For the sake of intimacy.

For the sake of intimacy.

One of the intriguing things about my adventure into Irish Traditional music is that it became the “object of interest” when it came to why I wanted to learn fiddle. Of course, I maintained that interest as I transitioned to concertina. I wanted to, and intended on, studying Irish music exclusively, for these instruments. Literally nothing else mattered. However, only learning one style of music on an instrument, especially a style where you predominantly play in a limited number of keys, has raised a very important question. For the sake of technical intimacy with your instrument, is it necessary to learn music that is in keys you wouldn’t typically play in? Does it make you more aware, more flexible, more capable, by virtue of having a repertoire that utilizes 90-100% of the instrument?

My relationship with the concertina is much deeper than it was with the fiddle, and I’m wondering if it would be in my best interest to find some music to learn that’s in non-Irish key signatures, just for the sake of getting the know the concertina better. I’m not even sure what all keys this Wheatstone layout C/G Anglo can play in. I never sat down to attempt to finger all of the diatonic scales, or count the notes from the layout. I think I may go ahead and do that though, now that I’m thinking about it. It’ll be a good exercise before tunes in the park tomorrow.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Well theres a lot of awesome Scottish music…. old old tunes. A mixolydian
Then theres a few trad tunes in Dm /Gm
Its a personal thing really repertoir .

Fiddle… takes time. I played everyday for 10 years before i felt like it gave back to me. A lot of focus and i still dont play much in positions, luckily i dont play music that requires it. I trained it though so I can a bit. Its the hardest instrument to learn to sound good on out of all the ones i play, about 12, over 46 yrs hard at it .

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Jerome … you have touched on something I feel very strongly about and it’s very personal. Intimacy with an instrument is the most important thing a person can feel. I’ve often referred to my bass as my dance partner, not the one I asked to dance to this tune, but the one I feel with every move. It’s getting to be the same with my flute. Sure we can "memorize" a string of notes but it’s intimacy that lets us play what we hear (or feel) rather than simply finding those notes. It’s intimacy that allows us to make music rather than play tunes. And isn’t it wonderful when we find and share that intimacy with others. Intimacy goes well beyond a tune, a genre, and adds to everything we play. So yeah, please don’t limit yourself to tunes in certain keys. Knocking out tunes around a table is a lot of fun, to be enjoyed often and I do it all the time (well I used to anyway) but playing from the heart has brought more to my life. I’ll add something I heard Alistair Fraser say … "when you pick up your instrument you have to decide what language you’re going to speak", who are you going to be. Jerome, I’ve seen your videos and I think you know what I mean. If you’ve ever laughed when you play, if you’ve cried when you play, then you know what I mean.

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

I would say yes, absolutely yes.
Because I mainly play a 5 row chromatic box I could potentially "cheat" (and often do) by moving a tune onto different rows and playing it using what I think is called the Home hand pattern, but I challenge myself by playing them on the outer 3 rows instead. For example a C arpeggio feels really natural on the outer 3 rows whereas a D arpeggio feels backwards and doesn’t "fit" the hand so can be moved to the inner 3 rows where it’s exactly the same as a C one on the outer 3.
Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense… it took me months to figure it all out and I’m still convinced there’s some kind of black magic going on inside the box!! How you can move a fingering pattern to any position on the keyboard and it still work is just a mystery and I’ve been playing the damn thing for about 6 years.
Back to the original question…. YES, play things in different keys. It hurts but it’s good for you.

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Playing in unusual or unfamiliar keys on fiddle, definitely yes. It opens up a whole new range of tones for me.

Not necessarily any one type of music - I often experiment with common tunes in different keys, to get a different sound and feel.

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Like Jim i learnt to play a lot of familiar old standards a tone down in C , id often have to use the notation transposed as it was very hard for me.

Living in East Clare and having Paddy Caney as my fiddle idol , and a friend who pkayed in C it was the thing to do.
This practice offers loads of benefits especially with ornamentation and double stops . Great fun. So Am became Gm Em became Dm

Once in a session i ended up joining in with freeze britches in C , after we finished the mandolin player opposite asked in astonishement “how i did that! “ i replied with one word…
practice 😎

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

I firmly believe that all music reinforces other music. Learn other music. Find the connections.

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

One of my main motivations to play music, I have learned, is communication. For me, this ideally happens between myself and other musicians in a group playing situation (e.g. a session). Personally, I am a lazy technician, only learning what I need to express the music I ‘have in me’, so to speak (and even then, I am still lacking). However, whilst Irish Traditional Music is my go-to genre and I would happily spend a lifetime playing nothing else, given the opportunity, I can get satisfaction out of interacting with other musicians in any genre, and the better I play with them, the more satisfaction I derive from it. So I definitely see the value in broadening one’s technical mastery of an instrument beyond what is required for one’s ‘home’ genre. Although jazz, for example, is not my thing (perhaps it would be more so if I had the technique to play it), I would certainly consider it a good thing to be able to sit in with jazz musicians if the opportunity were to arise.

I also hold the principle (although I cannot honestly say that I live by it) that it is advantageous always to have a bit more technique than you are likely to use, so that you are never playing at your technical limit.

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

“…it is advantageous always to have a bit more technique than you are likely to use, so that you are never playing at your technical limit.“

Wow, I never thought of it that way! That is quite the philosophy! I have a handful of friends in the non-musical realm who may have more to offer about this. But myself, as much meditating, contemplating, and ruminating that I’ve done, this one has escaped me. So thank you!

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

I’m not sure if what I’m saying is particularly relevant, but.. i think my affinity is with the music rather than the instrument. This could be that, although I came up through "Everything Guitar," I constantly studied other instruments and musics as well. Thus, I can feel as "intimate" with a diatonic instrument in just intonation playing in a highly refined form - a limited repertoire - as i do with my chromatic instruments on which I play jazz, classical, etc. It’s all about what I’m feeling in the moment - and the musical idea I wish to express.

Sometimes I want to improvise in highly chromatic music, and other times I want to play trad in the formal way..

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Re: For the sake of intimacy.

No problem, Jerone. Hypocrisy is what I do best (although I do not recommend it).

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Whichever instrument you play, ideally you are using it to express your thoughts and personality through music. The more familiarity with the instrument the more power of expression.

For me, on guitar, I have to confess that I struggle to have the same power of expression in Gb as I do in G. But, if I’m being honest, I’m not sure I want to do anything to reduce that sense of struggle. I’m not convinced the effort would be worth it.

"… it is advantageous always to have a bit more technique than you are likely to use, so that you are never playing at your technical limit."

I, like most people, I suspect, don’t have enough technique that I can afford to leave some of it unused. But then even if I had more technique I think I would still want to push the limits now and then. If you’ve got it why not use it, if it increases your power of expression?

Re: For the sake of intimacy.

Jerone, it’s great to have you posting again. I think you already have some of the answers for your post.
At least that’s my takeaway on the OP. Please don’t take my reply below with anything more than a
reflection of these very odd times which I am failing to process very well. I don’t even know what I’m saying. However I am appreciating playing flute now more than ever before.

For the sake of intimacy I want my flute to know who I am, that we are not strangers. Personal expression is manifest ‘through’ exploring styles and expanding technique. Yet, "intimacy" with an instrument, a music, or
any relationship is two separate things/people beginning with several awkward moments and not being too embarrassed to keep on. Eventually too(sic) such strangers may become as one. No rush!

I have been listening to some concertina music lately (although not Chris Droney, yet).
Most recently this is my favourite recording. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qNArHQKo5bM


ps~Good set!

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