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Thread: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

  1. #101

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    F-path, on my photo album page is a pic with my large Dorogi HD - it's built like a cimbalom - weighs about 30 pounds I guess, 4-strings per treble course (strung with 2-per in that pic)...sustains forever with its resonance. I can flam, rub, roll and whatever I want with those sticks. I have leather, felt, whatever on some of my sticks - I can begin or end a tremolo almost inaudibly. Fast ornaments come naturally and easily on HD (like a flute) - you have to limit the travel of your stick (drop a drum stick loosely to the snare head - see how it bounces?), and tremolo as long and effortlessly as one does a roll on a snare. It's a very expressive instrument. Solo. From pipe tunes to polkas ..

  2. #102

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Here's an example of tremolo on HD (skip to 1.03:35") - not ITM of course, but an example of common tremolo technique (that I commonly use for airs, etc).











    Don't mean to be rude to go on here like this, but these show a variety of relevant things..instrument to 'exotic' role there at the bottom; dynamic range of an instrument in the vid above that; etc. To do on mandolin, one would have to be very quick to exploit the mandolin's particularly evocative capabilities ..
    Last edited by catmandu2; Jan-20-2016 at 11:13pm.

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  4. #103

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Here's a quite slow version of March of the King of Laois - enabling this player to use tremolo. I play this at the tempo from the Chieftains recording I lifted it from, so I don't trem this one...but maybe I will now -





    So while there doesn't seem to be a lot of this approach in the 'celtic' stuff on the net, it's something that I do - and expect we'll see more of. Albeit, I don't play a lot of airs on HD - polkas, pipe tunes, jigs and reels. But I do use tremolo quite a bit when improvising..

  5. #104

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    And there was I thinking the OP was talking about mandolin tremolo...
    In fact, all this is instructive and relevant to mandolin (at least it is for me). Mileage varies..

    Adaptation and applied techniques, aesthetics, refinement, derivations and progressions, cultural mobility...

    The art of tremolo.

  6. #105
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Nicely done Eddie, mandola sounded good both times through.

    What's make is the mondola? Google didn't come up with anything.

  7. #106

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Yes and thank you for posting. It gives us a chance to hear how approaches differ instrument to instrument, styles of expression, etc. The mandolin is a tricky little thing to wrought emotion from - especially through the 'air.'

    It's instructive to me. But I also gain perspective from considering the 'problem' from multiple points. I'm interested in how pipers phrase and create dynamics, and resultant expressions from instruments derived rather directly from the 'source' (ergo my harp and HD flight). There's much subtlety and emotion that can be expressed - much contained in the playing of an air with the contrapuntalism of the olde instruments.. when i play these on HD, fiddle, free reeds, it's the pipes i'm emulating. The distinctions made previously by f-path - are salient I think.

  8. #107
    Registered User Mike Anderson's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    A big issue, obviously. I tend to hear and relate to pathos in the music, while others may find this [aspect] maudlin or sentimental. But I'm like Archie Shepp, who said [paraphr], 'I'm worse than a romantic - I'm a sentimentalist ..'

    Van may not have been talking of 'airs,' exactly, in this context (speaking here of his writing process), but I find it relevant in this discussion. Albeit the Wolfetones may not have been going for 'suffering'..
    Thank you foldedpath for reminding me of the Van/Chieftains album, which I don't own any more but LOVED back in the day.

    As for the notion of anyone finding the pathos in airs (or any music) maudlin or sentimental, there's an easy solution: it's called the bum's rush. IMO anyone who doesn't relate to the emotion in music has no call to play it; you're just indulging in an exercise in wankery, showing off your chops, or "hey check me out - I'm cool because I play." Honestly, how can anyone not see these as shallow reasons to get involved in music?

    Feel it in your heart and guts or it or leave it alone. Join a garage band if you want to impress the neighbourhood chicks.
    "But wasn't it all stupid nonsense, rot, gibberish, and criminally fraudulent nincompoopery?"
    - Neal Stephenson, Quicksilver

  9. #108

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Anyway, I'm discovering more about my playing all the time - and threads like this are often inspiring - thanks to all for indulging. I took a whole other aspect to playing March/King of Laois after listening to that beautiful slow march - I love how the Scottish drums are orchestrated into it - the varieties and textures we can draw from tremolo are a delight.

    Cheers!

