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Discussions => General Discussion => Topic started by: MatthewVanitas on May 02, 2013, 04:57:47 AM

Title: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: MatthewVanitas on May 02, 2013, 04:57:47 AM
I've only been dimly aware before of the Fleadhanna, the series of Irish music competitions culminating in the huge annual All-Ireland festival.  The last of which apparently attend by a quarter-million people, in a country of 5 million. Now that I'm playing more 1-row and reading up more, I was stoked to see that the "mileoidean" or "Old-Style Melodeon" is its own category in the competitions. The description doesn't really elaborate on what falls in that category, though 2-row is its own category of course. Interestingly enough, the "Misc" category allows "three and five-row accordion" but also "one row accordion". So I'm not quite sure exactly what distinction they're drawing between the one single-row and the other. Hmmm.

I'm curious in general, if anyone here has much experience with Fleadh rules and conventions, what I'd need to keep in mind if a few years down the road I'd hope to compete in some future Mid-Atlantic Regional Fleadh here in the US. For 2013 it's in New Jersey, but weekend after next so I won't make it this year. A few basic question if anyone knows (and I have already reviewed the CCE .pdf of official rules (http://comhaltas.ie/images/press_room/Rialacha_Fleadhanna_Ceoil_Web_2010.pdf)):

- As above, any idea what the precise definition they have is for "Old-Style Melodeon"? I assume by that they mean one-row, and if I had to guess I'd imagine the inclusion of "one row accordion" in the Misc. section is for, say, 4-bass or 1.5 row or similar. Any idea on whether the definition for OSM includes anything about reed assortment, stops, specifics of the 2-bass settup, any rule on re-reeding a spare top or bottom button for a chromatic?

- Apparently your list of tunes has to be pre-approved for competition. How do they decide what tunes are sufficiently "Irish Traditional Music" to compete? Is there one master list and everything must be off of it, or do you have to have some documentation that XYZ tune was played in Ireland prior to X date? What about Irish traditional-style instrumental tunes composed in the modern day? What about Diaspora stylings that still cleave closely to Irish music, like Newfoundland tradition? What if the earliest documentation of the tune was in the US, like O'Neill's book, where he collected the tunes from Irish emigres but happened to be in Chicago?

- For tune selection, I understand that for adults you have to four tunes of four different types listed (jig, reel, slow air, etc). My vague understanding is that mixing it up a little is good, and they specifically encourage ceili bands to branch out beyond just standard jigs and reels. But for melodeon, which presumably plays a more limited set of stylings, would you be booed off the stage for getting edgy and doing a planxty or a slow air on melodeon?


I'm pleased that melodeon is its own competing class, and I'll be curious to hear from the Mid-Atlantic Fleadh as to how many melodeonists show up, both so I know how many competitors I might see if I go up next year, and how much competition there is in that category if I give it a shot in a few years. So a few odd questions about the process, but overall this has really raised my curiosity.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Lester on May 02, 2013, 08:08:43 AM
The rules for the Mid Adlantic Fleadh (https://sites.google.com/site/ccemidatlanticfleadh/competition-rules) includes

13.     One Row Melodeon (old style)

Which would accord with my understanding that in Ireland a 'melodeon' is specifically a 1 row box all others being 'button accordions'.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Lester on May 02, 2013, 08:11:23 AM
On reading further I am confused by:

2.         Only Irish traditional music will be accepted in all competitions.

yet there is a section devoted to Newly Composed Ballads?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 02, 2013, 10:06:17 AM
I suspect they won't mind as long as it's not written by an Englishman.  The central French are the same. David Faulkner was once declared "second" after playing his socks off in a St Chartier bagpipe competition "we will not award a first place this year" :o   In 1990 Andy Cutting of this parish was disqualified for "being too good" in the same competition - mind you he had entered the amateur section!  :P

In contrast Irish born James Gallway tried his hand at trad music in his 20's - had no clue which section to go for - ended up winning the beginner, intermediate and open classes in flute! So my advice is to consider change your name to "Matt o'Vanitas"  ;)




Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Theo on May 02, 2013, 10:19:21 AM
I only have experience of competitions in England, but I suspect there may be some parallels.  As well as the written rules you also have to try and work out the unwritten rules that each judge uses. That is something you can only learn by experience of taking part.  So don't take it too seriously, just enjoy taking part. Follow the written rules, but don't be surprised if there are some apparently perverse decisions. 
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 02, 2013, 10:30:03 AM
Ray Fisher disqualified me in 1971 at Morpeth "for singing a scottish song". 

