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Everything posted by Stiamh

  1. I have just stumbled on this very sad news. I last saw Ralph 30 years ago but remember him well (who wouldn't?) from when we hung around with the same crowd in London for a few years either side of 1980. A musician of rare gifts, and very good company. RIP Ralph and condolences to his partner. Steve Jones
  2. Very nicely put, thank you. Something that ought to be obvious to everybody but clearly isn't.
  3. Bonne année à toi, mon pote! Tell me, would you object if I said your pipes sounded cheerful in a particular performance? Or melancholy? There's more than enough dull literalness in today's speech and writing. I salute any compiler of govt style manuals game to show the odd flash of unbureaucratic colour. Cheers Steve
  4. It is also quite possible that (being a total novice, as you say) he was messing up the music and annoying others by trying to join in without a clue. Getting him to shut the book may have appeared the best way to get him to shut his tina.
  5. I found this today while browsing, for no good reason, through the Style Manual for authors, editors and printers of Australian government publications, Third edition, 1981, which I have had on my shelf since my spell working in publishing in Oz in the early 1980s. The book is a very fine reference, incidentally. The above passage illustrates one of the situations in which the use of semicolons is recommended. Goodness knows whether this intriguing sentence comes from a novel, or is the fruit of an inspired flight of fancy by one of the compilers of the manual. Google won't tell. But I thought you might enjoy it as much as I did.
  6. Will pass on your comments to the organizers. Gearoid is a very busy man these days and I think getting him for even a couple of classes was a bit of a coup, but you never know. To add enticement for Dec 3 - Irish ceili on same night. Always good fun, with a band that when good is very very good and when... well, never mind. Meet the local fauna and practise your French... Experience Québec road maintenance standards at first hand... sample excellent local beers in Montréal's brew pubs... what else can I say.
  7. Gearóid Ó hAllmhuráin will be giving workshops in Montréal on Saturday 3 December 2011. Full details here.
  8. Yeah I know what clip you were referring to, she's pretty impressive! Tell me, are those wrong notes at 1:08 - or a very clever ornament nobody has explained to me? She looks a bit surprised, but then does it again at 1:18, so it must be intentional... Triple phantom button? Have you got it down yet Az? Lovely clip, though, esp. when she goes into the second tune (The New Road, is it?)
  9. A friend of mine, who is learning fiddle with great dedication, has a very assertive personality (in the best sense of the word). At a summer school few years ago she was in the same situation as Alan's struggling concertinist, practising a tune somewhere, when a stranger passing by stopped and offered a couple of suggestions. She politely but firmly let him know that she had a teacher and that his advice was neither necessary nor welcome. Next time she saw the man he was on stage at an evening concert. It was James Kelly... She later apologised to him, but it appears James had been more amused than offended, and they had a good chuckle over the incident.
  10. I bet I know where they got it, because I came across it in a French instruction book for "le diato" (as they call button boxes) while visiting friends of my wife's in France this year. IIRC it was called "Tony Hall's jig", the authors evidently having got it from an early LP by Tony Hall, the brilliant English melodeon player. I have that record, and Tony plays it OK (with Andy Irvine in there somewhere I seem to remember), but I'd bet that most of your locals learnt it from the tablature in the book I saw, or from others who had done so. (A high proportion of French diato players seem to find it very difficult to learn a tune without tablature to tell them what buttons to press )
  11. Yes he called it Caher Rua / Red-haired Charles, and it appears with that name in one of the Bulmer & Sharpley books (which predate that PG album). The Kellys call it "Ceathru Cavan" - the first word looks like a contraction of "Caher Rua".
  12. Listening to album in question as I write this (having digitized the LP, which I bought in about 1980), I can only repeat Geoff's recommendation of it as a very educational record to listen to for anyone who wants to hear the rhythm and pulse of Irish dance tunes stated particularly clearly and very enjoyably. What makes it especially enjoyable to me is that although the rhythm is so clear, the playing is gutsy and dirty - nothing precious about the way the brothers smack you round the head with that beautiful, inescapable swing and pulse. Great playing. So thanks Chris for letting us know that this great record can be had online. PS Here's a clip of the lads with their da playing one of the selections that is on the LP, recorded at about the same time it was released, too.
  13. I just watched the clip, expecting to see Mr. Welk or someone else playing a Crane Duet or an English concertina. Instead I see a bunch of short-sighted clarinetists, apparently cloned, various gurning musicians including a PA player, and at the end a couple of guys prancing around displaying the family jewellery in tights. A case in point? What were you smoking David? I'd say you're not so much flogging a dead horse as milking a bull. However I enjoyed watching the clip, so thanks. I especially liked the iron tonic commercial (I want some) and the bit where the presenter says, "Welcome to the Holid... er, the Diplomat Hotel".
