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Re: Accompaniment and Other Irritants.


Jay Hardy <[log in to unmask]>


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


Tue, 19 Nov 2002 17:38:49 -0500





text/plain (105 lines)

It may further horrify you to know that some of the recordings you mention have
been "enhanced" with reverb or other sonic treatments -- including field
recordings. The process of recording music changes it fundamentally. The
dynamics of introducing a microphone -- in a studio or in someone's living room
-- changes the dynamics and the process fundamentally. The judicious use of
sonic treatments -- like reverb -- make a recoding more coherent and
listenable. I suggest you make a recording, listen to it without any effects
and with tastefully apply and subtle sonic enhancements and you will hear no
artifacts (as has been mentioned in some horrendous post production excesses on
wonderful performances). I am very conservative in my musical tastses, but that
doesn't mean I embrace a "luddite" approach to the process of documenting great
performances. If sonic enhancements add to the perfroamnce, bring them on.

BTW -- I'm a great believer inletting the performer decide. That's why I've
mixed recordings dry at the request of performers, only to have them remix with
effects. If they want to leave a good performance, sounding incoherent, all I
ask is for a disclaimer on the CD jacket.

-- Jay Hardy

James Carroll wrote:

> My original comments were prompted by Jay Hardy's statement "The "purists"
> who want everything dry (no effects) are almost always horrified by how one
> dimensional the end result sounds". My first reaction was "who are these
> poor people and why do I never get to meet them to offer my sympathy and
> support?" It seems to me that Irish traditional music has survived quite
> well, and can continue to do so on the strength of the skill of its
> musicians and without the gimmicks and gadgets.
> This is not to say that nobody should experiment with different approaches
> to the music, but it needs to be said that should you choose to do this the
> music becomes something else other than traditional.
> I can honestly say with hand-on-heart that I have never been "horrified" at
> the "one
> dimensional sound" of Johnny Doran, The Dochertys, Martin Byrnes, Bobby
> Casey or any other good traditional musician, nor do I think that their
> music would have been enhanced with the addition of synthesizers, reverb,
> dry-ice
> machines or computer-generated graphics; on the contrary.
> It was not my intention to suggest that Paul De Grae, or anybody else,
> should burn their instruments. My comments were intended to raise the
> question the role of accompaniment in Irish music. I regret having missed
> out on earlier discussions on the subject.
> I don't think it is a question of good or bad accompaniment. It is a fact
> of life that the addition of certain instruments to Irish music changes its
> overall sound. I have spent a fair amount of time over the last thirty
> years
> listening to musicians talking about ornamentation and variation in their
> playing, how they have worked at refining their skills and what they are
> trying to
> achieve. It seems to me a great pity that by adding say a piano or a guitar
> to a
> good player's music, at best, the attention of the listener is shifted away
> from those
> ornaments and variations and at worst, can drown them out altogether.
> If you don't believe me listen to Martin Byrnes on the Leader LP and see
> what effect a piano can have on an extremely gifted musician's playing.
> This example can be repeated in many albums and nowadays seems to have
> become the rule rather than the exception.
> Nor should it be down to the mixing deck Some of the best albums I have
> heard have been those compiled from recordings made outside the rarefied
> atmosphere
> of the studio, where electrical equipment would have been an intrusion.
> I will concede that skilful accompaniment probably does not make a great
> deal of difference one way or another to ensemble playing, but as far as I
> can see it can only have a detrimental effect to solo, duet, or trio
> playing.
> I must confess that the accompaniment of slow airs has the same
> effect on me as does somebody running their fingernails down a pane of
> glass, no matter how skilful a musician they are!!!
> I think it is semantics to suggest that the McCarthys "accompany" each
> other. They *individually* create beautiful music as a family group,
> complementing each other's playing rather than accompanying it, which is
> rather different from providing what is in my opinion an unnecessary and
> intrusive background (though not always background enough) sound.
> Of course I wasn't serious about mandatory "health warnings" on albums,
> though I do believe that it is the responsibility of the producers of these
> to let us know
> what we are buying; I was quite serious about being more circumspect when
> buying accompanied traditional music. I intend no disrespect to any
> accompanist,
> but I really would like to hear from them what they feel their role is.
> I was interested to hear the recent comments from a guitarist who
> accompanied
> one of Ireland's greatest traditional musicians who died not so long ago.
> The guitarist has been trying to gather together enough recorded material to
> make an album and he said, "I wish I had bloody well left my guitar at home
> more often".
> Best,
> Jim Carroll.
> PS What else do I listen to? Bit limited really; Jazz, Blues, early
> Sinatra, Peggy Lee, Billie
> Holliday, Haydn, Beethoven, Bach, Mozart, Vivaldi, some opera (though not
> much), and
> any traditional music I can get my hands on from anywhere, particularly from
> Eastern Europe
> and Northern Greece. And no, I am not against accompaniment per se, in fact
> I think that
> some music and singing would be unlistenable to without it. I happen to
> think that Irish music does
> not fall into this catergory.

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