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Versions of songs, and etiquette

Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 08:00 AM
Sandra in Sydney 18 Nov 07 - 08:10 AM
Leadfingers 18 Nov 07 - 08:52 AM
The Villan 18 Nov 07 - 09:03 AM
Leadfingers 18 Nov 07 - 09:04 AM
Richard Bridge 18 Nov 07 - 09:17 AM
RTim 18 Nov 07 - 09:56 AM
The Vulgar Boatman 18 Nov 07 - 10:34 AM
The Vulgar Boatman 18 Nov 07 - 10:41 AM
mg 18 Nov 07 - 10:57 AM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 11:10 AM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 07 - 11:11 AM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,Jim Carroll 18 Nov 07 - 03:23 PM
Waddon Pete 18 Nov 07 - 03:29 PM
Mikefule 18 Nov 07 - 04:00 PM
Mrrzy 18 Nov 07 - 04:25 PM
Bert 18 Nov 07 - 06:25 PM
Tootler 18 Nov 07 - 06:53 PM
Folkiedave 18 Nov 07 - 07:00 PM
Midchuck 18 Nov 07 - 07:10 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 07 - 07:28 PM
Tootler 18 Nov 07 - 07:31 PM
McGrath of Harlow 18 Nov 07 - 08:01 PM
Bee 18 Nov 07 - 08:21 PM
Sandra in Sydney 18 Nov 07 - 11:43 PM
GUEST,Identity withheld to protect modesty 19 Nov 07 - 08:35 AM
Hamish 19 Nov 07 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,Russ 19 Nov 07 - 12:01 PM
Mrrzy 19 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM
Marje 19 Nov 07 - 01:37 PM
Bert 19 Nov 07 - 02:00 PM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 19 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,Songster Bob 19 Nov 07 - 02:52 PM
Bert 19 Nov 07 - 02:56 PM
Bonzo3legs 19 Nov 07 - 02:59 PM
PeadarOfPortsmouth 19 Nov 07 - 04:26 PM
Brendy 19 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM
JedMarum 19 Nov 07 - 05:03 PM
Jeri 19 Nov 07 - 06:05 PM
Bert 19 Nov 07 - 06:22 PM
McGrath of Harlow 19 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM
Jeri 19 Nov 07 - 06:44 PM
Charley Noble 19 Nov 07 - 09:27 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 07 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC 20 Nov 07 - 04:05 AM
Mo the caller 20 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM
Leadfingers 20 Nov 07 - 04:49 AM
Waddon Pete 20 Nov 07 - 04:50 AM
Brendy 20 Nov 07 - 08:30 AM
PeadarOfPortsmouth 20 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM
PeadarOfPortsmouth 20 Nov 07 - 10:07 AM
Charley Noble 20 Nov 07 - 12:00 PM
Richard Bridge 20 Nov 07 - 12:20 PM
GUEST 20 Nov 07 - 01:48 PM
Bee 20 Nov 07 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Nov 07 - 11:42 AM
Bert 21 Nov 07 - 11:43 AM
PoppaGator 21 Nov 07 - 01:18 PM
BB 21 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM
RTim 21 Nov 07 - 03:19 PM
Rowan 21 Nov 07 - 05:13 PM
Greg B 21 Nov 07 - 05:59 PM
Richard Bridge 21 Nov 07 - 06:00 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 22 Nov 07 - 02:27 PM
Bert 22 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM
Charley Noble 22 Nov 07 - 03:41 PM
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Subject: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:00 AM

For the last however many years, I have sung my own material, mainly parodies or other humorous songs. Over the last year or so, I've been slowly introducing some "proper" songs into my repertoire.

A lot of the "standards" are already "spoken for" in the sense that someone in my Morris side or local club has already made the song their own. So although I practise those songs for "training", I've been trying to find other songs for my own repertoire, and mainly choosing songs that I've seldom or never heard performed at a club or in a session.

So imagine my dismay when almost without fail, when I unveil a "new" song, not only does almost everyone else in the room know it, but they also know a significantly different version: either a different chorus, or a different tune, or sometimes both.

This is made worse when some individuals insist on singing the verses as well as the choruses, and when they insist on "helpfully" singing their "more authentic" version loudly enough to "correct" me mid song.

The amazing variety of versions is part of the tradition. Take a "bog standard" song like "Lowlands" and there must be dozens of variants. Sometimes the protagonist is male, sometimes female. Sometimes it is only three verses, sometimes 8. Sometimes the verses are rhyming couplets, and sometimes a single line repeated.

But surely, the version that the singer is singing is the only one that matters **at that moment**. And unless it's an "all join in" (like "Rolling Home") then the singer does the verses, and the group only does the choruses.

In my previous incarnation as a folk club regular, in the 1980s, I do not remember this being an issue.

