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Nov 14, 2023 - 11:33:43 AM
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1350 posts since 3/1/2020

To me, the “Fiddler’s Fakebook” isn’t properly named because it doesn’t follow the format of a fakebook; the use of the term is a stretch, and I suspect it was chosen for the alliterative sound. I haven’t come across other fiddle tune collections that are advertised that way, so it just strikes me as a gimmick.

The transcriptions of the tunes in the book are so pared down that they don’t retain enough of the tunes. I can understand wanting to avoid notating embellishments to make readability easier for an audience that may not be used to sightreading, but a lot of fiddle tunes are built around certain figures, and removing those to simplify the look on the page cuts out the soul of the tunes. I don’t think the book contains any versions that are too complicated—I think they’ve been dumbed down so much that they make it a waste of time to read.

I remember as I was growing up that that book was heavily promoted, not to fiddlers, but to classical players who were curious about fiddling. It was often suggested as an introduction to fiddling, and it appealed to that niche because the book was widely available and because it contained a lot of tunes, which gave people confidence that it would solve the “I don’t know any fiddle tunes” problem. It led to a great deal of frustration among everyone, though, because fiddlers would always complain when people tried to play tunes as they’d learned them from the book, and non-fiddlers would quickly realize that the transcriptions weren’t similar enough to how tunes were actually played to make the book useful. I believe it also helped to reinforce the negative opinions some classical players had of fiddling—after all, the tunes in the book were so dull and simplistic that if real fiddling was actually like that, it would completely justify all those opinions. I can’t keep track of how many times I’ve seen the book gathering dust on bookshelves, and there’s plenty of reason.

My own first exposure to fiddling was through the band that my parents played in when we lived in Iowa for several years. The group kept a library of the tunes it played, some of them handwritten by members, others taken from various collections. Some of the players read music, some didn’t. There were regular rehearsals to learn the tunes and dances throughout the state over the year. The versions they used were always more interesting, and not necessarily more complicated. My father kept a folder with all the tunes, and over the years that was the basis for our repertoire. When I started learning from a fiddler in Virginia, I added tunes to my repertoire, but any versions of tunes I’d learned before were nearly identical.

Since moving into the DC area, I’ve played in old time jams here and there, and I’ve found that the groups tend to have very clear preferences for specific versions of tunes from collections (like Slippery Hill, for example), and it’s common when starting a tune to include information about whose version it is along with the tune name. I’ve never heard anyone at a jam say they were using the “Fiddler’s Fakebook” as a source, which then begs the question, “for whom is it useful?”

Nov 14, 2023 - 1:56:13 PM
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82 posts since 6/12/2015

It's interesting to me that Doug thinks the FF versions are too detailed and Rich thinks they are too sparse and dumbed down.

The way I usually use sheet music, I try to find a version that is similar to the versions I've heard local players play. There are several good websites: Tater Joes, LaMancusa, Pete Showman's site, abcnotation, North Atlantic Tune list . . .

The new Dan Levenson book is a good "current jammers' version" source. The Fakebook doesn't have several tunes from the newer old-time revival.

Nov 14, 2023 - 2:57:17 PM
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2400 posts since 12/11/2008

Rich -- I agree with everything you say. When it comes to a tune that has been in circulation a long, long time with no particular author or manuscript attached to it, the proclamation that a particular version is the "authentic version" is foolhardy. It's why we call 'em folk tunes. The arise from the "folk." The community. The culture. Putting it another way, who can lay claim as the first speaker of a particular language? The first person who wrote it down?

Nov 14, 2023 - 4:36:48 PM
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3554 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin

I think the sudden switch to read or recognize the notes, was also a counter tool for my teacher to be able to explain what's going on because that's how he learned and was taught. So after all of these years of playing by ear, this forces some discipline that I may or may not have. It has to be frustrating teaching someone something that isn't picked up right away or doesn't retain. I have trouble like I explained before hearing tunes slowed down and taught in chunks. I am working on it. But it's difficult. I like to hear it and let me try it for awhile until it gets in there. When I hear things broke down really slow, it doesn't sound like the song, Then that's how I play it and it's more difficult for me to remember in this fashion.

