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 Post subject: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 6:44 am 
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I assumed that everyone who plays tin whistle plays ITM, but it seems that's not the case, after all the tin whistle didn't originate in Ireland, its an English invention isn't it?
Anyway I thought about learning some ITM but it seems you can't just learn it note by note but you have to feel it, experience it. A bit like the blues I suppose. It's there or it isnt. Now, I grew up playing music by ear, never had lessons but I was able to hear a tune then play it on my keyboard when I was in short trousers, and I still kinda have that ability. I play numerous instruments and though I'm now learning to read music, I still play by ear and I improvise all the time, on whatever instrument I have to hand. Many frown at this, especially in the recorder community, as its believed that to play an instrument like the recorder or the clarinet you should learn to read music and play music 'properly'
I say fooey to all that stuffiness and I just tend to go with what I feel. I upset people because I add ornaments to classical pieces. Ode to Joy with a lilt? Oh no you mustn't! Pah.
On with the music.
So just how hard is it to learn to play ITM on a D whistle?

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:25 am 
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If you think of it as simply unornamented tunes it's pretty easy: about as easy an instrument as there is. If you think about playing it well, then it's just as hard as anything else


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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 10:01 am 
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PB+J wrote:
If you think of it as simply unornamented tunes it's pretty easy: about as easy an instrument as there is. If you think about playing it well, then it's just as hard as anything else

That can be said of most instruments. I mostly hear it said about the ukulele. It's an easy instrument to play, but not so easy to play well

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 1:13 pm 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
... after all the tin whistle didn't originate in Ireland, its an English invention isn't it?

Not as a general concept. Fipple flutes are found in the archaeological record in a number of places - Viking-era Dublin, for one. The English were simply the first to mass-produce and standardize them, and all because of the Industrial Revolution.

AuLoS303 wrote:
So just how hard is it to learn to play ITM on a D whistle?

The question strikes me as being off-track. If whistle and ITM were a hard fit, the whistle probably wouldn't have become the iconic instrument it is in ITM. It's one of the easiest instruments to play on, but the music is another matter that is almost wholly independent of whatever instrument you play. IF you know the music well (and your instrument, too), transferring it to whistle should be a snap.

The whistle's combination of simplicity, responsiveness, and low cost is the very reason it's so frequently used for entry-level ITM learning. The whistle is going to prove the least of your problems, so the real question, then, is: "How hard is it to learn to play ITM?" IMO - and to grossly oversimplify - the main thing about physically learning to play ITM is getting the technique down, and how you do that will depend on the instrument; IOW, a roll on a fiddle's done differently from a roll on a whistle. The main thing is to learn such techniques so that you don't have to think about them.

ITM ornamentation may seem hard at first, but with practice, cuts, taps, rolls, etc. become dead easy. You have to practice to get there, though. How much time it takes depends on you. There's no trick, no shortcut.

But technique without spirit is a dead thing. You don't even have to go for high technique if the spirit's there, but I think for those that didn't grow up with the music, the spirit of it might be harder to get than mere technique is. Therefore one must listen, listen, listen - and absorb.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 6:07 pm 
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I think the problem here is I automatically associate the tin whistle with ITM. And yet whistle is just one aspect of irish music! There is the fiddle, bodhran (how DO you pronounce that?) mandolin, flute and whistle. And just because you have a tin whistle, it doesn't necessarily mean you play ITM!

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 7:57 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
But technique without spirit is a dead thing. You don't even have to go for high technique if the spirit's there, but I think for those that didn't grow up with the music, the spirit of it might be harder to get than mere technique is. Therefore one must listen, listen, listen - and absorb.


Yes, I was thinking of this the other day, while watching some musicians who were Irish and Scottish and reflecting that they had probably grown up with the music, rather than specifically having to learn it later. I was somewhat jealous, much the same way I'm jealous of people who are bilingual from childhood, rather than having to study and scrape to pick up a language new to them as an adult.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sat Oct 31, 2020 8:07 pm 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
And just because you have a tin whistle, it doesn't necessarily mean you play ITM!

