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 Post subject: Airs
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:25 am 
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Touching remembrances (get some tissues ready):
I bought my first "Celtic" music from one of those "earth stores" in the mall. It was by Joannie Madden. I did not know a thing about her, but the tape tore my heart out. I bought quite a bit of Celtic music after that.
I play about 20 songs and tunes so far, about half worship and half ITM. But those airs...
When I pick up my Burke D, it seems an air is always first to pop in my mind (Enach Duin right now). They rip my heart out.
I am dutifilly learning a jig now, "The Blarney Pilgrim," because I want to know some, but my heart is always with airs.
Airs sound good on a C whistle too, which isn't so high (I have a Clarke original and am waiting for a Burke in C--Blackhawk, this wait is killin' me)!
The point of all this? I just felt like writing a friend. But if you haven't tried airs seriously yet, give 'em a shot! They'll rip your heart out!

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 11:38 am 
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Right on, Kelly! Airs are my favorite non-Christian music, by far. And you'll like them even better on that Burke C, Kelly. And just to whet your appetite, or WhOA, they sound even better on my Syn B natural. I also love the way my Gen Bb does them. And...yesterday a Sindt A arrived in my mailbox! Man oh man, does that sound great on airs!

How long til you get your Burke C, Kelly? Is it en route already or are you having to wait until Mike gets back from Ireland?

Also, Kelly, do you have many slow airs on CD? I have quite a collection and maybe I could send you a compilation of my favorites (and your favorites if you don't already have good versions from which to learn).

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 12:04 pm 
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One thing I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to play airs: Listen to a few good recordings of people SINGING them. Airs are song tunes, and it can be difficult to play an air really well if you haven't heard it sung (and preferably, sung it yourself).

Actually, that's why I started learning Irish...I love slow airs, and having heard a great difference between how the songs were sung and how I was playing the tunes, I decided that I really needed to be able to sing those songs. Not everyone is going to want to do that, but hearing a really good sean nós singer wring every nuance out of something like "Airde Cuan" or "Eamonn an Chnoic" is the next best thing.

Audrey

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 Post subject: Re: Try an Air
PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 12:31 pm 
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kelly wrote:
Touching remembrances (get some tissues ready):
I bought my first "Celtic" music from one of those "earth stores" in the mall. It was by Joannie Madden. I did not know a thing about her, but the tape tore my heart out. I bought quite a bit of Celtic music after that.
I play about 20 songs and tunes so far, about half worship and half ITM. But those airs...
When I pick up my Burke D, it seems an air is always first to pop in my mind (Enach Duin right now). They rip my heart out.
I am dutifilly learning a jig now, "The Blarney Pilgrim," because I want to know some, but my heart is always with airs.
Airs sound good on a C whistle too, which isn't so high (I have a Clarke original and am waiting for a Burke in C--Blackhawk, this wait is killin' me)!
The point of all this? I just felt like writing a friend. But if you haven't tried airs seriously yet, give 'em a shot! They'll rip your heart out!

I am afraid to try them now .... I want to keep my heart! :roll: :laughing:

Actually ... I agree... love to listen to them.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 12:43 pm 
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Audrey wrote:
One thing I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to play airs: Listen to a few good recordings of people SINGING them. Airs are song tunes, and it can be difficult to play an air really well if you haven't heard it sung (and preferably, sung it yourself).

Actually, that's why I started learning Irish...I love slow airs, and having heard a great difference between how the songs were sung and how I was playing the tunes, I decided that I really needed to be able to sing those songs. Not everyone is going to want to do that, but hearing a really good sean nós singer wring every nuance out of something like "Airde Cuan" or "Eamonn an Chnoic" is the next best thing.

Audrey


Good points, Audrey! I actually prefer hearing them sung, but I love however I can get them. As to the two you mentioned, I have a version of "Airde Cuan" sung by Aine Minogue, and of "Eamonn an Chnoic" sung by the Clancy Bros. Are there better versions of those, for me to look for? I bet your collection is far more extensive than mine.

Btw, Audrey, it's good to see you back here. :)

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 2:11 pm 
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Blackhawk wrote:
Audrey wrote:
One thing I strongly recommend to anyone who wants to play airs: Listen to a few good recordings of people SINGING them. Airs are song tunes, and it can be difficult to play an air really well if you haven't heard it sung (and preferably, sung it yourself).

Actually, that's why I started learning Irish...I love slow airs, and having heard a great difference between how the songs were sung and how I was playing the tunes, I decided that I really needed to be able to sing those songs. Not everyone is going to want to do that, but hearing a really good sean nós singer wring every nuance out of something like "Airde Cuan" or "Eamonn an Chnoic" is the next best thing.

