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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:26 pm 
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musicaddict99 wrote:
Why is the guitar more popular than the autoharp, if the main job of a guitarist in ITM, is playing chords?

Because, I think, the guitar and other fretted instruments have capabilities beyond just chording. They're more intuitively suited for contrapuntal accompaniment as well as melody. Note that I didn't say that autoharp couldn't be used for this, too, but I think it's readily apparent that fretted instruments have clearly greater advantages and flexibility in that regard.

I'm not entirely convinced of Duggan's rhetorical question. Put an autoharp in my hands, and I assure you I would insist on tackling it rhythmically indeed. The audience's sympathies would be quite another matter. :)

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:42 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Is it? How are autoharps on rhythm?


Well I don't play autoharp, I have just see people play it. I would think it would be better for slower stuff or with less instruments, since
its usually used by a singer to accompany him/herself (as far as I can see). I would think you could do rhythm on it,
after all its just a matter of changing the chord bar to match the chord needed then strumming the rhythm I would think.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:45 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Because, I think, the guitar and other fretted instruments have capabilities beyond just chording. They're more intuitively suited for contrapuntal accompaniment as well as melody. Note that I didn't say that autoharp couldn't be used for this, too, but I think it's readily apparent that fretted instruments have clearly greater advantages and flexibility in that regard.

I'm not entirely convinced of Duggan's rhetorical question. Put an autoharp in my hands, and I assure you I would insist on tackling it rhythmically indeed. The audience's sympathies would be quite another matter. :)


Yeah guitars have huge capabilities, but are those abilities being used in ITM? I don't see too many guitar solos in ITM :D

Just was an idea, since the autoharp takes most of the hard work of finger shapes out of the equation, and lets you just strum.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 5:46 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
I'm not entirely convinced of Duggan's rhetorical question.

Neither am I, having just Googled autoharp videos and discovered it to be a more capable instrument than I'd imagined. Or at least let's say I'm not convinced of my second question ('How are autoharps on rhythm?') when they clearly have rhythmic capabilities. The first ('Is it?') I kind of stand by... is the guitarist's main job to play chords, or is it more complex than that (as effectively acknowledged by your comments on contrapuntal accompaniment, melody and flexibility)?

musicaddict99 wrote:
just a matter of changing the chord bar to match the chord needed

But can they produce chords beyond just their standard 'auto' shapes? I don't know but, if not, back to flexibility/versatility...

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:05 pm 
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Peter Duggan wrote:
Neither am I, having just Googled autoharp videos and discovered it to be a more capable instrument than I'd imagined. Or at least let's say I'm not convinced of my second question ('How are autoharps on rhythm?') when they clearly have rhythmic capabilities. The first ('Is it?') I kind of stand by... is the guitarist's main job to play chords, or is it more complex than that (as effectively acknowledged by your comments on contrapuntal accompaniment, melody and flexibility)?

Autoharps can play melody, but they are based on chords and of course the speed of the musician pressing the chord bar buttons.
I am sorry if I button holed ITM guitar players as chord players but much of what they do (in my understanding) is
like the rhythm guitarists job in rock.

Peter Duggan wrote:
But can they produce chords beyond just their standard 'auto' shapes? I don't know but, if not, back to flexibility/versatility...


Well the chord shape is based on the shape of chord bar, fretting/pressing down the strings, but they are very big chords, depending on
how many of the strings you strum.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:24 pm 
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musicaddict99 wrote:
Yeah guitars have huge capabilities, but are those abilities being used in ITM?

Yes, indeed! Just look to the likes of Andy Irvine, Micheál Ó Domhnaill, Ged Foley, and many more who are famous, and many not nearly so famous as well. You should check out the aforementioned guys on YouTube. It's killer stuff. These - and others like them - are the people worth emulating.

musicaddict99 wrote:
I don't see too many guitar solos in ITM :D

We call it "playing the melody". :wink:

musicaddict99 wrote:
Just was an idea, since the autoharp takes most of the hard work of finger shapes out of the equation, and lets you just strum.

