Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

I was at an Oldtime jam recently that was overrun by several Bluegrass guitar and mandolin players, as is wont to happen wherever Bluegrass musicians lurk. Their refusal to do anything other than boom-chuck and chop with your standard guitar open chord shapes and mandolin closed chop shapes gave all the tunes a feel similar to what you get when a less-than-perceptive guitar player does the same thing at a session, with similarly bad results.

This got me wondering, do you think there is space for Irish style accompaniment, or at least accompaniment informed by ITM, in Appalachian fiddle music? I’m thinking of particularly of the sort of DADGAD guitar Mícheál Ó Domhnaill played on Promenade and Portland, tenor guitar, or possibly even bouzouki or octave mandolin (provided the Oldtime police wouldn’t arrest you for daring to bring an instrument not on the official list of approved Oldtime instruments). After all, Appalachian fiddle music is similarly melody focused with frequent use of drones, and subtle harmony that is ill served by the sort of standard hammering-on-first-position-open-chord-shape accompaniment that is typical of a Bluegrass jam.

By "space," I mean do you think that the music could benefit from this type of accompaniment? Do you think there is a possibility of this type of accompaniment becoming an accepted part of Oldtime? Are there guitar players or Oldtime bands that already use a style informed by the forms of accompaniment common in ITM?

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Frances Cunningham played the bouzouki every weekend for five years at the Grand Ole Opry, so I suppose anything is possible.

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I don´t play ´Oldtime Music´. Wouldn´t this discussion bear more fruit on another forum?

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Postie: possibly, but my reasons for posting this here are 1. while I don’t play guitar or zouk or another accompaniment instrument there are more likely to be people who do on this forum than there would be on an Oldtime forum (and it’s primarily this type of person’s opinion that I am after), and 2. there is no general forum for Oldtime (at least that I know about) on which to ask this, though there are a few subforums on instrument-specific sites.

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Hmm, Ivan, you are an American, so I can safely say that you’ve fallen prey to what I’ve found about trad. music sessions in a lot of the US (at least in my area).
Anything goes. I’ve seen a pennywhistle playing old time and a Quebecois foot-tapper (whatever you call those guys) in ITM. I’ve seen an autoharp playing Beatles. I’ve seen an accordion playing hymns in a church.
An Irish accompaniment to Appalachian would likely work a whole lot better than all of the above I stated. 🙂

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Emily: At the risk of coming across as defensive, I would take issue with you saying that I’ve fallen prey to the idea that anything goes. I am generally not a fan of haphazardly mixing styles, especially when someone does it in a session with no regard for what everyone else is there to play (I think the worst I ever experienced was a guitar player who would but in to sing Bob Dylan songs when the melody players took a moment), but the source of my question is that given the elements that Irish and Appalachian fiddle music have in common I wonder if Appalachian fiddle music couldn’t be better served by accompaniment that is more Irish than boom-chucking for some of the same reasons that Irish fiddle music is better served by Irish accompaniment than boom-chucking, if that makes any sense. This question is really not coming from a desire to haphazardly mix genres just because.

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I think an accomplished trad musician would stand the chance of becoming bored just playing 4/4 time.

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Oh, goodness, no, is that how I came across, Ivan? I’m really sorry…I meant that you’ve fallen prey to bluegrass players, thinking anything goes, coming clomping into your beautiful Appalachian session and chunking away…they’re saying anything goes, not you.
I personally think the "mating" of ITM and Appalachian would be quite interesting, in a good sort of way. I was in a classical choir that did a shape note song (!!! how the classically trained kids freaked!), and it really reminded me of Irish music in many ways.
Boom-chuck can kill Appalachian and ITM very quickly…boom-chuck only where boom-chucking is due… 🙂

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And PS, "Lily of the Valley" (a hymn) sounds amazing at double speed with an accordion and fiddle! 🙂

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Hi IvanIvanovitchIvanof

"with frequent use of drones"

Well that’s to be expected isn’t it? There’s a lot of that going on in the Gulf and other countries 🙂

All the best
Brian x

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

i’d hate readers to get the idea that all "boom chucking" is to be avoided. 🙂 Just like everything else it depends on who is boom chucking, how they are boom chucking and when they are boom chucking.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

boom chucking has nothing whatsoever to do with Irish Traditional Music

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How many booms could a boom chuck chuck, if a boom chuck could chuck booms? I have had the occasional boom-chucker come to one of my sessions, and I have usually taken them aside and explained to them that this style of accompaniment pulls all of the lift, drive, and nyah out of Irish music. Sadly, that conversation usually ends in anger or an indignant response, and the person storms out. I wonder if bringing an Irish style accompaniment to an old time jam might garner a similar response…

