Your worst "traditional" music concert

Your worst "traditional" music concert

What’s the worst concert you’ve been to, that’s been billed as a traditional music concert?

I was at a concert last night, at which a "fiddle" player was playing traditional music - the only problem being, that he wasn’t - he was a classical player who’d switched to traditional music around 4 years ago. Now, I wouldn’t normally have gone to see an ex-classical player playing traditional music, but there was a huge amount of hype before-hand which enticed me along.. "……traditional fiddle champion of…….., has toured the USA extensively for the last 4 years…. broadcast frequently on the "Thistle and Shamrock" radio show." etc, etc. I thought "sounds interesting…must be worth a look"

WRONG.

I heard not a SINGLE note of traditional music at that concert, despite the fact that sets of tunes from Scotland, Ireland, Brittany and Quebec were played. I DID hear good classical technique, but that was all, nothing more. There were other visual matters, which, shall we say, nearly made me break my sides laughing.

So, what’s the worst "traditional" music concert you’ve ever been to.

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Montreux Jazz Festival, this year. A group were billed as being Breton rock (or some such). I expected there to be at least some breton influence. In the sense that they’d play some undansable gavottes, maybe use some trad instruments.

I wasn’t *entirely* wrong. One fiddle (very poorly played). All other instruments were yer ordinary rock standard. The drummer clearly could only play a rock rhythm and the tunes they knew were mostly jig adaptations played in a decidedly unswingy rock time.

To culminate, they taught the audience some "Breton", which was limited to a chorus of "lalaleno"s and suggested we dance a pogo while linking little fingers. By god! that was amazing.

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Out this deviant, Ron.

Believe it or not, one of my worst *experiences* was the Bothy band concert at Sheffield Uni, 1978 or 9, I think.









(giving readers a few minutes to calm down, pick themselves off the floor, etc.)
The band of course were phenomenal, but what got on my t!ts was all these poncy undergraduate hippy types doing pretend Irish dancing and general faffing.

Who says you need to be old to be a grumpy bastert? I was a youngster then. I think I’d be more tolerant now if I saw the same.

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The worst concert I heard was in Kilfenora, at the back of Vaughan’s. I didn’t go to it, I was staying in a cottage 200 yards away. The row kept me awake till they finished at about 2.30- and I had to drive back to Dun Laoghaire starting at 5.30 in the morning.

The fiddler’s sole attribute was speed. Technique had he none, nor taste of any sort. Backing by amplified guitars and drums made it the band from Hell (or perhaps Connaught).

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Heh heh, as to traditional in general, there were some astoundingly bad - these were however Polish bands that you guys haven’t even heard of, what a pity… Some of the concerts were spectacularly bad, what memorable experience.

As to Irish - the only bad concert I’ve seen was The Wolfe Tones in Guingamp, this year. It was just plain dull. Still, there were some good musicians on the stage.

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Kathleen Ferrier singing "folk songs" in an accent like a comedy impersonation of the queen.

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Temple Bar - plastic paddy band singing Irish Rover that loud, you could hear it 2 streets away.

Played for an Americans house party. They complained to the agent we were not what they expected. We were trad - they expected plastic paddy.

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That’s easy to answer Ron P. One concert stands out in my mind as being my worst musical experience - ever.

During my spell as a ‘professional’ Busker in Dublin, I decided to save up my hard earned pennies, (no, never more than pennies - I was ‘that’ good!) so that I could afford to scrape the money together for a Fureys Concert in Dublin.

I think I lasted about 12 minutes, & then fled in total disgust !Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgggggggggggggg
Even the mere thought of it today still makes me shudder in horror.
They just flew through sets of tunes at about the speed of light, with not a hint of rhythm, & so fast that you couldn’t even work out what the tunes were - disgusting!

I always treat folk the way I find them & don’t usually listen to gossip, however in this case, I wish I’d listened to the guys at the sessions, who warned me against going.

