> From [log in to unmask] Tue Dec 17 04:03:43 1996
> Date: Tue, 17 Dec 1996 00:58:21 -0800
> Sender: Irish Traditional Music List <[log in to unmask]>
> From: Michael Robinson <[log in to unmask]>
> Organization: The Standing Stones: Ceol na nGael/Traditional Music
> Subject: Re: FW: "Crooked" Set Dances (16 inst.)
> Among musical traditions that emphasize improvisation, it is frequent
> to find friendly rivalries, e.g. jazz, Indian classical music. In the
> Spanish language tradition can be found the practise of improvising
> sung verses in competition. I remember seeing this on television.
> I think it was the program "Routes of Rhythm", Harry Belafonte's
> look at Cuban music.
> This type of poetic competition was also popular in Ireland at one
Hopefully, not the type I saw an example of on one of those PBS TV shows:
I think it was an example from Puerto Rico, but at any rate, it was *some*
Spanish-speaking island. The point of the competition was to insult your
oponent worse than he (I only saw men in this exercise) had insulted you.
At the start of such a competition, the exchange *might* be friendly or
joking, as it might be in a more informal situation, but by the end of this
one that was televised they were really into it. The 2 competitors were
an older man & a man he had trained. The older man was singing (in
Spanish; I read the translation) "You young fool, I taught you everything
you know, & you don't know anything I didn't teach you, don't you suppose
there are a few things yet I *didn't* teach you, how do you think you
can possibly outsing me"? And the young man was singing "You old fool, you
were good once, its true, you taught me all, but now you are just a
washed-up, pathetic old man & its a shame to see you here making a fool of
yourself, you should be home in bed with your slippers. I know insults you
never were even clever enough to dream of" & so on. It got even nastier.
If you think the Indian drummers trying to make the dancers trip is mean,
& I certainly though it was at the very best not very sporting when I heard
of it, this is certainly beyond the pale. Its a cultural thing, I guess.
I also heard a flamenco dancer at Old Songs a few years ago tell someone
(at the end of an informal workshop; I was there to see the next workshop;
I hadn't cared for this particular group's flamenco demonstration *at all*)
that the guitarist always tries to slip a few unexpected things in & its
a test of the dancer's machismo to squash that behavior, that the guitarist
must always be "under the dancer's will" as he put it. Doesn't appeal to me