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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2002 2:42 pm 
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Has anyone else noticed that whistlers generally seem to think that the only thing that really matters is that you use ornamentation? It seems like the virtuosity of a whistle player is measured by how much ornamentation he can pack into a tune. This in my opinion does not enhance the melody, but in fact destroys it. The tunes lose lots of tasty little phrases and notes, which are swallowed up by rolls and crans. A whistle player can listen and say, "Wow, listen to all that ornamentation!" while at the same time a non-musician could care less, and the effect created by the ornamentation doesn't attract them. I also think that too much ornamentation gets in the way of playing with feeling.

Ornamentation is not, I think, melodic but instead rhythmic in nature. A subtly used gracenote or two have the ability to make a world of difference in a tune. I also don't think it necssasary to use much of it to create a solid rhythm.

Another way to argue my point is that there are very good musicians who use little or no ornamentation. Some examples are Paddy Carty, Jack Coen, or Mary MacNamara.

In hopes of starting a big argument (Ooh, I feel devious!!!), :wink:
Nate

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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: energy on 2002-08-11 16:43 ]</font>

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: energy on 2002-08-11 16:44 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:17 pm 
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"The problem [with ornaments] is not of quantity but quality. The number of ornaments is irrelevant; rather, it is the contexts in which they are used in relation to the overall performance of the tune that should be the paramount consideration governing their use." [L. E. McCullough, "The Complete Irish Tinwhistle Tutor," p. 19.]

And I'll add this. If they stick out like a sore thumb, they are being used inappropriately. If they contribute to the interest and flow of the tine, then they are being done right. In the latter case, they just sound "right" and are hardly even noticed as such, unless one is specifically llistening for them.

You haven't been listening to too much "Clips & Snips" have you? :smile:

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Ridseard on 2002-08-11 17:29 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 3:14 am 
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IMHO, too much of ornaments do spoil some tunes.

But I think they being there makes tunes more 'jumpy'. Especially for some faster pieces where you tend to ornament certain parts - gives it a stronger punch at times.

Happier, I would say.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 9:15 am 
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Less is more.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 11:25 am 
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On 2002-08-11 16:42, energy wrote:
Has anyone else noticed that whistlers generally seem to think that the only thing that really matters is that you use ornamentation?


I don't agree with the premise/conclusion but I sure understand and have experienced that very reaction, especially when I started getting serious about the whistle.

Whistlers have stated here and in many places their desire to express the totality of the music and are concerned with other aspects besides ornaments.

But, having felt the same sense of over-emphasis in discussions, methods, etc., I continue to listen to fiddlers, box, banjo etc. much more than whistle records. I enjoy them more, and do not lose the "forest for the trees."

That's my "insurance" to prevent it.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: The Weekenders on 2002-08-12 14:33 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 12:36 pm 
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I too think it's a shame when melodies get eroded by overuse of ornaments - especially rolls, and especially in jigs.

And certainly it's refreshing to hear a player playing a tune beautifully with great lift and phrasing with minimal ornamentation. But that doesn't justify taking the idea to an extreme and say that "less is more", or that lots of ornamentation must be bad.

There are good players who use lots, and good players who use little. And bad players likewise.

A propos, Peter is at present cooking up another in our series of transcriptions to demonstrate just how effective a sparse interpretation can be - hope to have it up soon.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 1:29 pm 
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I'd like to second Ridseard's post: It's not how many, it's how well.

I recently used a slow-down software package to cut one of my favorite tunes to 75 percent of speed. When I did this, I was suprised at how much ornamentation there was in the tune. For the most part, these additional ornaments were those that were executed well, ornaments that so added to the music that you didn't hear them when played in context. What was most noticable was that each of the grace notes was so much shorter than the primary melody note that the grace note graced or ornamented. You could only hear them clearly when the music was slowed down. When played at normal speed, the ornamentation faded and left the primary melody clear, bold, and flowing.

So I agree with Ridseard, it's not how many ornaments are played. Rather, it's how well each is played and how well each ornament fits into the ryhthm and flow of the tune.



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<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: LeeMarsh on 2002-08-12 15:31 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 2:02 pm 
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At the risk of spinning OT but regarding ornaments:
A few years back, I became really entranced by Andy Irvine singing "Carrowclare" on a Patrick Street record.

I couldn't put my finger on what was so compelling about it until I realized how he was using his voice like an instrument , with cuts and so forth. It remains a very beautiful song to my ears but still a bit unusual. And of course I know that the singers do such things but.....Performances like that stick with ya and illustrate the power of ornamental nuance.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 2:51 pm 
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When we were expecting our first child, I would bug my mother and my mother-in-law for information what it's like. How do you know the baby is cold, or hungry, or both, or neither and just bored? Are babies ever bored? When do you call the doctor? What do you do when they don't want to eat? And so on: hundreds of questions. I rarely got answers, though. Mostly just puzzled looks that seemed to say "this question is a bit incomprehensible."

At some point, my lovely partner wanted to learn to cook and started looking over my shoulder. She would ask me: "Why do you use this spice?", "How do you know how much salt/pepper/tamari/etc. to use?", and so forth: hundreds of questions. I found myself struggling to answer most of these. They sounded like easy questions but mostly they struck my as questions that didn't occur to me because I somehow knew what I was doing.

Well, we have two kids now who are bigger than we can believe is possible, my partner cooks wonderfully and never asks me questions. For both of us, the questions we so desperately wanted answers to seem obsolete, and even a bit incomprehinsible.