Worst thing was, I had to spend two nights BEER MONEY to get the ticket.

A total FEC*ING waste of time!

Why did you have to bring this up Ron P?

These very unhappy memories have just ruined my day!

I hope your proud of yourself……………………………….?

😀

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That concert you went to Ron P sounds like one I attended last year, a young fiddler from the Pacific Northwest—whose name I forget, and would remain nameless anyhow. He did a lot of the slowed down "new agey" kind of approach to traditional tunes, kind of like what Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill do, but where they pull it off well, he didn’t do as good a job. And the worst thing is, even when he did kick up the pace and play a dance tune, he did not play it in strict time, and a few times the audience tried to tap their feet and/or clap along and failed (and our local audiences are very good about keeping that behavior in good time). He was OK, but not my cup of tea, and certainly not what I had hoped for.

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Exactly the sort described in the post that started this thread. We might even be talking about the same musician.

This guy makes the rounds of the summer music schools in the U.S. and Canada, and I can’t think why.

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Saw "Tempest" out of California on a trip through Elko Nevada a couple years back. Wow. Just wow. There was so much leather, and head banging, and screaming guitars, and porly played *electric* fiddle (yeah, the plastic kind that look like a poor attempt at modern art!)…

I wanted to leave, but wasn’t driving, so couldn’t. Wanted to chew my own arm off to get out, but didn’t want to bleed all over the nice girl sitting next to me. Wanted to hurl….almost did! The only redeeming factor was to listen to the lead singer with his double necked electric guitar/mandolin thing try to speak in an Irish brouge with his thick scandanavien accent. I think his name was Leif. Honestly. Too much!

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The worst was a performance of an Irish-trad trio that plays in a small university town in the Midwest, where I went to college. But I can’t give any details beyond that—their name or the exact town or school. Because I got to know a couple of the members and they were really nice guys and had a sincere love for the music.

They weren’t awful—just a little…nervous. The guitar player was definitely the best of the bunch, he’s actually a good musician. The whistle player isn’t bad, but he also does the singing for the group, and what annoyed me about him was that he had a kind of prunish, prissy look on his face whenever he sang, no matter what the type of song—ballad, rebel song, drinking song, you name it. It was a problem for me because I’d never characterize Irish songs as "prissy". But that’s how he sang ‘em. The fiddler was definitely the weakest of all of them. I think he started out playing American folk, bluegrass music and was probably more comfortable with that genre. He seemed especially nervous and hesitant and kept a pained, anxious look on his face the entire concert. But that was a few years ago—I’ll bet they’ve gotten much better now with more time and practice.

The concert was advertised as being in a cafe, but when I got there it turned out to be just the basement of some Unitarian church. And Indie Niall?—I feel your pain about dancing hippies. There were loads of them at this "event"—as many as you can pack into a Unitarian church basement. I remember some of ‘em were also baking and selling organic cookies there, and the cookies looked really weird. They were really big and flat and orangeish-brown in color, giving them the appearance of cow patties. (Not that I have anything against organic goodies! Hey, I used to work at a Whole Foods.)

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Another bad one (though not really a concert) was this guy I saw playing in the bar at Gaelic Park on the south side of Chicago. I was there at my cousin’s wedding reception. We had a DJ in a separate room for the reception. But in the bar, there was some old guy up on a stage with a synthesizer, playing and singing all those really cheesy, schmaltzy tunes and songs that us sentimental, naive, masochistic Irish-Americans just can’t seem to get enough of, like I’ll take you home again Kathleen and Danny Boy and so on. The music was so canned-sounding, so electronic. There was a drunk bunch of football players all hanging out at (or more accurately, hanging on to) the bar and their girlfriends. They were all Northerners. Every time the singer-guy asked for requests, they’d call out "I’ll Tell Me Ma", and he must’ve sung that song 3 times in the 40 minutes or so that I was there in the bar. I asked him to sing "Grace" and he did and seemed grateful that someone was requesting something other than "I’ll tell me ma".

