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Author Topic: Playing fast  (Read 14237 times)

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smiley

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #80 on: June 16, 2013, 04:32:15 AM »

The worms are really squirming out of the can now ...
 
Irish music is more "difficult" to play than other genres of music...

I try to play a range of musical genres to the best of my ability and I find each has its own complexities of style that need to be understood and assimilated in order to play the particular music 'well'. This applies equally to fast or slow paced tunes.

Perhaps this conversation should to be continued in a new topic?
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Lyra

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #81 on: June 16, 2013, 04:34:07 AM »

It's a bit like quizzes though - they are only difficult if you don't know the answer.
For me it's really is about letting the music out. Some people can play fearsome fast but, tbh, they aren't playing the tune just a load of notes. I would be rude and call that a mechanic. Some people can play fearsome fast and sweep you up in the music leaving you breathless and smiling. That's a musician. (They're also the ones that can play a slow tune and reduce you to tears).
Then there's the ones who play fast for the same reason some people drive (or lust after) snorting monster cars and bikes - to hide a deficiency in another department.
I don't think any of those are race or tradition specific.

Then there's me - basically slightly out of breath on a push bike. Which is why I need more exercise (looky - nearly back on topic!)
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #82 on: June 16, 2013, 09:00:26 AM »

I don't agree that Irish music is more difficult to play than English ,Scottish, or whatever because it is simply to much of a generalisation. It is  often more difficult to pick up by ear  from renditions played at (?overfast) speeds with(?over ornamentation).  This doesn't make it more difficult to play.  There are many Scottish tunes that can be  very difficult to play  WELL  as  they  cannot or should not be camouflaged by over ornamentation so come out 'warts an all'   Saame goes for  some English tunes.

I think a more realistic  view of  'hardness to play' is   that in any tradition   tunes can vary from dead easy to extremely difficult  to play well------- and different players will put different tunes at different points on the easy/hard continuum.

george


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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #83 on: June 16, 2013, 10:00:09 AM »

aradru: thank you for reminding me that history hasn't been kind to your country.
I was thinking more along the lines of 'despite suppression you've managed to keep your culture alive and well'
Through attending workshops from various people I've been lead to believe the traditional musicians who made up the village bands in England were actively suppressed by the upper classes who drove through organ music to replace the village bands in the local churches. We then followed whatever new thing emerged, often from America, such as minstrels then big bands - all to replace any vestiges of traditional music left. Instead of keeping it ticking over as a cultural identity despite suppression, we had it slowly wiped out, and most people did not know it existed let alone missed it.
Hopefully the worms are going back into the can peacefully  ;)

Yes Malcolm, ornamentation should be for our entertainment and not wreck a tune.

Lovely thought from Anahata too..... Makes me think!
Q
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Chris Ryall

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #84 on: June 16, 2013, 11:02:59 AM »

… Or as someone said, I think in a book entitled Psychology For Musicians - you know you've done well when people afterwards don't say how well you played, but how beautiful the music was.

This sounds a really interesting book. Don't suppose I might borrow?  I'd also perhaps add them "not discussing the political correctness of what you'd played" to that little list?

Quote
With much of the sort of music I play, this often translates into making people want to get up and dance, and I love it when they actually do.

You do OK
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Sage Herb

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #85 on: June 16, 2013, 11:20:52 AM »


Through attending workshops from various people I've been lead to believe the traditional musicians who made up the village bands in England were actively suppressed by the upper classes who drove through organ music to replace the village bands in the local churches.

For a fictional, but not implausible account of this suppression, see Thomas Hardy's novel 'Under the Greenwood Tree'. The style of singing in church current at that time, and also suppressed (by the Oxford Movement) has survived in the carols sung at Christmas in pubs in various parts of England, perhaps most notably in my native South Yorkshire.

Cheers
Steve
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #86 on: June 16, 2013, 11:41:11 AM »

Thanks Sage.
This topic has been thoughtfully discussed in a much earlier thread where someone else did mention 'Under the Greenwood Tree'.
I ended up buying it and reading it because of the thread.
I cannot put my finger on it - but there is another short story ( or part of a novel ) from Hardy that I've heard read several times concerning the village band at Christmas. After far too many late nights, plus mulled cider discretely hidden in a tuba case, they end up nodding off to sleep in church on Christmas Eve as the vicar's sermon's way too long. Then are rudely awaken by the vicar wanting the next hymn/carol, only to blast off into a reel assuming they were up the pub! It ends with ' they then brought in an organist'! It's a wonderful story but I can't source it but know it's by Hardy.
Q
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #87 on: June 16, 2013, 11:46:16 AM »

This sounds a really interesting book. Don't suppose I might borrow?

