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chrisbird
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I don't feel there is anything in the traditional playing/music that can't be found in the best classical playing/music (including those things that make traditional music "special" such as energy and the feeling of personal connection to the musician).

See, I can agree with that, in a way. You can take any one "element" of traditional music, and find a parallel in some of the most inspired, iconoclastic soloists of the classical world. But I don't think that means that the traditional world has nothing that classical music doesn't. Many, many competent classical players just can't pull off the loose-wristed subtly syncopated shuffle of a a run-of-the-mill old-time fiddler. It's not required for the style.

 

Listen to this, which is supposed to be an old-time tune called "Possum Hunt" -- click the "Play Sample" button on this page (or any other tune on the album): http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/trac...px?itemid=26583

 

That is clearly the sound of a classical violinist. It's not that I'm saying he (or any other player) can't use any particular musical effect, but you add it all up and he can't play in a convincing old-time style. And it's not that he's not trying! It quotes him in the liner notes: "The classical violinist does not forget his Bach and Mozart, his classical indoctrination -- only lays them aside for the moment and succumbs unabashedly to the spirit of Stony Brook's Thursday night parties. He 'hauls a tune now and then in the old-fashioned way', as Mount wrote..."

 

Now, the essence of this isn't that I'm making an example of a single classically trained musician. The first time I heard this album, which I had high hopes for, it took me two seconds to think, "oh no, they got a classical musician to play it." What makes us recognize playing like this as classical? There's something very different in the approach, and listing techniques like I did earlier is just an attempt to quantify something which is very difficult to quantify. I'm not saying no classically-trained musician could have pulled it off. But the very fact that a professional classical musician thought he was playing in an old-time style, and wasn't, shows that there IS something essential in traditional music that is not required in classical music.

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I don't feel there is anything in the traditional playing/music that can't be found in the best classical playing/music (including those things that make traditional music "special" such as energy and the feeling of personal connection to the musician).

 

Not at all. We can even invoke terms like duende and mojo that transcend stylistic categories, and esoterism in time such as grooves and pockets. Feeling and impetus are difficult to operationalize, yet germane to the discussion. Your example is a lucid one, Boney. I agree that this particular treatment is an overt approach apart from the idiom from which it derives. One element in particular, is a pervasive and unrelenting vibrato that is absent in most folk fiddling. But there are other elements as well that distinguish it as such--a stylistic treatment of a form from outside of the idiom. There is a certain sterility about these highly refined treatments of "roots" music, IMO. This is the problem with "crossover" approaches. It gives me the feeling of a commentary--an intentional view of primitivism as seen through the lens of sophistication--like an academic study. While often charming and interesting, it often lacks the verve and elan of the original item. Sometimes, these efforts seem obligatory, or homages.

 

Look at Bela Fleck treating Bach with a five-string banjo. As a lover of Bach, it's not my cup of tea. Yet, a virtuoso can render a piece like this eminently interesting on a folk instrument. And while different from the original in so many ways, yet similar and genuine in a very deep way. Such is Art. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEtqlfMTL80 ...very interesting music evoked from an instrument whose strength is to produce sound that pops, bites and growls. The technical virtuoso has oft been accused of sterility, alloofness and devoid of soul. Yet, the same is rarely said of a folk musician. So, two different elements: the technical and the ethereal. One does not necessarily assume the other. A convincing modal blues form, while technically as simple as possible, is probably unattainable by many technicians. In this regard, the space between the notes is probably the most important part of the music. In many respects, the idiom of folk music is as unattainable to the technician as Pagannini is to Bob Dylan.

Edited by catty
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I agree that this particular treatment is an overt approach apart from the traditional folk idiom. One element in particular, is a pervasive and unrelenting vibrato that is absent in most folk fiddling. But there are other elements as well that characterize it as such--a stylistic treatment of a form outside of the idiom from which it derived. There is a certain sterility about these highly refined treatments of "roots" music, IMO.

 

Catty,

"Idiom" is the word.

