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playing traditional music correctly

Flute 20 Dec 00 - 01:40 PM
Jeri 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM
Clinton Hammond2 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM
radriano 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM
GUEST,DJ 20 Dec 00 - 02:55 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Dec 00 - 02:55 PM
Gary T 20 Dec 00 - 02:58 PM
GUEST,John Leeder 20 Dec 00 - 03:04 PM
GUEST,Barry from work 20 Dec 00 - 03:08 PM
Matt_R 20 Dec 00 - 03:08 PM
Bert 20 Dec 00 - 03:12 PM
Clinton Hammond2 20 Dec 00 - 03:16 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Dec 00 - 03:27 PM
InOBU 20 Dec 00 - 03:32 PM
whistledon 20 Dec 00 - 03:32 PM
The Shambles 20 Dec 00 - 03:48 PM
sophocleese 20 Dec 00 - 06:31 PM
Sorcha 20 Dec 00 - 06:46 PM
Matt_R 20 Dec 00 - 07:04 PM
McGrath of Harlow 20 Dec 00 - 07:58 PM
kendall 20 Dec 00 - 09:48 PM
Chanteyranger 20 Dec 00 - 10:17 PM
Naemanson 20 Dec 00 - 11:40 PM
Jon Freeman 20 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM
Jon Freeman 21 Dec 00 - 12:04 AM
Knicke 21 Dec 00 - 12:37 AM
Lady McMoo 21 Dec 00 - 03:27 AM
Ella who is Sooze 21 Dec 00 - 04:57 AM
GeorgeH 21 Dec 00 - 06:29 AM
Brendy 21 Dec 00 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Rex at work 21 Dec 00 - 07:52 AM
Mooh 21 Dec 00 - 08:38 AM
InOBU 21 Dec 00 - 08:59 AM
Barry Finn 21 Dec 00 - 09:07 AM
Jeri 21 Dec 00 - 10:46 AM
Seamus Kennedy 21 Dec 00 - 12:45 PM
Les from Hull 21 Dec 00 - 01:08 PM
The Shambles 21 Dec 00 - 01:20 PM
Don Firth 21 Dec 00 - 03:03 PM
Bill D 21 Dec 00 - 03:29 PM
Barry Finn 21 Dec 00 - 05:27 PM
Bill D 21 Dec 00 - 05:55 PM
GUEST,Auld Lang Scot 21 Dec 00 - 07:18 PM
kendall 21 Dec 00 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 21 Dec 00 - 09:06 PM
Luke 21 Dec 00 - 09:33 PM
Brendy 21 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM
John P 22 Dec 00 - 06:37 AM
GUEST,Paul Burke 22 Dec 00 - 06:56 AM
selby 22 Dec 00 - 01:25 PM
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Subject: playing traditional music correctly
From: Flute
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 01:40 PM

For a while I have been going along to a pub session where Irish music is played. I would really love to join in and had been practicing a few pieces ready to take the plunge. Last week I was asked to contribute and did a couple of solos to fill in as some of the usual people were away. The tunes were slightly slow and hesitant, yet the response was good, mainly as I was adding a new instrument to the session. All last week I practiced a few other tunes ready for the next session. Then it all went horribly wrong! During a conversation with one of the other musicians (who had been absent the previous week) I was basically put in my place about the "correct" way to play Irish music and after a long lecture I just could not bring myself to play in his presence. So far all my experiences of playing music have been positive and everyone has been supportive, so my first real knock back was a surprise. The person concerned is almost always at the session and so I am not sure how to proceed. I play music for fun, I don't want to compete with anyone, at the same time I am not sure I want to be dictated to on how to play - the sticking point being ornamentation, I do very little on my tunes. It is not the end of the world I know but I would like to play some tunes for the people who have entertained me with their playing and singing for the last couple of months. While I was being lectured in proper Irish playing I could hear the Harry Chapin? Song in my head, the one about the teacher enforcing the correct way to view and paint the world on a child. Sorry just needed to get that off my chest and I would like to hear other peoples experiences and thoughts. I feel much better already.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Jeri
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM

When people say something to me like "that's not right," I usually take it as an opportunity to get a free lesson. It doesn't hurt to learn more, even if it's just someone's opinion.

