Another forum I was reading had a post that said good tone isn't all that important in Irish traditional fiddling and I am wondering what the fiddlers here think about that statement.  The poster said that since Irish trad "is dance music as is Old Time American music" that tone just didn't matter all that much as compared to rhythm.  I disagree but am looking for others' thoughts on this idea.


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Well, we could just have a not very nice tone, like this :


We could leave it as it is, or try to make it sound better.

BETTER - please Jim - better!!!!  You made my point so well with this example.  

Well, it helps to get an aural idea of what is meant by tone :)

hee hee - it's one of those things for me akin to "I know it when I hear it."   Apparently there are some genres of music that favor the type of sound you created for us here.  But it's not music I would listen to nor attempt to play!

I also have an audio of my impression of a session-stoppper playing a fiddle tune on a fiddle,  but I'm afraid to post it here in case I get death threats :)

HA HA - good decision on your part.  I have a buddy who maintains that people who say "tone doesn't matter only say that because they don't have a decent tone."

So, given my position, which is that tone's nice but not essential and, in any case much less important than other factors like rhythm and phrasing (was that Peter'sphrase?), I guess you guys expect that I have poor tone. 


No reason to draw that conclusion ... you know your tone is fine anway :) I'm wondering if this is all about making a bad tone through skatey bowing, or some other playing flaw, or maybe on a crappy fiddle and crappy bow caked with too much rosin...if you listen to some of the old boys on recordings, the sound quality is maybe not so good, but I've never noticed anything wrong with their tone. I honestly can't say I've hear a poor sound coming from an otherwise good musician. It would be nice to hear some examples of what poor tone is (aside from my silly little clip) :)

I tried to fine Ellen Galvin's music on YouTube, thinking, if John Docherty is there, there'a good chance, but I couldn't find anything.

Anyway, in the meantime. I reckon things are getting way too serious round here, so here are a few clips to highlight tone, rhythm and tunefulness. I hope you enjoy :)

FWIW, that's not the Blooming Meadows, it's Ard an Bothar. Similar second part though. And should I mention Joe Cooley in this context?

Anyway, Ellen Galvin will rock your world, I can tell you that much.


Yes, you're right, thanks. I looked the name up in Ceol Rince Vol 1 , and it's that tune. Do you know what the English title would be? I originally got the tune from a Cathal Hayden CD (which I no longer own), and he was playing the tune on banjo. The track was titled "Blooming Meadows".

What does Joe Cooley have to do with this, in this context?

Do you know of any recordings of Ellen Galvin?



Ard an Bothar was named by Beandán Breathnach for his collection. He received it gan ainm (to use up my cúpla focal for the day) from Willie Clancy and Bobby Casey. It's essentially a placename and located in Casey country near the Crosses of Annagh. It means the high (part of the) road.

Joe Cooley took the reel named 'Luttrell's Pass' by it's composer, after another landmark, associated with the Battle of Aughrim, and ran with it.
OK, thanks for the info.

I am not sure you're ready to appreciate Ellen Galvin to be honest.
Well, I can' appreciate something until I hear it, can I? In any case, there's no need to be so rude and condescending. I don't know what your problem is ...

OK, I must have misunderstood you.


I found some info on Ellen Gavin, but was unable to find any audio in any of the archives, so I'm still none the wiser. I'm sure there would be something relevant to the topic if I did hear a recording of her playing.



I agree Peter, rhythm and phrasing above all else - personally that is what I strive for. 

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