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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Irish tenor instruction


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.banjohangout.org/archive/131411

mainejohn - Posted - 11/14/2008:  06:27:10


I suspect this subject has been covered before. After 40+ years of 5 string and plectrum playing, I've become enamored with Irish or Celtic tenor style. I have a nice old 20's Vegaphone, so I've got the instrument, what I need is instruction. I've looked at JDMC's catalog, and she lists Gerry O"Connor's book and CD for about $22, and its the only one she lists. I love his playing (who wouldn't?)...is this as good a place to start as any? I don't think I really need a rank beginner's method.

Cheers,
John Coleman
Scarborough, Maine

"There are two groups of people in the world...those that organize everything into two groups, and those that don''t"

yellowdog - Posted - 11/14/2008:  07:14:42


Hi John
I went down the same path you are starting exactly one year ago! - Except I started as a chord melody CGDA tenor player. I bought Gerry O'Connor's book and CD and I was delighted with both and highly recommend them. The book uses the Irish GDAE tuning although Gerry is known to play with standard CGDA tuning. I was originally disappointed in that but learned after attending a local Irish session that I had to switch to GDAE tuning because you simply run out of notes on the low end using CGDA tuning playing when popular Irish music keys. Your 20's Vegaphone should be perfect and in fact is sought after by Irish tenor players. Playing Irish tenor banjo is a great hobby and I love it, and it has also helped my chord melody playing. You'll find tons of printed Irish tunes on-line and a great Irish music forum at www.thesession.org. If you read you'll soon have a 3-inch thick notebook of tunes like I do, most of which are free. I also bought the first two of three tunebooks in the Comphaltas series (on-line downloads, reasonably priced) and plan to get the third. Hope you can find a beginners session up there in the cold, snowy woods. You've made a great decision to play Irish tenor even if you only have half the fun that I had learning Irish banjo this past year!

Frank Geiger
frank.geiger@yahoo.com
www.geigeracousticdevices.com

pgroff - Posted - 11/14/2008:  07:29:07


Hi John,

$.02 from a longtime player of Irish music but only recently on banjo...

I know some excellent tenor banjo players in the Irish style in Massachusetts, and I'll bet there are some in Maine. Nothing beats a local teacher or even a local buddy to share tunes and ideas.

Different excellent Irish banjo players play in very different styles, using very different techniques to get their sound. This suggests to me that the most valuable start for you might be immersion in the music itself (the best quality you can find) until you can feel in your bones what makes it sound good, and then to accomplish that in your own way on the banjo, rather than just mimicking any one player. Kevin McElroy (Frost Gully Violins in Freeport) or Susanne Ward (Second Read Books in Rockland) are both Irish musicians in Maine who have businesses, so they are in contact with many other players. They might be able to hook you up with other local Irish trad players. I usually see Kevin playing fiddle but I am pretty sure he plays tenor banjo too. If you are going down to Boston or the Cape, PM me for contacts of players living there. In Boston at least there was also a steady stream of excellent Irish players who were in town for a weekend or a summer. I was lucky to get to play with a lot of those guys when I was one of the house "backers" on guitar at the Burren pub in Somerville MA.

Mike Keyes (mikeyes) on this site has published a lot of tips, interviews, and links for Irish banjo. His website address is listed on his homepage here and that would be a great place to get more ideas. Mike also is very interested in experimenting with banjo set-up for Irish music, and has been able to learn from a lot of great players and a lot of great banjos what goes into a fine Irish banjo sound. I was lucky to meet him and see his banjo collection, especially the amazing top-tension "Gibson tribute" he assembled with help from other collectors and luthiers.

http://www.frostgullyviolins.com/



PG

pgroff - Posted - 11/14/2008:  07:48:39


[quote]Originally posted by yellowdog

[ I was originally disappointed in that but learned after attending a local Irish session that I had to switch to GDAE tuning because you simply run out of notes on the low end using CGDA tuning playing when popular Irish music keys.

Hi Frank,

I do love the low notes available on GDAE - tuned banjos. Like those banjos, fiddles also can play melody notes down to the G below middle C, and so can concertinas and most button accordions (the last two may have some gaps in the scale down there however).

