Praise Whistlers Abroad

Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes
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Author:  Adrian [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 2:28 am ]
Post subject:  Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes

In addition to hymns and other worship music do you also play ITM? If yes do you have a favourite style(s) (apart from airs traditional or otherwise and Carolan compositions) e.g Reels? jigs? Polkas? Hornpipes? Slip jigs? Double jigs? Waltzes? Slides? Mazurkas?

Author:  KittyR [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:31 am ]
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I like hornpipes myself, but that's probably partly because I know what they are. I couldn't tell you the difference between a reel and a jig. I know it's very simple - Lisa tells me what they are but then it falls right out of my head.


P.S. I also like most things in 6/8 time.

Author:  Micheal [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 10:43 am ]
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"Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes......Oh My!!!!!!
Sorry the Wizard of Oz connection just seemed to fit.

I try a little ITM from the whistle books but have not done very well so far. I try to at least find the midi and listen to get a feel of how these songs go since most are new to me....... and then I just have to use the same advice I gave Jim yesterday....practice, practice, practice.
It sure is fun once you get it right and start playing it one day when you pick up your whistle.... and then realize that you did it from heart and not from the dots.


Author:  Adrian [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 11:09 am ]
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KittyR wrote:
P.S. I also like most things in 6/8 time.

That would be double jigs and some single jigs for example in ITM.

Author:  fancypiper [in Heaven] [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 8:58 pm ]
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I was immediately drawn to the jig family in all it's forms.

My second favorite are hornpipes as they sounded so "bouncy" and happy sounding, even in the minor modes.

My least favorite, but slowly increasing playlist is the reel family, entirely overplayed in my Irish music Jukebox collection, IMHO.

I am an admitted jigoholic.

Author:  shadoes [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:14 pm ]
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so fancypiper you like to get JIGgy with it eh? <ducks and runs> :lol: :lol:

Author:  KittyR [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:28 pm ]
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shadoes wrote:
<ducks and runs>

[good thing because I slung some soup at you]

Author:  Adrian [ Tue Sep 26, 2006 9:30 pm ]
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My favorites are also in the jig family esp: double jigs, slip jigs and slides. Like Fancypiper I like hornpipes because of the lilt in them. Reel are my least favorite.

Author:  Revles [ Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:35 am ]
Post subject: all the types you have identified....particlarly fond of the jig family....but find polkas and hornpipes great...reels often sound similar but there are some great really individual ones that I think stand out from the crowd...'The Silver Spire' is one such...also love the English versions of jigs, hornpipes etc......just love music....Les.

Author:  Adrian [ Wed Sep 27, 2006 11:08 pm ]
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There seems to be a definite pattern developing here! Jigs win against reels here so far.

Author:  kelly [ Thu Sep 28, 2006 12:21 pm ]
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Jigs and Reels intimidate me because I can't seem to play them at what I feel is a decent clip. I know I can play them slower, but...
I like slow airs, polkas, ballads and such.
Right now I am working on Blind Mary, which sounds just sweet to me.
Si Breag, Si Mor is a recent favorite.
I am looking for a new praise chorus or hymn to learn, as I am getting "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the God of Creation" pretty well down. Written by St Francis!!
Love to all,

Author:  LisaD [ Thu Sep 28, 2006 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Reels, Jigs and Hornpipes

Adrian wrote:
In addition to hymns and other worship music do you also play ITM?

I've begun to work a lot more on ITM in recent weeks, with a (very) gradual improvement in ornamentation and speed. It's been a challenge trying to get the Irish sound "in my blood".

Like many here, I prefer jigs and slip jigs. And, of course, slow airs. Kelly, if you're enjoying "Si Bheag, Si Mhor" you'd probably also enjoy "The South Wind" (I just finished working on that one).


Author:  Audrey [ Thu Sep 28, 2006 5:21 pm ]
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I love slides and polkas myself. After that, jigs, though I'm learning to love reels as well.