My guess is the guy who "put you in your place" was trying to impart information and not make you stop playing. He might not have given any thought to how you'd interpret what he said. Everybody has to start playing somewhere - it's part of the learning process. If in doubt, ask him. If he says he doesn't want to hear you play, smile and give him some ear plugs. If it's a problem for one person in an entire group, let it be HIS problem.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM

Tell him to get stuffed with wallnuts... Only music nazis say that there's a wrong way to play songs...

play your music, flute!!


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: radriano
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:24 PM

There are music police everywhere you look. Fortunately they have little authority. There is a wide range of styles in Irish music, some very highly ornamented and some hardly ornamented at all.

On the other hand, if you are playing in a session you need to find out what the preferences in that session are. Some musicians are very territorial and some sessions are notorious for speed and snobbery. Others are exceptionally open and friendly.

I would suggest that you listen to a lot of traditional music. Phrasing is very important in order to make the music sound Irish.

Finally, I would not rely on the comments of a single person as to your contribution to the session. Talk to some of the other people too.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,DJ
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:55 PM

I don't know much about Irish music, but I do know a lot about Folk music which if I remember Irish music is a part of. One of the lessons I learn along time ago is that every artist has his/her own stile and thats what make Great Music. If we all did everything the same,you would never have an artist re-release a song thats been done before. There would be no reason to as it would sound about the same. Part of becoming a good artist is to develop you own stile of playing and song interruption. I know how you feel about some jerk putting you down, it's happened to me before, but remember, If you love the music and your audience, be it 1 or 100, like what you do and I find 99% of the time they do, then JUST DO IT. Every musician make mistake and all of us learn new thing that we don't do well at first. But if you love it, you will keep working on it until YOU are Satisfied and then you know what, most everyone else will be too. (except some pompous ass who forgot what the fun of music is all about).

Play On !!! DJ


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:55 PM

He sounds like a control freak to me. I'd hazard a guess that he resents the idea that the others would have welcomed in a newcomer while he was away, and is reasserting the control he feels entitled to.

You could flatter him by asking advice, so he sees you as his protege. Or you could play it more confrontationally, because it's quite likely there are others in the session who find him a pain in the neck.

Or you could listen to some recordings with a view to finding some respected musicians with a non-ornamental style, and quote them as ground for playing the way you play.

I'd expect that if you go along with your instrument, and sit with it on the table, it won't be long before someone asks you to come on in.

Find another session if need be, but don't give up on playing. For every oaf like this one (assuming he wasn't just trying to be helpful, and didn't have the knack), there are dozens who welcome newcomers, and know that we all have to jump in somewhere before we can start swimming.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Gary T
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 02:58 PM

Well, the "Corrector" may have had good intentions, but it reminds me of the scene in the film "Annie Hall" where some pompous, self-important ass is spouting on about the true meaning of some book (?), only to have the actual author of the piece tell Mr. Know-it-all that he's totally wrong. It's quite satisfying to see those who seem to feel that only they properly understand anything taken down a notch.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,John Leeder
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:04 PM

You can say something like, "Yes, my style isn't very traditional. My background is in [fill in whatever fits] and I play a kind of fusion with that." Make it sound like you play an existing style which he hasn't heard of and which is just as valid. Which, on one level or another, is perfectly true.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,Barry from work
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:08 PM

It's your turn to put him in his place, as long as you're not dragging the session down tell him to just f&%$k off & what piece of shit dragged him up through the ranks. Plain & simple. Barry


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Matt_R
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:08 PM

Now Clinton, I thought we had agreed not to use that term? Remember what happened last time?


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Bert
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:12 PM

Don't worry about it Flute me old mate. There's always clowns like that around, eventually they end up with most people laughing at them behind their backs.

I remember someone telling me I was singing a song 'wrong' and I had learned that particular song before the silly sod was born. I just gave him a polite smile and said nothing, but I still chuckle to myself about it from time to time.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Clinton Hammond2
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:16 PM

Who's we? I agreed to nothing of the sort! And I won't!


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:27 PM

I thought the way you spelt it was a bit confusing though, Clinton. The only five-letter words starting with f and ending with k that I can think of are "frank", "freak" and "frisk", and none of them seemed to make much sense in the context.

