Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

We’ve had similar threads before….. where the validity of instruments has been discussed.

https://thesession.org/discussions/6109

Of course, casual listeners may take a different view https://thesession.org/discussions/10373

Anyway, surely playing all instruments ought to be fun? Also, I know many older players who tackle all types of musical instrument including fiddle, flute, various pipes, squeeze boxes/concertinas and so on. Yes, mandolins, banjos, guitars etc too.
Many of them have been playing for years, of course, and are just getting old. That can’t be helped. However, many of these instruments are also the first choice for adult beginners of all ages.

However, I think when people talk about "fun instruments" for "older players", they are suggesting that these are preferred by the type of person who doesn’t take "the music" too seriously. To be fair, quite a lot of people don’t.

On the other thread, the mandolin was offered as such an example. I’ll not pursue that argument here but I’ve never considered the instrument in this way although, at entry level, it’s certainly more accessible than the fiddle, flute, pipes, and so on.

However, more obvious "fun instruments" would be the ukulele, shaky eggs, various drums, and even the guitar(again easy at entry level but much more challenging down the road). I will also add "the human voice" too. Not to decry singers or singing, although many here might, but it’s increasingly being used for "fun" with the explosion of community choirs performing all genres of song and at all levels.

Arguably, all of the above instruments can still produce great music or be used to good effect but "more serious" musicians are unlikely to spend the time on effort on them. For example, you can play beautiful and intricate music on the ukulele but learning the "campanella" and other techniques may seem too much like hard work for some… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kU6SubqBAcw


especially when you can play them reasonably well much more easily on the fiddle, mandolin etc, even the harp, or guitar(which is just a big ukulele, anyway).

Actually, I quite enjoy doing tunes on The Uke and using finger picking techniques rather than strumming even as a singing accompaniment but the majority of those who attend workshops etc just want to enjoy the communal sing/strumalong experience which isn’t for me.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that it is maybe unfair to categorise instruments as "old (wo)men"(old man is actually a bit sexist) or just for beginners. They all have their place and merit albeit with varying limitations, some of the percussive variety excepted, of course. 😛

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I agree, but I worry that I won’t be taken seriously or be respected as I play whistle. I want to learn mandolin but if it’s considered an ‘easy’ instrument then I may try something else. Despite all the assurances on here that these instruments are fully respected and admired if they are played well, I still have that nagging feeling of inferiority. Or maybe it’s just my low self esteem.

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The instrument doesn’t care how old you are.

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Quite right, Kenny. 🙂

Michelle, re the whistle, many people might consider it to be "less serious" than the flute but it’s got so much going for it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yXuGAjaae3M


Of course, many good musicians will play both but there’s no need to "progress" from one to the other.

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For me - the use of the Uke may work well on some conceptual recording - and I’m all for that.

But I think the delicate, fragile and thin sound of the Uke that gives it a distance from more regular instruments.

I had a great session with a young clarinet player recently and it doesn’t seem incongruous in the right hands at all.

There seems to me to be a lack of ‘poignancy’ to the sound - while next to other ITM instruments - but this may be purely my individual taste and nothing more.

However, there is certainly something that stands out with the Uke - as a not fitting easily with the usual session instruments. I am sure there is something specific that goes beyond subjective tastes.

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Johny Jay: "Michelle, re the whistle, many people might consider it to be "less serious" than the flute but it’s got so much going for it."

I’m with you, Johny Jay, and, hey, I’m a flute maker! The whistle is a gorgeous instrument, as Mary proves so well in that video. Don’t worry about what others think, Michelle Mc. Follow your own path.

Sigh, memories. 1974 finds me in London, heading for Ireland. I ask a piping chap I’d come across (name of Seamus Ennis, you might have heard of him) where to go in Dublin for good music and he mentions Slattery’s in Capel St. We’re there the following Wednesday night. Musicians include Mary Bergin. I go up to her afterwards and ask "where do you learn to play whistle like that?" "Ah well", she says, "I teach…."

A definite "point of inflection" in my life!

