Week #152 ~ Congress Reel

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  1. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    This week's tune is Congress Reel, which was submitted as an Irish Traditional tune. It's not a tune I'm familiar with.

    I found this standard notation on Chris Peterson's Traditional Music.

    This link, on Nova Session Music, has links to abc, notation and a midi file.

    Here is a link to the tune on thesession.org

    and here is the ABC from that site:

    X: 1
    T: Congress, The
    M: 4/4
    L: 1/8
    R: reel
    K: Ador
    |:eAAG A2Bd|eaaf gedg|eAcA eAcA|BGGA Bdeg|
    eAAG A2Bd|eaaf gedB|cBcd eged|cABG A2Bd:|
    |:eaag abag|eaag egdg|egdg egdg|eaaf gedg|
    eaag a2ag|eaaf gedB|c2cd e2ed|cABG A2Bd:|

    I also searched YouTube, and found this old video of Jill's (WE MISS YOU JILL!!!)

  2. fatt-dad
    www.mandozine.com has a tabedit file of this tune also.

    I like the sound of this tune!

  3. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I managed to get through this (slowly) once on my Collings MT2O mandolin. There seems to be some upload glitches...

  4. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Very lovely Barbara... and thanks for posting Jill's version. Her playing is a wonder to behold.
  5. laura809
    Nice job Barbara, and thanks for posting Jill's version as well. I am curious about the use of triplets in Irish Traditional music. Are they in your notation for this tune, or are you deciding when to put them in yourself?
  6. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    Barbara, thanks for posting the first and very clean version.

    This arrangement is without triplets:

  7. nanaimo
    Very smooth play. The more I hear this tune the more I like it.
  8. David Hansen
    David Hansen
    Nicely done Manfred. Here's my hurried and rough version on octave mandolin, mandolin and concertina.

  9. Marcelyn
    Wow, beautiful, David. The octave and mandolin blend so nicely.
  10. OldSausage
    Very cool playing everyone - David your version was super atmospheric
  11. Manfred Hacker
    Manfred Hacker
    Very 'hurried' indeed, David.
    I fully concur with OS: SUPER ATMOSPHERIC
  12. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Well played, everyone! David, the concertina was a very nice touch. My version is a bit different in the B part; I learned it from the "Mandolin Picker's Fakebook", Oak Publications 1983.

  13. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Lots of good versions, but I've got to say I especially liked David Hansen's version with the octave and concertina.
    I could do with another week working on the triplets, but thought seeing as I started playing mandolin a year ago today I really should post something; Thanks a lot to Jill, whos excellent version I have learned the tune from and tried to imitate.
  14. Marcelyn
    Happy mandolin playing anniversary, Neil. You've sure come a long way in one year. What a smooth and upbeat version to celebrate with.
  15. OldSausage
    Yes, way to go in one year Neil, you must have worked hard. Lovely sound Colin, you're getting a really nice tone.
  16. AaronVW
    Well done, everyone! David, very nice arrangement. Even though I barely have time for the mandolin you have given me a renewed desire to pick up the concertina. What a great sound! Great job, Neil. I'll be coming up on a year here in a few months and you could be quite a nice carrot for this donkey of a mandolin player.
  17. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Amazing progress in one year, Neil! Your speed and accuracy are very impressive. Happy anniversary!
  18. laura809
    There are lots of nice versions of this tune already. They all seem to be very clean versions at respectable tempos. Mine feels a little rough by comparison. I played chords on my octave mandolin for backup.
  19. jordandvm
    It's been a while since I've posted anything. This tune I sorta knew, so tried to polish it up a bit for my recording. Everyone has set the bar really high so far! This is a one time through without triplets version. I'm playing a 1927 Gibson F2 mandolin that I really like for ITM. Let's see if I remember how to post a video!


