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Aug 29, 2021 - 6:28:07 PM
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755 posts since 8/10/2017

I'm going to switch now from classical to Irish fiddle lessons. I had wanted to play Irish fiddle since the 1990s. I heard some Irish music and said, wow! I really want to know how to play that! So I bought a fiddle and tried to learn how to play it. But 25 years of trying to figure it out on my own didn't work out that well, so I decided to start from scratch with violin lessons.

A lot of my friends who played a lot better than me had taken classical lessons. So I decided I would take them, too. I learned a lot. I play a lot better in tune now. I can do things I couldn't do before. It sounds a lot better.

Now I'm switching to Irish fiddle lessons. I sure hope that I can finally, two and a half decades later, finally learn how to play Irish fiddle.

Aug 30, 2021 - 2:08:13 AM

1904 posts since 12/11/2008

Practically every page of my O'Neill's 1001 Irish tune book is chock full of totally wonderful tunes. An embarrassment of riches. They aren't really that difficult to play, either. In any case, I have yet to see one that moves out of First Position.

Edited by - Lonesome Fiddler on 08/30/2021 02:09:41

Aug 30, 2021 - 5:06:17 AM
Players Union Member

carlb

USA

2372 posts since 2/2/2008

I'm guessing that the secret to learning Irish fiddle is the ornamentation. You might find some videos but better if you can find a local person who can teach you what goes into it. Not every player uses ornaments the same way, but getting the technique down will probably help you out immensely.

Aug 30, 2021 - 6:02:30 AM

755 posts since 8/10/2017

There's ornamentation but there is also skill and playing fast and making it sound Irish. I don't have any of those.

Aug 30, 2021 - 6:41:35 AM

DougD

USA

10329 posts since 12/2/2007
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Do you read music? Like Ed, I enjoy leafing through O'Neill's and playing interesting looking tunes (or even ones with interesting titles) especially since you can download it free online.
You've complained before about not being able to play fast. Did your classical teacher offer any help with that during your lessons? I'm really curious how you would solve that problem.

Aug 30, 2021 - 7:42:29 AM

755 posts since 8/10/2017

I only made it through Suzuki book 3, plus a other things on the side. None if it was fast like Irish music. I learned things like how to bow correctly (although I get negative reinforcement every week at the jam to bow incorrectly), how to cross strings correctly, how to play in tune, how to notice half-steps when they are on different strings not just the same string, how to play a high C. I didn't get as far as different positions.

I think sometimes the fast thing is a brain thing as much as a body thing. My violin teacher mentioned ways of thinking to sort of clear out the brain blocking thing going on that keeps me from playing faster, but it was just a passing discussion and didn't come up in an actual lesson. I only took about 6 months of lessons and they were half-hour lessons. Often it would take me two weeks to be able to play a piece in the Suzuki piece well enough to move on. The teacher I had was very exacting. She would not tolerate half-assing things.

It's not Irish tunes that I need to learn. I know a lot of Irish music in my head and I can even pick tunes up on the fly to some extent. It's the bowing and ornaments. I had one lesson with my friend and he told me some bowing things that aren't ornaments that give it that Irish sound. It should be fun and helpful and also I think it may give me some cred in the Irish session.

Sep 1, 2021 - 5:54:12 AM
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Baileyb

USA

88 posts since 1/24/2019

Diane, Checkout this Youtube Video of John McEvoy. The camera angle is different than most as it shows a better view of the bowing arm & wrist in action. He plays a slow tune and a couple fast ones. 

John McEvoy & John Wynne

Edited by - Baileyb on 09/01/2021 05:56:32

Sep 1, 2021 - 7:59:07 AM
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755 posts since 8/10/2017

I had my first lesson and it was nice to be able to ask directly, hey what was that you did there? And also have someone tell me when I was not doing it right and to show me again. Not have to try to figure it out just from a video.

Sep 1, 2021 - 9:20:58 AM
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Baileyb

USA

88 posts since 1/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by sbhikes2

I had my first lesson and it was nice to be able to ask directly, hey what was that you did there? And also have someone tell me when I was not doing it right and to show me again. Not have to try to figure it out just from a video.


