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seanc

Learning Irish Tunes, Help!

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I am lost and very confused. I am trying to learn some Irish tunes. I have the music for the tunes and have learned it pretty well. However, whenever I pull up a recording, you tube, or whatever there is SO much ornamentation that what I am playing is almost non identifyable as being the same tune.

 

Any suggestions here? Is there somewhere to get the sheet music that would contain the ornamentation?

 

Thanks in advance, always.

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Hi seanc

 

You could look at one of these good resources:

http://music.gordfisch.net/oregans/index.html

 

http://sniff.numachi.com/~rickheit/dtrad/

 

http://www2.redhawk.org:8080/irish/index.pl

 

The ornamentation in these sites vary from none to a lot. My impression is the ornamentation may be musician specific, and not a hard fast rule, but must fit the music. Someone better than me could explain how it works.

 

There is lots of information out there, and growing every day. What is is specifically you are looking for?

 

Hope it helps

 

Thanks

Leo

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Hello seanc,

We have all, to varying degrees, been where you find yourself.

 

At Noel Hill camp Noel says if it is a question of learning and playing a tune well without the ornaments or learning it poorly with the ornamentation then go for the unadorned version. Play the music well and the ornaments will come.

 

Attending a music camp with an experienced concertina teacher can open some doors quickly on how to use your instrument best for ornamentation.

 

Books can help too. In the Learning section of cnet's home page is a "Supplimentary Tutor for the Anglo Concertina by Simon Wells. You might find Simon's thoughts and approach helpful.

 

If you want the sounds and mechanics of ornamentation then Frank Edgley's tutor gives clear examples.

 

Finally, there is no substitute for listening to your favorite Irish musician be it on fiddle, pipes, concertina, flute etc. until you can diddle the tunes right along with them. Pretty soon you start to hear where you can stick some of the diddles on your own instrument.

 

It takes some time and practice. Enjoy the journey.

 

Greg

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Hello seanc,

We have all, to varying degrees, been where you find yourself.

 

Books can help too. In the Learning section of cnet's home page is a "Supplimentary Tutor for the Anglo Concertina by Simon Wells. You might find Simon's thoughts and approach helpful.

 

If you want the sounds and mechanics of ornamentation then Frank Edgley's tutor gives clear examples.

 

It takes some time and practice. Enjoy the journey.

 

Greg

 

Amen to what Greg says...we've all been there. Do check Simon's tutor, which he wrote to solve a similar problem. And if it helps you, write and tell him; when I met him in Brisbane last year, he told me he'd heard very little response. He was contemplating a revision.

 

Frank's book helps too, as does listening and living examples. Music is an endless road, enjoy the journey. I've been doing Irish nearly a decade and am not an expert at ornamenting yet.

 

Ken

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I agree about playing the tune straight well is much better than playing a tune with ornamentation badly..

 

I guess the real question is where does thr tune start and stop and where does the ornamentation come in??

 

As an example.. The kesh jig. It starts on paper with (dotted quarter) G followed by (3* 8th notes) of GAB (dotted quarter) A...

 

No where can I find anyone playing it that way. It just seems to me that at some point if everyone plays the same ornamentation the same way it ceases to be ornament and becomes the tune.

 

I will check out Simon's book. Maybe that will help..

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seanc,

There is a nice series of books and accompanying Cds put out by Ossian. Elderly instruments is where I got mine. They are commonly refered to as "The orange book" or blue or green etc. The Cd tunes are in medley form and are played on fiddle. The books have a faithful standard notation of what is being played. ("Irish Session Tunes in sets by Sheila Garry-fiddle Brid Cranitch-keyboard)

 

What may be of interest to you is that when a major embellishment or ornament occurs the notation resorts to a standard figure of an "arch" over a "dot". I suppose this stands for "embellish as you see fit". What I have enjoyed doing is following the notation along with the Cd and then listening to what the fiddle player fills in. By listening again and again and using a "slow downer program" I can usually approximate what the fiddler is doing. It isn't always a perfect match; concertina and fiddle don't always ornament the same way, or my technique may not be up to the task.

 

Simon wells addresses some of this in his manual.

 

Anyway, I have found that the Ossian materials give me some insight into the process.

 

Best of luck,

 

Greg

Edited by Greg Jowaisas

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That is good to know, thanks!.. I do have the red book. But no cd. I will have to look into that. I did have a look at Simon's tutor and will start going at that one as well.

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I believe a semicircle over a dot is called a fermata, used to indicate a pause or sustained note held longer than usual, not normally an "ornament" as such. Apparently Hayden would love to confuse his orchestra by putting fermata over a rest.

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I believe a semicircle over a dot is called a fermata, used to indicate a pause or sustained note held longer than usual, not normally an "ornament" as such. Apparently Hayden would love to confuse his orchestra by putting fermata over a rest.

The meaning of the fermata has not remained constant over history, although I am not aware of it ever meaning an ornament. Originally it just marked a cadence point, but since Haydn's time it has pretty much been agreed as a "hold," that is, an uncounted prolongation of whatever is under it. If it is a note then the note is held long. If it is a rest then the rest is prolonged.

