----- Original Message -----
From: "Daniel J. Curtin"
> I would love to see any of these "exercise tunes" you have
> developed for technical improvement. They could be very useful to us
This is an exercise which, as I noted originally was derived from portions
of the reel "Brandlings" by Neil Gow or in the Irish key of g as The Dogs
Amongst the Bushes:
dc = introduction, or in my terminology "bridge" notes (i.e. bridges you
into the tunes)
| BG 3GGG DG 3GGG | = Phrase A
| AG 3GGG DG 3GGG | = Phrase B
To play the exercise play the phrases as follows:
1 A A B B and repeat over and over until the triplets are clear, crisp
and the bowing flows and the triplet notes are sounded in clean bowing.
2 Variations of the exercise: 1 Single bow and start on an up bow; 2
single bow and start on a down bow; 3 slur the first two notes of phrase A
on an up bow; 4 slur the first two notes of phrase A on a down bow - the
reason for doing this is to develop the ablity to bow triplets from both
directions as well as to lead into them from staccatto and slurred bowing.
3 For Donegal players, repeat item 1 above but sound or emphasise the
triplets as "biting" triplets (i.e. harsh toned triplets where the due to
bow pressure the bow "bites" the string and sounds approaching a slight
The exercise is best repeated over and over and over. If you want to make a
tune out of this it is simple BECAUSE the simplest tune structure (and it is
incredible the number of musicians who do not understand or have looked at
Irish and Scottish tune phrase structures as there are incredibly
informative conclusions to be drawn and learning to be attained which can
make learning and playing tunes much much more simple) in Irish and Scottish
A - B - A - Tail - A - B - A - Tail
Where A is the opening phrase (or opening concept of the story)
Where B is the second phrase (and in the simplest tune structures B is an
identical pattern to A but all notes moved up one note or down one note for
A is repeated (B&A are efecively the middle of the storyline)
Then a "Tail (i.e. like the thing at the end of the dog, it comes at the end
of a tune)" or phrase which musically resolves the melody line either at its
mid-point of full end (it lgically concludes the story)
These four phrases (which are actually only three i.e. A-B-Tail) are then
repeated to form a full part of a tune (often in the simplest forms of tunes
the tail is "borrowed" to also conclude the second part of the tune, thus
making learning easier again).
So to change the exercise to a tune play:
A-A-B-B-A-A then conclude with a "long tail" of:
| BGBc dedc BGAF 2G | = Long Tail (of 2 phrase length).
This is what I term "poetic learning" where, if you like, phrases rhyme
(i.e. they are the same but move up or down a note) or just, also as in
poetry, simply repeat again.
To close, a bit of logic which might help you see how much easier is
"poetic" rather than "prose" or "linear learning".
In an 8 bar tune with 8 notes per bar, basically such as the one above, you
need to linear or prose learn 104 (8x8) notes in a correct sequence.
Alternatively, to learn the same tune in poetic learning you need to learn 3
poetic phrases or lines i.e. A-B&Tail.
Let me put the same thing another way. If you had to learn a sequence of 104
words and they were prose would it be easier to learn than if you had a poem
of 104 words?
I might be so bold as to offer a phenomena I have commonly observed. When I
talk to people in their 70s 80s 90s who had only a precious few odd years of
primary school and I ask them to quote prose they learned in school, by and
large they struggle tremendously if they can remember any at all.
Alternatively, when I ask them to quote poetry they learned in school it is
absoultely astounding the mass of material they quote reams. In short, what
does that tell you about how we learn and how we learn efficiently.
I hope this has helped.
Caoimhín Mac Aoidh