People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Ok so I guess we’ve all got some degree of experience with people hating and scoffing at Irish music on the grounds of "It all sounds the same to me", "It’s the same stuff over and over again", and so forth.

But I’ve just come out of a discussion that went on for two days straight and ended this morning with this person (who’s only into classical music, and not even most of it), and took it to a whole new level of annoyance and arsery. Starting from "I can’t possibly appreciate something so low, there’s less than nothing to be understood", he ended up dissectioning Irish tunes, writing them down on sheet, to demonstrate how they are musically worthless, defining Irish tunes as "micro-variations of the same, simple pattern that causes ITMs to be fooled into believing a tune actually flows through very different phrases". His conclusion, supposedly: "I’m sure you’re smarter than that, young man".

What’s the purpose of this?! Fact is, even if Irish tunes were to be unanimously considered horrifyingly repetitive and idioticly simple: do they NEED to be anything more than that? To me, someone who actually feels the need to destroy traditional music through scientific method is somebody who virtually cannot enjoy music at its most basic levels. I think people like this have completely lost contact with what the enjoyment of music, and in particular of an upbeat, stupid melody, is all about, sort of exactly through their superior musical education which has made them barren. They might break you down and win the debate because of their "superior" academic knowledge, while you’re left utterly disarmed in front of someone who is clearly in the wrong… but you know they’re heartbreakingly wrong. I had to go punch a wall.

Your thoughts?

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Irish traditional music is players music, not composers music. Most of what makes it great comes from the performers individual nuance and style, not from the notes. Some people can’t get that through their skulls. Their loss in my opinion.

Best to let it go, it sounds as though your acquaintances mind was made up before you began speaking.

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I think your protagonist has missed how Irish music works. The notes they use to illustrate simplicity, are like the skeleton of the human body. A framework that fits together. A midi recorder could play those notes! but the true beauty comes from the subtle nuances, decorations, personal emphasis of interpretation. Those can be demonstrated through an aural lesson eg with the OAIM website, or utube teachers, but even then, your own understanding and technical ability will define your own version. The ITM player has to put the muscle on the skeleton. So where you see a living body, your academic just sees dead bones. Their loss……

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Sounds like you need better friends.

I frequently shuttle friends and acquaintances from my mountaineering club around the Highlands and subject them to endless hours of Irish music. It’s around 80% of my iPod playlist. Friends don’t bitch about the music but I’ve had the occasional complaint from acquaintances or new club members. Do I dive into an academic discussion analysing the structure of Irish tunes? Nope. I put on my turn indicator as we approach the next layby and ask, "You wanna walk to Glasgow from Skye (or wherever), buddy? No, didn’t think so."

Some variation of this is the best approach.

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"micro-variations of the same, simple pattern" You need to point out that applies far more to classical music than trad - whole symphonies built on a single four note motif. Then point out that Irish music makes people feel happy, classical only makes them feel superior.

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@petitpoussin I couldn’t agree more, and that’ s a huge part of the whole thing where I actually didn’t go to. Mostly because you could say that about any kind of music - Irish traditional music has its own, very special heart, and we know that, but that would have been a useless place to go to.

The argument concerned the "skeleton" only.

My point to him was, that if you claim you can’t "understand" (his words!) an Irish tune because there’s nothing to be understood and thusly consider it utter rubbish, if you can’t at least partially enjoy music in some of its simplest, purest, most innocent and spontaneous shapes, and you can only listen to superelaborate, academical, mathematically, surgically, anally perfect pieces of music (not only that- mind you-but scoffing at anything else)… to me you’ve lost contact with music itself.

Tell me if I’m wrong.

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@DrSilverSpear, I forgot for a moment what a surly bunch you uilleann pipers are 😀

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Does this guy like the blues? If so, he is a monstrous hypocrite.

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Are the "critics" critics themselves, or they are also musicians? I’m just asking because they don’t seem musicians at all.

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Mad Sweeney took the words right out of my mouth. And at the same time!
Yer begrudger is right- it is the same tune but with different rhythms and in different keys.
But who cares. Play on.

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".. and how to deal with them". You don’t have to deal with "them" - ignore them.

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Shrug. De gustibus non est disputandum.
There are lots of genres that I don’t particularly appreciate too. So what? Maybe I don’t know enough about them to really grock what’s going on. Maybe im just not the kind of person they appeal to. Maybe they’re even just rubbish. Does it really matter? Clearly other people out there do like them or they wouldn’t exist as genres.

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@DonegalDanny: Public opinion in these times seems to be sculpted and oft whipped into froth by online trolls.
Seems as tho’ you might have come into personal contact with one… gan a bheith buartha!