I was double dischuffed. I had it from a Northumbrian; and it was the only song I had got from 'source' myself  :-\
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Andrew Wigglesworth on May 02, 2013, 10:43:02 AM
How does one explain this then?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH0hvFG6Kqs

"Vanessa Millar, winner of the All Ireland Button Accordion Competition in 2011 performing 'The High Level Hornpipe'"

Videoed at the competition.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Gromit on May 02, 2013, 11:57:38 AM
Quote
How does one explain this then?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JH0hvFG6Kqs

"Vanessa Millar, winner of the All Ireland Button Accordion Competition in 2011 performing 'The High Level Hornpipe'"

Videoed at the competition.

Clip videoed after she'd won the 2011 competiton so perhaps playing whatever she liked and not necessarily what was played in the competition.

Quote
I suspect they won't mind as long as it's not written by an Englishman

Well it is a Irish trad competition - I'd be surprised if Irish tunes were played in an English trad competition

Quote
What about Irish traditional-style instrumental tunes composed in the modern day?

I would guess at no - aren't the heats run through Comhaltus branches I would check with your local branch
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Andy Simpson on May 02, 2013, 12:22:48 PM
I think Theo's spot on with the whole "unwritten rules" thing.

Even if a tune or song is definitely known to have originated elsewhere as long as there's some history of it in the Irish tradition then it should be OK unless someone's being particularly bloody-minded and/or has some reason for wanting to use it against someone else. Generally, the definition of "trad. Irish" seems to be fairly generous to me, Speed The Plough seems to be fine even though it's documented to have been written by a Scotsman living in London and taken it's title from contemporary use in the play of the same name there and I've seen Yarmouth Town and Morpeth Rant being given the appellation, even though we can safely say that neither Yarmouth or Morpeth are in Ireland. New compositions, even from known non-Irish sources, seem to be absorbed into the tradition remarkably quickly, I recall the anecdote about Pete Coe finding one of his own original songs in a book called something like "50 Traditional Irish Folk Songs", and even the dreaded Riverdance borrows heavily from eastern European music.

Basically, as long as you don't raise the ire of someone influential or turn up playing something very obviously not Irish or traditional like Tarantella Calabrese or your own arrangement of Take On Me by A-Ha then you should be alright.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Theo on May 02, 2013, 01:55:30 PM
New compositions, even from known non-Irish sources, seem to be absorbed into the tradition remarkably quickly,

I have even seen John Kirkpatrick's Jump at the Sun described by an Irish musician as traditional Irish.

Of course it all begs the question of what makes a tune "belong" to a tradition. Any attempt at a precise definition rapidly falls apart.  Even new tunes from living authors can have ambiguous attributions, eg if Luke Daniels writes a tune in the Irish idiom, is it Irish, because it sounds Irish, or is it English because it was written by someone living in England?  It can go either way - another example: many well know Tyneside tunes were written by James Hill who was a Scotsman who moved to Gateshead.  So with so little hard and fast boundaries its not surprising that competition judges sometimes have to make difficult and controversial decisions.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: TomB on May 02, 2013, 02:47:53 PM
New compositions, even from known non-Irish sources, seem to be absorbed into the tradition remarkably quickly,

I have even seen John Kirkpatrick's Jump at the Sun described by an Irish musician as traditional Irish.

Check out Joe Derrane's Jig (The Fishermans Lilt)   http://thesession.org/tunes/2312
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: MatthewVanitas on May 02, 2013, 05:49:18 PM
13.     One Row Melodeon (old style)

Which would accord with my understanding that in Ireland a 'melodeon' is specifically a 1 row box all others being 'button accordions'.

Oh that part I'm fine with; as noted in other threads as an American I'm still having trouble accounting that "melodeon" can refer to 2-row instruments in British English.

The part I'm slightly confused about is that they appear to draw a distinction between "one row melodeon" and "one row accordion" (which competes in Miscellaneous). I'm not unduly worried at the moment since I'm pretty dang sure a Hohner 2-stop in D is kosher, but for the future just curious if they have an official stance on, say, removing the thirds from the left-hand chord, or playing on a Bb box. Though I do still vaguely aspire to get a beat-up HA-112 someday and have it re-reeded in Eb.


Quote
I have even seen John Kirkpatrick's Jump at the Sun described by an Irish musician as traditional Irish.

Reminds me of the apocryphal story I heard in the 1990s about a bluegrass band that won a festival competition by playing "I've Just Seen a Face", with the judges and most of the audience never realizing it was a Beatles cover.

My father is fond of pointing out that back in the 1960s era of the Folk Revival, when the sages were debating how long an originally commercial song had to hang around before becoming a folksong (such as the Appalachian folksong "Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still" which was originally a commercially-published Top 40 song of the 1860s). A commonly accepted benchmark was "50 years", so by those standards a good chunk of the Lennon/McCartney catalog will be "folk music" in the next five years or so.