Or am I being crabby and unreasonable?


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:10 AM

no, I think they are rude in overwhelming your performance.

Could you start by saying that you want to sing this new (to you) song they way you learnt it?

Or would you like some songs no one is likely to know - I've heard so many songs on Mudcatter CDS that no-one in my part of Oz sings or knows that I'm sure we have stuff here that your lot would not know!

sandra


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:52 AM

I have been known to stop and sit down if someone 'took over' a song or tune I was doing - A casuall- OK - You do it YOUR way and sit down CAN bring the message ho,e !


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: The Villan
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 09:03 AM

I like that one LF :-)


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 09:04 AM

Taking over someone else's song is to say the least impolite !!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 09:17 AM

In Morris or song session I would not rule out others joining in verses either on tune (if same tune) or harmonies, or adding isntruments - even if in places they were countermelodies with meshing rhythms (so long as they were in tune and in time - someone knows who I am talking about.....). Since I usually accompanymyself on guitar there are often "bridge" sections on the guitar and I have been known to get very crabby when someone wants to play those differently, or press on into the next verse while I am still playing the "bridge".

BUT I do think it is bad form to sing different chorus or song words (except perhaps late in the evening when all have drink taken, and it makes more sense and fun say to sing a Kipper or other comedian version - eg "Rolling Drunk" in stead of "Rolling Home", although you have to pick your time and victim) or tunes unless they do harmonise.

Another thing I find very rude but sadly prevalent these days is that if say I start doing a song or have been doing a song, another person starts to sing it. Fine if I am not there, or if they have asked.   Again there are exceptions: when amongst good friends it can be a bit of fun to try to pre-empt someone by doing "his" song before him - and if the whole room does it it leaves him scratching for what to sing, grin, but again you have to pick your time and victim.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: RTim
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 09:56 AM

There are some songs I sing, particularly Postman's Knock from Adderbury (I was Foreman of the Morris there for 21 years!), where I have to warn the audience that my version is different to that recorded, etc..
I do HATE it when other singers join into my songs because they "Think" they know it.
I also HATE it when the audience shouts out "Free the toast" in Rolling Home (last verse), so provided I can remember it in time I have changed the words from "let the toast go free" to "Let's toast you and me"

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 10:34 AM

It's not new Mike - this crabby old bugger can remember it in the mid sixties at a well respected "traditional" club not a million miles away. What hacks me off a lot more (if possible) is when you've put a lot of homework into a song, its sources and its performance and your efforts are rewarded with some variant of "hasn't XYZ recorded that?". Doubt not the value of your efforts - nor yet doubt the capacity of duckwits to irritate you; it goes with the hallowed status of bard!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: The Vulgar Boatman
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 10:41 AM

As Cacofonix may have said...


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: mg
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 10:57 AM

Just say upfront what you prefer...where I am from we join in on the verses if we know them but it is bad form, I would think universally, to force a different tune on the lead singer. If you don't want people to try to figure out an accompaniment or join in, just say so. I personally am not used to the concept that people own songs...it is not that prevalent a notion here as it probably is anywhere. Sing it and don't change the words from male to female please. Speak out. Just say I prefer to sing alone on the verses. I might have a different version that you know and lead them once through on the chorus..mg


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:10 AM

Well, the thread was worth starting if only to pick up the useful word, "duckwits". LOL.

I don't set out to change my songs for the sake of change, but I often alter a couple of words here and there, and more rarely a bar or so of the tune. But even if I do a version absolutely unchanged (or perhaps with the odd personal mondegreen thrown in) there's always someone who half knows it, or knows a more authentic version!

To me, the whole concept of an "authentic" or "correct" version is alien to the folk thing. There are older versions, better versions, more widely known versions, and so on, but each version has an authenticity and correctness of its own. They were all new songs once.

I don't think people "own" songs, but if you know that Fred only has half a dozen songs, and regards Song X as his "big number", it's a bit off to sing it when he's there.

In one case, I came to an agreement with a friend: an easy beginner's song which he no longer sings. He told me he had moved on and was happy for me to use it as a stepping stone towards my own repertoire.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:11 AM

It sounds like they musty be a pretty bad mannered bunch. Though I suppose they might be pulling your leg a bit, in the way Richard Bridge mentions.

One thing might be if the versions you are singing are only marginally different friom more standard versions. Perhaps significantly different versiants might work better.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:18 AM

To be fair, it's usually only one or two individuals, not the whole bunch. Most people are very supportive of new singers.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Jim Carroll
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 03:23 PM

It has always struck me as incredibly arrogant when audiences insist on singing their own versions of choruses.
I have in the past, stopped singing and insisted on them either singing my chorus (and teaching it if necessary) or not singing the song at all.
Walter Pardon had to drop two songs from his repertoire (one of them his favourite), because audiences did this; and it also upset him when they ignored the speed he sang and dragged out the choruses.
Don't know what he'd have made of the eejits popping their fingers in their cheeks!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 03:29 PM

I guess I'm old fashioned....if some-one is known for singing a particular song, then I believe that other singers should steer clear of it in that club or session. By all means sing it elsewhere...but not there!

