Why do people who thrash the Bouzouki, not just stick to the Guitar instead? Surely there's a good argument for keeping the style of playing of those two instruments completely separate?


Let's face it, if there's a Guitar & a Bouzouki in the same session, what is the point in them both thrashing away?


Here's an example of the way many folks think the Bouzouki should be played in Irish Music.


Now isn't that really tasty & a far cry from the metal thrashing so many Bouzoukis get in sessions.

The Bouzouki has a unique voice, but I think so many of its finer qualities are completely lost, when it is just treated like an 8 string chord machine or Guitar.


In contrast, here's Donal Lunny, with a much more heavy handed approach to the instrument.

In this case, for me at least, I find the treatment of the Bouzouki far, far too heavy handed & instead of providing the subtle backing for the Fiddle that the Bouzouki could so easily have done, it is actually competing for attention, is far too strong & dominant & sadly detracts from the overall sound of the whole piece.


That whole jangly wall of sound, could have been just as easily have been provided by a thrashing chord player, using a Guitar.


So, how many people here actually make the effort to really play the Bouzouki in a lovely melodic style, like Alec above?


Also, does anyone else here agree with me that it is just a little sad, that so many people today, treat the Bouzouki like a thrash box?




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Yes-  I think it'd be really, really horrid if everyone played the same way. I love a good driving backer. ;-) 

Alec is a beautiful player but if you listen to the accompaniment provided by Donal Lunny on Rabharta Cheoil (or 'In Full Spate'), with Paddy Glackin on fiddle, you won't find much better anywhere.

Alec's backing wouldn't have suited that album as well as Donal's did, but then Donal's wouldn't have suited Frankie Gavin's first solo album as well as Alec's did. (In fact some say that this is not a solo album but a duette and they would maintain that of all of their subsequent performances were duettes as opposed to solos with accompaniment - though this would be hotly contested by others. I tend to think that both things are true.

Ttrue backing is integral to the melody making - unobtrusivly integral, feeding, sustaining,  nurturing and supporting, but the focus is on the melody and on making music together.

Backers of bad taste can't do this as they destroy this balance and intrude where ethey are not required. Similarly a melody player must also understand,  play with and off the backer - that is if  the backer is on par with the melody player in the first place.

Empathy is the key.

Generally I prefer the bouzouki picked rather than strummed - as we all know Donal Lunny is also excellent at playing counterpoint on buozouki as can be heard in his recordings with Tommy Peoples.

However I get the point that you're making Dick and generally agree with you.

I don't think the guitar need be played heavy handedly either.

Some players use shading and subtlety balanced against more robust and forthright chord slams. There are many different styles and approaches even within a single player's array of techniques and moods.

Good man Paul!

We're starting to sound like we're all aligned. Could be the making of a good night!

Let's have a session. See you in Tig Choili's when I get in from Abu Dhabi in August? :)


Abu Dhabi dhoo!

Lookin forward to it Mick. Enjoyed the last time - that was a great night!

I wholeheartedly agree with you Paul! It's basically the point I was trying to make in previous posts...neither Donal nor Alec are "one trick ponies". IMO all the greatest players have a variety of techniques from which to draw, which in turn contribute to their individual styles...again, it all depends on the accompanying player's aproach and the instruments (and playing style) of the melody players....sounds like a more balanced discussion now. Very well said!

I know this is an old thread but a common one....

I'm a firm subscriber to the Arty McGlinn philosophy which goes something like this: "Step 1. Learn the tune. Step 2. Work out the backing". McGlinn (unless this is urban myth) refuses to back a tune that he himself cannot play. In my experience, tunes players make the most tasteful backing players

Arty once said the best backing for Trad music is none at all. So it is said. It may be myth that the sage spaketh such.

Hi all. Danny, thanks for re-posting as I wasn't a member in '11. Don't know if you will see this reply or not, but I agree, mostly with Dick's opinions. At our local, there is an alpha guitar accomanist or two and I always try to create a different voice, usually using the capo to play is a different timbre. The zouk really can't and shouldn't compete with a large body guitar. They have so much more bottom and volume. Also Alec, Mick, et al play a three course zouk and that requires a different playing style altogether. I enjoy the more subtle possibilities on the zouk and that is why I took it up. "Thrashing" or basically strumming vigorously really isn't the zouk's strongest suit IMO. 

I think Dick reacts to the various styles of play much the same as I do. I sometimes find Donal's approach to be heavier than necessary but I've also seen him do many tasty things. Sometimes it's appropriate in larger sessions to 'drive it' but I much prefer cross picking and other patterns to differentiate from the guitar backers, and also not make my zouk redundant.

There are some wonderful 4 course players... Paddy Kerr and of course Eoin O'Neill come to mind. I'll have the good fortune while in Ireland this summer to meet up with Eoin for some instruction. I don't know if this will work or is appropriate, but here is a link to a youtube video shot a couple of years ago of my backing a friend on fiddle. Reactions welcome. 


Thanks for listening everyone...



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