Rename the strike for consistency?

Rename the strike for consistency?

Over the past few years I’ve been non-seriously learning to play the fiddle, being most experienced with wind instruments. While the fiddle can perform both of the fingered articulations used in ITM, how they are performed is inverted relative to a wind instrument. A ‘cut’ is performed by dragging a finger across a string in a similar action to a strike, while the equivalent of a ‘strike’ is played like a cut. The term ‘cut’ is already commonly used by fiddle players and makes sense as the name does not describe how they are performed. ‘Strike’ however does imply a certain finger movement and the term dosn’t work if applied to the fiddle. I’m wandering if there would be another term which would work more generically, ‘dip’ perhaps.

Using the term ‘grace note’ for these has issues as they are generally used as articulations, which can lead to conceptual misunderstanding as Grey Larsen observes in his book. There is also considerable linguistic value in having words dedicated to ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ fingered articulations. I’ve spent some time studying highland bagpipe notation and read several books on playing the instrument. In that community the term ‘grace note’ is used to refer to several different things which makes describing technique verbose as it always has to classify what the intent is.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Everybody uses their own terminology. There is no way to make a universal change to such an informal music.

I don’t see how worrying about the linguistic accuracy will make me a better player. I just play the music and enjoy it for what it is, not what is called.

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Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

I say "tap" for the swipe and "cut" for the lift in a fiddle roll. Call it the "swoosh" and the "oopsie-daisy" for all I care. I’ll still play it just as poorly.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

"I don’t see how worrying about the linguistic accuracy will make me a better player. I just play the music and enjoy it for what it is, not what is called."

Linguistic accuracy can make something easier to understand from an educational perspective, especially for anyone learning without access to sessions or teachers.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Language is a set of symbols with arbitrary meaning. Renaming articulations won’t teach you to accomplish them more proficiently, since the words themselves are arbitrary. If you don’t learn the finger motion associated with those symbols, changing the symbols doesn’t matter very much.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

"While the fiddle can perform both of the fingered articulations."
Both? What is the other one ? 😉
Seriously though check out pat Mitchell books : "the piping of patsy touhey "and "the dance music of Willie Clancy.."…..

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

"Renaming articulations won’t teach you to accomplish them more proficiently, since the words themselves are arbitrary."

Actually this is not completely true as words can have meanings from common language, and in other genres of music. ‘Strike’ means ‘to hit forcefully’ which does describe the finger action of how the articulation is performed. ‘Cut’ describes the intent, to ‘cut’ a longer note into shorter ones.

The same issue exists with the usage of grace notes for notation of fingered articulations because they have an accepted meaning in classical music, which is different from the cut/strike. I believe this meaning is known to a larger population of people. If someone from this tradition looks at a folk tune, how they would interpret it would sound nothing like intended. The ‘Classical musician playing folk music’ is already a well known sound.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

The term "grace note" in Scottish pipe music refers to just one thing, grace notes. Single 64th time ( someone will probably know something other ) notes which are played between the main melody notes. There are other ornaments which could be said to consist of multiple "grace notes" but these in fact have numerous and very exact definitions. Scottish piping in its formal forms is very exacting in these practices and terms and no Scottish piper would really mix the term grace note with other ornament names for this very reason.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Hi Robert, you said : //The term ‘cut’ is already commonly used by fiddle players and makes sense as the name does not describe how they are performed. ‘Strike’ however does imply a certain finger movement and the term dosn’t work if applied to the fiddle.//

I think the ‘cut’ is physically a strike, as the string is hit with the finger, sometimes quite hard, and pulled off again in the direction of the E string.

I do get what you are saying, and I think the primary function of a cut is to simulate (or be a substitute for) a change of bow direction, more often than not so as not to interrupt the rhythm and grouping of notes. It’s just a coincidence that you have to strike the string to achieve the cut.

I hope I’ve understood you correctly.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

If I understand correctly, Robert, you are requesting tradition-wide consistency when referring to playing techniques, and furthermore that these terms be universal for all instruments, or at least flute and fiddle. Dude, we can’t even agree on the names of tunes. But I’ll take it up with the Central Committee at our next meeting.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

You can call these things whatever you want but at the end of the day the sound is what matters, not the name.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Of course, Wesley. But I think what Robert is after is consistency and clarity for instructional purposes. An elusive if not completely chimerical goal for Irish trad.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Right Joe, but what I’m getting at is how little use that would be. If I articulate a note by hitting the flute with my finger, it doesn’s matter if I call it a whack, or a hit, or a strike, or a throw, or any number of things. It’s the same technique and produces the same effect regardless of the name.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Every time I try a strike on the fiddle I just down tools, walk out the room and start chanting for fairer pay.

It’s probably because words mean different things in different contexts - but luckily we’re all familiar with this.

