Sessions

Sessions

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.

Re: Sessions

So don’t go to these sessions. Find some you like and are welcomed.

Re: Sessions

What was the question again?

Re: Sessions

I agree, find another session that works better for you.

Or, if that’s not an option consider starting one of your own with like-minded players.

Re: Sessions

The words reel, jig, hornpipe refer to dances, not just the structure of the tunes. It’s certainly possible to play the tunes "too fast," but in this tradition that usually means faster than you’d expect dancers to want them. Even though we usually don’t have dancers present in a pub session, those tempos are still the heart of the music, and the way the tunes are played at intermediate to advanced sessions.

Unless you happened to visit a "blazing fiddles" session that actually was going to fast — and that can happen — you’re probably just not used to hearing and playing the tunes at this tempo. It’s a skill that develops over time. As suggested above, you may just need to start with a slower, beginner-level sessions to get your feet wet. But don’t get stuck there.

I found this video helpful in understanding why Irish music is played this way: "Jamie Laval discusses the reason for the 100-120 beats per minute in a dance tune."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9Q4paAfQw0

Re: Sessions

With all due respect, if you find Irish, Welsh, Scottish and Galician sessions too fast then you need to find beginner or slow sessions. It can’t really be an everyone else is wrong situation. Some sessions have an hour or so at the beginning where beginners can be involved but surely you can’t complain about experienced players playing at their preferred pace.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions — I mean no offense, but….

What you say about "speed kills" is true, in general. But two years in is not a lot of time spent learning the idiom. It really does take 10,000 hours. I doubt that accomplished players at a session would always want to play at a tempo that is accessible to a relative newcomer to the music. Even after decades I sometimes have a problem keeping up when playing a tune I don’t know well enough to play at a brisk tempo, or a tune that I have just learned. It’s normal. Everybody experiences this at times.
Practice more (practice a lot!) and come back in a few years. I bet you’ll feel differently about the tempi. Maybe then there will be people who are complaining about you playing too fast.

Re: Sessions

Generally people are playing fast because they’re playiing a tune they all know, which might be one they’ve all learnt at that particular session, or just a really well known one that everyone who’s played a fair few sessions will know.
So if you can’t keep up the best thing to do is when they’ve finished a tune, ask what it’s called… Then if they can remember the name jot it down, look it up on this here website, and go back to the session the next time having practised it up to speed.
Also, pick 4 or 5 tunes, learn them really well, and start them at the next session, so you can already play them fast and others will join in.

Re: Sessions

Four stars to AB for the tempo video. I am not a great shopper so when I take the missus to the mall I will stay with the car and pull out a whistle. People walking purposefully by me become my visual metronome. I find my tempo following their steps.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Find the slow SESSION, and plan on attending regularly. You will not know all the tunes , and the other musicians may not know your tunes. Thats ok. You can teach them. Learn to play by ear so you can learn what they like to play as well. I am one year into this music next week,(mandolin) and I started playing a slow SESSION earlier this summer. And my playing speed began to increase after the first encounter because I want to make this happen. And I am not a young kid, I got into this after I retired.(OK I do have all day to practise if I want) . Once you find a good SESSION your vocabulary and speed will increase immensly. I am going through this process right now so I know. And I have never been so happy or felt so challenged. Best of luck!

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

The faster the better. You’re aiming to make your whole tune sound like one quick note.

I think that’s what ‘Pure Drop’ means.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

The video from AB is excellent. will hang on to that one for showing learners!

re the original post - this line is illustrative "this doesn’t allow for any newbies to join in who may not know the tunes"

with all due respect - this is probably not why these musicians have gathered together to play tunes on this occasion. Most experienced players I know are very generous in helping others develop but there can’t be an expectation that every session is a workshop. Most importantly - if you don’t know the tune - it time to listen NOT play. Find out its name - practice, practice, practice it at home then come back and see how you go. I’ll wager thats what the people who can play it did.

Re: Sessions

Fast is good as long as it sticks rigidly to the set groove.
Any speeding up mid tune though, by some show off fiddler or Neotrad banjo holder (for instance) and the tune is lost.
Unexpectedly slow, on the other hand, is often refreshingly revealing and rejuvenating.
Anyway, I suggest a global competition amongst sessions to see who can play the Tarboltan set (three tunes three times through each) in the shortest time (or maybe the `Bucks’).
Joey Ramone in about 1976 said that their entire rock’n’roll set lasted twenty minutes that night and he hoped they’d do it in fifteen the next.

Re: Sessions

Too slow on the reels can feel like you’re in the Hooterville Fire Company brass band. Too fast, you risk losing the beauty of the tune. The perception of too slow/too fast will vary from one player to another, and one tune to another. I find 80 bpm uncomfortably slow on reels. Playing for dancers usually means 110-120 on the reels. To me, it’s easier to draw out the beauty of the reels at speeds ranging from low 90s to about 110. Jigs, on the other hand, tend to drag unless they’re around 110-112, but there are certain exceptions that make dandy slow airs (Banks of Lough Gowna, for example). These are only my opinions, so don’t lose any sleep over this. There are ways to learn to play fast, but I think that’s covered in another thread.

Re: Sessions

When I was a newer player (whistle), the fast speed commonly played at sessions bothered me a bit because I personally wasn’t able to keep up. I was able to accept, that as I got better my speed would improve. In the years since this has proven to be true. You can play a whistle pretty darned fast.

But, I have some other complaints about too fast sessions that are more about session etiquette than my personal difficulties:

(1) Sometimes session leaders play too fast for the majority of the players. Two or three musicians playing at breakneck speed, the middle tier struggling and sloppy, and the bottom tier just sitting out.
(2) Some players think they need to play at full tempo as shown by the exemplar super-star recording, but they are not actually able to play that fast without being sloppy.
(3) Some tunes are just so sweet they beg to be played at a moderate tempo.
(4) Some players start a tune at a sweetness tempo or comfortable pace for them, but then the majority starts pushing the tempo up to where they want it. Isn’t there a session etiquette courtesy that the starting player’s tempo should stand?

Re: Sessions

We have a few players locally that always complain that the music is too fast, then lead sets at a snails pace which kills tbe music dead. As a beginner or improving player (I’m the latter) don’t expect to always be included. Sit back amd listen, a huge part of the learning is done right there.

