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 Post subject: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:09 am 
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Hi All
Been a while since I initiated a post but I want to make some comments about learning jigs.
I have been learning whistle via self teaching for a bit over 2.5 years. Getting a jig to sound anything like I think a jig should sound like has been the hardest part of the experience for me. I can play watzes, airs and some reels and even a Polka or two and I think they sound OK at least from a rhythm perspective. Not so the jigs. However I may have a way of learning which will probably sound abhorrent to you life long whistle experts but it seems to suit my ear. I find that if I learn the tunes and the rhythm by listening on You Tube etc to instruments other than tin whistles - such as a mandolin - I can pick the tune and the rhythm up much easier. I find that whistle demonstrations on You Tube fit one of two categories. Either the tunes are played so fast the melody and the rhythm lose any definition to my limited musical ability or they are played so slowly as a learning aid that there is no discernible rhythm. Hence I have drifted towards other instruments as a listening learning aid.
Additionally, and again I realise few here will agree with me and that’s fine, I have found that the Scottish jigs such as Cock O’ the North and the English jigs such as The Oyster Girl are easier to learn than the more frantic and less melodic Irish jigs. I trust that doesn’t unduly upset anyone as that’s just my current view after limited experience. Since I have drifted down this learning path I am now making some limited progress with some Irish jigs and one day I hope to play some of them with rhythm and excitement.
All the best.


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:23 am 
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Quote:
the more frantic and less melodic Irish jigs.


:really:

I sometimes wonder if I am playing and listening to the same music as some forum member who come out with this sort of statement.

I would suggest first: if you find this music the way you describe it, why do you bother playing it? Who wants to make an effort learning 'frantic, less melodic' stuff. Look at your motivation, go do something you do like, play something you do enjoy.

Otherthan that: read up on Brother Steve : Jigs, trickier than you propbably think for an introduction.

Start listening to good jig playing. Learn to listen and understand what's going on.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:29 am 
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That’s the beauty of life and music Mr Gumby. If we all interpreted what we see in the world or hear in music the same way as you we would all be Mr Gumby’s - heaven forbid.


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:44 am 
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And that's exactly why I suggested you find the music you don't consider frantic and lacking in melody.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:52 am 
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]And that's exactly why I suggested you find the music you don't find frantic and lacking in melody.[/quote]

And if you had properly read my initial post which was written with the humility of a lowly learner with little music ability that is exactly what I said I had done - drifted towards Scottish and English jigs


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 5:56 am 
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There really isn't any need to get defensive about this, you should really do what you want. I just wondered out loud why you started to pursue a type of tune you apparently don't enjoy.

I strongly feel learning music should be, to a large extend, self motivating: you hear something you really like, you pursue it, learn it. That hunger will see you through. And it may open doors to new tunes/music. Learning tunes or types of music you don't currently enjoy doesn't get you anywhere. You may revisit them later with new skills and new insights though. Tunes tend to find us when we are ready for them.


But do follow the link I posted above, it offers insight and perhaps a way towards better understanding. Enjoyment even, perhaps, in time.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 6:51 am 
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JTU wrote:
the more frantic and less melodic Irish jigs.

A jig is a jig. If it's frantic, it's probably being played too fast, and, if it's less melodic, it's maybe just not such a good jig. These are consequences of performers' ability, experience and/or intentions and the tune's inherent quality, not country of origin.

Brother Steve's pages (as linked by Mr.Gumby) are probably the most digestible and useful single pointer you'll find to playing jigs like jigs.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:51 am 
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JTU wrote:
the more frantic and less melodic Irish jigs.
I, too, find this opinion curious. For myself, I lean heavily to Scottish tunes, but really enjoy the Swallowtail and Kesh jigs. Played at a not-frantic pace (I can't play them all that fast anyway), I find them very melodic, ... more so than Cock o' the North, in fact.


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 8:06 am 
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Let me also recommend brother steve's pages. I'm not a great whistle or flute player but I'm a decent musician and understand "swing." A jig has to swing.

There are a ton of YouTube videos out there of people playing Irish tunes and even a novice can see they aren't being played all that well. I've no room to talk as a player, but I can hear people playing really mechanically, with evenly accented notes, and people playing with no "pulse" to their breath, and people playing too fast in an effort to show that they know how to play. I mean on the one hand, kudos to anyone who's practiced hard enough to post a clip of themselves. On the other, being able to get through the tune is a far distance from being able to play it musically. There's just a lot of not so great playing out there. I say that as a not so great player!

I would also recommend listening to established players, recognized players, rather than rando internet guys. I love Micho Russell. He's not so intimidating--he doesn't play really fast or with a ton of ornamentation, but he plays with a great sense of swing and drive. Here's Micho and his brother Gussie playing "The Ten-Penny Bit." It's particularly great because you can hear the feet of people dancing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWX4jj26kpw


I also very much enjoyed the lessons and tune examples at the Online Academy of Irish Music. It's a subscription service, but they have a free two week trial. They have excellent players giving examples of a lot of standard jigs.

Speaking strictly for myself, I don't find clips of people playing other instruments that useful to my playing yet, because it's all about breathing and breath control, which isn't really am problem on the fiddle, for example. When I screw up a jig, it's always about breathing.