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I agree that it doesn’t really fit in too well in an Irish or Scottish session and even the mandolin has difficulties in large gatherings although, I’ll still argue, it can hold it’s own in most reasonable "optimally" sized sessions.

Some Ukuleles especially the baritone might be useful for accompaniment, chording etc but why bother when you can just use a guitar instead? Likewise, you can play the melody on the ukulele but it would be really too quiet for most sessions.

One thing I’ve found with apparently "easy" instruments is that you really have to work much harder in the long run to make them sound half interesting whereas you might be able to play a very simple arrangement of a tune on the fiddle and some other instruments and get away with it. Such instruments are less accessible at "entry level" but, arguably, easier in the long run.
All musical instruments have endless possibilities, of course.

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Oops, sorry Terry, I was replying to Choons… Thanks for your comment though.

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No worries, JJ.

Heh heh. I’m reminded of a book on musical instruments I read when I was just getting into music (this was probably back in the seventies, and was probably an old book by then!). It had separate chapters on the violin, the piano, and the various woodwinds, etc, and then finally came a chapter titled "The guitar, banjo and other instruments". The opening para of the chapter advanced the notion that "Whereas it can probably be argued that there is no such thing as a bad instrument, it does seem a shame that so many people waste so much time on instruments like these. (Etc, etc.)

I’m imagining that there is a "special place in hell" reserved for stuffed shirts like this. Near the jazz band, hopefully.

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Musical snobbery at it’s finest. 🙂

I’m presuming that they weren’t thinking about the fiddle in the violin chapter either.

I’m wondering where the mandolin would fit in. It is a classical instrument too, of course, and a "cousin" of the violin. In fact, for every violin type instrument there is a mandolin equivalent… i.e. mandola, mandocello, mandobass and so on.
The guitar is a member of the lute family of instruments and, therefore, is highly respectable too. Also used in classical music. Technically, the banjo is a lute instrument too but even folkies and many trad musicians just think of it as a bodhran with strings. 🙂 Personally, I love it.

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re mention of baritone ukulele above.
I have used baritone ukes in Trad Irish sessions for years!
Tuned D G B E (like the top four on the guitar). Being nylon (or real gut) strings they have a mellow tone for accompaniment, a very handy D at the bottom AND a very much smaller piece of wood to lug around!
I also use a baritone banjolele, same tuning, same nylon strings but louder at busy sessions (or outdoors when playing for Black Swan Border Morris side- but that’s another story!).

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Johnny Jay said: "However, I think when people talk about "fun instruments" for "older players", they are suggesting that these are preferred by the type of person who doesn’t take "the music" too seriously. To be fair, quite a lot of people don’t."

This seems (to me) to be the crux of the matter. If you just want to have fun with music, but have no great interest in Irish traditional music, then pick whichever instrument strikes your fancy. If you do perchance have desires to play ITM, then as a beginner (of any age), it only makes sense to choose an instrument that will easily fit within that tradition. Hard to imagine anything more simple than the tin whistle, for new players of any age. It’s fun right from the start, and yet has the potential of greatness.

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I was having a midlife crisis.

So I said to the wife, "Wife! I’m having a midlife crisis." She suggested I go out and find myself another woman. I rejected that citing that would be far too expensive. So I said, "Wife! I’m going to learn a musical instrument."

She grunted and told me to go ahead. Then she went back to bed.

So I started looking around. Long story short, after considering the oboe, the violin, the uke and the kazoo, I decided to start playing mandolin. A few years later, and practicing every day, I’m still trying to figure out how to play a tune…BUT I love it.

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I’m 67 and female. I started trying to learn the fiddle about 11 years ago because I LOVE the way it sounds. I’ve picked it up and put it down off and on for years. I’ve had 3 teachers who taught me some tunes, but I was still frustrated. Now that my daughter has become a serious player, I’ve been re-inspired and have purchased a decent beginner fiddle and have a teacher who has also got a classical background (apparently, that’s what I needed!)….Something structured that I HAVE to practice, etudes, etc. I don’t find it a hard instrument. I did try the ukelele and it’s just not me.
You have to love the music and want to make it come from you. I’m so excited that I am finally making progress!

