Music for Set Dancing Volume II

By Johnny Reidy & The Sliabh Luachra Ceili Band

Eight comments

“Johnny Reidy & The Sliabh Luachra Ceili Band: Music for Set Dancing Volume II”

Chart Label Ltd., Dublin ~ CHCD054

~ ! ~ NOT RECOMMENDED ~ ! ~ 😛

I have used this on several occasions as an example of HOW NOT TO PLAY THIS MUSIC! The accompaniment is dreadful. The tempo is rushed twofold ~ first it was played too fast when recorded, then it was goosed up when processing and burning to CD, approximately a full semitone/half-step. It’s rushed, and it sounds sloppy.

But, feeling so strongly about this I immediately felt I was being unfair, and that I needed to reach some balance by listening it more closely, which I’ve now done. I’d let the rushed tempo and the awful accompaniment get in the way of hearing the box player, Johnny Reidy. Having now managed to ignore those greater irritations as best I could, not easy, including slowing it down to more reasonable tempos, wishing I could also remove that accompaniment, and focusing in on what the box player is doing, I found some things to smile about, aspects of his ways with the music I quite enjoyed about his playing. Just to mention some of what I enjoyed, I quite like his use of some accidentals, especially in half-step triplets for example ~ from reels: A/^A/B - A/^G/A - e/^d/e; & in a polka ~ A/^A/B/=A/…

But, I still pull it our now and then to torture our local dancers, who hate it when I do, and where just one figure of a set is enough to raise complaints…

No doubt someone out there likes it this way, as I’ve been to a few ‘big’ ceilis where steaming through the tunes has seemed to be the norm, but this ain’t for me, however little appreciation I’ve managed to raise for the main musician. That said, it’s a keeper, something I will continue to use as an example of how music can and is abused by others…in my opinion…

We ripped through one of the slide sets on this recently, dancing a figure of "The Ballyvourney Jig Set" to it, the fifth figure, at around 165 beats per minute. What a hoot! 😀 There’s always that in it, every once in awhile, to blow a gasket dancing in a manic way and doing ones best to keep elbows down and to avoid colliding with others. There was hardly time to catch a breath, and definitely no real time to socialize, but the exhaustion and laughter afterwards was a bit of fun, but I wouldn’t want to do it that way all the time, and I’m no fan of the recent madness of doing sets non-stop, which is quite common nowadays, since the 80s, with "The Ballyvourney Set". Sadly that’s also true in some cases with "The Clare Plains Set", the first few reel figures being crammed together and danced non stop. I’ve a few other recordings of slides that push them beyond 170 bpm. Mad! Idiotic! In my opinion…

For one set on this recording, "The Connemara Set", the first three reel figures aren’t ridiculous, they’re OK, but the final polka figure is one of the fastest recorded takes on it I know, around 154 beats per minute. Johnny Connolly of Connemara, one very familiar with this set and playing for it, recorded four tracks on his CD "An Mileoidean Scaoilte" ( https://thesession.org/recordings/1375 ), where he plays that polka figure, "Maggie in the Woods", at 125 bpm. I’ve other takes on it as low as around 115-116 bpm. In general, in it’s own locale, I’ve known that figure to be so, rather relaxed, kinder, a lovely way to finish a night…

Re: Music for Set Dancing Volume II

Fiercely fast, possibly tweaked up a notch mechanically (though I don’t hear the pitch shift, it matches my D).

I hear what C was saying about the accompaniment: it has the exact timing and lack of dynamics in the piano and banjo tracks that make me think they’re MIDI. If it’s a real piano, there’s some aggressive mixing going on to level it.

But that said, it’s not all bad. Nice polka sets, though a bit too fast.

Re: Music for Set Dancing Volume II

I think it’s not MIDI, just mixing, on more listens. The band is wickedly fast live, too: Bill Lynch has posted a number of videos of dancing to Reidy’s band, and they’re just as blazing live. https://youtu.be/UvJ8tNa3Jp8

The Johnny Reidy Ceili Band - v - The Neily O’Connor Ceili Band

Always recommending that anyone learning from me, music or dance, go out and about and catch opportunities to learn from and dance with others, even organizing the occasional trip, some of our locals returned recently with reports of someone faster than Johnny Reidy, Neily O’Connor!? So I thought I’d put up some links, since Ben has started this, to at least one YouTube from each. Having given both a number of listens I’d say it’s possibly a tie? ~ roughly between 150 - 160 bpm, though I’ve heard faster, in excess of 170 bpm. I’ll start this with one YouTube featuring Neily and his band and, non-stop, The Ballyvourney Jig Set:

The Ballyvourney Jig Set - music by Neily O’Connor & band, in The Commons
Courtesy of Bill Lynch ~ Published on Jul 1, 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40fXrWzGa6I


At a ceili in a marquee in The Commons, Co Tipperary, the Neily O’Connor Ceili Band played the Ballyvourney Jig Set, called by Michael Cooney.

And now for a comparison of these two tune roasters, this time, for both, The Sliabh Luachra Set, Johnny first:

The Sliabh Luachra Set - music by Johnny Reidy & band, in Newcastle West
Courtesy of Bill Lynch ~ Published on Jun 1, 2013
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nHV_574LtuA


At this West Limerick Set Dancing Club ceili in the Courtenay Lodge, Newcastle West, Co Limerick, Johnny Reidy played this Sliabh Luachra Set.

The Sliabh Luachra Set - music by Neily O’Connor, in Scartaglen
Courtesy of Bill Lynch ~ Published on Mar 17, 2015 ~ starts around 6:35 minutes in…
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fEsYPNCN3Q4


The 2015 Gathering Festival began with a ceili in the Sliabh Luachra Cultural Centre, Scartaglen, Co Kerry, featuring the Neily O’Connor Ceili Band. The Sliabh Luachra Set was the first one in the programme.

Here’s another with Neily O’Connor, with a better show for the character behind the box, The Sliabh Luachra Set again:

The Sliabh Luachra Set - music by Neily O Connor & band,
Live in The Go Kerry Tent @The Ploughing Championships 2014
Courtesy of videodjkerry ~ Published on Sep 24, 2014
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u54ECN7MBbM


/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/

Rechecking pitch and tempo again, I’m still registering this CD as sharp, as already reported. Maybe it has something to do with our different electrical currents, North America’s 60 hertz and Europe’s 50 hertz? What I’ve reported above I stick by, and, I always make several checks, before and after adjusting pitches. Also, I continue to find CDs, including recently, where there has been a ‘goose’ up of tempo, with the evidence in a pitch shift up, knowing that the instruments being used would have been in modern pitch = A: 440… I also have ‘old’ pitch instruments that, in comparison to the classic ‘D’, are roughly Eb; and I’ve also modern instruments tuned to the key of Eb…

”~ like worms on a hot rock!” 😀

I think ‘speed kills’ is applicable to more than just fast cars and drugs, and that those tendencies rising in the music and dance is also, inevitably, self-destructive, as speed can be, burning itself out… The crowd that drove and rode that tsunami they raised up in the 80s get older and less able to bang, bounce, leap, and spin…

"~ like worms on a hot rock!" 😀

Re: Music for Set Dancing Volume II

Jayzuz, C practically wrote a novel about this poor platter. It’s good for practicing to, what with the pounding beat, classic material, and brutal tempos. Johnny’s a banging box player, too. Found it for free on YouTube, BTW.