There's nothing better than folks joining in with the chorus of your song, but I think you should warn people if you are not doing standard verses as, of course, they will want to join in those too. Especially if they are favourites. This is, after all, how people learn new song...by osmosis!

By and large I would discourage joining in with instruments, but there is an exception to every rule. At a recent gig a member of the audience quietly started to join in with a harmonica. It sounded great!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mikefule
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 04:00 PM

Ah, but what if you started the song in F# and they have a G harmonica?

Most singers who do not accompany themselves with an instrument pitch a song according to the range of their voice and the state of their nerves. It may not be in the "proper" key - "proper" as defined by some bugger with a D/G melodeon or a harmonica.

I have had to abandon a song (only once) when I could not compete with the insistent G from an uninvited melodeon.

And as for the speed thing... there appear to be only two universal rules in folk music:
1) Play as fast as possible (never mind what speed the tune was started at).
2) Sing as slowly as possible (never mind what speed the song was started at).

The only exception is if you are singing and accompanying yourself on an istrument!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 04:25 PM

Is singing along uninvited rude, if you aren't loud?


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 06:25 PM

I have not met that problem very often in groups I go to. But if your lot keep doing it, you might introduce your song by saying something like...

"I'm going to sing 'The Barley Mow' (or whatever) - But this is not the common version so you won't be able to sing along."


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 06:53 PM

And as for the speed thing... there appear to be only two universal rules in folk music:
1) Play as fast as possible (never mind what speed the tune was started at).


That's easily dealt with. Simply stop playing. If people want to treat playing tunes as a race, then good luck to them. If enough stop, they mostly get the message. Sadly though, you do get the odd domineering character who seems hell bent on ruining any session they go to.

2) Sing as slowly as possible (never mind what speed the song was started at).

Much harder to deal with. I must admit there have been odd times when I have been tempted to stamp a foot to try and pick up the tempo as I have sometimes known conductors to do when I have been playing in more formal settings or to stop and ask them to sing at my tempo. I suspect it probably wouldn't work, though.

The sub-vocalising from various parts of the room is something I have learnt to live with. We all like to sing songs we know and have found myself doing it on occasions. What I have noticed is that many people will join in the first verse - which becomes almost like a one-off chorus, then after that you are left with the sub vocalisers. They are often useful as prompts if you forget your words :-)


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Folkiedave
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:00 PM

Mike Harding had a good line ....." and if you feel like clapping - don't". John Joe Kelly stops them in a similar way when doing his Bodhran solo in Flook - he keeps changing the rhythm until people stop clapping.

I spend a lot of time in Spain where clapping is part of life in a music session. But they can do it in time.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Midchuck
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:10 PM

I guess I'm old fashioned....if some-one is known for singing a particular song, then I believe that other singers should steer clear of it in that club or session. By all means sing it elsewhere...but not there!

I'm missing something here. We aren't talking about songs that the individual in question wrote, are we? If they're folk songs, i. e. in the public domain, they belong to everyone in equal proportion. If they're written by someone else entirely, who isn't there, then they don't belong to either individual involved - unless the author has assigned the copyright, which seems unlikely.

So how does one individual acquire a priority right?

Peter


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:28 PM

"I'm missing something here." Yes, I think you are.

Within a particular circle of people who come together regularly to make music it seems to me that there is generally accepted a custom that particular singers have a kind of "ownership" of some songs, or at least of certain variants of those songs, and that good manners indicates that others should seek to respect that.

Thee are generally other variants "available", after all.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Tootler
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 07:31 PM

You are absolutely right Midchuck. If a song is in the public domain then anyone can sing it and if someone sings a song you were going to sing well, it's just tough luck.

However there is a convention in UK folk clubs that if a particular person is known to like a song and sings it on a regular basis, then it is considered discourteous for someone else in the club to sing that song. Of course it is only a convention and if you also like the song then you are perfectly free to sing it if you wish.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:01 PM

Courtesy is never obligatory - that is where it differs from etiquette, which in a sense is. Etiquette is in the last resort trivial; courtesy is not.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bee
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 08:21 PM

The closest thing we have around here to folk clubs is small variety shows (usually held in the parish hall or the VFD hall or the Legion). It's generally the same collection of local musicians/singers/performers, and even in these humble rural halls, it's considered rude to do someone else's cherished number. Handclappers, however, are rare, unless urged on by the performer - our audiences are a bit shy that way.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 18 Nov 07 - 11:43 PM

some folks I know only have couple of songs - others have zillions (an act I know immediately listed 80 ready-to-sing songs when booked for a theme concert, with dozens more that would need refreshing before choosing the final set!)

