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Sometimes, playing a tune is almost a spiritual experience..

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Oct 21, 2019 - 1:51:18 PM
7716 posts since 3/19/2009

A search did not lead me to what I was looking for. Many years ago I wrote a post about the Irish genre tune "Broken Pledge".. I had struggled with that tune seemingly forever..My post was meant to be poetic and alas I can't find it.. My intent was to compare playing Broken Pledge with playing Jerusalem Ridge.. .Basically.. when playing either tune.......get quiet....don't rush......THINK.. am I in tune? No.. ..Rosin? Do I have too much?
Pressure? too little? too much? Need to 'tweak'.........do I sound good? is the metronome in my earbud? Am I doing the tune the justice it deserves? OK...I can do this............Breath... OK.. Play.. but DON"T speed up like you always do!!!!
........
IS THERE ANY TUNE (TUNES) THAT HAVE MADE YOU HAVE SUCH A RESPONSE?

Oct 21, 2019 - 1:56:29 PM

7716 posts since 3/19/2009

STOP THE PRESS!! I found it..the post I made in 2011:

THE HARDEST TUNE YOU LOVE, AND HOW YOU PLAY IT

This post was originally written about "Broken Pledge'', but to me it also applies to Jerusalem Ridge..


This topic comes to mind because I have been recently appreciating the complexity of a particularly hard tune that has special meaning to me. It is “Broken Pledge” (And Jerusalem Ridge in this case)... An oddity about this is that “Broken Pledge” is an Irish style tune while ninety-nine percent of the tunes that I play are of the Old Time genre .

Bare with me while I tell you about this tune and then I hope that you will share with us a story about a tune that has special meaning to you, and how you play it.

It was 1979, and I was a budding fiddler. The local radio station, WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana featured a Saturday morning program called “Music Down Home”, hosted by Gary Stanton , who called himself “the radio ranger”. It was very fortunate for me that I had my tape recorder running that morning. Gary was highlighting the playing of that amazing Irish fiddler, Michael Coleman. This may sound silly, but when I heard Michael Coleman play “Broken Pledge” the world seemed to stop. I was “taken” by the tune and knew that I had to learn to play that tune, that way.

When I play “Broken Pledge” I play the first half of the tune as sweetly and apologetically as I can, as if it were an explanation made by someone who had broken a pledge. The second half I play strongly, like an accusation. At times, I reverse the roll of the parts. I don’t play it fast , but rather at a conversational speed, as if each note were a syllable in a word.



When I am about to play “Broken Pledge”

I tell my wife that I don’t want to be disturbed for the next twenty minutes

One slow deep breath

Get out the tuner, the sound has to be right

Check the tuning

Again

Now the bow, check the tension

Rosin the bow

Too much and the sound will be scratchy

Too little and the bow might slip

Quality of sound is everything

Michael Coleman

I remember his sound

Hold the fiddle in my hands

Rub my hand across its back

Elbows on knees

Head down

Michael Coleman

Incense, which aroma?

OK , Stupid, forget the incense

It is just a fiddle tune

No, don’t light a candle either

Oh, yeah. But it is a special tune

Get comfortable in the chair

Raise the fiddle to my chin

What if I could play like Michael Coleman

Another deep breath

Eyes closed

Exhale

Now, play…………..

The Broken Pledge ( Jerusalem Ridge)!!



While I have been motivated by many tunes over the years, “Broken Pledge” has been the one tune that keeps coming back to my mind as a special motivator. I still don’t think that I can play it with the finesse with which Michael Coleman plays it. After all these years I find that I don’t just play the tune, but rather, I play with the tune, toying with the phrasing, the notes and the intonation.

There are several musicians playing this tune on Youtube. They use various versions and different speeds. The first version that I learned was, on page 91 of the book “O’neills music of Ireland” by Miles Krassen. Try it….maybe you will love it also.

How I am affected by the Broken Pledge is how Jerusalem Ridge 'hit' me..
Is there any tune that does this to you??

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/21/2019 14:02:03

Oct 21, 2019 - 2:00:21 PM

2080 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver


IS THERE ANY TUNE (TUNES) THAT HAVE MADE YOU HAVE SUCH A RESPONSE?


If there was I would be bonkers.......

Oct 21, 2019 - 2:05:11 PM

7716 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry
quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver


IS THERE ANY TUNE (TUNES) THAT HAVE MADE YOU HAVE SUCH A RESPONSE?


If there was I would be bonkers.......


What? Not even ONE!!

