Jump to content


  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by Mayofiddler

  1. There's a good list and some links here Sticky post
  2. I'm a newbie too. I ordered a Rochelle as folks here advised that it was the best of the cheapos. I'm a bit obsessive when I do things so whilst waiting for the Rochelle to arrive I recklessly ordered a Morse. The Rochelle only arrived two days before the Morse. Not expecting the Morse for a while I plunged straight in with the Rochelle. I found it very breathy/wheezy, with floppy cheap feeling buttons and springs and horrible thin straps that offered no solidity at all. Not to mention the huge size and general ugliness. However, as someone else mentioned, you get what you pay for so I was happy enough realising that it was a rock bottom instrument price-wise. Anyway, the Morse turned up unexpectedly a couple of days later and the difference was so vast it's hard to describe. All I can say is if you want to kick start your playing, get the best you can afford. That is nearly always true of instruments (even though expert players can make a cheap anything sound great). I'm really glad I bought the Morse. Yes, Jeffries layout Anglos are considered best by the majority of players for Irish music. I don't know what is best for English folk music. From what I read here, if you want to play classical stuff you'd need possibly something else again, but others will help there more than I can.
  3. Early 70s heavy rock (Sabbath, Purple, Zep etc.) baroque/classical music and trad Irish dance music. Yes, it was Black Sabbath that got me into concertina...no, something wrong there :-)
  4. Noel Hill Camp...is that the replacement for Guantanamo Bay?
  5. Yes, I think everyone realises that. The problem is when those differences are outside a particular tradition. I think that's what we're discussing here. Otherwise they aren't innovations, they're just variations. How do you recognise a glaring or not-so-glaring departure from a tradition? That's the underlying theme of this thread I suppose, and subject to the aesthetics mooted by Peter Laban.
  6. When you look at a bare list that seems an awful lot of strictures and most sessions would be a bit more tolerant than that. However, you certainly won't upset anyone if you stick to those guidelines! Unless...you bring a banjo LOL. You forgot the verboten instruments that trad <insert "N" word>s might not like.
  7. LOL, how about "Banjos make SOME people feel happy"? Or "Banjos make your ears ring"? Ah well, we're discussing innovation etc. so it's bound to be a fraught thread. At least nobody has fallen out with anyone else yet. Good that we're all free to speak our minds, parade our opinions or whatever!
  8. I think Howard Jones makes a good point and one I think is implicit when some of us say we encourage newbies to try to pick up bits of tunes on the fly. That is, you need to know your way around your instrument (and preferably but not quite as essentially, the general structure of tunes in your genre) before you start noodling at sessions. If you are a complete beginner at both instrument and genre then even the most tolerant of sessions will get fed up with you playing random notes in pretty short order.
  9. Sax in trad? Well there is such a gulf between your idea of trad music and mine that I don't think we can even discuss this. Ne'er the twain shall meet. At The Racket are a racket all right, just because one eejit decides to use an instrument to play trad tunes doesn't make it trad. John Carty has so many American influences on his fiddling from his banjo playing that he absolutely isn't trad, not to mention the Irish music he plays is English-Irish. They're just lucky Tansey hasn't got on to them yet :-) And yes, I'd say Jerry O'Connor doesn't fit in any more than any other banjo player. There is no special boot-licking allowed just because someone has made some money from the tradition. In fact most of the musicians who have made real money from Irish trad have done it through gimmicky band setups or fusion-arrangements to pander to foreign markets. The tradition *isn't* wide enough to accommodate lots of things, those "lots of things" are far outside the tradition. It doesn't accommodate them, it's people who know nothing about the tradition, or who care more about making money, that accommodate them.
  10. Sorry I was talking about American musicians playing (say) bluegrass. You see that my ignorance in that area has led me astray already with loose terminology. In bluegrass and (I think it's called) old timey music, the banjo music seems to be arranged around notes that hang in the air and keep a smooth cascade of sound going, so that the staccato effect is lost to some extent. In a similar way good concertina players arrange their music much the same, with hops between many "fill in" notes that cover what would be gaps and give a staccato effect, but the fill-in notes are appropriate to Irish trad in their case. However when banjo players play Irish music they seem to try to play "The Tune" as picked up from notation or from a CD of a fiddle player or flute player or whatever. However, despite their good intentions to stick with a trad version of the tune, they end up with a clangy sounding staccato effect because the version of the tune doesn't suit the instrument. Mayhap if they learnt a good concertina version of the tune it would sit on the instrument better and not sound so bad? I don't know. Does that make any more sense (in terms of explanation anyway even if you disagree)?
