The rich heritage of Celtic musics, so key to the formation of American vernacular styles, is itself the cultural birthplace of human harmonic thought. My students of the Irish dance tradition, mostly flute and tenor banjo players, build their repertoires from this stuctural ground up. The idioms deriving from these elemental harmonies constitute the tune building blocks and the vocabulary of variations and ornaments central to proper style.
Over my thirty years of performing and teaching this music I've guided many players into this tunesmithing consciousness, most often through learning by ear, which has elicited some wonderful compositions as well as keen mouth music! This goes a long way in helping this new generation of the Irish revival break free from rote dependence on notated collections. On the string instruments (including the guitar in both standard and DADGAD tuning) I develop accompaniment skills with a full variety of rhythms and countrapuntal motion.