I know this topic was mentioned several years ago but I thought I’d raise it’s ugly head again. Namely, the speed with which session musicians play. Not just Irish sessions but Welsh, Scottish and Galician. Those are the ones I’ve actually experienced.
I’ve only been playing fiddle for two years but did study music in uni (piano) so I think I’m fairly musical. My concerns with current fast speeds of playing are:-
1. Inclusivity - this seems to go out of the window when groups that have played together play at one speed and one speed only. Presto! This doesn’t allow for any newbies to join in who may not know the tunes; after all there are thousands and secondly can’t differentiate whether it is a jig, reel or hornpipe because it’s all a blur. Not only do people not bother to announce what set they are about to play but they also don’t mention what key it’s in. No helpful information is ever given. I’m a great believer in inclusivity and allowing people to join in. I and probably many others have gone and not returned as the set up isn’t welcoming to less experienced players.
2. I don’t expect everyone to slow every tune down but do break them up a bit. If a tune is too fast it loses out on any potential ornamentation and the rhythm become vague. I had the dubious pleasure of listening to music last night where I couldn’t actually tell what on earth I was listening to. All musicality of these wonderful melodies gets lost. I’ve seen it happen on so many occasions in so many places.
If Beethoven, Mozart or even Ed Sheehan only wrote music that was express train fast I doubt we’d be still listening to them today.