"You don't want to do it that way. You want to do it this way!" There's a character in Harry Enfield's show (has he hit America yet) who uses this as his catch-phrase, going round the world busily advising people. And he is never right.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: InOBU
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:32 PM

Hey FLUTE old skin:
I have been playing Irish music most of my life - I vertually stoped going to sessuns because of this kind of (appologies to all, you know it is unlike me to say what I am going to say in polite company) shite. I was sent a message from a fecking BODHRAN player, that he didn't apreciate my playing. Now this kind of crap erases from one's mind the praise of - not bragging but making you feel better - Killian Vallale, a piper I could never hope to hold a candle too, and other praise from unexpected quarters, and knaws at ones heart. Take some degree of notice and always strive to be the best you can be, ask for pointers till the day you find yourself looking at the lid for ever, but remember, folks who just fire barbs at you are destructive of our tradition and here in New York, the Ethnicity Police are more hated than the occational missed note, off beat and trying new comer to our music. I don't doupt that the reason there are so many great bands in Britony, is the degree to which I witness real fostering of new musicians. Now there are one or two blockheads, who continue to play loud and bad, and listen not to heartfelt kind critique which seeks to instruct, you don't sound like that kind. So, look the idiot in the eye, thank him for his interest in your future, and then file him in - not to heed - file,
If Cathal McConnel is giving a workshop in your neighborhood, go... if not go on a pilgrimage to Edinburgh, at some time you know he is in at his local, and you will find that even the best give great help and direction.
Good luck and tough skin,
Larry


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: whistledon
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:32 PM

It's important to know what the sessioneers want in their session. Many of us who have moved around from one session to another find each one a bit different, some off the wall! Listen to Irish Traditional music all the time, at home and in the car, if that is what you love. Listen to the different styles that come from the different Counties in Ireland. Get the real stuff from the masters of Irish trad. music. You will incorporate much of their styles in playing after a time. Some of the greats themselves use no ornamentation at all and they do quite well.

Be patient and try to get a feel for what the sessioneers are doing. They may be happy with things just the way they are and it may not be what you want. Then again, those words that were spoken to you may be the best bit of advice you could have asked for and you can profit from it, even though the delivery was coarse.

As a flute player of Irish trad. I have been through the same experience and it paid off wonderfully for me. Keep playing!

whistledon


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 03:48 PM

Come to the Cove House Inn on Portland Dorset every Thursday. You will be most welcome to play what, when and how you please.

If you and your friend let the music do the talking for you, will probably all all have a better time.

Some come for the music, others come for the control, unfortunately..........See you Thursday?


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: sophocleese
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 06:31 PM

Well Flute its discouraging as hell to have someone tell you you're doing it wrong when you've tried so hard to do it right. From your post I don't think the criticizer has even heard you play yet which is not a good basis for reasonable criticism. It also seems as if you started out being there and listening to the session a few times before you even played so you know what kind of music they play already. So I'd consider him a control freak trying to get you under his paw before you've stood on your own two feet. I'd suggest you respond to this aspect of the situation rather than taking to heart any of his comments. You can spend your whole life, if you're not careful, desperately trying to play it right by someone else's standards and that kills the basic reason for playing music, which is communication and enjoyment.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Sorcha
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 06:46 PM

Tell him "Oh, so sorry, mate. I don't want to sound like (insert flute player here). I just want to sound like meself, and meself is having a real good time, are you?"

or....."Well, friend, that is the way I learned it from (insert famous player here), so that is the way I'll play it until I can ask him about it, OK?"

Or something along those lines. After all, just because you learned it off a recording does not mean you didn't learn it from so and so. I use Johnny Cunningham for this a lot.....simple, clean and beautiful. It is, however, very important to listen, listen, listen to trad music, because the stuff just doesn't translate well to paper. Use paper and ears both if necessary. But........

CARRY IT ON!!


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Matt_R
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 07:04 PM

Remember what Noel Gallagher says "F*** 'Em All, And Do As You Like!"


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 07:58 PM

Now that's better spelling. And sensible restrained advice, in the context.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: kendall
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 09:48 PM

I know how you feel Bert..that same thing happened to me on this very hearme!

