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homage to Rise Up Singing

DigiTrad:
NOT IN THE BOOK


Related threads:
Rise Up Singing Book II: 'Rise Again' (158)
Mudcat Up Singing - a perfect songbook (34)
Lyr Req: Not in the Book (20)
blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing) (63)
Cheapest copies of RUS? (7)
RISE UP SINGING II - Current Status??? (14) (closed)
Revised RUS due next fall (9)
Help: Rise Up Singing II (10) (closed)
9/11 NYC Help--Rise Up Singing (8)
Help: Trouble w chords in RISE UP SINGING?? (43)
What's RISE UP SINGING? (42)
Help: Rise Up Singing Two (9) (closed)
Help: Update on 'Rise up Singing' 2000 (23)
Any news on the Rise Up Singing sequel? (18)
Sequel to Rise Up Singing coming in Spring (2) (closed)
Rise Up Singing (47)
Suggestions for Rise Up Singing II (39) (closed)
In defense of RUS (4)


Peter T. 26 Dec 08 - 07:40 AM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 26 Dec 08 - 08:19 AM
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mg 02 Jan 09 - 11:58 AM
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Jack Campin 02 Jan 09 - 03:38 PM
Deckman 02 Jan 09 - 05:19 PM
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Ron Davies 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM
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Ron Davies 03 Jan 09 - 11:08 AM
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Ron Davies 03 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM
goatfell 03 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 03 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM
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M.Ted 03 Jan 09 - 01:11 PM
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Ron Davies 04 Jan 09 - 09:48 AM
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open mike 04 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jan 09 - 02:08 PM
GUEST 04 Jan 09 - 02:42 PM
Big Mick 04 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM
Ref 04 Jan 09 - 02:56 PM
Don Firth 04 Jan 09 - 03:46 PM
Ref 04 Jan 09 - 04:14 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 04 Jan 09 - 07:27 PM
Don Firth 04 Jan 09 - 07:56 PM
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M.Ted 04 Jan 09 - 09:11 PM
MickyMan 04 Jan 09 - 09:20 PM
mg 04 Jan 09 - 09:30 PM
M.Ted 04 Jan 09 - 10:43 PM
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M.Ted 05 Jan 09 - 07:55 AM
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Ref 06 Jan 09 - 06:21 AM
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catspaw49 06 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM
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M.Ted 06 Jan 09 - 09:55 AM
Acme 06 Jan 09 - 09:59 AM
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Big Mick 06 Jan 09 - 05:10 PM
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GUEST,mg 06 Jan 09 - 06:00 PM
Stewart 06 Jan 09 - 06:56 PM
M.Ted 06 Jan 09 - 07:47 PM
Ref 06 Jan 09 - 07:56 PM
Don Firth 06 Jan 09 - 08:16 PM
mg 06 Jan 09 - 08:22 PM
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Bill D 06 Jan 09 - 09:42 PM
M.Ted 06 Jan 09 - 09:44 PM
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CamiSu 06 Jan 09 - 11:55 PM
Janie 07 Jan 09 - 12:05 AM
catspaw49 07 Jan 09 - 12:16 AM
dick greenhaus 07 Jan 09 - 03:14 PM
M.Ted 07 Jan 09 - 03:30 PM
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Bill D 07 Jan 09 - 04:01 PM
Big Mick 07 Jan 09 - 04:18 PM
GUEST,mg 07 Jan 09 - 04:29 PM
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GUEST,mg 07 Jan 09 - 05:13 PM
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M.Ted 07 Jan 09 - 06:33 PM
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Janie 07 Jan 09 - 11:31 PM
Barry Finn 07 Jan 09 - 11:41 PM
M.Ted 08 Jan 09 - 01:13 AM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 09 - 02:10 AM
Barry Finn 08 Jan 09 - 04:47 PM
Big Mick 08 Jan 09 - 05:01 PM
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Subject: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 07:40 AM

There's a nice little homage to Rise Up Singing today at:

http://www.slate.com/id/2207306/pagenum/all/#p2

(I know, some people hate it, but I'm with the author of this piece. One of the truly useful books published.)

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:19 AM

Whatever its flaws, it serves a vital purpose and has been a marvelous tool to get people singing! Thanks for the link, Peter!

Allison


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:02 AM

The problem with RUS is not the book but more in the way it came to be used. The bible has the same problem. Its used by Episcopalians and Fundamentalists alike but in one case it is THE ONE AND ONLY LAW and the other more of a suggestion.{:<)))

Getting folks singing is good.......No room for interpretation is bad.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Midchuck
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM

In a number of cases the lyrics have been arbitrarily changed to make them politically correct.

In a GREAT number of cases the chords that are given make no sense.

People bring the book to song swaps and sing into it, rather than at the other participants.

People get upset if you start a song that "isn't in the book."

I suppose it has its uses, but I much prefer my circa 1958 edition of "The New Song Fest," beat-up as it is.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 12:49 PM

from the article: "According to Blood and Patterson, a group called Sit Down Singing went to the trouble to produce its own fake songbook—the perfect tribute from one ex-hippie to another."

Hmm, I'll have to look that up!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM

"I suppose it has its uses, but I much prefer my circa 1958 edition of "The New Song Fest," beat-up as it is."

From the preface of the old "Song Fest":
"Because the fires of enthusiasm kindled at a rousing songfest, roaring most heartily… can't be artificially preserved for I.O.C.A. posterity, this song book is inevitably a mere woodpile. The motley crew who haphazardly, and with occasional splurge of energy, have thrown the pile together, haven't bothered about a few knots and flaws in the grain. They've gone out of their way to select good rough logs, which haven't been cut up, dried, and neatly sorted like those you find on any standard woodpile. They've tossed the big timbers in next to the small ones, but have tried to stack them up for easy reference. You'll find some of them won't burn very easily unless you corral an expert hand to touch them off, but plenty of room has been left on the pile for wood of you own choosing. In brief, the woodpilers herewith toss you the torch – and the tip that, not withstanding a random shot of smoke-in-the-eyes, which you may get in the early stages, no fire will burn more brightly than the one you concoct yourself." The following P.S. was added: "A reward of one left-hand dungaree patch, guaranteed not to rip, run, rust, tear, split, melt, break, etc. is hereby offered for the pelt of the first bohunk caught surreptiously using this book at a songfest."

Rise Up Singing - It is really a fine collection of songs to sing in groups, but not to be used in group singing.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:25 PM

I.O.C.A. ??

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: open mike
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:27 PM

i used to have a songbook i think it was the "precursor" of R.U.S.
it was spiral bound with a black and white illustration on the cover.

the songs, authors were not attributed -- i think they feared copyright
problems...

any one know of this song book?

the best use i have for R.U.S. is for non-musicians
to use to get ideas for songs to request...from a
singer and picker circle...a good way to include them.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:29 PM

As far as I'm concerned, this book has RUINED "The Seattle Song Circle." As others have said, it's a good resource, but should be left at home when going to any singing event. I have stopped going to song circle because this book now dominates the evening, and I know many other singers who feel the same way. In fact, I wrote a song about this scourge:

"This is the song on page 17,
Page 17, page 17,
This is the song on page 17,
And my book's better than yours!"

"This is the song on page 18" ... on and on.

CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 01:42 PM

"I.O.C.A. ??"

Intercollegiate Outing Club Association
"Song Fest" was a collection of songs sung by members of the I.O.C.A., founded in 1932 and by 1954 organized at about 120 colleges and universities in Canada and the U.S. (mostly on the east coast).

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 02:02 PM

I use Rise up singing and other songbooks as well, because I'm rubbish to remebmer song lyrcs, but I sometimes look at the words and then I'll remember the words to songs, so I use these things as a kind of an aid.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 02:07 PM

Rise Up Singing (in some circles known as "Rise Up Sinking") is a good collection and a fairly good source for words, but I, too, get put off when I run into those little editing jobs that attempt to make a song more Politically Correct.

I was one of the "charter members" of the Seattle Song Circle, which was really great for the first few years. Meetings were held every Sunday evening at first, and drew from 40 to 70 people! That's right, as many as 70 some evenings, including John Dwyer, Stan James, Mary Wilson, Mary Garvey, Merritt Herring, John and Sally Ashford, and Bob Nelson, who rendered his opinion just above.

We didn't all sing together, either. When you're turn came up, you could sing a solo, lead the group in a song, request a song from someone else, or just pass. In a few months, without planning to, we developed into an informal singing group that started getting invited to provide authentic music for such events as the Moss Bay Sail and Chantey Festival. Great fun!!

But then some people, newcomers to Song Circle, started coming laden with song books. When their turn came up, they'd announce that "I just started to learn this song this afternoon and I don't know the words yet and I'm not sure of the tune, but—" and you'd have to sit there wincing as the person fuddled and groped their way through the song. And then Rise Up Singing showed up, and the whole thing turned into a hymn-sing. The original people started dropping out. I don't know what it's like now. I haven't been to Song Circle for a couple of decades.

I think we boo-booed back then. We abandoned the field and left it to the Philistines. When the books started showing up, a bunch of us should have stood up and barked!!

I agree. Rise Up Singing is a fairly good source for song words (but caveat emptor;   the words have been diddled with). The major problem with it is that some people—groups now inhabiting various song circles—take it as Holy Writ.

The New Song Fest compiled by Dick and Beth Best is THE one, if you can find a copy. I've totally worn out one copy and I'm on my second, which, despite careful handling, is getting kinda ratty looking.

With both books—with any book—use it to learn songs. Then leave them at home!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 02:17 PM

Hey, hey hey!!

Sing Out Index for various editions! Scroll down.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 02:46 PM

Yes Don,
some great songs in the old "Song Fest"
and some great kid's songs too,
not the sanitized, politically correct,
boring ones you find in "Rise Up Screaming,"
but then they'd probably get in deep trouble
if they sang those at school or in church
or at other public places.

Where else would you find the words to
Newman Levy's poem 'Thais' put to music -
"One time in Alexandria
In wicked Alexandria,
Where nights were wild with revelry,
and life was but a game ..."
Oh yes, it's in the DT, and on my web site.

Or "Let Her Sleep Under The Bar"
Or "Abdullah Bulbul Amir"
Or "The Vassar Hygiene Song"
Or "Blest be the tie that binds, My collar to my shirt..."
Or...

Those are the songs we used to sing
around the campfire, or in the dorms.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 03:15 PM

For the last 15 years, I've been in song circles that use the Blue Book. The Sacramento Song Circle has continued once a month for 20 years, and the others have come and gone. We never have fewer than 25 singers in the Sacramento gathering, and often have as many as 50. We use the Blue Book most of the time, but we always have a few people who introduce new songs. Most of our instrumentalists aren't very good, but we usually have at least one good guitarist every month.

When I started attending the Sacramento song circle, it was dominated by a strong singer and decent guitarist named Bob Fitch, one of the founding members. Many of the participants were women who had dated Bob. Bob was instrumental in founding several song circles in Northern California, and one in Reno (Nevada) that still has 50 or more people attending every month.

Bob Fitch left Sacramento about ten years ago, and I suppose I replaced Bob as the Alpha Male in the group. I don't play an instrument, but I have a strong voice and legend has it that I know all the songs in the Blue Book. If I'm not there, the singing gets pretty weak, so I feel an obligation to attend every song circle. I suppose it often happens that I'm the only person not looking in the book - I keep mine on the floor in front of me to glance at if I need a memory-jogger. Still, most of the time, our singing is pretty good and we usually have a wonderful time. One way or another, we make it work. We get non-singers to sing, and we have a good time. Hoiw can you condemn that?

About a year ago, a transplant form the San Francisco Bay Area, Sharon Carl, started a song circle in Auburn, California, ten miles from my home. She modeled it on the In Harmony's Way group in San Francisco. Sharon supposedly requires participants to read and sign her rules; but I don't know anyone who actually signed them, and we take some delight in defying them. Still, we generally follow the principles set by the rules, especially this one:
    Respect the group by connecting with them in song. Songbooks or songsheets tend to break group connection and we kind of hope you won't bring them. We want to see you while you sing, not the cover of your Rise Up Singing. If you can't remember all the words, lead the song anyway. Chances are someone will know the words and can prompt you. And if nobody knows the words, make some up on the spot. Nobody will notice, because, remember, they don't know the words. And if they do notice that you're faking it, they'll admire you for your audacity. Or maybe they'll think you're being silly. Whatever.
This song circle attracts a better quality of musicians, and our music has been pretty darn good. We're not ready to make a recording like the terrific CD from the original In Harmony's Way group, but we're pretty good.

So, I'm glad I'm in a variety of singing groups - a Catholic parish choir (which is very good), the blue-book Sacramento Song Circle (which is a very friendly group that has a lot of fun), and the Auburn In Harmony's Way group.

But back to the Blue Book. Don't blame a poor song circle on the book. It takes hard work to make any singing session work, especially if you want to be open to people who don't sing all that well.

-Joe-

P.S. Later editions of Rise Up Singing include the original lyrics of many of the songs that were sanitized in the earlier editions. Most of the songs in the book have always the original lyrics, as written by the songwriter. There are very few really "traditional" songs in the book, but it's a good place to find the correct lyrics for songs like "Today" and "Sounds of Silence" and "Four Strong Winds." These are songs that lots of people know and like to sing. Not particularly innovative, I suppose - but it can be fun, if you do it right.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 03:37 PM

Like Bob (Deckman), I've pretty much
given up on the Seattle Song Circle.

A wise musician in Seattle told me several years ago,
"If you don't like the session you're in, start your own."

It's harder to do than say,
but I took his advice and started my own
'house jam' monthly music session.
About a dozen (more or less) musicians,
we bring a variety of instruments,
play tunes (sometimes solo, sometimes together),
sing songs, and everything in between,
back up songs, if appropriate, on instruments,
with instrumental breaks, often improvised,
sing in marvelous multi-part harmonies,
and rarely use written words or music sheets.
It's great fun!

So if you don't like your song circle,
start your own.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 07:41 PM

Joe, what's the Blue Book? Maybe I missed something, but I scrolled up the thread to see if either RUS or an edition of Song Fest hsad been identified as such, but failed to find any such reference.

Also, since my post earlier today, I Googled "Sit Down Singing" and came up empty. The only results were articles about the Catholic Mass (i.e., sitting and standing and kneeling while singing). Too bad; I was looking forward to seeing a parody of "Rise Up..."

Not my day for coming up with results. :^(

Something else I'd like to know more about is the Intercollegiate Outing Club Association. Oh, for the simpler days of a more innocent era ~ when I first read the word "outing," first thing that occurred to me was the process of revealing one another's secret sexual preclivities. But I know that's incorrect; those folks were just about going out in the woods to sleep in tents and sing around campfires ~ and doing it right, too (apparently).


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: EBarnacle
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:04 PM

Among the nicknames I have heard for RUS are Fall over laughing, Sit down screaming and other similar variations.

At the chantey sing in NYC, while we do not encourage using RUS, we do not actively discourage it either. Many of our participants have used it as a means to break themselves into singing in public and we would rather have the words right than wait through long pauses until someone supplies the next line.