The intent of the video was to show the bowing and wrist action that he was using for a moderately slow tune and a faster tune. 

Sep 1, 2021 - 10:00:27 AM
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DougD

USA

10329 posts since 12/2/2007
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Thanks for posting that Brian. From her own comments, I don't think Diane has had much success with self directed analysis and learning, which is why she's trying lessons, but I enjoyed it. I think I can learn some things from it, although I don't really aspire to being an Irish fiddler.

Sep 1, 2021 - 10:31:35 AM

JonD

USA

35 posts since 2/12/2021

How great that you have a 'live and in person' instructor Diane! Some of us don't have anyone at that level close by, so Zoom lessons and/or YouTube (and of course the Hangout) fill the need.

I liked the McEvoy video posted by Brian-- for me it reinforced the notion that, for this style of playing, often only two digits (the thumb and middle finger) are in contact with the bow; the others are along for the ride. This means that gravity is the tone generator, not finger pressure.

Sep 1, 2021 - 1:27:32 PM
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Baileyb

USA

88 posts since 1/24/2019

quote:
Originally posted by JonD

-- for me it reinforced the notion that, for this style of playing, often only two digits (the thumb and middle finger) are in contact with the bow; the others are along for the ride. This means that gravity is the tone generator, not finger pressure.


Kevin Burke, a renown Irish fiddler explained in one of his video lessons on "bow hold" that he uses just the weight of the bow on the strings when playing. He said if he pulled the bow off the strings it would fall to the ground.

If you watch many ol time fiddle videos you'll see that many fiddlers do not use the classical grip and sound darn good to my ears any ways.

Sep 2, 2021 - 12:05:32 PM

1635 posts since 4/6/2014

Personally i am a fan of the "American Irish" players. I like the drive, a bit more double stopping, and the swing. Obviously i am generalizing, but that's what comes across to me. As opposed to the single string intricacies of some Irish styles.

Sep 2, 2021 - 5:34:12 PM
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2784 posts since 9/13/2009

The wanting to delve into Irish fiddling, reminds me of a session with Martin Hayes, speaking on Irish music; was asked (by some violinists) about instructions like how to do proper ornaments and bowing of Irish music; and when to use them.

His response and demonstration, was along the lines of he can try and explain instructions how do this ornament and that ornament or bowing; but  those are really secondary, not really the important things that make the music what it is (he demonstrated simplified, took out most; and it still sounded Irish and Martin Hayes).

His point was that primary rather starts with the Heart and Soul of Irish fiddling... that you have to immerse yourself into the whole of the music, listen to and understand what the music is saying, the feel; absorb, internalize and breathe it. The technicalities are just means to support or enhance that... once you understand that feel, the technical will more fall into place and feel natural. But if you lack the primary grasp of the music, then it will just tend to sound a bit unnatural, just ornaments and bow mechanics; won't necessarily sound Irish. He stated that he really could not explain how to instructions on how it feels, one needs to experience it.

Of course, many of those instruction based players (and teachers) didn't get or like that; thought that was too Zen. They wanted codified how-to instructions to follow.

It's a oft repeated philosophy and advice that applies to most any other style. Starts by absorbing into the experience of listening to a lot of the music.

IIRC, Dwight Diller had a similar Zen like video; absorbing the feel of music; something to with a meandering brook.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 09/02/2021 17:37:22

Sep 2, 2021 - 6:39:42 PM

2004 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler

The wanting to delve into Irish fiddling, reminds me of a session with Martin Hayes, speaking on Irish music; was asked (by some violinists) about instructions like how to do proper ornaments and bowing of Irish music; and when to use them.

His response and demonstration, was along the lines of he can try and explain instructions how do this ornament and that ornament or bowing; but  those are really secondary, not really the important things that make the music what it is


That may well be so. But for anyone somewhat familiar with a few Irish tunes the issue of ornaments is important. I don't think they just come to you on their own. Many are fast and precise. In my own experience there's a big chasm between learning a melody and starting to play it comfortably with some ornaments.