It is an interesting book, largely aimed at teachers but of interest to all musicians as we never stop learning.
I read it when I was at school, haven't had a copy of it for years.

I'm not even sure that quote was from the same book, but it stuck in my memory, wherever it came from.
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #88 on: June 16, 2013, 11:51:08 AM »

I know. Shock horror, an Irishman who plays the box and doesn't drink! :o

I'm an even rarer animal - a morris man who is teetotal  :o

Maybe we should start up our own "exclusive" club?
Beer swillers outside the door please!
We could be on our own mind. Do you know any good Irish tunes? :||:

http://lesters-tune-a-day.blogspot.co.uk/2013/06/tune-291-john-ryans-polka.html     :M     ;)

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #89 on: June 16, 2013, 11:57:20 AM »

Quote from: aradru link=topic=12512.msg153917
When I said Irish music is more difficult I meant that in the context of it being dismissed sometimes as "diddly diddly". I did not mean to elevate it above other genres.

Came across as fairly absolute to me! Are you suggesting that the slightly silly "diddly" context in any way referred to difficulty, or that Andy Cutting doesn't practice in the morning?

I've never seen "diddly" as anything more than a reference to the stacked 6/8 jigs one encounters in the "anything Irish" sessions, yes they do exist here! I'd personally describe some French Circassian tunes with the same word.

To return (if briefly) to out topic, I suspect that you'd describe the speed of play in what we term (and its our Country) "hard Irish" sessions on this island as "too fast". I've travelled a bit and encountered nothing like it anywhere else in the world, still less on the west coast which I suspect is where you live?

This thread demonstrated early on that speeding isn't much to do with the tradition in play, albeit "hard Irish" may be the best exemplar. I personally believe it is "about" a disconnection of sessions of, frankly all, music types from their associated dance traditions. That applies to English, Irish, French, I could go on …

We also suffer here from dysrhythmics, sadly. eg some twit bodhranning 6/8 jig over a Bourrée, or worse mazurka tune, and our tendency to speed makes that worse too.
« Last Edit: June 17, 2013, 09:06:25 AM by Theo »
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #90 on: June 16, 2013, 12:31:52 PM »

Thanks Sage.
This topic has been thoughtfully discussed in a much earlier thread where someone else did mention 'Under the Greenwood Tree'.
I ended up buying it and reading it because of the thread.
I cannot put my finger on it - but there is another short story ( or part of a novel ) from Hardy that I've heard read several times concerning the village band at Christmas. After far too many late nights, plus mulled cider discretely hidden in a tuba case, they end up nodding off to sleep in church on Christmas Eve as the vicar's sermon's way too long. Then are rudely awaken by the vicar wanting the next hymn/carol, only to blast off into a reel assuming they were up the pub! It ends with ' they then brought in an organist'! It's a wonderful story but I can't source it but know it's by Hardy.
Q

You're absolutely right, Q. The short story is by Hardy and is called 'Absentmindedness in a parish choir', written in 1891 and printed in a volume called 'Life's Little Ironies'.

Cheers, Steve
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #91 on: June 16, 2013, 12:32:34 PM »

Thanks Sage.
This topic has been thoughtfully discussed in a much earlier thread where someone else did mention 'Under the Greenwood Tree'.
I ended up buying it and reading it because of the thread.
I cannot put my finger on it - but there is another short story ( or part of a novel ) from Hardy that I've heard read several times concerning the village band at Christmas. After far too many late nights, plus mulled cider discretely hidden in a tuba case, they end up nodding off to sleep in church on Christmas Eve as the vicar's sermon's way too long. Then are rudely awaken by the vicar wanting the next hymn/carol, only to blast off into a reel assuming they were up the pub! It ends with ' they then brought in an organist'! It's a wonderful story but I can't source it but know it's by Hardy.
Q

It's a short story called "Absent-mindedness In A Parish Choir".

Graham
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #92 on: June 16, 2013, 12:33:47 PM »

B***er! Just beat me to it....... ;D

Graham
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Stiamh

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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #93 on: June 16, 2013, 01:09:08 PM »

Going back to Marje's last post in response to my challenge, although a lot has been written since: I cannot help thinking that you Marje and many of the other English players who contribute to threads such as these have a very narrow view of Irish music. No doubt this is because of a certain type of Irish session you have encountered that does nothing for you.

But the thing that seems missing in all your comments is a broader appreciation of Irish music. Pub sessions are not the whole story. In fact they are still a relatively recent phenomenon and only a small part of the story of Irish music. An awful lot of playing goes on in kitchens in Ireland and outside, and there must be thousands of excellent players who are rarely or never seen in pub sessions. And an awful lot of dancing happens too - so much for the "lost connection" with the dance. Some players may never play for dancers, but a lot do.