I have spoken with Peter Blood about some of the errors in the book, both in terms of misspelled words and incorrect quotations. While he seems to encourage the critique, he has not made the changes.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:27 PM

My objections to using "Rise Up Singing", or any other book or cheat sheet, during group singing is that it stifles the spontaneity and open exchange of songs and song varients. I well remember times when someone might sing: "Froggie Went a Courting", only to have five more varients of the same song tossed in next. When you have yer head buried in a book, you can't make eye conctact with anyone ... other than the person who published the book. I've learned most of my songs, and have been led into fabulous song searches, because of the free exchange of open singing. If you stick to "Rise Up Singing", the most you'll achieve is to learn every song in that book. YIPPEE! What fun. I'd rather exchange a mix of songs with folks who value these songs, learn them, search out different versions, a learn their histories. Just my opinion. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Haruo
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:28 PM

It's probably a sign of my mental illness or something, but I enjoy the Seattle Song Circle. In the course of an evening there's usually some total tripe, usually some good singing, usually something new I haven't heard before and am glad I heard, usually some oldies but goodies I enjoy singing along with, etc etc. Some participants are politically correctly inclined and some are iconoclasts, I was able to sing the Zulu King there (my version is, I think, similar to and probably ultimately based upon the one in 1954 Song Fest) and I also once sang Thaïs. People may sing in Hawaiian or Bulgarian or (yes, this would be yours truly) Esperanto, or may pass and hardly sing at all. I am oblivious to any rules about being or not being "in the Book". It meets every Sunday night, and I would be there every week if I didn't have a wife, Sunday evening church duties, and a bus dependency. I am sorry Stew and Don and Bob have given up on it, because I enjoy hearing them sing. Usually there are plenty of copies of RUS so if somebody wants to sing from the book others can join in, but several people bring their own private binders to contribute from, or even (horrors) sing from memory.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:52 PM

I learned to sing in church, with hymnals; and at Scout camp, without any printed lyrics. Through the years, I've come to know a lot of songs so well that I hardly glance at the hymnal, but I'm still glad I have it in hand. And yeah, I know about three hundred camp songs by heart; and I hate the thought of passing out song sheets at a campfire and have often fought parents who want them.

Still, most often I feel more comfortable if I have something to lean on if my memory fails; and I find a hymnal works best for group singing of most songs. I was raised singing with hymnals, and I guess I feel a bit offended by people say I can't sing as well as they do, simply because I usually sing from a book.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 09:11 PM

".... We get non-singers to sing, and we have a good time. How can you condemn that?"

ah, Joe...no one condemns that- some of us just think, as you see repeated several times above, that most people who use it tend to come to depend on it, and never get beyond it.

So what? you might ask....well, those folks see a mention in our newsletter for the FSGW Open Sing...which you, Joe, have attended a few times. Last month we had 6! (that's six) people wielding copies, and being bewildered when someone sang a song that 1) was not IN the book, or 2) was in the book, but had different words than those in the book. It got a wee bit awkward.

   I have my 'rule' that IF I can close my eyes and not tell if someone has a cheat-sheet or a book, I'll let it go...(yeah, I have used one at times when I had to pull up a song I had not done recently). Well....with these folks...(all nice folks)...it was obvious they were reading from the book, and there were pauses at line breaks or page turnings....and phrasing was ummmm...vague.

Now, no one wants to 'put down' people who care and are trying, but it-just-don't-work when part of the groups 'thinks' one way and part the other. We get thru it, but after 20+ years of welcoming ANYONE, we find the better singers gradually finding excuses to not attend much.

The BOOK is, simply, a crutch...and most of us need a crutch sometimes in life, but we usually like to be able to walk with the group. To extend the metaphor, if one is TRULY handicapped and can't run with the others, there are handicapped venues...like wheelchair races. I just echo what the Seattle folks have said, and IF the FSGW sing deteriorates into a Blue Book sing, I know that some of us will find other ways.

(Lordy, you wouldn't believe what our sing was like from 1975, when I first attended one to about 15-20 years ago! Pure Heaven! Then, as the % of top-notch folks went down, it became harder to keep up standards. Seldom 'bad', and often quite good....but changing slowly...for various reasons.   Now I pick & choose according to the topic and where it is to be held.

(To be clear...I HAVE a copy of RUS. I also have 100 others!)

I don't really know what to do, but I do know what NOT to do.

I am sorry if I upset anyone....but.....


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 09:36 PM

One of the very good things about the way Seattle Song Circle used to work was that it encouraged people to learn the songs before they came to the meetings, so that when their turn came up, they would have something to contribute—preferably a song that the rest of the crew had never heard, if at all possible. The result was that a lot of really good songs began to emerge.

I addition to that, and of no small importance, was that a lot of people took their first fliers at singing solo in front of that group. Generally too shy in most circumstances, but since this was a warm plunge, many gave it a shot. Once they got a taste, they beavered away at learning songs and developed into pretty good solo singers.

There would be an army of small battery-operated cassette recorders whirring softly away. One of these belong to Sally Ashford. One evening she showed up with a stack of song books that she had put together, made up of songs she'd recorded on those Sunday evenings. She had copied down the words to several dozen songs, possibly as many as a hundred or more—and had written out the tunes (standard notation on manuscript paper—the dreaded dots)! She ran the original song sheets, with the tune at the top and the words typed below, through a copy machine, then put them into inexpensive three-ring binders, and sold them to anyone who wanted them (almost everybody) for a couple of bucks, essentially what it had cost her—not counting the many hours of painstaking listening and copying she must have put in on the project. A labor of love on Sally's part and much appreciated by the whole group.

But as was intended, we learned the songs we wanted out of the book, and then left it at home, as Sally had intended.

Thaïs. I had heard Walt Robertson sing it a number of times in the early 1950s. Then, in 1955 or so, I spotted The New Song Fest in a book store, riffled through it for about three seconds, then ran squealing and giggling up to the cash register. There were lots of "AHAs!" in that book, songs I had heard Walt or others sing, but didn't know what records or song books I could find them in. One of them was Thaïs. It turned out that that's where Walt had learned it. I learned it also, along with a whole batch of other songs I'd been looking for.

When Barbara and I got season tickets to Seattle Opera, the first opera I saw was Jules Massenet's Thaïs. Yup. The song takes a two and a half hour opera and boils it down to about three minutes!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 09:43 PM

Whenever RUS is mentioned
half or more of the people
Rise Up Screaming!
And this forum is no exception.

So they vote with their feet,
or take the advice of my wise musician friend
and start their own session/song circle/jam.

So less screaming, and more singing/playing/jamming,
And more sessions/song circles/jams!

Cheers, S. in Seattle
maybe that's Screaming in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 09:56 PM

By the way Don,

I also first learned Thais from "Song Fest,"
but always used the book, because I thought
it might not be possible to memorize all 13 verses.

Then about 40 years later, thinking about that song,
not having sung it in many years,
and with no "Song Fest" handy, I realized
I could sing it without the book, all the bloody 13 verses!
I just had to put all the lines in order,
but it was there in my head!

Now if all those song circle people
who always use RUS just tried,
they might just amaze themselves.
They might be able to leave the book at home,
and we'd all be better off.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 09:56 PM

Outside of "What is Folk?" this is about the oldest and longest running argument on the 'Cat. Ten years ago it was also the same things being said and often by some of the same people. My first post as I reacll was one of uttter contempt and condemnation of RUS but over the years I began to see it was not the book but the way its used. That's not a new thought either as I recall some people were saying that as well ten years ago.

Matter of fact, I haven't seen anything on this thread that hasn't already been argued and defended or trashed before. Everyone has an opinion and I may be one of a few who has mellowed slightly but I'm thinking we need to start a thread for each long running topic with each argument, pro or con, listed & numbered in the first post. Then we can run it every now and then for a new article like PT found or something similar and just type in the number.

I used to back Argument 7 but I have come over to the 14-B way of thinking.


LOL


Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:13 PM

There have always been two good sides to this disagreement, but neither side seems to wish to bend.

If someone feels more comfortable by using a book, I think it should be encouraged. Having a crutch might be necessary from some people who don't know the songs that well.   Also, given the average age of the people who attend song circles these days, having a cheat sheat isn't a bad idea for those who forget words.   I'd rather see someone with their face down in a book as opposed to someone with their face straining toward the sky trying to remember a line of a song.

At the same time, a person who uses a book should not feel upset if someone sings something other than one of the tunes in the collection. Some people mentioned that they have seen folks who seem lost when a new song is sung - which should not be a surprise. I find it incredible that someone would feel put off by a song not written in front of them.

A good song circle consists of many people. I don't think there should be a requirement either way - if you want to use a book, use it. If you prefer to sing a song from memory, you should do so.   The point of the event is to have a good time in the simple act of singing - and if you allow rules or ego to guide how the proceedings should go, you've created a situation that really is a clique and not a fun event.

Live and let live. Don't worry what the person sitting next to you is doing, and don't let your thoughts on how things should go dictate the enjoyment of others.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:13 PM

"... it encouraged people to learn the songs before they came to the meetings, so that when their turn came up, they would have something to contribute—preferably a song that the rest of the crew had never heard, if at all possible. The result was that a lot of really good songs began to emerge."

So ~ the exercise, then, was not nercessarily a "sing-along"? It was OK to perform a piece that no one else could be expected to know?

Would one be expected to teach the gang to participate, presumably on an often-repeated chorus? Or not even?

Sounds like song swapping, not necessarily group singing. (Not on every number, anyway). That'd be fine with me, but some gatherings of some groups might have the intention that every participant be able to sing on every selection. In that context, I would imagine that a shared "hymnal" (even a secular one like RUS) would be a basic tool.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: artbrooks
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:14 PM

Someone asked "what is the 'Blue book'"? It is, simply, the much maligned "Rise Up Singing"...because, until the last two (I think) editions, it had a blue cover. Personally, I prefer "The Folksinger's Word Book", if one must have a song book.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:48 PM

I have to confess that in our "In Harmony's Way" session, I often sing different versions of songs that are in the "Blue Book." When somebody pulls out a book and asks what page the song is on, I remind them that's against the rules. I can't get away with that very easily in our Sacramento session that uses Rise Up Singing as a hymnal. But in both sessions, I do try to push people to go beyond the book.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 11:55 PM

Joe, just a note about parents wanting lyric sheets...I have asked for them before from my grandson's preschool teacher, so that I can learn them so he and I can sing them at home, sans the sheet once I've learned the words.

Ron, I agree with you.

Spaw, great idea!:-)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:09 AM

Oh, Kat, I don't mind that at all, and often provide sheets when I'm teaching songs at workshops - but song sheets at a campfire are a travesty. Besides being a mess, people start complaining that they can't read the words, or they bring out flashlights. Part of the fun of a campfire song, is the teaching. It can be a challenge, but you can make it memorable if you ham it up the right way.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:35 AM

PoppaGator, the idea wasn't to try to come up with songs that nobody else knew, but since there were several singers of long experience there, it was a bit of a kick for a newcomer to be able to come up with a song that the old-timers didn't already know.

We started out with the idea that there would be a lot of group singing, but not just that. We tended to gravitate toward sea chanteys and songs with choruses. A couple of sea chanteys that rocked the building might be followed by a solo singer doing a ballad. These often precipitated a swap of information. "Where did you learn that version?" "I got it from so-and-so's record." Or "It's in Lomax's Folk Song U.S.A." Then, we'd move on to someone singing verses solo, with a good chorus that everyone could join in on. There was a good mix of group singing and solo performing, and everybody had a chance to learn new stuff.

And people taught songs, a la campfire singing (without the campfire). That worked well also.

But we didn't sing out of books or from crib sheets. This encouraged people to learn the songs, not just read them out of a book, then promptly forget them. And on the deck of the schooner Wawona during the Moss Bay Sail and Chantey Festival, nobody was using a book or song sheet. We all knew the songs.

Things started coming unglued when some people somehow got the idea that they could sing solo for the group without preparation. Or that they could teach a song to the group that they didn't already know themselves. The next step, of course, was to bring a book—preferably a book that everyone else had also brought with them. Then no one would have to go to the trouble of actually learning the songs. That's when a lot of people who already had a headful of songs tended to loose interest, especially if a song someone had in his or her head either wasn't in The Book, or it was, but it wasn't the "authorized" version ("That's not the way it is in The Book!").

I'm not contending that the practice of sitting around singing out of Rise Up Singing should be abolished and those who do should be smote hip and thigh and cast into The Pit. If someone enjoys group singing out of a book, that's fine. Whatever turns your crank. But personally, I prefer a mix of solo and group singing, with the hope that I might hear something that I haven't heard before, which isn't very likely if everyone is singing out of the same book.

Even in church, the congregation may all sing together out of a hymnal, but most churches also have a choir that does a couple of songs, and frequently a soloist or two.

Variety.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:50 AM

My reaction to the bloody song circles that use RUS. Never saw a circle that used this book & held on to the good or strong singers, they eventually go elsewhere. This hasn't only happened in Seattle, I've seen it in Boston & San Francisco & other places.

Rise Up Screaming (by Barry Finn)
Tune: Jack In The Green (by Martin Graebe)

A pub session or a party is a very strange thing
They're all out of fashion no more do they sing
For they read from a book or copy a tape
They imitate sounds no mortal should make

There's no sound in the kitchen, no sound in the hall
There's a murderous screech that plays off the walls
Where is the music, where are the songs
In the mouths of monsters where no sound belongs

Dead pan they look as they sing in your face
They'll spit out the words and the tunes they'll disgrace
A song will be beat o'r and over to death
And in a round robin they'll resurrect it again

No more will be heard a version that's lost
Or a variant that's rare or two songs that were crossed
The borrowing or sharing of a tune or a song
Will be according to the Bible all else will be wrong

And now for the future, it's bleak for the song
No young mortal will dare to carry it on
They'll be none around who without books can sing
Or swap without tapes or rise up singing

Copyright Barry Finn 1996


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Acme
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 01:03 AM

I'll jump to the bottom of the thread, without reading the testimonials (though I did glance at Don Firth's, and we both know some of that history), to say that members of the Seattle Song Circle happily shredded a copy of the blue book at the celebration of life they did for my Dad (John Dwyer). But that's because a number of them, Dad included, had a problem with people not completely knowing the songs they decided to sing in public. Dad didn't like it when people stood and sang off of the printed page, not exuding the understanding and internalization of the song they were singing. It was used as a crutch too often for his tastes.

I have spent years as a public speaker, as a park naturalist and historian, and have the same understanding about a performer or speaker really knowing their material. Until it can come across as completely and naturally your own, as something you understand and can address in a lucid conversation, it isn't ready for prime time. But Rise Up Singing was treated like a shortcut to folk performance. The equivalent would be if I stood in front of a tour at Ellis Island and read someone else's account from a book, instead of making eye contact and telling the history as I knew it to exist, from stories told to me. There is simply no comparison, and if you don't understand the distinction, then you're not ready to be singing in public. Or leading tours. :)

SRS


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Haruo
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 02:10 AM

Joe said, "song sheets at a campfire are a travesty", but I think they work pretty well as firestarter. Gotta crumple 'em up a bit, of course, but they'll help the kindling take.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:29 AM

I always thought 17-B was a good argument, until I saw AB33045, and then I realized the error of my ways, and went out and bought a capo.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:50 AM

so what you're saying is that people like me that use songbooks aren't good enough to sing at these sessions, that's very good isn't it.

so if you have a bad memory or just learning the song then don't go to these sessions because you're shit and we are better than you.

i thought that tease sessions were for everyone, but I was wrong.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:27 AM

"But Rise Up Singing was treated like a shortcut to folk performance. The equivalent would be if I stood in front of a tour at Ellis Island and read someone else's account from a book"

There is a HUGE difference there, and that might be the heart of the problem. A group sing or song-circle should not be considered a "performance". IF the participants consider it such, then you've moved into an area where you do not need others joining you. A tour guide at Ellis Island IS a performer and their JOB requirement is to be knowledgeable.   A person participating in a sing should not have to pass an exam to join - if they do, then perhaps they should rethink why they want to be a part of such a snooty gathering.

