What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

I’ve had trouble finding information to demonstrate the difference between Sligo style and other styles of Irish music. Usually they’ll mention players and tunes, which doesn’t really help me much because how do I know if what I hear is the person’s individual style? I want to know what makes it Sligo style. Is there any kind of side-by-side so you can hear and maybe see what the difference is? Or can you explain it?

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

The Wikipedia article on Michael Coleman provides this: "Coleman was the most famous exponent of what is today known as the Sligo style of Irish fiddling, which is fast, flamboyant, and heavily ornamented with fingered "rolls" and bowed triplets." I have no idea how accurate this is as a generalization about Sligo fiddlers.

For ‘Sligo-style’ flute, I think there is some slight contrast between the playing of June McCormack, which is highly ornamented with full rolls, short rolls and cuts but has no glottals, and Catherine McEvoy, whose playing is also highly ornamented with full rolls, short rolls and cuts but also uses glottals. Likewise Matt Molloy, who in addition uses crans. The playing of all Sligo flute players is also highly rhythmic. (There are other styles that are somewhat less highly ornamented and somewhat less rhythmic — East Galway, e.g. Paddy Carty — and less highly ornamented but more rhythmic — Leitrim, e.g. John McKenna.) Chet

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Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

The problem is that regional styles aren’t all that effable. Different people have quite different opinions. Honestly the best way to get a feel for it probably *is* just to listen to a load of Sligo musicians playing Sligo tunes and then maybe go off and listen to a load of sliabh luachra or donegal or east Clare musicians doing their thing and see what you can spot in terms of differences.

For what it’s worth, the Sligo style, to my mind, is heavily defined especially by fiddlers, but those fiddlers were very influenced by flute players. And some of those flute players actually play a pretty important part too. It’s flowy. There’s lots of rolls and slurred triplet runs. Lots of string crossing pedal kind of figures. The beat is very clear, but it’s not got that light-heavy, push-pull kind of feel you get in Munster. There’s much less A major, triplet heavy stuff than in donegal music.

The polkas are more notey and flowy. There was apparently a time when hop jigs and slip jigs were drowning under the weight of polkas and Germans and waltzes in most of the country, but Sligo was still awash with them.

I’ve heard it argued that the “Sligo style” isn’t really a Sligo thing so much as a south Sligo, north mayo and significant bits of Leitrim and Roscommon thing.

But then again, I’ve heard it argued that poitín somehow forms “alcohol crystals” in your stomach, and that pelé got his name from a Christian brother marveling at his skill with a peil, so …

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

There’s a series which I think is still up on YouTube called Sligo style, where the fiddler from the waterboys (I think) gets taken through Sligo tunes by the likes of oisin Mac diarmada and seamie o’dowd, and they talk about the style.

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

Incidentally , a minor but real problem is how far those Sligo fiddle recordings spread. I feel like I can hear the regional feel in paddy Cronin and James kelly’s Playing (which isn’t Sligo). But I can hear some colemanesque things happening too. Because those old recordings were just so important and had such a huge influence.

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

I think paddy Cronin was maybe especially influenced by James Morrison actually, but I don’t remember where I heard that.

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

Thank you.

AB, the videos you posted are they showing the difference between Sligo and other styles or just a bunch of Sligo musicians? I cannot tell what makes it Sligo style and what is just a musician’s own skills and creativity. I guess maybe it doesn’t really matter that much, but I am curious.

Honestly, the only difference I really can hear is that some musicians are fancier than others. Some, like the Tulla Ceili band, are kind of plain. How much of that is showmanship vs playing for dancers vs playing for listening vs regional style?

Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

Here’s a quote from Fintan Vallely’s "Companion To Irish Traditional Music" [1st printing ], on Sligo flute playing, which I would say applies to the character of traditional music played in Sligo across the board as far as instrumentation is concerned : pp 138
"Sligo flute playing is heavily "rolled", it is done at a fast pace, phrases tend to be long, and variations are introduced by subtle melody changes. [ The following applies specifically to flute playing ] Articulation is done both with the fingers and the tongue,but frontal articulation with the tongue is much less emphatic than in Leitrim playing. An emphatic puff from the diaphragm commonly accentuates each new phrase, most of the ornamentation is left to the fingers. Phrases are ornate, the tone smooth and even".
I heard or read a comment some years ago something like this : "Donegal has "jaggy" music, Clare music is "roly-poly", Sligo music is "white water" music. There’s more than a grain of truth in that.

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Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

shikes, I was going for different fiddle styles for listening (vs. ceili band). More or less 4 "regional" styles.
Sligo, Donegal, Clare, and Sliabh Luachra. Not quite side by side examples but perhaps a starting point.

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Re: What is the difference between Sligo and other styles?

Thanks, AB.

"Sligo music is "white water" music". That actually makes sense as far as how my friend plays it. We’re all Americans over here but he studies from someone in Ireland and goes over there now and then.