This is true. Here's a Halloween composition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TihaZ_i4W0

To me, for the most part it's boring-ish, but it works well at conveying the spooky factor and the impression of hesitancy, and then it gets more interesting for a time. What impresses me most is how the player is no stranger to half-holing, but makes a lot of use of it - well done, too - especially toward the end of the piece. If your interest isn't ITM, this is a good example of what else can be done with a whistle.

Seems like a waste, though. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 1:57 pm 
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Katharine wrote:
Yes, I was thinking of this the other day, while watching some musicians who were Irish and Scottish and reflecting that they had probably grown up with the music, rather than specifically having to learn it later. I was somewhat jealous, much the same way I'm jealous of people who are bilingual from childhood, rather than having to study and scrape to pick up a language new to them as an adult.

But OTOH, for the rest of us there's the gift of their existence, and the gift of the digital age wherein we can readily access their music at the touch of a finger. We have much greater exposure potential than we would have had only 30 years ago, and if recordings are the best I can get, I'll take it. Whether live or recorded, listening exposure's the thing, because as with any cultural artifact, there's more than one way to skin a Trad cat and still be on track, and when it comes to exposure, better late than never; there's still time. Learn the technique, but above all live and breathe the masters, because they will not steer you wrong. One is bound to learn from that combination and come to one's own style in such a way that if asked, the seasoned listener could say, "Yes: that's Trad. I would have done this or that differently, but the general direction's in keeping."

There comes a point where you can tell what's experienced and what's not - but it's impossible without exposure, and some initial help at learning who to take seriously. But to flog it once again, exposure's the thing. Exposure, and particularly from a player's vantage point, active listening.

YMMV. But it shouldn't. :wink:

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:51 pm 
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I was quite surprised today to find that quite a few members of a Facebook tin whistle group didn't know what ITM was! I must admit I only know it because of the guys on here. I came to whistle late. Like 3 or 4 years ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 5:57 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
AuLoS303 wrote:
And just because you have a tin whistle, it doesn't necessarily mean you play ITM!

This is true. Here's a Halloween composition:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TihaZ_i4W0

To me, for the most part it's boring-ish, but it works well at conveying the spooky factor and the impression of hesitancy, and then it gets more interesting for a time. What impresses me most is how the player is no stranger to half-holing, but makes a lot of use of it - well done, too - especially toward the end of the piece. If your interest isn't ITM, this is a good example of what else can be done with a whistle.

Seems like a waste, though. :wink:

Quite liked that!
Here's me playing Beethoven on my whistles

https://youtu.be/NPbpbIMguZs

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 6:55 pm 
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AuLoS303 wrote:
I was quite surprised today to find that quite a few members of a Facebook tin whistle group didn't know what ITM was! I must admit I only know it because of the guys on here. I came to whistle late. Like 3 or 4 years ago.


Why would they automatically know what "ITM" is supposed to mean? The vast majority of musicians never go anywhere near music forums where this abbreviation sometimes comes up.

Personally, I find it a rather pointless abbreviation. Is it an attempt at creating some sort of jargon? If "ITM", then why not ETM, STM, WTM, FTM, BTM, ATM etc? And which one would be which? STM - Scottish or Scandinavian?

"I play ITM" is not a thing that anyone would ever say.

Something that doesn't get a lot of mention or recognition in popular culture, in cliches about traditional/folk music, is that there is a lot of English traditional music being played on tin whistles, and much it ain't a million miles away from the styles of playing Irish music. That's one of the reasons that there are so many manufacturers of tin whistles in England. This is not a revelation to most experienced players, English or Irish.

It's difficult giving advice to strangers over the web. We all have different ideas of what it means to be a musician. For me, traditional/folk music means being part of a community, and I don't mean a message board. It's people who you play the music with, playing for dancers, people who are involved in different aspects of the tradition.

