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Playing it slowly.


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Yes, I was a bit annoyed. Put it down to a cumulative effect of this sort of supposedly 'funny' jibes, usually by people who haven't listened to this music much.

 

But d on't worry, I have settled down again.

 

You know, this is dance music, it's supposed to be fast enough. . Dancers generally want it faster than most of the clips above. But it is not a race to see who is fastest.

 

Here are a few steps:

 

 

 

 

Edited by Peter Laban
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That slower piece by Liam O'Brian submitted here was very nicel. And it demonstrates how different an atmosphere  is created by slower music; as regards the audience too.. as they quietly listen even more intensely than perhaps with faster music. Having instead to listen also to the spaces between the notes in a melody, and to let their imagination go free, with less haste.

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2 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Most of the tunes that I play are for dancing as well, which is also the critcal difference. You like/play tunes for Irish dancing; I like/play tunes for English dancing (such a thing does exist). 🙂

 

 

Another critical difference - players of irish traditional music aren't on here commenting that tunes for English dancing are played  "too slow"... 😉

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2 hours ago, Jillser Nic Amhlaoibh said:

 

Another critical difference - players of irish traditional music aren't on here commenting that tunes for English dancing are played  "too slow"... 😉

Touche!

 

But they are welcome to if they want to.

 

Vive la difference!

Edited by Clive Thorne
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I think the big difference is that Irish dancing tends to be done close to the floor, with small steps, whereas much of English dancing is done with larger movements, either with a skipping step or outright leaps and capers as in Morris dancing. The more time "in the air". the longer the space between beats.

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10 hours ago, Clive Thorne said:

Touche!

 

But they are welcome to if they want to.

 

Vive la difference!

  I don't play english dancing music or know much about it, so I myself wouldn't comment on whether it's speed is "too slow" etc. While I might listen to an example and find it a bit slow for my tastes that doesn't mean that it is "too slow" - I'm sure it's just the speed it needs to be for the purpose it serves.

 

Irish traditional music is loved and played by people all over the world, so I guess we're doing something right!

Edited by Jillser Nic Amhlaoibh
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7 hours ago, Jillser Nic Amhlaoibh said:

Irish traditional music is loved and played by people all over the world...

 

And in England at least (I can't comment on elsewhere) it is often played too fast, which I think is what Clive was alluding to.  That's certainly been my experience, which is that it's fairly unusual to come across an Irish session played at the tempos illustrated in Peter's video links, which is one of the reasons why I don't often play Irish music these days.  Perhaps I've been unlucky, but very often breakneck speed is the norm.  English music by its nature tends to be slower, but there is nevertheless a tendency among some to play that too fast.

 

Fast is exciting, and can be fine where the player has the technical ability to still retain the musicality. The problem is often that musicians are playing faster than their ability allows.  Even if they are able to get all the notes out the musicality is lost. I think its a phase that many players go through once they've achieved a certain standard of playing, and fall into the trap of thinking that fast = good (I know I did, when I was young and even more foolish than I am now). It takes a degree of musical maturity to understand that playing more slowly can be actually more difficult, as you then have to bring out the music rather than simply play the notes.

 

 

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1 hour ago, hjcjones said:

 

Even if they are able to get all the notes out the musicality is lost.

 

 

I think that is what I was meaning when I described "wall-to wall notes" - a phrase i heard used in that context many years ago.

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I think there's a structural element to this that's not just about speed but filling every space with a note or (more) running up and down the scale.  A pinch (2 notes) at once is difficult at speed for most instruments.  To me it's similar to bluegrass banjo where the Scruggs roll promotes a lineal rather than vertical (bouncy) approach.  it just "sounds" fast.

 

Sorry for the similar post John.  

Edited by wunks
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11 hours ago, Jillser Nic Amhlaoibh said:

  I don't play english dancing music or know much about it, so I myself wouldn't comment on whether it's speed is "too slow" etc. While I might listen to an example and find it a bit slow for my tastes that doesn't mean that it is "too slow" - I'm sure it's just the speed it needs to be for the purpose it serves.

 

Irish traditional music is loved and played by people all over the world, so I guess we're doing something right!

