What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

So just for fun I am wondering what you think the next instrument that is not used currently (or just starting to be used) will become a fully accepted instrument in Irish traditional music. What could you see being a regular instrument played in session in 50 or 100 years.Do you see any uncommon instruments more and more at sessions? Not including any instruments that are unpopular(Bouzouki,ect). Also not interested in answers like "Irish music won’t change,there won’t be any new instruments,bodhran might be accepted some day, there are too many already,and the classic synthesizer and shaker egg will be the only instruments…").

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Given that sessions might become outdoor affairs for some years, without the restrictions of low pub ceilings, perhaps it’s time for a revival of the carnyx.

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I suppose the banjo might be accepted one day 🤣

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@Loughcurra: The question was about *instruments*.

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Not an instrument, but what with the likelihood of outdoor sessions increasing I wonder will amplification become more prevalent? I’ve seen mentions of folks having difficulty hearing themselves/others in some outdoor settings and then inquiring about using a PA system or pickup/amplifier to address that. I wouldn’t be a fan of that meself but it won’t surprise me if we see more of it.

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I think it’s time for the Didgeridoo to make a come back. At one point you could not buy Trad CD without at least one track using one !

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It’s a great question!

Who could have forseen, at the start of the 19th century, that accordions and banjos would become ITM instruments by century’s end?

In the early 20th century could they have imagined that Greek bouzoukis, octave mandolins, and Low Whistles would become ITM instruments by century’s end?

We now stand at the start of the 21st century, and if the past is any determiner of the future, by century’s end there will be two or three instruments regularly used and associated with ITM which aren’t such today.

They WILL arrive, they WILL be accepted, the only question is which instruments will they be?

About the "’fully" accepted part, that’s probably impossible to determine. There are probably many people, like me, to whom the trio of pipes/fiddle/flute feels to be the core of the tradition. The trio of box/banjo/fiddle has been around more than a century but it still feels nascent to me.

In Appalachian music there are many people, like me, who feel that the core sound is the duet of fiddle and banjo. However the trio of fiddle/banjo/guitar has become standard, and I’ve been at festivals where such groups play all day, and no other instruments are seen.

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Hardanger fiddle is a possible contender, already a couple of great players out there e.g. Caoimhin O Raghallaigh.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hardanger_fiddle

Would be great if the old school style of piano playing came back again too!

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At the Aberdeen "FluteFling" just over 2 years ago, we had 3 picollos playing at one time. 3’s a bit much at once though. Certainly been around Irish music for years, but maybe due a comeback.

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Electronic bagpipes? Fortunately quieter than the GHB which does GBH to your ears indoors!
Ukuleles? They seem to be getting everywhere!

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Khaen:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sMgw9xI-OcY


Seriously, for me, any new instrument has to fill a gap of some kind. "Versions" of current instruments don’t fill that gap for me, and that includes flutes from other traditions, Hardanger fiddle, any kind of bagpipe, or plucked string instrument.

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I have a feeling it will be the bass, either upright or guitar. Having a thumping bass does make music more accessible to the great un-washed, and there have been planty of crossover bands using a rock back-line on stage. I think it is only a matter of time before it gets accepted into the tradition.

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@jeff_lindqvist: Dan the Man with the Khaen is a consummate trad player (on whistle as well as khaen) and is a great addition to a session. But I’d hate to see a spate of copycats deciding to have a go, without his depth of knowledge of either the instrument or Irish Traditional Music. But I’m sounding a little like Johnny Moynihan on the bouzouki https://youtu.be/dQWLA2GHfO8?t=6 .

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Cello would be a nice addition, and would compliment the existing fiddle tradition, as well as adding some lower tones in a session or other group. There are already a few cellists with a nice sensitivity to ITM.

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Perhaps we’ll see the revival of spoons?

Speaking seriously, the only niche I can think of is bass. The acceptance of vertical bass is more likely as it requires less space compared to guitar-like bass.

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What was the last instrument to have been fully accepted?

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Cister or Nordic/Swedish mandolin/mandola/bouzouki.

http://osinstrument.se/bilder/instrument/front43.jpg

https://youtu.be/grXGnrH2JO8


Not too big of a stretch from current trad instruments - unless you add the optional quarter-tone fretting for Nordic music scales.

The nyckelharpa and hardanger fiddle are certainly candidates as well but the nyckelharpa is seldom available in tuning suitable for trad music. The price of either instruments somewhat precludes experimentation.

I have a harpejji. Entirely unsuitable for trad. That’s one of the reasons I haven’t learned to play it. I can play some trad on the vibraphone too but there is no way on this little ball of dirt I would ever haul it to a session.

Me, I’m holding out for the blarge…

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I’m still awaiting delivery of my Megataur, so can’t comment on its suitability.

https://www.joefago.com/thesessionshoppe-instruments

I know Yhaal House has been championing the Vulcan A**e Flute for some time.

