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Oct 20, 2021 - 10:45:08 AM
123 posts since 7/30/2021

A guitar friend tried the local Irish session (pre-pandemic) and I remember him saying that after a few times, he quit going. He said that there were lots of "rules" for guitar players and he was asked to sit out tunes a lot. He got the vibe that he was not particularly "wanted".

On the other hand, as a fiddle player I have always been welcome, even if there are already 3-4 other fiddlers. And never been asked to sit out.

In general, I've noticed that Irish sessions are hard on guitar players! If somebody walks up carrying a guitar, they kind of get the side-eye. Is this because guitar is not a "traditional" instrument? Or because more than one guitar really messes up the rhythm and sounds messy? Just wondering why people get so nervous about guitar players joining!
(As somebody who plays both guitar and fiddle, I've got sympathy for "the other side"... :-)

Oct 20, 2021 - 11:34:55 AM
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5505 posts since 9/26/2008

More than one guitar is too many, and as you said, makes it messy.
Plus, they often like a guitarist who tunes to an odd tuning (low to high: DADGAD if I recall correctly), which is super versatile for its ability to eliminate the third in chords which leaves the major/minor chords more ambiguous. Tell him not to take it personally.

Edited by - ChickenMan on 10/20/2021 11:38:14

Oct 20, 2021 - 1:13:16 PM

123 posts since 7/30/2021

Thanks for the explanation!

Yea, he's an Irish/Celtic music lover (like me)...but wasn't very welcome on his instrument...
he said he might learn the tin whistle! :-)

I do think there's an Art to the guitar accompaniment...
some people can make it "feel" right and others are just strumming away like American bluegrass/country. I haven't figured out why some people sound just right, but others don't sound Irish... I guess part of it might be the rhythm? Or maybe the "less is more" vs "loud is more" approach. ( As a guitarist as an Irish session, you would think they'd all be immensely bored zzzzzzzzz, they rarely get the lead melody, and they have to repeat every jig about 3x and move on to the next and play that 3x...so gotta be grateful they are willing to play! )

Oct 20, 2021 - 1:34:33 PM
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1635 posts since 4/6/2014

yep DADGAD tuning (or at least drop D tuning).. And preferably a "Fylde" guitar for the lack of mid-range...BUT....NO DOMINANT 7 CHORDS !!! ... or so i've been told.....lol.

But personally i like normal tunings and a Martin guitar, as long as they know what they are doing .... especially with a double Bass. Gives it a sort of piano acc feel. And a transatlantic vibe.

Oct 20, 2021 - 1:53:43 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

843 posts since 6/22/2016

Doesn't have to be tuned DADGAD - but has to come out sounding as if it is. Why guitar-players are suspect: 1) they often are not particularly good to start with - they just know their cowboy-chords and bang away (guilty as charged, yer honour); 2) even if they do like Irish music, they often don't know it well enough to play it, and aren't aware of a 'learning curve'; 3) at the first chance, they may start singing cowboy songs; 4) they may show up the following week with another guitar-player who wants to sing cowboy songs too; 5) there may already be seven or eight guitar-players there, not all of whom are up to the job (just look at all the youtube videos where you have one fiddler and five guitarists); and, most importantly, 6) shall I go on?

Oct 20, 2021 - 3:47:25 PM
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5505 posts since 9/26/2008

My friend Jon, who might chime in here, is pretty good at backing Irish music in standard tuning, but he's pretty sensitive to the needs of the music, which frankly doesn't need a backing instrument any more than old time fiddle tunes do. But it does add a nice texture and tone to the sets.

Oct 20, 2021 - 4:40:22 PM
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Snafu

USA

111 posts since 2/2/2014

This topic comes up almost once a month at the Irish music site thesession.org. Consensus of experienced players is Irish tunes sound best with no guitar but if you must have them, then only one guitarist plays at a time and he/she knows what they are doing and most importantly, knows the tune melody inside and out. Learning on the fly is a big no-no at Irish sessions unless specifically a beginner session and even then some “home time” in the music is expected before showing up. There is even an active discussion on this topic going on now.

Go to the site, click on the discussion tab and type guitar in the search box. Your guitar friend probably won’t like what he reads.

Edited by - Snafu on 10/20/2021 16:45:54

Oct 20, 2021 - 5:11:34 PM
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Old Scratch

Canada

843 posts since 6/22/2016

"( As a guitarist as an Irish session, you would think they'd all be immensely bored zzzzzzzzz, they rarely get the lead melody, and they have to repeat every jig about 3x and move on to the next and play that 3x...so gotta be grateful they are willing to play! )"

If you're bored as a guitarist, you probably don't really know the music and how to play it, or just don't like the music that much. I get bored accompanying music that I find boring; if I love the music, I have no trouble accompanying it in my simple-minded, boring way for hours.

Oct 20, 2021 - 9:13:20 PM
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2576 posts since 7/12/2013

I have a friend who is an amazing Irish guitar player, when I play with him some things that I find that are amazing:
1. He's often playing some sort of drone bass line thing
2. He uses all sorts of passing/inverted/substitutions chords
3. There's definitely some sort of almost swing aspect to the playing

I asked him who his favorite Irish guitar player is and he said you should listen to John Doyle. Check out the album Double Play, some amazing stuff.

