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Using tunes for breaks in songs

GUEST,Claire 04 Jun 02 - 03:21 PM
radriano 04 Jun 02 - 04:50 PM
Clinton Hammond 04 Jun 02 - 05:00 PM
Susan of DT 04 Jun 02 - 05:22 PM
GUEST,Les B. 04 Jun 02 - 05:40 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jun 02 - 05:44 PM
GUEST 04 Jun 02 - 06:04 PM
greg stephens 04 Jun 02 - 07:32 PM
michaelr 04 Jun 02 - 07:40 PM
greg stephens 04 Jun 02 - 07:44 PM
curmudgeon 04 Jun 02 - 08:02 PM
Art Thieme 04 Jun 02 - 09:11 PM
Celtic Soul 04 Jun 02 - 09:23 PM
toribw 04 Jun 02 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 04 Jun 02 - 10:08 PM
Big Mick 05 Jun 02 - 12:37 AM
Bullfrog Jones 05 Jun 02 - 04:38 AM
John P 05 Jun 02 - 08:12 AM
GUEST,Foe 05 Jun 02 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,Claire 05 Jun 02 - 09:47 AM
Kenny B (inactive) 05 Jun 02 - 02:53 PM
Les from Hull 05 Jun 02 - 04:58 PM
GUEST,SharonG 05 Jun 02 - 06:31 PM
Ebbie 05 Jun 02 - 06:33 PM
fogie 06 Jun 02 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 06 Jun 02 - 09:35 AM
greg stephens 06 Jun 02 - 09:51 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 06 Jun 02 - 11:00 AM
Dave Bryant 06 Jun 02 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,SharonG 06 Jun 02 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,SharonG 06 Jun 02 - 12:54 PM
John P 06 Jun 02 - 10:19 PM
Ebbie 06 Jun 02 - 11:36 PM
Big Mick 07 Jun 02 - 12:34 AM
michaelr 07 Jun 02 - 01:02 AM
GUEST,another bloody B.J. 07 Jun 02 - 07:28 AM
PeteBoom 07 Jun 02 - 08:54 AM
GUEST 07 Jun 02 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Sharon G 08 Jun 02 - 12:17 AM
GUEST,Sharon G 08 Jun 02 - 12:24 AM
GUEST,another bloody BJ 08 Jun 02 - 07:27 AM
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Subject: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Claire
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 03:21 PM

Hi,

Here is a question that has come up in my band, which plays Irish traditional music.

Is it appropriate to use a tune, or a part of a tune, as a break between verses in a song. Or for that matter, to go into a set of tunes after the song has concluded, sort of like a second part of the song.

The question came up during our attempts to do nice arrangements of songs. It is often good to have an instrumental break as part of the song in order to give the song more of a "band" feel. However, one more repetition of the melody can get a little bit old. Ideally, we could write our own variation on the melody to play between verses, but that is a lot of work and requires a lot of cajolling from the singer (me). So, is it a bad idea to splice a tune into the song.

I know some of you will say...anything is appropriate, if you want to do it, but I am really more interested in the conservative view of this question. I also know that others might say - only the unaccompanied song is truly traditional. However, our band likes a full band sound on at least some of the songs. Although our band doesn't always acheive a totally traditional tone and sometimes we gladly stray far away from tradition (weird songs, etc), It would be helpful to know when we are straying and how far.

I would also appreciate any oppinions on arranging traditional songs to incorporate instrumentals, while keeping an authentic sound.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts, ideas, and inspiration.

Claire


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: radriano
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 04:50 PM

Hi Claire,

The use of tunes as breaks in songs is fairly common. As you pointed out, there will always be "traditional music police" who will complain about anything not sung a cappella. The use of an appropriate tune in a song arrangement can be very effective and pleasing, at least to my ears. I wouldn't worry too much about "straying" if I were you. After all, you can't please everybody.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:00 PM

"traditional music police"

Heh

Ug... Folk Nazis... I hate folk Nazis...

