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 Post subject: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:05 pm 
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Question: do you find it better to learn a song straight and then add ornamentation afterwards? Or do you think learning it slower and with ornamentation and then speeding it up is better?

I have read that when in doubt less is more when it comes to ornamentation, but at a certain point it would seem to lose its "Irishness" without a certain amount. Stylistically , Irish music is somewhat new to me (I played the flute for a number of years and just took up Irish whistle a year or so ago)
Thoughts? Resources?

Thanks in advance!

Michelle


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:16 pm 
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Some people can learn tunes by ear and/or on the fly. I am not one of them. In my case, I learn "straight" and add ornamentation afterwards. The learning process is almost always slow for me; I believe this is due to me being a late-comer to the whistle.

As is oft said on this board, YMMV. Ultimately, each individual player must determine what method of learning tunes works best for him or her.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:20 pm 
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As is oft said on this board, YMMV. Ultimately, each individual player must determine what method of learning tunes works best for him or her.[/quote]


What is WhOAD?


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Sun Oct 18, 2020 9:25 pm 
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WhOAD=Whistle Obsessive Acquisition Disorder. I admit, I suffer from it to a degree. Six months ago, I had two whistles...I now have ten, plus a piccolo, and just ordered two more whistles.

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I seem to have a mild to moderate case of WhOAD!


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 2:59 am 
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Possibly best to learn how you have learned other tunes - embellishments are just that. :thumbsup:

WhOAD is what I call WAS, (Whistle Aquisition Syndrome); I've previously had UAS (Ukulele Aquistion Syndrome), & HAS (Harmonica Aquistion Syndrome) - I just can't stop at only one. :D

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:35 am 
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Quote:
Question: do you find it better to learn a song straight and then add ornamentation afterwards? Or do you think learning it slower and with ornamentation and then speeding it up is better?

I have read that when in doubt less is more when it comes to ornamentation, but at a certain point it would seem to lose its "Irishness" without a certain amount. Stylistically , Irish music is somewhat new to me (I played the flute for a number of years and just took up Irish whistle a year or so ago)
Thoughts? Resources?


It's a question that appears regularly, each new wave of beginners will eventually arrive at asking it.

Answers can be multiple. Ornamentation can mean different things to different people although those asking the question usually have cuts and rolls on their mind, so I'll limit my response to those. Ornamentation can come in different 'layers' too. For now you should limit yourself to the basic layer that is there to help the tune along.

The subject of 'sounding Irish' comes along invariably too. I don't think ornamentation is there to make you sound 'Irish'. In fact I hear a lot of clips posted here that sound disctinctly atypical because people posting them live under the assumption a generous sprinkling of crans will make them sound more 'real' (and really, it doesn't).

So first question you have to ask yourself is why ornamentation is there at all. Well, that has multiple answers as well but the basic layer is there, as I said, to help the tune along. Cuts and taps can separate two notes of the same pitch played legato, for example.

Playing Irish dance music first issue is rhtyhm and phrasing. Without having those spot on you have nothing. Some ornamentation helps to emphasise and underline those. Therefore it is of crucial importance to get it right. There may be layers that are stylistic choices, modes of personal expression and all that but your base layer, youi have to get that right from the start.

Which provides some answer to part of your question, there is some ornamentation that helps the tune along at an essential level and you should learn to incorporate that from the start. Let it become second nature. Do it slowly if and when you need to.

I'll leave it at that, it probably not useful to go into it too deep here and there;s scope fopr this to become a very long post. The old saw applies : listen, listen, listen to established and recognised stylists, get a feel for the music and learn to understand it. Then listen, listen and listen some more.

Brother Steve can provide some introduction and an entertaining read.

Good luck.


[did a second round of skimming the typos that had escaperd initial proofreading]

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 3:38 am 
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MichelleRH wrote:
Question: do you find it better to learn a song straight and then add ornamentation afterwards? Or do you think learning it slower and with ornamentation and then speeding it up is better?

I don't think it's that simple. If you're steeped in a style with characteristic embellishments and articulation, at least some of this should come naturally even for new tunes. But that doesn't mean attacking everything full-on when you're not going to take control of awkward passages without targeted slow practice.

[Cross-posted with Mr.Gumby, whose post came up when I previewed mine.]

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:14 am 
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MichelleRH wrote:
Question: do you find it better to learn a song straight and then add ornamentation afterwards? Or do you think learning it slower and with ornamentation and then speeding it up is better?

I have read that when in doubt less is more when it comes to ornamentation, but at a certain point it would seem to lose its "Irishness" without a certain amount. Stylistically , Irish music is somewhat new to me.


When this topic is broached I always state my opinion that Irish traditional flute and whistle music, in general, has little to no ornamentation.

I can play you an entire flute or whistle album where there's not an ornament to be heard.

What it is, is how one defines "ornament". In non-ITM music an "ornament" is something superfluous to the melody which is added purely for decorative effect.

What ITM flute and whistle playing does have quite a bit of is the using of near-instantaneous flicks of the fingers to articulate between notes. These gracenotes are articulatory and rhythmic devices rather than ornamental ones.