  14. Knowing Geoff, I doubt it was a typo. I don't say that because he never makes a typo, but almost three decades ago he got me listening more carefully to what pipers do in jigs and I seem to remember that 5-2-3 proportion from that time. I'm just chiming in here - and not wishing to preempt any pointers Geoff might add on the subject - to say that, because of my own experience of learning and later teaching, I advise you to beware of "studying" these relative note lengths too intently. I don't think you need to determine their exact proportion in order to learn to play jigs well. Indeed, getting hung up on such nerdy details could very well hinder you from learning to play jigs well. And there is no reason why as a "foreigner", these subtleties will be forever barred to you. I speak as one myself. Anyone can learn to speak a new language with a native accent, or something very close to one, if they listen attentively enough, for long enough, and practice accordingly - listening to themselves in the process. And the same goes for learning Irish music. Listening is the key. I always remember being astounded, in the early 1980s, when I called on an ethnomusicologist I knew. He was writing a PhD thesis on regional styles in Irish fiddling and I found him determining the relative note lengths employed by different players by marking the starts and ends of notes on reel-to-reel tape with a crayon and then measuring their duration with a ruler. I came away struck by the incongruity of somebody knowing so much about these micro-details and yet being next to useless as a fiddler. OK it wasn't his main instrument, but still... In my teaching of Irish music, I've often found that those who like to talk most tend to progress least. To your thanks to Geoff I'd like to add my own, for all that I learned from him all those years ago, and for steering this thread into a profitable direction. Cheers Geoff, and where's the pint icon?
  15. The Excalibur is a 20-button while the Rochelle is a 30-button model. The ad for the Excalibur doesn't say what keys it is available in, either, which would suggest the dealer hasn't much of a clue - even without the nonsense pointed out by Theo.
  16. I'm sure it was Chris Wood who, in an interview in some magazine or other, quoted this joke: Q. What's the difference between yogurt and English traditional music? A. Yogurt is a living culture. (I can repeat this because even if I'm a European mongrel, I was brought up in England and might as well claim to be English as anything else. Don't tell my friends but I have been a Morris musician)
  17. I'm afraid the cat's out of the bag, Shaun, and you aren't going to be able to put it back in. Unless maybe you can convince Noel Hill to stop holding concertina schools in America. And all those famous Irish musicians from teaching at summer schools all over the world. And the organizers of the Willie Clancy school to reject applications from foreigners. And all those musicians and bands from allowing their records to be sold outside Ireland, or accepting fees for performing abroad. In fact you'd better go back in time to the early 1900s and tell all those Irish emigrants to the US not to bring their instruments with them. And those 1950s labourers in London not to invent the pub session. You might as well pretend that Bach belongs to the Germans and only Germans have a right to an opinion as to how Bach should be played. BTW, Brendan Breathnach opined in one of his books that the concertina was "the only musical instrument invented by an Englishman." Kind of shocking that the Irish should have adopted it, isn't it?
  18. The Amish analogy is quite misleading. New instruments have always made their way into the Irish traditional tradition, and styles of playing are changing all the time. But it's an incremental process: for a new instrument to be accepted, somebody has to establish a way of playing it that a significant proportion of the community likes or gradually accepts. And new styles of playing an established instrument will be accepted, provided that people in the tradition like it and a sufficient number of younger players seek to emulate it. (And provided that the person introducing the new style comes from within the tradition as it were, understands the existing musical language. Tommy Peoples could change the face of, or at least introduce a new strand into, Irish fiddle playing; Nigel Kennedy, were he to try, could not. Brian Finnegan is a very gifted musician from inside the tradition who has developed a new style of playing the whistle. You hear some younger players trying to emulate him, but I feel there's a strong chance that most of his innovations will fall by the wayside rather than be absorbed into the tradition.) It would be entirely possible for someone who understands the traditional musical language of ITM to develop a playing style on EC that would be judged acceptable and, if the player's skill were sufficient, admired and emulated. Whether a significant numnber of younger players would get on the bandwagon is another matter, of course. David B mentioned Joanie Madden: her playing and that of quite a few other players of the Boehm flute are considered irreproachable, but that doesn't mean that legions of youngsters are choosing the Boehm flute over the simple-system flute. Tradition is a slow ship to turn, for one thing, and for another people would have to be convinced that the alternative system had sufficient distinct advantages to be a good choice. Rather than being a system that people can succeed in making work despite its inherent disadvantages - like the keyed flute and very possibly the EC. On YouTube you can find a young lad playing Irish reels on a sheng. He pulls it off remarkably well - great rhythm and lift, and I'm sure few traditional players would object to having this young man in a session with them. But this doesn't mean that we can expect to see hordes of young sheng players invading sessions any time soon.
