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Nanette Hooker

Rolls On The Concertina

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A friend of mine has given me a copy of 2 pages from a book called "The Dance Music of Willie Clancy" which shows ornamentations for pipes and other instruments. It shows ornamentation for pipes, whistle, fiddle and accordion - and there are some differences between the instruments.

 

I would be interested to know how concertinist play rolls.

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A friend of mine has given me a copy of 2 pages from a book called "The Dance Music of Willie Clancy" which shows ornamentations for pipes and other instruments. It shows ornamentation for pipes, whistle, fiddle and accordion - and there are some differences between the instruments.

 

I would be interested to know how concertinist play rolls.

The first thing to note is that you play an English, not an anglo. As far as I know, there's no fixed tradition of Irish music on the English, so you get to take your choice of how to do the ornaments. Also, from prior disucussions here and details in anglo-for-Irish tutors such as Frank Edgley's, I have learned that what anglo players call a "roll" can differ from what flute and fiddler players do not only in which notes are played, but also how many.

 

When I do a "roll" on the English, I usually follow what I've learned as the fiddle standard: a note broken into 3 parts, with grace notes -- as short as possible -- inserted into the two breaks, the note above the main note into the first break and the note below into the second break. There's also what's known as a "short roll", which leaves off the first of the three divisions of the main note and starts instead with the first grace note.

 

In my experience, rolls on the whistle have the same form, but the upper grace may not be just the note above the main note, but something higher. That's because the same "finger" is lifted to get the upper note for various different main notes. It seems that it's not critical which notes are used as grace notes, since they're not supposed to be thought of as "notes", but as "dividers", so you can use other notes if they're comfortable or sound good to you. Certainly, no one seems to mind (or even notice?) that the flute and fiddle are playing different notes on the "cut" (the upper grace note) when they play together.

 

My understanding is that these ornaments originated as bagpipe ornaments, as ways to separate repetitions of single notes, since it's not possible to stop the sound in between. (One can stop the sound in "close playing" on the uilleann pipes, but they're a late, unusual development in the piping world, and even they can't be stopped in "open" playing.)

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I tagged along a workshop by Frank Edgely on ornamentation for the anglo. Playing on the english I wasn't sure if I would get anything out of it but I've found it very helpful. As Dick has said, the ornamentation notes typically come from the opposite side. For example a role on A could be played as A{B}A{G}A. Interesting alternatives though would be to play A{d}A{B}A or A{G}A{E}A. I have been doing the same with short rolls: A{B}{G}A, A{d}{B}A or A{G}{E}A. After listening to Sport on the Nervous Man CD by Micheal O Ralghallaigh, his short rolls are often of the form A{c}{B}A

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I tagged along a workshop by Frank Edgely on ornamentation for the anglo. Playing on the english I wasn't sure if I would get anything out of it but I've found it very helpful. As Dick has said, the ornamentation notes typically come from the opposite side. For example a role on A could be played as A{B}A{G}A. Interesting alternatives though would be to play A{d}A{B}A or A{G}A{E}A. I have been doing the same with short rolls: A{B}{G}A, A{d}{B}A or A{G}{E}A. After listening to Sport on the Nervous Man CD by Micheal O Ralghallaigh, his short rolls are often of the form A{c}{B}A
Please excuse my ignorance,but is Micheal O Ralghallaigh, a piper by any chance, the short roll described looks like, something my piping tutor told me about.Thankyou anyway.

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Please excuse my ignorance,but is Micheal O Ralghallaigh, a piper by any chance, the short roll described looks like, something my piping tutor told me about.Thankyou anyway.