My personal take is not SO much about tempo as much as playing in time and with feeling. Put some drive and lift into the tunes, say something! Anyone that is just repeating a set of notes, slow or fast, is missing it entirely I think.

In terms of the sets not being announced, that’s the tradition. Once you are at a certian level these introductions are not needed on the whole.

Re: Sessions

Session I went to in Glasgow (Babbitty Bowster) certainly had a lot of very fast reels which I had no hope of keeping up with on fiddle. But, talking to others, some ideas forthcoming eg find online certain slow tunes which the session often plays and then you can join in those. I know it takes ages to play the fiddle very fast - and I would agree that at times you lose some expressiveness by going at a rattling pace all the time.

I was frightened off playing in sessions by the speed!

Re: Sessions

> Inclusivity

The underlying assumption here is that all sessions should be inclusive. Now we’ve all heard stories of players being shunned for having the "wrong" accent or the "wrong" instrument, but there is an expectation that if you sit down to play with a group of people that you can keep up and play appropriately *for that group*.

> there are thousands and secondly can’t differentiate whether it is a jig, reel or hornpipe because it’s all a blur

There are a lot, but if you regularly attend the same sessions they become a lot more manageable. As for being unable to differentiate, well, that’s your job to be able to pick these things up. If there are too many players playing too fast to actually hear what’s going on, that’s one thing, but just not knowing what a jig sounds like is on you.

Also, there is traditional music as it is played in a session atmosphere, and traditional music that is played for performance, and traditional music that is played by oneself solo. None of these are exactly the same.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Calum more or less wrote the post I was going to write. :)

"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."

Not every session is inclusive to everyone. I think newbie players need to get their heads around that, and it sometimes sucks when you’re the newbie player, and you find that the session is way above your head. We’ve all been there. But you have to accept that some sessions can include both experienced and novice players (and work… to varying degrees); some sessions are pretty much novice player-only, and experienced players will be bored out of their minds; and some sessions are really for competent players only. Once you chill out about this and accept it, life gets easier (ish).

"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.

That’s pretty normal for experienced players. When I start a set of tunes, the chances are close to zero that I will know the tunes I’m going to play after the one I’m playing. Forget telling anyone else when I don’t know myself. While I’ve been to sessions where melody players shout out keys, they’re not the norm, and the players doing the shouting are often wrong anyway. ;) There are beginner sessions where the tunes are announced before anyone starts playing. It’s a thing that exists, and maybe you can hunt down one in your area. I think there is one in Glasgow that works like this, which is nice for learners, but not what experienced players are looking for. They enjoy the spontaneity.

And is Babbity’s really that fast?

Re: Sessions

I agree with much of the advice above, Juliet, and it’s well meant. If you think your local session is too fast and you’re unable to join in or enjoy it, ask around to see if there’s a slow session you can attend. As your ear, repertoire and fiddling technique develops, you’ll soon understand why experienced musicians dislike having to play tunes slower than the speed they personally associate with ‘session speed’. And if you listen to the really good fiddlers, you’ll soon understand that there’s incredible precision and artistry built into a well-played fast reel - and that’s a big part of the excitement in sessions, so try not to resent them for it.

Re: Sessions

With regards to the music being so fast that it loses ornamentation and rhythm, that’s certainly what happens when people try to play faster than their ability, but there are a ton of players that can play fast with all the feeling in the world. Try listening to some of your favorite recordings and see how fast those people are playing… Chances are pretty good that they’re playing as fast or faster than that session. The really good players can play quite fast but make it sound so relaxed that you don’t realize how fast it is until you try to play along…

There are a couple other things at play here, as well. First off, a session with a lot of players isn’t the place for subtle ornamentation and variation like you might hear in a solo recording… It just gets lost. But there’s nothing better (in my mind) than experienced players who all get into a groove at dance tempo and take you on a rollercoaster ride, where even though you know the turns are coming, they happen so fast that they still give you an element of surprise. To me, that’s one of the parts of this music that can’t be beat - when the tunes are rolling at a really hopping tempo, and everybody is together - it releases endorphins, gives you a feeling of euphoria, and makes playing the music seem effortless. The rare session where you get that all night is what keeps me completely hooked, even though it can sometimes be years in between nights like that…

Is that style of play inclusive of all players? Of course not. Nor should it. It takes many years of playing to get there, and some players never make it. Does that make those session players rude? Not if it’s an advanced session. As others have mentioned, there are different kinds of sessions, and different kinds of players… It’s just as rude for someone to try to slow down the music at a fast session as it is for a player to try to speed up the music at a slower session.

When I was less experienced and playing in sessions that were beyond my musical ability, I would take my frustration as inspiration to get better. I still do that, even though I am getting ready to release my second album in October. On the latest album, I recorded with a few people that are better than me, and it just provides fuel for my fire to keep improving.

And finally, if your impression of the fast music is really that it’s horrible (instead of inspiring), then that’s OK, but don’t expect them to change what they do for you. It’s up to you to find a session that you do find comfortable and inspiring…

Re: Sessions

Very well said Reverend. Five star

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Perhaps if you learn to play faster you can win the session.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Do the musicians play faster than (average?) session speed, or do they just play faster than you? If it’s the latter, you should probably accept that this is what ITM sounds like. (Maybe you DO know a fair share of the tunes, but don’t recognize them at the current speed?)

Maybe the current session format doesn’t suit you. (Maybe you should give it another try, though, with the above replies in mind.) If there aren’t any slow sessions in your area, it’s still possible to build repertoire, speed, stamina etc. on your own. Nobody’s doing the homework for you.

I sometimes think of sessions as speaking a second language in another country. There’s no guarantee that people will slow down for you. You won’t know every word (or tune). You have to prepare in the best ways you can.

Re: Sessions

i guess this all shows that there is a place for the slow session - just as long as they are seen as a means to eventually playing the music in its natural form - dance music. The slow session wont do this for you on its own - you’ve also got to fill your ears, head and heart with the sounds and sights of tunes played in their full glory. And you have to practice relentlessly -thats what those fast players did. At all costs - don’t get stuck forever in "slow session purgatory" .

Re: Sessions

Some of the tempos I hear in some of the more recent albums by star Irish bands are absurd.

I don’t like listening to the music distorted in that way.

