Bone picking.

Bone picking.

Certain past threads (and difficulty believing lunch is *really* over) have got me thinking:

It seems to me that in any culture’s aural tradition each story / song / melody is passed on with as much of it’s own history as can be remembered. For example, the teller of a First Nations tale must learn it’s where (and when) it came from before he / she earns the right and is given permission to share it. The musical parallel is that the older and more dedicated traditional musicians I’ve met pass on a whole pile of contextual information as they pass on a tune, including the name of the composer if they know it, even in the composer has been dead a century.

It also seems to me many musicians make a concerted effort to block out the awareness that the music they are playing came from somewhere and was written by someone and call this wilful ignorance an appreciation of “genuine” traditional music. Having blocked out as much contextual information as they can, they then make snarky comments about the uselessness of new tunes or composers who think the tunes they’ve written in some way belong to them. Possibly they do this because the continuing practice of ordinary people with kids and jobs and gardens and no Grammy awards composing little ditties in their spare time rubs their noses in the fact that it has always been done this way, and that their stubborn refusal to consider the people who wrote the tunes they play is nothing but laziness.

Discuss.

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Couldn’t agree more, I have a feeling a lot of this is laziness.
I don’t want to start on about the old days but it seems to me that when I started learning there was a kind of apprenticeship which in fact has never stopped and it is this element which is now missing. The standard of musicianship has improved out of all proportion so there is a plus side. How do people talk about a tune to each other if all they know is the title or how to play it? Technique is one thing but not the be all and end all.

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Scratch, Scratch!
Meeiow!

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oops, better put one of these on!
😉

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Maybe some of this is a result of being less connected with the tradition (or any tradition). My parents grew up in (an still live in) a rural area where everyone knew each other, parcels of land were called "The Moudy Place" long after the Moudy family had moved on, and memories generally went back a ways. I, on the other hand, have lived in a dozen or so houses in three states. It takes a lot more effort to do the homework and know the stories. The point of this ramble is that it’s pretty easy to learn tunes out of context, but there is no richness of understanding. Which is the whole point, I thought.

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The second part of your your post is a little more ambiguous for me especially. Having had at least one tune accepted by the tradition I can understand musicians saying they are now ours, in the sense that I let them out into the public domain and they play them. I personally have never looked to try and make a living out of composing ITM, anyway it’s not possible because it will always be a minority music. The pleasure comes from having had the tunes accepted.

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Given that the pseudo-intellectual facade of this thread is nothing more than a blatant attempt to resurrect the recent thread about the composer who wanted his composition removed from the Session archives, in order that Kerri can attempt to vilify the people she disagreed with there, maybe Jeremy should delete it and paste it on the end of that thread.

Discussed(!)

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I figure you’re onto something about the disconnectedness. I have no objection to people who learn tunes out of context, but only to people who learn tunes out of context and then prance about bragging about how they prefer "old" or "traditional" tunes (by which they might mean a tune written in the 80’s by a composer whose name they didn’t bother to learn).

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Actually, Mark, the topic of this thread is the shunning of context. The other thread is only mentioned in passing to illustrate how the practice of context shunning affects a musician’s general attitude.

But thanks for sharing.

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Come on Kerri, pull the other one, it’s got bells on it!

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*waving my magical vilification wand over Mark’s head*…

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I have to agree with you Kerri. The who/what/when/where/why behind a tune is as much a part of it as the melody. Whether an old tune or a more recent one. Case in point for me is "Caves of Kiltanon" by Paddy Canny. A lovely tune on it’s on but once I heard Paddy’s story behind the tune it came alive. It seems he wrote it one day after having falling into a sink hole, a cave, on his farm. As he sat there stuck, not knowing if he’d ever get out, the tune came to him. To really play this one right, all I have to do is get right down in that cave with him in my mind.

I know there are more than schools of thought about teaching traditional music, but for me, give me the whole story. Others don’t always feel that need, which is a shame, they won’t get all out of the tune it has to offer.

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i dont disagree that there are people out there who might think like that, kerri, but i would wonder how you would know that they actually make an "effort" to do this unless they admit it.
i have to admit that for some reason i tend to think alot/most tunes are old, not purposly but without thinking. i generally cant remember a tunes name let alone composer but i have studied the history of our country and although i dont know the composer’s story i kinda know what was going on at the time. i agree however that people who claim to like tunes because they are old, (written perhaps in the 80’s ), aren’t really liking the music at all but just the tradition.
but can anyone tell me how old it has to bein order to qualify for traditional?

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The "effort" part comes across in various comments that appear to be designed to convince the community in general that music with a composer’s name attached is not "traditional", or that tunes written after some hypothetical historical cut-off point (ie. the point beyond which a person’s contextual ignorance is justifiable, which differs from one musician to the next) are pointless and / or derivative.

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I do agree with you about those kinda people. Completly. They would rather let the tradition die than revitalise it in any way.

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By the way, Ian, I don’t expect to ever roll naked in the money I make composing either. It doesn’t matter much to me if my name travels with the tune I wrote, but if I were to find it published or recorded somewhere without my name attached (or worse - with someone else’s name attached) I have to admit I’d go sleepless one or two nights. This new-fangled attitude that trying to remember who wrote what isn’t relevant in traditional music ensures that if I keep writing tunes this is bound to happen sooner or later.

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I think using the term "traditional" has become confused and somewhat diluted.

Obiviously, with the oldest tunes, it means no one is sure who the composer was.

However, when used discussing the genre in general, exactly what does the word mean? Does it refer to tunes our grand parents and great grand parents thought of as old? Or is it a "style" of melodic and rythmic patterns?

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Someone actually did record one of my tunes and gave no credit, but I found out later that it was recorded under another name. Not really the fault of the musician in question because it had been learned with the other name. I can’t imagine this person changing the name of the tune to do someone out of a few cents. It’s true that in days gone by there were songs recorded by at least 2 well known Irish groups who never gave credit to the composers, but in all fairness the songs had never been copyrighted.

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Aren’t we all part of a "living tradition"..? the tunes were never writen down in the past,just passed to the next musician by being played to them.Some well known musicians take an old well established tune re-write a couple of notes or add a variation here or there..and hey presto you have "joe bloggs’s tripping up the stairs" I do believe that artist’s should be recognised for thier own work, and credited as composer,but you also have to accept that tunes will be played in sessions and some one won’t remember the name or composer..I will admit i only tend to ask for the name too…because the majority of tunes are "old".
The music scene is a living growing creature we have to keep feeding it, well done to you if you hear one of your tunes doing the rounds at a session! if we are playing it it’s because we like it. and i think that should be reward enough.

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Just because you participate in a ‘living tradition’ doesn’t get you off the hook. No, no one is going to stop dead in the middle of a set and announce who wrote the next tune, but doesn’t anyone ever get curious as to where this mass of music came from? It certainly didn’t spring, fully grown, from the forehead of Zeus. Sure, they are ‘traditional’, and some origins may be lost in the mists of time and all that, but I find that a surpising number of tune that I play have a name attached.

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Whoops: "tunes" …

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I think we have a couple of different issues running here; I agree that there is not enough context passed on with the music, certainly in many sessions "Gan Ainm" is often just laziness or ineptitude, everything came from somewhere originally, even if it’s just Freddie Casey’s 25th, and the history of a tune is often illuminating, and many good ITM performers, and others give the context of tunes in concert performances and sleeve notes.
Giving credit to a writer or composer is another - certainly, if you might have a book of your work for sale, then you might not want it freely offered on this or another site. But hearing your work performed and gloried in - I remember the story of Max Boyce being interviewed in the tv commentators box at Twickenham Stadium, and the crowd, not knowing he was there, broke into one of his songs. If it had been me, I think I would have cried with joy for sheer pleasure.

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Of course there is always Paddy Fahey’s approach to get folks to remember which tunes he wrote. He never names them. They are simply Fahey’s Reel #3 or #12 or whichever. I guess not too many composers can get away with that method though.

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It’s not just minority music genres such as ITM where it’s not really possible to make a living by composing. There are very few modern "classical" (for want of a better term) composers who don’t need a real job such as teaching or performing to make ends meet. That’s life, and applies to most creative people in the arts.
To make a living from composing I suppose you’ve got to get a few major hits in the pop music world, write film or tv music on a regular basis, or really successful musicals. Or perhaps become the Master of the Queen’s Music (in the UK) - a little-known perk of which post being that the holder apparently can’t be indicted on a criminal charge.
And then, if all you can do is to compose, and you can’t make a living by it, then sooner or later you’ll be decomposing 🙂

Trevor

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Kerri, can you put down a list of actions *you* take when passing on a tune you know to someone. Could you also perhaps quantify the amount of knowledge I should be packaging when I show someone a tune so that I can be sure to contexualize it properly. Finally, can you give some examples of times where you’ve experienced this phenom of people deliberately forgetting the context. I’m being slightly facetious because, though agree with you in most ways on this one, I think people should be very careful when laying claim on something for which a gut feel is all we have. I’d want to be sure that’s not all you’re going on. And be careful about using the other thread as an example becasue as you said, it was only mentioned in passing.

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Also, I’m wondering if you might compare the number of tunes in the Irish traditional music sphere versus the number of stories in the First Nations Quiver (no pun intended). I"m not knowledgable at all on this one and would like to know if they are relatively equal.

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For some reason the musos I run with either a) already know a lot about the tunes or b) don’t give a hoot. When I teach a tune to the former, or they teach one to me, we try to exchange what we know about the tune, even if all that consists of is the title and where we learned it. The latter, on the other hand, look at me as though I’m nuts if I mention the tune name, identify its place of origin, or say anything else other than "Do you know this one?".

I love knowing the context of a tune. As FiddleMeThis said, I get farther into the tune if I know the reasons behind it (supposing there are any, of course, because not all tunes have reasons) and something of its history. It baffles me that some people are actually contemptuous of all that. As a result, I tend to hoard my "best" (favorite, special, whatever term you prefer) tunes and their stories for the ones who, like me, enjoy the context.

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Most traditional Irish music was composed because the composer had no choice in the matter,music just flowed from his body, he had to compose, money or royalties played no part in it. Imagine having a debate like this a hundred years ago, it just would not have happened because music is what moved the soul, not the details.

Posted by .

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I want to dismiss once and for all the idea that a composer is going to get money from some magical musical tooth fairy for the humble fact that we know his name. I’m not talking about "royalties", but about respect and recognition. Too many people bring up royalties whenever the question of giving credit where credit is due comes up. So from now on, let’s try not to harp on about making money for writing tunes, and stick to the basic issue of whether there is any merit (in terms of passing the tradition on to your children and great grandchildren) to the idea of shunning tunes with a context attached because to you they aren’t "traditional".

tulloch, I have no idea how many Irish tunes or native storie there are, but I know your average Irish tune is about 37 seconds long, whereas a native story can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 4 days to tell (it’s true - I got to hear a 4 day story once) - so, assuming the memory capacity of Indians and Irish people are in the same ballpark, there are hundreds of times more Irish tunes than native stories. (However, I’ve never heard the same native story twice - the same can’t be said for ‘Inisheer’)

As for guidelines, I feel the answer is always "more". How much do you need to know about a tune before you can claim to know the tune? More.

That said, I don’t know *any* tunes. Not really. Of the couple hundred I’m able to play I know the names of about a quarter, and the composers of a quarter of that. Of that 25 % of 25 % I know the *story* behind maybe one percent. (That being the tune that I wrote). So, yeah, I don’t know any tunes.

I did gather a pile of composers together recently and learn a lot about their tunes (shameless plug: http://www.composium.uni.cc), so if I have kids and the kids take to music and i teach them some tunes, I can also tell them a bit about the people who wrote them and the historical context in which they were written. In other words, I can pass on the tradition more intelligently than I picked it up (ie. bits and bobs, here and there).

At the moment though, I confess to not knowing a single Irish tune.

"storie" is meant to have an s at the end.

