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Thread: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

  1. #51

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Bren View Post
    Thanks Aidan.

    I'm a fan of the BP podcast and noticed you were due on it. Haven't listened yet, but will do soon.

    It's funny how the loudest instrument at home isn't always the one that stands up best in a pub session.
    Sorry I haven't replied sooner, Bren. Can't keep up with life at the moment! I'd strap in if you're going to give the podcast a listen - it's a lengthy ramble! But do please let me know what you think if you do get around to it!

    Very best.

    Aidan

  2. #52

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Cowham View Post
    Hi Aidan,
    I've just listened to you on the Blarney Pilgrim's podcast, I wasn't aware of this podcast before - so thanks!

    I also really enjoyed hearing you talk and play the mandolin. Long in-depth discussions appeal to me and make a nice change from the brevity of much communication on the internet.

    My parents-in-law live in South East London, so once things have eased on the covid front and I'm down there, perhaps we could hook up and play a tune together at a session or similar?
    cheers,
    Paul
    Hi Paul...

    Apologies for not replying sooner.

    As chance would have it, my son lives in Manchester at the minute where he's studying and so - in non Covid times (remember them? even vaguely?) - I find myself there two or three times a year. So when travel becomes a possibility again it would be great to share a few tunes either in SE London or in Manchester.

    Take care and keep in touch.

    Aidan

  3. #53
    Registered User Paul Cowham's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Aidan,
    No need to apologise! I hope your son is enjoying life in Manchester, albeit in these difficult times. A tune in either SE London or Manchester would be great once things start to get back to some kind of normal. I do have many fond memories of fun and craic at sessions pre lockdown... There were loads of sessions in Manchester, something that I took for granted back then. That said, we had our second (and last) baby last September, so having a baby and "toddler" in the house would have tempered my freedom to explore the rich musical life of Manchester anyway, although I'm not complaining.

    cheers Paul

    PS, on listening to your podcast, I was impressed with your mandolin playing, especially given that you seemed to start comparatively late in life with no teaching, at least compared to the "virtuosi", who all seem to start young (in any genre or on any instrument).
    Last edited by Paul Cowham; Feb-13-2021 at 8:49pm.

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  5. #54

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Hi Paul... He is, indeed, enjoying life in Manchester. Even though he's in lockdown, he at least has the ability there to socialise with the people in his house. so he feels less lonely than he would do if he was back in London. And he's looking forward to the lifting of restrictions so he can get back into all that Manchester has to offer (i.e. a lot!).

    Thanks for the kind comments about my playing. I'm reconciled to the fact that I'm never going to be a virtuoso. And indeed in recognition of that I've made a conscious decision to try to keep my playing as simple and unadorned as possible. When I started playing, I used to think that speed and technical flourishes were "the thing". But the pursuit of those false idols* held me back from enjoying the music. I realise now that for me - others may disagree and they're perfectly entitled to! - the enjoyment comes from being able to play the tune at a pace I'm comfortable with and playing "the tune" rather than "the mandolin". Once I recognised that, and started playing to suit myself rather than chasing some pipedream I found that my passion for the tunes and the mandolin rekindled...

    Cheers...

    Aidan

    *I can be a pretentious eejit sometimes!

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  7. #55

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    Well said Aidan. The music is for all of us, not just the weirdly gifted. Relax, enjoy a stride not a gallop.
    John

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  9. #56

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Moderator edit: Please refrain from commerce in the Forum, as per Guidelines. The Classifieds section is more appropriate.
    Last edited by Ted Eschliman; Mar-14-2021 at 8:15am.

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  11. #57

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    Jill McAuley has very graciously allowed me to use one of the tunes she's played on her excellent YouTube channel (from which I get much inspiration!) to enable she and I to play a "virtual duet". One of my very favourite hornpipes - The Showman's Fancy. Jill on banjo and yours truly on Mike Gregory's hand-built and truly superb "G&O #34". I hope you enjoy ... https://youtu.be/BRPBvWjtiIw

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  13. #58
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    I learned The Showman's Fancy in C, after hearing played in that key by Pat O'Connor on a compilation called Music and Song from East Clare, which I picked up on cassette in Scarriff one August. After perhaps 20 years of playing it in C, I have only just realised that he has the fiddle tuned down a tone! (The tune he follows it with, Cronin's Hornpipe, is in F and he plays it an octave down, going right down to F below the open G.) I have proabably had to play it in D before when it's come up in a session, but I like playing it in C on my own – call it 'two for the price of one'.

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  15. #59

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Wow... I tried transposing The Showman's Fancy into C and it turned from being a tune which is so mando-friendly that it practically plays itself into a rubik's cube of a tune. Fair play to you for getting your head around it in C! You've got a fine musical brain...