I could take you to sessions where people play at a moderate tempo, competitiveness is absent and the proceedings are dominated by camaraderie and "crack". I could take you to dances where the dancers want fast tempos and where, if the musicians resort to the tempo they enjoy playing at in sessions, they are told to pick it up in no uncertain terms. I could show you "sean nos" step dancers who want a moderate, rolling tempo... it's a vast and varied scene.

And the music itself is a vast and varied field. The idea of a written or basic setting as a scaffold that the skilled performer uses to delight the listener surely applies as much or more to Irish music as to any other. Lurking behind all the standard settings that are thrashed out in the kind of sessions that you dislike are all kinds of variants, associated with this or that musician or this or that area. People connected to and deeply immersed in the tradition are aware of these variants and can tell you stories about their origins and the people who passed them on to us.

I could ramble on and on, but I'll stop with a wish that people would cut Irish music some slack and not pass judgment on it based on what appears, quite frankly, to be very little knowledge - or appreciation - of it. I have some knowledge of English music, but it goes back to playing for Morris, barn dances and ceilis and hanging out in folk clubs in the 1970s, and there is a lot that has happened since then of which I am only dimly aware. That's why I won't write generalizations, dismissive or otherwise, about it.

One last point: Music doesn't have to be slow to be good. Just because there are players who can play dance music very well at speeds you or I couldn't possibly keep up with is no reason to slam it. Enjoy it instead.

PS I hadn't seen the comments that aradru just responded to. Chris - it's your country, and it was mine too but comments like yours make me feel I'm well out of it. But just remember who we needed to rebuild it for us in the post-ww2 years. It was those people who began the whole pub session phenomenon in their free time. Would we be enjoying pub sessions of any description otherwise? And am I to understand you would actually like to turn this into an anything-but-Irish forum?  >:E
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #94 on: June 16, 2013, 02:01:20 PM »

Steve/Graham: I've been wating to source this since hearing it in the late  ~ 1970's
Thank you so much! Absolute stars  (:)

Steve: I think you are absolutely right, the narrow view of Irish music is what perpetuates over here as it's all most of us see so you base your opinions on your experiences.
As I mentioned earlier, I had the priviledge of meeting many fine musicians in my trip over a long time back. I was amazed that there were still informal get togethers still happening, Kerry sets danced in the front rooms where the best stepper stood on a hearth stone so they could dictate the beat etc. I also made friends with a very good fiddler who's tunes and attitude reflect exactly what you say - they were totally laid back both in their attitude *and* their playing and appreciated a tune from anyone/any where.
Yes we should cut Irish music some slack, though must say that what we percieve to be Irish over here ( that generates this negativity ) is not a true reflection of it's broad nature.
Q
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #95 on: June 16, 2013, 02:27:46 PM »


Yes we should cut Irish music some slack, though must say that what we percieve to be Irish over here ( that generates this negativity ) is not a true reflection of it's broad nature.
Q

That's very true, Q, and Steve's thoughtful post has made me see that what I was talking about was "Irish music as it's mainly played in sessions in England", which I accept is far from the whole picture. It tends to be almost or mostly jigs'n'reels, with little variation, and yet I know there are slow airs, hornpipes, marches, waltzes, mazurkas etc within the Irish tradition. They just don't get much of an airing over here.

I do remember once there was a girl (at an English festival) who was an all-Ireland champion dancer and wanted someone to play a jig for her to dance to. They settled on "Out on the Ocean" but the player had to be stopped and asked to slow down about four times before the right pace was eventually found - a nice, relaxed, bouncy pace that really allowed the dancer to spring around, nothing like the speed that is normally found at sessions. I'd say it was more like an English tune at that speed, but I might be considered to be insulting both traditions, so I won't!
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #96 on: June 16, 2013, 02:33:48 PM »



There's a real and enjoyable challenge in playing a tune simply (i.e. without excessive ornamentation and variation) but making it have the same effortless musical flow as if sung by a good singer. Key to that approach is that you are "selling" your audience the  tune, not your playing.

Or as someone said, I think in a book entitled Psychology For Musicians - you know you've done well when people afterwards don't say how well you played, but how beautiful the music was.


When I sing, I know if someone says afterwards, "What a lovely song that is!" that I've got it right. I want the attention to be on the song, not the singer or the delivery.