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An interesting take on Irish/Old Time cross-fertilization is the Immigrant Band with John Doyle, John Herrmann, Rafe Stefanini, Clelia Stefanini, and Eamon O’Leary. Guitar and bouzouki accompaniment throughout with raucous fiddle and banjo.

https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/theimmigrantband

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Emily: Oy, this is embarrassing! I did indeed misunderstand you, I’m very sorry. And yes, I think you are right. Where I live in the states as well it does seem to be an endemic problem that many people think any instrument played in any style is as good as any other in any situation, and this approach often produces disastrous results.

Elf: Thank you for posting this video. This is along the lines of what I was wondering about. While the Frances’s bouzouki is somewhat hard to hear in that video, it is, to my ear at least, more appealing than the sort of guitar + bass Bluegrass-like accompaniment you hear from a group like Foghorn Stringband.

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@ Reverend, I think "boomchuck" has entered my vocabulary defined as a person who boom chucks during Irish music. To be perfectly honest, boomchuckers only sound good on a very few waltzes and mazurkas.
As to ITM accompaniment to an old time tune, yes, it works, but it’s almost like putting tinsel on a banjo. Tacky. I know only one guitarist who does it well.

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Folks may wish to check out the George White’s Favourite medley on Kevin Burke’s old Sweeney’s Dream album. A nice-sounding hybridization of OT and ITM, IMHO. ;)

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I can’t even imagine how ‘Irish Style’ accompaniment could remain ‘Irish Style’ accompaniment if it accompanied Appalachian music. Still, my opinion probably counts for little as I personally don’t even like any kind of accompaniment with traditional Irish tunes (okay, a bit of occasional bodhran if one must). I am fairly hard core.

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Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Appalachian music, why is it being discussed on this forum. Irish music does not need accompaniment Imho
listen to the Michael Coleman recordings.

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Well, I play both Irish bouzouki accompaniment and Old Time clawhammer-style banjo, in addition to several melody instruments.
I see no reason not to experiment with fusing aspects of each together. I haven’t tried playing bouzouki to Old Time music, but I am currently dabbling with making clawhammer arrangements of Irish tunes. Right now I’m working out the kinks on “Anything for John Joe?”
Incidentally, here is a friend and I from a few days ago doing a bit of Old Time. We also both also play in our weekly Irish session.
https://youtu.be/aDmlxBpDYok

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"Appalachian music, why is it being discussed on this forum" - Because Irish music is not and never has been the insular, inward looking loner you seem to think is.

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goose, yes probably most of us have listened to the Michael Coleman recordings what are we supposed to learn from them? If you’re saying they are spoiled by the hamfisted piano plonkers on most of them ok I would agree but that isnt the sum total of ‘Irish Accompaniment’

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gooseinthenettles, it’s a pity you haven’t been around for centuries to prevent all the Scottish tunes that are so prominent in Irish music. Especially Donegal, Kerry etc. Not to mention the popular reels, Mrs MacLeod of Raasay (sic), Lucy Campbell, Farewell to Erin, Masons Apron, Wind that Shakes the Barley, Bucks of Oranmore, Atholl Highlanders, Rakish Paddy, Rose in the Heather, etc forever.

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I like the Scottish tunes, its bad accompaniment I was talking about.

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"Irish music does not need accompaniment Imho listen to the Michael Coleman recordings." I have been doing, and reading Harry Bradshaw’s little booklet.

Quote from Hughie Gillespie " We [Gillespie and Coleman] had the privilege one day to fall in with the great Fritz Kreisler … … He accompanied us and he could take in the chords - my God, if he had only been with us instead of the pianos or guitars, I’m telling you, you would have heard some Irish music"

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There is a thing that happens in the summer in the northeast United States called Maine Fiddle Camp. There are many musicians from all across the New England traditional music scene mixing styles and making beautiful sounds. In particular I’m thinking about Owen Marshall (fantastic DADGAD and Bouzouki player of The Press Gang) backing up a Really Good old-time jam. It is possible, it works great, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to listen to it. I understand that it still sucks when someone who doesn’t mesh with the desired sound of a session, be it OT or ITM, decides to stomp all over everything. Still, the two genres are cousins, and should (in my opinion) have occasional reunions.