  11. Mark, some of that was very funny and I understand the love for your instrument bubbling underneath the humour. Some of the American players are astonishingly good and create a beautiful melodic sound around modern scales. But the sound just does not fit with Irish music. The staccato clanging sound, whether quiet or loud just changes the whole "feel" of the music. The point of most Irish dance music is a lift and strong rhythm wrapped in a smooth and gentle flow. Volume is not necessarily the culprit with a banjo (although it often is) it's the lack of smoothness and the almost robotic and monotonous rhythm it imparts. It's in the nature of the instrument and I wouldn't blame the players for it, it's just an unsuitable instrument. It's incredibly hard to describe, I can only fall back on Peter Laban's aesthetics comment, which in itself is a wishy-washy explanation unless you are already there and can grok what he says.
  12. You guys are too tolerant, I expect to get at least one lambasting for each post I make but you all seem to humour me I think the banjo sounds great in some forms of American music, I really enjoy it. I don't know enough about bluegrass or anything else to tell if that's a stupid thing to say, but in my ignorance I like the sound. However it is an abusive, clanging intrusion in Irish dance music. There's is no subtlety to it at all, no beauty no matter how it is played, and please don't tell me there are players who can play it well enough to blend in with a session. I imagine WWII or Vietnam Vets automatically dive for cover under a table when a banjo starts up and start patting themselves down looking for grenades to throw back.
  13. Well we listen to each other in our session but still encourage any kids that might turn up to try and catch phrases of the tunes they don't know. I think it's a matter of respect from both sides, combined with generosity from the more experienced players. My music would not be where it is today without the most kind and generous help of people like Peter Horan and other older musicians, who have never castigated anyone for doing their best to pick up a tune. You are of course expected to do most of your work by coming along regularly and getting the tune in your head and then working away at home, but during those regular visits you are not discouraged from trying out the parts you think you have picked up. If it's not right and you realise and stop messing, then you will be politely ignored and no scowls will come your way. Maybe I'm misunderstanding what "noodling" really means?
  14. I don't know who has accepted the bouzouki except the pop-bands playing Irish tunes and pretending to be traditional. Same goes for mandolins, guitars or any other pointless and useless "accompanying" instrument. OK, the banjo, then. Or the bodhran. Or, for that matter, those new-fangled fiddles, flutes and pipes, which must have been innovations once. The banjo!!?? The banjo! Arrgh! If there is one instrument completely, utterly and totally unsuited to Irish music the banjo is it. I would honestly rather sit in a session with 24 alpenhorns, ten sets of bongoes and 400 piano accordions than be machine-gunned to death by a banjo. Just because some folk-singers decided to accompany themselves on banjo and then took to bashing out the odd jig or reel at the end of their songs, it deluded a horde of...of... people into thinking it was OK to play Irish music on the banjo. Thank god it's mostly restricted to Comhaltas children in Ireland who usually grow out of it, with one or two exceptions. Come back bouzoukis, all is forgiven...
  15. Despite my rants in some threads that will have branded me the ultimate session snob, I have no problem with people "noodling" as the Americans call it as long as they have a good enough ear to pick out the key notes and phrases in a tune and gradually fill in the gaps. If they realise they are way out on a particular new tune they can stop and gradually pick it up when they have heard it more often. But if they are tone-deaf and constantly play every tune extremely badly then I do get annoyed. I agree with David that new tunes can be, and frequently are, learned in sessions but you need some sort of ear to do it. If you always learn from notation at home then maybe you shouldn't try to noodle along in a session, you probably don't have the ear not to annoy people. However if you always learn by ear you will already have the skill to hear key parts and learn the tune on the fly. That certainly shouldn't annoy anyone no matter how hard they have worked on it at home themselves.
