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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:45 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
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As mentioned, In O'Neill's Chicago the police force was full of flute players


O'Neill gave jobs to musicians to keep them in Chicago so he could get tunes off them. You will have to wonder if the situation was a typical one.

Flute playing in Ireland was always a bit of a macho activity, the physicality of fluteplaying and all that. Not considered suitable for women at all.

The popularity fro mthe sixties onward of the boehm flute among women worldwide is a completely separate subject.



People say this about O'Neill and it's fun to think so but I doubt it's true. I had a conversation with Nicholas Carolan in September where he said the same thing. Police jobs were pretty plumb jobs, much sought after, and O'Neill was only chief for about 5 years. At no point in his career did he have untrammeled authority to appoint whoever he pleased. There would always be someone else wanting to get their person appointed. He does sometimes note that this or that musician found place on the force, so it no doubt happened sometime, but he never would have been able to hire whoever he pleased. He several times talks act this or that musician as being a great player but being "unfortunately allergic to work," or prone to drink, or in one case being persuaded that his interest lay in moving to the west, e.g, he was run out of town.

It might be "hippie chicks" in the 60s that gave the flute a feminine cast, although at the same time there was lots of jazz flute and that was a pretty macho culture. I don't think the simple system flute was ever "gendered female."

I would say that in my daughter's generation you see more girls playing trumpet, sax, and percussion, My daughter, all four foot eleven of her, is the first alto in the 8th grade band. There are girls in the trumpets and the drums. Good to see: her generation gives me hope


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 12:59 pm 
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People say this about O'Neill and it's fun to think so but I doubt it's true.


The Chief mentions this himself, several times as I seem to remember, in his works. One instance I can immediately think of is that of Barney Delaney where an attempt was made to lure Delaney back to Chicago 'where a position in the Department of Police awaited him'.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:21 pm 
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There's no doubt that O'Neill definitely did help secure jobs for *some* people on the police force, but it's usually quite overstated how many he was able to secure - Delaney is the main one that I'm aware of, but most of the rest of the usual suspects were met by O'Neill already on the job (James O'Neill, McFadden, and Early, as far as I saw were already colleagues).

It should also be noted that although O'Neill was only Superintendent for 5 years, it isn't only the superintendent that hires people - he was a lieutenant and captain for a good number of years, and likely would have been able to help people apply and get hired in those positions, too.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:27 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
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People say this about O'Neill and it's fun to think so but I doubt it's true.


The Chief mentions this himself, several times as I seem to remember, in his works. One instance I can immediately think of is that of Barney Delaney where an attempt was made to lure Delaney back to Chicago 'where a position in the Department of Police awaited him'.



Yes he does mention it a couple times, as I think I said. But he had a thirty year career and a couple times isn't stocking the police force.

For a lot of that he was just a cop, not the chief. He didn't have that much discretionary authority. And appointments were hedged in by political pressures and patronage--he says that a lot more often. Delaney was a relative by marriage.

If you read his "Sketchy recollections," which don't have much to say about music, a lot of it is about how intense politics was on the force, and how he often runs afoul of some action or other. Everybody wants to get his son/brother/cousin/buddy/wife's cousin/block captain etc. on the force.

I think it's more likely cop is a good job to have--good pay, security, pension, respect and authority--and the irish got there at the meant when the police force was being formed and got a stranglehold on hiring more generally. Something like 2/3rds of the force is irish born or irish American at one point. Same story in NYC, Philly and Boston: Irish immigrants arrived in big numbers at the moment when professional police forces were being formed, the 1850s. Tom Wolfe famously wrote that in NYC, if you're a cop, you're "irish," whether your name is Gomez or Goldberg or Andolini or Kowalski or Jefferson or Chen, because the whole character and culture of the police force was formed by irish immigrants.

It's interesting to me to see how O'Neill goes from complaining about the tyrannical authority of ship captains, the he was a sailor, to sometimes using the badge to bully some poor farmer into giving up his tunes


Last edited by PB+J on Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:38 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:28 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
It might be "hippie chicks" in the 60s that gave the flute a feminine cast, although at the same time there was lots of jazz flute and that was a pretty macho culture. I don't think the simple system flute was ever "gendered female."

I would say that in my daughter's generation you see more girls playing trumpet, sax, and percussion, My daughter, all four foot eleven of her, is the first alto in the 8th grade band. There are girls in the trumpets and the drums. Good to see: her generation gives me hope

For sure. Karen Carpenter was considered an anomaly back in the day, but people got over it. For me the strangeness was more in her frilly way of dressing than in the prospect of a woman at the drums. I think that gender stereotypes are less to be found among musicians themselves, and more at the grassroots level where the audience comes to the table with preconceived expectations born of social climate and the lore it creates. Where it exists, it does carry pressure with it at the entry level; and for those who buck it, good for them.

As to the evils of institutionalized stereotypes, what then are we to make of the music of the Indian subcontinent? While they might exist, to date I have never seen a female drummer in either the Hindustani or Carnatic traditions.

As to simple system, PB+J, in some eyes a flute's a flute: recall my story earlier.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:38 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:

As to simple system, PB+J, in some eyes a flute's a flute: recall my story earlier.


Good point and a good story!