But again I can’t tell his name ‘cause my dad knows him and he’s also a very nice old man.

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Danny! We supported the Bothy Band in 1978 at Cardiff University and all the students there were crap at keeping a rhythm too. Didn’t matter whether it was jig or reel the clapping remained the same and resolutely out of time. The "dancing" was embarrassing too.

It was good to meet the Bothies though after a terrific concert.

I’ve never really been to a really bad concert.
I suppose Kate and Anna McGarrigle come close as they were a completete shambles on stage between songs but the songs were great so that doesn’t count.

We played a folk club in Leicester years ago and one of the floor singers did an excruciatingly bad, self-penned song where the chorus was:

"Ashby de la Zouche, you are there". Awful beyond words.

Hang on! Even better (worse)

1978 Stefan Grossman! A really good ragtime style guitarist who played at our club but started, for some bizarre reason, by insulting the audience and it went steadily downhill from there (including heckling). In the end he sort of apologised for the whole thing and shuffled off to very little applause. What a star.

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Complete not completete. I’m tired :(

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*Most* GHB performances outside of the competition circuit. Especially the kind where the concert promoters dig up some old ex-military fossil who can’t play a solid rendition of "Scotland the Brave" let alone anything interesting.

This is just NOT an instrument that should be performed publicly by someone who cannot or will not tune properly. I’m convinced the reason a lot of people hate pipes is because they have not heard them played well.

I did see Gaelic Storm last year… and in reality it a was pretty good show. But their piper, while very talented, was also incredibly nervous. He played well, but was so uncomfortable that it was physically painful to watch.

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Al Brown - after my ingracious "puke" response to a certain player’s thread about his new album, BegF and I exchanged emails, the upshot of which was I apologised, right here, online. But what finally twisted my arm was the notion that we are a shoal of quite small fish in a huge big ocean. That will forever remain the case. But I learnt, or was reminded, from BegF that we need to stick together in this niche — that’s not to say we shouldn’t "out" phoneys, because they will naturally be detrimental to our "cause" — but, and I’m not knocking you as an individual, personally I hate the slowed down stuff, I don’t even like what Martin Hayes does—- I get to feel depressed and headachey when forced to listen to it — however guys, shouldn’t be more cohesive? Stick together?

Yeah yeah, I know from the guy who brought you the dreaded "Etiquette" thread……….

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It was a Chieftain’s concert and not because of the band. The sound system would cut out or was static-ky to the point that it was really distracting to the music. T’was their 2nd or third concert tour in the states.

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Indie,
I thought I was pretty mild in my comments— "not my cup of tea" is hardly trashing someone.
It seems like you were were heading toward bashing that "slowed down melody" type of stuff even harder than I was, but then you took a turn at the end, and look like you are condemning the whole existance of this somewhat negative thread.
Are you trying to turn over a new leaf? A kinder, gentler Indie, perhaps? 😉
I would say that whenever someone gets up and starts charging for people to listen to them, they open themselves up to discussion of how they did. There should be limits to those discussions, as everyone who trys to further The Music deserves a certain amount of respect, but discussion can be healthy, and lead to a better understanding of it all.
I also have to admit that my wife thinks that the Tempest band is kind of fun, and they are, in a loud sort of jigpunky kind of way, but next time she takes me to see them, I will use earplugs, not to block out the sound, but just so my tender ears don’t ring for days afterward. Again, they are not my cup of tea.

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De Dannan in Brussels a few years ago.Nothing to do with the band,they were great.It was a mini-festival and had been going on since the afternoon.The place was full of drunken (mostly) Irish yahoos shelling out good money for beer to throw over each other.The audience was fine with the jigs and the reels,but every time that Elanor Shanley got up to sing they cat called and blew raspberries until she finished.I felt really sorry for her.The word was that there might be a session in the bar upstairs.The dressing rooms were adjacent to the bar,and De Dannan came out in single file and marched stone faced out of the place,and I can’t say I blame them.

