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Thread: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

  1. #76
    Front Porch & Sweet Tea NursingDaBlues's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    I truly enjoyed this video of Mike Katz playing the Scottish smallpipes with Mike Whellans on harmonica.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui5h_ip_Un8

    I was initially tempted to get some smallpipes after seeing this video, but I came to my senses rather quickly. I think I'll just stick with stringed instruments.

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  3. #77

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Here’s another one that comes with safety instructions.

    ‘Hold on to the table or something heavy... your feet WILL dance away without warning!’



    This is why sometimes, in a pub, you’ll hear someone look over, nod sideways, and say, ‘careful now, he plays the concertina!’

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Just my $0,02 opinion here, but that TALISK clip above sounds like phenomenal technique on concertina in search of a good melody to use it on. Very impressive, I just wasn't moved by the melody.

    Here's a clip I could dance to (if I could dance). And there is a discussion worth having here about how some instruments are easier to play fast than others, not just easier to play at all. How many mandolin players could keep up with either of these two clips, the one above or the one below?



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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by NursingDaBlues View Post
    I truly enjoyed this video of Mike Katz playing the Scottish smallpipes with Mike Whellans on harmonica.



    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ui5h_ip_Un8

    I was initially tempted to get some smallpipes after seeing this video, but I came to my senses rather quickly. I think I'll just stick with stringed instruments.
    That was awesome! I love well played harmonica
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    All y'all's talk about how hard Uilleann pipes are is making me want to learn them even more! I've not yet met an instrument that I couldn't play after a few months of committed practice
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
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  8. #81

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    ... some instruments are easier to play fast than others...
    For sure. Boxes/concertinas are basically limited by how fast you can twiddle your fingers. Similarly woodwinds.. fiddle is aided by the bow...hammered dulcimer by sticks...

    Yesterday I was asked for a cheerful song - somewhere in the midst of my melancholic French tunes. I fired up some jigs at increasingly fast tempos which brought delight. Which I want to mention about bisonoric boxes: they're very effective rhythm machines and easy to impart syncopation which makes people dance (whether bodily or simply emotionally). In addition to dynamics, polyphony and the rest, it has many attributes in a small, handy kit. People really enjoy hearing them. ...Just extolling their virtues - why I feel they're so accessible and "easy" - push the button, make a nice sound. Try em!
    Last edited by catmandu2; Oct-10-2019 at 8:48am.

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Forget the instruments; Tuvan throat singing seems pretty difficult to me.
    Funny you should mention that. One of the foremost experts on Tuvan throat singing is named Michael Edgerton. He isn't me but we have common friends.

    http://www.uvm.edu/~outreach/ThroatSingingArticle.pdf
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  12. #83
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    All y'all's talk about how hard Uilleann pipes are is making me want to learn them even more! I've not yet met an instrument that I couldn't play after a few months of committed practice
    Go for it! You can make it more affordable by starting with a chanter, then adding drones later, and finally the regulators.

    As for the time needed... well, you can probably play scales on the chanter and get comfortable with the elbow motion on the bag fairly soon. What takes years of effort is learning to play the pipes "idiomatically" with the full range of ornaments and expression, so it sounds like you're playing authentic Irish music and not just fooling around on a very specialized instrument.

    Do you currently play any Irish traditional music on mandolin or anything else? If not, you could start with a cheap high D whistle to get familiar with the different dance rhythms, and get at least a taste of ornamentation with cuts, taps, and rolls.

    The Online Academy of Irish Music has some free introductory lessons you might want to check out. There's a 7 day free trial before monthly fees, and there is usually one or two free videos for each instrument to get an idea of what the instructor is like. Here's the free introductory one on Uilleann pipes, a preview of the third set of lessons where the instructor talks about ornamentation:

    https://www.oaim.ie/uilleann-pipes/u...pes-technique/

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    All y'all's talk about how hard Uilleann pipes are is making me want to learn them even more! I've not yet met an instrument that I couldn't play after a few months of committed practice
    Go for it! While they kicked my butt, and I stopped taking lessons after 2 years, its still fun, and unique to play.

