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Singaround - origins of the word?

GUEST,Ian Fyvie 16 Nov 08 - 10:13 PM
Little Robyn 17 Nov 08 - 12:48 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 08 - 04:00 AM
Geoff the Duck 17 Nov 08 - 04:33 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Nov 08 - 06:34 AM
Liz the Squeak 17 Nov 08 - 08:13 AM
Malcolm Douglas 17 Nov 08 - 08:17 AM
Les in Chorlton 17 Nov 08 - 08:22 AM
Little Robyn 17 Nov 08 - 02:18 PM
Herga Kitty 17 Nov 08 - 07:25 PM
Liz the Squeak 18 Nov 08 - 03:42 AM
greg stephens 18 Nov 08 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,woodsie 18 Nov 08 - 04:17 AM
r.padgett 18 Nov 08 - 04:17 AM
greg stephens 18 Nov 08 - 04:24 AM
GUEST,Working Radish 18 Nov 08 - 06:39 AM
Joybell 18 Nov 08 - 06:30 PM
Uke 18 Nov 08 - 08:51 PM
Don Firth 18 Nov 08 - 09:34 PM
Don Firth 18 Nov 08 - 09:44 PM
Gurney 19 Nov 08 - 03:31 AM
Simon G 19 Nov 08 - 04:55 AM
GUEST,George Henderson 19 Nov 08 - 10:22 AM
GUEST 03 Dec 08 - 07:57 PM
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Subject: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: GUEST,Ian Fyvie
Date: 16 Nov 08 - 10:13 PM

My belief is that the word Singaround was first used by singer Fred Baxter in the mid 1970s to describe an informal folk session he started in the East Sussex town of Lewes (Southern England). This singaround was held in the side bar of the Black Horse pub.

I was told of Fred's session by a friend who had just got a job in a neighbouring town (a few months before I came South), and was enthusing about how friendly it was - a welcome change from some of the clubs he'd invetigated in his newly adopted home area.

I started a Singaround in 1980 and we used the word in advertising - I'm not sure if that had been done before - though I admit I've not had chance to check the local Sussex Folk Directory archives for those years yet.

So... can anyone identify the word in use - in print - before 1980?

Does anyone believe the word was in use elsewhere before 1975?

Ian Fyvie


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 12:48 AM

I thought we were having singarounds back in the 60s????
But that was over here in NZ.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 04:00 AM

New Zealand was always quick off the mark with new innovations (first female Bishop nearly 20 years ago... we're still arguing about it!).

Why not drop a line to the Oxford English Dictionary people - they're always up for a challenge and they make TV programmes about the origins and histories of some words or phrases.

I've heard it ever since I joined the folk scene but that was in the early '80's... (ye Gods and minor deities - that was 25 years ago!) and it meant specifically a song session, rather than a tune session, which was just 'a session'. Mixed sessions, like mixed bathing, happened, but only behind closed doors and you only got in by personal invitation.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 04:33 AM

The OED is no good for words which are common verbal usage before they appear in print. They will only accept a printed reference as proof that a word existed on an identifiable date. The fact that we might have all been using and understanding the same word for decades doesn't count as it cannot be proven by the rules under which they work.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 06:34 AM

I used to go to a brilliant Singaround led by Tony Wilson at a pub near the Tunnel Entrance in Liverpool on a Saturday night. Tony had been in a group called the Bothy Folk who started the legendary Bothy Folk Club in Southport, which continues to this day.

The Singaround was in a small back room and some of the seats were cinema sits in sets of 4 with tip-up parts. I guess this was around 1967 or so.

A little later we discovered Jones's Ale in a pub, I think called the Railway in Chester. That was led by Trevor, who's second name I have forgotten Dave and Mike Jenkins and quite a few others.

Both these clubs were essentially traditional and people gave a song each from where they were sitting. The hat went round and guests were booked now and again. The quality in both was exceptional.

Both clubs evolved, though not much, through other venues and other residents.

Our Singaround, First Wednesday of the Month at the Beech, Chorlton is based on this model. Although clearly we are not weekly and we make no collection or have guests.

