Hi, all -
I've been developing my style (Irish on the English) for about 6 years now and while a lot of my "discoveries" on the way
came out playing a different instrument (= more horisontal space between the buttons), no pinky rests and Anglo-type straps
(not EC-type straps), I realize now that a lot of the "tricks" can be applied to a standard EC.
The basic rule
- when it comes to fingering is "never the same finger twice": there's a lot of ITM phrases that contains and/or
end on the samme two notes. Being a good boy and using the "correct" fingers (index on second and first rows (from
thumb strap), middle finger on third and ring finger on fourth) will lead to a break in the flow on those notes.
A well-known example of this is cross-fingering, of course. ITM has a lot of fifth jumps, which obviously can't be done
with the same (index or middle) finger - it has to be index-middle or middle-index, depending on the side. Or worse: a
fifth jump in Bmin (not the low octave): middle finger on the fourth row (F#) and index on the third ( . Naughty!
Another rule is planning ahead: certain phrases that are played are straight forward with any fingering, can still end on
a button which makes the next button difficult - since it wants the finger you ended with. By using a "wrong" finger a little
earlier, you can end up with "next button"-finger free to go.
The danger, IMHO, of the EC is laziness with the bellows - I mean, it's just air isn't it? ;-). I probably use the bellows as a
bow - most notes are dealt with, with their own bellows pressure, and notes on the beat get an extra whack. I have no
pre-determined pattern of changing bellows direction - certain places, certain phrases seem to have their own preferences
when it comes to that. I don't try to emulate Anglo sound with certain bellows changes, either.
Recommended, inspirational listening, when it comes to bellows dynamics is Mary MacNamara, seeing her is even better.
Cuts, rolls, long rolls, hmmm - long story. There are several ways to do most of them, depending on where in tune, and which
notes - some are straight forward, other more difficult and some impossible.
Whatya mean 'start'?! You just start, yeah?! Try to make it habit to start too slow and let the tune "wind it self up" to a suitable
cruising speed, and use - maybe over-use - bellows dynamics in the wind-up part, to get into "the groove".
Recommended listening: Michaeál Ó Raghallaigh (and not only for the starts!) - I have a clip on YouTube, from a concert
at Éigse Mrs. Crotty 2008, listen to the start of "The Wind that Shakes the Barley":
I learn by ear - in rare cases, I check a tune on session.org, only to find the it isn't really the same. If I fall in love with a
new tune, I brain-wash myself by having it looping in the background for hours and hours. In obscure cases (with an
difficult phrase, I cut the phrase out and slow down until the penny drops. Once you can lilt, hum, whistle the tune, it
becomes much easier to attempt to play it.
Sheet music in all respect - but it is only a skeleton. Even if you learn by sheet music, make sure to find a version to listen
to (even if the version may differ a bit), and do the brain-washing thing.
I could probably come up with examples (tunes, phrases) that illustrates the above, if the interest is there.