 

No, he's an anglo concertina player and a good one too :D

Edited by lildogturpy

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I tagged along a workshop by Frank Edgely on ornamentation for the anglo. Playing on the english I wasn't sure if I would get anything out of it but I've found it very helpful. As Dick has said, the ornamentation notes typically come from the opposite side. For example a role on A could be played as A{B}A{G}A. Interesting alternatives though would be to play A{d}A{B}A or A{G}A{E}A. I have been doing the same with short rolls: A{B}{G}A, A{d}{B}A or A{G}{E}A. After listening to Sport on the Nervous Man CD by Micheal O Ralghallaigh, his short rolls are often of the form A{c}{B}A

 

Ok, sorry for jumping into this thread so late, but I just spent the week taking lessons from Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, Gearóid ÓhAllmhuràin and Chris Droney at the Catskills Irish Arts Week (Chris taught a master's class that was an absolute delight... and played wonderfully well). From Micheál's class we spent a fair bit of time discussing rolls.. or rather what to do instead of a roll. According to him, there are basically two things he does where a roll would be called for. Either Note, cut, Note, Note (GCGG for example or even EGEE) or a cran, which is the ADBA (or ADBAA). From discussions in the class, i doubt he would ever use a C, B in a cran. He was very clear about how it should be done, so it would usually be either a D,B or a E,C (depending if the note being ornamented is a push or a pull note). He might also use the high B,F# or the A,G.

 

Considering you play English Concertina, you can probably get away just fine with the other ornaments you mentioned, the cut notes should be so short that no one should really be able to figure them out anyway.

 

--

Bill

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When will English players give up trying to play irish music??? ;)

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When will English players give up trying to play irish music??? ;)

 

Probably never. I like Irish music (also Northumbrian, Scottish, English, French, Swedish, American,....) and I like playing an English. It handles the variety well. I don't expect my EC to sound exactly like someone playing an anglo, but I'd still like to know how to play some of the ornamentation common to the styles of music I like. Looking at fiddle and flute ornaments carries over to EC well. Piping ornaments might also be useful, though I don't really want my concertina to sound like pipes. I don't want it to sound like an organ either, though there was a period when that might have been the aim.

 

Some Irish sessions can be picky about traditional instruments (though the popularity of the guitar, bouzouki, banjo, and mandolin all indicate change is allowed, indeed the concertina of any type doesn't go back as far as fiddle, harp and pipes). I haven't had sessions complain about my EC though. Perhaps I'm thick skinned, or perhaps I've only gone to tolerant sessions.

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Some Irish sessions can be picky about traditional instruments (though the popularity of the guitar, bouzouki, banjo, and mandolin all indicate change is allowed, indeed the concertina of any type doesn't go back as far as fiddle, harp and pipes). I haven't had sessions complain about my EC though. Perhaps I'm thick skinned, or perhaps I've only gone to tolerant sessions.

 

Actually, I think most 'hardcore' musicians, who usually aren't open to change, would be open to any instrument as long as it sounds 'right'. I was once at a session where a hammer dulcimer musician showed up and most musicians were frowning and sending quiet insults... but as soon as she started to play, she was playing irish music so well, people warmed up to her instantly. Now, if you show up with a saxophone, people will probably dislike you, and for good reason. For starters, no matter what you do on this thing, it will probably be too loud to be enjoyable for others.

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I dont know if this is an attempt at humour.

however,English concertinas[imo]can play most music successfully,it is of course a different instrument from the Anglo,and presents different problems.

a considerable part of the Irish repertoire originated in Scotland and some even in England[Hornpipes?]

plus the fact that Ireland was under ENGLISH RULE until 1921 might indicate considerable exchange of musical culture

 

Well, that's all good in theory, but in reality... there's been many debates about this on this forum, so I guess it's beating a dead horse, but for some reason, most english concertinas I heard in person has never played irish music convincingly (I know there are, have just never heard one in person). If the instrument can actually play it, then who's to blame? Are english players less concerned about learning to play a style? Take you for example Dick. You are a great musician, and your sea chanties and english music stuff is of the highest quality. But when it comes to irish music, in all due respect, you just don't have the swing of it. You are teaching how to play hornpipes, but I can't recognize any of that swing that makes hornpipes so beautiful in irish music. Is it because you play them english style? Maybe because you haven't listened to enough irish music? I don't know. So people can go on and on about the fact that irish music is actually english music or scottish music, or whatever, but I think it's just an easy way out of trying to properly learn a style.

 

You know, I'm from the province of Quebec. I've heard quite a bit of quebecois music. Quebecois music has been influenced heavily by irish music and some scottish. But it's just not the same. I can hear the difference. A reel in irish isnt phrased the same as a reel in quebecois. To learn to play quebecois, I would need to learn more than just the notes. I'd have to "infuse" myself in the style, meaning many years of listening, and trying to learn what makes quebec music sound like quebecois music.