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On the note of the inclusiveness of certain instruments…

Isn’t the Recorder the only instrument that’s considered "non-serious"? I’ve come to think of the Tin Whistle as much more serious and professional instrument than the recorder. But then again, I know Tin Whistle players, but have yet to meet a Recorder player.

I’m not trying to exclude or slight the recorder, but does anyone actually play it professionally, or at least formally?

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

When I saw the headline was for "Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player", I immediately thought of my own collection with its Jews Harps, Kazoos, Plastic Melodeon in C etc, definitely not to be taken seriously. I certainly didn’t expect to read about perfectly normal instruments that are found in nearly every session. Apart from the fact that just playing with other people is fun in itself, what makes the instruments mentioned above more "fun" than others?

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And I’m definitely digging this lot out for Friday’s session. I shall blame the mustard board ….

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Jerone - yes -

It’s excellent if played well.

Here is an example (first tune):

https://youtu.be/axw3SFmmao8


Marc Duff is renowned for it and it’s a treat to hear his recorder playing (as well as the other instruments).

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Mandolin is still not an old man’s instrument and never will be. The only true old man’s instrument is the hammer dulcimer.

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How old is an old man? I didn’t start learning the mandolin until the age of 61. Since then it’s been: hammered dulcimer, bouzouki, tenor banjo (badly), cittern and next up (in about a month) - the harpejji. How that goes would be anyone’s guess but it’s definitely not something I would haul to a session. It’s possible though, That the only true old man’s instrument is the hammer…

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One of my maturish female friends is an excellent hammer dulcimer player, then there was Rosie in the Pyewackett band, who was both young and female. So where did the "old man" spring from?

I do have fun playing my button accordion, coming out with things no-one really expects on that instrument: the odd classical tune, a bit of ragtime, pop songs, national anthems - just on very infrequent occasions, you understand, when the situation suggests it! Otherwise it is a deadly serious and challenging, but rewarding, instrument to play, despite all the melodeon jokes.

And I have plenty of fun stuff in my percussion bag, things to shake, rattle, roll and bang. Favourites, but also kept for particular occasions, are the "thunder tube" and the 2 scallop shells, played as seen in Santiago de Compostela.

And yes, I’m older, but less mature.

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Nose Flute!

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Musical saw, trumpet, trombone, bugle, French horn, Stylophone, glockenspiel, sopranino ukulele, Cajun Spoons, baritone banjolele, treble+concert+tenor ukes, sitar, small 12 string harp, Indian harmonium, var harmonicas, melodica, cheap and nasty £50 keyboard from Argos (with batteries!!), toy piano, treble banjolele, lap steel, cigar box guitar, resonator guitar, unplugged Gibson SG, vibra slap, cassenettes, tambourines, shaky eggs & fruit, cabassa, Jew’s harp, vuvuzela, guiro, freeform vocal/ hiphopness/ chanting, maracas and stuff …

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Johnny jay- That Mary Bergin video brought a tear to my eye. I’m reminded of why I took up whistle in the first place. I loved the sound. I had no idea what it looked like, how much it cost or how easy or difficult it was to play. I just fell in love with the joyful sound of it. I won’t give it up that’s for sure.
I may start mando yet because I love the sound of it, not for any other reason.

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I saw Evelyn Glennie in concert a few years ago. At one point in the performance she played a solo on maracas. It was amazing (albeit not trad) and I would certainly classify her as a "more serious" musician. It proved the point that even the most unlikely instrument, in the right hands, can make some great music.

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@ Yhaal House

You’ve left out of your inventory perhaps the most fun of all: cuica

My daughter has been playing bari sax in school the past few years. I also play, so bari sax duo has been a hoot.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

"I’m not trying to exclude or slight the recorder, but does anyone actually play it professionally, or at least formally?"

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


Frans Brüggen was a great recorder player and conductor. He did a master class at my university in the late 70s. A very inspired and inspiring musician.

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"I’m not trying to exclude or slight the recorder, but does anyone actually play it professionally, or at least formally?" Of course they do, but not in Irish traditional music, as far as I know.