For now, and in a half hour, I was giving the knowledge to at least figure out what the notes are. I don't see myself any time just sitting down with a sheet of music and playing it. I have more luck with hearing and seeing it, then mimicking what was just played. If I'm lucky and given the proper time, I can get close. I have no problem learning a song and making it mine...lol.

As a musician who knows some scales and melodies, I don't have a lot of issues with the left hand (also coming from some mandolin) it's mainly the bowing which will tie it all together eventually. I have the most luck with sitting down with songs and just playing along and seeing how close I can get. Many times, if it's in A, C, D, G, Am and Dm, and some in E, I can get pretty close or at least jam along to where it's not taking away from the number.

Thanks again for all of your input and info. It's a fascinating instrument as well as the people who play it!


Conventional way many start with what might be referred as left brain process, bottom up, linear, note by note sequence approach; which is how notation is often taught and used.

What you describe is what many others share similar what might be referred as right brain process, holistic, global, top down... needs to listen in context to the whole. Notation, or even in "by ear" lesson/workshops where the instructor is going slow linear note by note, calling out letter names, or bowing (down up down up up); often get lost to where are in the tune. Similar, find it difficult to remember tunes from the linear process.

Notation can be used holistic, top down way; in that can see the whole page, break it down to parts, phrases, rhythm, meter, beat, or perhaps chord progressions, contour, or cadences; then details within that context.

I don't see myself any time just sitting down with a sheet of music and playing it.

Often the idea folks have about notation, cold sight reading. Some use simply as bit of TAB instruction. Others perhaps the ability to hear the dots without playing them. Certainly, for many folks, those probably are not much important goal, never going to need or use; esp if playing where good by ear skills and/or improvisation dominate.

Notation is just a tool, that's not the only way folks might find notation as useful tool.

Among others, it is useful tool in communication (and teaching); as it creates a visual layout of timeline grid for reference. Similar to chord chart; Nashville Number System or similar... delineates parts, phrases, measures, beats. Thus communicate, zoom in on specific phrase, measure, or note... while still see within larger context of whole (often verbal alone can get confusing if talking about same notes). For many visual is helpful, kind of like a seeing a visual sketch of map, or schematic (not just text directions). The symbolic representation also helps give visualization tool; to understand aspects of how music works, music theory. 

FWIW, some folks, though the notation is in front of them, aren't necessarily literally note by note sight reading; they actually worked out tune slow, practiced, and have memorized the tune pretty well; using notation just bit more overview glancing at notation... kind of like a singer having lyric sheet in front of them to sort of follow, reminder is brain fart. Similar (as above, NNS), can give reminders of arrangement.

Edited by - alaskafiddler on 11/14/2023 16:40:16

Nov 14, 2023 - 4:55:41 PM
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3554 posts since 9/13/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Erockin

So, I found this version of St Anne's Reel. I'm going to stare at it for awhile. Is this a pretty standard rendition? I'm ok with any version honestly. But I'd like it to be a common version so I don't don't have someone say "you're not playing that right" hahaha


That's compatible more or less within fairly common American jam version. A few end of phases are just slightly different.

I think though, from your OP, focus isn't simply learning a specific version of a tune (and memorizing); rather focus is just learning how to read.  Notation is just a tool, a symbolic representation... so just learning what the symbols mean. What can help is use notation with a matching sound source. 

Lots of notation apps can play back MIDI; thus using ears and eyes together. (can also change the tempo, to play slower). Musescore is free one. Entering in all the notes is one way; but besides that there are also already existing MIDI files, or abcMIDI, available that can put into app and have display as notation. One site is the session.org; has a large collection of tunes, though is Irish tune focused, does have others; lot's of settings of  St. Anne's Reel; ; or for example June Apple. You can play in the browser site, or download and play with, make changes. Another site, tunearch.org is more diverse with many fiddle genre/OT, also has abc text; such as St. Anne's but might need to copy and paste abc text into an app. Going beyond basic pitch/duration info; many notation apps allow to expand to put in articulations, like slurs, legato vs separate, accent marks; and listen to effect of differences.

