ego , no players , no dancers, it’s all one , we’re all part of the music and it inspires us to shine.
That’s lift IMO.

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Most "lifty" thing I’ve heard recently is ‘the Cat’s Rambles’ by Michael Sheehy.

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Kevin Burke had the most successful solo career after the Backbeat Boys split up. The world mourned as they did when One Direction split, but all good things come to an end.

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"…after the Backbeat Boys split up…"

I think it was the triple bodhrans that did it - they were ahead of their time, for sure.

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Here’s how, to me anyway, you find "lift". Get a recorder. Your phone will do. Record yourself playing your best tune. Listen to it. Did it come out as a series of strung together notes, barely distinguishable from, say, typing, or was there something about that moved you to want to hear it again, something that got you involved? That’s lift.

If you can’t, or don’t play a tune in such a way as to tell me why you play it, why you’re drawn to it, and want me to feel the same way about it, you’d be wasting your time and mine. Be better than that.

That said, I’m not saying everybody has to plumb the depths of their navel-centric soul for every tune they play. Sometimes, even most of the time, sessions are more about just having a good time banging out a few tunes in good company. It’s that that whole "plays well with others" thing. Just don’t play them like they bore you. That’s lift too.

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I can’t believe someone asked "what do people do in Toledo?" and nobody took the handoff and ran with it.

Y’all are slipping!

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What?

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This discussion, and the old one that Kellie referred to (https://thesession.org/discussions/14869), only make sense to me if people are talking about two different things that may both be present in some of the clips.

One something rhythmic prominant in the Kevin Burke, Cape Breton and Shetland clips. The other something to do with the phrasing prominant in the Macnamara/Hayes, Rooney/McCormack and Gavin clips and all the slides. Both could be relevant to dance, but maybe the first one more so.

The two posts in the older discussion (from the same person I think) that caught my eye:
https://thesession.org/discussions/14869#comment306468
https://thesession.org/discussions/14869#comment306487
seem to relate to the second of these. I think they are relevant to Kellie’s recent discussion about variation - for variation starting at the phrasing ‘level’.

Is Toledo Ohio the place with the bakery?

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Lift is the amount of air beneath a dancers feet, the kick in the heel.

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They don’t just move their feet. They move to and fro to the tune as well

I am thinking set and sean nos. Musicians from several traditions have been quoted as saying ‘look for the best dancer on the floor and play for them’.

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Kellie, try and get to hear "Barking Mad" by Four Men And A Dog. You can hear the ‘lift’ really well on the tune tracks - all the dynamics, the loud and soft, the build-up to the end of the A-part, etc.

No wind instruments though, unless you count melodeon 🙂

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Holy crap! I knew Jerome could play, but I’ve never heard him play dance tunes before. He really is one of the greats! I really feel the lift in that one thanks Gobby! 🙂

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Wow! Cross-post with mine, Gobby.

Jerone, that is nothing short of efn brilliant, Sir !! You rock? You *lift* !!

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Yeah, I can’t wait till he starts making records of that stuff.

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David50 the 1st link /comment you posted is exactly who you think it is. But the 2nd I’m pretty sure was posted by the Cheshire Puddy Tat himself, "Even a tune that begs for swing, like The Scholar, say, can be fun to tinker with."

A little more down the thread there is a response which I think goes back to your 2nd link.

Cheers,
AB

ps ~ the bit I always like is, "My take on it is that while you can make music swing, it’s the tunes you can give lift to."

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I hope you’re not asking for an evaluation. Lift isn’t something I’m comfortable measuring, it’s somewhat emotive.
I think that was Michael’s point in saying it’s esoteric. I like to think lift is shared, a connection between dancers and musicians; between a soloist and listeners …

Kellie, your playing has lift, of course it does. But if you want to play tunes with lift, don’t look for lift solely through practice; share yourself and experience lift in the presence of others, through an interplay which lifts everyone involved.

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Swing and lift are two very different things. Swing is timing. Lift is the ability for the notes to want to lead into the next phrase. Pickup notes lead into downbeats so the beats bounce instead of land.