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Seeking out the true composers of tunes is a job in itself. With almost every "trad." tune Ive ever researched, it seems that one musicologist will find the true composer of a tune only to be outdone by another who researches and finds that it was published in a previous source. If one seriously studies trad. music it will become evident very quickly that this is music that is "used." Trad. players used the music for their needs. Changing the setting of a march to a reel or even a jig. Whether it be for dancing or listening or marching, players adapted, changed and let the music evolve in some instances to become useful for whatever communal or solitary purpose it could serve. I think most trad. players try their best to give credit where credit is due. Just look at the names of the tunes. "Con Cassidy’s", "Nellie Boyle’s", and so on. Or maybe the tunes are given a land mark like "Boyne Water" or "Loch Leven." Good trad. players are unselfish presenters of whatever tune they are playing. Playing the tune correctly gives homage to the tune itself and the creator of the tune… whoever or whatever that may be.

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Alright: Example. You know a Jerry Holland tune. Jerry who? You know, the guy who wrote Brenda Stubbert’s Reel. OK, so you all know the name Brenda Stubbert. But did you know she is also a composer? Do you know any of *her* tunes? Or did you think "Brenda Stubbert’s" was a Brenda Stubbert tune?

A friend of mine was recently at a Jerry Holland workshop, right? So Jerry had shows up with Brenda Stubbert, and she’s sitting in on the workshop, incognito like, and Jerry goes "hey everybody, that’s Brenda Stubbert" and they all gawk and gasp because they’re suddenly looking at a visual representation of a reel they’ve been playing since forever, and they forget all about Jerry Holland and start saying "Hey, Brenda Stubbert, how about playing us a tune?"

Now that could be because they also know half a dozen of *her* tunes and are thrilled to meet her, or it could be because they failed to learn that the tune they are associating her with wasn’t written by her at all. I’m guessing the ratio is about 20/80, but I could be wrong.

I’m rambling, but my point is, Maryland-Highlander, composers more often than not name their tunes for somebody else, so having a name attached to a tune is no guarantee of recognition for a composer.

(been drinking - forget the superfluous "had". ‘sti de Jazz fest!)

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Wake Up To Cape Breton.

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this is some of the daftest load of toss I’ve read on this website for a long long time:

This music has very little baggage. It has none of the emotions accociated with other musics, depression and the blues for example. I know some people like to imagine Paddys during the potato famine and fighting in the IRA, but all this is prejudiced nonsense. The tunes themselves contain not even an inkling of such rubbish. Irish diddley tunes are merely perfectly constructed snippets of abstraction and that’s what makes them such fun.

Posted .

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Well, Kerri, your magical vilification wand got rid of me for a while (actually I went off to a session), but unfortunately I’ve rather groggily come round(!)

There are a lot of references above to concepts like The who/what/when/where/why behind a tune is as much a part of it as the melody. I’m afraid this is manifest bunkum. Some people want to be part of some folkloric thing and like to embroider nonexistant context around tunes, but unlike Native American stories, they are not born from and/or ways of recording historic events or ways of passing on wisdom. They are just tunes. It’s interesting to know who wrote them, and I think one should know such things out of respect for the composer, and credit should be given when appropriate, but given that most Irish tunes are of doubtful provenance, such information is usually incorrect, as most the tunes atributed to a particular person bear their names because they played the tune, not because they wrote it. If you look at your American story tellers, I think you’ll find that the titles given to stories reflect the content of those stories. The titles of Irish dance tunes are whimsical concoctions that have no meaning at all, except as tags, or reflect the place that the tune came from (or where someone thought it came from), or are the name of the person who used to play the tunes. Occasionally the tune name may contain the name of the composer. There is a rich and interesting history of the musicians who played (and wrote) these tunes, and their social background, and the political situation of those times, and that is surely what the players of these tunes should be aware of, and that is what you should pick up in parallel to picking up the tunes. I know people who are very much part of the tradition. They are Irish, they grew up learning tunes, they know the history of the music, but if you ask them the name of the tune they just played, they will say "Well, I don’t know what it’s called, I heard Johnny Casey playing it at the Top House two weeks ago, he played it with the one that goes like this…"
Should I berate them for not knowing more about the tune?
Mark

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I agree with the last couple of posts. Basically, these are just tunes. The composer may have had an idea and wrote a tune specifically for a person, place, or incident. More likely, they just "tagged" a name on it afterwards. In most cases we don’t know and it doesn’t really matter.
A tune like "O’Connell’s trip to Parliament" obviously appears to mark a historical event in time but the title is still quite vague and you could probably interpret it differently according to your knowledge of Irish history. If this was a song with lyrics, then it might be more significant. Of course, some tunes are derived from songs and vice versa.
However, I don’t believe that the titles of tunes or the contexts in which they were composed are as important as in many other forms of music. Of course, it is interesting to know who the composer is(and they should be credited) and a bit of history but this doesn’t prevent you playing or enjoying them.

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In Neil Gow’s Lament for Duke of Abercarney… what was that dukes name again? Discuss…

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Duke Ellington… crap wrong genre…

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I am interested in knowing a bit of background to tunes, but only as a sort of trivial aside. It would be nice to know these things, but I think the bit above about "perfectly constructed snippets of abstraction" really sums up what I like most about these tunes. You can play a tune without a story, but not a story without a tune.

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Along similar lines of the other thread on fake accents… Michael, do you mind if I steal the phrase "A daft load of toss" off of you? I want to use it on some of my clients today 🙂

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Kerri… what I really want know is who exactly does Jerry’s Beaver Hat belong to? Is it Jerry Holland, ‘cause that’s what I’ve always suspected. If so, did he wear it to Catherine MacIsaac’s Wedding, or did Brenda get to wear it after she Complimented her Brother Cameron. I think Cameron is married to Stephanie Willis right? Stephanie was always Dan R’s Favourite eh? Regardless, they were all dismissed after that by Sandy MacIntyre to a rollicking reel in Sandy’s own Style.

Just teasing, I couldn’t resist, really, I do see your point, to some extent. hehehe 😉

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Ach you lot just think they’re "abstract snippets" coz the tunes you play aren’t good enough. You probably play strings of reels off your latest CD. Of course you’re going to think there’s no history to them 😉 Try looking into the history of some of the tunes you play one day. You might find it interesting. Especially the older tunes of Scottish or English origin. A lot of the Scottish tunes were named after someone like an earl or duke or king or whatever, and it can be interesting to look up who they were and what they did - what might have inspired someone to name their tune after them. Yeah, it’s not necessarily the history of the tune *itself*, but it’s all linked, and that historical context becomes more interesting the more you look into it. You can dismiss it if you like and just play the tunes. But nothing wrong with learning more if you’re interested and maybe a bit geeky and sad like me.

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Never said there was anything wrong with it, it’s just not necassary.

A mistake I made illustrates this perfectly: I love the tune The Graf Spey, and I used to enjoy thinking about some old fella sitting in his kitchen listening to the dramatic events surroundig the famous pocket battleship unfolding on his radio and writing a tune.

Posted .

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Yeah there are a lot of red herrings, but that’s part of the fun of it. There are also a lot of tunes whose (quite long) history is perfectly traceable. I think Kerri’s point was not whether it’s necessary or not, just that some people reject any history or information behind tunes on the grounds that it’s not "trad" to know that stuff. You look a bit cooler and less sad and geeky if you can pretend not to know the name of a tune and say it’s a tune you learnt off your grandfather who learnt it off such-and-such famous fiddler and that you don’t have a name for it, even though you do really and you learnt it off the internet last week. People like that are so wannabe and irritating.

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Reading Kerri’s question, I think she is saying that you should care about this history stuff. I don’t care about it. It’s interesting, yes, but I don’t really care about it.

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Ah right, I’ll take your word for it - I can’t be bothered to read it again 🙂 No, yeah, I don’t think it does any harm to look up if you’re interested, but I certainly wouldn’t force anyone if they weren’t. It doesn’t make your playing any better.

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Actually, I was just presenting an idea for discussion. But you’ve both brilliantly illustrated my point about how musicians who aren’t interested in context (is it laziness? a learning disability? who can say…) are often heard making snarky sounding remarks about how the context isn’t relevant to the tradition at all.

You know, comments like "What a daft load of toss!" and "this is manifest bunkum!"

Oh yeah, and "The titles of Irish dance tunes are whimsical concoctions that have no meaning at all."

(As to that last quote, I believe the first two quotes sum it up nicely.)

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Who me? I thought I was agreeing with you. Now I’m confused.

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But Kerri, how can you possibly think that "pull the knofe and stick it again" has any thing whatsoever to do with the notes?

Posted .

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Kerri, I said that the expression ‘The who/what/when/where/why behind a tune is as much a part of it as the melody, was bunkum. It’s above in black and white (or pale yellow, as you will no doubt wish to point out). I stand by that.
I also said that: ‘The titles of Irish dance tunes are whimsical concoctions that have no meaning at all, except as tags, or reflect the place that the tune came from (or where someone thought it came from), or are the name of the person who used to play the tunes. ’ I’d stand by that. There is nothing ‘snarky’ about it.
You say you think that this means I am disabled in some way, or that I am lazy. Do you have any reason other than spitefulness for saying that? … ?
Have you read Last Night’s Fun by Ciaran Carson. there is a wonderful chapter on tune titles that you might find rather instructive.
You say above that you know no Irish tunes - "At the moment though, I confess to not knowing a single Irish tune."
This doesn’t encourage one to take you that seriously.
I suggest you take advantage of RyanAir’s fantastic discounts and purchase a ticket to come to the tradfest in November. We could have a duel 😉

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Yeah but if you look it up, you get:

"Breathnach (1985) suggests the title may be from a County Clare saying, which goes “Pull the knife and stick it again as the Hag of Balla said.” This refers to a black-handled knife which was a charm against fairy-folk"

Whether that’s true or not, I think it’s kind of interesting that the name comes from an actual saying, rather than it just being a random humorous name. You can learn a lot about a culture from its sayings and proverbs.

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So whether you’re interested in the names and history etc or not, it’s wrong to say that the names necessarily have no meaning.

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And whilst it’s tempting to say that the names never have anything to do with the notes, that’s not always true. There’s often some sort of reference in the actual tune itself that has to do with wordplay. An example is the tune Chris Ormston just posted with the cattle market reference, and the note sequence "BEEF" in its title. I think that’s kind of funny and interesting. Other people might think it’s totally boring and pointless and just play the tune and that’s fine, but I’d have to argue that you can’t just simply dismiss the point Kerri’s making - it’s valid.

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note sequence BEEF in the tune, not the title - (I’m tired)

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Right, dow, I meant the last quote I quoted in my quote, not your quote, the last quote before my quote. You get my meaning?

It’s true that if I’m to add context to my personal definition of what it means to "know" a tune, I don’t know any Irish tunes, (except maybe now I know a bit about pull out the knife and stick it in again, which I suppose I should now go and learn…)

I’ve at least seen the Cliffs of Moher, the Galtee Ranges and Inisheer, so I have a bit more context than I used to for those tunes.

It does look like I might pop over for the trad fest, in fact.

By the way, ottery, I would *never* encourage anyone to take me seriously. That would be terribly irresponsible.

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Yes, but Dow, the name ‘Pull the knife and stick it again’ is part of the background of Irish culture and mythology. The fact that it has been used as a title for that tune doesn’t inform you anything about the tune. You might argue that the structure of the tune has a circular nature that reflects the pulling out of a knife and plunging it in again, but that would be rather tenuous and personally I think it has no more relevance to the tune than that someone thought it had a nice ring to it. The story goes that if you stab the hag with the knife she will beg you to pull it out and finish her off by stabbing it in again, but in fact the second stab restores the hag back to life and she will get you(!)
But you should take no notice of me, I’m too lazy and disabled to know anything about the context of tune names ;-(
Hmmm!

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And Kerri,
I hope we do see you in Ennis - I’ll be the one slumped against the lamppost.
(Due to the leaning disability)

🙂

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So the tune is actually a musical representation of a story then, right? And it gives you a nice little visual for when you close your eyes and get "into it". I don’t know about you, but this last little bit about the stabbing makes me REALLY want to learn that tune, because knowing a bit about the context makes the tune *more* than an abstract string of notes for me.

I don’t know what you mean by "relevance" ottery. If this story is what the composer was thinking of when the tune was written, and by slapping that title on the composer has given us the opportunity to be thinking of the same thing he / she was thinking of when the tune was written, it seems like it could be a useful tool for our expression of the tune.

