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Trad. players show signs of boredom ?

Shaneo 10 Oct 07 - 10:45 AM
stallion 10 Oct 07 - 10:46 AM
Leadfingers 10 Oct 07 - 10:48 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 10 Oct 07 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,Young Buchan 10 Oct 07 - 11:31 AM
Bernard 10 Oct 07 - 11:45 AM
Peace 10 Oct 07 - 11:46 AM
Jack Campin 10 Oct 07 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,PMB 10 Oct 07 - 12:41 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Oct 07 - 12:50 PM
TheSnail 10 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Oct 07 - 01:16 PM
Declan 10 Oct 07 - 02:27 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Oct 07 - 02:34 PM
Greg B 10 Oct 07 - 03:02 PM
Tootler 10 Oct 07 - 04:14 PM
Jack Campin 10 Oct 07 - 04:26 PM
PoppaGator 10 Oct 07 - 04:31 PM
Barry Finn 10 Oct 07 - 05:07 PM
Barry Finn 10 Oct 07 - 05:15 PM
Greg B 10 Oct 07 - 05:29 PM
Richard Bridge 10 Oct 07 - 05:32 PM
Tootler 10 Oct 07 - 06:11 PM
Barry Finn 10 Oct 07 - 06:35 PM
martin ellison 10 Oct 07 - 07:19 PM
GUEST,PMB 11 Oct 07 - 03:23 AM
GUEST 11 Oct 07 - 04:30 AM
GUEST,LTS pretending to work 11 Oct 07 - 04:31 AM
TheSnail 11 Oct 07 - 04:52 AM
redsnapper 11 Oct 07 - 05:08 AM
Big Al Whittle 11 Oct 07 - 05:20 AM
the button 11 Oct 07 - 02:08 PM
Tootler 11 Oct 07 - 02:25 PM
Tootler 11 Oct 07 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,Val 11 Oct 07 - 05:10 PM
Shaneo 11 Oct 07 - 05:44 PM
Richard Bridge 11 Oct 07 - 06:16 PM
Tootler 11 Oct 07 - 07:31 PM
stallion 11 Oct 07 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,LTS pretending to work 12 Oct 07 - 02:33 AM
martin ellison 12 Oct 07 - 08:27 AM
Leadfingers 12 Oct 07 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,Young Buchan 12 Oct 07 - 09:25 AM
Lowden Jameswright 12 Oct 07 - 12:11 PM
TheSnail 13 Oct 07 - 08:29 AM
Lowden Jameswright 13 Oct 07 - 01:42 PM
Declan 14 Oct 07 - 06:42 AM
Bonzo3legs 14 Oct 07 - 02:02 PM
Big Al Whittle 14 Oct 07 - 02:53 PM
paula t 14 Oct 07 - 05:31 PM
paula t 14 Oct 07 - 05:36 PM
tutti flutti 14 Oct 07 - 05:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Oct 07 - 05:49 PM
Tootler 14 Oct 07 - 06:20 PM
Peace 14 Oct 07 - 06:24 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 14 Oct 07 - 07:26 PM
Jack Campin 14 Oct 07 - 07:30 PM
paula t 14 Oct 07 - 07:32 PM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 14 Oct 07 - 07:32 PM
Lowden Jameswright 15 Oct 07 - 09:00 AM
GUEST,Bardan 15 Oct 07 - 09:59 AM
PMB 15 Oct 07 - 10:34 AM
tutti flutti 15 Oct 07 - 11:20 AM
TheSnail 15 Oct 07 - 11:43 AM
tutti flutti 15 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM
TheSnail 15 Oct 07 - 01:19 PM
Declan 15 Oct 07 - 01:46 PM
PeadarOfPortsmouth 15 Oct 07 - 01:47 PM
tutti flutti 15 Oct 07 - 02:07 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Oct 07 - 06:31 PM
Richard Bridge 15 Oct 07 - 06:48 PM
Lowden Jameswright 16 Oct 07 - 04:22 AM
tutti flutti 16 Oct 07 - 05:51 AM
Lowden Jameswright 16 Oct 07 - 10:43 AM
Liz the Squeak 16 Oct 07 - 11:19 AM
Big Al Whittle 16 Oct 07 - 11:42 AM
Richard Bridge 16 Oct 07 - 05:47 PM
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Subject: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Shaneo
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 10:45 AM

I attend many sessions , there is usually a good mixture of traditional tunes and some folk songs.
The guitar players, who are normally singers anyway will back up the fiddle and banjo players or whatever instrument is doing the lead and will not show any sign of being bored[for want of a better word], But I have noticed on many occasions when the guitar player sings a song that the traditional instrument players, be it banjo, fiddle, accordion shows sings of agitation or bored or not really wanting to back up the singer, as if it's beneath them.
Has anybody noticed this ?


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: stallion
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 10:46 AM

no


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 10:48 AM

The problem from where I am sat at sessions , is that so often , the singer does NOT want any accompaniment at all ! And IF they are singing unnaccompanied , that is perfectly reasonable !


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:00 AM

Looking bored is OK it's when they decide to talk among themselves while the singer is trying to be heard. Particularly noticeable with five string banjo players when the singer isn't singing in the key that they have decided to play in all night long. "Oh, can't you sing it in D?"