  16. #60

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    A while ago, in another thread, I recommended Jon Antonsson's website which is aimed at Irish flute players but which contains a number of tools such as drones in a variety of keys and a "bodhrán metronome" which have appeal to players of just about any instrument. Jon's website is here - and it's well worth a visit! https://www.tunesandtools.com/

    I don't know about you, but I find it very difficult to play alongside standard metronomes - either the old-fashioned "pendulum" types or the computerised click/pulse types. But I find it a lot easier to play alongside Jon's bodhran metronome and it's a great help to keep a tune grounded (like many people I have a tendency if left completely to my own devices to speed up way beyond my intended pace).

    I decided today to record a set of reels and a set of jigs to illustrate how the metronome can be used as a practice aid. The set of reels - Miss Monaghan/The Monaghan Twig - is played alongside Jon's reel metronome set at 80bpm. The set of jigs - Junior Crehan's/Willie Clancy's Secret Jig - is played alongside Jon's jig metronome set at 110bpm. Both are available to listen to at this page of The Irish Mandolin website https://theirishmandolin.com/traditi...aidan-crossey/

    Or you can listen to them directly via the following links:

    https://crosseyirishmandolin.files.w...pm-g-and-o.mp3

    https://crosseyirishmandolin.files.w...pm-g-and-o.mp3

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  18. #61

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    A lot of my efforts in recent days - as well as the usual focus on traditional Irish tunes - have been on original compositions.

    I've been delighted to be able to share four polkas written by Michael Gregory - The Tettegouche Polkas Number 1 and 2 and The Castle Danger Polkas Number 1 and 2. You can hear Michael playing the tunes at this page https://theirishmandolin.com/exponen...rish-mandolin/ and he has kindly allowed me to create tune learning resources which can be found at this page https://theirishmandolin.com/learn-some-tunes/

    In the past few weeks, inspired by some truly lovely playing by Jill McAuley on her new Frank Tate tenor guitar, I have also got my hands on a tenor guitar (which I jokingly call "an maindilín mór"). It's a pretty basic, bottom of the range Ashbury AT-40 and despite some shortcomings (notably a rather chunkier neck than ideal) it's got some sterling qualities. For one thing, it's inspired a little wave of creativity. There's something about adjusting to a new tone palette and navigating a different scale length which has given me a bit of a jolt. And so in the past few days I've written a few tunes which I'm feeling quite pleased with. A mazurka called The Kindness Of Strangers (in tribute to the many strangers who have been so supportive of my efforts since I first started my website and associated other web endeavours). A jig called Miss Benson's Fancy (dedicated to my partner's long-time best friend who has been something of a cheerleader for my music; thank you Miss Benson!). And finally, hot off the press today, a hornpipe which I'm particularly pleased with which I call The Seven Derries. (The name is explained in some detail.) All of these can be found at the "original tunes" page https://theirishmandolin.com/origina...aidan-crossey/ )

    And finally, while I'm here, I've started work on compiling volume 2 of The Irish Mandolin Tunebook. I hope to be able to say more about this in a little while, once it's ready to roll.

    In the meantime, many thanks to all for your continued support. Much appreciated.

    Aidan
    Last edited by Aidan Crossey; May-05-2021 at 5:59am. Reason: grammar

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  20. #62
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    What a lovely bunch of tunes - I particularly like the B part of The Seven Derries hornpipe!
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

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  22. #63

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    GRMMA, Jill. That's really kind of you to say. Part 1 of The Seven Derries kind of wrote itself but I spent quite a bit of time on part 2. It was going nowhere until I hit on the "GBdg BedB" sequence in bar 2 and then I saw how to give the turn some shape. Anyway I'm really pleased you like it. And, ahem, if you ever feel like giving it a go, I'd be really pleased to hear the results! Aidan

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  24. #64

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    Volume 2 of the Irish Mandolin Tunebook is now complete...

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  26. #65

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    I'm an awful geek sometimes. Not just about Irish Traditional Music. Not just about mandolinery. I've drawn up some stats about the YouTube channel which complements/quasi-mirrors The Irish Mandolin website. Current as at 19 May 2021 and I think I might be tempted to update this every 6 months or so...


    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Aidan Crossey; May-19-2021 at 1:13am. Reason: layout

  27. #66

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    And something similar relating to my website.

    Click image for larger version. 

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  29. #67

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    A dispatch from the trenches...