  10. #109
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Eddie, I know we don't agree on this and that's fine. Just a difference of opinion. Since you posted that clip, here's my opinion. I'm not hearing a strong statement of the melody underneath that barrage of tremolo. There is a melody underneath all that picking somewhere, fighting to get out.

    I continue to think (and it's just my own opinion!) that tremolo is not the way to handle this material on mandolin. Some tunes are just better left to other sustaining instruments, the human voice, or a slower and more considered single-note approach on mandolin, milking whatever sustain you can manage with chord embellishment.

    Here's what the melody sounds like when sung, for reference:




    There is a Clancy Brothers version on YouTube as well, but that's kinda painful to listen to, after this one.

  11. #110
    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    I continue to think (and it's just my own opinion!) that tremolo is not the way to handle this material on mandolin.
    Well that is your opinion as you say. My and some others' opinions happen to be different. Let us therefore celebrate the possibility to approach things in different ways and not be ruled by "convention"!

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    I'm glad to see it's being tried. I think it will only fit once it has been tried enough to develop a vernacular that suits the form.
    If you listen to the use of vocal tremolo & vibrato in Irish music it gives a good lead as to how & where it could work well.
    There are so many ways to use tremolo, in terms of where, how and when to swell and fade the effect, when & how much of a note to leave just ring or gap at the end etc. and it takes a lot of time to get the feel, even in singing. You'll often hear people taking issue with singers who use too much in any genre, but I always remember as a youngster hearing people take issue with particular singers and their choices or overuse of 'warbling' as it was often referred to, but those same people switched on straight away and were keenly appreciative of those singers who 'got it' and made it work.


    It's a subtle game and will need time to develop.

    It'll be people like Eddie who continue to explore who will find how it will work best. Thanks Eddie.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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  14. #112
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    Well that is your opinion as you say. My and some others' opinions happen to be different. Let us therefore celebrate the possibility to approach things in different ways and not be ruled by "convention"!
    Well, if we're playing something called "traditional Irish music," then it's kinda hard to get away from being ruled by convention, isn't it?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie Sheehy View Post
    You look really young in that video...
    What is that supposed to mean?

  15. #113
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Eddie, I've bent over backwards to say that this is just my opinion. I'm sorry you feel that way.

    As for anonymity, it's not that hard to figure out who I am. I've posted a link to my duo before where it's explicit. Here it is again, in case anyone wants to hear some tune samples (old ones, from four or five years ago, egad!). The applet might take a while to load the tunes:

    http://www.ptjams.com/string14/

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    It's interesting to use someone like Sinéad O'Connor as an example of how artists, who are not from the Irish traditional music stable, can take their techniques and blend them with folk songs like this to make a complementary approach to the traditional one.
    She works from the basis of her training in Bel Canto and applies it to the work she produces.
    But because she is thoughtful and insightful about how she does it, reading the affect to be drawn from the listener she tempers the her technique to suit the folk genre.
    She still does not approach her work as a traditional Irish performer would, but her influence on the Irish folk scene is almost as strong as her influence in popular music in Ireland.
    Eoin



    "Forget that anyone is listening to you and always listen to yourself" - Fryderyk Chopin

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    Mandolin Botherer Shelagh Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Well, if we're playing something called "traditional Irish music," then it's kinda hard to get away from being ruled by convention, isn't it?
    Absolutely not in my experience. Having grown up in the tradition and played ITM most of my life I've witnessed numerous people pushing against the boundaries. In Ireland and the rest of the British Isles (and elsewhere), traditional music (not just ITM) is constantly evolving and you only have to look at some of the innovative musicians and groups who have emerged over recent decades to see how the music has been taken forward in new directions.

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Eddie, I've bent over backwards to say that this is just my opinion. I'm sorry you feel that way.

    As for anonymity, it's not that hard to figure out who I am. I've posted a link to my duo before where it's explicit. Here it is again, in case anyone wants to hear some tune samples (old ones, from four or five years ago, egad!). The applet might take a while to load the tunes:

    http://www.ptjams.com/string14/
    Thanks Mike for the link to your music. Really beautiful playing and a fantastic tone from your mandolin. I almost always agree with everything you post and having now heard your musical voice I know why.

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    It's a while since this thread was active.
    I have a recent video of me playing a waltz, which I thought I would offer up.
    I guess you might say that I use a sort of slow tremolo. I think it works for me, anyway.
    David A. Gordon

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  22. #118
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Hi Dagger... at least for me it works in a very expressive and tasteful way as well.

