I've loved the sound of multiple styles of fiddling, but it is getting hard to put enough attention into each of them—I suppose it always has been so, it is just that I am noticing it more now, I think.
• Cape Breton/Scottish: My favorite style, I think, but there isn't anyone to play it with or any reason to play it for dancers, etc. I find remembering the dotted rhythms to be difficult when I learn from sheet music, and it can be difficult. Contemplating using the looper I purchased recently to help (play the tune off sheet music, record in the looper, then look away from the sheet music and listen to myself playing it in order to learn it by ear, rather than printed music, which works better for me.)
• Irish: Once my favorite, I believe it is now tied for second with Scandinavian music. I mostly play Irish tunes though, since there isn't anything I can do with the Cape Breton, it seems. Irish is quite difficult, as well, and expects players who play at sessions to have huge repertoires, though I do play Irish well, if I say so myself, but my repertoire isn't huge, but I've been working on it…
• Scandinavian: Tied for second with Irish. I love the styling of the music and the easier nature of the tunes, plus the harmony is cool, as are the modes. Playing harmony is something I don't have in me, but I plan to work on that (partly in order to do that, I purchased a looper, so I can record a tune, and then listen to myself and try to figure out a harmony. I think this is going to involve some mental work on trying to analyze keys and chords—up until this time, I've largely ignored keys and chords in my playing and just play what I hear, not knowing what key I am in, which frustrates the banjo players in old-time. I also have a hardingfele, which has largely set in its case, unfortunately, but it is like the Cape Breton music where I have no place to play it other than for myself. Not sure if I want to put in the work to go down that path, but I love the sound of it. Some of these aspects (figuring out harmony, mostly) apply also to English Country Dancing music, which has many similar facets and is something that I have done on a regular basis, pre-covid.
• Old Time: Comes in third in preference to the preceding styles, but is the kind of fiddling that actually gets played around here—the local sessions have a good repertoire and have good players are not played too quickly (covid gets in the way some, though). In going to festivals, being a "tune hound" seems to be what folks are looking for, and since I am so diverse in my playing, I have trouble recalling the tunes I have played enough to hold down a session, and working hard to learn a new tune on the fly in sessions gets wearing after a while. I don't find learning lots and lots of obscure tunes to be compelling, though I will play tunes out of tune books sometimes, but sitting down to memorize them is hard to do and hard to want to do (maybe that is cause it is hard to do). I would be more interested in trying to work up the tunes I know in more variations, need to work on some of those fancy waltzes.
And then I have a friend who is into cajun…
Since I'll be 66 in February and in order to feed these takes a bunch of time, not sure how much I have and how much I want to dedicate to this all. I have other things I want to do, also…
I am not looking for advice, just vetching a bit.
Why quit any of it? Unless each is tied to a certain jam that collectively overloads your time.
Seems to me, fiddle culture is unique in that folks primarily identify with a certain genre, and it's almost like a "zero sum" thing--too much BG and you must subtract OT, etc. I hardly ever see that in guitarists, and just about never in pianists. Personally, I have just as much enjoyment on piano playing Chopin as Hank, Sr.
Please understand I'm not besetting upon you personally, I just think we as fiddlers should lighten up a little on our identifying. It's really just the people we play with that make it enjoyable or not. I want my epitaph to say something like, "he was a good fiddler", but not necessarily what music I played.
I feel your pain. I started in old timey and was leaning hard toward BG when an attractive Irish lass (real deal) said she needed a fiddler. That’s why I got into Irish and I stayed because we were getting gigs. But now there’s a big part of me that wants to play jazz. Covid=no gigs, so maybe now is the time. So much good music, so little time.
We used to have a friend back in SE KY, a portrait artist, oil painter, who was into long talks about stuff like this. He was an accomplished oil painter, who said he got that way by narrowing down his focus and honing in on the stuff he wanted to be a pro at. Worked for him.
Some people can spread themselves thin...some gotta zero in...that kinda rhymes...lol. But for me, I have personally limited myself in different ways over the years. There were times when I couldn't handle all the things I "could" do on guitar...they just scattered my soul into too many pieces to keep track of...I purposely chose to drop certain things across the decades. I'm finding it the same for me on the fiddle...maybe if I would've started playing at the age of 5 or something I'd see it different...but, having started at the age of 55, along the way I dropped certain ideas out in order to zero in on the things I thought would work out best for me. But I guess it's different for everybody...still...if I feel I'm getting too scattered, I usually narrow things to where I'm all in one piece, if that makes sense. We each gotta do what we feel we have to do. I hope I'm on topic...lol...seems here lately I post a reply and then a few hours later it hits me I'm not talking about the same thing the original poster was talking about...so...in advance, I apologize if I'm talking crazy...lol. That way it won't wake me up at 3, realizing I responded in the wrong way. Anyhow...just saying...some people have no limits on style or type of music or whatever art they are doing...but I do believe some of us have to know when to hold 'em...know when to fold 'em...lol...sorry, had to put it that way...yeah, I was a-singin' as I wrote that part.
Spreading yourself too thin leads to . . . a thin spread.
OK .... why do you play? What level of importance is it to you? Anything that gets in the way of those two answers need to be thought on and gauged as to the overall impact on the original questions. What is it and is it worth it does it really make a difference one way or the other. For me if something stops being fun or starts costing more money than it's worth, I move on> Play for joy .... work for money. R/
What I play depends upon who is available!!! Irish cross-over musicians are now more available than in the past.. OT is always out there but not many opportunities with Covid... Bob, I know you are flexible and that is a good thing.. To paraphrase that old Hippie saying, "If you can't fiddle with the ones you love, love the ones you Can fiddle with"..... (beer just kicked in!!!).. Bob, I REALLY miss jamming/chatting/ harassing..with you..
Edited by - TuneWeaver on 11/25/2020 14:37:58
'Garrett Barry's Jig' 2 days
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