    My piping teacher told me that it takes 21 years to be a piper: 7 years of learning, 7 of practicing, 7 years of mastering, and then you can call yourself a piper! :D So get started soon!
    ===================

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Also, if it's challenge you want, there are plenty of things to do with instruments you already have. One of the greatest challenges / hardest instruments for me was flamenco guitar.



    FTR, you can hear this person's six-beat rasqueado isn't very good yet - I use a different technique employing thumb for 6-beat that is quite smooth. This can all be done with a $60 Yamaha nylon guitar..

    Likewise with hdg fdl... idioms are so distinct that styles often are like completely different instruments. Playing arco bass, or jazz drums is really distinct from folk/rock et al. Pick up a clarinet or violin - enough to keep you busy if you explore idioms around the world..
    Last edited by catmandu2; Oct-10-2019 at 11:40am.

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  18. #86
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Go for it! You can make it more affordable by starting with a chanter, then adding drones later, and finally the regulators.

    As for the time needed... well, you can probably play scales on the chanter and get comfortable with the elbow motion on the bag fairly soon. What takes years of effort is learning to play the pipes "idiomatically" with the full range of ornaments and expression, so it sounds like you're playing authentic Irish music and not just fooling around on a very specialized instrument.

    Do you currently play any Irish traditional music on mandolin or anything else? If not, you could start with a cheap high D whistle to get familiar with the different dance rhythms, and get at least a taste of ornamentation with cuts, taps, and rolls.

    The Online Academy of Irish Music has some free introductory lessons you might want to check out. There's a 7 day free trial before monthly fees, and there is usually one or two free videos for each instrument to get an idea of what the instructor is like. Here's the free introductory one on Uilleann pipes, a preview of the third set of lessons where the instructor talks about ornamentation:

    https://www.oaim.ie/uilleann-pipes/u...pes-technique/
    Are you aware of a decent pipe builder who can ship reliably to Africa? I have done a basic internet study of the pipes, and I know basically the path most folks take, but I don't have money, nor any way to generate, replicate, confiscate, or earn any. I also am interested in buying/learning dobro and Irish (Anglo) concertina first. But I'll try to get to the pipes asap, I'm currently two months behind schedule to pick up a new instrument
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    ... but I don't have money, nor any way to generate, replicate, confiscate, or earn any.
    Busking?

    Traditionally, building was how one would enter playing the pipes or clarsach. I was about ready to do this myself until I finally found one on ebay that I could afford..

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Are you aware of a decent pipe builder who can ship reliably to Africa? I have done a basic internet study of the pipes, and I know basically the path most folks take, but I don't have money, nor any way to generate, replicate, confiscate, or earn any.
    The place to ask about that is in the Chiff & Fipple forum, in the sub-section on Uilleann Pipes. They'll be able to help you find a source. Also, be sure to read the sticky post in that sub-forum about inexpensive Pakistani-made pipes (pro and con, but mostly con).

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by John Lloyd View Post
    I used to think fiddle was hardest, and it would have been harder if I hadn't already been playing mandolin for 20-odd years..
    I found just the opposite. I think I would have found the fiddle much easier if I hadn't been playing mandolin and been in the folk music community for all those years. The reason is I developed a good appreciation for what the fiddle can do, and what a good fiddle should sound like. Before I started learning it. My "experience" really undermined my confidence and patience with how pathetic I sounded.

    Had I started with the fiddle first, with an ear as yet under developed and less discerning, I would have gleefully gone about sounding awful as I climbed the first few rungs of that ladder.
    Indulge responsibly!

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    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Busking?

