THE MADFORTRAD CD-ROM TUTORIAL SERIES each title $45.00
This excellent series of teaching aides for Irish instruments offers an interesting new solution by combining the text-based (directions, music notation, photos) information of the traditional book-form tutor and the full-motion video and sound of an instructional video, with the advantage of quick navigation between sections of the tutorial or within each video clip.
- PC: Windows 95, Pentium 166MHz, 16 MB RAM, CD ROM
- Mac: O.S. 8.1, 32 MB RAM, 604 Power PC 180 MHz, CD ROM
BODHRANtaught byFRANK TORPEY
Frank Torpey is an excellent and versatile drummer, he was one of the founding members of the group Nomos. The Beginners tutorial introduces basic patterns for jigs and reels, with a few variations, including the triplet, each example being demonstrated on video at slow and fast speeds. At the end of each section devoted to reels and jigs, Torpey is shown playing his drum to a tune played on fiddle by his sister Marie. Also included are extensive sections on using the left hand for tonal variation, relying on split-screen video to show how the tonal changes are coordinated with the drumming patterns, all of this also being shown in musical notation. The Advanced tutorial contains further exploration of these elements in four sections, two devoted to reels and two to jigs. "Advanced Reels 1," for instance, discusses motor rhythm, three different kinds of patterns, plus an added section on "rolls," i.e., a succession of triplets. Each section concludes with an illustration of how the patterns can be applied to a tune played on fiddle.
McKee played in the Chicago area in the 1980s with the likes of Liz Carroll and Martin Hayes, and was a member of the group Nomos in Ireland in the 1990s. The "Tutor" performance video shows him accompanying former Nomos concertina player Niall Vallely--video demonstrations on actual tunes are also done to Niall's concertina. The tutor is intended for instruments tuned GDAE, but the Beginners tutorial contains a section of chord charts for the GDAD tuning. The Beginners tutorial begins with chord charts and rhythmic patterns, the latter shown on video, then put the two together, first in form of exercises on short chord progressions, then as applied to specific jigs and reels. For each tune, a simple chord progression is shown first (typically first-position chords), then a more complex one, supported by discussion of substitutions, bass lines, and other tools of the trade. The same format is followed in the Advanced tutorial, applied to more complex jigs and reels, as well as to a couple of hornpipes and one slip jig.
BUTTON ACCORDION B/Ctaught byDEREK HICKEY
A former member of the groups Arcady and De Dannan, Derek Hickey presents a great deal of material on his tutorial, which is structured like the others, with a progression from Beginners to Advanced.
This famous fiddle player was a founding member of the group Four Men and a Dog. His formidable technique is revealed, following the progression common to all the tutorials from Berginners to Advanced materials. Although bowing is not discussed at great lengths, it is transcribed precisely in musical notation.
Niall Vallely is well-known as the Armagh-born member of the band Nomos and as a virtuoso of the Irish concertina, whose technique reflects the recent trends in the playing style of other free-reed instruments in Irish music. The instrument used in the tutorial is a 30-button Jeffries, the layout of which is diagramed in the introduction. The tutoring proper consists of the usual selection of progressively more complicated tunes, airs, polkas, jigs, reels, etc, with appropriate demonstrations of ornaments. An useful aspect of this tutorial is that some of the video clips are presented in split-screen mode, so as to allow a close view of both sides of the instrument. Otherwise, a front angle is used, with which both hands are also visible but from further away. The two are often combined, split-screen for the clips of slow playing on individual parts of a tune, front angle for the clip where the tune is played in its entirety. Some aspects of Vallely's personal (pyro?) techniques are covered in the tutorial as well. Another well thought-out product.
Seamus Egan is a member of the New York based group Solas, and is well known for his instrumental prowesses. While this tutorial is mostly about standard Irish flute technique, and only rarely deals with what makes the Egan sound, it presents an awful lot of material suitable for Beginners and Advanced players.
GUITAR taught byJOHN DOYLE
John Doyle, well-known through his work with Eileen Ivers, Seamus Egan, and the group Solas, probably doesn't need much more of an introduction. Like in the bouzouki tutor, video/sound examples are performed to the music of Niall Vallely's concertina. John tunes his guitar in "drop-D," i.e., with the bass string tuned down to D. He also plays left-handed, so watching the videos is like looking in a mirror and takes a little getting used to. The tutor is structured very similarly to the bouzouki CD-ROM, with chord charts and rhythms presented in the Beginners section, then applied to a variety of tunes with different options of chord progressions, and further tunes being explored in the Advanced section. One notable section is the extensive group of exercises and video clips relating to John's trademark dampening techniques.
Karen Tweed is one of the players who have done much in recent years to help the cause of this otherwise much maligned instrument in Irish music circles. She is not only a consummate technician, but she also knows her Irish music and knows how to apply that technique to produce music in the traditional idiom. Karen plays a 72-bass model, and the first section of the Beginners tutorial is devoted to handling the bass side of the instrument. This is followed by some simple tunes in D and G, first played only on the melody side, then with bass accompaniment. Then it's on to jigs and reels, first in basic settings, then, following demonstrations of various ornaments, in ornamented versions. The Advanced tutorial adds on with more jigs and reels, as well as polkas, slides, and hornpipes. Throughout, the music notation includes fingering for the right and left hands.
A former member of Four Men and a Dog, Gerry O'Connor is a virtuoso of the 4-string tenor banjo and has produced other tutorials for the instrument in book and video form. Although he is known to use the tenor tuning C-G-D-A, he plays in standard fiddle tuning G-D-A-E for this tutorial.
A native of Armagh and a member of the band Flook, Brian Finnegan is known for his great technical skills and very personal approach to the instrument. Although he covers all the basic material one would expects in such a tutorial, he also presents some of the techniques and ornaments unique to his playing.
A highly respected player of this unique and complex Irish instrument and a teacher at the famous Pipers' Club of Dublin, Sean Og Potts is extraordinarily thorough in his presentation of the techniques which constitute the art of piping. The "performance" video, for which Potts plays on a flat set pitched in B, sounds absolutely heavenly.