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Author Topic: If something is played too fast for your taste ... why not try the next thread?  (Read 2531 times)

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richard.fleming

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   Had a listen to that link. Trouble with English traditional music, it all sounds the same...http://forum.melodeon.net/Smileys/default/smiley.gif
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 09:28:51 AM by richard.fleming »
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Thrupenny Bit

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Yes Steve, we are as one!
At the time I remember the ceilidhs at big festivals were either Old Swan or Flowers and Frolics as headline bands. Both defined English music and greatly influenced what we play now.
Q
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I think I'm starting to get most of the notes in roughly the right order...... sometimes!

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How does the C#/D tuning make a difference, Richard?

I'm sure Richard will make his own reply, but I'd like to make mine on this one too, if I may?

The highly ornamented style of Irish accordion playing is on the B/C system, which took over as the Irish accordion system after the release of the three 78rpm records of Paddy O'Brien (from Nenagh) in 1955, and the ethos of that style is to play "across the rows" as smoothly, and as much like a fiddle as possible, so trying to emulate both fiddle style and ornamentation - but that can sound heavy-handed and over the top on an accordion. Also some players have been guilty of playing lots of "wrong notes" in their rolls (ornamentation) because they were convenient on the outside row (a practice for which the accordion was disparaged by Sean O'Riada).

C#/D players generally use a more direct and rhythmic style of playing, mostly on the D row and more like a "melodeon with accidentals" approach.

Here's Conor Connolly playing a C#/D Paolo Soprani beautifully, as it should be, in "Joe Cooley style" - with lovely use of dynamics and ornamentation that both add to the tune and the impact of the music:

Paolo Soprani 3-Voice C#/D

I think the difference between BC and C#D is complex. I've played both systems, but have finally settled on C#D.
The BC certainly lends itself -don't ask me to get technical-to playing a more fluid style with lots of ornamentation, but it also happened that that style was pioneered by BC players, as described by Triskel (above). I've never heard Joe Burke playing C#D but I'm willing to bet he wouldn't sound like Joe Cooley if he did.
I can remember when all the hopefuls at the Fleadh etc sounded just like Joe Burke clones. When some box players started to get bored with this Joe Cooley's style was something for them to coalesce around, and the C#D box a statement that they were playing a different style. And as Stephen says, it's played more on the inside row, (with accidentals), and maybe more push pull, so that it lends itself to old- style melodeon flavours. But you won't sound like Joe just by getting a C#D box.
I look forward to hearing what Stiamh and Stephen think about what I've said here. We might have got even more of a discussion going if there were more ITM players left on the forum. (Chunter, chunter....)

Thanks to you both, Triskel and Richard, for your answer to my earlier query. I especially liked the Connor Connolly Youtube recording. To me it was very nicely balanced musically, and the ornamentation was subtle and graceful.

As a one-row player myself, I can see how the C#/D system is just like a one-row in D with an extra row of accidentals, thus retaining much of the inherent push-pull rhythmic bounce in the music. Also I can see how it has possibly started to attract confirmed non-Irish one-row players - I believe East Anglian musician Katie Howson is starting to experiment with the C#/D. (Perhaps she will drop by and give us an update?).

I am also reminded by your replies of the ethos of playing 'correct' ornamentation styles in Irish traditional music, and the player possibly being severely criticised if they get it wrong. Perhaps this arises from the importance given to it in music competitions? It also happens in Scottish pibroch competitions and to a lesser extent in Northumbrian piping competitions (I used to take part in these). Get an ornament wrong and marks are lost.

As far as I'm aware, apart from the Northumbrian piping competitions (which seem to be a special case) there are no such events for English music and a good thing too, in my opinion. One of the sheer delights of English traditional dance music is that you can play it however you like (except badly!) - the tunes, listeners and dancers don't mind that there are regional and local differences in notes, twiddles and tempos. If the result is good music, that's all that matters.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2017, 09:30:05 AM by Steve_freereeder »
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richard.fleming

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 quote Steve F:  "the ethos of playing 'correct' ornamentation styles in Irish traditional music"
I have no music theory, but it seems to me that although some combinations of notes (rolls, triplets, whatever) can be called 'ornaments', and are often used as such, in some Irish tunes those 'ornaments' are so integral to the music that they aren't really ornaments at all. They're what the tune does, and you need them.The trick is often to play the 'ornaments' that are actually integral parts of the tune, and leave out the rest. Though you can fling a few in out of joie de vivre, if you have such a thing about your person.
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Steve_freereeder

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quote Steve F:  "the ethos of playing 'correct' ornamentation styles in Irish traditional music"
I have no music theory, but it seems to me that although some combinations of notes (rolls, triplets, whatever) can be called 'ornaments', and are often used as such, in some Irish tunes those 'ornaments' are so integral to the music that they aren't really ornaments at all. They're what the tune does, and you need them.The trick is often to play the 'ornaments' that are actually integral parts of the tune, and leave out the rest. Though you can fling a few in out of joie de vivre, if you have such a thing about your person.