The suggestion about the control freak?? I'll bet he hates cats too. All control freaks hate cats.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 10:17 PM

Unfortunately, even some session players offering good advice are far from having any social skills, and can easily discourage and alienate session newbies. It sounds like this person was of no help whatsoever. Don't be discouraged by one person's lack of respect and courtesy, but, as radriano and Jeri point out, listen for the nuances of sessions, and listen to a lot of Irish music. With repeated listening, the music and the feel of the sessions will start to get inside of you. Pay attention to people offering advice in a respectful and encouraging way, which you can accept or reject if that person's opinion doesn't ring true for you, and forget the jerks. In one of the earliest Irish sessions I went to, with fiddle in hand, a concertina player stopped me in mid-tune because of a problem he had with my technique. Later in the session, he played a set of John Philip Souxza marches. Go figure.

All the best,

-chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Naemanson
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 11:40 PM

"playing traditional music..." CORRECTLY?!?! Is there a CORRECT way to play this music? There may be authentic ways but I challenge anyone to defend a CORRECT way to play it. I have been praised for my singing but I know my voice doesn't come close to sounding authentic.

[Definition of authentic used in this post: Sounds like it is being sung by someone who is immersed in the culture from which the song comes.]

Correct vs authentic: After years of hearing folk music done by bands like Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention and then the Battlefield Band, Croabh Rua, and performers like Tommy Makem, the Clancy clan, (oh, I'm too tired to list them all). My point is that there is a huge variation of styles and methods. Which one of THEM is correct? Some of them may not be authentic but I contend they are all correct. And nobody has the right to tell anyone otherwise!

Rant off!

Going off to bed grumbling....


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 20 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM

Listen to recordings as well as to god players in sessions, develop your own feel, give it your own interpretation based on that feel and you will be playing "correctly".

Jon


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 12:04 AM

Oh and don't read too much into ornamentation. Sure it is nice to play every twiddly bit. I can't do that but it is far more important to express the tune well than to worry about extra notes and flashy is not always the best anyway.

The same can go for some who try to impress with speed - slower but well expressed is much better than fast and without feeling.

Jon


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Knicke
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 12:37 AM

Well, flute, don't let the asinine asses get you down. Like it's already been mentioned, try and use it as a learning experience ("O.K., Mr. Smartypants, why don't you SHOW me how it's done?" or some more polite version...), or fuhgeddaboudit. There are bullies and stiffs in all walks of life, and if he's going to be that rude about something like music, which is supposed to be about BRINGING FOLKS TOGETHER...well, he's plain missed the point and you needn't worry 'bout what he thinks. Just my two cents.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Lady McMoo
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 03:27 AM

Don't pay too much attention Flute! I never did and I still don't play "correctly" after nearly 40 years. I do sound like myself though and surely that's what we all should be after.

Keep playing...don't be put off!

mcmoo


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Ella who is Sooze
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 04:57 AM

Hey Flut...

Don't worry - I agree with all that has been said before.

I know that you can get some really quite terratorial sessions and some friendly ones too.

I have been to sessions all over Ireland, not played in them all - but most of them. I usually just sit down and listen to how the session is going for a while, get chatting to one of the locals.... and then I get invited in to the session.

Some people can be terribly snobby about learners - I teach kids irish music, and I like to take them with me to our local session. Most of all the other sessioners are brilliant with them... and any who arn't I remind them of what they were like at their age.. and that they have to get experience and practice... and what better way.

I admit, that the kids usually start off with a few of the simple tunes... and we all make sure that we play all the tunes at some point in the evening that they know. We also encourage them to start off some of the tune sets.

I don't mind getting a little criticsm during sessions.. as I will usually turn it around and get the person to show me what they mean, get some tunes of them and usually a little coaching and a few tips...

I have actually seen someone lambasted at a session by one of the music police - and I glared at them for doing so... Everyone has to start somewhere, and joining a session can be fairly nerveracking... Though once you get into the swing of things it is great - and is an excellent way of meeting people and a great social thing too.

One bit of advice is listen to as much music as you can, you don't have to try and play along all night... I listen in and may just sit quietly in my corner quietly picking up the odd note until I have all the tune in my head and can take it home with me to try out...

There is not really any correct way of playing trad music, there are so many different styles of playing - usually characteristic of the area the musician comes from...

Donegal fiddling, Kerry fastness (all the Kerry sets!!) Sligo and all... Breton etc...

There is the lilting swaying and skippy playing of the Sligo/Leitrim area and then all the other countries..

Try and pick out the different styles.