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"Still, the two genres are cousins, and should (in my opinion) have occasional reunions."

Reunions as "crossover" projects like the Transatlantic Sessions yes, but I’m in favor of keeping amateur OldTime jams and Irish sessions in their respective corners. I’ve played guitar backing in OldTime jams using the Drop-D tuning I use for Irish trad, and it seemed to work okay, but the approach to rhythms can be different, and that feeds back into accompaniment styles.

For example, a friend used to visit and we’d have a few tunes together, him on mandolin and me either doubling on mandolin melody or backing with guitar. Many things worked fine, but there were a few areas where his background mainly in OldTime and mine mostly in Irish would clash. We could never manage playing "The Merry Blacksmith" together with unison mandolin melody, because he would swing it with a strong dotted-eighth feel like they play it in local OldTime jams, and I played it straight-ahead like an Irish reel with a pulse on the 1 and 3.

We were playing the same notes, but it just didn’t work because we had each internalized the rhythm pulse in a different way. And each way was "right" in its respective tradition.

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Traditional melodies are formed the way they are to create interest without the need for an accompaniment. There are surprises in the melody and changes of time. There’s emotional expression and there’s swing and a range of ornamentation and percussion techniques peculiar to individual instruments in particular styles. Accompaniment has to be minimal and deft or it just drowns all that out. Surely this is true of traditional Appalachian music as well?

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>>>: "particularly of the sort of DADGAD guitar Mícheál Ó Domhnaill played"

No. No to everything. DADGAD is a huge no-no in Old Time music. It’s for huge cheaters who are so bad that they can’t use standard tuning. In fact, at most old-time sessions, there are simply too many guitar players doing nothing but strumming chords. And the way OT music works, the chords simply don’t change as often as in ITM… Simply FORGET about playing backup and do your local session a favor. Learn to play clawhammer banjo PLEASE. There is never such thing as too much clawhammer banjo.

And yes, the bluegrassers do ruin everything. Bluegrass banjo is the reason why banjo jokes exist. All other styles of banjo playing sound amazing (clawhammer, tenor, cello banjo), but it takes just too much work to make scruggs style banjo in bluegrass sound like music…

Nobody will get mad at you though, as there isn’t much of a session police at OT sessions… Yes, there is a smaller list of instruments that are commonly accepted in OT music compared to Irish music, but as long as what you’re bringing is reasonable and not a frickin accordion, nobody will ask you to leave.
I once brought a tenor banjo to an Old Time session, because my mandolin was doing weird things and I needed a functioning instrument, and it went alright. The guy running the session said, "Oh, tenor banjo’s just fine. I have four of those things at home."

@gooseinthenettles,
Are you kidding me? Appalachian Old Time music has PLENTY of things to do with Irish Trad. Discussion rules clearly state that we can discuss anything RELATED to Irish Traditional Music, and since Old Time evolved out of Irish and Scottish trad music in Appalachian America, I’d count it as very much related to Irish Trad Music. Speaking of which, you should learn some Old Time tunes.

>>>: "I think an accomplished trad musician would stand the chance of becoming bored just playing 4/4 time."
@callison, there are waltzes in Old Time too. We just don’t do jigs, hornpipes, slip jigs, slides, etc. Those don’t sound right on clawhammer banjo.

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If Appalachian music is related to Irish music it hasn’t travelled very well, in fact I can’t see or hear any similarities at all.

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"If Appalachian music is related to Irish music it hasn’t travelled very well, in fact I can’t see or hear any similarities at all."

I wouldn’t say none at all but I do think the similarity is sometimes overplayed. There is a healthy dose of Scottish in there, as already mentioned, but also English, German, Scandinavian, French, Spanish, East European, West African… Many old-time tunes have similarities in structure (and occasionally in melody) with Irish reels and hornpipes, but the overall musical aesthetic is very different.

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>>>: "If Appalachian music is related to Irish music it hasn’t travelled very well, in fact I can’t see or hear any similarities at all."

I don’t think you know much about Appalachian music, nor have that much exposure to it. There are plenty of tunes with similarities between the traditions, and plenty of crossover tunes.

Take a look at some of these OT times:
https://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/featherbed.pdf
https://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/waynesboro.pdf
https://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/valleyforge.pdf

And even a few crossovers:
https://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/redhairboy.pdf
https://www.mne.psu.edu/lamancusa/tunes/highlanderfarewell.pdf
Kitchen Girl is also played in Appalachian music, even though it’s more of a New England tune.

