cran

cran

Is it possible to explain how to do a cran on the fiddle over the net? or is it a ‘you have to see it type thing’? If anyone can manage it - I’d be grateful - Ive been going out of my mind trying to work out how to do them. Is it something sort of like a cut & a roll together?

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Re: cran

I’m no expert, but I have been taught how to do a cran, and I do use them pretty regularly on open strings and sometimes other fingers. There are some tunes that simply cry out for them in the ornamentation. I think Tommy Peoples is the ultimate at playing crans - listen to what he does. I play a single note triplet with a cut on the last note. You need to practice in both directions (starting with down, then starting with up bows) and slowly until everything is coordinated. They should sound like dit-ity-dar (the last note being longer with the cut), then after a while they just kind of fall into place. I hope this is helpful.

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Re: cran

To me a cran can only truely be accomplished on pipes, flute or whistle, but us fiddlers can try to do our best. Fiddle crans aren’t as defined as triplets or rolls, I’ve rarely heard fiddlers use crans (with the exception of some modern Donegal fiddlers Peoples, Glackin etc [and one instance of Eileen Ivers on "The maid at the spinning wheel"]) & when I have each fiddlers approach is vastly different.

Re: cran

Geez, if you can do a cran on the fiddle, you qualify as pretty expert to me — or at least a better fiddler by far than myself! :) Kevin Glackin showed them to me about fifteen times at a workshop and I still couldn’t quite get it. He tried to make it better by telling me that it takes about ten years to get them right and that in Ireland you learn them just by hearing and seeing them all your life.

As I recall (and I could be recalling wrong), Kevin’s fiddle cran had two or three cuts as well as the triplet. His triplet in the cran was less scratchy then People’s generally is but still pretty gruff.

I personally think the best place to start learning crans is by listening to uilleann pipers for quite some time, THEN start listening to the fiddlers, because what you’re doing with the cran is trying to duplicate the cran of a piper.

But probably the most important thing to remember about ornaments like crans and rolls and cuts is that they’re primarily rhythmic and less about notes. So relax up that bowing arm! :)

Zina

Re: cran

"single note triplet with a cut on the last note."

(3BB{d}B

Like that?

Re: crann from a flute point of view

This probably won’t help… but the first time i was able to do a crann on the flute (and whisle) was when i realized that the crann is the same kind of animal as a roll. It’s impossible to do a roll (on the flute) on low D, so you use 2 cuts, but you’re doing that in the same rhythm as you would with a roll; in the end, it sounds pretty much the same. After you’re able to do that sound, then you can experiment with doing fancier cranns with 3 or 4 cuts.

Once you get the idea, then practice them daily just like you do with rolls. But i don’t think it’s possible to learn how to crann untill one has a very good command of a roll, what it sounds like, how it works. In particular, make sure you do the "tap"/"pat" part of the roll (the lower note) very crisp, or you won’t get the right sound.

The only way i was able to learn to do rolls was to take Conal O’Grada’s advice and start practicing them for 10 minutes a day, starting slow. I still have a heck of a time with the A roll.

Going back to cranns: now sometimes when i have a 2nd octave D, i’ll crann it instead of trying a roll; it’s easier. Same for the Es.

Re: cran

Wow! This is great. Yes I agree with you all. Crans are rythmic and I don’t think you can do a roll on an open string of the fiddle, so what is there otherwise to replace a roll there? I have thought about this and come up with a tune, not too fast where these crans are used: Lunasa - Lord Mayo. It makes such a difference to their rendition of it. When they come back to A at the end of each part they cran it - sounds fabulous - and that is the sound I aim for (and hopefully attain). I also use it in quite a number of jigs like The Banks of Lough Gowna on B and F#, and right at the start of Paddy Fahey’s No.2 reel on the C natural. As I say, I’m no expert, but I do love the music and ornamenting it to my satisfaction. I think it just depends on how you hear a tune. Good luck, anyway.

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Ps

Sparingly, and as an alternative to other ornamentations when the mood takes you. That’s the fun.

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Re: cran

Actually, you can do a roll on an open string of a fiddle — it’s 0-1-3-1-0 or various such. :) We’ve had that discussion before… Heh.

Zina

Re: cran

Thanks Zina. That’s how I thought crans should be played. Doesn’t the triplet/cut sound interesting? Haven’t tried yet, but I look forward to the attempt.