Both the bands I play in use tunes in songs all the time... as a matter of fact, one must be careful not to over use it... Otherwise everything starts to sound the same... ya know the arrangement trap... Every song comes out Instrumental verse, first verse and chorus, second verse and chorus, Instrumental bridge, chorus, last verse, chorus twice and instrumental ending...

Which is such a common arrangement these days as to almost be a cliché in folk music...

In the search of something new (or at least something new for me) I've been toying with arrangements of a-capella songs followed by trad tunes... seems to work fairly well in rehearsal hall so far... When/if the bands play 'em out, I'll let ya know...

;-)


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Susan of DT
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:22 PM

Check out Thais in the database. It is not a traditional song. A guy in college used to include a bit of a different song relating to the previous verse between each verse. It made a funny song funnier.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Les B.
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:40 PM

If you're the singer and not one of the lead players, I think your problem will be getting the instrumentalists focused enough to remember what new melody they're supposed to play.

It wasn't until I started playing more lead (I sing also) that I recognized that you seem to get into another part of your brain when producing melody, and it really takes some concentration to shift gears. I suspect that's why the Irish session tunes seem to have traditional "sets" that meld easily and are learned almost as one long tune. If you have more than one lead instrument, perhaps one could "lay out" for a few bars in preparation for getting the next tune started. It's not going to be easy, but it should be worth it.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 05:44 PM

Whatever works.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 06:04 PM

Whatever works, exactly

The Byrds used Bach's "Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring" as the instrumental break to "She Don't Care About Time" and it worked fantastically.

Don't get too hung up about being 'authentic' Folk has always been people singing and playing what they like.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 07:32 PM

Duke Ellington, and many others, used the Sailors Hornpipe as a break in other tunes. If it's good enough for him it's good enough for you. Go for it.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: michaelr
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 07:40 PM

"Jesu Joy" works great as a tune - it's a slip jig!

My band, Greenhouse, uses tunes for instrumental breaks in quite a few songs. We usually choose relative or contrasting keys, which breaks up long ballads nicely. It's also a surefire solution if the fiddler can't seem to come up with a good idea for an improvised solo.

As for the folk police, I just ignore `em!

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 07:44 PM

the much maligned folk police seem to be gettinga bit of stick here. does anybody actually have any experience of anyone objecting in theory to using tunes as breaks in songs? I've experienced a lot of things in my time, but never that. And believe me, I've heard a lot of objections to a lot of things.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: curmudgeon
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 08:02 PM

For me, the song is paramount, the perfect melding of words and tune. The band needs to play behind the singer(s). But when there is to be an instrumental break, this is the place for the band members to strut their stuff -- grace notes, doublings, glissandos, countermelodies, et al., go crazy! But then drop back for the singer. This kind of blend allows the listeners to listen to the song and also gain an appreciation for the instrumentalists.

For further reading, see the notes on accomaniment in "The Singing Island," MacColl-Seeger, and "The Penguin Book of English Folk Songs," Vaughan-Williams-Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Art Thieme
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 09:11 PM

I did it all the time---and never the same way twice---off the top of my head. Depending on what songs you put with different songs and the order they appear in, you can make quite an editorial statement---or comic statement---or historical statement--or geographic statement---or socio-philosophical statement...add infinitum. Go for it and have fun----and toss in serious tales and/or jokes that either are or aren't relevant to the material being sung. But wach out, you might be accused of being a Thieme clone. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 09:23 PM

I think that, when you find the right combination of tune to song, it can make for one hell of a bang. Mixing pieces is done everywhere...I see no reason why your band needs worry about it when the biggies do it, and regularly.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: toribw
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 09:32 PM

We do it frequently. One of my favorites is Rocky Road to Dublin and Kid On the Mountain. The tune is actually played through the song during the breaks between verse/chorus. People like it.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 04 Jun 02 - 10:08 PM

GOOD QUESTION

I use a couple of different tune themes, in multiple variations, for transitions and vamps between melodies.