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,Young Buchan
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:31 AM

LOOK bored? There was a club (now defunct) in one of the pit villages of Yakkerland where, upon the start of a song, I have seen all the musicians get up and go into the next bar until they judged it was time for more music.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Bernard
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:45 AM

Some people like to play tunes, but don't have the same enthusiasm for songs, just as others like to sing but don't have the same enthusiasm for playing tunes.

Some of us are equally at home with both... each to their own!

Perhaps 'bored' isn't the right word... they just aren't interested and want to get back to playing tunes. It's nothing to do with feeling it's 'beneath them'... it just doesn't float their boat.

'Accompaniment' is a skill, and melodic instrument players do not necessarily have that skill because they often don't need it. It is more normal for a guitarist to be comfortable as an accompanist, but there are exceptions.

It would be very boring if we all liked the same thing...


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Peace
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:46 AM

Some of that has to do with stage manners. I was on stage with a fellow at an 'open mike'; he'd asked to 'back' me. Anyway, he decided it would be a good time to show off his facial expressions and some guitar work that had lotsa flash but didn't really complement the song I was singing. Long story short, when we finished the song I leaned over to him (and he to me). I whispered, "Get the fu#k off my stage or I'll punch your lites out." He left and we haven't spoken since. Been 35 years.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 11:51 AM

Even if the singer wants the accompaniment, it may not always be easy. If the song is something a bit unfamiliar, an accompanist will have to edge their way into it slowly until they get the hang of it and have an accompaniment idea that will work. Easy to do on a guitar, not so easy if your instrument can only take a dominant role (e.g. tin whistle, which will be out of tune if played quietly).

Staying in the background to add subtle touches of sound here and there is possible on an accordion, but the only players I've known who could do it well were *very* experienced.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 12:41 PM

And it never happens the other way round ? Singers don't look bored when the diddly diddle is going on? The real problem is the mixed session, where everybody wants it to concentrate on their favourite type of music, and can't wait for any other type to finish. Most players I know would prefer a playing only session, without spoons and drums of all sorts by special invitation only. Most singers I know specialise into English and Scottish trad (hand on ear), Irish (Shores of Erin, Fields of Athenry, Dirty Old Town etc.), American folk, or blues (there are a couple of other sorts too). None of them can wait for any of the others to finish, though they are united in their dislike of the tunemakers. OK I'm exaggerating, but not a lot.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 12:50 PM

Yes.

I do several songs in F# - they suit (insofar as anything does) my voice and the guitar there, and I frequently get asked if I can't do them in "G" which is a vocal strain and results in a particular repeated chord getting missed a lot because the heel of the guitar is in the way.

But of course usually they wait until you are starting the song or the intro to it and go off hell for leather on the banjo in G (or D it it's a tenor) whatever key you are in.

I (mostly) don't care how loud they play so long as they play it with me and not against me. I'd rather they joined in, I'm not a prima donna (much)


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: TheSnail
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM

GUEST,PMB

Irish (Shores of Erin, Fields of Athenry, Dirty Old Town etc.)

Wonderful. That snippet relates to several current threads.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 01:16 PM

For a bunch of musicians to accompany a singer and not mess things up is much harder than to do the same for other musical instruments. Much better - and much politer too - to take a rest and listen.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Declan
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 02:27 PM

PMB,

In case you don't understand TheSnails post above two of the three songs you mention as Irish above were written by Ewan McColl an Englishman of Scottish descent. I might be wrong but I don't know of a song called the Shores of Erin - McColl's song is called "The Shoals of Herring"

Shaneo,

It depends on lots of things - the song, the singer, the session the musicians etc. I know many musicians who love singing and are delighted when someone sings in a session. I know others who hate singing and are likely to pack up as soon as a song starts. Most are between these extremes. It can also depend on the quality of the singing, the style of song chosen and how frequently the singer sings during the session. Or it can simply be a matter that the musician is tired. I often yawn involuntarily during a session, particularly if its late at night. No insult is intended.

Having said that I've often seen singers behave really rudely while tunes are being played at sessions - talking loudly, shouting to their friends at the other side of the room. There are some singers (by no means all) who think that if there are no words to a tune its not worth any respect or being listened to. Some of these are the first to demand absolute silence for singers.

Usually a bit of give and take can sort these things out. If you would like the musicians to back you when you sing, let them know that. Many people still bear the scars (phyhsical and emotional) of daring to try to back a singer who wanted to sing unaccompanied.

If the musicians choose not to that is their choice. As others have said they may be doing you a favour.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 02:34 PM

I'm sure that Shores of Erin was a mistake for Shoals of Herring just there - but see here The Soft Shores of Erin

To the soft shores of Erin I escaped one autumn day,
to ask her patient rocks and ancient hills to soothe my tired dismay.
And while the sun that had warmed the heroes
lit my lone and winding way,
among her cities, towns and people I did stray....


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Greg B
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 03:02 PM

...still trying to get my head 'round the idea that the
shift from F# to G is a 'vocal strain'

I mean, don't most people find that their range goes up and
down by more than a half step just depending on how many pints
or how much sleep they've had?