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 08:13 AM

Well we have proof that it was in printed use in the 1980's, (see second post) so how about using that as a reference and working back?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 08:17 AM

For a start on print references, a quick look at a few old copies of the South Yorkshire Folk Diary shows the term in use in 1978 (ad for Wath On Dearne May Welcoming), so it was presumably well known at that time. Clubs that booked guests were more likely to describe non-guest nights as 'singers nights', though, and clubs that didn't tended to call themselves 'singers clubs' rather than 'singarounds'; that term seems to have been used more for one-off or occasional events.


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 08:22 AM

I think the Liverpool Singers Club was based on some perceived idea of what the MacColl / Seeger Singers Club was like but I have no real evidence

Chiz

L in C


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 02:18 PM

The Kapiti Folk Club, with David James at the head, had singarounds somewhere near 1967 but later (1969) we were involved in recording a folk radio programme called "Singaround". The producer was Terry Goodall and it was aired on NZBC station 2YA. Terry tried to retrieve a copy in later years but NZBC didnt keep any of it. (I, however, recorded it through my tranny, onto my little Philip's cassette and we were able to provide Terry with a copy later.)
So the word Singaround in relation to a folk presentation was printed in 'The Listener' in 1969.

Liz said "New Zealand was always quick off the mark with new innovations (first female Bishop nearly 20 years ago)"
We also had votes for women in the 1890s.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 17 Nov 08 - 07:25 PM

I think perhaps there's a difference between singer's nights, when there isn't a guest, but the singers perform 2 or 3 songs from the front, and singarounds that go round the room and people sing from where they're sitting? And of course there's Tony Hall's song, about our singaround.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 03:42 AM

Robyn - that was the event I was thinking of but somehow, Bishops got in the way...

Like they always do...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 03:57 AM

Interesting thread. Well, I haven't time to open up all the old boxes of posters and club cards and stuff, but I found one bit of mini-evidence lying on a shelf.The Oxford Heritage Society used to run in the 60's strictly as going round the room, one singer one song, sing where you were. And I would have guessed we maybe called it a singaround, but I think I would have guessed wrong.I've just looked at a 1964 club membership card and it refers to song sessions and guest nights.


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: GUEST,woodsie
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 04:17 AM

Also of interest is that sometimes it is hyphenated, sing - around or even double hyphenated sing - a - round. Back in Woolwich in thw 70s I used to drink with a load of irish and scotch builders in the Bull pub. On a Monday afternoon they used to have a huge singaround in the bar. If anybody didn't sing when it got to their turn Then they bought-a-round of drinks for everybody! - quite expensive as there was usually between 15 and 20 in the company. Sometimes the rules were tightened up so that if you hesitated or got the words wrong then you forfeited!


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: r.padgett
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 04:17 AM

The format of going round the room one at a time has been claimed by the Elliotts of Birtley

However the word "singaround" as GTD says and its provenance for dictionary purposes another matter

Ray


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 04:24 AM

And then there was the come-all-ye.....


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: GUEST,Working Radish
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 06:39 AM

Greg - interesting. It sounds like we've got a terminus post quem, if you'll pardon the expression.

HK: I think perhaps there's a difference between singer's nights, when there isn't a guest, but the singers perform 2 or 3 songs from the front, and singarounds that go round the room and people sing from where they're sitting

A couple of clubs I've been to recently have a system where you can sing where you're sitting, but you can also go and stand at the front, and may even be encouraged to "come out where we can see you" (depending on the performer and how the MC's feeling). I think on balance I prefer it where everyone stays put, not least because then I can definitely call it a singaround...


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 06:30 PM

Just to add a nostalgic and poetic note. Here's a glimpse of a singaround (although not called that) from the early 19th century. From Thomas Haynes Bayly's "Isle of Beauty Fare Thee Well".

'tis the hour when happy faces
Smile around the taper's light
Who will fill our vacant places
Who will sing our songs tonight? ...

Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Uke
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 08:51 PM

Information from the OED on some similar terms. Some of the quotations are rather interesting!

Sing-song: An amateur concert of an informal nature; a convivial meeting where each person is expected to contribute a song. Early citations: "The dinner o'er, the sing-song done" (1769, Trinculo's Trip); "The wealthy [have] their 'ancient concerts' the costermongers what they term their sing-song" (1857, Night Side London); "Sing-Song, a choral meeting at a pot-house" (1865, Slang Dict.)