So as others have said, deliberately singing someone's cherished song is a no-no.

It's a different matter if a stranger sings the song.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Identity withheld to protect modesty
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 08:35 AM

I learnt a song & was asked to sing it most weeks for 2/3 years - I even recorded it as my version seemed to be popular locally.

I dropped out of singing for a decade.

When I returned to performing I found that a local singer had taken it as 'his' song & got quite sulky if anyone else sang it.
Regulars kept calling out for me to sing it but I refused on the grounds of courtesy knowing he didn't have a large selection of material.
As he didn't appear one night & I was asked, I sang it.
Someone jokingly mentioned to him that I had performed it & he asked me why I thought I had the 'right' to do 'his' song 'cos he'd been singing it for the last couple of years.
I said 'Cause I recorded it 15yrs ago!
I try to be courteous but sometimes it can backfire.
Another singer sang a song I was known for & a friend said 'He's singing your song'.
I said, 'No he isn't - he's singing a Johnny Cash song!'

Songs are written to be sung - so sing 'em!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Hamish
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 08:42 AM

I do a slightly(?) wrong version of The Farmer's Toast which I introduce as being my only "real" folk song - because it's the only one I learnt by word of mouth on only two hearings, so it has been through another step in the oral/aural tradition...

--
Hamish


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 12:01 PM

I am not a performer.

I am not very possessive about music.

I am a traditional musician. I feel I have an obligation to give as freely as was given to me.

When the folks I do music with sing songs or play tunes they've learned from me, I am pleased to think that the music will outlive me. Also, I am always curious about other takes on the material I do.

I always make it clear that if somebody does stuff they learned from me, they should give me credit as their source. I try always to credit my sources.

Russ (permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 12:32 PM

So, um, is it rude to sing along uninvited, if you aren't loud?


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 01:37 PM

I think this whole business of the informal "copyright" of a regular singer has respectable roots in the tradition: there was often an unspoken acknowledgement that if Fred always sang a particular song, Sid or Joe wouldn't sing that song in Fred's local haunts, and certainly not in his company. Many people still consider it courteous to observe this habit when they sing regularly with the same group of people. Obviously a visitor or new person to the group can't be expected to know what the regulars' favourites are.

I have found it a bit irritating when another singer asks me for the words of one of my special favourites, and then at the next session gets up and sings it in front of me. I think that's just bad manners and it's not something I'd do without some express encouragement from the person who gave me it.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 02:00 PM

...if Fred always sang a particular song...

Personally I would consider Fred discourteous and lazy if he couldn't be bothered to learn a new song. After all he has had a whole week or even a month to learn it.

What is with these people? Part of the fun and one of the reasons for going to singing groups is the discipline of learning new stuff.

BUT, if I knew that he was going to sing it at a session then I wouldn't sing it. There is so much other stuff out there.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 02:26 PM

I tend to try to sing different songs each time I'm in a particular setting (tho' inevitably, when some people know me, occasionally a particular one, or couple, would be requested), and since I'm aware that there are variants of many songs, bith with regard to words and melody, I'd tend to mention this at first, perhaps as a means of forestalling anyone taking offence, or maybe even joining in. In Ireland, I've always taken it as a mark of appreciation when people join in with the last line, or with a chorus, and am glad to hear this (and sometimes will reduce volume, accommodate tempo, engage the company with an encouraging glance, &c. when this happens).

With regard to some people having favourite songs for themselves, in most cases these are songs I wouldn't do myself - why sing a familiar one when you can introduce one that may be "new" to many people - but on one occasion I nearly got a really black mark. Thomas Davis' "The West's Asleep" (aka "The West's Awake") is a great song, and one of the ones I'd sing once well warmed-up and if it seemed appropriate to the company. Note the words "well warmed-up". That is, I would never start with it. On the occasion in question, one very old man sang it very well, and I later learnt that it was indeed one of his favourites, expected by everyone familar with the place. Thank heavens he did so early on in the evening!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Songster Bob
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 02:52 PM

I recall once doing this to a fellow 'catter here, at a small, living-room sing-around, when he started a song I thought I knew. I started singing the version I knew, more or less quietly, but in a living room, there's no "quiet enough," and it soon became apparent that our versions differed. I thought he might be having a 'senior moment,' and persisted in trying to 'right' him and set him on-course, but it eventually dawned on me that it was truly a different version, and that I should shut up. After the song, we (he, I, and his wife) discussed the differences in the versions, and I felt pretty stupid that it took me so long to figure out the difference in versions.

