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What is an Irish Air?

GUEST,Arkie 13 May 08 - 01:10 PM
PoppaGator 13 May 08 - 01:18 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 13 May 08 - 01:37 PM
MMario 13 May 08 - 01:38 PM
Good Soldier Schweik 13 May 08 - 01:39 PM
Geoff Wallis 13 May 08 - 01:59 PM
Peace 13 May 08 - 02:04 PM
catspaw49 13 May 08 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Arkie 13 May 08 - 09:18 PM
Sorcha 13 May 08 - 10:31 PM
JedMarum 13 May 08 - 11:51 PM
GUEST,Q as guest 14 May 08 - 12:44 AM
Escapee 14 May 08 - 12:52 AM
Seamus Kennedy 14 May 08 - 01:12 AM
Paul Burke 14 May 08 - 03:06 AM
Jim Carroll 14 May 08 - 03:16 AM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 03:25 AM
MartinRyan 14 May 08 - 03:37 AM
skarpi 14 May 08 - 03:44 AM
Fidjit 14 May 08 - 04:08 AM
MartinRyan 14 May 08 - 04:36 AM
GUEST,Arkie 14 May 08 - 07:33 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:37 PM
MartinRyan 14 May 08 - 07:39 PM
MartinRyan 14 May 08 - 07:40 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:42 PM
MartinRyan 14 May 08 - 07:47 PM
Dave the Gnome 14 May 08 - 07:53 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 14 May 08 - 09:37 PM
Sorcha 14 May 08 - 10:18 PM
Mo the caller 15 May 08 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,MikeS 15 May 08 - 04:18 PM
Peace 15 May 08 - 05:19 PM
GUEST,MikeS 15 May 08 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,MikeS 15 May 08 - 06:16 PM
Marje 16 May 08 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Arkie 16 May 08 - 04:37 PM
Big Al Whittle 17 May 08 - 04:42 AM
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Subject: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:10 PM

I have seen tunes defined as Irish Airs. What factors determine this description? Is it simply a melody played at a slow tempo? Is the air played in 2/4, 3/4, 4/4 timing or something different?

Also what determines whether a tune is a "waltz"? Is every melody composed in 3/4 time a waltz or is there some other criterion?

Thankss for your help with this.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:18 PM

I'll take a stab at this, but I'm NOT an authority.

My understanding of the term "air" is that it means a melody or tune, and is used in reference both to the melodies of songs which also have lyrics as well as to purely instrumental tunes.

In fact, I believe that the common use of the word "tune" in Anglo/Celtic folk-music circles as referring specifically to instrumental pieces without vocal parts is why the alternative term "air" is used in reference to melodies considered on their own, whether or not they are customarily performed with or without words.

Some people, if not all of them, use the word "waltz" to refer to anything in 3/4 time. I would be interested in learning what criteria, if any, might be used to differentiate "true" waltzes from other 3/4-time pieces.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:37 PM

airs should be played freely,there is an example on my website,Cape Clearhttp://www.dickmiles.com


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MMario
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:38 PM

I googled "waltz" and found this additional information:
"having one chord per measure, with the root of the chord being the first note of the measure."


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Good Soldier Schweik
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:39 PM

waltzes have the emphasis on the first beat.Mazurkas are also in3/4 time,but have a different emphasis.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Geoff Wallis
Date: 13 May 08 - 01:59 PM

Within Ireland the term 'air' is generally used to refer to the tune of a song, especially those derived from the sean-nós tradition.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Peace
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:04 PM

Here's an example.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: catspaw49
Date: 13 May 08 - 02:26 PM

A rich concoction of semi-breathable gases emanating from selected pubs composed of the smell of aged oak, strong tobacco, stale whiskey, and essence of ale vomit.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 13 May 08 - 09:18 PM

Thanks to all for the help. Would it be accurate to say that "air" is an expression used by the Irish for a song or tune? Is "If Ever You Were Mine" an air or a waltz?


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Sorcha
Date: 13 May 08 - 10:31 PM

I'd say an aire....but it could be danced to as a waltz. And yes, an Aire/air is generally slower....and played 'freely' as to time....


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: JedMarum
Date: 13 May 08 - 11:51 PM

It is commonly used to mean simply; tune. Any poem, any story needs an air to be become a song. It may well have had various additional definitions - but now-a-days you'll see it commonly used as a synonym for tune.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,Q as guest
Date: 14 May 08 - 12:44 AM

What is a Scottish air? What is a French air? JedMarum says it clearly. Sometimes it means the writer thinks the tune used in a song is Irish or Ukrainian or whatever, but doesn't really know.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Escapee
Date: 14 May 08 - 12:52 AM

I used to play in a mostly Polish wedding band and we played something called ( I think ) a helvetic or something like that. It was a dance in 3/4 time but faster than a waltz. It had a Polish air about it.
SKP


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 14 May 08 - 01:12 AM

But then there's the SLOW air...