The background is that I used to play in a ceilidh band- we wore green blazers- and we played at the speed the dancers wanted. Those tempos are what feel right to me. Somebody who plays faster than dancers can dance, or slower than dancers can dance, is playing something other than Dance Music.

On another point the OP raised, I don’t think we can expect tunes to be announced and explained at a session. For one thing, it’s not necessary. As soon as somebody starts playing a jig in D everyone familiar with the nature of Irish Dance Music will know it’s a jig in D.

If you don’t know, you haven’t done enough listening IMHO.

You studied piano in Uni? I think a way to get used to the keys of ITM tunes, the chord changes, is to put on ITM albums and play along. I think you’ll develop an ear for it which will benefit your fiddling.

People will think it’s crazy and/or useless, but I learned much about the chordal structure of ITM by strumming along with albums on guitar.

Re: Sessions

I appreciate what bogman posted. It’s the best way I’ve found where a session can be *inclusive* for learning players & still allow experienced players to play sets up to speed. Just don’t miss the early part of those sessions & be prepared to sit out & listen later. "Some sessions have an hour or so at the beginning where beginners can be involved but surely you can’t complain about experienced players playing at their preferred pace."

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

> the players doing the shouting are often wrong anyway. ;)

HEY :p

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Hey, I’m just shouting out a key, I never said it was the right key.
What do you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

A flat minor.

One of the best fiddlers I know in this area has a habit of shouting out the key when a new guitarist is present, and there is only a 50/50 chance that it’s right.

Re: Sessions

Yes, but you have to say it out loud. ;)

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

I find it difficult to talk when I’m playing the fiddle. So any time someone asks the key, I say E minor, because that’s the easiest thing for me to say. It works some of the time.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

You don’t need to shout or say anything. Just play two notes (in the right key) at the change, at the tempo you want to play.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

The difficulties about shouting the keys during the tune is why I prefer to play a snippet of each tune I intend to play in a row so other musicians know what they are and backers can suss out the keys. Saying what key your playing next only works for non wind players and people sitting right next to the backer. You also need to be adept at talking and playing. I prefer the easy way.

Re: Sessions (The difficulties?)

You do not need to be adept at talking and playing to say what key. It’s a single breath. For a wind player it is the duration of two notes at the most.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

There’s no right or wrong tempo - except for dancing, when the ‘right’ tempo is the one that the dancers want. There are, however, conventions. Whether you want to abide by the conventions is up to you.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Hi Juliet

Welcome to The Session!
Have you tried getting in touch with The Hibernia Centre at Avonmouth, just across the bridge from you?

I believe even now it’s not too far removed from its original format when it was started; one of my aims was to have an inclusive session at the end of the classes which got everyone involved. That’s a good way to settle in.

A lot of good advice has been offered here so I don’t need to add much except to say that there is a natural pulse and tempo, and apart from slow airs and laments it’s a surging joyful and joyous expression of oneself.

I hope you have much fun with the music

All the best
Brian x

Re: Sessions

It really is an acquired skill playing at a Session. If you’re used to playing mostly on your own, you’ve got to get used to the "etiquette" and not be pushy. (I got told off by a man at the bar for starting a tune or two the very first time - though I thought the first would be well-known and indeed a couple of fiddlers quite quickly joined in). As someone who particularly likes slow airs, maybe I’ll never be able to fit into your average session with fast players. Was over 60 before I started learning!!!

Re: Sessions

> The difficulties about shouting the keys during the tune

My approach is to shout out the first chord rather than the key - it’s easy to get the key confused, muddled between modes, etc, whereas it’s usually pretty easy to work out a chord that will get your guitarist through the first bar.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Calum, I am usually able to hear the changes but if I get distracted by someone shouting out the supposed key I can often miss the change.
Also, in a noisy pub, G can sound like D and Bm can sound like Em and vice versa.
It also pays to know your session leaders well, so you know whose "keys" you can trust.

Re: Sessions

Oh yes - I don’t make a habit of it, but if I’m planning to do an odd change - A minor to A major, say - I think a bit of warning helps - and of course the rapport with the players is everything!

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

It’s dance music - was designed to be played at speed.

"Regular" Sessions are performances; not practice or learning zones. In most cases they will be played at a speed which is comfortable for the regulars. They are inclusive generally to the degree that they will welcome players that are "up to speed" (a) with the repertoire and (b) capable of playing along competently at the preferred pace. If you’re not adding to the tune, you are probably subtracting - and that’s not fair on the group. There’s no dishonour in sitting out and listening in and it shows respect.

I participate in a number of beginner friendly sessions which are inclusive in the manner and to the degree you describe. They are a different thing to regular sessions described above. Sometimes they are called slow sessions and the pace is dialled back to a comfortable level for the players. But the more important factor in these sessions is that they generally have an agreed setlist or repertoire and those sets will be played on most or all outings which allows members to practice in the meantime knowing the tunes and sets that will be played. If you can’t find one, start one - all you need is a few players (and ideally one strong player who will guide). DM me and I’ll be happy to share a setlist book to work from.

Wishing you the best on your learning journey. Don’t lose hope. Find a session which welcomes beginners and which will get you playing even a limited repertoire up to speed. It’s amazing how quickly the technique can advance in this way, especially when you already have a strong musical background. Lots of the frustrations you describe below will sort themselves in time and with practice.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

As far as shouting out the key change ,I wish people wouldn’t , with the caveat that if the backer doesn’t get it PDQ then fair enough .
A big chunk of the skill set is recognizing key changes both within a tune and between tunes and should be practiced the only way how ….. bar the occasional C maj and other oddities like beare island with its E major there are fairly regular changes that are very distinctive and worth getting down pat . Know your tunes is a good start but no one knows all the tunes !! So it’s one of those play by ear essentials .

Re: Sessions

I dunno, Will. Most of the backers that I play with regularly can feel the shift and know where it went very quickly, but if I call out the next key (or even the tune name) it tends to make the transition smoother. That isn’t all that important for sessions, but it sounds better and feels better than everyone stopping to wait to figure out what the next tune is - even if it only takes two notes. But as you mention, I only consider it something semi important if I’m going into a non-standard key.