Another time, I was playing along on a bluegrassy/old-timey number started by a singer who did know a number of good songs, but whose mannerisms sometimes put my back up. He started the song at a good clip, and I, playing guitar, kept his tempo up. But shortly it became obvious he was slowing down, so I played louder, so he wouldn't lose the beat. In another half-chorus or so, it became even more obvious that he WANTED to slow down, so I shrugged and stopped trying to beat the beat (the one he'd started with) into his head. Sometimes you have to go where the singer wants to go.

I do notice, though, that when the crowd sings on the chorus, it's harder to keep the tempo up where you want it. The more voices, the slower it seems to go. Sometimes, I even set a different tempo for the choruses, and pick it up again for the verses, trying to make another silk purse out of the situation. For some songs, you have to make the chorus 'stately' in tempo just to keep the crowd from dragging.

But singing a different version while the singer is doing his own, if you realize that's what's happening (see above for when I didn't), that's sort of anti-social. And recognizing when someone 'owns' a song is important, too.


Bob


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 02:56 PM

...Sometimes you have to go where the singer wants to go...

ALWAYS you have to go where the singer wants to go. I often vary the tempo to suit the mood of a particular verse or line. It's very annoying when some guitarist decides that he knows better.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 02:59 PM

....which is just why we go to very few folk clubs - too many rules made up by loners and wierdos!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: PeadarOfPortsmouth
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 04:26 PM

Mrrzy - Others may disagree, but my personal rule of thumb is that if someone has gone to the trouble of learning a song to present to a session, then the polite thing is to let them lead and then join in at the refrain or chorus. If you absolutely must join in on the verses, it should be quiet enough that you don't distract others around you from hearing the interpretation being presented ... that way you respect the effort the singer put into learning the song.

My question to the group, however: What is the statute of limitations regarding "ownership" of a song at a session? If someone hasn't sung it in two years, should I feel comfortable in singing it, or do I have to wait until they've passed away?

The session I go to, for example, has been running for nearly 25 years and is regularly attended by some talented and dedicated singers. During that time, each person has brought (and taken ownership of) enough songs to fill the local library. So when I started attending, I found it very difficult to get a footing with songs that weren't already "taken."

So while I definitely wanted to be respectful of their territory, it was incredibly frustrating to
a) choose a song that I hadn't heard at the session,
b) research it,
c) find a interpretation that seemed relatively unique,
d) and go through the process of learning it,
only to be told afterwards "You know, that's so-and-so song".

Luckily, the crowd I'm with has been very generous and encouraging in my development and would usually couch it in a good way. But there were times when the frustration got too much and I wanted to ask them for a worthy song that HADN'T been sung there. Obviously, I'm glad I never said that out loud. ;-) Instead, I just run my song selection by a couple of the long-time attendees.

But just as there is a general understanding that you don't sing another person's song, is there a common guideline in session etiquette that a song is up for grabs again if "the owner" hasn't sung it in public for a while?

Peter


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Brendy
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 04:55 PM

A lot of the people who know me associate certain songs with me, but I feel a small sense of pride if the songs leave 'my domain' and filter out there by other musicians.

My most very good friend, Peter O'Malley was told at a gig one night that there was a guy doing the pubs in Lanzarote or Tenerife, who was "... ripping off his material".
Smooth as you'd like, Peter replied: "Franchising, my boy...., Franchising"

Paddy Keenan, on the Live In Concert album by The Bothy Band played a piping solo which ended in The Bucks of Oranmore. By the time he got to 'The Bucks', the 'demon clappers' (as Christy Moore used to call them) had taken over, leaving Paddy to slow the whole thing down until the audience got the message.

Christy just used to stop and, depending on the form, could be diplomatic about it.

Personally I don't like the demon clappers; not in Trad music, anyway.
It cheapens it, IMO

B.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: JedMarum
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 05:03 PM

I would expect (and welcome) others to sing along with as much as they could - and I would also expect them to to follow my version when I am leading the song. If they did not, I would stop the song and tell them to follow my version. They can sing it their way when it's their turn.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 06:05 PM

Peter, I don't know who you got that attitude from, but ignore it. Two of the people I most respect, Tom and Jeff, like it when people swipe 'their' songs. They know a lot of them though. Other people don't have the same huge repertoire and don't learn songs quickly, but doing one of their songs won't kill them. If their that stingy, maybe it's your duty to piss them off.

Remember Mollymauk on Saturday? Other people around have learned it, that is they've learned the words and the tune, because I sang it. I feel pretty good about that. It was pretty funny - three people asked me to sing it (OK, one just mentioned it) and I declined because my voice was a bit ragged. I changed my mind and went over to BB and prepared to start, opened my mouth and Dave (Feadog) started singing it. Maybe he planned it, I don't know, but it was funny.

