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Idea for lessons on this site.


Alan Caffrey
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Hello All,

 

I have received lots of useful help on this site in the past, and I've had an idea for lessons. I am stuck here in the middle of Arkansas and have little, let's say NO contact, with other concertina players except for perhaps a week in summer when I'll get to a festival. That's very useful but of course you come away and think 'I wish I'd asked this or I wish he/she could have shown me that'.

 

So I'm going to choose a tune from the 'tune-o-tron' list (or whatever it's called) and ask for suggestions about ornamentation of that tune. I choose 'The Boys of Bluehill', the well known hornpipe.

 

For those who want to make negative comments please save your breath! Remember that lots of us go to classes every year and don't know things, and ask stupid questions, and can't work out exactly what other people are doing from recordings.

 

I look forward your suggestions.

 

Thanks in advance, Alan

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Gearóid ÓhAllmhuáin on his recording Music from Clare and Beyond would be a fine example of playing the tune on the concertina. It may deviate from the most standard version of the tune, but there is a brilliance in his treatment of it. Listen for the high note cuts into phrases, they are rhythmic as well as melodic. Many fine triplets as well. In his playing one can appreciate the simplicity of hitting the same button three times to make a triplet, and he also anchors low notes as a bounce.

 

Hello All,

 

I have received lots of useful help on this site in the past, and I've had an idea for lessons. I am stuck here in the middle of Arkansas and have little, let's say NO contact, with other concertina players except for perhaps a week in summer when I'll get to a festival. That's very useful but of course you come away and think 'I wish I'd asked this or I wish he/she could have shown me that'.

 

So I'm going to choose a tune from the 'tune-o-tron' list (or whatever it's called) and ask for suggestions about ornamentation of that tune. I choose 'The Boys of Bluehill', the well known hornpipe.

 

For those who want to make negative comments please save your breath! Remember that lots of us go to classes every year and don't know things, and ask stupid questions, and can't work out exactly what other people are doing from recordings.

 

I look forward your suggestions.

 

Thanks in advance, Alan

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If you use "thesession.org" as a rough guide to the tune you should be ok. There is usually enough discussion if it is a lousy version. They also list the recordings of the tune. I still find that learning the core of the tune without instrument specific ornamentation a mixed blessing. If yo hear it from the instrument you are learning on, ie a concertina player or recording, you are getting more than just raw notes. The Krassnen version of O'Niell's is an awful source due to ornaments being written out for a specific instrument( fiddle rolls etc.) and implying that to be the "only" correct way to play it. Raw notation from the first two Breathnach books would be much more realistic, and they include a list of the source players. It identifies the instrument transcribed from, and the player's residence or origin. Now back to "the boys of bluehill", slow down using software any version you own, play along and then try to find the ornaments in your personal arsenal that work best for you. The goal for me is to use ornaments that ad not detract form the melody, and fit my "style" or lack there of for playing Irish trad music. I play several instruments, but maintain a "style" across all of them. I also find once I have learned a tune, it can be played on any of the instruments I play. I might have to adjust a few things due to range or mechanics of the instrument, but the core of tempo, smoothness of rhythm, and placement of ornaments is constant.

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Lawrence Reeves said:

The Krassnen [Miles Krassen} version of O'Niell's is an awful source due to ornaments being written out for a specific instrument( fiddle rolls etc.) and implying that to be the "only" correct way to play it.

I feel compelled to come to my friend Miles' defense. The publisher requested that he reset the tunes as he did- it's a very Sligo-y way of playing. As Lawrence says, fiddle ornaments. But Krassen doesn't necessarily think the tunes should be played that way, not is that implied anywhere. Miles is the last person to be dogmatic about style. His settings are only guides -- not laws. I find that a lot of the ornaments in the original O'Neill's (and what a can of worms that is, since O'Neill borrowed freely from so many other contemporary written sources) are very piperly.

That said, Krassen's edition of O'Neill's would not be my first choice for the written source of a tune. But how good is any written version of a tune?

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Well, sometimes it is "how" I say something that gets me in trouble. I guess I have seen people coming from a classical violin background that try to play precisely as written, and end up sounding very un-natural. I understand that Miles is a graduate from Indiana Bloomington, and is very astute in his area of expertice. I just meant to point out that an un-ornamented version in print allows for the player to place cuts and rolls where they see fit. Almost anyone playing Irish trad these days will put cranns or rolls and cuts in obvious places, and those just learning should get a good fundamental idea of why such ornaments are used. Background from piping traditions, and on slow airs a background to singing. Many of Krassnen's contemporaries also included written out ornaments in their works.

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But getting back to the original idea...

 

is there a way to display the tune as a posting on forum? so as we might comment on it and make suggestions about it. And then how about sharing how you might play the tune - I'm talking specifics: cut this note, add this bass note, try this fingering or this variation, etc.

 

Alan.

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