Listen to Tony MacMahon playing for dancers. The Live in Knocknagree album he did with Noel Hill is the best example of this I can think of. If you can play along with that recording, you’re well on your way. (It’s on Spotify if you don’t have a copy. That will tide you over until you get one. It is a "must have".)

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I found that second clip there from Noel and Tony to be pretty interesting! Right when then dancing starts, they speed up a bit, and the music also gets more lift immediately. And you can really feel the energy and lift increase when they go into Come West Along the Road. The dancers and musicians are feeding off each other. That’s why playing for dancers can be a ton of fun!

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Gobby, only just caught up with the Jerone Williams piano tunes - thanks for posting. The only man I ever
heard play Irish reels with the spirit of boogie woogie. It don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing.

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So lift is the in the pickup notes Reverend? So when a tune has lift it always picks up so to speak instead of landing on one note, correct?

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I would say it’s note before the beat leading into the beat rather than being the end of whatever came before it. That gives the music a bounce and a perpetual motion feel that is so infectious.

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Don’t over think this Son of Kellie. Pick-up notes, drive, swing, tempo, dynamics, melodic variation…they’re just tools. There is no magic bullet here. Nothing that "alway’s" creates what we call lift. We’d all like that one thing, that one technique, whatever, that somehow makes us better, that pushes us to the top. The art is how we take what’s in the tune and put it together with how we feel, pulling out some of the tools we have to make something we call music. Lift is a connection between the one who plays and the one who listens (even, by the way, if they’re both the same person). Learn the tools, learn the tunes, use them to say something worth hearing. Yeah, I know that this is hard to grasp but if you have something to say it’ll be worth it and that’s a big if. So there is a risk here. As you hear more players you’ll start to hear many technically wonderful players that just don’t draw you in while some modest players keep you hanging on. Why do you think that is? When you know the answer you’ll understand "lift" and you’ll be willing to spend a lifetime chasing it.

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I’m already willing to spend a lifetime chasing it.

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Micho Russell had a great lift when he played tunes.

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Holy Toledo, Batman!

From The Book of llig
~

"…pace and swing are measurable qualities, …drive and lift are more esoteric."

"I take lift to be more specific to the individual tunes themselves. How does the tune turn? …Where does the line interrupt… how can you personally nudge the tune into playing through bar lines and pause it in interesting percussive places?"

"…it’s not just about the relative timing of notes, but also the dynamics of notes. It’s about the subtlety of the illusion that playing a note ahead of the beat can sound the same as playing a note louder."

Lift is best experienced on the vine where it can grow, ripen and bloom. It is whatever you’re experiencing in that moment as lift happens. Lift ain’t your mother’s potboiler; it’s leaving Toledo and loving it at the same time.

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Before I get started I have to say that I saved what AB just posted so I can read it every day! Now…

I don’t think (hope) anybody doubts your dedication. Good for you! What I want to say is that lift doesn’t come from picking tune and choosing from a bag of techniques, playing it, and saying something like "wow that had lift". Doesn’t work that way. Lift comes from inside. You feel a tune, you hear it in your head as played by your inner rock-star. Somehow you know how you wanted it to sound. Then you pick from the toolbox , or like many of us use it as an excuse to learn a new technique, and you keep trying each of them on until what you hear matches what you "hear". For example, above you posted yourself playing the Green Mountain (good job by the way, improving all the time). I’m not going to say anything about whether it had lift or not, its not my place. Was it what…you…wanted to hear? That what counts. That’s all that counts.

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" … if you have something to say it’ll be worth it and that’s a big if. So there is a risk here."

No big risk. If you don’t have "something to say", just play the tunes and enjoy it - like people have been doing with this music for generations.

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"For example, above you posted yourself playing the Green Mountain (good job by the way, improving all the time)."

Cheers Ross! Just what I needed (a bit of encouragement) I just got back from a session and I wasn’t playing to my normal standard. Made me a bit sad, but you cheered me up! 🙂

keep improving…

llig was persistently good about the distinction between what one wants & what one needs.
In that regard michael gill was wise.
I can never write him off when it comes to improving personally.

