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The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music

GUEST,divilthebit@hotmail.com 05 Sep 02 - 03:58 PM
Deskjet 05 Sep 02 - 04:34 PM
Big Mick 05 Sep 02 - 04:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Sep 02 - 05:03 PM
greg stephens 05 Sep 02 - 06:14 PM
Peter K (Fionn) 05 Sep 02 - 06:22 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 05 Sep 02 - 06:43 PM
maire-aine 05 Sep 02 - 07:33 PM
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Subject: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,divilthebit@hotmail.com
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 03:58 PM

The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music – What's the Story?

If you were to ask any musician at any session in Ireland what they thought of Steve Cooney or Arty McGlynn, Tony McManus or Chris Newman you could expect a range of positive answers like,

"Genius," "Brilliant," "Superb," or very occasionally, "Who?"

These four musicians along with a host of others including Mícheal Ní Domhnaill, John Doyle, Mark Kelly, Paul McSherry and Jim Murray have championed the cause of the guitar in Irish music. The list of CDs they're on goes into the hundreds. However, away from the bright lights of the stage or the eerie silence of the recording studio Irish music lives and breathes in the corners of pubs throughout Ireland. The 'session' is a human channelling of the thousands of tunes floating around us all at any time. To gauge the guitar's esteem or lack of it, the session is the best place to look.

Most sessions will probably comprise of a selection from this range of instruments and people i.e. flute, fiddle, banjo, pipes, bodhran, concertina, whistle, bouzouki, mandolin, accordion piano key or button, singer, guitar/singer and guitar. I leave the guitar to last as I have come to learn that the guitar is lowest on the pecking order of instruments in the session. This may stem from the guitar's dubious parentage.

A very brief history

The guitar probably originated in Spain, where by the 16th century it was the counterpart among the middle and lower classes of the aristocracy's vihuela, an instrument of similar shape and ancestry with six double courses.

The guitar became popular in other European countries in the 16th and 17th centuries, and by the late 17th century a fifth course of strings had been added below the other four.

In the mid-18th century the guitar attained its modern form, when the double courses were made single and a sixth string was added above the lower five. Guitar makers in the 19th century broadened the body, increased the curve of the waist, thinned the belly, and changed the internal bracing. A modern machine head replaced the old wooden tuning pegs.

"So its not Irish then?"… "Nope!" This has a lot to do with the inherent snobbery regarding the guitar and Irish music in my opinion. I shouldn't really make an issue of origins but it is an issue. Study this information I received from a learned friend, "The bouzouki is from Greece! Accordions - Italy/Germany, Flutes - Egypt/Mesopotamia, Fiddles from Europe and Banjos - Africa/America, Bodhrans Africa and Bagpipes are probably extra-terrestrial in origin!"

So there's more to it than where you come from? What goes on

It seems to be the will of a higher power that the guitar player will sing. This is primarily down to the fact that the guitar is ideally suited to accompany the song and it is difficult to sing and play the flute simultaneously. At a session the musicians will belt into reels and jigs, hornpipes, slides and polkas and the guitar player/singer will 'accompany' at varying degrees of skill using a selection of chords, tunings and timings! After a certain amount of time usually judgeable by the emptying of the pint glasses on the table the guitar player/singer will come into his own. He or she will sing a song either traditional, contemporary or self penned while the refilling of glasses goes on around. Most of the players will enjoy the song and the chance to get a good swallow of Guinness and the like and the music will start up again. This pattern will repeat itself for the rest of the night or until such times as the bar stays open and the musicians stay upright.

So what is the problem if all are happy? Personally and this is my opinion, the guitar deserves better treatment. I have found over many years playing that there are several types of guitar player.

a) The aforementioned half way house type. He or she is primarily a singer and uses the guitar to accompany the song. This is fine until they try to accompany the music. This will invariably happen as no one wants to sit in the midst of such music just holding a guitar. The trouble here is they use a very limited range of chords and have no real understanding of the music. The chords used in the songs are used ad nauseum behind the tunes. The timing can be iffy to say the least and the volume generally too loud. But in the informal atmosphere the other musicians are not likely to say anything for fear of being called an, "arrogant bastard!" or some other blessing like that. This silence will neither improve the guitar player or the overall sound of the session.

b) Next is the dedicated singer who is 'not half bad' on the guitar. He or she will sing expertly and accompany themselves at a very competent level. They may use tuning variations like dropped D or DADGAD. They add vocal quality to the session and while a replenishing of pints goes on there is uncalled for order and respect. Generally they show a good knowledge of the music around and accompany it well. They use chords imaginatively and are willing to attempt some exotic notes. These musicians are the pioneers of the guitar comeback. Hard work in learning, expressed in this case through singing and self-accompaniment earn respect from the other session musicians.

c) The dedicated accompanist who sings occasionally. This person will have had a revelation at some point in their musical careers and decide that he or she will try to sound like a particular guitar player who has inspired them. While trying to emulate their guitar heroes they will be searching for their own take on the music. Generally, depending on their confidence, knowledge of the instrument and particular hero they add a drive or 'lift' to the session. Some may get stuck in the imitation mode to the detriment of their own personality. What they will experience then will change from, "Christ, a guitar player!" to "Christ, another Cooney/McGlynn clone!" Their songs are usually very well accompanied and may include self-penned or traditional songs from guitar-based singers i.e. Dick Gaughan or Paul Brady. The refilling of pints doesn't bother them as they are concentrating too much on getting the accompaniment to the song just right.

d) The dedicated accompanist full stop. The serious guitar player who has spurned his right to sing. This person will be from one of the two major guitar schools i.e. Arty McGlynn or Steve Cooney. Their choice of influence will reflect their personality and self-confidence. The Arty McGlynn style could be likened to subtle strength. Their playing will be delicious and expertly executed yet non-committal or 'in check', able to offer more but not doing so. They know the neck intimately and employ bass string runs. The timing of the strumming is exquisite. The Steve Cooney style may be described as a vibrant explosion of sound. This type of player will lift the ceiling off the pub if possible but aware at all times that the tune is all and never over stepping that boundary. The power comes from expert knowledge of the guitar neck, octaves, the capo and strong right hand strumming technique. Easy to spot as they will all use a nylon strung guitar to achieve that harp like vitality. Both these types of player will use blues, flamenco and jazz chords or any influence they think might add something to the guitar's role in the session.

Their own worst enemies

At least that's what is supposed to happen. Anyone who has bothered to learn the guitar and bring it to a session must be aware of the power they possess. Our friends in category 'a' seem blissfully ignorant but at least they contribute a song. How many times have you seen the look amongst the melody makers when someone enters the pub with the big black case? The thoughts that can be read could range from,

"Aw Jesus the JCB," although this is sometimes saved for piano key accordion players. "Not another guitar player!" as if the player had some music defying illness "Keep that f**kin' case closed for God's sake!" thought in desperation as a 12 string Louden takes the air.

But why should this be the case? Surely Irish musicians are decency personified? Well, I'm afraid that some guitar players are doing the rest of us a mighty disservice by not learning their instrument at a high enough level. Unfortunately, basic guitar can be learned quickly. In a matter of weeks a novice can handle several major chords without any knowledge of what key they belong to or their relative minors or scale patterns. What you have is a three/four chord maybe the odd minor chord wonder! And what delight he/she will take in the execution of the tunes. Timing is something the watch takes care of and there is no volume control whatsoever.

Now before I continue I must reiterate my belief that the guitar is an ACCOMPANYING instrument. By definition it should fit snugly BEHIND the tune and embellish the overall sound. There is no doubt that the session will flow perfectly well without the six strings. The guitars have no function at all without the music. One would reasonably conclude therefore that all care should be taken so as NOT to drown out or interfere with the energy and flow of the tune. Unfortunately this seems to be far from the norm. Pick any lead/melody instrument e.g. the fiddle. I always try to imagine the practice required to coordinate the bowing, fingering and timing. It is not easy and only becomes so after many years of practice, listening and learning. Now imagine the fiddle player at a session with other like-minded musicians all ready to parade their knowledge of the music over several pints and craic. Just into the first set of tunes when from nowhere the sound of a rabid three chord buffoon bludgeoning chords in no discernable order at the wrong tempo and volume. The magic that tunes create around the players is immediately punctured like a deflating hot air balloon. The rest of the evening can be physically painful until that guitar player leaves having picked up the 'death vibe' from the other musicians or he breaks one of his many strings and has no replacement. Is it any wonder therefore that the guitar player is anticipated with some dread?

These opinions are based on the guitar player accompanying the tunes and nothing else. I am aware that most sessions can drift to include classical, blues or jazz solos when the guitar is unique and can sound beautiful. I am also aware that many guitar players can play the tunes on guitar equally as well as say a banjo player but that's not at issue here yet.

