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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 4:12 pm 
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whistle1000 wrote:
the notes that are on the lines All Cows Eat Grass if you will

Spaces of the bass clef! :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 5:50 pm 
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:lol: Peter! Good catch. See, I mentioned I've not a clue. It's, Every Good Boy Deserves Food on the lines isn't it?


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PostPosted: Sun May 14, 2017 11:49 pm 
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For treble clef, yes. And FACE (rhymes with space) for the spaces. But you ultimately read by musical shape and context, just like you take in text whole words/sentences at a time rather than s-o-u-n-d-i-n-g it out letter by letter.

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:13 am 
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To get back to the 'confounding' part, when encountering a player like Micho, it's useful to listen closely and get used to the devices used in the playing.

Every good player I can think of plays music as they hear it. My experience with teaching tunes to experienced players tells me at first they will pick out the notes that, as I would call it, carry the tune. If you look at a tune you can break it down to increasingly smaller phrases and eventually you will get to the actual notes that 'are the tune', around these are notes that are less important, passing notes, notes leading into phrases, filler notes. Every good musician has a way of filling in these gaps. The way they do this, that's their own personal vocabulary.

Micho had a fairly distinct vocabulary, certain turns of phrase if you like. To understand Micho's music, you need to understand at least some of this vocabulary. I believe his rhythmic approach to tunes, the sometimes halting gapped phrases, is closely related to his patterns of speech. how his brain worked. But it is interesting to look at the melodic patterns he used in his music, how he 'processed' certain phrases.

There's one tune that always took my fancy, Ril Bheag Bhaile Na hUamhan, the little reel of Ballynahown. Micho got this tune from a man living in a townland north of Doolin, Ballynahown. Quite a lovely place in it's own way actually (if you walk the road going north from Ballinalacken castle, that will take you through Ballynahown, some of the land west of the road is also part of the same townland. It's full of caves, glacial erratics, dense hazel scrub in places, feral goats, prehistoric stuff and the Fear Breige, the illusory man, a large free standing rock).

Anyhow, to me the tune represents exactly what we're talking about, try look it up on Bill Ochs' double CD collection and see if you recognise the tune, taking into account a key change and the particular vocabulary. It's actually a very well known tune but it's almost unrecognisable unless you're able to 'translate' the Micho-isms. I can come back to that in more detail, if anyone cares to have a closer look.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Mon May 15, 2017 11:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 5:58 am 
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Thank you for that! Great explaination and make great sense. Esp. the part about his speech pattern and how his brain worked. And yes, no matter how I learn a tune. I'll get the bones of it and fill it in the way my brain works I s'pose. I guess that's where one's personal style comes from. I've always admired, yet have been "confounded" by his halting gapped phrases yet it makes great sense knowing that it was, in part, from his speech pattern. Of course you, having known and chatted with the man, have the enviable insight that most would have missed. Makes perfect sense! I'm thinking of the small audio clips of Micho speaking, or singing for that matter and I can make the connection. Wonderful eye opener on this morning just after waking up. Thank you! I, for one, am very interested in futher discussion. I'll "pick your brain" once I have worked on some of your transcripts.


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:11 am 
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And thanks Peter Duggan! It is the sentence that I just can't comprehend! I am always soinding out each note. I have such admiration for sight readers. Esp. piano players! It is a skill that I'm afraid I'll never be able to pick up. I played clarinet through out Jr. High through high school. My Jr. High music teacher offered me free lessons but we both realized that I'd never get it. My mind justs wants to play without the "distraction" She, being a Catholic nun, just let me free to play. I was playing "The Entertainer" by ear, the week after getting my clarinet. She reckonized my ear and just let me be. I was able to "fake" my way throufgh First clarinet in the High School stage band. If I didn't know the melody, I'd just get my friend or the instructor to play it through for me and then pick it up. That lasted until my Sr. year, when I wanted to be "cool" and try Tenor sax. Ended up having to play fourth sax. it didn't take long before the teacher copped on and kicked me out of the band. Happy ending though because when I , heasd down went to return my sax. the teacher said, "keep it and play your heart out. You're a great player but I just can't have anyone in my band that can't read music". He was also impressed that I could keep the fact from him for over a year. He was a clarinet player himself and was the conductor of the national air force band before coming to our H. School. Sorry 'bout the thread drift. Back to Micho!


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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 6:24 am 
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To go back to the Ballynahown tune, I discussed this with Bill a year or two ago and wrote out the whole post mortem of the tune in an e-mail. I don't think that e-mail survived a computer crash some time ago though. I don't immediately see an ABC on file either, so there's a bit of work involved in clarifying that one. I had a different job planned for today so I am trying (mostly in vain, so far, I am afraid) not to get too distracted. So perhaps tomorrow?

Anyhow, have a peak at that tune, if you have it, and try to work how it got to that form if you realise it's actually the Curragh Races/Maid in the Cherry Tree.