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I believe the best music academicians are those who respect all forms of music. To berate folkoric music is absurd as such music is frequently sampled by a variety of composers Dvorak, Tchaikovksy, Vivaldi, O Riada etc. I frequently play sessions with many music professors and students from the University of Michigan all of whom respect ITM. This music is to be enjoyed as dance music, and not necessarily to be examined thoroughly on a theoretical level.

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Boy, this person must be a joy to have at parties!

Replace "Irish Music" with "Chinese" and "Arabic" and this person would seem like a horrible racist.

Point is, if you don’t learn the language, the culture, the feel of this music, it will all "sound the same" to any person, even someone who is suppositly as "educated" as this person claims they are. As a dear friend said, Trad is a language in itself, one where you have to be engaged with the conversation to enjoy it. This music was made to dance, to convey joy and sadness, to join communities, to protest injustice. It’s the music of people who were subjugated to prejudice and ill-treatment by a colonial power, who tried to wipe out their tradition by putting restrictive laws on music and harp traditions. Irish Trad as we have it today is a reflection of what the local people were able to pass down from bards who’s patronage by chieftains were once important factors in society.

And on how to deal with him, you can tell him "Téigh trasna ort féin"

Cheers,

Melany

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Maybe they just don’t feel or hear the beauty; not everyone can. Maybe like many other things, traditional music is an acquired taste. You can’t force anyone to see the beauty; it is only of any value when you see it / feel it for yourself. Don’t waste time arguing with closed minds; you could be playing tunes instead, which brings back the beauty and restores peace of mind - it does for me, anyway.

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"… even if Irish tunes were to be unanimously considered horrifyingly repetitive and idioticly simple: do they NEED to be anything more than that?"

I think you have the winning argument right there. Traditional music *is* comparitively simple (in one sense of the word, at least) and repetitive - but its virtue, surely, is its capacity to uplift and move people without the need for intellectually conceived complexity.

"… people like this have completely lost contact with what the enjoyment of music … through their superior musical education which has made them barren."

I disagree - there are plenty of highly educated classical musicians that are still brimming with creativity and enthusiasm for the simplest of musical ideas. The person in question simply has some ‘issues’ for which he is trying to compensate by asserting his supposed artistic and intellectual superiority. As for how to deal with this person, you need to ask yourself why his rantings get you so irate.

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Look at Sharon Shannon and the other players live at Dolan’s Warehouse in 2006:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g9DGQWiL9ms

It the tune repetitious and simple? Sure. Infectious smiles on the faces of the musicians and audience? Absolutely. Now compare that with musicians in an orchestra where playing is a demanding job. You see few smiles down in the pit. I think your "friend" is frustrated because he’s educated himself out of enjoying music.

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Two days…really? Maybe the problem isn’t about the merits, or lack of, surrounding ITM but about the need for each of two people with something to prove, a need to control. ITM will stand alone, so will the broad thing we call classical. They both have much to offer and exist to fill a need for somebody. Your friend can’t enjoy your idea of music, so. Can you enjoy his? Sounds to me to be yet another variation of the old ‘book smart vs. street smart" argument. To some, beauty is in the simplicity, to others in the complexity…and those are just two points along the curve. I see no right and wrong here, only a colossal wast of two days. His reality is not the same as yours. Be grateful for that and move on. Saves a lot of wall repair. Two days, wow. How many fools were in that argument?

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it’s dance music, it makes people happy. From another idiom "it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got no swing", and classical (for the most part) doesn’t swing.

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By way of analogy, I wonder what ‘this person’ thinks of haiku.

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Andre Gide said: "Let them be right. That’s all they can be".

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Where do you find these weirdos?

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"By way of analogy, I wonder what ‘this person’ thinks of haiku."

even worse! japanese calligraphy! just squiggly letters on flimsy paper?!

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I haven’t run into this from a non-player civilian so far, but I’ve heard it in different ways from a few musicians in other genres. A piano and accordion player said she couldn’t get into the idea of a group of people playing unison melody. I guess she was too wedded to harmony and arranged/layered music. Or coming from the opposite direction as the OP’s acquaintance, an OldTime player who didn’t want to learn any Irish tunes because "it’s like Classical music!" (i.e. too hard to play).

I confess to a little of the "music too simple" feeling when I listen to certain Scottish pipe tunes. The ones that state a melody and then repeat it three or four times with the smallest variations. Maybe one part with more syncopation, and that’s about it. I appreciate that they’re basically a background field for subtle variations in melody and ornamentation by the pipers, and that’s why there are so many parts that aren’t very different from each other. And I mean REALLY not that different, not in the "Irish tunes all sound the same" sense.

I play several Scottish pipe tunes on mandolin and flute, but they’re the ones with stronger melody lines and a more distinct separation of parts in the tune. The ones you’d be likely to hear as crossover tunes in an Irish session with no pipers around. I think I would have to be a piper myself, to get interested in the less varied tunes. Which doesn’t make them "simple," I know.