  20. Loretta Callahan
    Loretta Callahan
    Love this reel. So fun to hear everyone's take! Manfred's version sounds like how I remember hearing it played.
  21. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Really great versions posted already... well done! Here's mine played on a Gibson F2 mandolin and backed up with a Bauer parlor guitar and a Hofner electric bass. Lots of triplets in this version, however they're usually accomplished with a combination of picked notes and hammers and or pull-offs...

  22. fatt-dad
    and another week I humble myself among this fine group. Great videos, renditions and approaches to this fun tune for sure! I really have enjoyed getting this new reel under my fingers. I do need to get better on those triplettes though. . .

    Here I go:

  23. GKWilson
    Nice versions all. f-d. Thanks for stepping in with your new cool looking mando.
    It was starting to look like the old Gibsons were trying to take over.
    [I don't need an F2, I don't need an F2.]
  24. GKWilson
    Micheal. An outstanding version as usual. I didn't know you had a Hofner bass.
    Did you just pick up the one on the classifieds. I lost mine in the mid 70's.
    I engraved my own serial number on it. Does yours have anything like that on it.
    I'm not looking to get it back but always wondered where it ended up.
    It would be cool if someone I know had it.
  25. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Nice sounding (and looking) new mandolin, f-d. Michael, wow, you are the master of ornamentation! It would be great if you could record a video to walk some of us mere mortals through the techniques you use to ornament a tune like this.
  26. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Whoa, the bar is set so high already, makes it easy for me to crawl under it. Jill and David set a good solid standard already, Barb provided a clean learning reference... and then came Michael with his electric bass (though his loss of hair is shocking, but apparently he gave it to fatt dat). Warm OM backing provided by Laura and hearty Celtic feeling provided by the Argonaut.
    Manfred in perfect control again - sitting in the pilot seat, steering his spaceship through an asteroid field with his mandolin.

    I contribute my usual winter (i.e. short and dirty) version here. This is a fun tune with surprising potential in that stubborn repetitive phrase in the B part.

  27. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Very fine Bertram. I like the chords that you manage to place into the tune -- you're your own backup. (Yes, the shocking lack of hair was all due to the "stubborn repetitive phrase in the B part" which seemed to make me "pull out my hair" in an effort to get it down...)

    Colin, I'm not sure I'd qualify as a master of ornamentation where traditional Irish music is concerned, but thank you. (I'm more like an American who 'borrows' from the Irish tradition.) Here's a video in which the first time thru each phrase I've tried to leave out the "ornaments" and then put them back in the second time thru. Some of the phrases are so ingrained in my playing that I cannot get them out any more. I've slowed it down so it makes more sense. I prefer to leave the tab straight without the ornaments. I only put them in the performance after I've memorized the song and start to "fancy it up" with lots of left hand techniques including hammers and pulls and slides etc. Then I build up speed and see which ornaments can stay and which have to go. It's a process...let your ear be you guide. Listen to other instruments to try to adapt their techniques to the mandolin... oh yeah, I love my National Resophonic mandolin!

  28. Colin Braithwaite
    Colin Braithwaite
    Thanks so much Michael! The whole world of ornamentation is a bit of a mystery to me, and this will certainly help.
  29. OldSausage
    Wow, everyone's doing a fantastic job this week. I wanted to have a go at this, although I was a bit short of time, because I remembered enjoying it in the soundtrack to the Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr, which some of you will have loved and others hated (and perhaps most didn't see). Couldn't get it anywhere near the speed they did, and one day I'd like to add a banjo part, but here's what I've got so far:

  30. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Thanks Michael, that's about what I had guessed

