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Author Topic: Playing fast  (Read 12989 times)

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Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2013, 09:37:24 AM »

All of your comments however, do make me wonder about the session I go to listen to each week. It is the only session where I live and it seems to be 'controlled' by one person (a melodeon player). He has a huge repertoire and has been playing for 25 years plus but he is known for not taking prisoners. He won't slow down for the less experienced, doesn't like it when another musician starts a slow piece (e.g. a waltz), loves to play fast and I must say, he does it extremely well!

 I'm sure this fella plays entirely to his own satisfaction, but you are describing a one man show, not a session. A session is a musical conversation in which, although some may be more experienced or informed, everyone matters. The human juke-box type of player can be great for keeping a session moving, bit (reading between the lines) it's sadly … rather more than that.

My own "favourite" experience of such a chap  :-\ he had a massive piano accordion and would impose loud and sometimes brutally wrong rhythms across tunes started by others. I met him in Upton/Severn and had the temerity to start up "Teddy Bear's Picnic" in a melodeon/fiddle friendly Em key.

This stimulated him to join in in the correct key of Dm (putting the "break" into Bb!) playing across me, though to be fair "in phase". Instinct and sheer obstinacy made me carry on to the end, but we soon lost the room. In retrospect I should have perhaps have walked out on my own tune, but to go to the bar I needed somewhere to empty my pint glass, and didn't have the balls to do exactly that …  ;)

Now, if I see him at a festival I simply go to a different pub.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2013, 10:42:27 AM »

Some good points made earlier about learning tunes, they've reminded me to learn slow and practice staccato. Must keep reminding myself and not launch into a half learnt tune but keep it steady and staccato!

Regarding your session: i too think it's time to seek out another session if at all possible. I've come to the conclusion that playing fast, irrespective of the style of the tune is nothing more than willy waving.  I hate it with a vengeance  >:(
Also if your leader is taking absolute control it's not in the spirit of a good session, where all can join in if they have summoned the nerve to start up a tune...... And then the accomplished players realise someone's starting up so they go along with the tune at that pace. Surely that's just manners?
.... And we all should realise we've been in that position too, whether just starting up or maybe more experienced but attempting a tune at the edge of your ability, whatever level that is.
I'd be making enquiries amongst friends to see if there was an alternative session around....
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2013, 10:53:47 AM »

I  In addition, I rarely find "fast playing" sounds all that appealing, 




quite    . some time ago I went to  a very friendly   'irish' session  in a pub . It was mainly fast diddly diddly stuff  which I had difficulty joning in with as I couldn't recognise the tunes ( until I asked what was that called  - then I knew it but not at their speed!.   I joined in  and played  a few well known tunes at  a steady pace.   When we were packing up their boss man said  ' you got a lot more applause than we did'! ~All I could think of saying was 'sorry that wasn't my intention' which it certainly wasn't.

I was I suppose applying   something that the late great Will Atkinson said to me many years ago. i.e. ''every tune has a natural speed- and sounds much better played at its natural speed'' or words to that effect.

george
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2013, 11:02:36 AM »

'every tune has a natural speed....'
I think that is absolutely right!
Well said that man  (:)
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2013, 11:04:27 AM »

I'd be making enquiries amongst friends to see if there was an alternative session around...

It may well be that if you just "start one up" those friends might magically flock to it?  Be advised to label it "steady pace" session (eg via an entry in your loca folk directory) at an early stage. That way should anyone else  ::) happen to turn up and try to force things .. someone can have an assertive conversation with him/her ;)

eg Newcastle's Cumberland Arms (referred to obliquely in Lark on Strand thread) nowadays offer and "anything but Irish" session, which I try to get to when I see my Mum. People respect that; it works.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 11:08:56 AM by Chris Ryall »
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2013, 11:07:45 AM »

Fair comment Chris - there might well be others in this sesson who also are are finding it all a bit intimidating but would feel happier in a less speedy environment.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Chris Brimley

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #26 on: June 14, 2013, 11:13:13 AM »