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@ross faison, you’ve made a huge load of assumptions which are completely incorrect.

First of all, I originally come from a couple of years of classical training. And I dropped out exactly because of the snobbery and closed-mindedness. And dedicated myself completely to my loving home of trad. Now people who I used to know sneer at me seeing me waving an accordion aroud. I have a huge picture of Beethoven over my desk.

Two days, yes - a mixture of live arguing and him chatting me up showing me how he’s dissectioned reels and telling me how it’s technically impossible for someone born with brains to possibly enjoy them. We live in a world of internet, phones and media where arguments can carry on on different platforms for days. Yes.

Do I believe the argument was completely unproductive? Yes! But I wasn’t the one on the attack.

I wasn’t the one trying to prove something. Quite clearly. This was obvious already by just reading my original post.

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Hang in there, Danny. I understand your frustration. Fortunately you do have some good tunes which you can play. Hopefully with people who enjoy and appreciate the music as much as yourself.

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So your antagonist is from the more-is-better school of thought, eh?

I’m curious - where did this discussion take place? On a forum?

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

I think it was Will Harmon that once said on this fourm that "boredom is merely an admission of stupidity". Or to put it another way "Boredom for a subject does not reflect a defect in the subject, but in our understanding of it." That’s a great quote from this page titled "Everything is Interesting" https://www.brianjaystanley.com/aphorisms/everything-is-interesting

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I went to see a pianist, she was considered one of the top pianists in the whole world. I thought the music certainly demonstrated her skills, but it lacked soul and honestly, I thought it lacked any sense of being music. It was noise more than music. It was also very repetitive. It went like this:

Start with some kind of melody. Go up the scale, go down the scale. Play really quiet on the upper keys. As soon as the audience starts to doze a little, start banging really hard on the lower keys. Bong bong bong! Start playing something that sounds a little like a pleasing melody and soon as it takes hold in the brain… Up the scale again, down the scale again. Up to the little notes, play quietly, BONG BONG BONG on the low notes and scare everyone awake again and repeat.

I suppose it’s an intellectual challenge to some and yes, her skills were extraordinary. But it wasn’t until the very end when she played a light-hearted parody medley of some well-known popular music that I could see she actually could play MUSIC. But then maybe I’m hopelessly low-brow. Whatever. People like what they like.

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Danny I admire your tenacity and what must have been a lot of patience. You may well be able to appreciate your friend’s choices. I’d only point out that arguing about the superiority of one music form over another is un-winable, especially when it’s about personal choices. Certainly yours was with someone who could not respect your choice. Too bad. An argument can only last as long as at least two people participate. I’m done with this one.

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So, Ross, yer saying toe-mah-to, right?

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@sbhikes- It wasn’t Jessica whatsherface was it? I can’t ‘get’ jazz. I’m not hating on it, I’m open to the idea at least that one may need an IQ higher than mine to appreciate it. I’m also open to the idea that it’s the preserve of music snobs who are devoid of a sense of humour. Could go either way.

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I wonder what your adversary thinks of 12-tone or Philip Glass. Me, I’m still trying to understand the appeal of Stephen Sondheim.

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"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw. The same goes for music snobs. Don’t let that old goat steal another second of your precious time. Go play some tunes instead.

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Pretty much David. The older I get the more accepting I am of other ideas. Even if I disagree or don’t understand, I can still offer respect. Wish I gotten there sooner. Another thing my father used to say, a wise man he, was " I don’t have all the answers. When I get an answer it leads me to a deeper, more complex question. I’m still confused…but at a higher level and over more important things."

Hope all is well with you.

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A fun argument tactic if you’re in the mood (generally I’d just shrug and say fair enough, our tastes differ) is to start holding some equally subjective view about whatever they are into. Classical musicians are mere technicians cranking out prewritten melody lines like robots for example. In the end it’s an untenable position, but you can easily come up with facile generalisations to justify it for a while, and they will get furious about it.
But generally these sorts of conversations aren’t worth having. He sounds thoroughly entrenched in his position.

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"I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig. You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it." - George Bernard Shaw.
Jusa Nutter Eeejit, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this quotation!

Every type of music has its own soul and its own beauty.
Human beings all have the same kind of face - one nose, one mouth, two eyes - but we can tell them apart and love individual faces, some for their beauty, and some for their character.

Irish music has a haunting beauty all of its own; Scottish music has a stirring character all of its own.

Those who appreciate that beauty and that character need not be bothered by those who are blind to it.
They just can’t understand it. Their loss.

Live long & prosper! 🙂
Mollie

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@DonegalDanny
Is there any chance, that this person is 15 years old ? The last time, that I met a person who felt such a strong need to profile himself by his superior music taste, was in middle school ;)
There were these extra special kids who only listened to progressive rock and felt a need to show everyone how superior there favourite bands where.

