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Author Topic: Different variations  (Read 1383 times)

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Pazza

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Different variations
« on: April 15, 2019, 08:06:32 PM »

Hi everyone I have been playing for about six months and can play five tunes now, Wind the bobbin up,  Speed the plough, Winster Gallop, Silent night,  and nearly got Constant Billy (all very badly I might add). My method of learning is just by watching someone playing them on YouTube and copying them. I have noticed though that everyone plays the tunes slightly different, sometimes the melody on the right hand varies, but my biggest problem is the left hand bass notes and chords can be completely different depending on whose playing it.  I wondered how this all works out when they all get together in a session? All comments greatly appreciated, thanks.
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2019, 09:03:02 PM »

Usually we all take out our tune books, and the designated tunemaster presents forth the master score for that evening. We then spend an hour or two carefully comparing one another's copy of the tune against the various reference tomes and, after a short debate, we decide which one is the most correct version. Then we all go home.

What is actually done is remarkably similar to what you're doing already, but etiquette may vary based on locale and the person, if anyone, who's running the show. Generally at the sessions I go to, there will be those who are happy to start tunes and those who are not. In principal, you should aim to follow the person/people who is/are leading the tune, and that is likely the person who started it. In reality, especially once a session is above a certain size, mostly everyone plays the tune however they feel like playing it and if two ideas are obviously interacting negatively, we mostly just sort it out by either dropping out, dropping the bass side, or playing it the way the other person does. Or carrying on regardless.

After a while, it becomes much more viable to play along during the session and just change the way you're playing to match, especially if you learn the tune a variety of different ways - I try to pay attention to a guitar player's chord hand to figure out what he's doing and join in with & not play over him. Also, bass stops can be popular in sessions, because they can make our chords far less authoritative - learnt that from Mel during one of her Q/As - which a) lets those who play music in the areas besides the main melody a bit less put upon and b) let's you hear them doing some neat stuff.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2019, 09:04:53 PM »

Hi Pazza,
Good to know you're getting some tunes under the belt. Don't worry, the more you practice the better you will play. It all takes time. I was impatient when getting going, but sure enough you do become more proficient as you learn.

There is always variation on the left hand. There will be a consensus over some phrases of a tune, but other phrases might be more open to interpretation. Some times people play basses or chords only, maybe playing a bass run instead of um-pahing.... and there is always the possibility of error by the player!
In a session, it all seems to mulch in from what I've seen.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2019, 09:08:40 PM »

Sessions will be variable wherever you are.
Gene posted as I hit send. Her session seems to be very formally structured, whereas the one I attend people just start up. There is every variation in between, no right or wrong, just different!
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

playandteach

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2019, 09:49:30 PM »

Sessions will be variable wherever you are.
Gene posted as I hit send. Her session seems to be very formally structured, whereas the one I attend people just start up. There is every variation in between, no right or wrong, just different!
Q
I think Gena's highly structured comment was a self-aimed joke. I'm still at the stage of playing by myself, and the big problem I found in the one time I went to a session was not being able to hear myself, which meant that I was highly likely playing everything one button out.
I'd love to try again, although my memory is the biggest issue.
I am concentrating on DG playing at the moment, so there is at least some hope.
For me the choices of bass still influence the right hand patterns, so you might need to embed your playing without the basses at home. Good luck.
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Lester

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2019, 09:51:44 PM »

the big problem I found in the one time I went to a session was not being able to hear myself, which meant that I was highly likely playing everything one button out.


If you can't hear yourself you are almost certainly playing the right notes, wrong ones stand out like sore thumbs (or so a friend tells me  8) )

playandteach

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2019, 09:54:31 PM »

Good point. I had to build up a head of steam just to try my own box out in front of Theo tonight. If I wasn't a music teacher it might not be so embarrassing.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2019, 10:01:46 PM »

Yes my early sessions were sitting beside a friend who played alto sax.
Couldn't hear a thing!
I moved and got on much better. I also learnt the sound of my box and got used to listening to it and for it.
Lester's right too, if you can't hear yourself you're playing the right notes!
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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: Different variations
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2019, 11:17:19 PM »

Usually we all take out our tune books, and the designated tunemaster presents forth the master score for that evening. We then spend an hour or two carefully comparing one another's copy of the tune against the various reference tomes and, after a short debate, we decide which one is the most correct version. Then we all go home.

 ;D
Quote
I try to pay attention to a guitar player's chord hand to figure out what he's doing and join in with

Yes. It can be extremely helpful to have a reliable guitar or mandolin player in a session if stuff's going on you're not sure of. Worst comes to the worst you can just mirror his or her  chords and fiddle around with a few notes. When it works people think you're brilliant. If it's not working just play very quietly.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2019, 11:18:57 PM by Tone Dumb Greg »
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Dick Rees

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2019, 11:35:16 PM »

People hear things differently, so they play things differently.  Here's a classic musical take on differences:

https://youtu.be/zZ3fjQa5Hls
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Lyra

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #10 on: April 16, 2019, 01:55:46 AM »

I try to pay attention to a guitar player's chord hand to figure out what he's doing
He could be kneading bread for all the good that would do me. I rely on ears, other melodeon players, or if in doubt, don’t, I’m afraid.
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Gena Crisman

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2019, 08:06:06 AM »

Gene posted as I hit send. Her session seems to be very formally structured

Oh, no, it's pretty much just like that.