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The Antagonistic Undecagonstring.

As Mark says, a tasteful and skilled bass player can be great, and it can have a lovely unifying effect. Trouble is, there are bass players and bass players…

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Chapman Stick

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Great topic. Some random thoughts spurred by previous replies. Amplification? I don’t think so. Outside of a band performance, in an informal gathering, it inevitably leads to an arms race.

Synthetic instruments? I have mixed feelings about something like the electronic flutes, whistles, and chanters. I’ve been tempted to try one just for the additional "trad" sounds available like pipes. I play flute but it’s not likely I’ll be taking up the pipes at my age. Might be fun to fool around with, but there is the amplification issue (see above). I guess I wouldn’t mind one person sitting in with an electronic chanter or an iPad and a small amp. More than one as a growing trend in sessions might be worrying.

Melodica was mentioned, but isn’t that more or less already accepted in sessions? I haven’t seen one in my area but it doesn’t seem that far "out" to me as a session instrument.

I think acoustic upright bass is already accepted in the tradition, thanks to Trevor Hutchinson’s history with Lúnasa. The problem with bass is that there is only one Trevor Hutchinson. I’ve heard upright bass players attempt to join a local session a couple of times, coming from OldTime or Bluegrass backgrounds and it didn’t work *at all* because they didn’t have enough experience with ITM rhythms and modes. I think a really good, Hutchinson-level bass player might be accepted in many current sessions. There just aren’t enough players like that.

Same with cello. There are a few good ones around with experience in Scottish trad where it’s definitely part of the tradition. However, basically all cello players start in the Classical world, and most are not comfortable playing accompaniment by ear. The last time I heard a cello player sit in with a local session it was a mess. It was a skilled player in full command of the instrument, but they couldn’t understand what to do with ITM, so it was very distracting. I doubt we’ll see many welcomed to sessions, just for lack of serious interest in the music when they have other alternatives.

If I had to pick an instrument that might be fully accepted that doesn’t show up now, maybe it could be clarinet? The reedy tone is in the neighborhood of a trad sound, it might mix well with other trad instruments. It can be a bit strident but it doesn’t have to be played that loud. I think the reason we don’t see this very often is the gravitational pull towards Jazz, Klezmer, or Classical music for clarinet players.

To recap, the barrier to acceptance isn’t always on our end with these instruments. It’s the lack of serious interest by the players of instruments that might fit in, but who have other more "standard" alternatives to dive into.

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Maybe the violin? I know fiddles are a pretty huge part of the tradition so it seems likely the violin will also make the leap. 😉

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Maybe Chromatic Button Accordion. That has a chance.

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As regards electronic instruments, an interesting development could be people coming along and playing ‘silently’ (i.e. listening to themselves through headphones). It would be an odd scenario, indeed, to see, say, ten people playing and only hear three instruments – I’m sure it would be frowned upon in some circles; but it could be a good way for beginners and improvers to be involved with a real session without disrupting it.

Anyway, it is surely better than a scenario I once found myself in whilst travelling through northern Brittany. I met a man outside a cafe who, seeing my instrument cases, told me he played the whistle. I was planning to do a bit of busking and he was keen to play with me. Something about him made me a little skeptical of his claims from the outset (I of little faith…) but, much as I tried to limit our interaction to conversation (and I was glad of the French practice), he insisted on going home to collect his whistle and rejoining me. He turned up with a C whistle, a walkman (or whatever listening devices were around at the time) and a pair of headphones, through which, I managed to figure out, he was listening to Altan’s ‘Island Angel’, and played along falteringly and tunelessly on his C whistle (much as we sometimes hear someone singing along to music on their headphones, oblivious to those around them and and all the most basic principles of music) – and I was expected to play with him. (Obviously, I wasn’t much good because I couldn’t follow him…).

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"If I had to pick an instrument that might be fully accepted that doesn’t show up now, maybe it could be clarinet?"

Yeah, who knows. I’m sure I read posts by someone (on IRTRAD-L?) who played the A clarinet.

How common is the hammered dulcimer? I sometimes see posts here by people who play it, but I’ve never seen it in a session. Anywhere.

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I really hope it’s not clarinet. It’s just too smooth a sound. Oboe might have a bit more of a chance of fitting in to the tonal mix. Other instruments that just sound wrong include all the brass, and perhaps above all, saxophone. I absolutely hate Bellowhead because of the brass, and it would be even more intrusive in a session.

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I might be slightly biased on clarinets because I was once in a mostly-ITM trio playing mandolin along with a fiddler and guitar player, and the guitar player played a few tunes on clarinet. It didn’t sound horrible, just different. A way to keep the set list from sounding all the same. We never explored that idea very far though, so maybe that’s a sign it isn’t ideal for the genre.