Audrey


Good points, Audrey! I actually prefer hearing them sung, but I love however I can get them. As to the two you mentioned, I have a version of "Airde Cuan" sung by Aine Minogue, and of "Eamonn an Chnoic" sung by the Clancy Bros. Are there better versions of those, for me to look for? I bet your collection is far more extensive than mine.

Btw, Audrey, it's good to see you back here. :)


I think Liam Clancy does a nice job with Eamonn an Chnoic. It's a favorite of mine to sing as well. I haven't heard Áine Minogue's rendition of Airde Cuan...in fact, the only person I've heard sing it is my teacher, Mary Mc Laughlin, and I don't think she has a recording of it. I should look up Ms. Minogue's recording...I'd love to hear a few more people interpret it, as it's another one I love to sing.

I have a recording of Airde Cuan up at Tin Whistle Tunes, which reflects the way I sing it (even though I'm playing it on the whistle).

Sorry I haven't been around so much lately. It's been a crazy couple of months. In addition to doing communications stuff for the church, I've taken on doing the newsletter for our local branch of Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann, which is a major job (but fun!). And we're having a new floor installed (bamboo!), which is taking a lot more time than I'd thought (but is so pretty, it's worth it!). Consequently, I never know if I'm coming or going these days. :lol: I'm looking forward to summer, when things usually slow down a bit.

Audrey

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 2:32 pm 
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Audrey wrote:
I haven't heard Áine Minogue's rendition of Airde Cuan...in fact, the only person I've heard sing it is my teacher, Mary Mc Laughlin, and I don't think she has a recording of it. I should look up Ms. Minogue's recording...I'd love to hear a few more people interpret it, as it's another one I love to sing.

It's out of print, but you can get a used one (that's what I did and it was well worth the price) here:
Amazon.com: Were You at the Rock: Music: Aine Minogue

This CD also has 2 more of my faves, Were You at the Rock? and Flower of Magherally. Both are gorgeous airs.

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 2:36 pm 
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Audrey wrote:

I have a recording of Airde Cuan up at Tin Whistle Tunes, which reflects the way I sing it (even though I'm playing it on the whistle).


I'll check that out when I get home, too, Audrey, and thanks for the heads up. :)

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PostPosted: Fri May 26, 2006 2:40 pm 
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FWIW, Aine Minogue also does a beautiful version of Anach Cuan on this CD:
Amazon.com: Mysts of Time: Music: Aine Minogue

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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 10:40 am 
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It's funny how people are drawn to the slow airs.

As long as I have been on the internet and involved in Irish music, there are people asking for the "dots" to an air. It is difficult if not impossible to learn an air from the dots and they are the hardest to play, because mistakes are much more obvious.

When I first pulled my Burke AL-PRO low D out of the mailing tube, "Eamonn an Chnoic" popped out of it after I ran through a couple of scales and got it in tune. I had just been working on it with my C uilleann chanter.

I just wish I had the memory of what tune sounds best on what whistle. At home, I usually pick up my Generation Bb with a Blacktop fipple, and in the pickup, it is usually a Clarke orig. design C or D.

So many tunes, so few brain cells left..


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PostPosted: Sat May 27, 2006 11:05 am 
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Hey all, thanks for all your replies. I see I have a lot to learn about airs.
Blackhawk, Thanks for the references to those tunes. I presently have nothing of slow airs on CD, except "The Londonderry Air" (sounds SO much better than "Danny Boy") on the Celtic Women CD.
Where have all these good recordings been hiding all my life?
Blackhawk, any tunes you could provide would be quite welcome. Also, I saved those Amazon titles so I could buy them.
Seems like you have some nice whistles to play with! Isn't ths Sindt that one that sounds really Irish and tradiitional, and you have to wait for till hair grows out on your toes?
I ordered my Burke C from the Whistle Shop instead of directly because I was returning another whistle and had credit--but the Whistle Shop had no Burke aluminums at the moment so I have had to wait for them. I should get it in early June (I hope I hope).
Those airs you referred me to reminds us that a woman's voice is still the most beautiful instrument.

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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 12:31 pm 
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Did I kill this thread or something?
I have listened to some airs done by Loreena McKennitt, and heard a couple online--it seems like to play an air right you have to mess up your timing? There seem to be these hesitations in the music. How would you DO that--imagine someone singing it? Many airs don't come with words. And, not to be blunt, how would anyone without ITM knowledge listen and not think, "This guy has NO sense of timing."
I hope I'm not rude; these are just questions, and perhaps someone with experience can help me.