The whole idea of "folk music" was that it was a participatory experience, not a exhibition of skills. There are numerous cultural and technological reasons why people do not sing in homes as much as they used to.   Musical snobs, and yes I use that term deliberatley, are more concerned with their own experience than the experience of others.

People who engage in ripping up of RUS books or banning the use of handouts are engaging in musical masturbation.   You might be having a good time, but there is a reason why their are fewer partners. Many of the same people I see in this thread have also engaged in conversations about why folk music is being ignored by the media, non-existant at festivals, and why young people are joining in.   Perhaps this is a small indication of why all of those issues are real.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: billhudson
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:44 AM

I got one from Pete and use it sometimes, its the words that I am after. Not a thing in this world is perfect but I notice a lot of Hudson Valley, New York musicians use this one.
I always seem to go back to this book, kind if like good food and maybe like comfort food. Now a days I am more folk & roll but always eep that book in my office.
Still Pickin'
Bill


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: EBarnacle
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM

One of the things about the South Street Sea Chantey get togethers is that it is a semi-social situation. Professionals and virgins try their stuff out. some pros bring sheets with them to help them over their first few performances of material before they really go public.

Sometimes the pieces get critiqued and emended on the spot. While this is qualitatively different from RUS, the same thing occurs to users of RUS in that people who use this also get corrected on some of the most egregious errors in the book.

As long as you remember that nothing is really cast in stone and authoritative, it's all a learning process.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Midchuck
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:58 AM

so what you're saying is that people like me that use songbooks aren't good enough to sing at these sessions, that's very good isn't it.

so if you have a bad memory or just learning the song then don't go to these sessions because you're shit and we are better than you.

i thought that tease sessions were for everyone, but I was wrong.

..........

People who engage in ripping up of RUS books or banning the use of handouts are engaging in musical masturbation.   You might be having a good time, but there is a reason why their are fewer partners.


Speaking for myself alone, all I'm saying is:

1) It's annoying to sing a song and be told that your lyrics aren't "right" because they're not the same as in The Book. Who the f*** died and made Mr. Blood-Patterson God?

2) It's annoying to start a song and have someone yell "Wait, stop, I have to find the page."

3) If one is performing, or leading, a song, one can do it better if one's head is upright, with the throat passages fully open, than if one is looking down into a book.

4) If one is performing, or leading, a song, it's nice to make some eye contact if you can. Reading lyrics rules that out.

No argument that it's better to sing using The Book than not sing. But even if you use printed lyrics, there's more than one book. Get a copy of Silverman's "The Dirty Song Book," for a starter.

Peter


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:04 AM

I'm sorry Goatfell....but you miss the point. It has NOTHING to do with "better than you" or "not good enough"...it is about people sharing similar tastes or abilities.

If you were a skier, you would ski mostly with folks of similar ideas of where to go and how steep or difficult the course should be. There can, of course, be some overlap, but those who want to zooom downhill at 60MPH may not be inclined to dodge those who are only interested in little gentle slides.

There are two issues involved.....there is **LEARNING** the songs and how the tunes and words go, and there is *PERFORMING** them for or with a group.

The main idea of singing with others is to enjoy the event, I'd think. If you barely know the song and hesitate in the middle or lose the tune and have to glance down at the words every line, then it will not be easy for folks to sing WITH you or to enjoy hearing you.
    If you DO know the song reasonably well, and can manage the tune similarly, then FINE.... you will be welcome most places. Folks who are 'bit' better will be glad to help....but the middle of a session meant for singing the songs is not the best time for learing & practicing the songs.

I will repeat once more my rule: IF you can sing out of a book or from a sheet in such a way that I can't tell with my eyes closed, I will tolerate it! If you almost know the song, but just need a little help to be sure....go ahead! But taking a book and picking a song that you have heard but seldom tried and reading it AT a group seldom works.

I do know that Irish instrumental "sessions" are often even more particular. They often will flatly not tolerate amateur efforts, and will expect you to learn & practice in other ways. I don't pretend to know all the rules.

Ron Olesko says above: "If someone feels more comfortable by using a book, I think it should be encouraged. Having a crutch might be necessary from some people who don't know the songs that well. "
   .....well, it simply depends on where & when and with whom. There ARE groups and places for very informal learning and practice, but there are times when singing from a book if it is not done well (so that someone with eyes closed can't tell) will ruin the mood.

You can preach 'fair' all you want, but it IS the case that if the quality of the music falls below a certain level, some folks will not participate! Others will stay out of sympathy, but suffer. If you know a song you want to hear, but can't lead it well, ASK if someone else will....then sing along and learn it! Get better...practice...take lessons...Most people can eventually manage to participate on a tolerable level.
If singing out of books is the ONLY way you wish to do it, then find a group that does ONLY that.

(I am reminded that square dance groups often have several levels...one for beginners, taught by an experienced dancer...maybe monthly, and then other nights for experienced dancers who do NOT need to be shown all the steps. It interrupts the dance when someone misses a move and the square has to stop and regroup.)

I just don't know what else to say....


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:07 AM

(several others posted while I was typing, I see)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:13 AM

1) It's annoying to sing a song and be told that your lyrics aren't "right" because they're not the same as in The Book. Who the f*** died and made Mr. Blood-Patterson God?
I AGREE WITH YOU ON THAT POINT. FOLK SONGS ARE MEANT TO BE LIVING PIECES OF ART AND SHOULD BE ADAPATED.   PERHAPS SOME EDUCATION IS REQUIRED IF YOU ARE APPROACHED IN THAT FASHION.


2) It's annoying to start a song and have someone yell "Wait, stop, I have to find the page."
DON'T STOP. KEEP ON GOING. THEY WILL CATCH UP.   DEAL WITH THE ANNOYANCE AND THEY WILL GET THE MESSAGE.

3) If one is performing, or leading, a song, one can do it better if one's head is upright, with the throat passages fully open, than if one is looking down into a book.
THIS ISN'T ABOUT PERFORMING, IT IS ABOUT PARTICIPATING. NO ONE IS TELLING YOU TO LOOK DOWN AT A BOOK. YOU ARE NOT BOUND BY WHAT THE PERSON SITTING NEXT TO YOU IS DOING.

4) If one is performing, or leading, a song, it's nice to make some eye contact if you can. Reading lyrics rules that out.
ITS NICE, BUT IT ISN'T MANDATORY. PUT YOURSELF IN THE OTHER PERSONS SHOES AND TRY TO UNDERSTAND WHY THEY NEED THAT BOOK. WHILE SESSIONS ARE MEANT TO ENTERTAINMENT FOR THE INDIVIDUAL, THEY ARE ALSO ABOUT COMMUNITY.

You can preach 'fair' all you want, but it IS the case that if the quality of the music falls below a certain level, some folks will not participate! Others will stay out of sympathy, but suffer. If you know a song you want to hear, but can't lead it well, ASK if someone else will....then sing along and learn it! Get better...practice...take lessons...Most people can eventually manage to participate on a tolerable level.
If singing out of books is the ONLY way you wish to do it, then find a group that does ONLY that.
YOU ARE RIGHT, I WILL PREACH "FAIR" ALL I WANT. IF PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE BECAUSE OF THEIR OWN EGO, THAT IS THEIR CALL. EVERYTHING YOU MENTION ABOUT PEOPLE LEARNING SONGS TAKES TIME AND PATIENCE, AND IT SEEMS THAT MANY OF OUR "ELDERS" HAVE LOST THAT ABILITY. YOU JUST DO NOT REALIZE THAT WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS A COMPLETE TURNOFF TO BEGINNERS OR THOSE WHO DO NOT HAVE THE SAME INTEREST AS YOU. IF YOU WISH TO PARTICIPATE IN A CLOSED SESSION WITH A CLIQUE OF FRIENDS, YOU ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH.   EVENTUALLY THERE WON'T BE ANYONE LEFT TO SING WITH.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:14 AM

Now... I WILL say that do continue to attend some of our local sings, even though they are far below the standards they used to be....I want to keep the session alive! but I can't say I enjoy all of them.....some of what I hear attempted is just painful.
Surely someone can tell when they just can't manage a song at all. Why would they want to sing it badly?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:16 AM

"Musical masterbation" ... hmmm ... do I need my capo for this? Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:21 AM

Ok, Ron.... I hear you, and I see your points (It didn't require all the capitals)....I just don't think that it is necessarily 'either/or'. You seem to suggest that the proper behavior is to cater to the lowest common denominator. Both sides need to TRY to be flexible.....those who can't sing well, or don't 'think' they can learn lyrics need to try to imagine what it sounds like to others.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:22 AM

(Deckman...that requires a special capo....)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:32 AM

"(It didn't require all the capitals)...."

I typed in capitals to distinguish from the quotes as you can see, it was not shouting.

I am not saying that "proper behavior" is to cater to the lowest common denominator.   If we are talking about folk music, then the "proper" setting is to realize that in the true setting of the songs, it is not meant to be an exhibition but a participation. Granted, you can set the rules - but if producing only the BEST songs and singers is your goal, then it is no longer folk music in the truest sense.   It becomes like Little League baseball - where the best players play and the others sit on the bench and get bored. Years later, people scratch their heads and wonder why attendance and ratings for the sport drop.

All I'm saying is that we need to evaluate the purpose of our "sings".   If we truly want to keep the spirit and application of folk music alive, then perhaps we need to examine why we participate and why we want others.    Education, understanding and patience go a lot further than setting arbitrary rules that exist only for the pleasure of a few.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:34 AM

""Musical masterbation" ... hmmm ... do I need my capo for this? Bob "

If you do it every day, you will not go blind nor will you grow hair on your palms. Well, maybe the hair can't be stopped.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: billhudson
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:42 AM

"One of the things about the South Street Sea Chantey get togethers is that it is a semi-social situation. Professionals and virgins try their stuff out".-EBarnacle Yes that is why I like playing the Asbury Park Clearwater Festival...late night fun circle, mistakes and all.
And Ron, your last post hits the nail on the head,"Education, understanding and patience go a lot further than setting arbitrary rules that exist only for the pleasure of a few."
Still Pickin'
Bill


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: JohnB
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:49 AM

I agree with what BillD is saying (btw. nice name Bill). We have been to a Celtic College for quite a few years now, there are different courses at Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced, even Master Classes, for ALL sorts of instruments and there are different singing classes in Harmony, Irish/Scottish/et, song. The song classes are ONE level, ANYBODY OF ANY Ability or experience.
In the evening there are organized beginners, intermediate and advanced sessions plus others where a few friends or people of similar abilities get together, this generally includes a Teachers session, where it is ALL semi/proffessional performers in the group.
Then there is the "Song Circle" where anything and anyone attends, some High tolerance people are there all the time, some with Blue Books, some with their own Folders of material and some who appear for a while, take their turn and then leave.
There are all the usual arguemants about books after, with the "Intermediate" and "Advanced" singers about stupid books and crutches etc.
The answer is obvious to all our problems, which is to recognize (in groups) the differing abilities of "Singing" not just "Playing"
JohnB


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:04 PM

JohnB - what you have described is a big error in judgement on the part of the organizers of the Celtic College. Apparently they do a nice job of dividing up the classes for beginner, intermediate and advanced - but then they throw everyone in the pot for the song circle. The people who you describe as being upset are in the "intermediate" or "advanced" singers groups, which plays to my point that there needs to be more education, understanding and tolerance.   IF the organizers divided up rooms for different song circles for different levels, and placed some UNDERSTANDING leaders in each group, perhaps it could have melded into something for everyone.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,MAG at work
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM

Open Mike, there was indeed a previous version of RUS with a b&w cover and a spiral binding, and no attributes given.

I used to have a copy which I gave away. The story was it was put out by some more radical Quakers who just wanted some lyrics sheets for group singing.

MAG, whose home computer is frozen for some reason.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 12:31 PM

"Only the mediocre are always at their best."

I enjoy the challenge of singing and playing
with musicians who are better than I.
We welcome all levels of singers and players
in our house jams if they are interested
in improving their musical abilities.
It is great to see people improve.
And we have a lot of fun in the process.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 01:22 PM

BillDarlin'...when I finally meet you, you will close your eyes and listen and will not be able to tell I may be using my songbook (not RUS, my own!):-)

Seems to me Spaw made the most sense...poor ol' RUS has been mis-used. Since I've never lived where I could go to a regular session, once i found out about such things, I haven't had much chance, except on PalTalk, to practice songs as I don't enjoy doing it much for just myself. However, I grew up singing and playing all of the time. Were I to start going to sessions, I would start out with a few songs memorised and share them, but I would also want my songbook with me just for reference and, if I were trying out a new song. If that is too much of a crutch for some *purists* then I'd have to find a different session.

Oddly enough, with playing, I'd not expect a book at all unless I were playing classical violin. Folk, etc. is all by ear for me on the dulcimore and fiddle. Again, I'd be sure I'd practised and hope I did a good job, but I'd also appreciate trying out new tunes and getting input.

Seems to me there ought to be some room for compromise, understanding, patience, etc. What would you tell someone who was elderly, still able to sing, etc., but couldn't remember the words? I sent RUS to my dad when he was in his 80s. He and I had never heard of it. He enjoyed refreshing his memory with it, though he had the sense not to take it for "gospel" and he was able to remember the words once he'd re-read them. Of course, with his standard playlist, he had no problem, save using 3 X 5 cards with the song titles to prompt his memory. I don't own RUS, but I do wish his widow had sent his copy back to me. I wouldn't mind having a copy.

Joe, agree! NO books, etc at a campfire!:-)

Anyone remember the ancient thread we had on our own songbooks and what kind of paper, etc. we preferred to print them on and bind them? It was a neat thread and I would refresh it if I could find it. I know Bert posted to it, may have started it, and Alice told us about her thermal fax paper in the shower, but I'll be danged if I can find it!

Thanks,

kat


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 03:43 PM

Ron, learning a song or two is hardly "an exhibition of skills." Children do it all the time.

And lighten up, Goatfell. Nobody said what you said they said.

The point here is not whether one person with a dicey memory needs to use song sheets, it's about the whole group. If you need them, well, okay, use them.

In fact, at the Coffeehouse Reunion Concert at the 2003 Northwest Folklife Festival ("Geezers' Concert") one of this area's more staunch singers walked up to the mic with a three-ring binder, confessed that his memory for a lot of the songs was not as good as it used to be, and he put the binder on a music stand and opened it. No problem. The thing was, however, that he didn't stand there with the binder in front of his face, he looked at the audience as he always had, and whenever he felt a lapse of memory coming on, he would glance quickly at the song sheet without interrupting the song, and keep right on going.