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PostPosted: Mon May 15, 2017 7:25 am 
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OK. I'll procrastinate and do this first. Mind you, I'll do the tune from memory, so it's a simplified outline, drawn from memory, not a close transcription I will use the ~ sign to indicate (as Breathnach originally devised it) an ornamentation, not necessarily a roll.

Ril Bheag Bhaile Na hUamhan

The first part goes something like:

A|Be~e2 Be ~e2|deed Aded|Be ~e2 B2 z2|A2 de feed| Be~e2 Be ~e2|deed Aded|GBAF G3 B| ~d2 AF FEE:||

knowing Micho used a lot of octave jumps in his playing (I'll save you the precedents from other tunes for brevity's sake) it's easy to assume the first bar, stripped of his particular approach can be something like

BE ~E2 BE ~E2| or BEGE BEGE|

Bar two, there's more octaving but there's some compression as well:

A regular approach, staying in the first octave, would perhaps be D2 FD ADFD

The next bar is melodically the same as the first one but gets a big stop built in. Bar 4 has, again notes raised an octave but could be played as A2 DE FEE


the second part is something like

G2 ~G2 DGBG|~G2 BG AFDF|G2 BG dGBG|AFDF FEEF|G2 ~G2 DGBG|~G2 BG AFDF|G2 Bd ~d {eg}e2|dBAF FEE||

First bar, a common device: instead of the perhaps more regular ~G2 BG dBdB the G gets a different emphasis by going G ~G2 and placing the roll off the beat


Take the 'normalised' version, raise the lot up to a tune ending on A and you have, almost, the basic, standard Curragh Races. The approach however to the first phrase A|Be~e2 Be ~e2|deed Ade completely changes the perception of the tune, and the next phrase Be ~e2 B2 z2|A2 de fee turns things further upside down, almost turning it into a whole new one. It certainly took me while, well, until I learned it, to realise which tune he was actually playing. The second part is a bit of a give awy though, once you take it in.

In conversation Bill Ochs confirmed Micho knew Ril Bheag Bhaile Na hUamhan was at least related to the Curragh Races/Maid in the Cherry Tree. He treated it as a separate tune though (I seem to remember playing the standard version with him at some point so he had that as well).

Anyway, that's the condensed version of it. Image

And for some atmosphere, or sense of place if you like, here's the false (or illusory) man of Ballynahown:

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Wed May 17, 2017 10:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 10:12 am 
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Here is a sample of Micho playing the tune
Ríl Bheag Bhaile na hUamhan (Reel) Scroll down to tune #44

https://www.amazon.com/Rarities-Old-Fav ... 8&sr=&qid=

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PostPosted: Tue May 16, 2017 10:34 am 
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Thanks for that.

As expected, I slightly misremembered the tune. Having heard it again, I slightly edited the description of the tune and its treatment above.

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And if anyone has some cash to spare: A few hours ago I drove by the house Micho and Gussie spent their final decades, it's up for sale.


Here is the sale of the house the Russels built during the sixties and lived in the rest of their lives. Their birthplace is now a (lovely done up) rental cottage/holiday home, the 'rarities' CD was launched there.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2017 12:15 pm 
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I was lucky enough to have played with Micho when I was a little girl. One of the things I remember was that he often had words to go along with his tunes, and I often think there is something very song-like in the way he played.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 5:13 am 
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One of these daft coincidences - I currently have a loan of a large number of "Comhaltas"'s magazine "Treoir", going back to the 1970s. I've been looking through the tunes sections, and a few weeks ago came across some transcriptions of tunes from Micho's repertoire. One of the 1975 issues has 2 reels attributed to Micho, one called "The Ballinalacken Reel", which I'm 99% certain is the reel which Mr Gumby is referring to. I'll post that particular on "thesession.org" when I have time, and will get back to you.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2017 10:20 am 
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I have been reading this thread with much interest, and here are my humble contributions.

Micho's demeanor, mannerisms, and speech patterns, together with his playing style put me at ease. I don't exactly know what he does, but it just flows when he plays. As a number of you have indicated, it must be a reflection of how his mind works, including the environment where he grew up and what he experienced. I wish I could have seen him in person like some of you have. Some of you have even played with him. In particular, I was surprised at one of Micho' s quotes where he said sometimes he may have played certain parts in a tune with "mistakes", but that was how he was delivering it.

I wonder at times what he would think of the current trend in IT, or whether his playing style would have changed with some of the newer-style whistles. But that is a moot point, I guess. I wish he had been with us longer.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:01 am 
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I recently picked up a copy of Micho's book, The Piper's Chair from Ossian Publications. Some 22 tunes transcribed from his playing, along with various commentary transcribed from his telling. As noted above, Micho had words to go with a number of the tunes. No sign of Ril Bheag Bhaile Na hUamhan or Ballinalacken Reel, though.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:32 am 
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https://thesession.org/tunes/16154#setting30465

Some interesting variations between the printed and recorded versions, which were only made 1 year apart from one another - recording made in 1974, transcription published in 1975.

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