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Use of Piano in folk/trad music?

GUEST,MichaelK 12 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM
GUEST 12 Nov 12 - 12:09 PM
Richard Bridge 12 Nov 12 - 12:26 PM
Bettynh 12 Nov 12 - 12:34 PM
katlaughing 12 Nov 12 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 12:49 PM
Mooh 12 Nov 12 - 12:53 PM
GUEST,Peter 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM
CupOfTea 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM
Mooh 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM
greg stephens 12 Nov 12 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,999 12 Nov 12 - 01:27 PM
Will Fly 12 Nov 12 - 01:32 PM
dick greenhaus 12 Nov 12 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 01:41 PM
greg stephens 12 Nov 12 - 01:43 PM
johncharles 12 Nov 12 - 01:48 PM
Megan L 12 Nov 12 - 01:54 PM
GUEST 12 Nov 12 - 01:59 PM
theleveller 12 Nov 12 - 02:04 PM
Stringsinger 12 Nov 12 - 02:11 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 12 Nov 12 - 02:20 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM
Gurney 12 Nov 12 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Big Al Whittle 12 Nov 12 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,Blandiver 12 Nov 12 - 03:53 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Nov 12 - 03:59 PM
Little Robyn 12 Nov 12 - 04:27 PM
Arthur_itus 12 Nov 12 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 05:38 PM
Joe_F 12 Nov 12 - 06:11 PM
GUEST 12 Nov 12 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 06:33 PM
Commander Crabbe 12 Nov 12 - 06:49 PM
dulcimer42 12 Nov 12 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 12 Nov 12 - 09:53 PM
Ernest 13 Nov 12 - 01:48 AM
GUEST,Mike Yates 13 Nov 12 - 03:40 AM
GUEST,giovanni 13 Nov 12 - 04:07 AM
GUEST 13 Nov 12 - 04:27 AM
Mr Happy 13 Nov 12 - 05:13 AM
Steve Gardham 13 Nov 12 - 09:16 AM
GUEST,henryp 13 Nov 12 - 09:25 AM
John P 13 Nov 12 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Grishka 13 Nov 12 - 09:42 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 13 Nov 12 - 10:52 AM
katlaughing 13 Nov 12 - 11:01 AM
greg stephens 13 Nov 12 - 11:05 AM
Owen Woodson 13 Nov 12 - 11:13 AM
John on the Sunset Coast 13 Nov 12 - 11:21 AM
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Subject: Use of Piano in folkgtrad music?
From: GUEST,MichaelK
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:05 PM

What are some members opinion on the use of the Piano in Folk/trad music?
   I like to play it on the piano myself but I've noticed very few Folk/Trad artists seem to use it. (the only one I can think of that does is Johnny McEvoy)


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:09 PM

(That should be folk/trad not folkgtrad lol)


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:26 PM

I hate it.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Bettynh
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:34 PM

Piano is certainly traditional here for contra dance music. John McCutcheon and Arlo Guthrie usually include piano in their collection of on-stage instruments. It all goes back to your definition of Folk/Trad, doesn't it?


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:38 PM

My mom always played the piano along with dad who played fiddle/banjo/mando/guitar, and sang, for dances, etc. The Piano was VERY important in our family. I agree with Bettynh, though; probably up to you depending on definition.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:49 PM

I imagine that the same question was posed when the guitar was first introduced into 'folk'. ..maybe they only wanted lutes and pipes or fiddle.
You can use whatever instrument you want...as long as you use them.
Andrés Segovia Torres was the first to blow the lid off using a guitar for 'classical' music...was the music any less 'classical'?

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:53 PM

I've heard it played by Cape Breton musicians. There's a Simon Mayor cd with considerable piano. Lots of Ontario fiddle music is accompanied by piano. Maybe it depends on how you personally define folk/trad...not that I'd open THAT can of worms again.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM

but I've noticed very few Folk/Trad artists seem to use it. (the only one I can think of that does is Johnny McEvoy)
Well either you need a venue with one installed and in tune or you need an electric keyboard and, in a session, a convenient power outlet. Without any effort I can think of four English musicians who I have seen playing piano or keyboard on stage (Reg Hall, John Adams, Gareth Kiddier and Ken Lees) although its not always their primary instrument. Among "traditional" (ie non revival) musicians Daisy Bulwer comes immediately to mind.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: CupOfTea
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM

That you can't haul your piano out to a pub for a session, doesn't mean it wasn't used in sessions that HAD a piano in the place the music happened. Quite a bit of where folk/trad meets "classical" would be at a keyboard. - and piano or harpsichord would certainly have been part of the passing on of English Country Dance tunes for a couple centuries now. It's older than concertinas or autoharps, which most folks don't think about twice as being "folk instruments."