Re: cran

i learned a type of cran (cause i think there must be more than by the descriptions above) from the notes to the Frankie Gavin Alec Finn album. Here’s what they say

play "Ac" (these are 1/16 notes) followed by AA (at 1/8 notes) with a "c" grace note before the final A and all main notes are played with a different bow direction. Apparently this is how Gavin did it on the record in Planxty Charles Oconnor and I guess he uses the same technique when he plays the Gold Ring

Re: cran

When I was first learning to do crans about six years ago now (and from the right Irish source), I had an exercise: starting at bottom A, two octaves to top A, rolling every finger and cranning every open string, slow and fast, I also practiced cranning scales - the bow reverses after each cran so you get to be able to cran on either up or down bow however they might occur in the tune. Hard to begin with but they just work now pretty much without thinking about them. What happens is that with a roll the emphasis is on the first note of the roll, whereas in a cran it is on the other end. That’s the beauty of sometimes slipping in one instead of the other. As I said, just listen to the fiddle in Lunasa, ‘Lord Mayo’. I think crans on the fidddle are more common than you think.

I have doubts about the open string roll. But I’m only newly come to "The Session" and certainly haven’t come across that discussion before. Wouldn’t it be 0-1-0-3-0 fingering anyway?
Cheers.

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Re: cran

Moving slightly away form Irish sources - and I know zilch about fiddle playing, apart from how to play it with a plectrum - Alasdair Fraser has some great ornaments, presumably derived from bagpiping, of the cran type. I don’t know how he does it, but they sound just as smooth and tight as if he were playing them on the pipes.

Re: crans again

Didn’t really look at what Caoimghgin had questioned. And I think his/her interpretation is a little off. Trouble is I don’t know how it can be written in ABC format. I have it demonstrated slow and fast on tape (not that that’s any good to you).

You have to play the whole triplet, AAA, BBB or whatever, sustaining the last note and doing a swift cut AFTER you have started to play it - so it comes out as a crisp triplet with a ‘cut’ tail at the end. The bowing is either up-down-upp, or down-up-downn. It’s simple really when you get the hang of it. Just a matter of co-ordination.

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Re: cran

Hey, i dont want to sound ignorant cos im a scottish fiddler…..
but wat the hell IS a cran and wat cd shud i listen out for them on? Any help appreciated.

Re: cran

Well, Wackadack, this thread seems to have fizzled a bit, but I wouldn’t want to leave you without an answer (considerate person that I am). What’s wrong with being a Scottish fiddler anyhow? Do as Zina suggests above. Listen to pipers and to fiddle players. Crans are quite common on pipes. Some fiddle players ‘does’ and some ‘doesn’t’ put crans into their music. They’re, like … optional. Sure there must be somethin’ like it in Scottish fiddling (but I don’t know, coming as I do from down under.
cheers

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Re: cran

If you can get Sean Keane’s early LP called Gusty’s Frolics (from the early 70s) he does cranning on the Gold Ring and possibly other tunes (cant remember). In fact in those days he played in a very "pipe like" style.

BTW I’m in Ecosse too. Dont think the Highland Pipes do "crans" as a form of decoration. I think this is confined to the uillean pipes.

Re: cran

Highland pipers do a thing like a cran but call it a "Burl" or "Byrle" it’s a little different. From what I understand they use the three pads of one finger to tap across the hole three times. I believe some do cran as well, but I don’t know if it’s a Scottish piping ornament that travelled to Ireland or vice versa.

To answer whackadack’s question a cran is a uillean pipe ornament. usually played along the lines of
{F}(3D{G}D{F}D or
{F}(3E{G}E{F}E (the pick up F is optional)
Kind of like a roll - but all the grace notes fall above the note. Although they can be used on any note they are traditionally used only on D’s & E’s.

Although if you try those sequence of notes on a fiddle it won’t sound like a cran. Again bringing us back to the point that its a pipe ornament best left to the pipes.

Re: cran

The Donegal fiddlers don’t think so, Brad — they use them quite often.

There’s definitely more than one way to cran on the fiddle, because, as Brad says, it’s a fiddle trying to *imitate* a cran on a pipe, so ‘definitive’ ways of doing a cran (or for that matter anything else) aren’t going to go over too well. I’d be wary of telling other players that they’re doing something ‘wrong’ when it may very well be that they’re doing it quite right for them. What’s important is that it sounds like a cran on a pipe regardless of *how* the fiddler gets the sound.