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Al - sorry, sorry sorry sorry. A redemptive indie indeed. I didn’t intend to trash you either. Yeah you’re right, we should be able to discuss our Obsession without fear of retribution. Just as well we do so on a site that nobody outside of trad would ever bother visiting…

:~}

best wishes

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The concerts that stick painfully in my mind are the ones where the sound technician botched the mix, so that a performance that should have sounded sublime became an out-of-balance mess.

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I can think of two different concerts I have been to that were downright disappointing. The first wasn’t really a professional concert, but die-hard classical musicians trying to do American Old-Time music is just painful. They were much to "polite" in their playing.

The other one was a local up-and-coming group that had no stage skills whatsoever. They were okay musicians (except the drummer, she was phenomenal!) but they had a hard time connecting with the audience. Also, they were labeled as "Celtic" and instead were very world/new age. Any jokes they made were all "in" jokes, too. How was the audience supposed to get any?

The audience! That was another thing. Half the crowd clapped on the on beat and the other half clapped the off beats!

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Stefan Grossman 1978 - yes, he played in the UCD Belfield restaurant and there were a few mild insults to audience members from the stage. At the end he announced his last song and told the audience that when the song was finished we could all "p*ss off." I believe it was his version of a joke (as were the other insults) but he came across as incredibly arrogant.

Another wonderful Belfield concert was a "lower-echelon" trad group in ‘77 or ‘78 who were dissatisfied with the sound system and left without playing the concert.

German visitors pogo-ing to the Chieftans was funny at Lisdoonvarna, but didn’t take away from the fun.

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"A kinder, gentler Indie, perhaps?" But before you go all soft & squidgy on us, altogether Indie, I must admit, we could possibly have done with your more assertive self, at our session last night.

Here’s what happened, perhaps you would have handled things differently?
A dude sitting up at the bar suddenly produced a Mandolin & started to tune it. Fine, but the warning bells started ringing when, 30 mins later he was still trying to tune it!

Next thing we knew, mid set, there he was trying to sit down, & as he tried to plonk his ar*e on a stool he fell forward onto the back of the guitar player, who in turn fell forward & head butted my fiddle’s scroll, causing me to leap back in shock.
As I did, I noticed everyone else around the table had involuntarily leaned back quickly - as I jumped back.

Anyway, our intrepid Mandolinist, then stood bolt upright at the sight of the accident he had caused, & promptly slipped on the floor & fell forward onto the table, ‘almost’ knocking over 9 pints - they all wobbled - scarey!

Needless to say there was a stunned silence as MandolinMan fell back onto his stool.
We looked around at one another, but before any of us could explain to this rather inebriated gentlemen (to put it mildly!) that it might be best if he ‘wandered forth to multiply’, an explanatory whisper scooted round the table - it was the Guitar players long lost brother!

Now, our Guitar player is a lovely bloke, & the last thing any of us wanted to do was humiliate him by driving his brother into the wilderness, & anyway, it was painfully obvious that he was already squirming with embarressment.

We decided to leave well alone, & fortunately, the guitar player took control of his brother & calmed the situation down, so, there were no more incidents, except, right at the end of the night, when he suddenly stepped forward from the shadows &, between tunes thankfully, silenced the whole bar, some 200 people, with an almighty ROAR, telling everyone to SHUT UP!
This was followed by a pregnant pause as the whole bar looked round at one another in total disbelief!
He then just sat down.
I think he was frustrated because he thought folk weren’t listening to us.

Isn’t it frightening, what drink can do to you - be warned.

P.S. Please be assured Indie, that this tale is most definitely ‘not’ an attempt to start up that dreaded, infamous thread of yours.
To be sure, didn’t I get into enough bother the last time!
No it is just to show how the solutions to some of our session problems aren’t always cut & dried.