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I have a tenor ukulele that I keep tuned like a mandola/viola at CGDA. As a bit of a joke I retuned it to CGDG recently and brought it out along with my bouzouki. It turned out to be a big hit, surprisingly.

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I made a list of instruments that I think are definitely for your less mature sessioners. They are really not appropriate for trad music:
hammer dulcimer
recorder
upright bass (it happened once)
highland pipes (even if it’s a Scottish session; use smallpipes)
harmonica
saxophone (It’s really loud and obnoxious)

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"upright bass " You see them quite a lot in Scottish sessions as you will "the moothie"(harmonica).

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"They are really not appropriate for trad music:" - depends whose tradition you are talking about, and in any case, who are you to decide what is or is not "Appropriate" ?
Also, it seems I need to reiterate - the instrument doesn’t care how old you are - "maturity" is entirely irrelevant.

1 - Hammered dulcimer - certainly appropriate for English trad, there were several players in the North of Ireland, including our own "ptarmigan", there are still some players in and around Glasgow, and I was in a band with a HD player for a few years in the 1990s [ Jean Graham RIP ].
2 - recorder - used extensively in English and other European traditions.
3 - upright bass - certainly seen them in Scotland sessions. "Lunasa" don’t seem to have a problem with it. Neither did "Deiseal".
4 - how could Highland pipes not be "Appropriate" for Scotland’s tradition ? The same instrument also is part of Ireland’s tradition, North and South, although the instrument is more commonly referred to as "war-pipes".
5 - harmonica - everywhere. Would you tell the Murphy Brothers or Noel Battle they are not part of Irish traditional music ? I also know of 2 well-known flute players who are currently learning the instrument.
6 - saxophone - has been played in Ceili/Ceilidh bands in Ireland/Scotland for probably over 80 years. "At The Racket" mean anything to you ? Flute player Steph Geremia plays saxophone - superbly - on her "Up She Flew" CD, released last month.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

When I said trad music, I meant it in the context of Irish music (after all, this is a website dedicated to Irish music).
You certainly can use other instruments in the traditions they belong to.

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And with the exception of the recorder, I pointed out specific instances where all of the others have fitted into "Irish music", played by highly regarded traditional musicians. Again, I ask, who are you to decide which instruments "belong" in Irish traditional music and which don’t ?

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Mary Brogan

https://youtu.be/fO5aNqgc8eY


And Brendan Power
https://youtu.be/GbJ84ESfKOs


Finally, a tribute to Ian Grant who was a stalwart of Scottish Music sessions by Bryce Johnstone who also sadly passed away in the last couple of years. He is also joined by Ernie Gordon and Brendan Power in these tunes.
I think it’s significant that Brendan is in this clip and it helps to illustrate that boundaries in musical genres and styles are anything but rigid.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZHvSjoRRAA

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I think there is a difference between instruments you’d prefer not to see at a particular session and what is or isn’t appropriate. Most of us will have instruments we’d prefer not to see at our regular session, but if it’s not your session then it’s not your business which instruments are involved.

For sure if highland pipes played all through a session that would be rude because of the key and volume, but surely you can’t believe a set or two of tunes on the GHB/War Pipes would be inappropriate in Scotland or Ireland?
Personally I would prefer a harmonica or recorder over a bodhran or two harmonicas over two guitars. Not everyone would have the same taste but that’s that’s kind of irrelevant.

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To add, I like the bodhran but hardy anyone who turns up at the average session seems to be able to play it - that round case turning up strikes dread into most of the tune players I know.

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I took up the fiddle a few years ago because I’d had violin lessons at school, and for me there’s only one instrument. But my husband is a pianist and in his sixties like me. His ambition is to play at sessions eventually, but keyboards aren’t often welcome or practical in a pub and the piano accordion looks fearsome and is far too loud. He’s taken up the English concertina and we now practise together most days. He’s come on very well in eighteen months and been to the Swaledale Squeeze this year and last.