 

I'm only a concertina dilettant - my proper instrument is the voice. And here we see the multiplicity of the possible forms of expression. Not only has each country a language; each region has its dialect or accent, and each class of society has its characteristic diction. Even two generations of the same social class in the same region speak differently.

When I hear an Englishman or an American rendering an Irish ballad, I just wait till it's over (I've learned not to shudder visibly ;))

It's nothing to do with the words that are sung, or the spiritedness of the performance - it's how these words are pronounced. You can tell by the odd dialect word that a song is supposed to be Irish - but a person who would use a word like "sheugh", for instance, wouldn't pronounce "Bann" (the name of the river) with a short "a", like a Yorkshire friend of mine does. So someone singing in the "wrong" idiom is prone to annoying inconsistencies that distract from one's appreciation of the music.

 

The same happens when it is dots on lines that are being read, rather than words on pages. Each genre of musician reads the dots as he has learned to play them. Folk material played by classical violinists sounds stilted, classical themes played by a country fiddler sound shallow. Yet each may be sublimely eloquent in his own idiom.

 

Of course, the closer you personally are to the material in question - words or tunes - the more the foreign idiom will irritate you.

 

Even within the "classical" camp you can find this. I adore Pachelbl's Canon in D - but please, not played by the Berlin Philharmonic under Herbert von Karajan! (shudder!)

 

Cheers,

John

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Here's Johnny Doran, playing solo Uilleann pipes: Colonel Fraser - My Love Is In America - Rakish Paddy. This was recorded live in 1947, first take, no edits or re-dos. The acetate ran out, which is why there's a fade at the end. What do you think?

I think he's stupendous, but Pipes is my weak spot, I can listen to them any time, good and bad playing. Just like the sound, it transposes me elsewhere.

It's not to the point though. One of the points was that these wonderful ITM musicians can play anything.

Well, the poster you were responding to was talking about players who could "just about do anything on their instrument," not play any style of music. I think the example I posted shows someone in full control of their instrument, taking it to levels of inventiveness and even technical proficiency as high as a classical "virtuoso." The fact that he chooses to play a certain genre of music does not deny his ability. Neither does the fact that Segovia chose to play classical music deny his.

 

Really, the only thing I'm disagreeing with here are those that say that either classical music or traditional music lacks something, while the other doesn't. They both lack some things, and are strong in other things. The best players of both knock my socks off. But they're different. And it seems so often that people brought up with close ties to one tradition thinks dismissively of the other. The strengths of the "other" tradition might not be your cup of tea, but they are there, and you probably can't consciously hear many of them. As I said in a much earlier post in this thread, I know there's a lot I miss. But there's enough that I can catch to feel the general differences in approach, and value them, and also see how they're often mutually exclusive. The approaches were developed to serve the type of music they're used for. You can't throw spontaneous triplets and scraping double-stops into the Canon in D and have it work. And you can't throw wide vibrato and rubato into a square dance tune and have it work. (Again, these are just some obvious distinguishing characteristics, as the last few posters have said, it's more the sum of many subtleties that define the styles).

 

I'd agree with Mischa and Danny that the best classical virtuosos clearly have a more refined technical ability than even the best traditional musicians. But the best tradtional musicians would eat their lunch when it comes to foot-stomping-ness. I prefer the sound (in isolation) of a cello to a banjo. But all else being equal, I'd rather hear a banjo play "At a Georgia Camp Meeting" than a cello. On the other hand, I'd rather hear a cello play a Bach partita.

 

I really don't see a lot of controversy in that point of view. To those who are seeing this thread as a fight, that's not how I'm feeling.

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But the best tradtional musicians

This is yet another point for pondering.

A "traditional musician", college professor with multy-1000 dollar violin, having learned the style from the books and CD's of professional players, doesn't qualify as traditional for me, but rather as performer in traditional style, a copy-cat. And how do we know it's an old time country or ITM? We don't. We assume. In this respect, there is nothing a good "Traditional" musician can do, that classically trained one can't and vice versa. They all are the same and one with very little differences.