I think you should just go one. There is no need to worry about someone with such a childish attitude.

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The term Classical Music is not very accurate. Much of it is not well known. Subdivisions like Chamber Music are far more descriptive. But it does not matter whether its doggerel Rap, Death Metal or Fuges and Minuets, all music is symphonic; it all creates a mood. The only difference is whether you want to be in that particular mood. Complexity and breadth of harmonic structure do not create a grade of value.

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Yes, I was thinking along the same lines. How old is this paragon of all musical knowledge? I remember taking singing lessons from a man who is now quite a well-known classical composer in the UK, and we came to be talking about rhythms. He told me that apart from a few instances, he had never come across 9/8 time and had come to the conclusion that it had no existence in English music. I gave him a few examples which I had come across (not all that many as I was only 26/7) and he was fascinated. I think that his reaction is more common from the classical world than your acquaintance DB. My sisters are all musical instrument teachers and look at me in wonder for not needing "music" to play tunes.
In music, as in most of life, there is a certain point at which you realise that you know so much, that you know how little you know. At this point you become a grown-up and this is the beginning of wisdom. I do not think you "friend" has travelled very far on this road as yet.

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"Another thing my father used to say, a wise man he, was ‘I don’t have all the answers. When I get an answer it leads me to a deeper, more complex question. I’m still confused…but at a higher level and over more important things.’ "

Reminds me of another of my favorite Andre Gide quotes: "Believe those who seek the truth. Doubt those who have found it."

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I wouldn’t want to punch a wall just because somebody genuinely didn’t like something that I did. I wouldn’t even concern myself about it. Why should it bother you?

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Many things in life are an acquired taste. It takes exposure and understanding to appreciate some things. As an avid guitar player, I was never interested in Irish traditional music until my daughter became a dancer. After attending many a féiseanna, the music began to intrigue me, and I learned a lot of finger-style arrangements of ITM tunes, but couldn’t cut it in sessions, and became jealous of melody players, so took up the tenor banjo and mandolin. Now, knowing hundreds of tunes, and having acquired the taste in a massive way, I can’t imagine what would ever fill this space in my life, or what would have filled it, if the music had never pulled me over.

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@Ailin, the crazy thing is that he is completely into 12-tone, Schoenberg and Glass! That stuff is vomit-inducing!
That stuff cannot possibly ever work. It’s like wanting to make some great architecture by abolishing the metric system. My guess is that 12-toners despise stuff like Irish music because they’re entrenched in the position that the tonal system has offered all it has to offer. Falling into an endless pit of musical folly and psychological horror where they shall roam forever in a quest for something that simply isn’t there, waiting for Godot, under the megalomaniacal excuse that 12-tone is the only way to a limitless land of sheer opportunity.

@Davidread, he’s some 30 years older than myself.

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Even worse. Old codgers with that sort of maturity and entrenchment will never change. It’s like discussing science with a flat earth believer. Try it sometime. Make sure you bring up science and facts and see where that gets you.

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@ DonegalDanny…. aren’t you being a bit hypocritical when you call what this guy likes "Vomit inducing"? As an old codger myself I don’t like hip-hop, or rap, or most of what I hear to be modern techno crap. But so what? Other people like it. If anybody for some reason finds my dislike of it to be offensive to their ego, then they should check their ego. It doesn’t bother me if they like what I don’t like, or if they don’t like stuff that I like. How does that affect me? We all have different tastes and opinions. I don’t like this thread;- it seems quite a petty and pointless.

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Let me put it another way:- there is so much very serious racism, religious bigotry, sexism, homophobia and other sick prejudices in the world today. Why concern yourself about people who don’t like Irish music? It just doesn’t matter!

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@Gobby I thought somebody would point out my hypocritical statement as soon as I finished writing it. Still, I didn’t edit it. What matters is that this didn’t come up in the argument with my antagonist. We can say 12-tone is acustical hell between ourselves on The Session forum, but I didn’t attack the choices of my begrudger during the confrontation. He was, it was all about attacking my choices.

And btw I can’t believe 12-toners to be completely crazy, as the creator of 12-tone himself, Arnold Schoenberg, stated "This is supposed to be ugly music. It’s ugly music composed for the ugliness the modern man has to live with". The expression that 12-tone wants to convey is evident. I get it. It’s gut-wrenching, it’s psychological modern art, and it’s supposed to be, some people like it and thusly considers it superior art form. Still, my conclusion is "so it’s supposed to be ugly music? - keep it!"

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@Gobby "But so what? Other people like it. If anybody for some reason finds my dislike of it to be offensive to their ego, then they should check their ego. It doesn’t bother me if they like what I don’t like, or if they don’t like stuff that I like."

My point exactly!

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Yeah, okay Danny. I see what you are saying now. And yes, I agree about 12 tone. God save us.

