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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:34 am 
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I'm not sure how to argue with them except to say that even if their playing is not 'wrong' we are still free to call it wooden, shallow, immature, stilted .... and so on.


Absolutely, you have the right to do that (although I don't feel that my playing is any of the above...;-), I've had lessons and you might actually approve of my playing) . But others have the right to disagree. I do understand where the 'defenders of the faith' are coming from, but that doesn't mean everyone has to come from the same place.

I don't mean to argue or ruffle anyones' feathers, but purists cannot police the world, and make everyone play their way. Awhile back, a lady posted a link to her new CD. There were a few subtly snarky posts. The posters are entitled to their snark, but that does not take away the fact that the music is valid, to her.

Okay, I'll go away now. :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:04 pm 
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lyndamic wrote:
The posters are entitled to their snark, but that does not take away the fact that the music is valid, to her.


Was it? How would you know? Is it impossible for me to produce a piece of music that isn't valid for me, however hard I try? I guess I'll stop doing repeat takes when I record then; seems like I can't get it wrong, even if I want to. (I wouldn't get to play on many sessions if I tried that line with leaders and producers.)

But, all the same, I'm open to this kind of stuff. 'Well, on that track, Wombat was way out of tune, screechy, rhythmically leaden and his interpretation was shallow and peurile. But his playing was certainly valid for him.' Gee, thanks, that's a consolation. Would you like me to autograph the CD, then?


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:35 pm 
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Hehe Wombat, good one!

I think lotsa people on this planet, and loads of people I know, are having a hard time dealing with failure. Some people will adopt a philosophy of life which will protect them from failure, and will go on saying "I'm valid in whatever I do because this is me".

Well, I'm personally not afraid of failure because I came to realize that I'd fail on many things until I die, and even then I might get the wrong coffin. So I don't mind someone telling me I'm out of tune, or wrong, if I respect that person's own abilities, off course. Being wrong or right, making things the wrong way or the right way is part of my life, this is what's pushing me in trying to do better when I fail, but I understand that some people don't handle that stuff the same way, and that's allright.

And yes, I'm aiming for perfection, this will give me something to do for the next 50 years :-)


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:39 pm 
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lyndamic wrote:
Is blending or fitting in with the Itrad pure drop group essential to some peoples' self esteem? Must be, from the vehement defense of the tradition I've seen here sometimes.

Well, I'll chime in here, not only because I have direct experience but also because I have a work deadline looming, always my cue to find other *essential* things to do.

As many of my friends on the board know, a few years ago I was all full of ideas about adding contrapuntal harmonies to traditional Irish tunes. I had a lot of fun with it and was pleased with the results. As I shared my enthusiasm with musicians on the board I respected, though, I could *sense* (hehe, Stevie) that maybe my enthusiasm for harmonies wasn't exactly widely shared. And it was at that point that I asked myself the question that has led to more musical joy than I had ever had before, even though I was a music major and in general am a swooner over music. That question, inspired by the response to my harmony ideas, was: Okay, what am I missing here? What is it about the unison playing of these "simple" tunes that satisfies so many people? When I really looked for the answer to that question, I was rewarded with a depth of feeling in response to ITM that has become a real treasure in my life. So maybe a more useful frame for this discussion is to replace the question "Who cares if I play the way I like?" with "What might I be depriving myself of enjoying and connecting to if I open my ears?"

Carol


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 3:02 pm 
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cskinner wrote:
So maybe a more useful frame for this discussion is to replace the question "Who cares if I play the way I like?" with "What might I be depriving myself of enjoying and connecting to if I open my ears?"

Oh, very well said!

I think where we traditionalists frqeuently get in trouble is its much easier to express where a particular practice falls short of the tradition than it is to explain the joy and magic we hear in the tradition. Everything ends up being expressed as "rules", which even when they have a kernel of truth to them are invariably over-rigid. We make everything sound like work. But it's not! It's play.

Previously in this thread, I said that listening to Peter Horan and Rufus Guinchard would make you a better traditional musician than listening to Boiled in Lead. It occurs to me that makes it sound like it's a homework assignment. But that's all wrong. I listen to them because I love their music -- the vitality, the rhythms, the joy of it all. It isn't some dreary academic exercise, it's musical magic. I'm not listening to be Irishly Correct. The reason I hope I can learn to approximate that sound with my music is because I love their music.

Does that make any sense?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 7:52 pm 
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cskinner wrote:
As I shared my enthusiasm with musicians on the board I respected, though, I could *sense* (hehe, Stevie) that maybe my enthusiasm for harmonies wasn't exactly widely shared.


I really can't think what gave you that idea, Carol! ;)


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:14 am 
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Mary Bergin once told me that the enemy of the ear is the eye.

All the best,

Bob


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 11:48 am 
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Whistleworks wrote:
Mary Bergin once told me that the enemy of the ear is the eye.



Did she say that while crossing a busy intersection?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:26 pm 
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I am happy to report that my opinion has not changed since 2001 - the last time that I posted to this thread. :lol: I knew that you were all waiting to find out. :P


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:52 am 
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Wombat wrote:
Whistleworks wrote:
Mary Bergin once told me that the enemy of the ear is the eye.



