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May 23, 2024 - 10:02:53 AM
85 posts since 4/24/2019

When you're going beyond session playing how do you figure out arrangements (apart from backup)?
When does "vary the melody" become "that's not the melody"? And how do you get there playing with another musician?
I am thinking of Jimmy Keane, who often wanders quite a ways away from the melodic line while the other melodic player is either sticking close to it or not. It's not unison, but it's also not harmony.
I am also thinking of Paul Brock and Enda Scahill's great CD, "Humdinger."
How much is predetermined and how much of it is intuition? Is it "you'll know it when you know it?"

Edited by - Jehoshaphat on 05/23/2024 22:09:58

May 23, 2024 - 11:17:50 AM
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Players Union Member

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

30200 posts since 8/3/2003

I can't speak for Irish trad music and other styles, but basically, playing by ear (improvising) means hearing the melody and being able to incorporate the melody notes so they are "heard" while adding any necessary "frills" ; i.e., slides, hammers, pulls, etc. to make is sound like the genre you're picking. Usually if you kick off a song or get your first break, you stay fairly close to the melody. If you get a second break, then you can add all the licks, riffs, runs, whatever you want, as long as you stay within the chord sequence.

Just what I would do, not necessarily what everyone/anyone else might do.

May 23, 2024 - 6:15:01 PM
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58 posts since 9/12/2023

quote:
Originally posted by Jehoshaphat

When you're going beyond session playing how do you figure out arrangements (apart from backup)?
When does "vary the melody" become "that's not the melody"? And how do you get there playing with another musician?
I am thinking of Jimmy Keane, who often wanders quite a ways away from the melodic line while the other melodic player is either sticking close to it or not. It's not unison, but it's also not harmony.
I am also thinking of Paul Brock and Enda Scahill's great CD, "Humdinger."
How much is predetermined and how much of it is intuition? Is it "you'll know it when you know it?"


Definitely best to ask an Irish player. I play jazz and bluegrass banjo, and I'm not qualified to advise on Irish playing. 

May 23, 2024 - 11:36:31 PM
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Enda Scahill

Ireland

108 posts since 4/28/2008

Variations are a difficult subject to address in words, as they vary according to mood, speed, tune, key etc and often might be different from day to day!

First of all, the whole coterie of ornaments such as triplets, rolls, crans, double stops, slides, hammer ons, pull offs etc are all variations on the melody themselves.

Perhaps one way to describe a melodic variation is like a city street map. The phrase in the tune goes from point A to B, and a variation starts at A, hits a few side streets at speed, and pops back out at B. The recognised markers of the tune are maintained and a fun, circuitous and possible more scenic route has been taken. Perhaps the side streets chosen are dark and full of divilment. Or a minor road, taken as a short alternative from the major highway. (This metaphor is stretchy!)

How those side streets are chosen is down to the individual player. That aspect is a matter of experimentation, trial and error, borrowing, bravery (and sometimes buffoonery [I like alliteration])

And the repertoire of variation “licks” changes over time for players, and also becomes the flavour of their style. If everyone played a tune the very same way without ornaments or variations it would seem quite a boring affair I imagine.

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