What the musos think

From these personal observations I felt the next step was to elicit the opinions of both guitar players and melody makers at various sessions around Ireland. I asked everyone the same question,

"What do you think of the guitar in a session?"

These then are some of their views: -

Catherine (McLean) Sands – Flute, whistle player from Co Antrim "A good guitar player can add to a session, give it lift and rhythm but a bad player can ruin it by spoiling the rhythm, drowning out the tunes and having no feel for the music."

Stephen Leech – Banjo player and guitar/singer from Co Dublin "I believe the guitar took over from the piano in the late 60's early 70's as the newer more mobile form of accompaniment especially with the up and coming and soon to be spearhead of our musical tradition."

Oli Cechini – Piper, whistle player from Germany now Sydney via Dublin "I always think B minor then A minor and fast as f**k!"

Dick Glasgow – Concertina, banjo and fiddler player from Edinburgh now Antrim "For my part, I love a good guitar player in a session, for they can add so much light & shade, rhythm & colour to the proceedings. I'm so used to playing with a good guitarist, that when we have no guitar with us, we really do miss all those lovely harmonics, & the drive that it offers, in the right hands. I, like ye all, have had to endure bad guitar players, who only knew three chords, didn't listen to tune changes or key changes & had about as much sense of rhythm as a turnip! But hey, I've met guys like that playing all the other instruments as well, so I reckon it's time to give the good guitar players a break."

Bridie Byrne – Fiddle player from Sydney Now lets see, I really believe that good guitar and bouzouki backing really add something to a session. It's about personal taste isn't it? I wouldn't say that I really like the Cooney/Murray style, but I like the McGlynn style. There are a few fab backers in Galway, really sweet and I love playing with them! And there is one fab backer in Melbourne that I know of. I truly believe a good backer makes a session about %400 more enjoyable.

Brendan Carson – Flute player, Co Down As a flute player I love great accompaniment, whether that be piano, guitar, or bouzouki [and even the bodhrán!!]. Unfortunately too many exponents of these instruments don't bother to learn the tunes. The result is that for many accompanying players they only recognise 'the reel in D' or 'the jig in G' with little or no feel for the difference between the vast repertoire that is traditional music. My advice to guitar players who are coming to traditional music is no different from that I would offer to any instrumentalist

1. Learn your own instrument - if possible look for someone who is already an exponent and seek their advice guidance and tuition. Listen to and watch good players and learn from them. 2. Learn the tunes - work out a unique accompaniment to every tune and don't assume that all reels in the key of D are the same. Practice at home -not during the session! 3. Learn the etiquette of traditional sessions. You cant just barge in uninvited to regular sessions where the local musicians hold court. Treat the session as you would if you were a guest in someone's house. 4. Don't feel that you have to play every tune in the session. 5. Watch the volume! 6. Simple is usually best - at least when you are starting out. The musicians will appreciate simple vamping of appropriate chords played well than fancy pick work that doesn't quite gel. 7. Finally - When you are as good as Arty McGlynn you can do whatever the f**k you want!

The Fiddler – pen name of contributor on Website I'm in agreement with much of what has already been said. Good guitar players can be a great asset when they are sympathetic to the music and do not drive the pace of the tunes.

For my own part I feel that in order to provide quality accompaniment it is essential to understand the tunes being played. In such instances it is more likely that reasonably competent guitar players can intertwine with the melody thus avoiding the heavy percussive backing that we all too often encounter

More quotes to come as I get them.

What next?

The last thing I want to do is put someone learning the guitar off Irish music or the guitar itself. It is a fabulous instrument and in many cases a portable orchestra of possibilities. From the droning bass to the high octave notes, from the percussive rap to mellow chordal sounds. To the instant mood changes of a blue or jazz note or the glories of flamenco flair it has a plethora of additions to the session to offer.

All I would say is: -

· Get into the inner workings of the guitar, discover the possibilities each string has to offer · Study the tunes and various timings, get lost in the rhythms before you even pick up your guitar · Listen to tapes of other guitar players, watch everything they're doing and use it shamelessly. You will adapt new moves to your performance and release your personality · Listen to as many different styles of music as possible and wonder, "Would that work in a tune?" e.g. Jazz, Gypsy Jazz, Rock 'n' Roll, Blues, Classical, Country, Hill-Billy anything at all · Experiment and make mistakes. If it doesn't work don't worry, try it somewhere else e.g. use that jazz chord to finish off a slow air or to start a reel · Try not to accompany a tune the same way twice · F**k the begrudgers. There will be no pleasing some people no matter how sensitively you play. These die hards are entitled to their opinion but you may start to convince them of the merits of your instrument in your playing so keep going · Never stop learning or listening for new ideas · The tune is all!

Who do I think I am anyway?

My name is Michael Sands from Newry, Co Down, N Ireland and I'm passionate about the guitar and its place in Irish music. I'm extremely lucky to have been surrounded by traditional music all my life and to have met my heroes. I have made all the blunders on the guitar that I think can be made but believe that guitar players have a unique opportunity to add something special to any session. I am also lucky in that those many musicians in the sessions I play in have offered me guidance as how best to accompany them. Constructive criticism and all that should be welcomed. I have learned how to listen, when to play and importantly when not to play.

Anyhow, should you be a guitar player and happen to agree or disagree with this I would like to hear your views and you can contact me at divilthebit@hotmail.com. If you are a melody player and can offer some advice please do.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Deskjet
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 04:34 PM

Thank you for the depth of your input Michael. I'm not sure which of the above categories I fit in to, but I do play the guitar as well as sing a song at sessions. One thing that particularly bothered me this year was why there were no guitar classes at the Willie Clancy week. There I was, ready,willing and able to try to improve, and yet there is no official recognition of my instrument at the premier Irish traditional festival in Ireland. Why? This omission can serve the cause of Irish traditional music no good ; I, like you, am passionate about the sounds that can come from a guitar, and what they can contribute to Irish traditional music, and like you, am certain that the guitar is here to stay.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 04:54 PM

Michael, thank you for a wonderful bit of scholarship. I probably agree with much more than I disagree with. I fit into the singer mode, however I am determined to improve my skills. I have sang the songs of my people for my entire life and play in a pub band at a very high level. But one of the musicians that you mention, Steve Cooney, is an absolute hero of mine. I can accompany the music in a very straightforward manner that has served me well on stage for a long time. But when I listen to Cooney, as well as others, I know that to truly contribute to the tune (and never forget........it is ALL about the tune)I must learn to use the percussive rythms that these true pro's use. And so I have set about the task of deconstructing and reconstructing my style. It has been hard, and as is the way when one does this, it has set me back a couple of steps. But in the end, it will make for much more vibrant and accomplished music. Some would say I am nuts for doing this at this stage of my musical life, but I think it is worth it.

To get to your question, there is no doubt that this instrument belongs in the music. Done well it lends a depth to the music that is unprecedented in its history. The purist may sniff, but they show a lack of understanding of the musical history of our people when they do. The Irish have always borrowed and let their music evolve. The Uilleann pipes are only a few hundred years old in their present form. The Irish Bouzouki was first constructed in the mid to late 60's. Many of the tunes we play today on the squeezebox were written before the instrument existed. How about the flute, in its present form. The only two instruments that I know of that could be classified as absolutely trad are the harp and the bodhran.

It is far more important to me that any instrument used to play the music enhance THE MUSIC. That is what it is about. The Guitar, played right, absolutely does that.

I assume you are part of the Sands family that has given us so much wonderful music? If so, congratulations on having the incredibly good fortune to be born to the music. If not, thanks for sharing a well thought out and very good discourse with us.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 05:03 PM

And the best bit of advice in that is, keep it simple. And know your place.

And normally, if there's more than one guitar in a session playing at the same time, that's one too many. The same as is true with bodhrans or bones. Or for that matter any instrument other than fiddles.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 06:14 PM


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Peter K (Fionn)
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 06:22 PM

Michael, are you indeed a kindred spirit of Colm & co?

I'm with you 100 per cent on Arty McGlynn. Exquisite player, and he really knows how to put the tunes across. Not always too comfortable with the way Chris Newman's flatpick style fits into Irish dance music though he's unquestionably a remarkable instrumentalist.

An even bigger can of worms is the role of the piano in sessions....

Can you tell me (Michael) whether there is still a Tuesday night session a couple of miles outside Newry, going the inland route to Newcastle? I was sorry to miss the Fiddlers Green festival at Rostrevor this year - I gather there was a good cosmopolitan crowd, and the Dubliners on the bill.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 06:43 PM

Many thanks for your post, Michael. After reading it and pondering some of what you have said, I thought I'd throw in two or three cents' worth.