Did she say that while crossing a busy intersection?

:lol: :lol: :lol:


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 8:33 am 
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For me, it was note reading that brought me into celtic music. I was a classically trained saxophonist with no experience learning by ear. I gave it all up when I joined the Navy. And then decided to come back to music recently. I chose traditional folk music and the whistle and flute. The latter had very similar fingerings to the sax.

With no session and no celtic music rule book, I bought a few tunes on itunes and downloaded the sheet music. I played along and forced myself to memorize 20 or so tunes, using the sheet music as an aid.

I found a session and had a blast, because I got to play, which is much better than being in the audience. After repeated sessions, I started to hear certain patterns and subtle ornamentations. Over a couple months, I also found it much easier to play a tune by ear. Now I have a bunch of tunes memorized, many of which I don't know the names.

In sum, for the musician transitioning from the world of sheet music to ear learning, it ain't such a bad thing to overlap the two methods, at least initially. I agree that memorizing from sheet music is really tough -- you must hear the music to get it right. But sheet music does have some utility. For a classically trained musician using my method, you will keep your interest up, get to play a lot, and then naturally abandon sheet music in a matter of months. As for the pure beginners, I do agree that sheet music is a waste of time.


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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 9:33 am 
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Personally, I'm a firm believer that you're missing out if you don't learn to read the music as well as learn the tunes by ear. IMHO, both are important in learning the songs as well as giving them your own personal interpretation. If you only learn by reading the music, then you are most likely going to be playing it 'straight' without any traditional style. If you learn only by ear, then you are learning the song without implementing your own personal style to it.

The wonderful part about listening and playing traditional Celtic music is that there are so many different takes on how each song is done.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 8:02 pm 
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pureshift wrote:
If you learn only by ear, then you are learning the song without implementing your own personal style to it.

I really don't see why you'd say that. It's not like learning by ear forces you to slavishly duplicate the version you learned from. And frankly, the vast majority of us don't have the the talent to copy someone else's version so closely that you couldn't hear any of our own style in the playing -- at least if that someone is any good.

PS This morning an even better argument occurs to me. Prior to 1950, the vast majority of ITM players learned exclusively by ear. (The only exception that comes to mind is Andy McGann.) Today, a solid majority of the greats still learn primarily this way. The idea that all those great players don't have their own individual style is ludicrous.

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Last edited by colomon on Thu May 10, 2007 4:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 8:32 pm 
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I learned to read music long ago, but I quit making music in adulthood.

When I came back to music, after about a 25 year break, I was stunned to realize I couldn't remember how to read it. And to top it off, I have limited ability to learn by ear. I can't seem to map what I hear to my fingers! Also, to make it even harder, I'm trying to learn new instruments and new musical styles.

I have never felt that the sheet music did the trick. My music teacher as a child complained that I couldn't sight read well enough. Well, I never thought the printed music contained all the information. It is good to get you started. But I've always felt I needed to hear how it is supposed to sound.

The thing is, I'm thinking that what I really want to do is play the music that moves me. Today I was listening to some Irish music that sounded like a blend between Irish traditional, Chinese and Hip Hop. It was amazing and moved me. I also was moved by some Irish music that had a rock electric guitar and rock drums.

I intend to learn the songs that move me. If I'm not traditional, that's ok. If I suck, well, I will be sad, but I will enjoy myself anyway. But I don't think I'll post any mp3s of myself for critique, which is sad, because it looks like I'll be playing all this music from inside my closet so I don't bother anybody.


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PostPosted: Thu May 10, 2007 5:23 am 
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colomon wrote:
pureshift wrote:
If you learn only by ear, then you are learning the song without implementing your own personal style to it.

I really don't see why you'd say that. It's not like learning by ear forces you to slavishly duplicate the version you learned from. And frankly, the vast majority of us don't have the the talent to copy someone else's version so closely that you couldn't hear any of our own style in the playing -- at least if that someone is any good.

PS This morning an even better argument occurs to me. Prior to 1950, the vast majority of ITM players learned exclusively by ear. (The only exception that comes to mind is Andy McGann.) Today, a solid majority of the greats still learn primarily this way. The idea that all those great players don't have their own individual style is ludicrous.


I suppose my words were a bit on the harsh side. I'm sure that there are people that do certain learn their own style and play quite well. My feelings on this go beyond the whistle, I guess. In my experience, I have found that many people that only learn music by ear tend to not develop a defining style that they can call their own no matter what instrument they were playing.

What I really meant is that learning to read music opens up a number of doors. While I have nothing against anyone that only learns music by ear, I personally feel that reading music is quite a valuable tool. For me, learning the basic structure of the tune first makes it easier to find ways to put in ornamentation. I do listen to the way other people play the songs to give myself ideas on where to place things. I imagine a lot of other people here do the same.

In the end, though, the only thing that truly matters is that you enjoy what you are doing. If you don't enjoy learning to read music, then it's probably something you shouldn't be doing. The other great thing about music is that there is a million ways to do something and that there is no supreme 'right' way. I apologize if I came across so negatively because I honestly didn't mean to. I suppose I tend to have strong feelings and opinions at times.

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