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The shehnai. A double-reed oboe with a flaired metal end. Lovely soft and mellifluous tone.

🙂

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@ jeff_lindqvist I suspect that hammered dulcimers show up at sessions somewhat less often than full harps. I used to trudge mine to sessions infrequently but sitting in the car and tuning 66 strings prior to going in the pub (where it’s too noisy to tune the dang thing) and finding space for it is problematic. There’s another guy in my area that sometime brings his HD to the session. Since he plays better than I do, I’m completely at ease with letting him be the only HD player at the session.

There was a gentleman in Phoenix that plays cello as well as fiddle and he’s very accomplished on either instrument at playing trad. I have no idea where he is at present but he’s always been welcome at a session.

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I play clarinet and saxes, and rarely ever play tunes with them. But I used to play tunes on oboe and that sounded good.

I used to play quite a bit of hammered dulcimer - it’s okay if you want to have all that extra resonance filling all the sonic space, and percussive attack on every note, but I generally do not (my same critique of nyckelharpa in ITM). Played solo it’s outstanding for airs and such, and sounds best where you don’t mind the sonic fill of all that resonance. I like it in East European trad - where there tends to be more space - in which to appreciate the instrument’s assets.

I imagine we’ll see more of those small tenor-like banjos strung up nylon - I guess they’re mostly uke-like and prbly one of the easiest instruments to use. I see Deering has produced them.

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I often play in sessions with a fine hammered dulcimer player who is both skilled at melody and backup, but they do take up a lot of room (which we have) and the player has to be quick at tuning up when required (which she is).

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Not a big fan of cellos in sessions. There, I said it.

To be more specific, I think they work playing tunes, but it’s the attempts at rhythmic bowed backup that I find very off-putting.

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It surely has to be the djembe.

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Cello and fiddle work great in a duo setting for highly arranged pieces - think Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas - but in a session they can really muddy the waters. If you’ve got cello playing back up you can’t have guitar or zook doing the same and expect harmonic clarity.

It might be different if the cello was plucked. I once played in a session with a double bass player who stood opposite me and followed or second guessed my chords. It worked pretty well and helped with keeping the twenty or so fiddle players together.

We also have a guy who comes along to our local session occasionally with a fretless acoustic bass guitar. He’s pretty accomplished (plays mean piano) and, being fretless, the bass doesn’t overpower our small ensemble.

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I love a talented bass player in a session. There’s a resident acoustic/electric fretless bass player at The Pub Scouts session in Chico, CA who absolutely knows how to back tunes and really adds to the session.

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There are instruments that made appearances in old recordings but have passed out of favor, rightly or not, in the session scene— things like piano accordions and mandolin-banjos, that could reasonably re-surface. And what about the harmonica? Not everybody can be Brendan Power, but I’ve heard some pretty effective melody and backing work with them in some sessions.
Dobro? I don’t actually know of anyone playing one in a session context, but I can imagine it might sound pretty nice, tastefully presented.

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There’s a Dobro player in the Nevada City, CA session scene who does an excellent job with the tunes. It is a unique sound, I can imagine some players may not approve. I thought it was pretty amazing.

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Here it is my take on this, there is no joke in any of these options:

Metal boehm system side flute: it will be proved eventually tha Irish trad can be perfectly played with them and there will be more of these flutes around.

Diatonic accordion played with an app in the mobile. Everybody has a mobile and these apps are for free. I play it myself and it is just wonderful. It has lots of advantages, a good one is that you can change the system (B/C, D#/D, etc.) in a wink of an eye.

Slide diatonic harmonica invented by Brendan Power: they are like normal diatonic harmonicas but with a slide button that allows to play all the ornamentation that exists in Irish trad.

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I used to fiddle Scottish tunes on my upright. I like viols in trad (not Solas but the old stuff, actually Solas prbly uses/used a bassist by now). I played upright a lot in contradance bands - I love fiddling on big strings more than anything - so powerful yet as subtle snd nuanced as ever needed. It’ll make you dance - a bass can make anything groove bigger, if you want it. Especially outdoors it gives a bottom to something that sometimes gets lost in the open air - that the ear normally hears in rooms.

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I’m not convinced there are more than a few instruments which have ever been fully accepted in the genre of Irish traditional music. Fiddle and flute would be top of list. Uilleann pipes certainly should be fully accepted. Button box and tenor banjo are in there but probably with a few outliers & maybe depending on the particular style of tunes & playing. Tin whistle is certainly accepted but there will always be complainers; even to the humble whistle. Bodhran, well you know…comme ci, comme ça. Piano was on a slippery slope after some early recordings with ill-fated consequences.