Oct 21, 2021 - 7:03:45 AM
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123 posts since 7/30/2021

"If I love the music, I have no trouble accompanying it in my simple-minded, boring way for hours."
Old Scratch, ha ha, I feel exactly the same way! 

fiddlinsteudel,
Your Irish guitar player friend sounds great! I've noticed that sometimes a simple chord change will turn an average, expected tune into something beautiful but have no idea how they "know". If you look at the chords in books for Irish tunes, they mostly sound awful when you play them straight, with the melody...I guess if it says D-C-D-G-D-C the good guitar players know to somehow build /create nice things ouf of that. :-) That's certainly beyond me! 
Will check out John Doyle for fun.

Kind of a bummer for my friend...maybe he will indeed have to practice his tin whistle more.
 

Oct 21, 2021 - 8:41:56 AM
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123 posts since 7/30/2021

Wow, John Doyle is amazing...

Oct 21, 2021 - 9:27:09 AM

Swing

USA

2070 posts since 6/26/2007

This subject has been discussed and worth reading on the Irish music site The Session.org

Play Happy

Swing

Oct 22, 2021 - 7:46:26 AM
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123 posts since 7/30/2021

LOL, comments from people frustrated by guitarists, on The Session:
"Put him in the scuppers..."
"contract killing"...

OK now I understand why people get that look on their face when new person with guitar case shows up!

Oct 22, 2021 - 1:37:29 PM
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docmarc

USA

51 posts since 11/15/2008

I hope I'm able to shed just a bit of light on guitar / Irish music.
While DADGAD is out there for many Irish guitarists, my experience is that more guitarists use Drop 'D' which allows use of more traditional guitar chords up and down the neck.

Irish rhythm guitar is grueling. It is very high energy for reels, jigs, slip jigs, double jigs, hornpipes, polka's and waltz's - there are also unique rhythm patterns for laments and ballads.

Note that much Irish music is played in 'sets' - two or three 'tunes' (Songs are sung, tunes are instrumentals) strung together with each tune played twice. A spritely jig rhythm played properly on a guitar is a lot of work - often for three to five minutes.

The problem I've seen in Irish 'seisiúns' is many accomplished guitar players from bluegrass, country, rock backgrounds use alternating bass rhythms. Irish guitarists rarely if ever use anything but a full chord stroke. Irish guitarists tend to use a number of moveable chords up and down the neck.

I've had the privilege of playing fiddle in several Irish bands over the years - nothing drives the music like a solid Irish rhythm player.
Nothing will kill the rhythm faster than two guitars - ( I mean no disrespect to guitarists - but two guitars are quickly out of time with each other.)

All of my comments here are based on my experience with Irish bands. My experience.

Oct 23, 2021 - 5:28:03 PM
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JonD

USA

35 posts since 2/12/2021

"My friend Jon, who might chime in here..."
I would second the advice to learn a melody instrument (it's why I'm here on FHO!) The only thing I could add is that your friend might consider learning to play bouzouki, which adds a different texture versus guitar when backing Irish tunes. It can also work well accompanying songs.

Guitar and bouzouki backing  together can work as well, as long as the 2 players are good listeners. I usually play 'zouk in session, and if someone grabs a guitar I'll usually capo up to 5 or 7 and watch/listen to follow the guitar chords. So far I haven't been thrown out on my ear. 

Oct 24, 2021 - 9:25:35 AM

Old Scratch

Canada

843 posts since 6/22/2016

Alternatively, rather than learn a new instrument, he could take the time to become really good at playing Irish-style guitar - in which case, he would very likely find himself in demand rather than feeling like a fifth wheel. Unless those other guitarists at the session are already up there - but in my not-vast experience, there aren't many even mediocre Irish-style guitarists around, on the North American side of the water, anyway.

Oct 24, 2021 - 12:08:02 PM
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JonD

USA

35 posts since 2/12/2021

" ...take the time to become really good at playing Irish-style guitar... "

Yes there are lots of good resources online (and some not-so-good ones as well).
Online Academy of Irish Music tends to have good instruction true to the style. Not free but a few free lessons to get you started (disclaimer- I'm not affiliated with OAIM).
I like this guy's approach- youtube.com/watch?v=YRNIpbde2WY (Cillian Ó’Dálaigh)

Oct 25, 2021 - 8:30:05 PM
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123 posts since 7/30/2021

Thanks for all this! I will pass info on to my friend.

( And it's so tempting to try to learn Irish-style guitar accompaniment myself...
If I had a second life (or no job) I'd do it!! :-)

Oct 31, 2021 - 9:01:19 AM
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2803 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes

A guitar friend tried the local Irish session (pre-pandemic) and I remember him saying that after a few times, he quit going. He said that there were lots of "rules" for guitar players and he was asked to sit out tunes a lot. He got the vibe that he was not particularly "wanted".