But most of all... never let anyone put you off from playing! Brass neck! and guts...

Keep going and have fun!!!

All the best

Ella


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GeorgeH
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 06:29 AM

Yup, play the music as YOU feel it's asking to be played!

But also remember that a session is a social thing; you should be playing along with the rest of them most of the time, and if how you play is THAT different to the habits of the group (which I doubt) it's probably courteous not to expect to lead off too often.

(OK, that's all been said above)

G.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Brendy
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 06:48 AM

Don't let eegits like that ruin your day, flute.

When I was 10 I was ostracised from a height by our local Comhaltas head for daring to put an A in a chord run from Em to D.

"It's Eminor, D. Eminor, D. Eminor, D!", he was shouting to me in front or the rest of them.

I never relented, preferring to play the way the tunes lent themselves to me. And as a result, I wqs kicked out of the Comhaltas branch

Of course, 15 years later, Steve Cooney arrived on the scene, and everybody wondered at this 'new' style of accompaniment!!

By all means practice, and learn your tunes, but Clinton and Larry are right. Tell him to shove his fiddle, or whatever, up his posterior end, sideways.

Music is meant to be played, and played freely. And innovators are the heralds of the future.
You may already have one up on him.

I would be interested to hear, though, what his complaints actually were. One should never lecture a beginner on anything, as it serves only to alienate, and knock the self-confidence. Oranamentation, and the like comes after. Once you feel comfortable with the tune(s), then comes the 'soul'.

Either way don't let the guy ruin your day.

KEEP AT IT, and to hell with the little Adolfs.

B.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,Rex at work
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 07:52 AM

"Flowers are red young man, and green fields are green.

There's no need to see them any other way than the way they always have been seen."

God bless Harry Chapin. There's usually more than one correct answer to anything. Sure, why not learn more about what fiddly bits this fellow wants you to put into a tune. But folks that state that _this_ is the only way to do it make me nervous.

Rex


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Mooh
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 08:38 AM

Music police, no matter how competent, are an insecure lot. Just once I'd like to see their sails deflated by a truly superior player with a thoughtful and considerate approach, in the hopes that their example would be a cure.

My feeling about this, though it's taken me years to realize, is that the two players in the original letter are both insecure, but they exhibit it differently, one passively and one aggressively. If the playing field is level everyone learns.

Just my purely amateur opinion...Mooh.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: InOBU
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 08:59 AM

Hi ya Brendy! Welcom back!
If you ever want to know about how to play Irish music, watch Ronan Browne, chanter high off his knee the whole effing time! He said a few months ago, he learned the orniments and then learned to listen, and then took off to find himself, (paraphrasing). In speaking about making reeds, he said (almost shouted), "make reeds with gay abandon (...who would name a beer after Sam Adams - only in America)!" That also sums up his playing and that is why he is bloody great. Flute old skin, learn the twiddly bits, learn to listen, then play with gay abandon and like Ronan ask yourself and other, why the f*ck would someone name a beer after Sam Addams...
Cheers
Larry


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 09:07 AM

The other side of the coin. I started going to sessions to listen & I'd get asked to sing, that was more than 25 yrs ago & then I picked up a bodhran & eventually started bringing it in & I'd play on a tune every so often & I'd have it under the table & hitting it oh so softly. I was spoken to & was told to start playing along so that I could be heard. The fella (Seamus Connelly) that said this was & is probably one of the greatest Irish fiddlers alive today & to have been told by someone like him to play up was no small matter to me as a beginner, had it been the other way, thick skin & all I'd have probably have melted on the spot & forgone Irish music altogether. This was not an uncommon thing for the best of players to be moving beginners along in those days with words of strong incouragement. I still think you'd be within your boundries to tell the jerk to F&%k off & who the hell do they think they are to pull that kind of rank on someone whose's trying to find there way in this music. If you have enough respect to listen & learn the music they need to return that same respect to you, with a guidence & a love for the music not with a mean selfish selfserving "I only give a shit about myself" attitude. Barry


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Jeri
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 10:46 AM

I agree with Brendy - the ornamentation comes AFTER. There are some things you only learn by playing. You can listen until your ears fall off, but the ornamentation may not make much sense until you play the tune with others and hear how what they play compares to what you're playing,

There are people who will walk into any situation (be it a session, a conversation, Mudcat) and not like (or not understand) the way the group does something so they expect the group to change to their way, or complain about "too many rules." I don't think Flute is like that, or he/she wouldn't have noticed what the other players seemed to think.

