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Question about Irish vs English fiddling

GUEST 19 Sep 21 - 11:12 PM
Stilly River Sage 20 Sep 21 - 12:32 AM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 02:19 AM
matt milton 20 Sep 21 - 05:55 AM
matt milton 20 Sep 21 - 05:57 AM
matt milton 20 Sep 21 - 06:06 AM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 07:42 AM
GUEST 20 Sep 21 - 07:51 AM
Johnny J 20 Sep 21 - 07:58 AM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 08:41 AM
matt milton 20 Sep 21 - 08:57 AM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 01:51 PM
Georgiansilver 20 Sep 21 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 20 Sep 21 - 03:20 PM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 20 Sep 21 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 20 Sep 21 - 05:28 PM
The Sandman 20 Sep 21 - 08:08 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 21 Sep 21 - 04:16 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 21 Sep 21 - 05:39 AM
GUEST,scotch bonnet 21 Sep 21 - 08:46 AM
The Sandman 22 Sep 21 - 03:25 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 22 Sep 21 - 04:46 AM
matt milton 22 Sep 21 - 06:24 AM
Steve Shaw 22 Sep 21 - 06:54 AM
matt milton 22 Sep 21 - 08:21 AM
Steve Shaw 22 Sep 21 - 09:15 AM
The Sandman 22 Sep 21 - 09:50 AM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 22 Sep 21 - 10:24 AM
Dave the Gnome 22 Sep 21 - 10:57 AM
GUEST,scotch bonnet 23 Sep 21 - 01:25 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 23 Sep 21 - 01:34 PM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 21 - 01:39 PM
Brian Peters 23 Sep 21 - 01:41 PM
Steve Shaw 23 Sep 21 - 03:18 PM
Manitas_at_home 23 Sep 21 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,,Peter Laban 23 Sep 21 - 03:45 PM
The Sandman 23 Sep 21 - 04:51 PM
The Sandman 24 Sep 21 - 05:45 PM
Manitas_at_home 24 Sep 21 - 06:03 PM
Dave the Gnome 25 Sep 21 - 02:44 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 21 - 03:33 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 21 - 03:41 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 21 - 04:06 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 21 - 04:27 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Sep 21 - 04:29 AM
The Sandman 25 Sep 21 - 04:34 AM
Dave the Gnome 25 Sep 21 - 04:38 AM
GUEST 25 Sep 21 - 06:13 AM
GUEST,PB 25 Sep 21 - 06:19 AM
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Subject: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Sep 21 - 11:12 PM

I've noticed that in the trad music I listen to, Irish groups are more likely to play their fiddle tunes straight, without any harmonizations, whereas English groups are more likely to add harmony and counterpoint lines. Is this a common difference between the two styles? Or is it just the specific groups I listen to?


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 12:32 AM

Unnamed GUEST, please give yourself a moniker and stick with it when you post here, if you aren't going to join. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 02:19 AM

1.Perhaps you just have not listened to irish group who use harmony, the use of the bouzouki, as a harmony instrument is pretty common in the last thirty yeqrs in irish music.+
i would say it is the specific groups.
the use of the piano, providing harmony and disharmony in irish ceili bands has been going for over 80 years. try listening to some of Michael Colemans piano players or so called accompanists


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 05:55 AM

I'd say it totally depends on which group you're listening to. Overall, I wouldn't say that there's a national tendency more towards one than the other.

When it comes to 'pure drop' playing - eg sessions in pubs - I doubt you'd hear much more harmonising at an English tunes session than at an Irish.

That said, something that muddies the waters here is that there's a hell of a lot more recordings of Irish traditional music than English.

So there's loads more recordings - both field recordings and studio recordings - of solo performers, duo performers and small group performers, across different decades and in different contexts.

Whereas with English music there's a disproportionate amount of 'contemporary' traditional music, relative to what came before. In Irish music, for every instance of The Chieftains or The Gloaming or Martin Hayes' groups you have a historic plethora of recordings of unison tune playing (with minimal harmony).

English music never really had that. With notable exceptions, English music - in terms of recordings anyway - sort of leaps straight from at-home recordings of Stephen Baldwin or Jinky Wells to the (not especially English) playing of Dave Swarbrick in various group formations; and the harmony-based arrangements of Wood & Cutting, English Acoustic Collective, Spiers & Boden, Tom Kitching and numerous others.