Second, no, an open string roll isn’t necessarily going to bounce up and down between the open string and the 1 and 3. Matt Cranitch rolls the open string 0-1-3-1-0 and teaches them that way, and are *you* going to tell him he doesn’t know what he’s doing? I’m not! :) You can search the archives of the threads for the discussion we had on open string rolls.

There’s very little that can be definitive about ITM, and one must remember that while there’s plenty of ways to be wrong, there’s also many different ways to be right. ITM is both an art and a craft, and that is extremely important to remember. Easy to go heavy on either the art or the craft to the detriment of the other and become a lesser player because of it. While there’s nothing wrong with a biased opinion (look at Brad! *grin*), there IS something wrong with assuming that your own opinion (and even anyone else’s opinion) is the only one out there that’s worth anything.

Wackadack, I would suggest listening to just about any recording of any uilleann piper play to hear a cran before listening to a fiddler cran, for the above reasons. A cran, as Brad says above, is a tripletty-cutty sort of roll/ornament usually on the low D (the lowest note a piper can play on the chanter). They’re almost always going to cran a held low D, it’s like Pavlov’s dog, an automatic reaction. It’s a sort of complicated, syncopated kind of sounding triplet with cuts in. Dirk can probably help you out better with that, it’s almost impossible to describe the sound in words (better to let a piper describe it to you since they’re the experts on crans, after all! Us fiddlers are only aping our betters here…! Heh).

If you want to learn the most authentic way to cran on a fiddle, ask a piper to teach you how to cran rather than learning it from a fiddler. You’ll have to figure out how to change your bowing to get it to sound right, which the piper can’t help you with, but s/he can probably better teach you the ornament than any of us fiddlers can.

Don’t expect it to be easy, Wackadack. Kevin says he’s never heard anyone learn it off bang at the start and that it really does take years to get it truly right, when you count feel and knowledge/taste of when to use the thing..

Zina

Re: cran: how to learn

Allow me to restate my approach: learn to roll first, then figure out how to do something that sounds like a roll, on an open string. That something will probably be a cran. :-)

Re: cran

I didn’t think my post was that opinionated, modern players are adding all kinds of things to ITM. Some things are good like crans. I have never heard Johnny Doherty, Danny O’Donnel or any other old time Donegal player cran. I wouldn’t say that crans are the rule in Donegal amongst younger players either.

Re: cran

No, indeed it’s not likely to be a cran, Glauber. :) In the first place, the roll on an open string is pretty easy. A cran isn’t! (At least, not for this fiddler, it’s not — trying to coordinate the direction changes of the bow along with the triplet and the cut…yipes.)

Brad, I didn’t say your post was that opinionated. I said *you* were opinionated. *grin* And some people would differ with your opinion about Donegal fiddlers using crans — I’ve been told (by a Donegal fiddler) that that’s where you’ll generally hear them. The last few I’ve heard (none of them particularly well-known except for Kevin Glackin) have indeed used crans, although not particularly a lot of them. And some of the Dublin players I’ve heard have also used crans — again, not a terrible lot of them, but they’re there.

Zina

Re: cran

So if 50% of Donegal players do use crans & Donegal makes up 1/32 of Ireland. That would put the percentage of fiddlers who cran in Ireland at about 0.015625%. Which is more or less the percentage of rolling "Snake Eyes" in a game of craps.

Re: cran

Just feeling argumentative today, Brad?

Zina

Re: cran

Not really, maybe I should use more smiley faces :-) or *snickers* I mean everything with a little tongue in cheek. I just don’t type it out.

On a sidenote
I just found out theres a band in my area who calls themselves the "Phoney Maloneys" A friend told me I should start a band called "The Real Maloneys" I’ll get on the horn with Mick & Paddy. :) *snicker* *grin*

Re: cran

I am not a Donegal fiddleplayer, I am not opinionated either, and neither can I call myself any sort of expert - but I do play the odd little cran here and there as the mood takes me. I set out about six years ago to put it into my repetoir of ornamentations, worked dam hard at it for a long while and have I think succeeded to a pleasing degree, and was told that as a cran player I was in the minority (not better or worse or anything like that) but that many fiddleplayers simply don’t cran. I say that’s because they have never really really knuckled down and tried. Nor perhaps have they been sensitively taught. If I can do something on the fiddle, anyone can. What I do do is count myself lucky. I think my crans come out full of electricity - (not scratchety). Now, I am not one to make judgements on any any any anyone any any anywhere, I just quietly put into the music what I feel is right for me. What’s more I love it - and that’s enough reward for me.