I think most people here who've played in sessions have had some experience that supports the following - some of the most supportive musicians are some of the best. Some of the biggest music snobs are some of the most mediocre musicians. And some of those who have the best "feel" for the music are those who can't yet play fancy.

I'd talk to some of the other musicians and ask them what they think. I'll bet they say something like "Ah, he's just an old blow-hard - don't listen to him." Blow-hards often need to be taken down a notch. That's probably what happened to him at some point, and that's what he now thinks he needs to do for others.

Keep playing.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 12:45 PM

Flute, what Barry, Larry and Brendy said is true. The really great players encourage others, the mediocre ones criticize. It's possible that this glipe is no more than a step above you in skills, and is showing off. Print out this whole thread and show it to him.
All the best
Seamus


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Les from Hull
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 01:08 PM

Does anyone else equate the music policeman with the type of person that hates a song in a tune session? Or who thinks that accompanying a song means playing the same tune the singer is trying to sing? Or who plays fast because his ornamentation is crap?

The first instrument that I ever played in Irish sessions was bass guitar. Now that grows you a thick skin if anything does. I reckon that there's a place in a session for anyone, no matter what standard. But if you're learning, playing something odd or unfamiliar with the tunes, sit furthest away from the middle of the session and play very quietly.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: The Shambles
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 01:20 PM

Tom Anderson liked to get his 'The Forty Fiddlers', play ing in the fashion of the string section of an ochestra, with all the bows going up and down in unision.

I remember one Shetland Festival, where Dave Swarbrick was doing a fidle workshop and was asked how to hold and play the fiddle. There were almost audible cries of 'heretic' when he replied that it did not matter and that you should play it where you were most comfortable.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Don Firth
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 03:03 PM

"There are nine-and-forty ways
"Of constructing tribal lays
"And every single one of them is right!"

--quoth Rudyard Kipling

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 03:29 PM

I have heard several stories from people who were surprised to learn that 'some' Irish sessions are very rigid, formal affairs. You do it "THIS" way...and newbies wait to be asked, and acceptance is a very slow process.

Well, I can see why high caliber, established sessions would not want to be overwhelmed by amateurs who butcher the music...but that does NOT excuse rude, snobbish put-downs by anal-retentive boors!

If it were ME, I would have simply asked out loud, in front of the group, what the 'rules' and expectations were, and how they expected learners to adapt and figure it out without trying!...If they threw me out, it was aplace I didn't want to be anyway.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 05:27 PM

Hi Bill, hate to through a ringer into that thought. I used to attend a session (for 20 yrs or so) that would have the likes of the above mentioned Seamus Connelly, Paddy Cronin, Larry Renyolds, Joe Daraine(sp?), Johnny Cunningham, Mance Grady, our own RiGGy too (& I'm sure our Seamus Kennedy has graced the place too) & a heapful more of the cream of the crop & it's not known so much as a high caliber, which I don't think any gave a damn about but it is know as a most friendly & encouraging session where the great & small sit side by side & it's worked well in it's old venue (Olde Village Coach) & just as well in it's new home (Green Briar). Barry


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Bill D
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 05:55 PM

yep, Barry...I'm sure there are other wonderful places, too...too bad some of the grumpy sorts can't attend those and see how it CAN be done with fairness and room for all.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,Auld Lang Scot
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 07:18 PM

I think I agree with the majority here, that Flute suffered an insufferable put-down. But I know that if people sing "Old Lang Zyne" in my hearing I will strenuously endeavour to convince them that there is no such beast. The word "Syne" is not even exclusively Scottish, and the first consonant is unvoiced except by drunken and/or ignorant singers. I have no knowledge of whether any such prohibition of incorrectness could apply to any sound that the flute can make.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: kendall
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 08:47 PM

The Greeks have a saying..."Revenge is a dish thats best served cold." Some years ago, a young boy was playing a bluegrass tune on a banjo. Up steps a seasoned banjo picker, loudly said "NO NO like this!" took the banjo away and played it the way it is "supposed"to be played. Years later, that boy, in spite of the humiliation, became a professional musician. He not only plays bluegrass banjo with the best, he also plays clawhammer...something the rude picker was never able to master.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 09:06 PM

