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Say i want to give a solo 'irish flavor'

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by i like tictacs, Apr 12, 2006.

  1. or something similar, what scale would i use? any suggestions for this? my band is covering a corrs song and I have a solo that goes for a couple measures.
  2. El Bajo

    El Bajo

    Apr 12, 2006
    Im not sure but according to a friend who is studying music. The pentatonic scale is actually used alot in Celtic folk music. As well as Chinease and some middleeastern countries.

    It might be worth going through it and adding some passig notes and look at your phrasing. Not to metion getting into the irish jig kinda time sig!

    Best of luck
  3. IanStephenson

    IanStephenson UnRegistered User

    Apr 8, 2006
    Depending on the key, i'd try and play the root on an open string as a drone, and just keep that ringing, then solo over that with a natural minor scale higher up on the neck.

    Start with the fifth note as a pickup, hitting the octave on the first of the bar and you're off... just think bagpipes and fiddles!


    Cheesy - but you're playing a Corrs song, so the only real question is what toppings to go for...

    It's pretty easy once you get in the mindset - spend 20 minutes practice making it sound as OTT as possible. Then you can tone it down and maybe produce something that sounds decent.

  4. Most traditional Irish music is in D...not sure about the Corrs tune though....
  5. Thanks guys, I'll give it a shot
  6. I wouldn't say most, but a lot of it is.

    There isn't just one mode or scale that gives the Irish flavor (though some are certainly favored more than others--there's not too much phrygian or locrian happening). It's more about phrasing and melodic choices.

    In a given song, it would be good to start by trying to figure out what the dominant harmonic flavor of the song is: straight major, mixolydian, whatever. Then listen to some fiddle, accordion, flute, or whistle players for some melodic ideas.
  7. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Check out www.thesession.org, pick some tunes..learn the melodies..there ya go.

    Irish music is not traditionally bass "friendly"..in fact you'd nearly be shot for bringing an electric bass to most trad sessions..(and they just Barely tolerate acoustic bass)...originally bass duties were/are assigned to piano and for most traditional airs the bassline is very rudimentary..mostly root fifth movement with the occasional walking phrase.

    For an exception to this check out any "Moving Hearts", "Coolfinn" or Michael McGoldrick (yeah he's Scottish but its very very similar) albums for some serious in your face bass playing in a "trad" idiom.

    My picks would be..
    Moving Hearts "Downtown"..amazing lead bass with a BITCH of a bass solo thrown in...bassist: Eoghan O Neill

    Donal Lunnys "Coolfinn" album..very unorthodox basslines but work brilliantly and are well up in the mix.

    Moving Hearts Live...amazing in your face driving bass from that O Neill guy again

    Planxty "Timedance"..a one off piece done for the 1981 Eurovision interval show..this is basically the father of Riverdance..(and to be honest is a hundred times better)...check out the final "movement" some incredibly restrained and yet funky bass playing

    Eileen Ivers "Crossing the Bridge" album....Baghiti Kumalo (sp)..yep the "Graceland" guy playing Irish Trad....Steve Gadd is on drums as well.
  8. I know this well, having played in the US Irish scene for a while. I just didn't bother going to the traditional seisiuns--knew I wouldn't be welcome, though my band got respect for what we did in our own sets.

    In a lot of the current trad bands, at least the ones that remain bassless, the guitarists often take on a lot of the bass duty. The guy I used to play with, Pat Kilbride, is quite good at this. John Doyle of Solas is another guitarist who does this really well.

    In my old band, I never really got anywhere until I (1) threw out the idea of how I was "supposed to" to play Irish bass (there's really no rigid style for electric bass) and (2) familiarized myself with the melodies of the tunes. I can't stress the importance of (2) enough. Harmonically, some of the tunes can sound pretty similar; it's the details of the melodies that differentiate them in many cases, and these details can give you hints on different ways to approach them. Actually, the very non-bass-friendly nature of trad Irish music can be a blessing in disguise for a bassist. The lack of a rigid stylistic template for electric bass playing can be very freeing. Assuming you're playing with people that are open to that. It doesn't have to be root-five all the time (though that often is what people expect of you).
  9. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Errrrr.......no, I can see where its coming from but thats more "oirish" than Irish if ya know what I mean..(kinda like.."The Quiet Man or D'arby O gill..or that "wheres me lucky charms " dude)


  10. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    well said, I agree...however I have a slight problem with "It dosent have to be root-five all the time"...most of the time it does....Irish music especially with traditional airs is basically dance music (and I dont mean that in the modern interpretation of the word.).I mean there are specific dance steps associated with each genre ie jigs/reels/polkas etc and if you have say a "gallowglass" type ceili band where every traditional instrument (violin/accordion/uileann pipes/tin whistles/low whistles/flutes etc are all playing the melody the bass HAS to hold down the low end and keep the particular "dance" beat which invariably means root fifth movement..its this root fifth montion which gives the dancers their cues. (hell I was a Riverdance bassist and even with that "modern" take on the genre most of the basslines were written in a VERY traditional style..lots of root/fifths and to be honest mostly "pumping" roots).

