Google is now offering PDF downloads of the full text of public domain books via their book search service. I did a few quick queries and found some old books of Irish and Scottish music, such as The Poems and Poetry of Munster: A Selection of Irish Songs (in English and Irish) and The Complete Works of Robert Burns.
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Courtesy of Mike Reagan, here's L.E. McCullough's presentation from the 2006 Northeast Whistle Gathering, called "Six Ways to Break Out of Being a Beginning Whistle Player – OR – How I Became L.E. McCullough (not that you would want this to happen to you or a loved one)." It's in Microsoft Word format, but you can get a free Word viewer from Microsoft if you don't own that program. If you've been playing for a few years you probably know all this stuff, but it's a great collection of important advice for folks just getting started.
Looking back on my first couple years of playing Irish music on the whistle, these are the things I now see made a big difference in my development. I sincerely hope they prove of some benefit to you.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
Thursday, August 03, 2006
The other day I got the Jig of Slurs stuck in my head and I wanted to try and work it out by ear. Now I find two general things challenging in the area of ear learning. One is learning the tune well enough that I don't get confused about it when I make mistakes trying to play it. The second is figuring out where to start.
The second problem generally involves a good bit of trial and error for me, but this time I realized the solution was easy. The Jig of Slurs is a pipe tune, so it has to be in A mixolydian, since that's the only key the GHBs can play! This is a pretty useful shortcut if, like me, you haven't yet learned how to reliably distinguish all of the modes by ear.
Learning tunes "by ear" is something of a euphamism for me since I tend to memorize the tune first and then try to play it later, instead of playing along with a recording. One thing which has been helpful for this process is to lilt the songs instead of humming (or playing) them when learning. There are several reasons I think this is helpful:
- It divorces knowledge of the tune itself from the technical ability to play it, allowing me to focus on really learning the tune.
- Lilting is less forgiving than humming in terms of making you get the tune right. When I hum I tend to slur notes a bit, and this makes it easy to gloss over notes that I don't have right in my memory. With lilting it's harder to get away with this.
I tried to find a link about lilting, but I can't find anything. Any suggestions? The best suggestion I have is to listen to a good recording. I'm enjoying Colm O'Donnell's excellent Farewell to Evening Dances, which features lilting, singing, whistle, and flute.