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When will English players give up trying to play irish music??? ;)

Why should anyone want to give up trying to play Irish music? It's some of the most beautiful music you'll find!

 

(Unless, of course, you get sidetracked into thinking that those nauseating jigs and reels are "music" :P )

 

Cheers,

John

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I tagged along a workshop by Frank Edgely on ornamentation for the anglo. Playing on the english I wasn't sure if I would get anything out of it but I've found it very helpful. As Dick has said, the ornamentation notes typically come from the opposite side. For example a role on A could be played as A{B}A{G}A. Interesting alternatives though would be to play A{d}A{B}A or A{G}A{E}A. I have been doing the same with short rolls: A{B}{G}A, A{d}{B}A or A{G}{E}A. After listening to Sport on the Nervous Man CD by Micheal O Ralghallaigh, his short rolls are often of the form A{c}{B}A

 

Ok, sorry for jumping into this thread so late, but I just spent the week taking lessons from Micheál Ó Raghallaigh, Gearóid ÓhAllmhuràin and Chris Droney at the Catskills Irish Arts Week (Chris taught a master's class that was an absolute delight... and played wonderfully well). From Micheál's class we spent a fair bit of time discussing rolls.. or rather what to do instead of a roll. According to him, there are basically two things he does where a roll would be called for. Either Note, cut, Note, Note (GCGG for example or even EGEE) or a cran, which is the ADBA (or ADBAA). From discussions in the class, i doubt he would ever use a C, B in a cran. He was very clear about how it should be done, so it would usually be either a D,B or a E,C (depending if the note being ornamented is a push or a pull note). He might also use the high B,F# or the A,G.

 

Considering you play English Concertina, you can probably get away just fine with the other ornaments you mentioned, the cut notes should be so short that no one should really be able to figure them out anyway.

 

--

Bill

 

i agree that micheál would probably never do a A{cB}A crann.

 

unfortunately i have a lot of work to do right now, so i can't do a full exposition on ornamentation, but i would say that in irish concertina playing, there are four types of ornamentation which are standared: the cut, the crann, the triplet, and the chord. there are very fixed systems of how to do cuts, depending on what fingering system you use to play--a cut is a note above the note you are playing, but noel hill for example will cut with the note below in the key of D while playing a second octave D, while in the key of G he does something different. a crann is basically an extended cut, composed of 4 to 5 notes: the root note, and several notes above. again, there are very fixed ways of doing cranns, though some people of course have their own variations. some people do cranns with notes above AND below, which is to simulate a roll, but it is NOT a roll, e.g. A{BG}A, as opposed to a normal crann of A{DB}A. i would consider there to be two schools of cranns based on the rhythm behind them, which i consider differentiated beyond differences in notes. compare gearóid oHallmhuráin and noel hill's cranns to hear the difference (again, i dont have time to do a full write up of how they different, note by note).

 

triplets are self explanatory--they are used just the same as on other instruments, where if you have two notes, you add an extra between them (and are not mathematically actually triplets according to normal music theory), e.g. EGE becomes {EFG}E (which is not standard abc notation, but it demonstrates more clearly i think). i do not consider accordion triplets a standard ornamentation on the concertina. normally, if you want to play three notes in a row like a fiddler, you'd hit them all with the same finger--to use two fingers on the same note is an accordion triplet. nothing wrong with doing it, but i would not consider it standard.

 

chords are exactly what they sound like: playing harmonic notes below the melody. i consider this an ornamentation, because the way irish players use chords is different than players in other styles. we treat them as ornamentation, which is why oftentimes they can be very sparse and random sounding to the unaccustomed ear. if we do extensive chording, it is considered and outgrowth of that, not necessary but still icing on the cake. contrast this with british playing, where chords are almost constant and definitely consistent.