(Steve's wife Jan, here - I was also at Whitby) A very interesting point. How do you know which ornaments are integral? As a (melodeon) player of largely English music I add ornaments which "feel" right, which seem to fit the music; and most importantly, which fall naturally under the fingers. Maybe ornamentation is dependent on what type of instrument you are playing as well as individual musicianship.

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playandteach

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The other day I was browsing my collection of classical records, and YouTube, trying to find someone who played Paganini's caprice no. 1 at a reasonable speed. Do you know, every single violinist has got the Irish disease, all playing hell for leather. Just so freaking unmusical.
I'm not sure that I'd go to Paganini if I wanted to listen to musical playing.

I was going to put a response in to Jack Campin's blanket criticism of composers playing their own pieces toofaFast but then remembered that I quite like some Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Thelonius Monk tunes but not performed by themselves. Reminds me of composers who insist on conducting their own orchestral pieces: in the words of some lawyer somewhere "A man who represents himself in court has a fool for a client"
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george garside

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speaking as a regular player of  2 row DG ( with chin end accs) and BC and BCC#  I totally agree with Jan that it is best to use the 'ornaments' that work best on each system rather than trying to go for a one size fits all.   All systems have what are to me ''free of charge'' ornaments   that are Impossible or hard work on other systems and as a result can sound crap.

another question , for me, is how  do you define on 'ornament'  when different individuals play the same tune slightly differently anyway - are they just playing it their way or their arrangement are they using different ornaments??

for what its worth a very simple ''built in'' ornament  I use fairly frequently on the DG but not on the BC(C#) is what I think of as the 'back flick'  i.e. simply a very subtle and very quick pull in the middle of a push so for example if playing G push the 'back flick' will bring in a very short A.  But I have never considered this to be an ornament just something I do - a couple of examples of tunes it works very well in are the Blaydon races and cock of the north.

george

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Jack Campin

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Quote
I was going to put a response in to Jack Campin's blanket criticism of composers playing their own pieces toofaFast

I named three.  How is that "blanket"?  There are hundreds of others.

Gordon Duncan was one who is not an example.  There are a heck of a lot of notes in his tunes, with really complex ornaments, and they are often hard to play, but his basic tempi weren't extreme and he played them as well as anybody ever has.  I'd say the same about John Kirkpatrick.
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Anahata

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Quote from: Patrick Sullivan (in linked review)
brother and sister team Fi and Jo Fraser

Oops!
(actually two sisters, for those who don't know them)
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Anahata

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Trouble with English traditional music, it all sounds the same...

I've heard exactly the same said about Irish music  >:E.
Truth is, it applies universally to anything (music, language, speaking accents, etc.) you're not very familiar with.
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playandteach

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Quote
I was going to put a response in to Jack Campin's blanket criticism of composers playing their own pieces toofaFast

I named three.  How is that "blanket"?  There are hundreds of others.
Sorry Jack. Poor precision or words. I meant that you seemed to imply  (and I may be wrong there too) that for each of those tunesmiths you always considered their own performances too hurried rather than with one or two tunes.
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richard.fleming

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Well, Anahata, I'm glad you realised I was (mostly) joking about all sounding the same
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triskel

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Well, Anahata, I'm glad you realised I was (mostly) joking about all sounding the same

I, for one, certainly read your comment as very firmly "tongue in cheek" in applying the usual (and very untrue) English criticism of Irish music back, at English music...  ;)
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IanD

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Even among the English dance tradition there are big differences between regions. We sometimes play Morpeth Rant (for the dance in ceilidhs) at a relatively slow speed that suits the way that southern audiences like to dance a rant, similar to the speed that many North-West Morris teams would with  plenty of "welly" -- but according to Gordon Potts (who calls for us, and is from there) if we played it at that speed in Newcastle the audiences would hate it because they prefer a much faster lighter rant step with more of a light tap on the beat than a heavier rant step.

Everyone has their own idea about what the "right" speed for a tune is -- when playing for dancing it's easy (whatever suits the dancers best), but in a session it's a lot more contentious. Also I can name tunes that work well at several very different speeds depending how you emphasize the beat, how much swing you put in, whether they're syncopated or straight -- one tune can sound like several completely different tunes depending how (and how fast) it's played.

And even among people who play tunes fast there are big differences, what I don't like is tunes played at a speed where the musician sounds stressed and can't get any life or lift into them. But other musicians like Phillipe Bruneau, Denis Pepin, Joe Derrane sound fluid and relaxed and effortless and full of life to the point you don't realise how fast they're playing until you try and do it...