I guess a whole chunk of Fleadh issues just fall under "depends on the judge". I'll do a bit more reading up on past experiences of various instrument players to get a feel for the environment. I'm particularly interested into the degree, on average, that judges reward either very precise adherence to the enshrined way to play/ornament a given tune, and to what degree some players get points for (within the boundaries of the tradition) adding distinctive stylings to a classic.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: GPS on May 02, 2013, 06:42:16 PM
At the risk of being branded (not for the first time!) as "an old hippy", I have to say I'm really not sure about the concept of competitive folk music. It's music to be shared and enjoyed, not super-refined and over-packaged.  Yes, I'm as prepared as anyone to be stunned by technical ability, but given the choice between listening to a cold, clinical virtuoso rendition of a technically challenging tune full of tricks and a simple tune played imperfectly but with real commitment, passion and soul I know which I'd choose.

Graham




Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Andrew Wigglesworth on May 02, 2013, 09:10:24 PM
At the risk of being branded (not for the first time!) as "an old hippy", I have to say I'm really not sure about the concept of competitive folk music. It's music to be shared and enjoyed, not super-refined and over-packaged.  Yes, I'm as prepared as anyone to be stunned by technical ability, but given the choice between listening to a cold, clinical virtuoso rendition of a technically challenging tune full of tricks and a simple tune played imperfectly but with real commitment, passion and soul I know which I'd choose.

Graham

I think I have the same tendency as you. Competions can lead to a sterile competion style of playing being taught where kids come out as little automatons rather than expressive musicians. I've seen it happen, though the good ones can grow out of it.

However, in the rapper world the DERT competitions have really helped the "scene". Very competitive, but also supportive and helpful to of new teams and helped keep the quality of rapper dancing high.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 02, 2013, 10:38:30 PM
Well it is a Irish trad competition - I'd be surprised if Irish tunes were played in an English trad competition

You're missing the point, mate. A tradition is a tradition and culturally you play "in it". I don't personally think your origins matter, and one of the best tradition players I met on my expedition to Galway was Japanese! (I could incidentally say the same for a Country & Western guitarist I met in the honky tonks of Main St, Nashville, Tenessee).

I'll recall my old Bridge partner, now deceased, who was Welsh and a previous Merthyr Tydfil amateur star. "Who do you want to win today, Shön"?

    "I don't care, so long as England lose" ...

I have even seen John Kirkpatrick's Jump at the Sun described by an Irish musician as traditional Irish.

Also "Bourgogne traditionelle", in 1999 from a Morvan melodeon player at fête Accordeon, Luzy I later saw the same mec driving a tractor in a field.  Is that "source" enough for you?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Andy Simpson on May 02, 2013, 11:45:09 PM
I have very mixed feelings regarding competitive folk music. All too often it's just not in the spirit of the music or the tradition and leads to music that's not at all engaging or exciting to listen to, (excellent point about the better ones growing out of that, though), but on the other hand it can lead to a general improvement of standards.

I can recall seeing a duo, (paid act, not amateurs), in a certain hotel at a notable West Country seaside town festival 4 or so years ago. One of them was, to put it bluntly, absolutely crap, singing and playing out of tune to a degree that could be noticed by anyone with a functioning sense of hearing. I remember thinking to myself that they'd never put up with that or allow an act lacking that much in basic musicianship on that level of stage in Ireland....



Of course it all begs the question of what makes a tune "belong" to a tradition. Any attempt at a precise definition rapidly falls apart.  Even new tunes from living authors can have ambiguous attributions, eg if Luke Daniels writes a tune in the Irish idiom, is it Irish, because it sounds Irish, or is it English because it was written by someone living in England?  It can go either way - another example: many well know Tyneside tunes were written by James Hill who was a Scotsman who moved to Gateshead.  So with so little hard and fast boundaries its not surprising that competition judges sometimes have to make difficult and controversial decisions.

That's it in a nutshell. Mats Éden's Serpentiner och Konfetti isn't English in origin by any definition but it's arguably been adopted into the English tradition and Frans Tromp's Riggs of Doom was written in a very much English style for the express purpose of accompanying an English dance but was written in the Netherlands by a Dutchman; I don't think many people have a problem with either of them being presented in an "English Trad" context but they could easily be declared "not English enough" to suit somebody's agenda should they have one.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 03, 2013, 12:15:17 AM
To be a bit more positive, Frederic Paris and Maxou once gave us a "special prize" for simply being English and being willing to turn up* sing/play in the Fête Embraud competition! A couple of bottles off the local Sancerre wine, very nice too!

*and … free entry to their festival for the whole family. But it's not about money  :|glug
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Stiamh on May 03, 2013, 02:22:14 AM
- For tune selection, I understand that for adults you have to four tunes of four different types listed (jig, reel, slow air, etc). My vague understanding is that mixing it up a little is good, and they specifically encourage ceili bands to branch out beyond just standard jigs and reels. But for melodeon, which presumably plays a more limited set of stylings, would you be booed off the stage for getting edgy and doing a planxty or a slow air on melodeon?