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I’ll be next to a mad flute playing barrister and his accordion playing buddy, half tanked on port and brandy, probably.

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Yes, but, if Irish music is part of Irish culture, then knowing more about the background of Irish culture must surely help you understand the whole picture, and therefore also deepens your understanding of that part of the whole, so in a *way*, it does inform you about the tune, since the music is simultaneously part of that whole culture, and the definition of what "culture" is. There’s a jargony name for that I seem to remember - like a part-whole relationship or something…

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Sorry Kerri - crossposting..

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…"by slapping that title on the composer has given us the opportunity to be thinking of the same thing he / she was thinking of when the tune was written, it seems like it could be a useful tool for our expression of the tune".

This is where I differ from Kerri. I don’t think that titles & similar info usually gives as immediate a payoff as that. I think the benefit you get from the info comes back to you in a more round about way, in the sense of deepening your understanding of the whole cultural picture.

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‘I don’t know what you mean by "relevance" ottery. If this story is what the composer was thinking of when the tune was written, and by slapping that title on the composer has given us the opportunity to be thinking of the same thing he / she was thinking of when the tune was written, it seems like it could be a useful tool for our expression of the tune.’

That’s the whole point, Kerri. What I’m saying is that the title Pull the Knife Out etc. wasn’t necessarily in the composers head when the tune was created. It was probably not even given to the tune by the composer. With modern Irish tunes, they tend to be written, say by Vincent Broderick, and name d by him, say, the Haunted House.
But far more ‘old’ Irish tunes only acquired names when they were collected and written down. That’s one of the reasons why so many tunes have multiple names.
The chapter in Last Night’s Fun really is worth reading in regard to this, if you can bum a copy off someone.
I don’t know why you have it in your head that I’m some sort of philistine who has no interest in the culture behing the tunes - I talk about little else most the time. I just disagree with you about the nature of the relationship of the culture to the tunes. It’s not a matter of life and death.

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Again, rubbish rubbish rubbish. I hear it time and time again. "You will be able to play Irish music better if you understand Irish culture". Rubbish. And to decide to go off and learn a tune because you like its name? Stupid

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*vilify vilify vilify*

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He’s right though, Kerri. Understanding the culture or knowing the names ain’t gonna help you play the music better. But it may help you appreciate the music I suppose, indirectly.

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Sorry, that was a tad vicious, but it was in no way defamatory

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Dow, - Or more likely cause you to become hopelessly deluded!
Take FiddelMeThis’s anecdote:
"Caves of Kiltanon" by Paddy Canny. A lovely tune on it’s on but once I heard Paddy’s story behind the tune it came alive. It seems he wrote it one day after having falling into a sink hole, a cave, on his farm. As he sat there stuck, not knowing if he’d ever get out, the tune came to him. To really play this one right, all I have to do is get right down in that cave with him in my mind.’

Now perhaps this story is literally true and he had his experience in his head and sat down to write a tune based on that.
Maybe the story is true, and he decided to commemorate his safe escape from the pothole by naming a tune he’d already writtenafter the caves.
Maybe He’d written a tune and called it The Caves of Kiltanon because he’d driven past the roadsign to it that morning and it had a nice ring to it, and the story was true, but didn’t have anything to do with that particular cave.
Maybe the tune was named after the roadsign, and the falling down the pothole story was completely made up, or was one he’d heard someone else tell.
The permutations are endless. Musicians like to tell tales, they like to make up stories. I was once with a man who completely convinced a lovely old lady that he wrote ‘The Old Triangle’ while banged up in gaol in Dublin on trumped up gun-running charges. The story he told was wonderful. It would be so nice to embrace that story as part of a shared culture. To let it add richness to your understanding of the song. To add - context.
Unfortunately it was a load of twaddle!
Read the trouble O’Neill had getting fixed versions of tunes, and names for those tunes, as he picked the brains of those Irish-American musicians. They led him a merry dance!

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Michael, I’m sure you know ten better reasons to learn a tune than liking its name, but me, I’ll take any excuse.

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But Mark, you’re assuming that true stories are worth more than untrue ones, but in cultural terms, that’s not necessarily true. That’s not how human culture works. Think of legends, proverbs, etc, they’re all twaddle!!! but it doesn’t mean you can’t learn something from them - something about the nature of human beings. My point is, it doesn’t matter which of the "cave" permutations is correct. The fact is, it’s interesting that all those possibilities exist, and fun to speculate about whether they may be true or not. So what if they’re not. These stupid yarns and talking points all just add up to make our world a richer place (and I’m not talking about money).

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I don’t think it makes any difference if it’s a load of twaddle. The whole of human history is peppered with fanciful departures from reality. I still think you can’t nibble the skin off an apple, throw the rest in the bin and say you’ve eaten an apple.

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dow, great minds think a like, 😉

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Well, I AM speculating.
And yes, it’s fun.
I’ve got no gripe with the cave story(!)
But if the cave story is NOT wholely true, then it in no way informs the player of the tune as to the thinker of the composer when he wrote the tune. So the person who believes that it does is deluding themself. The true value of the story is in, as you say, the richness it adds to the culture and life in general, not in anything it adds to the tune. The world is full of people who believe in things which are not true, for all sorts of reasons. That doesn’t mean we therefore have to give all stories and beliefs equal value.

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Yeah, so stop being such a philistine 🙂

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The music and the tradition are seperate. one has influenced the other but as far as the music goes, knowing the name or title will not help you play better. knowing the history behind a tune might help you have a better understanding of our heritage but that’s it.
someone who truley knows the music can take a tune, written 4 generations ago by someone unknown who wrote a tune with no meaning, and because he understands the music he/she can play that with real feeling and emotion.

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I saw Ian Melrose play last night - he had this piece he’d written and he walked the audience through it ahead of time. "In this bit the wolf is howling at the moon" (plays a few bars) "then later on he meets up with his wolf buddies out in the woods and that sounds like this" (plays a few more bars).

Not only was if funny, but it also made the tune way more enjoyable to listen to when he finished the pre-amble and played it. Having all that context turned the tune (an abstract string of notes) into a narrative.

It was great, I thought. Good on him. God forbid he ever gets chewed out by Michael Gill for wasting valuable playing time talking about all that context and history.

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Yeah but it’s just as much about the people who play the tunes and everything that goes with the music, the whole kit and kaboodle, as well as the tunes themselves. What you describe is what today’s young musicians do. They take a tune written 4 generations ago and play it with real feeling and emotion… and make it sound like crap. If they had more respect for the tradition and the history of the tunes and people who played them they’d be able to make more of it.

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I’ve always thought that sessions were more to do with people and tunes rather than just the music. A session today could conceivably consist entirely of tunes learnt off CD’s, videos or whatever. In fact you wouldn’t need to play with your peers at all. That to me just doesn’t make sense. If you sit with an old musician on a one for one basis, you would end up with anecdotes, stories, intricacies of american politics, jokes or anything else from everyday life, surely far more interesting and at least human.

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Exactly.

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Why on earth does the story behind a tune have to be true to be worth something? Don’t fiction and humor get a look-in anywhere, especially in music from cultures with a long history of tall tales and practical jokes?

My favorite tune story right now is the one where a lady came backstage after a Johnny Cunningham gig to ask him about the tune "Come Eat My Apple". He instantly launched into a long yarn about how the Scots used to offer fruit to their enemies before a battle, until the English took horrible advantage of this generosity and that’s why to this day the Scots won’t eat fruits and vegetables.

Which gives a wonderful context to the tune Cam Ye By Atholl, even if it has very little to do with the darned tune itself.

BTW, not all of us who like to know the context of a tune think that the context is inherently part of the tune, or that it’s indispensable. There’s a difference between saying " the context can enrich the player’s experience of the tune" and " the context is all". I don’t know the context of all of the tunes I play, and in some cases I don’t give a rip about the context I do know. But the ones where I know it and it adds to my enjoyment of the tune are something I treasure. There’s no need to get bent out of shape about it. To each his own, as the old woman said when she kissed the cow.

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‘Why on earth does the story behind a tune have to be true to be worth something? Don’t fiction and humor get a look-in anywhere, especially in music from cultures with a long history of tall tales and practical jokes?’

yes, very good. Does anyone disagree with that? No? I didn’t think so.

If Johnny Cunningham’s story had little to do with the tune, how did it give it a ‘wonderful context’?

???????

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Sorry, Fiddlemouse. I shouldn’t be so pedantic. It’s been a fraught day….
Mark

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Mark, the stories give the tunes context because they pop into your head every time you play the tune, making your experience of playing the tune different from what it would be if you were to play it as a disembodied string of notes.

Anyway, I totally agree with you, sara, to each his own. This topic only popped into my head because I’ve picked up the notion that some folks are a bit evangelical about the idea that the context of "real" traditional tunes must be lost in the mists of time, or the tune is, by definition, not traditional.

I don’t have a problem with people who feel that way, but I do think the practice of saying something like that over and over again can cause real and lasting damage to the richness of the experience of playing (or listening to) traditional music.

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I think there is a middle ground here.

An analogy in rock climbing is that the traditional ethic of climbing stemmed from the early spirit of adventure in climbing big mountains and later forging increasingly difficult lines up smaller more accessible crags. Now, the influx of climbers, thanks to rock climbing walls / gyms and things like the internet, have resulted in a sea change in what the activity of rock climbing involves. Now, top roping, which is heavily employed in climbing walls, is far more routinely used at the crag thus removing any element of risk that had formerly always been present. Things always change, but should they change so fundamentally and in flagrant contradiction to traditionalism? Incidentally, here too, the names of climbing routes can say nothing or everything about the route itself.

The same applies here: the Comhaltas, a conservative organisation (with good reason), believes that, while Irish traditional music is under threat, regional "style" is certainly being radically and rapidly eroded. Furthermore, I think the following does describe why "the music and the tradition" most definitely are not separate:

"It has to be insisted on that the very word traditional will lose all its relevance if it is placed alongside anything whatever with no recognition of a quality that sets it apart. The point I wish to make here is; if it is accepted in advance that traditional expression is the fruit of a particular ethnic genius then the very primacy of the tradition must be due to the fact that it is imbued with criteria and therefore values of a pre-eminent nature. The stamp of a given tradition does not fill the space-time of a people arbitrarily. It is there in its particular mode because it must be there and not simply because it might or could be there and this is what sets it apart and gives it a central position in the lives of a people. Because of its necessity, the traditional expressions of a people represent the norm for those people; they are the forces of harmony and equilibrium; the key reference points against which all other expressions that are simply possible are evaluated. Forms representing a tradition have a complete and organic quality about them. They are certainly not as some arts pundits would have it, all a matter of personal subjectivity: those pundits who are ever-ready to assert that their own individual subjectivity annuls the rights of the collective subjectivity of an entire ethnic group.

It is perhaps worth considering here another reason why Arts Departments in general overlook traditional forms of expression with such astonishing easiness. One reason is because the word traditional implies a whole lot more than the word Art can embrace. In the lives of a people where tradition is still strong and relevant, the forms representing the tradition play such an integral role in the lives of its people that the very notion of art forms hardly ever arises. The way in which a language is spoken, a garment is made and decorated, or a tune handed down is played is never set apart from the everyday activities of the life of a traditional people; it forms an integral whole."


(Source: http://www.comhaltas.com/education/report/report08.htm)

However, the "space time" does change, and, rather like my example of rock climbing, the internet and indeed the Comhaltas themselves, have made Irish traditional music accessible to all. Now, for example, protestant Americans with interests in Blues, country and classical can come onto a web site like this, publish their own compositions in an Irish traditional style and speak with a voice of authority about which they know frankly almost nothing! (I include myself in that accusation). While a tune name may shed some light on the nature of a tune, it isn’t for some gobsh1te to come and dismiss the relatedness of tunes and their names, because that isn’t the right approach. The right approach is to have a high degree of humility in thoughtful criticism and thorough and consistent elitism for output whether it is in composition or performance. While in some, probably rarer cases, a tune’s context will relevantly include its name and history, all Irish traditional tunes and songs do have a genuine context and that context is the Irish tradition from which they arose. And why caricature it as potato picking Paddy’s for God’s sake. To negate the existence of context is to fundamentally change the subject which YOU have chosen to be your peculiar interest – so much so it ceases to be Irish traditional music. As an external, to compose dross, appeal for recognition, to speak with undue authority and to submit even more bilge onto this website (which seems to be becoming far more often the rule), then this is to make entirely egocentric your relationship with Irish traditional music.