It occurs to me that there is a slightly different perspective on guitars and guitarists in sessions in the States than in Ireland. Many Americans who play Irish music were not brought up in the tradition. My own route to Irish music is probably not atypical: folk-rock to bluegrass to old-time to Irish. Many of us started out playing something else and fell in love with Irish music. Most importantly, we started out playing types of music where the guitar was a major element. It's hard to imagine bluegrass or old-time music without a hard-driving rhythm guitar. The guitar may have only been part of Irish music for fifty years, but it's been part of American folk music much longer. I think it is natural for Americans who have developed a passion for Irish music to have imported the American afinity for rhythm guitar into their sessions.

Personally, when I play guitar at our sessions, I approach it with the same attitude as if I were playing in a bluegrass band. It's all about two things: playing in tune and playing in time. My job is not to be fancy, but to be solid.

And as far as volume goes, if my J-45 can drown out three fiddles, a concertina, a banjo and an accordian, then the fuckers just aren't playing loudly enough!

Bruce


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: maire-aine
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 07:33 PM

This was a very thought-provoking thread. For myself, I live in the midwestern U. S. and so some sessions are less rigid than yours sound, but there is a spectrum from ultra-traditional to extra-loose around the area. I sing some, and strum some, but I'm not real good at either. I didn't start either until well past 40, but more practice still would help.

I fell into Irish music by first taking Irish language lessons, then started doing ceili dancing (peer pressure, don't you know). I decided that the musicians were having just as good a time, and not working up quite so much of a sweat, so I figured I'd give it a try. I had been playing the bodhran, but decided to try the guitar again. I'd played a little in college.

Well, I took lessons from one of the best guitar teachers in the area for several years, until my job made me cancel too many lessons. But I learned as much about the instrument as I could in that time. I also had the background of the ceili dancing, so that helped immensely with the timing. And I made a point of learning the melodies of the jigs and reels (I flat-pick), so I know where the chord changes are coming up and where they're going to. I can't play the reels up to dance speed, but they're all recognizable. And I can easily lead off a slow aire, like an O'Carolan or similar.

And the very first session lesson I learned was how to control the volume. I will finger-strum when I first hear a tune, and increase the volume when I know how it goes. But for all that, the guitar—in a session—is a percussion instrument, and it belongs there because it does add to the collective sound.

On the other hand, I've heard people ruin a session by abusing the fiddle and the mandolin, too. It's the player, not the instrument.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Alice
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 07:56 PM

Hi, Michael, I see your thread has traveled over from thesession.org to the Mudcat. My first response when you mention singing is that the tradition is SOLO UNACCOMPANIED singing, and I far prefer to hear someone sing without guitar accompaniment (or any accompaniment) at a session than with a guitar. That said, I do take a guitar to our session and have accompanied the tunes for about the last six years. There are those that play more percussively like they have heard on recordings, but my preference for the way I accompany is more harplike, softer (which fits the classical guitar sound) and is the way my grandmother played, so I feel I am carrying on a family tradition so to speak. I don't accompany myself singing at the session. I save that for performances with my small band. I also don't think that the final word on chords is that they should vary greatly. (Read an earlier thread here on Major 7th chords and those who hate them.) There are many who are opposed to added chords instead of just sticking to the basic chords, fewer the better. No kidding, that bias exists, too. I disgree that the bias against guitars is because they are from Spain. That's plain silly. Fiddles, accordions and mandolins are not Irish inventions, either. The bias is because the tunes played together in ensembles were played as a unison melody until someone started chording along on a guitar. The melody instruments playing together is the way some people prefer, not hearing anything "muddying up" the sound. The bias against hammered dulcimers in sessions comes from the same purist desire to not have the ringing sustain of the dulcimer interfering with the clear melody. My own opinion is the more the merrier as long as the melody is paramount and people are entertaining themselves with the music. I play the guitar along with the tunes yet much prefer that people would stop playing the guitar when they sing and learn how to sing unaccompanied (and to appreciate unaccompanied singing).

Alice Flynn


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: DADGBE
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 08:27 PM

A fine and thoughtful thread! My perspective from 49 years of guitar playing (classical, folk, Irish, bluegrass, etc.) is that it's unlike most other instruments. Most other instruments start out being difficult and stay that way. Guitar is fairly easy to play just a bit but difficult to play well. The majority of players don't put in the time and effort to really learn their instrument. Instead they stay at a rudimentary level.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: John P
Date: 05 Sep 02 - 09:27 PM

I have often heard people confuse the concepts of historicity and tradition. Historically the guitar was not a part of the Irish music tradition. But who cares what happened 100, or 50, or 25 years ago? That would be a question for musicologists. There can be no doubt that the guitar is currently part of Irish traditional music: look around at all the guitarists strumming away at sessions, concerts, and dances.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Brían
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 12:23 AM

If whatever happened 25,50 or 100 years ago didn't matter, then why even have this discussion at all? I believe one influence on guitar playing in sessiúns was Tish Richardson(R.I.P) who played with the Boys of the Lough. He learned his playing from a Northumbrian player I think was called Willie Johnson learned how to play from listening to Django Reinhardt on a short wave radio.

At most the sessiúins I go to, people agree that one guitar or bouzouki is enough. I have heard some players who do well with a strong rythymn and a minimum of chord changes like Mick Moloney and others who do some great jazz-influenced chord changes like John Doyle.

I much prefer Irish songs unaccompanied. Guitar accompaniment is much better suited to Bluegrass or Country music.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 01:22 AM

I'm inspired by this thread, because I'm currently finding my way from (a) to (b). After a dozen or so years accompanying my own singing on guitar with very variable results, I discovered old-time music and the thrill of playing with other people. Now, after a 10-year hiatus, I've moved to a new place and found a few Irish musicians left over when their band broke up. I've always loved Irish music, and enjoy singing Irish songs (unaccompanied!), but now I'm playing it! I'm learning how to modify the driving old-time backup into a more sensitive accompaniment for tunes...and loving it.

Interestingly, my ear seems to have improved during the 10 years I wasn't playing, and I can now hear and follow chord changes much more easily than before. (Has anybody else had that experience?) It makes it much more fun to play...and more fun for the tunesters to sit in the same room with me!

I'm also pleased that, unlike some places I've lived, which shall remain nameless, the musicians here enjoy songs as well as tunes, and there's none of the "Quick, start another set of tunes before one of the singers opens his mouth" bullshit. Must be that laid-back Hawaiian style!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,John
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 05:43 AM

Enjoyed that piece. Very informative and helpful. Hope to improve my style, thanks


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Declan
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 06:19 AM

Michael,

I'd love to have more time to come up with a detailed response to a very well thought-out post, but for the moment I'll stick to a few quick comments.

By all means listen to great guitar players, as many as possible, you've covered a lot of them in what you've said I could add some more (e.g Noelly Ryan from Danu, Daithi Sproule, Paul Brady when he does this, Alf Duggan - lives in Ennis and was the backer on Tommy Peoples' The Quiet Glen, Graham Dunne who (among other things) backs Niamh Parsons, Denis Cahill, Paul Doyle, Donncha Moynihan etc.etc.). I think its better to try to absorb what they do and encorporate it in to your own style rather than imitating any one of them. Arty and Steve are two great stylists but there are a lot of 'clones' of one or other around. This obviously comes with time and experience and if you can manage to play like Arty you're not off to a bad start. I was lucky enough to play regularly in sessions with Steve Cooney for a couple of years when he lived in Dublin and I learned a lot, but most of the time I don't sound much like him.

Even more importantly listen to as much music as possible, backers on other instruments and melody players. It probably helps to be able to play the melody, but to know the turn of the tunes is essential. I've seen some very good technical guitarists ruin sessions because they had no feel for the tunes. After a while you get to a stage where you can back a tune you've never heard before reasonably well, but nothing beats knowing the tune.

Always listen as you are playing in a session and pick up on the nuances, variations etc of the person actually playing the tune at the time you are backing them. There are things you can learn - chord progressions that sound well with tunes in certain keys, but don't say to yourself I know how to play this one and go off into your own little world ignoring what's going on around you - as you say the tune (as its being played) is all important.

There's nothing wrong with playing major chords - substituting incidental minors can sound brilliant if done occasionally and subtly. I have no problem with 7ths, major minor or otherwise, but if you use these things too much they become very difficult to listen to, and while they may impress some other guitar enthusiasts, they do very little for the session if over used - they're good to have in your armoury but quite often simple is best.

Traditional music can sound brilliant without backing - think before you open your case. Listening is fun too.

This was supposed to be short, but one last point - probably the most important of the lot. Traditional music has its own rhythms - a reel is not a piece of rock & roll, or jazz, or a country song. If you can get the rhythm and the volume (not TOO LOUD) right you'll be welcome in most sessions, although you meet the ocassional eejit who is just predjudiced against the guitar - learn to ignore them. Getting the keys and the chords and the changes right are important too, but rhythm is vital.