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 04:14 PM

Richard Bridge has made it clear in several threads that he does not like tune sessions.

Given that I find the reason he gives for choosing F# in such circumstances a just teeny bit unconvincing.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 04:26 PM

I suspect Tootler has an A=415 recorder in a drawer somewhere. I have.

I also have a C clarinet pitched at A=460, which is equally useful for playing in concert F#, and I'm learning the chromatic button accordion, where all keys are equal.

Maybe we should pay a visit to Richard's session sometime.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 04:31 PM

Right on, Greg B and Tootler. It's difficult to give any credulity to the assertion that a half-step change in key would make a meaningful difference in one's ability to vocally "reach" the notes of a song.

Furthermore, the argument that F# is an easier key than G in which to play anything ~ on the guitar ~ is even harder to swallow.

The only way I'd even attempt to play my guitar in F# ~ especially to "jam" or play unfamiliar material in an improvisational situation ~ would be to capo at the second fret and play in E. (Key of F is tough enough; F#? Fuggeddabouttit!!!)

I'd prefer to play in the key of G, if I could only capo down a half-step, but I haven't yet perfected that technique...


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 05:07 PM

Some songs for some singers are pitched in the exact range that's preferred for their voice. The range of the song may be extreme & just a half step up or down does make a difference to the voice when sung at it's lowest or highest range. The singer should sing it where they are best able, it's up to others to adjust for accompaniment & to know wither or not accompaniment is productive or not. Sometimes a slight nod of the head & a look in a musician's direction will give a hint.

Most sessions have their own personal dynamics & I've usually found that most are temperamental & have their own personalities & there own unwritten rules & guidelines & those sometimes changes depending who's there attending & whose leading it. But all should have respect for each other. We've been through session etiquette before. IMHO the best sessions have a mix of dancing, singing playing & maybe even a recitation here & there. If some musicians want to use a song as a break & go off to have a chat or a smoke so be it as long as they as discreet about it & the same for the singers respecting the musicians, seldom do I see any dancing or hear a recitation anymore I I hear less singing at sessions than I did 20-25 years ago, much less. Which I believe's the reason for the recent (past 20 yrs) singer's only sessions. The session I attend in Portsmouth (US) at the Press Room there always seems to be a internal twisting to find a balance between song & tune & depending on whose there it's never the same but form some reason it always finds it's level balance, sometimes being 40/60% or 60/40% but most times it's pretty close to 50/50% & most enjoy it that way without getting bored or impatient.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 05:15 PM

Cross posted

Tooler, Greg B & Poppa, if the songs can be sung easily enough with a change up or down a half step or so fine but some songs, st least that I sing, are right where it's best for my voice & a half step change is to me at least for me can be a noticable change in it delivery & in it's diffculty in singing it. So to change it here, I'd perfere not to sing it instead. Just think on how many times a singer starts a song & has to change the key because they've started to high or to low. Give the singer the break when they want to sing it in the range that's best for them & sit it out if need be.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Greg B
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 05:29 PM

>The singer should sing it where they are best able, it's up to others >to adjust for accompaniment

Spoken like a bodhran player

To some extent, that's true. However, if the singer actually
wants accompaniment, then it behooves him or her to pick
a realistic key for the instruments likely to be accompanying. I'd
maintain that if you can only sing a given song in some esoteric
key, it's quite likely that the song may be beyond your abilities.

Similarly, there's a question of choice of material--- pick a song
with a chorus, or one where other session musicians can enjoy
contributing, versus a ballad with 3,972 verses.

You don't generally hear fiddlers taking off in the key of G-flat,
even if they're one of the ones who can, or playing some tune that
nobody knows or can play along with, time after time. Why should
the singers do that, in what's supposed to be a social collaboration
of musicians?

Indeed, in Cajun sessions, the fiddler often tunes down a step
to accommodate the box players, who in Cajun tradition are most often
(though not always) playing one-row C boxes.

So--- I don't think that the 'rules' or 'etiquette' is really
all that different. If people are sitting around looking bored,
well then, they ARE bored and if you're the one who's boring them,
well then, try not to in future!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 05:32 PM

Well, poppagator and tootler, I use a partial capo quite a lot. I like the sound. It sounds a bit like DADGAD. If I put an ordinary capo at the second fret and the partial capo is then on the fourth, the "B" type chord (F shaped) is now at the 9th fret. But to get the "open chord" sound it means I need to fret the top E string (at C#) with my first finger, let the B string ring, and fret the G and D with my second and ring fingers. Then the A string is left to ring, and I need to get my thumb over the top to fret the fat string.

That leaves my wrist bent back and touching the heel. Shift it up a semitone and it's very very difficult.

Likewise I can more or less hit an F sharp, vocally (not necessarily prettily). But a G is really really hard work, and if it comes round every verse in a 6 verse song, I know by the end of the song that I have pounded my voice more than a bit.

If you don't believe me PM the Barden of England, or Growler, or Kev the Clogs, or Melodeonboy, or TDL, or Woodsie, or Kenneth Ingham, who see me do it regularly. Breton Cap saw it happen at Tenterden last weekend, likewise the rest of Travelling Folk in attendance (and Synbyn).