    Regular visitors to my website and YouTube channel will have noticed that I've been revisiting some of the earlier sound files which I've uploaded to both places. Earlier this month I I took the opportunity to review the sound quality of the sound files in the videos which I posted to the website and the complementary YouTube channel when I first established it in November 2020. My original recordings were made with recording equipment which was a little more primitive than my current set-up and I hadn't figured out how to remove ambient noise from the sound files. I'm now using a Zoom H1n digital recorder and I clean away ambient noise and normalise the sound file to -3dB using Audacity software. I'm also playing a much punchier mandolin (my G&O #34 ) than the Eastman MD304 which features on those early recordings. Therefore I decided to re-record the "offending" sound files with updated and improved versions. From time to time in these "revisited" sound files and tune learning videos I play the tunes in both a mandolin version and a tenor guitar version, each of which hopefully spotlights different aspects of the tune in question. I also tend to play each tune at least twice-through rather than simply once as was the case when I began recording sound files as tune learning aids. I hope these new recordings are easier on the ear and a better aid to learning tunes than the original sound files.

    You'll appreciate that this is a pretty gargantuan task... There are a lot of sound files that need "revisiting" and because I'm playing each one through at least twice and often in 2 separate versions, the effort is pretty much multiplied! Still. From my perspective it's all practice!

    In other news, I've been collaborating with John Cradden (known to those on this forum as "clachanmusic") who runs the website www.thecelticmandolin.co.uk. John first got in touch with me a few months ago after he'd heard one of my original compositions called "Michael Gregory's". As well as being a fine mandolinist, John has a talent for arranging tunes for multiple mandolins and he spotted the tune's potential as a vehicle for such arrangements. And so an acquaintanceship was born which has blossomed somewhat over the last few months with occasional correspondence about this or that aspect of the music. Very recently John and I have been working remotely on a series of musical collaborations. I've been sending John some sound files of tunes that I've recorded and he's been working at his end on turning these solo recordings into something much more polished and "full". It's quite a slow process - both John and I are trying to fit this into all of the other stuff we have going on in our lives. However I'm pleased to say that the first of our collaborative efforts is now available to listen to. I'm playing the jig set "Junior Crehan's/Willie Clancy's Secret Jig" on mandolin with accompaniment by John on his bouzouki (which he has made himself from a repurposed former 12-string guitar). I can't begin to tell you how lovely it is as a melody player to hear my music given such a lift from being backed by a musician like John who understands this music intimately and perfectly and whose swathes of colour and depth turn a sketch into a proper painting! More to come in due course; we're bouncing arrangement ideas around in the background at the time of writing. But for the meantime I hope you enjoy the set below...



    Last week my partner and I had a few days away and it gave me the opportunity to meet up with Jeremy Keith, who founded and manages http://thesession.org. As well as being the brains behind what has turned out to be one of the most comprehensive Irish traditional tune collections on the web, Jeremy is a fine mandolinist (and bouzoukist and guitarist and singer...). No tunes were had, sadly - this time around, at least! - but a few beers in the early evening sunshine just about made up for that as we talked trad at each other for a few hours. A souvenir below...

    Click image for larger version. 

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    During the conversation, I floated an idea to Jeremy for a collaborative web-based venture which I'm still mulling over. It might be a little too much work for me to take on just at the minute (I'm about to start a 6-9 month contract shortly which will wreak havoc on the amount of time I have available for passion projects). But I'm thinking through how I can get it up and running in such a way that it's as straightforward as possible for both myself and potential collaborators. More on this in future updates if it eventually gets off the ground...

    That's it for now. Many thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit my website and/or YouTube channel or who has otherwise been a supporter of my endeavours. Very much appreciated.

    Aidan

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  31. #68
    Registered User Jill McAuley's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    What a lovely set of jigs Aidan, the bouzouki is such a great addition too!
    2018 Girouard Concert oval A
    2015 JP "Whitechapel" tenor banjo
    2018 Frank Tate tenor guitar
    1969 Martin 00-18




    my Youtube channel

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  33. #69

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    Thanks, Jill. Really kind of you to say. Two of my favourite jigs and each associated with a real legend in the tradition... And I'm a very lucky man to have made the acquaintance of people such as John Cradden who are prepared to go out of their way to make a contribution to my efforts to GDAEvangelise!

  34. #70

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    I mentioned in my post above on 22 June that I had a new idea for a collaborative venture in mind.

    Well, I'm pleased to say that it's now seen the light of day.

    The idea is a series of playlists, each associated with a single letter of the alphabet, which I've called "An A to Z of Irish Traditional Music". Three playlists are now live - "D", "G" and "J" in collaboration with Darren O'Mahony, Michael Gregory and John Williamson respectively. Others are in development as various of my contacts are mulling over ideas for their "desert island discs for the trad-obsessed".