Basically, he knew the songs. He just needed an occasional cue. He wasn't reading off a song he didn't already know.

I can see some merit in this. I think it's much better, as someone alluded to above, to have a song sheet within eyeshot, if needed from time to time, than it is to put an audience through the discomfort of waiting for you to come up with the next line while watching you stare at the ceiling as if trying to find the lyrics written somewhere up there.

There is some high-powered precedence for having music or song sheets handy. I noticed that on "The Three Tenors" special over public television (Luciano Pavarotti, Placido Domingo, and José Carreras), there was a music stand in front of each of these powerhouse singers. Dark orchestral stands so they were unobtrusive, place about waist high, not blocking the view, but where each singer could see his just by glancing down.

Now, all three of them have sung hundreds of concerts and recitals, and dozens of operatic roles. They have memorized full-length operas and hundreds of songs and arias. Yet—even they are subject to the occasional memory lapse. That's why, during an opera performance, there is someone with a copy of the score sitting in the prompter's box out of sight of the audience. And in recital, the pianist is there to quietly feed them a line if necessary. Or the conductor if the accompaniment is orchestral. The singer usually stands fairly close to the conductor, who has the score right there in front of him.

Hence, the music stands. The three tenors were going to be singing a couple of dozen songs of various kinds during the concert, and since it was in front of a large live audience and it was being televised nationally (taped "live" to be played repeatedly, especially during public television pledge breaks), having the music in front of them—just in case—was preferable to working without a net.

During the whole program, I think I saw them glance at the stands maybe four or five times altogether, but this was usually between songs during the applause, probably asking themselves "Okay, what's next?" They knew the songs they were singing, they were certainly not just singing them from the music.

Singing out of books, or even one specific agreed-upon book:    okay, if that's what a group of people want to get together and do, then fine. Do it. It's a free country. The Constitution gives you the right of Freedom of Assembly.

But as Barry pointed out above, and for the reasons stated by Midchuck just above, the chances are that the strong, more experience singers probably won't be in evidence.

Don Firth

P. S. Let me reiterate:    There is nothing wrong with song books, song sheets, or music stands. It's the way they are sometimes used.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 03:51 PM

I remeber saying all the stuff as mr firth, and i got kicked in the teeth by some of the 'people' that use the mudcat cafe.

there are some 'people' that don't approve of songbooks or whatever at sessions/folk clubs, but the difference between them and me is that they sing the same old songs week in week out wehreas I try a new song every week/fornight that's all, I try and sing a new song every time I go to a session/folkclub.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 04:47 PM

"learning a song or two is hardly "an exhibition of skills." Children do it all the time."

So explain why adults forget songs. It isn't an easy skill for everyone, especially when you are put in the position of "leader". As you noted "the chances are that the strong, more experience singers probably won't be in evidence" - well, maybe that is the lesser of two evils. I would sooner see someone walk off because their ego and skill level is above a community sing than have someone who is uncomfortable with singing be made to feel foolish for their lack of understanding.

Don, the situation you described at Northwest Folklife is more of a performance since you noted that the staunch singer was facing the audience. It is one thing if you are singing for an an audience that is expecting some sort of "performance", but the sings that I have been used to are more informal and the participation is the draw, not the outcome of the music.

They have been using books for Sacred Harp singing and there doesn't seem to be an issue there.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 05:03 PM

I met my friend Jim at the Seattle Song Circle some years ago. At first he would just pass. He seemed very shy, and he was. Sometimes he would request a song for others to sing, but that was all. A while later I befriended him and encouraged him in his music.

He later came to Rainy Camp (a Seattle Song Circle weekend retreat) and I heard him sing a song. He amazed me as he did quite well. I then brought him with me to the Victory Music open mic, which he seemed to enjoy.

After much persuasion I finally got him to perform at the open mic. Since then he has just blossomed, and is now doing his own gigs. Later this spring he will open for Hank Cramer at the Haller Lake Community Center (north Seattle) where I produce concerts for the Haller Lake Arts Council.

The point is, he began by coming to a song circle, but used that experience to grow musically.

I've never seen him use the RUS book. Maybe it's because he is totally blind. But Jim doesn't give up, he just decides what he wants to do, and does it.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 06:43 PM

*smile* Stewart.. a lady who 'sometimes' comes to our sings is totally blind also. She knows a whole bunch of songs, but sometimes needs help, just like the guy Don F. mentioned.
   She carries a big cloth bag...and in it is her cheat-sheet...in Braille! The funny part is that she hates to be 'seen' using it, so she sits, the bag in her lap, with her hand inside the bag, 'reading' along. She does remarkably well, too..(I can close my eyes and 'usually' not tell)... No one ever mentions that it looks stranger to see that hand rustling in her bag than if she just took the Braille sheets out.
    The whole point is, that she DOES know the songs, and just needs some reminders.

   There is really no clear & obvious 'line' that can be drawn where fun & discomfort diverge , as this is different for everyone, and if I can close my eyes and not tell, then fine....but when someone cannot follow a song, even with a book, they are past the line for me. If they can follow the tune and sing the words without stopping and reading ahead, they are right on the line: even if it is stilted and dull, I will shrug and wait.
    All I usually do anyway is try to set a good example and drop hints...but there IS a small movement growing to make some sort of announcement...maybe printed in the newsletter...suggesting gently that our 'tradition' is to avoid books...and especially THE book...most of the time.

   We shall, as they say, see.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 07:07 PM

Ridiculous to argue about. I generally agree with Ron. If you don't like RUS, DON'T USE IT! I don't go singing without it, and wouldn't enjoy singing with any group so pedantic as to demand I do without. It doesn't stop me from learning songs not in RUS (some of them by (GASP) singer-songwriters), it just provides an easy fall-back and avoids awkward silences. I'm there for the music, after all.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 08:03 PM

Hey PT.....Now that you got the capo, the simplest version is B27 and capo 3. I'd go that route if I were you.

And for those wanting Bill's argument in the simplest form, use B/D 12-8 and capo clear up on 7.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:10 PM

    A group sing or song-circle should not be considered a "performance". -Ron Olesko-

Ron, that's the best point that's been made in the thread so far. I'm a pretty good singer, but I get intimidated in song circles by people who think of themselves as "performers." We have a sometime participant who considers the Sacramento Song Circle a "venue," and he doesn't seem to know who to sing or play with other people.

On the other hand, I sing in another song circle with Dick Holdstock and Allan MacLeod, who are pretty notable performers - but they make every participant in the circle feel special, even those of us who sing from "cheat sheets.".

Thanks for the insight.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: EBarnacle
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:13 PM

Going back to the point about professional musicians, when did it become de rigeur for folkies to play without music? Every other kind of musician is comfortable and acceptable with the music and words in front of them. Is it an ego thing?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:18 PM

I call it "Rise Up Squinting".

Frank


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 09:47 PM

The definitive answer was back in C'Spaw98, line RF5, but only if you have the right key which you will find in the WSCDYW12976 of AT99.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:58 PM

We wouldn't be able to do any sort of research as to the age and origins of "folk songs" were it not for old songbooks, and one suspects that to one degree or another, they were sung from, probably with the same bickering going on that we experience now.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 10:59 PM

Someone we know and love put forth that "All God's critters got a place in the choir"--If they don't, it ain't folk music. Seems to me, it's in RUS.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:05 PM

Some words of great wisdom from Ron, EBarnacle, Joe, and MTed. Some of us are NOT obsessed with being perceived as great performers.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Farley Buckwheat
Date: 27 Dec 08 - 11:55 PM

.

I visited a singing a few years ago that did not last long. A couple of singers had RUS, but any song was allowed. Along comes a guy with an electric guitar who totally did not get the idea. His idea was to turn on his amp and a whole string of little black boxes while he strove for a sound exactly like Eric Clapton, with no regard with what everybody else was doing. Pretty much killed the fun for everybody.

If there had been ground rules, maybe this situation could have been avoided and the group would have continued. Having an agreed-upon songboook can provide such a set of ground rules. RUS serves this purpose well.

I still talk to the lady who started this group.   She started it because she liked having people over. It was about socializing as much as it was about music.

It seems to me that the spirit behind RUS has an implicit social element as well as a musical one.

.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 02:18 AM

I just got home from what was supposed to be a "singing party". There were about 12 people there, all singing off key & reading Christmas Caroles from books, including RUS. No one knew any songs through that they could lead so there were 12 leaders, following along the best they could, even doing a Beatles Christmas song & they passed out the prints of it & still couldn't get it right, they were bleeding where it overlaps. It was horrid & awfully boring. I lasted 20 horrid minutes & left after I ate a piece of the pie I brought.
So they can continue to read there songs but hell will freeze over before I go to another Folk Song Society "singing party". They were so bad that even there own regular members (I'm a member but not a regular, for this reason) can't find it within themselves to support there own sings, that's bloody bad. I haven been too one of these parties in yrs & I went thinking it might be a good time, it'll be a good number of yrs before I go again. This society IMHO has been in this rough shape for along time & it pains me cause that's where I cut my teeth more than 30 yrs ago when it had spirit, flavor, blood & folks kept at bringing in new material & they were incestious about the different genres they sang & played, now all it has are wrinkles & notes to read from. You can keep your books & sings from your pages, I want one song to lead to another, spontainiouly with without having to turn a page, I want folks that can lead me in a rousting chorus without fucking it up just as it gets going, I want to hear harmony without gritting me teeth to someone who's off key, with spirit & gusto, that's what makes beginners want to really lea4rn their material & contribute, that's what encourages newbies to find songs that they haven't heard others sing, that's what gives the song life & blood ortherwise it's just a excerise in voice usage & the strong & better singers that you want around don't have the time for that kind of shit.

Barry, who'llgetoveritbytomorrowbutstillwon'tattendanother musicalrecitalagain


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 02:42 AM

The great orchestras all have great conductors--if the best musical aggregations need solid direction, it's a cinch that all the lower levels need it too--that's what's missing--someone that knows what they're doing has to take charge, and, folkies being what they are, they have to do it without anyone feeling like they are taking charge;-)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 03:20 AM

Damit, I went upstairs to go to bed but I'm not done. Caution long rant!

You don't teach bad singers to get better by having them sing with their peers (you have a sucky sing, it'll stay that way or get worst), you put them in with a good group, you won't get an infusion of new, fresh or young blood by exposing them to a medicore sing, you won't get anyone one to liven up the dead, the dead will bring the rest down to the lowest common denominator. If you have a great sing going throw out any bastard that wants to bring in a book, if they multiply they'll kill it! You can't kill a good sing when you've got good & strong core of singers leading it. When I lived in San Francisco 30 odd yrs ago they had some of the best singing parties I ever went to (God I miss those days), there were new people, young & old, great singers & bad singers, they all sang a varity of genres, there was a great flow of songs but when they crowded a room the roof lifted & not a piece of paper could be seen. The front room was packed, the side room was packed, the kitchen was jammed. The side room started off with newbies & beginners, as the night wore on the kitchen would start getting louder & the volume & harmony would rise above the rest. The other rooms would start to leave for the kitchen, the strong singers held court & the rest supported them. Eventually the weaker singers grew to become part of the strong core & got to lead on their own. It was magic, a few yrs later the good/strong singers left to form their own Way, the books had taken over & a good thing died an awful death. Today that sing still exists & it still sucks (I visited it the last time I was out there & the one attended by the core that left is smaller but it's good but not nearly as great as it once was. See, I also believe that with out those weaker singers, the newbies & them that don't have such a good voice we all lose something of the spirit & lust, we don't sing as well for ourselves as we do when we're singing for others. It's a wonderful thing to watch singers as they grow but they'll never grow in an enviorment where the level of singing is just a step above the gutter, in 5 yurs time they'll find that they've only sunk into the sewer.
You teach the newbies by setting your own good example. If you've got a wonderful singing club they won't jump in with a book & drag it down, they'll wait until they've been encourged by their betters & that happens as they start to join in with the rest, they get pulled along until they're ready to get their feet wet. They learn as they go! You enjoy listening to a good singer who sings their song well & has the crowd joining in or at a whisper, well they didn't learn their craft overnight, someone pulled them along too or they put in an awful lot of time & effort on their own & no one does it better alone!
An old Cape Horner told me that there was harmony on board ships, where they sang while they worked, even though a good number of the singers sucked at singing, he called it natural harmony among so many, they followed & learned their way by being with those that knew better & were around longer. I believe that every singer that thinks/knows they're bad can be better if they're exposed & surrounded by good singers (or have a voice teacher, which is more fun?), the tone deaf can be corrected to hear what works with others provided they get to sing with others that are good, they'll know with the help of the others & they'll come by some of it on their own too. We can all help to make it better but it can go the other way too, as we've seen & heard about in this thread. RUS, sucks when it's brought into a group sing, keep it at home, on the shelf with the rest of your reference books. Do you bring the whole fucking library to each sing you go to?
You need a cheat sheet? The best cheat sheet I ever saw was when I looked at our own treaties1/Theresa. She had in her hand a small index card with just a couple lead words for each verse, to give her a jolt if she needed it. Now there's a woman with a voice & a spirit to match, what a singer, what a passion & spirit but you'd never know she had any thing to back her up "just in case" & I think that was just for her shaky songs which I can't see that she'd have to many of but she's a wonder to behold. There are ways to get past the need for a note book & library. You don't do yourself any favors & you certinally aren't furthering the group singing at all, you're only dumbing it down.

Now I'll go to sleep, good night

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 03:36 AM

As far as I understand & know back when the early Coppers sung in their local pub after working in the field they didn't sing from notes. They just sang & the little ones learned at their fathers feet & in time their children learned at their feet. If you want to have a good sing & keep it, you'll need to make sure you keep the good singers from going off elsewhere & make sure that they pull the rest along for it's own sake of survival.
No, not every good singer is or wants to be a performer but we all want to have a good sing when we go to sing, if you're happy with a mediocre or sucky sing, well so be it then.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 06:20 AM

Barry ... perfectly said! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 07:48 AM

I'm sorry I started this thread. I should have known better.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:08 AM

Peter ... I think we've gotten a LOT of good feedback. Perhaps it wasn't what you wanted (?) but the discussion always helps. I'm pleased that you did start this thread. Best wishes, Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,Allan S.
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 10:04 AM

Hi Stewart   I still sing Theis learned from Gene Patton When I was in the U-Conn O. C. back in 1952-1960   Just to let you know Roland Vinyard runs a IOCAlum assoc. puts out a newsletter for old and new O.C. members also a membership list so you can find and keep in touch w/ former outting clubers. also articles about various editions of the "song fest" contact him at
Roland Vinyard
597 State Highway 162
Spakers, NY   12166

Will someone see that Stewart gets thia info


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 10:24 AM

Stew monitors this site, so I'm sure he'll get it. I'll be talking with him later today and I'll mention it to him. Thanks, Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 10:57 AM

"I just got home from what was supposed to be a "singing party". There were about 12 people there, all singing off key & reading Christmas Caroles from books, including RUS. No one knew any songs through that they could lead so there were 12 leaders, following along the best they could, even doing a Beatles Christmas song & they passed out the prints of it & still couldn't get it right, they were bleeding where it overlaps."

