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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:30 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
It's not the instrument, it's who is driving it.


Yup. I know plenty of guitar, bodhran, and bouzouki players who can hear a tune once or twice through and do great things with it. Quite frankly, a lot of the harmonic and rhythmic stuff isn't rocket science if you know the idiom.

The issue is that most people aren't at that skill level, yet many think they are. I remember one session I used to go to that had a guitar player for every melody player, and a couple bodhrans in there for good measure. None of them could play worth a damn, and you'd get four or five different chords at any given time. Hence the reason I used to go to the session but no longer do.

That being said, I've been to just as many sessions where polkas congeal into sludgy march-like things, and reels either whiz by with no lift or feel (and many missed notes) or lurch along like a jammed-up machine gun. I can ignore the bodhran bopping away or a thrashing guitar if the tunes are going well, but if they aren't, that's what really kills it.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:54 am 
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The issue is that most people aren't at that skill level, yet many think they are.


I can only re-iterate that the Dunning-Kruger syndrome isn't limited to players of one group of instruments.

Bad guitar players can be very destructive and annoying, especially if there's more than one having a go. My experiences, and I am sure I am not the only one in this, with players of melody instruments without the ability to listen to what's going on around them and adapt their playing accordingly more than equal my experiences with bad backers. Take that for what it's worth (possibly not a lot).

Playing well with other people is a skill that needs to be learned and it's a skill that requires flexibility and experience.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:28 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Quote:
The issue is that most people aren't at that skill level, yet many think they are.


I can only re-iterate that the Dunning-Kruger syndrome isn't limited to players of one group of instruments.

Bad guitar players can be very destructive and annoying, especially if there's more than one having a go. My experiences, and I am sure I am not the only one in this, with players of melody instruments without the ability to listen to what's going on around them and adapt their playing accordingly more than equal my experiences with bad backers. Take that for what it's worth (possibly not a lot).

Playing well with other people is a skill that needs to be learned and it's a skill that requires flexibility and experience.


Oh, absolutely, that was the point I was trying to make. It's not the instruments, it's the player, and I get more frustrated with bad melody players than bad backers (I think the latter are easier to work around).


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:17 am 
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I know from personal experience of players of banjos, piano-accordions [ especially in Scotland ], and to a lesser extent, flutes, whistles and fiddles who are a damn site more than a mere "distraction" in a session, at least to me. I actually pointed out to a guitar player to his face in our session one night, the flute players, the fiddlers, etc all knew the tunes, so why shouldn't the guitar player ? Utter waste of breath. I'm not disagreeing with the OP at all, would-be accompanists are by far the worst offenders, but some melody players can be every bit as bad.

"I know plenty of guitar, bodhran, and bouzouki players who can hear a tune once or twice through and do great things with it". A very small minority, in my experience. I envy you.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 11:52 am 
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kenny wrote:
I actually pointed out to a guitar player to his face in our session one night, the flute players, the fiddlers, etc all knew the tunes, so why shouldn't the guitar player ? Utter waste of breath.

It's an utter waste of breath because routinely offending accompanists get it into their heads that there's a "formula" they can plug in, so they don't need to learn the tunes. Trust me, I've had more than one say as much to my face. Tell them otherwise and they nod and smile while their eyes glaze over, and yet they're confounded when they can't back up the likes of Humors of Kiltyclogher. Goodness knows how they justify their preconceptions after such hard evidence to the contrary.

It must be said that there's a degree of foundation for the misconception, as many tunes do indeed share certain chord progressions. The mistake is in thinking (gambling, really) that all the music can be pigeonholed so. If they actually listened (fat chance of that) they could correct their error, but that means work, Heaven forfend. The last band I was in had a bass player who was brilliant at what he did so long as it wasn't Trad. This was another guy who thought he could find the Magic Formula. He got away with it was because we were a loud bangy Western-Scottish-cèilidh-style band that most of the time muffled his wrongs well enough, I suppose, but if he hadn't internalized a tune he made my hair stand on end. I strongly suggested (pleaded, actually) that he listen to recordings of how the pros do it, but he wasn't interested; he had paid his dues and and was accomplished in the wider world, and that was all the authority he needed. Needless to say his disinterest was a big part of the reason I eventually left. How did the leader put up with it? They were buds, and he didn't have the heart to put his foot down.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:13 pm 
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Sadly there are musicians who simply can't imagine putting their instrument down and listen a bit. There's some tunes that have many versions and even knowing the tune doesn't mean you know the version of the person who started it, especially if you've never played with that person before. Ever had someone constantly playing an F natural when your version have an F#? :swear:


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:50 pm 
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I've just thought of a different way of putting it:

Some people may say (or think) that good guitarists can pick up chords on the fly. But here's the thing: I have never come across ANY good guitarist who would try that in a session on a tune they didn't know. If they do, they're not a good guitarist.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:16 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
Some people may say (or think) that good guitarists can pick up chords on the fly. But here's the thing: I have never come across ANY good guitarist who would try that in a session on a tune they didn't know. If they do, they're not a good guitarist.

Can't say I qualify as "good", but I would give a new tune a proper unaccompanied listen for at least one turn first, and that way if the tune's evident chord structure is simple enough you can nail it fairly easily. But one should never bet on it, because what I'm hearing may not jibe in some cases with what's usually done. And for me, at least, there's the entirety of the tune as a package to consider, too. Just because two tunes have identical chord progressions, it doesn't mean they have identical characters.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:50 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
if the tune's evident chord structure is simple enough you can nail it fairly easily.