    Cool green-dyed Matrix scene David - can you do one with sunglasses, saying "Operator?"
  31. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    Awesome versions... mine seems like a kindergartener is playing! Anyway, as far as ornamentation goes.... David and Michael are masters of those hammer ons and pull offs.... I go about it in a different way. I do my triplets as 3 picked notes... usually the same note. I learned mine from irish tenor banjo technique. I play an ornamental triplet (3 notes) in the space of a quarter note, so I look for a place in the notation, where you can easily do this (you can also do it where there are 2 of the same eighth notes, just turn it into 3 of the same notes). The thing to remember, if you are playing in 4/4 time, and your pick direction for a series of eighth notes is DU DU DU DU (one measure)... in a measure like the second measure of Chris Peterson's version, which is a quarter note then 6 eighth notes, you would pick it as written as D DU DUDU ... with the triplet in there, you'd pick it DUD DU DU DU. I believe this is how Jill also does it.... she turned me on to Enda Cahill, tenor banjo player, and that's how he teaches it.
  32. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Barbara, I've been trying to fit some triplets in using the method you've described using the 3 picked notes -- and somehow my right brain always takes over and translates it into some combination of hammers and pulls by the time it's recorded for the video. Must get outside my comfort zone I guess...

    David that was some great picking! Especially liked the drones against the melody notes in the A part. The backup guitar and bass line make the tune sound traditional and yet completely modern. Excellent version.
  33. OldSausage
    I think it sounds great if you can really do what Barbara suggests, but I've tried too and I just can't make that approach work at the speeds I want to play at.

    Thanks very much Michael I was inspired by your version.
  34. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I can't pick a triplet as fast as I'd like to, either.... Jill says to approach it like it's just one note.... I wish I could get my brain/fingers to hammer on, pull off and slide like you guys do.... but it hasn't happened yet!!!!
  35. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Michael, you may not consider yourself a master of ornamentation but you certainly seem to be one, thanks a lot for that instructional video, i'm always trying to learn from the ornamentation in your versions and that'll make it a bit easier.
    OS, as expected a great version, works well with the backing;
    As for the triplets, I learned to play them DUD (in the space of a normal DU ) from watching and rewatching some of jill's videos and trying to work out the pick direction; it is very hard at first and i've still got a long way to go, but it feels right that way, and they do start to feel like one note; i find it's a lot easier when it's all on one note, whereas if it's a triplet with two or three different notes or even strings it is much trickier; I like to try and practice the hammer on / pull off as well, but find that tricky sometimes (easier for going from a note to the one above it then back, trickier for doing a descending run of 3 fretted notes); Sometimes a combination can work well, i e a triplet with 2 notes picked and one hammered on.
    I found playing jigs using DUD DUD helped with picked triplets and vice versa; the triplets sometimes seem almost like jumping into a jig for a split second then back.
  36. OldSausage
    Quote from Neil: "Sometimes a combination can work well, i e a triplet with 2 notes picked and one hammered on."

    I find this is essential if you want to really hear the triplet. You can't just hammer on, then pull off and expect the pulled off note to sound clearly. So you pick down stroke, hammer another note (no pick), release and pick the third note of the triplet on the upstroke. I have to practice it over and over as an exercise on different strings to get it right. I'm a terrible offender with this myself, but more and more these days I find I want to hear every note of an ornament or triplet clear and clean, not muffled, cut off or choked as mine so often are.
  37. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Thanks Neil. One thought about multi note triplets is that they happen so quickly that often the ear can't really discern the individual notes. If in the key of G, for instance, you might have a triplet indicated on the 1st string in this order: A, G, E. Now these are mostly fretted notes. If you picked each note you'd have three motions for each fretted note in the triplet. One would be the pick and the other is fretting the note slightly before picking it and then lifting the fretting finger afterwards. That's a lot of motion to coordinate especially at lightning speed. What I usually do is simplify to include an open string for the second and third note of the triplet if possible. Now you play A, E (an open string), E. I would now play it like this: fret the A and pick it, pull off to play the open string E, and pick the E string (no fretting required because it's open).

    A great practice exercise for this kind of triplet in which the middle note is sounded by a pull-off would be play something like this on the first string: notes in ( ) are the pulled off notes.

    5 (0) 0; 3 (0) 0; 5 (0) 0; 3 (0) 0; just keep repeating until it gets smooth.
    The picking pattern is this:
    D (pull off) U; D (pull off) U; D (pull off) U; D (pull off) U; etc.