If I'm jamming in and am the instrumental accompaniment to a singer-guitarist, I'll usually use the mandolin and capo to play in D, G, or C or F, for preference.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 06:11 PM

To Barry Finn:

I appreciate what you are saying and I agree that there are circumstances where the range of the song is just within that of your voice, so the key you sing in on such occasions is critical. I have had the same experience you describe of starting too high on such a song.

However I remain a little sceptical in the particular case mentioned for the reason I gave originally. I would much rather people just came out and said from the outset that they would prefer others not to accompany them instead of resorting to such subterfuges.

To Jack Campin:

As it happens, I don't have a 415 recorder and given the price they are, even second hand, I doubt I will get one now. I don't think I would play it enough to justify the expenditure to myself let alone to a certain other in the house. It would be a neat way to subvert the intention behind the choice of key, though :-) Come to think of it, someone with a B/C box should be able to accompany OK and subvert the choice of key. Just play up and down the B row getting the E# (as Fnat) from the C row.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 06:35 PM

Hi Greg
You know my voice, if a song's beyond my abilities I won't bother to learn it much less sing it.

It's a matter if you want accompaniment or not. Personnally when I sing I usually don't care, there are some/few exceptions. I don't ask for accompaniment but I don't frown on it either. So if I sing in a session anyone's welcome to play alog or not but I'll sing it in the key that I've learned it in because I put a lot of time, effort, energy & pratice in finding where I want to sing it & over time that key is where I'll start it (usually) & I'll stay with unless I'm off. If I need to stretch my vocal cords because I'm to low or to highThat's not doing me or the song any justice nor is it fair to the listener not to put it in the best place possible.

If you want accompaniment & you can ajust the songs' key & it fit for the musicians that's fine & that's a different matter, but the song should come first, always.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: martin ellison
Date: 10 Oct 07 - 07:19 PM

In my experience only:
Many people can play a tune (it's usually only two 8 bar phrases repeated). Fewer people can sing a song (often similar in structure tunewise but ALL those words!). Therefore singers are outnumbered. We're talking about sessions here and everybody wants to do their bit. It's fairly easy to learn 2 or 3 tunes a week but much more difficult to learn a song.
It's just a matter of percentages - more can play tunes (and want to at the drop of a hat) than can sing songs.
Of course if the singer/song is interesting/well performed etc. then we (yes, I'm amongst 'em) wouldn't be bored.
Now we need to address those who play tunes which make others look bored.
Martin


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,PMB
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 03:23 AM

Godsake Declan Snail, I thought it was Americans who were supposed to be short changed by the ironymongers.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 04:30 AM

"The singer should sing it where they are best able, it's up to others >to adjust for accompaniment"

That's almost exactly the reason I sing in Eb and a half, so people DON'T accompany me! If I want to be accompanied it will be to the bar where they can buy me a pint.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,LTS pretending to work
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 04:31 AM

Sorry, that was me above, forgot to sign in!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: TheSnail
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 04:52 AM

GUEST,PMB

Godsake Declan Snail, I thought it was Americans who were supposed to be short changed by the ironymongers.

Sorry PMB, couldn't hear the tone of you voice. Trouble is, your comment had a a lot of truth in it.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: redsnapper
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 05:08 AM

Perhaps I am lucky but that has rarely been my experience. I am mainly a player but like backing songs and, in the sessions I go to, others players do too. There is always the odd exception of course and you do get the odd "purist" session of songs or tunes. I tend to avoid those personally as that does not fit my philosophy as far a music is concerned. In all cases, respect and sensitivity for others are important and form the backbone of the unwritten session etiquette. I do appreciate that, for the occasional individual, learning and playing the tunes is a lot easier than learning and observing the etiquette.

RS


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 05:20 AM

' I was on stage with a fellow at an 'open mike'; he'd asked to 'back' me. Anyway, he decided it would be a good time to show off his facial expressions and some guitar work that had lotsa flash but didn't really complement the song I was singing. Long story short, when we finished the song I leaned over to him (and he to me). I whispered, "Get the fu#k off my stage or I'll punch your lites out." He left and we haven't spoken since. Been 35 years.@

love that story! Felt it was worth repeating!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: the button
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 02:08 PM

I would never dream of just chipping in with an accompaniment to a singer unless invited, no matter how informal the session.

If I was singing, I wouldn't expect anyone chipping in, either, but wouldn't kick off if they did in a "session" context. This said, one of the best chippers-in I ever came across was a truly wonderful trumpet player(!), who'd mastered the art of playing quietly & could weave in the most beautiful countermelodies.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 02:25 PM

That's almost exactly the reason I sing in Eb and a half, so people DON'T accompany me! If I want to be accompanied it will be to the bar where they can buy me a pint.

If you don't want to be accompanied, why can't you just say so instead of resorting to such subterfuges?


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 02:40 PM

In my experience only:

Many people can play a tune (it's usually only two 8 bar phrases repeated). Fewer people can sing a song (often similar in structure tunewise but ALL those words!). Therefore singers are outnumbered. We're talking about sessions here and everybody wants to do their bit. It's fairly easy to learn 2 or 3 tunes a week but much more difficult to learn a song.

There's a huge fallacy in this argument.