You will not be booed off stage for playing a planxty or a slow air on the melodeon.


According to Jackie Daly, although slow airs had always been in the list of tune types, nobody had ever played one in the accordion competition until he did in 1974, and won. So there's a precedent for you.  (:)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: malcolmbebb on May 03, 2013, 07:20:41 AM
Try reading the unwritten ones.  ;D
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: LDbosca on May 03, 2013, 04:40:15 PM
Have me a lot of non-Irish players/players without experience in the Fleadh talking about its rules, written and unwritten?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 03, 2013, 07:27:28 PM
Fair comment. But we are in the land of cyber babble, and quite a few post here under assumed names. But until the last century the English (mainly under Norman French or German kings it has to be said) weren't always .. Shall we say "neighbourly" :|bl and that still comes out a little when we travel about.

The two St Chartier rulings I posted weren't imagined, nor were they in the written rules.  "No first this year"?  :o
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: MatthewVanitas on May 03, 2013, 08:55:17 PM

Old-style melodeon is a one row with stops. I don't think the number of stops matters.
Everything else, including a one row without stops, is a button accordion.

That makes a lot of sense then, with the "one row melodeon" vs. "one row accordion" distinction. Just to be clear, are you indicating that:

1) "melodeon" is widely understood in Irish English (and "mileoidean" in Gaelic) to mean "one row with stops"?
2) The "unwritten rule" behind that Fleadh's "Melodeon" category is that it have stops
3) There's some written rule in Comhaltas materials somewhere specifying that the Melodeon category requires stops?

The net result is the same in any case, I'm pretty sure the instruments I have or am likely to own would meet that requirement in their stock form. Thanks for the clarity there.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Andrew Wigglesworth on May 03, 2013, 09:15:29 PM

Old-style melodeon is a one row with stops. I don't think the number of stops matters.
Everything else, including a one row without stops, is a button accordion.

That makes a lot of sense then, with the "one row melodeon" vs. "one row accordion" distinction. Just to be clear, are you indicating that:

1) "melodeon" is widely understood in Irish English (and "mileoidean" in Gaelic) to mean "one row with stops"?
2) The "unwritten rule" behind that Fleadh's "Melodeon" category is that it have stops
3) There's some written rule in Comhaltas materials somewhere specifying that the Melodeon category requires stops?

The net result is the same in any case, I'm pretty sure the instruments I have or am likely to own would meet that requirement in their stock form. Thanks for the clarity there.

I'm not being funny or owt ... but how about looking up the rules on the Comhaltas website and then asking them? They'd be best placed to know, wouldn't they?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Stiamh on May 03, 2013, 09:36:13 PM
I'm not being funny or owt ... but how about looking up the rules on the Comhaltas website and then asking them? They'd be best placed to know, wouldn't they?

I'm sure Matthew has done the looking up.

http://comhaltas.ie/images/press_room/Rialacha_Fleadhanna_Ceoil_Web_2010.pdf

Notice that "one-row accordion" goes in the "Miscellaneous" category, along with 3- and 5-row boxes, piccolos, etc. which would seem to bear out what aradru said above about one-rows without stops not being old-style melodeons.

Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: 911377brian on May 04, 2013, 08:08:40 AM
Aradru: Do you mind me asking what your 'postscript' in Gaelic means? None of my Irish friends speak Gaelic so not much help there...... ???
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 04, 2013, 10:36:18 AM
My French friends now speak of Boneparte … in similar terms to a more recent Austrian fella. And historically the Norman kings probably did their worst atrocities to the Saxon serfs, with the odd foray into Scotland.

But we are all good Europeans now (OK, not 1 in 4 of the English shire Hobbitry, voting in Thursday's local elections ;)). But I don't think the (lets be honest) Chauvinism we see in these competitions is anything to do with history. Rather a ferocious pride in one's own customs, and a tendency of the worthy judges to protect that … in their own little ways? I'd offer that disqualifying foreigners "for being too good" actually adds to the fun; it certainly did Cutting no harm!


Google translate does quite well on the postscript, but choked on the last word "mhileoidean", which probably has nothing to do with a flattened 7th note?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: pgroff on May 04, 2013, 04:17:23 PM

Old-style melodeon is a one row with stops. I don't think the number of stops matters.
Everything else, including a one row without stops, is a button accordion.