Sorry Barry, but what you are describing sounds EXACTLY what a PARTY should be. I would love to hear the reaction from the 12 people that were there. It sounds like they were enjoying themselves and singing songs that were part of their traditions (like the Beatles) and were singing in a fashion that is EXACTLY what FOLK MUSIC is meant to be - participatory entertainment, not an exhibition of skills.

"You don't teach bad singers to get better by having them sing with their peers"
Is the idea to teach people to be BETTER singers or to teach them about how music can enrich their lives? As I said earlier, the purpose of the "sing" needs to be defined.   Is it a performance or an excercise of a folk community? If it is the latter, the setting of arbitrary rules impacts on the process.

"When I lived in San Francisco 30 odd yrs ago they had some of the best singing parties I ever went to (God I miss those days), there were new people, young & old, great singers & bad singers, they all sang a varity of genres, there was a great flow of songs but when they crowded a room the roof lifted & not a piece of paper could be seen....
the strong singers held court & the rest supported them. Eventually the weaker singers grew to become part of the strong core & got to lead on their own....
It was magic, a few yrs later the good/strong singers left to form their own Way, the books had taken over & a good thing died an awful death...
Today that sing still exists& it still sucks
.....
the one attended by the core that left is smaller but it's good but not nearly as great as it once was"

Oh boy. You sure said a lot there, and if you step back you might see it a bit differently.

First, none of us can live the way we did 30 years ago. Too much has changed and our communities reflect that.   Some can certainly live in enclaves that maintain certain traditions, but for the rest of us time moves on and traditions live in their own form.

Your description of that original sing sounds wonderful, yet there was a point where "the good" and "the bad" separated.   

You mentioned that both sessions continue, but the one with the books "still sucks" (your words). The other is not as good, and you note that the "core" is smaller.

As an outsider, it seems like neither side could adjust to the other. The lightning in the bottle that was created could not sustain itself and because of a lack of understanding and patience - and a perception of what should be happening - the groups split. It sounds like the group that is using the books continue, and I would imagine if they are still around they are enjoying what they do in the spirit of their community.   The other group sounds "smaller" (your word) which to me indicates that it is a clique.

The example you gave of singing on board ships does not reflect this situation. Those on board ships sang for different reasons - part of their work and their source of entertainment. Being confined to a ship, and being part of their "job", they had a different opportunity for the group dynamic to work.

With a community sing, be it a club or pub, the participation is voluntary and the "pay" is the joy of singing. The question becomes, how do you sustain such a community - or does water find its own level.

I honestly do NOT think that a book has any bearing on these sings. I think if you really examine it, it is the perceptions and needs of the individuals who make up the group.   The question to be asked - do you want to be involved with a diverse community of people who simply enjoy the opportunity to sing - or do you want to be involved with a more structured group that follow a more structured session and sings for the art of performing?

I mean no disrespect to Barry or any of the others who have shared their opinions.   I simply disagree with their thinking on this.   Some of my fondest memories of Old Songs and Mystic is hearing Barry raise his magnificent voice at an after concert sing. It is truly inspiring and a gift that I felt lucky to receive as an observer. At the same sessions, I've witnessed people singing show tunes, Beatle songs - some of them reading from RUS or sheets of paper - and I can see enormous pride in their faces as they finish their song and realize that they have enjoyed the accomplishment of singing in such a community.

Such sings are not meant for everyone. The sings that Barry mentioned may not be for him, but from what I am reading from his posts - they seem to be sessions that others enjoy.   I would hate to see this type of enthusiasm and participation stifled by a desire to hone a better "sound" and a more professional exhibition of music. There are plenty of opportunties for that.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 11:47 AM

I am with Peter T on this--it's sad indeed to see the venerable fixtures in what is left of the folk music community rant and rave abusively at the folks who just want to take part, rather than providing any kind of leadership--

In the "old days", a lot of the folk singing was connected with the "Movements"--Labor, Civil Rights, Anti-War--and there were song books and lyric sheets all over the place. There were never enough, of course, so often you'd see one person holding the sheet at arms length, while folks on either side joined in, with someone peering over the shoulder as well.

Singing was used as a tool for building solidarity--the point was bringing people together, not walking out if they didn't meet your personal performance standards.

Another thing is, "We shall overcome" has a broader interest than "We'll all throw mud at the cook";-)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 05:14 PM

I agree with Don Firth. I have been singing songs for sixty years or more, now. Some,
I just can't remember the lyrics any more but I have lived with many of these songs, know where they came from and their important meanings. So I need cheat sheets occasionally.

When I sing for an audience, I don't keep my eyes on the book. I'll use them as a reminder.

I have studied these songs I sing for a long time, done my own research and have asked
those who had them in their tradition about that culture.

Rise Up Singing serves a function to bring people together but it should be augmented
by the leadership of those who really know these songs from having lived with them. The best leadership is musical sensitivity and knowing where to add what and when.

The problem lies with the lack of sensitivity of many participants who confuse participation with the license to "do their own thing" and the hell with everyone else. When you are in any social setting or group it is important to be mindful of that group, their needs and interests. The most satisfying feeling comes from the blending of many voices singing musically whether they've memorized the song lyrics or not. Those who can harmonize offer so much dimension to the experience as well. The appropriate instrumental accompaniments are best played simply and unobtrusive.

In short, any "show-offiness" (if I can Colbertize) that hinders the wonderful feeling
of harmony in a participation of singing sticks out like a disease.

Less is more, often enough, but sensitivity and understanding of the material makes all
the difference.

Now my carp with RUS is that the print is too damn small so that you stick your nose in the book and don't look at others. Being mindful of others is what makes the song/sing
a wonderful experience.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 05:24 PM

Yes, the situation I described at the Northwest Folklife Festival was indeed a performance. I was not discussing song circles in that post, I was talking about the sometimes justifiable use of song sheets.

And comparing song circles with Sacred Harp singing is like comparing apples to oranges. Normally, Sacred Harp singers do sing out of books. Nevertheless, I did hear and see a group of Sacred Harp singers at one of the NW Folklife festivals, and they sang without books.

The idea that these songs would not have survived unless people had sung them out of books just doesn't reflect the real world.

The Lomaxes note that many American cowboys were far more literate than one would imagine from watching John Wayne movies. Cattle drives and herding cattle in general was dull, dusty, tedious, and boring work, and whenever possible, around a campfire at night, they would entertain each other with songs, recitations, and often lengthy quotes from works such as Shakespeare's plays. Frequently when alone, to cut the tedium, they would sing or recite to themselves. They had to pack so much other stuff around that carrying books in their saddlebags was out. So they carried all this material in their heads.

Also, books were sufficiently rare and expensive until recently that I have a hard time envisioning people in centuries past sitting around of an evening and singing out of song books. Most of these songs and ballads survived through the collections of people such as Bishop Percy (Reliques of Ancient English Poetry) and Sir Walter Scott's collection of border ballads. Books weren't cheap, and for most people, if they owned any books at all, it was usually a copy of the Bible.

Also, I can't envision singers like Margaret Barry at her usual post sitting in a pub with a pint in front of her singing out of a song book.

Barry, your reference to the singing parties you attended in San Francisco:   

In the very early 1950s, I attended such parties in Seattle. Singers there were Walt Robertson, who had been at it for a few years and had a television show and from whom we all learned; Sandy Paton, who was just starting out, but he was way ahead of me; Claire Hess, who taught me to finger a G, C, and D7 on my $9.95 plywood guitar; and about a half-dozen other singers, plus a few dozen people who came just to listen—but who were welcome to haul off and sing if they felt so moved. There was no exclusivity here.

We started out with the example of Walt, the one "pro" among us, along with singers we heard on records. Each one of us did his or her best to learn new songs and bring them to the next party—and to sing them as well as we possibly could, which meant learning them and singing them from memory. More than one person "caught fire" at these parties. Often someone who had been just a listener before would surprise everyone by lifting their voice in song, sometimes even appearing with a guitar or other instrument they had been practicing on in secret. It was a warm plunge for a newby, and I certainly benefited by the example of better singers, as did a number of others.

There was a lot of solo singing. But there was group singing also. I recall one such party where we got going on "What Shall We Do with a Drunken Sailor?" When we ran out of the regular verses, people started them up (easy enough to do, since each verse was one line sung three times followed by "Ear-lye in the morning!"). The verses got raunchier and raunchier, and we kept that sucker going for better than a half-hour.

This sort of thing doesn't happen if you're all singing out of Rise Up Singing.

The Seattle Song Circle, started in the late 1970s, was a bit more structured than these singing parties (we called them "hoots") in that we sat around in a literal circle and moved around the circle either clockwise or counter-clockwise and, as mentioned above, when your turn came up, you could sing a solo, lead the group in a song, teach a song, request a song from someone else, or just pass. As far as group songs (intended by tradition to be group songs) were concerned, we developed into one heck of a bunch of chantey singers. And we would join in on choruses a lot. And like the earlier "hoots," new solo singers soon began to emerge from those who had formerly requested or passed.

But—there are songs that just don't cut it as group songs. Ballads for example. The idea of a bunch of people sitting around and singing
"And what will you leave your third cousin on you father's side, Randal, my son?"
I somehow find less than thrilling.

We get together from time to time at Bob (Deckman) Nelson's or at Alice's, and there are the monthly sessions at Stewart's, and the singing is great. Solo mostly, not necessarily taking turns, but nobody trying to monopolize. And group songs also. When the song is an appropriate group song. Barbara and I would love to have such in our apartment, but our living room is a bit small to accommodate a sizable gathering.

And speaking of size, as far as being "small," or a "clique" is concerned, the first "hoot" I ever attended, drew about 75 people, at the hoots at Elmar Lanczos' or Carol Lee Waite's houses, people were hanging from the picture molding, and whenever Bob hosts one, it often has to spill out into the back yard and into his workshop.

And those who attend are not just Old-Timers either.

I find it just a bit—I don't know quite what to call it; pathetic, maybe?—that if someone here says that they prefer the old song parties or "hoots," or the way song circles used to be before people started dragging books to them and that they don't particularly enjoy sitting around hymn-singing out of Rise Up Singing, there is a chorus of folks here who howl like goosed mooses, then point an accusing finger and start using words like "egotistical" or "pedantic" or "snobbish" or, "a clique."

But if you enjoy that kind of singing, fine! Feel free! I'm not trying to stop you.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 05:58 PM

I'd like tyo add another thing. For a successful song gathering, it takes a lot of patience and hard work and good will and persistence. It doesn't happen automatically. It also helps to have good musicians who are willing to welcome others.
Whether or not there's use of songbooks, is somewhat of a secondary question.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 07:21 PM

"And comparing song circles with Sacred Harp singing is like comparing apples to oranges. Normally, Sacred Harp singers do sing out of books. Nevertheless, I did hear and see a group of Sacred Harp singers at one of the NW Folklife festivals, and they sang without books."

Sorry Don, it is hardly a case of comparing apples and oranges - unless your version of a song circle differs greatly from mine. Borth.   Both a sacred harp sing and a song circle SHOULD be about community and the experience of singing together. Sacred Harp is NOT about exhibition, nor should a song circle be about PERFORMINGe either.   As Frank pointed out, a good song circle can help those who do not have equal talents so that everyone is made familiar and comfortable.

A book is not necessary, but is certainly not to be banned.

"I can't envision singers like Margaret Barry at her usual post sitting in a pub with a pint in front of her singing out of a song book."
Nor can I. Margaret Barry was more of a professional as well as a collector and her skills would not require a book.   Luckily, most song circles are not made up of professionals (or wannabies) and the spirit of singing together takes precedent.

" if someone here says that they prefer the old song parties or "hoots," or the way song circles used to be before people started dragging books to them and that they don't particularly enjoy sitting around hymn-singing out of Rise Up Singing, there is a chorus of folks here who howl like goosed mooses, then point an accusing finger and start using words like "egotistical" or "pedantic" or "snobbish" or, "a clique." "

Yes, it is pretty pathetic that some of us feel a need to remind others of the real reasons those old parties and hoots sounded so good.   Memory tends to gloss over reality and the need to keep things they way they were tend to overlook the necessity of making music for the pure enjoyment of it. Live and let live - and spend a moment or two stepping back and thinking about the other person and why they are using books and such.   Maybe the answers will be easier then.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: EBarnacle
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 07:51 PM

Stringsinger, RUS is available in large type format.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 07:53 PM

I've just got to add another two cents. I love to sing, and can hack guitar chords well enough to accompany myself. The most fun I've had is at sing-alongs with RUS and other sources. The worst ones I've been at were the ones where a sub-group had an "act" which they pushed to the exclusion of many of the participants. At one, a sub-group showed up en mass and wanted to do their chants, which at least gave those so inclined a chance to join in as they were repetitive. The worst was when several members of a womens chorus (NOT Animaterra!)decided to favor us with a performance of their original songs. That shut the evening down early as they shouted down any recourse to generally known or available (through RUS)music. So much for preparation and professionalism. I really wonder what kind of fun some those present would be to sing with (again, NOT Animaterra! They're quite fun to sing with) given the high standards and propensity for criticism displayed. Has any here ever thought of the pleasure you may have caused by leaving early and not coming back?

Thanks again, Ron. You're always a voice of reason.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:26 PM

You teach the newbies by setting your own good example. If you've got a wonderful singing club they won't jump in with a book & drag it down, they'll wait until they've been encourged by their betters & that happens as they start to join in with the rest, they get pulled along until they're ready to get their feet wet. They learn as they go! You enjoy listening to a good singer who sings their song well & has the crowd joining in or at a whisper, well they didn't learn their craft overnight, someone pulled them along too or they put in an awful lot of time & effort on their own & no one does it better alone!

That makes good sense to me, Barry.

The only thing I have of personal experience was when I went to a monthly women's group in Noho, MA. It was a spirituality group, but we always wound up in a huge circle and someone would start out a song, usually an easy to learn chant and we'd all start in...I learned a lot of sacred songs from that, similar to what Animaterra and Libana sing. I do remember someone handing out a one page lyric sheet, but not until after so we could take them home and learn them even better. I really miss those sessions. There were times it felt as though our voices would raise the roof with sheer energy.

The only other time was at an alternative women's musical retreat in CT. Same thing... groups got together and shared, learned, and sang. It was magical. Hmmmm...maybe I oughta see about starting my own women's song circle.:-)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:31 PM

That's fine, KL, but it may limit your repertoire some. I'm hoping to start a group sing at my church. If some favorites develop, fine, but I'm not going to discourage anyone from reading a song.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 08:37 PM

Ron, you keep using words like "exhibition" and "performing," and implying that the kind of song fests we had (and still have) are all about ego and lack a sense of community. Not so. And you also seem to be under the impression that those who prefer this kind of song fest to the regimented hymn-sings out of a book are engaging in some sort of nostalgia fit for a world that never existed. But that world did exist and still does. And it continues to thrive, with new young blood that also prefers this kind of song fest.

Since you will not be convinced otherwise, there is no point in anybody's efforts to inform you otherwise.