I don't know if you play an instrument or not. I suspect not or you would not have said what you did. Do you know how much effort has to go into learning to play an instrument? Yes, once you get competent, you can learn tunes reasonably quickly, but there is a lot of effort needed to get there.

On the other hand everyone can sing, maybe not well, but everyone can sing. You may have to expend effort learning the songs and yes there are words as well as music to learn, but the ability to sing is already there.

As someone who does both, I do find it takes time to learn words, but to learn to play a tune, I find I first need to be able to sing it or I use the dots and commit it to memory. Either way, both take time and effort and I don't think one is easier than the other.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 05:10 PM

I'm going digress slightly and be overly picky here - I really don't think any offense was meant - but...

Several posts refer to "Singers" separate from "Musicians".

Wouldn't it be more accurate to say "Singers" and "Instrumentalists"? (Or maybe "Players" - after a few rounds I may stumble over 5-syllable words). After all, whoever is making music is a Musician. Right?

Do you think maybe the practice of referring to instrumentalists as Musicians and to vocalists as Singers could propogate some (perhaps unconscious) feelings that singers are somehow second-class citizens, below the "real" Musicians? Is that a thought-pattern you (any of y'all) want to foster & grow?

Just food for thought. Not accusing anybody of anything.

Val


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Shaneo
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 05:44 PM

Some great replies as usual, What I was really on about was the session players who play together every week, it's as if the musicians have got to a very high standard of playing and then the guitar player strikes up with a little 4 liner folk song, 'To Hell With This, This Song Is Too Easy For Me attitude from the lead players. thank f,,, that's over , then back to the real music he says to himself.
Everybody needs to be accommodated at sessions, a good mixture of all, never show signs of boordom, even if you are.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 06:16 PM

Hello, is anyone listening?

I'm all for instrumentalists joining in with songs (but not if they force a change of key - I did see that happen at Tenterden too - some of you know who the guilty fiddler was). It's generally a bit tricky on songs when the singer does not play, because then (s)he is often not in concert, and usually wanders a bit, as the song goes on.   If the song has rhythm (some don't) the otherwise solo singer is usually best (very carefully, watch like a hawk) accompanied with drum (insert type of choice).

If the singer plays and is accompanying self, I see no objection to instrumental accompaniment, and personally welcome it if I am the singer - so long as the accompanist listens and follows.

I have also had some wonderful serendipitious accompaniments when I was singing without my guitar. I remember one time Royston and I were doing a shanty (Haul away for Rosie) and we had asked for a B to start us off, and about halfway through the first chorussy bit a guitar was cooking up a real storm (a bit blues-y but none the worse for that) behind us. I looked round, guitarist stopped, and I had to tell him (hand gestures while singing, tricky to convey absolute meaning) to come back in. It was great!

But it is not great to be asked to sing/play in G or D if the song is not good for me in G or D.

If you get players going "this is too easy" I find that "Henry Martin" often sorts them out.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 07:31 PM

It's not only instrumentalists that are guilty of joining in inappropriately.

Sometimes when you are singing a song, you can hear a few people round the room singing along with you in barely audible voices. Most of the time, it doesn't really bother me, but sometimes one of them is singing a different version from you and that is annoying.

Choruses are for joining in, but I find sometimes that the rest of the room will join in a chorus, but at a different (usually slower) tempo than the tempo you are singing the song and that can be irritating.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: stallion
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 08:33 PM

The key thing, Richard, I agree, there are some things that just sound better in a specific key. I have persuaded M'colleagues to jump one song from C to D cos I was struggling in C at the lower end of my range, I do sing another song in C but an octave higher, it suits that song but not the former, it it isn't really about range more about comfort. Incidentally, we have just added a song to our rep. in Bb and it sounds like Brass band music at the Miners welfare, quirky, it stays in! As to accompaniment, I had a bunch of musicians join in with me once and then afterwards told me I was singing the wrong tune!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,LTS pretending to work
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 02:33 AM

"If you don't want to be accompanied, why can't you just say so instead of resorting to such subterfuges?"

Because I hope that most people have manners enough not to jump in when they're not really needed. Most of my songs are unaccompanied and not really chorus songs.

When I DO sing accompanied, it's usually with a 20 piece orchestra in Baroque pitch! *BG*

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: martin ellison
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 08:27 AM

Reply to tootler:
"I don't know if you play an instrument or not. I suspect not or you would not have said what you did. Do you know how much effort has to go into learning to play an instrument? Yes, once you get competent, you can learn tunes reasonably quickly, but there is a lot of effort needed to get there."

I admit to some exaggeration - guilty.
But, yes, I do play an instrument and, yes, I do know how much effort that takes.
There's a difference between learning an instrument and then adding to your repertoire when you have reached a decent level of competency.
You've hit the nail on the head in your final sentence quoted above. As we're talking about sessions here then I wouldn't expect players who were less than competent to be playing in public. Surely we practise behind closed doors and perform when we are able. It follows, therefore, that players competent enough to play "out" should be pretty adept at learning tunes.
Martin


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 09:18 AM

Half the problem is the difference between a 'Session' , where the assumption (for ME at least)is that people are expected to join in , as opposed to a Singaround , where the assumption is that people will do 'solo' spots , and participation is at the request of each performer !