    Traditionally, building was how one would enter playing the pipes or clarsach. I was about ready to do this myself until I finally found one on ebay that I could afford..
    Busking is unprofitable as I live in a village where few people have jobs and no one has extra money, and even if they did they wouldn't be giving it to a white kid, they know we have more money and don't need theirs.
    Building would be an interesting option. I might just have to investigate that
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

  25. #91
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    The place to ask about that is in the Chiff & Fipple forum, in the sub-section on Uilleann Pipes. They'll be able to help you find a source. Also, be sure to read the sticky post in that sub-forum about inexpensive Pakistani-made pipes (pro and con, but mostly con).
    I have browsed a few forum pages at chiff and fipple, including the one you mentioned, and I definitely will not be buying a Pakistani set. Most likely I'll have to wait a couple years till I move back to the states (if I do in fact move back there and not elsewhere) and they save up and get some
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

  26. #92
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Are you aware of a decent pipe builder who can ship reliably to Africa? I have done a basic internet study of the pipes, and I know basically the path most folks take, but I don't have money, nor any way to generate, replicate, confiscate, or earn any. I also am interested in buying/learning dobro and Irish (Anglo) concertina first. But I'll try to get to the pipes asap, I'm currently two months behind schedule to pick up a new instrument
    Oh, I forgot to mention, yes, I play Irish (and Scottish) traditional music on mandolin and fiddle, and sometimes harmonica, guitar and even five string banjo
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by JeffD View Post
    I found just the opposite. I think I would have found the fiddle much easier if I hadn't been playing mandolin and been in the folk music community for all those years. The reason is I developed a good appreciation for what the fiddle can do, and what a good fiddle should sound like. Before I started learning it. My "experience" really undermined my confidence and patience with how pathetic I sounded.
    Totally agree, sadly. If you've been around decent violin players for years it really highlights how lousy you sound starting out. And, of course, it's ungodly loud so you can't exactly scrape away quietly until you get better. Violin's the hardest thing I've ever played by a mile.

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Funny you should mention that. One of the foremost experts on Tuvan throat singing is named Michael Edgerton. He isn't me but we have common friends.

    http://www.uvm.edu/~outreach/ThroatSingingArticle.pdf
    Thanks Mike, that's pretty funny. I am used to being confused with others, including a criminal at one point (and the Police took some convincing. . .) because of my common name. In this case, you ended up sharing your name with someone interesting.

    I just gave the article a look, and it will take some time to read through it in detail. I'll save it for after the harvest season here on the farm. It is the best explanation for that phenomenon I have seen. I really enjoy this music and thanks to the Internet, it's now readily available. One of the more accessible groups is Altai from Mongolia. The 1999 documentary Genghis Blues, about an American competing in a Tuvan throat singing competition is a bit odd, but worth a look.

    Boy, have I traveled off the mandolin topic! Still, it's all music and that is good.
    Purr more, hiss less.

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    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Oh, I forgot to mention, yes, I play Irish (and Scottish) traditional music on mandolin and fiddle, and sometimes harmonica, guitar and even five string banjo
    Ah, okay so you're already playing within the genre, good. One alternative to pipes you might consider while saving up for a set, is "Irish" flute. It gets you into a similar range of expression with a sustained tone and ornaments, very different from mandolin but a nice complement.

    It's the path I took a few years ago, starting on Irish flute as a way to get a little deeper into Irish trad, while still playing mandolin for what it does well like partial harmony within the melody line.

    You can get a very good Delrin conical bore flute for $300-$400, or a wooden Casey Burns Folk Flute for $450. Might be a good stepping stone to pipes later on.

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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Clark View Post
    Thanks Mike, that's pretty funny. I am used to being confused with others, including a criminal at one point (and the Police took some convincing. . .) because of my common name. In this case, you ended up sharing your name with someone interesting.
    Actually there are two others that share my name that I'm not real happy about. Make that three. There's a former police officer from North Jersey that lives in the next county that has a huge child support bill that always comes up whenever I need a credit check.

    I'm surprised Michael Edgerton isn't mentioned in that documentary.
    "Bargain instruments are no bargains if you can't play them". These are the words of J. Garber.

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  33. #97
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by foldedpath View Post
    Ah, okay so you're already playing within the genre, good. One alternative to pipes you might consider while saving up for a set, is "Irish" flute. It gets you into a similar range of expression with a sustained tone and ornaments, very different from mandolin but a nice complement.