Seamus


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:06 AM

I'd always thought that the difference between an 'air' and other tunes was that an air is a song tune, and consequently played as you would sing it. How that is depends on the song, and I've sometimes been advised that you can't properly interpret many Irish (Gaelic) airs unless you have at least a smattering of Irish so as to get the phrasing right. But generally, the rhythm and phrasing will be freer, and decoration and variation more to be encouraged.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:16 AM

In 'The Companion To Irish Traditional Music' - the font of a lot of wisdom, Fintan Vallely gives:
"Often used to describe the melody of a tune, how the tune goes - as in 'what is the air of The Merry Blacksmith?' Also used as 'an air', abbreviation for 'slow air'".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:25 AM

Shouldn't that be an Irish Eire?

I'll get my coat...

:D


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:37 AM

...or even MY goat!

Jim Carroll, quoting Fintan Vallely, has it nailed.

Regards


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: skarpi
Date: 14 May 08 - 03:44 AM

its a better air than the british its cleaner LOL


ATB Skarpi Iceland


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Fidjit
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:08 AM

From a cockney it's his Barnet.

Chas


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 May 08 - 04:36 AM

Fair enough!


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:33 PM

I appreciate all of you who took the time to comment on this. I do have a better understanding at this point of some things that I have always taken for granted. A precursory search of the internet provide nothing, but that could have been due to the mispelling of "aire". I figured Mudcatters would come through.

Would it be accurate to say that "aire" refers to songs or music that would not normally be used for dances or does not fall into other categories such as reels, marches, hornpipes, waltzes, etc.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:37 PM

I've not got my goat yet.

What about the London Derriere? Better known as Ken Livingstone or Boris Johnson?

Now I have got it...

:D


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:39 PM

"aire" is NEVER used in the context of Irish music, to my knowledge. "Air" is used in the two senses quoted by Jim Carroll, above. Which of the two applies in a particular case must be judged by the context. As ever, ambiguity can arise where the user is not familiar with that context.

Regards


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:40 PM

Dave

Not intending to start a row but - mind your stroke!

Regards


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:42 PM

:D

Funny thing is I was a


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:47 PM

Maybe I should BOW out....

Regards


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 14 May 08 - 07:53 PM

Dunno what ate my post!

:D

Funny thing is I was at the Manchester/Salford boat race on Saturday.

Isn't row the same as stroke...

Coat on it's way now.

:D


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 14 May 08 - 09:37 PM

In Ireland the term "Derry Air" is the tune for Danny Boy.
In France the term has a different meaning altogether. :-}


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Sorcha
Date: 14 May 08 - 10:18 PM

Aye, it does, Sandy......shall we now introduce the 'fanny pack' vs the 'bum bag' here?





















Sorry for the drift.....


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 15 May 08 - 09:23 AM

When dancing at clubs that do Playford and other older dances, we are often told of dances with 3/4 tunes "this is not a waltz", and that we should phrase it with 6 even step across 2 bars instead of ONE, two, three - a long and 2 short steps / bar.
Then ther is the minuet, which I know nothing about except that it is also 3/4.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,MikeS
Date: 15 May 08 - 04:18 PM

Surely it depends on whether or not it is pubic, or just in private?


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Peace
Date: 15 May 08 - 05:19 PM

Pubic is private unless one wishes to share, no?


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,MikeS
Date: 15 May 08 - 06:09 PM

I think I prefer to share in private.. bus drivers are an intolerant lot at the best of times.

A good many Irish airs are ginger, I believe.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,MikeS
Date: 15 May 08 - 06:16 PM

... although the older ones tend to be longer, and often with alternative endings.

Ok, I'm going.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Marje
Date: 16 May 08 - 01:43 PM

As I understand it, an "air" is another word for a melody. But in folk music it is (as someone has said up there) often used for those tunes that are not easily categorised as dance tunes (jig, reel, hornpipe etc), and therefore tends to denote the slower tunes and song melodies. People often call a slow tune with no discernible dance rhythm an "air" or "slow air" (particularly in Irish and Scottish music), and as it's not being played as a dance tune it may be played more loosely and lyrically.

Not all 3/4 tunes are waltzes. Airs in 3/4 were around for centuries before the waltz came into being; some of these may happen to suit the waltz, but others do not. There are other 3/4 dances (eg mazurka, bourree, minuet) that have different stresses from that of a waltz, and there are also many old song-tunes and free-standing "airs" in 3/4 that are not really waltzes. The tune referred to as "Michael Turner's Waltz", for example, predates the waltz and is more like a minuet in its stress pattern (nor is it Micheal Turner's, but that's another issue).


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 16 May 08 - 04:37 PM

I am grateful to all for the information and comments. This has been helpful. Marje your comments have added some insight and summed up other things offered here quite well. I certainly have a better understanding of the air and the waltz. This question arose because I have been writing notes for a radio program airing locally here in Arkansas but streaming to the internet. One of the selections we are using was described by the performer as a waltz. The timing was 3/4 but did not have the rhythm I associate with a waltz. I have no formal music training and very little informal training for that matter. I just listen to music and once played for the fun of it. Got no help by browsing the internet and turned to the experts. Glad I did. Much obliged, as the old folk in Virginia used to say.


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Subject: RE: What is an Irish Air?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 17 May 08 - 04:42 AM

all a bit airy fairy, really...........

sometimes musicians frown into the middle distance and say, I'm trying to remember the air itself....

particularly those who find themselves trapped in a mental vacuum.


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