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Bellows Control For Itm On Anglo


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Hi folks. I'm at the point where my playing is getting better, but it ain't "there" yet. Like, if it were another language I was learning, I'd be able to have a conversation with you, but you'd still have to ask me "What was that?" occasionally because of my accent.

 

My sticky point of late is bellows control. In a recent workshop I sussed that in reels, for example, it's often good to accentuate the upbeat a bit, and to do that you often use a little extra oomph on the bellows. on jigs, I'm not sure, but I think the upbeat is kind of on the 3 and 6 of the 6/8 bar. So accentuating those beats would help give a jig the lift you're looking for.

 

Is any of this about right?

 

I DO listen, as well, to try to hear what's going on in good playing. I think it varies, and I think it can be very subtle and it isn't always bellows pressure that does it--it's often other sorts of articulation. and strategically accenting the downbeat is pretty dang awesome too, with great payoff potential.

 

My actual question is: what do you anglo-philes do for bellows control exercises, and do you have any suggestions for a 1 year old anglo newbie? :)

 

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Hi folks. I'm at the point where my playing is getting better, but it ain't "there" yet. Like, if it were another language I was learning, I'd be able to have a conversation with you, but you'd still have to ask me "What was that?" occasionally because of my accent.

 

My sticky point of late is bellows control. In a recent workshop I sussed that in reels, for example, it's often good to accentuate the upbeat a bit, and to do that you often use a little extra oomph on the bellows. on jigs, I'm not sure, but I think the upbeat is kind of on the 3 and 6 of the 6/8 bar. So accentuating those beats would help give a jig the lift you're looking for.

 

Is any of this about right?

 

I DO listen, as well, to try to hear what's going on in good playing. I think it varies, and I think it can be very subtle and it isn't always bellows pressure that does it--it's often other sorts of articulation. and strategically accenting the downbeat is pretty dang awesome too, with great payoff potential.

 

My actual question is: what do you anglo-philes do for bellows control exercises, and do you have any suggestions for a 1 year old anglo newbie? :)

 

Dear Fearfeasog,

 

I think you have it about right with your assessment of general rules for the practice of placing stress accents in both jigs and reels. While no such generalization will fit every situation in a tune performance, in a solo practice session, it is a great idea to consistently place those accents as you say and even exaggerate them to gain control of the bellows and teach your body how to achieve the accents that give life to a tune.

 

I suggest that you take a tune you know well and dedicate 5 minutes of play to exaggerating a single accent plan. Down beats for 5 min., then off beats for 5 min. for a reel, down beats then 3 and 6 for a jig. There, I've described 20 minutes of practice time that will, over just a few days, free you up to play both reels and jigs with lift and musicality.

 

Accent is a relative thing. In performance, sometimes a little is good, sometime a lot. In a practice session, try giving it all you've got to see how far you can go with exaggerating the difference between an unaccented and an accented note. Try not only making the accented notes louder, but more important... try making the unaccented notes softer. Now even softer. Now, so soft that they practically disappear. How far can you go?

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Ok, spent an hour long lunch break at work playing tunes in my car, listening to the rain drumming the roof, and pointedly accenting the upbeat of a couple jigs, and a polka. It all sounds so much better with a little upbeat lift! It's amazing what just a little practice can do. It's not that easy to do, especially the "make the unaccented notes as quiet as possible" part. fun as hell though! :D

 

I can see how this is going to pay off. Thanks again, Mr. K (and my for now anonymous PMer)

 

ps, i noticed today that my windshield wipers run at a good reel tempo! just one of those things. :)

Edited by fearfeasog
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To add a bit more ITM specific info on the accented notes, or pulse:

 

For jigs, you stress not only the first note of each 3/8 group, but also the third. This is a bit tricky at first, and as always the melody itself has always priority. That means certain tunes or certain phrases lend themselves better than others to add this third note accent. You can practice this maybe by whistling the tune and giving an extra huff of air on the stressed notes. Also playing it slowly and deliberately in the beginning. And of course, listening to recordings, maybe slowing them down so you can pay attention to that third note. Micheál Ó Raghallaigh is a player with a very nice pulse in whatever he plays.