I hope for more out of an accompanist than just strumming. Sure, some people do only that, but it's a rut. It gets blah, and quite frankly it brings me down. Lift should be what it's all about, however you provide it. If all you've seen in Trad are backers who just blandly strum, it's a pity because you haven't seen enough.

As for finger shapes being hard work, that's a beginner's complaint. If you REALLY want to do backup, you'll gladly put in the time and effort, and count it a joy of discovery until it gets easier, for it will get easier. If that's too much work, then maybe it's better to stick to whistle. That's plenty hard enough to do well as it is.

Peter Duggan wrote:
musicaddict99 wrote:
just a matter of changing the chord bar to match the chord needed

But can they produce chords beyond just their standard 'auto' shapes? I don't know but, if not, back to flexibility/versatility...

The autoharp is still more limited. You can get various voicings by selecting only certain courses, yes, but your choices will be confined to what the chord bar has to offer you. You get a much wider terrain with that fretboard.

The route of easy solutions, simply because they're easy, is an unfortunate direction. There's no exploration, no magic to it. And not much contribution, either.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 1:39 am 
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Quote:
Andy Irvine


Hmmm, nitpicking maybe but I am not sure I have ever seen him play guitar. He used it a bit during the early days of Sweeney's Men but I really can't think of anything much after that. Guitar shaped bouzouki, yes. Donal Lunny makes a good job of it though. Image


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The autoharp is still more limited. You can get various voicings by selecting only certain courses, yes, but your choices will be confined to what the chord bar has to offer you. You get a much wider terrain with that fretboard.


I would think the main problem here is that autoharps are producing an airy, tinkling, high sound without much body, the sound traditional musicians tend to look for when they choose an accompaniment, for dance music, would provide more of a fill at the lower end. So yes, volume and body would be issues. Also, there's availability: nobody here has an autoharp and getting one will require a motivated effort (although there used to be cheap-ish East German ones years ago) while there are a lot of guitars bouncing around and you can buy one in any old corner shop.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:23 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Hmmm, nitpicking maybe...

Well, at that point I was on about fretted instruments in general and my pet peeve about doing better than just weary strumming. Often enough in these discussions, the word "guitar" seems really to be a rough-and-ready catchall term conferred upon the whole body of fretted instruments that find their way into Trad playing, so I was hoping for the reader's momentary indulgence. :)

As kids, my younger brother used to call anything with a neck a "guitar". Even fiddles. Always made me want to throttle him. :twisted:

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 10:33 am 
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Fair enough. I tend not to conflate string instruments into one so I was following my own thinking, not so strange perhaps as you wee responding to a particular statement:

Quote:
Yeah guitars have huge capabilities, but are those abilities being used in ITM?


But I'll get my coat...

I have a few stringed snaps, for some light distraction and maybe entertainment:

Image

Image

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:02 am 
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Mr.Gumby wrote:
Fair enough. I tend not to conflate string instruments into one...

Generally neither do I. Perhaps we could better apply the Hornbostel-Sachs classification of "lutes" for the whole shebang, but during casual talk I balk at calling a guitar a lute because a guitar is not even remotely a European lute, and by the same token neither is a cittern precisely a bouzouki, and so on. But in boffinspeak they're all lutes - even fiddles, God help us. Argh. Problem is, outside of academia we don't have an established popular (and brief) catch-all term for these yokes. I'm no academic and I don't want to sound too much like what I'm not, so instead I wind up conflating and hoping the house of cards doesn't fall down.

I always called my cittern The Gizmo. Maybe we could just call the plucked lute family "gizmos". "Tuneable spoons" has also been used, and I especially like that too for the snarkiness of it. :)

Mr.Gumby wrote:
I would think the main problem here is that autoharps are producing an airy, tinkling, high sound without much body, the sound traditional musicians tend to look for when they choose an accompaniment, for dance music, would provide more of a fill at the lower end. So yes, volume and body would be issues. Also, there's availability: nobody here has an autoharp and getting one will require a motivated effort (although there used to be cheap-ish East German ones years ago) while there are a lot of guitars bouncing around and you can buy one in any old corner shop.