    In other words all down up down up etc! Start slow and get the stresses right and you'll be amazed how fast you can actually go once you get the hang of it. Practice on different strings and in different keys.
  38. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    OS and Michael, those were both very great written instructions.... how about a couple of short videos demonstrating what your words just said? Pretty please?
  39. fatt-dad
    (Barbara, make Harvest Home one of the SOTW and we'll all get our triplette workouts! I try the hammer method, the DUD method and remain inconsistent and sloppy. One day. . . it'll all come together though. That's why I still try.)

  40. Barbara Shultz
    Barbara Shultz
    I've got a question, less about ornamentation, and more about rhythm. I love hornpipes and jigs for their dotted rhythm, and I have a tendency to want to play reels in more with more of a hornpipe rhythm. But, I know that reels are usually played blazing fast with straight eighths, rather than dotted. It seems (to my ear) that almost everyone (including Jill) is playing this tune with more of a hornpipe rhythm (which I like!).... just wondering if anyone knows if this tune, in it's 'original' (Irish Trad Reel) version, is played dotted or straight?
  41. mikeyes
    This reel was supposedly written after the 1932 Eucharistic Congress held in Dublin. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Euchari...Dublin_(1932)], hence the name.
  42. maudlin mandolin
    maudlin mandolin
    My triplets are three picked notes like Barbara. Keeping the rythmn going whilst adding triplets seems pretty difficult to me. Here it is in straight time.

  43. AaronVW
    Lots of great videos and discussion this week. Here is my go with a few triplets for good measure!

  44. neil argonaut
    neil argonaut
    Michael, thanks again for that explaination and excercise; the thing i tend to differ on - if i'm playing a triplet in a tune with a dotted rhythm but just picking the first and third, with a hammer on or pull off in the middle, like in your excercise, i would always pick it D (pull off) U rather than D (pull off) D, as the notes I am picking are at the same times as the 2 eigth-notes would appear if I didn't put a triplet there; will have to try both ways and see.

    Barbara, I was talking just the other day to a fiddler who was bemoaning the fact that so many hornpipes are played dotted in ITM, saying that even among hornpipes there's many that should be played straight; but for me, I struggle to play anything undotted, whether it's a reel or a hornpipe.

    Maudlin and Aaron, I look forward to seeing your videos once I sort my computer problems!
  45. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Neil, you are completely right about the pick directions. I made a mistake when typing it out. I do play down up down up etc. I've fixed my explanation above so it is correct. Well spotted, thanks!

    Barbara, here is a really short video of a way to practice the kind of triplet I've described above. I started slowly with exaggerated right and left hand motions so that it is easier to see what is going on. As I got faster the movement of the right and left hand is more in line as to how you'd actually do it. Start slowly and gradually build up speed. Invent positions in which to try this. When putting this technique into a song a little bit goes a long way!

  46. Francis J
    Francis J
    Great versions everybody, and as always, variety. Here's my take on this great tune, got a bit lost in triplet land on a few occasions, but here goes.....

  47. Bertram Henze
    Bertram Henze
    Very powerful rendition Francis, and just in time to enhance the HOPO vs. triplet debate with yet another way to do that repetitive diddly-daa in the B part.

    Not being a great tripleteer any more, I tend to relieve my right hand from too much hassle and do more HOPO stuff myself.
  48. jonny250
    I am really impressed with the versions of this tune! I'm keen to give this one a go but managed to put a fillet knife through my left index finger so its a bit sore at the moment!! I havent played triplets before so the info and discussion above is much appreciated too
  49. mikeyes
    Here I am playing my Leedy/Rettenburg banjo. So far the other contributions have been great!

  50. Michael Pastucha
    Michael Pastucha
    Mikeyes, that's a great sounding banjo and you really drive the tune along with your great version... thanks!
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