    It's the path I took a few years ago, starting on Irish flute as a way to get a little deeper into Irish trad, while still playing mandolin for what it does well like partial harmony within the melody line.

    You can get a very good Delrin conical bore flute for $300-$400, or a wooden Casey Burns Folk Flute for $450. Might be a good stepping stone to pipes later on.
    Is a classical flute played the same as an Irish one? My mom has a silver classical flute, but I don't know if Irish flutes have keys?
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

  34. #98

    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Busking is unprofitable as I live in a village where few people have jobs and no one has extra money, and even if they did they wouldn't be giving it to a white kid, they know we have more money and don't need theirs.
    Building would be an interesting option. I might just have to investigate that
    Yes, unfortunately I live in a rural community as well - therefore I don't try to make $ from playing.

    ….

    Re metal/Boehm vs wood flute: there are differences in bore, mouthpiece, etc., but by and large the playing and fingering is much the same, so if you start on Boehm flute it's easy to transition to wood; the fundamental techniques of embouchure, tone production, etc are essentially the same. However a keyed metal flute feels much different from a wood flute; you can use "piper's grip" on a wood flute - which is further preparation for eventually moving to the pipes. Recorder is also a nice entrée.

    Some wood flutes utilize keywork - such as on the metal flute - to enable playing "accidentals"/chromaticity.

    One nice thing about learning metal/Boehm flute is the common fingering among woodwinds - essentially the same fingering for sax, some double reeds, and to a lesser extent clarinets.

  35. #99
    Registered User foldedpath's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Quote Originally Posted by Gunnar View Post
    Is a classical flute played the same as an Irish one? My mom has a silver classical flute, but I don't know if Irish flutes have keys?
    Classical ("silver") flutes in the Boehm design are played almost the same, I think there is one fingering difference.

    The technique with an "Irish" flute (i.e. a 19th Century conical bore design) is different, because your fingers rest on open tone holes like a pipe chanter or whistle, which allows distinctive ornamentation, and the conical bore tone facilitates a "hard" or dirty sound, especially on the low D note.

    The modern silver/Boehm flutes used in Classical music are designed for a very pure, sweet tone. There are a few people who play Irish trad on silver/Boehm flute like Joanie Madden, but the vast majority of trad players use the 19th Century conical bore design, either in synthetic materials like Delrin or wood. It's just easier to get that distinctive "Irish" sound with that flute design. And they can be had fairly inexpensively if you don't need keys.

    There are keyed "Irish" flutes but they tend to be expensive, much more so than the silver/Boehm flutes that are sold in the thousands as mass-produced band and orchestra flutes, with big name manufacturers like Yamaha. Irish flutes, especially keyed models, are hand-crafted items.

    My first "Irish" flute was a keyless wooden model and I played it for two years when I was just starting out. Last year I replaced it with a keyed flute, so I could have access to a few tunes with notes that are either difficult to play at speed with half-holing like G# and Fnat, or impossible to play even with half-holing like Eb. But there aren't many tunes in the Irish and Scottish repertoire with those notes. You can play probably 95% of the trad tunes on an Irish flute without keys. I just happen to love a few of the odd ones, so it was worth investing in a keyed flute once I could make a halfway decent sound on a keyless one. YMMV, plenty of Irish fluters never play anything but a keyless flute.

  36. #100
    Registered User Gunnar's Avatar
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    Default Re: What instrument is the hardest? My experience

    Ok, I asked cuz my mom has a (very nice and expensive) silver flute, but I couldn't even hold it up last time I tried to play it. I would rather play a wooden one (I have a bamboo piccolo tuned the same as an Irish whistle in C) but I don't have one. Was just wondering should I try to learn on my mom's flute, or wait and play Irish whistle meanwhile?
    Mandolin: Kentucky KM150
    Other instruments: way too many, and yet, not nearly enough.

    My blog: https://theoffgridmusician.music.blog/
    My YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChF...yWuaTrtB4YORAg
    My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/africanbanjogunnar/

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