Oh yeah one very last point - make sure you're in tune with the session, not your electronic tuner. Instruments like pipes and concertinas are not always in concert pitch, and don't get me started about some flutes and whistles, so there's no point in being the only one in concert pitch - tune to the other musicians (although this is obviously a problem when they're not in tune with each other).


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 08:14 AM

The bouzouki, that traditional Greek instrument, is actually Turkish! It was banned for many years by the Greek guvmint because of its association with "subversive" musicians. As bona fides go, that's pretty good!

Steve


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Bull Am
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 08:35 AM

This is a great thread, and it treats a topic that deserves closer inspections... I'm currently residing in France, making a meagre living playing different genres of traditional music in local pubs and restaurants. I began in an Irished (themed) bar called O'Connel's, at a session headed by a singer/guitarist from Germany, who was raised on Woody Guthrie, Ramblin' Jack, and Bob Dylan. What I've learned during my stay here is that balance is a fundamental part of any session. Despite its historical origins, the guitar has come to be a major part of the Irish musical tradition. I learned many of the Irish rebel songs I play from the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem, and although it is admittedly a more ballad oriented facet of the Irish musical tradition, it is no less part of the genre, it is no less a major element of its appeal. There are pubs here in Rennes where musicians who don't speak english gather to play instrumental irish music (banjos, flutes, fiddles, bazukis, etc), and after sitting in on a couple of those types of sessions, I must admit that it can become a little too much. There is no spirit of fun at those types of sessions, no humor or exchange. At O'Connel's, there are many musicians who come to play instrumental, melody-based irish music, and George (the german) and I dutifully accompany with all the variation and strict rythym-based variation that we know how...Yet, there is an audience, and as Rennes is a fairly cosmopolitan, student based community, there is almost always an Irish portion of that audience. Though many appreciative a good reel, a good jig, etc, people who are drinking in a pub want to sing along. It's difficult for me to accept that singing and accompanying oneself on any type of stringed instrument (for Percy French in the 19th century, it was his banjo) is not a vital part of the Irish tradition when at almost every session we get requests (from Irish students) for Dirty Old Town, Whiskey in the Jar, Star of the County Down, Eileen Oge, Fields of Athen Rye, etc etc etc. Wit and poetry are as much a part of the Irish musical tradition as the fiddle and the flute. If the guitar in particular is a relatively recent addition to the canon, then it is only an extension of a musical approach that has been a fundamental part of the genre since it's inception; that's to say a voice and a taste for wit as accompanied by strings.

Okay, I'll step down from my soapbox...


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Alice
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 11:22 AM

Bull Am, it is spelled Athenry (even though it sounds like athen-rye).

This thread question is about Irish traditional music, but I think most people don't realize or they forget that sessions are a mid-20th century development. It is worth considering in this thread what was discussed in the IRTRAD email list and posted on the standingstones web site regarding sessions:
/CLICK here.

Commercially marketed music on recordings and radio, like early twentieth century John McCormack accompanied by piano, then the Clancy/Makem folk group with guitar of the 60's, up to the Chieftains doing the sound track of the film Barry Linden and all that followed, is not the same as traditional music that was made in homes in Ireland, solo singing and solo fiddle playing that pre-dated ensemble playing.

I, too, grew up listening to the Clancy/Makem records, as that was the main type of Irish music marketed in the US in the 1960's. Having a guitar as part of the group fit the marketing mold of the commercial folk music at that time. Record companies didn't think unaccompanied traditional singing would sell. So, when you use the word "traditional" you have to realize that what you hear on recordings is vastly more commercial than traditional.

What people play in sessions as an ensemble is also removed from the tradition of solo fiddle playing in which the emotion, expression, and personal ornamentation of the fiddler was an important part of the music. As Hammy Hamilton is quoted in saying on the link above, "Non-solo playing doesn't really appear until the early recordings of the 78 RPM period in the States. The session as we know it today is a much later development, in the majority of cases not being common until the 1950's! The earliest date that I can establish for a pub session is in the late 1930's and I think this would have been very unusual at the time." (end quote, Hammy Hamilton, http://www.standingstones.com/session.html)

When it comes to singing, what you are used to hearing on recordings is a commercial product, with accompaniment being added because that is what will sell, not because that is what is traditional. Quoting again from the IRTRAD discussion, Margaret Steiner at Indiana University wrote, "...When I began my research in 1978, virtually no instrumental music was heard in the pubs, although sometimes somone would get out his fiddle, or, maybe there would be a fiddle and an accordion, but this was generally at Mrs. Connolly's, a well known "ceili house"...unlike the songs, which were fraught with palpable meaning for the community, the session music, brought in through radio and records, while pleasant to listen to, did not bear the same meaning for the community. At one session, at the end of the evening, some of the older singers began to perform songs which encapsulated what being from Newtownbutler is about, and,the moment the singing began, the whole atmosphere changed, and virtually everyone in the pub became intensely engaged." (End quote of Margaret Steiner from http://www.standingstones.com/session.html.)

So, when I hear "traditional" music at a session it is when a singer sings a solo unaccompanied song, or an instrumental player plays a solo slow air, or someone plays an old dance tune with their own variations, or someone lilts a tune. As much as I love being a part of a session, I think it is silly to try to be "purist" about it, because ensemble sessions themselves are not even old enough to be traditional, even though the group may be playing old tunes. Sure, there are phrasing and rhythms that are traditional in old dance tunes that you can adhere to and try to keep most the instruments playing a unison melody, keep it acoustic, but sessions are relatively a new phenomenon. Sessions are growing and changing as they are influenced by the new technology of recordings marketed world wide, and people will add instruments to them and the music will continue to change.

Alice


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 11:56 AM

Alice, it is spelled Barry Lyndon (even though it sounds like Barry Linden). Sorry, I couldn't resist.

I think we always need to take it with a grain of salt when we hear that non-solo playing did not exist before a certain date. One can say that solo playing was the norm for performance events and dances, etc. But absence of evidence is not evidence of absence; the people who wrote about music in pre-famine ireland (tourists, for the most part) would not have been invited to events of purely social music-making. So we have accounts of weddings, wakes, dances, saint's day celebrations, and other public events, but few accounts of what went on in the kitchen.

One thing that would tend to contradict Hammy Hamilton is that as soon as recordings appear in the US, in England AND in Ireland, ensembles are there to record. The ensemble may have become more popular because of recordings but it is probably not a wholesale creation of recording technology. This is the same with American old-time music; string bands did exist and sometimes sang ballads with accompaniment, but it was the advent of recordings that cemented the ballad singer with his banjo and guitar accompaniment as the norm.

So anyway, I suppose this is thread drift since we all know the guitar was rare in Irish music until recently. But, as John P says, it's obviously a big part of the culture now, so you can't worry too much about the long term traditionality of the instrument.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Alice
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 12:10 PM

Thank you, Nerd. Typing too quickly.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Declan
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 12:19 PM

As I understand it accompaniment or backing of tunes is a fairly new phenomenon (or however you spell it) and apart from maybe some dance bands, dates back only to the early recordings made in the US in the early part of this century. Aparently there was a strong musician's union around New York at the time and solo performances were against the rules, so most studios had 'house' musicians usually pianists but occasionally guitarists to accompany the solo players. Some of this was very unsympathetic indeed particularly some of the Piano stuff.

Ceili bands which mostly emerged it seems in the 40s/50s had piano backing and drummers, but not many guitars. A lot of 'traditional purists' think of traditional music as the stuff they heard when they were young, so ceili bands were fine (and traditional) - guitars were not. Many of the early attempts to accompany traditional dance tunes (e.g jigs and reels) were done by not very expert guitarists and didn't sound great. A friend of mine told me that in the early 70s if you went into a pub like O'Donohoes in dublin and you were able to play a barre F Chord you'd be thrown out for trying to be too fancy (an exageration but an indication that the standards were not all that high.

There were several high-profile rows and arguments between people who came to trad music via the folk revival (known as "the ballad boom" here) and those who came from a more trad perspective (known as the 'purists' which is a word I don't particularly like because it is used by many as a term of abuse. A lot of the anti- guitar sentiments come from that era.

New ground was broken in the late 60s and early 70s when bands like the Johnstons, Sweeny's Men, Emmet Spiceland, Planxty and the Bothy Band arrived on the scene. This music was more often termed folk music than ballads or traditional and you tended to get a mixture of songs and traditional tunes accompanied by various stringed instruments including guitars, bozoukis, mandolins etc. A whole new generation of 'Traditional' groups emerged from this. The groups were traditional more in the sense that their material came from the various traditions of these islands rather than that the format of their playing was traditional. The notion of a group of musicians sitting down and playing as as ensemble was probably pioneered, at least in a commercial setting, by Sean O Riada's Ceoltoiri Chualainn many of whom later went on to form The Chieftains.