Realistically, should people who visit have someone approve their repertoire? What happens when the same song is 'owned' but several people? The music's too important to be constantly afraid of wounding egos and stepping on toes. It messed me up a bit when I first started going to the Friday session. I don't mind staying away from some songs, but these day's I'm cultivating a response to, "I do that song!" that goes something like, "Yeah - great song, isn't it? or, "Next time, maybe we can sing it together?" Or you can take turns.

I'll kick your ass if it's 'Fire Down Below', though. (Just kidding. I LOVE singing harmony on that.)


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 06:22 PM

If you're in the audience and want to sing along, then do as our own Mike Miller says and "follow their lips". That way you can keep time with them and won't sing a different version.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 06:37 PM

"should people who visit have someone approve their repertoire?" Nobody has suggested that "don't sing that song, it's Jenny's party piece" should apply to visitors, Repeatedly people posting here have said specifically that it shouldn't be expected to.

As for regulars, there are no hard and fast rules governing this kind of thing, and nor should there be. Just an expectation that people will judge what good manners requires. Most people can manage that. In fact in this context in my experience, most people do.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Jeri
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 06:44 PM

McGrath, go find someone to fight with who wants to fight.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Nov 07 - 09:27 PM

And if a "regular" fails to show then his/her songs are fair game for anyone to sing, or try to sing!

Actually I'd be quite flattered if anyone led one of the songs that I'd composed or adapted for singing. In fact I had the singular joy of singing Barry Finn's re-interpretation of "Yangtse River Shanty" in Australia last week, a song which I first set to music fifteen years ago. I'm less flattered if the re-interpretation is radically different from what I'm doing but there's not a lot of control I can exercise at that point. I consider Barry's interpreation of the song a "friendly" re-interpretation, moving something that was originally composed as part of a folk opera to a traditional style capstan shanty that Stan Hugill would have been happy to discover. The version I worked up was more "folk club" than "shanty." Both versions are valid, and I know enough about the original composer to think that he would be amused that his song was being actively revived some 87 years later.

Bob Watson, the composer, would also be delighted with Jeri's rendition of "Mollymauk" as he might be with Roll & Go's reinterpretation of her presentation. However, before recording "Mollymauk" Roll & Go made sure to purchase a formal release from Watson, which is another level of etiquette that should not be ignored.

There is a distinction that should be made about leading a song in a regular session, leading a song at a paid concert, or recording a song. One should credit the sources at each level and certainly secure a legally binding release for recording. I'm not sure what more should be done at the semi-professional concert level.

I generally am reluctant to record anything that I know someone else is making a good faith effort to record. They should get first crack for their work. However, sometimes the recording process becomes extended and I'm not at all certain how long one should wait to release "a good song." However, I do know that I would ask before doing it.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 03:34 AM

Don't have a problem with people singing traditional songs which are recognised as 'belonging' to regulars, otherwise you are assuming that the door of your club/singaround is never going to be darkened by a stranger who is not aware of the regulars' repertoires - bit cliquish, don't you think?
On the other hand, I witnessed an incident where a well-known guest was booked at a club and one of the regulars opened the evening by singing (rather indifferently) four songs which were widely recognised as having been introduced into the revival by the guest (two traditional and two penned by him).
The guest said nothing, but proceeded to open his spot with the same four songs (magnificently sung).
Never sure of the etiquette here, but I know who won that particular 'flighting'.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Black Hawk on works PC
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 04:05 AM

I remember at a festival many years ago (early seventies) when a little known female singer performed a set comprising 80% Tom T Hall songs.
The MC then introduced the main artist - Tom T Hall
I have always wondered what she thought she was doing!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Mo the caller
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 04:39 AM

I think it was Vic Gammon at Poynton festival (25 or so years ago) who had a persistent spoons player in the audience. He shook him off eventually by increasing the speed till 'spoons' had to give up.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 04:49 AM

I HAVE on a few occasions , sung songs written by 'The Guest' at a Folk Club , but only after asking them if it was OK to do so , and making sure it was NOT to be included in THEIR Set List !
And its a bit daunting , doing it !!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 04:50 AM

There are some very different ideas here..that's great...there are as many different types of musical event as there are musical events!

Etiquette is the right word I think. If you go to a session for the first time and want to sing or play then it is usually a good idea to do a song you are fairly sure is not a 'standard'. If there is another singer who seems to have a similar repertoire, then it would be a gracious act to say something like, "I hope this isn't one of yours!"

If you deliberately do other people's material, especially when they are in the room, then that says a great deal about you!!!!

Statute of limitations? As long as you credit the song to the singer you got it from you'll be fine. Just remember it will always be Ol' Fred's song....