I think I ought to add that it may be that the musician concerned is unaware of the effect he is having, and may have a different view of the style of music he is playing, perhaps believing it to be fun, or more interesting to an audience, if he plays fast.  And many musicians are of the same view.  He may just be nervous.  It's probably not either fair or inclusive to say that it's wrong, but if other performers prefer something different, they will join you in the new session, and speak with their feet.  The other point is that what appeals to a musician is often different from what appeals to an audience (or to a pub landlord).  A session establishes its own dynamic, and the successful ones are difficult to predict.  I believe that inclusivity and friendliness are key ingredients.  But then I may be wrong!
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george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #27 on: June 14, 2013, 11:25:06 AM »

agree totally on the inclusiveness and friendliness  aspects of a session but sadly this is not always the case.   I used to go to a weekly session that was  'run' in a different way to many and worked very well and probably still is.  One person was coerced, volunteered, or whatever into 'running the session for the night'  this was a different person each week and the job was simply to  offer somebody the chance to start the next tune or set  if they so wiched, moving swiftly on if they didn't.  That way nobody hogged it and aa good veriety of ttunes (and a few songs) were played'sung. It made for  very pleasant and very inclusive sessions.  ( some may call it a sing around or play around format but so what  - it was friendly and enjoyable0

george
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2013, 11:40:25 AM »

A "conversation", my non-player friend eventually opted out of the Manchester/Styal session "there's all sort of communication going on there, but I'm not part of it"  :-\

Never mind, but that's also to say that "listening" is as important as "talking" ::) in music
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2013, 11:43:10 AM »

Agree totally about being freindly and inclusive, and also acknowledge Chris B's comments that the person running the session might not realise the effect their playing has on it.
Just reflecting on how different sessions work. My  monthly one is a collection of people who has a core of locals that have known each other for ~ 30 years +. Within that we have some strong capable lead musicians with encyclopaedic collection of tunes in their heads.
We don't formally invite one another to start, though the person who's the contact for the session might give a gentle nod and wink follwoed by asking if a tune's lurking wishing to be aired if there's a lapse in the proceedings .....but in a very informal way.
It's usually whoever gets in first with a tune.
That does mean at times you have to be quick and step into the breach to follow the previous one, but it does mean there's no formal 'tune leader' for the night. It also means that if you start it then it is at 'your' speed, whatever that may be - slow or fast!
....but as said it can be run in a totally different way.
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

Stiamh

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2013, 01:41:54 PM »

It's very easy to form conclusions on the basis of what we read to fit our own prejudices or, er, experience. We don't know what arty means he says he can play the tunes at "quite a fast pace", and neither do we know what sort of speed the dominant male plays them at in the session arty describes.

For all I know arty might be playing them painfully slowly and the player in the session at quite an enjoyable clip. Beginner's perceptions can be very different from those of experienced players, and if arty has got as far as two tunes in the book, well he is a beginner.

We also don't know exactly what is happening when someone starts a slow piece that the leader doesn't appreciate. I can imagine several scenarios.

Presumption of innocence, and all that.
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Theo

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2013, 02:05:11 PM »

Well said Steve.

I think that what the original question was getting at is: "As a beginning player how do I get to be able to play sufficiently fast to be able to join in with people playing tunes at a reasonable speed for a session, or perhaps for a dance?"  Which is something we all have had to do, or are still doing.  And of course that includes being able to play with good rhythm, phrasing and dynamics at the chosen speed, and to be able to maintain a steady tempo, ie play fluently.

Here are my thoughts:

You have to learn to play slowly to begin with, practice till you are able to play fluently, and then move the speed up in small increments.   With each tempo increment practice for long enough to achieve fluency before taking the next step up. Keep to this process until you can play fluently at a tempo that is much faster than you would expect to play in public.  Then you are in the position where you can play with others and be relaxed.  The length of time this takes depends on all sorts of things, including whether it is a first instrument, how much time practice for, what age you start at, etc, and can vary between weeks and years.  Of course if you have friends who can help by playing more slowly than usual so you can join in that can only be a help.

I still go through this process when learning a new tune.
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Theo Gibb - Gateshead UK

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george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2013, 03:18:33 PM »

I think most if not all the really good players  whether professional or other  are minimalist in their approach to   waisting  energy.  To watch them they seem to sit or stand with a total lack of violent movements or of hurried playing  and in the case of boxes the bellows movement is almost gentle!
Jimmy Shand was the absolute pastmaster at economical playing but where appropriate he went at a hell of a lick! - with little or nothing appearing to be done in the process.

 most of us lower down the line seem to  have to sometimes put more in than we get out of the box!

george
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2013, 03:39:47 PM »

I think most if not all the really good players  whether professional or other  are minimalist in their approach to   waisting  energy. 