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Modern pop music is often simple and repetitive. So many songs with four chords. The same four chords too. I think there is a video somewhere.. doesn’t make them not worth listening too or creating.

https://youtu.be/QpB_40hYjXU

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Ah sure, you’ll get that everywhere. You do know I hope that Irish trad was and still is to some extent looked down on even in Ireland itself? ‘tinkers music’, ‘knackers music’, ‘diddly’ etc etc. People like Sean O’Riada tried to pull it closer to the classical idiom for that reason, to give it more respectability.

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"12-tone, Schoenberg and Glass! That stuff is vomit-inducing! That stuff cannot possibly ever work."
Danny, you may not have used these words in the discussion with your antagonist but they show the tenor of your attitude. You two are never going to agree, so, leave it alone.

As it happens, I like 12-tone etc. - one of my favourite composers is Anton Webern (actually, he’s a good place to start listening to that kind of music because his pieces are so short they’ve finished before you get a chance to start vomiting) But I also like traditional Irish music. It’s a beautifully social sound; wonderful for joining in and dancing.

But, there are plenty of Irish composers who write non-traditional. Try
http://www.irishcomposerscollective.org/composers/
Click on any of the photos for a sample of their work. But don’t start with an antagonistic attitude; listen - hard.

An orange is a delightful fruit; peel it, separate a segment, pop it in your mouth … delicious. However, you won’t find any recipe in Escoffier that recommends using an orange in that way. This is not to decry Escoffier, but anyone who rejects a segment of orange on the grounds that it is too simple probably doesn’t understand Escoffier either.

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The Chinese probably think the same about western languages.

"The same 26 characters repeated over and over! How do they even express themselves!"

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This thread takes me back to my childhood. A time when if you wanted to learn music it HAD to be proper classical music. When Beatles songs weren’t music, they were just ‘an awful noise and people shouting’ and when a young man got thrown out of the school orchestra not because he wasn’t good enough on violin, but because the music master found out he also played electric guitar. Nowadays people write learned papers on the harmonic structure of Beatles songs, and how clever Lennon and McCartney were. People feel threatened by musical forms they aren’t familiar with, and dismiss them as rubbish in self defense.

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@Muircheartaigh let’s forget about the whole 12-tone thing, it wasn’t even hardly inherent to this thread or to the argument itself. It just happened to be a coincidence that @Ailin should bring that up, and I just happen to know that the man is (also) a 12-toner. Therefore my personal opinion about 12-tone was uncalled for and I apologise.

I guess the whole point of this thread (which was written out of frustration by the author, admittedly) is (just another way) to ask ourselves why we do what we do, to hyperanalyse what we like about our genre and why. And to put it into words, because putting such matters into words is a quest. We either never ask ourselves such questions or we find the words to describe what’s so great or beautiful about our playing and our listening one little step at a time. And this thread has put some ideas unto such quest, for me.

Or to remember basic stuff we’ve forgotten: "Because trad is great at making people happy!" somebody wrote earlier, and that put a smile on my face. Because I had forgotten that, to a certain extent.

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’ hyperanalyse what we like about our genre and why’

Ouch! Have you heard the story of the beetle, a mere six-legged creature, who, in awe of the centipede’s fluid progress, asked ‘How do you manage all those legs?’ The centipede thought long and hard and analytically until it finally fell over, legs waving in the air, unable to move.

Or, to paraphrase Shaw: Those that can, do; those that can’t analyse.

It is enough that you enjoy it, that it makes you happy and taps your foot for you. As @outwesht said: De gustibus non est disputandum.

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@Muircheartaigh My guess is that the centipede wasn’t much of a philosopher, then.

I’ve been asked "How do you manage to play all of that fast music?" before, like I guess many of us here, but the question didn’t result in my brain and accordion exploding simultaneously. My answer was "practice blah blah Carnegie Hall blah blah" or something along those lines. And the arguments of my antagonist didn’t discourage me either - when he pointed out all of the possible ever flaws of Irish music I didn’t run off screaming, unable to listen to a jig for the rest of my life.

And it is enough that I enjoy it, yes, that’s why I wrote that we might never ask ourselves these questions because it isn’t necessary. May I stress the importance of the "basic stuff we’ve forgotten" I was talking about?

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You’re right, Danny, the centipede analogy isn’t quite apt. I was thinking of instinct (taste is largely instinctive) and trying to say that if you over analyse what’s instinctive you’re in danger of damaging it. I saw the centipede’s leg management as innate or instinctive. But if you’re talking about a learned skill the, yes, analysis is essential - up to the point where you’re finally doing it instinctively. Sometimes I’m going along quite happily playing a tune instinctively (i.e. I can listen to the tune without concerning myself with how it’s actually being produced) but think that an ornament would be nice at a particular point. Next time round I try putting in the ornament and everything goes to pot. I’m not sufficiently proficient at ornamenting yet to be able to use it instinctively. (One day, who knows …) So I have to analyse that part of the tune, see how the ornament fits, and practise till it does become instinctive.