I don't know why, but they just fit-in and fill time and seem to be able to connect into anything...and it gives me a chance to think where I'm going.

Blow the Wind Southerly
Wildwood Flower
Coca Cola Song
Jamacan Farewell
Buffalo Gals
Sweater Song by Wheezer

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 12:37 AM

Clinton gives you very good advice. The technique works very well, but one doesn't want to get trapped into every song having a break that is a tune. On our new CD we do an arrangement of "Follow Me Up To Carlow" using "The Swallowtail" for the instrumental breaks and to conclude the song. Very striking. We also do songs a cappella followed by a tune. For example: Billy O'Shea/Whiskey Before Breakfast, The Scotsman/Scotland The Brave.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Bullfrog Jones
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 04:38 AM

Wierd coincidence --- at one of our gigs this weekend someone suggested that The Bullfrogs should do this, but using American tunes as we play American (influenced) music. It sounds interesting enough to experiment with.

BJ


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: John P
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 08:12 AM

Please don't confuse the concepts of "tradition" and "history". It is completely traditional to play tunes as breaks in songs. It may not have been always done historically, but a large majority of the traditional bands playing today does it as a matter of course.

I, too, have never heard the music police complain about it, and they've complained at me about just about everything else.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Foe
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 09:01 AM

Years ago when John Hartford had Vasser Clements and Norman Blake in his backup band, Vasser would work all kinds of tunes into his fiddle breaks such as "God Bless America" etc. It seemed kind of a "goofing around" to him and we, on production staff for the festival, would play, "name that tune".


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Claire
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 09:47 AM

Hi there,

Lots of interesting comments in this thread, as always I appreciate the varied perspective that mudcat provides. I really would not term people that disagree with putting tunes in songs as Folk police. They are part of a purist end point, one which I want to respect, or at least know when I am not following their lead.

One of the problems with inserting tunes is that it can be formulaic and predictable. However, anything done to excess can do that. When you turn a song over to the band - a kind of evolution takes place where all the musicians add their touch and "your" song takes on a new form and sometimes a very different flavor. I love that evolution, but I wish I was better at suggesting things that might work well. That is why I have often resorted to insert Tune A into slot B. I really would like to be more sophisticated in the arrangements. Fortunately, I work with a very inspired bunch, so they will probably do whatever, and I can just add ideas to the mix.

I haven't heard anyone out there say... don't do it. What do you think the IrTrad folks will say? I think I will post a similar thread to that list and see what comes up. They approach things from an instrumentalist's point of view and often don't even talk about song issues... but I'll give it a try.

Have a good one and thanks loads, Claire

duplicate post deleted by mudelf ;-)


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Kenny B (inactive)
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 02:53 PM

One good arrangement if you're playing Irish music with fiddle or mandolin solo, is to play "I'll Tell Me Ma" for a couple of verses a solo of "the Barren Rocks of Aden" then carry on to the end of the song with the "Barren Rocks " being played at the same time as singing "Ill tell me Ma". It works well. I've tried it at sessions after hearing a grop called "North Sea Gas " doing it


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Les from Hull
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 04:58 PM

That's funny, we put breaks into "I'll Tell Me Ma" as well. We use the B part of Foxhunters reel after each chorus, and then once round the tune up to the B part again and into the last verse and chorus. Good fun, goes down well, but very confusing for anyone else trying to join in.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,SharonG
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 06:31 PM

Funny- in our band we play "I'll Tell Me Ma" with the Finnish Polka and/or Maids of Ardagh. BTW I'm in Claire's band and I have to take the blame for being the one who complained about arranging songs with tunes as the instrumental breaks in the first place..... Sharon


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jun 02 - 06:33 PM

You folks keep citing the 'music police' and no one has stepped in to point out the error of your ways so I guess it devolves upon me...