I (and others of like mind) are not telling you, or anyone else, not to get together with others and group-sing out of an agreed-upon book or books. Go ahead! Have fun!

What I don't understand is why you and others seem to feel it's necessary to try to put down those who don't particularly enjoy that sort of thing and prefer something else.

Why does it have to be either / or?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 09:03 PM

What's "regimented" about allowing use of RUS or some other book? Granted, if someone is refusing to sing anything not in RUS, or demanding that the RUS chords and words be used, that's kind of limiting. In the groups I've done, we go around the circle and people can do whatever they choose. The only rule we have is that, if it's not available in a book that's handy, you've got to be able to sing it yourself.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 09:19 PM

Okay, Ref, the groups that you attend seem reasonable. But ". . . if someone is refusing to sing anything not in RUS, or demanding that the RUS chords and words be used. . . ."

That's exactly what some groups are insisting on.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 09:24 PM

That sounds as silly to me as demanding that nobody use any printed references.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 09:36 PM

Part of the reason that RUS caught on, despite it's flaws, is that it had lots of more contemporary stuff in it, songs that were (God forgive me for using the word) POPULAR--Which is to say, more just the stuff everyone had been singing since the year one.

A lot of songs have been written, collected, and listened to since those "hoots" that some of you still recall--A hundred times more (at least) than any single one of us has been able to learn in the interim--which means that if we want to sing together, there have to be accommodations made.

The jackpot question here is, how many of you "old hoots" can even name, let alone sing, a set of the songs that the twenty somethings and teens of today grew up with? If you want to sing with them, you'll need the song sheets, otherwise, you can sit in the back room--


You may prefer the way that it was done then, but that was then and this is now. They delivered milk in horse drawn carriages then as well, and the world has changed in a whole lot of ways, so it ain't gonna happen again--


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 10:10 PM

I don't think the idea is a total prohibition of printed material. I can understand a person wanting to use song sheets now and then. In fact, I maintain a three-ring binder with the words to the songs I know, along with the chords I've worked out for them, along with notes about the background of the song, when, where or who from I learned it, and a note or two about song books and/or records where it can be found. It's a running record that I keep adding to as I learn new songs. I use it to refresh my memory of songs that I haven't sung for awhile. I also use it in case of memory lapses when I record, because it's easier and quicker to take a quick peek at the sheet while I'm singing than it is to have to stop and re-record.

I don't carry it around with me. I would, however, if I felt that I was having too many lapses of memory while singing, like Jim, the fellow I mentioned above, who kept his notebook handy when he sang at the 2003 NW Folklife Festival. But like him, I would just keep it in view. I wouldn't be constantly holding it in front of my face—no matter where I was singing, in front of an audience, or at a song fest. I've seen people do that in performance before an audience, and it really looks tacky!

It should be like a safety net. Most of the time, you won't need it, but if you do, a quick glance gets you back on track.

I don't know why some people consider it a crime to actually memorize a song.

Don Firth

P. S. I have a copy of RUS. I use it (among many others) as a resource. But since most or all of the words in it (and the chords) are copied down from peoples' records, not all of them are what I would consider the best set of words or the best arrangement. It was a monumental job putting the book together, but.&npsp;.&npsp;.&npsp;.

Using it as if it were The Holy Book?

P. P. S. The operational word there, M. Ted, is IF you want to sing them. Some, yes. But I didn't stop learning songs in 1965. I've been learning new (and new old) songs all along. As have my "old hoot" friends.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 10:52 PM

"What I don't understand is why you and others seem to feel it's necessary to try to put down those who don't particularly enjoy that sort of thing and prefer something else."

Don, I don't think I am explaining my thoughts clearly to you. In fact, most of my comments today were directed at some comments that others have made. I actually agree with most of what you say, and your situation appears to be clearly unique.

I am NOT putting down people that enjoy "that sort of thing". Earlier I mentioned a comparison with Little League baseball and benchwarmers who did not have a chance to play the game. Certainly I would not expect a major league team to stock up a lineup with less than competent players.   There are certainly individuals who require singing in circles of peers that are equally as knowledgeable and skilled, and the question of anyone bringing a RUS book or cheat sheet would not be questioned. That is a clique, but it can work.

However, the song circles described here do not seem to be those sort of events.   Unless I am reading the notes wrong, it seems as though people are describing song sessions that are "open" - invitations from folk societies or parties that are open to all.

I'm sorry Don, but some of the comments that you and others have made about the RUS does appear to be a close minded and an "either/or" situation. YOU do seem to be telling others to go find their own session if they wish to use books. No one has said anything about exclusively using books for song circles, yet you seem to feel that I (and others) should no criticize YOU for comments the are telling us to go elsewhere - "I and others of like mind) are not telling you, or anyone else, not to get together with others and group-sing out of an agreed-upon book or books. Go ahead! Have fun!"

Sorry Don, maybe we just don't understand the sessions that you are describing. If you have a song circle that is open to the public AND is meant to encourage others to sing, then people need to be ready to sing alongside those that bring books.   The people who bring books also need to understand that others in the sing are more accomplished and will be singing other songs that won't follow a book.    Understanding and patience is still the key.

I still feel that some of the comments made are good examples of a lack of listening and understanding.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: artbrooks
Date: 28 Dec 08 - 11:13 PM

I remember going to a sing in Seattle - it must have been in the mid to late 1970s - at Alice Nugent's place. I don't think RUS had been invented yet, but there were other popular references around. As I recall, we were going through a Clancy Brothers songbook, page by page, and having a great old time. There were a couple of women there who were new to us and, when the circle got around to them, they were asked, "do you want to do any Irish songs?" The response was, "we would, but it really doesn't sound like you know any, or would appreciate real Irish music if you heard it"! (underlining in original) We weren't really interested in a concert of material direct from the Gealtacht...what we were doing was having fun singing popular songs and using a book as a guide and source.

I really see RUS as much the same thing...that is, as a guide and resource that should be heavily augmented. Yes, it can be overused and misused, and it really isn't a (much less the) definitive source for anything. I am perfectly capable of getting genuinely annoyed at the people (and we have a few) who announce "let's do 'So and So' on page 103", without any consideration of whether or not they know it or if it fits at all with the evening's announced theme. On the third hand, if it's their turn, it's their turn and, if I'm not the host (and I rarely am), it isn't my place to slap them down. I can always do a Barry and take my bat and ball and go home.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:07 AM

"No one has said anything about exclusively using books for song circles. . . ."

No? This is the way some song circles work.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:16 AM

"This is the way some song circles work."

Sorry, I must have missed an example of that. The examples I've read have been of complaints about people bringing the book to "regular" sessions.   If it is an "exclusive" circle, then I think they are limiting themselves.   Did I miss specific examples of such events?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Janie
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:17 AM

Ron - thanks so much for your comments and cogent reflections. I love to sing, and am one of those many, many people with a decent voice and plenty of interest, but very, very little time to memorize lyrics.   I am essentially a non-musician. Additionally, over the past several years I notice that I have difficulty both memorizing new lyrics, or recalling lyrics that once I knew well. I prefer song circles and sing arounds that include both good musicians and people like myself, but will close up like a clam if it feels like the good musicians have no tolerance or interest welcoming the enthusiastic participation of people like me who have little time to devote to practicing to "perform" in a song circle.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:19 AM

Seattle Song Cirle, last I heard. It didn't start out that way.

I don't know who all goes to it now, but I have a pretty good idea of those who don't.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:31 AM

Thanks Don. If this is the one from the Seattle Folklore Society, this is what they have on their webpage about the monthly circles:

"We're just a bunch of folks who enjoy getting together to sing -- no particular expertise required (staying in key is nice, but you won't be shot if you don't). We sing mainly folksongs (your definition thereof), but you may hear almost anything at one time or another. We have no dues or other memberships requirements, though we are associated with the Seattle Folklore Society.
...
Once we get started, singing goes around the group in a circle. When your turn comes,you may choose to sing something, request a song from the group in general or from a specific person, or pass (and those--aside from those of common courtesy--are all the rules we have). We all join in on choruses and anything else we recognize. There's no official body of songs, though a lot of people bring Rise Up Singing (AKA "The Blue Book") or other songbooks. Some people accompany themselves on various instruments, some don't. "

Unless their rules have changed, it sounds like they are running a very nice community sing that is welcoming to all levels. They have set some general rules, but they do not seem to be dictating that the songs must come EXCLUSIVELY from the book.

I think Janie has given us some very good insight. It is people like Janie that really needs to be attracted and feel welcomed. From the song circles that I am familiar with, the idea of building a community of people who share an interest in song and enjoy the commmunal aspect of the event.

From the description of the Seattle Song Circle that I found on their webpage, I feel that this is a good model for most groups to follow.   Perhaps, as Don suggests, the rules have changed and they are exculsively using one book. That certainly changes the feeling - IF that is the case.   I'm not sure it is.

Sing for the song! Sing for the community. That is pure folk music, at least as close as we can get in this day and age. Partcipation, not performance!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:50 AM

As time goes on, fewer and fewer people sing, especially in the United States. We were singing Christmas carols at Mass this morning, and I knew every word of every verse by heart - but hardly anybody was singing along. Christmas carols, fer crissake!!! I thought we'd have the best community singing of they year, and it was well-nigh dead.

If we believe in folk music, I think we have an obligation to get the "folk" to sing. Everyone should make music - not just a chosen elite who do it for the money. I've found that Rise Up Singing helps nonsingers sing. Accomplished singers don't need it, and tend to show disdain for it. But hey, we have to do something to get those other people singing!!

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:02 AM

I'm with Joe. I was at a caroling event the other night, and half the people there (who were younger) had never, ever, ever, sung with other people. They barely knew the carols (and that was mostly from supermarkets). By the end of the evening they were really into it -- lost their inhibitions, everything.

This lack of singing is some kind of terrible tragedy being wreaked on everyone.

But getting them going is really a kind of bliss to watch and be part of. I hope everyone would be in favour of this, RUS or no rus.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:35 AM

Peter and Joe are right--social singing has disappeared from our culture. Christmas carols were the last bastion, and that seems to be slipping fast.

I suppose that in its way, this fussing about RUS is a an acknowledgement of the fact that people sing so little that they no longer even know the words--but the whole "Seattle/San Francisco/Bedford Falls Song circle isn't good enough for the real singers anymore" discussion comes off as petty egoism.

In a way, it reminds me of the things that classical musicians used to be accused of saying about how folk songs were not real music, and that hoots were just an excuse for bad singing.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:47 AM

Open Mike,

The article mentions that a precursor to RUS was a white spiral bound book called Winds of Change. It was distributed informally. I picked up a copy some years ago at a yard sale or some where. I could tell right away from the art work and the way the songs were laid out that it was a precursor.

Roger in Baltimore


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:50 AM

I agree with Peter and Joe, too, though in our area there does seem to be, still, a good emphasis on singing in school, church, etc. and we have some good music programs/concerts of kids etc.

Janie, thanks for posting...I join you in what you said.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM

To M. Ted ... regarding your posting at 10:35 A.M. I AGREE with you completly. Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:14 PM

I agree that group singing seems to be disappearing from our culture. So let's do something about it. We should use our song circles to educate people in group singing. Start with RUS, it's a good resource for group singing. But then go the next step. Encourage people who use RUS to make the songs their own. Encourage them to actually learn the songs. Tell them about the background of the songs. Encourage them to learn new songs "not in the book."

RUS is not bad in itself. But it is just a beginning. Song circles should encourage growth in public singing. Growth to the point where we can leave the book at home and enjoy singing songs that we really know, songs we can call our own. That's the real enjoyment in singing.

Many song circles seem to be stuck in a rut. They never move beyond that first step. Many people come and sing the same song that they've never bothered to learn, and have to keep singing it word for word out of the book.

Folkies seem to have an aversion to leaders. But maybe we need people who can lead song circles so that people grow in their ability to sing. Education can be a good thing. And I think it can lead to more enjoyment in singing by everyone.

Maybe then we wouldn't have these silly arguments.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: astro
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 12:36 PM

I am very new to the folk experience. I would find it intolerable if I felt that my poor expertise at singing or playing was being judged badly by the people that I get together with. I need to learn tunes and the music is the only way right now. If high ability is expected at a group sing or jam then I wish someone would say so that I could go away. Of course, I would not go back either. I would figure it's a closed club and outsiders are not welcome.

It is only prudence and politeness on my part not to take a lead position for song or playing now. It would be done badly on my part and would drag down the group. I am happy to be in the background, watching, learning, and enjoying. In time, with books, listening, and watching I'll learn and will take a stronger role.

As far as singing, it is hard to find places where to sing both in Tucson and in Los Angeles. If anyone knows where to find singing in either place please let me know, I would join. I would only hope that the group would be pleased that they are drawing out new people. I would also hope that the experienced hands would find joy in teaching and turning on a newbie...not judgement and condemnation. If that was the case, then I find no hope for that particular group...

astro


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 01:02 PM

Perhaps we need guerilla folkies..... (They descend by night on a town and force people at gunpoint to sing.............)

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 01:17 PM

Do these people get paid at these 'performances' then it's a concert isn't.

what is so wrong about taking songbooks to sessions, I mean it is supposed to be informal, not according some people, then it's not a session then it's it it's a concert.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 01:22 PM

oh another thing where is the rule book on folk muisc, and oes it say that you can not take a songbook to a club/session. until some can tell this i'll keep bringing my songbooks/song sheets to clubs/sessions


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 01:54 PM

Ya, group "flok " singing is dying! The yung come in & see a bvunck of folks singing off & out of key, there's hardly any interaction & they all have their noses in a book & are having a hard time following each other without a good lead. NO WONDER!
I wouldn't be in a mind to want to join in either.