That makes a lot of sense then, with the "one row melodeon" vs. "one row accordion" distinction. Just to be clear, are you indicating that:

1) "melodeon" is widely understood in Irish English (and "mileoidean" in Gaelic) to mean "one row with stops"?
Melodeon means a one row with stops. Strictly speaking, a Mileoidean can mean any button accordion, including a one row with stops, but it generally refers to a one row with stops.
2) The "unwritten rule" behind that Fleadh's "Melodeon" category is that it have stops
Yes.
3) There's some written rule in Comhaltas materials somewhere specifying that the Melodeon category requires stops?
That, I am not certain about. Some years back, some wise guy turned up to the Melodeon competition with a 2 row. He had one of the rows taped over! Needless to say, he was shown the door.

The net result is the same in any case, I'm pretty sure the instruments I have or am likely to own would meet that requirement in their stock form. Thanks for the clarity there.

Wow, this is very interesting!  To me, this discussion and the definition taking shape here raise a lot of questions . . . not complaints, because of course the rules of any competition are somewhat arbitrary.  If you want to compete, you figure them out and work within them.

Some closer examination of that definition . . .

1) Melodeons as defined as "a 1-row accordion with stops" could still be very heterogeneous in construction, handling, and sound.

Would all those variants that meet this definition be acceptable as suggested above? Presumably the stops have to really be stops, up there on top (rather than another type of coupler / register ).  But what about "faux stops" as seen in Quebec (and early european boxes) -- or are those banned? What if it's a 4-stop Hohner 114 but it's been rebuilt to disable the stops (as at least one restorer does in the US)?  How about if you *add* stops to a Hohner Vienna-style 1040 1-row box, with 4 bass buttons?

Boxes meeting the definition above could sound radically different, I suppose, in how many sets of reeds and the voicing (or do they have to be exactly 4 voices, no more or less, LMMH with 4 stops pulled out?).  Those reeds could differ in key (or are only C and D allowed?), in the amount of tremelo, in pitch (A 452?) and different temperaments/tunings (equal? mean? just? cajun?).  Two different notes are commonly seen as variants for button # 1 on the draw (either sol or la, for a melodeon in the key of doh), but in principle the entire scale could be tuned to a minor key, or another variant scale (gamelan 10 tone ET?) and if so the box could still meet that definition above.  In fact, is 10 buttons a requirement, and could the buttons even sound the same note on press and draw? Pre-war boxes such as Globes with zinc reeds and the triads on a single plate have a different timbre from postwar Hohners  (leaving aside their other constructional differences).  I think that spoon basses give a very different sound from button basses, even when the melodeon has a "growlbox." 

And now we get to the key point that whether the instrument has a growlbox (sometimes called a "bass box" or even "base box") has been listed as a very important criterion by some judges -- this is not part of the definition given in earlier posts in this thread.

I think most judges in Irish music competitions would agree that both a 4-stop Globe Gold Medal or a postwar Hohner 114 are "10 key melodeons" despite their differences (open vs. covered pallets, spoon vs. button basses, timbre, temperament, etc.).  Probably safest to bring one of those to the competition, or maybe a modern cajun box (Castagnari melodeon/ Max OK?).  I think a lot of previous winners have done the job with Hohners.

But there are so many other types of 1-row boxes -- some with no growlbox or stops, some with no growlbox but with couplers (possibly true stops in some cases?), and some multi-voice 1-row boxes that I always considered melodeons (e.g. some Globes and Irish-American boxes) that have a growlbox but no stops, and sometimes no couplers of any kind.*  Personally, I would speculate that if the test is to see "how much music the competitor can get out of a box that handles like a 4-stop Hohner or Globe," the growlbox might be a more important criterion than the stops.

What about use of the right thumbstrap -- compulsory?  How about the shoulder strap?  These factors really alter the mechanics of playing and may affect the resulting music too, so from a perspective of "standardizing the competition" they would seem more relevant than presence/absence of stops . . . but wouldn't either approach be allowed, just as a flute player might play with the flute on his shoulder, or on a keyed vs. keyless flute?

2) A totally different point, maybe OT and not relevant to competitions, but more interesting to me:  the many features in common when comparing the musical use of 10 button accordions, whether or not they have stops or a growlbox.  Conlon and many others played similar settings on both kinds of boxes.  Then Conlon's sister Rose Murphy (among many others) used the outside row of a 2 row box (a B/C Double Ray in her case) to play in a very similar style.  Not gearing up for competition myself, I can enjoy playing away on a 1-row Busilacchio or Walters with neither growlbox nor stops, and then try the same "melodeon" settings on a Hohner 4 stop box or on a Baldoni 1-row with a coupler.

PG

* for example this box:

Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: boxcall on May 04, 2013, 07:29:10 PM

Old-style melodeon is a one row with stops. I don't think the number of stops matters.
Everything else, including a one row without stops, is a button accordion.