The advent of guitarists who played the tunes and came up with innovative but senstive ways to accompany the music in more recent years has tended to lessen the prejudices in this area and guitarists such as those mentioned in the initial post here have blazed a trail which the rest of us can follow. To my mind something isn't bad just because it didn't happen 30 years ago - its different, but if it works it works. I must say I feel much less intimidated going into sessions with a guitar case than I did a few years back - part of this is to do with self confidence, but I think most people associated with sessions nowadays acknowledeg that a guitar in the right hands can add something to a session. Any instrument in the wrong hands can mess one up.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 12:47 PM

Tich Richardson (referred to earlier) based his style largely on that of the Shetland guitarist Peerie Willie Johnson, who was in turn heavily influenced by jazz and swing players such as Django Reinhardt. Johnson started out on the ukelele!

The guitar was quite popular in genteel English and Scottish music in the 18th century, and (particularly in Scotland) songbooks including what we now think of as traditional material were issued with guitar accompaniments. I have no idea if the instrument was similarly popular in Ireland at that time, but at all events it is America that we have to thank for its introduction to the traditional music revival on this side of the Atlantic.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,divilthebit
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 03:41 PM

Its amazing what you can learn on the net. Yep I'm one them Sandses, Fionn although next generation(not being too star trek i hope). Ben is my Da and he taught me alot about music. His influences were mostly to do with songs and their performance. Like Declan there Steve Cooney showed me the way as regards accompaniment. Still learning and enjoying the craic.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: beachcomber
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 06:22 PM

I enclose a page of my diary (It was left in the time machine)

" Just home from a wonderful session at the well known "O'Donohue's Time Capsule" , the popular bar in Aldrin St. just off Gagarin Sq., in Tranquility City. Pity about the singer who did'nt quite get the proper intonation, not really like traditional Johnny Logan really. The girl who did some old Dana stuff was excellent , got that really traditional sound I think"

The page is dated 7th Sept. 2202. hope to God I don't actually live that long.

beachcomber.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Brían
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 06:43 PM

The *idea* of the solo perfomance was promoted by Irish Cultural revivalists in the early 20th century. Although I really enjoy when a room quiets down to hear a solo singer or slow air played, it is just as thrilling to hear the crowd egg on a group of musicians tearing through a bunch of reels.

People who were born in Ireland tell me they never heard guitar being played in Irish music before the Clancy Brothers, although most seem to appreciate what they did to encourage people to sing and take interest in old songs. I have talked to people who have told me in the 1940's and 50's it was more common to hear Bing Crosby being played in a pub than any traditional music.

Traditional music doesn't stay in a vaccuum. It is affected by the period that it is being played in. The Ceilidh bands were a reflection of the stage bands which were popular on both sides of the Atlantic. It was not unusual to contrast a set dance with a fox trot or set of waltzes. The addition of the guitar to modern sessiúns is a reflection of rock music as well as many other influences mentioned

Brían


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 06:59 PM

A surprising number of contributors to this thread perpetuate the ancient(well recent) myth that people played in unison till recording came along. The fact is we are are obviously rather short of evidence as to how people played before recording came along.
. I would draw your attention to the rather obvious fact that the most consistently common way of constructing the second part of a tune inthe Irish fiddle tradition is as a variant on the harmonic structure of the first part, and not as a variant on its melodic structure.( I analysed more than a 1000 tunes to come to this conclusion, I'm not just making a wild guess).
That suggests to me that playing in harmony, or with ccompaniment, is a fairly long-standing tradition( at last over the 2/300 years period that the tunes in question date from).


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Sep 02 - 07:09 PM

Incidentally, I would think the tradition of playing the guitar along with jigs and reels goes back a good deal further than the bodhran/Uillean pipes/fiddle current "Celtic" lineup type of line-up..


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Ben
Date: 07 Sep 02 - 10:43 AM

Hi Michael

Good advice there. Have you heard Ed Boyd play with Flook. Very enjoyable and seems to incorporate your ideals. All the best away to tune up!


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 10:09 AM

Alice said. I think it is silly to try to be "purist" about it, because ensemble sessions themselves are not even old enough to be traditional, even though the group may be playing old tunes.

It would indeed be silly to be "purist" about it, even if sessions were as 'old as toes'. Tradition to me is to continue and add to do something as it is, not to try and do somrthing as it was. In musical terms the word is a contradiction anyway for music making and sessions in particular are entirely about 'that' moment.

It is less about the guitar or any other instrument, but more about the way it is played. Any instrument played insensitivly will be a problem and guitar players new to Irish tunes, who think that it is just about 3 chords in D, are likely to fall into this category.

An good example of making the guitar sound an important part of the whole thing can be found on 'the merry sisters of fate' by Lunasa on Green Linnet. The guitar playing is up-front and vital to the whole CD.

Having said that, as a guitar player of many years, I prefer to play the bouzouki, rather than the guitar at sessions. I prefer less string courses, if not less strings, and a more open sound.

I am also in the minimist school, and favour less rather than more chords, but some players can make many chords sound good. Some however tend to make it sound like they are trying to fit as many chords in as they can, and for that reason and are possibly playing to look good and impress other guitar players, rather than to add to the music.

It is also nice, not to hear any guitar or bouzouki playing and just to hear the melody and percussion for a time. Or indeed for everyone to stop and listen to the guitar carrying the melody........

It is amazing how one person's style can influence a whole community, and become in effect the tradition. Peerie Willie's (jazz) style was and probably is still now, the way it is done in Shetland.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 02:03 PM

Why would anyone want to play Irish Trad upon an Acoustic Guitar when there are Tenor Banjos???? Second back in the 50s when Electric Guitars arrived in Ireland one could often hear a Showband playing reels and jigs on them, in fact these guys perfected the practice long long before Mr Mc Manus was hatched.

As a replacement for the Piano maybe, but guess what it will never be better than.

Sessions and attitudes. If there is a resident Queen and mediocre Fiddlers who think they are nearly as good as the great names then the best thing to do is leave.

Look for beginners and students who usualy play livlier and enjoy themselves, a session should not be a pain in the posterior! No matter how good or bad you happen to be never ever be intimidated by mean spirited Fidders etc. Remember the Guitar has earned more money on it's own than all the rest of the instrument family put together. You can always leave and start your own singsong!

Since I grew up in a Trad home I know all the angles here there is always the day when nobody has any interest in Trad, is that today? Hummm.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: SlickerBill
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 04:58 PM

Terrific thread. A couple of questions:

1. Can anyone suggest a good instructional book on guitar and Irish music? Or web site perhaps. i mean, you can do the web search thing, butit's tough to zero in on the good instructional stuff. I'm very interested in expnding my playing vocabulary in this way, particularly for fiddle accompaniment.

2. Perhaps a bit of drift here, but likewise any materials useful in learning fiddle accompaniment for cape Breton music ( Richard Wood, Natalie McMaster, etc.), which to my ear, while owing much to the Irish tradition, seems to have taken it along a different path, particularly with the predominance of the piano in many pieces.

Cheers, SB


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 05:07 PM

Why would anyone want to play Irish Trad upon an Acoustic Guitar when there are Tenor Banjos????

This weekend I attend a festival session where there were two (count them two) tenor banjos, playing only chords. The dull 'chopping' noise could be heard on just about every tune.

Why would anyone want to play chords on a tenor banjo when there are acoustic guitars?


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: beachcomber
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 05:35 PM

^There are several books on using guitar with, and in, traditional music SlickerBill, one that I have(somewhere)is titled something like DADGAD tuning for Traditional music. I bought it several years ago. (Kind of vague I know but it may jog someone else in to a posting.

beach


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 05:46 PM

Slickerbill, one of the best out there is called "Irish Traditional Guitar Accompaniment" by Gavin Ralston. All of these books use alternate tunings. This one uses dropped D. In Irish "Trad" style tunes (as opposed to songs, which Alice is focused on), the rythm is is critically important. It is where the so called "Celtic Rock" bands blow it. Introducing new instruments into the music of our people is not a new idea, it has been going on over the whole history of the tunes. But there are some things that are characteristics of the music, and the unique 6/8 and 9/8 strums are part of that.

HERE> is the Elderly page on that book by Gavin Ralston. It is first class.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 05:50 PM

"back in the 50s when Electric Guitars arrived in Ireland one could often hear a Showband playing reels and jigs on them, in fact these guys perfected the practice long long before Mr Mc Manus was hatched.

I would take serious issue with the choice of the verb "perfected " .

