How do I say this…

How do I say this…

Irish music can be ineffable, to say the least. Take the simplest jig with every (melody) instrument playing the same line in unison. I’m talking about a tight session* where the players know the jig well enough to play it together; perhaps not accurately but they listen closely to the other players and thus play in unison, w/precision*. Yet each instrument has a distinct voice, a different way of articulating rhythm. In other words an uilleann pipers instrument’s voice is distinct from that of a tin whistle. A fiddler’s voice is distinct from that of a button accordion. Yet each of these players; all of them can play a jig together, in unison with their distinctly articulated voices making it musical. It’s ineffable! It sessionable ~ probably not a word but there it is.
~
Or am I skating on thin ice?

* (tight session?) … (in unison, w/precision?) I’m only partly making up these bits. PM me if you want to know what I mean. It’s not relevant to the topic though if I’m responding effably, isit?

Ben

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Words fail to grasp at the actuality of many subjective experiences- including, of course, the experience of a good sesh!

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Heterophony! Hazel Fairbairn did a PhD (1993) about this phenomenon in sessions. Great read about session culture too if you’re in the market for reading a thesis.

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Thank you, Jessica. I have read what I can from Liz Doherty. I’ll see if I can get a copy of Hazel Fairbairn’s thesis. But I don’t use google+ or facebook. I appreciate the headsup!

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I, for one, would much rather read a thesis than write one.

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Pleass let me know if you get a hold of that Thesis!

I’d love to read it!

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https://musicologyireland.com/jsmi/index.php/journal/article/download/10/12/

This is a great piece of writing that cites Fairbairn’s thesis. It discusses the romanticism surrounding the elated and ineffable feelings at a session and how people feel it is related to tangable ways to construct actual utopias! It raises the fantastic point that one persons feeling of unity may we’ll be extremely different from another’s - and how people idealize the session as an authentic part of rural life; when it is by and large an urban-driven phenomenon.

It’s great writing!

I also feel deeply uncomfortable at people’s tendency to feel the session is some kind of divine connection to the ideal community. If music truly were the way to make peaceful societies then we’d surely see plenty of musicked-up peaceful societies around the world - and this, it seems, is a fantasy. Though the temptation to imagine the ineffable experience of a session as somehow a perfect unity is prevalent throughout music literature and discussion. One player may *feel* a unity of God-consciousness through all players- the other may feel the unity of nationalism in full fruition - the other may feel the ineffable experience of ultimate competence: all while they actually hate each other’s guts.

Some good excerpts:

“…cathartic narratives that begin with the beauty of the rainbow and end with an eloquent account of the golden booty it yields.”

“I am referring here… to a linking of musical community and utopian social organization that is common to scholars in various disciplines and theoretical persuasions. This tendency seems especially to arise in cases where the writer has struggled to become accepted as a participant.”

Also - is it heterophony you are referring to AB - or truly playing in unison?

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Apologies for the autocorrect spelling mistakes and those of my own!

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Good read. Thanks for that link.

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Thanks for the additional reading links. I was able to find an article from Hazel Fairbairn which I can read online. "Changing Contexts for Traditional Dance Music in Ireland: The Rise of Group Performance Practice." Folk Music Journal Vol. 6, No. 5 (1994), pp. 566-599

Also I surreptitiously found jcawley’s "Pub Sessions as Means of Transmission in Traditional Irish Music" http://www.academia.edu/6099995
It was actually her article which I cannot download the pdf since I don’t use google+ or facebook.
Sorry for the earlier mixup in one of my responses. I can read Jessica’s thesis and appreciate it very much. Thank you, jcawley.

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I meant serendipitously. I’m losing it with my ability to use words; which I find wonderfully freeing.

Choons, take your pick. I was musing about ‘music as experience’ more than the words used to describe it. "Irish music can be ineffable, to say the least." But one does not say the least when one is posting on a discussion forum. Rhetorical questions, irony and paradox don’t communicate well.

Whether it’s heterophony, unison playing, both or neither it’s an experience best appreciated as it happens. We can talk about it until the sun comes up. Which is why I love the discussions.

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"I cannot download the pdf since I don’t use google+ or facebook. "

I just scrolled down and an embedded version seemed to be there (if you want to read it online, that is).

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Thank you, Jeff, that is how I am reading articles on academia.edu

I won’t go into the details of why I don’t login with google or facebook. But I will say, for the sake of anyone registered with academia.edu, the site’s .edu status was obtained before 2001 and it’s prudent to research
how it functions more like a dot com than most .edu sites.
This from an article in Forbes by Sarah Bond. "Dear Scholars, Delete Your Account At Academia.Edu"
(Jan. 2017): "Historian Seth Denbo probably said it best when, almost a year and a half ago, he warned scholars that they were providing free data to a for-profit company rather than participating in an open-source, non-profit often associated with .edu domains."

Having said that I am reading the articles from academia.edu online, scrolling.
Hazel Fairbairn’s thesis does not appear to be online anywhere though I am finding numerous references to her paper and some interesting papers by other trad studies types. [ https://www.jstor.org/stable/852635 ]

Cheers!

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Oh yes- the session is such a profound experience.

As you can tell, I’m sceptical of the temptation to romanticise it - but for sure there’s nothing quite like the experience of a great sesh!

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Choons said- ”If music truly were the way to make peaceful societies then we’d surely see plenty of musicked-up peaceful societies around the world - and this, it seems, is a fantasy.’
I think music helps though, consider that in some societies (Saudi Arabia and other strict Islamic countries) music is actually more or less illegal. Booze too.
How the heck do people relax without music and alcohol?

