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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 1:41 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
People just knew in their bones that flutes have no place in American music ensembles, until they heard a flute in an OT ensemble. Let me suggest something's wrong here.

I see your point, and I agree that there's no practical reason to exclude the flute from OT sessions. However, the usual format is a culture that has evolved over time; culture is identity, and by definition, cultures have norms that carry expectations. Their resistance to change isn't wrong; it's predictable. If identifiable boundaries - i.e. culture - didn't exist, there would be no identifiable Old Time music. But change happens. Maybe you actually are heralding a new phase in the Old Time tradition, but in that event, it's going to take many years for the flute to be thought canonical to it. As you well know, guitars still have a controversial status in ITM. I hope you're patient.

jim stone wrote:
I didn't crash anything and there was no rule I broke.

Sure you did, and sure there was. The hostile reception alone says so. It doesn't matter that these people were buddies of yours; you stepped over what for them was a clear line. To tell yourself otherwise is disingenuous, for you have your part to play: you can't step out into the rain and say getting wet isn't your fault. But that's basically the only way change of this sort happens; whether it persists and evolves is another matter. Especially when it comes to distinct traditions, a kind of tribal iconography of instrument and idiom is to be expected (especially in American settings, as we are often told), so against that backdrop, you are an iconoclast. That's simply a fact; I'm not making value judgments about it, although anyone would agree that it certainly takes chutzpah. It is what it is.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 2:34 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
I think the real answer is that it can make playing in some keys easier, but they aren't essential. :)

If you need keys, they're essential. Sure, you can play Les Poules Huppées at bourrée speed in its original D dorian/minor without, but it's a comparative fudge. You can transpose it up a tone and/or slow it right down like that Solas version folk mistakenly seem to regard as definitive, but I like it the way it was written. Same goes for plenty of other tunes I prefer in their original/standard keys.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:27 pm 
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fatmac wrote:
I think the real answer is that it can make playing in some keys easier, but they aren't essential. :)

I agree with Peter above that they're essential if that's the only way you can play the tunes you enjoy.

Like the two I mentioned earlier in the thread: the Galway Bay hornpipe and the J.B. Reel. The Galway in its typical setting of Gm is full of Bb and Eb notes. Those are just not possible for most of us mere mortals to play without keys. The J.B. Reel has either Eb and low C# notes, or Bb and Eb notes, depending on the setting. It isn't just a question of making it easier with keys, it's about making it possible to play these tunes at all.

The fact that they're not played in my local sessions doesn't mean they're not part of the tradition. Galway Bay is in O’Neill 1001 and the J.B. Reel is an old Scottish tune. These tunes have been extensively recorded by everyone from Altan to Matt Molloy to Kevin Burke. You're not going to get very far with them on a keyless flute.

It is, however, a perfectly valid choice to avoid tunes like this if you want to stick with the repertoire that does fit on a keyless flute. Which is most of it. Just not all the good stuff. :)


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:32 pm 
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Try playing the Beare Island Reel without keys. It's a no-go, at least for me anyway. I've heard only one person do that, and it was on a whistle. It was unconvincing, to put it diplomatically. I'll bet Tommy Martin could do it, but he's uncannily good at half-holing even during speedy tunes.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:54 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Try playing the Beare Island Reel without keys. It's a no-go, at least for me anyway. I've heard only one person do that, and it was on a whistle. It was unconvincing, to put it diplomatically. I'll bet Tommy Martin could do it, but he's uncannily good at half-holing even during speedy tunes.

Try it starting on an A. C nat in the
2nd octave and no nasty G#.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 4:06 pm 
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oleorezinator wrote:
Nanohedron wrote:
Try playing the Beare Island Reel without keys. It's a no-go, at least for me anyway. I've heard only one person do that, and it was on a whistle. It was unconvincing, to put it diplomatically. I'll bet Tommy Martin could do it, but he's uncannily good at half-holing even during speedy tunes.

Try it starting on an A. C nat in the
2nd octave and no nasty G#.

Yeah, I know it can be done that way; the pitch just never worked for me aesthetically for some reason. I'm usually pretty easygoing about tunes in nonstandard keys, for although there was always someone to scold me for it, I had no personal reservations about playing Mother's Delight in Em (hey, it's easier, and only one step up; what's the problem?), or Pull The Knife And Stick It Again in Am (Larry Nugent's version, which I actually prefer because it's much more terrifying) - but Beare Island isn't one of them. For me it's gotta be E, or nothing.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:04 pm 
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Jim Stone said it best:

Anyhow I do think that, over the decades, the most popular view expressed on these board is that if your whole concern is playing ITM on the flute, you don't need keys and they are nice to have.


I started on whistle with a focus on ITM. I've spent a little time with a keyed flute, thinking I'd work on learning use the keys. In the end, I was too interested in learning interesting new tunes to spend time learning to use the keys.

I love the worry free simplicity of my keyless flutes.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 7:18 pm 
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No, nothing disingenuous. The rules were posted and I complied in both letter and spirit. The people I'd known for years. I was entirely surprised by their response and it didn't occur to me I would be so treated. And they had no line I was crossing. They had never thought about it consciously in their lives. They had subliminally and unconsciously typed wooden flutes as instruments for celtic music, full stop. An unfortunate prejudice, IMO, which they happily revised.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:04 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
They had subliminally and unconsciously typed wooden flutes as instruments for celtic music, full stop. An unfortunate prejudice, IMO, which they happily revised.

