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Subject: Re: techno-analogy
From: Paulette Gershen <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Irish Traditional Music List <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Wed, 7 Feb 1996 10:28:00 PST
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Ronald Hamilton wrote:
>     Hmmm, maybe an analogy would make this clearer.  I'm a distance runner.
> In a given field of 100 runners, I might come in about 30 back from the
> front of the pack.  Never get any medals, never win, never get any better
> than my personal capabilities, and I've been doing it for 20 years.  Why?
> Because it isn't a competition, it's a sport.  What I'm saying, and what
> I think Bayard is suggesting, is that one certainly doesn't begrudge the
> talented their talent, one admires and respects them for it, but one also
> doesn't attempt to emulate them to the point of turning a sport into a
> competition, or simply give up running altogether because because you'll
> never be as talented as the best.
 
Hi Ronald--
I hope my earlier comments didn't come across as a flame--certainly not
meant that way!! I think what you (and Bruce?) were articulating is a
commonly felt sentiment among Americans listening to Irish music.  You
(we, perhaps I should say) hear the people who get recorded and promoted,
the fast, "hot" musicians, and think that's the way it "should" sound and
if your own playing doesn't sound like that, or if you can't yet picture
yourself performing at Wolf Trap to audiences in the multi-thousands,
you get discouraged.
 
What I was saying is just that there's another aspect to the beauty of the
music that comes out of people playing for each other in sessions, dances,
kitchens, wherever.  Irish music comes out of a long tradition, and players
like Bobby Casey, John Kelly, etc. are at the heart of that tradition. I
think it's probably more productive to listen to and emulate their playing,
and then develop from there.  You'll be building other things into your own
style that way, things that require just as much skill as "playing fast"
but possibly require even more sensitivity: knowing when to do what--how
to bring out the "soul" of the tune--how to find your own voice within
the tradition so that you add to it as well as reproduce it.
 
My point--meant to be encouraging, actually--is that when you start to
see the scene as divided into "superstars" and "the rest of us," it helps
to remind yourself that Bobby Casey, John Kelly, Mrs. Cronin, Kieran Carson,
Fred Finn, etc., weren't/aren't superstars in that sense either--not heard
much at major festivals, not recorded with synths and reverb on Green Linnet,
not launching world tours.  Yet their playing is wonederful, complex, and
VERY sophisticated.  So there may be more ways of categorizing Irish playing
styles than just the "hot" vs "novice" dichotomy.
 
I didn't mean that YOU personally felt that way.  But I think a lot of
Americans do feel that way, so it seemed worth pointing out.
 
Paulette
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