The contemporary fiddlers I just mentioned have their Irish equivalents - it's certainly not just an English thing to present tunes in harmony based group arrangements. But the big difference is that recorded Irish music is vast enough to have had many decades of different musicians so you get all the 'pure drop' stuff as well as the highly arranged stuff; plus all the nodal points along the way like piano accompaniment to Michael Coleman, bouzouki accompaniment (from Alec Finn) to Frankie Gavin etc


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 05:57 AM

(Above, when I said 'unison playing' that's probably not the best way of putting it - all I meant was everybody playing the same tune rather than accompanying or harmonising)


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 06:06 AM

Seeing as this thread is predominantly about fiddling, I would check out historic recordings of Northumbrian fiddlers such as Ned Pearson, Adam Gray and Geordie Armstrong on Spotify.

And then listen to Andrew Cadie, a young contemporary exponent of the same tradition: https://music.apple.com/gb/album/half-witted-merry-mad-northumbrian-fiddle-music-from/1540246526

Great examples of solo fiddle playing.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 07:42 AM

how do you define harmony, northumbrian pipes use a drone , that is technically a harmony?
the high level ranters played northumbrian tunes using a guitar and a piano accordion


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 07:51 AM

"Irish groups are more likely to play their fiddle tunes straight"

Harmonies aside, I don't think that statement is accurate. Most fiddlers have very individual styles which will also vary from region to region. So, there will inevitably be many variations and ornaments.
Probably even more prevalent with Irish fiddling than in England.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Johnny J
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 07:58 AM

Sorry, the above post was mine.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 08:41 AM

yes, you are correct. johnny j. your thoughts had also occurred to me


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 08:57 AM

The ornament point occurred to me too, but I think it was just unfortunate choice of words. Think when the original poster said 'straight' they weren't thinking of ornamentation questions so much as harmony.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 01:51 PM

CCE, have a ridiculous rule which discourages harmonies in their group competitions, but no one in the real world outside of competitions takes much notice of their rules


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 02:08 PM

For me I say who cares anyway?? English or Irish.... I happily listen to it all......


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 03:20 PM

Compacts 'grupa cheoil' competitions bristle with groups harmonising. There is no blanket ban on it. It's about context.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 04:06 PM

12 years ago this was the situation as regards CCE,rule no. 18
” In competitions for duets and trios, all members must at all times play the melody of the tune” Peter Laban has that rule been changed?


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 05:14 PM

No, it applies only, as it clearly states, to duet and trio competitions. Not to the grupa cheoil. Or ceiliband competitions, for that matter.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 05:28 PM

Senior groups Chesil competition:

https://comhaltas.ie/music/detail/comhaltaslive_526_7ceoltoiri_tireragh/


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Sep 21 - 08:08 PM

it is a rule that imo stultifies the potential of creativity it discourages harmonies in duet and trio combinations,
two or three people are still groups of some sort.
I did not say it was a blanket ban, or that it affected their ceili band competitions,
it does however show a restrictive musical attitude on the part of CCE,


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 21 Sep 21 - 04:16 AM

You said "group competitions', pretty unambigious and also incorrect. Good luck. Dick.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 21 Sep 21 - 05:39 AM

I have come to the tentative conclusion that there are some people who think mainly in melodies and some who think mainly in chords.

When I hear a tune I immediately "hear" the chords that fit the tune and hence the possible harmonies that can be created using the other notes of the chords. It also means that I can identify the key of the tune.

If you have an instrument that does not play chords then that must cut down your potential harmony playing.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,scotch bonnet
Date: 21 Sep 21 - 08:46 AM

as a GD melodeon player, surely the chords are irrelevant- it's only percussion anyway, as proved by many Irish semitine players- the melody is everything


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 03:25 AM

I find it is best to ignore.Pedants,
The musical direction of CCE and the rule against using harmony in one of their competitions does reflect an attitude of discouraging harmony
I have also heard older box players in ireland who did in fact play basses that bore no resemblance to the melody, a minority of players. when one hears great box players like Tony Hall, one has to laugh at guest" scotch bonnets" comment


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 04:46 AM

The melody is not everything. Some would consider it a by-product.

I hear the melody first, but I appreciate the chord structure and potential harmonies even if they are not played in the performance.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 06:24 AM

'Some would say...'? Who?