Sep 3, 2021 - 5:56:55 AM
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Baileyb

USA

88 posts since 1/24/2019

I found from reading the Bio's of most of the traditional Irish musicians is that they were born into their music. They were brought up listening and playing this music from early on.

Alaskafiddler's recount of Martin Hayes explanation is a perfect example of this. Here is a link to a video, young Martin and his father PJ did years ago. Yep born into it with the Heart and Soul of Irish music.

PJ & Martin Hayes
PS -  note Martin's bow hold.

Edited by - Baileyb on 09/03/2021 05:59:14

Sep 3, 2021 - 7:13:52 AM

Old Scratch

Canada

839 posts since 6/22/2016

Thanks for that link, Brian - that's the way I like my Irish fiddling!

Sep 3, 2021 - 7:55:16 AM
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755 posts since 8/10/2017

So far with only two lessons (in the Sligo style), the emphasis has been on bowing direction, slurs and rhythm. Ornaments are also part of the tune and naturally he has to show me how to do it, but it's not a lesson in ornaments. They just are part of the tune. He didn't say okay, Irish music is about ornaments so here's how to do them. He said Irish music is about the rhythm and lift and here's how to do it. I see it as really quite the same as how you naturally grow to know where the little slides and double-stops go for old-time music.

I listen to far more Irish music than old-time. I like playing old-time but I do not like listening to it. I only went to old-time because I was invited. I grew to like it well enough but Irish music is my first love.

Sep 3, 2021 - 1:48:33 PM
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1635 posts since 4/6/2014

As far as i can see, all the players that like Irish music here are American, Canadian or Whatever.
That will influence the way you play the Irish music. And vive la difference imo. These tunes have been back and forth across the pond for generations, and benefited by it imo. And there are great Irish players who have benefited from the American players also...Keep the ball rolling....I think respect for each others Music is key.

A definite difference has been made by the African players from both sides of the pond, and their own home land, for which i for one am truly grateful..... That is not discounting the influences from the rest of the world...It's all Music, and how it comes out of one persons fiddle will be different from another's.

Sep 3, 2021 - 3:57:09 PM

755 posts since 8/10/2017

I like Canadian music, too.

Sep 3, 2021 - 7:59:53 PM
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5486 posts since 9/26/2008

Great video Brian. I am a big fan of the flute and can tell you that those wind instruments (pipes, flutes, whistles) are the reason for the "ornaments."  The pipes cannot articulate two notes of the same pitch without some sort of articulation and the various cuts and pats and rolls grew out of that need. Typically flute and whistle don't use the tongue to articulate like one might hear in other musics, instead they also emulate the uilleann pipe technique and sound. Get a whistle if you want to get a better understanding of that concept. 

Sep 3, 2021 - 10:16:17 PM

111 posts since 7/30/2021

quote:
Originally posted by alaskafiddler

The wanting to delve into Irish fiddling, reminds me of a session with Martin Hayes, speaking on Irish music; was asked (by some violinists) about instructions like how to do proper ornaments and bowing of Irish music; and when to use them.

His response and demonstration, was along the lines of he can try and explain instructions how do this ornament and that ornament or bowing; but  those are really secondary, not really the important things that make the music what it is (he demonstrated simplified, took out most; and it still sounded Irish and Martin Hayes).

His point was that primary rather starts with the Heart and Soul of Irish fiddling... that you have to immerse yourself into the whole of the music, listen to and understand what the music is saying, the feel; absorb, internalize and breathe it. The technicalities are just means to support or enhance that... once you understand that feel, the technical will more fall into place and feel natural. But if you lack the primary grasp of the music, then it will just tend to sound a bit unnatural, just ornaments and bow mechanics; won't necessarily sound Irish. 

 

YES. This is what I've been searching for...
Being classically trained, I can say that no roll is too fast, no ornament too difficult. I can copy fiddle solos from Spotify note for note, and play them at speed too. But It doesn't sound Irish. It doesn't have the beauty that I seek. Technically copying a piece, even with all its ornaments, or reading its sheet music, just doesn't get you there. I am searching for the elusive Soul of it. I know I'll never sound like I come from County Clare...but I dream of someday sounding like somebody I'd want to listen to! 
So far the only advice I've gotten is 1. listen to the Singers.  2. join a Session (I hope to someday).   3. move to Ireland.
(just joking, I haven't actually gotten #3!!) 