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,Young Buchan
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 09:25 AM

"Do you know how much effort has to go into learning to play an instrument? On the other hand everyone can sing."

Ok, can we please finish these incomplete sentence?

Do you know how much effort has to go into learning to play an instrument well enough to go solo?
Yes I do, and it is very considerable.

On the other hand everyone can sing...well enough to join in a chorus. On the other hand it takes an incredible amount of effort to learn to sing well enough to hold an audience solo.

We need to compare like with like. I am a barely competent musician. On the rare occasions I want to play a solo instumental I agonise for weeks and practise for months. But I can join in a session without virtually any preparation at all.

And therein lies much of the problem - the barely competent musicians who hunt in a pack, assume to their own playing the level of competency actually coming from the virtuosi who are leading the way, and on that basis feel strong enough to tear the throats out of any singers who cross their path.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 12:11 PM

"I wouldn't expect players who were less than competent to be playing in public. Surely we practise behind closed doors and perform when we are able."

Nice sentiment, but unrealistic. 35 years ago the folk clubs I went to had audiences. Gradually the balance between audience and performers has reversed. OK - we might argue that standards of musicianship have fallen, but far more people are taking an active part and I see that as a positive development.   

Boredom? - it exists between one's ears.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: TheSnail
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 08:29 AM

martin ellison

As we're talking about sessions here then I wouldn't expect players who were less than competent to be playing in public. Surely we practise behind closed doors and perform when we are able. It follows, therefore, that players competent enough to play "out" should be pretty adept at learning tunes.

I'm sorry, but I have to disagree. There is only so much you can do on your own. The best way to learn is by playing with other people. I spent years practicing my party piece in the kitchen then going out and getting a floor spot at the folk club....dying the death, crawling away to lick my wounds then coming back six months later to do it again.

Then I discovered.....SESSIONS!.

You can play quietly in the background. There are enough other players to cover your mistakes and if you fall off you can just sit and wait for the tune to come round again. Before you know it, you've learnt a whole new repertoire by osmosis. I advise beginners to get reasonably familiar with a few standards and go along to a session. If the tunes don't get played, ask for them, nobody will mind.

The real menaces at sessions are the players who have reached a certain level of competence (or even a high level) but haven't learnt to play WITH other people. They haven't learnt to listen.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 01:42 PM

Ear Ear!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Declan
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 06:42 AM

I agree with the Snail that Listening is the key (pun only slightly intended) to a good session. It all works better when everyone is playing the same tune/or song (I've seen the opposite happening quite often) in the same key at the same tempo and the same rhythm.   The result of this all coming together can be quite amazing even if most (or none) of the participants are really good musicians.

As someone who sings in sessions, backs other singers in sessions and backs tunes in sessions, I think the singers have it easier/instrumentalists have it easier debate is a bit silly. The best sessions should have room for both songs and tunes (without words) but there are times where a small group of either tries to take over the night, and this can get very messy.

To get back to Shaneo's original and subsequent post, I think variety is the key to overcoming this. Our local session has been happening weekly for over 10 years now, with (more or less) the same core group of musicians every week. This could quickly become extremely boring (for me at least) if everyone did the same material (tunes or songs) every time. Finding new material may not always be easy, but if everyone brings some new stuff along every so often it helps to keep things fresh and keep everybody interested.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 02:02 PM

I can't think of anything more nausiating than a "session". I'd rather play at home to backing tracks!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 02:53 PM

'I can't think of anything more nausiating than a "session". '

BBC Radio ...?
Woman's Hour
The Money Programme


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: paula t
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 05:31 PM

We go to a great session where everyone is made welcome and everyone is listened to and encouraged - no matter what their level of expertise. The whole idea is for likeminded people to get together, enjoy the company and make music.Surely that's what folk music is about.If you listen to recordings of traditional singers "collected" in the 60s, you will find ordinary people with a range of voices and ability keeping the songs alive.No-one edited them out because they were out of tune. Much would have been lost if they had.It breaks my heart that people can be so dismissive and intolerant of each other's choice of or ability.We are surely talking about "The music of the people"when we talk about "folk".


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: paula t
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 05:36 PM

Sorry......just spotted a typing error.I meant to say"It breaks my heart that people can be so dismissive and intolerant of each others choice of music or ability."


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: tutti flutti
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 05:44 PM

Paula t - I couldn't agree with you more. Very well put.

I am fairly new to folk music (not two years yet) although I'm what you might kindly call a 'mature' person :-)

If people had been intolerant of my early efforts I would have given up. Nearly gave up several times anyway but the encouragement and help I received kept me going and now, although I'll never be able to conquer the nerves enough to become really good, at least I'm fairly proficient and don't make people cringe anymore (well, not too much, anyway!!).


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 05:49 PM

Most of the time people aren't like that. And when they are, it's generally only the odd bastard whom no one likes anyway.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Tootler
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 06:20 PM

I agree with tutti flutti. I have been participating in folk music for a fairly short time (as opposed to listening which I have been doing for a lot longer) and I have found that people have been very encouraging of my efforts.