Sorry to but in Ron P.
Well, I suppose it could have ended up as one of our worst "traditional" music - sessions!

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I hate it when audiences can’t clap well. My church proves their New England heritage every time we try to do a gospelly number—once they start to clap, it all goes bad quickly. Unlike the Gershwin song, they DON’T have rhythm.
On the other hand, at the Blackstone River Theater in northern RI, the clapping is almost always spot on, but what I like the best is at the trad concerts when all the toes start to tap, to the point where the whole floor pulses to the music.

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Not at all Dick, I’ve diverted a few threads myself!

I’ve another story, slight change in direction again. This happened at Aberdeen folk club many moons ago, during the floorspots section of the night, before the main act got going again. It concerned a duo who went under the name "Double Dutch" I think. Anyway, these two were excrutiatingly bad, to the point that members of the audience were having great difficulty from stopping themselves from laughing, until……. someone just couldn’t control themselves any longer, and let out this pained howl of laughter. Needless to say, the whole room erupted, tears streaming down peoples faces - everyone in hysterics. A number of people "had" to go to the toilets at that moment, myself included. I really did break my sides laughing at that!

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hey Wormdiet..were you at the Raleigh Gaelic Festival last weekend?

There was a pipe band there that just couldn;t get it together..they weren’t tuned to each other, let alone in tune at all…they couldn’t play the grace notes together, weak bag pressure making mooing sounds during a solo, not stopping together…ahh what a mess! Poor guys, I know the GHB are not easy, but I think that their leader was absent and they were trying to amke a go of it on their own. I later was them all huddled around the beer tent for the remainder of the day..

Oh, one of the guys did try to accompany a FLing later on, and the announcer said the dance was a jig, not a strathspey. Might as well have been a jig….that’s how the piper played it!

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Nope… I was playing in my own worst concert here in Winston-Salem ;P

If anybody was at the West End Artsfest, I was the mediocre fluter on at 10 AM with the four Scottish fiddlers.

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Is it healthy to reminisce like this?

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Ach, why not - it’s just a bit of craic?

I’m taking the pills though, just in case……

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What you afraid of Peter? 😀

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I must admit though, there was a rumour going around, that you did play a bum note once, at a gig one time - but personally, I don’t believe it! 😀

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I know exactly what you mean about Tempest. They’re at every Celtic festival in the SF Bay Area. I cannot understand why.

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A few years back I recall a concert in Edinburgh billed as "The concert" of all concerts.So much so that the bloke who fixed it got the bullet,hardly anyone turned up and the band accompanying were half drunk.The soloist none other than the lissome,elegant,statuesque Natalie McMaster.Full speed ahead boys!

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Aw dougie, fraid yer post just made me feel sorry for the poor sod who "got the bullet". I’ve been in his shoes a few times, when you book an excellent musician, promote the event & hardly anyone turns up.

Punters can be dreadful beasties altogether, especially when they have never heard of an artist or act before, which makes me assume that this concert actually took place long before Natalie became a household name in Scotia, & rich & famous! 🙂

"and the band accompanying were half drunk." - let them without guilt, cast the first stone!

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Ditto on Tempest. Godawful!

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Goodness me! I was careful not to name any names - oh well.

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Woops!!! With the exception of that floorspot.

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Years ago I went to a see a group here in the U.S. and they were really good and playing to a packed house. The band comes out and plays a rousing set of tunes and it’s followed by really subdued polite applause. They go into a second set of tunes and I look back at the audience. I’m in the front row. Everyone looks real serious and it looks as if they are sitting through a Mahler symphony. I start tapping my foot to the music to try to get into it and a rather somber man next to me whispers in my ear “you know that really does not add anything to the music”. Somebody starts dancing and they’re told to sit down. Very awkward! I left at the intermission.

