Who played it best: May morning Dew

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Who played it best: May Morning Dew

Davy Spillane
2
33%
John McSherry
1
17%
Chris McMullan
1
17%
Phil Hardy
2
33%
 
Total votes: 6

Naturalist
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Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Naturalist »

I can't get enough of this song on whistle. There are four versions of it that I know about. I'm not sure who I think plays it best. Amazing song in all cases. Help me decide. The candidates and their YouTube videos are:

Davy Spillane:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hA8zjXpvAVw

John McSherry:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsM7zHfl_ZA

Chris McMullan:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onwTW90mLkY

Phil Hardy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVFLQhzBVfY

One day I hope to play it like one of these guys.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Narzog »

I voted Chris if only because I like the production more (good studio recording). They all played it perfectly in my book so thats all I have left to go on haha.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Mr.Gumby »

Here's a novelty thought: why not go back to the song itself (you know, sung, by a good singer*) and take it from there?


*Sean Keane will do, for starters
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Sedi »

You mean like this?
https://youtu.be/XR4t_UYuZyA
Or this?
https://youtu.be/1ciXa7_d4Ys
Which would you recommend -- I mean a good version of the song being sung?

Considering the question who played it best -- my favourite version was one that has since been taken down from youtube unfortunately -- it was a solo version by Davy Spillane he played on some Asian TV-Show.
I love Davy's finger vibrato. He holds the note a bit, then adds the vibrato -- more like a singer would do. Whereas McSherry uses it instantly on every note which sounds a bit boring to me. Davy plays it more expressively I think.
There is another great version played on a low D not low F:
https://youtu.be/3T0O7WPKMtU
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by pancelticpiper »

Not a big fan of using synth, guitar, etc with sean nos songs.

As far as the pipers go, it was Mick O'Brien that inspired me to learn the tune

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YwcqhGy5dw
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by pancelticpiper »

Sedi wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:54 am I love Davy's finger vibrato. He holds the note a bit, then adds the vibrato -- more like a singer would do.

Whereas McSherry uses it instantly on every note which sounds a bit boring to me.
You bring up something which isn't discussed much, but which I think is a vital part of a musician's style, and the effect of the music.

As you say, it's common with singers, including non-Trad singers (jazz, pop, etc) to hit a note nonvibrato then after the note is established incrementally add vibrato.

In other words vibrato isn't an on/off thing, like pushing a "vibrato" button, but something that emerges from within the note.

Then there are singers who have an ever-present and never-changing vibrato.

Most bizarre was a woman I heard years ago who attacked each note with a strong vibrato, then immediately reduced the vibrato leaving a nonvibrato sustained note.

On the uilleann pipes vibrato is pretty much a go/no-go thing, though you can swell the note by gradually raising the chanter during a long note.

When I started doing uilleann studio work fulltime (it was quite a few years ago, and only lasted two years) I quickly found out that composers didn't care for my uilleann vibrato, feeling that it was too strong. A number of composers had me play everything nonvibrato, which I thought robbed the pipes of much of their sound.

So I had to spend quite a bit of practice time developing a way of doing a subtle controllable vibrato on each note. It was crucial for the vibrato to have as similar a sound as possible from note to note up and down the scale, of the same speed and intensity.

Also I got into the habit of delaying the vibrato for a moment instead of attacking a note with instant vibrato.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I was thinking of Mick as well but decided not to give any recommendation.

On the Saturday we took pictures for the Kitty lie over album we met up in The Crosses of Annagh for a session in C: Mick, Caoimhin, Breda and Claire Keville and myself. On the night Mick played the May morning dew on a C chanter (I believe Claire asked him to play the tune) over D drones, using fingerings a tone up from the one in the clip. A very different effect, although equally fine.
Sedi wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 4:54 am You mean like this?
I left a hint, always read the small print. :P

A dear late friend sang the song beautifully, albeit to a different air.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Sedi »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Wed Oct 06, 2021 6:06 am I left a hint, always read the small print. :P
:o :D I honestly did not see that :lol:.
Or did you add that later on :-??
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by NicoMoreno »

Mick O'Brien has definitely done the best instrumental version in my opinion.

