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Thread: Altering Original Tempo

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    Default Altering Original Tempo

    Wondering to what degree or any do you alter original tempos in a song. Not because of an inability to play the original tempo but to move it in a different direction. As an example I've seen folks play East Tennessee Blues at blazing speeds but what about moderately fast? I like the clean notes and the bluesy feel.

    In a different direction I worked up an instrumental on my acoustic guitar of the Beatles "No Reply" from their moderate tempo to a really slow tempo and I love the direction it takes the tune. So slow to moderate, moderate to slow on and on

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    I play East Tennessee Blues with a nice bouncy feel, not fast. I think any tempo you like is fine.
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    I hear you and agree any tempo one likes is fine. I just don't ever play with anyone cause there is noone in my area to play with. I do like creative players who play with feeling and soul...

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    A lot of the old time, traditional and Celtic music doesn’t list the tempo on the sheet music. If you haven’t listened to how a lot of people play the tune, you have no idea of what’s too fast or too slow. From what I have read about Celtic music, it’s tempo is dependent on what the music is being played for. Dance tempo is structured to meet the requirements of the dancers. Music played for something to listen to is open to interpretation. I like listening to a variety of versions by different players to help get the feel of a tune.

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Heck, I'll do a waltz in 4/4, a rocker as a dirge, and anything else I can think of. I do Prince as a bluegrass tune. It is great fun to see the younger bands play with musical ideas. Recordings are a snapshot of what someone did on a particular day, not a carved in stone ideology. Once you can, the temptation is to play fiddle tunes fast, but slowing them down and letting notes bloom is really fun.
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian560 View Post
    ... From what I have read about Celtic music, itís tempo is dependent on what the music is being played for...
    ... and whether it's the first pint or the fourth!
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    Some Ability - No Talent MikeZito's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Personally, I do a song in whatever tempo/style I feel comfortable with . . . as long as I think that I am still doing justice to the song itself, and not just feeding my own playing abilities and/or inabilities.

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Recordings are a snapshot of what someone did on a particular day, not a carved in stone ideology
    I find this interesting. I recall Thile once lamenting that songs are typically recorded so early in their life, because they often grow and change and mature after being played a few hundred times. I'm personally a fan of doing a song in any way that pleases you. I do customized versions of quite a few, changing tempo, rhythm, chords, words etc. Sometimes it's intentional. Sometimes not. But there's also value in knowing the source material in it's original form. I play mostly BG and swing, and in both it helps if one knows the usual key, arrangement, etc. when playing in jam situations. But when playing for my own amusement, anything goes.
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    When I'm playing I usually take a simple bluegrass tune and after about 2 minutes of setting the melody take it to places a sane mandolinst probably shouldn't go,,often to rock,metal influences to all out atonal jazz fest,involving rhythm ,beat,tempo and style changes,but I always try to find my way back to the original tune,,,sometimes I forget where I am or what I'm doing,,,,when you listen to metal,from doom to thrash,it's all rhythm changes,,metal is 1 or 2 chords and all rhythm changes,,,it shows you how much milage you can get from such a technique..

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Listen to Bluegrass Stomp on Doc and Dawg then to Bill's version. The one on Doc and Dawg is quite a bit more relaxed in tempo.

    Then listen to Soldier's Joy or Sweet Georgia Brown on Doc and Dawg. They start off reasonable then up the tempo a notch each round through it.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    I find it hard to reference “original tempo” anyway, unless you’re discussing an original tune as canonized by its author? I think you can, and should, experiment all you want with tempo and play it however you want.
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Bluegrass tempos tend to be on the faster side. Old-time tempos tend to go a bit slower. Dance tempos suit the dancers (~100 BPM or thereabouts). Beginner jams tend to go slowly. It's all good. There are no real "rules" in folk music. Play at a tempo that suits both your musical taste and ability level. Hopefully, you will find some musicians who like the same tempos you do. If not, adjust your tempos -- or your musical friends!

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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    I'll play the same tune at a half dozen tempos depending on who I'm with and why I'm playing. I've also heard tunes played in different styles -- Our ITM group plays Star of the county Down as a song; I heard it played as a waltz or two-step at Grey Fox. We'll start out on Battle of Aughrim as a dirge and then speed it up every time we do a repeat until we're flying on it; same with O'Neill's March. For years, we played King of the Fairies as a solemn, mystical single piece, then we heard it played fast and paired with Rights of Man. I've heard a fast rollicking song played as a sad lament and it was wonderful. I don't think there are actually tempo police, so I wouldn't worry a lot. After all, anything you play is your version anyway, right?
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    Registered User Eric Platt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    There are tempo police. Folks that play a lot for dances will often criticize folks playing schottisches and hambos too fast. Then there are the contra players who think everything is too slow. (I'm joking, sorta, maybe).

    If leading something, usually will try to respect tradition. But there are times when throwing that tradition away is just as much fun.
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Playing old time tunes for the dances here is very fast. The more accomplished the dancers the faster the tunes need to be. Most of us play for dances so when we jam it seems to go faster than is needed. I like to slow some down occasionally, but most are more fun played fast, as long as you can still get the nuance of the tune at breakneck speed.
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  20. #16
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    Default Re: Altering Original Tempo

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Platt View Post
    ... If leading something, usually will try to respect tradition. But there are times when throwing that tradition away is just as much fun.
    REAL good point! Probably depends on who you're leading; beginners need traditional or, at least, comfortable. More advanced... whatever they enjoy and/or don't rebel against!
    - Ed

    "What our group lacks in musicianship is offset by our willingness to humiliate ourselves." - David Hochman

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