What did I leave out? Bouzouki/guitar, other pipes, viola, 5-string violin, clavinet, bass guitar,
timpani, saxaphone, snare drum, mandolin. Lastly & probably way down the list rain stick, bones
and finally KAZOO!

Having said that I’m hoping harp will become as fully acceptable as feasible in more sessions. Not every session; but more than before. If I can hear one I want to. If it’s too, too noisy that’s where certain instruments
don’t stand a chance.

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Harp noisy? It can be as softly syncopated as a heart beat.

*ah you’re talking about being *heard*, I see.

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"It surely has to be the djembe."

Spot on, Colin! Way past due. I should mention I’m in Chico, CA (as mentioned by Michael Eskin) & I know some players who can play sessions on less traditional instruments. Jan Doney could play anything but her djembe was always acceptable. Her music was more than just acceptable.

Miss you, Jan!

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I think Yhaal House made it up, Floss. I’ve never seen or heard one.

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WRT the Dobro, I once had Randal Bays in my home giving private lessons to my fiddler S.O. He saw one of my Dobros on a stand, and said he thought that could be a great instrument for ITM. I only play a bit of bottleneck Blues slide — you’d have to play overhand Jerry Douglas style to hit the notes fast enough for the dance tunes, but I can imagine it working under the right hands, and familiarity with the music. The problem with Dobro, as with other "outside" instruments, is the gravitational pull towards other genres of music where the instruments are more normalized.

@AB - I wouldn’t count mandolin out as a fully accepted instrument in ITM. The history goes back further than most people know. There is a passage in the Chieftains’ autobiography book where I think Martin Fay mentions he had an uncle when he was growing up as a kid, who was "famous" in the area for playing Irish mandolin. This would have been in the 1920’s or ‘30’s. Because it’s never been a core instrument in the music it hasn’t had the prominence of other instruments, but it’s been around for a while, and always accepted when playing the tunes as far as I know. The full history of mandolin in ITM isn’t known yet, I think.

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For all the world to see, Jim, there you have it. "…ladies may prefer the Cardassian style anuspice which is available at no upcharge." I don’t know why I doubted it’s existence all along {though I still do}.

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Conical bore, I’m not (counting any instrument out as acceptable).
Cheers!

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I know the ondes martinot, a shimmery sort of early electronic instrument, doesn’t stand a chance! But it has its charms.

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I’d love to see the Guittar make a comeback. It was extremely popular in Scotland (and possibly Ireland, I don’t know) in the C18, and the close tuning makes it easier to play fast dance music than on its GDAE descendants.

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Ben, Yhaal House didn’t make up that flute, GW posted a link to what has to be an April Fool’s joke. It’s right there at the bottom: https://www.joefago.com/thesessionshoppe-instruments

Some truly weird stuff. The gentleman has a strange sense of humor.

The Ondes Martenot ranks right up there with the table organ. I think the Ondes Martenot made its biggest splash with the sound track to "Lawrence of Arabia" and little else since then.

The table organ. Only a bit too big to put on the table at a pub as surely many pints would be displaced. Hence, it would be unwelcome at a session.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gBCO1gQmr2M


Julie Fowlis backs her singing with a Shruti box on occasion. With her vocal skills though, she could just be clanking horseshoes together and get a good sound. The rest of us - not so much.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JOu0qORSDK0

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Carl, I get the joke. It’s Yhaal House and fidkid doing what they do best. Not to mention our own fiddleologist Jim Dorans.

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A musical box is nice too, but it is somewhat limited. Our family had one playing an aria from Mozart’s Don Giovanni.

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I’ve been to a few sessions which have featured a bassoon. I kid you not!

It’s quite nice actually.

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I would love to hear some jigs and reels played on the theorbo. I really think they would have enough volume for a session environment as opposed to a lute which would likely be drowned out (I have been in session with a lutenist so can attest to this). Here is the theorbo well explained by Alex McCartney using a ‘short’ scale model (2 meters or so!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz05LqCpyAM

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Fernando Durbán Galnares: "Diatonic accordion played with an app in the mobile. Everybody has a mobile and these apps are for free."

A clip was posted a few years ago of someone playing Tex-Mex style diatonic accordion (perhaps you were the poster - or the player?) on an iPad, with a virtual keyboard on the screen. Is this what you were referring to? To me, as a YouTube viewer and listener, it sounded – and even looked – uncannily like the real thing. But what puzzles me is, how can you consistently hit the right notes without being able to feel the buttons under your fingers? Or am I underestimating the current state of app technology?

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ok if I closed my eyes I could believe I was listening to a 3 row Hohner Tex Mex accordion - but really what is the point? Its very clever and everything but isnt it technology just for the sake of technology?