Re: Sessions

I am amazed to see so much print here being devoted to keys. I’ve seen so much space on this site devoted to not using written music, now all of a sudden we’re worried about keys? I read music, but seldom know what key I’m in. Even when I know if it’s one sharp or two, I couldn’t tell you major, minor or modal. What gives?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Ailin, you’re now on the international watch list for people not allowed to purchase a guitar or bouzouki with the intent to use it in a session. :-)

Re: Sessions

There’s something exciting about hitting that first chord of the new tune right at the perfect point that everyone seems to love. Worth sacrificing the last bar of the previous tune to achieve it :) Unless you know the set, a heads up is cool. But yes G,D & E all sound the same in a screaming session.

Re: Sessions

If you’re playing melody, you should know the tunes anyway. I don’t really know when a key announcement would help, unless:

1 a certain tune is commonly played in two keys, and it’s good to know which (Tune starter: "Banks of Lough Gowna, let’s do it in Bm this time.")
2 your repertoire is limited in a certain key, and knowing the key narrows it down ("-E major! -Ah, it must be Calliope House or Andy De Jarlis!")
3 your repertoire is non-existent in a certain key, and then you know when you can sit out… ("-Gm!" -Oh, I haven’t learned any of those yet…")

Re: Sessions

B, C, D, E and G can all sound the same when shouted out in a noisy session! (And even A in a Scots accent!) Your only hope is F, ("that effing key") which may not be popular with some!

As for speed, several people have mentioned dancing and speeds for that. In our area, there are a number of people who play in local sessions and in a big ceilidh band, often using many of the same tunes. Trying to get them back DOWN to reasonable dance speed after they’ve been tearing along in sessions can be a bit of a battle. As meself said, you cater for the dancers, so any speed guidelines are flexible, according to whether you’re playing for experienced dancers or a bunch of total newbies.

Re: Sessions (‘hoped they’d do it in fifteen’)

Yhaal House, I couldn’t find where Joey Ramone spoke the quote you posted. But I did find this in a Rolling Stone article, "As late as 1999, noted David Fricke, Joey still spoke of the Ramones as an ongoing force:
“The Ramones were, and are, a great f**kin’ band… When we went out there to play, the power was intense,
like going to see the Who in the Sixties."
Ben

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

"B, C, D, E and G can all sound the same when shouted out in a noisy session!"

Yes, but if you shout Bosphorus, Carbon-neutral, Dromedary, Epicurean and/or Gelatinous, it should be quite clear.

Posted by .

Re: Noisy sessions?

Bang your frog, Crimey, D, Edjit, Guinness!

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Michael,

Worry not, my friend. I’ll stick to flute, thankyouverymuch. I do quake at the prospect of a backup player thinking knowledge of the key is enough to dive right in, though. Seems knowing the tune is as vital for backup as ‘tis for melody. Can I get an amen?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Amen. I’ve met very few successful, or even remotely serviceable backup players that don’t know the tunes, or who have at least enough experience and tunes that they can extrapolate to new tunes.

It truly pains me when someone shows up at our session with a guitar and zero tunes, I tell them to consider starting on mandolin learning tunes because in my experience they will ultimately fail as a session backup player (as in they won’t be allowed to play anywhere) unless they learn the tunes first. Maybe two players out of a fair number in 20 years, and that was only because they were already extremely accomplished jazz players who could hear the changes in real time without knowing the tunes, a skill that is very rare.

Re: Sessions

oh dear - somehow its morphed into yet another lesson for guitarists by tune players. Where would we be without them?

Re: Sessions

Dog, Goat, Elephant -Minor, Aardvark, Buffalo-Minor, Aardvark- Minor. At our sess we virtually never play in C or F. And no-0ne has the time or inclination to explain the difference between minor and dorian.

Re: Sessions

We have a few C and F tunes but usually at the start of a set.
Like christy, we would never say whether a tune was aeolian or dorian. If you know the tunes then that info isn’t necessary at the start of the tune (not many tunes start with a chord containing the 6th of the scale).

Suggested System for Short Hand Vocally Announced Codes for Indicating ‘key’ of Tunes at Trad Irish Music Sessions

A (major) is Antidisestablishmentarianism
D (major) is Dextroamphetamines
C (major) is Compartmentalization*
E (major) is Existentialistically
G (major) is Gastroenterologist
F (major) is Farkleberries*
Add ‘mix’ on for mixolydian. So A mix is Antidisestablishmentarianism-Mix.
* Bawdier and shorter word codes are available for these selections.

Additionally:
E minor is Eric Morecambe or Elizabeth Montgomery or Edvard Munch
A minor is Angela Merkel or Agnes Morehead
Bm is Bob Marley or Benito Mussolini
Dm is Dean Martin or Diego Maradona
G minor is George Martin or George Micheal.

Re: Sessions

When I used to play in a band in Germany we shouted out "Gustav" or "Dora" for G and D, and the other keys took care of themselves …

Re: Sessions

@SusanK

> I was frightened off playing in sessions by the speed!
Please don’t! I remember the 2nd time I went to a "real" session (the first one went quite well). Even the tunes I knew, I couldn’t cope with the speed. Some time later, said session is one of my favourites.

>I got told off by a man at the bar
In Babbity’s? If it was the landlord he was probably just being cheeky. He’s like that (some people find him rude). I don’t think I was there the day you went to Babbity’s but I’ve always found the musicians there to be quite welcoming.

On a different note, we run two learning/slow paced sessions in Glasgow.

Very Slow Session @ Knolls (Kelvinhall Subway station)
Every 2nd Tuesday (next one 27th August)
https://thesession.org/sessions/5999
https://www.gfw.scot/gfw-sessions/tuesday-very-slow-session

Slow Jam @ The Botany (beside the Maryhill Rd fire station)
First Thursday of the month (usually) (next one 5th September)
https://thesession.org/sessions/6363 (there’s another session at The Botany that we don’t run)
https://www.gfw.scot/gfw-sessions/thursday-slow-jam
This session is a tad faster than the other one.

You are most welcome to attend. Since they’re learners session we have a closed repertoire that is available on our website. The sets are predefined and tune changes and keys are announced. It’s not really like a "real world" session but we’ve found that this approach works quite well for our members. Finlay, the tutor who runs it is a lovely chap, I’m sure you’d enjoy it.

Give me a shout if you have any questions!

Re: Sessions

Yhaal House,
F is surely floccinaucinihilipilification.

Re: Sessions

E and A are ambiguously heard depending on the accent of the player.
‘EE’ sounds like E to me, but in (e.g) Glasgow ‘EE’ means A.
But then A sounds like ‘EYE’ in London.