  16. I don't know who has accepted the bouzouki except the pop-bands playing Irish tunes and pretending to be traditional. Same goes for mandolins, guitars or any other pointless and useless "accompanying" instrument. They're generally tolerated, not accepted (at best resignedly accepted). The tunes stand on their own and need no accompaniment. There is nobody who would complain if there were none of these instruments in a session, except the players of them. However if there were six bouzoukis and no fiddles, flutes, pipes etc. then I can't imagine anyone crowding into the pub every week to listen to the session. As for copyright, was that tongue in cheek or did I miss the point? When bands started copyrighting their "arrangements" of traditional tunes that were freely given to them by previous generations, that was a nadir in Irish trad. I mean how do you say "We innovated and changed that sequence of notes so we can sue you if you do it, but we're a traditional band so buy our CDs while the boom in trad is going on" ?? Never mind the fact that many other people may have used the sequence of notes in previous generations but didn't stop whomever from doing it. There's no problem selling CDs but copyrighting traditional tunes is the grossest arrogance, outright theft, and the biggest slap in the face you could give the traditional community. <edit>Sorry, sorry I have a bad way with words. I don't want to spoil the friendly and often very amusing community spirit here. I just get over-zealous about this, I knew I shouldn't have joined in this thread. Just ignore me and winnow out anything useful you might find amongst my varied rantings if you can be bothered.</edit>
  17. I think the first comment I quoted above has been answered perfectly by Peter Laban earlier, nobody is trying to freeze the music. Have a read of his comment. The second comment about ghostly snoring is once more something that people use regularly to say that things should move on. I personally think that is just a symptom of modern generations who can't concentrate on anything for more than 30 seconds at a time. Unless music is changing, images are flashing, emotions are raging etc. people get bored. Let the ghosts snore on waiting for their next short and cheap thrill, and miss music that could bring them back to life if they had the patience to absorb it fully :-)
  18. Ah now, that last sentence says it all just about perfectly to my mind. Why did I never think of it?? I'm going to keep that and paste it into any future discussion, attributed to you of course :-) That's a great way to think about it, it's the aesthetics embodied in the music rather than the music itself that makes it traditional. That's why there can be so many forms of one tune and so many ornamental variations yet they are all traditional. And it's why an out of place note or run makes us jump when it happens, because our aesthetics are being assaulted. Good man Peter, I think I'll sleep soundly tonight. Yes, don't remind me of the Frankie Gavin Era or the Sean McGuire Era. Nowadays it's Des Donnelly, Mike McGoldrick and the others of the three or four times innovated generation. I can't believe aspiring pipers don't know about Seamus Ennis or Clancy, that seems impossible. I hope you are right and these are just trends, but it's scary those giants are being lost. It's a funny world, because if you go to the internet archive and search the audio collections you can find tracks by Tom Ennis and other pipers, plus Coleman, Killoran, Paddy Cronin and many more that are not all on the recordings released in the last decade or so. So things are being lost in real life but preserved on new technology! Maybe there will be another revival some time in the future for the old styles.
  19. Peter, thanks for the thoughtful post. Yes, I'm laying it on a bit thick, it's my way of trying to get what I mean across and I know it's contentious. Of course he doesn't always play incredibly slowly and of course his style comes from the locality. You mention Vince Griffin and funnily enough I love his playing. Yes, it's mad and individual and scrapes close to some boundaries but I think he holds it in. Whereas Martin Hayes albeit having all the stylistic and technical abilities has tripped over the edge and remained there. There was a thing on TG4 I think where they were doing a piece on MH and interviewing other musicians that had worked with him. There was a young lad who said something along the lines of "He's fantastic, when you work with him he's..he's...outside the genre." That's a paraphrase but it's always stayed in my mind. It was obviously meant to be praise and the lad was obviously awestruck. So even some of the people who work with him realise he's not trad, however many others don't. It's the sort of thing that I think innovation leads to, a dilution and gradual change towards chart music. Someone else here mentioned how music should accommodate modern listeners, and that's the crux I suppose. Do we want a beautiful music to be held for future generations or do we want it chipped away, innovation by tiny innovation until it becomes something else and is lost? There are those of us who try to hold the fort and others who think we're eejits. In the long run we are trying to save something that can't be saved. It's bound to go, but I'd feel bad if I didn't try to do something about it. In a practical sense when there are young lads in a session I might (for example) teach them Coleman's "wavy bowing" technique because nobody uses it any more and it gives a different sound and better bowing when you might need it. Mostly they look at me like I'm nuts but it might take with some of them, or the light might come on in the future when they are listening to old recordings. Other than that I bluster forcefully against innovation to anyone who will listen (or won't listen) and probably do my own cause more harm than good
  20. Do you mean stuff like this or this ? While I don't fancy all the turns and twists Hayes' style has taken over time, I do think he, like any traditional player, incorporates and builds onto the influences of the people he heard along the way. Most of what I hear him do I can trace back to the people he heard in the area. You're quite right, he couldn't have grown up in the family he did without learning the old Clare stuff. As I mentioned he played good stuff when he was young. It's the strange "My music is from the rocks of the Burren and reflects the soul of Ireland wafting through the universe" and the dreadful arrangements and over-exaggerated slides onto notes, coupled with a speed that would put even Clare musicians to sleep over their pints. As in the other thread, nobody in Clare does that semi-classical romantic and tediously slow playing, other than the MH clones. He might still be fine live but I stopped listening to him when all those celtic albums started appearing (around about the time he took up with the barefoot Aussie). Maybe it's the speed that makes his style seem over-exaggerated? Is there a reverse affliction to the speed-merchant syndrome? Anyhow, this isn't a bash MH thread, it was just an example of how things can wind out along another road when people start innovating. Fine as long as it's sold as what it, is and not trad IM not-so HO.