My main beef with the guitar in Irish music is the constant brain numbing STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM STRUMSTRUMSTRUM

I mean, have these guitar players never heard of fingerpicking? One would have thought that harpers would have influenced guitarists, but it seems that is not so.

One of the more unpleasant evenings I have ever endured was spent listening to the sublime fiddle of Martin Hayes being totally trashed by the crass chord thumping of Denis Cahill.

Talk about the Emperor's new clothes ...

Murray


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Alice
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 07:01 PM

Just a note, when I take the guitar to the sessions I don't use it to accompany songs. I use it to accompany the tunes, which of course are reels, jigs, slip jigs, for the most part. I think everyone has to find their own "voice" for their instrument - life would be dull if we all just imitated what famous people do. Some players can use the guitar mainly as percussion, but that's not what I do. My instrument is a classical Martin, so it has a deep warmth but is more harplike and fits an accompaniment style that follows the rhythm but is not another percussion drive - I leave that to the drums. There is more than one way to add a guitar to the session sound. It's a matter of taste in how well it works out.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 07:15 PM

Shambles jsut because you happened to be at a festival where the owners of the Tenor Bahjos could not play a tune on them does not mean that one cannot play a reel on one.

See Barney Mc Kenna for further enlightenment.

Murray you are seriously trying to wear the idiot cap! Surprise to me since I associated the Mc Clouds with better things. What the blue blazes has strumming got to do with anything? Heck you could equaly - with more reason in my opinion - say that the pianist on the Coleman and more recent Hunter ( a scot like yourself ) recordings should not have been there.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Neil Comer
Date: 08 Sep 02 - 07:32 PM

Michael, a joint entry from old COVE compatriots, Paul Keenan (Banjo) and Neil Comer (guitar/ vocals) The quality of the player depends on his/her balls and feel for the song/ piece. How often has music been ballsed up in the COVE by technically wonderful musicians who fail to grasp the soul and depth of feeling in Irish music. Its all on the night. Forget Cooney and McGlynn. Were juts as good.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 03:47 AM

sorefingers, my point is that Irish music (and I do mean reels and jigs) is far better served by fingerpicked guitar accompaniment similar to what a competent harper would provide rather than the monotonous strumming technique of Denis Cahill et al.

Listen to Martin Simpson, Al Petteway or Tony McManus for an example of what I mean.

Murray


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Declan
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 05:36 AM

Murray,

I think I know what you mean about the strumming. I tend to fingerpick mostly, especially on reels to try to emulate the rhythm of the tune, not the basic 4/4 rhythm but the rhythm within the notes of the tune. I'm not too sure how to express this properly, but there's more to it than a dum-chuck rhythm, all though this can sound great when well executed, particularly I think behind Scots and Shetland music. I saw a band called Filska from Shetland during the summer and their guitar player (whos name was Tulloch I think) was obviously influenced to some extent by Peerie Willie, but had some good ideas of his own - well worth a listen.

I have to thoroughly disagree with you about Denis Cahill's playing however. Denis employs a hugely diverse range of ideas and techniques when playing with Martin Hayes. This particular duo have, I think a slightly different type of musical relationship than the standard melody player/backer approach. It seems to me that what they do is worked out to allow both instruments to complement each other, in fact at times (shock horror) I would say that the fiddle is backing thhe guitar rather than the other way round.

You're as entitled to your opinion of this as I am, but I have to say what Denis does works for me and provides another set of ideas to be listened to and encorporated into any guitar players repertoir - but I wouldn't like to live in a world of Martin/Denis clones either.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 06:12 AM

Neil and Paul

I doubt there was lubrication on the job before you posted that effort. Hope yiz are keepin rightly Mick


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 07:53 AM

I don't often disagree with anything that Murray posts. He is a wonderful and knowledgeable contributor hereabouts for many years. But I think he is off the mark on this one. Denis Cahill is a diverse and talented player. His work with Hayes is a touchstone on accompaniment in this genre. I feel that one is entitled to that which they personally find appealling. But in the accompaniment of the tunes, many styles are used to do it properly. There are times when the fingerstyles are appropriate and times when the strong rythm's are appropriate. One of the finest accompanists playing today is Pat Broaders of a band called bohola. He will vary his stylings throughout based on what is needed.

The simple fact is that trad music today is being played with a set of instruments that are very different than at times in the past. In the determination of whether something is "trad" or not, it is the music that is the determining factor more than it is the instruments. I am quite sure I could take a Gibson Les Paul Special and use it to accompany trad music with a respectable result. I am also sure that no matter how I tried, Inna Gadda Da Vida aint going to come out trad. It might be interesting on the harp, 'zouk, bodhran (hahahahha), flute, fiddle, squeeze box, and guit, but it ain't gonna be trad.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 08:51 AM

In that case Murray I agree with you, this method brought about the early 3 Finger Uppicking style on 5 string Banjo and ultimately Bluegrass.

There are a few players today using melodic tunings on Guitar who play Hoedown which is close to Celtic Polka and Reel, so it can be done. However if asked to gig with Celtic Fiddle etc I would employ the basic pick and strum backing, but I do not nor would I ever chop like some do today; morover so overdone and requiring so little skill we often hear genius smothered by noise.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 09:34 AM

Shambles jsut because you happened to be at a festival where the owners of the Tenor Bahjos could not play a tune on them does not mean that one cannot play a reel on one.

No indeed and I played many such reels there on my tenor banjo, a worthy instrument. I just would never strum chords on it.

One of the two players I mentioned did play a melody once, and he played it very well. So it was a little of a mystery why he insisted on playing chords, especially when the other chap was already doing this.

Dennis Cahill's playing with Martin Hayes is fine by me too.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Alice
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 10:45 AM

Mick you have me smiling, because an excellent hammered dulcimer player in our session has at times injected humor into a silent gap by launching into Inna Gadda Da Vida (baby!). Never fails to get everyone laughing.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Slickerbill
Date: 09 Sep 02 - 05:17 PM

Hey Mick, thanks for the title. Cheers. SB


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Sep 02 - 11:22 AM

As a guitar palyer I confess to being a little jealous of the melody makers but your post has enlightened me to a few of my obvious failings. More meekish in future, thanks alot!


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Gypsy
Date: 27 Jan 03 - 10:56 PM

Regards to Big Mick.....you haven't lived until you've heard irish music in middle eastern tuning.........such as little begger man! Anyway, i am a fool, and should've found this thread and refreshed it, instead of starting a new one. Thanks to Declan for the heads up and words of wisdom


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 06:19 AM

Great thread. Mooman is only one of several very talented people around here who pluck various kinds of strings on both melody and backing with great taste and, where appropriate, restraint. Our sessions are, however, sometimes invaded by people who might be good guitarists but clearly haven't grasped what Irish trad music is about.

Coincidentally, just today, one of the denizens of Chiff and Fipple has just put up a web page on DADGAD designed to help people who want to learn. It's all Greek to me, but looks convincing. Haven't had time to listen to the sound samples yet for positive confirmation. It's here.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: MartinRyan
Date: 28 Jan 03 - 06:32 AM

Heard some wonderful music at a session last weekend. Two fiddles, button accordion and guitar. Don't think they'd ever played together before. To my ears, the guitar player was as near perfect as I've heard in such circumstances. Great time, plenty of chordal variety without distracting from the tunes - he just kept the energy level going without forcing it.

But...... that was so unusual as to be worth comment.

Regards


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,a banjo player
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 11:19 PM

i read most of what you hac wroitten and being a 'serious musician' i find you to be a pompous ass. I am 'ta;ented at the banjo and i try to be good to anyone learning an instrument. I realize that some people may not be eric claptons but i've picked up a storm with a many not so good rythym guitarists. I believe that if your not in it for the fun of music and the thrill of creating, than you should quit. Too many people become pompous and think they are the best. True knowledge is to admit to know nothing. I am a damn fast picker but i still will jam with beginners. Afterall todays beginners are tomorrows pros


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 19 Oct 04 - 09:19 AM

When at the computer keyboard, try placing the banjo to one side - it will improve your fingering greatly.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,divilthebit
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 07:19 AM

Just thought I'd throw this one back into the mix!!


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Big Mick
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 08:25 AM

Glad you did, divilthebit. I just reread it top to bottom and find it to be one of the better discussions we have had. Thanks for bringing it round again.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: number 6
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 08:46 AM

Most thanks divilthebit for reviving this!!

Never stop learning or listening for new ideas · The tune is all!


sIx


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Amos
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 09:46 AM

This is a wonderful thread, of the sort that makes the Cat what it is at its best; thanks to all of you for your thoughts.

