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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 8:35 am 
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If you compare the style of ITM to say, American jazz, the differences in the relative importance of tonguing are glaringly obvious. I have no idea why this may have developed--I've never touched a set of pipes, much less played one--but the stylistic fact is that Irish music stresses legato playng way way more. Yes yes many great players tongue the notes a lot, thats true. So internally, it's not all legato, But if you compare Micheal Coleman to his contemporary, Joe Venuti, you can hear the different weight of legato playing right away.



Coleman

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR20lkmzEN0


Venuti:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qgzAoDhzUJA


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 10:06 am 
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the stylistic fact is that Irish music stresses legato playng way way more.


While I don't dispute that, you will have to wonder if that's always has been the case. Modern trends are inclined to emphasise the flow. Older recordings are far less stylistically homogenised than today's and to an extend reveal much more punctuated approaches. More interested in putting a rhythm under the feet of the dancers than being melodically interesting perhaps.

Coleman was a big influence and it's probably hard to overestimate the impact of his recordings. He was different and the old players were completely blown away by his playing. He definitely changed the landscape.

It's hard to say a lot about whistle styles, I don't know of a lot of recorded material before Myles O'Malley's 78 rpms and what we have is often not much earlier than the 1940s. But the (commercial) flute recordings we do have and the material from whistle players that we do have, seems to indicate more choppy styles were more common than they are today, at least in some areas.

Here's one example of one such style that I have handy, I don't know the player's name but the recording is part of a cache of private acetate discs from the circle of Lad O'Beirne, 1940s New York I'll leave that up for today. <file zapped>

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:01 am 
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Thank you very much for posting that.

It's interesting to me that Coleman spent four or five years on the Vaudeville circuit before he cut any records. That would mean constantly playing in mixed revues that included minstrel show tunes, ragtime inflected pop, proto jazz and blues, and lots of ethnic fraudery, like "O'Brian is tryin' to learn to talk Hawaiian"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ke459-Yt2_o

You'd have to be out there every night, or multiple times a day, "selling it" to a multi ethnic audience that is used to a musical smorgasbord and quick to express its displeasure.

And Touhey apparently used to sometimes include "Turkey in the Straw" in his act, which was possibly an Irish song originally which became a minstrel show song, so Touhey is already engaged in a musical circle that goes from Ireland to the plantation to the minstrel show and back to Ireland. I love this stuff.

When O'Neil talks about "swing" it's not clear if he means a quality native to Irish music, or a quality Irish music picked up in the US, or a quality Irish musicians brought to the US and which was augmented and modified in US contexts.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:13 am 
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I was just about to edit in another clip to the previous post but here you go:< file zapped> West Clare, 1950s, player not identified but Joe Cunneen was on the list of possible suspects we looked into when trying to find out. The rhythm of the dancer goes some way to explaining just why the playing sounds the way it does, I think.

Coleman was indeed associated for a while with Keith Theatres, if I remember correctly, when he first arrived in NY.

The Flanagan Brothers worked that comedy/music mix as well.

I may have a recording of Touhey playing Turkey in the straw, but it's only a vague notion so I may be wrong. Other pipers had that as well, Joe Shannon in Chicago definitely played it, for example, and I definitely have a recording of him playing it.

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When O'Neil talks about "swing" it's not clear if he means a quality native to Irish music, or a quality Irish music picked up in the US, or a quality Irish musicians brought to the US and which was augmented and modified in US contexts.


'Swing' is an aspect of Irish music, stronger in some styles than other perhaps but a definite feature of some players' music. Perhaps a good example of a definite swing is the cylinder recording of Billy Hanafin playing the Shaskeen, lovely stuff. It's one recorded, and introduced, by O'Neill himself and sent off to Richard Henebry. Hanafin plays 'Blame not the Bard' (which Touhey recorded as well) first and goes into the Shaskeen after.

Mike Gallagher's piping from the same era (perhaps slightly later) has a great swing as well, I love his playing. Some of Paddy Cronin's 78 rpms are lovely for that as well, especially a particular set of hornpipes I am thinking of. But the present incarnation of the Tulla Ceiliband has a lovely swing to it as well. I like that, I am not one for an all too linear approach to tunes.