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 06:54 AM

If you regard ornamentation as an inseparable element of the tune, as I do, then I don't think much else is needed to make the music complete in itself. Having said that, I do like a good band and I wouldn't be without all my Planxty, De Dannan and Bothy albums (to name but a few). Bands generally play arrangements, which (in the ones I've played in anyway) is not something that's to the fore in sessions. But good "pure drop" playing can be in another dimension altogether.

If you listen to the set of six unaccompanied Bach cello suites, in which double-stopping is either sparse or absent, harmonies not explicitly played by the cellist happen inside your head. It's magic, and it's a good way to listen to music. I know what Robin is getting at.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: matt milton
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 08:21 AM

Sure, but that I think is excellent evidence that harmony is a by-product of melody. Not the other way round.

I could fit chords or harmonies to Bach's cello suites. But I couldn't write those melodies in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 09:15 AM

I wouldn't be buying your Bach CD... ;-)

I took GCSE music as an adult in 1996 (I know you want to ask, so here it is: I got an A-star) :-) and for one of our practical exercises we had to make a chord sequence then build a melody on top of it. And there was me thinking that composers got a tune in their heads and took it from there... Very confusing...


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 09:50 AM

well, actually i do compose like that and i also have composed working from a chord structure


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 10:24 AM

It's not just me then:)

Robin


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Sep 21 - 10:57 AM

Hollywood stars discussing their roles as famous composers.

Stallone says he fancies playing Verdi

Van Damme says he will take the role of Debussy

Schwartzangger says "I'll be ..."

:D


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,scotch bonnet
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 01:25 PM

Sandman- you cannot possibly compare Tony Hall with Irish box players, it is quite different context.

Tony Hall has 'built-in' harmony basses- Irish semitone players heve to search for them & most don't bother- any use of 'irrelevant' basses you've come across just illustrates the Irish view that the bass buttons are superfluous to Irish music, but may have a value as percussion.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 01:34 PM

Ofcourse Irish and English fiddle styles would also be worlds apart, the Irish tradition is essentially a melodic one, not a harmonic one. Which doesn't mean there are no exceptions, there are exquisite examples of harmonised singing, even in sean nos, as well as instrumental examples using more harmonising approaches.

Plenty of box players use the basses to great effect, Connor Keane for one but others too.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 01:39 PM

I largely agree with that, though Jackie Daly plays some nifty (but sparse) bass buttons on semitone boxes on several tracks on his Sliabh Luachra Vol 6 album. Which I wouldn't be without!   I suppose that exceptions can prove the rule...


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 01:41 PM

Glad you clarified that your comment about melodeon basses referred to Irish box players, Mr or Ms Bonnet. I'd have said the main reason that you hear more harmony in English music sessions is that the melodeon players (and, quite probably, the anglo concertina players) are using chords.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 03:18 PM

I should clarify that my comment above was aimed at scotch bonnet, though I agree with everyone else too!


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 03:27 PM

I believe that Jacky Daly occasionally plays DG although his system of choice is C#D. Both systems would allow more harmonic playing than the prevalent (in Ireland) BC systen.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,,Peter Laban
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 03:45 PM

Jackie usually plays the same box (I am thinking about the past twenty years or so), the blue saltarelle for which he helped design the layout of the basses. He can obviously play other systems but I have only seen him bring out b/c yo play with two players who played in c. Concertina too obviously. And yes, he's handy enough with the accompaniment


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 23 Sep 21 - 04:51 PM

any use of 'irrelevant' basses you've come across just illustrates the Irish view that the bass buttons are superfluous to Irish music, but may have a value as percussion.
quote
no; it does not
it illustrates that A FEW older players did not understand harmony. SO PLEASE DO NOT GENERALISE
I can compare TONY HALL with other players playing irish music because he is playing irish music, it does not mean he is better than paddy o brien ,they are both good, but different


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 Sep 21 - 05:45 PM

I believe that Jacky Daly occasionally plays DG although his system of choice is C#D. Both systems would allow more harmonic playing than the prevalent (in Ireland) BC systen. quote
    imcorrect, it depends how the bc is played and what system of basses the bc has, there are two different arrangement of basses if for example the player plays in c major and b major and the basses have not been retuned, there is plenty of scope for harmony, the older models of Hohner double ray had basses that enabled you to play in b major and c major


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 24 Sep 21 - 06:03 PM

Harmonies are not just dependent on the basses. If you are playing tunes in A,D or G then more harmonies are available on the treble side on the DG and C#D systems than on the BC system.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 02:44 AM