But food for thought - the Irish pipes, whistle, and many wooden flutes played for Irish music don't have any melody notes below the nominal "bottom D" -- that is, the C string , second frettted note of a jazz-tuned CGDA tenor banjo. So, even using CGDA, you should be able to play any melody setting as played by most Irish pipers, flute players, and whistle players.*

When it comes to the Irish fiddle tunes that drop below this D note, most flute players etc. will jump up to play the low passages in an upper octave where they have all the notes. If the "break point" where this jump occurs is artfully chosen and if the rhythm and phrasing are right, the effect can be just as good if not sometimes better than the effect of a fiddle or box playing the low notes.

Another example that this music lives when an individual musician finds his or her own way to express the traditional sound of a tune, using the materials he has available (possibly not the exact notes as written in any one notated version of the tune).

PG

*Some wooden flutes do have keys that make notes below the nominal "D" available, but few players use these very often -- and rarely do those keys go below "C" for a "D" flute.


Edited by - pgroff on 11/14/2008 07:49:32

pweller - Posted - 11/14/2008:  07:51:59


Check out banjolin.co.uk It has tunes in notation as well as tab. I learned the bulk of my tunes from this page when I was first starting out. However, you appear to be an experienced player with four decades of plectrum and 5-string under your belt, so another way to learn (and I recommend this wholeheartedly) is to listen to the tune on youtube and literally just 'feel it out' on the banjo. You get to know your instrument quite well in this manner. Best of luck-- Irish banjo is a lot of fun!

Jim Yates - Posted - 11/14/2008:  08:51:11


I don't play much tenor banjo any more, but when I did I'd use the CGDA string sets and tune them up a tone to DAEB. then I could treat the bottom three strings like the top three of the mandolin and still had some high notes available in first position. Look through your tune books and you'll find that not many Irish fiddle tunes go below the open D string. Those that do can be modified or played up an octave. I like the higher sound of the DAEB tuning.

Jim
www.myspace.com/jimyates
www.myspace.com/kirbyandyates
www.myspace.com/kirbyyatesmazurek

Banjoed - Posted - 11/14/2008:  12:18:55


Hi. If it's not terribly kitsch to self-publicize here I'm just about to launch a new irish tenor banjo book and CD which will be available in 3-4 weeks from www.endascahill.com
The book is designed for all levels and covers all the necessary techniques required for playing Irish music.
The foreword to the book has been written by Mick Moloney and is available to read on the website.
I'm tenor player from Galway in Ireland and have been playing and teaching for a good few years. I tour in the US a few times a year with a band called The BrockMcGuire Band.
See what you think!
Enda Scahill

mikeyes - Posted - 11/14/2008:  13:49:37


Enda,

I am looking forward to your book. Mick told our banjo class that the book was coming out and gave it rave reviews. I'll pass the word on to our banjo class.

Are you going to be in the States any time next year to teach a class?

UPDATE: You can pre-order Enda's book on his web site. For two dollars more he will give you all the TABs. In spite of my TAB aversion, I went ahead and orderd both books :grin:

Mike Keyes
http://www.banjosessions.com
http://www.mikekeyes.com


Edited by - mikeyes on 11/15/2008 05:36:06

Banjoed - Posted - 11/15/2008:  01:58:55


Hi Mike

Nothing concrete in for 09 as yet. There's a firm offer to teach at the O'Flaherty Irish Music Retreat in Midlothian, TX in Oct 09 (www.irishtradmusic.org) so we'll hopefully build some dates around that. Any upcoming dates I'll have up on the website and also on www.brockmcguire.com.

Enda

www.endascahill.com

mainejohn - Posted - 11/15/2008:  04:58:37


Thank you all for being so helpful and offering guidance. I think I'll order O'Connor's book. Enda's tutorial looks very interesting, also. And...just going to youtube and watching and listening is also a big help. I have to say there is something quite comfortable about playing a tenor after years of playing a long neck 5string! Chord melody seems to lend itself better to plectrum, but for single string work on all four strings, you can't beat a tenor.