Re: Sessions

I’m amazed, frankly, that so many people have no awareness of keys.

Not just keys, but scales. So many Irish tunes are in various gap scales.

I’m always aware of the key and scale of the tune, and the chord I’m in at the moment- it’s integral to any music, and it’s how I pick up tunes by ear.

It does mystify me when somebody is trying to figure out a tune and they play a note that isn’t part of the scale the tune is in, like trying to figure out Kesh Jig and playing a C. (Yes you could throw in a C as an accidental, but it’s alien to the scale that tune is in.)

And knowing what chord you’re in is fundamental to variation.

Re: Sessions

I’m not convinced by that gapped scale stuff, Richard. The "rule" that says you can only use the notes in a tune to accompany a tune seems purely arbitrary (not sure that Mozart would have gone along with that).
It would also mean that if you were accompanying a tune on the fly with a tonal centre of G you couldn’t use a G major chord until you’d heard a G note, a B note and a D note.
In some Scottish pipe tunes that are supposed to be Am (yes, I know it’s dorian) and don’t have a C, I’ll often stick to A5 as my root but might occasionally use a C chord.
And it should be noted that I’m fairly conservative harmony-wise. I often hear the young bucks throwing an F chord at the fourth part of Dolina Mackay, for instance, which I just can’t quite bring myself to do.

Re: Sessions

"Please don’t! I remember the 2nd time I went to a "real" session (the first one went quite well). Even the tunes I knew, I couldn’t cope with the speed. Some time later, said session is one of my favourites."

I don’t get this. It seems to be a common issue for people to learn tunes and then not being able to play them (let alone recognize them) at speed. Again, my second language analogy above works. This IS how the language sounds. This IS how natives talk. This IS what the tunes sound like.

Re: Sessions

Regarding out-of-scale notes, I thought Richard meant that people don’t hear/feel the scale when learning a tune by ear. If you know your instrument and your scales, you should be able to pick up tunes by ear without a lot of guesswork (that includes being able to hear if the tune has a c or not).

Re: Sessions

@jeff
"I don’t get this. It seems to be a common issue for people to learn tunes and then not being able to play them (let alone recognize them) at speed."

I could recognize the tunes but my fingers wouldn’t move fast enough to play them at speed. I hadn’t been playing the whistle for long at the time so I don’t understand what’s so strange about it. I practiced more, which means I no longer have that speed problem.

Re: Sessions

Jeff, when I’m listening to or accompanying tunes I’m not naming the notes in my head as I go so whether there was a C note or not probably wouldn’t register. If I was flat picking the tune then I might think "oh, there wasn’t a C in it" when I got to the end, but I would only know that when I got there so it wouldn’t influence my scalar thoughts while playing the tune, if that makes any sense!

Re: Sessions

"Jamie Laval discusses the reason for the 100-120 beats per minute in a dance tune."

Decent tempo, sound good, but when it comes to dancing, it can be a bit on the fast side depending on the style - I am totally clueless about country dance, but when doing a percussive dance to a reel you often want to have 8 steps per bar, not 2

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

"And knowing what chord you’re in is fundamental to variation." - Richard, surely you don’t mean that the way it’s written? - Because in Irish or Scottish music knowing the chord is relatively irrelevant to variation. Who on earth would have chords in their head when deciding where to go with your average tune?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

I always value Richard D C’s comments, but don’t agree with what he says there. (Which may not be the same thing as disagreeing.)

The tune is King, scale, chords, gaps etc may be interesting and valuable to know, but fundamentally they are not necessary to the tune or the playing of it.

Viz melody players who will Fast Forward through a tune when asked what key it’s in in order to find out what notes are in it, Cnat or Csharp etc!

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

I think in these kind of discussions there is a lot of innate knowledge that we don’t realise is innate. I think most of the people saying "I don’t need to know what a gapped scale is" are right, they don’t, but they also instinctively know that XYZ tune lacks an F# by design, or whatever, and learning a tune are just as scrupulous in avoiding it as someone who has carefully catalogued and learnt all the various modal possibilities.

Similarly with chords - you might not be thinking in terms of "the harmony here is a C7 moving to a G so I will pick notes for my variation that fit with that" - but you still know exactly where you are and where your musical destination is.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

DonaldK put the word "rule" in quotes which is where it belongs. Music theory is intended to be description, not rules. Talking about gapped scales is like talking about grammar in language; it’s just a way of describing what’s going on. You don’t have to know what "pentatonic scale" means to sing Amazing Grace, but if you do know what it means, and you know Amazing Grace, you know that it fits the description.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

"Music theory is intended to be description, not rules."

That’s true if you are using theory to analyse a piece of music already made.

I think the theory also exists in isolation.

Re: Sessions

Theory ‘in isolation’ … I don’t think that ever ends well.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Yes. Pure and immaculate, with no scruffy interference.

Re: Sessions

There is a distinct difference to knowing why and what your playing and to living in the dark.

Re: Sessions

Observation: This thread is great.

Re: Sessions

i agree. great thread. I like how it incrementally shows that there’s a fair bit more going on than a few people sitting down to "knock out a few tunes" . :)

Re: Sessions

Yes Jeff is right, I was talking about learning tunes at that point. It speeds up learning tunes if you’re aware what notes are possible (or likely) to be in the tune, and don’t waste time plinking notes that are alien to the tune’s scale.

To Tom’s remarks, knowing the scale of a tune perhaps isn’t necessary, but it is more efficient. If you have no awareness of scales and chords then a tune is a linear string of context-less notes.

The difference between learning a tune by recognizing the harmonic context/shape, and memorizing each individual note, is the difference between repeating a sentence you’ve just heard, and having to memorise a line of 30 random letters. When you hear a sentence your brain grasps the meaning more than it does the specific wording, and when you repeat it the sentence your brain generates will convey the gist of the original sentence even though the specific wording might be different.

When I hear a reel or a jig my brain grasps the gist of it. When I play the tune back the specifics might be a bit different but the shape of the tune, the harmonic context, will be correct.

This dawned on me very early on, when I would play a tune for a good player and they would immediately play it back, however they were in effect playing a different version of the tune (a better version, I might add, more stylistically "Irish").