I find sessions (everyone playing together) and singarounds both have their value. Sessions are great for getting into playing together, learning tunes and developing listening skills. Singarounds put you on your mettle as you are on your own. I have had my share of disasters, but but people are generally very supportive and if you keep trying, you definitely improve. One thing in particular I find singarounds good for is learning to deal with mistakes. You are inevitably going to make mistakes, forget words/tunes etc. and how you deal with them is more important than the fact you make them, IMO. That does not mean you should not try to reduce the number of mistakes you make, but remember even seasoned professionals make mistakes from time to time.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Peace
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 06:24 PM

"You are inevitably going to make mistakes, forget words/tunes etc. and how you deal with them is more important than the fact you make them, IMO."

Every thread produces one great truth. That's the one for this thread, IMO.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 07:26 PM

It occurs to me that there is too much intolerance on both sides of this argument, and it seems to stem from the mistaken belief that there is only one reason why a musician chooses a particular method, and that you (without any talent for mindreading) know what that reason is.

I sing (if you can call it that) and accompany myself on a guitar. So far so good!

Though I could manage most of them quite comfortably in D, I perform many of my songs in the key of E. Not so good for melodeons!

So, according to at least one poster to this thread, I am a miserable git who doesn't want to have others playing along.

Well NO, actually.

The clue is in the word accompany. I choose the key which, in my opinion, gives the best sounding mix of vocal and music, for the song I am performing, and the key of E, with the open bottom E string has a ringing bass sound which I find particularly pleasant.

I find also that the songs I sing in that key tend to sound great with a violin, a concertina, or maybe a whistle, and I do encourage impromptu backing.

Looking at the issue from the other side, I very much enjoy joining in the instrumental sets at a session, and I find my guitar playing has improved greatly as a result.

The human voice is the oldest, and most versatile, of all musical instruments, and for that reason alone, if a singer does not want instrumental backing, all of us players should back off, show some respect, and enjoy the song.

I guess all that explains why I love mixed sessions

Bored? I should say NOT! And I would suggest that very few attenders are bored, but it's amazing how much energy you can use up in a good sesh, hence a tendency perhaps to yawn when you are not actively performing.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 07:30 PM

It just occurred to me that shaneo didn't say *which* songs the instrumentalists were holding back from. It can make a difference.

I play a variety of instruments, but most often melody instruments which stand out from any group (either above or below everybody else). Which means I have to think up countermelodies.

This is no problem with a song that has a strong, definite traditional-idiom tune, like "The Lakes of Pontchartrain"; there are lots of options that add a bit extra and don't involve stealing the show from the singer.   But with most singer-songwriter stuff - Dylan and his descendants, the style where a chord progression comes first and the voice does something nondescript over it - I'm lost. Those tunes are so weak and vague that anything I could do would stand out far too much. Any reasonably competent traditional tune player can completely eclipse, dominate, gub and wipe the floor with a Dylanoid songwriter in melody composition and do it on the fly in the middle of a session with only seconds' notice, but they would't make any friends among the singers or improve the overall listener experience by doing it.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: paula t
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 07:32 PM

My only problem with asking people to sing along is that my voice is quite deep and many women cannot sing easily along in the low keys I choose.I then find it difficult to sing along with other female singers or harmonise unless I sing along with the fellas!This tends to get "funny looks" from some folks. Ho hum.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 07:32 PM

P.S. If (and this has happened) a melodeon player asks me to play a song that he/she likes so that he/she can join in, I will, providing the voice can handle it play it in D or G.

But I don't react well to being told halfway through a song that I'm in the wrong key, though that's only ever happened twice.

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 09:00 AM

"I can't think of anything more nausiating than a "session". I'd rather play at home to backing tracks!"

Now then Bonzo, don't be such a Bozo - I'm no psychiatrist, but I'd say you definitely need to get out more. Sessions aren't exactly my favourite musical activity either (they might be if I ever manage to get to grips with playing my mandolin properly) but the magic of going to clubs & pubs and meeting so many friends certainly beats the shite out of staying at home and indulging in musical singularity.

As for backing tracks - keep music live and live the life.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 09:59 AM

Henry Martin isn't a hard song on the fiddle. It's only the poor deluded players of tin whistles and things that have trouble with chromatic scales. (Possibly the chords as well when I think about it- maybe it is a hard song.)


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: PMB
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 10:34 AM

Bonzo doesn't like sessions? I doubt if we'll miss him.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: tutti flutti
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 11:20 AM

I go to several different sessions and SingArounds/TuneArounds(!) and really enjoy both, usually. I like SingArounds because I'm quite shy of jumping in in a session and at least I get to have a turn in a singaround. Yes, I know you experienced and confident musicians sometimes can't understand someone being reluctant to jump in but some people are just naturally more timid - it doesn't mean they can't play or that they can't make a valuable contribution!

One session I go to is being wrecked by one person who takes turn after turn - sometimes singing 3 or 4 things in a row. He then lets someone else have a turn but jumps in again straight after. No-one wants to upset him by telling him to shut up and let so-and-so have a turn because he's a nice old chap and we're sure he means no harm but it can be difficult not to look bored (or exasperated) when he hogs yet again.

