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IRTRAD-L  March 2002

IRTRAD-L March 2002

Subject:

Re: Cut Rolls (was: Castle Kelly)

From:

Henrik Norbeck <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Irish Traditional Music List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Sun, 17 Mar 2002 23:22:49 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (95 lines)

Royce Lerwick wrote (apropos "lobotomized" rolls):
> There are thousands of beginners who have been playing for decades then,
> and I hear them all the time. You're talking about noted Irish players,
> which is a self-selecting group. They're noted because they play the
> "proper" way. For each one of them there are a hundred in every American
> pub for instance, faking their way through.

Sounds like you're out of luck. I don't get too many of them here,
fortunately. If you meet so many of them, why don't you try to
encourage them to increase their playing skills?

> As a composer I'd prefer to notate my music as I play it rather
> than crap out a bare skeleton of big blocky notes and rely on
> every player who picks it up to flesh it out.

Well, that's up to you, but there are a lot of other things you leave
out anyway, that you probably never thought of, because you play
them that way automatically, for instance the slight "swing" in reels
and jigs. How do you notate that? Besides, very exact notation is
very hard to read.
Another problem with very exact notation is that people might learn
exactly that version, and forget to put in their own variations.

I prefer the "bare bones" notation version. If I wanted to notate
tunes exactly, but still playable, I would notate a "bare bones"
version, with added comments about style, i.e. swing,
ornamentation, intonation, etc. This would work as *prescriptive*
notation, as opposed to the *descriptive* one below.

> Likewise, if I were preserving the
> way a noted player executed embellishments I'd notate what they actually
> played, not a general symbol that every future player would just play
> whatever way the felt like.

This is a different animal. Now you're talking about *descriptive*
notation, i.e. trying to capture and describe as exactly as possible
how a certain player played a certain tune at a certain
performance. In this case I would write out all ornaments in full,
but on the other hand my target audience would not be the same.
Very complicated notation such as this is mostly aimed at
musicologists or players with a very special interest.

> Granted, players will just play what they want anyway, but there are so
> many cases where traditional notation is just a load of dotted quarters or
> quarters that really mean a load of other notes instead that unless you've
> heard the tune already they're worthless for any real idea of how they play
> out.

No, they're not worthless! If you have the style, you can play tunes
from O'Neill's and they would sound "traditional".

> If tunes are notated as precisely as they could be notated instead
> of just giving up and blocking them out, you would be learning a
> proper playing style, and not only that, you've be learning the
> playing style of the composer or player who notated them. That's
> the basic purpose of notation.

I don't agree! To learn the playing style you need *recordings*, not
very exact notation. If you don't learn directly from someone, that is.

> You've hit the heart of my commentary here, because first, you note that
> there are several ways to play rolls, and there are lobotomized
> equivalents.

Not quite right. I noted that there is *one* way to play rolls, and the
others are incorrect versions, that I only use as "bad examples"
when teaching beginners how to play a proper roll.

> Years then are spent perfecting lobotomized embellishments and wondering
> why they don't sound like Aly Bain or whoever. The reason, unapparent to
> them, is that those guys aren't playing the same notes in the same way,
> which would be blatantly obvious if notated correctly.

I'm not too sure it would be blatantly obvious. I don't think too many
beginner players can tell the difference in sound between the
following examples if they only saw them on paper (in "dots" of
course, not abc), and didn't hear them played by a teacher:
G{A}G{F}G
{GAGF}G
(5GAGFG
G2{AGF}G
G{A}(3GFG
G/A/G/F/G
GA/G/F/G/
Can you?


Henrik Norbeck, Stockholm, Sweden
[log in to unmask]
http://home.swipnet.se/hnorbeck/         My home page
http://home.swipnet.se/hnorbeck/abcmus/  Abcmus ABC program
http://home.swipnet.se/hnorbeck/abc.htm  >1000 abc tunes
http://surf.to/blackthorn                 Irish trad music band
http://www.rfod.se/folklink/              Links to Swedish music

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