The only thing wrong with this instrument is that it’s so expensive and difficult to buy one. Only the Jackie (not a true concertina - has accordion reeds) is made these days. John started on a Jackie and it was a good thing to try, but then he was able to purchase a renovated Lachenal, and it has such a lovely sound.

Unlike the accordion, the concertina doesn’t overwhelm the traditional instruments, and the English concertina and fiddle go very well together.

It’s chromatic and quieter and more ‘logical’ in its buttons than the Anglo, though the Anglo is the traditional concertina in Ireland, so…

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"I made a list of instruments that I think are definitely for your less mature sessioners. They are really not appropriate for trad music:
hammer dulcimer
recorder
upright bass (it happened once)
highland pipes (even if it’s a Scottish session; use smallpipes)
harmonica
saxophone (It’s really loud and obnoxious)"

[rant]

Do you have any idea how many absolutely grand musicians you’ve just tried to push out the door? I usually try to pay no attention to these sort of ignorant blatherings but this one just hurt too much. Spend literally five minutes actually researching the topic before you open your mouth and I guarantee you’ll find a dozen players on all of these instruments who could stand unashamed between the greatest of trad musicians. But no, because you’ve maybe once encountered a tourist with a harmonica who nudged his way into a session and tried to play Oh Suzanna, the entire instrument is "fit only for less mature players" and "not appropriate for trad music"? Your hopelessly incomplete knowledge of trad music, musicians and instruments is only matched by your utter lack of respect for other musicians and your complete confidence in your own ignorance. Please never speak again.

[/rant]

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An instrument that, like the GHB, I’d rather not have in a session, are the uilleann pipes and for the same reasons. Obviously they have a great part in Irish Traditional music, but they do tend to drown everybody else out. Don’t misunderstand me, I love listening to them and I have a great respect for these pipers who play such a difficult instrument, but I’m not too keen on not being able to hear myself playing.
And too many fiddlers can also disarray a session as well, which is one reason I always take my squeezebox along just in case …

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Ebor_Fiddler, no way would the Uilleann pipes drown anyone out, they’re not much different to a fiddle as far a volume goes. I have to say, it’ very peculiar for someone to say they’d rather not have Uilleann pipes at a session on a site for Irish music!I don’t think anyone would consider playing highland pipes at a session, other than possibly for one-off set of tunes, they’re obviously way too loud. Monty did actually say they and these other instruments weren’t suitable for trad music, which is quite obviously utter nonsense. I would imagine he actually meant he thinks they’re not suitable for a trad session…

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Ive heard that twice from 2 seperate fiddlers in the last couple of weeks that they are not into UP at sessions! Yes volume wise they are loud and dominant , but also because the fiddlers are constrained by the pipes limitations . The 2 fiddlers in question both play complex tunes encompassing the full range of the fiddle both in keys and strings.
As a piper its hard to follow quiter instruments and pipes do tend to dominate a session unless narrow bore.
Volume wise this also applies to the red devil accordions ! They are loud and dominant by their nature and banjo can be too for that matter!

Personally I love playing with a piper but its worth bearing in mind the above facts of life and be as considerate as pipers and balance it out by playing whistles /flute to give a bit of space to others.

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I apologize, when I said "trad music", I meant "trad-Irish session." poor choice of words.

And nobody will deny that they hate the hammer dulcimer. Chink a chink a chink…

I recall a fiddler once made a skit a Musicalia involving the "hammer dulcimer hurtles" for the "music Olympics". Somebody made these fake hammer dulcimers for the hurtles. As part of the skit, the fiddler would "accidentally" trip over the fake hammer dulcimer hurtles and break several. A person playing the real hammer dulcimer (who was hiding inside a tent) would make the "Chink a chink a chink" sound every time the fiddler tripped over the fake ones. If you tell yourself that you "love the hammer dulcimer," listen to some tunes on played on hammer dulcimer. You’ll get bored after five tunes and enraged after ten tunes.

You have to be an existentialist to say that any instrument _can_ be played at a session. The list I gave contains
the instruments that other players dislike and resent the most. After all, the purpose of this thread has been to generalize against instruments we don’t like; you can see this in the title. "Appropriate" was a poor choice of words; "preferred" is better.

