There is certainly more to any music than the dots on the page.
A lot of the nuances of style are unwritten, (unwritable?),
whether you are talking about French baroque flute, 
or modern North Northumbrian traditional fiddle.  

I must read Stewart Hardy's book; 
if he writes as well as he plays, then it will be well worth a read.
He certainly plays like someone who has thought very hard about how he wants to 

But some of these nuances are subject to local (and individual) variations.
I remember when I listened to the Holey Ha'penny record for the first time 
about 30 years ago, 
I was struck by this variety of styles. 

That richness is one of the strengths of the tradition - long may it continue!


-----Original Message-----
From: [] On Behalf Of 
Anthony Robb
Sent: 27 May 2009 16:46
To: Dartmouth NPS
Subject: [NSP] Aural tradition

   Hello John
   Many musicians kept books of dots to help them remember tunes. Better
   scholars than me have pointed out that the inadequacies of these
   books/dots in conveying the dialect, lilt, style, whatever you want to
   call it make it imperative that the tunes are passed on along with the
   style, approach etc. aurally.
   Stewart Hardy has very recently produced an excellent work called "The
   Secret of Jigs" which analyses this from a "classical" stand point and
   is well worth a read (even for pipers).
   Let's face it, if it hadn't been for the aural traditions the recent
   discussions re styles and interpretations would not have been so
   As Stewart points out, dots are fine once the syle of the region has
   been studied memorised and then internalised. It is only after these
   fundamentals have been put in place that we can  call ourselves
   traditional musicians and than start to expand repertoire via dots,
   experiment and make the music our own but connected to what has gone
   Hope this makes sense.


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