    Having said that this is de riguer for Traditional forms...when you get into more modern interpretations there is great scope for bass lines...as I mentioned before the band "moving hearts" is a prime example of fusing funk/rock styles with traditional melodies to incredible effect.
  11. True, you're right, in the really trad contexts, you do have to play it straighter. Of course in the really trad bands, you probably wouldn't have a bass guitar at all, as you pointed out earlier!

    But there is indeed a lot of scope for interpretation with the music if you distance yourself a bit from the hardcore trad view. I've been out of the scene for 7 or 8 years now, so I don't know exactly what's happening right at the moment, but I used to hear some interesting and fresh takes on trad when I was playing festivals, such as Reeltime, Deanta, Solas, Sharon Shannon, and Four Men and a Dog. It's always interesting to hear the difference between how, say, Joe Burke might play a tune on the box and how, say, my former bandmate John Whelan might do the same tune.

    Some of the bands I heard were starting to birng a funk or electronica or even dance orientation in. My old band, Kips Bay, being half American and made up mostly of relative geezers, was coming from a more rock/R&B/Americana angle, if you know what I mean. Our drummer was the guy who did Billy Idol's White Wedding, of all things. From Billy Idol to diddley-idle, you might say.
  12. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    + 1000

    It always baffled me why no-body seemed to have gotten the idea to mix Irish trad with say funk/r&b/dance basslines I mean at the end of the day Irish Trad is DANCE music. The one thing that struck me during my Riverdance days was why they never used a bassist to assist in the dancer and musician "duels" I mean the rhythmic sound of the dance steps is PERFECT for a synchopated slap bass line...I mean think about it, the bassist plays a slap pattern and the dancer follows, then the dancer taps out another part and the bassist follows that it'd be a very interesting sound to see how to develop the rhytmic texture with slap bass and a dancers taps.

    sigh..another example of musical snobbery

    BTW some of those old Trad tunes make great bass solos and the slower airs (especially with a low whistle lead) make beautiful fretless melodies.
  13. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Elements that I would being into folk music include:

    Time Signatures - 2/4, 3/4, 4/4, 6/8

    Chord Progression - Diatonic

    Melodies - Modal
  14. Hey guys.. this has been some interesting reading. I'm going to be jamming with a friend and some of her friends on some stuff, and she's way into traditional Irish music - she competes in Irish dance. But we're looking to (hopefully) do something a little more intense for our jamming and recording.

    So I was going to post a thread asking about celtic rock - along the lines of what you might hear here: Paddy Rock.com or old Pogues, etc.

    Any additional advice or scale suggestions for the more aggressive stuff?
  15. trog


    Nov 8, 2003
    I've played a lot of this stuff, and I can say that I find it's generally really hard to stray too far from a 'standard' bassline. You really need to keep the tune dancable - anything too fancy will just trip your audience up.
  16. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    The thing you must realise is that trad Irish music is broken down into numerous different camps...for instance the music "The Pogues" specialise in (and they're an English band btw ;)..although Shane McGowan is an extremely gifted songwriter) is mostly the more "ballad" type tunes which are typically quite simple musically ie verse chorus, verse chorus, instrumental break, verse chorus...similar to say, The Chieftains etc..then you have the trad "airs" which are basically dance tunes, now, these are often quite melodically and rhythmically complex (jigs, reels polkas etc) but the basslines (as Trog said) are generally quite simple root or root, fifth motion, any deviation from these will screw up the general "feel" of the the tune.

    Of course the more modern interpretations of these trad airs are a different beast altogether, as I've said before check out "Moving Hearts", Donal Lunnys "Coolfinn" album or Eileen Ivers "crossing the bridge" albums for more modern/aggressive takes takes on the traditional Irish tunes

    (with some SAVAGE bass playing thrown in..;) )

  17. DaveBeny


    Mar 22, 2000
    London, UK
    Just thought I would resurrect this thread to share a video I found on Youtube:

    Irish music with electric bass. I've had this clip on repeat for ages. I believe that the keyboardist Bill Whelan went on to write the music for Riverdance.
  18. jbibb


    Jul 8, 2005
    Juneau, Alaska
    Can't believe I found this thread...just started sitting in with a "celtic-band" splintered off of our Scottish Pipes and Drums band. For me this is a whole new level of discovery and learning, which has resurrected my love for playing music.

    We mix all sorts of stuff with a band of varying degrees of experience. We have a good fiddle player who comes from a background of Irish jigs and reels...It's been a challenge finding music to learn from as we play pubs and are starting to find local music festivals as dance bands.

    I'll use this thread and begin to uncover as much as I can. Murf, appreciate your experience.
  19. Murf


    Mar 28, 2001
    Yeah Bill Whelan wrote the music for Riverdance, and in that clip that bassist looks suspiciously like a very young Tony Molloy who is an incredible bassist..to be honest he isnt even breaking a sweat here..check out his work with later Stocktons Wing recording...bloody hard to find though..I'll see what I can dig up.

    Tony is amazing though..his Stocktons Wing stuff sounds like what the late great great Bernard Edwards would've done with a trad tune....funkaaayy


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