Best Way To Learn Irish/Scottish Fiddle Ornamentation
My teacher has a strong background in Irish music and has been trying to teach me ornamentation. She is quite good at it to the point that she can add it whenever she feels the need to.
I am finding that when I learn jigs, if I don't also learn the ornaments or at least try to play them, it is much more difficult to add them after I learn the music.
I read the blog Laurie posted on Irish Music ornaments with Andy Reiner. He isn't playing them quite the way my teacher does. Close, but not exactly. Her method seems much more apparent. I'm not faulting Andy, just making an observation on the differences I hear.
I am having some difficulty getting these ornaments. Similar to the difficulty I had in getting harmonics on a guitar.
Any suggestions on how to really get these well?
A practice recommendation?
My teachers methods are similar to Kevin Burke who I went to hear in person.
My fiddling focus is Scottish, not Irish, but I tend to get ornaments better by listening to, and playing with, better players. Do you have the option of attending sessions or a camp? Attending those and observing master fiddlers was key for me.
Fiddle playing is learning by imitation, if you want to play like a particular player you have to copy their style. If it is not possible to go to the session, your best source is youtube or the publications by the top players, they often issue CDs or DVDs with their books. Kevin Burke published teaching DVD.
The way I learned where to add things like burrls, turn, etc. was just listening to other people at the sessions and jams.
The way you improve your trills and mordents is by doing studies. Half of Kreutzer is trills. Someone needs to write a study book for fiddle ornamentation.
Here's my personal approach for what it's worth...
Thank you for these helpful replies. Krista, yes there are a few sessions here. Mostly Irish. In fact , there's one here in my immediate area Sunday. When I go to these I get some insight, but it's usually loud where they have them in the bars and there isn't much elbow room.The one on Sunday afternoon sometimes doesn't have a fiddle player. I might be the only one.Still a worthwhile venture ;) Oh and I love Bonnie Rideout! She's a Scottish player right?
I've had numerous Irish fiddle tutors in my time, most of them quite good, a few not quite so. In my experience the ones to avoid are those who teach tunes so s-l-o-w-l-y, a couple of measures at a time, that the students can't get the feeling of whether it is a reel or jig (I'm not joking), even less the structure and sound of the tune.
I once attended a workshop with Martin Hayes who asked what people wanted to learn. Of course ornamentation was at the top of the request list. He said, "Ok, listen to this." and he proceeded to play a beautifully intricate and rhythmic reel as only he can do. When done he asked, "what did you notice about that tune? What was unique about it?" We all sat silent and he said, "I didn't play one ornament".
Bach and other baroque keyboard music is often laden with ornamentation, sometimes (depending on the editor) excessively. As a piano student I was taught to learn the piece first before dealing with the ornaments.
Trevor you have certainly had some varied experiences.
I agree with Geoff that a good slowdowner software is
@Timothy, the "rule" in Irish traditional music is that each tune has at least 6 different names; a (very) slight exaggeration of course, but a general principle, and a quick browse through the tunes section of TheSession.org supports it. To make life even more interesting, sometimes you learn a tune by a particular name, and when you go another session a few miles away you discover that that name is used for an entirely different tune. I've long given up trying to keep track of the names of the tunes I know!
@Trevor.Yes I'm finding this out. Sometimes I wonder what I've gotten myself into.
Many times, in all manner of Celtic music, the ornaments come for a reason, at the same melodic "signature". Often this is the result of adapting the tune from pipes (of some kind) to the fiddle.
If you can read music you should be able to write down notation for the ornamentations and then work from there. In my opinion there is no BASIC thing in music that cannot be written down and then worked into one's playing from there - other, perhaps, than some fine details that personalize it.
@Graeme I knew of adaptations from hornpipe tunes. Didn't know about the adaptations from bagpipes. Thank you for that. Also thanks for the other info.Peter Cooper seems like a good resource.
I guess it all starts with a pint of Guinness.
@Graeme I'm quite interested in your mention of the Pipes, I'm a Piper currently learning the violin and I've been looking at the ornaments on the violin and trying to correlate them to the embellishments we play on the pipes. About the only one that I think shares a common name is the birl. I've got no idea which ones would correspond to say a Taorluath or a Lemluath, let alone a Crunluath A Mach!
@Rocky If I were a 20-30 year player maybe I could get away with that. Being fairly new to it, I need all the help I can get, so I don't drink during sessions :)The beer is free too.
@Brent - there's a tendency in Scotland these days for pipers to loosen up outside of bands and competition - especially when playing Border Pipes or Small Pipes. There are lots of creative things going on.
Geoff, I absolutely agree that everything has its place. Have a go, I say, and if its fun to listen to and fun to play, work on.
.. then it continues with a good-looking Irish lady smiling at you every time you do an ornament or two...
@Geoff, Aye I've definitely seen that, we do make it up to Scotland to play fairly regularly, in fact I'm up there again this weekend for a parade. We somehow always manage to find ourselves in a convivial musical pub setting after our gig!
@Graeme - you're certainly right about the Shetland tradition being complex. I used to live a few yards from the School of Scottish Studies and would drop in from time to time to use the archive. There were a huge range of styles being played on the islands.
@Geoff, well exactly that really. I'd wondered if any of Gordons tunes had been picked up by fiddlers. I suspected they most likely had but didn't know for sure. Coming from the piping world there is so much to learn and find out about the fiddle!
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