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Author Topic: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?  (Read 7772 times)

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MatthewVanitas

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Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« 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):

- 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 05:23:41 AM by MatthewVanitas »
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Lester

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #1 on: May 02, 2013, 08:08:43 AM »

The rules for the Mid Adlantic Fleadh 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'.

Lester

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #2 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?

Chris Ryall

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #3 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"  ;)




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Theo

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #4 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. 
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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #5 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  :-\
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Andrew Wigglesworth

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #6 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.

Gromit

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #7 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
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Andy Simpson

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #8 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 12:24:19 PM by Andy Simpson »
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Theo

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #9 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.
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TomB

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #10 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
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MatthewVanitas

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #11 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.
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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #12 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




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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #13 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.

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #14 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?
« Last Edit: May 03, 2013, 12:01:16 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Andy Simpson

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #15 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.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 11:48:00 PM by Andy Simpson »
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #16 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
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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #17 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.  (:)
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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2013, 07:20:41 AM »

Try reading the unwritten ones.  ;D
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Re: Rules/customs for melodeon (mileoidean) at the Fleadh?
« Reply #19 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?
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