That makes a lot of sense then, with the "one row melodeon" vs. "one row accordion" distinction. Just to be clear, are you indicating that:

1) "melodeon" is widely understood in Irish English (and "mileoidean" in Gaelic) to mean "one row with stops"?
Melodeon means a one row with stops. Strictly speaking, a Mileoidean can mean any button accordion, including a one row with stops, but it generally refers to a one row with stops.
2) The "unwritten rule" behind that Fleadh's "Melodeon" category is that it have stops
Yes.
3) There's some written rule in Comhaltas materials somewhere specifying that the Melodeon category requires stops?
That, I am not certain about. Some years back, some wise guy turned up to the Melodeon competition with a 2 row. He had one of the rows taped over! Needless to say, he was shown the door.

The net result is the same in any case, I'm pretty sure the instruments I have or am likely to own would meet that requirement in their stock form. Thanks for the clarity there.

Wow, this is very interesting!  To me, this discussion and the definition taking shape here raise a lot of questions . . . not complaints, because of course the rules of any competition are somewhat arbitrary.  If you want to compete, you figure them out and work within them.

Some closer examination of that definition . . .

1) Melodeons as defined as "a 1-row accordion with stops" could still be very heterogeneous in construction, handling, and sound.

Would all those variants that meet this definition be acceptable as suggested above? Presumably the stops have to really be stops, up there on top (rather than another type of coupler / register ).  But what about "faux stops" as seen in Quebec (and early european boxes) -- or are those banned? What if it's a 4-stop Hohner 114 but it's been rebuilt to disable the stops (as at least one restorer does in the US)?  How about if you *add* stops to a Hohner Vienna-style 1040 1-row box, with 4 bass buttons?

Boxes meeting the definition above could sound radically different, I suppose, in how many sets of reeds and the voicing (or do they have to be exactly 4 voices, no more or less, LMMH with 4 stops pulled out?).  Those reeds could differ in key (or are only C and D allowed?), in the amount of tremelo, in pitch (A 452?) and different temperaments/tunings (equal? mean? just? cajun?).  Two different notes are commonly seen as variants for button # 1 on the draw (either sol or la, for a melodeon in the key of doh), but in principle the entire scale could be tuned to a minor key, or another variant scale (gamelan 10 tone ET?) and if so the box could still meet that definition above.  In fact, is 10 buttons a requirement, and could the buttons even sound the same note on press and draw? Pre-war boxes such as Globes with zinc reeds and the triads on a single plate have a different timbre from postwar Hohners  (leaving aside their other constructional differences).  I think that spoon basses give a very different sound from button basses, even when the melodeon has a "growlbox." 

And now we get to the key point that whether the instrument has a growlbox (sometimes called a "bass box" or even "base box") has been listed as a very important criterion by some judges -- this is not part of the definition given in earlier posts in this thread.

I think most judges in Irish music competitions would agree that both a 4-stop Globe Gold Medal or a postwar Hohner 114 are "10 key melodeons" despite their differences (open vs. covered pallets, spoon vs. button basses, timbre, temperament, etc.).  Probably safest to bring one of those to the competition, or maybe a modern cajun box (Castagnari melodeon/ Max OK?).  I think a lot of previous winners have done the job with Hohners.

But there are so many other types of 1-row boxes -- some with no growlbox or stops, some with no growlbox but with couplers (possibly true stops in some cases?), and some multi-voice 1-row boxes that I always considered melodeons (e.g. some Globes and Irish-American boxes) that have a growlbox but no stops, and sometimes no couplers of any kind.*  Personally, I would speculate that if the test is to see "how much music the competitor can get out of a box that handles like a 4-stop Hohner or Globe," the growlbox might be a more important criterion than the stops.

What about use of the right thumbstrap -- compulsory?  How about the shoulder strap?  These factors really alter the mechanics of playing and may affect the resulting music too, so from a perspective of "standardizing the competition" they would seem more relevant than presence/absence of stops . . . but wouldn't either approach be allowed, just as a flute player might play with the flute on his shoulder, or on a keyed vs. keyless flute?

2) A totally different point, maybe OT and not relevant to competitions, but more interesting to me:  the many features in common when comparing the musical use of 10 button accordions, whether or not they have stops or a growlbox.  Conlon and many others played similar settings on both kinds of boxes.  Then Conlon's sister Rose Murphy (among many others) used the outside row of a 2 row box (a B/C Double Ray in her case) to play in a very similar style.  Not gearing up for competition myself, I can enjoy playing away on a 1-row Busilacchio or Walters with neither growlbox nor stops, and then try the same "melodeon" settings on a Hohner 4 stop box or on a Baldoni 1-row with a coupler.

PG

* for example this box:


Good points Paul, I was thinking the same thing about faux stops or if you have a four stop and just wanted to use MM setting to play say an air would that be ok? seems like that would be similar to a 1040 sound minus the extra bass options. And yeah what if you only have nine buttons? I assume that the rules are as with most things more of a guideline with some exceptions made.