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 9:26 am 
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Quote:
I don't find clips of people playing other instruments that useful to my playing yet, because it's all about breathing and breath control,


Probably more a sign of (still) struggling with the instrument. Which is only natural. Musically speaking rhythm and structure are really the important things to grasp as soon as possible. Other instruments can achieve these perhaps without the breath but with other means, and realising how they do that will help focus on the important bits. Certain styles of concertina and fiddle playing can be very helpful there, try Mary MacNamara's jig playing for example, forget the breath, concentrate on the jig rhythm and see how you can match it. It's sometimes said Micho played concertina on the whistle because that was where his playing was rooted. I could mention other concertina players, or fiddlers but I won't :P

The example of Joe Bane playing Shandon Bells on Bro Steve's site is also a nice example of jig playing stripped to the essentials. Internalising that rhythm is key. Match your breath to suit that, and you'll be flying it.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 10:38 am 
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When I read your post I think I am hearing that you are happy learning what you are learning and how you are learning it, while pointing out the very real difficulty of learning jigs on YouTube where many different players with varying levels of skill are represented.

And if you are happy learning what you are learning and how you are learning it, good for you.

On the other hand, if the subtext was wanting to learn to play jigs in the Irish style, all the posters before me have given you great information.

The problem with YouTube is sorting good playing from not so good, good teachers from the so so to bad. That will come in time and through recommendations. (Also you may or may not know that there is an option on YouTube to slow down the video and audio. Click the gear and you'll get options. I find the 75% speed to be quite useful.)

If you are learning in a vacuum and want to learn the proper use of ornaments, emphasis and articulation that makes an Irish tune sound particularly Irish I highly recommend the subscription service of the Online Academy of Irish Music. It is pretty close to having a teacher in the room. They build individual skills slowly one on another and teach you the basics and multiple tunes. The method is video demonstration as well as sheet music for reference. It is similar to the pages Mr. Gumby mentioned above, but with the benefit of video. The videos are particularly helpful for getting the ornaments. I am sure Brother Steve's pages are also great and I plan to dig into those myself in the next week or so. Even with 30 years experience I love finding new resources to learn and to play with in my home.

I am in a town rich in sessions which I go to a couple of times a week, as well as many teachers. But it is sort of fun to decide to sit down to play a tune with a video at 6:45 in the morning or 11:30 at night in my own kitchen.


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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 12:49 pm 
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I have posted this many times before and I feel like a broken record posting it again but it's worth a look:

a more advanced look at jig playing, written for pipers but applicable all round : Rhythm and structure of Irish Traditional Dance Music : the Double jig...

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 2:27 pm 
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I hesitate to join in here, but what the hell.

Tunborough wrote:
JTU wrote:
the more frantic and less melodic Irish jigs.
I, too, find this opinion curious.

It's all too common to frame our likes and dislikes in subjectively colored terms, and to mistake those for objective conclusions. But on to the rest of my analysis:

"Frantic" is open to question, because we don't know who JTU has been listening to. Some playing is indeed frantic, and I would steer away from that. But rapid is not necessarily frantic; frantic is never sprightly, but panicked and even disordered. If JTU considers Mary Bergin's playing frantic, then I'm definitely of a profoundly different opinion. Not all Irish dance tunes are played rapidly, either; it depends on the player's goals and aesthetics. If you'll excuse the personifying, some tunes do seem to want me to play them quickly, but others want me to play them deliberately and with dignity, and I personally enjoy those very much. It's a whole different dimension. Irish trad is not, nor should it be, a one-trick pony; the goal of playing all dance tunes at high speed is an immature one, IMHO.

"Less melodic" is a very curious choice of words, though, because I find tunes that are distinctively Irish to be highly melodic. But I will agree that the Irish idiom is a creature apart (personally I would include a good amount of Scottish music along with that assessment), and as such it may translate poorly to ears better accustomed to what we might call more "conventional" ways. So perhaps "melodious" was meant instead? In that case, it would simply be horses for courses.

Anyway, that's my 2¢.

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 3:09 pm 
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JTU - your way of learning isn't abhorrent, it's spot on right. Listening, listening, listening to the music (not necessarily whistle) helps develop a sense of rhythm and cadence for jigs or any other type of tune you wan to learn. I've heard this over and over from the 'rock stars' of Traditional Irish Music I've encountered over the years at retreats. In my early years of learning I was blessed to accumulate many recordings of Irish, Scottish, Cape Breton, etc. music, and used a slow-down program to learn the tunes. Now I have Spotify, and my old Amazing Slow Downer links to it so I can study the ornamentation and variations. One other thing that really helps me in practice is playing tunes to the beat of a bodhran - Mark Stone and Jules Bitter have recordings of the beats to jigs, reels, hornpipes, etc., and I speed 'em up or slow 'em down. I also second PB+J's recommendation re: the Online Academy of Irish Music. I love the lessons, the backup tracks, and the virtual sessions. Hope this helps - happy learning!

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 Post subject: Re: Jigs
PostPosted: Thu Aug 29, 2019 7:31 pm 
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I can understand the use of "less melodic." To my ear some tunes seem to be more about rhythm than about melody.

I also appreciate that the OP prefers to learn from other instruments. I probably learned more tunes listening to the fiddle than the whistle or flute.

I would hesitate trying to learn from Youtube videos from just anyone. I'll give another vote for Brother Steve's site. I found in particular the tune analysis page http://www.rogermillington.com/tunetoc/index.html incredibly instructive.

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