Having said all that, there does seem to have been a trend among up-and-coming musicians in the last few years to play faster, and my objection is often not because they can't play at this speed (because they're good musicians and can) but that it would sound so much better a bit slower to give more time to get some life and lift into the tune. And at the the other end of the scale, you get some awfully downbeat ploddy playing which would be better a bit faster, but mainly by getting a bit of the aforesaid life and lift into the music -- too slow is as bad as too fast, but in a different way ;-)
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triskel

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Here's Conor Connolly playing a C#/D Paolo Soprani beautifully, as it should be, in "Joe Cooley style" - with lovely use of dynamics and ornamentation that both add to the tune and the impact of the music:

Paolo Soprani 3-Voice C#/D

... Conor Connolly in that clip ... That is lovely playing ...

I especially liked the Connor Connolly Youtube recording. To me it was very nicely balanced musically, and the ornamentation was subtle and graceful.

Yes, and that clip was made nearly four years ago - he's come on since then...

I keep pushing Conor here because he's an outstanding young player with a great love and respect for the tradition, playing beautiful old-style music. He's starting to get noticed too, playing regularly at Tunes in the Church in Galway, and (great recognition for a young box player!) performing a gig with Frankie Gavin at the Fleadh this year.

A name to look out for in the future!
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 03:23:33 AM by triskel »
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george garside

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 Having said all that, there does seem to have been a trend among up-and-coming musicians in the last few years to play faster, and my objection is often not because they can't play at this speed (because they're good musicians and can) but that it would sound so much better a bit slower to give more time to get some life and lift into the tune. And at the the other end of the scale, you get some awfully downbeat ploddy playing which would be better a bit faster, but mainly by getting a bit of the aforesaid life and lift into the music -- too slow is as bad as too fast, but in a different way ;-)


absolutely!

george
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Anahata

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Even among the English dance tradition there are big differences between regions.

The same goes for anywhere else too, whether it's Irish, Scottish, French or Bulgarian...
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Stiamh

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The trick is often to play the 'ornaments' that are actually integral parts of the tune, and leave out the rest. Though you can fling a few in out of joie de vivre, if you have such a thing about your person.

(Steve's wife Jan, here - I was also at Whitby) A very interesting point. How do you know which ornaments are integral? As a (melodeon) player of largely English music I add ornaments which "feel" right, which seem to fit the music; and most importantly, which fall naturally under the fingers. Maybe ornamentation is dependent on what type of instrument you are playing as well as individual musicianship.

In the case of Irish music, the box is to a great extent doing its best to fit into a well-established instrumental tradition developed on wind instruments (pipes, flute, whistle) and fiddle. So certain forms of ornamentation are almost dictated by the genre. For example, "cutting" (using a higher grace note) to separate two notes of the same pitch rather than articulating them afresh (changing bow direction, tonguing, or hitting a button twice). As Richard says, these kinds of things are just what the tune needs.

The 5-note rolls that semitone box players seized on in the 1950s were another attempt to fit into established tradition. But they didn't really produce the same effect as they do on the aforementioned wind instruments and fiddle, which must be why they are less in favour now than they once were. Now box players are doing more box-specific things, such as rolls that omit the final grace (probably copied from concertina playing), and which fit better. But the aim is largely to make the music flow the way it does on other instruments, to a greater or lesser extent depending on the player's skill and taste. Nobody really imitates box ornaments, but the box tries to imitate or substitute for things done on the other instruments! Bottom line - if you know the tradition, particularly as played by all the older traditional instruments - you'll know what works and what doesn't.

My 2d worth.

Steve C.

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When Andrew said "no reels" I knew just what he was referring to!  Am I cross-culturally literate or what?  And it sent me down to the vinyl archive, where we have our collection organized more or less by date...
Pulled from the stack:

No Reels, Old Swan Band
Fieldovole Music, Tony Hall
Bothy Band, 1975 at Dublin Sound
Flute for the Feis, John Doonan
McGreevy & Cooley, 1974 Library of Congress (recorded at Earth Audio, became Philo)
Tommy Peoples and Paul Brady, The High Part of the Road
Alistair Anderson, Traditional Tunes 1975, Front Hall
Clare Concertinas, Tommy McMahon and Bernard O'Sullivan, Topic, 1975
Plain Capers, with John Kirkpatrick  (one of my absolute favorites, have just about worn it out...)
How to Make a Bakewell Tart, Tufty Swift and the Harrises
Bees on Horseback, Flowers and Frolics (whatever became of these folks...)  some great medleys...

Andrew, thanks for the rememeries...
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Stiamh

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When Andrew said "no reels" I knew just what he was referring to!

Yes. He was referring to my earlier post in this thread. ;) I brought the matter up because I was around and playing trad music in England at the time that record came out.
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