Ps what up with the hobby horse?
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Steve_freereeder on May 05, 2013, 08:34:07 AM
I was interested in reading the rules from the link which Steve Jones posted:

http://comhaltas.ie/images/press_room/Rialacha_Fleadhanna_Ceoil_Web_2010.pdf

What struck me was how fierce and proscriptive they are - many instances of thou shalt not do this, that or the other...
Obviously there needs to be some structure otherwise it would be a free-for-all and difficult to judge objectively. Having entered (and won some prizes (:) ) Northumbrian Pipers competitions at Morpeth a good few years ago now, I have some experience of having to abide by competition rules, but these Irish rules are just scary!

One set of rules which particularly caught my eye was this one for Duets and Trios:
11. Ensemble Competitions shall be held for the following: (in grades a,b,c,d)
(23)   Ceol Beirte / Díséid - A Duet shall comprise of two melody instruments. A senior duet (Grade “d”) shall comprise of two different melody instruments. Duet members must at all times play the melody of the tune.
(24)   Ceol Trír / Tríréid - A Trio shall comprise of three melody instruments. A senior trio (Grade “d”) shall comprise of at least two different melody instruments. Trio members must at all times play the melody of the tune.


Could someone please explain to me, a non-Irish musician, why duets and trios participants must play the melody only? Does even the hint of any harmony lead to a disqualification? Why? Surely the very essence of ensemble playing is to explore harmonies and harmonic variations? Why are these thought to be undesirable in Irish music?
 
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 05, 2013, 09:02:57 AM
Happen, the younger Steve got disqualified at Morpeth too?  >:E

As (for me) this was the time of "the troubles" - another contender for any World understatement championship? - I'll recuse myself from any further discussion of "Irish" and "harmony"  ;)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Steve_freereeder on May 05, 2013, 09:44:01 AM
Happen, the younger Steve got disqualified at Morpeth too?  >:E
If you mean me, no I didn't. What makes you think that?  :(
In the years which I entered, I won the beginners and the intermediate categories, and came second in the composition category.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Chris Ryall on May 05, 2013, 10:04:56 AM

  Never doubted it Steve, hence that icon  ;)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: LDbosca on May 05, 2013, 12:27:51 PM
Irish music is heterophonic. It's not really built over a set of chords; instead the interest is (traditionally) derived from melodic variation. The rules are their so that all the competitors are doing the same thing and are judged in the same way. Duet and trio playing in harmony isn't traditional so it is seen as important that it isn't encouraged in traditionally focussed competition.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Stiamh on May 05, 2013, 01:21:44 PM
Playing harmonies is too easy. And too cheesy. (:) What Luke said. Harmony is just not part of the tradition and art of playing Irish dance music. Foreign, and a distraction.The goal and the delight in ensemble playing in Irish music is to achieve a very tight sound, to work together to make the melody work in an exciting way.

Sometimes the instruments are so close they are almost indistinguishable - this might be what fleadh judges are looking for, I don't know.

At other times the players hover closely around the same setting of the melody but with sufficient micro-variation and distinction to create a blend that is tight and unpredictable at the same time. I was listening the other day to very good example of this effect, on a recent-ish recording by Caoimhin O Raghallaigh (fiddle), Micheal O Raghallaigh (concertina) and Catherine McEvoy (flute). No accompaniment. A simply glorious, uplifting racket - tightness and a touch of anarchy at the same time. But maybe you'd have to be seriously into Irish music to appreciate and get off on what they are doing, I don't know about that either.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Steve_freereeder on May 05, 2013, 01:59:42 PM
Thanks both, Luke and Steve, for your considered replies. Much appreciated.
I suspected that it would be as you've both stated, but it's good to have the confirmation. I'll remember the point you've both made if I ever find myself in an Irish session - an unlikely event, I have to say, but I never rule anything out entirely.

I guess the one sort of acceptable harmony would be melody over pipes drones, where the musical tension is always ebbing and flowing as a result. Powerful stuff.

I will disagree with Steve's statement that harmony is 'too easy' and 'too cheesy' although maybe I'm taking it out of the context in which it was meant. Nevertheless I'll post a lovely example from the Northumbrian tradition: two young girls playing smallpipes at the Rothbury competitions, where harmony in duet playing is encouraged, and looked for by the judges. In this clip, they play the tune through in unison first of all and then in lovely harmony second time round.

Chloe Corrigan and Jessica Lamb playing Sir Sidney Smith's March (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AO5ntBRQ2c)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Anahata on May 05, 2013, 03:04:34 PM
Chloe Corrigan and Jessica Lamb playing Sir Sidney Smith's March (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AO5ntBRQ2c)

Wow - That's just fabulous!

(and giving me some ideas...)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Stiamh on May 05, 2013, 05:05:00 PM
I will disagree with Steve's statement that harmony is 'too easy' and 'too cheesy' although maybe I'm taking it out of the context in which it was meant.

