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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 6:44 am 
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benhall.1 wrote:

Don't use version 1 - it's wrong...

Version 2 is way better.

Version 3 is fine, but in a different key altogether (G minor), and very awkward on most common keys of whistle.

Version 4 is OK, except that it has the wrong key signature.

Version 5 is just plain wrong.

I was going to go through the rest, but most of them are wrong.

I'd say version 15 is probably your best bet...


That was laugh out loud for me. Sadly true, and not only for that tune, as you well know. (Hastings...just like the battle.)

I was looking at one tune the other day, which had a large number of settings, and half of them were in the wrong time signature.

So many Irish musicians, even very good ones, are musically illiterate, and some don't know that 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 are different things.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 8:50 am 
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pancelticpiper wrote:
benhall.1 wrote:

Don't use version 1 - it's wrong...

Version 2 is way better.

Version 3 is fine, but in a different key altogether (G minor), and very awkward on most common keys of whistle.

Version 4 is OK, except that it has the wrong key signature.

Version 5 is just plain wrong.

I was going to go through the rest, but most of them are wrong.

I'd say version 15 is probably your best bet...



That was laugh out loud for me. Sadly true, and not only for that tune, as you well know. (Hastings...just like the battle.)

I was looking at one tune the other day, which had a large number of settings, and half of them were in the wrong time signature.

So many Irish musicians, even very good ones, are musically illiterate, and some don't know that 2/4, 3/4, and 4/4 are different things.


The obvious point to make here is that this is or was folk music, played by people with little or no formal training, and until O'Neill nobody had ever put forth a claim to have found or established the "right" versions of specifically Irish dance tunes. And O'Neill and his collaborators frankly admitted to changing tunes as they saw fit, rearranging them and changing notes according to their taste. I suppose it seemed more "right" because there was a picture of a man in a police chief's uniform on the frontispiece?

O'Neill, James O'Neill, and Edward Cronin had only the most rudimentary knowledge of keys and modes, yet recordings of Edward Cronin show him to have been quite an excellent player despite not knowing the "right" version of
"Banish Misfortune."


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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 9:13 am 
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Quote:
nobody had ever put forth a claim to have found or established the "right" versions of specifically Irish dance tunes


Older collections often made some claims about their settings, perhaps not claiming perfection or being definitive but even as early as O'Farrell you can find the claim 'tunes, set in proper style and taste'.

Caoimhín MacAoidh made an argument about the quality of James O'Neill's assignment of key signatures (The scribe, p. 93 etc) that is perhaps more sympathetic than some other opinions.

But it's not always clear what happens in the transmission, somewhere along the line. One of my favourite examples, from Levey's first collection:

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Did Levey get the key signature completely wrong or did subsequent readers who played from the printed version in D? Or did they just hear a tune that would work just fine in D? In my experience a competent traditional musician will let their ear guide their playing, rather than a printed key signature, sharpening and flattening some notes as they feel appropriate. FWIW, Séamus Ennis, or his father, appear to have lifted quite a few settings from Levey's and he did play this version as well as one in its (now) more regular key, both sounding perfectly fine.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 1:12 pm 
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To my mind one of the most interesting moments in O'Neill's work is when he asks James, then Cronin, then James again to get the key signatures right, and they both get a lot of them wrong, and the authority for them being wrong is O'Neill's daughter, who plays the piano. You can just imagine how irked the two men must have been: Key signature was literally and completely irrelevant to their musical practice. Cronin especially played at a very high level. Did he ever even play with harmonic accompaniment? outside of the drones on a set of pipes? Who doubts that he subbed a C natural for a C sharp as he saw fit? And then for Cronin--who was then an old man, and still working as a "grinder" in a factory, to be told by the Chief's snip of a daughter that he's doing it wrong? I mean think of Tony MacMahon using that phrase (we've been doing it wrong!") to describe his umbrage at "modernists" in his essay for the Crossroads conference.

The tradition O'Neill loved and sought to preserve had no need whatsoever for the theory of key signatures. He barely even recognized the existence of the accordion and he had no time for pianos or banjos.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 1:16 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
The obvious point to make here is that this is or was folk music, played by people with little or no formal training, and until O'Neill nobody had ever put forth a claim to have found or established the "right" versions of specifically Irish dance tunes. And O'Neill and his collaborators frankly admitted to changing tunes as they saw fit, rearranging them and changing notes according to their taste. I suppose it seemed more "right" because there was a picture of a man in a police chief's uniform on the frontispiece?

O'Neill, James O'Neill, and Edward Cronin had only the most rudimentary knowledge of keys and modes, yet recordings of Edward Cronin show him to have been quite an excellent player despite not knowing the "right" version of
"Banish Misfortune."

But what we're talking about in this thread is a modern, English tune, composed by a known composer. He wasn't/isn't ignorant.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 1:47 pm 
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benhall.1 wrote:
But what we're talking about in this thread is a modern, English tune, composed by a known composer.