 

For reels, you also add a fair amount of back beat to it. I.e. in a sequence of 8 eigth notes, you end up playing an alternating pattern of stressed-unstressed notes, and the back beat gets a little extra umph. You can practice that not only by playing louder and softer, respectively, but also by lengthening and shortening the notes a bit. Once you play up to speed, the slight variation in length per se will not be noticeable, but you get a nice pulse.

 

One little thing that Micheál Ó Raghallaigh often does to add a little additional umph on the back beat or the third note in jigs is using a cut on that note or a chord in the left hand.

 

Also, don't be afraid to give a good extra umph on those notes. In the beginning, I was convinced that my pulse was almost too strong - until I recorded myself playing and I could barely hear it. I think half of that extra stress happens only in your head. :)

That's good this way because you don't want to overpower the melody with your accented notes, but probably particularly in the beginning it doesn't hurt to overdo it a little bit. Once the pulse becomes second nature, you can control it and blend it together with the melody and vary it or break the pattern by stressing different notes here and there.

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To add a bit more ITM specific info on the accented notes, or pulse:

 

For jigs, you stress not only the first note of each 3/8 group, but also the third. This is a bit tricky at first, and as always the melody itself has always priority. That means certain tunes or certain phrases lend themselves better than others to add this third note accent. You can practice this maybe by whistling the tune and giving an extra huff of air on the stressed notes. Also playing it slowly and deliberately in the beginning. And of course, listening to recordings, maybe slowing them down so you can pay attention to that third note. Micheál Ó Raghallaigh is a player with a very nice pulse in whatever he plays.

 

For reels, you also add a fair amount of back beat to it. I.e. in a sequence of 8 eigth notes, you end up playing an alternating pattern of stressed-unstressed notes, and the back beat gets a little extra umph. You can practice that not only by playing louder and softer, respectively, but also by lengthening and shortening the notes a bit. Once you play up to speed, the slight variation in length per se will not be noticeable, but you get a nice pulse.

 

One little thing that Micheál Ó Raghallaigh often does to add a little additional umph on the back beat or the third note in jigs is using a cut on that note or a chord in the left hand.

 

Also, don't be afraid to give a good extra umph on those notes. In the beginning, I was convinced that my pulse was almost too strong - until I recorded myself playing and I could barely hear it. I think half of that extra stress happens only in your head. :)

That's good this way because you don't want to overpower the melody with your accented notes, but probably particularly in the beginning it doesn't hurt to overdo it a little bit. Once the pulse becomes second nature, you can control it and blend it together with the melody and vary it or break the pattern by stressing different notes here and there.

Right, it's almost impossible to over emphisise the off beat accents. I also admire the playing of Micheál Ó Raghallaigh with his dense use of notes outside of the melody. Great playing there.

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well good, I'm listening to alot of Mícheál and also Pat and Eoghan these days. Hopefully it soaks in!!!

 

Jody, I get abt 98 bpm on the slower wiper setting, and about 150 on the faster. 150 feels abt right for a polka, I reckon. 98 slightly laid back (not for me!!!) for a reel or jig, perhaps.

 

2004 Ford Focus wagon, for the record. :P

 

ff

Edited by fearfeasog
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In performance, any tempo is a good tempo as long as it's steady. In practice, any tempo that allows you to be steady is a good tempo, no mater how slow.

 

My advice... find a slow tempo that works for you and build the tune bit by bit from there to gain adaptability for a faster pace.

 

As for your windshield wipers... how cool is that? Let it rain!

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Also... If you have a great track/performance that you want to emulate, on any instrument... slow it down with Audacity or the Amazing Slow Downer and work out the details at a reasonable pace. This can turn an impossible performance into a solvable puzzle. This is what I do to figure out a difficult tune. Above all... have fun! That's my plan.

Edited by Jody Kruskal
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Also... If you have a great track/performance that you want to emulate, on any instrument... slow it down with Audacity or the Amazing Slow Downer and work out the details at a reasonable pace. This can turn an impossible performance into a solvable puzzle. This is what I do to figure out a difficult tune. Above all... have fun! That's my plan.

Absolutely!

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