But instrumentalists looking bored when someone's singing? I can't say that I've noticed it particularly any more than the singers looking bored when tunes are going on. Some people are just plain rude and they will talk through anything that doesn't involve them singing or playing. I don't think there are more instrumentalists than singers in this group.

Just my four pennorth!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 11:43 AM

tutti flutti

Yes, I know you experienced and confident musicians sometimes can't understand someone being reluctant to jump in but some people are just naturally more timid - it doesn't mean they can't play or that they can't make a valuable contribution!

Round these parts (Lewes, East Sussex, UK and environs) we have a session leader who calls on people in turn to sing, play or say "I don't want to lead but can we play John Innes No 6" and then someone else will lead it. Occasionally someone will leap in but nobody ever gets to dominate.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: tutti flutti
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 01:11 PM

The Snail:

"Round these parts (Lewes, East Sussex, UK and environs) we have a session leader who calls on people in turn to sing, play or say "I don't want to lead but can we play John Innes No 6" and then someone else will lead it. Occasionally someone will leap in but nobody ever gets to dominate."

I have cousins who live in Lewes. Next time I visit them I will come to your session if poss. Where is it and when, please?

The session where we're having trouble with the hog is only once a month and, as I'm at sessions or singarounds nearly every night, I suppose I shouldn't complain really. The chap *is* very old and possibly not too aware of the fact that he's not being very fair. Our session leader does try to call on people to make sure everyone gets a turn but the old chap either doesn't hear or is oblivious of his surroundings. I guess we've just got to put up with it but we've already lost one good musician because of him.
Sticky situation and no win I think.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: TheSnail
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 01:19 PM

tutti flutti

I have cousins who live in Lewes. Next time I visit them I will come to your session if poss. Where is it and when, please?

There's quite a few. See here.

The ones I go to are at the Trevor Arms, the Lewes Arms and the John Harvey which are all largely English trad. I sometimes get to the Bull at Ditchling which is a bit more eclectic and free for all.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Declan
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 01:46 PM

Sessions with nominated leaders - not for me thanks.

Normally in our sessions different people take a lead at different times, but its a casual form of leadership. I will step in if I pereceive that someone is hogging the session too much, but others will also do so on occasion.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: PeadarOfPortsmouth
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 01:47 PM

Lowden -- Right on! Playing out and being part of the community is infinitely better than practicing endlessly at home alone.

At the risk of being crass, Would someone really rather stay home with a girlie magazine instead of actually going out and meeting a woman?!?

Get out, play and bask in the fellowship. You may hear or play a few sour notes, but the risk is worth it.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: tutti flutti
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 02:07 PM

The Snail

Thanks for the link. I probably won't be in your neck of the woods until next spring or early summer but will try to get to as many of those sessions as possible. I'll buy you a pint!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 06:31 PM

Hmm, Bonzo likes playing with himself? Snigger.

Jack Campin, I don't personally like Dylan stuff, he can't sing, can't play, nicks some of his melodies and has others that are whiny. But when he gets it right he produces some of the most singable whistleable hummable memorisable contemporary tunes. Who could forget Mighty Quinn - or the Nice's version of the one that goes "She's got everything she needs, she's an artist she don't look back". I think you are denigrating the wrong target there.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 15 Oct 07 - 06:48 PM

Oh, yes, those chords: -

Henry Martin

(Dm) There were three brothers in (F)mer(C)ry (A)Scotl(Dm)and
(Dm)In Merry Scotl(F)and there (G) were (A)three
And (Dm)they did (A)cast (F)lots(G) which (Gm)of them
(Am)should (F)go should (Gm)go should (A)go
(D9)And turn (F)robber all (C)on the salt (Dm)sea.

Even more fun in two flats or four sharps.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 04:22 AM

"One session I go to is being wrecked by one person who takes turn after turn - sometimes singing 3 or 4 things in a row. He then lets someone else have a turn but jumps in again straight after. No-one wants to upset him by telling him to shut up and let so-and-so have a turn because he's a nice old chap and we're sure he means no harm but it can be difficult not to look bored (or exasperated) when he hogs yet again."

I have met a number of younger versions of this guy in sessions/singarounds in various locations in Yorkshire - trust me when I say they won't be any different when they're long in the tooth and in the category of "nice old chap". Have a quiet word with him - ask him if he wants to go on an extended Saga holiday.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: tutti flutti
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 05:51 AM

Lowden Jameswright:
Have a quiet word with him - ask him if he wants to go on an extended Saga holiday.

That would be the answer, wouldn't it - but I'm a coward!
I wish our session leader would have a word with him but he's also reluctant to upset the old guy. We will have to do something though before he drives people away.


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Lowden Jameswright
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 10:43 AM

Let me know time and place for the sessions - I'll whisper some choice words into his "shell-like"!


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 11:19 AM

Don Wysiwig - *I'M* the miserable git who doesn't want to have others playing along!!!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 11:42 AM

perhaps it's a committee decision Liz, for the good of the song....


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Subject: RE: Trad. players show signs of boredom ?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Oct 07 - 05:47 PM

tutti fluti - I can think of a banjo player or two who would do the job for you, for the price of a return ticket, but then one of us would have to explain why said banjo person was needed.....

Actually, I think the prime suspect would be vain enough to think it was because he was brilliant and a brilliant session leader.....


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