So you come to The Kesh Jig where there are four G melody notes in sequence:

| GGG GAB |

A Baroque recorder player or orchestral Boehm fluteplayer would as a matter of course articulate these with the tongue.

An ITM flute or whistle player would not, but instead use extremely quick flicks or pops of certain fingers to articulate those repeated G's. No "ornamentation" is taking place, in fact the ITM player doesn't want these gracenotes to be heard as seperate entities at all.

Since articulation is an indispensable part of playing any tune with repeated notes of the same pitch, these finger articulations are not superfluous and I, for one, play them when I'm picking up a reel or jig by ear at full speed. I can't remove them without fundamentally changing the style of the tune I'm learning.

To remove them would create an artifice, in other words.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 6:30 am 
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I don't think it is particularly helpful here to do the run of semantics on this thread. 'Ornamentation' has always been common usage in Irish traditional music terminology, sometimes 'embellishment' and other terms going alongside as alternatives. We all know what is meant.

The Kesh jig example is another example that is wholly artificial. It's setting up a problem that doesn't exist. Anyone with a bit of grounding in this music knows this opening phrase depends on instrument, style or whatever stylistic choices one wishes to make. I have yet to encounter a traditional musician who would describe that phrase as containing four Gs.

In fact I would argue the melody only requires a long note if you follow Breathnach's take on embellishment/ornamentation everything you do with that long G would all be classed as 'embellishment' or 'ornamentation' (and that would actually fit in with Richard's thinking of ornamentation being everything superfluous to the melody, we just have to agree what makes the actual melody first)

GFG GAB ABA A or GAG GAB ABA A or DGG GAB ABA A or GDG GAB -- or GDD GAB are equally valid opening statements for the tune or variation of it. Embellishment as Breathnach would have it.

A roll ~G3 {A}GAB-- would also be ornamentation, when taken as a decoration of the long G.



Let's not distract from the OP's question and leave the semantic hobby horses at the door for a minute.

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Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 9:35 am 
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"What ITM flute and whistle playing does have quite a bit of is the using of near-instantaneous flicks of the fingers to articulate between notes. These gracenotes are articulatory and rhythmic devices rather than ornamental ones. "

Are you saying you wouldn't articulate with tonguing but have a continuous flow of air with the ornaments (if you will) functioning to articulate the notes?


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:52 am 
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MichelleRH wrote:
Are you saying you wouldn't articulate with tonguing but have a continuous flow of air with the ornaments (if you will) functioning to articulate the notes?

Not necessarily. There are places where you might (even should) and places where you might not (or perhaps shouldn't), but idiomatic phrasing and articulation differ from what you might expect from classical music. See Brother Steve's tin-whistle pages linked by Mr.Gumby above.

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:59 am 
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MichelleRH wrote:
"What ITM flute and whistle playing does have quite a bit of is the using of near-instantaneous flicks of the fingers to articulate between notes. These gracenotes are articulatory and rhythmic devices rather than ornamental ones. "

Are you saying you wouldn't articulate with tonguing but have a continuous flow of air with the ornaments (if you will) functioning to articulate the notes?

Start here.
https://youtu.be/-1CQqbT0bIw

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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:19 am 
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MichelleRH wrote:
Question: do you find it better to learn a song straight and then add ornamentation afterwards?....


My opinion: First you build the house with a sturdy foundation, then you paint it.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 12:15 pm 
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I found Mary Bergin's Irish Tin Whistle Tutorials to be very helpful in shedding some light on the question raised
by the OP. Mary Bergin makes the argument that rhythmic emphasis and pulse is integral to these tunes. In other
words, each tune is not just a sequence of notes played at the right time, but has its own essential underlying pulse
and rhythm that define it. Learning this pulse and rhythm is an integral part of learning the tune, and it needs to be
learned from the outset! This means employing some kind of technique to provide the required emphasis at certain
points in the tune. This could initially be as simple as tonguing certain notes, but there are alternate approaches to
providing the emphasis at critical points in the tune, and we can explore these alternatives as we become more
skilled.

There are also opportunities for using different ornaments to add variation to other parts of the tune, but this is really
less foundational and could be worked in at a later phase of learning the tune.

So, my take is that each tune has an important internal rhythmic structure that needs to be recognized and learned
from the outset. This will not be visible in sheet music or ABC notation, unless it has been carefully annotated by
an experienced trad musician, such as Mary Bergin in her tutorials. Even then, it is best learned by listening and imitating.
Personally, I have found it to be infinitely easier to learn tunes by listening to others who play them with the correct rhythmic
emphasis, that to learn them from a written notation, even though I am quite fluent at reading sheet music.

When listening to accomplished musicians, it is challenging to isolate the essential underlying structure of a tune from all
of the other decoration that might be present. I don't have advice on how to approach that other than to listen to a lot of
different versions of tunes you like and try to extract out the commonality. Well, that and listen to the views of experts.
And I should add that I am definitely not an expert.


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 Post subject: Re: Ornamentation
PostPosted: Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:58 pm 
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Thanks oleorezinator--that youtube video was super helpful. I have watched other youtube videos about ornamentation and cuts and rolls that were less helpful.

Michelle


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