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Ptarmiganboy, I’ve a feeling the band was the Scottish National Orchestra of all things.

A couple of pints between slip-jigs and who cares anyway!

Bullet boy did make a brief comeback I’m told but as you say if it happens once who’s to say it won’t happen again.

Nat was actually THE big draw.

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Ah well, Dougie, the ‘Big Draw’ nowadays is the LOTTO!

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John McSherry gave a memorable performance at Mother Redcap’s in Dublin around 1.5 years ago….he was very drunk before the gig and proceed to make a number of mistakes and insult the audience on a number of occassions - he fell off the stage at 1 point damaging his ankle…..the gig got a deserving review in the Irish Times afterwards….

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Just seen the thread. Ron, I was at the concert with the same duo in Strachur (I hope that hasn’t given it away). They were playing with the excellent Donald Black and Malcolm Jones (probably given it away now) - but I found them to be very enjoyable. Having also played in a session in Glasgow with the same fiddler since I found the music to be very much traditional - if distinctive to himself. I am not a fiddler but found nothing objectionable in his playing. I enjoyed the concert and believe others there did too.

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They are certainly a unique duo and like playing together a lot - this was obvious.

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Fair play to you Alistair, you’re welcome to your opinion, as is everyone else. And yes, I’m sure many people did enjoy them - but as I said, I personally didn’t hear any traditional music played. Traditional tunes, yes, but not traditional music. Very good classical technique, yes, and lots of gimmicks - e.g. false harmonics, lots of playing up the dusty end of the fingerboard - but not traditional music!

I can assure you that I’m not a sole voice in the wilderness regarding my opinions of the music played at that concert.

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Ron P and others: I’m going to resurrect this thread for a moment with this noob question: define for me the playing of "traditional tunes but not traditional music". What do you hate about classical players attempting to play trad music? Tell me what to avoid. I don’t have fifty more years to soak up traditional style and I really want to do this right and not be stupid…

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Funny you should mention this today ‘thier’ cause at the session last night, we had a lady who joins us now & then, a fiddler, who is an excellent classical musician, but who also enjoys traditional music.

Now she is a teacher in a local school & actually helps coach ‘THREE’ traditional music groups in the school, takes them on trips to Donegal, organises inter school group concerts etc etc, so I have the greatest admiration & respect for her work. Oh & incidentally, she does all this in one of our more Protestant towns, in the heart of Paisley country, & I’m not talking ‘pattern’ here!

Anyway, when she plays ITM she naturally gets wonderful tone out of her instrument, for every note, something I will only ever dream of, & her intonation is more precise & accurate than I will ever be able to achieve.

However, I think what makes her playing just lack that ‘traditional’ sound which we call know & love, is the lack of those little grace notes, which really give the music it’s character.

She also tends to play a bow stroke per note, which is often another dead giveaway, & you certainly notice the lack of ‘ye olde slurs’.

Another thing she does, which is a common mistake amongst classical musicians, is she tears into the music at 110 miles an hour & she can do this because she is only playing the bare bones of the tune.

So this combination of speed, coupled with the lack of grace notes, just give the sound a non trad feel.

Another fiddler at the session, who is a late starter, but a pure trad man, plays at a nice leisurely pace, but he does add those all important grace notes, which help to give the music that characteristic ‘neagh’ we’ve heard so much about, recently.

Incidentally, someone new to the session leaned over to me last night & actually whispered, "I see you have a convert here!" so I’m afraid the classical musician in her does stand out.

But, like my Scottish accent, in this land of heathens (Oh, I’m in trouble now!) I have no desire to lose it, & I’m sure she has no desire to lose all her classical skills as a musician & nor should she.

One of her great skills is in the playing of slow Scottish airs, for she gets an incredibly sound from her fiddle on those.

It must be more difficult to do both. I’m sure if a classical player stopped playing that music & only played trad it would be easier to get it together. Just think of all the Banjo players who ‘move up’ ( 😀 ) to the fiddle. Most stop playing the banjo so they can concentrate on the one style & leave that old bocca bocca approach behind.

