RE: [Harp-L] Paddy Richter& Irish Music
....However the ethos of this list is firmly on the lines
> of "real men can get a minimum of five keys out of a ten hole harp by dint
> of bending & overblowing"
> Both Hering and Seydel make chromatics with so called Irish Tuning namely
> G/F# to facilitate conventional Irish Trad ornamentation ala the late Eddie
> Clarke. I have one of these specials from Hering but don't use it much
> because I am conditioned to go up a semitone rather than down when I hit the
> button. I use a G chromatic and am gradually finding my way into the second
> position which means I can get D tunes as well.
> I am beginning to wonder whether it might not be a better idea to try a D
> chromatic and get the G tunes in the "minus second position" Judging by
> "O'Neill's 1001" and our local trad sessions D tunes seem to outnumber the
> Gs by a considerable margin in the standard Irish repertoire.
> As for Richard's remarks about not knocking the easy way, I could not agree
> more. In my 71st year time is not on my side. I need quick results!
> Aongus Mac Cana
I've made it my life's aim to play Irish tunes nearly always on diatonic harps, so I may be biased, and I'm not at all trying to knock the use of chromatics, but it's worth bearing in mind that most Irish tunes are modal in nature, which means they can be played on diatonic harps. For nearly all Irish tunes you need just a G harp, definitely preferably paddified, and a D harp, preferably low D and not necessarily paddified. An A harp occasionally comes in handy too. Okay, you'll be limited as to what ornamentation you can use, but you're limited anyway even with a flipped slide, and even then the ornaments you play won't always be "technically" correct (as if that matters, which it doesn't as long as you play the ornaments ephemerally-fast!) Brendan has done all sorts of things with chroms, including going so far as making them into "not-chroms" any more, to get round this, but to be honest you can play darn good Irish stuff without being able to do full five-note rolls and cuts with technically-correct grace-notes. You can use bending for expression (as opposed to missing notes) really effectively, especially if you can get the blow bends on the high notes, and you can do cuts, triplets and little moves that sound for all the world just like rolls. By far the most important aspects of playing Irish are getting a really solid sense of tempo and internal rhythm and a good, full, clean tone, and if you have all that under your belt the ornamentation issues become decidedly secondary. Also, I know that Irish tune-medleys ("sets") commonly contain key-changes that are impossible on a single diatonic (though many are far more possible than meet the eye at first glance, just by switching from first to second or third position, or vice versa), but in the pub session I just switch harps if needs be and pick up at the next convenient point in the tune. No-one ever complains!
And forget the overblowing! You'll manage supremely well in Irish without it. I can't even tongue-block!
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