Another player might be playing specific note-strings of the original here and there but might be completely wrong in basic stuff like playing the wrong scale or implying chord-changes in the wrong places.

BTW any uilleann piper who plays the regs has this stuff in his bones, whether or not he’s aware of it on a theoretical or even conscious level. He’s not going to play a D chord when the tune is obviously playing in a G chord.

Re: Sessions

That may be how it works for you Richard, but not for me. "…a tune is a linear string of context-less notes."
".. having to memorise a line of 30 random letters." Absolutely not, what I remember is the shape of the tune in the same way as one might remember the meaning of a sentence.

I agree when you say "When you hear a sentence your brain grasps the meaning more than it does the specific wording, and when you repeat it the sentence your brain generates will convey the gist of the original sentence even though the specific wording might be different" It’s just that the way you say you do it seems alien to me.

Re: Sessions

Agree with Richard and Calum — knowing the chord, roughly, *is* relevent to variation and certainly relevent to playing the regs. If the tune is in G, you know where your variation can go. Not that you’re consciously thinking about it (well, I’m not), but it’s innate. The same with learning a tune. Figuring out what key it’s in narrows the scope of what notes it could be, and the shape of the tune. On a scale of hopeless to perfect pitch, my ear is sh ** t. If you play a note for me out of any context, I couldn’t tell you what it is (my partner, who doesn’t play any instrument, can do this). But I have pretty functional relative pitch so once I work out the tonal centre and the key of a tune, I can learn it easily.

I emphasise roughly. Very roughly. Knowing it’s a G7 cord, say, isn’t of that much use, and I don’t even know what that means. My understanding of music theory is very basic, knowing which reg keys go with which notes. On a good day, I land on the correct ones.

Re: Sessions

Vibration without structure is NOISE ,it’s beneficial to learn the structure.

Re: Sessions

Ok, so I’m learning a new tune. I can usually work out the tonal centre and the relevant scale within a few notes being played. But I’m not going to know the tune is based on a gapped scale until the very last note is reached so I won’t have that information available in the learning process. And anyway, once I’ve got the tonal centre, I play the notes I hear so if there are one or two missing from the scale I’m not going to play them anyway (because I don’t hear them). And I’m not thinking of the notes by name either.
The only situation that I can think of where being told a tune is based on a gapped scale would be when teaching a tune to a bunch of people who can’t play by ear that well (if at all). And I admit I have disclosed this information (gapped scale) when I have been teaching.
I just don’t think it’s relevant on the fly.

Re: Sessions

"Who on earth would have chords in their head when deciding where to go with your average tune?" Anybody who can recognise a chord. There is more information *in your head* than is talked about in a thread.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

The lack of knowing the key/ mode of a tune by a backer is epitomised by the horrid sound of an F major chord in an A dorian tune. I think it always hints that the accompanist has studied more Jimmy Page than Reg Hall.

Also, the folk roots purists who get their Y-fronts strangulated if anyone mentions formal musical theory in this respect are usually just ignorant and frightened by the unknown and just dismiss it, citing their lack of knowledge as a sort of badge of honour to their perceived genuine bumpkin ‘I don’t know, I just play the tunes’ flat cap and waistcoat authenticity.

Re: Sessions

Oh, dear - the dreaded ‘purists’ again - where are the ‘folk police’ when you need them?

Re: Sessions

The ‘purists’ are not like a police force, they are more like a bunch of irritable schoolboys.

Re: Sessions

Mind you, at the turn of the twentieth century, in Chicago, they really were the Police Force!

Re: Sessions

Keep this thread going on forever! I am begining to understand just how much I need to learn. Now if someone can just give a checklist……. Many thanks to the OP who started this!!!!

Re: Sessions

And many many thanks to everyone contributing to this amazing discussion!

Re: Sessions

When you talk about specific modalities you should give an example for evidence of your claims. For example, I think the tune “ladies pantalettes” has a gapped scale (no pun intended). There is some weird chord changes in the tune for sure.

“Time” doesn’t exist on a string or a thread (love this thread), the line has waves, if the waves are large enough they intersect. Everything is relative. We are all in and out of time in Irish music

Happy Friday.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

@Reverend.: Thank you for the links. The first is just amazing, the second contains all the basics I am trying to understand, and written in language an unabashed learner like myself can actually comprehend. The Amazon items are going on the Amazon shopping list today. I was never this busy
when I was buying industrial consumables for like 25 years! Your help is much appreciated!

Re: Sessions

Beid said: For example, I think the tune “ladies pantalettes” has a gapped scale (no pun intended). There is some weird chord changes in the tune for sure.

If it’s a gapped scale i don’t know where the gaps are? The version i learned is in G major but there may be others?

Re: Sessions

"The lack of knowing the key/ mode of a tune by a backer is epitomised by the horrid sound of an F major chord in an A dorian tune. I think it always hints that the accompanist has studied more Jimmy Page than Reg Hall."

Well here are two examples of where they’ve obviously studied Jimmy Page’s approach to accompanying a dorian tune (Dolina Mackay, in this case):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ai9q4QydNWE

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS1Ba-spcCQ


The fact is that many players nowadays don’t feel they have to comply with the traditional "convention" of not including notes outwith the melodic scale in their accompaniment.

I would ask, is there a musical reason for not including notes not appearing in the melody, or is it more a conservative traditional music convention (perhaps based on the idea that modulation doesn’t exist in trad)?

Re: Sessions

Donald K: "I would ask, is there a musical reason for not including notes not appearing in the melody, or is it more a conservative traditional music convention (perhaps based on the idea that modulation doesn’t exist in trad)?"

Speaking as someone who started backing on guitar and then switched to mandolin melody, and later flute, I think it’s not about some abstract music theory idea. It’s just about not distracting the melody players. "Do No Harm while supporting the music", is the only Golden Rule for accompaniment in my book.

A big part of that is not forcing the harmony in a direction that isn’t already implied by the melody line. It’s why guitarists who often avoid the 3rd in a chord, or play in a tuning like DADGAD that facilitates that idea, are often more appreciated by melody players than guitarists who are more interested in entertaining themselves with creative chord substitutions and extensions. That can be great in a band arrangement, but if you’re playing melody and not expecting it in a casual session, it can be very distracting. Especially when you’re trying to remember how a tune goes in real time. :)

Creativity in accompaniment for bands is a different thing altogether. What’s non-distracting in a session might be too boring for a band performance. So it wouldn’t be unusual to hear something a bit outside the box in a recording or performance. At least the melody players in the band will know it’s coming, and the band as a whole can decide if it’s working or not.