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Well Saudi is not anywhere near involved in as much warfare as the USA - though I suppose it does support US wars - and in turn the US turns a blind eye to Saudi’s wars. Also violent crime is far more rare in Saudi than the US (when we look at statistics instead of presumptions)… And music is loved by Saudis (no surprises) if you actually meet real Saudis. Music is easily more readily consumed in the US.

To be honest music is about as prevalent in muslim countries as anywhere else…

As for being a Teetotaler, it seems to have little link with violence- other than reducing it.

So to post on here suggesting that Muslims are a particularly violent people who are at odds with Music seems not just extremely rude - but at odds with reality. Despite popular in some places.

As one of many muslims involved in ITM you’ll find me a relaxed and fairly jolly guy - just like my other fellow co-religionists.

I’m actually a very non-violent guy - but I’ll admit - if someone attacks my wife in the street again I would struggle not to get some form of violent with them. Such stereotypes above are really not helping anybody.

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I had a longer response but my kitten deleted it.
I didn’t say muslims were violent, most are not.
Saudi has violence as part of it’s Shariah law.
Sure, most muslims love music, like everyone else, but need to be very careful to not get caught (in Saudi). In special circumstances like weddings a special drum is allowed. Singing is mostly forbidden except for the call to prayer. Levels of permissabiliy vary depending on which Islam you follow. Check out the IslamQA website for more info, it is run by a Saudi cleric. It’s quite eye opening.

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Wait, are we seriously explaining to a Muslim about how Islam works? Really? Can we think about that for a second?

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Will you be my new Imam? ;-P

Aye - stereotypes about Muslims, Saudi’s and shariah law are both deeply unhelpful and deeply prevalent at the moment.

I’d love to help relieve any fears about the common ‘creeping shariah’ conspiracy theories and all that. Important as it is, it’s probably not the right site for it.

Maybe we’ll bump into each other and have an ineffable sesh together and get this all sorted - insha Allah!

But just as listening to each other is the key to that good sesh - I’d advise that chatting to some Saudi’s, and moving beyond a conservative ‘cleric’s website, will maybe reduce your feeling that Muslims (and others) can’t relax without a tune or a drink… etc.

This, I’m sure will aid the spreading of peace. :)

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Clearly my posts have not been actually read. I never stereotyped muslims. I stated examples of Islamic law which runs the country. Fantastic that music is being welcomed and hopefully continues.
Shariah is followed by the conservatives in government. Clearly many of the people do not subscribe to this form of Islam, or just ignore the hadith that forbid music, or consider them weak.
I don’t believe in stupid right wing conspiracy theories, those are for rednecks and racists.
I agree, not the forum for this discussion, enjoy the music.

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Music is part of humanities heritage . It allows the human brain to access infinity through the tones and overtone/ undertone series. It facilitates the entrainment of the brain through trance , as do lights and various drugs which have been used throughout various religious rituals through out the world. It is a very powerful thing and in good hands creates beauty harmony peace and contentment , and the converse in bad hands it creates ugliness disharmony chaos and discontent.


The history of Hadith is very long and has been misused to further political aims of power and control throughout history .Hadiths are supposedly sayings of the prophet Mohamed PBUH . Islamic scholars research and debate this kind of thing. The Hadith in question , goes something like ‘it’s better to have molten lead poured in your ears than listen to music’…
All the abrahanic religions have been used and misused in this fashion and a historically informed world view would lay the majority of evil done in the name of God to have been perpetrated by Christians. It was the umma that protected Jews from Christian persecution and it was Christians responsible for the holocaust , the genocides in Australia, the Americas , India etc etc etc etc
When the finger is pointed in blame, 3 fingers point back at the accuser.

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I don’t believe music necessarily makes peace, but I do believe that music has the capacity to expose the reality that we all have more in common than we have not in common; in turn, promoting peace. I’ll use an analogy to clarify what I mean.

Water has no calories. So it doesn’t "give you energy". Only calories can give you actual energy. However, water is required to metabolize food. So water "promotes" energy. I think that in very much the same way, music promotes peace.

Music is a big deal. It helps us relieve stress by expressing our emotions. Venues like sessions and contra-dances, tend to disconnect us from the politics of society for a moment. It makes our human similarities accessible, apparent even. It can help you rest, work, and play. It can bring back fond memories, or inspire new ideas. It enhances every other form of art, media, and entertainment. So I would argue that even though I don’t believe that music makes peace in and of itself; I do believe that it may be required to make peace. An ingredient in the making of the peace.

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On the note of the OP, I do agree about the "ineffableness", but I am much more fascinated by the unison and harmony of related voices. There is no experience like that of hearing raw, acoustic, live, perfect unison/harmony. Of all of the poems and essays and short stories I’ve written, I have never found the words to describe this simple, yet hardly accessible, experience.

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Cheers, Jerone. I just read your two posts above and now I need to go to work. I appreciate your perspective very much.

Ben

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‘historically informed world view would lay the majority of evil done in the name of God to have been perpetrated by Christians. It was the umma that protected Jews from Christian persecution and it was Christians responsible for the holocaust , the genocides in Australia, the Americas , India etc etc etc etc
When the finger is pointed in blame, 3 fingers point back at the accuser.’
Christianity has done extreme evil and so has Islam historically speaking. It does not matter me which did worse, I am not a believer in either.
The watering down or following the peaceful aspects of any religion is the only way to go for a peaceful society, with the exception of outright atheism.
I won’t derail this thread any further, however anyone can pm me if they feel like discussing this further.