Also, these tunes are awesome, and everybody should try and play them.

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But the question was about if Irish accompaniment can be used for Appalachian music. Firstly I am unsure what would be agreed to when we say ‘Irish accompaniment’. There are so many ideas of what that involves and some of it is terrible (in my opinion). Surely it is simply about accompanists having the ability to play proficiently to whatever genre of music they are accompanying? Therefore if the accompanying instrumentalists are backing Appalachian music properly, then it couldn’t possibly be ‘Irish accompaniment’. As CMO just said, "the overall musical aesthetic is very different", and in that, it seems to me to be a matter for Appalachian musicians to work out what works for themselves.

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Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

There are musicians who play Irish music, and musicians who play Appalachian music. Anything else is neither nor, chalk and cheese. Now I am going to chill and listen to some Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds and maybe something from Willy Clancy and Junior Crehan.

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With all them there young trad college kids with their fancy jazz swing guitar music theory chords is it any wonder ye olde Appalachian strummers have gotten left in the dust? Up the Newgrass. Support your local Bluegrass Jazz band. Shun simple boom chucking boom chuckers and suffer them not.

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Hello again I I I

"I was at an Oldtime jam"

Just re-read your post and that’s what you wrote.

Irish Traditional Music doesn’t do Jam Sessions.

There’s a rich repertoire of tunes which implies that people who join in that particular session know those tunes.
Simple really, if someone quotes Yeats then don’t try and speak Joyce or U2 over them at the same time.

Noodling, faking, busking (whatever terminology for not knowing) is not on.
If you don’t know it then don’t £u¢€ it up!
And so, in regards to your question on accompaniment, it’s so simple, know the tunes! Each and every one has a melodic structure and, though similar, many are different. And remember, it’s inclusive, it’s not exclusive, but just respect the integrity of our music.
Sometimes at sessions here, and I’m sure with good intentions, there might be 4 guitarists, 3 mandolinists, who don’t play a single tune!
They either strum, strum, plink, plink, boom-chuck or whatever, AGAINST not with the tunes.
I’m being serious!
And then there are sometimes 4 bodhránists wanting to strut their stuff and all this is happening all through the session.
And that’s happened, happens, back in Europe, and I should imagine, in other places on this planet.

So you see, it’s not just not just OT being overrun

Just bear in mind ITM sessions are NOT jam sessions!

All the best
Brian x

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I seems we are not mentioning the difference between emphasizing downbeat versus offbeat.. The latter being universal in OT music,and the former traditional in Irish and Quebecois music. There are many great accompanists who are sensitive to the tunes and play wonderfully, whether Irish style players playing OT or vice versa. But what I think is sad, is to hear backbeat entering Irish music - to ‘jazz’ it up or add energy. Yes, I know there is a subtle backbeat in some Kerry polkas - but it is subtle and does not get rid of the downbeat. Again - accomplished accompanists hear this by listening to these musics, and play appropriately.

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It’s more than just backbeat vs. downbeat. One of the distinctive things about Appalachian/OldTime music is how it doesn’t always conform to a straight-ahead rhythm, and sometimes has a "crooked" beat structure. This is one of my favorite OldTime tunes, "Elk River Blues" written and played here by Ernie Carpenter:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PYbSd23nP4


Try counting it in straight 4/4 and it doesn’t work. I don’t think there is anything in ITM corresponding to this kind of "crooked" mix of odd and even measures.

When I accompanied my OldTime-focused friend playing guitar when he played mandolin or banjo, he would sometimes play this kind of thing, where you just have to keep your ears open and adapt to the crooked beat pattern. I’m sure there is some musicological research somewhere on this, maybe having to do with people composing music in very isolated areas. It’s still fascinating to me that the Irish trad repertoire has stayed very strict in meter. Probably related to the dancers or just established dance rhythms, where you can’t mess with the pattern like this.

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It alternates between 4 and 5 beat measures. Very interesting.

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@Conical Bore.

That was very nice. I liked how the guitar backing was so sparse - not much more than base lines. ITM type backers would not have added anything; actually it would have killed it. But, that is also a comment that subtle ITM backing is better than boom-chuck.

Sometimes cross-over (and more) works fine, like at contra dances. Most times, I think I prefer to allow each genre to remain steeped in its own tradition. When I play cross-over tunes, I basically filter them through my ITM sensibility. That probably would not make me welcome at an old-time jam. I’d just get irritated and try to play a jig set.