Agreed. Plus, I tend to see the autoharp as a solo instrument, not really suited for backup for the reasons you mention; it's awfully ethereal. On the topic of playing melody on them, here's Blarney Pilgrim and Humors of Ennistymon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbKApkQe2Jk

So it can be done, and impressively. However, any other instrument playing the same melody would drown it out because it's plain to see that even done well, an autoharp's melodic capabilities are more in passing and not very strong. So it's either solo, or we're back to just chords. As backup, I could see it as a one-off for the craic, but not as an ongoing presence; I confess I'd get pretty tired of it.

Great photos, BTW. :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 5:58 am 
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Quote:
Agreed. Plus, I tend to see the autoharp as a solo instrument, not really suited for backup for the reasons you mention; it's awfully ethereal. On the topic of playing melody on them, here's Blarney Pilgrim and Humors of Ennistymon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbKApkQe2Jk

So it can be done, and impressively. However, any other instrument playing the same melody would drown it out because it's plain to see that even done well, an autoharp's melodic capabilities are more in passing and not very strong. So it's either solo, or we're back to just chords. As backup, I could see it as a one-off for the craic, but not as an ongoing presence; I confess I'd get pretty tired of it.


I didn't know that could work. Amazing. But as you say, I don't really see that fitting into any session like context, not if it's going all the time anyway. And I wonder to what extend the fullness of the lower range depends on the plug in amplification. Brilliant for a short spot at a concert though.

Couldn't help thinking of one occasion where we were playing during some Willie week during the eighties. A hammered dulcimer player set up, quite uninvited too but let's not even go there. She was brilliant but after a not too long while that very loud tinkling sound cutting through everything drove everybody in the room bonkers. Time and place and all that. There's one for everything, on other occasions however...

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 10:18 am 
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Nanohedron wrote:
On the topic of playing melody on them, here's Blarney Pilgrim and Humors of Ennistymon:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbKApkQe2Jk

So it can be done, and impressively.

Peter Duggan wrote:
Neither am I, having just Googled autoharp videos and discovered it to be a more capable instrument than I'd imagined.

Yes, that's the first one I saw!

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 02, 2017 12:35 pm 
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musicaddict99 wrote:
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?

Probably for the same reason you don't see many people playing them in general. How many strings do YOU feel like tuning? There are more guitar players than auto harpists for good reason.

They're a phenomenal instrument,though.

1975, a folk festival. Guy comes out on stage with a stack of them,like 8 or 10. Tells the audience after he plays a set/tune it's out of tune,that's why he has so many. Played by putting it upright on his shoulder and picked/strummed w/opposite hand.Then laid it down and picked up another.

I was amazed! He made those things sound like a guitar,banjo,harp,piano,spinette.... it was incredible. Slow tunes,fast tunes,I was so impressed I looked into them.Never heard anyone play one (or ten!) like he did.

But who wants to tune dozens and dozens of strings? I decided I didn't.


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2017 7:24 am 
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The Lurking Fear wrote:
musicaddict99 wrote:
1975, a folk festival. Guy comes out on stage with a stack of them,like 8 or 10. Tells the audience after he plays a set/tune it's out of tune,that's why he has so many. Played by putting it upright on his shoulder and picked/strummed w/opposite hand.Then laid it down and picked up another.

I was amazed! He made those things sound like a guitar,banjo,harp,piano,spinette.... it was incredible. Slow tunes,fast tunes,I was so impressed I looked into them.Never heard anyone play one (or ten!) like he did.

Bryan Bowers no doubt.

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:44 am 
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I've seen autoharps played like that several times in real life - sessions, the occasional busker - and on Youtube. When a singer friend said that she had taken up autoharp I said, "Ooh! Lovely! How do you play the tunes, I've always wanted to know?" She responded along the lines of, "Oh, you can't play tunes on them; you just push the chord bars and play chords." I diplomatically shut up after that.

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