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Re: cran

Yes Zina, Kevin Glackin tried to teach me how to cran - but obviously I forgot - thats why I had to ask. I think its all a matter of taste - and it really does sound brilliant when its done right (even though it was pointed out that there are loads of different rights!) , so thanks for all the advice lads - think I’ll go and ask a pipe player!!!!

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Re: cran

Would it be possible for someone to make a sound file available, showing what fiddle cran sounds like? While you’re at it, maybe you could do rolls too? :-)

Re: cran

Last night, I finally got my nerve up and went down to a non-slow session in Abq. Turns out that an excellent uilleann piper (Andrew) regularly attends that particular session. What timing! I cornered him and had him explain the cran and demonstrate it. Very cool, but I have to tell you, I am so far from understanding the cran that what he said sounded like gobblity-gook - luckily, I had my recorder with me. Hopefully, if I listen to his explanation over and over and practice a lot, I can at least get to where it makes sense. Andrew is so nice and helpful that my plan is to hit him up for help on the cran until I get it, even if it takes years - see what being nice gets you *grin*?

Sosaidh

Re: cran

Good for you! How did the rest of the session go? Were you able to keep up on the tunes you knew? Did you meet new friends? Have a lot of fun? Inquiring minds want to know!

Zina

Re: cran

Sosaidh, I realize this might be asking a lot, but would it be possible for you to transcribe the gist of Andrew’s explanation here for all of us to read? You could type it into a word-processing document at your leisure, and then copy it into this discussion thread when it’s done. Or you can tell me to shut my yap and spend your time far more productively playing tunes! :-)
Just a thought.

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Re: cran

Will I if you scroll up there’s an ABC transcription of a pipe cran that I got from Kevin O’Brien (Pipe teacher for Boston CCE) although the first note in the triplet should be held longer.

Re: cran confusion

Right

There more than one to play a cran (with fingering and bowing) but can someone clarify whether it it the first part of the cran which is long (as in a long roll) or the last part. Both have been suggested on this thread

Or this is another one of those "doesnt matter" things

Re: cran

I mostly kept my mouth shut (my one major talent is saying the wrong thing at exactly the wrong time) and played real quietly. Despite the shaking, I was able to play about 25% of all the tunes, which was quite exciting - it would have been more but the speed was generally faster than I could cope with. It was so helpful to have read all the suggestions from you guys about how to behave at sessions, sort of a confidence booster. I do have a question about one thing that happened. Toward the end, when the stronger personalities had left, I actually led some tunes (lord only knows what got into me)! One of tunes no one knew, but they told me to play it anyway. I wasn’t sure what to do, but it seemed rude to refuse when they had asked, so I went ahead and played it. Was that wrong? Maybe they were asking just to be polite? The drum and mandolin players did join in, so maybe it was ok. Anyway, I made it through the whole tune without stumbling once, the god of fiddlers must have taken pity on me :-). After that, I was so wired that the 2 hour drive home went by like it was nothing. I can’t wait to do it again!

Re: transcribing Andrew’s cran comments

I can’t promise anything, but I’ll give transcribing it a shot. Doing so would probably be quite helpful for the learning process anyway

Sosaidh.

Re: cran

That’s great! Hope you’re patting yourself on the back. Your first fast session! Woohoo!

By all means, if someone asks you to play a tune they don’t know but you do, then do play it. That’s how they learn new tunes, after all. How many times you play it generally depends on whether anyone is trying to learn it off you. Since the bodhran and backers were there for you, it sounds to me like it was fine, and I hope you repeated it at least two or three times (depending on your gauge of the interest level in the tune) to give others a chance to try it.

I know exactly what you mean about getting the shakes from nervousness. That’s when I try to concentrate on nothing but the fiddle and the playing and ignore everything (and everyone) else while the tune gets started, until the fingers relax out. Then I can start paying attention again, hopefully in time to hear the next tune starting. :)

We’ve got one or two pipers on this list — I can’t think of why they’re not telling us more than we ever wanted to know about crans. Dirk, though, has been exceptionally busy at work, so perhaps that’s why he hasn’t given us the benefit of his explanation… :)

Zina

Re: cran

Ok, for better or worse, here is the transcript of Andrew(the piper from the Abq session)’s description of how he does a cran. The words are rather sparse, in the recording, he demonstrated what he was talking about, which adds a lot to the discussion. Nonetheless, there were some interesting bits.