Sing-along: A sing-song to the accompaniment of a song-leader or tune. Early citations: "There would be a sing-along, or the manager maybe would just pull a lucky number from a hat" (1973, Ten Lost Years); "The insulting notion that working-class audiences want only a beery community sing-along on their night out" (1979, The Guardian).


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 09:34 PM

The first songfests of this kind that I attended (Seattle in the very early 1950s) were referred to as "hoots," short for "hootenanny," which, at the time was not a public performance, it was a get-together of folk music enthusiasts. Bring your guitar, your banjo, your autoharp, or whatever, and / or your voice. Often, they took place in someone's living room, and they were a sort of open house affair. There was no separation between "performers" and "audience."

There was no organization, no structure, and nobody laying down rules. We didn't go around in a circle or anything like that. We took turns singing, but nobody kept track, and everyone got a shot at it. If someone appeared eager to sing, everyone else would shut up and let them hold forth. And that included anyone who didn't normally sing. It was friendly and supportive and people respected each other. For someone taking his or her first plunge into singing in front of other people, it was about as receptive an audience as one could ask for, warm and encouraging (after all, we'd all been there). Oftentimes there was some kind of lubricant, such as beer or jug wine, but I don't recall anyone ever getting sloshed. This was pretty much the structure (or lack thereof) that I encountered in other cities as well.

It wasn't until 1963 and the "ABC Hootenanny" television program on Saturday nights that "hootenanny" started meaning "a multi-act or multi-performer concert" with the singers up here and the audience down there.

In the late 1970s, the first "song circle" (which I presume is essentially the same thing as a "singaround") got organized here. It did have structure and rules. The idea was that it would be a literal "song circle." Everyone sat around in a circle and once it was decided whether we were going clockwise or counter-clockwise, when your turn came up, you could sing, request a song from someone else, or simply pass. This worked pretty well also, but it was a bit stiffer than the "hoots" that I first went to.

It was later that they became even more structured, even to the point of people sitting around and singing out of "Rise Up Singing," kind of like a hymn-sing, and if it wasn't in the book, or a different version from the one in the book, it was frowned upon. When that sort of thing took over, I sort of lost interest.

We geezers (mostly veterans of that era before the onset of the Great Folk Scare), along with a bunch of younger folks, still get together in each other's living rooms and have "hoots" the way we used to.

I don't know if this adds anything of value to the discussion. Just a bit of nostalgia.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Don Firth
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 09:44 PM

In the hoots of yesteryear, and in the current ones, on those occasions when someone seemed to be dominating, the host would generally sidle up to them and put a quiet word in their ear. But this was rarely necessary.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Gurney
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 03:31 AM

What Don Firth calls a song circle is what I've always thought everyone meant by a singaround. There are other formats, blackboard concerts, open mikes (with or without a moderator,) informal concerts where the compere picks people, etc.
So first can someone establish what is the official description of 'A Singaround.' >:->

NZ was the first colonial country to give native people the vote, too. Maori men only, of course. Before European women!


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: Simon G
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 04:55 AM

A quick search on Google Books reveals a book called Singaround Folksongs Book 1 by Joy Hyman from 1968. Also reference to singaround in an EFDSS publication, The Folk Directory published in 1967.

Simon


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: GUEST,George Henderson
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:22 AM

Birtley Folk Club has been operating a singaround since 1963. I have never heard it referred to anthing other than a folk club or a singaround but as to written format, I am not so sure.


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Subject: RE: Singaround - origins of the word?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 07:57 PM

I'd no doubt that the format went back deep into history, but applying the sort of rigour the BBC TV word origins programme might - the first valid evidence (ie. written/printed and applied to the correct subject in question) to feature in this thread at least must be the 1976 - South Yorkshire example

I first encountered the word when a friend who had just moved to Brighton wrote to me about the folk gathering he had discovered in nearby Lewes which was called a singaround. That was 1978. What I can't establish so far is whether the organiser, Fred Baxter had put it in print ie. in some advertising. Fred did however think he had invented the word in relation to the classic format we now know as a singaround - by 1975. Does anyone have anything from the Lewes area 1975-1978?

Look forward to further developments...

Ian Fyvie


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