Hornpipes are fun too, but people tend to heat them up in the session to where they're going as fast as a reel, and that damages the intrinsic charm of a hornpipe, I think.


Author:  Judy K [ Fri Sep 29, 2006 4:18 am ]
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I don't really pay attention to the "jig, reel, hornpipe" designation. I have no hope of matching the 'proper' speed for them. If it is a catchy tune, I try to play it. Airs are my favorite -- haven't a clue on the others. Some favorite tunes I play are "The Boys of Bluehill", "The Battering Ram", "Harvest Home", "St. Anne's Reel" (hmmm - a clue, maybe?), "The Golden Keyboard" ...

Lisa, your version of "The South Wind" on WhistleThis is great!

Author:  kelly [ Fri Sep 29, 2006 10:18 am ]
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I'll have to try The South Wind!

Author:  khl [ Fri Sep 29, 2006 12:00 pm ]
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Judy K wrote:

Lisa, your version of "The South Wind" on WhistleThis is great!

And how! (It's on Praise Clips also.) Joannie Madden has a really nice version of this on one of her CDs. I like what Lisa's done with this even more.

Author:  mutepointe [ Sat Sep 30, 2006 8:38 am ]
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folk music, classical, acid rock, and the motown sound. regarding the acid rock and all music in general, i pay very little attention to what the words of a song are. "silent night" could be about war and destruction and i would never notice. i think acid rock sounds like souped up classical.

Author:  Karina [ Wed Oct 04, 2006 11:36 pm ]
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I've been off in the abyss of school for a while, and haven't posted...but just catching up on the board, and saw this!

I am a trad NUT!!!!! My two passions in life are my faith and trad! To be quite honest, I love it so much that it's sometimes hard to keep my priorities straight. I want to first of all give everyone here encouragement that if they want to sound Irishy, that hard work and dedication, and LOTS of patience, can get you there--or at least really really far. I started off as a classical violinist for some ten years, and thought I would never ever be able to get a traditional fiddle sound. It had to have been one of my happiest musical moments ever when my super-picky trad nut friends (some of you may know MurphyStout and Azalin from C&F--or even our very own Nico) told me I officially no longer sounded classical, and was finally starting to sound Irish! Yay!

Okay, that's something of a tangent, but I just wanted all of you who were interested in that sort of thing to know that you don't have to be Irish to get there, and that you aren't destined for failure if you've had other musical backgrounds (or, for that matter, none at all).

I personally love all kinds of tunes, though I play mostly jigs and reels. Jigs have an absolutely sublime and subtle groove to them that, when played really well, can be more uplifting than the best reel, in my opinion. But then, sometimes there's just nothing like cranking hard on a good reel for the life and excitement it brings! Hornpipes are fun, but I like polkas more! I guess I'm a nerd. But that's a good thing.

If anyone is seriously interested in trying to learn how to sound more "Irish", I can certainly give you a lot of tips in the right direction, having had to overcome many many obstacles, myself. Many I will continue to battle for many years, I'm sure. Now, I'm NOT saying that if you don't sound Irish you stink, or that there's only one right way to play it, or anything--don't get me wrong. I love that, too, and my greatest joy is that so many people can derive so much pleasure in so many different forms. That being said, there are certain do's and don'ts to making something sound Irish traddy or not. So give me a PM if you're interested in hooking up with trad recordings, or just any tips I might be able to give. I'm not amazing, but I guess I'm relatively solid on whistle and fiddle--and I've had the wonderful opportunity to take classes from James Kelly and Catherine McEvoy at a couple of Irish music weeks in Seattle and New York. I'd be happy to share recordings, too, if anyone wants them. PM me if you're interested!

yayayayayayayay, a TRAD thread!!!!!!!I'm so excited...

Author:  Adrian [ Thu Oct 05, 2006 1:00 pm ]
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I need all the tips you can offer!! Please can you post some here.