Betty's inclusion of Contra Dance music hits home here - piano has been a part of it for as long as folks have been dancing contra in northern Ohio. It's a rare contra dance band that does without.

A good piano player is as welcome in my folk world as a good fiddler, guitarist, etc... which includes knowing when to play and when it's not appropriate.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Mooh
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 12:58 PM

My guess is that lots of "classical" composers who borrowed folk melodies were using pianos to write accompaning scores...Bela Bartok, Percy Grainger, Healey Willan, Ralph Vaughan Williams, etc.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:18 PM

pretty near universal in late 19/early20th century traditional dance bands, I would think . Throughout Britain and Ireland. Don't know about America but imagine much the same? Nothing odd about it at all. But not used much for song accompaniment, except among the arty classical revivalists.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:27 PM

Ya can't run with a piano on yer back.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:32 PM

Just listen to Cape Breton ceilidhs recorded live - great piano and fiddle. Why not?


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:40 PM

Very common in trad blues.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:41 PM

999: "Ya can't run with a piano on yer back."

Yeah, that bothers me!...Still got my guitars.....I know..if and when in 'danger' I guess I'll have to just sit and blow them a tune!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: greg stephens
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:43 PM

Just wish pubs all had an in tune piano, like they used to when I were a lad. Keyboards, however soundalike, are never quite the same thing. Gareth Kiddier does a bloody good job though, I must say.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: johncharles
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:48 PM

piano fiddle guitar
Violet Tulloch Peerie Willie Johnston and a fiddler
Great stuff
john


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Megan L
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:54 PM

999: "Ya can't run with a piano on yer back."

Lad wid ye tell that tae Highland regional council they eventually hid tae ban fowks frae carryin pianos tae the top o Ben Nevis fur a bit o a sing song :)


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 01:59 PM

And then there was a Canadian by the name of Klondike Mike who hauled a piano up Chilikoot Pass during the Yukon Gold Rush on his back. He was going to bring in a bunch of dancing girls to perform in the saloons, but the Mounties wouldn't let them in. He had to haul the instrument back down.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: theleveller
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 02:04 PM

Sandy Denny made a pretty fair fist of it.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 02:11 PM

If played subtly and musically, the piano can add a lot although many piano players are florid and some intrusive. Played simply and appropriately, with proper fill-ins and sparse chord sequences and at a volume that doesn't overpower the other string instrument(s) it can add a great deal.

I second the motion about the Cape Breton players, a highly syncopated, almost
early jazz accompaniment that they do adds so much to the dance.

Of course the Blues players, Memphis Slim and others could qualify as trad.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 02:20 PM

Pianos replaced pump organs as a chording instrument with Cape Breton fiddle music. Electronic keyboards are now replacing pianos. Guitars are also used, sometimes together, but the piano still rules.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 02:33 PM

Speaking of piano and fiddle/violin....and Celtic music...

...and this absolutely beautiful piece....ever thought about this?


A must for all you songwriters!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Gurney
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 03:01 PM

Try Phil Coulter's recordings, then ask the question again.
Of course, any instrument with the possible exception of a hollow log is outre, if you are a REAL traditionalist.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Big Al Whittle
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 03:07 PM

Cecil Sharp ( Sharp Cess to his mates - Bad Cess to the Black Velvet Band) said that the traditional singers he encountered, liked piano accompaniment.

A mate of mine did the piano accompaniment to a classic version of Rattling Roaring Willie, for which he still occasonally gets six quid in PRS money.

I always loved Pete's keybord work in the Yetties, Graham Coopers stuff with Harvey Andrews, John Dunkerly's work with Ian and Lorna Campbell and the bloke from 1812.

Sean O Riada (sorry don't know how to do accents) used to bang on he old joanna when the occasion seemed to call for it.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Blandiver
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 03:53 PM

There's a lovely old album of Dick Gaughan's - Coppers and Brass - with Tom Hickland on piano in fine old style. At the other end of the scale there's Huw Warren's work with June Tabor - I just adore The Echo of Hooves. Dolly Collins provides some fine piano to some rare classics - not least of which is Peter Bellamy's Maritime England Suite, where the piano on The China Clipper is enough to make grown men weep (well, me anyway).