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No hard feelings, Mark. If I were in Britain right now I’d probably be biting anyone within reach, just from sheer stress. Hope your loved ones are all safe and accounted for.

Kerri’s more or less answered for me already, but I’d add that having a silly-ass story that will make people laugh is a great way to defuse tension at a sesh where things are getting a bit too uncomfortable. So not only do I have a chuckle myself whenever I even think of Cam Ye By Atholl, I can tell the story and follow it up with the tune as a way of retrieving an awkward moment. People at my sesh always fall for that particular method.

Kerri, I agree that the issue isn’t people’s opinions, but how they express them. I don’t care if someone doesn’t agree with me about enjoying the context of a tune, but I dislike being treated like a pathetic idiot as a result of the disagreement. And I think you’re right that frequently expressed contempt for the tune context is damaging; frequently expressed contempt is usually damaging, regardless of its target.

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We’re closing in on 100 posts to this thread, and it seems to me that amidst all the descriptions of peoples attitudes about the importance (or lack thereof) of context, there’s been little or no attention paid to Kerri’s question.

We’ve established that people have divergent attitudes about the importance of context, from one extreme to the other.

Kerri’s question, as I read it, is on another level entirely:

Is your attitude toward context an attempt to put into practice after the fact a philosophy you’ve developed about the music, or is your philosophy an attempt to rationalize after the fact your natural attitude and practice, or do you just not think about it at all?

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I agree with my Northern cousin, Kerri, that the titles, tales and where we got the tunes are important. I am into the history and culture of it all myself, so I very much enjoy getting as much background as I can about a tune. However, I don’t hold it against someone who cannot give me that background, unless they give me a bunch of attitude about how such matters are beneath them (and therefore, since I am interested, I am also beneath them). I can also see the other side, that many of these tales are only peripherally tied to the tunes, but that does not make them less interesting or fun to hear. It’s like statistics and baseball—you can enjoy a baseball game without knowing the statistics, but for many, the statistics make it much more fun.

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The polarisation in this thread is straightfoward. On the one hand there are those whose interest in the music is more akin to anthropoligy. And on the other hand, there are those who simply like music

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Ooh, Gary, that WAS my question! Why didn’t I think of putting it that way instead? (Oh, I remember, I was trying to enflame the anti-context preachers.)

In my case, this is a new thought evolving into a new philosophy that is bound to affect my natural attitude and practice (although probably not in any way that will be visible from the outside.)

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Who are the anti-context preachers?… I don’t think I’ve ever been preached to about context/no context up until now, after being prodded. People may have *rationalized* their feelings *after* being attacked/enflamed, but if a question is posed in a way that incites reflection then people are more liable to come back with some honest answers. Lesson: swing and punch you’ll usually get punched back, regardless of whether it is founded or not. When you get punched back don’t say "there see what I mean about your lazi bad attitude!" Anyways, if you pose questions in a manner that you explicity know will p*ss people off and you immediately depricate the power of your original argument. I personally hate being serious, or honest with someone who lumps me in with some preconceived demographic and attacks me for it, then complains and point fingers when I fight back becasue my integrity has been called into question. If I have to cypher someones all encompassing accusations into a discussion, I have a hard time really putting any *real* input in. Now, I’m going to go, play some Neil Young records, and rela because I don’t *have* to anything about rock to enjoy the music.

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… paraphrasing that rant: I really resent being made to feel bad about myself for how I feel about one of my passions. As far as I can see Kerri, *you’re* the preacher hear.

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…was that a good contribution to this wind-up? did I get it right?

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Yes, but *you*, tulloch, are probably not subjected to the wacky mood swings I get to enjoy, which make punching seem like top notch fun on certain days, as long as nobody takes it too seriously.

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Hang on, I didn’t "make" you feel bad, did I? Aw. Poor sooky baby. Here, have a lolly.

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Hahaha—- and a cross post to sum it all up 🙂

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I prefer sucky-baby if you want to use a knickname 😀

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Hey, I’m hypoglycemic… I know all about mood swings… they’re great for playing fiddle!

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Deja vu
A rhyme
it is impossible to experience deja vu for the first time
I reckon
The first time deja vu happens is
The second

Deja vu
A rhyme
it is impossible to experience deja vu for the first time
I reckon
The first time deja vu happens is
The second

I started with verse two
Verse one will stay unlistened
For the first time deja vu happens
It isn’t

Deja vu … etc.

(Les Barker http:// www.MrsAckroyd.com )

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To (sort of) answer Martin’s summary of Kerri’s question, surely it makes sense to have some idea of the cultural environment where Irish music was made and enjoyed. Over the last 30 or so years, I’ve tried to factor that into my personal philosophy of how and why Irish music works. Gives me something to think about during those interminable reel sets…

Beyond the personal enjoyment part of the exercise - I *like* Irish culture, and Irish people in general - there’s a practical side to this approach: it makes it a lot easier to remember tunes in some kind of context, and it makes it easier to identify with the players of previous generations if you have a schmeck about how they lived their lives. That’s the kind of context that gives you (me, anyway) something to measure your interpretations of tunes against. Not in a critical way, necessarily, but something to think about. It’s part of the field of study, as it were, and if you don’t pay attention to that stuff you’re going to miss out on some of the richness of the tradition. Which is ostensibly what attracted us to this music in the first place.

After saying all that, if you just want to sit down and play some tunes, have at it! Nobody’s going to hold it against you if you don’t know what Matt Molloy eats for breakfast. (Ok, two scrambled eggs, one piece of bacon, white toast with marmalade. Tea.)

Finally, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a concert or workshop where the players didn’t make some reference to the people who had shared the tunes we were hearing. I remember a week with Billy McComiskey in particular, who when faced with a class made up of every skill level and style under the sun, wisely chose to mix a little actual instruction with an endless series of stories about the tunes, the life of Sean McGlynn, and gig stories. Great stuff all together, and yet some people left complaining that they hadn’t learned any tunes.

As you were.

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Greg, you forgot about the black and white pudding.(about-to-be-sick smiley).

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See that’s what I’m saying Gzeg. You like Irish culture, it is part of your "field of study". And this is the whole Comhaltas thing aswell. The quote from above, "that traditional expression is the fruit of a particular ethnic genius" sums up the whole argument from your side of it. In other words, you cannot hope to really know the music unless you know the ethnic genius it sprang from.

Absolute racist crap

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"Paddys during the potato famine and fighting in the IRA" .. ahh, the old spud-eater / gunman stereotypes. Isn’t this "racist crap"?

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Why does interest in the context of a tune have to be either "anthropological" or culturally based? Half the time, the only context you end up with for a tune is "I learned this one from…" Like Itzikel; Kevin Burke learned it from some Scandinavians who had learned it from some Russians who had learned it from some Lithuanians. (Or something like that, it’s nearly midnight and I’m half asleep, so I may have gotten it garbled.) All that tells you about culture is that the tune is good enough to have traveled, and that its origins aren’t Irish! I’m not particularly hot on Irish culture, or for that matter on Israeli culture (since I mentioned Itzikel). I just like history. To me, the context of a tune is history.

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Yes, "paddys during the potato famine … ect" is racist crap. I did say it was prejudiced nonsense.

And how does the crime of not being interested in the provenance of a tune, as Kerri suggests, sit with enjoying the fact that the origins get garbled because it’s "traditional"?

And you are not really saying you like your history free from anthropology are you?

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Well, it might be crap - I’m only telling you my opinion - but I don’t think it’s racist crap. And I don’t buy the "ethnic genius" idea either.

Maybe I should have framed it more in terms of history, like fmouse says. All I’m saying is that people lived a different life a hundred or more years ago, that Irish music has some relation to that context, and that it’s useful to get a feel for how people lived their lives. Partly because the pace of change has accelerated since the beginning of the last century, it’s easy to believe that modern attitudes and values are the way it’s always been, just with less stuff. Or you can ignore that and play away. I just think you’re missing something.

What Ian Stevenson says above sums it up better than I did.

Sorry Kerri, I forgot the black pudding. Breakfast of champignons!

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I really do have sweet FA else to do today. Short example of difference between ethnic genius and racism. I was once arrested by the British Army — Grenadier Guards to be exact. I’ll never forget them. What fun we had! At the barracks I was searched and a tin whistle was pulled out of my pocket. I was asked what it was, I explained and offered a demonstration of my particular ethnic genius. My offered was refused and a torrent of abuse followed. That was racism.

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Yeh, but you couldn’t play the tin whistle because you were a Venezualan….

I quite agree with Gzeg, the context is important, but not because we have to wallow in the historicity of tunes or tune names. However, the music didn’t come from Venezuala did it. So what makes Irish music Irish? In 50 years time, once you lot have had your kicks from playing Irish music, composed 50 tunes each in many different countries, what will Irish music be then. What will you have made it then. Already, I feel strongly that there is a real lassitude in composed tunes. What turned you onto Irish music in the first place? Surely it wasn’t on the basis of internationally originating tunes by the name of the black squirrell’s of letchworth (no discredit to that particular tune at all).

Surely if everyone just takes what they want from Irish music and doesn’t have an interest in its context, then the future of the music is gonnae be p*ss in the breeze…… And I think thats what you are condoning by ignoring context. Its not that context will necessarily enlighten each individual tune, but the broad basis of tunes played in sessions are in better hands if they are played by people who care that they are played properly (e.g. Kenny) and played with a little respect for where they came from. Rather than just taking your kick from the "tradition" and bugger the rest.

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And what’s your context, Jamie? There’s f. all in your bio. I’d challenge you to find anyone above who ‘ignores context’ (even M.Gill, although he’d like you to think he does) You’ve been suckered by Kerri into attacking the same straw men she does.

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Well, not being one to blow my own trumpet, I wouldn’t dream of writing a "bio". Humility is always the basis of a better ethic.. …especially when you’re a Londoner and a classical violinist who has gotten into Irish music through his Irish girlfriend, a local session and through meeting a few very encouraging and outstanding Irish traditional musicians. Its precisely this viewpoint from which I make my argument because it isn’t for me to take ITM up just because its a gas only to then be a generally crap "sessionist" who composes crap tunes, but wants to expose the world to them and to my shoddy playing.

I’ve not challenged any of the above regarding their context, except where specifically provoked (M. Gill), but I do think that on a website enhancing the exchange of tunes to keep "Irish music alive", the current compose a tune-a-thon, and the general celtic transcribe every last Joe Bloggs manuscript approach is totally inconsistent and a shame.

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Jamie, I’m trying my best not to feel really hurt at what you just posted, and telling myself you can’t mean me, but it’s not working.

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Oh good, I don’t have to feel bad. Just looked at your contributions, Jamie. A couple of the 17 tunes you posted are your own compositions (that’s a fair percentage). One of them is the very last tune you posted. In a couple of the comments sections of your submissions, you yourself have said (and these are your own words): "I would welcome any history of this tune". So how, exactly, does this tally with what you posted just now, lashing out at other musicians who you haven’t even met or heard play? Or are you just having a bad day and want to give it to someone else?

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You need to sort out the difference between "Played by people who care that the tunes are playerd properly" and "played with little respect from where they came from".

There is the question, "What makes Irish music Irish?"

How you answer this shows which side of the fence you fall. And how closed mided to bemoan the fact that in 50 years time it won’t be "Irish" any more. It’s just music for christ sake. It doesn’t belong to Ireland or the Irish.

Posted .

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That doesn’t make sense.

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Oh I see what you meant, you were quoting and meant to say "played with _A_ little respect etc." - that means the opposite.

Hmm, you could argue that you’re limiting your notion of "where" to geographical location only. My notion of "where the tunes came from" is a more personal thing - as in, the source musicians (who are mostly - but not all - from Ireland). These tunes aren’t abstract entities that were sent to us from mars. They were created - and remain - inside the heads of people. So anyone who cares that the tunes are played properly *should* have respect for where they came from in that sense.

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I was just going to say that, Dow.

