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 Post subject: “Backbeat” in ITM
PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 9:23 am 
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I’m pretty new to this whole Irish Flute thing. Mostly I’ve been learning by playing along with recordings but I’ve started working out of a book. In the book it covers accenting the backbeat or upbeat or last note in a group of triplets. It says that the backbeat should be emphasized above notes that would normally get a melodic accent.

So I’m wondering if this is a hard and fast rule or just for the sake of education. I hear prominent backbeat in some players but not others and when I listen to recordings there are lots of times when the whole band is accenting downbeats and not bringing out the backbeat at all.

Anyone care to shed some light on this?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 4:29 pm 
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What book are you working from?


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2021 5:15 pm 
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One thing I've been taught is that in reels, which are in 4/4 time, beats 2 and 4 are emphasized, especially to establish the tune. I hear a lot of people doing that. In jigs, in 6/8 time, I've heard that beats three and six are emphasized.

Harry Bradley, who is an absolute beast of a player, uses a lot of rhythmic emphasis in his playing. He's currently recording videos of tunes from Kevin Henry's album and posting them on his Facebook page. He's also done this with Roger Sherlock's and Seamus Tansey's albums. I highly recommend checking these out. He's been linking them to his Errant Elbow FB page.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2021 9:02 am 
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Thanks! I’ll check out those recordings.

I’ve been working out of “Playing Outside the Lines” which I have to say is one of the most well written music books I’ve come across, and I have a couple music degrees and taught private lessons for years so I’ve seen more than my fair share of method books.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:29 am 
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From the author: “I’ve written more than 600 exercises....”

:boggle:

I hope you’re in good shape!

And once your training is done, there might be time for a few tunes?


Last edited by Loren on Sun Feb 07, 2021 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 6:41 am 
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just looked up the book on Amazon and it seemed interesting, so I bought the Kindle edition

It's completely useless--the font is extremely small, so much so that I could not read it without a great deal of strain, and for some reason the font size is not adjustable--at all!

Note: I have hundreds of kindle books and use the app all the time for reading but also in the course of research and writing for work, so it's not like I don't know how to use the app. All the normal text management features are disabled in the Kindle edition: there is no way to zoom or enlarge the text.

Amazon let me return it for a refund, which is good.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 7:02 am 
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Probably worth contacting the author to see if she is aware of the issue.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 8:14 am 
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Loren wrote:
Probably worth contacting the author to see if she is aware of the issue.


I just did


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 07, 2021 1:08 pm 
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The question of how much (if any) backbeat is interesting. From what I can tell in the time I've spent playing this music, it's highly variable. More of a personal preference or group decision in a session than a fixed rule, like the degree of dotted feel to use for a hornpipe. Some tunes seem to want it more than others.

Saxomophone wrote:
Mostly I’ve been learning by playing along with recordings but I’ve started working out of a book. In the book it covers accenting the backbeat or upbeat or last note in a group of triplets. It says that the backbeat should be emphasized above notes that would normally get a melodic accent.

I disagree with the book's advice that "the backbeat should be emphasized above notes that would normally get a melodic accent." Sometimes what happens is the backers in a session will be using a backbeat emphasis while the melody players are using a "melody pulse" that floats on top, and the emphasized notes may not always land on the 2 and the 4.

Here's an example of that, a video clip of a pub session with Martin Hayes sitting in. Notice how the emphasized pulse in the melody line often hits beats other than the 2 and 4, while there is still something of an overall backbeat feel in the tune:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EelRwZM-MEw


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:52 am 
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In case you are interested, here is a link to Harry Bradley's Errant Elbow page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/The-Errant-Elb ... 9376354728.


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 12:27 pm 
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I must admit, I can't think of any occasion when I would emphasise quavers 3 and 6 in a jig. Personally, I wouldn't emphasise crotchets 2 and 4 in a reel either. Some people do, but I don't hear it a lot in Irish playing.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:35 pm 
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Personally, I wouldn't emphasise crotchets 2 and 4 in a reel either. Some people do, but I don't hear it a lot in Irish playing.


I'd ditto that. If there's any emphasis on the back beat it is probably associated with certain modern styles. I remember a friend/musician referring to a certain band appearing on tv during the eighties 'they were tapping their feet to the off beat' he said, with obvious disgust.

The session clip above, Martin Hayes, Mark Donellan, Seamus Bugler et al, is pretty typical for musicians assiciated with the more recent incarnations of the Tulla band and to a degree it has come out of that environment. Not sure you can generalise anything from that other than that there are more tha na few ways to skin that particular cat.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 1:44 pm 
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Not having seen the book recommendation behind this discussion, I can only hazard a guess here, but perhaps it's not so much about 'backbeat' and emphasising offbeats/upbeats as phrasing contrary to classical norms, e.g. slurring from offbeat to beat rather than vice versa?

(The flute equivalent of slur-tongue-tongue or ha-ta-ta for whistle jigs etc.)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2021 2:53 pm 
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Wow. Harry Bradley is a beast of a player. I’m going to have to listen to more of him. I definitely hear the backbeat in his playing.

As for the exercises, I spent the first few days just practicing out of the book then realized that if that was my only practice I was going to forget all the tunes I learned. So now I do some book, some learning new tunes, and some reviewing old tunes.

I kind of wonder if her comment about only accenting the upbeat is more for educational purposes. If you learn to do it ALL the time, you can control it and use it as you want. At least that’s my guess.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 09, 2021 11:10 am 
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Backbeat can be very effective when playing for dances. The dancer's feet generally land on the beat and move on the off-beat (remember, I said 'generally'), so the off-beat emphasis picks up their feet and makes the music and the dance feel light. An on-beat emphasis makes the dancer's land with a thud and not want to move, so the music and the dance feel heavy. Of course, too much off-beat emphasis and you have a polka.


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