Jump to content


Photo

Irish Traditional Music on the Duet, Crane, English concertina


  • This topic is locked This topic is locked
43 replies to this topic

#1 David Levine

David Levine

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 967 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Co Clare, Ireland

Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:28 AM

We've gone around and around on the issue of playing traditional Irish music on instruments that are on the fringe of the tradition: concertinas other than the Anglo being the center of intense debate. My point is that playing an Irish tune is not the same thing as playing Irish traditional music. Case in point:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-Fj-1CqhHMk

Is this Irish Traditional Music? I don't think so. I don't care for it, any more than I like hearing an Anglo concertina playing an air, or a Bach violin partita played on the English concertina. It can be done, of course, but it doesn't seem appropriate to me. It doesn't do justice either to the music or to the tradition.

Am I beating a dead horse...?

#2 Theo

Theo

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1421 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Gateshead, England. Land of the Angel of the North!

Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:38 AM

Am I beating a dead horse...?


No, but....

The typical view of what is traditional changes gradually. Traditional music (not just Irish) absorbs new features. In the last century and a bit Irish trad has absorbed the Greek bouzoki, the German concertina, the Italian diatonic accordion, and in earlier times the Italian fiddle. So maybe it won't be too long before it absorbs the American swing band too! :lol:

#3 hjcjones

hjcjones

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 880 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Cheshire, UK

Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:47 AM

In the case in point, I'd entirely agree with you. That isn't Irish traditional music, it's an Irish tune adapted to an entirely different genre. In the same way, Grainger's, Vaughn Williams' or Britten's orchestral arrangements aren't English folk.

Whether or not traditional music can be played satisfactorily on non-traditional instruments is another matter. As Theo has pointed out, the idea of what is a "traditional" instrument depends very largely on what point in time you take. Whether or not it does "justice either to the music or to the tradition" surely depends entirely on how it's played. Whether or not you like it is another thing entirely.

#4 JimLucas

JimLucas

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9183 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 18 October 2010 - 03:59 AM

Am I beating a dead horse...?

No, you're being a troll.



#5 Anglo-Irishman

Anglo-Irishman

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 1251 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Near Stuttgart, Germany

Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:19 AM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-Fj-1CqhHMk

Is this Irish Traditional Music? I don't think so. I don't care for it


David, of course it's not traditional Irish music - where on Earth did you get the idea that it might be? It's absolutely American, through and through. Technically good, professionally slick, and yet catchy - I quite like it (except for the just too American "messages from our sponsor" Posted Image !)

I regard it as a compliment when utterly foreign musicians enjoy arranging our Irish material for their genres. The hallmark of a good tune is how often and how differently it gets arranged!

Cheers,
John

#6 RatFace

RatFace

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 491 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Oxford, England

Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:51 AM

Assigning the label "Irish Traditional Music" is 100% about the label, and not about the music, so what's the point?

#7 michael sam wild

michael sam wild

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2638 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Shireoaks, Notts, UK

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:23 AM

Am I beating a dead horse...?


Don't you mean a bodhran B)


I think it's only a amtter of time and a sensitive adoption and adaption of any new instrument into a tradition.

I just read of an article on melodeons 'Mass produced for profit by foreigners and played by peasants'
That could apply to so many instruments and cultures from 17th C Italian fiddles and English flutes like you must have played ,to Yamaha guitars

Edited by michael sam wild, 20 October 2010 - 04:29 AM.


#8 Randy Stein

Randy Stein

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 490 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Washington, DC

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:31 AM

We've gone around and around on the issue of playing traditional Irish music on instruments that are on the fringe of the tradition: concertinas other than the Anglo being the center of intense debate. My point is that playing an Irish tune is not the same thing as playing Irish traditional music. Case in point:

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-Fj-1CqhHMk

Is this Irish Traditional Music? I don't think so. I don't care for it, any more than I like hearing an Anglo concertina playing an air, or a Bach violin partita played on the English concertina. It can be done, of course, but it doesn't seem appropriate to me. It doesn't do justice either to the music or to the tradition.