I'm glad you were able to fit in with that OldTime group, but there is a reason these separate traditions have guidelines and guard rails about what instruments are accepted or not. It's the only way to insure that they are, indeed, separate traditions that sound different from each other instead of a "World Music" stew where anything goes.

I'm sure you realize that you'd have an even harder time if you tried to bring your flute to a Bluegrass jam, where the "correct" instruments are even more strictly codified. That's to keep Bluegrass sounding like Bluegrass. While it's not my preferred music to listen to, I understand the intent of keeping the sound within fixed guard rails. Sometimes an "outside" instrument can jump the guard rails, but it's rare in my experience.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:07 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
No, nothing disingenuous. The rules were posted and I complied in both letter and spirit. The people I'd known for years. I was entirely surprised by their response and it didn't occur to me I would be so treated. And they had no line I was crossing. They had never thought about it consciously in their lives. They had subliminally and unconsciously typed wooden flutes as instruments for celtic music, full stop. An unfortunate prejudice, IMO.

Lines aren't necessarily conscious - but let them get crossed, and that's when it shows. So I'd have less of a bone to pick with you if you said there seemed to be no line at the time. I'm sure I don't consciously know all of my boundary lines either, but just because they're not apparent to me, it doesn't mean they're not there. Your Old Time players came with expectations that were so subconsciously entrenched that it didn't occur to them that their sessions would be any other way than they were accustomed to, and I gather that the posted rules reflected these presumptions by what they unknowingly omitted. That's one feature of culture right there. Ask me what Old Time is, and I'll say fiddles, fiddles, fiddles, and more fiddles. Plus some mandolin, banjo, and guitar for crunch. Oh, and cloggers. Flute? Not on the planet I'm used to. I wouldn't even dream of asking to sit in. Do you remember the old song, "I'm A Lonely Little Petunia In An Onion Patch"? That's what I'd feel like. Fish out of water. It's not because I relegate flutes to ITM and the like; it's because of what I expect from Old Time, independent of any subtext. I simply find flute with Old Time to be somehow unexpected and dissonant, because if the flute ever had a place there, it was lost so long ago that memory went with it, and only the strings were left. And I have no problem with that; it's part of what makes Old Time distinctive. A cultural ar-tee-fact, as an old acquaintance would say.

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:44 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
jim stone wrote:
Ask me what Old Time is, and I'll say fiddles, fiddles, fiddles, and more fiddles. Plus some mandolin, banjo, and guitar for crunch. Oh, and cloggers. Flute? Not on the planet I'm used to.

I had an argument years ago with a friend who was deeply into OldTime music, not about "allowed" instruments but about the essential ones. He was a multi-instrumentalist -- played fiddle, banjo, and mandolin. He was firm in his belief that there was no such thing as a legitimate OldTime jam unless there was at least one banjo present. I was playing mandolin at the time, with a guitar background, and I said... "What, you mean it's not OldTime if I'm playing in a group on my mandolin with just fiddles and guitars?" Nope, there has to be a banjo, or it isn't OldTime. :P

Interestingly, I've seen concertina players infiltrate the local OldTime jams. That seems to be an accepted instrument, maybe from the sea shanty tradition which is somewhat related.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2020 8:49 pm 
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Concertina players?? Quick, someone! Get tar and feathers!

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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 9:38 am 
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Let me add some things. I've been playing OT for decades, usually in various ensembles and also on the street. I know a lot about the music, in fact, and often have played flute in OT. There seem to be two kinds of sound. One is the Appalachian sound, the 'high lonesome sound,' which is definitely a string sound and where I would probably not play flute. Much of the rest of it are the tunes Americans played by picking up whatever they had around and playing together. That was the spirit of the thing. For reasons mentioned probably this music was at least occasionally played on flutes. A good deal of it was cross over tunes from Ireland, e.g. The Girl I Left Behind Me (published in Dublin in 1852, and so on). This music on flute is most amenable to OT, especially if one has enough experience to apply OT syncopation and phrasing, and usually well received. Bluegrass is less so, though wooden flute is occasionally welcome, cause of the Bill Monroe sound.

Now I would like to make a request. Nano you are writing in ignorance of the group, the people, the history. I don't cast aspersions that imply dishonesty, self-deception, disingenuousness on the part of anybody here, doubly so when I know a good deal less about the particular circumstances than they do. I could set you straight about the particulars, but what for? Grateful if you would make it a two way street. As soon as we start getting personal about someone's moral character, I believe we are violating the civility rule. Thanks.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 10:24 am 
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Appreciation to all. Especially the mods.


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 Post subject: Re: Keyed or keyless?
PostPosted: Thu Apr 23, 2020 1:54 pm 
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jim stone wrote:
Now I would like to make a request. Nano you are writing in ignorance of the group, the people, the history. I don't cast aspersions that imply dishonesty, self-deception, disingenuousness on the part of anybody here, doubly so when I know a good deal less about the particular circumstances than they do. I could set you straight about the particulars, but what for? Grateful if you would make it a two way street. As soon as we start getting personal about someone's moral character, I believe we are violating the civility rule. Thanks.

Fair enough. I'll be the first to admit I'm not qualified to hold forth on Old Time and its various aspects. But as to this story, I can only work with such information as comes to me, and interpret it accordingly.

Moving on.

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