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 03:59 PM

Many new instruments not previously thought appropriate for folk music have come into usage during the various revivals and in the last century. As people have already more or less stated above folk instruments generally have traditionally, for obvious reasons, been portable ones and relatively inexpensive. However for certain types of trad music the piano has for at least a century been traditionally used, dance music being the most obvious arena. In the early 19th century in the UK most working class folk aspired to have a piano in the front parlour. For many years it provided the basic music in the pubs before canned music took over and both these were for song accompaniment. I can remember recording singers of sea songs, bawdy songs etc to a piano in a Hull pub, and the first country dance band I played in had a vamping piano dashing out a very danceable rhythm. The last ceili bands I had all relied on keyboards for the main rhythm section and accordion for lead.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 04:27 PM

Don't forget Johnny Handle from the High Level Ranters. I've seen him play at a pub that had a very old piano that was really flat and he transposed into the right key, playing in all sorts of weird keys - no problem.
Many piano accordian players can also play any other keyboard or piano where appropriate.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Arthur_itus
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 05:01 PM

A few lovely songs with piano backing.

Cara Dillon with Seth Lakeman "Garden Valley"

June Tabor - No Man's Land/Flowers of the Forest

Realtime - Underneath the stars


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 05:38 PM

Is the verdict in?

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Joe_F
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:11 PM

"Imagine, if you will, that I am playing an 88-string guitar." -- Tom Lehrer


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:23 PM

There are about 230 strings on a standard piano.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:33 PM

YIKES!!!...but is the verdict in?
My vote is that it's OK....unless you don't think so...

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Commander Crabbe
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:49 PM

GfS

When I were nobbut a young whippersnapper, most pubs had an old upright in the bar somewhere.

Its not folk/trad but I can remember singing along to " A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square" in a pub in Looe one night about twenty years ago.

I also had the great priviledge of listening to Tom Anderson, Aly Bain, and Violet Tulloch (on piano) at a ceilidh in Lerwick back in the seventies.

In my opinion they could get rid of the big screen telly's in pubs and bring back the piano. Nothing kills a social gathering more than the goggle box.

Unfortunately, the telly is in and the piano seems to be out! (Well around here anyways)

A great variety of instruments are used for folk/trad tunes/songs the use of one or many can add (and occasionally detract) to the richness and blend of either.

That said what I really think matters here is that the music is played and the song is sung.

To be honest, I'd rather listen to someone in a pub banging out "My Old Man Said Follow The Van" or in fact anything else, than watch football anyday.

Thanks also for the links to Mairead Nesbitt and Lisa Kelly. Crackin!

Chris


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: dulcimer42
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 06:59 PM

Its use seems to be quite regional. I attend folk festivals in several different states in the midwest and south.   Only at the festival (the largest of them all) in July at Evart, Michigan would one expect to hear a piano in the midst of a big jam session. And it's almost always there. Along with many hammered dulcimers and all other acoustic instruments.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 12 Nov 12 - 09:53 PM

Commander, You are very welcome...and I share your sentiments. I think the main thing is the SPIRIT of the live music, more than the 'correct instruments'(in certain people's opinion).

As for the links..one is more of an friendly acquaintance, the other an excellent friend!! ..and Glad you liked them!!!

Warm regards!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Ernest
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 01:48 AM

Apart from what is said lots of classical/early recordings of irish music used piano as a backing instrument, so the use of a piano is definitely traditional (even if using it to back fiddle-etc. recordings couldt have been due to the limits of recording technology (which I don`t think): just one mike for the lead instrument but piano was loud enough to be heard too.).

On the other hand I remember a session round here in a place that had an upright piano and a skilled piano player among the players: being loud the piano was quite dominating, even drowning out the banjos ;0)

Is it consequent allowing electric keyboards at occasions where electric guitars are banned??


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Mike Yates
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 03:40 AM

In 1972 I recorded Bill Dore at his home in Leafield, Oxfordshire. Bill was a well-known local piano player and he can be heard singing the song "Jolly Jorge" to his own piano accompaniment on the Musical Traditions double CD "Up in the North and Down in the South" (MTCD 311-2). Then there was Brian Felgate who accompanied the Suffolk melodeon player Dolly Curtis and who can be heard on the Veteran CD "Who Owns the Game?" (Veteran VT130CD).
I also remember that Ferrium College in Virginia issued an LP of piano related old-timey recordings some years ago, though I am not sure if this has been reissued on CD.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,giovanni
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 04:07 AM

Once again it comes back to what you consider "folk" or "trad".

My early introduction to music at primary school was teacher playing the piano for us to sing - Early One Morning, Drink to me Only, Annie Laurie, Down in the Glen, Barbara Allen etc etc.

I'd say that was all pretty traditional - but if you prefer Matty Groves complete with finger in ear I would guess piano is not for you.

g


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 04:27 AM

Folk piano? Try Kathryn Roberts' wonderful version of The Plains of Waterloo on her debut record with Kate Rusby.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 05:13 AM

There's a well maintained piano in the pub which hosts our weekly sesh.