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Brendy
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 08:30 AM

Playing 'May You Never' without realising that John Martyn was in the room.

I went up and apologised to him after, once I realised he was there, but he wasn't pushed about it, and gave me a pointer or 2 while he was at it, about tunings for other songs, etc.

B.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: PeadarOfPortsmouth
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 09:19 AM

Jeri, I didn't mean to give the impression that Friday crowd was anything but encouraging. As I said, they have been very generous regarding songs and very few have been territorial.

Actually, I don't think I've ever had someone say "that's mine." What has been said is "you may not want to that one because so-and-so does it." The motive is not selfish protectionism, but rather awareness. Out of respect, I will either talk to so-and-so OR at least not do it when they are there.

Some of my favorite conversations with Tom, Linn, Jeff, Bruce, et.al. are after a session and I say "I'm thinking of doing this song." I LOVE their input. Not only do I learn about a song's "availability" in the session, but they have steered me to recordings and versions of songs other than the ones I've got that I may want to consider. (Plus the history lesson of the song that Tom can usually offer.)

For a newbie such as myself, that's part of the joy.

And, BTW, I'd wouldn't dream of touching your "Fire Down Below" without asking first. (double entendre intended)   ;-)

Peter


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: PeadarOfPortsmouth
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 10:07 AM

Forgot to add...

As encouraging as they were, it was still extremely frustrating when starting out. I was making a concious effort to find songs with choruses that weren't cliche diddies that are on every Clancy Brothers Greatest Hits album, and all of the good ones seemed taken.

They could have given me ice cream when saying "someone already does that", and it still would have frustrated me.

I'd have taken the ice cream, though.

;-)


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 12:00 PM

Peter-

Your situation, which is not so unique it appears, seems somewhat like the young woman who falls in love with a handsome young man in town only to be told by her father that because of his indiscretions "that young man is related to you" and so on with her other propects. When she finally goes to her mother with her frustrations, her mother says "Marry who you please because your father isn't your real father anyway."

Of course even the nautical poems I've set to music are generally based on borrowed bits of melody. Sometimes it's years before I figure out where I borrowed the bits from!

Tom and I actually share some of the same sources for the songs we sing, although we may have diverged somewhat from the original rendition. I'm thinking primarily of the Ewan MacColl/A. L. Lloyd recording BLOW BOYS BLOW which goes back to the early 1960's. Maybe we should devote part of the next shanty/forebitter sing to swapping those tracks!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 12:20 PM

That "speed up 'till you give up" lark can backfire.

It happened to Pete Coe one Sweeps Fest, Rochester, in the Eagle. Pete was playing button melodeon and an Irishman who had been enjoying himself so much he could hardly stand started making a nuisance of himself demanding some step-dancing tunes. After a bit of argy-bargy, it started. We all knew what was going to happen, didn't we?

So the Irishman seemed a little more stable (not a lot) once he was in motion rather than trying to stand still, and Pete Coe went up a gear - and the Irishman went up a gear, and I imagine the faster his feet went the less time he had to fall over between feet, 'cos he looked a little straighter, and so it went on until Pete Coe could play no faster and the Irishman's feet were a blur.

The Pete Coe stopped.

So did the Irishman.

Then, amidst a major round of applause, the Irishman fell over.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 01:48 PM

"Then, amidst a major round of applause, the Irishman fell over."

Well, indeed he did, don't you know he did?
With a whack-fol-lol-derado, then, indeed he did.

Well, he was Irish, wasn't he? So if there's music, he's going to dance. Like in "A Bottle of the Best," the English drink to sing, the Irish drink to dance, and the Scots drink, too.

Ed


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bee
Date: 20 Nov 07 - 03:20 PM

Charley, that just sounds like a regular Cape Breton kitchen party to me - aren't you supposed to dance until the fiddler can't play faster and the dancers fall down?


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 11:42 AM

What I particularly hate is people who insist on doing f***ing harmonies on the choruses (or even on refrains - which are different from choruses - not that the f***wit harmonisers can tell the difference!). I suspect that the obsession with harmonies is why so many folk club sessions sound so horribly 'dirgy'. If you want to sing harmonies ,please go and join a choir!!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 11:43 AM

Well said Shimrod!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: PoppaGator
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 01:18 PM

Hey now!

I'm butting in here, right now, to support the notion of harmony singing.

And who sez harmony singing ipso-facto slows the tempo? Not when I sing harmonies, that's for sure; I can sing just as fast or slow as circumstances require.

In a choir, you're not really free to extemporaneously harmonize; you're pretty much required simply to sing one written part or another. Now, singing as part of a church's congregation, that's different ~ you can sing just about however you wish (poorly, adequately, or brilliantly), and no one can really object.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: BB
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 02:38 PM

Harmonies and dirges need not be the same thing at all! And slowing down choruses and making them dirgy (is that a word?) is by no means the prerogative of harmony singers! Good harmonies sung by good singers can make choruses live and breathe in a way that straight unison, mostly, doesn't.