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:04 pm 
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It's not the sort of thing you easily forget. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:20 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
It's not the sort of thing you easily forget. :lol:



Is that a six hole conical bore Irish flute or are you just glad to see me?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:29 pm 
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There was a fellow, an Irishman by way of Birmingham (UK), who was the house raconteur-in-residence at a pub I used to go to for sessions. He was often in a kilt, both for atmosphere and because he loved Scotland. One day we were leaning on the bar, and I said to him, "So, is that money in your sporran or are you just happy to see me?" "Neither one!", he shot back. It was classic. When I first got my pipes, he called them "your little tin krumhorn". :lol:

Just to be clear, his sense of humor was flinty, and he talked that way to those he thought could take it. :)

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:20 pm 
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To fit the definition of 'stereotype' whatever that label is applied to has to illicit widespread recognition that the object conforms to set criteria. I can only speak personally, but the comments on gender stereotyping in regard to the flute don't cause even the faintest flicker of recognition. It has never occurred to me that the flute has a gender bias either way; nor have I ever heard anyone here suggest that idea either.

In an American context is that being floated as a reason for the flute being absent from Appalachian music? In a modern context isn't it more to do with conformity in the sense of assumed identity? Today OT music has moved beyond those communities where the style developed and where it was indigenous, and now a much more disparate cohort of people make an active choice to move toward it and join that wider music community. The instinct when joining is to conform in a specific manner and in OT terms that equates to playing a quite narrow range of instruments based on tradition. And yet that modern conformity itself can also manifest as retrospective assumption that colours our idea of 'tradition'. The conformist eye tends to look for what we want or need to find - to reinforce identity. Where for example does the Shelor family piano fit retrospective assumption?


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:43 pm 
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mendipman wrote:
In an American context is [gender stereotype] being floated as a reason for the flute being absent from Appalachian music?

In this discussion, I'm confident in proposing it's not; that was just the inevitable thread drift of self-conscious fluteplaying American males taking its course. My contention, if you can call it that, has been more along the lines that the flute may have been historically regarded simply as characteristic of, and therefore best befitting, the urban milieu. But it's only speculation, and should be given no more weight than that. What we need is a bonafide historian on the subject.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:31 pm 
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mendipman wrote:
In an American context is that being floated as a reason for the flute being absent from Appalachian music?

The gender issue is interesting on the side, but I don't think it's the reason why flute doesn't appear in Appalachian music. I think it had more to do with the flute being seen as an instrument of the high-falutin' city folk in the lowlands, on the same level as a clarinet or piccolo.

If we're going to drill down to a reason, I think it's a combination of instruments that were easy to repair or cobble together with few skills, easy to tune so they sounded good together, and easy to sing along with. Because singing was part of the mountain music tradition (especially Gospel songs). You can sing along with every "traditional' OldTime string band instrument, but you can't do that on a flute. The more I think about this, the more I think singing along with what you're playing might be a strong contributing factor.

Singing isn't a big part of the current OldTime scene. I've been to OT jams where everyone has their head down, playing away on the 12th repeat of some old tune, getting into that trance state you get in OT jams. But I believe it was more important in the early development of the music, where there wasn't a big split between vocal music and instrumental music.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 9:05 pm 
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Conical bore wrote:
mendipman wrote:
In an American context is that being floated as a reason for the flute being absent from Appalachian music?

The gender issue is interesting on the side, but I don't think it's the reason why flute doesn't appear in Appalachian music. I think it had more to do with the flute being seen as an instrument of the high-falutin' city folk in the lowlands, on the same level as a clarinet or piccolo.

If we're going to drill down to a reason, I think it's a combination of instruments that were easy to repair or cobble together with few skills, easy to tune so they sounded good together, and easy to sing along with. Because singing was part of the mountain music tradition (especially Gospel songs). You can sing along with every "traditional' OldTime string band instrument, but you can't do that on a flute. The more I think about this, the more I think singing along with what you're playing might be a strong contributing factor.

Singing isn't a big part of the current OldTime scene. I've been to OT jams where everyone has their head down, playing away on the 12th repeat of some old tune, getting into that trance state you get in OT jams. But I believe it was more important in the early development of the music, where there wasn't a big split between vocal music and instrumental music.


I don't have good explanation for why flute would not appear in Appalachian music and am just exploring possibilities.

I think the vocal thesis is a very good one. I'll bet there are Appalachian mountain traditions where playing music that's not singing--and not religious--is sinful.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:50 pm 
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There's a very enjoyable live recording of music and talking about music from Alan Jabbour and Stephen Wade, "Americana Concert" (it's on Spotify). Lots of the tunes are from Henry Reed, who Jabbour knew and whose tunes he recorded and transcribed (they're on the LIbrary of Congress website). Speaking of one of Reed's mentors, Quince Dillon, Jabbour points out that Dillon was a military fifer as well as a fiddler, and that often the fifer and the fiddler were the same person. Could it be that the fiddle seemed more appropriate for dance music, as the fife was more effective for military purposes? For one thing, the fiddle can play drones and double stops, which adds to the possibilities for a solo player whose job is to keep the dancers moving.

Glad to see the mention of Othar Turner and the African-American fife and drum tradition. You can hear his granddaughter, Sharde Thomas, carrying it on and knocking it out of the park on the North Mississippi Allstars' "World Boogie is Coming."

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 31, 2019 11:02 pm 
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I'd be interested to know if anyone has found any photos or other mentions of flutes or fifes in the southern old-time music of the 1920s and 1930s, the time of the Bristol Sessions and other recordings that came to define the genre. I've seen earlier references, but can't recall any from that era in which old time became commercially codified.

And it's interesting that New England contra bands seem to welcome a greater variety of instruments without controversy. Any speculation about why that might be?

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