On the other hand, as a fiddle player I have always been welcome, even if there are already 3-4 other fiddlers. And never been asked to sit out.

In general, I've noticed that Irish sessions are hard on guitar players! If somebody walks up carrying a guitar, they kind of get the side-eye. Is this because guitar is not a "traditional" instrument? Or because more than one guitar really messes up the rhythm and sounds messy? Just wondering why people get so nervous about guitar players joining!
(As somebody who plays both guitar and fiddle, I've got sympathy for "the other side"... :-)


Possibly has nothing to do with the instrument, or any idea of "traditional"  but rather the person playing the instrument... type of player, how the individual plays; and their attitude.

Or because more than one guitar really messes up the rhythm and sounds messy?

Just to point out that simply needs the one bad guitar player to get that result.

 

As far as attitude, a lot of comments on session/jam issues remind of this funny short. (applies to other genres as well)

While a bit exaggerated... a semblance of that, illustrates a not uncommon issues at sessions/jams - is folks having pretty different overall ideas about the music, and playing with others. Related is different ideas of effort invested, preparation, listening, learning, work on the music. The comment about a view "lot's of rules" is possibly indicative.

A common noticeable differences of these different musicians and approach, is essentially about rhythm. 

----------

As far as guitar...rhythm is probably the most noticeable issue (and complaint). In many genres (esp rhythmic music). I don't notice so much that they came from a different rhythm/genre like Rock or BG, or OT or Country. Typically it's a type of player whose efforts mostly just chords oriented (progression, changes, shape, voicing and such about notes). But they seem not really being much of an actual rhythm player oriented, or understand rhythm; esp working as ensemble, or any background of that. Chord oriented, perhaps how learned, or is from more accompanying songs; perhaps background and/or preference is music that is less rhythmic oriented; or maybe just easier instructions or rules?  Might also explain comments regarding boring?

For myself, and many musicians at sessions/jams... having  good rhythm, good groove, drive, lift...  is way more important than how the guitar tuned, how chords are made, chord shapes, how many chords, inversion, substitutions, extensions, drones, full chords, moving chords, and such. Most find it more fun and easier to play with a solid rhythm player.

Just pointing out some observations of differences.

Oct 31, 2021 - 11:56 AM

123 posts since 7/30/2021

Ha ha! (Felt kind of bad for Newbie Bear, at end, though :-)

I've been paying more attention to backing guitar in Irish music lately (when there is one) and I understand a bit better...the guitar follows the melody and enhances it. Sometimes they even play parts of the melody. So you have to know the tune quite well to be able to accompany like that...

And I can see how having more than one guitar, could make it weird with the chord changes...like, you have this beautiful chord progression/modulation that you worked out, but the other guy keeps obliviously going: D D D.

Oct 31, 2021 - 12:08:20 PM
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JonD

USA

35 posts since 2/12/2021

As I see it backing is a 3 legged stool, in the sense of rhythm, chord/string choices, and sensitivity/responsiveness to the melody players. Any one of these missing and it doesn’t stand up…

Oct 31, 2021 - 12:31:13 PM

1635 posts since 4/6/2014

i think sometimes it might be the fiddlers inability and lack of musical knowledge/experience that causes their own frustration also. Fitting in with a given situation, being versatile and making the most of a situation is an often overlooked skill, which comes from musical knowledge, practice, experience and people skills etc..... All part of being a fiddler imo.

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 10/31/2021 12:34:29

Oct 31, 2021 - 12:35:57 PM

Old Scratch

Canada

843 posts since 6/22/2016

So the Irish fiddlers (et al) should be adapting themselves to the non-Irish guitarists ... and give up on playing Irish music?  Or am I misunderstanding?

Edited by - Old Scratch on 10/31/2021 12:36:45

Oct 31, 2021 - 12:40:16 PM

1635 posts since 4/6/2014

Just play Music the best you can in any given situation. And accept that not everybody is a pure drop musician...Sometimes it comes together and everyone is satisfied. But not always.

Oct 31, 2021 - 1:31:27 PM
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1904 posts since 12/11/2008

It all comes down to chemistry. You show up at the bar/park/private home/whatever. A group of musicians are hunched over, furiously playing along with each other. Do you recognize the tune? If you don't, can you discern the key, or the chord changes? Does it sound like you might be able to fit in? If you don't think so, lay back. Quietly tune your instrument so that it fits in with where the other players are. See if you get dirty looks. Watch for a friendly nod aimed in your direction. If you are confident, give it a go.

Oct 31, 2021 - 2:24:14 PM
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9496 posts since 3/19/2009
Online Now

At a jam many, many, many years ago, decades actually, I attended a jam and I was NOT a good musician .. The jam members put up with me.. Afterwards, a guitar player introduced himself and asked if he and I could get together and play tunes.... Well, he and I hit it off big time and we played together for TWENTY Years..
My point is.. GO to any jam you can..you never know who you will meet or how you will fit in. In any given jam you will be learning or playing or teaching... Even if you don't fit in musically, you may still meet some amazing people whose paths you will cross many times over the years.

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