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 Post subject: What Willie said..
PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:35 am 
In an interview Willie Clancy gave in august 1972, a few months before his death, he gives this advice to young musicians:

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Get a grasp of the Gaelic tongue and develop a love for it. Go to the Gaeltacht and the old people who have it and learn it. I feel that a knowledge of our language is essential if you are to express the true spirit of our music and, as the saying goes, "Don't settle for the skim milk when the cream is at hand". Apart from that have patience; learn to walk before you run. You might have a flair for the music, you might think you're good at it, and you might be tempted to plunge ahead without perfecting your technique; well it might be in your head but your fingers will let you down. So, start playing early and develop your technique with patience, practice and perseverance


Isn't it still as valid as ever.


Last edited by Cayden on Mon Mar 13, 2006 1:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 3:45 am 
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It's the eternal talk of music teachers. I got a copy of the flute tutor by Quantz, written about 1750, and he says more or less the same things: practice, be patient, improve your technique etc ...
Very funny that nothing really changes in these matters.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 8:46 am 
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Quantz... Willie Clancy... Pffft. Old dead geezers. They obviously don't understand the value of listening to CDs.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:09 am 
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Good advice that doesnt age.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:21 am 
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I appreciate the sentiment but learning gaelic to improve your reel playing would be a bit over the top, IMHO.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:40 am 
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You may be right TreeShark, but I do think that if you are going to learn an indigenous art, it can be very helpful to have a basic grasp of the language, otherwise the history of the music will be excluded to some degree. The other thing that I was told was, in order for a musician to be able to play slow airs properly they must have a proper grasp of the song, words and all as it can dictate how the tune is played and in what form.
It isnt neccessary to learn the language, but wouldnt it be nice?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 10:41 am 
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treeshark wrote:
I appreciate the sentiment but learning gaelic to improve your reel playing would be a bit over the top, IMHO.


I think that was said in the spirit of "do as I say, not as I did." Clancy didn't actually speak much Irish himself; from what I read he could understand it fairly well but he always regretted not having spent more time learning to speak it. In Pat Mitchell's book he is quoted as saying he would have given up his ability to play pipes for the ability to speak Irish

I studied Irish for a little while myself and would love to get back to it too...I do think it could have an effect on your playing of dance tunes, more in the sense of giving the music a context and background and depth from of all the things you learn along the way while you're learning Irish and talking with native speakers.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:01 am 
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bradhurley wrote:
I think that was said in the spirit of "do as I say, not as I did." Clancy didn't actually speak much Irish himself; from what I read he could understand it fairly well but he always regretted not having spent more time learning to speak it. In Pat Mitchell's book he is quoted as saying he would have given up his ability to play pipes for the ability to speak Irish

I studied Irish for a little while myself and would love to get back to it too...I do think it could have an effect on your playing of dance tunes, more in the sense of giving the music a context and background and depth from of all the things you learn along the way while you're learning Irish and talking with native speakers.


One of my big regrets is never learning another language, I think you need to live where a language is everyday to really absorb it. Mind you most of the kids I know in Ireland hate learning Irish with a vengence!

I do agree it's helpful to hear an air sung and understand the words, though IMHO I don't think it's a reason to not play a tune if you don't. Many of the tunes after all have had several different sets of words. Some tunes have crossed all of europe too and fro, changing all the time.
Rob


Last edited by treeshark on Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:06 am 
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I think one of the reasons he thought it so important to get a grasp of the tongue, was that in his lifetime, a large proportion of the old players were native speakers and the history of the tunes was inextricably linked to their Mother Tongue. I know as an Irish speaker I could be accused of being biased here, but I am not a native speaker, my interest in the language started at the same time as my interest in the music. So of course I will agree with the opening quote.
In the context of whether it is important to learn Irish or not, here is a question.

Why learn the tunes without the background of where they are from?

Surely if you are making the effort to learn a particular genre of music you should be a little informed of its structure & history (including those periods in Irelands history when the language, religion & arts of this country were suppressed until they nearly died).

Perhaps Mr Clancy was expressing his national pride?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 11:27 am 
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In Peter Browne's radio documentary on Willie Clancy ("Lashings of Music") there's a few minutes devoted to his interest in Irish. He definitely understood it and listened very closely to the sean-nos singers, so much so that one interviewer remarked to him that when he played airs it sounded as if he was "playing, in actual fact, Irish, rather than music." Clancy replied that he liked to think of it that way.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 12:51 pm 
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Good quote!

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 5:59 pm 
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The Gaelic language was forbidden in schools in Ireland during Willie Clancys
school days and also during his father and mothers school days,
His grandfather and grandmother may very well have spoke in the native tongue but were forbidden to speak the language in public,
This ban was put into effect by the English overlords and landlords of the period who ruled the country and who also starved and tried to kill-off the natives, This was during Willies fathers and grandfathers time,
They also banned the playing of traditional music and airs or singing irish songs,
They did not want people talking to each other in a language that they(the English invaders) could'nt understand,
The Gaelic language survived in areas that these grabbers and killers did not invade, poorer areas like Connemara, West Kerry and West Cork, part of Donegal Arran islands etc,
If any of you plan on a trip to Ireland you should take some time to visit the west Kerry area, drop in for a drink at any of the pubs in Ballyferitter and listen to or engage in speaking the native tongue.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:24 pm 
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glinjack wrote:
The Gaelic language was forbidden in schools in Ireland during Willie Clancys
school days and also during his father and mothers school days..


I would question that...

http://www.hiberno-english.com/history.htm

He was born in 1918...

Slan,
D. :)

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 7:44 pm 
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dubhlinn wrote:
glinjack wrote:
The Gaelic language was forbidden in schools in Ireland during Willie Clancys
school days and also during his father and mothers school days..


I would question that...

http://www.hiberno-english.com/history.htm

He was born in 1918...

Slan,
D. :)We


You can question all you want, My Mother was born in 1917 and my father
in 1919 in West limerick and North Kerry, we lived just across the Shannon river from Clare, My father played the flute and met Willie Clancy on several ocasions, actually Willie also played whistle and flute,
I have verbal history from my parents and grandparents about what happened over the years in these areas they have all passed and gone now RIP.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2006 9:18 pm 
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glinjack wrote:
....
If any of you plan on a trip to Ireland you should take some time to visit the west Kerry area, drop in for a drink at any of the pubs in Ballyferitter and listen to or engage in speaking the native tongue.


I spent most of my time in Ireland on the Dingle Peninsula. I went to a church service conducted in Gaelic. I would like to live in western Ireland some of the time.

I have heard Scandinavian folk music which sounds pretty good and very like Irish Trad. I did not know they spoke Gaelic in Scandinavia.

My thoughts are that to be good at music one must also have a developed linguistic sense at some level and in ANY language. I am particularly referring to a sense of poetics as well as non-semantic stuff like rhythm (metre) and so on. I do not mean an academic sense or any analytical sense. You will find that most good musos are either very good speakers or almost mute. These are the two sides of the same coin.

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