But it's tempting to read today's use of the term into the Chief's writing while he may well have applied it to a different quality, perhaps what we call 'lift' these days. Which isn't quite the same thing.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 4:35 pm 
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Mr Gumby,

Interesting comments, and knowledge, as usual. The two whistle recording were super. Thanks.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 13, 2019 8:33 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
'Swing' is an aspect of Irish music, stronger in some styles than other perhaps but a definite feature of some players' music. Perhaps a good example of a definite swing is the cylinder recording of Billy Hanafin playing the Shaskeen, lovely stuff. It's one recorded, and introduced, by O'Neill himself and sent off to Richard Henebry. Hanafin plays 'Blame not the Bard' (which Touhey recorded as well) first and goes into the Shaskeen after.

Mike Gallagher's piping from the same era (perhaps slightly later) has a great swing as well, I love his playing. Some of Paddy Cronin's 78 rpms are lovely for that as well, especially a particular set of hornpipes I am thinking of. But the present incarnation of the Tulla Ceiliband has a lovely swing to it as well. I like that, I am not one for an all too linear approach to tunes.

But it's tempting to read today's use of the term into the Chief's writing while he may well have applied it to a different quality, perhaps what we call 'lift' these days. Which isn't quite the same thing.


"Swing" was used a a descriptor in US pop music as early as the 1870s. It was used to describe minstrel songs and ragtime. It's later codified as a "swing beat" and then as a genre, by the 1930s. O'Neill using the term swing is interesting at multiple levels


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:01 am 
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West Clare, 1950s, player not identified but Joe Cunneen was on the list of possible suspects we looked into when trying to find out. The rhythm of the dancer goes some way to explaining just why the playing sounds the way it does, I think.


Last night I realised I had a slight brainfart when I wrote above Joe Cunneen was a candidate for that clip. In fact we were unable to establish who the player in that particular clip was. There was a batch of clips from unindexed old tapes up for identification at the time and I mixed them up in my mind.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Sat Jan 19, 2019 2:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 10:28 am 
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A few years ago I taught a course with a colleague who's a specialist in Latin America. It was focused on the "music of the African diaspora" and we studied the musical cultures of Brazil, Argentina, Cuba, and the US. All of them had large West African populations, and all had large European immigrant populations, but they developed interesting musical differences. Argentina develops a "national music," the Tango; brazilians understand the "Samba" as the national music; Cubans might refer to the "Son" form. In the US it might be the swing beat. They all have in common a displaced third beat, like the "habanera" beat in Bizet's Carmen (1 2 AND THREE 4) or in swing on the ride cymbal (ting ting ta-ting ting). But beyond that Tango doesn't have a "swing" feel, and afro cuban music doesn't have a "swing" feel. Samba maybe, bossa nova definitely but that's the influence of American jazz. So why the "swing" beat in the US? why do the same powerfully creative African traditions go in different directions? You have to wonder about the irish influence.

Brazilian music tends to have a behind-the-beat feel: Tango has a behind-the-beat feel, African American music often has a strongly behind-the-beat feel. It took me decades to get it! But Cuban music is usually way up on top of the beat and pushing. ITM tends to be very pushy, ahead of the beat, like Bluegrass is pushy, but like Bluegrass it has a swing feel. The connection between bluegrass and irish music is well known: some of the tunes are the same, Appalachian migrants from ulster, etc etc. The has to be some exchange between Irish and African American musicians, and I have to wonder about "Swing" as a property of music. While I was in Galway I met a drummer who plays in a band called "baile an salsa," which marries afrocuban percussion to irish inflected melodies. It's surprisingly easy to make that work, just like it wasn't hard for American jazz musicians to work with afro cuban players.


Last edited by PB+J on Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 11:07 am 
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ITM tends to be very pushy, ahead of the beat


It's a rather broad church with a lot of styles operating under the same umbrella. The rhythms can be, and are, approached in a variety of ways.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 12:30 am 
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Apologies for straying further from the topic.

Brazilian Samba in the specific sense is fairly modern. Samba grew out of the Choro and Maxixe music from the late 1800s. These Brazilian forms definitely have a rhythmic, syncopated pulse, that I would call "swing". See Tico Tico no Fuba or Corta Jaca https://youtu.be/4wfrA54BMZg

Argentine Tango (a topic in which I have a lot of experience) originated as a mix of gaucho, African, European Immigrant and seaport music. Habanero is certainly an influence. I don't hear much "swing in tango rhythms. Tango changed a lot from the more march-like, styles of the 1910s & 1920s to the big Dance orchestras of the 1930s & 1940s. Piazzolla is something else entirely.