 

now to talk about rolls--rolls are not a standard ornamentation in irish concertina playing. if you could not do cuts and cranns perfectly and seamlessly and effortlessly, i would not recommend trying too hard to get rolls. they just dont work well in all the same situations as cranns and cuts do. to be honest, cuts are usually good enough for most situations--it is very easy to overdo it on cranns. listen to people considered highly ornamented, e.g. noel hill, and you will notice that he uses cuts all over the place where a fiddler or flute player would do rolls, and cranns are used as a variation on those, and not as the de facto way of dressing up a long note. i've taken lessons for 5 years from noel hill at his camp (which totals 45 lessons, which is at least 45 songs i have learned from him in class, not including supplementary tunes he gives us), and i can only think of maybe 3 or 5 places where he taught us rolls, and only one of them is a roll in the same way a flute player does it--the others may be the same notes, but they are actually grace notes within a melody that end up mimicking roll (again, i dont have time to explain what that means).

 

as a final note on rolls, i would like to say that although a roll on the concertina may have the same notes as a roll on the fiddle etc, it is not rhythmically the same. this is due to the fact that fiddles, flutes, whistles and pipes all have a different sort of energy system (harmonically speaking) than the concertina and accordion. in the fiddle etc all when you do a roll, you are changing the length of the harmonic system (whether it be a string or vibrating air) quickly to produce the notes in the rhythm you want. on a free reed instrument, you have a separate energy system for every note (violins have four, but you only use one string at a time for a roll, etc.), which means if you do a five note roll, you must start and stop 5 different reeds, which means that there is a period of time at the beginning of ever note where the harmonic system has not reached resonance (i.e. is not fully speaking). on a fiddle etc. when you go from note to note in the roll, there is already energy in the harmonic system, and the notes speak very quickly (compare the sound a violin makes when you start a note cold, and when you are playing a note on a string and lift up a finger or even switch strings: the lead in note has a noticeable time delay before full resonance is achieved). this is why concertina players do cranns instead of rolls--rolls do not sound very crisp on the concertina, because you cannot get the same tone on the "home note" (i.e. A in A{B}A{F}A), all 3 times in the roll, and instead it just sounds muffled in the middle, because there is not time enough for the home note to reach full resonance in the middle. when you do a crann, you get cuts (which sound the same as on a flute etc., which is quick and indiscernible in tone and pitch) and then strong home notes at the beginning and end, each with a nice bell shape.

 

to do a roll, then, you have to change the length of the notes. making the center note shorter (note #3/5) makes it a "turn," not a roll, and does not have the same rhythm as you would on a fiddle etc. the other thing to do is change the length of other notes can make it sound better (and not flat and dead), but then it's still a different rhythm than a roll. how to do this is complicated, subtle, and honestly not really worth your time, as it still doesnt sound right as a mainstay or substitution for cranns.

Edited by david_boveri

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(Unless, of course, you get sidetracked into thinking that those nauseating jigs and reels are "music" :P )

 

Yeah, and music or not, they all sound the same anyway! :lol:

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(Unless, of course, you get sidetracked into thinking that those nauseating jigs and reels are "music" :P )

Yeah, and music or not, they all sound the same anyway! :lol:

Not so.

I'm sure I've noticed that there are at least two... major and minor. :huh:

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(Unless, of course, you get sidetracked into thinking that those nauseating jigs and reels are "music" :P )

Yeah, and music or not, they all sound the same anyway! :lol:

Not so.

I'm sure I've noticed that there are at least two... major and minor. :huh:

 

That being said, the father of an ex girlfriend of mine who lived in Ireland was in a band, playing guitar, and the box player was pretty much only playing major tunes... when my ex's dad asked him why he was not playing more minor tunes, the guy said that's because they were not called 'minor' for nothing, in the sense that they were lesser tunes. Unbelieavable but true!

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(Unless, of course, you get sidetracked into thinking that those nauseating jigs and reels are "music" :P )

Yeah, and music or not, they all sound the same anyway! :lol:

Not so.

I'm sure I've noticed that there are at least two... major and minor. :huh:

That being said, the father of an ex girlfriend of mine who lived in Ireland was in a band, playing guitar, and the box player was pretty much only playing major tunes... when my ex's dad asked him why he was not playing more minor tunes, the guy said that's because they were not called 'minor' for nothing, in the sense that they were lesser tunes. Unbelieavable but true!

Or maybe he wasn't really such a great musician, and he was actually worried that he might be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor? :unsure:

.................

Is it time yet to ask what you get when you drop a piano down a mine shaft?
B)

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