That is the way with ornamentation and other stylistic aspects of the music I think: When you start out, there are hundreds of burning questions that are framed in terms of how much, when, what kind, etc. The fact that you never seem to get very helpful answers to these questions leads me to suspect that it's like having babies or cooking a lasagne. When you know, you know, and the question is a bit incomprehinsible.

I think that's the root of all the "listen, listen to the music"-answers the experienced players give. (And I think it's the right moment to thank Stevie & Peter again for their transcriptions & comments!)

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 12, 2002 3:41 pm 
I didn't chime in here before, because, well let's say it's in a way another horse that's had it's share of flogging.

As Steve said, I am working at a few transcriptions, actually finished two from the playing of Joe Bane. His playing mostly relies on rhythm and phrasing, the stuff cut down to the essentials. I think it's brilliant and I think you have to start there and get that aspect of the music right before you go any further. That said, I love music that has a lot going on, Bobby Casey's fiddle playing, the piping of Johnny Doran, Willie Clancy, Seamus Ennis. But while that music has a very high density of 'things' going on, the 'things' are all in support of the tune, they are there to achieve something [and I mean other things than showing that the player can do them], they are functional in the performance. That's grand. Clutter isn't. I think the problem is that you have to find out why ornamentation is there. Then you'll have develop a musical taste and work out how to use all the things you can do to tell whatever story you have to tell.

And I add here that Bloomfield is quite right, the whole thing isn't an issue after a while, it comes naturally and fals into place without thinking. I often find when teaching music that I have to play over a particular phrase to see what I am actually doing [I am talking about the pipes here, I am fairly at home on them]. But where I don't completely agree with Bloomfield, I do manage to explain to the pupils what is going on and why, what I am trying to achieve with any particular ornament. It is possible to give a few options, explain the different effects and leave it up to them to choose according to their style [no point in creating clones of your own playing after all]. I think you'll find the really great players, while their playing and everyhing in it comes natural, are well able to explain what they ar doing and why. You shouldn't underestimate the insight in the music among players and listeners, quite often while playing you may get an instant reaction to small things you wouldn't expect people to notice. But they do, musicians and listeners alike can be a very discerning audience [pwhich on one hand is frightening once you realise that, it's also very rewarding if they do like your playing].

When learning the music there area few 'layers' you should sort out, first you'll need to get rhtyhm and structure solid, on top of that sits the basic ornamentation, the stuff that helps the tune along, then comes the layer with melodic variation and variation in ornaments, rhtyhm etc, and after that there's alway a bit more to add. But you'll have to get it right from the basics up. No point in going all fancy without the having the basics solid.



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Peter Laban on 2002-08-13 05:25 ]</font>


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 10:34 am 
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Great discussion folks! Ornamentation, articulation, has to be and feel natural in the tune. Nothing worse than someone loaded with chops trying to cram every ornament they know into every tune played. New players are often told to learn the tunes with the ornaments in them. I was told this, so I found myself attempting to replicate what I thought I was hearing, rather than learn how to properly perform cuts, strikes, rolls, etc. Having been instructed to include the ornaments from the start, I attempted to do so, but lacked a solid base and packing more notes into a measure was not helpful to developing musically. While others were impressed, I knew I had it wrong.

It is accepted there are various ways of playing ornaments, but some do sound better than others. It was very helpful for me to be able to interact with a great player and pick his brain over the "whys" and "why nots" of one way over another. That process resulted in a new level of confidence regarding ornamentation. Basically it was the difference in knowing how to do something rather than thinking I knew how. Had many bad habits to break, and am not yet fully rid of them. They come out in sessions, I do not allow myself to practice bad habits anymore, so they are slowly going away. It is so nice to play an ornament correctly because it felt right in the tune, rather than because I decided up front that I would play a particular articulation at a certain spot.

New serious players should get with an expert player very early on to form good habits and proper technique. There are solid reasons for articulating one way over another, and you owe it to yourself to recognise that. It is tough to do in a vacuum, but do not believe everything you read on the internet carries equal weight. It simply is not so.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 11:56 am 
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Heard there was a dead horse lying about. Gimme that whip. No sense adding to what's been said, which has been sensible. I would add that I've enjoyed heavily ornamented whistle playing where it was backing up or joining in w/ other instruments that were playing a more basic style. It adds a very nice background texture. In a solo or lead role, there are additional considerations (which have been discussed. Enough said.)

Did I hear someone mention our stepchild, Clips and Snips? I've emailed private critique to people who've asked for it, and the same would apply to some who haven't. That is: cut the ornamentation emphasis way down. Keep the grace notes briefer and don't let them crowd out the melody notes in terms of timing/rhythm. That's what I try to do. The other part- where to use or not use them is a more difficult challenge. To get a sense of that listen to the better players. (Where have they gone?? :smile:)

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 13, 2002 2:12 pm 
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On 2002-08-12 11:15, jim stone wrote:
Less is more.

Yes, but when I first learned of ornamentation, I practiced it for about a week, then realized I was putting the cart before the horse. I didn't have a handle on phrasing, timing, etc, so working on ornamentation was a waste of time. I've been working on learning more tunes and listening to Micho's playing while looking at the sheet music, observing how he changed the paper version with phrasing. It wasn't until Peter's first transcription that I realized I need to add ornamentation to everything else I'm working on.


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