Maybe it's because that's how I've experienced traditional music all my life. Family and a community of musicians, singers, dancers etc. It gives a purpose for learning the music, an incentive, and a framework for what is considered "right." Some people seem to claim that folk music is "anything goes", no rules; but that is not true. I feel it's difficult to understand that means if you remain entirely outside of the tradition.

To learn a traditional music, Irish, English, Scottish, whatever, I always say that you need to learn how to listen. And to learn what to listen to. Also, find the sessions, the clubs, the concerts, the musicians and listen to and watch them. Also, this is dance music (other than airs and songs), and its character is set by dance. The phrasing, rhythm, lift and all that comes from dance. You really ought to know something of the dances to understand how the music works.

If your aim is to sit at home, play a few tunes and entertain yourself, then fine. Really, I mean this, of course no-one is telling you what you can do. You may enjoy that very much, and some people might even end up sounding kind of "traditional" by following recordings and Youtube instructions.

If your aim is to be involved in a traditional art, in a musical tradition, then personally I feel it means much, much more than that, and brings greater rewards.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:02 pm 
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Nanohedron wrote:
Katharine wrote:
Yes, I was thinking of this the other day, while watching some musicians who were Irish and Scottish and reflecting that they had probably grown up with the music, rather than specifically having to learn it later. I was somewhat jealous, much the same way I'm jealous of people who are bilingual from childhood, rather than having to study and scrape to pick up a language new to them as an adult.

But OTOH, for the rest of us there's the gift of their existence, and the gift of the digital age wherein we can readily access their music at the touch of a finger. We have much greater exposure potential than we would have had only 30 years ago, and if recordings are the best I can get, I'll take it. Whether live or recorded, listening exposure's the thing, because as with any cultural artifact, there's more than one way to skin a Trad cat and still be on track, and when it comes to exposure, better late than never; there's still time. Learn the technique, but above all live and breathe the masters, because they will not steer you wrong. One is bound to learn from that combination and come to one's own style in such a way that if asked, the seasoned listener could say, "Yes: that's Trad. I would have done this or that differently, but the general direction's in keeping."

There comes a point where you can tell what's experienced and what's not - but it's impossible without exposure, and some initial help at learning who to take seriously. But to flog it once again, exposure's the thing. Exposure, and particularly from a player's vantage point, active listening.

YMMV. But it shouldn't. :wink:


Sure, I'm not denying that we're lucky to have online and technological resources. But it still isn't the same as being immersed in it perhaps from the time before you can even talk, not being able to help thinking in it, possibly learning from a young age and being taught by relatives or friends who are just as immersed in it, etc. Especially if one is in an area where there isn't a "scene" to get involved with, and sitting in front of a computer or stereo when you're 40 and trying to scratch out time after work is absolutely different than possibly relatives around the kitchen table when you're 4 and you learn stuff without even remembering how or realizing you're internalizing anything.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:14 am 
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Hmm, I just thought that ITM was an accepted acronym amongst the whistle community in general.

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 3:51 am 
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Yes, basically, ITM is just a 3 letter acronym used on here to save writing it all out, it is the only place that I've seen it used.

(It's like when you use UAS, or HAS, it is only really understood by the group.)

Being immersed in any music from an early age will always be beneficial, it's just that some of us have come to music late in life.
I'll never be an ITM player, (even if I tried), it's more of a culture than just 'dots on paper', & I understand that fully, one needs to live it.

My playing, (as I have said before), is just for my own amusement; but we can all pick up little bits & pieces by what others have to say & show us, it's then down to us to use it, or not - but the main thing is to enjoy what you're doing. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Learning to play ITM
PostPosted: Mon Nov 02, 2020 7:38 am 
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ITM is an alphabetism or initialism, not an acronym. But I agree with ecadre and neither like nor use it myself.

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