;)

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"The only man I ever heard play Irish reels with the spirit of boogie woogie. It don’t mean a thing if it aint got that swing."

On some of the Paddy Killoran guitar-accompanied recordings there’s definitely quite a bit of a Grapelli/Reinhardt feel, I think – it’s not just the instrumentation. ‘Pretty Girls of Mayo’, for example.

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I listened to the second of the Noel Hill examples given above. And closing my eyes to really focus, the overwhelming feature of their playing was…. our old mate the backbeat emphasis. Well, actually there were two big factors for me – predominantly the backbeat, but also the fact that the sounds of the dancers worked beautifully as a rhythmic counterfoil, effectively playing a similar role to a really good bodhran or spoons player. Rhythmically the dancers were playing a lot of trebles, as it were – so it’s organic and harmonious when the musicians start employing more trebles themselves as the music goes on.

I didn’t understand this, above, and I’d like to:
"Lift is the ability for the notes to want to lead into the next phrase. Pickup notes lead into downbeats so the beats bounce instead of land."
Listening to the Concertina Reel/West Along the Road, I’m not altogether sure which notes would even be the pickup notes, given the backbeat emphasis. Is "downbeat" the same as "backbeat": do you mean the "and" of 1-and-2-and-3-and-4-and?
And when you say "phrase": is a phrase one bar in this context – I’d say the phrases of the melody are generally one bar?

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I am even more convinced there are (at least**) two things going on.

There is lift that lightens the step of the dancer or the 18th century army on the march. As someone told me at a workshop "in dance music everything is a preparation for the downbeat". I think that is were attention to the ‘pick ups’ and ‘backbeat’ comes in. Something to do with the ‘pulse’.

Then there is what llig introduced in the old discussion " I take lift to be more specific to the individual tunes themselves. How does the tune turn? Where does the line play through the bar lines? Where does the line interrupt. And, of course, how can you personally nudge the tune into playing through bar lines and pause it in interesting percussive places?" That’s what I am enjoying in the McCormack/Rooney and MacNamara/Hayes clips above.

** A third may , I suppose…, be something mentioned by Free Reed on another thread https://thesession.org/discussions/40301#comment812007 😀

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What ross faison said. There’s a lot of overthinking here, and the thread reminds of the numerous topics last year by the-fiddler-who-shall-not-be-named - many of them raised similar questions, whether the bowing was "OK", (and if not, why), and if it was - why did the tune still not sound like the top rank fiddler…

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This has already been covered here, but let me phrase it a different way. I have always been told that the term "lift" refers to the dancers lifting a foot (or feet) off the ground in anticipation of having the foot come back down on the down beat. If you think of the simplified version of that, the dancer jumps and then both feet come back down on the down beat. If you emphasize the "lift" note, it would have the effect of making the dancer jump higher (i.e. increasing the "lift"). A march would be the opposite of lift, where all the emphasis is on the down beat.

So this is where the idea of the back beat rhythm comes in. But lift isn’t really about emphasizing the back beat. If you emphasize EVERY back beat the same amount, then the music sounds like a pogo stick. The real idea of the lift is that the emphasis is part of the phrasing of the tune - and the phrasing of the tune can be a back and forth interaction between the musicians (and between the musicians and the dancers if there are any). Moving the emphasis around is a big part of your expression of the underlying musical idea (which we talked about a bit in your variations thread). And when the phrasing of a dance tune is done well, it makes it sound "more danceable".

That’s a pretty nebulous concept. But try listening to two different versions of the same tune, and see if one makes you want to tap your toes more. And then see if you can figure out why. And then Bob’s your uncle, you’ve discovered "lift"!

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I’m right in line with meself here. This music and a lot of other folk traditional music have been played for a very long time for no better reason than to enjoy the company of others. No deep thoughts , grand philosophies, insights about the meaning of life, or angst required. Maybe the happiest moments of all are the times we show up, have a dram, play a tune, make a joke, and go home feeling all the better for it. It’s what I call "enough". I get that, to me that’s the nature of the session.