At the Old Town School Of Folk Music in it's early days there were beginning classes, intermediate classes and advanced classes. If you were a beginner, it was best that you be in that class until you'd grown too good for that level. Frank Hamilton who looks in here on this forum all the time, was the man who invented this system in Chicago.
After the formal sessions were over, EVERYONE got together in a large main room for what was called "THE SECOND HALF". There everyone would tune up together and "work out" singing and picking together with a leader up front setting the pace. It was a community---a social session out of which much great music came. (Some great marriages came out of it also, and that, in turn, produced some very musical offspring). Some went on to sing mainly traditional music in their own ways---Fred Holstein, Fleming Brown, Bob Gibson, even me. Some played it note for note much like those old-timey string bands that had done it 35 years earlier. Some played Irish and dance music in the various styles. Some made their own songs--Steve Goodman & Jim McGuinn & John Prine & Bonnie Koloc. Others played cajun music ala Dewey Balfa and Nathan Abshire even though many people from France (the country) didn't understand this other New World way of speaking the French language.

What I'm saying, I guess, is, like Bob Dylan said, "You can be in my dream if I can be in yours !"

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Luke
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 09:33 PM

There are many great players who are technogiants. These pyrogeniuses amaze,mistify and astound. However these same players stand and scratch their head when the crowd loves to dance to less proficient players who don't have half the chops as they. They can't figure it out because they are missing something in their own playing.....life. Or, as one might say, a life.

Some poor cloistered soul who has given himself to the bowed triplet and is so fokused on it he misses how the music moves in the room and smiles on the faces of people. I have been dressed down a few times by nazi'z some of genres. But I'm pretty smart, if someone wants a thing a certain way, all they have to do is explain it to me.

As for the dundering a%%holes who need diatribe to give weight to a shallow hull, I say F*&K 'em

Luke


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: Brendy
Date: 21 Dec 00 - 11:51 PM

There is an insufferable snobbery surrounding the playing of Irish traditional music, and it has a hierarchical system that I care little for.
When a visiting musician sits down at an established session, the encounter can sometimes have all the hallmarks of a great psychological battle that stretches way beyond any musical content.
I am secure enough in myself and in my grasp of the nuances of Irish trad, that I can sit down in such situations, and do my thing, while putting up with the sly remarks from the bouzouki player in the corner, who's afraid his 'public' wont get to hear him as good, now that there is a 'louder' rhythm instrument to 'steal his light'.
He may be also worried that his musical wooing of the long-legged chick at the bar, is gradually coming to an end.

Who knows?

So the head-trips don't get far with me, for I usually point out these phobias to the person concerned, in front of the rest of the sessioners, and invite him to get a life.

I find it most with other 'chord players'. I wouldn't sit down in a session where there was already one guitar (unless I was invited to), firstly, because I think one is enough in any session, and secondly because I always invariably meet the guardian of 'the proper way to do things'. Guitar players (and it only takes one), can turn a session into a 'battle of the unfound chord', and the common musical purpose, often gets turned into a race to the finish, covering as many frets as possible.

I was at a fleadh in Donegal, sometime in the mid '80's, and brought my six-string, and my acoustic bass into a pub. I asked the two women who were playing (one flute, and a fiddle), if there was room for an itinerant guitar player. No problem! To whit I took the six-string out and tuned her down to DAGDAD. All was going well until a few tunes later when I noticed the fiddle player had left her fiddle on the table, and had produced a guitar from somewhere.
And out she comes with all these jazz chords; left hand going like the hammers, and what the right hand wasn't strumming, her tongue was. Every chord from D9 to B#flatted 15th was etched on her face, and the 'pain' was unbearable.
She even changed hands; i.e. turned the guitar around, and played it upside down. Not without losing stroke, though, and the ensuing accompaniment, well, it was rather underwhelming.

So what we basically had here, was a flute, and two guitars - both of which were at odds with each other in a very fundemental way. She turned the guitar around eventually, and ploughed on, oblivious to everything else, even the set of reels that were being played. I faded my guitar out, and she was none the wiser for its departure, and opened up the bass case. I said to myself, "Well f**k it, if she wants to carry on like this, it might as well be a bit more aesthetically pleasing".
As the tune was coming into the second part for the last time, I took the bass out, and was ready for that big open D that is the first note of 'The Bucks of Oranmore'. I knew it was coming, 'cos I had The Bothy Band's 'Out of the Wind, Into the Sun' album too, and I knew O'Domhnaill's backing, backwards!!!!