Am I beating a dead horse...?

First...your example is Lawrence Welk for goodness sake. He was an arranger and band leader of a very stylized music in America. I remember watching the show with my mother as a child in the 50's.
However I did and do play Bach, Kreisler, Joplin, Gershwin, Ellington among others as well as Irish, French, Tango,Gypsy, Jazz, Classical, Traditional, Folk....shall I go on? As a musician who plays the EC I find I can play any style of music I wish. Some translate perfect, sometimes it is a novelty, and sometimes it hardly works. I play ITM but would not classify myself as either Irish or a traditionalist. So are you defining the person playing or the type of music played? The arrangements? The mates and establishment one plays with and at? The instrument one plays?
By the way, I play a mean Bach Concerto in A minor.
rss



#9 Boney

Boney

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 685 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bellingham, WA

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:49 AM

To really master any style, you need a great ear, lots of practice, and access to high-quality source material. That's true for rock music, Irish traditional music, Jazz music, Classical music, or even learning a new language. Some people will be able to perform excellently, and others will fall short, or retain some of their native "accent." I think this has very little to do with the instrument. Yes, an instrument with a sound far outside the tradition will be difficult to bring in -- you won't have the "source material" to emulate directly. But a duet or English concertina could easily be used to play Irish traditional music that would satisfy the pickiest critic. Yes, it's certainly easier to emulate existing players using an Anglo, and there may be some advantage to the diatonic layout. But if Mícheál Ó Raghallaigh or Noel Hill were motivated to try their hand at English or duet, clearly they'd be able to play convincing traditional music on it in short order.

I think the main issue is that no professional-caliber player of duet or English concertina (that I know of) has specialized and immersed themselves in the Irish tradition in the way many Anglo players have. But there are also plenty of "dabblers" in Irish music who play Anglo, and I'm sure it's just as grating to a purist as a dabbler playing a duet or English. It really has little to do with the instrument, and almost everything to do with skill and intention.

#10 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3952 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:West Coast of Clare, Ireland

Posted 18 October 2010 - 02:17 PM

We've gone around and around on the issue of playing traditional Irish music on instruments that are on the fringe of the tradition: concertinas other than the Anglo being the center of intense debate.


Historically, Irish traditional music was most usually played (along the straight row) on very inexpensive two-row German concertinas, and some of the elderly players of those have been known to say that they dislike the sharper sound of the "English" (by which they mean English-made "Anglo") concertinas - I know one of them still today, in Kilrush, though he's now in his 90s. But in fact, people tended to play whatever they could get their hands on and I know of numerous instances of people playing traditional music (in Ireland, and even in North Clare) on English concertinas (and winning an All-Ireland on one too!), or on a small MacCann duet at sessions (in Manchester, in the early '70s).

But then a certain young wizard came along, and suddenly his "method", on the Anglo, was the only way to go...


My point is that playing an Irish tune is not the same thing as playing Irish traditional music.


But Irish music can be played extremely effectively on instruments that are totally alien to "the tradition", as I think this YouTube clip powerfully demonstrates:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asLxqOV0rbQ

You should have seen the piper, Michael Falsey, stand mesmerised in my shop listening to Dan play (during the Willie Clancy Week - you can see the two of them for yourself in this photo), and hence my comment "they're pipes Michael, but not as we know them..." ;)

Edited to add note about Michael Falsey

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 20 October 2010 - 01:15 PM.


#11 David Levine

David Levine

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 967 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Co Clare, Ireland

Posted 18 October 2010 - 02:37 PM

I have seen that clip before, and it is impressive. But I didn't say that Irish music - if by that you mean Irish tunes, or more specifically, tunes within the Irish tradition - couldn't or shouldn't be played on instruments other than those which are at the center of the tradition today. Sure, anybody can play an Irish tune on whatever he wants. That music, however, will not necessarily be Irish Traditional Music as we appreciate it today. That is the point of the Lawrence Welk clip.