But when it comes to whether or not I like traditional Irish music, then analysis doesn’t apply. All I can say is that it delights me, makes want to jump and click my heels, puts a spring in my step, etc. Which is just another way of saying: I like it.

‘May I stress the importance of the "basic stuff we’ve forgotten" I was talking about?’
I’ve looked back through this thread and, as far as I can see, all the basic stuff you mentioned has been covered by various posts. Is there something I’m missing? And is it that important?

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Why engage with this sort of thing? On the one hand, he’s obviously right. On the other hand, who cares?

There are lots of reasons to play music and music plays a lot of different roles in people’s lives. Complexity in music is great: simplicity in music is great. The existence of one does not negate the existence of the other. Complexity and simplicity require each other.

In my opinion more people actually playing simple music is a much better outcome than people passively listening to a few people play more complex music. Passive consumption is easy

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You can take heart in the fact that your adversary likes 12-tone and Glass. If he has any sense at all, he will understand (and you might mention to him) that, even while he likes this music, he must surely realize why many (most?) other people do not. And you must apply that same understanding to his lack of appreciation of ITM. It’s as simple as that.

BTW, if you ever want to dip your toe into Philip Glass, listen to an album called "Songs From Liquid Days." It’s a brilliant collection of songs with lyrics and performances by well-known artists and ensembles that frankly thrills me.

Hey, even rap has its place.

But not Sondheim. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere. 🙂.

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

I have heard traditional music dismissed as "derivative" - but all music is derivative just as all language is. We wouldn’t have any idea what people were saying if they made up the words and grammar as they went along and if noises have no connection to what we already know then we don’t experience them as music. In a session music which seems simple can engage people in a co-operative enterprise which isn’t simple at all and anyone who argues otherwise has failed to understand it at all.

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Chinese music follows twelve tones and can be very beautiful.

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Which Chinese music follows 12 tones? Much of trad Chinese music is pentatonic.

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I was thinking last night… (a rare thing)… I can honestly say that I’ve never met anybody in my life who told me they don’t like Irish traditional music. I’ve met a couple of people who don’t like coriander, and a few who hate anchovies. Huh! …. ???? Unbelievable!!

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Silence him, quickly! He’s found the awful truth we’ve been working so hard to hide from the public!

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

"The Chinese probably think the same about western languages.
‘The same 26 characters repeated over and over! How do they even express themselves!’

Um, no, since the written language is not based on any alphabet. We used to have to memorize all the characters when I was in Chinese school, and tense is implied. It’s actually a more simple language; things are expressed with content and nuances. Personally, I prefer an alphabet to having to memorize thousands of characters.

"Chinese music follows twelve tones and can be very beautiful."

Also, no. Aaron got it right. Written in Western notation, Asian music is basically pentatonic, but, again, there are so many nuances, such as how a note is played, whether it is plucked, vibrated, bent up and down, etc., that the seemingly simple structure becomes far more complex. I can’t play the Chinese dizi flute, or any transverse flute, worth anything. I’ve actually been using the Irish low whistles to try and get the proper sounds, but toned down, because I’m not particularly fond of the buzzy or twangy sounds that is common in Chinese music. And I’m absolutely not fond of Chinese opera…I had to listen to far too much of it growing up, and it’s not pleasant to my ears. The actual music is lovely, though, just not the singing. YouTube it and you will see what I mean. Not to my taste at all.

Personally, with Irish music, I prefer the slower tunes, the lovely airs, and the choral music, which is so pure to my ears. I love the sound of the harp most of all, and, with whistles, I tend to like the sound of the low whistles.

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

If you don’t like jazz, it all sounds the same.

If you don’t like opera, it all sounds the same.

If you don’t like country, it all sounds the same.

If you don’t like rap, it all sounds the same.

Etc, etc, etc.

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

@norfolkngood The pianist was a Chinese lady, Yuja Wang I believe. Classical music.

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Do you like IT? Do you enjoy playing it? If yes to either, nuff said. T’ain’t none of his damn business.

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If I hadn’t started on pipes I probably would have gotten a guqin and taken skype lessons. . . would not be the best instrument for a session in any event ;)

Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Guqin is the wrong instrument to use for comparisons of folk or trad music. Guqin is the instrument of intellectuals/scholars and nobility, and is not really used by common folk. It’s more comparable to the 12-tone camp than the folk/trad camp.

@ Mae I’m not sure if all Chinese music is this way or just the erhu, but I don’t think the music is any (much?) more complicated with the twiddly/bendy stuff than Irish music is. I honestly believe that the two musics have strong parallels with the ornaments/variations. Irish fiddle experience is incredibly relevant to learning erhu, perhaps more relevant than classical violin.