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Thanks for the clarification, Robin.

 

Actually I think I've confused the fermata with a "squiggle" that is common to fiddlers and signifies a place for ornamentation. I've confused a lot of standard notation in my checkered musical career but must admit that in attempting to learn Irish tunes my note reading is improving and helping the learning process.

 

The other tip I might suggest for seanc is to treat learning Irish trad as you might learn a language.

The written page can indeed help but listening, listening and listening until the phrases start making sense and finally can be repeated and then repeated with meaning and finally your own phrasing can express feeling is the key to really learning a language or a music.

 

Many suggest immersion as the best way to learn a language. Noel Hill suggests going to sleep with the Cd player at a low volume playing the tunes you are working on. I've tried to have my favorite Cds playing while I cut the grass, build cases in the workshop, work at the computor, drive to the store, etc.

 

Again, it all takes time. Enjoy the journey.

 

Greg

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You need to use a slower-down package to listen to some of the more "florid" players, and don't forget they use variations, so the tune is slightly different each time around.

I recomend listening to Mary MacNamara if you want slower, with minimum ornaments (or some of the older-style players e.g. Mrs Crotty, Kitty Hayes etc).

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"The other tip I might suggest for seanc is to treat learning Irish trad as you might learn a language."

 

 

 

 

At this point I would agree as far as langusage.. However, rigth now it would seem that:

as written is "this is a moose"

 

while the spoken is "this is a mosse and his best friend is a flying squirrel, and oh by the way take out the garbage, do the dishes, wash the car and pick up a pack of butts on the way home".

 

But, maybe it's just me and i am overwhelmed...

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Geoff Wright's advice is the best. A slow down program is a wonderful thing. You must have the tune on your computer. Then you drag and drop the tune file to the Slow Downer icon. Then chose the tempo and whether you want to make the tune play sharper or flatter than your recording- in case the tune is in C and you're playing in D, or your (or his) tuning is off. The Amazing Slow Downer slows a tune down without changing pitch. You can hear every little bit of the tune.

But... there is no substitution for asking an accomplished player "How did you do that? Could you slow down and show me?"

There is also no substitute for time with the instrument in your hand. After the learning curve flattens out the development is incremental. Don't be discouraged. It's that way for all of us.

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I personally use and highly recommend "Transcribe" by Seventh String Software:

 

http://www.seventhstring.com

 

They have trial versions of the program for Windows, Mac, and Linux. I've been using this program for many years as the primary way I learn tunes from recordings.

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The Amazing Slow Downer slows a tune down without changing pitch. You can hear every little bit of the tune.

 

thanks for the advice, cocusflute. It seems to be a program even i can work with.(lol) Do you know of any programs where the notes are added in ABC notation? Recognising the notes by ear is difficult for me.

 

Dirk De Bleser

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Do you know of any programs where the notes are added in ABC notation? Recognising the notes by ear is difficult for me.

I don't know of software that can do that, but Transcribe! can identify a note and show you its position on a piano keyboard, and the newest version tries to identify chords. It's free to try. See the link Michael Eskin posted above.

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I am lost and very confused. I am trying to learn some Irish tunes. I have the music for the tunes and have learned it pretty well. However, whenever I pull up a recording, you tube, or whatever there is SO much ornamentation that what I am playing is almost non identifyable as being the same tune.

 

Any suggestions here? Is there somewhere to get the sheet music that would contain the ornamentation?

 

Thanks in advance, always.

hi my name is ian munro and i live in scotland and have been involved with the irish music scene for some years although i dont play much these days and did at one time aspire to being runner up on a couple occasions at the all britain irish music festival which is all competitions . so i may be in a position to give you some advice, although i dont suppose everyone will agree with me. firstly there are not a lot of music books that give decoration this is something you have to learn. you will find some in irish pipe music such as the willie clancy book and some older books of irish music such as The roche collection ,traditional irish music by ossian publications last known at 21 iona green cork ireland .they well may have more. also you could do well to obtain bertram levy book on playing the anglo concertina ,front hall enterprises voorhesville,new york. if you are playing irish music on an english concertina it can be done but will probably be better and easier on the anglo because of the built in rythm required to play it. birtrams tutor covers various ways of decoration i believe he spent several years in ireland and in my opinion is the best anglo player i have met. he used to live in port townsedn washington state. his tutor comes with two cassettes which cove playing it slowly and building up the speed with decoration as you get better at it. playing drones is effective decoration progressing to triplets and if you want to do this to a tune you should have a little understanding of the structure of music so you do not loose the rythem ,important when playing in a session. young musicians everywhere and some others often play too fast in a session and as irish music was primarily developed for dancing,too fast is not allways such a good idea. go to sessions where there are a lot of mature musicians and listen to them and you will soon get the idea.there is a weeks summer scholin county clare in ireland run by noel hill a fine irish player which lasts a week. iwas in ireland recently visiting relative and a couple of pub sessions were organised for me no one played at flying speed which leaves time to get some decoration in.

also obntain some of noels cds and chris drondy a world champion some years ago and you will see what i mean.contact me if you need anymore info and we will see what we can do

happy squeezing

 

ian munro

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