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Author Topic: I nearly know how many tunes?  (Read 960 times)

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oggiesnr

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I nearly know how many tunes?
« on: September 20, 2018, 10:16:05 PM »

Before I went on holiday to Deovn with wife and Mother-in-Law I checked the weather forecast and took a tunebook with me as well as a couple of instruments.  Just as well as the weather was iffy for several days.  The book was an old copy of Jon Raven's "1000 English Country Dance Tunes".

Anyway on the dull days I started skimming through it for the umpteenth time over the years and I suddenly realised a couple of things.  There were a lot of tunes I part know and a lot of tunes that I used to play but that I hadn't played for years.  I also realised how few tunes I played on a regular basis and that unless I started getting serious about it that it wasn't going to change.

I've started a spreadsheet of tunes with a column for name, another for source (if I have one), another for page and then a grading system of 1 to 10.

1 means I've looked at it or heard and I'd like to learn it.
3 means that I can play it with the music in front of me.
5 means I don't need the music but I'm may not be fluent.
7 means that I can play it in some sessions depending on the speed of the tune/session
9 means I can lead it in a session
10 (and they're rare) are tunes I can can play solo arrangements of or play solo for dancing.

Now my practice sessions are focussed on improving the tunes that I know and bring some more 1's into the fold.  I'm also working on the 9's to create more solo arrangements.

The scary thing is that the spreadsheet is already over the 500 mark (most around the 5 level) and everytime I pick up a music book I realise I've missed some more.

It does however give my practices a lot more focus.

Steve
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2018, 11:38:00 PM »


I've started a spreadsheet of tunes with a column for name, another for source (if I have one), another for page and then a grading system of 1 to 10...
Steve

This is just Stage 1 of the syndrom. Eventually it becomes too unwieldy and a chore to mantain.

Stage 2 is you divide your music tune files into folders.

1. Tune library containing all the tunes I ever took a fancy to.
2. MelNet tunes
3. Morris tunes further subdivided into Border, Cotswold and Other. The border tunes are classed by side, including my own which then divides down further.
4. A practice folder of tunes I know well enough to play from memory. If I down give it enough attention it shrinks
5. A relearn folder of tunes I have forgotten. This grows all by itself.
6. A tunes to learn folder. This is the largest.
7. A tunes being learnt folder.

I don't know what Stage 3 is. Maybe it's teaching myself to play by ear, picking them up on the fly and developing harmonies and variations as the tune goes on. Or maybe not.

I don't know if this syndrom has a name, but it is very common.
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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #2 on: September 21, 2018, 07:43:27 AM »

Some folders organically grow and diminish.
I find that the 'Tunes to learn' folder shrinks because I've learnt a new tune and committed it to memory.
I then realise the 'Tunes I know' folder has grown because I've spent my time learning new and therefore neglected the ones I know and they need brushing up.

Given a finite amount of practice time during the evenings due to work, plus the 'I've had a hard day and am knackered' feeling whereby practice isn't sensible, I feel I'm in a constant seesaw between learning new then going back to previously learnt tunes to brush up.
'tis a balancing act that isn't always easy...................
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Barlow

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2018, 09:44:30 AM »

Most of the above.

Plus, I have an ABC folder on my laptop. At first I intended it would hold half a dozen or so tunes to work on and learn. It has over 200 files (and some of the ABC files have many tunes in them).

What was it like in the days before computers and youtube etc.

Vinyl records or tapes surreptitiously passed round sessions and sides, and bits of music scribbled out on backs of fag packets and beer mats?
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Winston Smith

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2018, 09:50:18 AM »

"What was it like in the days before computers and youtube etc."

Much the same as it still is for some of us. Listen to a tune until it sticks in your bonce, and then play it! I'm not really able to listen to songs/tunes on youtube very much, although it's an excellent source, as my beloved needs me to be able to hear her commands!
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george garside

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2018, 09:51:15 AM »

I don't go in for keeping lists and ranking them into particular catagories.  Unless playing for a ceilidh  or  regular session with their 'regular' tunes I do one or other of:

Play anything that comes into my head- which may not have been played for a long time and is worthy of a polish

I flick through my favourite tune books  for inspiration i.e I havn't played that for a long time  so again give it a polish - maybe 'I should have played that but didn't - so have a go at it.

Over the years I have had loads of tune books but the ones I find most useful and which are 'keepers' are , in no particular order:

The Ceilidh Collection books 1,2,3,4,   published  by Taigh na Tend on the Isle of Sky
The northumbrian pipers tune books 1 & 2 published by northumbrian pipers society
The barn dance book by John Ray published 1990 ( may be available second hand on ebay?)
Band Swing by Pete Mac published by Dave Mallinson 1998
Jimmy Shand book of Waltzes 1,2,3,4,

'The Session' website is also  useful to check tunes you think you know but aren't quite sure about the detail.


george
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Anahata

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2018, 10:04:09 AM »

What was it like in the days before computers and youtube etc.