We have a great Friday night session. Tghere's no circle to take turns in, it's spontaneous, it's a jump in or if you haven't been heard from you get called on, some will bring in the words to something they're learning others who don't know songs will have the words to join in though that's not many & they'll share with the stragglers that just happen on to the pub sing by accident. But there are no books & there won't be any welcomed either. There are many who don't or can't (yet) lead a song & there are plenty that like Janie who are there for the singing but don't have alot to offer aside from their backing up the other singers. It depends on people like Janie, it depends on those who can't lead, it depends on those that can lead, it depends on a group that can carry off a continious flow, it doesn't mean that there's no dead air space, it means that there's a little verbal chit chat going back & forth some humor, some brief song discussion, some interplay between the singer & those not singing.
We get young'uns (they need to be old enough to walk into a bar unless there with their elders) who are shocked & delighted at the same time & want to come back as well as older folks too. BUT if there's a bunch who's noses are in books then the owner of the bar first is gonna toss the whole thing out because it's boring & boring doesn't sell booze, no one's gonna keep coming back & we'd lose all the good/strong singers & whose left to carry it on but those whose noses are in books.
Now we ghave plenty that just started coming in & they watched & as time went on they joined in the choruses that the came to know, some stayed there, that's all they wanted, some started to lean songs on there own & would once in a while try their hand at leading one or tow, some found that they wanted more & went on to expanding their rep & were pulled along or help out as they progressed, it took time, sorry for those that can't put in the time or energy for that but they'll needed & weclomed to play their part in support. SO this has gone on for over 25 yrs with no end in sight. This is also the format of the shanty session I go to which is again held in a waterfront bar/resturant every week & has grown to become quite an attraction. At the same place there's a session that couldn't get enough momention to keep itself going because,,,,,,, don't make me say it,,,,,,,it was boring with noses in papaer.
When a newbie is thinking I can't do it & then gets to see a strong siinger screw up, they get to see the singers recover from what they envisioned as a disaster & see that it's not the "end all" to screw up, they learn as they go but you learn as you "do" & "watch" & "listen" not as you read.
Thanks Roin for your kind words above, please next time introduce yourself to me I don't konw what you look like. AT those sessions at Mystic do you believe that those sings would be attended if people were singing out of books or off sheets of paper, all those singers aren't performers, many are just like you festival goes & those sings can't happen with just the good or strong siongers, they need those that can't lead & just as much, they need those that just listen, singers singing for just each other sucks! It's just as boring as singers reading at each other. The sings that happen at the Getaway (for those that have been there) are the same. You got a song you want to lead at a sing, run over it a few days in advance before you get there, if you don't know it don't sing it. Not mny of us "just happen upon a sing" by coincidence.
If you can't keep it from being boring than you don't deserve to keep it at all, you give the rest of the singing community a bad & boring name. It's no wonder that young folks have such a bad view of folk singing. My daughter brings her college friends & so does my son brough his rock bandmate a few weeks ago, "cool", but I know they wouldn't have embrassed themselves by initing their friends to a sing where there were books & songs were being "schooled".

If you like a sing where RUS is all the fashion, that's great, enjoy yourselves, if you are happy with a half filled thimble who should detere you but if you want more you'll have to go elsewhere, you'll have to go where the singers go. Look, you want real Chinese food don't go to the corner take out, go where you know the real Chinese people go when they want real Chinese food & when you get there jsut oder what you see you like around you that they're eating, don't bother to read a menue that you're not gonna understand.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:01 PM

I often go to my Irish session. It's an intermediate level session, but very tolerant of beginners and everyone is encouraged to start a tune - in fact we go around like a song circle.

Occasionally a beginner comes and brings a music stand and music. We tolerate that (unlike many other sessions). But after a few times the newbie stops bringing the music because of all the hassle of setting up a stand in a limited spaced, and because learning tunes needs to be done by ear (the dots don't really indicate how the tune is played). Soon the newbie is learning tunes by ear and becomes more comfortable about starting tunes.

After a while the whole session learns a particular repertoire and everyone enjoys playing together tunes that they all know.

Often someone will bring a new tune to the session. They will play it solo to begin with, but if it's a good tune others will pick it up and it becomes part of the group repertoire. New experienced players are also welcome as they bring new tunes to the session.

I think this could be a good model for a singing session or song circle.

Now other Irish sessions here are not very welcoming to new players, and that's too bad because they no longer nurture the growth of the music. They tend to be elitist and exclude all but the best players.

On the other hand, some beginning sessions never get beyond using music on stands and playing dreadfully slow. That's also not good, as any aspiring players will soon leave to join more advanced sessions.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:30 PM

"AT those sessions at Mystic do you believe that those sings would be attended if people were singing out of books or off sheets of paper, all those singers aren't performers, many are just like you festival goes & those sings can't happen with just the good or strong siongers, they need those that can't lead & just as much, they need those that just listen, singers singing for just each other sucks!"

Barry, I think the session at Mystic is a bit different. The music that is sung at these sessions, from what I've witnessed, have been sung by those who are afficiandos of the genre. from my experience, the audience at Mystic tends to be filled by those who have a deeper knowledge of the genre, whereas a festival like Old Songs or Falcon Ridge - dedicated fans though they are, are not as invested in the genre, perhaps because there are many diverse genres of "folk" represented at those events. A Sea Music Festival is a different entity.   A Mystic sing is very different from a sing at Old Songs, where you do have people singing from sheets of music on occasion. The "noses in paper" work for the type of song circle that exists at Old Songs.   

While I have not been to Getaway, I think that is more of a "clique" as well - and I am not using that term in a negtiave fashion.   There is nothing wrong with people who have a stronger interest in the music from getting together for a more "elite" sing. And the same for someone like yourself Barry, you should be singing in a session that is more challenging for you.   While you might consider the "nose in the paper" sessions as boring, the fact that they exist and have some degree of success probably shows that others do NOT find it boring and enjoy the session.   

The problem that I think we are discussing are the "other" sessions - such as the one mentioned in Seattle. I do not want to keep repeating my earlier remarks, but these are sessions that are more "public" and I think there is enough evidence shown in this very thread to support the OCCASIONAL use of books and sheets - IN CERTAIN APPLICATIONS - without inhibiting the success of the song circle.   

I keep repeating this, but the idea is to help EDUCATE and PERPETUATE - and that requires patience and understanding. It also requires acknowledgement of the age we live in and the difference that exist in technology and lifestyle from the days of the revival.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 02:51 PM

Although I'm not at all "new to the folk experience" like astro, I too feel like a bit of an outsider in this discussion, since I've never rewally been part of any folk-singing community, nor have I much experience at all with the kind of group-singing sessions under discussion here.

My only knowledge of "Rise Up Singing" comes from having mail-ordered a copy from CL Martin a couple of years ago. I needed to buy a replacement pickguard, priced at about $3-4, and the minimum order was $25, so I got a copy of this book I had begun hearing about via Mudcat.

I've browsed through its many pages on occasion, and usually come across a song or two I was glad to find. In some cases, I will have forgotten the lyrics to an old familiar melody (or perhaps half-forgotten the chorus and never really known all the verses), in other cases, I might even learn something new from the rudimentary chord progressions.

I've been pretty amazed and sometimes quite pleased to find songs I never would have considered to be "folk," including many B-way show tunes and fake-book-type "standards." I've also been put off, even horrified, by some of the recently-written "PC" material that many folks here have alluded to.

(Aside:) If there should ever be a chance that at any future time I'll be tempted to sing "It's Only a Wee Wee," I am asking God, right here and right now, to please strike me dead immediately! In fact, the same holds true for just about any selection in the "Men" section of RUS, with the single exception of Paul Simon's "The Boxer" (which I find is more properly played in the key of C, not G).

But anyway, back to the question of these singing sessions with which so many of you seem to have experience: what about instrumental accompaniment?

Do 50-60 people show up with 50-60 guitars? I wouldn't think that would be practical. Is all the singing a capella? Perhaps so, but probably not in every instance. I would imagine that there might be instances where a single piano-player might "lead" a group, but such a situation would minimize the degree to which the experience was truly a "group" effort ~ and also, such instrumentation is not characteritically "folk." Maybe there are regular meetings where a small number of designated "leaders" bring their guitars, banjos, etc., while the majority of the participants simply sing without playing instruments of their own.

I would imagine that sessions or "jams" where most if not all of the group bring instruments and play them would fall into a whole other category, where the question of whether or not to use a "hymnal" would not be a primary concern. (I'm sure there would be other controversies, of course.)

Have I asked enough questions to provoke another round or two of debate?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 03:32 PM

Sorry Ron, but these are the types of session I know & love, they are public, they are open & they are book free. I haven't been to Old Songs in long time but when I did there were no books there either, at least that I remember. When I go to a festival or sessions, again they are not elite or private sessions, I hate closed sessions, they too suck, stuck up snobs mostly. On Jan 4th there's a pub session (in NYC) that's been going around on Facebook created by a Mudcatter it's called Exceedingly Good Song Night. and it's an open monthly sing, I doubt you'll find books there but I do believe you'll have a good time & a good sing. Ron, I'm not talking about elite sessions or parties, it's not about good or strong singers, it's about good & strong sings & in order for it to be good it needs voices & they don't have to be good or strong just willing to soar. It all boils down to personnal taste in the end but if you want a sing that's to die for you won't find it at a library setting, it's to formal when you really need to let it all hang down, loosen up & let it fly, you can't be real when you're nose is in a book, you can't throw caution to the wind, toss your head back & howl when you nose is in a book, you won't see anyone letting their hair down when you're to busy buring your nose in a book. That weekly shanty sing is no different than the Mystic one that you say is special because it attend by those that follow the genre or by "afficiandos of the genre", it's attended by beginners as well as 'just a few strong or good singers', matter of fact most of the folks there that sing have only been around folk music or sea music for a short time, thouggh there are a few who've been about for ages. This session is attend as I said by a lot of those who haven't been around for a long time as well as a lot of onlookers & waterfront characters that just happen to enjoy hearing songs that are from the places that are familar to them & it's usually a rip roaring session, againg with a spattering of paper sheets, even a few books but no RUS & no noses are buried in them. It's all a matter of what you're after. Mystic is about the only festival I can afford to go to these days but it's not the only sing I find that remarkable. Hopefully places like Facebook & MySpace will help to create more places that will be spots for folkies to sing in. I know there's another monthly sing that just started in the Boston area that's been put up on MySpace but I just went to the first one we'll have to see how that's gonna play out, so far so good I didn't see much there in the way of books, a few sheets of paper but time will tell.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 04:12 PM

Loved your response PoppaGator! There is some REALLY cringe-worthy stuff in RUS. Proper key depends a lot on your vocal range, as G works best for me. I look at the chord plat to see how many are involved, as any 3 chord (and most 4 chord) songs can be easily re-worked.

Barry, I think you're too heavily invested in this "elite" determination, what with your demands for memorization and "learning from one's betters." I guess you and I just won't hit the same groups.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 05:46 PM

Probably not Ref. I wasn't the one who came up with the "elite" term, that was Ron's. Ron & Ref when I go to Rome I do as the Romans. I was at the Christmas gathering that I mentioned above. I don't sing Christmas songs at all, I know only one that I can lead, so I was perfectly content to listen in on what others were doing & to join in on the choruses when I could and lend myself to the group but when there's a bunch singing from books & can't follow never mind lead & I can't even lend then you can keep it, & there's not even any chat except "that was nice, now turn to page 59", it's not fun, it's boring, if my son had been there he'd have raked me over the coals.
If this was a sponsered sing by a folk song society it should've been supported by the singers of that society it was opened & public & advertised, if it's too boring for it's own members to support it then there's something wrong with the sing & the society itself, not me. I don't go to dance when I'm not gonna at least enjoy watching others dance if I can't. And I can't dance anymore due to broken feet but I do enjoy watching good dancers dance. But I'm not gonna go to a dance to watch the dancers trip over themselves, it might be laughable but not for me, I want it to be enjoyable, I don't want to study dancers, I want to enjoy the beauty of the dancers dancing & having a ball, I'll go to a dancing school if I want to see dancers trip over themselves & learn. Yet I can go to a dance festival (NEFFA) & watch all levels of dancers, dancing together enjoying themselves while not feel as if I'm at dance class watching the teacher teach. But I'm not gonna attend a sing where it's a reading class, no thanks, I got better things to do & enjoy with my time, I'd rather be watching mold grow on bread. If you prefere to go to a session where everyone reads from a book, please be my guest. When I go to a sing & see that it's all book types I wonder where's the rounding out of the group, where's the ones who don't do books, where's there weak you need strong, where there's bad you need good, where there the unsure you need the sure footed. You can't have it all one way, either way. You need to have everyone but you don't need books to have that. The books themselves aren't the problem, the problem is in the folks that "THINK" they need books to get by with. When we all join in together the only support anyone needs comes from each other not from books, that's where the lift comes from. It's just as nice to pull or to be pulled along in a sing as it is to push or be be pushed as it is ti glide along at where ever pace you choose that way everybody's going in the same direction & headed for the same place, even if they don't get there at the same time or by the same way. If you want a roadmap to go by then go sing in a bookstore or library, stay out of way of others.

Poppagator, one of the sings I go to on a regular basis there's a mix of songs & tunes, generally it's about 50/50 depending if it's attended by the same amount of singers as musicians, some nights it goes more one way than the other. Another session I go to there are no tunes but some folks bring instruments. Among the roughly 50 that go there for the music (not just the drink) I'd say 25 sing (actually many more mumble & sing along under their breath) of that maybe 5 or 6 or 7 bring along an instrument, there are very few really strong singers at this one, just a lot of mildmannered singers that like to sing (without books). The festival sessions at Mystic or the getaway or the like are mostly a capella and are generally packed solid with singers & with those that only sing as back up or on chourses but they're along side of those that don't sing at all but love to listen or mumble. They are not as Ron says all "afficiandos".
The Irish sessions I go to there's not much singing anymore 25 yrs ago there was loads of sessions with singing as well as dancing & recitations & stories but these days in the Boston area there's maybe at least 2 different going on nightly & most don't encourage singing or anything else aside from one & there you are mostly called upon to sing & you'd better be right on with your song & have it down otherwise it'll be a cold day in hell before you're called upon again, if the crowd likes you you can sing as you please. This is an 'old timers session where some of the musicians are those that have been playing since coming over & playing in the "Dudley St sessions" from the 40's & 50's. The musicians are all pretty good at that session though they welcome warmly & very much encourage those that are not up to speed to & they have a slow session that proceeds the regular session this session is different they play at an up paced but not fast space, other sessions where it's almost they pro don't like this session as much because it's speed does not exclude the slower players but those slower players evedientually catch up quick enough, no music stands though. I prefere the sessions that are welcoming & include everyone who can do, to do. As I said there a slow session for those that are beginning/learning or can't yet do.
This is also the largest session I've ever seen, it's regularly attend by about 30 musicians early in the evening, if there's a festival in town 50 & musicians sitting on the side waiting for an opening.

Barry


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Subject: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: GUEST,Lisa Null
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 05:51 PM

I just posted a Diary on Daily Kos that talks about my mixed feelings about Rise Up Singing. Do I have a copy? Yes. Do I use it? Yes. Have I gone to "By The Book" song circles. Yes. But withall that, like many who post here, I am not satisfied:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/29/17723/334?new=true
    Threads combined. I think two current threads on Rise Up Singing is enough. A third is a bit much.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 05:54 PM

Apparently, we have to wrestle Barry to the ground and hold him there for a count of ten before we can join these "sings"--and even then, if we don't soar like eagles, we'll be cut up for and thrown in the water.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:09 PM

Thanks for your take on this Lisa, it's not only very enjoyable to listen to but it's just as enjoyable to read you too.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:11 PM

I've read Stewart's, Barry's, and PoppaGator's posts while nodding some.

I wouldn't swear to it, but I don't think the blurb on the Seattle Song Circle web page has changed in several years. Apart from the comments about RUS, it pretty much outlines the way SSC started out, as I described above, and continued for the first few years. But it went through the period that I also described, where newcomers to the group began showing up with armloads of books. We wound up politely sitting there while person after person struggled with songs they didn't know and admittedly hadn't encountered until an hour or two before the meeting, while looking for something they might sing.

There was one person who was not particularly interested in folk music, he was into the songs of Jacques Brel—sung in French (which he couldn't speak and which he pronounced egregiously). And these were songs which he had heard, but hadn't particularly attempted to memorize.   So he sang them haltingly, craning his neck to one side so he could read the words out of a song book balanced on his knee while holding his guitar up high and trying to figure out what chords went with "Ne me quitte pas" and other songs.