Am I right in thinking that the 'British button box', as played most famously by John Kirkpatrick, is a 3 row diatonic right hand and a stradella bass system on the left? If that system is not used by any of the leading Irish players, it does give credence to the theory that Irish players do not use the bass as much.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 03:33 AM

Dave you are misinformed. John plays a sytemthat is not used by any leading irish bass players, neither is it used by tony hall.,
no your statement does not give credence to anything, because with the b c, it depends on what keys you are playing in, and how your basses are tuned
manitas you are correct but only in relation to the keys of[ a d g and related minors].
Dave the Gnome, What most DG players do when they want to play in a major is buy a 2 and a half row DG or a three row DGA.
hardly anybody plays the sytem used by john kirkpatrick
There are two other systems used by irish players the c csharp and the d dsharp
the dg melodeon or button accordion is very versatile in the keys of d and g, because there are a lot of the same notes on both rows. i believe they are on the opposite direction, so IF you want to smooth a phrase, tripet or one note out you have plenty of options.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 03:41 AM

SCOTCH BONNET,Here is where your point is incorrect, a few irish older players play basses badly as percussion and harmonically wrong but JUST AS MANY others, i have heard played a bc in c major playing the correct basses, the fiddler tuned his fiddle down a tone and played using d fingering but was actually in c major.
I LIVE IN IRELAND AND AM TALKING FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 04:06 AM

MY OPINION, is that the DGA is the most versatile box.HOWEVER There are very good players of all systems plus the different styles make it more intersting.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 04:27 AM

Irish and english trad music does not have to be played in D,G,A, They are relatively easy keys to play on the fiddle, using open strings.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 04:29 AM

How am I misinformed, Dick? Is the box played by JK not as described and, if not, what is the layout?


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 04:34 AM

to get back to the OP, most english and irish fiddlers employ or use double stops of a fifth on long notes[
technically that is a harmony note and octaves on lomg notes
in sliabh luchra [ northcork kerry south east limerick] there is a style of octaving on melody, when two fiddles play together, where one player plays the melody 8 notes down, not a harmony, but very effective see julia clifford and denis murphy


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 04:38 AM

I am genuinely interested, Dick. I love English dance music, both ritual and social, and JK is a master of it. If I am working under a misapprehension as to how his box works, I would like to know.


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 06:13 AM

Is JK still playing this system ? https://www.johnkirkpatrick.co.uk/wr_BritButtonBox.asp


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Subject: RE: Question about Irish vs English fiddling
From: GUEST,PB
Date: 25 Sep 21 - 06:19 AM

Getting back to the OP's point about the use of harmony by bands, I think it's worth pointing out that Irish and English fiddling have quite divergent histories. Both may or may not have used harmony at different times, but sadly there is no continuity in either tradition to modern styles.

In Ireland, traditional music was rather frowned on by the late 19th century- the tunes were "patriotic", but a "refined" style, with genteel piano accompaniment was far more socially acceptable. The traditional style was preserved via American music hall and recordings (Tuohy, Coleman etc), and largely re- invented in Ireland and England post WW2. The recordings were mostly solo, or with (often bad) piano accompaniment, and the session style that developed wasn't conducive to harmonisation.

English traditional dance music may have been harmonised up to the 19th century, as many musicians doubled as west gallery players, but this fell out of favour in the 19th century, replaced by the organ and the Oxford Movement. As far as I know, there are no early recordings of dance music played in this style (love to be proved wrong). Early recordings were of soloists, and perhaps the collectors looked for a "rougher" and plainer style as more authentic. I don't think Georgina Boyes addressed dance music- did anyone else?- but active selection by collectors certainly affected the preservation of both song and dance.

English trad dance music was in a pretty bad way by the time the EFDSS climbed down from its pulpit. Again the classically- influenced style with tinkly piano and correctly- dressed gentility was preferred. It was only from the 60s onwards that it started to relax its sphincter. The slower pace of English music (Irish had rather lost its connection to dance- not much room to do it in smoky crowded London pubs) and the fact that it's more dance and workshop based and less session based is much more encouraging of harmony. It's a new take on the tradition. That's not to say it's "bad", "wrong", "inauthentic" or anything like that.

Living traditions reconfigure themselves as their practitioners change and develop, and both Irish and English traditions have been almost brought back from the dead. Both are now healthy- long may it remain so.


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