As has been said somewhere above, the best answer for anyone joining in with choruses - or refrains - is to watch (and listen to) the lead singer, so that one doesn't go one's own sweet way either in terms of speed or version. It's called respect... and in the end is more satisfying for everyone.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: RTim
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 03:19 PM

I was once at a folk club night that featured John Roberts & Tony Barrand.
During the interval a female member of the audience approached John and said "In the second half, could you ask people not to join in on your choruses, because I came to hear you - Not them!"
John (I believe), was at a loss for words!

What killed the folk scene for me in England (many years ago) was the gulf that occured between the audience and the performers. To many "Them and Us".
We even had to close a folk club once - not because we didn't get an audience or that we ran out of money (we gave our surplus to charity) - but because we didn't get floor singers to support the guests!

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 05:13 PM

Reading this thread I'm struck by the differences in perceptions and I suspect many of the differences correlate with different notions of "community". In a club or session situation where the history of the event and the participants would mean they thought of themselves as a community, various traditions would build up, some of which could involve 'ownership' of particular performances. In another thread I related John Manifold's encounter with this 'ownership' when he was collecting around Oz in the 50s and 60s and which he put in the "Introduction" to "The Penguin Australian Song Book" compiled and with notes by John Manifold, published by Penguin Books, Ringwood, Victoria, in 1964.

"I sometimes wish, in vain, that we could keep up the strict etiquette that was observed by the real bush singers. A young man used to learn his songs from the acknowledged singer of the district, and might eventually earn permission to sing them to the limited 'public' of the bush wherever or whenever the acknowledged singer was not present. Some few songs were common property; others, 'songs from the books', were rather contemptuously exempted from the rule; but in the main this apprenticeship system prevailed, at least among men. When the public performer of a 'treason song' might earn a stretch in jail, it was a point of honour to perform it properly."

That approach might be OK in a small community, or even a large and relatively homogenous one, but would be at odds with larger and more heterogenous groups. And then you have those, in any community however defined or sized, who 'stir the pot' with alternative views contrary to previously received wisdom.

In Oz I've observed all the nice and not-so-nice behaviours described above and some of them (of both sorts) have happened to me; I dare say there'd be one or two people who'd say I had done them (again, both sorts) to them. It's all part of learning how to behave in a community. Depending on circumstance, when confronted by others' contributions that I thought distracting, I have completely changed the phrasing, gone very soft or much louder or I have relied on the Oz knowledge of bushranging and commented "I thought I was the one robbing this coach!" When I smile politely at the same time most people are polite in return.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Greg B
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 05:59 PM

First time I ever set eyes on Louie Killen was at a Hyde St. Pier
chantey sing--- I was about halfways through 'Liverpool Judies'
(which he of course does very well) when I observed him come in
at the back with his party. I nearly died. (We later became
good friends, and worked together for a couple of years.)

One of the more remarkable features of the 'community sings' at
the Mystic Sea Music Festival is the quality of the harmonies which
build as a song progresses. And they definitely don't drag!


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Nov 07 - 06:00 PM

No harmony? And food without salt or sugar? No way Jose. Harmony is what makes it.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 02:27 PM

I tend to sort of blame the various 'folk choirs' ('no names, no pack drill' - you know who I'm talking about!) who were so popular in the 60s and afterwards for many of the more irritating aspects of the post-war revival. I blame them particularly for the self-indulgent dirginess that permeates many clubs and the bellowing nasily in a sort of 'Mummersetshire' accent that is considered 'de rigeur' in many circles.

Many trad. songs have a sort of introspective quality - which is why, I suspect, many of the best singers tend to close their eyes. They are narrative songs - which means that the words are important and don't lend themselves to nasal bellowing. Finally, many song tunes are very beautiful and intricate - full of strange and unexpected intervals. Attempting to harmonise them has a tendency to fill in all the gaps - leaving just a boring, bog standard 'tune'.

I know that this is probably not a popular opinion ... but ... well, tough! It happens to be my opinion.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 02:47 PM

PoppaGator,

Harmonies are OK for those who want them. But I have some hearing loss and have to concentrate on everything I sing. When some clown chips in with an unasked for harmony it really throws me off.

So if you want to harmonize please have the courtesy to ask the singer first.


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Subject: RE: Versions of songs, and etiquette
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Nov 07 - 03:41 PM

"many of the best singers tend to close their eyes"

And to this we might add "cup their ears."

One would hope that they don't practice this routine while they're driving!

Cheerily,
Charley Ignoble


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