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Speaking of acoustic string basses at Irish Sessions, several years ago we had two bass players at the local Session and each of the bass players had an acoustic string bass. I had brought my electronic keyboard and was playing it as a piano. One of the bass players was on my left side and the other bass player was on my right side. When both of them were playing together, I felt as if I was about to be vibrated downward to a lower musical dimension.

Laurence

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When the local Sessions started in 1995, I asked which of my instruments I should bring and was asked to bring my electronic keyboard and play it as a piano. Twenty-six years later, I am still playing piano at the local Sessions. I also play bass and I have brought my acoustic string bass to the Sessions a few times. I didn’t bring my string bass to the local Sessions until after I had been participating regularly in the Sessions playing piano for a few years. That way I was already familiar with the music when I finally brought my string bass to a Session. I mostly still use my string bass when I am playing folk music or bluegrass or jazz instead of other types of music.

Laurence

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@jeff lindqvist – Yes, that’s the one.

@christy taylor – It’s convenient, I suppose. Instead of having an unwieldy box, that you have to keep inside another box, taking up space in your house, you just have one multi-purpose device, on which you can call your friends and relatives, take photos and videos, pay the bills, record tunes, post on thesession.org and play any system of accordion/melodeon you want (and presumably other instruments too). You also avoid the outlay of buying the instrument, having it tuned and maintained – then you can plug in headphones (see my comment further back in the thread), probably a lower risk of r.s.i…. and if you get tired, you can presumably feed it a midi file and get it to play itself.

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Speaking as someone who has been playing piano for fifty-something years, I have a question for jamesa—what do you mean by "old style school of piano playing"?

Laurence

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I don’t see any mention of the cajon or the cowbell. Thank you!

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Or the vuvuzela!

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The first time a vuvuzela shows up at our local sessions, I’m selling all my instruments on eBay.

I could see using a vuvuzela to get the pub patrons to quiet up for a solo singer.

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"isnt it technology just for the sake of technology?" (wrt iPad apps)

There is one big advantage in being able to call up a huge variety of instrument sounds not otherwise available on the modeled acoustic instrument. I’m sure that’s fun to fool around with, but I think there is a disadvantage in a social context like a session in not being able to look away from the screen. There is no tactile feedback, only visual cues for finger position. Notice how the guy in the Mexican conjunto clip above is completely absorbed in the screen, not interacting with the other musicians or the audience.

In a session playing acoustic instruments we can look away from our instruments. We can stay connected with each other through eye contact and smiles (or grimaces). All the usual nonverbal cues that helps keep a session in sync, so we’re not all separated in our own little private instrumental worlds. An iPad player will just be staring at the screen the whole time. It’s a bit anti-social to make music this way.

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Conical bore, there are those who have made custom iPad overlays with holes cut out so you can feel the buttons and play without looking, so there’s still hope… 🙂

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ok so maybe I have a slight Luddite tendency………………

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Please God - keep computers away from playing music.

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But, bots are going to sound like shite on acoustic instruments.

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"But, bots are going to sound like shite on acoustic instruments."

Well, if you’re Pat Metheney driving the band, maybe not. 🙂 It’s a lot of gear to drag to a session though.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T32wjS92e_s

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Jeff_Lindqvist, I have brought my hammer-dulcimer to sessions since the early 1980s, and only after a couple of years of listening to Irish trad musicians individually and in groups - and I used the HD primarily as an accompaniment instrument. To that end, in 1992 I built a five-octave double-bass (three octaves below mid-c; two above) - and have, I think, done quite well by it, getting invited to some very "exclusive" sessions and told to bring it or go home. I also had to get past the antipathy and open hostility towards the HD, which was brought on by the HD players themselves in the 1980s and on, by their not listening to other musicians, forgetting that they were playing in a group setting, playing too damn loud and off-tempo, and not learning the subtleties of ITM and what it takes to play the music.
My own session rules include adjusting my own volume (when playing melody) so as to still hear the musicians on the other side of the circle, and staying on-tempo, period, when backing up, keeping the "fancy stuff" out whilst driving the beat.
I actually came into ITM on the harpsichord in the late 1970s, when friends introduced me to ITM and came over to play to my accompaniment and got me listening to and learning the "rules of the tradition" over several years. They’d bring friends and the word got out…and then came the HD, because I couldn’t truck an 8-foot harpsichord to a session, no matter how many trad music festivals I took it to.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Re Metheny’s band of bots: I wonder which will occur first - that dynamics will become programmable, or that people will no longer feel the need for dynamics..?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Going back through some of the previous posts, we have a very good hammer dulcimer player in our sessions, and until recently, one or two cellos. I would say that all of them enhance our sessions and are very welcome. I only play my piano in sessions on Zoom: would not take it to pub sessions , mainly because of its bulk and weight, although of course I do have to transport it to gigs.

And, as anyone who has been to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia will know, a pair of scallop shells are essential percussion instruments. Make sure you wear them in well first, or they will shower you with dandruff flaking off from the edges!