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I must admit that I do like some of those ‘crooked tunes’. I do have a large library of Old Time and Appalachian tunes, and I do listen to them a lot and play a few of them on my fiddle. I like the music but I see the playing as being totally different from Irish playing and I play them in different styles. The funny thing is though, that as a now long retired and fairly accomplished guitarist, I feel that I could safely back Appalachian music, yet I have always had great difficulty adapting to Irish (at least not to the standard required). I do understand what they do when they do it well, but it would take me a far greater commitment than my fiddle playing would allow me.

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Anyhow, while I am confessing I will admit that I have always been a massive Tommy Jerrell fan. But that stuff, no matter how great, is miles away from Irish trad.

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I am in the middle of composing a reel, this is what gave me the idea. I saw a Ram and a Llama fighting in a field and I will call the reel
A Ram a Llama Ding Dong.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Goose!

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I second that Donald!

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Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

‘now I am going to chill and listen to Andy McGann and Paddy Reynolds’ - if memory serves me right they were backed by Paul Brady on guitar, I thought you regarded that as anathema , Goose?

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They are backed by Paul Brady who is a very well known musician.

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Well said briantheflute.

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Apparently though, which I only found out yesterday, in Sweden trad tune sessions are called "jam sessions". So there it doesn’t mean people "jam along" as in improvise or noodle.

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It’s the same in Denmark.

They would be advertised as "Irsk Jams"

During the eighties and nineties, when I used to travel in Denmark a lot I visited qute a few sessions in Copenhagen, Aarhus, and elsewhere. They were almost all Irish and it was quite difficult to hear traditional Danish music unless you went to a special event or club although you might hear old sailors etc down in the harbour pubs e.g. Nyhavn(before it became trendy).

They were generally friendly affairs and allowed the odd song or two but the actual music was treated seriously and it wasn’t "jamming" in the true sense.

As we know, Scandinavians are excellent English speakers but they also have a very open outlook. So, they won’t necessarily focus on just one area of the English speaking world e.g. Ireland, Scotland, The UK or parts thereof. They will also get as much information re culture and language from North America and other English speaking countries. So, I guess that’s how they adopted the term "jam".

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

"I have had the occasional boom-chucker come to one of my sessions, and I have usually taken them aside and explained to them that this style of accompaniment pulls all of the lift, drive, and nyah out of Irish music."

The second tune here (one of the the Martin Wynne’s I think) is beautifully accompanied by a light and graceful boom-chuck…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VyUccCIj7kI

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Back beats, up beats, down beats off beats, riffs, jams, noodles, what’s it all about.

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Various Irish musicians have had a go at Irish/Appalachian fusion bands, Matt Cranitch [Any Old Time] Cathy Jordan and Seamie O’ Dowd [The Unwanted] Andy Irvine and Donal Lunny [Mozaik] not everyone’s cup of tea maybe but interesting if you keep an open mind.

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I got so confused at briantheflute’s comment until I realized busking has an alternate meaning…
(I knew it as performing as a street musician, which I do, not as Brian used it, meaning to fake it.)
Can you imaging a busker busking?
Not too many tips there…
But re the discussion at hand, I’m starting another thread to discuss the insularity of ITM that has crept into this discussion.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Hi Johnny Jay

Yes, I know what you’re saying. I played a lot in those places during the mid 80s. But, equally there were as many adverts for Irish Sessions, perhaps more.
And yes, Denmark has to be one of the most lovely places to play and visit.

Hi Emily May
Thank you for understanding. 🙂
Back in the day people would say "Oh, just busk along" and that’s what happened! Quite often it could end up in a (politely said) confusion of notes, rhythms, chords…

I’ve done more than my share of street busking and totally concur with you. The public is a very knowledgeable, and sometimes very generous, audience!

All the best
Brian x

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Doesn’t traditional Appalachian music have a heavy Scots-Irish heritage?

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Yes indeed, but it has evolved it’s own distinct style.

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Some context for this discussion for those not very familiar with Appalachian music can conveniently be found in the excellent Smithsonian Folkways playlist at:

https://folkways.si.edu/sounds-from-appalachia/music/playlist/smithsonian

You have to buy the downloads, but listening to the tracks is free. At least, it worked for me.