Re: Sessions

Thanks for that, Conical bore.

I would have to say that I tend to be pretty conservative when it comes to harmony in accompaniment and I try to, as you say, "do no harm while supporting the music". At the same time I would want to make a worthwhile contribution and so feel I should be adding something in the sense that the melody players feel they play better.

I’m not so sure about "not forcing the harmony in a direction that isn’t already implied by the melody line". It would perhaps be interesting to harmonise Beatles songs using trad ideas of harmony implied by the melody line. We can hear harmony in many different ways. Hence the concept of no set harmony for trad tunes. It just tends to be very conservative and perhaps simplistic.

I should add that I’m mainly accompanying Scottish tunes in a Scottish style where I think (compared to ITM) there is more of a sense of harmonic development in the tunes and more of a tradition of using stronger harmonic progressions. This is maybe influenced by the predominant use of piano accordions in dance bands (with their major, minor, seventh and diminished left hand chords) and also by the Shetland style popularised by Willie Johnson (based on Freddie Green’s ideas on tenth chords).

Since I’m playing in session with the same people week in week out, I am perhaps more adventurous than I would be if I was playing with players I didn’t know that well. I’ve only been told off once, when I decided to reproduce the harmonic accompaniment of a well known and original recording - it was too far outside the box, as you would say, for my musical compadres.

Re: Sessions

just checked the original post - no mention of back up guitar playing but Ed Sheeran was there. He is probably into harmonic direction. :)

I actually enjoy learning about and understanding the theory behind what sounds great. Sometimes i think the process gets put around the wrong way though.
Having traversed the seemingly well-worn path of "backer to tune player" my simple advice to guitarists who don’t play the tunes is to start. Its an extremely high yield investment in your backing and its fun.

Re: Sessions

To AB,
I found the link and article highly informative. Furthermore, it gave examples of tunes like “foxhunters” and “Rodney’s glory” among many others that do twist their existence in theoretical ways. Which one of the tunes fall into an example of what you perceive the most? Anyways, cool link.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

@ Michael Eskin:
Thanks, I ordered together with Reverend’s suggestions. I recently ordered a bouzouki , was planning on using it for melody but backup might be a possibility as well . Won’t see it for months though, so I have time for study. Thanks Mike!

Re: Sessions

DonalkK: "At the same time I would want to make a worthwhile contribution and so feel I should be adding something in the sense that the melody players feel they play better."

Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm. The guitar is a percussion instrument as well as chordal harmony when backing. Anything you do with harmonic interest is really secondary to the rhythm support. That’s how I think of it anyway, from experience on both sides of the fence — backing and melody.

BTW, I understand what you’re saying about Scottish music. Related to that, I’ve met a few famous Cape Breton fiddle players who double on piano, and that’s another dimension in backing. Piano accompaniment in that music is more adventurous in both harmony and rhythm than what one might expect in guitar backing for Irish trad.

Re: the long & winding trail… {aka sessions, etc.}

Cape Breton music with piano is not completely divorced from "Irish" music because Irish trad is not one size fits all; nor is trad in Cape Breton.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

To piggyback, Cape Breton style on base piano is a “walking bass,” and different to Irish music and “craic scale theory”

Although many Irish pianos have developed a walking bass dive through exposure

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

Knowing musical theory is better than not knowing theory. Intuiting the theory is just fine as well, but it is a little hard to explain intuition. Backers need theory (intentional or intuitive) to know what chords to play, and what variations work.

For example, backers will sometimes swap the relative minor (or vice versa) of the chord they would normally play. I often find that variation interesting and creative.

But sometimes a backer will do the above trick in a hexatonic tune, filling in the gapped scale. I like the ambiguity and suspense in hexatonic dorian tunes, and don’t like it when the accompaniment removes the ambiguity.

Is that a lack of theory or lack of musical sensibility?

Re: Sessions

Some hexatonic tunes are that way by necessity rather than by design (in the sense of trying to create "ambiguity") and in some cases purely accidentally. So, for example, GHB tunes in Am often use the pentatonic (hexatonic) scale A-B-D-E-(F#)-G. That’s because the only C they have is C#. So they don’t use the reduced scale to create ambiguity but to create a minor feel. In that case, a backer can make an arbitrary choice whether to play C nats or not but avoiding the C won’t create any sense of ambiguity (at least not for me).

(Incidentally that minor scale of 1-2-4-5-b7 gets used in other keys. So, for example, Macleod of Mull, in Bm, uses the scale B-C#-E-F#-A and avoids the minor third (D) even though, in that key, the note is available.)

Re: Sessions

On the subject of The Ladies Pantalettes, this is what BarFly’s melody analysis routine says about it. (This is the version in O’Neill’s):

The Ladies’ Pantalettes

Key/mode determined from tune (lower score = higher confidence):
G Major (17.463)+
G Mixolydian (19.650)
G Lydian (20.034)

G Major Heptatonic ()

| . | . | | . | . | . | |

Pitches used : G A B c d e ^f g a b


Note usage % Histogram

G *****************************
G#
A ********************
A#
B ***********
C ************
C#
D ***************
D#
E *
F
F# ************

Pitch Histogram

G ***********
G#
A ****************
A#
B **********
c **************
c#
d ****************
d#
e *
f
f# ***************
g ***************
g#
a **********
a#
b ****



Interval Histogram

-4 *********
-3 *******************
-2 **********************
-1 ******
0 *******
1 ************
2 ********************
3 *****
4 ****
5 ***
6
7
8
9
10
11 **
12 **

It’s definitely not a gapped scale.

Re: Sessions

Taylor, I don’t have c naturals on my instruments and neither did those I learned from.

Groovy tunes like “Bryan o’lynn” or “Chicago reel” have c naturals yes but I change tuning to play them

If I play “ladies pantallettes” and I omit c naturals then there is some type of gap or craic there for sure. That omission feels intuitively “the right” way to my ear and what feels right. So, your data above is really cool and sways toward lydian which is interesting but even with a high rate of error, c natural note looks out of place

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

So, no c natural. Then I can understand the major confusion about the scale and chords. What are your instruments, and what do you play instead?