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

But seriously, 5-string bluegrass banjo, played in melodic style … where the picking hand is well away from the bridge, curled round, giving a nice mellow tone.

Bob Brown, are you here? 🙂

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Pretty good. 80 comments in one day.
-Is it the word ‘predictions’ or the phrase, ‘fully accepted’?

(I think it’ll be one of these: djembe, electric ukulele bass for outdoors or homemade, rustic instruments in general)

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I have been spoilt in regularly playing in sessions with excellent cellists. It would be fantastic to see it make a comeback in the tradition.

I honestly feel the absence of a cello at almost every session I experience now.
Check Snuffbox’s album for great examples:

https://youtu.be/DgM1_5N3bnQ


I have to add, like others, that the clarinet is absolutely a great candidate- as a reed instrument in its range- it fills up a very definite space in a session soundscape. I’ve been very lucky to have played with a few brilliant clarinet players who’ve, at times, absolutely filled the session with excellent pulse, melody & more.

There’s an excellent band (perhaps French Canadian?) who play traditional Irish music using clarinet and it is superb- I cannot remember their name… can anyone help me out?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Whichever instrument the bartender wishes to hear. A happy bartender is always fully acceptable.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

The ship sailed long ago on Boehm flute.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LjspnhlW_w4


Hammered dulcimer is an interesting proposal. I’ve been told that one can only push out from within. If true, an Appalachian instrument which has become fairly common in ITM here is probably unlikely to get popular in Ireland. Yet, a related instrument was used in an Irish band for decades (Hungarian cimbalom in The Chieftains) so who knows?

I think people may be right about the standup bass and mandolin, two instruments I associate with Bluegrass, both of which might be poised to gain acceptance in ITM (and in Appalachian music).

About electronic Scottish pipes, I’ve been seeing those more in group settings. They can sound like Highland pipes, Border pipes, or Smallpipes (there’s often a selector button) and are always in tune and can be adjusted to any desired volume.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I’m still waiting for the uilleann pipes to be fully accepted in ITM.

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Re: What are your **predictions** on the next instrument to be ***fully accepted*** in ITM!?

Exactly!

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

“I’m still waiting for the uilleann pipes to be fully accepted in ITM.”

I’d really like to understand what you mean by that, MP1996…

Uilleann pipes have been one of the earliest cornerstones of traditional Irish music as far back as the early to mid 1700s…

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Portable Indian harmonium.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Hulusi, cuatro, trombone, sitar, alto sax, baritone ukulele, eight string tenor ukulele, glockenspiel, toy piano, Stylophone, Hammond organ, unamplified solid body electric guitar (e.g. Telecaster), Theremin, cigar box guitar, bugle, sleigh bells.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

You omitted roadies, YH. They’re not instruments, I know, but a few I’ve encountered have been right tools.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

The idea of turning up at a random session being able to bust out reels at full speed on trumpet would be hilarious. This guy looks like he could do it!

https://youtu.be/Uk44emjBGrQ?t=66


Solo it works, I’m guessing a big issue for sessions might be playing in D or G though….

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Very impressive indeed, but it’s not ITM as I know and love it. Definitely a jazz element. And I’m not just referring to the trumpet when I say it’s not ITM. The percussion’s from a different tradition too.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Speaking of unusual instruments which might be accepted in the future, have any of you watched any of Vinheteiro’s videos on YouTube? In one of his videos, he plays "seven bizarre instruments".

Laurence

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Less of a prediction and more of a hopeful thought. I like brass instruments, maybe it’s because I’m American and love jazz, so I’m all for a trombone in ITM. All the glissando would be hella cool to listen to on an Air. And it can hit all the microtonal notes that a fiddle could hit.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I know I’ve banged on about it before, but there’s a case to made out for the nyckelharpa. Certainly, you’d need to be a top-notch ‘harpeur/’harpeuse to knock out a reel at full tilt, but there are plenty of jigs - and a lot of, e.g., O’Carolan tunes - that are very accessible to a reasonably proficient player. And the sound of a ‘harpa fits in very well with flutes, fiddles, and boxes. (Not so sure about banjos, though).

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I’d put a vote in for saxophone, as nothing else quite fills that single reed niche and players like Seamus O’Donnell have really made a strong case for it. His playing with John Carty on banjo makes for a sound that "feels" very traditional but has a texture that’s entirely unique. I’ve even heard established trad players on other instruments pick one up from time to time to moderately pleasant results; Joey Abarta comes immediately to mind. Of course, an instrument with as brassy of a personality as that requires a tasteful player to keep from completely overwhelming the other instruments.