It's frequently used as accompaniment, but can sometimes drown out quieter instruments, but mainly its a welcome extra instrument.

Good for blues, jazz too


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 09:16 AM

GfS
Fuck the Folk Police and go for it. I'd say the only drawbacks are its portability and being careful with volume. A good pub pianist could easily pick up almost anything once heard.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,henryp
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 09:25 AM

Notable English pianists include;
The late Beryl Marriott, a mentor of Dave Swarbrick
Pete Bullock - Albion Band
John Shepherd - Albion Band, Polly Bolton Band
Steve Dunachie - Polly Bolton Band

From Ireland, composer Mícheál Ó Súilleabháin, Professor of Music at the University of Limerick

From Australia, Percy Grainger 1882–1961 - composer and arranger of Country Gardens and A Lincolnshire Posy

From America, Judy Collins - who made her public debut aged 13 performing Mozart's Concerto for Two Pianos


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: John P
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 09:40 AM

The piano is clearly a traditional music instrument, given that it's been used for playing traditional music for about a century. My only problem with it is that, with the exception of the blues, I just don't like the sound of it very much for accompanying traditional music. I think a lot of other people feel the same way, and that, along with the difficulty of transportation, cause it to be less popular than the guitar for trad music. Too bad for me, since I'm a better piano player than a guitarist.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 09:42 AM

The main problem some purists may have with the piano is that even for "three chords accompaniment", it requires a higher level of musical proficiency than, say, guitar or accordeon-type instruments. Folk music is often associated with a high level of technical and interpretational competence, but rarely with an "academic" training.

But most of us (even the "Folk Police") know that a high percentage of the oral tradition has gone through the hands of more or less learned musicians, such as teachers and church organists. There is no need to hide this fact, even if a "folky" interpretation is intended.

Sophisticated arrangements, as mentioned by Mooh above, are quite a different discipline. Somewhere inbetreen are arrangements for amateur choir and piano. All of this is legitimate (- and done by myself -), but must not be confused.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 10:52 AM

Steve Gardham: "GfS
Fuck the Folk Police and go for it. I'd say the only drawbacks are its portability and being careful with volume."

You are absolutely correct. Volume is not a problem, for two reasons...one piano, that I often use for for concerts has a volume nob. It is electric with a 32 bit sample of a Steinway full concert grand. You'd think electric keyboard would not be heavy..WRONG!..This thing weighs a lot, and when I do a gig with it, they have to provide a couple of guys to move it!!...OR I have to use one already there(if it's a good one)...the only thing wrong with that is some pieces sound a lot better with the string section!!

Also, as far as volume....one thing that is absolutely IMPORTANT, no matter what instrument a musician plays when he is playing with other players...Good musicianship requires listening...ya' gotta' make it seamless. some guys just get up and start blowing..with complete disregard toward the other players....can't have it!...and another thing..when players are backing vocalists, EVERY syllable MUST be heard. The human voice is the only instrument on the planet that pronounces words, THEREFORE...Every word MUST be heard!....and the vocalist should never 'hide behind style'...or they can just damn well find a different back-up!!!!
There's a story to tell behind this last part...if ya' wanna' know..let me know, I'll post it. ..but the moral of the story is the same!

Warmest Regards to All you serious music lovers!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 11:01 AM

This all reminds my Rog and I of an old bumper sticker seen in Wyoming during the 80s oil boom: "Please don't tell my folks I work in the oilfields. They still think I play piano in a whorehouse!"


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: greg stephens
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 11:05 AM

perfectly possible to play the piano quietly(that's why it's called a piano actually)


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music?
From: Owen Woodson
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 11:13 AM

In the vast majority of cases I'd say avoid it like the plague in any genre, but especially in the accompaniment of Irish music. There are exceptions of course. EG.,

The Southern Appalachians has spawned some good trad piano players. Uncle John Patterson of Carrolton, Georgia, is one who I particularly like.

Accompanists of Cape Breton fiddle usually bring a zest and a verve to the music which piano players in other fields would do well to note.

Elizabeth Stewart of Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire is one woman who can do no wrong for me, especially when she starts tickling the ivories in one of those medleys of Scottish dance tunes.


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Subject: RE: Use of Piano in folk/trad music? Paul Robeson
From: John on the Sunset Coast
Date: 13 Nov 12 - 11:21 AM

I don't know if recitals of folk songs by Paul Robeson count as folk music. But he did just that, and, at least in the late-60s was was well thought of for those concerts. Somewhere in a room I not able to easily get to are a couple of Robeson LPs. The accompaniment on those recordings was a sole piano, if not on all tracks on the vast majority of them. I think others gave similar recitals, but none come readily to mind.


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