Oct 21, 2019 - 2:51:35 PM

1407 posts since 12/11/2008

After about twenty years at relentlessly sawing away, I'm finally starting to tackle the tune that's consumed me since I was about eight -- the big theme that suddenly appears in the middle of the First Movement of Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto. Needless to say, I don't do it very well.

Oct 21, 2019 - 3:27:13 PM
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2080 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

.......get quiet....don't rush......THINK.. am I in tune? No.. ..Rosin? Do I have too much?
Pressure? too little? too much? Need to 'tweak'.........do I sound good? is the metronome in my earbud? Am I doing the tune the justice it deserves? OK...I can do this............Breath... OK.. Play.. but DON"T speed up like you always do!!!!

 


You are asking if any tune made me have such a response, Oh well, maybe in the beginning when I didn't know how to play properly.

But now I have sorted out all those problems by isolating them and practicing them individually.

So when I play a tune now I am not thinking about much at all, except of course, the order of notes I am going to play in that moment and the tone I am desiring to achieve. Thinking about that stops me worrying about any thing else.

Of course negative thoughts may arise but they are quickly vanquished  by focusing on the task at hand.  

Oct 21, 2019 - 4:21:45 PM
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1653 posts since 10/22/2007

I think:
duddle uddle ump duddle uddle ump
duddle uddle ump duddle uddle ump, etc. etc.

Or another one goes:
dump ti dump dump
dump ti dump dump etc. etc.

Oct 21, 2019 - 5:23:50 PM
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92 posts since 3/19/2012

Love The Broken Pledge! I play the D-minor version posted on thesession.org. However, I don't put as much thought into it as Lee. Not many tunes get me all "transcendental" these days. Maybe Maudabawn Chapel or Beare Island Reel. Well, there's the Bunch of Green Rushes (could go with the Broken Pledge), and Sgt. Early's Dream. There's a jig, The Rolling Waves, that relaxes me real good. But again, I don't need candles or incense, just play.

Oct 21, 2019 - 5:28:32 PM

7716 posts since 3/19/2009

My 'transcendental " stuff is just when I'm learning a tune!!! not always.. and of course I was just trying to be poetic..All of you should know by now to not take me TOO seriously..!!wink

I still love the Broken Pledge and have added "the Girl Who Broke My Heart" to the list of transcendental tunes...

Oct 21, 2019 - 6:07:23 PM
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2080 posts since 8/23/2008

quote:
Originally posted by TuneWeaver

All of you should know by now to not take me TOO seriously..!!wink

 

 


Ah, but you broach a very interesting/serious subject.

If some allow negative thoughts to fester they will find progress very difficult, and not to mention performing. 

Oct 21, 2019 - 6:12:37 PM
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92 posts since 3/19/2012

Fiddling is serious--serious fun! And having a little mystical feeling on certain tunes is a bit of personal fun for each of us. Another one that plays on me that way is Kevin Burke's way of playing "Humours of Tullycrine" hornpipe as a slow air. It's listed as "Bobby Casey's" on the album. I play it for myself at home because the session guys "hornpipe it up" every time I start it as an air.

Oct 22, 2019 - 5:50:24 AM
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carlb

USA

2167 posts since 2/2/2008

Since favorite tunes change over time, I can't really say that playing a particular one is a spiritual experience. However, playing with another person or two, at times when we just gel, now that's a spiritual experience.

Oct 22, 2019 - 2:02:08 PM
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7716 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

Since favorite tunes change over time, I can't really say that playing a particular one is a spiritual experience. However, playing with another person or two, at times when we just gel, now that's a spiritual experience.


You are so right about that Carl.. For me, one of those experiences was a few years ago at Clifftop.  It was about 10 PM and I was 'played out'... ready for bed.. Just then, this GIANT of a man appeared at my camp and said, "Lets play some tunes.".. That Giant was GAPBOB, Hangout member Bob Borcherdink.... Me, him and my  guitar playing friend, Larry, played  TIGHT for a long time . We weaved our different versions of tunes around and around.....We'd never played together before!!... Bob called the jam a  'conversation'..with fiddles.. later, my daughter joined us on her fiddle and the conversation continued.. I don't know what Bob recalls about that jam but to me it one of the best I'd ever been in..

Edited by - TuneWeaver on 10/22/2019 14:02:58

Oct 22, 2019 - 2:22:17 PM
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4313 posts since 9/26/2008

Quote:
Originally posted by carlb

Since favorite tunes change over time, I can't really say that playing a particular one is a spiritual experience. However, playing with another person or two, at times when we just gel, now that's a spiritual experience.


Honestly, this is what I thought this thread was going to be about.

