A question about ornamentation

A question about ornamentation

When you repeat a part of a tune do you use the same ornamentation again? Like tune usually goes AABB. If you have already played A or B, would you play it differently second time?

I personally prefer to make little changes. Also I like to play without ornamentation at all first time and then with it so to have a nice contrast.

Posted by .

Re: A question about ornamentation

Yes, that would seem the norm, to play it slightly differently the second time. Perhaps also to take breaths in different places too.

Re: A question about ornamentation

Good morning Tat. A well known player once told me to try not to repeat the same ornamentation in the same place in the tune second time round and I’ve always remembered that.Also let the tune be heard and not drowned in ornamentation.

Re: A question about ornamentation

Do whatever you want. I’ve rarely heard a recording where a musician played something exactly the same way, even before the repeat. An AABB tune has lots of bars with similar/identical material. The A part of Drowsy Maggie has E2BE dEBE in four places. In theory, you could play that a bit different each time, and then there’s a B part with a lot of repeated material, och then you play the tune once again (or twice). Notice how much you can do with just one tune a couple of times?

Re: A question about ornamentation

I also find that playing it slightly different each time helps me keep track of how many times I’ve played each part, and reduces the chance of inadvertently playing three As.

Re: A question about ornamentation

To me that’s the fun of it, as you go through the many repeats of the same phrases (which usually repeat more often than the parts) trying to make each one a bit different from the others. The same little phrase can have long rolls and short rolls in different places, breaths in different places, long notes instead of rolls, melodic variations, and so forth.

Re: A question about ornamentation

But if you’re playing with other people how much would everyone be doing the same ornaments? Would everyone try to do the same thing?

Re: A question about ornamentation

Depends derek on the musical understanding of the players.
You may get everyone hacking away not listening to each other, and the overall sound , total chaos really, or players who listen and draw back, maybe not ornamenting at all to let the music breath and let someone else do the fancy stuff.
If I’m playing with a class player then I sit back and let them take the lead, enjoy listening to their imagination and musical instrumental expertise , and keep it very simple myself, playing In a more rhythmical back up style as opposed to the up front virtuoso.
A trick I use is also to delay hitting important notes so the maestro gets to hit those notes first with their musical statement , not by much, just a tad…. which is a uncountable little bit 🙂

That’s because I’ve been a bandsman since I was 13 , so it’s my business. . " Different strokes for different folk "

Re: A question about ornamentation

A tutor at a class I went to likened ornamentation to cooking - don’t use all your spices in one go.

Re: A question about ornamentation

Maybe, Moldy. A good friend from India showed me a thing or two about using several spices for many of his dishes. No, it doesn’t always work. But they were dishes he grew up with & man could he make them work.

Posted by .

Re: A question about ornamentation

The sound of different players playing slightly different versions at the same time is heard all the time, not only in sessions but also on many albums.

I’ve told the tale of my transcribing a Bothy Band reel, and having a devil of a time figuring out what note Matt Molloy, Paddy Keenan, and Tommy Peoples were playing at one specific point. I slowed down the tape to half speed, and it became apparent that a one point they’re playing three different notes (high G, high A, and high B as best I can recall). The sound, of course, was brilliant.

Re: A question about ornamentation

That would be a chord of G9 , depending on what the backers are doing
Of course what matters is how it sounds ……
A band is a different thing to a session where you can have 3flutes 3fiddles banjos boxes etc etc
Yes it can sound good, ok or atrocious.
Depends on the players and their musical understanding , how the backer holds it together , or not…. IMO
what matters is that people listen to one another , a conversation between friends, everyone jabbering on at the same time not listening… … chaos ! and of course thebothy band all were top class musicians, and id say most certainly listened to each other and the overall sound !!

Re: A question about ornamentation

It’s not just a question of "being a top class musician" or "listening closely to each other". The simple answer is that all tunes don’t work the same way on all instruments, and in case they do, a number of factors can affect exactly what happens in a certain spot. I’ve had the same "trouble" (I hesitate to call it that) with transcribing tunes with several melody instruments at the same time. What I think sounds like a roll will be transcribed as one, but a grace note can be anything - not that it matters a lot to the overall sound, but still…

Sometimes there’s an octave jump (wind instruments) or a double-stop (string instruments+concertina/accordion). I’m sure that sometimes things just "happen", even on recordings.

Re: A question about ornamentation

I agree that ornamentation should be varied as one plays the tune but I’d like to add that its more than just minor variations around the edges. Ornamentation is at the heart of what makes a tune exciting and brings it alive and in that sense it can be thought of as improvisation. Not really as improvisation is thought of in Jazz (altering the melody while following the chord changes) but as improvisation/ornamentation is used in Baroque music and Bach in particular. In playing Baroque music there is often a sense of "show me what ya got" in ones use of ornamentation. I think the very same idea apples to Celtic music. And who would want to hear the same thing every time? Of course the larger the group the more difficult this is to be effective - so the context matters a lot in terms of how one approaches ornamentation.