A


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 07:38 PM

I think there is an interesting contrast between the retrospectivity of this thread, and the emphasis on change in the thread on English folk.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 11:17 AM

I suppose that retrospectivity comes from the solid and almost deified deified 70's!!


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 16 Apr 05 - 04:25 PM

I've tried to create a link to another relevant thread. Hope it works.
thread.cfm?threadid=75225&messages=79#1319023


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Cromdubh
Date: 16 Apr 05 - 05:25 PM

Any instrument played with respect for Irish Music should be welcome.

I`m aware of purists being apposed to guitars in sessions. Why?

Stated earlier many accepted instruments were at one time imported strange things, adopted and added to the flavour of Irish music.

I`m a bass player and I`ve recently bought a battery powered amp. Until now I was unable to physically join a session. Now I would love to take part and learn how the play Irish music.

I know there will be sessions I won`t be welcome. I won`t make a scene and sit, listen and hopefully learn.

But I hope I won`t always be on the outside of something I love.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: skarpi
Date: 16 Apr 05 - 05:38 PM

Vá , this is a great thread, there has been many bands from Ireland
and all of them has one or two guitar´s , I have not yet heard of any band yet, who play with out a guitar who had come to Iceland that is folk music..


In my band we have four guitars only two guitar players and Helgi
coult be alone playing but sometimes it´s good to have some rythm
in the back ( right )and it is not always just ( strum, strum ,strum and strum ) sometimes it sounds very great.I my self play guitar´s
both six and twelve string and a Bodhrán .

The chieftains is a band without guitar and it sounds great,
Lunasa have guitar and it´s sounds even better, it´s great either way it is , but in some songs it´s good to leave the guitar out.

Micheal thank you for this , this is what Mudcat is for

All the Best Skarpi Iceland.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 16 Apr 05 - 09:44 PM

I was interested to learn from Malcolm's post of several years ago that the guitar was popular in English and Scottish 'traditional' music in the 18th century. Now consider that there are references to fiddle and banjo sessions from the late 18th/early 19th century in North America, though the guitar was not commonly used in the US together with fiddle and banjo until the early 20th/late 19th(?)century. And now think of the all the music that has been made on both sides of the Atlantic with the guitar-fiddle-banjo line-up during the last 50-75 years. It's almost as though that particular combination was lying around waiting to happen. More evidence of the reciprocal relationship between British-Irish and American folk music.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Apr 05 - 10:42 PM

One important qualification: that's material that we now think of as "traditional"; at the time most of it probably wasn't, though old songs were already being gentrified in Scotland, something that didn't happen in England or Ireland until quite a bit later. The guitar was a fashionable parlour instrument, not the mass-appeal thing it eventually became. It probably enjoyed a vogue in Irish polite society too, but that isn't something I know about.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 12:56 AM

Now this is definately thread-drift, but it may be important. While looking up something else, I stumbled across an article in which the author argued that printers William and Cluer Dicey marketed 'old ballads' to a lower middle-class and working class audience (that's probably not the right term, but nothing else comes to mind at the moment). The author was Dianne Dugan and she argued that the Diceys borrowed heavily from James Roberts' A Collection of Old Ballads. She insists:

"...the ballad revival was not confined to the 'sophisticated level'...but in fact flourished on the popular level as well.... The fact is, ordinary people...purchased ballads marketed explicitly for their historical and antiquarian value."
Dianne Dugan, "The Popular Marketing of 'Old Ballads': The Ballad Revival and Eighteenth-Century Antiquarianism Reconsidered," Vol. 21, No. 1 (Autumn, 1987), p. 72.

And while has nothing directly to do with the guitar in British-Irish-American folk music, it does offer an interesting perspective on past folk revivals and the role of commerce in middle- and working-class culture.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 12:58 AM

And I should have mentioned this was in the mid-18th century, and that the 'old ballads' sought after were of 17th century mint.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 04:24 AM

And I should also have mentioned that Dianne Dugan's article was published in a journal called Eighteenth Century Studies.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 04:52 AM

Cromdubh, forget it. If you start briging an amplifier to traditional Irish sessions you are going to fuck them up. Sorry to be negative but as of now, how much Irish traditional music do you actually know? How much have you sat down and listened to at home for pleasure without wondering whether there is a place for you in it? If the answer is 'lots', then by all means give it a go. If the answer is 'not much but I know what I like' then you've got some homework to do. If you really want to do something useful with an electric bass in traditional music then get yourself into a dance band.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 06:55 AM

Cromdubh, forget it. If you start briging an amplifier to traditional Irish sessions you are going to fuck them up.

If the player does not think that their instrument or the style in which they play is loud enough - the answer is to change their instrument or their style - never to bring in amplification.

Out of choice - I would play bouzouki at sessions. Howver, for carrying the melody it is not loud enough to be heard among lots of other instruments or in a big or crowded venue. So as a compromise I play tenor banjo for the melody and bouzouki for the chords.

Despite it being advertised as an 'unamplified celebration of the folk tune- - I find myself not only competing on a regular basic with one amplifier (for a bass guitar) but another regular - (who also has and plays tenor banjo) who insists on adding yet another amplifier in order to play melody on (amplified) mandola.

On a bad night in the course of a noisy evening - the two of them compete and turn-up their levels and at by the end of the evening - all that can be heard are the bass and (amplified) mandola. Do I now leave my banjo at home and take my amplifier as well - before the fiddle players decide to amp-up as well?

No amplified instruments do have their role to play - but NEVER at sessions. For if you accept one (say for a bass) you then have to accept them all...........

The ironic thing is that the chap who now insists on bringing his amp - once started a come-all-ye session where a chap welding his loudly amplified Stratocaster turned-up and treated us to the entire Jimi Hendrix back catalogue - while the rest of us listened and clapped..........

If you accepted an amplified acoustic guitar picking out melodies - it would be rather difficult to excude and Heavy Metal thrashers who also decided to entertain you.......


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 09:46 AM

Buy an Acoustic Bass Guitar


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 17 Apr 05 - 08:32 PM

I`m a bass player and I`ve recently bought a battery powered amp. Until now I was unable to physically join a session. Now I would love to take part and learn how the play Irish music.
I know there will be sessions I won`t be welcome. I won`t make a scene and sit, listen and hopefully learn.
But I hope I won`t always be on the outside of something I love.


If you took your bass and amp - but made it clear that you were also going to take and use headphones - so that only you would be able to hear your playing - I am sure that no one would object to this.........

There is always the option of a double bass.......


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 12:48 PM

I'm no expert, just a dumb Yank, but during my one week in Ireland two years ago, I was surprised at how many amplified instruments I observed at supposedly traditional venues.

My relatives brought me to a truly authentic, locals-only, ceili where the band used a modern drum kit and electric keyboard. I suppose this underlines what was said earlier, that if one wanted to use an electric bass in Irish traditional music he should look into a dance band.

At Gus O'Connor's pub in Doolin, a supposed Mecca of traditional music, the fiddlers had pickups and one guy played an electric piano as a bass (one-fingered). The only unamplified instrument was the bodhran, and it was barely audible.

I suppose O'Connor's is too famous now to be as "authentic" as an obscure session in a small-town pub where everyone knows each other. Certainly, on the August weeknight when we visited, it was so crowded that the musicians would not have been heard without amplification. However, the tunes certainly sounded entirely traditional to my untutored ear, and were probably quite authentic in some sense even if the presentation (the amplification and, to some extent, the instrumentation) was a bit modernized.

So, it would seem to me that there must be some oppportunites for our friend to add some appropriately-modulated electric bass to sessions featuring basically-traditional Irish music. He's just got to pick his spots.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 02:40 PM

There are gigs (dances) and there are sessions. It is not always obvious to strangers in Ireland what to expect and very easy to get confused.

There was certainly no amplification at the traditional session where we played last year in Kilfenora........There was a guitar.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Stu
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 03:15 PM

As a bouzouki player of not great ability who loves the music, I am glad to have caught this thread, which I must have missed last time around.

I have always really enjoyed Donal Lunny's percussive style of bouzouki playing, and learnt some of my stuff from the Gerry McKee tutorial CD (www.madfortrad.com). I have always had trouble emulating the flatpicking style of accompaniment, probably it only really works if you know the tune inside out, and I am not sure of exactly what I am supposed to be doing.

Plenty of food for thought in this thread!


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Cromdubh
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 03:33 PM

I have no intention of forgetting about it. I bought the amp before I left for South America to travel for a year. Just before I left I did manage to join a few sessions. A session with Eoin O'Neill in Ennis and downstairs in the Craine Bar in Galway.

I approached them and simply asked and made it very easy for them to tell he it was not suitable. They didn't. The amp is small and tucked under my stool, you wouldn't know it was there. As for it's volume, it's just loud enough to be bearly heard.