As for trad-Scottish music, GHB is fine, but don’t play it inside. Smallpipes are preferred; they were invented because GHB players wanted to play pipes inside.

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When you’re in a hole………………. best to stop digging.

"And nobody will deny that they hate the hammer dulcimer" - Who are "they" ? I will deny that, certainly.
"You have to be an existentialist to say that any instrument _can_ be played at a session". - Where did anyone say that ?
"The list I gave contains the instruments that other players dislike and resent the most". Which players ?
Where ? At the absolute maximum, that would be at every session you’ve ever been to, so how many would that be as a percentage of all the Irish sessions in the world.
" After all, the purpose of this thread has been to generalize against instruments we don’t like; you can see this in the title". That is not my interpretation of "Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player". Nothing to do with "liking" an instrument as far as I can see.

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Monty, you clearly do not understand the meaning of existentialism. I suggest you look it up. You might also reflect upon whether you have sufficient experience to pontificate upon the subject of Irish traditional music.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Sweeping generalisations without a shred of evidence, as others have said above, especially Kenny in his most recent post.
It’s taken the fun out of this thread, anyway! Now where did I put my decoy duck hooter?

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I’m bummed out nobody liked my story about the hammer dulcimer hurtles…

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Hurdles, Monty, hurdles …

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damn, Jeremy needs to fix the autocorrect…

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Anyhow, I officially apologize for my earlier comments. I will shut up and listen now, but will still forever resent the hammer dulcimer. These instruments do have a place in trad music whether I like it or not. You’ve won.

BTW, some people must have thought I hated the GHB. This is completely wrong, I only put it on the list because GHB are loud. GHB is a beautiful sounding instrument, and I respect anyone who plays it.

Really??? Nobody liked the hammer dulcimer story?

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

> some people must have thought I

It’s not what you think we care about; it’s that other people might take you seriously.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Thanks for all the responses.

The thread was inspired by comments in another discussion which suggested that the mandolin was an "old man’s instrument" and not one which was chosen by more serious players.

I disagree with that view, of course, but I thought it might be interesting to open up the debate a little and give members a chance to air their views and relate their experiences. It was NOT intended to be an open invitation to slag off various musical instruments. As I said, "they all have their place and merit albeit with varying limitations, some of the percussive variety excepted, of course. 😛" However, even the percussion reference was said "tongue in cheek".

Of course, we all have our own preferences as regards what kind of company we would rather keep as regards other instruments in a session but, for the most part, we are usually happy to go with the flow. If not, we can always seek out another session elsewhere but there’s no real point in moaning endlessly or ranting about it.

Certain instruments might be problematic if they are "too loud", "too quiet", "too plinky", "too obtrusive in terms of size", or "too percussive", or just "too many" of the one thing. We can’t please everyone all the time, unfortunately.

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Hammer dulcimers: "You’ll get bored after five tunes and enraged after ten tunes." No, I don’t and won’t.
Seriously considered buying one at one point in my life, but never did. Admire those, male and female, young and old, who play them.
Jokes about them? - Well, the best I can say is it makes a change from the banjo/bodhran/accordion jokes.

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As one who’s been slogging about with a HD for decades, the above vid exemplifies the reasons: it’s a superb solo instrument.

HD, mandolin, and other percussive instruments have their obvious limitations in this musical form, for reasons which should be apparent. But for solo performance I’ve found HD highly effective - can be beautifully expressive, render great textures and dynamics for airs, as well as great crowd-pleaser for fiddle tunes, and polkas 🙂. It’s actually quite versatile solo - plays harp tunes and dance tunes equally well.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

There’s the rub. Sessions are about playing with people. A session may include solo performances but
they are not about solo performances.

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Of course, more to ITM than sessions/dance tunes.

Mandolin makes a nice substitute for sessions. Kinda like a mini HD. Much easier to get around with too. ;) But for me, I really only want to play airs anyway..

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

The harp/clarsach and mandolin also lend themselves to the same style of tunes and melodies. O’ Carolan tunes sound great on the mandolin, for instance.