He could be kneading bread for all the good that would do me. I rely on ears, other melodeon players, or if in doubt, don’t, I’m afraid.

Sometimes I might ask them what a chord is, if I couldn't work it out through context. Like yourself, I do use my ears and other boxes, but, so far as melodeons go, I'm probably the most invested chord player in our regular group? I usually have an idea of what others might be playing, so, I try to then match that to their fingers, and then know what they're going to do & when.

I've found it very worthwhile to learn a little bit about how Stradella basses, guitars, and violins/mandolins are roughly set up. A little visual clue here and there can make a useful difference to my comprehension.
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Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2019, 08:08:38 AM »

If I'm a bit unsure or having a senior moment I glance at two friends who often attend as they are long established good melodeon players. A quick look at their bass choice will reassure me if it's a tune I'm unsure about.
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Thrupenny Bit

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #13 on: April 16, 2019, 08:47:00 AM »

Going back to the original point about variation:
People do play things differently.
I'm just working with an excellent transcription by Gena of Anahata's version of a tune. He uses chords I'd normally choose, except at one point, choosing a push C bass/chord where I'd normally use G.
It's a lovely alternative. Either option is valid, neither right nor wrong, just different.
That's the thing with melodeons, there seems to be space within tunes to put in your own personal variation in a tune.
Q
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Thrupenny Bit

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

Mcgrooger

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #14 on: April 16, 2019, 09:18:07 AM »

Hi Pazza.
Sounds to me like you're making good progress. If you're copying tunes from YT vids, I'd suggest you copy whichever version you think sounds best. The choice of LH basses and chords tends to determine the bellows direction and thus which row is needed for the RH.
If you then go to a session you'll have your RH patterns sorted and depending on who's leading (/dominating?!) the tune you might decide to leave your LH out. I think you'll make quicker progress by learning to play competently without being too influenced by what happens in sessions. In my humble opinion sessions are great for a bit of socialising and maybe building your confidence when you can lead a tune or set but I've not found them much help in learning how to play.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 09:35:52 PM by Mcgrooger »
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Squeaky Pete

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #15 on: April 16, 2019, 10:00:04 AM »

When I'm playing bass lines on the bassoon, I find it a little frustrating when there's a melodeon trying to fit as many minor chords in as possible.
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Re: Different variations
« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2019, 10:03:09 AM »

go to an Irish session and forget the basses.  Or just carry on as you are, and leave the basses alone when in doubt. Your ear will develop in time.
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Howard Jones

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #17 on: April 16, 2019, 10:19:46 AM »

It very much depends on the size of the session, and the experience and abilities of the players.  One of the skills of session playing is to listen to what the others are doing, and to pick up on and follow when someone throws in a good idea.  That might even include following the bassoon's bass lines, or at least not treading on them. That's easier in a small session, larger ones do tend to be a bit of a mish-mash.  However as we melodeonists have only a limited choice of chords, even when we're all playing different ones they shouldn't clash too badly ;).  Throwing in minor chords as an alternative to the expected major is one way of making the accompaniment more interesting with such a limited palate.

My view is that traditional music, at least as it is played around the British Isles, is largely about the melody and any accompaniment simply supports that.  This differs from some other genres where the chords and perhaps percussion form a base on which the tune is then built.  For this reason I'm I'm not entirely convinced about following guitarists, all too often they'll be doggedly following a chord progression regardless of what the other instruments might be doing. The best ones hold back and follow the tune.

Variations are also part of traditional music.  There is no definitive 'correct' version.  In the case of morris tunes like "Constant Billy" there are a number of recognised variants from different village dance traditions, but even with those versions experienced players will interpret them slightly differently, and often not exactly the same way twice. From the point of view of a beginner, learn the version you hear most at your local session and keep the accompaniment simple, to begin with.  Leave the  fancy stuff to the more experienced players, but listen to what they're doing and try to understand it.  As your playing develops you'll find you are able to add more variety.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2019, 10:23:40 AM by Howard Jones »
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Anahata

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #18 on: April 16, 2019, 11:54:41 AM »

the left hand bass notes and chords can be completely different depending on whose playing it.  I wondered how this all works out when they all get together in a session?

Depending again on who's playing, the result is either the sort of undignified mess that gives melodeon players a bad name, or the players listen to each other and either miss out on basses, or listen to what another player (preferably the one that started the tune) is doing and copy them , or just keep a very light touch on the basses if you're not sure.
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Eshed

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Re: Different variations
« Reply #19 on: April 16, 2019, 11:58:08 AM »

go to an Irish session and forget the basses.  Or just carry on as you are, and leave the basses alone when in doubt. Your ear will develop in time.
I've started going to an Irish session recently and I'm too slow and inexperienced to join the melody on the fly, so I'm doing basses and harmonies almost exclusively :D
They haven't kicked me out yet.  :||:
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I'm playing all the wrong notes but not necessarily in the wrong order.
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