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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 5:38 am 
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the linked article by Bill Ochs is talking about Larsen's system for notating cuts, not his system for playing them, and far from "demolishing" it, it simply says that the existing system can notate more precisely what kind of cut to use, while Larsen's system merely says to play an unspecified kind of cut. this is a completely reasonable point and is well made, but i don't see why it has to be one or the other: if you want to notate a particular type of cut, you can use a grace note, and if you want to notate a cut in general, you can use a Larsen symbol. or you can use one or the other or do something else entirely, if you want; no one is forcing anyone to use Larsen's system if they don't want to.

as far as playing cuts goes, i've come to realise that Larsen's book is more or less "how to play Irish traditional music like Grey Larsen does". the book could be improved by making this a bit more obvious; it is easy to read it and come away with the idea that Larsen's way of doing things is the standard or common way to do it, and he does very little to dispell that notion other than an occasional nod to the idea that "some people might do it differently".


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:42 am 
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Terry McGee wrote:
But that doesn't mean we should denigrate what went before.
I no longer have Larsen's book but the impression I was left with was that in introducing his notation system he does denigrate what went before. I was already happy with the system Bill Ochs describes, having come across another tutor book, and was not convinced by Larsen's criticism; it was nice to later find the Bill Ochs C&F article. However, Larsen's notation seems a good way for him to notate the things he wants to describe.

I lent Larsen's book and never asked for it back because I found Conal O'Grada's whole approach suited me better.

That said, I generally do use Larsen's fingering for cut's because I practiced them when I had his book, my fingers work well that way and I don't usually want chirpy cuts - especially when separating repeated notes in non-Irish music.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 09, 2019 11:18 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
And a lot of players will weigh and consider carefully how the various cuts and other ornaments influence the music. To an experienced listener these things are an important part of the musical 'language'. Reducing this to a mere one size fits all mechanical action without further importance ignores an important aspect of this music.

Well, Larsen's book is a tutorial for newcomers. As such, he's trying to give useful information to get started, based on his own technique, like every other flute tutorial I've picked up including Conal O'Grada's, Fintan Valleley's, and June McCormack's. For what it's worth, I found O'Grada's tutorial the most useful as a single source, but all had interesting views to offer.

Anyway, it's been a while since I read the Larsen tome, but I don't recall the advice on cuts being presented as the only way to do it. He might have suggested it was the best way, but that's what you get with any of these flute tutorials. As it happened, I came across the Larsen tutorial first before the others, so his recommended technique for cuts was where I started. I guess I still do most cuts that way but not all of them. I sometimes cut with fingers further from the note when it sounds better in a given tune, and I'll sometimes do taps with two fingers below the note instead of one. Just depends on the tune. I haven't gotten to the point yet where I'll intentionally vary how I cut notes in the repeats of a tune for the sake of variety, but it's a goal to shoot for after I get a little better.

I try not to think about it too much. Every time I start to analyze what I'm doing, my playing gets messed up. I'd hate to have to write a tutorial based on what I do! But it doesn't sound too terrible to my ears, so far. Listening to examples of what it should sound like is key, and I try to do as much of that as I can.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:48 am 
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Wow, thank you everybody for your extremely informative responses! I'll try to respond to the issues raised one by one, in no particular order:

I hadn't even heard of Conal O'Grada or his book, but I will certainly take a look. Thanks!

Just to clarify, what I meant by cutting "using the same finger he uses to play it" (which I realize is not the best way to put it) is cutting G using T3 (or L3, now that I see this notation is also used).

I am far from any concentration of ITM players, and have had to rely on texts to get an idea of what's what.

My background is in classical and jazz piano, and when you learn a fingering for, say, a difficult passage in one of Chopin's etudes, that's the one you use every single time (jazz is more lenient but usually far less difficult). So I like getting one fingering in which to become very proficient through practice and then sticking with it for my beginning stages.

My last note is that my objective, quite simply, is to imitate as closely as possible what I hear from Seamus Tansey. I like lots of flute players, but when I finally came across his playing it resonated very strongly. Most important, to me, is the lovely rhythmic flow (I think this is due partly to what Larsen calls the lilt?) of his playing and the very natural-sounding ornamentation. (Or, in my musical thinking: Altan is rock-n-roll ITM, Tansey is a swinging Oscar Peterson ITM. Hope that makes sense to somebody.) So if anybody has any specifics on how to reach that particular goal, myopic as it may seem, I would be very grateful.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 1:44 pm 
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Quote:
My last note is that my objective, quite simply, is to imitate as closely as possible what I hear from Seamus Tansey. I like lots of flute players, but when I finally came across his playing it resonated very strongly. Most important, to me, is the lovely rhythmic flow (I think this is due partly to what Larsen calls the lilt?) of his playing and the very natural-sounding ornamentation.


For learning, imitation and close study is one thing. In the even slightly longer term you bet move away from that as soon as possible. In Irish music playing and developing style is not a matter of learning to run off a piece and stick to it forever, it's the constant variation and own style that's highly rated.

Study Tansey closely by all means if that;s your thing take in his influences but don't learn off his music note perfect to play it back the same each time, he wouldn't play it the same twice himself. Key is, to state the obvious, is to learn what is going on, why he plays it the way he does and what effect he is trying to achieve. But after that, put your stamp on it, by all means incorporate elements of all players that influence you but the end goal is to combine all these influences and acquire your own voice and expression.

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PostPosted: Thu Oct 10, 2019 3:38 pm 
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This thread seems to be wrapping up, but I'm going to comment anyway. If you ever get a chance to take a flute workshop with Grey Larsen, by all means do it. I've taken several and come out a better player every time. He can identify how you can improve and teach you how to get there in a safe environment, which is high praise for any teacher.

I've also taken workshops with Kevin Crawford (2), Seamus Egan and June McCormack. While those workshops were fun and it was great to breathe the rarified air, I can't say they made me a better player.

To answer the specific question posed: there is an orthodoxy that has developed in Irish flute playing; namely, all cuts on the south end of the flute are performed with the L3 finger and all cuts on the north end by the finger forming the sounding note. I find that the orthodox approach does not work for me in some instances, as on the second octave E and on a descending run from first octave F# to D, also cutting the E. I also have issues with flute stability when using the A to cut the A.

Which finger to cut with is only a small part of Grey's book. I found his ideas on the percussive nature of flute playing particularly insightful. I also use his notation system when transcribing tunes.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 11, 2019 11:16 am 
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Hi ryarbourgh,

Excellent, thank you for that! I tried this, and my Tony Dixon D flute is not very responsive to L3 as a cut for E or D, and produces more of a breathy gap than a punch. But it does respond well to R1 as a cut for both E and D.

Is there a similar traditional technique for strikes? Also, do you have any advice for strikes on B? The only thing that really does anything on my flute is L2, but even the best of my strikes on L2 carry too much of the A pitch into the strike (a problem that I do not have on other notes).

Thanks again!


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