I suppose, as has been said so many times before here, a classical musician who was really serious about moving ‘over’ to trad, would probably be able to aid that transition by just listening to trad only, & I mean listening, listening, listening.

Don’t know if that’s any help to you ‘thier’, but those are my thoughts on the matter.

I hope you see from the above that I personally don’t "hate classical players attempting to play trad music" at all. I say to them, "come on in & join us, the water’s fine", & I’m delighted to see anyone embracing ITM, whatever & wherever they come from.

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Well said Dick, especially the bit about listening, listening, listening.

thier 1754, Great to hear of another classical player who loves traditional music - once you get the bug, I’m afraid there is NO cure!

The only other thing I can think of adding to what Dick said, is to do with the bowing. I can spot a classical player a mile away, without actually hearing them - I would say something to pay particular attention to is the amount of bow being used as well as how relaxed the wrist is. With regards to intonation, and (and some people may well disagree with me here) - traditional music isn’t always "exactly" in tune. To appreciate what I’m saying, you have to listen, listen, listen……

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Thier, I’ve been working with some classically influenced players recently, and here is a funny thing that I have noticed. I give them a polka to learn, and after a period of time they play it back to me. They play it beautifully, such pretty music it gives one visions of a field of sweet tulips swaying in the breeze.

And therein lies the problem. Polkas are not pretty. They are fun, energetic, edgey. They are played in the back room of musty pubs, for people stamping out steps on a dirt floor. They have lift and pulse, but they are not pretty.

I think that goes through the music fairly well, with the exception of slow airs and possibly waltzes. Keep that in mind when you listen to the music, and that might give you a new perspective on your playing.

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Arrrr Jim Lad, keep yer ITM ‘DIRTY’, me hearties!

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This is why many folks gave two excellent fiddle playing brothers, who shall remain nameless ( 🙂 ), but who both have a strong classical influence in their playing, the nick name of ‘The McGuire Sisters’!

However, tongue in cheek, or not, I find there is always a certain amount of envy in any remark like that, cause I know if I could play with a fraction of the talent those two brothers display, I’d be a very happy bunny & I quite honestly wouldn’t give a flying ‘fig’ what people called me.

Now be honest, if the likes of Jackie Daly sees fit to record with you, you can’t be too bad now, can you?

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Wow…Many thanks all for you generosity in thinking about this subject and posting at length. I do agonize over my intonation when I listen to recordings of myself playing trad music and want to go back and re-record to get it just perfect . However, there are/were classical musicians — Isaac Stern springs to mind — who could color notes sharp or flat and get away with it because it all balanced out somehow, and I think that’s somewhat what you’re talking about as far as not always being in tune. I will listen listen listen, and I have been picking up some "feel" for what the music should be. I call my playing so far too "prissy" and correct, and recording it has helped me recognize the sterility of some of what I’m doing. I need to put on my boots and stomp around on that dirt floor a bit!

My role model is Dougie Lawrence, who has the guts, the style, and the beautiful intonation all going on. You can hear his heart for the music and his intelligence in the playing.

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Your very welcome! Happy Fiddlin’.

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Dick, please don’t put words in my mouth about the Mcbrothers. I quite enjoy their music.

Another thing Thier, I think you need to take a new look at "intonation" when you approach this music. You talk about "getting away with" shading and coloring notes as if that was a bad thing.

For Irish fiddlers, you can hear this "shading" in many of the masters. Check out Tommy Peoples for one.

Thier, here is another thought to ponder: if you are playing Irish traditional music "too correctly" then you are playing it "incorrectly".