Author:  shadoes [ Thu Oct 05, 2006 5:08 pm ]
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I will second the vote for post em here :)

Author:  Karina [ Fri Oct 06, 2006 12:57 am ]
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Oh I'm so excited! I love talking about this kind of stuff!!!

I'll do my best to help anyone interested. It is, of course, extremely hard to sum up everything into pointers, and I'm far from a master, myself, yet there are certain foundational steps that can be taken to setting one well in the right direction so that they can learn to teach themselves.

There are a few things to really really remember if you're trying to get a "traddy" sound from your tunes.

The Golden Rule and most important thing of all is to LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN to really good people that have the sound you like. I'd honestly recommend listening at least as much as you play. Trust me--it's the least painful part of practice! The rest of the things will come so much better and more quickly if you get a lot of listening in.

So anyway, playing.
Irish dance tunes, which are what I will focus on, are EXTREMELY dependent on rhythm. The perfect beat and a steady rhythm is the heart and soul of the dance music. Even without a shred of ornamentation, a simple tune can sound wonderful if the rhythm is really good (ok, and phrasing, see below). Now, keeping this in mind, ALL the ornamentation, NO EXCEPTIONS, have to work within this rhythm and steady beat, otherwise your dancers would be having a heck of a time! That might be fun and all for you, but they don't seem to like it so well. So a very important thing to start doing right off the bat is watching your rhythm, trying to keep it steady, and if you find yourself getting lost rhythmically because of ornamentation, cut it out and get the bones for the tune solid before trying to add them back in. Granted, most of us will never play for dancers, but that's how this music evolved, so it often helps me significantly to play and imagine someone trying to dance to what I'm playing. Just helps keep things in perspective.

The second super important thing in Irish dance tunes is the phrasing! In the case of whistles, this mostly means knowing when to take a breath and when not to. For fiddle it would be when and how you bow. Think of musical phrases like sentences. Each one says something and has a point. In writing, punctuation guides you to make a whole string of words logically organized, so that when you put them together in a paragraph, you can understand it. Phrasing is like the period of a sentence, or a comma or whatever. Placing your breaths, which cause little pauses (just like when you're speaking) strategically makes the strings of notes of your music organized. You don't want to breathe in the middle of a phrase, because it cuts your sentence off and leaves you sort of hanging, and then you have to try and pick up in the middle of a sentence and it just muddles everything up. In other words, it throws off your groove! When breaths are placed well and work with phrasing, you don't really notice them, and far from uncomfortable, they add to the tune. The goal is to use those spaces as an artistic advantage. So all that being said, strategically placing your breaths means a few things: you don't just play until you have no more air in your lungs--sometimes you'll go for a while without breathing, and then other times there will be convenient places to breathe that are very close together, long before you've run out of breath. That's ok! It's good! Just as long as you mix it up and don't make your tune have all one or the other. Breathing like this also means that you'll have to think through your tune as you play it, and get familiar with it to know when to breathe. This is best done by listening to the tune played by someone good, off a recording or something, over and over and over.

And then the question you are going to ask, I'm sure, is how do I hear the phrases? How do I hear if I'm cutting it off or not? And that, my friend, is why you have to listen to Irish music a lot. It comes only with listening. But you'll get there.

Some of you might be really discouraged by this suggestion, but do your very very best to try and learn without sheet music. It's not bias, trust me! I struggled for a whole year, dying to get that "Irish" sound, and failing miserably and getting discouraged. Coming from a classical background, I was trying to learn everything by sheet music. I didn't think I needed anything else, and it was certainly a LOT easier! But what it came down to is that in the end, it wasn't easier. I never was able to catch the nuances of the tune...and trust me, you don't get them from just listening and then learning the tune off sheet music. It helps, but it doesn't get you there. On an encouraging note, there are many software programs out there that can slow down recordings to however slow you could ever want it without changing the pitch! I personally use the Amazing Slow Downer, and have found it an invaluable tool. Also, as you start to learn more tunes by ear, it gets easier and easier. And even better yet, if you learn them by ear, you've got them in your head, which means you don't have to rely on having music in front of you! You can just grab your whistle and play your heart content. This especially comes in handy when stopped at stoplights or in heavy traffic. ;)

Well, I could go on and on, but I don't have any more time tonight. I'll talk briefly about the differences between playing reels and jigs, and the different ornamentations and how to practice them and how they work tomorrow or later.