The contextual use of language has never been a huge issue for genre swappers as far as I’ve encountered - and it’s certainly not the cause of the ‘classical musy trying trad’ sound.

A non-existent problem?

I think so…

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

I don’t know if I’ve heard "strike" before- I come from uilleann pipes and whistle where you have "cuts" and "pats".

If you want unambiguous universal instrument-blind terms you can use "upper gracenote" and "lower gracenote" and I’ve often heard those used.

Though those terms aren’t completely specific, unless you take them to mean using the upper and lower neighbor tones. On the pipes anyhow you might use any of several notes above and below the melody note, at whim. Or a silence. This gives, for example, 9 possible ways to articulate low-octave G on the pipes, and an almost infinite number of ways to do a long roll.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Yes I’ve never heard the term strike used befor either, I presumed it can from the flute world?

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

"… I’ve never heard the term strike used befor either, I presumed it can from the flute world… "

It is also called a ‘tap’, ‘pat’ or ‘tip’ and yes, it comes from piping, flute and whistle playing, where it is exectuted in exactly the manner that its names describe (‘tip’ in the sense of what a bodhrán tipper does).

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Yes i ive hears the other terms, cut and pat, and I know what they mean, it was the specific term strike that is unfamiliar, in fact with a google search I can’t find it anywhere ? It’s quite descriptive so perhaps someone invented it because they didn’t know a better term? Where does it come from?

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

For what it’s worth, I’ve only heard the word strike in reference to GHB technique.

The larger problem is a cultural reluctance to analyse or investigate practice (as in the sense of practitioner) in traditional music. There’s a common suggestion that knowing/understanding what you are doing is somehow unsporting. This is what gives rise to the "who cares what you call it" and "you just need to listen more" schools of thought.

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Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

Ah ok, got you, thanks Calum .
A pat, not a cut, some confusion there clarified. …yes descriptive of the technique but not of the effect .
A cut is descriptive as it cuts a note in 2, of the effect not of the technique .

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

In reference to Calum, there is nothing wrong with knowing or understanding what you are doing, but how does it help to rename something if you already know how to do it? And if you don’t know how to do it, go find someone to show you, and then do what they are doing. It doesn’t make sense to start out not knowing something, and rather than learn how to do it demand it be called something different.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

I’ve heard dip (for lower gracenote) as well. Isn’t the term cut used for trebles in Cape Breton music?

By the way, instruments don’t use the same grace notes for cuts/strikes/rolls, and their actual importance also varies.

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

The nomenclature in the flute world at least, doesn’t seem to be very standardized. I did a quick survey of the Irish flute tutorial books I’ve collected. Here’s how the ornamented note below a target note is described by the authors:

Conal O Grada - "Pat"
(An Fheadog Mhor - Irish Traditional Flute Technique)

Fintan Valley - "Tip"
(A Complete Guide to Learning the Irish Flute)

Grey Larsen — "Strike", also sometimes known as tip, tap, pat or slap
(The Essential Guide to Irish Flute and Tin Whistle)

June McCormack - "Bounce", also called a tap, strike, tip or pat. She uses "tap" when describing how to play a roll, and "bounce" for an ornament that isn’t part of a roll.
(Fliuit - Irish Flute Tutorial)

So, no agreement between those authors, but it doesn’t matter if you get the idea when learning. The terms above mean more or less the same thing, although it’s interesting how there is an implicit difference in strength of attack between terms like "Strike" and "Pat".

Re: Rename the strike for consistency?

In uilleann piping you usually hear "cut" (upper) and "pat" (lower).

The strange thing is the Leo Rowsome uilleann pipe tutor (1936) which uses plenty of "classical" terms.

He calls the upper gracenote "the grace note" "appoggiatura" "acciaccatura" and "cut". He has various diagrammes which in my opinion don’t make his distinctions between these various things clear.

He doesn’t mention or diagramme pats.

Eithne & J B Vallely’s "learn to play the uilleann pipes" introduces the A cut calling it "a short snap of the A finger". It introduces rolls without mentioning the concept of gracenotes, cuts, or pats, but simply says "the note above" and "the note below". Crans are likewise explained without mentioning gracenotes or cuts; rather it says to sound low D and "quickly snap out A, G, and F#". So an entire uilleann pipe tutor without a single mention of gracenotes, cuts, or pats per se.

About the flute tutors mentioned above, I’ll point out that Grey Larsen is a North American (from his accent anyhow) so he may be bringing non-Irish terms into things.

About "strike" and the Highland pipes, I’ve been playing the Highland pipes my whole life and I’m not 100% sure what "strike" would refer to. The 1953 Green Book calls upper gracenotes "gracenotes" and lower gracenotes "echo beats" except for the echo beat on D which is called the "slur on D". I’ve usually heard lower gracenotes in general called "slurs". BTW the well-known jig The Jig Of Slurs was written as an exercise in playing lower gracenotes.