To get back to the topic, I think I'll turn the mike back to Mr Gumby, who suggests going back to the original, older recordings.

I did hear a comment once from Kevin Burke, almost in passing, that people back in Ireland felt that Coleman's style had some influence from all the swing music that he was exposed to in the US.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 3:04 am 
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I don't have a lot more to say on the subject of 'swing' to be honest. It's obvious to me there are many different approaches to the rhythms, some of the approaches involve swing to varying degrees. It is probably a good idea to listen as widely as you can, preferably outside of (modern) commercial (group) recordings when forming an image of this.

There are so many, always somewhat nebulous, words to describe these things: swing, lilt, pulse, lift and whatever else you have and they are all important factors. I don't particular fancy the linear, hard driven, pushy approach even if I recognise its validity in some styles. I much prefer the styles that hang back a bit. Irish music needs that surge of urgency, a certain forward rush, that zest for life. What Packie Russell called 'vehemence'. But it can have that and still savour the moment, not having to get from A to B in a straight line but savouring the road and its curvature and little detours. All imprecise language ofcourse but you know a musician by how they structure their music, treat their internal rhythms and the pulse of their tunes. The rhythm of the feet of dancers dancing a battering set on their mind.

And ofcourse, there's this, but that's just a bit of fun and a different thing altogether. :P

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 9:38 am 
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And ofcourse, there's this, but that's just a bit of fun and a different thing altogether. :P

He played that during a house concert last time he was here. It was fun.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 20, 2019 10:04 am 
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He played that during a house concert last time he was here. It was fun.


It's one of his party pieces and he can carry it off. I have heard less experienced musicians attempt it, that didn't come off nearly so well.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 3:11 pm 
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Thanks for the advice everyone and for all the fascinating info :)

I have learnt so much from you all already; I'm so glad I found this forum.

I haven't had chance to visit here lately as it's been rather busy at work, but I have still managed to get in some whistle practice! :D
I am now using cuts and taps and the tunes are definitely sounding much better with their addition.
I haven't attempted rolls yet - I don't want to run before I can walk.

Talking of which, I am having some difficulty with the second octave.
I can play the D and the E of the second octave fine, but with anything higher, I fail to maintain the fluidity of the music, either dropping back down to the first octave or overblowing and reaching the third octave by accident - ouch! :shock:
I guess it will come with practice, although I might need new ears by the time I get it right!

On the plus side, my confidence is improving slightly and I actually played a tune with a member of the family present (well, the first octave section with only a few 2nd octave Ds in anyway!) and they actually said it wasn't bad -well, they didn't grimace at any point at least, so there may well be hope yet! :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 27, 2019 4:34 pm 
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pbff wrote:
Thanks for the advice everyone and for all the fascinating info :)

I have learnt so much from you all already; I'm so glad I found this forum.

I haven't had chance to visit here lately as it's been rather busy at work, but I have still managed to get in some whistle practice! :D
I am now using cuts and taps and the tunes are definitely sounding much better with their addition.
I haven't attempted rolls yet - I don't want to run before I can walk.

Talking of which, I am having some difficulty with the second octave.
I can play the D and the E of the second octave fine, but with anything higher, I fail to maintain the fluidity of the music, either dropping back down to the first octave or overblowing and reaching the third octave by accident - ouch! :shock:
I guess it will come with practice, although I might need new ears by the time I get it right!

On the plus side, my confidence is improving slightly and I actually played a tune with a member of the family present (well, the first octave section with only a few 2nd octave Ds in anyway!) and they actually said it wasn't bad -well, they didn't grimace at any point at least, so there may well be hope yet! :lol:



I've found that my second octave is less ouchy for my family than it used to be. I'm not sure why. It might be that I'm more confident about it. I notice if I try to be soft about it, I mess up, whereas if go straight at it it works out better. It might be that I've managed to moderate the tone better, although I'm not conscious of having done anything different. It might be that getting better at ornaments, or pulsed breathing, or phrasing, distracts from the pure brutality of the high end!

I've gotta to a point, in roughly 10 months of playing, where people who don't know anything about Irish traditional music think I know how to play it :)


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