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With all this talk about different styles of music, honestly, I just like music that speaks to me on some level. Part of that does require a certain level of technical ability because I can’t stand if things are not in time or in tune, but it really just has to reach me, and because I like so many kinds of music, many different things can speak to me. I suspect that music that touches some people, will fall flat (no pun intended) for others. That being said…

@Aaron: Much of Chinese music that I’ve heard has had that quality. I’ve not heard much of any new stuff that is out, but through my childhood, I listened to a lot of various things from movies and recordings, but I also heard a lot of Chinese pop music, thanks to my family. If you listen to music played on the dizi (transverse flute), you can hear this buzzy quality because there is an extra hole where wet paper is applied. I’m not fond of it, so I cover that hole with parafilm, which covers the hole and eliminates the buzz. Here’s a video of the dizi being played:
https://youtu.be/OyLKRXf_aV8


The xiao, which is the end-blown flute similar to quena, has a sound more to my liking, but I can neither play that, nor a quena, at all. This video shows the guqin, xiao and something called a xun, which is similar to an ocarina:
https://youtu.be/eNzGLAGLLuE


Here is a video of a performance of the Beijing Opera. When I visited China ages ago, I sat through one of these with my family, a 2-hour performance. Never again.
https://youtu.be/wdS_bhC4PMI


Much of Chinese music is played solo; when I’ve watched Chinese movies, most music is depicted with a solo instrument, or a solo instrument with someone singing. So all the nuances and effects would get lost if instruments were played in ensemble; the second video is a bit unusual in that respect, and I find the music in that is missing a little something as a result of all the instruments playing together. This is true, by the way, of Chinese drums. During lion dances, the music is all percussion, with the drums, gongs and cymbals. I actually learned this music when I did martial arts, as it was part of the training. Cool stuff:
https://youtu.be/8Dp0amlRPPU


I can see similarities in the folk music of many cultures. There are a lot of similarities in the instruments, but the music itself is so unique from culture to culture.

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Cool! The Chieftains always makes me happy! You can find almost anything on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/DCZBS_ls578


https://youtu.be/ZghQV119ndE


I just realized, I think one of my kids was given a hammered dulcimer by her band teacher. I don’t think they knew what to do with it, and she wanted it. We just need new strings and the little hammers. :D

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Am I allowed to say that I don’t like the Chieftains?

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You can say what you think, Gobby. It’s a good thing to do here. Thanks.

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"Guqin is the wrong instrument to use for comparisons of folk or trad music. Guqin is the instrument of intellectuals/scholars and nobility, and is not really used by common folk. It’s more comparable to the 12-tone camp than the folk/trad camp."

Well, since the only comparison *I* made concerned my level of interest, I think you were inferring something I never said ;)

I’d say that if guqin has a parallel with Western music in the *musical* (rather than social) sense, it’s probably closer to pibroch rather than 12-tone. This piece isn’t inaccessible at all if you give it a few minutes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XdQuKh7jew


Guqin music still relies on good-old-pentatonic structure; much of it incorporates simple folk themes.

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How come this type of elitist musical snobbery always manages to create the most popular posts on the boards? It’s almost like people are getting defensive. As if someone struck a chord.

I, for one, understand the criticism. It’s undeniable that ITM is rather limited rhythmically, melodically and harmonically. Similar motifs, a handful of different keys/modes, 95% of the music is in one of 2 rhythms where pretty much all 8th-notes are filled up, etc.
And this can be tiring to someone with a broader interest in music, and an ear that’s used to more complex music. In fact, I don’t find myself listening to real traditional Irish stuff anymore unless it’s for learning purposes, instead drifting to bands like Beoga and Comas - traditional roots, but taking it into new territory.

I also think this idea of a ‘unique heart and soul of ITM’ is mostly projection and, dare I say it, justification. Unless you want to argue that every genre of music has its own unique heart and soul, in which case the whole point becomes meaningless.

Unpopular opinion, I know.

That said, I still think the music is a blast to play - especially as a guitarist, as I seem to be the only musician in the session who’s allowed to improvise ;)

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Fair enough but so what? Criticising it for its harmonic and melodic limitations to someone who appreciates it is still a waste of time and a bit of a dick move. I personally can’t stand heavy metal but I’m not going to explain to a metal head why I think their favourite music sucks. It’s not as if they will see the light and realise, "Hey, this is just unmusical screaming!" They might tell me to take a hike. People like what they like.

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"How come this type of elitist musical snobbery always manages to create the most popular posts on the boards?"
Anything opinionated gets loads of replies on these boards.

" It’s almost like people are getting defensive. As if someone struck a chord."
Careful with your Complex Questions.