For singing, I'm partial to Seamus Fay:
https://music.apple.com/gb/album/cavans ... /493613128
Also great is the whole rest of the album.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by kenny »

There's a very fine unaccompanied version of the song by Sean Keane [ Galway, not "Chieftains" ] on a recording made when he was a member of the London / Irish band "Shegui".
If memory serves, Seamus Tansey sang it on his "Easter Snow" recording, and although singing is not what he does best, I thought he made a fairly convincing job of it.
Here'a story - "Cherish The Ladies", from the USA have always been very popular at the Glasgow "Celtic Connections" festival. I went to one of their concerts there a few years back, and their singer sang an unaccompanied solo of "The May Morning Dew", only being American, pronounced "Dew" As "Doo". Now in Scotland, a "doo" is a pigeon, and I remember looking round and catching the eye of a Glasgow singer - may have been Mick West - and thinking the same as me, he started flapping his elbows up and down like a pigeon. Never been able to hear that song since without thinking about it :)
"There's fast music and there's lively music. People don't always know the difference"
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Mr.Gumby »

I heard an interview with Sean Keane on the radio recently (it's here if you're into that sort of thing). I always seem to catch those things while driving somewhere. Anyway, he was talking about his early days when he was seven or eight and was entered in a fleadh competition. He was taught the May morning dew for the occasion and ended up winning the All Ireland (under 11 I believe) singing it. He enjoyed being taken places and the winning was a bonus. He got the notion he could make a go at doing that stuff..

I came away thinking I had seen both Shegui and Reel union several times during the early eighties when he was with them and had no recollection of him at all and wondered was I paying attention at all. On the other hand, a neighbour's daughter got married a few years ago, we had the invite so we went. It turned out they had booked Sean Keane to sing in the church. For some reason the bride was delayed for well over an hour (speculation rife ofcourse) Sean gave good value for money and filled the time with a quite enjoyable unexpected free concert of him singing and playing the whistle.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by oleorezinator »

Or perhaps Nanohedron’s favorite version
by Talbert St. Claire?
Information is not knowledge.
Knowledge is not wisdom.
Wisdom is not truth.
Truth is not beauty. Beauty is not love.
Love is not music. Music is the best.
- Frank Zappa
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Mr.Gumby »

oleorezinator wrote: Fri Oct 08, 2021 10:03 am Or perhaps Nanohedron’s favorite version
by Talbert St. Claire?
:lol: Well played, bend it like any old palmtree.
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by Nanohedron »

Mr.Gumby wrote: Fri Oct 08, 2021 10:09 am
oleorezinator wrote: Fri Oct 08, 2021 10:03 am Or perhaps Nanohedron’s favorite version
by Talbert St. Claire?
:lol: Well played, bend it like any old palmtree.
Likely as a survival tactic - and a mercy to myself - I had well and truly forgotten that trauma: but now this. Thanks loads, guys. :swear:
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Re: Who played it best: May morning Dew

Post by kenny »

A bit of a diversion - for Mr Gumby. Sean Keane was in the original line up of "Shegui". He was replaced by Tom Smith a fine singer from the SW of Scotland, who played on the 2nd of their 2 albums. The first was better IMHO.
I've never heard of Sean Keane being a member of "Reel Union". Sister Dolores was, of course, but I suppose it is possible he toured with them at some point. I do remember Sean and Dolores on stage together with John Faulkner, opening for "Cran" at a concert at an Edinburgh Folk Festival in the late 1980s. They did a very fine flute duet together, as well as excellent singing of course. Might still be a tape around somewhere.
Back to the subject of the discussion - I'd vote for Davy Spillane, a ba'hair ahead of John McSherry.
"There's fast music and there's lively music. People don't always know the difference"
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