Cheers,
John Coleman
Scarborough, Maine

"There are two groups of people in the world...those that organize everything into two groups, and those that don''t"

mikeyes - Posted - 11/15/2008:  05:33:58


Enda,

I was hoping that Ken Fleming was going to offer you the teaching position at the O'Flaherty Retreat. It is one of the best traditional Irish music school in the States and it reminds me of the lamented Gaelic Roots. This year had Mick Moloney (banjo, perhaps his last workshop), James Kelly (fiddle), Matt Cranitch (fiddle), Mickey Dunne (pipes), June McCormack (flute/whistle), Danny O'Flaherty (singing in Irish), and Pat Egan (voice/guitar) as guest instructors. The regular staff is very skilled and the venue is exceptional (as is the food.)

This year, in spite of the economy, there were students from as far away as Costa Rica. Since it is held on a retreat campus near Dallas, getting there is pretty easy (the staff will pick you up at the airport if you wish.) There are a variety of very nice accomodations ranging from cottages to tent camping on the lake. Details are here http://www.oflahertyretreat.org/

For what it is worth, it is my favorite set of workshops. It doesn't have the numbers of Willy Week nor the hustle of the Catskills, but it has an atmosphere that makes you want to come back every year.

Here is a youtube of Mick playing Planxty Madame Maxwell at this year's Retreat: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UNwSj3iYKI (using my banjo, by the way.)

Mike Keyes
http://www.banjosessions.com
http://www.mikekeyes.com

Banjoed - Posted - 11/15/2008:  06:09:50


It sounds good. I met Ken at the North Texas Irish Fest in March and we had a good chat about the banjo, I got a good feeling for what he is trying to achieve at the O'Flaherty Retreat. Certainly hopes it comes together for next year.

Enda

www.endascahill.com




Klondike Waldo - Posted - 11/15/2008:  11:00:28


quote:
Originally posted by mainejohn

Thank you all for being so helpful and offering guidance. I think I'll order O'Connor's book. Enda's tutorial looks very interesting, also. And...just going to youtube and watching and listening is also a big help. I have to say there is something quite comfortable about playing a tenor after years of playing a long neck 5string! Chord melody seems to lend itself better to plectrum, but for single string work on all four strings, you can't beat a tenor.

Cheers,
John Coleman
Scarborough, Maine

"There are two groups of people in the world...those that organize everything into two groups, and those that don''t"


John, do get in touch with Kevin McElroy . I met him a few years ago when he played for my niece's birthday up in Sebago. I'm sure he could help you out.

deligo ergo renideo,
Bob Cameron

Klondike Waldo - Posted - 11/15/2008:  11:01:36


quote:
Originally posted by pgroff

Hi John,

$.02 from a longtime player of Irish music but only recently on banjo...

I know some excellent tenor banjo players in the Irish style in Massachusetts, and I'll bet there are some in Maine. Nothing beats a local teacher or even a local buddy to share tunes and ideas.
SNIP



Hey, PG, who do you recommend here in the Boston area? (I'm in Braintree)

deligo ergo renideo,
Bob Cameron


Edited by - Klondike Waldo on 11/15/2008 11:02:55

mikeyes - Posted - 12/01/2008:  11:36:07


Enda,

Should I expect the tutor on my doorstep today? :Grin:

Just a reminder that the tutor is now available. It should engender some remarks as it appears to be very comprehensive. In other words, there will probably be parts that some agree with or disagree or just want to comment on. We have Enda on the list here and we should take advantage of it!

Mike Keyes
http://www.banjosessions.com
http://www.mikekeyes.com

Banjoed - Posted - 12/02/2008:  09:43:25


Hi Mike!

It'll be in the mail at the latest Monday 8th which will guarantee a Christmas delivery I believe!

I had some last minute printing problems which goes to prove the old adage about "Best Laid Plans" and all that........

I had a firm promise of delivery for 1st Dec but alas that is now Friday 5th. If I can possibly get it in the mail on Friday I certainly will.

It's frustrating when you're in the hands of others!

It has certainly made me very thankful for my government job and its lack of stressful deadlines!!

Enda



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