How is a factual assessment of the music a criticsm? It’s equivalent to saying that a person is 1 meter and 81 centimeters. So what? It is what it is. Metrics are just metrics. It is people that might not like certain metrics. I’m unlikely to marry someone who is 30 years older than me (and likely vice versa), but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with someone who is 30 years older than me just based on that metric.

Music is music, people like what they enjoy. It’s opinions. Anyone who believes that their opinion of what sounds good is in any way more valuable than someone elses opinion is just being obnoxious.

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"How come this type of elitist musical snobbery always manages to create the most popular posts on the boards? "
It’s not "popular", people quite naturally feel they should defend something they love against ignorance.

"And this can be tiring to someone with a broader interest in music, and an ear that’s used to more complex music." Fine, so just leave us alone, Irish traditional music is doing great compared to the traditional music of just about any country on Earth.

"I seem to be the only musician in the session who’s allowed to improvise ;)" Traditional musicians are improvising all the time, within their own genre.

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"How come this type of elitist musical snobbery always manages to create the most popular posts on the boards? " People being wrong on the Internet is always popular.

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Re the chat about Chinese music, et al., i find the use of strings particularly evocative in CTM - being a harper and hammered dulcimer player. I took up the guzheng - its capacity for expression is great: solving the limitations of discrete pitches of harps and HDs. I feel it’s preeminent among this class of instruments. (Traditionally tuned pentatonic)

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Re: People hating on Irish music and how to deal with them.

Irish music is full of beautiful complexity, it’s just more subtle than most people are used to listening for. The seemingly endless variation in interpretation, ornamentation, phrasing, rhythm, the improvisational aspects… All lost on those who are only listening on the surface, who’s ears don’t yet have the capacity to catch that nuance. There is so much room for personal creativity. They just don’t know, what they don’t know. It’s so frustrating!

I used to play classical music and all my classical music friends feel this way about Irish trad. As my friends, and people who actually care about me, they don’t say this to my face. However, I hear from others that they say "it all sounds the same" or "it’s too repetitive", "everyone looks too serious when they are playing. It’s a downer.", and I see the disappointment in their faces. I know they think it’s a waste and they don’t respect it.

I think the reason it upsets me so much, is that I have no way of communicating, or even explaining, the intense high I get from playing, and listening to this music. I have found an experience of joy unlike anything I ever experienced before, I can’t even find words… it’s almost mystical. It’s so intense, and so rewarding, I couldn’t even imagine life without it, and I’m so grateful for it. If they only knew…

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I’ve been away from my PC for two days. My jaw just dropped.

I post about one thread per year on this forum. Every single time I manage to stir up a hornet’s nest. I should become a professional fear-mongerer.

@reelsweet, I hear you, buddy. That’s exactly the same place where I come from. I didn’t express it in your same terms because it would have sounded a bit too personal and/or biased. But, yeah, that’s basically the thing.

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"…I should become a professional fear-mongerer."

There’s room for you at the top! That’s a booming industry.

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Sorry all, I don’t come on here too often, not only that, I’ve just scrolled down from about the 10th post so have probly missed a load of good stuff. But from what I did read, contributors here are not up in arms and defensive but rather pitying this poor reductionist academic chap. And I agree. He, or she, has missed the point.
It goes without saying I love Irish, Scottish and other traditional musical forms, and try my best to play what I know as best I can…blah blah blah… But like many on here, I also like other musical forms, eg Latin: Tejano, Ranchero, Cuban, etc, so-called Classical: Bach, Beethoven, Sibelius, etc, etc.
Not quite sure how to add to what has already been said. Except: I went to a folk festival today, hoping to get a few tunes in. I missed the actual session, no prob, but hung around to listen to and watch a variety of Morris sides. The simplest of music, played in a slow, jaunty "English" style. But so what? It was lovely. No-one trying to prove how intelligent they were, just having some fun, enjoying it.
If you can’t enjoy it, give it up. Be it sex or drugs or rock and roll…or any musical form.

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And yeh, realsweet, DonegalDanny and Kenny have it about right, same as me. PhilipStone has missed it. but then, he’s a geetar man. Rhythmic percussive. How can you possibly get long Bobby Casey wails or flowery Tansey ornaments on a guitar?

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People like what they like and the minds of some are closed to any other possibilities.
So let them go on with their drab, wretches little lives. They neither know or care that they are missing out on an opportunity for growth, both musically and personally.
As Mark Twain said, " You cannot argue with invincible ignorance."

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Next time you meet this person and if the topic arises again simply say "where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise"…..in other words you cannot explain the beauty of something that you clearly appreciate due to the ignorance of the person that you wish to educate.

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Anyone using the quip, "young man" should have his teeth slapped out. Music need not be technically complex to be enjoyable. And the inane "it all sounds the same." is part of any music way either dislikes or is not knowledgeable about. I feel that way about most sitar music. But a person steeped in Indian music could discern
nuances I miss and find a wealth of music and musicianship in what I find annoying.