It gets such that a I'm wary of sending out e-mail beyond the office in
case the rest of the world receives our dirty linen here in Manchester.
However, comments on the speed of playing make me want to throw in my
contribution and observations.
Firstly, speed is a relative thing. There are regional variations in the
speed at which tunes are played so that in Clare the music is fairly
sedate with quite a nice swing and then there are increases in speed as
you go north, south, east or, by the sounds of it, west. Secondly, there
can be an element of youthful exuberance and developing technical ability
which drives players along. Most calm down after a few years or form a
band, possibly calling themselves "Four Men and a Dog" ( The fastest reels
and jigs I've heard). Here in Manchester there is an abundance of brilliant
young players much influenced by such fellas as Cathal Hayden and Brian
McGrath. I find their speed a little too fast but then we do get more
tunes into a sessiun I suppose. Value for money?
Thirdly, nothing sound more exciting to the uninitiated audiences
at gigs than some fireball tunes. Groups, often unconsciously, up the
speed to gain reation and possibly get people moving. I don't condemn this
as often it's I the "connoisseur" who is silently propping up the bar while
the rest get on with having a grand time. Sessiuns are another matter.
As for dancers, I remember being instructed to play reels fast and jigs
Above all, the swing in the tune is what makes a tune set great to my ears.
This can be got when playing steady or fast I think, and my own preference
is to play a little faster than the Clare speed, varying the tune and
interpretation as we go.