  21. Not at all, composition is different to innovation, at least in the context of this discussion. There is a vast body of tunes out there all within one tradition or another, and then there are tamperings with those tunes that are blatantly outside of the tradition to anyone that has immersed themselves in it. I can only speak for the thing I love which is Irish trad dance music ("dance" just to distinguish it from folk) I wouldn't presume to know enough about any other trad genre. If you look at some of the Stuff McGoldrick does or Hayes does nowadays, nobody in their right mind would consider it trad. I always wonder whether Hayes left the great music he played when he was a teenager because he genuinely thought his "innovations" added something to the music, or whether he just did it to get money out of the Americans during the "celtic music" boom. Whatever, he seems stuck with it now. However to my mind, accidentally or not, he has misled a generation or more of gullible foreigners into believing what he does is trad. They in turn "innovate" and more people get further from the original truth of the music. There must be a reason that people who hear that stuff come to Ireland to hear the pool of original material that still exists here in the west, and the majority go away raving about the "old guys" and their music.
  22. That's classic Catch22 - you need to learn loads tunes for several years and then when you know these well, you can then find it easier to pick up new tunes on the fly. That's a sweeping generalisation, of course! Some tunes are catchy, easy and sit well on certain instruments - others are much harder to nail down. So, as you progress - some tunes are handy to pick up quickly but others require a lot of attention. The balance just changes. Yup, also if you play one genre to the exclusion of all else it's much easier. Certainly in Irish trad there are lots of patterns that repeat in most of the tunes, so to an extent you can plug and play parts of new tunes in a session and get large parts of it into your head, so you can work out the missing bits when you get home (or next day after the hangover). Also, if you go to a session regularly you'll hear the local repertoire frequently, so again it becomes easier through repetition. All of this assumes you learn by ear of course
  23. All's relative. Some twenty years ago I played a concert pitch set of pipes that was not my own in a session where Tony Crehan was sitting directly to the right of me. The sound of his concertina had my ears ringing for days. Kitty was always louder than I was too. I was just joking I hope you realised :-) I used to play in the front snug of Hughes' in Dublin with the lads from the pipers club every Friday night for many years. There were 11 sets of pipes in there one memorable night, in a bar about 20ft. by 8 ft. About 1/3 were in tune with themselves and about 1/10 with each other. So I tended to pull their legs a bit. A hard habit to give up but it's really just friendly slagging. Anyway, this is a very interesting thread because I've never played the concertina in a session only having had one for a few weeks. So it's interesting to hear the problems that might plague me in the future. I've been blindly assuming that everything will be the same as playing the fiddle, but with a bit of thought it's obvious it won't. So thanks to all who are explaining the hearing difficulties. Although I still find it a hard concept to grasp, not being able to hear a concertina. Going back to Hughes' and the bar full of pipers, we'd be playing away and suddenly hear the sound of a concertina that was being played at the far end of the other bar, and the pipers would look at each other and say "Micheál's in again." :-) It was done in fun of course but you see why I was puzzled.
  • Create New...