If it has one. And some tunes do. Others don't or, as suggested back in my second reply above, invite alternative (not necessarily mutually compatible) readings depending on other factors. And, granted that I'm departing from your point here, some might defy just about all attempts to 'fit' chords at all...

See if I'm writing tunes, I generally conceive tune and chords together as an entity from the word go, as many trad tunes may subconsciously already do in terms of implied harmony through outlining triads, sequences, expected cadences etc. in the melodic line. But just occasionally I'm flummoxed by my own tunes, like a slow reel I wrote for smallpipes (to be played with just drones) then tried to chord so I could play it on flute with a harmonic accompaniment. And, since what works with drones doesn't necessarily want to go with chords, I had a devil of a job to find both a 'fit' (in simple terms) and something that satisfied my ear (as logical, organic and enhancing the tune). You could say the tune has a satisfying, logical chord structure in outlining mainly Em, G, A and D over A and E drones, yet take away the drones to substitute just the 'obvious' chords and it doesn't work. It needs more. A digression, perhaps (as well as possibly what I deserved for trying to chord the only tune I can recall writing without simultaneously chording), but also an illustration of the potential dilemma even for well-tuned ears.

Something else I just have to chuck in here... see tune books published with added chords? (And I mean books of genuinely trad tunes rather than composer collections.) They're almost always wrong. Not, I think, because the editors don't have ears, but because they're working at speed to provide workable solutions (which aren't always workable!) for whole books. It typically takes time, and increasing familiarity over time, to arrive at truly satisfying, idiomatic and logical readings for all but the most blindingly obvious, but the chords given in such books are rarely going to be the products of such time and familiarity with every tune. Most often they partially (or even largely) work, but spoil things by either glaring misfits or simply missing a trick or two. And surely the same's going to be the case for the vast majority of these miracle accompanists picking up stuff on first hearing!

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:34 am 
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bigsciota wrote:
That being said, I've been to just as many sessions where polkas congeal into sludgy march-like things, and reels either whiz by with no lift or feel (and many missed notes) or lurch along like a jammed-up machine gun.


I was once told in a workshop by a Very Big Name Player (flute and whistle) that playing in sessions can destroy your rhythm.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 4:04 am 
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I was once told in a workshop by a Very Big Name Player (flute and whistle) that playing in sessions can destroy your rhythm.


It really depends on who you play with. On one hand playing sessions will make you more flexible, playing with different people and the need to adapt to different (rhythmic) approaches. On the other hand it can stifle any individuality because you will have to conform to the group all the time.

You can hear a certain pulse that has developed in the past ten years or so in the playing of younger musicians, that's completely session driven, it's easy and catchy and will allow you to play with anybody easily. Some would call it a comhaltas style and if it's all you do, it's not a great development.

I remember a time ten, fifteen years ago when during the summer I would perhaps go out most night of the week during the summer to play music. After a week or perhaps two, I'd have to stay home and play on my own for a few days, just to cleanse myself and get back to my own music.

But it's not all bad, playing with others can be a great way to bounce ideas off eachother and it can replenish your musical thinking, spark ideas and having to dig out tunes you may not play on your own will keep you alert and exercised.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:03 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
You can hear a certain pulse that has developed in the past ten years or so in the playing of younger musicians, that's completely session driven, it's easy and catchy and will allow you to play with anybody easily. Some would call it a comhaltas style and if it's all you do, it's not a great development.


I will first say that I don't mean what I'll say next to knock younger musicians or newer recordings; I'm of the (somewhat) younger generation myself and know many fine players. But I will say that going back and listening to older (60s and back) recordings is eye (and ear) opening. The "pulse" and ways in which the tunes are played varies so much more than I've heard in either sessions or newer recordings. It's especially evident to me in the realm of polkas, hornpipes, and reels, all of which have many more subtle variations in rhythm and pulse in older recordings that you'll find on trad band CDs or in sessions. Being a flute player myself I've noticed a somewhat uniform sound to many younger flute players; perhaps it's also a comhaltas influence or just a product of everyone listening to the same Kevin Crawford and Matt Molloy albums and showing up at the same sessions and workshops. That's not to say the playing is bad; on the contrary, I think the sheer technical ability has gone up considerably. But there is a difference, and I'd love to hear more variation today.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:18 pm 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
I remember a time ten, fifteen years ago when during the summer I would perhaps go out most night of the week during the summer to play music. After a week or perhaps two, I'd have to stay home and play on my own for a few days, just to cleanse myself and get back to my own music.

I find I have to do precisely that after every festival that I attend.

I agree with everything else you say about playing with others, too - about the ideas that others have that might not have occurred to oneself and about the tunes that one otherwise might have forgotten - but you (one) have (has) to be conscious of what you, yourself are doing, and, at least for me, that does seem to involve going back afterwards and taking my playing right back to basics before building it up again.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:01 pm 
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Just observation or a question perhaps. Why is the guitar more popular than the autoharp, if the main job of a guitarist in ITM, is playing chords?
Is there a need for a break into ITM for the autoharp, like the bouzouki did, or is it a matter of the guitar perhaps having more volume?
Sorry if this is offtopic *slinks back into the shadows*


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:10 pm 
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musicaddict99 wrote:
if the main job of a guitarist in ITM, is playing chords?

Is it? How are autoharps on rhythm?

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