It is the present tradition that concerns us, that to which the tradition has evolved, rather than what it has left behind - such as old German concertinas. Those are of interest to historians, as historians, rather than to musicians, as musicians. It is possible that in time the saxophone, or the khene, will establish itself within the tradition. At present, At the Racket and Michel Bonamy notwithstanding, the sax, like the English concertina, the khene, and the old German two-row, are on the fringes rather than at the center of the tradition.

Edited by David Levine, 18 October 2010 - 02:40 PM.


#12 jggunn

jggunn

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 163 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:davis, california

Posted 18 October 2010 - 02:37 PM

Come on David, if you were really a stickler about what instrument should play Irish music on the basis of its indigenous character, it would not be a concertina at all but rather a harp or fiddle. The music is not a prisoner of the instrument that most characteristically plays it. We can all have different opinions about what instrument is best for any particular kind of music - and some have argued on this forum (m3838, ratface) that the violin or cello is clearly best maybe all around, but I think one would be hard pressed to make the case that what Randy Stein does or what ratface does on the English is not in many respects better than most people could do with any other instrument and with any type of music. Using the example of Lawrence Welk is really not fair either to the point in question or to Welk.

#13 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3952 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:West Coast of Clare, Ireland

Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:42 PM

I have seen that clip before, and it is impressive. But I didn't say that Irish music - if by that you mean Irish tunes, or more specifically, tunes within the Irish tradition - couldn't or shouldn't be played on instruments other than those which are at the center of the tradition today. Sure, anybody can play an Irish tune on whatever he wants. That music, however, will not necessarily be Irish Traditional Music as we appreciate it today.


Yep! It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it... :)


It is the present tradition that concerns us, that to which the tradition has evolved, rather than what it has left behind - such as old German concertinas. Those are of interest to historians, as historians, rather than to musicians, as musicians.


Tell that to Johnny Connolly, next time he picks up his "outdated" melodeon to play for "outdated" sean-nós dancing! I've heard Irish people disparagingly call the latter "the Connemara shuffle", years ago, but now it's all the rage and bigger than it ever was (there are even competions on Irish television).

Nostalgia has long been a part of "the tradition" and who knows but the German concertina might yet make a comeback, whilst we are still fortunate enough to still have some surviving players of it - it would be very premature to declare it extinct!


It is possible that in time the saxophone, or the khene, will establish itself within the tradition. At present, At the Racket and Michel Bonamy notwithstanding, the sax, like the English concertina, the khene, and the old German two-row, are on the fringes rather than at the center of the tradition.


I'll grant you that the Anglo concertina is probably now much more popular than it ever has been in Irish traditional music. It was itself a rare and peripheral instrument when I first got involved in the music, 40 years ago, but "at the center of the tradition"? :huh: I don't think so!

The Saxophone has been around the scene as long as the Anglo, but usually only in dance bands/dance halls, though it has been played by some great traditional flute players, such as Josie McDermott.

Edited to expand comment about German concertina

Edited by Stephen Chambers, 20 October 2010 - 08:52 AM.


#14 Stephen Chambers

Stephen Chambers

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3952 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:West Coast of Clare, Ireland

Posted 18 October 2010 - 04:45 PM

Come on David, if you were really a stickler about what instrument should play Irish music on the basis of its indigenous character, it would not be a concertina at all but rather a harp or fiddle.


Except the only "indigenous" instruments are actually the harp and the pipes, though both have since changed beyond recognition, but not the "Italian" fiddle! ;)

#15 JimLucas

JimLucas

    Ineluctable Opinionmaker

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 9183 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 18 October 2010 - 05:43 PM

We've gone around and around on the issue of playing traditional Irish music on instruments that are on the fringe of the tradition: concertinas other than the Anglo being the center of intense debate. My point is that playing an Irish tune is not the same thing as playing Irish traditional music.