Mind you, I was quite chuffed when at a recent session I played a slow-ish tune, without a lot of joining-in going on, and someone said afterwards, "You know, that was almost musical!" I think that passes for a compliment when you play the melodeon ...
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #97 on: June 16, 2013, 03:45:53 PM »

I have a couple of separate comments -
Firstly, on difficulty over simplicity:
there is a saying about Mozart - that it's too easy for amateurs, and too hard for professionals. This refers to orchestras - a lot of amateur orchestras long to do bigger works, with technically challenging individual parts and the huge wall of sound that comes with playing things like Richard Strauss. On the other hand, professional orchestras can play stuff like that almost like shelling peas - the players have all developed techniques and learnt how the notes fit in the massive melting pot of textures.
Playing Mozart for amateur orchestras is often unchallenging in terms of getting round the notes, whilst professionals understand the lack of hiding places, and the absolute necessity for beauty of sound, intonation, balance - like a crystal structure standing on the most fragile of legs - it can all turn to disaster so easily.
Having said that the Mozart I most enjoyed playing was not (with the greatest respect to those eminent players) with the Mozart specialists such as Murray Perahia, Mitsuko Uchida, or even Alfred Brendel but more with those who didn't treat it with reverential kid gloves- perhaps some of the Russian pianists like Mikhail Pletnev.

The second point is that the acquisition of finger technique is not merely for speed, but for precision.
Another few things you (in answer to the OP) might try are:

Be conscious of the precision of taking fingers off (don't worry about this in playing, but in practice). Take off fingers with controlled energy so that it feels like a positive action - the articulation will transfer to the putting on of fingers in a complementary way;

Try leaving one finger holding down a note while other fingers play (with clarity) a moving phrase or little fragments of a few notes - it really highlights clarity.

Lastly try all those small chunks out with a variety of articulations - this is good musically as well as mechanically.
I am conscious as I offer advice that almost everyone on this forum is a superior melodeon player. No condescension intended.
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #98 on: June 16, 2013, 06:07:06 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.
I guess that says an awful lot about our respective societies!


I run just such a session - well, we call it "mainly English" but we do include Scottish, French, Swedish, etc tunes at times. And do you know why? It's because there is  - or was until recently - another session in the town that was exclusively Irish - the occasional Scottish tune was tolerated as long as it was played too fast, but English tunes (any speed) were taboo. I felt that in England it was nonsensical to have a folk session that excluded music with local roots, and that's why I set up what is now a very successful session.

So maybe you're not aware that such "Irish-only" sessions are fairly common in England. It's because of this that there is a movement to reestablish and promote English music and song.

As for Irish music being "more difficult" - well, that's your opinion. It is usually played faster than other folk music, largely because it has lost much of its the connection with dance, whereas English musicians are usually very conscious of the dance that underlies the music, and how the tune would fit if you were dancing to it. I'd contend that to play a tune - any nationality - in a way that makes the listeners want to get up and dance is a skill that's often overlooked. It's arguable that English tunes are easier to play badly than Irish tunes (although I can play lots of Irish tunes badly!), but more difficult to play really well.
I think the point about the "diddly-diddly pseudo-Irish" players and sessions that you often get in England is that they're often not what I'd call good musicians, you get the feeling they've just got a book of a thousand Irish fiddle tunes and ploughed through it, and then they just churn them out like high-speed sausages -- all sounding the same, no feeling for the shape of the tune, no expression or dynamics...

The good traditional Irish musicians -- young and old -- don't do this, they often play more slowly with a lot more bounce and feel for the tune, because in their heads they're playing for dancing, and that's how good dance musicians play. But you rarely get this in England, unless you go somewhere like the Hammersmith Irish Centre where last time we danced there I heard some fantastic young musicians play.

A couple of weeks ago we dropped in to dance at the Cat's Back in Wandsworth only to groan when we saw that it was Irish night with a band sitting in the corner -- but they were *good*, lovely fluid rhythmical playing with real feeling at a speed where you could hear all the nice things they were doing. I talked to them after we'd danced and they also hate the diddly-diddlers, they saw them as butchering the music.

One reason for the "non-Irish" sessions is that once the diddly-diddlers get in and start churning out the fast jigs and reels fewer people join in, the speed goes up, Irish tunes push out the non-Irish ones, and before you know it you've got another Irish session. Sorry to say it, but I've seen this happen so many times, and it does only seem to be the pseudo-Irish musicians who do this.

Though playing tunes too fast certainly isn't a sin exclusive to them...
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Re: Playing fast
« Reply #99 on: June 16, 2013, 08:28:55 PM »

[quote author=Marje link=

 , and it does only seem to be the pseudo-Irish musicians who do this.




indeed!

george

 
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