There was a recent discussion in the "tunes section" where the submitter of the tune had no real regard for its history and dismissed all criticisms regarding his inaccurate version as "It’s all part of the folk process". Of course, there’s a "folk process" but it’s not an excuse for laziness, especially if it’s a fairly new tune. I’d be interested, at least, to know what the "correct"(I know that’s a bad description, maybe commonplace or regular would be more apt) version was. So, in that respect, I think it’s good to know the history of a tune.
Seehttps://thesession.org/tunes/4648

Having said that, I wouldn’t worry about the original settings of every single tune, e.g. Miss Mcleod’s Reel, Mrs Macleod of Rasaay—so many settings and variations. Some people do but I prefer just to enjoy playing the music.

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Right John, you wouldn’t worry about the original settings and variations. But if someone wants to post them in abc it can only be a good thing yeah? Knowing you you’re not going to whinge about it, because you realise it’s not hurting anyone that they’re there for people to look at if they’re interested. I’ve had people moaning that old manuscript versions are being transcribed into abc and posted in the comments sections here. (Basically moaning at me, coz that’s what I’ve been doing). And I feel like shouting: "Shut up you prat! Why don’t you contribute something useful and be generous of spirit instead of scoffing other people’s hard work", but I don’t because I’m not nasty like that ;-D Suppose you get people like that everywhere, but I’m disappointed to see so many here @ thesession. I tend to think of trad musos as being a bit more… well, not like that, y’know?

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"What makes Irish music Irish"
The fact that it was played by Irish people living at home or abroad would seem to be the answer or am I just thick.
I have absolutely nothing against non -Irish playing the music but it’s not very respectful either to the culture or the country to say that it doesn’t belong there. It would seem to me that the old marketting idea that if a piece of music is not immediately categorisable, file it under Folk and the idea of "World Music" have a lot to answer for in the commercial world, especially in regard to the selling of ITM and the uninformed chancers xho promote it. Gives wrong ideas to people not having been brought up in a particular culture. A friend once said to me, "Ian, there are too many flags in this world." this being in the sense of nationalism, which I would agree with but the culture of a particular area or country is, to me at least, important.
The word "Respect" seems to be one the missing from certain contributors to this forum.

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Dow, as I said above, I meant no particular disrespect to that tune. The name emphasises the geographical origin outwith Ireland and is unusual in name. The closesness to the bit before about "lassitude" wasn’t intentional, but reading back at it isn’t fair… …so I’m sorry.

As for hypocracy, in this context you don’t get much more self critical than:

I’m "a Londoner and a classical violinist" and "it isn’t for me to take ITM up just because its a gas only to then be a generally crap "sessionist" who composes crap tunes, but wants to expose the world to them and to my shoddy playing." And also : for example "protestant Americans with interests in Blues, country and classical can come onto a web site like this, publish their own compositions in an Irish traditional style and speak with a voice of authority about which they know frankly almost nothing! (I include myself in that accusation)."

So I was always including myself in the criticism I was making and it isn’t some revelation to find I’ve composed a tune, is it? Furthermore, the good standards I was comparing to were not myself, but others like Kenny (see above) who is, I’m told, a stickler for tunes played properly and I’ve also tried to exclude the first person singular from the argument so that the argument stands up in its own right - and one accuses or excuses oneself when coming against it. Furthermore, "welcoming any history" for a tune is precisely the example of an ethical attitude I’m trying to emphasise is important!!!

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Re: Bone picking.

I wasn’t getting at you, Dow. It’s good to have "original" or alternative settings posted here in "abc". It gives us a choice but there’s not necessarily anything wrong in continuing to play our preferred setting either. However, I get irritated when people blame "the folk process" just because they’ve picked up a bad version of a tune, perhaps from someone else or learned it wrongly either through having "a poor ear" or sloppiness.

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No I know you weren’t JohnJ 😉

Jamie, maybe I misunderstood you’re argument. And I realise you weren’t dissing that particular tune, but I saw red because obviously you had that in mind as an example of what you were talking about, otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned it. I just wish people wouldn’t lash out indiscriminately like that. I’d almost rather you just went through the tunes and said "I hate this, this is utter crap". At least you know where you stand when people do that. However, thanks for apologising - I appreciate it. Maybe I’m just ultra-touchy today or something 🙂

I am a bit stressed out with stuff at the moment. I should have just kept my mouth shut…

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your!

Mixing up your and you’re is a pet hate of mine too :eye roll:

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I agree with what Ian says. And again, you’ve got to be careful about seeing "culture" as purely relating to "geographical location". Ian was careful to say "at home and abroad". Culture is to do with people and what’s inside their heads, not the ground they’re standing on, or the name of a country. Culture (including music) is also one facet of a person’s identity as both an individual and as part of a group, and a very important one at that. A lot of people disrespect that because they haven’t had cause to give it much thought.

Saint Jamie / Santachán Seamus ~ Sorry guys, it’s Dow’s / Mark’s fault…

Dow woke me up this morning, directing me here, Oh, my achin’ head. Apologies with taking up this sideline, but sometimes a boy’s just gotta do what a boy’s gotta do… After all, it isn’t often we get such a luminary comming along and casting us all into the pit of hell… Anybody got a flashlight?

Jamie, dear Jamie, were you abused or something, is it because you’ve so little actually ‘Irish’ in you that you are over compensating? I hope you can and do find some happiness in life. There are a few points in your somewhat off topic rants I would like to address. Oh yeah, that’s my definition, so it’s clear, anything that lacks any thread of understanding or compassion is in my world "OFF TOPIC!" Sorry about the shouting…

‘Context’ isn’t a sweat box on a French island surrounded by a sea of sharks. "What makes Irish music Irish?" ~ more BIG IDEAS… Are you serious about ‘wanting to know’, somehow it comes off sounding like you have all the answers already. "~ the future of the music is going to be p*ss in the breeze…" Hey, a good name for a tune? ~ "p*ss in the Breeze", nah!, I know the title isn’t in popular circulation, but there is already an old Irish composition that is also known by some as "P*ssin’ in the Wind"…

So you as the ‘authority’, assumed by the tone use and the emphatic statements made, have judged that for some of us, if not all, our "peculiar interest" in the music ceases to be "Irish", ceases to be "Traditional", is "peculiar"… Hmmm ~ so I take it from these massively inclusive comments that from your limited and limiting experience and dogma, there is only one Ireland, only one race of Irish, only one type and species and under that larger but singularly defined heading, only one ‘tradition’, as determined by you. Wow, such responsibility. Do you get sedatives and anti-depressants for that psychosis? You must be continually disappointed in the world, or you only view it selectively. I can understand the latter, for the health of the views you hold.

Continuing a wide brush approach to things, painting the vegetation against your wall, yout continue your harrangue by suggesting all composition on this site, and maybe ‘composition’ in general, is "dross", an "appeal for recognition", thaat folks here, since you don’t use a fine line here, "speak with undue authority", and that increasingly the site is being ‘spoiled’ by the submission of ever more "bilge". Who’s "egocentric"? It seems you have the ‘authority’ to make these statements, or feel you do, or why else would you make such sweeping judgements? Are you some ‘God’ in the panthenon of "Irish Tradtional Music"? Damn, I must have missed that one Seamus-san… I made a quick check of your tunebook, not that it would say anything, but maybe ~ just reels, jigs and hornpipes…just a few, nice tunes… So, where do we draw the line, eh? I’m all for going back to a simpler life, all pentatonic tunes, just a few simple system string and wind instruments and to hell with everything else… That would stop all the arguments Shirley…

So, I take it we should all go back to that fairyland idea of the ‘perfect’ moment for ‘Irish Traditional Music’ ~ and then systematically remove all Scottish, English, European, American, anything with the slightest taint of such things, from the music, dance music and dance, down the ages, like refining carbon into diamonds ~ DAMN! Where’d the carbon go? Who’s got the carbon? We’re left with f’all…, no music, no dance ~ everything is back to grunting and farting…

But what do I know, eh? I know there is a lot I don’t know, and that keeps me open and seeking more, wanting to know the connections, the stories, but not expecting everyone should be equally concerned with such things, as long as I’m allowed my little pleasures. I’m not hurting anyone, or at least not much. There are always moments of mood and insanity that can twist us all away from ‘just consideration of others’. In my little quest, I explore, and amused and irritated by, but don’t accept the many fantasies knocked about and supported by folks otherwise inclined, like yourself. I avoid such ‘dross’ even when it’s being forced down my throat at the end of a barrel, figurative or real. I’ll just fuff my way out of this for now and go back to taking it all in, not just the few things some folks collect OUT OF CONTEXT and covet as "THE ONE TRUE TRADITION"…

‘Context’ isn’t the dead wood at the heart of a rotting tree, it doesn’t have to be ‘petrified’ to be ‘authentic’. It is the saplings shooting up from it’s base, the maggots and beatles, the birds and their nests and their parasites, the ground that holds that massive hulk of life, the worms in that ground, the wind that blows through and over it, the rain, the migrating animals that visit it, the seasons, the ~ I’ll stop here, it is a bit infinite to just go one with this. Take ‘life’, it evolves, it sorts itself out, new things arise from it and some things don’t survive, for whatever reason. Some things struggle to continue, and that is OK too. Some things threated the lives of others. But if your choice is to box it all up, limit it, it will suffocate under such poor management, dry up, fade away…it might eventually go a bit ‘Disney’ or ‘Kentucky Fried’ or ‘MacDonald’, theme-park-like, and then just be for such cutesy displays for visitors to that mausoleam to ‘tradition’, maybe Leprechauns lepin’ about and playing pentatonic tunes on crwths, crumhorns and serpents…

It is odd to see "Right Approach", "high degree of humility", "thoughtful criticism", "thorough and consistent elitism" all given support in the line of one sentence…
And ~ "Humility is always the basis of a better ethic…" Damn, more BIG words without proof of understanding. I think, back to ‘context’, it might be wise to know the words before you use them, and their ‘context’. There was no proof of understanding or ‘practice’ in the context you gave these statements in. There is nothing at all ‘humble’ about the chastisement in the contributions you’ve made to this thread, even nasty, damning all before you. Well, I’d say there’s absolutely not idea in any of those sweeping condemnations of what ‘humility’ is or means. How could you and go on as you have. You’re not alone in the misuse of language, myself included, but this is pretty flagrant and downright dumb. Ignorance is a mighty tool. I have suffered my own damage having occassionally taken on that beast myself. So, my suggestion, if you’ve an ounce of humility in you anywhere to realize the error, would be for you to go ‘study’ humility, see if you can nurture it in yourself. Maybe, just maybe the openness that would bring, if you can accomplish it, would educate you beyond your self-created limitations, that wall you’ve painted everything the one colour, all plastered and flat against it, the ‘ONE’ dimension. Kelly Green?, I like Kelly Green, but come on, surely you’ve more colour in your soul than that, or shades of green at least…I would hope.

"Not to be one to blow my own trumpet ~"… Do you not realize that in condemning all others you are setting yourself up as judge and jury and ‘expert’ witness ~ as the only one who really knows and understands the ‘truth’. I’d call that ‘blowing your own trumpet’ ~ by blowing every one else away? It is a point of ‘reason’, the transverse of the ‘negative’…and lack of any humility…

Damn, ‘born again’, I should have guessed. It’s the breeding ground for bigotry and tyranny. And ‘classically trained’ too, hey, I would never hold that against you, don’t get so uptight over it all. Some of the best ‘traditional’ players I know in the current ‘wave’ as so influenced, though some keep it a secret…as if to admit such influences, like reading ‘dots’, would lessen their rating as ‘traditional’.