I never knew anything about the tune until now, but it always struck me as modern, and the name puzzled me. I'd assumed the tune was Breton or Québecois, although I seem to recall that someone once told me it was Welsh. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

On that note, I found on The Session that "a couple of people here in Quebec learned the tune from a festival in France. For over a year they knew the tune as John Patterson. You try saying Jump At The Sun with a French accent!" :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 4:46 pm 
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@Ben - I revisited the link. It takes me to a video of Morning Thrush and Lord Gordon... 5:50 long.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 4:49 pm 
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@Moderator- I live in the US and would have spelled it, "liveable." A search show both to be acceptable. "Livable" just looks odd.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 5:30 pm 
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Same here, actually.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 5:43 pm 
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The thing is, when you're publishing a collection of Irish music, to paraphrase Abraham Lincoln "anything won't do...I have to have something".

Like Caxton, when you're writing out a tune you stand abashed between the plain and the curious.

That's why I love it when thesession has a dozen or so versions. If it's a tune not familiar to me from sessions I can read over all the versions and get a gestalt of the tune.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 10:44 pm 
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Michael w6 wrote:
@Ben - I revisited the link. It takes me to a video of Morning Thrush and Lord Gordon... 5:50 long.

Michael - you've clicked on the link in my signature line, which is always there on every post, and has nothing to do with this discussion. It's a video of one of the tracks on my CD. Thank you for your interest, but that is not the link that I posted in the body of my post above. Please go back to my above post, which is the fifth post on page one of this thread, where I mention the link to the video of John Kirkpatrick and click on the link to that video, contained in the body of my post, not in the signature line. You'll find it by clicking on the word "this" in the last sentence of that post, which is highlighted in blue to indicate that it is a link. That will take you, not to a video of me playing fiddle with my pal on pipes, but to one of John Kirkpatrick playing button accordion. If you then go to 7:02 you will find the composer himself playing his own tune.

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Sun May 17, 2020 11:30 pm 
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PB+J wrote:
He barely even recognized the existence of the accordion and he had no time for pianos or banjos.


What was his position on the shaky egg?

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:38 am 
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In fairness to Michael I will point out that I didn’t see that the word ‘this’ was a link when I read this discussion on a tablet. It was only when I logged on with the computer to be smart and provide the ‘missing’ link that I noticed the colour.

My suggestion to Michael when getting tunes from thesession.org is to watch any videos that people have linked.

Also bear in mind that some of the settings on thesession were automatically entered from fragments code in the comments and make more sense if read in the comment.


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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 12:54 am 
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david_h wrote:
Also bear in mind that some of the settings on thesession were automatically entered from fragments code in the comments and make more sense if read in the comment.

Yes. I find that to be one of the problems with the session.org these days. People often go straight to the settings at the top, pick one they think they like, assume it's a 'correct' (or at any rate, not incorrect) setting because it's there in black and white on the session.org, and don't think any further. I wouldn't mind betting that hardly anybody reads the comments. Frequently, versions are picked up in this way, and then end up, as this tune did, in some random (sorry for the imprecise use of that term) video on YouTube, and a clumsy, or just plain wrong, version becomes the norm.

It's much worse these days than it would have been in any pre-internet time, because these things spread all over the world in next to no time, and there's no moderation of that. In pre-internet days, transmission was much slower, was in person, and was kind of automatically 'moderated' by the living, real-time interaction with real musicians. Not so nowadays. Clumsy versions become set in stone. Fortunately, this is still not the case in Ireland, which is why I go over there as often as possible. There, transmission from real players is still the norm. (Or at least, it has been, in my experience.) Of course, that won't help in this case, with a composed, English tune ...

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 Post subject: Re: Convert!
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2020 3:01 am 
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He barely even recognized the existence of the accordion and he had no time for pianos or banjos.


I have to wonder. Both Waifs and Strays and Selena's popular selections are piano heavy volumes. Perhaps there was something at work like what O'Riada talked about in his piano rant: the old status symbol of an instrument, adding credibility to a music suffering from an inferiority complex.

I think tunepal and thesession.org are creeping in through (young) musicians living on their phones, it's noticeable in the naming of tunes, some directly and incorrectly taken from thesession.org. Settings perhaps are still safe, there are enough musicians in Ireland that will quietly mumble 'THIS is how we play it around here' when a flawed setting enters the scene.

Any reasonably competent musician will adapt a setting, written or otherwise, to their own playing, their instrument and to their treatment of a melody. Learning written versions by heart will never result in a stylistically coherent body of work. Seems common sense to me.

For example I was recently asked to record a video (Arts council funded, dispatches from the bunker type quarantunes, jobbing away during the lockdown), one of the tunes I played was 'the New Road' that I had absorbed without realising from a Paddy Fahy tape but found in Ceol Rinnce 4 one night playing through it. It immediately stuck. A few years later now, going back to the book (I was asked to supply some information on the music in the video) I was amazed how far it has changed in my playing from the setting in the book. I used to think Fahy had had a hand in this tune, especially the third part but recently I read it is one of O'Neill's constructions. He had a two parter and decided to enter the turn of Corney is Coming in the middle of it to create a three part reel for publication. Works a treat. Mind you, current versions have moved away from his version too. Reavey's tunes are a good example too, very few musicians will play them as he wrote them and, having gone through the hands of several musicians they are usually much more approachable and playable for it.

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