Since already play music, sing, mandolin... might start with bit of inverse; using a simple melody you already know how sounds; and then use notation app to enter notes, listen play back and examine what need to adjust.

Nov 16, 2023 - 2:30:46 AM
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2496 posts since 8/23/2008

Reading notes accurately shows ability to read, but simply playing the notes does not make anyone a good musician. 

We are all at different stages of the journey, and we never stop learning. I prefer the sheet music to be completely void of markings except for the dots and rhythm. All embellishments I would add when the tune is learned, and they are all chosen from the techniques I've practiced. I can play from the sheet music well enough to decide whether its a good tune to commit to memory, I'm not auditioning for the Philly. 

Many players are not aware that the tunes are not meant to be played as written.

Of course they're meant to played as written, that was the purpose of writing them, but that doesn't mean changes can't be made. I have never bowed a tune the same way twice, I'm always improving my bowing techniques and they'll be added to the playing when it feels comfortable. Must admit I have changed a few notes in FF more than anywhere else. 

Nov 16, 2023 - 7:22:14 AM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

He might have been talking about classically trained players…having started violin lessons at age 9, I was taught to play sheet music exactly as written (not that it sounded robotic, because we also learn to express the music.) if you played a wrong note, it got circled in red pencil!

My first attempt to play the Celtic stuff I listen to, was to buy Peter Cooper’s Irish fiddle book and play the tunes in there. Dotwise they were so simple for me that I could whip them out at full speed…but I wondered why they sounded so horrible, and nothing at all like the music of Bothy Band, Altan, Planxty etc…I hated my playing and just gave up for awhile.

 I tried taking lessons with a local well-known  fiddler and after one lesson he said, " I have nothing to teach you...just go to sessions."  So that was disappointing.

I went to a downtown pub session to play and got harassed by two men...so then I quit again.

it wasn’t until I found a local session that was not in a bar/pub, with a host who was a woman, that I began to learn tunes by ear, make friends, and understand the art of fiddling.

it's been a journey, looking back! 

Edited by - NCnotes on 11/16/2023 07:31:31

Nov 16, 2023 - 8:27:47 AM
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191 posts since 11/26/2013

Funny, I don't pay any attention to bowing at this point. I think of what I want to play for a given tune or lead break, what notes, double stops, and embellishments and my right arm just does it with no conscience thought about up or down stroke. The only time it becomes even a momentary thought is when I want to include a shuffle.

Nov 16, 2023 - 8:30:26 AM

Erockin

USA

840 posts since 9/3/2022

Can't you all just come to PA and jam once a week? I'll feed you!

Nov 16, 2023 - 11:53:32 AM
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2400 posts since 12/11/2008

NCnotes -- I have no idea how authentic my interpretations may be, but when I open up my O'Neill's fiddle book and a tune catches my eye, I'll just start to try and play it. They're all pretty straightforward, and chances are it isn't long before I'm playing something that sounds convincingly Irish and satisfies my musical sensibilities. A true pleasure!

Nov 16, 2023 - 12:38:46 PM
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2535 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by buckhenry

Many players are not aware that the tunes are not meant to be played as written.

Of course they're meant to played as written, that was the purpose of writing them, but that doesn't mean changes can't be made. I have never bowed a tune the same way twice, I'm always improving my bowing techniques and they'll be added to the playing when it feels comfortable. Must admit I have changed a few notes in FF more than anywhere else. 


That line was puzzling to me, too. Not sure why FF is a target of ire really. I have also altered tunes a bit that I learned there but It's the same with pretty much any fiddle tunes sheet music source I use. There isn't a perfect way to write 'em in my opinion. In general too much information isn't good - but the worst for me was the collection of tunes presented without bar lines. That's way too little information for me, but I guess some people liked it.

Nov 16, 2023 - 1:22:12 PM
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2377 posts since 4/6/2014

Dots eh...can't live with em, can't live without em....

Nov 16, 2023 - 1:31:54 PM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

NCnotes -- I have no idea how authentic my interpretations may be, but when I open up my O'Neill's fiddle book and a tune catches my eye, I'll just start to try and play it. They're all pretty straightforward, and chances are it isn't long before I'm playing something that sounds convincingly Irish and satisfies my musical sensibilities. A true pleasure!


