Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Technique: Grey Larsen on Breathing

I found a Grey Larsen article online, Advice for Flute and Whistle Players on Finding Good Places to Breathe in Irish Dance Tunes [PDF], which covers some of the same material I discussed in my comments on breathing as ornamentation in more detail:

Players of instruments other than flute and whistle may want to bear in mind that although they can, and often do, play in a non-stop manner, their music may benefit from the introduction of occasional spaces. Creating such spaces can clarify your phrasing, much as a sentence becomes more clear with the appropriate use of punctuation marks such as commas, semicolons and the like. So, it is important and useful for fiddlers, accordion players, pipers, banjo players, etc., not just flute and whistle players, to develop a sense of when and where to eloquently leave out notes.

The whole article is worthwhile.


Greg said...

I'm also a new tin whistler (since september) and have been reading your posts with great interest. Just thought I'd mention that after reading about breathing on brother steve's pages, on the second or third day, I immediately "understood" about breathing and haven't found it to be a big problem (except some long phrases that refuse to allow a breath in them). So it's interesting to find that different people have different problems

Craig said...

You're certainly right that different people have different problems. It took me a lot of effort to figure out how to learn this, but it might be obvious to someone else.
The "long phrases" were probably the hardest for me to cope with since you have to drop a note; shortening a long note is not always a choice. The key, I think, is knowing the tune well enough to be able to hum the phrase with the note dropped; once you can do that playing it isn't too tough. But that took me a long time to figure out!

Greg said...

I tend to favour skipping notes over shortening notes. Like donnybrook fair, for me starts with G3 A3 | Bee dBA. this occurs again in bar 5. But I'm more likely to play B_breath_e dBA than G_breath_G A3. I think this may be that I find them simple places to practice ornamentation and give the breaths to "somewhere else".

I find it nigh on impossible to use my foot to tap the beat at the same time as I'm playing. Partially because I can't do two things at once and partially because my timing is incorrect (which is why I'm forcing myself to tap the beat in the first place).

Other things that are difficult for me are ornamenting the begining of notes (as opposed to cut or tap articulations to separate identical notes) and learning by ear. But great fun!