Now these were relaxed enough sessions and were not strictly purist and I wouldn't expect to just in such a session.

I just want to learn and play Irish music with my choosen instrument.

Acoustic Bass guitars don't work and I can't afford a double bass.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 07:45 PM

Good for you, Cromdubh!

A double bass would not only be a huge additional expense, but would be exceedingly bulky and unweildy in a crowded pub environment. And I think you're right about those acoustic bass guitars (although there are one or two acoustic bass players hereabouts who would argue that point).

You seem to have the right approach: ask first, and be discreet with your amp, in terms of both volume and visibility. The purest of the purists will tell you no thanks, but you can still listen and learn at their sessions. Plenty of other musicians will give you a chance; assuming that you exhibit a degree of taste and discretion, they'll welcome you back.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 19 Apr 05 - 09:02 AM

Sorry folks, but it's not really about amps or no - it's about ear, touch and balance.

I know of "musicians" without amps who feel they have to stamp all over the mix in whatever way they can. I also know of one particular musician who makes beautiful music with or without an amp in any setting, and with a variety of instruments, right or left handed, right side up or upside down - makes no difference - he's just very special.

He plays a bass guitar (with amp) alongside acoustic un-amped players and his contribution is so sweet you want to bottle it and take it away with you.

So to you Cromdubh, I'd say IF you've "got the music in you" (you have the instinct for ear,touch and balance as a natural given) then go and join those sessions and add some magic to the blend. Your eyes and ears will soon tell you if you've achieved synergy.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,cromdubh
Date: 19 Apr 05 - 04:17 PM

Thanks Poppagator and Jim.

I´m not the sort to impose myself on anybody´s session. I play very suble and soft bass and prefer to play along with acoustic instruments. The 20 watt amp, merely makes my electric bass an acoustic instrument too.

As a bass player I see my role is to not take away from any other musican, only to add some depth to the sound.

Irish music is my music and I want to get better and better at it. I love the bass as an instrument and maybe I´m wrong not picking up a fiddle or flute, but I feel at this stage in my life I could only ever get to master one instrument; the one I picked up ten years ago. The bass. There is a place for it in Irish Music, at least in some sessions.

I know the importance of taking the pure form of the music alive and safe for the future. My experience is the best Irish Musicans have respect for the pure form, but that doesn´t stop them having fun with the music and trying new things. They could play something experimental, then return and play a time honoured tune brilliantly.

Every tune was new at one time, every instrument was introduced for the first time, at one stage. The people then didn´t care if the instrument was traditional or not, they just wanted to play music, if not they lilted, danced and sang.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Apr 05 - 04:35 PM

If a Greek instrument, the bouzouki, could "become" Irish so easily within the span of a decade or two, why is there such controversy over the bass, let along the common guitar?


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: The Shambles
Date: 20 Apr 05 - 02:04 AM

If a Greek instrument, the bouzouki, could "become" Irish so easily within the span of a decade or two, why is there such controversy over the bass, let along the common guitar?

Not too sure that there is any - involving any instrument in traditional Irish music. Whatever that is?

There are just some practical difficulties in amplified instruments in sessions.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Brendy
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 04:25 AM

I was kicked out of Comhaltas for 3 months for playing an A7 on a run down from Em to D.

I was about 13 at the time, and was told in no uncertain terms the we'll have 'None of that oul' Bothy Band stuff in here'

By some folks' yardsticks, the only traditional Irish instrument there is, therefore, are a set of bones.

Of course they would have to be Irish bones, I would imagine.

There's 'purists' everywhere.
Don't mind them...

But I would have to ask cromdubh to look a bit closer at the Acoustic Bass.
I played one in a 'Ballad Folk' band at the end of the 70's, and accompanied trad on it, as well.
It is played differently from an Electric one, and it is always the case that the crossover from Electric to acoustic is much harder that if you started out playing the acoustic version of first.

Try the backwards step, cromdubh.
I'm sure, eventually, you'll appreciate the difference.

And not a double (contra) bass!
Not if you go to gigs in a Ford Fiesta......

Oh, God be with the good old days, what?

B.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Brendy
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 04:33 AM

Oddly enough, an uncle of the guy that started this thread, bought the same Bass as mine (Eko Chetro cutaway with nylon strings) not long after I got mine.

Great guitars.
Pity they dont make them any more.

B.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: mooman
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 04:59 AM

Kind words earlier in the thread from An Pluiméir Ceolmhar and I thank him kindly! One does one's best and having grown up "in the tradition" certainly helps!

But since hearing Brendy play guitar at Portaferry I've decided I can't play guitar at all and should stick to my ever-growing family of different-sized eight stringers where I belong! (;>)

BTW Brendy, I travel to Norway occasionally for work...be great to drop in for a tune or two if I'm up your way!

BTW (and off topic a little) Mudcat meetups are for sharing knowledge and tips with fellow 'Catters (some will know what I mean!)

Peace

moo


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Chris B (Born Again Scouser)
Date: 22 Apr 05 - 06:36 AM

Cromdubh, I take it all back. You're obviously one of the good guys. Careful with that amp, though.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Apr 05 - 10:41 AM

What a fine, informative thread this is. I'm not knowingly familiar with the playing of some of the players mentioned above like Steve Cooney, Dennis Cahill and Chris Newman. Can anyone recommend some favorite recordings?
Also, there used to be a player in the Miami, FL area who backed up the fiddler James Kelly who had an interesting style. It's been some 15 odd years since I saw them last but anyone remember him. I think he played an archtop? vl


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,van lingle
Date: 24 Apr 05 - 10:59 AM

That's me at 10:41 a.m.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: kanevoices
Date: 24 Apr 05 - 11:42 AM

He is called Paddy Kelligan but James and he no longer play together. James Plays with a range of muscians now from Arty McGlyn to Zan McCleod. Recently he has brought out a brilliant, emotional solo album. He tours through out the year and while at home teaches.

I have played with James a good few times in the past few years. I am a tradtional folk guitarist, Mark Kane, www.markkane.com, kanevoices@yahoo.com, presently working on my first Trad album. Just finished a contemporary song writers album, my own stuff, called Fool'd Dark Evening.

Take care, Mark Kane


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Brendy
Date: 24 Apr 05 - 04:09 PM

No problem mooman. PM in your inbox... :-)

B.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: mooman
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 04:28 AM

Noted and thanks Brendy!

moo


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Kaleea
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 04:55 AM

I came up playing in Ceili Bands in the lower mid-western USA where I was "volunteered" because I could play piano in the old timey boom chuck style. When I picked up the guitar at about 13 or 14, I continued to play the bass lines--but with my thumb on the lower strings. The old fellers demanded that I play the bass lines cause it reminded them of when somebody would be playing the boom chuck Piano in sessions "back home on the Ould Sod," or when the button accordian player played the bass notes on the low chord buttons. I still play guitar in this style, no pick, especially when playing Irish Music. The 6 string has only 2 strings more than the Bass. The walking bass lines are right under your fingers in the chords, which are mostly open chords. It is something to think about if you really love the Music that much & want to be a part of it.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,Declan
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 06:00 AM

Van Lingle,

Steve Cooney can be heard on many recordings often playing bass or Digeridoo. His guitar style is best heard on recordings he made with Co Kerry box player Seamus Begley - who I think have made a number of recordings, one of which is called Meitheal - pronounced sort of like metal with a h instead of a t in the middle.

Denis Cahil has also recorded lots of stuff but is best known in Irish Music for his work with fiddler Martin Hayes - try "Martin Hayes and Denis Cahil live in Seattle".

Chris Newman has likewise done a lot of work in various bands including a stint in Boys of the Lough - although I'm not sure if this line-up recorded anything. Chris can be heard in at least one excellent duet album with harpist Maire Ni Cathasaigh - Not sure of the title.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: michaelr
Date: 25 Apr 05 - 07:07 PM

Maire Ni Chathasaigh (Casey, sister of fiddler Nollaig - THE GODDESS) and Chris Newman, "Out Of Court" (Old Bridge, 1991) and "Live In The Highlands" (Old Bridge, 1995). Great stuff!

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: Pauline L
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 03:11 AM

I'm not a guitarist but I know what I like. I just bought a CD called Celtic Guitar Summit, with guitarists Steve Baughman and Robin Bullock, and I love it. I've been listening to and loving Robin Bullock's music on guitar, bouzouki, fiddle, etc. for years. He used to live in my area and I heard him in person frequently, but he moved to France. I'm glad I got his new CD.


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Subject: RE: The Guitar and Irish Traditional Music
From: GUEST,van lingle
Date: 26 Apr 05 - 05:53 PM

Thanks, for your recommendations, folks and thanks, Mark, for remembering P. Kelligan for me. I used to see him and James Kelly at John Martin's in Miami. vl


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