  19. This is the reply I started writing a few minutes ago: "I think this is a bit of a red herring. There is such a huge variation in the way Irish trad. fiddlers use the bow, after all. Whose bowing patterns are you going to try to emulate? You find whatever way you can to get the lift and swing you want out of your instrument. I mean, flute players have a way (many ways, actually) of doing it, and I don't think they worry much about bowing patterns. Pipers have a huge box of tricks that they use to make the music come alive that have nothing to do with fiddling (in fact fiddlers tend to emulate piping techniques far more than the other way around). Button box players do what they can to overcome and exploit the limitations of their instrument." As I was writing that, a little nagging voice in my head reminded of a few things noticed over the years. I learned ITM on tin whistle after playing fiddle for years. At some point I started teaching tin whistle, which forced me to pay a bit more attention to how I did things, and I noticed there were many parallels between the way I articulated certain passages on the whistle (by tonguing) and how I would bow them on fiddle. And that many whistle and flute players did things in exactly this manner. Slurring across beats and bar lines, and isolating the middle note of a group of 3 in jigs, for example. (Mostly I picked up these methods of articulation on whistle unconsciously, by osmosis, but one was shown to me nearly 30 years ago by a certain Geoff W while driving through the Australian back country... (I was driving, he was playing whistle in the passenger seat ).) So there were some parallels between fiddle bowing and articulation on another trad. instrument. (Which came first would be a good subject for a doctorate in ethnomusicology.) With regard to the concertina, I have been struck by how Gearoid O in particular manages to make certain "rocking pedal" passages sound very much like a fiddler would, with a slippy-slidy slurring across the beat feeling. Presumably he exploits cross-rowing to get the bellows changes in the right place to produce this effect. So maybe Azalin's argument isn't so much of a red herring after all, at least not on the micro level of certain distinctive figures, rather than fiddle bowing as a whole. And I can surmise that, were I to attempt Irish music on EC, I would naturally attempt to develop the same kind of swing and articulation as I could on the fiddle. (Whether I would succeed or not is another matter, of course.)
  20. Yes Geoff this thread is entertaining to read. I think that everybody is absolutely correct - from their own point of view. And of course that point of view, not being mine, is necessarily wrong. I jest. I very much like the recent thoughtful posts by david_b and Geoff W, putting things into a perspective a bit broader than "the concertina in Irish music after Noel Hill burst on the scene". On the issue of it being a useless debate, see line 1 above. But I often witness discussions of Irish music on forums such as this one rapidly spiral down into mutual incomprehension from two completely opposing corners, in one of which are ranged the pure-drop true believers, with folkies and the rest of the world in the other corner. (To me it seems that this particular discussion has been held back from the brink by some well-argued contributions.) Now I am usually in the pure-drop corner, but I've been a folkie too, and I can see why the misunderstandings arise. Why the true believers often appear so intolerant, and again why the folkies just don't get it. I have thought of writing a long post about to try to explain what is happening (or even a book?) but I haven't the time, and anyway I think it would be useless. Carry on, everybody.
  21. Larry, the "Maggie" our OP is asking about is a sentimental song unrelated to the tune you link to. The other piece is also a song, so it's hardly surprising you can't find it on thesession.org... CT, the melodies aren't complicated in either case. So if you can't find the dots, they would be as good place as any to start learning by ear.
  22. Did you listen to the end? The last tune was that reel of Richard Dwyer's, The Fox on the Town. I'd be quite surprised if Edel, Kate, Gearoid and all the other players you mentioned objected to that performance.
  23. It's a lovely tune, certainly, and I like it as much or more now than I did when I learned it several decades ago. A propos of which... I don't wish to dampen your enthusiasm in any way BUT be aware that this is one of a large handful of tunes that could be classed as beginner's favourites. This means that people who are just a little way beyond the beginner stage will often be somewhat, er, less enthusiastic about them. Not because they aren't good tunes, but because one hears them everywhere being played by, um, beginners. Once people get a long way beyond the beginner stage they will mostly be happy to play a good tune at any time and with anyone. So carry on playing the Rights of Man, and loving it, but... be aware.
  24. Well, why don't we all try to answer the short version of hyp's question (as the first person to respond did): Here's my attempt: 1. Yes, but not really 2. Yes, but not really
  25. Good point Michael. I do use chords on the r/h, though, even if they are mostly very short ones for the purposes of adding woomph to melody, with slightly longer ones at tune endings. But as a former fiddle player I'm always hankering after the sweeter sound of natural thirds, not to mention those in between "supernatural" Fs and Cs and the slightly flat B naturals so characteristic of the sound of the older Irish fiddle players. Sorry for the non-concertina digression: now back to your normal programming.
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