 

Well you wouldn't know (or be expected to) if it was too fast or too slow for dancing to, which is the same for me and irish dance music, and obviously in the case of playing for dance the requirements of the dance/dancers sets the pace.

 

It's slightly different when playing for people to listen to, but guess that is still influenced by what "Base speed" that people are used to from the dancing tradition in the local area.

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5 hours ago, hjcjones said:

 

And in England at least (I can't comment on elsewhere) it is often played too fast, which I think is what Clive was alluding to.  That's certainly been my experience, which is that it's fairly unusual to come across an Irish session played at the tempos illustrated in Peter's video links, which is one of the reasons why I don't often play Irish music these days.  Perhaps I've been unlucky, but very often breakneck speed is the norm. 

 

In Germany, I perceive it the same way. On one of the Irish concertina meetings I attended, the musical leader dropped the remark that "the first thousand tunes are the hardest, it gets easier after that," then set out to start some set at breathtaking speed. My impression of the way ITM is looked at here is olympic - rather competitive with musicians trying to outperform each other in number of tunes in repertoire, speed, ornamentation skills and so on.

 

I also attended a few Irish sessions. I found them unwelcoming to newcomers; you were expected to either play along with every tune note for note at full speed or not play along at all. I remember a number of venomonous looks I received for trying to at least accompany the tunes with the root notes of the chords.

 

I was determined to make up for my lack of repertoire and got a copy of "110 Irish concertina tunes" with the intention of learning as many of the tunes as possible (I had done compatible things before) but gave up after by listening to the CD, I realized that even at low speed, many of the tunes were interchangeable, almost impossible to distinguish from one another, apparently made for the "first 1000 tune marathon." I could not find a whole lot of heart and soul in those tunes (even though I perfectly understand from listening to artists like the Corrs and Socks in the Frying Pan that there is a lot of it in Irish music).

 

In contrast, I found the English folk dance scene to be welcoming and encouraging. In sessions and meetings, the attitude for the most part is "when there are enough attendants, the tune will be carried by the majority, so play along at any level, and don't be afraid of making mistakes. How else are you supposed to learn ensemble playing?" As an additional bonus, I find English dance music to be much more accessible; many tunes are simple but very idiosyncratic with clear and distinguishable melodies. 

 

This is not derogatory to ITM in general, obviously I am in no position to judge a genre (which would also be fairly stupid to do as generalizations are never accurate nor fair); also, there are a number of lovely Irish tunes that have slipped into the repertoire of English and Balfolk playing circles. Yet the "Irish idiom" (at least as practiced in Germany which is the only ruler I have to base experiences on) has not managed to attract me musically or in the way people interact with each other.

  

Edited by RAc
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Perhaps the national character somehow shows through in the musical styles or ways of playing? The English ( once usually mildly reserved in manner) preferring something with a melody in it that can be done at a manageable pace ( a bit layed back in character)..so a bit self critical of their abilities. An English trait to be self critical.🌝

 

As for other national characteristics it's not for me to say!🌝🌝🌝

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The English ( once usually mildly reserved in manner) preferring something with a melody in it  [..]

 

 

I surely hope you're not suggesting other music has a lesser sense of melody, or that your preferred music has a superior one. Various types of music have different characteristics and you can prefer one over the other but I don't think, in the realm of folk music (if you want to use the term), one type has a superior sense of melody over the next one.

 

It would be far from me to discuss 'national characteristics', perceived or otherwise but I do sometimes notice some people, English or otherwise, feel the urge to get a dig in towards everything that is different or foreign to them. I don't know why, to create a false sense of superiority perhaps?  I don't know if that's the case here, it can be ingrained in some, they don't even realise they're doing it,   but it is not one of the most endearing habits.

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31 minutes ago, Peter Laban said:

but I do sometimes notice some people, English or otherwise, feel the urge to get a dig in towards everything that is different or foreign to them. I don't know why, to create a false sense of superiority perhaps? 

 

Your suspicion can not apply in my case because, I, as a German, am "foreign" to both ITM AND English folk dance music - when I decided to pick up the Concertina, I knew that I would not get into German ("native" for me) folk music but I really wanted to play the English build concertina in one of its home territories. I actually tried Irish first, but as I explained, it simply could not attract me, but English (which was even more "foreign" to me than Irish) could afterwards.

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