A couple of things I'm not fond of, simply because it tends to be a mishmash of sound and kind of disrespects the intent and message of a song is #1, playing two different tunes together (Sorry, Kenny B!) and #2, playing Part A and Part B together, just because the chord changes are the same.

Oh, and I guess there is a third one: Playing a tune that is the antithesis of the song's lyrics. That would include Sailor's Hormpipe, I suppose, if the sung song were a sad lament.

Just because it is possible to do something is not necessarily a good reason to do it.

There now. I'm so proud.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: fogie
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 09:30 AM

Michaelr, Im not sure Id want to dance to Jesu Joy as a slip jig! Youll be finding the Jesuits coming round; never mind the music police.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 09:35 AM

Dear Claire,

Could you give a couple examples of tunes YOU use for transitions?

You are ARTISTS - and it is expected that you WILL "stray" and "wander" and "amuse" and "offend." Do what you like, have FUN and most of the audience will have fun with you.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 09:51 AM

Duke Ellington used the Sailors Hornpipe as partof 12th Street Rag...quite suitable. I've heard it slipped into Tiger Rag too.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:00 AM

Another good place for a quick blast of the Sailor's Hornpipe is between verses of "The Eddystone Light" - Dave Laibman (where are you now Dave?) used to do that trick with great effect.

Wassail


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:47 AM

When I sing "Farewell to Tarwaithie", I use the last line of "Crimmond" (The Lord's my Shepherd) as a link between verses. Crimmond is mentioned in the first verse, so it seems appropriate - I think Tony Rose did the same thing.

In "Mrs Merry's Ball" Muckram Wakes use "Winster Gallop" in the middle after the line "The dancing did begin." It provides a useful break before the last (slow) verse.

If a tune works, doesn't spoil the continuity, and adds something to the overall performance, why not use it ?


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,SharonG
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 12:41 PM


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,SharonG
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 12:54 PM

Gargoyle- I'll take the liberty of answering for Claire...

Scartaglen- Ten-penny bit (1 "A" part of the tune between verses; Scarce o' Tatties (entire tune) before the last verse. All are jigs in the same key as the song (which is in 6/8)

Hey Donal! (song learned from a Cathy Ryan solo cd) Humours of Tulla between verses 2& 3 and 4 & 5; Mountain Road played 3x through after the end of the song

Polkas w/ I'll Tell Me Ma

Claire learned a new song in Gaelic that consists of 4 very short verses, each followed by a chorus. The song is in 6/8 in an A modal key. She wanted a solution for the brevity of the song- other than repeating the entire song. Two options- play jigs as breaks or create an original melodic break were two possibilities. An additional possibility would be to go into a tune set immediately following the song, either instead of, or in addition to the aforementioned ideas.

Sharon


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: John P
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 10:19 PM

Guest Claire: I, too, would not classify people who object someone else's music-making choices as Folk Police. I don't call them that unless they object out loud to the musician, telling her that she is "doing it wrong".

Ebbie: Of course the fact that it is possible to do something doesn't make it a good idea. Badly done music will always be just that, and bad choices remain bad. The question is how someone responds to it. Do you just think to yourself, "Wow, that was bad. I'm glad I didn't do that." Or do you walk up to the musician and say, "That was really dumb. You ought to be ashamed to be claiming to be playing traditional music"?

A couple of my favorite tune/song combinations we used to play were "La Rotta" with "Boys of Bedlam" and an upbeat "Star of the County Down" with "Blow the Candles Out". We currently play "Nottamun Town" with a tune that I wrote that uses the flatted sixth and the major seventh that are implied by the chord pattern of the song, giving it a Middle Eastern sound. Even though those intervals don't occur in the melody of the song, the fact that the song uses both D minor and A major chords sets up the ear to not find the tune melody out of place. Finding the right tune for the song is always challenging and interesting.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:36 PM

John P, as you may have gathered, I don't feel strongly about the subject! In fact, a friend played a couple bars of Sailor's Hornpipe on another friend's recording and it makes me smile.