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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 5:53 pm 
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Jumping in a little late here... I have always found airs a little frustrating, I guess for the reasons you just said, kelly. The timing is not consistent. I suppose the more free-spirited types enjoy playing them, but I have a hard time NOT playing a steady rhythm. (Not that my rhythm is absolutely perfect, but rather that's what my brain tries to do.) Consequently, my list of traditional tunes I have learned is full of jigs, reels, polkas, etc. but only a couple of airs, and those I play more like waltzes, with a steady rhythm. I also don't know how to hold out a note and make it sound pretty. So I gravitate toward tunes that move on to the next note pretty quickly.

I probably need to listen to airs more so I can learn to appreciate them. Any suggestions on how to be more "free" with the timing would be appreciated!

Jennifer


Last edited by jen f on Mon May 29, 2006 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon May 29, 2006 5:53 pm 
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kelly wrote:
Did I kill this thread or something?
I have listened to some airs done by Loreena McKennitt, and heard a couple online--it seems like to play an air right you have to mess up your timing? There seem to be these hesitations in the music. How would you DO that--imagine someone singing it? Many airs don't come with words. And, not to be blunt, how would anyone without ITM knowledge listen and not think, "This guy has NO sense of timing."
I hope I'm not rude; these are just questions, and perhaps someone with experience can help me.


Well, timing is relative. Seriously. Irish traditional vocal music is non-metrical...similar to plainsong. Every tune is interpreted individually.

FWIW, I try not to play an air that I haven't heard sung...and the ones I really love, I learn to sing.

The best thing I can suggest is to listen to a lot of good sean nós singers...that will help you get a feel for the style. With few exceptions, airs are sean nós songs.

If it's any help, here's me playing "Airde Cuan." I play it pretty much in the same way I sing it:

http://www.tinwhistletunes.com/clipssnip/Audio/11-05/AirdeCuanAudreyN.mp3

The next best option is to listen to Irish musicians who are familiar with the style play the airs. But yes...they will challenge your perception of what is "right" musically. It's a very different style from most "folk" music, and people either love it or hate it.

Audrey

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 8:38 am 
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kelly wrote:
Did I kill this thread or something?
I have listened to some airs done by Loreena McKennitt, and heard a couple online--it seems like to play an air right you have to mess up your timing? There seem to be these hesitations in the music. How would you DO that--imagine someone singing it? Many airs don't come with words. And, not to be blunt, how would anyone without ITM knowledge listen and not think, "This guy has NO sense of timing."
I hope I'm not rude; these are just questions, and perhaps someone with experience can help me.


You didn't kill the thread, Kelly. I was out of town until last night, and there aren't many of us who really love the slow airs. On this Board, probably just you, Audrey and me, in fact. On most trad CDs, there will be only 2 cuts that are slow airs (or less). The rest are reels, jigs and hornpipes.

I'll get with you on some home made CDs that'll get you started on slow airs, both sung and played on whistles or pipes. I'm at work right now but will get back to you soon. :)

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 9:41 am 
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Thanks, Blackhawk!
I was waiting to hear from you!
I love airs too much to give them up, even if I have to try to learn an irregular rythum. Your discs will help me here. I am supposed to receive discs from the Whistle Shop which were back ordered from the factory when I ordered my slow airs book from Mel Bay--they will help too if they ever arrive.
But I am unconventional enough to play airs whether I've heard them or not. Hey--noone in Indiana will know the difference!!
I think, by instinct, I can detect some places where pauses are good and some where they just would not work. Is that possible? I know I'm playing airs too fast, that's for sure. I'll slow them down.
And Blackhawk, I am anxious to hear about your new whistles, especially that Sindt!!
Please correct my ignorance wherever you find it--but be merciful! I'm a noob!

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 10:03 am 
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Kelly, I'll send you mostly trad slow airs, but with a couple of ones that sound just like the old ones but were written in the last couple of decades. They are just as beautiful as the old traditional ones.

My new Sindt A is halfway between a high whistle and a low whistle. I love it! It's easier fingering than the low whistles but still has a throatier sound than high whistles. I hadn't planned on buying one of these because of the long wait, but when Doc Jones had one for sale for $125, I couldn't resist. I also love the Bb for slow airs, too, though. Not that there's anything wrong with D and C for them.

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 12:07 pm 
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Blackhawk wrote:
... and there aren't many of us who really love the slow airs. On this Board, probably just you, Audrey and me, in fact.


Hey ... I like airs, too! Maybe I can't play them as well as I should -- but I like them. I'll even play some of the other 'trad' songs slowly, more like an air -- doing everything 'wrong' in some eyes. :roll: Since my music is for my entertainment or time with God, it shouldn't matter how it's played.

Judy


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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 12:19 pm 
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Judy K wrote:
Blackhawk wrote:
... and there aren't many of us who really love the slow airs. On this Board, probably just you, Audrey and me, in fact.

