Playing Strathspeys 'properly'

Ian Price

Message 2617 · 10 Oct 1995 18:16:22 · Fixed-width font · Whole thread

Previous message: Live Music (McOwen)
Next message: SCD Roots (Ian Price)
Previous in thread: Publishing Dances (Anselm Lingnau)
Next in thread: Playing Strathspeys 'properly' (Thestrongs)

>As a fiddler, I find that I am never quite satisfied with the strathspeys
>that can be produced on the accordion. No matter how good the musician,
>the accordion is essentially a percussive instrument that cannot reproduce
>the sustained notes, followed or preceded by short notes, that give the
>strathspey its distinctive feel and momentum. The transition between the
>short and long notes tends to sound jumpy and "cute" (using Anselm's word)
>rather than sweeping and elegant. Sandy Nixon and other accordionists may
>record fewer strathspeys in recognition of the greater difficulty of making
>a strathspey sound right.

Sorry, I can' t buy that!

The instrument (IMHO) has nothing to do with it - it's all in the understanding
of the genre by the musician. In my experience, maybe 1% of the musicians I've
heard know how to play a strathspey (live or on record), whether on the fiddle,
piano or accordion - the other 99% haven't a clue! From what I've heard, and
know about those who 'can', it would seem you have to be (a) brought up IN
Scotland; (b), have studied strathspey STEP technique; and/or (c) be at least a
second-generation SCD-music-family member.

>I am sure that we have all had the
>experience of dancing to recordings of accordion strathspeys that seemed
>like they would never end.

>Susan Self

I'm sure most of us have heard little else, Susan - but it's unfair to blame the
instrument rather than the player. I've heard some pretty dreechit Strathspeys
played on the fiddle too (both in Scotland AND North America)!

Regards,
Ian Price
Conductor, Vancouver Fiddle Orchestra.

Previous message: Live Music (McOwen)
Next message: SCD Roots (Ian Price)
Previous in thread: Publishing Dances (Anselm Lingnau)
Next in thread: Playing Strathspeys 'properly' (Thestrongs)
A Django site.