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Re: Your worst "traditional" music concert

You’re right, of course…It’s not a "bad" thing to color the notes. Stern sometimes crossed the line in the minds of others and had a reputation for at times playing "out of tune" but still sounding in tune. He had a highly emotional from the gut style compared to many classical players of his time. I think traditional players do this coloring of the notes naturally, whereas classical players will do it in a more studied way because their boundaries are more strict. and everything is prepared and practiced to death.

May I ask a couple more questions? (I’m supposed to be at work…Don’t tell the boss I’m posting…Wait a minute…I’M the boss…Cool.) Ron P: Regarding the amount of bow revealing your classical roots. I hear less bow being used by traditional players and the bow rarely leaves the string. It’s a long ribbon of sound. Is that what you’re referring to? Also, I tend to slur where it fits but wondered if connecting notes too much takes the character out of the sound, making it too smooth. Last question: When it comes to ornaments, is it every man for himself wherever it feels right, must is be modeled after some high priest of traditional violin, or should it be written into the music?

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"Dick, please don’t put words in my mouth about the Mcbrothers. I quite enjoy their music." Jode, I think if you read my last posting again, you will clearly see that I too enjoy listening to them.

As for their nick-name.
That’s not my creation, I was simply telling you of their nick-name around here.
You may do, with that information, what you will.

As for putting words in your mouth - sure I’m not even allowed to feed the birds in my garden now, without wearing rubber gloves, for fear of contracting &/or spreading Avian Flu!

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Besides Dick, I thought they were known as "buttons and bros"…

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Regarding how much of the bow to use. It is all a question of style - I think.

For example, I have watched John Carty play a set of tunes and never use more than about 2 to 3 inches of the bow & yet I have watched in amazement as Gerry O’Connor uses almost every inch of it, in a set of tunes. No there are no set rules for how much, or how little to use.

Once again, with slurring, isn’t it the case that different styles use more or less of it, so that if you go into Donegal, slurs can be as rare as hens teeth, & then when you dander into East Clare they’re ‘tripping you’! Most folks use a blend, somewhere between the two extremes.

There are recognised long notes in any tune where an ornament would or could be expected to be used, but then a player may decide, for variety, to just play the long note itself.
Like a lot of things in life, variety is the key, so the extremes of just Rolls all over the place, or just triplets all over the place are rarely the case & a nice blend of grace notes, rolls & triplets may well produce the most enjoyable music.

Of course, then you come to variation & what a player does this time round the tune will, in all probability, be very different to how he treats it, next time round, thus adding even more interest to the whole.

Well, that’s my 2pence worth.
However, I’m sure, far more knowledgeable & experienced folks than myself will have much more to add.

Either way - good luck!

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Well Dick, funny you should just mention Gerry O’Connor - I’d forgotten how much bow he uses, and was lucky enough to be reminded this weekend. Yes, he uses it all - and to great effect! (I know he’s one of your favourite players). Your quite right about different amounts of bow for different styles (you must remember I’m a closet fiddle player). So thier1754, listen to what Ptarmigan has to say here - he’s infinitely more knowledgable than me regarding the fiddle!

thier1754, you talk of Douglas Lawrence - now, he’s a great North East of Scotland style player (i.e. heavily classically-influenced - indeed, he’s also an orchestral player, but I suspect you know that already). Now, I really like his playing, and quite often listen to his CD, but I wouldn’t advise aspiring to play Irish Traditional Music after his style.

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Thanks, Ron and all. I do listen to Douglas Lawrence for North East Scottish style, which is where my heart is, being descended from the Bruces. But I love Irish, too. Sounds like Gerry O’Connor would be a good one to listen to for Irish…?? Ptarmigan, what is the biggest difference between the styles as far as technique? I gather from what I’ve read that Scottish trad tends to be more structured as far as performance. Would that be accurate? (You can just click my "mute" button if you’re tired of answering questions!!)

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thier1754, I don’t think you need worry about Dick’s mute button - he’s great at helping people with the music. Gerry is one of many to listen to - but if you get a chance to go and see him - jump at it - and get a front row seat!

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