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Playing In Octaves


Rhomylly
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A recent suggestion coupled with incentive to go through Frank Edgley's tutorial cover to cover with NO shortcuts has led me to start puzzling out playing in octaves.

 

Is the goal to play the entire tune in octaves? Or just a few key phrases?

 

My first tune to attempt this on is "Britches Full Of Stitches." A nice, simple and rather cute tune.

 

Also, I find myself having to seriously modify bellows work, since more than one key pressed uses a lot more air (duh)!

 

Any helpful hints?

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Is the goal to play the entire tune in octaves? Or just a few key phrases?

Depends on whose goal. Also on which tune.

 

I think the Irish tend to a few key phrases or even just individual notes.

 

Scan Tester, an Englishman, was known for playing entire tunes in octaves, and some others have followed his style.

 

Some tunes (Morris tunes tend to be a good place to start) are easier to octave than others. E.g., many Irish tunes played an octave up will run off the top end of the G row. Of course, you could consider adding the octave above to some parts and the octave below to others.

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For me, the goal of playing in octaves is to be able to toss them in at will. They're an accent or emphasis, sometimes on just one or two notes, sometimes one or more bars. Mostly, to me, they are just kind of like a musical "yeehaw!" inside the tune---a shot of pure energy. Although playing octaves is a standard tool in the kit of Anglo players who play Irish style, Michael O Raghallaigh and Jason O Rourke are my favorite practitioners. In the first run through the B part of "George White's Favorite" O Raghallaigh plays phrases. http://www.concertina.net/clips/cd_nervous_man_09.mp3

 

Octave playing's a seasoning that I'm learning to use enough of but not overdo.

 

I started by playing a scale in the key of D, to get the hang of it, crossfingering F# and G.

A tune I used for practicing is the the first in a gan ainm two polka set of Jason O'Rourke's recording, "The Bunch Of Keys." Here's a midi, there's also a gif of sheet music available. http://www.slowplayers.org/Music/midi/the_taur_polka.mid

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pretty sure mrs crotty also used octaving

I can attest that this is true on Wind That Shakes the Barley from her RTE recording. She uses octaves on perhaps half the notes, I think. It's a nice sound. I discovered in trying to imitate her that I find it a lot easier to play octaves in the key of G on the C row rather than the G row - something about the way the notes split up between hands.

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So I understand the terminology, playing in Octaves effectively means playing the same tune on each hand (hopefully at the same time), right?

Well, that's what I mean by it at least. On a related note - I've been exploring the very bottom end of my C/G, and I can get some E minor tunes to fit down there. I suppose I could play them in octaves as well, but I have a much harder time with that when both notes are played with the same hand. Just needs practice, I suppose - I imagine players of a more chordal style probably do that sort of thing all the time.

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A recent suggestion coupled with incentive to go through Frank Edgley's tutorial cover to cover with NO shortcuts has led me to start puzzling out playing in octaves.

 

Is the goal to play the entire tune in octaves? Or just a few key phrases?

 

My first tune to attempt this on is "Britches Full Of Stitches." A nice, simple and rather cute tune.

 

Also, I find myself having to seriously modify bellows work, since more than one key pressed uses a lot more air (duh)!

 

Any helpful hints?

 

I am going to go with the few key phrases. At least, that has been my experience. I am sure there are some who play entire tunes that way, but you kind of loose the effect then.. At that point you might as well play an accordion with the low reed engaged. Then again, if you are playing cajun music, you might want to play the whole tune in octaves :).

 

Still I have been experimenting with it for the last few months and find that it works best as a way or ornamenting a tune. One cool effect I have been experimenting with a bit is takeing a note that I might roll (or whatever we want to call it) and playing the octave for the note while I still do the roll in the normal register.

 

--

Bill

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