Normally you either do it on 2 notes when you are piping. You either do it on a D or an E. For the E cran, you’d cut with the A finger, then cut with the G finger, then cut with the F finger. It’s series of 3 notes, like a triplet, except it makes a bubbly sound. The whole point is to make each very distinct, and stop the note before. For
the D cran, it is the same as the E cran, you can do it numerous ways, you can cut it wit the F, E, and A finger - or you can do a series of 2 notes. And you can go backwards, forward, you can intersperse it, there is no real rule to how you play it.

Sosaidh

Re: cran

Thanks, Sosaidh. Translated from pipes onto my low whistle, and then on to fiddle, this actually made sense. It’s also interesting to play around with the different sequence of possible notes, as Andrew suggests. Hmmm…always something more to learn.

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Re: cran

So, Will, can you tell me what you ended up with on the fiddle? Maybe that will help me get a better understanding.
I’m not familiar with the finger layout of the pipes - presumably the low whistle is the same?

Re: cran

Well, it doesn’t translate straight across to fiddle of course, and I’m the last person to ask for an authoritative description of a cran, but I’ll take a stab at it.

What I get out of your notes is that a cran on fiddle could be done one of two general ways.

(1) On a single bow stroke (either direction), play three grace notes on an open string by cutting with your ring and index fingers. By cut, I mean that light tap of a finger that just makes contact with a string to interrupt its vibrations, not actually pressing the string down to the fingerboard.

I would wager that something like "open D string, cut with ring finger, cut with index, and cut again with index, ending on open D" would come close to a cran the way Andrew describes it on pipes. I’m only suggesting the cuts in this order (ring, index, index) to approximate the pitch sequence that Andrew gives.

For more emphasis, you could single bow a triplet on the open D, playing the middle note with your index finger down, and then cutting the last open D note with a ring finger. In abc it would look like this:(3DED{G}D.

Maybe someone who actually knows how to do a cran on fiddle can now tell me how wrong I am…. *grin*

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Re: cran

Well, that’s not me, Will, but Kevin did say that the bow had to change direction in order to get the correct "bubbly" sound mentioned above, so I’d say your single bowing version is probably *more* correct than the other correct version. *grin* I can’t remember whether Kevin’s cran used only one cut note or whether he used two lke Andrew described. bb, do you remember whether it did?

Zina

Re: cran

nope! sorry - it was all a bit confusing at the time - plus it was going on 3 years ago now, but I do remeber thinking at the time…that is impossible - he must be a genius! The way kevin does it looks and sounds very difficult.

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Re: cran

It does, doesn’t it? And it’s so damn clean sounding… I just wrote Kevin to ask if he had a minute to jot down what he does on his cran. We’ll see if he currently has time for that — he’s not much for e-mail, in real life, and the assessments that he does for his Scoiltrad students takes up most of his time that he’s willing to spend on e-mail! :)

Zina

Re: cran

So, Will, can you tell me what you ended up with on the fiddle? Maybe that will help me get a better understanding.
I’m not familiar with the finger layout of the pipes - presumably the low whistle is the same?

Re: cran

Ok, so I don’t know what happened, I was looking at various pages and all of a sudden, my previous post ended up in this thread again. Sorry about that. No need to answer again, Will, I’m slow but not quite *that* slow :). Thanks for your description, things are starting to make sense, sort of…

Re: cran

I am waiting with baited breath for the outcome on this. The way I play crans sounds right (not only to me), they fit into the music, I play them the way I was taught.
PS: I love the concept of "The Small Circle Tune Learning Session", only wish you weren’t so far away or my fiddle and I would be there.
Cheers

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Re: cran

Haven’t heard from Kevin yet — so either he’s on tour, or busier than a really busy thing, or just doesn’t care to answer, so we’ll give it a bit more time before I write somebody else like Kieran O’Hare and Liz Knowles.

I shouldn’t worry about it too much, Jill — if it sounds right to you, then it probably is right, and it’s certainly right for you already. :) I’m mainly just curious now as to how Kevin plays them.

Zina

Re: cran

Thanks Zina, so am I.

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Re: cran

So, I know this discussion is like a zillion years old but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to comment! In case anyone hasn’t yet made the same discovery I did, here it is: I found a cran video tutorial on the Kerry whistle website with other flute videos as well. Phil Hardy breaks it (cranning on a low whistle) down (in my opinion) fairly well. Just check out the video section and go to tutorials, it is listed as "tutorial_3." hope that helps somebody!!