Oct 22, 2019 - 2:41:58 PM
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7716 posts since 3/19/2009

quote:
Originally posted by ChickenMan
Quote:
Originally posted by carlb

Since favorite tunes change over time, I can't really say that playing a particular one is a spiritual experience. However, playing with another person or two, at times when we just gel, now that's a spiritual experience.


Honestly, this is what I thought this thread was going to be about.


Billy, playing with YOU is always a spiritual experience!!!

Oct 22, 2019 - 4:58:33 PM
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445 posts since 9/1/2010

Those moments mostly hit when I'm playing with others. I can play the same tune with the same people a hundred times and it may not happen, but when it does there is something inexplicable there. Like unlocking some other dimension.

As far as a single tune, Elsic's Farewell would be the one that does it for me. It isn't just the tune, but the story behind it that adds to the mystique. I think about how the tune was written 130 years ago....less than 10 miles from where I live, and I think about Harvey Elswick being called to his mother's deathbed. Her request was for him to play once more for her before she died...and it was this tune that he was inspired to play. The story implies that he made it up on the spot as a farewell to his mother.

Oct 23, 2019 - 6:46:31 AM
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387 posts since 8/10/2017

Nothing like that ever happens to me. I like the music well enough, but I'm mostly disappointed to hear myself play it. I do sometimes have great and wonderful experiences playing with others. Once in a while a tune will get going and you can just feel it that everybody wants to just keep on playing it, and so we keep on playing it and it feels like it goes forever. And then afterwards everybody's like "Wow, that was great, I was hoping it would never end and I was looking around and could tell everybody was hoping the same thing."

Oct 23, 2019 - 11:32:36 AM
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1249 posts since 4/6/2014

Sometimes????..........Almost?????...............Always!!!.....

Oct 23, 2019 - 5:32:20 PM
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1653 posts since 10/22/2007

It could be me and one other, or a seven piece band, it never gets old. It matters not how simple the tune. Matters not the style. With a positive attitude, it seems like the moments just happen. Spitiual at times. Fun. It has made me a moment hunter. Compared to a moment maker. That sounds like a subject for another thread.

Oct 25, 2019 - 5:45:21 AM

2170 posts since 10/1/2008

Some melodies just reach out and grab you ... by the ear and by the heart. One that often does it to me is the Irish melody The Star of the County Down. There is just something about it. Then there are the moments where everyone is playing truly together and you are wowed by the music. Good times. R/

Oct 25, 2019 - 6:30:13 AM
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DougD

USA

9303 posts since 12/2/2007

Isn't playing music supposed to be a "spiritual experience?"
My grandfather was from County Down, and in their Victrola were several records by John McCormack. I still like his version of "Star of the County Down" youtu.be/lr_j6bqLTAE

Oct 26, 2019 - 7:21:10 AM

26 posts since 9/17/2017

I once had the pleasure of seeing Winifred Horan of Solas play Niel Gow's Lament for the Death of his
Second Wife at an outdoor festival. That, I would classify as spiritual. I was thinking about @farmerjones talking about moments; I've always called them Magical Musical Moments and I'm always hunting them too. Wish I could manufacture them.

Oct 26, 2019 - 9:37:40 AM
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26 posts since 4/15/2019

I get that way to some degree when I play Shenandoah. I love this song and do a fairly good job playing it. Feel like I am getting my soul into some parts of it. Another song I am toying with is Midnight on the water. Just can't seem to get it right. To do it right requires cross tuning.

Oct 26, 2019 - 12:29:06 PM

26 posts since 4/15/2019

Many folks think Shenandoah is about the river of that name. It is a love story about a canadian fur trapper and an Indian maiden named Shenandoah.

Oct 27, 2019 - 7:09:50 PM
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183 posts since 4/22/2009

I once played Midnight On The Water in DDAD at an old fire station/community center in Jamaica Plain MA. There was a good sized audience with brick and glass behind them. The acoustics were excellent and I had the feeling the tune was coming back at me from all parts of the room in a loop. This was enough to be trance-inducing I guess. After the set was over my band mates said "What just happened there?" It was one of only 2 transcendent moments I've ever experienced performing in 45 years.

Oct 28, 2019 - 9:53:39 AM
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150 posts since 1/3/2019

In my informal interviews and time spent with traditional fiddlers, seldom was the technical aspect of fiddling brought up, but more how the music made a person feel, dance, or bring emotion to the music or the gathering. Even playing the fiddle was often tied to a spiritual cause or event. I don't think fiddle music is that great without invoking some kind of spiritual experience. Spirituality is ingrained in the tradition.

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