Correct, Steve, I was referring only to the context of playing Irish dance tunes. In saying "too easy" I am not attempting to belittle the art of harmonization and composing counter-melodies.

What I meant is that, if you aren't well and truly imbibed with the conventions of playing Irish trad dance music, adding a harmony to a tune may seem like an obvious way (i.e. an easy way) to enhance a tune and increase the listener's enjoyment. Whereas, once you are fully subscribed to the way things are done, you are more likely to respond to a harmony or countermelody as a distraction and a gimmick (hence "cheesy").

I regard mastering the art of playing Irish tunes properly as far harder than coming up with harmonies. Seriously!*

No rabid intolerance, of course. I find a bit of harmonization can be very sweet at times, depending on the tune. But it's not what judges in fleadh competitions are looking for or what trad players are aiming at.

*I would add that, if you really want to harmonize Irish dance tunes, there are pitfalls, mainly because of the gapped scales and modes. For example it's all too easy to assume that a tune is in a "minor" key when it's actually pentatonic (basically or strictly pentatonic) and to throw notes into your countermelody that are absent from the tune, thereby totally changing its character.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Gromit on May 05, 2013, 05:50:23 PM
Quote
I was listening the other day to very good example of this effect, on a recent-ish recording by Caoimhin O Raghallaigh (fiddle), Micheal O Raghallaigh (concertina) and Catherine McEvoy (flute). No accompaniment. A simply glorious, uplifting racket - tightness and a touch of anarchy at the same time

Recording is "Comb Your Hair And Curl It"

audio samples here
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/cmcormor
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: pgroff on May 08, 2013, 01:50:44 AM

For anyone considering entering the fleadh melodeon competition, this model (http://www.veteran.ie/Johnny%20Connolly.jpg) or similar is perfectely acceptable.
I would imagine that a modified instrument or one with an altered scale or faux stops, etc, may present a problem.
If the adjudicator(s) did not notice, you may be sure that other contestants will.
A modified melodeon might (rightly or wrongly) be perceived to give an unfair advantage.
As regards other types of melodeon...you should submit those questions to Comhaltas HQ.
I, for one, would be very interested in their reply. You certainly have raised some interesting points.
I may have missed my guess, but I would say that they would prefer (maybe even insist) that contestants
stick to the "accepted standard".
Please let us know the outcome if you decide to follow it up.

Hi aradru,

I agree with you, that box shown on the cover of Mr. Connolly's brilliant recording is one version of the model I called the Hohner 114, and what I meant when mentioning that a lot of winners have used a Hohner.  Various versions of that model have been around since WW2.

& I agree it would be a good idea for the OP to check in with the actual adjudicators if in doubt about their rules!

The rest of my post was mostly random musings. :-)

PG





Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: 911377brian on May 08, 2013, 09:30:59 AM
Aradru: thanks for that, it has been puzzling me for a long time. Both quotes appeal immensely.... if I knew the way to pronounce I would steal them......better go before I get a slap for being off post.... ;)
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: MatthewVanitas on May 17, 2013, 01:15:27 AM
I'm still fixing to contact the Comhaltas folks eventually to see if they have any nice and precise rules for melodeon, or if it's pretty relative.

Quote
I was tempted to add that one would not bring a broad sword to a fencing tournament,
or a cross bow to a bow and arrow tournament, or a fishing pole to a fly fishing competition,

That's just the thing, a fencing foil for example is defined as the foil blade is no more than 90 cm in length with a blunted (or foiled) tip. The maximum length of the assembled weapon is 110 cm; the maximum weight is 500g

Not to get overly anal-retentive here, I'm just curious whether Comhaltas has some kind of definition of melodeon which is "having no more than 11 but no fewer than 9 buttons all uniformly in a row, with at least two but no more than four banks of reeds of which all but one must have a stop..." But like you say, about all I can do is ask them. Though I won't be at all surprised if it's just the old Justice Stewart line (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_know_it_when_I_see_it): "I know a melodeon when I see it."



All that aside, I'd been wondering before why there aren't a ton of Fleadh clips on YouTube, and though many of y'all already know this it was news to me when I discovered said clips on the Comhaltas.ie site. Here's all their items specifically tagged melodeon: http://comhaltas.ie/music/tag/Melodeon

A lot of the clips are also licensed Creative Commons and are free downloads, so I put together a little Fleadh playlist for myself. Better still, they're pure solo 'box, so will be great learning fodder in the Slower-Downer.
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: Cag on May 17, 2013, 08:19:54 AM
They don't give you access to the competition clips because you would be able to second guess the judges...
Title: Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
Post by: LDbosca on May 17, 2013, 11:32:45 AM
They don't give you access to the competition clips because you would be able to second guess the judges...

And do what about it??
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