(None of the settings here "sway toward lydian", whatever the analysis said.)

Re: Sessions

Beid, I’m fascinated by your comments. Clearly you must be playing a diatonic instrument, but most people I know who play such instruments will be carrying a pocketfull of whistles or mouthies so they can play in any popular key. Highland pipes maybe? Although you mention changing tuning, so not that.

There’s a C natural in every bar of the first part of that tune, although never on a stressed beat, and I can’t imagine what note you might play in its place.

Re: Sessions

On second thoughts, if you play C sharp in place of the Cs it becomes a Lydian tune, and is actually quite interesting, although it’s now a completely different tune:

X:1235
T:The Ladies’ Pantalettes
M:C|
L:1/8
R:Reel
B:O’Neill’s 1235
N:Collected by F. O’Neill
Z:Transcribed by Trish O’Neil
K:G Lyd %Originally G Major
BdcAG2~G2|ABcAd2cA|BdcAG2"tr"g2|fdcA dBcA|
BdcAG2~G2|ABcAd2cA|BdcAG2"tr"g2|fdcA"End" BGG2||
fgafg2af|gbag fdd2|fgaf gbag|fdcA BGG2|
fgafg2af|gbag fdd2|defg abag|fdcA "D.C."BGAc||

Re: Sessions

@ Juliet Newman:
Sessions that have the rush but not the rhythm, are best to be left by themselves.

Re: Sessions

On the subject of tempo: We had a (blessedly) unique experience at one local session a month or two ago.

A couple of new people showed up, friends of a regular attendee. We played along in our normal way, letting different people choose tunes at their own chosen tempos, some faster, some slower. The new players sat outside the main circle.


But apparently many of the tempos were too quick for one of the newbies. She suddenly stood up and said in a loud, harsh schoomarm voice, "You’re playing too fast! Some of us have driven a long distance to come here, and we can’t keep up! You’re playing too fast for us! Slow down!"

Eyebrows were raised all around. Someone started a slow air. When that was finished, we went back to precisely what we were doing, but with a few comments under our breath.

That newbie hasn’t returned, and she hasn’t been mourned.

Yes, we have one or two regulars who sometimes start a tune too briskly - and OTOH an occasional tune is started too slowly. We adjust, sometimes we discuss, and we try to do better. But it should be up to each player to find a way to blend in to the session, not to force the session to bend to their preferences.

Re: Sessions

I do agree that one should attend a session for a few times before joining in, and not expect the session to change to accommodate new players.

I myself am not the fastest of players (though getting faster as a result of playing at sessions) and I would probably not hang on at a session where all the tunes were played fast.

I also agree that ‘fast’ should mean as fast as a reel (say) is danced, not ‘fast’ as in ‘look how fast I can play’, for in such cases the lovely tune is often blurred or notes skipped.

I do think, though, that if a newbie leads a tune at a session and starts it too slow, one should still play it at that speed. I remember a session I went to, at which the session leader expressly stated that all were welcome who could play an Irish tune by ear, that one novice fiddler started Cliffs of Moher rather slowly. The session leader immediately joined in, hoiked it to a speed he liked to play at, and didn’t seem to care two hoots that the novice fiddler dropped out, played no more tunes, and left early, never to return.

That’s just nasty, in my opinion.

Re: Sessions

I play a d-row Taylor. Thx for looking into it

If u grow up listening to d-row boxes, that Is the way you think it should be. A lot of pipes had similar craics in their tuning and certain fiddlers I know look at it in similar fashion. Or maybe I’m confused.

Even if you play c natural in that tune “pantallettes,” a back up guitar still would not play c major chord over it like you could in other g scale reels, sounds like nails on chalk to me

The tune has attic grammar so to speak. But I’m talking from intuition, not evidence based. It seems Taylor has it figured out but I don’t use that many c sharps

If I have offended anyone with “craic scale theory,” or the development of the idea; be aware that I was silent through 96 posts on this thread. When things get serious, I like to sarcastically take it up a notch to defuse situations and find common ground. Seriously, I was fascinated at gap scale theory concept, whoever first mentioned it. Some of us have strengths in claiming stuff but I think you are all so brilliant that I encourage us all to back it up with evidence and tune examples. Taking risks and being wrong is ok! I was taught to play in d , g, Eminor, Aminor, and Bflat.

A-major was cool, but the old dudes that played box hated adorian or mixolodean and basically c natural.

sure, I’m just having a craic but seems like it came from a lot of thought and “confusion”. Peace, love, unity and respect is all I have for everyone on this site.

To get back to original post, give it time and time will start working with you.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

I can’t make a link right now, but there is a YouTube channel called “stiamh Ionas” that has “ladies pantallettes” on c#\d box and he doesn’t have a c natural. Maybe someone could help an old man out and post?

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

> on c#\d box and he doesn’t have a c natural

Unless the box is actually defective, a C#/D has all 12 chromatic notes.

Posted by .

Re: Sessions

A short summary of the recent digression.
The tune The Ladies Pantalettes has a c natural. However, as is often the case, it is more of a passing note. No guitarist would force a C chord whenever it appears in the tune. Stiamh Ionas has a C#/D box. He plays the tune in question. He plays it in G. He plays a c natural.

What was the question again?

Re: Sessions

To return to the original discussion, as a guitar player I’m not bothered by excessive speed; I’m just playing chords so I can always keep up. However, from an aesthetic point of view I much prefer to listen to traditional music played nearer dancing speed. I’m much more impressed by precision and accuracy of ornamentation than I am by sheer speed.

Keys are a different matter. If you play a tune I’ve never heard before it’s going to take me a few bars at least to figure out what to play. Messy. And how often have I asked a fiddler for the key and he’s said "Two sharps".
Aye, right. Does that mean D maj or Bm or E dor or what? In order to choose the correct chords I need to know what the tonic is. After many years of accompanying traditional music I’ve come to the conclusion that most players neither know nor care what key they’re playing in. They’re all literate, they can read the dots, but all they care about is the key signature so they can reproduce what’s written in the music.

In order to do anything other than simply reproduce what’s written (e.g. harmonise it, orchestrate it or improvise on it) you have to know the tonic (and mode). All musicians that play an instrument with chords know this. It’s one of the reasons why I like abc as a way of writing music - the K: field tells you exactly what you need to know, unlike the key signature in common music notation.