Yes I have been meaning to buy this for ages!! I play "chief o neills favorite" hornpipe so I should get the book that was his life's work, too :-)

Nov 16, 2023 - 1:42:36 PM
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2535 posts since 8/27/2008

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

NCnotes -- I have no idea how authentic my interpretations may be, but when I open up my O'Neill's fiddle book and a tune catches my eye, I'll just start to try and play it. They're all pretty straightforward, and chances are it isn't long before I'm playing something that sounds convincingly Irish and satisfies my musical sensibilities. A true pleasure!


Yes I have been meaning to buy this for ages!! I play "chief o neills favorite" hornpipe so I should get the book that was his life's work, too :-)

 


When I used to browse O'Neil's I looked for great titles. It's a very good book IMO and very light on distracting details.

Nov 16, 2023 - 1:52:27 PM

2377 posts since 4/6/2014

i've got the old O'Neill's, but i wish i had the new version as well, just for comparison. But the old one speaks to me more, and there is more room for interpretation as far as i could tell. There seems to be versions in the old one written down by flute players, pipers, and fiddlers, and probably it could be compared also with the other one...Can't remember the name of it... somebody's... is it Ryans? "Mamoth Collection" i think that might be older than O'Neill's?

A must have for an ITM player, but the new one is more like how they are played nowadays

Edited by - pete_fiddle on 11/16/2023 13:55:23

Nov 16, 2023 - 2:01:16 PM
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DougD

USA

11717 posts since 12/2/2007
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NCnotes - I have the first facsimile edition of O'Neill's that was published in NYC in the 1970's. But its available in .pdf online, I think from IMSLP. "Dance Music of Ireland" too.
Pete, "Music of Ireland" was published in 1903, and was collected from members of the Chicago Irish community, as you said from flute players and pipers as well as fiddlers.
"Ryan's Mammoth Collection" was published in 1883, and I think was culled from earlier collections published by the same publisher in Boston. Although it has lots of Irish tunes, its much more American, with some minstrel tunes, and Scottish reels and strathspeys. A lot of those tunes were adopted by American fiddlers, regardless of their origin, because it stayed in print for so long under the "Coles 1000 Fiddle Tunes" title.

Edited by - DougD on 11/16/2023 14:11:59

Nov 16, 2023 - 2:08:39 PM

2377 posts since 4/6/2014

A previous thread on the books

https://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/48094
 

Nov 16, 2023 - 2:29:16 PM

DougD

USA

11717 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

BTW, Andrew Kuntz, the complier of the "Fiddlers Companion," wrote several articles about "Ryan's," as well as other topics. You can find them here: ibiblio.org/fiddlers/Articles.htm

Nov 16, 2023 - 4:19:06 PM
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2496 posts since 8/23/2008

He might have been talking about classically trained players…having started violin lessons at age 9,

The statement is specifically directed at persons who 'read and play' from the sheet music, classically trained or not, after all, this is FHO..... 

I never had a proper lesson in my life, and I definately wouldn't be seeking the service of a 'fiddle teacher', hence, no red circles in my books....  

I never thought my playing was horrible, and never expected to sound like a well known player. When I hear them stamping their feet and clapping their hands  and dancin' round the room, thats when I know I've got it, no matter if I'm hack bowing a tune completely void of embellishment. 

 

 I don't pay any attention to bowing at this point.

Not while I'm playing a tune, but I do practice the common bow patterns and allow them to seep into my playing rather than having a set bowing for each tune, which may avoid any confusion if the bow direction should accidentally change because the 'anywhichway' bowing has been refined.

 

I have no idea how authentic my interpretations may be, 

Even in Ireland the same tune can/will be interpreted many ways, but if it has dynamics, tempo and rhythm it be will appreciated everywhere. 

Nov 16, 2023 - 4:50:28 PM
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2400 posts since 12/11/2008

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes
quote:
Originally posted by Lonesome Fiddler

NCnotes -- I have no idea how authentic my interpretations may be, but when I open up my O'Neill's fiddle book and a tune catches my eye, I'll just start to try and play it. They're all pretty straightforward, and chances are it isn't long before I'm playing something that sounds convincingly Irish and satisfies my musical sensibilities. A true pleasure!