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  24. #119

    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    I say try it.
    If it sounds good to you and the others in your band then do it, if not then maybe have a chat about what might work better and do that.
    Re what is trad:
    I really like Irish trad, but am not Irish in any sense.

    I once went to a session where it was quite clear that they didn't want anyone who wasn't Irish playing their music.

    I also heard some real horror stories from other people, so it put me off even listening to Irish Music for quite a while. That is very sad!

    I personally think that it's great to celebrate and enjoy the music from various places, without getting bogged down in "You must use this instrument" or "You must be this particular race" in order to enjoy or appreciate it properly.

    I've never been back to a Irish trad only session, but I've been to sessions where quite a bit of that is played and I usually play some tunes or do some songs that most people I know consider trad in the little session I run.

    And what is "trad" will mean different things to different people. There isn't just one source who can answer such questions and have the final say on it!

    I say just try and enjoy!

    Cheers,
    Jen.

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Interesting thread. I got sidetracked watching Van Morrison and Bob Dylan, which i hadn't seen before.

    I'm a big fan of Daggers very clean and even long note style of picking on waltzes and slow tunes.

    Never really mastered it myself. I also like the classical style where they keep a tremolo going while picking out counterpoint or lower notes on other strings.

    I tend to do Italian style tremolo on long notes. After all, mandolin was designed for that. In a band or noisy environment that is. I seldom play tremolo as often when playing such tunes at home.

    When out and about, it depends what the other instruments are in a session. Maybe not play at all if i don't think mandolin will help much. That's hard if you don't get out much and are dying to play some tunes!

    Once a woman came up to me and said, in front of the banjo player, that she loved the sound of the mandolin. I said, it's a very romantic sound compared to banjo. Which was just mischief making but , really, you're looking for a voice that fits and in your own way, trying to make it sing and articulate a feeling just as much as a fiddler or Piper is.

    Anyway, i never knew tremolo was frowned on until i read it on The Session. I certainly never got that impression from my early listening where Barney McKenna used it on Dubliners recordings, or in Scottish sessions.

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    [QUOTE=Bren;1564064]
    I'm a big fan of Daggers very clean and even long note style of picking on waltzes and slow tunes."

    Thanks Brendan
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Anyway, i never knew tremolo was frowned on until i read it on The Session. I certainly never got that impression from my early listening where Barney McKenna used it on Dubliners recordings, or in Scottish sessions.
    Neither did I. Nor, for that matter, did I know you had to use DUD DUD for jigs. I'd been playing mandolin for at least 20 years before that.
    David A. Gordon

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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Sorry double post
    David A. Gordon

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tremolo for Irish Trad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Anyway, i never knew tremolo was frowned on until i read it on The Session. I certainly never got that impression from my early listening where Barney McKenna used it on Dubliners recordings, or in Scottish sessions.
    On that latter point, I don't think it matters what people think about it in the context of Irish or Scottish pub sessions, because the majority of tunes will be at dance tempos where tremolo would be redundant (or impossible) anyway.

    You might get the occasional retreat march, or something slow like "Hector the Hero," or "Da Slockit Light" where a mandolin player might try tremolo to stretch out the notes. But those are usually few and far between among all the jigs and reels. So you'll get different individual opinions, but I doubt that much of a consensus has ever built up about it in the context of session playing. There just aren't that many opportunities for it.

    Other than that, for either stage performance or playing alone at home, it's just personal taste as to whether it works on the slow tunes, including the true slow airs with rubato tempo. Personally I don't think it works in the latter case because it's impossible (in my head anyway) to avoid hearing it like Italian or Classical music instead of distinctively Irish or Scottish. But that's just me. It's one reason I picked up the flute as an additional instrument. The other reason being a wider range of ornamentation and dynamics, but the sustain sure is nice.

    By the way, I like Dagger's playing of the waltz in that clip above. However, steady meter following the tempo isn't quite the same as Italian/Classical tremolo. The music I was mainly referring to was the un-metered type like slow airs with irregular timing like Pórt Na BPúcaí. Or Scottish piobaireachd (formal bagpipe music) if you really want a challenge! In a tune like that, you'd be playing tremolo "off the beat" because there is no beat. It's why they're traditionally done on sustaining instruments. Or at least plucked instruments with tons of sustain, like the wire harp.

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