I believe that is something that comes with playing well within their capabilities for speed etc as well of course to paying attention to being relaxed in body and mind.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2013, 05:06:14 PM »

Last week I took a day off work and sat in the glorious sunshine in our garden. As Mrs Thrupenny Bit popped out for a minute I sat and played in the sun. I went through some of my current tunes and it was absolute bliss - sun, garden, day off work, what more do you need?
I was also stunned because I became aware that everything was going rather well. My tunes were at a good speed, expressive, as note perfect as I've ever played them. The spell was broken as my wife returned through the garden gate and the click of the latch made me jump!
I could not belive the difference being totally relaxed made to my playing. It all came together and made I think the most satisfying time I've ever had playing the melodeon in the ~ 3 years since starting.
Don't underestimate being relaxed.
If I could bottle it and sell it...... or just take it before playing.....
If only......  :'(
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

syale

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2013, 05:15:51 PM »

They do sell it in bottles, it's called Newcastle Brown Ale  (:) . Just don't go further from relaxed and reach 'Don't care what it sounds like!' Fortuneatly for me I can buy it in a local grocery store here in Texas  :|glug
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2013, 05:23:31 PM »

I'm in the position of living in a rural location so have to drive to any session and to morris on a monday ( with hopefully a tune or two afterwards ). Any laughing liquid would probably see me in the hedge before I'd be asked to blow into a bag by a nice Mr. Plod.
I need to cultivate 'relaxed' as I don't have an alternative!
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Thrupenny Bit

I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

george garside

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #37 on: June 14, 2013, 05:40:25 PM »

there is , to me anyway, a phenomena that I think of as hitting 'floatation speed'.  Sometimes I  hit  it , sometimes I don't.  It applies when playing in a band with dancers ( anything from amorris sside to a hall full)

  When it happens everything gels together perfectly aand the musicians  and dancers become as one  - playing becomes a a calm effortless experience  and  the dancers seem to somehow do their stuff  better and with less effort.  I just wish I could 'hit it' every time!

george
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Stiamh

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2013, 06:46:42 PM »

I'd be making enquiries amongst friends to see if there was an alternative session around...
eg Newcastle's Cumberland Arms (referred to obliquely in Lark on Strand thread) nowadays offer and "anything but Irish" session, which I try to get to when I see my Mum. People respect that; it works.
It is inconceivable that a folk music session that is so blatantly discriminatory would happen in Ireland.  [...] You're welcome to it is all I can say.

I can understand your being shocked aradru. But I don't think that this is racism, or that the discrimination has anything to do with nationality.

It's almost certainly a reaction to Irish-music sessions (outside Ireland) where anybody playing music that isn't Irish is made to feel unwelcome. This happens.

People who are passionate about Irish music tend to be, well, passionate about it. They may consider that it's the only trad music worth playing. Converts from other countries may exhibit an attitude that smacks of "more Irish than the Irish themselves."

I'm just saying this as an aid to understanding and not passing judgment. Personally I think there's room for all sorts of sessions, esp. in big cities. No need to have "conversations" that you find either dull, or over your head.

Cheers
Steve
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2013, 07:18:50 PM »

I'd be making enquiries amongst friends to see if there was an alternative session around...
eg Newcastle's Cumberland Arms (referred to obliquely in Lark on Strand thread) nowadays offer and "anything but Irish" session, which I try to get to when I see my Mum. People respect that; it works.
It is inconceivable that a folk music session that is so blatantly discriminatory would happen in Ireland.  [...] You're welcome to it is all I can say.
It's almost certainly a reaction to Irish-music sessions (outside Ireland) where anybody playing music that isn't Irish is made to feel unwelcome. This happens.

It does. I've been to a couple, in different parts of the UK; in each case I've packed up my box, finished my drink & left, never to return. 

Here in Cyprus, you take what you can get in a session - anything from hard-core English trad via Celtic, Van Morrison, 60s folk-pop, Beatles, BeeGees to Andrew Lloyd Webber or Amy Winehouse!  We do have a small number of Irish musicians who visit the island from time to time and I have to say we have had some pretty good evenings together - each tolerant of the other's traditions and willing to make the best attempt we can to play along with each other.  I've learned a lot about Irish music (which to be honest I'm not particularly interested in) from these sessions, and it would be nice to think that our Irish friends have learned something about the English tradition too.

In an attempt to rescue myself from thread-drift, I should say that I always take my English tunes in these sessions at what I hope is a laid-back yet compulsively rhythmic pace (what I have always known as "sitting back on the beat"), and I have never felt rushed by our Irish friends (of course they may be holding back to be nice to me!)

Graham
« Last Edit: June 14, 2013, 07:22:58 PM by GPS »
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