Such harsh words ~ "composes crap tunes ~ wants to expose the world to them and ~ shoddy playing" ~ putting words in our mouths too, now that is in no way a ‘humble’ act, meaning all others, eh?, excepting yourself of course. I could play you some recordings, not telling you the sources, and I suspect you’d condemn them similarly ~ meaning recordings of important source figures for the ‘various’ traditions in Eire and amongst the ‘Irish’ elsewhere, regional and ‘individual’ ways with the music… Some of them are definitely sinners by your standards, one fine Donegal fiddler I can think of also played sax way back when, in a ‘dance band’ with other ‘trad’ musicians in their area. They played for the ceilis too, including the ‘sets of quadrilles’, oh damn, those are alien invaders too… As he and his friends would be relegated to your hell for us all, I’ll gladly follow…

Do you have your versions of holy water and rosary beads in hand? "Irish Traditional Music", which seems to have escaped your grasp, is ‘pedestrian’, not by "Royal Appointment", yours or anyone else’s. It covers a wide variety of interests and connectivity. That a wide selection of inclinations and ‘roots’, including ‘manuscripts’ and an interest in those. A lot of those over time who were bearers of these traditions had ‘manuscripts’ in their possession, from their own scrawls, to those from others, to commercial printings…not forgetting ‘recordings’ ~ "Lions, and Tigers and Bears, Oh My"… And some of those ‘alien’ influences, well, Irish in Scotland, Scottish in Ireland, Irish in the Canadian Maritimes ~ but lets avoid endless lists and influences… This has already grown out of control, like ‘Irish Traditional Music & Dance’. Damn, and I so wanted to bring it back around to the way I’ve known it…one of those ways, or a few of those ways, or ~… The joy is you can pick what you want and leave what you don’t. You can always make a place for yourself in its folds, even if that’s to be a judgemental, humorless bore. So if you don’t like something, move on to the next. That is also the nature of a living tradition. It doesn’t settle into a rut where it can rot…

NOTE: one of the joys of ‘humility’, in my experience, for many I’ve known who carry the signs, is a ‘sense-of-humour’, something your contributions here lack completely… But maybe I’m just reading them wrong?

You have the balls to claim "I’ve not challenged any of the above regarding their context ~"… Come on, get a reality check, you’ve challenged our whole existence, just written us all off, everyone on this site, are gobshights, excepting yourself… That’s worse than a mere ‘challenge’. In your intimations we are worse than worthless.

For some ‘Tradition’ is a butterfly kit, the net, the fermaldahyde, dyes, pins, display board and locked glass cabinet… I’ve been there on occassion. It isn’t healthy, for this thing we value and have passion for, nor for ourselves. Ease up, put the gun down, back away from it, let the ‘tradition’ breath, let it live…let us have our pleasure, and see if you can start to appreciate those that might be here for different reasons than yours. You might find out we’ve more in common than you’ve allowed in your tight little frustration with the ephemeral nature of something so alive, open and beautiful. Hell, you always get better flowers and fruit with a little shight added.



Back on topic, I’ve never had a problem with the wide mix of characters and interests. I like a good story or even lyrics to a tune, a bit of where someone got it from, even if a recording ~ or not. I just love the music and the dance and the mix of the two together, the social craic, the laughter in it all. On another line, but related, I’ve had times of getting down and dirty with a poem, checking it from all angles, disassembling it to see how it works, reading everything I can get my hands on about the writer and the context and history around it… It never sapped the life out of it, that life only grew for me, it fleshed it out ~ raised my levels and layers of appreciation for it and all those connections ~ but in the end I could return to the same basic lovely assemblage of words, phrases and imagery and still appreciate it on that one level too. For some, that is all they need and choose, that William Carlos Williams was a doctor and wrote many of his short poems on a perscription pad is not important to everyone. They can appreciate his poetry without that bit of extra ‘context’. Hell, W-C-W isn’t everyone’s "Cup of Tea"… I have met some tightly wound people though, either side of the issue, from those that couldn’t give a damn, and were vocal about it ~ to those that insisted everything needed a particular introduction and reverence, or thought they were ‘special’ in having that themselves ~ they were part of a select group ‘in the know’, some also being somewhat of the ‘exhibitionist’ in their passion for it all. These sorts wind each other up. I don’t mind either slant, until they get damned dogmatic about it, pushy. I like to sit back and learn from or even hold a dialogue with those that have a passion for something. It is a way for me to learn, to understand, something I prize highly. Those extremes and their interactions can cast a dark shadow on the fun of it all, dilute and subdue the ‘craic’, put out the fire all together ~ even damage it irreperably, by imposing their wills and their disagreements beyond reason, on others. I’ve seen some lovely people blocked out of this thing I love, something I love to ‘share’, because they unfortunately had an awful first experience, because they stumbled into the darkness some obsessed personality was casting over them…

Wise one ‘tulloch’, you don’t "HAVE-TO" anything in order to enjoy music ~ full stop, period… You have the freedom to decide what way you want it, what parts of it you’d like to be involved in, how you involve yourself, without anyone else ‘branding’ you or chastising you… This is not the Spanish inquisition…is it? ~ I mean "Irish"!…do I?

Sorry guys, it’s Dow’s / Mark’s fault… & a combination of the drugs ~ 😉

Re: Bone picking.

People just don’t get it about art. Emphatically, Irish music neither belongs in Ireland or belongs to the Irish. Its like saying Shakespeare belongs to the english. Or Jazz belongs to Black Americans.

Posted .

Re: Bone picking.

Michael, why does this automatically have to be about "possession"? We’re not talking about material objects here.

Re: Bone picking.

I love the bit about the butterfly kit, the net, the fermaldahyde, dyes, pins, display board and locked glass cabinet

Posted .

Re: Bone picking.

exactly, tunes aren’t material objects, they can’t belong or be belonged

Posted .

Pickin’ at bones ~

Damn, I’d better go have a nap… It seems I got carried away, again… I’ll not have anyone calling my mates ‘useless’ , lay abouts, ‘bad influences’ and all that other shight what’s-his-face was on about…exceptin’ me of course…

Whoa!, I’m feeling a bit whoozy…

Re: Bone picking.

Jesus Christ ‘c’, remind me never to become an enemy of yours! I feel bad now 😏 Hey at least Jamie apologised. I think maybe his complaint was partly a swipe at the general thoughtlessness of some tune posters, and I’d agree with that, and I think you would too. So, um, anyway, l’ve maybe got myself into a tizwoz about this unnecessarily. I’m a bit stressed, and ‘c’ you’ve got flu, and we’re all probably over-reacting to the written word. It can be so difficult when you have no tone of voice to go on. So, let’s play some tunes and drink tea! 🙂

Re: Bone picking.

Let’s argue with Michael instead - he’s always up for it and he always comes back for more, however much you flame him, haha!

So tunes can’t belong or "be belonged" (whatever that means), and that’s what we’re saying and both agreeing on. The thrust is… well… not that. It’s, um, different. Or something. What was I saying again? What was this thread supposed to be about anyway?

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"drink tea"

How British, Dow! I know we’ve now agreed that the music doesn’t belong to The Irish but I’d still prefer a pint of Guinness. 😉


Oops, sorry. Racial stereotypes again. 🙂

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Hahahaha! Sometime someone’s going to tap you on the shoulder when you’re playing in your session and say "Right, outside now you racist bastard!" and you’ll know exactly who it is 🙂

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I’m already wary when I see strangers playing English concertinas. 🙂

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What’s wrong with being English? You racist bastard! 😀

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I’m talking about the concertinas, as well you know. Or do they have feelings too?

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Hang, on let me ask Tina…





Concertina says no.
*COUGH*

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"Obey the concertina" ROFLMAO!

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aaahahahahahahahaha

heh. aheh.

aaah.

that was funny.

Posted by .

I did see one, I think, but maybe in a dream, an induced state, that said:

"Say no to concertinas"

Are they addictive or bad for your health?

Re: Bone picking.

Yeah JohnJ I love it but if I bought it I’d have to go the whole hog and get giant hoop earrings and a tracksuit, and I don’t suit tracksuits.

"~ no disrespect to that tune ~" That’s an apology?

I couldn’t believe you said Jamie had ‘apologized’ so I went back and read it all again.

You must be kidding, no particular disrespect for that specific tune, your "Black Squirrels", no, just for everything it represents and for everyone on this site. I thought I might be mistaken at times as irrascible, but by comparison I come no where near misanthropic Jamie…can’t touch him… At least I feel guilt, feel bad about the possibility of hurting someone’s feelings. In this case, by his own words, he has little feeling for others, so I’m not feeling guilty…this time…

Is that all you need to ‘forgive’, that he waves his hands over your tune and says a few words to soften the cut ~ it’s not that tune specifically, it’s all tunes like it, including that tune… Or did you miss that one?

"~ no disrespect to that tune ~" That’s an apology?

It’s a pirate suit you want, and a "me hardies", and a parrot that swears, and get a leg cut off so you’v got a proper limp, and have someone slash your lip into a grimace and learn sea shanties, ARGH!..

The other place for Concertinas ~

Around the campfire while everyone is diggin’ into their baked beans, the cattle "moooin’" in the background, a big moon, the prairie, and you in your chaps and snakeskin boots, spurs, pearl buttons, a six shooter, and I hear a cowboy melody startin’ up ~

Give us a song on yur ol’ squeeze box Tex… YEE HA! Get along little doggies…

Now that’s concertina country… Yessiree…

The other place for Concertinas ~

Just suspecting that Jeremy might send all this into limbo. Sorry about the distraction, but on topic, really. If Dow believes that qualifies as a ‘sorry’, well, then concertinas only belong in movies with cowboys, sailors and pirates…

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No, but I’m soft and forgiving at heart really, ‘c’. Not a hardened druggie like you 😀

& Shirley Temple. Remember ‘Shirley’?

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And I don’t do line dancing 🙂

You’re right Dow, I need some shut eye. I’m wheezin’ and coughin’ all over the place, and with lungs like this I shouldn’t be laughing…. 😉

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‘let us have our pleasure’
nicely put ceolachan!

Now its lay the cards on the table time. I’ve randomly grabbed the titles of a few tunes I play, and here’s everything I know about them (I won’t mention the word context, because to me that would be what I know about the history of the music/musicians, rather than the provenance of individual tunes). I haven’t researched these tunes for the purposes of this thread, by, say. looking at the comments on the tunes section of this site. This is just the extent of my knowledge.

1. White Petticoat - nice tune. In O’Neill’s, doesnt seem to get played much at sessions. Sort of Em
goes nicely into
2. Lilting Banshee - Am (Aolian?) tune about which I know nothing. Don’t know where I got it from.
3. Maid Behind the bar - ubiquitous tune that everyone is born knowing. Don’t know where it comes from, probably Scottish(?)
4. The Otter’s Holt - bm tune composed by Junior Crehan. I know he didn’t much like it being called the Otter’s Holt. He said that the name of the tune was Pol An Madra Uisce, and the Otters Holt was just a description or translation, but wasn’t the actual name. However, I confess I always think of it as the Otter’s Holt(!)
5. Boys of Tandernagee - Em jig. There is a song to this tune by the same title. I don’t know which came first. I do know there is a Scottish tune (don’t know name) with an identical first half and different second half.
6. Aaron’s Key - Composed by Paul Roche of Stockton’s Wing. First heard it played by Paul Roche at the Shanley Weekend in Kiltyclogher - Its’s on the album called The Crooked Rose.
7. Rolling In The Ryegrass - know nothing about the tune, but it always brings to mind the anecdote told by Johnny Leary in the eponymous book of his tunes about how when Padraig O’Keefe lay on his death bed, a man approached him to try to pick his brain for tunes. He said - There’s no tune in my head but Rolling In The Ryegrass.
Ive always thought it could well be the sort of tune you’d have in your head when you shuffled off this mortal coil. Circular, catchy and insistant.
A bit like:
8. The Peeler’s Jacket - know nothing about this tune. A flute player called Pete Strong used to play it at a session I used to go to. It seemed like a good flute tune.
9. Paddy Ryan’s dream - Originally a Scottish tune called Miss Lyle’s
10. The haunted house - Jig composed by Vincent Broderick in G
11. Miss Monaghan’s - Sounds like a Scottish name to me…
12. Cooley’s - I always assumed it was played by Joe Cooley(?)
13. Tralee Gaol - know this from that record of Michael Gorman with Margaret Barry. Learned it as a polka. I think that originally it was a march (scottish?) called O’Neills march.
14. The Shaskeen - Reel named after a small river, in Clare I assume.
15. Kitty’s Wedding - hornpipe in often played after the Home Ruler.

It’s not a lot of info I’m afraid. Am I entitled to play them?

Re: Bone picking.

