In the majority of my piano and guitar music books and sheets, there are tempo guides and most usually metronome markings. I have noticed these are missing from the Scottish and Irish songbooks I have , by Jeanne Page. Also there seems to be no tempo guide on internet tunes ,and midi files seem really inconsistent in the tempo's used for different tunes. E. G. I have heard the Arran boat song played as a 6/8 uptempo song instead of a slow , moving air, in 3/4.
Can anyone advise me on correct tempo and how to discern this for folk music...my local music store does not stock any albums with recordings of the popular dulcimer folk tunes I have seen online.
Hi Dulcetta, methinks the best thing to do is to listen to cds, and try to get an average tempo from the recordings. Of course you'll find people playing at breakneck speed. But at least for me, the "good" tempo is the one you can dance on... after it's a matter of choice and feeling. Some reel, for instance, are quite good played fast, some others are much better slower...
Post by Dick Glasgow on Aug 1, 2007 12:17:23 GMT 1
Well Dulcetta, like many *Traditional Musicians*, i.e. those who have learned all their music by ear, I can only come at your question from a listening point of view. However, fear not, for I'm sure there are others here, skilled in the art of reading their music from the dots, who will answer your question in their own way, too.
Anyway, as an ear musician I would 2nd Nikita's suggestion to listen to as many recordings as you can & take an average. Now I admit that's not much use if your being asked to play at a very strict tempo for some of the Scottish Country Dance brigade, where a metronome must be employed at all times or bands very quickly find themselves going home early!
But hopefully one of the answers you receive here, will suit your particular need,
That said, I'm sure every composer has a tempo they feel suits their tune best & there will always be those who will adhere strictly to that tempo. However, it is in the very nature of many musicians to want to put their own stamp on a tune and that often amounts to nothing more than playing around with ornaments, rolls, triplets, grace notes etc, or adding exotic harmony lines to the basic melody. But others aren't happy unless they've almost reinvented it!
So for example, a tune like the Sky Boat Song may well waft its way across the Irish Sea as a Slow Waltz, only to find itself being played in Ireland as a March in Antrim, a Highland in Donegal, a Reel in Sligo, a Jig in Clare & a Slide in Kerry .... I kid you not!
Now some people hold up their hands in horror & feel this treatment almost amounts to sacrilege, but personally I feel it is quite simply the product of a lively, healthy musical tradition in action. At the end of it all, the original tune is still there in it's original format and quite honestly, if any of these variants are worth their salt, they'll stand the test of time & be assimilated into the traditional repertoire. If they don't cut the mustard though, they'll simply be forgotten.
I like to think of these variants as the hallmark of a good tune. I mean, think about it, who's going to bother wasting their time on a bad tune? So the mere fact that you do find various tempos says to me at least, that the melody is a strong one and perhaps the more variants that exist, then the better the original tune really is.
If I ever wrote a *good* tune, I would firstly be very flattered if anyone else even simply wanted to play it, but I'd be overjoyed if I thought anyone thought it worthy of being converted to different tempos too.
P.S. Nikita, did you get a chance to play the Skye or the Arran Boat Song while sailing over to the islands on your recent trip to Scotland?
So in short, I need to shake off the shackles of the classical training and go with what feels right ?
oh how I wish my great grandparents and grandparents had lived longer. I was only young when the family met and had regular song sessions. Folk music just isn't a part of my family enviroment nowadays, but it does get the foot tapping and stir up emotions linked to memories from childhood.
I guess I'll practice at various tempos, as its easier to slow down, than speed up if I have been playing something at only a slow pace.
I can be a perfectionist (hubby calls me control freak ) and do feel a song can lose some of its original meaning if played at wrong tempo, especially when it changes time signature too, but I understand what you say about putting your own interpretation to use.
I just hate to hear classics like Flower of Scotland played and sung so much faster than was intended, spoiling the sentiment within. I turned a funny shade of pale when I heard Battle of Glencoe played like a dance.. its a lament for crying out loud, about a rather sensitive tragedy.
And as for changing the words.. amazing how the Scots words change in some songs..e.g. how did step we gaily change to step we gladly? jist disnae hae the same ring at aw !
Just a hint Nikita... ye dinna dae the Hieland Fling tae the Skye boat song... lol
Hi Dulcetta, I don't think I can add anything to Dick's answer because he said it so well, but since you mentioned my books I can reiterate that Dick's explanation is precisely why I didn't add tempo markings. The books are meant to be used in a 'fake book' style and I included just one basic version of the melody (and there are always lots of different versions of even the most common trad songs) and then a version with a bit of embellishment for someone who wants a bit more to play around with. But I fully expected that the books would just be tools for you to use as you create your own unique spin on it.
I admit that I will play tunes very differently depending on the context. I have, for example, taken an Irish reel that on a festival stage I've played very fast to energize the audience, then in a session context taken it at a medium speed comfortable for all the players involved, and even played it very, very, slowly (like an aire) with gentle rolled chords to embellish it at the beside of a dying person in a hospital that created a very peaceful, serene moment. One tune--three different tempos for three different contexts. As long as you have a beautiful melody you can do all kinds of different things with it and I thrive on the creative challenge of taking something "old" and making something "new" out of it. So, as far as I'm concerned, there's no 'right' or 'wrong' tempo, and I encourage folks to play tunes at a speed that suits you and the context you are in. Cheers! Jeanne
I must add that the tuning chart in your books is so helpful, having the notes on the stave and not just the note name, is a great asset.
I also found your Arranging for hammered Dulcimer book, really helpful in seeing how you changed the basic melodies to the intermediate arrangement, as well as teaching the technique to use in rolling chords.
I'm glad you find the tuning chart helpful and that the Arranging book helped to walk you through the steps that I normally take when experimenting with new ways to approach a tune. I really have a passion for keeping the hammered ducimer community growing and I think one of the best ways to do that is to equip people with as many tools as possible to keep them going. The books are just tools and it really makes my day when I hear that they've been a help to someone!
Just one thing, Dulcetta : as we play mostly dance music, the tempo should be fairly strict : I mean you can play at the tempo you like, But try to keep it steady don't try to speed up while playing, you get very fast in the habit of accelerating. I'm saying this because I play a lot with people with a classical training, and it's sometimes hard for them to keep an even tempo. Sometimes it can get quite awkward... And I do love playing Highland Flings ;D By the way, Dick, we do a hard rock version of the Skye, with distorted hackbrett ... sounds a weebit like Smoke on zhe Water ;D
Normally in classical music there are tons of directions telling which measures to speed up, where to slow down and which volume to play different measures at. If we don't follow them to a T we risk the wrath of the conductor and fail exams.
I would probably slow down the verse of the Skye Boat song, as it is telling the tale, but speed up the chorus to refect the boat's hurried passage.
I hear you on the acceleration thing though, as a worship leader I had to get over that for accompanying the singers and general congregation. My time as a dance teacher helps me out there, but I do know what it is like to play with a drummer who gets carried away... lol
There was a debate about tempo in The Old Time Herald fairly recently, mainly concerned with fiddle tunes. It was in the context of slow jams and the possibility of these leading people to play too slowly. No firm conclusions but the debate was interesting.
Yup. And it also depends on what you are doing with the tune. For my ownself, i like the jig Garry Owen at a fairly stately pace, considering the lyrics. However, it generally gets dusted off and used as a contra dance tune. Our contra's are pretty slow.......anywhere from 120-140 is fast, with an average of about 115 for the newer dancers. So if you are playing for dancers, talk to the caller, and find out what they want. If it is for your own pleasure, i would set the pace i felt was appropriate. You haven't lived till you have heard Blackberry Blossom as an aire.