Grip Switching

The following videos are central products of my research, and document the process of “grip switching” that I have developed. Grip switching is the ability to switch between a variety of different grip postures in the moment of performance. Like the creative processes described by Ó Súilleabháin (1990), it is a process that enables variation and extemporisation within the framework of traditional Irish dance tunes. This process allows me to vary the texture, swing, accent patterns and ornamentation of my playing at will by shifting between a variety of different grip postures each of which afford their own characteristic ways of articulating basic quaver motor rhythms and associated ornamentation.

The videos are annotated with text to describe the various grip postures as I switch between them: "Mercier", "O'Donoghue", "Ó Riada", "Reverse Ó Riada" and "John Joe Kelly". The basic strokes of these grip postures are demonstrated in the Table of Grip Postures.

The videos here are embedded from the YouTube video platform, and can be viewed fullscreen in high definition. Playback speed can be adjusted via the settings button in the player to allow the grip switching movements to be viewed in slow motion.

Rather than notating these performances in their entirety, I refer the reader to the linked pdf "schemata" to the right of the videos. These attempt to notationally represent modular rhythmic concepts, a selection of which I embody and combine in these videos. The notation system was developed over the course of this research.

Grip Switching Jigs (accompanying Finbarr Dwyer)

Grip Switching Polkas (accompanying Pat Fleming)