Oh, and other vote for the melodica, if there weren’t enough already.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

The nicest sax in a folk band that I ever hear was a soprano sax, played by a Swedish player in a ( mainly) Danish band called Habbadam. A really sweet sound!
And I agree with some above that clarinet can work well.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Viola da Gamba? Hits a lot of common items in instruments used in trad: strings, bow, frets, wooden hollow body. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2yMzV4T_fZM


I’m sort of amazed no mention has been made of the hurdy gurdy. For what that’s worth, if I had a hurdy gurdy, I’d leave the drones off for playing trad - and pass the key action sound off as castanets.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Been trying to replace the local Bodhran player with a TR-808, love those old school kicks.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

+1 vote for D-tuned nyckelharpa!

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Following Michael E’s vote for a ‘harpa, it’s worth mentioning that there’s another variant of the traditional Swedish tuning (CGCA) that uses GDAE - for obvious reasons called a fiddleharpa. I’ve run into a couple of people who use them in sessions.

Talking of saxes, though, I’m very tempted by the idea of a C-Melody sax. They sound quite sweet, and don’t involve all that transposing. Does anyone have any experience of playing/hearing one at sessions - or are they still a bit loud for acoustic indoor use?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Think of the instruments that are commonly/fully accepted today. None of them are of the type that produce ‘special’ resonances with sympathetic strings (i.e., n-harpa, hardingfele, cimbalom/HD, wire harp, gurdy, e al). The reason, to my mind, is that session tunes aren’t enhanced, as a rule, by multiple overtones echoing about and all around. This is usually referred to as ‘muddying’ the collective sound. It’s why Derek Bell used cimbalom occasionally rather than customarily.

This ‘Olde world’ aesthetic is something that greatly compels me, and where I spend the majority of my playing time. These instruments are superlative for solo and *small* ensemble - air, pibroch, lament, song.. If you’re playing solo dance music, perhaps outdoors, all of this sound is an asset.. But for me, the ‘extra’ sound these instruments produce detract from the sharpness, clarity, and subtle articulations of session tunes.

These are my favorite instruments, and of course they are lovely on their own. But I’ll be surprised if they are eventually adopted as custom for session music. Perhaps the aesthetic will slowly change, going back to the broad, lingering resonances that the instruments are designed to produce..?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

It’s interesting to see the melodica get so much support. It somewhat makes sense given that people’s biggest issues with the Piano Accordion are the left hand and the multiple voices drowning everything out.

Melodicas (Melodica?) Are much cheaper, take up less space, solve those issues listed above and are easy to tune/repair. I don’t know why kids don’t learn on these before going over to a PA.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Melodicae?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

It seems to me there are no obvious new contenders likely to gain genuine and widespread acceptance in a Traditional Irish Session as such.
Melodica is unlikely to offend anyone, but try a mental image of a great session - do you see a melodica?

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

“I’m still waiting for the uilleann pipes to be fully accepted in ITM.”

I’d really like to understand what you mean by that, MP1996…

Uilleann pipes have been one of the earliest cornerstones of traditional Irish music as far back as the early to mid 1700s…

It’s a shot at my local Irish-American enclave…

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

So, your local players aren’t so fond of the pipes?

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

It’s not the players so much…more the community in general.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Your local community? Certainly not the case in the session I host locally in San Diego or play at all over California. What’s the issue? Is it more the attitude of the piper than the session players?

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

You can’t compare San Diego to where I live. Entirely different worlds. I’d rather not name names.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

OK, so it’s a local issue, not a statement on the general state of Uilleann pipes in ITM… got it.

When will the jaw harp make it’s resurgence? I understand from some recent reading of historical research it was a instrument sometimes played in Irish dances 200 or so years ago.

I’m guessing D-tuned didgeridoo isn’t on the first wave of instruments invited to the ITM party… When I first started playing sessions in San Diego in the late 90s, we had a dig player as a regular at one of them. Actually worked well, he’d do rhythmic drones (in D) that matched the tune style.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

totally OTT but isn’t the tune played by the Grupo Delerio above the same as Alabama Jubilee?

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No, I don’t think it’s a silly question, AB. I’ve been to sessions ruined by poor playing, or by playing in a style which jars because it’s not close enough to ITM. I hope my not-very-accomplished playing doesn’t spoil the music too much - at least I’m fairly quiet.

In the same way, the tone of “novelty” instruments (in an ITM setting) changes the sound to something else. If I want a classical orchestra sound, I can find it elsewhere, or jazz, or oompah, or rock. In an ITM session I expect something in a particular set, or range, of tonal mixes. I particularly want to be able to hear the subtleties of the core instruments; for me, these are fiddles, wooden flutes and uillean pipes. Instruments that also fit well, when played in an appropriate style, include whistle, melodion, harp, Irish bouzouki (and similar), bodhran, guitar (when not thrashed!).

