Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
RAc

What Music Type Are You?

Recommended Posts

I'd describe my music type as "hybrid" (irrespective of what model of concertina I'm playing!)

It's in my genes - my parents were both musical, and both sang and played instruments. There their similarities ended.

My mother was from the ciy, and had piano and violin lessons as a youngster, and had a trained soprano voice. She even gave piano lessons to some of my school chums - but I wasn't one of her pupils.

My father was from the country, and had fiddle and melodion lessons as a youngster, and also played the mouth organ and the mandolin. He had a true voice, and liked to render popular Irish songs, but while I knew him he never performed in public. On the other hand, he did give me a few basic lessons on the mandolin, and provided a role model for what to do with that instrument, but also the fiddle and the mouth organ.

 

So there I was, with a foot in each camp - classical and folk - and parents who regularly demonstrated how much fun both kinds of music were to make.

 

My personal development led me through mandolin and the very similar fiddle to self-taught 5-string banjo (which my father had acquired out of general musical interest and restored for me) and later (1960s) folk guitar. At about 18, I taught myself the Anglo concertina (based on Dad's lessons on the mouth organ), and then I had formal voice training for art songs and oratorio solos (baritone). In my early 20s, I started performing in public (as my mother did) partly in choirs, and partly as a self-accompanied folk singer with banjo or Anglo, or playing folk on mandolin or fiddle in ad hoc ensembles.

 

So you could say I grew up musically bilingual, with a decided bias towards singing. Singing bass in the classical and sacred choir repertoires gave me a good ear for harmony, which was enhanced by having to find the banjo chords to accompany folk songs. Though I never had formal music-theory tuition, reading about theory always gives me "Aha!" effects.

 

Now that I have a Crane Duet, I notice that things are really coming together. The feeling for bass lines (from choir singing), the ability to sense chord sequences (from folk banjo), the instinct for appropriately lush or sparse accompaniments (from art songs, especially Schubert's Lieder, which I particularly admire) and above all the ability to phrase a melody (from all kinds of singing) add up to something that listeners seem to find agreeable. On the Crane, I notice also that some remarks my daughter once made (from her music theory lessons at school) about basso continuo are also useful.

 

I find that I can use my voice training in folk singing - all I have to do to differentiate between art song and folk song is to switch from classical diction to my Ulster accent. The rest just follows from that. Bilingual - that's my type!

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never been interested in the ' theory ' of music.

 

...

 

my fingers have inevitably acquired an uncanny ability to translate most of the melodies, chords and harmonies in my head onto the Anglo.

 

Why are you afraid to call that "theory"? What do you think theory is, but the teaching of just the kind of skill you're describing. The only difference is that theory, rather than being limited to what one person working by himself has discovered, combines the accumulated discoveries of musicians over the centuries.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DAvid,

I think there's a tendency "out there" to equate theory with knowledge of standard notation.

However, if you consider it, a person who can sight-read fluently on his instrument doesn't have to know much theory. He leaves the theoretical aspects to the composer or arranger, and just plays what they have written down for him.

 

The semi-literate folkie (like me) who makes up his own tunes and puts chords to existing tunes, on the other hand, does need to know about the circle of fifths, the tonic, dominant and subdominant, relative majors and minors, modal scales, time signatures, how many bars it takes to make a jig or reel, etc. etc. The fact that he may not be able to write a thesis about it, illustrated with snippets of standard notation, doesn't mean that he hasn't got at least an instinctive grasp of music theory!

 

Cheers,

John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Uhm, may I request, again, that this thread avoids discussing the pros and cons of (let alone put a value tag on) approaches to music and instead lets everybody simply explain his/her key to unlock the treasure cove?

 

I'd also like to thank everybody who contributed so far for your generous and courageous (as this is a rather personal issue) responses. It's wonderful and insightful to see where everybody comes from and how we all manage to get together in sessions, bands, concerts and so on in spite of oiur different "socialisations." Let's keep them testimonies coming!

 

Thanks again!

Edited by RAc

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Concertina is a relatively new musical adventure for me. Having been involved in trad music (Old time, Irish, contra) for 20+ year in various capacities (singing, bodhran, clogging,calling) I feel like the tunes were already firmly wrapped around my brain before I played my first note. I feel a bit like a kid that grew up in a musical family, but didn't take up my instrument until my teens. So, while I use the dots to learn "all" the notes, to notate ornamentation, or to remember the starts, once I have the tune that is running in my head connected to my fingers, I try to tell my brain to go take a rest. I would say I am an ear player who those occasional dot check-ins to keep me in line.

 

Let me preface my next remarks by saying that I absolutely love music jams/sessions and playing in ensembles, because I am drawn to the way people coalesce when they both play and listen. Listening actually twists the way people play their tunes; one has to improvise on the fly to match and compliment, even while staying within the structure of the tune or idiom. So, this has always been, and will continue to be, my end game. So, yes I use the dots, but I also put myself in situations where I have to play by ear. I started an old time jam in my town, in part to work on my ear training, but also because I love old time and it is way easier to catch onto a tune. For those of you who are unaware at a typical old time jam you stick in one key for an hour or more, you play one tune at a time and play it til you are thoroughly grinningly done with it (10-15 times). As a result, I have a much better feeling for what it means to play in a certain key - the runs that are common, the notes that are commonly bent etc. I know way more tunes now and many of them I have learned by osmosis. When I sit down to learn one of these, I go look at the notes, hear a snippet, and it is much quicker to get it into my memory. Also, all this playing along means that I also know way better how to fake it, play really quietly, catch onto the framework of the tune and fill in the diddly bits when it comes around again, add the chords as I am more comfortable. On the flip side surfing tunes, can make your playing sloppy, because you are feeling your way through and depending on the rigor of your music buddies. So, to counteract, I take Irish lessons and work with my teacher to play more rigorously. I study and bear down on the written notes to make sure I learn "all" of them, not just the ones I like. I also prepare and make myself lead the occasional set at the session or jam. I want to be able to lead as well as follow, so that, in the future, others can glom onto me and just flow happily along and so that I can play well enough to really hit the high of communicating with my fellow musicians through the tune.

 

I wonder how my of you have a similar route in the way you push/pull yourself up to the next level, whatever that may be. It is really fun to hear all your perspectives.

Claire

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm a classically trained pianist and tuba player, but I only ever play concertina and guitar by ear. I certainly draw on my classical training with regard to harmony and arrangements -- and as a result often use techniques which are a bit "outside" for the usual harmonic language of folk music arranging -- but I don't feel the need to write them down.

 

Despite my background I was drawn to playing by ear very early. I must have been about 7 or 8 when I started working out how to play pop songs that I liked on the piano, in a very rudimentary way. My piano teacher tried to persuade my mum that I should be focusing entirely on playing the printed repertoire I was being given, but my mum, to her credit, decided I was better off going about it the way that suited me.

 

The next step was learning guitar from the age of about 13, on an abysmal Woolworth's acoustic. I taught myself with a book -- again, my piano teacher was against it, but I did it anyway.

 

 

 

I find that I can use my voice training in folk singing - all I have to do to differentiate between art song and folk song is to switch from classical diction to my Ulster accent. The rest just follows from that. Bilingual - that's my type!

 

Yes! Absolutely. The vocal training I had 20+ years ago has been invaluable, mostly in ensuring that I don't hurt my voice when singing for long periods...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...