It only took about two milliseconds for her to swipe her head around, and behold the biggest guitar she'd ever laid eyes on. I not only took away her bass line, but a large portion of the wind out of her sails, in the process. She told me later that she thought her eyes, or the drink, were playing tricks on her, for she'd never seen one before.

The snobbiness dissappeared when I pointed out to her that ALWAYS, no matter where you go, there is some musician that has a better grasp of the music that you have, yourself, and far from making you big-headed, this realisation should make you humbler about what you do, and the reason that you play music in the first place.

But there always has been a element in the session milieu of this kind of behaviour, whether it be the 'leader' of the session, who takes it upon himself to define, not only your style, but your level of attainment, or the young dudes who want to have a go at the belt.

Learning is a very delicate process, and as Segovia pointed out, you never stop learning. But to put extra pressure on a beginner, who may not be totally comfortable playing in public, in the first place, is a crime, in my eyes, and I wouldn't be long in chastising such a person, and asking him when it was that he got it all sussed.
And if he could tell me which book he got it out of, and where I might buy it.

Do your thing, man. The sessions are as much about insecurity on a lot of levels, as about music, and sometimes these guys are just the same at home. Authoritarian SOBs. But the guardians of the holy note are rampant.
Everywhere!
Anybody who hasn't lost sight of the fact that we all took those first tentative steps, will never condescend to another fellow traveller who is only interested in playing music.

But out of the myriad of musicians I have sat down with over the years, I can't recall too much nonesense. It happens from time to time, but the vast majority of musicians I know, don't think like that.

B.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: John P
Date: 22 Dec 00 - 06:37 AM

I have seen numerous threads here and on the newsgroups about people who have a terrible time at sessions. Usually with 50 others telling about all the idiots, power-mongers, and folk police one can find at sessions. So why are they so popular? Why bother trying to play music with people who want to compete? Why not get some friends over the house and play?

I used to go to a session here sometimes. My experience was that the guy who owned the pub and led the music was very welcoming and everyone else pretty much ignored me, so it was pretty dull as a social event. The music was hard to hear over the noise of the rest of the patrons, so musically it was not all that great. The place was full of tobacco smoke and drunk people, both of which are pretty stupid, and stupid to be around. In the eight or ten times I went, I witnessed most of the problems with sessions that everyone talks about -- multiple bodhrans, multiple guitars, rude defenders of the one true way of playing, speed demons, clueless beginners, inappropriate singers, rude listeners to singers, the works. I just figured that if you are going to have an open session in a public place, you are going to have all these problems and more -- why would anyone expect anything else?

If playing at a session is important, just ignore all the people who want to get some non-musical satisfaction out of being there. The music is what's important and the music doesn't care about all that other stuff.

John


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 22 Dec 00 - 06:56 AM

People are supporting Flute, which is quite right. All should be encouraged to join in sessions.

But can I put another view on this. I would guess (correct me if I'm wrong) that Flute may have been playing a Boehm flute, and may have learned it "classically". Now, the styles used in Irish trad and Classical music are quite different, the one emphasising fluidity and continuity, the other crispness of articulation.

Because in the view of most people, the classical way is the 'right' way, the traditional style is often perceived as simply not playing it properly. So a traditional musician, hearing someone play a traditional tune in classical style, may assume that the player is trying to assert the 'superiority' of this more formal style. And react accordingly. Wrong, but has to be put in context.

Advice- listen to traditional traditional flute players, Tansey, McGoldrick etc. and try to follow that style in spirit, even if you can't get the details to begin with.

The ornaments ARE important, in fact Irisg=h music has been described as a sequence of ornaments connected by pints of stout.


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Subject: RE: playing traditional music correctly
From: selby
Date: 22 Dec 00 - 01:25 PM

If YOU enjoy playing your way and it fits in with the general theme of the tune without being to dicordant then DO IT On very much the same theme why do some muscians like to speed up a tune a beginner has started to a breakneck speed. Keith


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