Tell me, are these musicians traditional or classical?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZWToyAAIPEc...feature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYOMYN16gwQ...feature=related

Do you see Conservatory and Ballet training here?

 

Are these astonishing Gauchos really Argentinians?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt3HbIc5oig...feature=related

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What the hell. Here's my 2¢.

 

I play anglo concdertina, 6-key wooden flute, and fiddle. I live in Ireland and I play traditional music every day.

 

I am also equipped for classical music. My parents were classical musicians. I spent one summer at The Marlboro Music Festival, where I was Pablo Casal’s person assistant.

 

There isn’t any doubt in my mind that the Bach Chaconne is more complicated and more difficult to play well than, say, Devaney’s Goat. Overall Bach has a much greater range of expression. But there are subtleties in phrasing and rhythm in Devaney’s Goat that even great classical musicians don’t “get” easily. I don’t know if Mischa gets it.

 

I can’t play Bach well. I simply haven’t practiced enough. Bach requires much more technique than Devaney’s Goat. Bach is subtler and deeper, and much, much longer than 16 bars. But Devaney’s Goat has its undeniable charms.

 

The concertina is not easier than the fiddle. With the fiddle it’s pretty much one finger for one note. With the concertina you have choices of how to get that note and upon that depends how the tune will sound. The fiddle is certainly much easier to play in Bb and Eb than the concertina. I don’t play the concertina because it’s easier. It’s easier to play the fiddle like Frank Custy than to play the concertina like Dympna O’Sulllivan or Edel Fox.

 

I love ITM. I feel incredibly privileged to play this music. If people like Mischa want to put it down, it’s their loss. But to tell you the truth, he isn’t putting it down. He’s putting it in perspective, though with neither tact nor delicacy. I’ll play on regardless of what he thinks. Sure Bach is deeper and more profound. But it doesn’t have to be either/or. You can love both, and be a better musician for that.

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What the hell. Here's my 2¢.

 

I play anglo concdertina, 6-key wooden flute, and fiddle. I live in Ireland and I play traditional music every day.

 

I am also equipped for classical music. My parents were classical musicians. I spent one summer at The Marlboro Music Festival, where I was Pablo Casal’s person assistant.

 

There isn’t any doubt in my mind that the Bach Chaconne is more complicated and more difficult to play well than, say, Devaney’s Goat. Overall Bach has a much greater range of expression. But there are subtleties in phrasing and rhythm in Devaney’s Goat that even great classical musicians don’t “get” easily. I don’t know if Mischa gets it.

 

I can’t play Bach well. I simply haven’t practiced enough. Bach requires much more technique than Devaney’s Goat. Bach is subtler and deeper, and much, much longer than 16 bars. But Devaney’s Goat has its undeniable charms.

 

The concertina is not easier than the fiddle. With the fiddle it’s pretty much one finger for one note. With the concertina you have choices of how to get that note and upon that depends how the tune will sound. The fiddle is certainly much easier to play in Bb and Eb than the concertina. I don’t play the concertina because it’s easier. It’s easier to play the fiddle like Frank Custy than to play the concertina like Dympna O’Sulllivan or Edel Fox.

 

I love ITM. I feel incredibly privileged to play this music. If people like Mischa want to put it down, it’s their loss. But to tell you the truth, he isn’t putting it down. He’s putting it in perspective, though with neither tact nor delicacy. I’ll play on regardless of what he thinks. Sure Bach is deeper and more profound. But it doesn’t have to be either/or. You can love both, and be a better musician for that.

 

Well said.

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I had the pleasure of hearing David play at Bradfield and within a few moments you can tell that he is from Ireland .It is the timing and the freedom of playing that comes through. I keep on about dancing to the music or at least playing for dancers,it is not something you pick up from sheet music.A classically trained musician is usually bound by the notes he has in front of him,he has not got the freedom to play the music differently each time he plays it,he has to strictly play the dots as written if he does his own thing he can effect other musicians in the orchestra.These guys are fantastic musicians as Misha and everyone else would agree, but the joy of on the spot experimentation that comes off is only available to the non classical Musician.At the George a number of players came in for a drink after a nearby classical performance one of the Violin players so much enjoyed the music that he took out his very expensive violin and joined in.He went absolutely crazy and loved the sheer joy of just letting go.