Whatever you do, make sure you have FUN! Very very important! If you stop having fun, then you're taking it too seriously and I suggest you ease up on your expectations of yourself, or take a break. It's not worth sacrificing the fun of the music for ambition, and we ultimately play for GOD, so we should always keep worship in mind, as well. Worship music doesn't have to have words!!!!!!!

As a last thought, does anyone know how I could possibly post sound samples? That would make life SO much easier, being able to demonstrate what I'm trying to say. I can easily do it via email, in the meantime, so if anyone wants examples of anything I Just mentioned, email me or PM me and I'll get back to you with some of that.

Author:  viejomc [ Fri Oct 06, 2006 8:28 am ]
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Wow. I've actually logged in twice in the past week. It is a challenge so I don't post often.

Karina, if you don't have any web space, I would be happy to host any sound file examples that you want to share with the board. Just send me a PM and we'll talk.

Another thing about reaching your goal for sounding Irish is speed IMHO. Just like a sprinter, you have to spend a few minutes each day playing at speeds that are beyond your ability. You need to stretch your limits, or you will never be able to play any faster. So, spend some time each day being aggressive. I find that playing along with a recording helps me improve my speed. Cillian Vallely has written a book of notation of three of Lunasas CDs (The kinnitty Sessions, Redwood, and their latest, Se). I just bought Se and the book. Great stuff to play along with, although I can't quite keep up with Cillian on his Uillean pipes or Kevin Crawford on the whistle. I love the jigs, but reels are my favorite.

Author:  Adrian [ Fri Oct 06, 2006 11:04 am ]
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Karina wrote:
Well, I could go on and on,


Very helpful. You are a good writer as well.

Author:  fancypiper [in Heaven] [ Sat Oct 07, 2006 12:27 pm ]
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Classical training is hard to break, isn't it? Rolls sound like turns? That really throws the rhythm off and precise rhythm is the key to the dance music.

Listen, listen, listen and listen to the tunes. If you learn the tune by ear, you can see that the "dots" can only represent the "skeleton" of the tune, unless you get a book that has been transcribed from someone's playing, and then you only get one "turn" of the tune. The variations get left out as a good/great player seldom plays two turns the same way.

I like to get a tune down so that I can play it and think of the variation I want to use at the same time with rock steady rhythm. I like to play slower than most recordings, but be able to "keep up" at a session or play with the full speed recordings.

Speed will come as the tunes come to life under your fingers and the muscle memory allows the brain to embrace the tune with variations. My hardest part of learning a dance tune is picking places to breathe without losing the downbeat. You have to think of snatching a breath as an ornament in itsself and it becomes easier to choose places to breathe. Sometimes I have to breathe out of my nose while playing in order to keep oxygenated...

If you need a free "slow downer", Winamp has a plugin for that as well as a "musicians loop tool".

You can slow down/speed up without changing pitch, or change pitch with or without changing speed.

I don't know if the quality is better or worse than the Amazing Slow Downer, but you can't beat the price!

I keep a couple of whistles in my pickup so I can entertain myself at traffic delays. It sure beats road rage! Sometimes I even get a thumbs up from fellow detainees!

Author:  alespa [ Sat Oct 07, 2006 5:26 pm ]
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KittyR wrote:
Lisa tells me what they are but then it falls right out of my head.


Kitty, you need to cover that hole up!

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