There’s maybe a broad, fuzzy line to be crossed when a person aspires to be "the best", to make a living from playing music, to stand on stage or in studio, and offer something to a broader audience. That’s where to succeed the performer has to put him/herself out there, to show who they are and what they feel. For that they’ve got be comfortable in their own skin and it takes courage. We’ve all seen and heard actors who phone it in and they leave us disappointed. That’s what I mean by risk. Imagine standing in front of somebody and showing yourself to them only to find out that they don’t care. Wow, it’s a real wonder anybody can do that. For me, and I think most of us, living in the land of "enough" is a pretty good place to be.

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I would also point out that I was regularly accused of overthinking things when I was posting questions like yours back in the earlier days of this website. But I am an analytical person by nature (and a software developer by trade). I like to think about and analyze all the nuances of the music just like you, Kellie. I think it’s OK to ask all the questions and "overthink" things…

But my suggestion for how to use the information is to analyze all you want, but disconnect the active thinking about it from your playing. If you’re playing a tune and you’re fixated on how much swing to use, and how much back beat emphasis to use, and what note to emphasize to create lift, and how to move your ornaments around to create variation, and what the current ocean temperature is off the coast of Siberia, you’re going to be more of a computer than a musician. (And we all know how well computers can play this music…)

If you take all the information that you’re gathering and start to internalize the concepts, the actual practice of making it happen in your own playing will come over time. If you concentrate on your phrasing, and try to tell the story of the tune instead, then you will be playing music like a musician.

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"A march would be the opposite of lift, where all the emphasis is on the down beat" On a parade ground maybe (I wouldn’t know) . But for getting from A to B in good time with minumum expenditure of energy I was told that the requirement was much the same as for dancing. On the downbeat gravity is helping.

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Ha, David50, you’re right, of course. And there are some wonderful marches that are played within the Irish tradition. I was just using that as a way to explain the concept. Take the Imperial March from Star Wars as an example. No lift anywhere to be found!

(and now that I listen to it on the video - one might argue that the spot right at :49 seconds might really be providing some lift… But my point is really still valid…) 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNv5sPu0C1E

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Thinking about it, you could probably play the Imperial March from Star Wars as a slide (you’d need to speed it up a lot).

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I have also found you can play the main Star Wars theme as a slip jig!

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Reverend’s right - overthinking things is fine. Taking the time to really understand the mechanics of how the music is formed is A Good Thing… but however well you understand the theory, it won’t translate into practice until you’ve absorbed it, and then forgotten all about it. A good musician doesn’t think about lift, or nyah, and even if they did, that wouldn’t make it happen in their playing. It’s not something that can be willed into existence - it has to come naturally or it can sound forced.

Now, I’m not saying that your own playing sounds forced. I think your ornamentation is good and clear, and you’re playing at a nice steady pace. The rhythm is almost there… though it sounds as if perhaps you were very conscious of it when you were recording? Quite bouncy, which isn’t a criticism, but it illustrates what I mean when I say that in order to play with ‘lift’ it has to emerge naturally rather than being something you can construct.

Probably important to say as well that different players will find different ways to bring ‘lift’ into their own playing, and that it isn’t necessarily a thing in isolation… Thinking specifically of whistle players, Mary Bergin is always my go-to girl:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_5TCALuZ0I


What a player. The ‘lift’ in the tune comes partly from breathing, partly from ornamentation, dynamics, phrasing… but it’s an organic, dynamic, integral part of her personal style.

At the total other end of the scale is Micho Russel, hardly any ornamentation at all, but the lift is still there…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9eC_MYp-5I


… and that’s important to realise as well. It isn’t a question necessarily of technique, but of style - and that develops organically, over time. Keep overthinking things. It’s good for you. but be prepared to let it go when you need to as well, and trust your sound.

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It’s a feeling that gravity is less between the beats, that
you want to get up and dance, that you can’t help banging your
foot on the floor. Using syncopation makes it easier but with
too much, it stops being Irish music. I think it’s technically
challenging to bring out the lift *without* syncopation. Martin
Hayes walks a fine line with that. Dezi Donnelly steps
over it pretty often but I’m not complaining.