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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 6:38 pm 
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And when you play back-up for ITM (not talking about other types of music), do you whang away loudly at chord after chord or do you do some single string (probably not appropriate language for cittern since the strings are in courses) things to break up the chords or even just play single string? What do you consider a nice sounding back-up for ITM? I can't really participate in discussing this since I don't know what it should sound like. I do know that the loud constant chord thing does not please my particular ear.

Well, Nano, I know you don't whang away---it's just a sort of bee in my bonnet at this point.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 6:59 pm 
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Cynth wrote:
And when you play back-up for ITM (not talking about other types of music), do you whang away loudly at chord after chord or do you do some single string (probably not appropriate language for cittern since the strings are in courses) things to break up the chords or even just play single string? What do you consider a nice sounding back-up for ITM?


Caution: longwinded screed ahead.

I can only come from my taste in this, but I believe less is more. It's all about the melody first, foremost and always, and backup is called just that for a reason. Whanging away ruins things and pisses people off. It's just crude. I go for a variety of approaches, including breaking things up as the limits of my skill allow, much as you described. I think it's important to be able to now and again follow the melody line either directly or in harmony --just a handful of notes will do the trick-- as "it lets the musicians know you care", as local guitarist/fluteplayer Brian Miller put it (and that underscores the real necessity of knowing the tunes, or at least getting a grip on the unknown one right quick). I also love the instrument's capacity to be played in a tinkling sort of way without having to resort to melodic playing, but you can get some really chugging rhythms going, too. Much of the time I just sound only three courses at a time. It's a spare approach but it serves the music well because a more modest tack supports better, I think. It sounds more "trad" that way, anyway. But that's just me. :)

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:05 pm 
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Well, when you say a tinkling sort of way without actually playing the melody, then are you using say, finger picking patterns the way one might on a guitar? You aren't playing the tune, but you are playing a chord with your left hand and then picking strings in that chord according to some pattern with your right hand, having the rhythm of the picking natually be compatible in some way with the rhythm of the tune?

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:16 pm 
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Cynth wrote:
Well, when you say a tinkling sort of way without actually playing the melody, then are you using say, finger picking patterns the way one might on a guitar? You aren't playing the tune, but you are playing a chord with your left hand and then picking strings in that chord according to some pattern with your right hand, having the rhythm of the picking natually be compatible in some way with the rhythm of the tune?


Yep, exactly, except for the fingerpicking part. I only use a flat pick, myself. I'll also do one- or two-note variations within that chord, like going into a D note in a D chord from C# or Cnat, say. It's what's called a hammer-on among guitarists.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 7:33 pm 
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Okay, I understand what you mean. I hope I will get to hear you sometime. It sounds like what you do would nice quite nice. I don't have a problem with back-up per se, but even in a very well known group I found the guitar to just be unbearable. I think your comment about the necessity of knowing the tune is interesting since a lot of the time it seems that the person is just changing chords when the tune changes but doesn't enhance the music in any way. I don't think they could hum the tune if asked. They could simply get a loud chord making machine and tell it ahead of time when to change chords. Maybe you should write a tutorial. I'm serious.

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:01 pm 
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Cynth wrote:
Okay, I understand what you mean. I hope I will get to hear you sometime. It sounds like what you do would nice quite nice. I don't have a problem with back-up per se, but even in a very well known group I found the guitar to just be unbearable. I think your comment about the necessity of knowing the tune is interesting since a lot of the time it seems that the person is just changing chords when the tune changes but doesn't enhance the music in any way. I don't think they could hum the tune if asked. They could simply get a loud chord making machine and tell it ahead of time when to change chords. Maybe you should write a tutorial. I'm serious.


Very kind of you, Cynth, considering that all you have to go on is my word. :wink: I agree that there are so-called backup players that seem to care nothing for what a tune is really about; knowing and acknowledging where a tune is going is not a limiting thing: using a tune as a framework actually opens up possibilities one might otherwise miss. But it may be that they are really unable to get it. As for tutorials, that's also very kind of you to suggest, but I'm able to only address things in a vague, philosophical way. Besides, there are reliable ones already out there: our own Michael Eskin has one out, and I hear it's very good, although I haven't had the pleasure; there's another by Chris Smith which addresses appropriateness and taste issues such as "density" and where it might work best, and that one comes with a CD, too. I've strongly urged Brian Miller to write a tutorial. He's far better educated than I, a music performance major with a focus on ITM, and is a brilliant, tasty player as well as a good teacher. Plus he's a good bit younger and probably has the energy for the job. :lol:

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PostPosted: Sat Sep 24, 2005 8:27 pm 
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By the way, my backup playing is fairly simple when you get down to it. Nothing wow-making; I cheat and let the cittern's innate qualities carry much of the load for me.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 12:38 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I guess I'll break it in, then.

So, is a cittern traditional or not?

Yes, but it hasn't been for very long.

Since the mid 20th Century a number of traditional cittern family instruments have been adapted to the use of the traditional musics of the British Isles. Mandolins, which originated in Italy as a sort of hybrid between a lute and a cittern, have been incorporated to local musics around the world for well over a century. The Greek bouzouki, both in the three course and the four course form, has been used in Irish music. The Portuguese guittar has also been used in Irish music, as has the Laouta, a sort of 4-course lute from Turkey.

The so-called Celtic cittern is an adaptation of these ideas to the usage of traditional music in its present form.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 8:14 am 
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Well, if there are tutorials I wish people would read them. :lol: I don't think the backup should be wow-making or calling attention to itself. That is then distracting to the listener who is supposed to be listening to the main player.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 8:50 am 
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I cheat and let the cittern's innate qualities carry much of the load for me.


That's not cheating, that's brilliant. I've heard many played too much like guitars, when they have quite different tonal qualities.


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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 9:01 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I cheat and let the cittern's innate qualities carry much of the load for me.


Meaning, you let its funky appearance wow the crowd? :wink:

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 25, 2005 11:17 am 
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Joseph E. Smith wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
I cheat and let the cittern's innate qualities carry much of the load for me.


Meaning, you let its funky appearance wow the crowd? :wink:


also its five double courses make slicing cheese for the hors d'oeuvres tray a snap.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 5:53 am 
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Surely if we're talking ITM string instruments, there's fiddle, and er, that's it?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 6:18 am 
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Martin Milner wrote:
Surely if we're talking ITM string instruments, there's fiddle, and er, that's it?

Pretty much, though one of them Irish harps makes a nice decoration.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2005 7:19 am 
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Walden wrote:
Martin Milner wrote:
Surely if we're talking ITM string instruments, there's fiddle, and er, that's it?

Pretty much, though one of them Irish harps makes a nice decoration.


True!

I've only seen one played in a session once, and the poor woman had trouble because her ex-boyfriend who was leading kept changing key.

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