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Over here if people see someone with a guitar singing in a pub they assume it's an 'Irish session'

 

As I understand it when people took guitars into sessions in the late 1950s - early 60s in Dublin they were told to go away as it was assumed they were doing American stuff. That's why Christy Moore came over to England for so long as the folk clubs were more flourishing and open, or am I wrong, that's what he told me once .

Edited by michael sam wild
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....... You have to map out many tunes on an individual basis, and then remember this at speed when things get noisy and some people are playing different settings of the same tune. You have to stick to what you have mapped out. Don't kid yourself, this isn't easy. But this is what the good guys do all the time. And the only way to do this is to play a lot. A lot lot. And for a while you will have trouble in sessions because you're playing faster than you would on your own, you can't always hear yourself clearly, and because you can't always remember the exceptions - like learning the irregular verbs in a foreign language.

 

Greetings David,

I am learning my way around my anglo, recently introducing myself to the key of A.

 

I get your message loud and clear about getting the basics down; I find myself tempting to be impatient and learn ornamentation before I learn the tune.

 

When you say that tunes need to be "mapped out," I think you are suggesting note by note, with consideration, for example, which G or C to use?? Then, once that is done, practice it until the tune becomes muscle memory???....which at my age is a LOT of times. At this early stage of my learning, that is what I have been doing with some success.

 

Does anyone practice technique: scales, appegios, intervals, etc..or is it all about building a repetoire of tunes? I ask because it would also be nice to learn to improvise, such as during a session when a tune I don't know is being played.

 

Many thanks...and great discussion.

 

Chris

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When you say that tunes need to be "mapped out," I think you are suggesting note by note, with consideration, for example, which G or C to use?? Then, once that is done, practice it until the tune becomes muscle memory???....which at my age is a LOT of times. At this early stage of my learning, that is what I have been doing with some success.

 

Chris, yes to all the above. But most accomplished players agree that the best thing to do at a session when an unfamiliar tune is being played is to sit and listen to it. If you are an experienced player with hours of sessions under your belt, a good knowledge of your instrument, and if you've heard the tune many times before then you might try to put in a note here and there. But improvising doesn't cut it. It is just not on for an Irish session. I am impressed by the really good players who won't play on a tune they don't know. Make friends and don't play the tune until you know it. Get the name and look up the dots or get a recorder and copy the tune to learn later.

 

I seldom practice scales and arpeggios. Instead I might try a new hornpipe and work on a difficult passage, playing it over and over. This usually involves working the little finger on my left hand to get it to be as responsive and strong as my first two fingers. So I'll play such tunes as Lads of Laoise, Humors of Lissadell, Martin Wynne's Numbers 1 and 2 and the tunes played by Michael O'Raghaillahg and Danny O'Mahoney on the Comhaltas site. Their first three tunes will give your left hand a good workout. The fourth tune involves the high G on the middle row. I haven't names for the first two; it's a good idea to learn tunes you have no names for. It's another way of stretching yourself.

 

If the idea is muscle memory -- which is true -- then working on tricky passages will give you what you need to know. That's my feeling anyway. Keep learning new tunes and technical problems -- short scales and clichéd arpeggios -- will arise that you'll recognize and look forward to working on. Of course you should have the basic scales at your fingertips, with the proper fingerings. Playing in the key of A is pretty ambitious. That alone will give you plenty to think about. Sounds like you're on the right track. Enjoy playing - that's the first "rule."

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Make friends and don't play the tune until you know it. Get the name and look up the dots or get a recorder and copy the tune to learn later.

 

....So I'll play such tunes as Lads of Laoise, Humors of Lissadell, Martin Wynne's Numbers 1 and 2 and the tunes played by Michael O'Raghaillahg and Danny O'Mahoney on the Comhaltas site. Their first three tunes will give your left hand a good workout. The fourth tune involves the high G on the middle row. I haven't names for the first two; it's a good idea to learn tunes you have no names for. It's another way of stretching yourself.

 

Enjoy playing - that's the first "rule."

 

 

Hi David,

I did not know about the Oraghallaigh website...very nice! Thank you.

 

I appreciate the reminder regarding proper celtic session etiquette. I am accostomed to American old-timey sessions, where for the most part all levels of players are welcome to play along-which, of course, can have its problems. Some of my celtic session friends say something to the effect of: 'With old-time music, you know (learn) the tune by the end of it being played, with celtic, you know the tune before you play it.'

 

Chris

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