Some other instruments, in the hands of a very skilled musician who understands ITM well, may not ruin a session, but I would much prefer them not to become widely accepted as ITM instruments. It is so easy to lose what is distinctive about a sound.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Maybe I’m just having a kind of curmudgeonly "Hey you kids get off my lawn" moment here but I have to ask why we think we need any new instruments. Aren’t the ones we have enough? Each of the instruments mentioned have their own place and they’re wonderful to hear. Still this strongly nuanced thing we call trad seems to me to be built around certain instruments. It can be played on a whole lot of others but then it becomes something else. Weren’t these other instruments built for other genre? Another question might be "how far can we drift from what we think of as Traditional" and be fully accepted"? I’m quite willing to accept changes in life. That said sometimes that acceptance comes by stretching the definition. So … bring ‘em all in and we’ll have a great time playing in a "watchagot" genre.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

None of the instruments being mentioned will get even a tiny bit of real traction.

We’re all just bored at home waiting to be let out of COVID-19 prison and going collectively insane as evidenced by our posts. 🙂

More likely I fear concertinas and accordions will slowly disappear from the scene as those who are able to tune and repair them all continue to die off without training the next generation of technicians. The waitlists for those trusted techs who still can do the work will continue to get longer and longer. Right now in all of Southern California, there is exactly one person I would trust to work on my instruments, and his turn around time is in weeks, sometimes months.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I went insane a long time ago. The nice young men in the long white coats said they would let me out of my straitjacket and padded cell in a week or two.

Laurence

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I’d agree with that Michael, while there are a few younger people I’ve met online that are picking up the skills, it’s very much out of necessity. I’ve had to do repairs on my instruments. There’s likely a reason the more popular instruments are the simpler ones rather than the mechanical marvels of accordions and concertinas.
You can see this in how many uileann pipers know how everything in their set works and how to fix it, and how to make reeds in some cases

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

It sure is an interesting question, and I’ve seen sessions that run the gamut from "bring what ya got" to "the only three acceptable instruments are fiddle, fiddle and fiddle," but I think it may be hard to predict.

It was interesting to hear folks mention the harp as one that’s missed. I find I rarely bother bringing my harp to session, and mostly play bodhran instead, partially because of how much room the harp takes up, and because the better parts of its sound are lost in the mix, but also because it clashes with guitar if I try to play chordal accompaniment.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

As for C melody sax, I believe that’s exactly what I heard being used. If memory serves, it was Joey Abarta on the sax, Dylan Foley on fiddle, and guitar accompaniment. Not a true session, but it was outdoors and unamplified, and every instrument seemed to be in balance without any one overpowering the other. I believe there is also a history of saxes appearing in the old New York City bands of the 1920s and a handful of ceilidh bands, although it never quite took off.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Joey on sax? That’s news to me!

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Cellos, tubas, thermines etc. - in the rare ITM cases they are used at all, they’re doing something else than "playing the tunes". While I enjoy, say, the Snuffbox example a few posts above, it’s something else. Believe you me, I’m not saying it’s wrong.

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

+1 vote for otamatone!

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

That thereminist is honestly pretty good (if you care for the song). The otomatonists, well…it is what it is!

The saxophonist mentioned by Muirn above — was it possibly Isaac Alderson or Aaron Olwell?

Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

I actually bought an otomatone when that video went viral - I was a bit disappointed that you don’t squeeze the mouth to sound, you just press hard enough on the scale. I use it for demonstrating scales, illustrating tones and semitones, and simple tunes with students - it’s good fun but also really visually clear so it helps them see what’s going on.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Ross said:

"I have to ask why we think we need any new instruments. Aren’t the ones we have enough?"

People might have said that in 1820…but within a century boxes and banjos had gained acceptance.

People might have said that in 1960…but within a generation Bouzoukis (and their spinoffs) and Low Whistles had gained acceptance.

So history tells us that unforeseen instruments, nearly all created in other places for other musics, will find their way into Irish dance music, probably by happenstance.

(None of the currently "accepted" instruments such as violins, wooden flutes, uilleann pipes, banjos, boxes, guitars, and bouzoukis were created for Irish dance music. All came from without.)

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Quite certain it was Joey Abarta, unless I’m completely losing it. He only took about two sets on the sax (a handsome old silver one) and introduced it as something he had been experimenting with. The rest of the night he was on the pipes as usual. It was really a fantastic and rather intimate bit of playing at a small pub out in Rosendale, New York, with two of the most brilliant Irish musicians on the East Coast playing for only about a dozen people. I may even still have some dusty old phone recordings of it somewhere.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

Edit: I may be losing it. It was Isaac Alderson and Dylan Foley, I think I saw Joey and Dylan a different night and had the two mixed up.

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Re: What are your predictions on the next instrument to be fully accepted in ITM?

That makes more sense.