Speaking entirely and only personally, Irish music makes me smile, Appalachian music gives me visions.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

"Irish music makes me smile, Appalachian music gives me visions." …….I think that that’s because you can relate to it as part of your own culture. I really like Appalachian music, just as I really like Cajun and other forms of American music, but I grew up in Northern England, hearing Irish and Scottish music right through my childhood, and that’s what endears me to the ‘magic’ of it.

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Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

There are a number of Irish tunes that are also standard Old-Time tunes, at least in the Southeastern U.S. I’m personally fascinated by the way these traditional tunes have traveled and evolved through time and space. For anyone interested in Appalachian music’s historical roots in Scottish and Irish music, I highly recommend "Wayfaring Strangers" by Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr. https://uncpress.org/book/9781469618227/wayfaring-strangers/

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“ No. No to everything. DADGAD is a huge no-no in Old Time music. It’s for huge cheaters who are so bad that they can’t use standard tuning. In fact, at most old-time sessions, there are simply too many guitar players doing nothing but strumming chords. And the way OT music works, the chords simply don’t change as often as in ITM… Simply FORGET about playing backup and do your local session a favor. Learn to play clawhammer banjo PLEASE. There is never such thing as too much clawhammer banjo.”

Revisiting this comment from 4 days ago, first of all as a clawhammer player myself I’d agree that it’s best for Old Time accompaniment. But since when is using alternate timings like DADGAD an issue? Do you realize how many alternate tunings a clawhammer player has to know? Off the top of my head, gDGBD, gCGBD, gDGCD, gCGCD, then of course there’s the issue of using one capo for the 4 long strings along with a second 5th string capo to use aDADE, etc. We often have spikes in the fretboard to tuck the 5th string under, making it a capo alternative. Spikes at the 7th, 9th, and 10th fret are standard. Feel free to extrapolate the other tunings and keys from the various un-capoed alternate tunings if you want. I don’t feel like using what little is left of today’s brain power to do that.
Anyway, my point is that it seems absurd that anyone would frown on drop D or DADGAD when banjos are either constantly retuning or using multiple banjos in different tunings.
And I’m not calling you a lier, I’m saying that attitude those people apparently have is damned ridiculous.
As for too many guitars, that’s painfully true. I’ve been to old time and bluegrass jams in the past that ended up being a room full of guitar players each time. And each time was was that one type of guy that would call himself the only good player there, complain about the other guitars, and proceed to dominate the jam by using banjo finger picks on his guitar to stay at the top of the volume war. I’m sure you all know the type. The guy that has the “biggest dick in the room” mentality, while everyone else agrees but isn’t thinking it in terms of phallic endowment.

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Ivan said:
"I was at an Oldtime jam recently that was overrun by several Bluegrass guitar and mandolin players…boom-chuck and chop with your standard guitar open chord shapes…

This got me wondering, do you think there is space for Irish style accompaniment, or at least accompaniment informed by ITM, in Appalachian fiddle music? I’m thinking of particularly of the sort of DADGAD guitar Mícheál Ó Domhnail…"

My response:
Being a West Virginian who has a deep love of our traditional music (which we call Mountain Music) and who detests Bluegrass just as deeply, I think you have a good idea there. Certainly ITM style guitar accompaniment fits Mountain Music far better than the cretinous Bluegrass accompaniment you describe.

In the old traditional Mountain Music it’s fiddle and banjo only- guitar chords have a way of boxing the music in. DADGAD guitar would avoid the pitfalls of standard chord shapes.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

This seems as good a place as any to mention an experiment I’m thinking of trying. At this point I know the bouzouki neck in GDAD pretty well. With the right strings I could tune my banjo to this, and using the spikes I currently have the 5th string can easily go to G, A, B, or D.
Eventually I plan to record several tunes on whistle or mandolin, and use this zouk tuning to frail along with those tracks. I’m really curious to hear how something like this would turn out.

Of course, I could use DGAD for the long strings, but I never bothered to learn DADGAD and would rather just stick tunings I already know. Although for someone accustomed to DADGAD frailing in aDGAD would probably be fun.

Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

Thanks for linking Elk River Blues. I heard it and thought it would sound nice on pipes or whistle.
In looking for it on iTunes I found someone playing it on banjo and sure enough half way through a whistle kicked in.
I just wasN’t expecting it

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Re: Irish Accompaniment and Appalachian Fiddle

"In the old traditional Mountain Music it’s fiddle and banjo only- guitar chords have a way of boxing the music in."

Richard -

How far back are you referring to? The guitar has been a solid part of the mountain music tradition since before the Civil War.

Matt