We play for fun,for our own satisfaction and the fact that some others enjoy listening and dancing to us.It cannot be forgotten.This little Instrument of ours is unique after forty years I still love getting it out of the box. What some can achieve is remarkable,I am still learning from others.

Dick I applaud you for experimentation and others who achieve things that teaches us the possibilities of the instrument.

Is it worth arguing and upsetting each other.

CERTAINLY NOT

Al

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The concertina is not easier than the fiddle.

 

To use Dirge's term: rubbish.

 

I'd say this is a case for Misha's math: the concertina (and virtually any instrument with "stops") is roughly 10 times easier than fiddle (or virtually any instrument without stops).

 

Intonation challenges (to say nothing of note clarity, tonal production, and all the fundamentals of musical value) inherent with fretless strings are non-issues with instruments with stops, where the machine controls the majority of the intonation: button A renders note B, etc. But with fretless strings, as they say in mathematics, there is infinite space between the notes. There are myriad more nuances to effect expression on fiddle (or any fretless, stringed instrument) than on concertina.

 

Or, to put it another way, there are myriad more ways to go wrong on the fiddle than on the concertina: take a group of 100 random school-age children. Give them each a fiddle and a concertina -- ask them each to learn a simple tune on both instruments and send them on their way. Ask them each to play that tune on both instruments one month later. I rest my case.

 

With the fiddle it’s pretty much one finger for one note.

Lol -- while not a perfect analogy, that's like saying: to reach the moon, you pretty much point a rocket toward space. There may be basically one finger per note, but there are infinite notes on a fretless instrument, and countless ways to affect that note. Generally speaking, with fiddle it takes long study to reliably produce a given note, but with concertina one presses the appropriate button to produce that note, each time.

Edited by catty
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Thanks for bringing this back to topic Dick.

 

Reversing bellows on the EC in an attempt to simulate the AC like bounce was something I attemped back in the early 80's. I abbandoned it after coming to the conclusion that it went against the nature of the instrument and loosened up the air tightness on the beast as well. I now regret selling my concertina in 88' and went dormant to anything but classical singing.

 

Now back playing again since 2004, I've come to believe that trying to immitate the bounce and lift of the modern cross-row or the older along the row techniques yields unsatisfactory results...for me.

 

One of our AC members during a past EC vs. AC Irish debate suggested an EC player wanting to play Irish music should perhaps look to other instruments in the genre and their styles of playing. I was being very pissy about the debate and mad as hell at the suggestion, but a lightbulb went off in my head...He (Bill McHale) was right. <_< I am not displeased with my experiments since.

 

Phrasing is the job of every musician without regard to instrument.

 

The complication for me is that now with arthritis dystroying my hands, the addition of wrist straps has made the "draw" on bellows direction very comfortable, strong and articulation to inner phrases very crisp. Example: Galway Ramblers, I use the draw one the A part, and the B part starts on the push. Damned if I don't feel compelled to draw for the second half of it to push myself back into the A. (that is at a good clip). That with the stomping of my right foot along with everybody else in the circle is about all I can handle. Don't know when the stomping started, but there it is on any of the dance forms.

 

AC has a unique place in ITM (did I do that right?). All the bouncing and lifting I leave to others.

Edited by Mark Evans
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I'd say this is a case for Misha's math: the concertina (and virtually any instrument with "stops") is roughly 10 times easier than fiddle (or virtually any instrument without stops).

 

Intonation challenges (to say nothing of note clarity, tonal production, and all the fundamentals of musical value) inherent with fretless strings are non-issues with instruments with stops: button A renders note B, etc. But with fretless strings, as they say in mathemetics, there is infinite space between the notes. There are myriad more nuances to effect expression on fiddle (or any fretless, stringed instrument) than on concertina.