 

Sep 4, 2021 - 12:31:06 AM
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1904 posts since 12/11/2008

Let your fiddle sing the tunes, just like you'd sing them if you had the voice of your dreams. Whether it is elation, sadness, drunkenness, patriotism, martial spirit, tenderness, anger, sarcasm, true love, or mellow, good times with friends & family, find the emotions you instinctively feel the tune wants to convey and let them speak. Sure, you can't neglect the tune's mechanics, but don't let a preoccupation of the mechanics overwhelm the tune's emotional narrative.

Sep 4, 2021 - 5:04:05 AM

9468 posts since 3/19/2009
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Let your fiddle sing the tunes, just like you'd sing them if you had the voice of your dreams. Whether it is elation, sadness, drunkenness, patriotism, martial spirit, tenderness, anger, sarcasm, true love, or mellow, good times with friends & family, find the emotions you instinctively feel the tune wants to convey and let them speak. Sure, you can't neglect the tune's mechanics, but don't let a preoccupation of the mechanics overwhelm the tune's emotional narrative.


Great comment.. Lately, I've been trying to disassociate   my playing from my Listening.. That is I try to Hear what I'm playing as if it was someone else playing.  All thought of technique is set aside.. Attempting to focus on those 'voices' you mention...Again, good comment.

Sep 4, 2021 - 5:25:02 AM
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DougD

USA

10329 posts since 12/2/2007
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On pete's comment to "Keep the ball rolling" ... Our band became friends with Mick Moloney when he first came over here in the 1970's (for graduate school I think). We were finding ourselves in sessions with Irish and Scottish players at festivals and parties, and Mick was having the same experience with American old time jams. We all could play our instruments, but we didn't know the tunes. So we made a trade - Mick made a tape for us of what he thought were the 100 most common Irish tunes and we did the same for American tunes. If we didn't have a good source recording we just recorded the tune ourselves. No one cared much about ornaments and nuances of style - we were just interested in the fun and friendship of music making.
It worked great, and gave us something new to listen to in the van. Although we never would have been mistaken for an Irish band, nobody cared (I've usually found this to be the case with musicians of other traditions - its like learning a few phrases of a foreign language - people appreciate the effort).
This was before the Internet of course.

Sep 4, 2021 - 12:16:21 PM

755 posts since 8/10/2017

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

Let your fiddle sing the tunes, just like you'd sing them if you had the voice of your dreams. Whether it is elation, sadness, drunkenness, patriotism, martial spirit, tenderness, anger, sarcasm, true love, or mellow, good times with friends & family, find the emotions you instinctively feel the tune wants to convey and let them speak. Sure, you can't neglect the tune's mechanics, but don't let a preoccupation of the mechanics overwhelm the tune's emotional narrative.


I'd say my fiddling sounds like the voice of drunkenness mostly, not for a lack of trying to sound otherwise. It has improved a lot with my violin lessons, but it still sometimes is quite drunk.

I remember I was talking to a guy once about playing the mandolin (old time music) and he said probably nobody ever told me how to use the pick, which direction to pick, how to pick the rhythm (down down-up, down down-up), how much swing to give it and all that. And it was true. You just sort of hear it and it goes into your body and comes out your hands.

For sure it is the same with Irish music. It's the same type of music: an aural tradition, not really written down, and when it is written it's like a sketch and not the actual thing. I am really grateful for how attending the old-time jam for so long taught me how to learn music on the fly by ear. I can somewhat do it with Irish music. There are more notes in Irish music, they don't play it quite enough times through for you to quite get it, and then they rarely tell you what the name of the tune was, so it takes a lot longer to learn on the fly. And some tunes have passages that are just hard to hear and make sense of.

The lessons will help because they give me some focus, I don't have to try to figure out where to put slurs and down bows myself and I can ask questions.

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