Hey ... I like airs, too!

OK Judy, you can be a member of our club, too. :lol: We'll be the official PWA SAF (PWA Slow Air Fans). :mrgreen:



Quote:
Maybe I can't play them as well as I should -- but I like them. I'll even play some of the other 'trad' songs slowly, more like an air -- doing everything 'wrong' in some eyes. :roll: Since my music is for my entertainment or time with God, it shouldn't matter how it's played.

Judy

I'm sure I don't get them right either, but the only way to perfect them is to go live in Ireland and study under an ITM guru. I'll just keep playing them like I enjoy hearing them and I'll avoid playing in front of anyone who plays a lot of ITM...which I already do (avoid, that is).

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 1:53 pm 
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kelly wrote:
I think, by instinct, I can detect some places where pauses are good and some where they just would not work. Is that possible? I know I'm playing airs too fast, that's for sure. I'll slow them down.


Well, the problem is, the pauses and such are determined by the words. Remember, all airs are song tunes, even if you don't know the song. That's why I recommend listening to singers sing them, when at all possible.

Don't think of it as "playing an irregular rhythm." Think of it as playing freely. Airs are much like chants...they follow speech rhythms, not the strict, metronomical rhythm you may be used to.

Bottom line, as with all traditional music, the more listening you do, both to good air singers and good air players, the better you will be.

Redwolf

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 2:09 pm 
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If it's any help, here are the words to the air I posted previously: Airde Cuan (This is the version I have from Mary McLaughlin. As with many traditional songs, there are other versions). It's an easy one, because the verses are in English. This song was written by an Irish exile living in Scotland...in a place where, on a clear day, you can look across the sea to Ireland. Try to imagine him standing on a headland on a lonely Sunday, looking across to the land he likely will never see again. Try to feel his grief and longing. The chorus translates to "And ach, ach, havoc and Oh! Heavy burden and Oh! My heart is heavy and sorrowful." It's a cry from the heart.

'Tis myself, I'd be in Airde Cuan
Where the mountains stand away,
And 'tis I would watch the Sundays go
in the Cuckoo's glen above the bay.

Chorus:

Agus ach, ach eirleach is Ó!
Eire lionn dubh agus Ó!
'Sé mo chroí atá trom is bronach.

Ah, my heart grows weary all alone,
And it sends a lonely cry
To the land that lives in all my dreams,
And the lonely Sundays pass me by.

I would travel back the twisted years,
Through the bitter wasted winds
If the Lord above would let me lie
in some quiet place above the whins.

Now, bear in mind that, in sean-nós singing, one uses ornamentation (turns, trills, slides, a note held longer than one might expect, a change in interval, etc.) to emphasize words rather than dynamics. Also, in sean-nós, the phrase is the most important element...it's quite allowable to have fairly long, dramatic pauses between phrases, if it suits the mood of the song. The speed of the tune isn't all that important, other than in how it affects the mood of the tune...some airs, such as "Thugamar Féin an Samradh Linn" are actually sung quite briskly, and with a bit of a lilt.

One thing that may help in your playing of airs (and, if you love them, I do recommend that you keep playing them...just keep an open mind as to how they should be played as you learn more about them) is to FIND the lyrics of the tunes you want to play. A good search on line will often turn them up. If they're in Irish (and most of the time they will be), go to http://www.irishgaelictranslator.com and ask for a translation (I'm "Redwolf" there, by the way). It won't be a singable translation, but it will give you some idea of the meaning of the song, which will give you some idea as to how to play it. All that, and just keep listening. The more you listen, the better your playing will be.

Audrey

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PostPosted: Tue May 30, 2006 2:20 pm 
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Well said, Audrey. :)

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Judy K wrote:
Since my music is for my entertainment or time with God, it shouldn't matter how it's played.

Judy


I use that too Judy LOL!!! :thumbsup: :laughing:

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I'm starting to get discouraged.

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Jim Wright wrote:
Judy K wrote:
Since my music is for my entertainment or time with God, it shouldn't matter how it's played.

Judy


I use that too Judy LOL!!! :thumbsup: :laughing:


:thumbsup: It should work! There is not anyone in my area to tell me it's wrong -- no sessions, no festivals close ... :mrgreen:

I do understand what Audrey is saying. Knowing the words, the phrasing originally intended would enrich the flavor of an air, help each player put the proper emotions in the correct places in the music. But, at the moment, funding a large collection of 'sean-nós' CDs is not possible. (Too many whistle purchases ... will trade whistles for the right CDs?)

Don't give up, Kelly! You may be instinctively giving the music the right touch. You did say an air will tear your heart out ... sounds like that's the necessary requirement.

Judy


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