As regards "limitations", I note that the "top" instruments on Llig’s list https://thesession.org/discussions/6109 (It was he, alright) were
"top three (in no particular order):
pipes, fiddle and flute"

From most of the discussions so far, it would appear that instruments with greater "sustain" generally fare better in terms of approval than the more "plinky" ones although accordions, melodeons etc don’t make the top tier either. Percussion is even lower down.
It’s doubtful that even Llig would have argued that certain instruments mentioned earlier in this thread should have "no place" as such although he did say
"I hold up my hands if I left any out (except the things that don’t deserve to be on the list at all)"
However, I think he was more likely referring to things like "eggs" and so on.

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

The Jim Couza clip - posted by me - came from one of "The Corries" programmes, recorded in Edinburgh around the mid-1980s. We used to regularly have hammered dulcimer players as guests at Aberdeen Folk club at that time, mainly from the USA. Certainly Jim Couza, also John McCutcheon, Robin Petrie.

Here’s "Ptarmigan" : https://youtu.be/8AEP0deSNRA

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Nice video of Pt too, Kenny. Thanks.

I hadn’t realised that you posted the video. Is that your "Sunday name" on Youtube? 🙂

BTW, can you remember the venue. It looks familiar. A bit like The Place/Nicky Tams, perhaps, or was it somewhere else?

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

It may have been "Nicky Tams", but for some reason I’m thinking it was "The Yellow Carvelle" .

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Hmm, I tend to disagree that clarsach and mandolin share much characteristic. What enables HD to render harp tunes effectively is its great resonance (its liability in sessions) and capacity for polyphony. Guitar can make a go of harp tunes more effectively, but I’d say that mandolin does best with fiddle tunes .. where note contour, texture, et al. are less prominent concerns.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

I’m not immune to disaffinities for HD however, understanding monty’s apparent ire. Playing air is a deftful affair as beautifully alluded above mr couzan. Conversely, it’s usually mostly bashed about on a fiddle tune readily audible to eager listeners in a room; it’s more rarely heard played with such delightful air, or in indian classical music a la shivkumar sharma. The people across the northern north americas use this with tenor banjo and accordian. 🙂

I started playing in the expectation of eventually getting a wire harp. Admittedly, it’s fun to play the wack-a-mole style. if I take it out to play, listeners are at least as keen on fast tunes. Hornpipes, jigs reels, and i’m especially fond of a srathspey, and polkas. So it’s typically a crowd pleaser. Too big to carry handily though.

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Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

I’d recommend the ukulele. When picked, it can do a half-decent harp impersonation, and when strummed, it can get a "chop" not unlike the mando in effect. Of course, it’s a quiet instrument, but if you’re recording, or playing with a mic, it could fit the bill. And, like the whistle (and unlike the mando, guitar, and recorder, all of which I play), it’s always struck me as an instrument that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I have a lot of fun on the mando, but the uke is just easier to grab and noodle on (and I make the same comparison between recorder and tinwhistle, respectively).

Re: Fun Instruments….. for the less mature "older" player.

Catty says
"Hmm, I tend to disagree that clarsach and mandolin share much characteristic. "

Hi Catty,

You’re right.

I didn’t mean to suggest that the mandolin and harp were similar instruments or even that you can produce similar effects and arrangements. However, having played mandolin before starting to learn the harp has influenced me to an extent and I’ll also try out my harp tunes on mandolin and other instruments too. I always found that a good way to get them into my head as I was more "au fait" with the other instruments at the beginning(Still am although I’m getting better with the clarsach). Anyway, many of these sound nice on the mandolin albeit I have to rearrange the harmony parts to suit.

I agree that the mandolin and fiddle are very similar and you can also interchange tunes between the too. Of course, you have to adjust things to suit the different peculiarities of bowing V picking and ornamentations have to be tackled differently too.

Also, the ukulekle and/or guitar will be good for harp tunes too, I’m sure, although the piano or keyboards will probably be the most natural instruments to which harp players can relate and vice versa.