Yes I have been meaning to buy this for ages!! I play "chief o neills favorite" hornpipe so I should get the book that was his life's work, too :-)

 


Try Kiss Your Partner, O'Neill's #761. As rollicking and happy a tune as ever was.

Nov 16, 2023 - 5:57:05 PM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

Wrote it down! Definitely going to get my own copy of O’Neills.

Probably not what Eric was intending when he started this topic…
but it’s been interesting for me! ( having moved from the dots side to the ears side of music)

and yes, I don't really know what I'm after. I am a good contributor in sessions already, but in pursuit of something more than that ...enjoying my own playing, maybe? It's like art...pursuing the thing that is you, finding your style, making something that you think is beautiful. Hmm. I dunno, I just like to play! 

Edited by - NCnotes on 11/16/2023 18:01:31

Nov 17, 2023 - 3:10:58 AM
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DougD

USA

11717 posts since 12/2/2007
Online Now

NCnotes - Just to point you in the right direction: imslp.org/wiki/Music_of_Ireland_(O'Neill%2C_Francis) Just press the download button next to "Complete Score."
"Chief O'Neill's Favorite" is the first hornpipe in the book, and when you see it you'll immediately see why the Chief frowns when you play that annoying F natural in the B part!

Edited by - DougD on 11/17/2023 03:11:40

Nov 17, 2023 - 4:17:06 AM
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Erockin

USA

840 posts since 9/3/2022

quote:
Originally posted by NCnotes

Wrote it down! Definitely going to get my own copy of O’Neills.

Probably not what Eric was intending when he started this topic…
but it’s been interesting for me! ( having moved from the dots side to the ears side of music)

and yes, I don't really know what I'm after. I am a good contributor in sessions already, but in pursuit of something more than that ...enjoying my own playing, maybe? It's like art...pursuing the thing that is you, finding your style, making something that you think is beautiful. Hmm. I dunno, I just like to play! 


That's exactly right....I want to enjoy what I play! Hence the reason I haven't posted any of my playing. Most here would be generous with encouragement and praise when I know it stinks hahaha. But I love the journey. The whole process. 

Nov 17, 2023 - 5:43:03 AM
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1111 posts since 7/30/2021

Yea! Because of my background ( playing since kid) I am one of the stronger fiddlers at session so I guess people get puzzled when I say I am unhappy with my playing. But for me it’s the pursuit of playing in a way that makes you happy with your own sound and style…and I don’t even know where it’s going, or if I will ever get there, but the journey is addictive! For me Music has always been like escaping to another world and leaving humdrum reality behind. It’s like therapy :-).

And yes, people here are so kind and helpful whether you are just learning to play, or a veteran fiddler. Not many corners of internet like this!

Thanks for letting me ramble on your thread, sorry about it! :-)

Nov 17, 2023 - 5:15:03 PM
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1350 posts since 3/1/2020

My gripe with FF is based on the way the tunes are transcribed. The appendices provide some general directions for playing the tunes in a more traditional manner, but the tunes themselves are written in such a way that many of the crucial stylistic elements have been surgically removed; if you play straight off the page, the tunes don’t sound good and they’re dull. Someone who is new to playing fiddle music will struggle to get a sense for how the music really sounds, and players really do frown upon beginners who play straight from the FF, whether they’re classically trained or not.

If you look up a tune on The Session, you’ll find that there are usually a number of transcriptions available. Some will be written well, and some will just be clunky and won’t capture the essence of the tune at all. You have to separate the wheat from the chaff or you’ll end up with people staring at you like you’re crazy at sessions, or even worse, they’ll complain that your version throws everything off and ask you to stop playing. I’ve witnessed this before. It’s not uncommon in old time jams, either, for people to make comments like “That’s not how X plays/played it” or “well, that’s a different way of playing that tune” if they’re not happy with a version. Since groups can be so picky, it helps to have resources that better prepare those who are trying to learn tunes for jams.

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