Vinyl records or tapes surreptitiously passed round sessions and sides, and bits of music scribbled out on backs of fag packets and beer mats?

And sheaves of manuscript paper, photocopies, tune sets for bands put together by real copy and paste...

I learned my Smiffs tunes by recording them on a pocket minidisc recorder and listening to them in the Hammersmith & City line train on the way home.
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Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2018, 10:31:11 AM »


What was it like in the days before computers and youtube etc....


For me it was tune books, scraps collected from here and there  and picking things up off records and CDs. Eventually tutor books started  getting more useful and included  things like floppy discs (45 r.p.m. (:)) and cassettes so you could hear the music as well as see the dots.

I have a five drawer chest full of sheet music etc. I still love it.
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Greg Smith
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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2018, 10:49:10 AM »

When I first started concertina, around 1978 ish, I was told to buy Kerr's Merry Melodies, plus the EFDSS books ( 1-7? ) and there was little else that came into my view. Along came the Northumbrian Pipers 1&2 and the odd other one a couple of years later.

Now we have available loads of tune books, some with cd's attached, on-line abc/tune search engines, YouTube, people using Skype for lesson etc etc.
We're currently riding a wave of riches available wherever you look.
Thank goodness. Be grateful  (:)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Tone Dumb Greg

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2018, 11:16:37 AM »

A big drawback of the Tunebook days was that it took me a long, long time to realise that it wasn't mandatory to play tunes the way they were scored in O'Neill's, Raven et al. and that the settings given in these books weren't wrong if they happened to be different to my favourite band playing the tune.
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Greg Smith
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The more it moves, the more comes out of it.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2018, 11:52:37 AM »

Yes, and another draw back was it limited you to your capacity to read music. If you couldn't read music they were useless.
Whilst I can and do read, I like to hear the tune as well, just to make sure I've got it right-ish.
Thank heavens for abc notation - dots and tune sound file in one place!

I think one reason for us realising you can play a tune in different ways is the change in attitude brought about by experience.
We used to 'play as writ' cos we knew no different.
Nowadays, having revived our musical heritage, tossed the tunes around a bit, started to think about it all and got to realise they possibly weren't originally *only* played as writ ( or perhaps that was just a snapshot of the tune ) then we can reconsider the tunes.
Much the same happened in morris, we now have gone away from the writings of the black book, realising theey were just a snapshot of the morris on that day.....
Q
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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: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2018, 11:52:56 AM »

a great many of the tunes in 'folk/trad'' tune books  are simply an individuals (or a bands) version/arrangement of tunes with no known composer i.e traditional!.  They come in Heinz 57 verieties and even crop up under different names in different  countries.    In other words they have 'developed' over time. 


It is therefore ok to come up with your own 'arrangement'  of a trad tune - but best check with a friend that it sounds ok!


The other thing that is not usually in the written notation of trad tunes is any hint of the all important phrasing which may be why they often get played without any >:E.   i.e. jsut a stringof the right notes in the right order >:E.   The choice of phrasing is up to the player  but should be deliberately thought through  and if it helps  add your own phrasing lines to the notation.  The other thing that is not usually indicated is how the gaps between the notes should be played  and while this forms part of the phrasing it is nuch more subtle and difficult to anotate. Playing the 'gaps' is however where the art of playing a good tune resides.

Same goes for a tune picked up 'by ear' either from another player or a youtube/cd/or whatever.  If necessary add your own phrasing and sort out how best to play the gaps.

george
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #12 on: September 21, 2018, 11:54:49 AM »

'zackly George!
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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: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #13 on: September 21, 2018, 11:56:41 AM »

We used to 'play as writ' cos we knew no different.
N Q

and many were not 'writ' by the original thinker up of the tune but were just passed on 'by ear'  . The eventual written version of such tunes  may well be different from the 'original'


george
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #14 on: September 21, 2018, 12:09:58 PM »

Indeed.
I think we have a more relxed and realistic attitude simply because we've stopped to consider such things rather than merely playing by rote.
Experience gained is a wonderful thing.  ;)
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

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Re: I nearly know how many tunes?
« Reply #15 on: September 21, 2018, 02:04:14 PM »

and many were not 'writ' by the original thinker up of the tune but were just passed on 'by ear'  . The eventual written version of such tunes  may well be different from the 'original'

Partly.
What typically also used to happen is that people like dancing masters (a popular profession in the 17th and 18th centuries) would write tunes and send them to London publishers, who would, with a bit of luck, include them in their next book of of "100 New Dance Tune for the Year 17xx", which book would be distributed all over the country and snapped up by dancing masters and musicians everywhere. This accounts for how the same tune title pops up in widely different areas.

Naturally tunes would be passed one by ear as well, because some musicians couldn't read music. And  they would make their own arrangements and improvements which might be the version passed on to others.

A similar process happened with songs, many of which were published as broadsides with text only, and then turn up all over the place, sometimes with totally different tunes, and sometimes with similar tunes.
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