 

Or, to put it another way, there are myriad more ways to go wrong on the fiddle than on the concertina: take a group of 100 random school-age children. Give them each a fiddle and a concertina -- ask them each to learn a simple tune on both instruments and send them on their way. Ask them each to play that tune on both instruments one month later. I rest my case.

 

For ITM and AC I would agree that if one had never played either instrument and tried to learn a simple tune on both that the tune would sound better on the concertina. This does not translate that the concertina is any easier. For some people they would not be able to get their heads around push-pull logic and may find it a lot easier to play the tune on the fiddle. I have seen this many times with children.

 

I happen to know a few musicians that play both concertina and fiddle. If you were to ask any of them they would tell you that the concertina is actually harder to master and get flow in the music.

 

Another point, if you were to attend any Fleadh and go to both concertina and fiddle competitions, you would find that the standard of music is higher in the fiddle. If the concertina was an easier instrument, wouldn't you think the reverse to be true?

 

Again why would you even want to compare which is harder to play. That's like trying to say, languages are harder than maths or vice versa. Yes both are true all depending on the person.

 

Some people get maths some people get languages.

 

If someone is lucky enough to have an instrument chosen for them that "fits" we get great musicians.

 

That's just life and what makes it interesting, how boring would it be if we were all good at everything?

Edited by skinsegan
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Another point, if you were to attend any Fleadh and go to both concertina and fiddle competitions, you would find that the standard of music is higher in the fiddle. If the concertina was an easier instrument, wouldn't you think the reverse to be true?

 

There is a reason there is a vioin section in the orchestra, but not a concertina section. :lol:

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Another point, if you were to attend any Fleadh and go to both concertina and fiddle competitions, you would find that the standard of music is higher in the fiddle. If the concertina was an easier instrument, wouldn't you think the reverse to be true?

 

There is a reason there is a vioin section in the orchestra, but not a concertina section. :lol:

 

 

Hmmm I didn't know we had orchestra in ITM?

 

Maybe read what I wrote again, I think it cleary states AC and ITM

Edited by skinsegan
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Psst: (I'm speaking in allegory :D )

 

Hint: the bellows and the buttons do the work for you.. Now, if someone can figure out how to put a bellows mechanism on a Nickelharpa, (fretted fiddle) it would be approaching the easier playing mechanics of the concertina.

Edited by catty
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Psst: (I'm speaking in allegory :D )

 

Hint: the bellows and the buttons do the work for you..

 

 

lol if only it was that simple. In a perfect world maybe.

 

Same as saying the bow and strings do the work for you.

 

Ridiculous comment.

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Same as saying the bow and strings do the work for you.

 

Actually, not. Shall I spell it out? The concertina is a machine: the finger activates the button; the button selects the reed, and only that particular reed in only that particualr fashion, like a piano--the note either is or isn't with only the amount of volume and attack/decay fluctuations that the machine will permit through its mechanism; the reed is activated by friction (air from the bellows), again, in only that particular way--across the reed--with fluctuations in amount and attack/decay. The only "work" is to select the button with the finger, and move the bellows (albeit, simplified). Fiddle: the finger acts directly upon the string in an infinite choice of scale lengths to render pitch; the string is activated by friction (bow is drawn across the strings). In this scenario, the bow is again worked directly by the muscles, as is the bellows, but may be activated in more variety of ways than the machine is capable--the player is the machine in this case. And concerning pitch, with 'tina if playing monophonically you have between 20 and, what, 48 choices? With fiddle, it is infinite--not only are there infinite ways to affect pitch, but as many ways to affect other dynamics of sound as the body-machine can move, as the body is in direct contact with the vibrating catalyst itself.

 

Simply, becasue there are more variables involved with fiddle than with concertina, it is a greater challenge. Kind of like the golf: the reason it is challenging is because of the potential for things to go wrong between the backswing and the striking of the ball. I would say, roughly, that if fiddle is like golf, then concertina is more like pinball. :D

Edited by catty
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