I bet you’re wondering what the heck candy has to do with Irish music and why I stuck this mouth-watering picture in my blog post.
Well, I was re-learning a great fiddle tune called The Wedding Reel. The funny thing is I was learning this from a recording of myself playing it. This is when you know you’re old, when you’re learning tunes from recordings of yourself.
Anyway, if you know this tune you know that there are about a bazillion tunes that start the same way like Mountain Road or Lennon’s #4 to name a few. It’s in the key of Dmajor, kind of like all the tunes I know (except for the one’s in Gmajor), and honestly it doesn’t sound bad when you play the A-part of one tune to the B-part of another. I wouldn’t recommend doing this on purpose however, because you don’t want to train your brain to play the wrong parts.
It did get me thinking though. I can think of a number of tunes that start out similarly, like Old Bush and Old Copperplate, or Over the Moor to Maggie and London Lasses. So how do we keep them all straight? Practice them, together of course.
What I usually do is start playing each tune and make a mental note of what makes it different from the other. For example, in The Wedding Reel and in Mountain Road the first 3 notes (including the pick-up notes) are pretty much the same. The first change between them is in Mountain Road, when you cross to the A-string you play an A and in The Wedding Reel you play a B. I find if I can just remember this tiny difference from the start, the rest of the tune flows in the right direction. It forces me to really pay attention to what I’m playing.
Another technique is to take both tunes and put them together in a set. For some reason, doing this makes me think of them as separate tunes and helps me keep them straight. They may even sound good together if they are in different keys or have a slightly different feel. The set could very well end up being two great tunes that sound great together, kind of like the taste of peanut butter and chocolate.
How do you keep them separate?