To me it seems, after all this back-and-forth, that we are arguing not so much about whether people should gain ‘context’ for tunes, but rather that people should really be more sensitive to the culture from which the tunes arose. Perhaps understanding the ‘context’ of tunes is merely a small portion of an even bigger issue. I think it’s fair for individuals in a particular culture to expect that outsiders *respect* the culture and not blindly trample all over it, arrogantly thinking they’ve figured it all out. Heck some inside haven’t even done that! But, I know I would at least want people to show me some respect for my culture’s musical expression. The respect I’m speaking of is one that should be earned I suppose. As I am a Canadian, don’t you come to my country and expect to tell me you know everything there is to know about Tim Horton’s and you’re now an expert on Tim’s coffee, and it would taste better if brewed ‘this-or-that’ way, when you don’t even know Tim’s real name was Miles Gilbert! 🙂 (Totally tongue in cheek) Getting back to it… I don’t however think it’s fair to say that if you don’t understand the ‘context’ of a particular tune that you also don’t respect the culture from which it arose. It is actually possible for someone to be quietly and respectfully learning the music while slowly acquiring an infrastructure of knowledge that will allow them to integrate more soulfully into that, or any other facet of the culture… whether it be Irish, Scottish, Israeli, German, Spanish, French etc… That said, there’s always going to be the arrogant bafoons… on both sides of the fence.

So making the long even longer, am I right in thinking there is a deeper question going on here? Like why can’t people show more respect? or Why do people think they can just come in and do what they want with this stuff go away thinking they have positively affected the culture? …something like that anyways.

Yeah…ok… I’m going to go to work now.

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I’m a little confused about the notion that Irish music doesn’t belong to the Irish. I kindof get it but I’m trying to just drive the idea home. The blues/Jazz example puts in some perspective ….suppose I’ll just have to give it time.

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I was elated when my fiddle instructor… a older Scotsman fiddler, told me "Good for you, now you *and* I are the only two who can properly play a strathspey for at least 100km radius!" I’m not Scottish, but I played the strathspey well… I guess… I don’t remember what the heck that tune even was anymore. So, Ottery, you go ahead and play all those tunes! 🙂

Vultures at the carcase ~

I quite like vultures. I don’t think they’re ugly at all, even beautiful when they’re catching those updrafts and gliding around.

Most of the ‘source’ musicians I’ve known knew little of their sources, other than, if lucky, remembering who it was they first learned such-and-such from. Often that was a relative or a neighbour, but sometimes just someone passing through, or something they caught off the wireless, or even from shellac / vinyl. Sometimes it was just something that came to them. Sometimes they just didn’t know, sometimes not even a name, that quite often. That didn’t stop them from appreciating the melody, enjoying it, sharing it with other musicians and dancers. They didn’t spend a lot of time pondering it all. It wasn’t necessary to a tradition that is and was a lot more than dots and technique.

They were rich in stories, background to it all, ‘context’, but they didn’t fuss over it. They had other things to do, like have a good time with good friends, playing music, playng for dancers, dancing, chatting, catching up on news, laughing… They never required visitors to take a test before they’d be allowed to join in. And for the pedants that would come in their finery and full of words, they let them get on with their fussing while these true bearers of the tradition got on with living…

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well said

Posted .

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I know this is slightly different but there’s a song "As I came in by Fisherrow" which is all about a part of Musselburgh where I live. There’s also a tune "The Bonny lass of Fisherrow" which is a relation of Bonny Kate, a popular Irish tune.
https://thesession.org/tunes/754

Ask any of the locals here and you’ll find nobody has heard of either but singers elsewhere will sing the song and musicians will play the tune. The locals might even enjoy listening to these(if they bothered) but they’d never recognise them.

Re: Bone picking.

Growing up in a Scottish musical family, with no Irish blood that I know of (and I’ve never looked), I had a mother who played Clarsach and piano, and I learned piano and violin before heading to St Pauls Cathedral choir school, that great boob in the sky that is an "icon" of Londinium protestantism. I was a grade VIII violinist and pianist quickly and after leaving St Pauls carried on a career in professional Baritone singing. While at school my musical interests flourished, including a growing insight into musicology, and a useful command of the English language resulted in poems published by Amnesty international, on their behalf and as a stand against South African apartheid.

A growing interest in science and politics lead me toward a career in medicine at Dundee and for a while, away from a musical thoroughness (while my brother became a professional organist at Christ Church Oxford and persued his muscial ideals into musicology and performance). My grandfather, a surgeron, was one of the leaders of the Christian Medical Fellowship, he was also one of the twentieth century leaders into medical ethics, and this pursuit of ethical idealism, and in harmony with a christian vocation, led to early arguments at medical school (and frequent arguments ever since!). Yours truly objected to the status quo wherein students were content with doing absolutely nothing and medical school examiners were content with setting pass marks of 50% (which they had to do, to fulfil Tony Blair’s 1500 new doctors) - hardly a position that is ethical when the intention is to have lives in your hand. Early on in medical school, a meeting with Mike Ward (of the Tannahills) led me off my intended path of acoustic guitar and onto Irish fiddle music. I Ventured to the Fisherman’s whose heady and speedy sessions were certainly great crack and then met my girlfriend who is an Irish fiddler and singer. However, under the tutelage of Mike (and a little direction from Kenny), I soon realised a different way of approaching tunes: With interest, care, and a little less speed. I have since taken a far more academic approach to Irish traditional music and having consumed as much literature, music and experience as possible, and much to her annoyance, have long since overtaken my girlfriend in playing. I have now played all over Scotland and in particular with friends and family in the western Isles and North Uist. I have spent two months in Cork for tuition and sessioning and been to sessions in Cork, Tipperary, Kerry, Donegal, Sligo and Down. My experience is therefore limited, but is growing.

Given that my experience is limited, and my own cultural background is totally outwith the context of the music I have grown to love, my approach to learning ITM is:
- To have a respect for Irish traditional music and to understand its context (where it came from, who wrote it, why it has the modality it has, who are the great torch barers today etc). Tulloch’s comment about context above is exactly, precisely what I’ve been arguing
- To play it how people, who know much better than me, think it should be played.
- To try to learn as many tunes as possible from an aural methodology, but not to be too hung up about this
- To have an interest in styles which is accentuated precisely because I do not live within the geographical context wherein regional style might be more obvious and appreciated.
- To play tunes I know well in sessions and not ones I don’t

I feel this treading carefully with "humility" (and it was always, humility in approach to ITM I was talking about, not people) is necessary precisely because I am an unashamed protestant who is originally a classically trained musician. Perhaps I shouldn’t get too hung up about it…. ….but that is certainly the question I’m posing.

Your interpretation of my posting was certainly a complete misrepresentation of what I actually wrote, but then, of course, that’s absolutely what you intended. Mixing and matching contexts with my subjective and objective argument. The tone of my posts were generally accusatory, but I definitely do not mean to infer that the whole lot of you don’t give an sh1t and certainly no that I’m an authority: how on earth can you say that when I say I accuse myself of the same??? As for my "tone" as you put it, I have always argued hard and it was the argument existing in its own right and with as little use of the first person singular as possible (which always makes the "tone" sound extremely harsh, but it is the uniformly recognised approach to scientific and philisophical argument). Everytime I have personalised the argument I have, deliberately accused myself too because that is the hiatus I am talking about (and the reason I’m interested in it):

I’m "a Londoner and a classical violinist" and "it isn’t for me to take ITM up just because its a gas only to then be a generally crap "sessionist" who composes crap tunes, but wants to expose the world to them and to my shoddy playing." And also : for example "protestant Americans with interests in Blues, country and classical can come onto a web site like this, publish their own compositions in an Irish traditional style and speak with a voice of authority about which they know frankly almost nothing! (I include myself in that accusation)."

As for Dow’s tune, I am sincerely sorry, and I’m also sincerely sorry for where I have ventured into attacks of others attitudes (it was truly not my intention to do so)……

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Re: Bone picking.

Gotta’ love passion, if only we could harness it’s energy as we do with crude oil.

So, a leg or a thigh? ~ or do you want the breast?

Good of you to comment, but ‘humility’? That is still a problem for me, as ITM is about people, unless I am sadly missing it, not just objects. If your extension of what you claim as ‘humility’ regading ITM does not include people, I wouldn’t be able to see it as in any way ‘humility’. How can you be humble to an object? Well, I suppose you could, the way virgin forests make me feel extremely humble, and elated, and happy, but they are living things. Piles of rocks and edifices, for me, while I might appreciate them, don’t do the same for me. Well, I lie, some do…as the appreciation for great craft does too ~ with great respect… But ITM, despite my previous uses of items by example, isn’t just the music, the dance, the musical instruments ~ it is nothing without people. Even if you don’t like some folk, ITM isn’t so selective. Despite the attempts of some to make it otherwise, it isn’t tyrannical, it isn’t fascist, it isn’t a religion.

We can gripe about all the bad and inconsiderate bodhran bangers, or those less capable than ‘us’, but they are part of the thing too. Sometimes there are constructive ways of dealing with it. Sometimes those folks just don’t know any better and require more consideration that just "f’off!"

The argument that you include yourself in these ‘judgements’ doesn’t hold much steam for me, it’s a cheap trick to evade taking responsibility for your attack on others, on their relationships with ITM ~ it shows a lack of consideration and lack of ‘humility’ and lack of ‘understanding’ ~ or true willingness to understand others… Just because you say ‘we’, does not take away from the disrespect you’ve voiced for anything that doesn’t meet your concept of ITM and what it must have and be… But to be honest, from your words, as much as I do hold some respect for you, I wouldn’t want to be lumped into the same group with you. I may commit some of your ‘sins’, but I don’t really recognize the ‘intent’ as being shared. Sometimes I screw up and get in an attack mode, more so when I’m not well or have lost sleep, lately. So, if you want to self-criticize, why not, go ahead, but there’s no ‘we’ here, unless you mean in the Royal sense. You can’t just lump others in your own self-flaggalation, not with such a poor understanding of others. Who knows you best, but you don’t have enough understanding in your nature, or knowledge, to lump all of us in into your confessional… Are there any priests out there to explain the process to the man? What you have done is discourteous, rude, inconsiderate, unjust… Your life history and background and education and all do not excuse you from this. How could such a blanket judgement be just, even for yourself?

I read you ‘background’ with interest, true interest, but I’m not sure what it lends to the ‘discussion’? ~ some further understanding? ~ maybe… My ‘education’ and background is a bit more slap dash and clumsy, my father was a farmboy who ran away and joined the military… Faced with someone from either background, how ever well laid out the description ~ I wouldn’t place more value on what one said than the other. I would weigh it up, want to see what had the openness that longing to ‘know’ and ‘understand’ I have high respect for, what was ‘constructive’ or not, what was judgemental and negative, which I’ve little respect for, having been condemned by the religions extremes of my gramps since I was 6. I mean, would you, having grown up with that, have much patience for such a sloppy paint job over such a large surface ~ all the same damned colour, including all over yourself? You can say all you want, but what right have you to judge so many, so much, including yourself? ~ and so harshly.

I suspect there is much I could learn from you, no question, but I doubt you have the humility to learn anything from me… Sometimes respect only goes one way, but that’s OK, it doesn’t cost me anything. So ~ respect! & the best of life to you and yours, and the best wish I could give anyone, may your horizons ever grow and open, along with your respect and understanding of others, things and people…

So, it’s breast meat is it, I’ll split it with you. Is that OK? 😉

Down to the bone ~

Hey really, nice initial write-up, why not expand, include some of your passion from the heart, without bringing others into it, and put it in your details. My interest continues…

Re: Bone picking.

So, Jamie, when you said, ‘I wouldn’t dream of writing a "bio"’ …..

Re: Bone picking.

and……Obla-dee-bla-da…….!

Re: Bone picking.

Just as an aside, an acquaintance was hitchhiking from Galway to Sligo one time when he got stuck for several hours. He was a singer and trying to learn the Bodhran, so to pass the time he lilted to himself and played along. Within a minute or so all the cows in a big field congregated in front of him and stood stock still to listen. After a few tunes he decided to sing them a song (never the one to let go a captive audience). He hadn’t finished the first verse when the catle all moved off as fast as they could to the other side of the field.
Which leads me to ask if people still subscribe to the theory, "That all music is Folk Music because they had never heard a horse sing or play"………………

Hambone ~

Well I have, every bow you take… "Life goes ooooooooo-ooon ~"

Oops! You snuck in under the wire Ian, a ‘guitarist’ even. The ‘bow’ thing, a horse singin’, was for ‘tulloch’…

Re: Bone picking.