Oh, two people playing both Part A and B at the same time- and I'm doing backup- still makes me wonder Why? I just don't see that it adds anything. Besides, if I heard someone do that to a tune of mine I'd think they were telling me something not too complimentary.


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: Big Mick
Date: 07 Jun 02 - 12:34 AM

I just don't give a shit about what "they" think. We just do it our way and it seems to be OK. Another one we do, and it is on our new CD, is we do "Ashokan Farewell" and coming out of the second B part the Bass lays down a beat and we jump into Steve Earle's "Dixieland". Great sound! Point is, play around and see what goes well.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: michaelr
Date: 07 Jun 02 - 01:02 AM

fogie - LOL! Jesuits don't frighten me any more than the folk police! (I have a get-out-of-hell-free pass)

We use "Sailors Hornpipe" as a break in "When I was a Fair Maid" which makes sense thematically as well as musically. It's on our CD "I Lie Awake" (www.celticfusion.org)

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,another bloody B.J.
Date: 07 Jun 02 - 07:28 AM

To sharon G. re your reference to scarce O' Tatties. You dont happen to have a copy of that tune do you?


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: PeteBoom
Date: 07 Jun 02 - 08:54 AM

My band has been known to do things like playing the B part of a tune as an intro to a song, throwing the A part in as a bridge, then playing them in the "normal" sequence at the end of the song itself. Depending on the song, tune and purpose - we may just keep right on going - eg., songs about whisky or other strong drink with Temperance Reel as an intro/bridge (equal time ya know... ;-) or an emigrant-type song with a bridge of the A part of Visit to Ireland, with the full tune at the end.

While we no doubt irritate the "trad music police" - we do anyway by our normal set-up... "Why, that mandolin and whistle player just picked up an electric bass and the fellow playing bodhran just got behind a drumset!! SCANDALOUS!"

If the flow is good and the feel is good and you are making the musical statement you want to make (if you have one) - DO IT.

Why, we've even been known to throw in an instrumental verse as a bridge, in the relative minor, if the song itself is too "happy." Experiment and push yourself - it is the only way to grow as a musician. Otherwise, you might as well be playing industrial generic pop music.

Good luck -

Pete


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 02 - 04:20 PM

Thanks Sharon for writing in for me. I have been out of the loop for a couple of days.

I just want to say the following - I am my own best folk police! And proud of it. I really care what others think, but not because I am scared of being judged, but because I want the audience to leave our concerts with a greater understanding and appreciation for Irish Traditional Music. For me, that means goofy songs are great - they are part of the entertainment side of the show and it is really clear they are for fun. I love them.

However, when I am singing a song in Gaelic that I have painstakingly learned, researched the historical references in the lyric, etc.... I don't want to muck it up. For me, mucking it up would include putting in a Scottish tune instead of an Irish tune (isn't that weird to some of you???) Also, I wouldn't want the instrumental break to be so different that it no longer compliments the lyric or sentiment of the song.

On the other side, I really like a full band sound and so with some songs I disregard that idea that a true traditional song is unaccompanied. For me that is where I draw the line, because .... uh..... its fun and I like how it sounds.(pretty traditional reasoning - don't you think?)

Thanks for all the ideas on combinations of tunes and songs...

Claire


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Sharon G
Date: 08 Jun 02 - 12:17 AM

BJ- I do probably have the music to Scarce O'Tatties here somewhere if I dig deep enough, but I'm not proficient in abc's.... what would you recommend as far as getting it to you?


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,Sharon G
Date: 08 Jun 02 - 12:24 AM

BJ-Hi again There are several versions of Scarce O'Tatties at JC's tunefinder: http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/music/abc/FindTune.html


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Subject: RE: Using tunes for breaks in songs
From: GUEST,another bloody BJ
Date: 08 Jun 02 - 07:27 AM

To Clare! My Dear! thanks very much for that lead on Scarce O' Tatties. Just downloaded it. will learn to play it tomorrow when the old head is a bit clearer


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