If that is really your (main? only?) point, then what's your purpose in trying to (re?)start the debate? I doubt that anyone involved in the previous discussions disagrees with that statement. What they/we have disagreed with is your assertions regarding what particular examples of tune playing do or do not reasonably reflect/represent Irish musical traditions. Some of us have also taken exception to your attitude of assuming the role of ultimate authority regarding what may and may not be considered "acceptable", particularly when your opinions are at odds with opinions I have heard expressed by individuals such as Packy Russell (RIP), Tim Collins, and others.

Case in point:
http://www.youtube.c...h?v=-Fj-1CqhHMk

No, it's a case entirely beside the point, because of the following...

Is this Irish Traditional Music? I don't think so.

Nor does anyone who has replied to you in this thread said they think so. Nor, I suspect, any of those who have argued against you in previous threads. Neither does Lawrence Welk. He says it's "Irish music", meaning "tunes", but not suggesting "traditional style", since he clearly says (just after 1' 20" into the video) that they're doing it "in the 'champagne' style."

I don't care for it...

It's not my preferred listening, either, though far better (IMO) than many a "Taste of Ireland" (shamrock tea, anyone?) compilation. One might actually be able to dance part of a set to it, if nothing better was available.

...any more than I like hearing an Anglo concertina playing an air...

I've found some performances of airs on the anglo quite pleasing. Others not. But that goes for just about any instrument and type of music.

...or a Bach violin partita played on the English concertina.

Who did you hear do that? I myself am quite partial to baroque music for violin, flute, etc. on the concertina, if it's done well. And I have heard it done both well and poorly.

It can be done, of course, but it doesn't seem appropriate to me.

Here I think we're getting to your real position and its basis: It's not about how the music sounds, but a priori assumptions about what "seems appropriate" in your belief system. As to how those beliefs evolved, I won't hazard a guess.

It doesn't do justice either to the music or to the tradition.

I'm not convinced that having David Levine as both judge and jury does superior justice.

Edited to add a bit more precision to some of my comments.


Edited by JimLucas, 19 October 2010 - 03:59 AM.


#16 danersen

danersen

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 213 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 18 October 2010 - 09:51 PM

Love the Dancers' costumes ... even if only in black and white.
Shall I assume that they are various and multiple shades of green?

And how about that dancing?
Just how traditional/authentic are those steps?

Edited by danersen, 18 October 2010 - 09:59 PM.


#17 shaunw

shaunw

    Chatty concertinist

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 102 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:London, England

Posted 19 October 2010 - 08:02 PM

The Anglo German concertina is not a traditional Irish instrument.
It was adopted into Irish music in the 19th Century just because
it was cheap. At the time many people objected to its use. They
felt that it cheapened the sound of Irish music.

The most suitable concertina for Irish music is the English
because it has the same range as a violin, a traditional Irish
instrument.

I dislike the use of the Anglo concertina in Irish music, it
gives an unnatural false oompa oompa sound to the music but
perhaps this is just because it is so often used by unskilled
players. You have to remember that in any form of music
there is good and bad music and that applies to Irish
Traditional music as well. Just because some old man in Clare
has been paying the Anglo concertina since 1955 which may be
before you were born, that doesn't make him an important
part of the tradition. He may be a lousy musician.

Irish music did not start in 1850, it existed long before
this and O'Carolan never heard an Anglo concertina or a melodian
or a harmonica.

In the end there are people who love music and people who love
Irish music and because they love Irish music they want to preserve
it and to continue it.

Then there are people who are part of ITM. For these people Irish
music is a dead historic thing which can never change because all
change is bad, they think like this because they are also dead,
brain dead at least.

Let us thank God that O'Carolan wasn't a part of ITM if he
was he would never have written a single tune.

#18 Boney

Boney

    Heavyweight Boxer

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPip
  • 685 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Bellingham, WA

Posted 19 October 2010 - 09:35 PM

Irish music did not start in 1850, it existed long before this and O'Carolan never heard an Anglo concertina or a melodeon or a harmonica.

He loved the khaen, though.




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users