Nice one……….

Re: Bone picking.

Actually I think I had Michael more in mind.

Drop down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton ~

Michael Moore?

About your story, I’ve had a similar experience. It ‘humbles’ me to admit it…

Re: Bone picking.

I think if it had been me, I would have appreciated the only benefit (SH*T) as one of my passions is growing old roses. the problem is ‘What to do with a bag full of it whilst hitching……..’

Re: Bone picking.

"Baaaaah-bah-bah-bah-Life goes on" (the sheep have now also started)…

Lamb chops!

I’ve never tried hitching with it, what a horror, those flies and the escaping gases, but I have shoveled plenty of it, farm work for one, and composted it down… My preference are the rugosas and I am especially partial to the Incense Rose, lovey thing… I’m also partial to lamb kebabs, so chase down the vermine tulloch and garrote a few for the barbie we’re all going to have. Any other serving suggestions Ian, now we’ve got the sh*t shoveled and put away somewhere. Oh yeah, I guess I’d better wash my hands…

Ian, you bring the Slivovic, I’ll bring a bottle of Moskovskaja…

Re: Bone picking.

No problem with the Slivovic, I’ll be in Slovenia in September.
Could also manage some real Tequilla a Mexican friend left with us a couple of weeks ago. Along with the Moskovskaja that sounds like a lethal enough combination.
Do you remember the song Cathal McConnell and Robin Morton used to sing "The Irish Jubilee"? I think someone with a poetic sense of humour could rewrite it to cover all eventualities including manure……….

Bone marimba ~

I like it. Do you mind group singing?

I’m jealous, Slovenia, lovely place, wonderful people…But ~ stay out of those caves…the ones with the lethal gas… What I’d love to hear is that they’ve cleaned that mess up and you can walk along the underground waterways again… Now that would be cool.

Re: Bone picking.

We visited some waterways last year which seemed to be OK but they were not underground, must ask about that.
In the region of Brda they make some great white wine, will enjoy going back there. A pub we went to on a free night was full of people singing Yugoslav patriotic songs in harmony, nothing to do with communist organised orchestrated arrangements, the translations we got were hilarious.

Re: Bone picking.

Ian, that thing with the cows, I caused a cow traffic jam in Limerick myself - I think Irish cows have a deep understanding and appreciation of Irish music, having grown up immersed in the culture. I don’t think Canadian cows give a toss about Irish music, but I think I may have seen them line dancing out of the corner of my eye one day…

Re: Bone picking.

And, ceolachan, the bugs and saplings, that was a lovely metaphor. That’s the most eloquent and touching torrent of abuse I’ve ever read.

Re: Bone picking.

By line dancing, do you mean like Bretons do it, if so Iv’e seen cows in Brittany do that. Wonder if it has to do with ceilis in barns, maybe the cows having nothing else to do indoors but take in the form of the dancing?

Bone of contention ~

What, up on two legs like a Gary Larson Farside cartoon, joined hooves and swinging them round, down and up in the formation of a ‘9’ ~ and singing??? Whew! ~ that is one powerful cocktail Ian.

I love the whites too. There used to be an annual wine festival in Ljubljana, with cheeses too, etc., one of the best such festival I’ve ever been to. I was a ‘gopher’ for friends at the fest, good fun, good wine and food. I don’t remember the name of the caves, but they were once famous worldwide, visited during the 1800s as a natural treasure, then the dumping of waste in these underground waterways meant a build up of methane and they fell way out of favour, at least that was still the case back in the 70s…

You, it was you Kerri, you started this and Dow got me to bite Jamie’s ankle, "Sick em c!" ~ as if I were Dow’s terrier. Arf, arf!!!

Re: Bone picking.

That is SO not true!

Rough, Rough, Ha, uh, ha, uh, ha, uh ~

Go on, throw me a bone and I’ll fetch it… 😉

I knew something would bring you out of the woodwork. What, you’re not taking any responsibility here? So, what will you bring to add strength to the mix as it is going. Ian is bringing Slivovic and Tequila. I was only planning Moskovskaja, but as were now talking pairs I’ll also bring a really high proof ~ Austrian Stoh rum… Hey, no smoking around this stuff…

Bone of contrition ~

"Thus Spake Zarathustra" is playing in the background on a crank and a bone is flying through the air, cast by my hairy paw… 2001 has been and gone and we still aren’t out there walking on the planets.

So, in case Jamie comes back to follow developments, I’d just like to let you know Jamie that I haven’t stopped thinking about this. Why? ~ Well, not using as sloppy a paint stroke as yours, we share some sins, we meaning here just you and I, no one else is intended. Whenever I ‘react’ with such passion about something I immediately change gear and have to ask myself "am I feeling this because it reflects something in me I’m unhappy with?" No, I don’t believe everything rotates around me, but my emotions find their source there. It is in my nature to question my motivations and intentions.

The repeating thoughts this internal dialoque took had to do with the process of ‘discussion’ and ‘argument’. (Alright gang, you already know I talk to myself, so ease up on the guffaws and chuckles.) Back to topic… I value both quite highly, to release and idea and see others run with it, even if they might get it muddy or trample all over it, it might tell me how they see it, not necessarily as I’d intended. I might help me the next time I want to express an idea, share it with them, so I can improve on my delivery, through an understanding I achieve about how they think and feel, accomplished through the exchange.

So what has all this got to do with this topic, the original, and the interaction we’ve had? What sin do we share? Again, avoiding lists, I’ll keep it to just one relevant issue ~ the establishiment of the seed to discussion, to argument. I have at times done similarly to you and not given an open response but stated something as if it were an all inclusive and irrefutable ‘fact’, with regards to something that just doesn’t fit that possibility ~ of being ‘all inclusive’ and irrefutable. I think we can call that arrogance, no trace of humility in such an act. But worse yet, there’s really no room to discuss or argue. It is a bit like being met on one’s doorstep by the religious police ~ "God says it is so. It is in the bible." What discussion can come of that, they have all the answers, they have all the authority.

I’ve started things that way in the past, it isn’t open, it doesn’t lead to healthy discussion and argument, generally. Worse yet, I have found myself digging in behind the edifice I’d built in making some sweeping, all-inclusive statement of ‘fact’. I usually get past the papiermache, the balloon and hot air of it, but not always quick enough to save face.

The best seed to a discussion or argument is one that can be discussed and argued, that has an openness about it, so that those involved are discussing it and not each other. If you had posed your ‘impressions’ as questions, not as if you were the fount of all wisdom on the subject, the priest of ITM (yeah, I know guys ~ "look who’s talkin’". Ease up on the laughter.) Anyway, just let them have their fun ~ as I was saying ~ start open, so people feel some ‘welcome’ and ‘hospitality’ toward being part of your quest, your question.

You can use yourself as and example, who do you know best, though we often even get that wrong ~ but don’t drag down everyone else in the process. We may all share bits of you ‘concerns’, but throwing the same bucket of kelly green over everything isn’t a good start. We should question ourselves, our motivations and involvements. Where we have a passion for something it is only natural to feel a whole gamut of emotions, including feeling protective toward that care we have for it, in this case ITM.

For me, even if I do get carried away with it, ‘discussion’ is about discovery, but you can only allow new insights in if the door is open to them, including the founding premises for the discussion / argument in the first place. "Judgement" is a poor way to start.

One of those door banging religious fanatics, a whole family of them, came to our house just after a dear friend had died from AIDS, also a musician. They laid into their speil and I laid into them, but not nasty, just asking questions, just questions ~ they didn’t last long and left the place in a state of confusion… I still believe, though I fail in always following through with what I know at heart is right, that opening doors to others is better than slamming them in their face, that questions are far more powerful than statements…

Keep the faith Seamus-san, but try not to be a zealot…

Re: Bone picking.

"I don’t believe everything rotates around me"

You’re always full of such a hugh volume of sh*t-you’ve-not-said-yet that you’ll create your own gravity, ‘c’, so everything probably *does* revolve around you.

Sorry I just woke up from an afternoon nap and am feeling a bit smart-arsed 🙂

Re: Bone picking.

Hey, reading what you just wrote, I actually find myself feeling sorry for the religious fanatics - LOL! The poor bastards didn’t know what they were letting themselves in for when they knocked on *your* door did they?! They’ll have left going "jeez that guy was odd - did you hear how he kept going on and on about his plant in the window that he liked to water - what was all that about?! and then the stuff about squirrel recipes… he sounded like he was angry but he was smiling the whole time and making us drink this weird soup stuff… George sorry I had to send you a signal so we could leave… we were in there for 3 whole hours and I was starting to need the loo - maybe the man’s a bit lonely or something eh"…

BowrrrrrrRRRRR!!! Nice doggie ~

Since I was a sprat my ‘relations’ have had great joy in sending me to the door when the Bible Bangers visit. You might be surprised that it doesn’t take that much time to route them, just using their own words and ‘authority’. No one likes being shown up as a hippocampus, I mean hypocrite. But I soon learned as you suggest, that they recover quickly and find fault in the person they didn’t reach, even have sympathy for the poor lost soul, meanig me. I think having family of the ‘born-again’ variety you quickly learn that while it was at first amusing, especially for other family members, you weren’t accomplishing much, just wasting time. That day I had time to waste, a good friend had died and I was feeling the loss, hurt and angry… Having said that, I have to be on guard not to ‘lose it’ when faced with sweeping statements and the judgement and damnation of others. Mind you, from all those wondeful folk I’ve heard condemned to hell to hell by religious fascists, I’ll be in good company…we should be able to find a corner somewhere for a few tunes, what say Dow?

Hey, stop yankin’ my chain will yuh. You would put a choker on me…

Re: Bone picking.

At 193, ney, 194, this is getting up there. Though if it could be ranked by word count rather than postings it would be a stonker. Jeremy?

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Re: Bone picking BowrrrrrrRRRRR!!! Nice doggie etc

There’s not much left to pick on this bone. But I bet C’s word count average must be up there with the best of them.
BTW I have often wondered what is the convention here for changing the subject line. When I surf I usually check out the most recent comments to see what is being dragged along rather than what’s the most recent new subject, but it does get confusing when the subject line gets changed.
I just wanted to hijack this thread……

Mice bones my precious ~

eh?

Re: e-knob gnikcip

convention is merely repeated behaviour. Like the conventional version of a tune is merely the one played most often. Not the best.

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Re: Bone picking.

My brother once challenged some Mormons to come back for a Nintendo battle for his soul. If they won he’d convert, and if he won, they would have to get drunk with him and go out looking for premarital sex. They didn’t show up though. Too bad.

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By the way, I’ll chip in the gin and tonics.

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Gosh, I’m so 200.

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Was that Ceolachan ‘on Morals’ or Nietzsche? I’m confused… speaking of gin and tonics I’m getting a little zarathirsty! 🙂

…need to go back to work now….

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I’ve just been out for two pints of freezing grolsh in the baking sun. Hence I have that "the whole world is a figment of my imagination" illussion

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Re: Bone picking.

Shouldn’t you have said, "Two Pintsch of freesching Grolsch in the Baking Schun"…. 😉

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Never mind… Canadian Grolsch commercial.

…now I’m really going back to work….

Throwing the bones ~

Well, the outlook is promising and the drink cupboard swelleth over…

I like your brother Kerri… Invite him to the party…

Gill is sloshed already, would someone give him a bucket to sing into and set him down in a bean bag over there. Has anyone lit the barbie yet? Can someone undo this collar for me while Dow is out? My neck is over stretched and is killing me…

What work is it that has ‘tulloch’ slipping in and out of it?

Re: Bone picking.

I know, I need to sober up befor tonight’s tunes

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Re: Bone picking.

Just wanted to add my favorite Tom Waits quote to what Michael says above about convention: "Fingers are like dogs - they always go where they’ve gone before."

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~ picking…

yeeooo…

Re: Bone picking.

Anyone got a muzzle?