    Check it out at https://theirishmandolin.com/an-a-to...itional-music/

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  36. #71

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    The "A to Z" that I mentioned in my previous post is now starting to grow... I was very pleased yesterday to be able to collaborate with Jill McAuley. Our joint playlist is the latest addition to the series. As you'd expect, Jill's selections focus on GDAE instruments. Check the playlists out here https://theirishmandolin.com/an-a-to...itional-music/

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  38. #72
    Registered User Simon DS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Many thanks Aidan, great playlists for sure.
    Love the tunes with Marla Fibish and others in the coffee shop.

  39. #73

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    Thanks, Simon for the kind words. Much appreciated. Aidan

  40. #74

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    If any cafe members would like to contribute to the series of collaborative playlists, An A to Z Of Irish Traditional Music (see https://theirishmandolin.com/an-a-to...itional-music/) please get in touch either by reply to this post in the forum or, if you'd rather keep your head below the parapet(!), by direct message. I'll then send (reasonably) detailed notes to enable you to take part in what is an interesting parlour game on one level but an informative, entertaining and educational venture on another!

  41. #75

    Default Re: Update on "The Irish Mandolin" - and other stories

    I've just paid this year's renewal fees for The Irish Mandolin and I thought it might be an opportune moment to give a bit off an update on how the site has been developing over the last little while.

    The "learn some tunes" page https://theirishmandolin.com/learn-some-tunes/ continues to be the primary raison d'être for the site and over the past few months I've been concentrating on recording improved sound files to accompany the sheet music and tab. Originally I was recording using mandolins and recording tools which didn't deliver the sort of results I'm now able to obtain and so I'm revisiting the recordings and gradually re-recording those whose sound quality leaves something to be desired. (I wish I could say that the quality of my actual *playing* has improved since the first recordings but I'm not sure I could say that in all honesty...)

    But of course, I'm adding the odd new tune as well as revisiting old recordings and at some stage, when I've cleaned up as many of the original recordings as need improvement, I'll be able to focus again on adding to the stock of new tunes.

    The pace at which I've been able to do this has slowed down a little. Various reasons.

    One is that I've picked up a contract for work which leaves me less time than in the past year or so to devote to music.

    However my attention has also been diverted by spending time on compiling the various playlists in the series "An A to Z of Irish Traditional Music" https://theirishmandolin.com/an-a-to...itional-music/ which took up far more of my time than I ever imagined it would. But I'm really pleased with the results. In a while I'm going to put out further feelers to musical friends and acquaintances to see if anyone's interested in adding to the series. But I'd also be very happy for members of the cafe to approach me directly if you'd like to collaborate on a playlist. (Those who have taken part so far have really enjoyed the experience...). You can, of course, contact me via the direct messaging feature on the cafe.

    There's still occasional interest from people in both of my mandolin Tunebooks https://theirishmandolin.com/buy-the...olin-tunebook/ There was an initial flurry of interest when they were launched which then settled down over time. But they continue to be of interest to people and I've had some very nice feedback from folks who have found them useful in furthering their Irish mandolinery...

    And finally another thing which has been diverting me from re-recording tunes and recording new ones is a side project - Mildew Lisa - which I started to develop over the course of the summer. It might raise a few eyebrows, particularly among those who know just how puritanical I may appear to be about Irish music. It's a project which I call "lo-fi cybertrad" and, in essence, it's Irish music made without the benefit of flesh and blood, wood and wire. The tunes are very much at the heart of this project but they're "played" on electronic instruments with voicings and beats which are far from traditional. The inspiration for this project comes from many sources. For example, there's the fusing of electronica and trad which Kane O'Rourke has pursued; there's the sort of production which Jim Higgins has pioneered - for example on Breda Smyth's Bachelor's Walk; there's the experiments on keyboards for which Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin was renowned. However one of the other influences on this music has been my background in punk where one of the maxims of some the outfits I've put together has been not to worry too much about "the rules" and "just do it".

    One of my friends, on hearing some of the material I have been working on, feared that it might be too much of a distraction from my mandolin playing. However the irony is that I think of this music as mandolin music in the sense that every note has been written on mandolin and then translated afterwards into code to generate the melodies (and counter melodies, bass lines, etc in some tunes or sets). You can find out more about this project at https://theirishmandolin.com/mildew-lisa/ where you can hear samples of 12 tracks on the mp3 album "Electric Nyah, Volume 1" and you can download a complete track for free - Farewell To Ireland/The High Reel.

    And that's it for the moment. When I renew my subscription for the website, it prompts me to look back over developments in the past year and to look forward to how the site might further develop over the year to come. I'm pleased to say that there's life in the dog!

    Aidan

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