It was not a pretty sight. Or sound.

He had sung a number of other songs from memory (so he could do it) and he was a fairly competent guitarist. He could have done it with these songs too. So why did he feel that instead of learning the songs at home and working out the chords, it was okay to inflict his first attempts at them on the rest of the group?

Since there was no hierarchy of authority or "Sergeant at Arms," no one policed this kind of thing and everyone did their damnedest to be patient and polite. But when the same sort of thing, by several different people, went on meeting after meeting, many of the originals, people such as John Dwyer, Stan James, Bob Nelson, John and Sally Ashford, and others, including Barbara and me, dropped out. It just wasn't enjoyable anymore.

Later, we heard that SSC had adopted Rise Up Singing as the Official Song Book and that the meetings had turned in hymn-sings, using only songs from the book.

Maybe things have changed, but last I heard from someone who attended recently, it was pretty much the same.

I have a great deal of sympathy for and I like to support and encourage people who are just learning. I remember my first efforts to sing in front of a group and I really appreciate the support and encouragement that I received, not just from other newbie's like myself, but from the more experienced singers such as Walt, Sandy, and Claire. It was a warm plunge, and it gave me the energy and incentive to keep plugging away. And a goodly portion of my professional life has been teaching, so I am well acquainted with the plight of, and sympathetic toward, the beginner wanting to try their wings.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:14 PM

You are more than welcome to join in singing wherevever I am found, as those that know we, will tell you I always seek for everyone to pitch in & do what ever they can, I don't care if you only came to listen as long as you're having a good time.

You only need to wrestle with me when you're not singing & I don't give a hoot weither you soar or crash land as long as you fly without trying to read at the same time.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: CapriUni
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:23 PM

Here's the blicky for Lisa's article (and yes, it's very good!):

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/12/29/17723/334?new=true


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:36 PM

HEY ... I've a REAL NEAT IDEA! Now that we've talked this subject to death, how about if we find a new topic for next year ... maybe something really simple like: "What's A Folk Song?" CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson ((AKA bad bad bob))


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 06:46 PM

Good idea! I'll be sharpening my cleats.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 07:11 PM

Sorry Barry, but it looks like we just have to accept that we disagree on this topic.   I have high respect for your opinion, and I do not doubt that you found the sessions "boring" as you described. I still wonder what the rest of the attendees felt - if these sessions have been going on for awhile, someone must enjoy them.   As for the session that you like, it seems like a wonderful event, but if someone is going to feel ostracized if they bring in a book, then I would have to classify it as "elite".   Again, that is not meant as a putdown. If you have something good, you are certainly entitled to keep it going. You say that outsiders are welcome, but I have to wonder if others feel the same way.   You do make it sound intimidating.

Again, I meant no disrespect to anyone who has shared their thoughts.   My personal opinion is that a song circle is about the joy of singing, and I think everyone needs to approach it with an understanding of all the participants and do whatever they can to encourage others to join in.   If you feel you have the right formula, good luck to you. I assume that I won't be hearing any future discussions about why folk music is dieing and why people aren't turning out for sessions.   I assume whatever solutions are out there are meant to be inclusive and welcoming to younger generations.

Sing for the song, not the performance.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 07:16 PM

Aw, Bob, we haven't really talked the subject to death. It's more than just a book we're talking about - it's how to run a song gathering, and how to get people to sing, and how to keep the quality up without excluding people. I think most of us know there are good points on both sides of the discussion - but where do we find the happy median?

I think it's fine to use songbooks at song gatherings, but I'm well aware of the shortcomings of that practice. I went caroling at retirement homes a dozen times this month, and I was dismayed that most of the singers never looked up from their song sheets. I think that human eye contact is essential in singing - and most good singers have good eye contact, whether or not they use a songbook. Sometimes when I find singers with their noses too deep in the book, I'll lead a camp song, sometimes one with hand motions - that often breaks the nose-in-the-book cycle for several songs.

No, mind you, I haven't tried it; but maybe singing naked would cure the nose-in-the book syndrome. People might use the books to hide their....embarrassment.

But to have a good song session, I think you have to do more than just prohibit books and bad singers. You have to put your heart into it - and imagination and a sense of humor helps, too.

-Joe-

P.S. to Ron - Barry is not as intimidating as he sounds. It's really fun to sing with him, and he's always gentle, polite, and encouraging. And I think you'd have a wonderful time at a Getaway. I'll teach you obnoxious camp songs.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 07:35 PM

Lisa's article is clear & succinct and echoes many of us from the other thread, but as one of the comments following the article shows, some folks never get past the idea that "creating community" is not the only goal when people get together to sing. Those who 'mostly' sing without the book and know various versions of songs, and who know songs not in the book ALSO have a sense of community.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Linda Goodman Zebooker
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 07:43 PM

I like RUS for what it is, a shared vocabulary of a whole lot of good songs. When I'm searching for a song fitting the theme of an upcoming Open Sing, I'll thumb through RUS and search the Digitrad. Odd but fun things can pop up in RUS, like the time I saw "The Man on the Flying Trapese" and added that to my repetoire for the theme of "Ways to get from here to there". "Classics" I haven't thought about for decades will become relevant.

It's also fun to quietly get out my RUS at Open Sings. So often someone will sing a song that's there. One just has a sense it will be found. They, the leader aren't reading out of The Book, they are just singing a reasonably well-known song. But I may have never learned the words, myself, and so I can actually sing along, in harmony, and have a good time as a participant.

This past weekend I was at a small folk gathering in the Philadelphia area. A pretty hard-core Rock and Roll guy was saying (to my astonishment) that he really likes Rise Up Singing. He's always amazed that the words/chords to so many many songs he wants to re-aquaint himself with can be found there.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 07:44 PM

" some folks never get past the idea that "creating community" is not the only goal when people get together to sing. Those who 'mostly' sing without the book and know various versions of songs, and who know songs not in the book ALSO have a sense of community."

Sorry Bill, but I think you are making assumptions.   No one ever denied that people who "mostly" sing without a book have a true sense of community.

I'm afraid you aren't recognizing that there is a danger about losing community when certain actions are taken. I don't think anyone in the other thread said to "go by the book", many of us are simply saying that the idea of banning those who use it is wrong.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 08:24 PM

I have expressed myself elsewhere about the pros & cons of songbooks in general & RUS in particular at sings. Here I will suggest some ways to make books less obtrusive & possibly easier to tolerate.

Reading is faster than singing, and most of the time, in addition, you will have sung or at least heard the song before. Using a crib to sing is not like reading aloud from a newspaper. When I am using a book I try to confine myself to occasional glances, and face the company the rest of the time. A quick scan in advance, to see if the version you know is different, may also be advisable.

All that is all the easier if you are sitting around a large, well-lighted table. The book is horizontal, you don't have to hold it, and your nose is not in it. (Also, your drink is handy.) That used to be the standard setting for convivial singing, and Don Duncan provided it for his sings at Old Joe Clark's of blessed memory. It limits the size of the company, but that is fine with me.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:07 PM

I no longer wrestle at any sort of sing or hoot, Barry.   I have had complaints that the inevitable wagering distracts from the singing.

In any case, I never need either a songbook or crib sheets at sings, owing to an annoying trick my brother and I used to do as kids, which is to watch someone's lips and talk(or sing) along with them.

I one day I got a whole band angry at me at a free concert because they thought someone must have stolen tapes of their never completed album and given them to me. That is another story though.

I agree with Joe that this is about all the things that are involved in making a music gathering work--and, books or no, it takes a lot of work to make these seemingly spontaneous events happen!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:50 PM

At Mudcat NOTHING is ever talked to death. Oh, the same folks drag out the same arguments and we go all over them again, but like I said way back at the beginning of this thread, the fuss about RUS has been a time honored subject here no matter that the argument goes nowhere. The "What is Folk" threads may outnumber it by a bit but there's not much in it and no one ever really changes their mind.

When I think back on some of the old topics I think the one that has the most potential to change minds (for a variety of reasons) is "What Condoms Do Mudcatters Prefer." Its been 10 years since that one started and I think many have gone through enough physical changes to change their original answer.

Come to think of it though..............Its not the type or brand or style or color of condom that makes the difference. Like RUS, it depends on how its used.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:52 PM

Joe F is a man of my own heart. I drink beer at song circles, which makes it difficult for me to hold a songbook. So, I put the songbook where I can glance at it, and keep a tight hold on my beer.
Sometimes, I blow across the beer bottle as accompaniment. You get harmonics if you blow really hard.

Now, I have occasionally been chastized for giving bad example by drinking at a singaround; but other, more important people have learned to look forward to sharing my six-pack. If I brought a case, I might be dangerous.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing and Singing Out Loud
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 09:52 PM

Geeziz.....A second concurrent thread! What a treat! I can hardly wait to see what pops up that's different.

Spaw(;<))
    Agreed. Threads combined.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:01 PM

" "What Condoms Do Mudcatters Prefer." Its been 10 years since that one started and I think many have gone through enough physical changes to change their original answer."

For some, it now must be like shooting pool with a rope.







(With apologies to George Burns for stealing his line)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:43 PM

". . . it takes a lot of work to make these seemingly spontaneous events happen!"

Well, I dunno. Elmar Lanczos wasn't a singer, but he was a folk music enthusiast, he had a humongous collection of folk records, he owned a house near the University District, and he lived alone (until he got married some years later). A couple of us (who just happened to have our guitars with us, just in case) would run into each other at the Pizza Haven or the Blue Moon Tavern, and someone would phone Elmar and say, "How about a hoot tonight. Your place."   Elmar would say, "You bring the beer. I'll call a few people." Then we'd also call a few people and say, "Hoot. Elmar's. As soon as you can get there."

Within less than forty-five minutes there would be a dozen, maybe two dozen people sitting around on the sofa, chairs, and cross-legged on the carpet in Elmar's living room, tuning up their guitars, banjos, nose-flutes, whatever. Someone would sing a song. Then someone else would sing. Then someone else. Then the first person would sing again. Then someone would start a song with a good chorus. Then somebody new would sing.

But not everyone sang. Those who did sing might have come alone, or brought a buddy, or a girl friend, or a husband, some of whom sang and some just wanted to listen and enjoy. But anyone was free to lift his or her voice in song, if so moved.

And so on. No one person dominated. Nobody acted as referee or master-of-ceremonies. Common courtesy and mutual respect ruled. If a "Sergeant-at-Arms" was needed (say, in the case of someone who heard about it, didn't give a damn about folk music but was just looking for a party, and then only if he got drunk, rowdy, and disruptive), that would be the host, with whatever other muscle that the situation might call for. But that sort of thing happened rarely, if ever.

If someone who had never sung before hauled off and sang (even if badly), it was generally hailed as a major debut, complete with encouraging comments. Sometimes such folks moved quickly into the ranks of the stronger singers.

No song books or song sheets in sight.

And thus it went.

These days. Bob Nelson phones. He says, "Sunday afternoon. My place. Come around 2:00. Judy and I have a big pot of chili. Bring whatever else you want to eat or drink." So Barbara and I arrive around two-ish. Stewart and Betty are already there, Mike Nelson (no relation to Bob) arrives shortly thereafter, followed by John Weiss and Jerry Middaugh. Moose and Sally arrive, and Casey and Molly even, driving all the way up from Olympia. Beth West arrives, and Nancy Quensé shortly afterwards. She's brought her new hurdy-gurdy (that'll send Bob's cats up the nearest tree!). A couple of Bob's neighbors also drop in. After we chow down, the guitarum and banji and such come out, there is the popping, as beer bottle caps come off (I don't recall anyone ever getting splashed at these fests), and the tuning up ritual takes place ("Give me your D."). When done, someone hauls off and sings the first song. Then someone else sings. Then someone sings a sea chantey (good chorus, everyone joins in). Then someone else sings. Love songs, ballads (accompanied and unaccompanied), sea songs, lullabyes, nonsense songs. Dick and Gela Gibbons manage to make it after all. Dick recites his latest poem. Then someone else sings. . . .

And so it goes, just like we did it forty, fifty years ago. The only difference is that now we are geezers. But some of Bob's and my former guitar pupils are there also, playing and singing, and sometimes Beth's daughter, Lizzie (who is taking violin lessons) plays the fiddle.

When we sing at these song fests, are these "performances?" Well . . . yes and no.

A lot of work? Usually just a telephone call. Then it happens.

Don Firth

P. S. By the way. Community? Camaraderie? Friendship? These things are there. They just happen. If you have to struggle to bring them about, then something's wrong.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:46 PM

*grin*...The picture of Joe (the exuberant ) was part of a site with a link to this page, which tries to wean folks from the RUS habit....

I am not sure where our Open Sing is headed....I'll know more in a week. (Linda Goodman may use RUS a bit, but she is getting less & less dependent on such things...I have been happily amazed at her progress the last couple of years!....good going, Linda)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 10:56 PM

(since Joe combined the threads, this all reads a little bit strange...my post of 7:35 did originally follow immediately after Lisa Null's in that short-lived thread. )


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 11:01 PM

Aw hell Bill.....Just admit it. A lot of your posts don't make much sense anymore for whatever reason so don't go blaming Father JoeBro. Just grab a quick nap and come back and try again...................

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 11:08 PM

It is difficult to compare a sing that occured 30, 40 or 50 years ago with the way things are today. Participants change and so do their desires, abilities, and needs. We are affected by modern technology as well as our choices of entertainment.   The reality is that changes will evolve and you cannot expect things to work they way they once did.

Sure, there may be a group that can get by without any sheets of paper or books, but nowadays it just isn't the same for everyone. There were reasons that SOME people started bringing books and sheets in the first place and now that they are here, you cannot expect things to go back to the way they once were.

It is nice to get nostalgic and remember - and we can certainly learn lessons and try to incorporate those traditions - but it isn't going to happen by wishing it were so, nor is it going to happen by enforcing rules. You need to look at where we are and where we are going.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 11:11 PM

Ron, I just did. Up a few posts.

Big change, however. These days, instead of a phone call, it's frequently an e-mail.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 29 Dec 08 - 11:16 PM

Not the same thing. You are talking about a old session that is still continuing among the same people.   Naturally that can continue the way you are doing it - and it should.   What we've been talking about in this thread are more public and ongoing sessions that are open to anyone, not an e-mail invite for a group of friends.   I agree with you there, if you have a select group then you absoulutely should follow what you are doing. But when you look at something like the Seattle Folksong Society, it appears they are doing something to involve others. Seems like two different purposes, and there is nothing wrong with that.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 12:13 AM

It comes down, unsurprisingly, to: different strokes for different folks.

I'm one who used to regularly go to FSGW Open Sings--and look forward to hearing new songs.   Since the advent of RUS (which I affectionately call Sink Down Moaning), I've stopped going to FSGW Open Sings. 1 copy of RUS is enough--let alone 6.

Look, it's a question of time and priorities. I only have so much time I can spend on song sessions. So I will not even take the chance that somebody will say: "Turn to page 34 and sing the second one from the bottom"--which he or she may never have even seen before.

RUS just makes it too easy to exert no effort whatsoever to learn a song--and still expect others to sing it.

I have no objection to song books or packets--if the occasion warrants it.

I lead a yearly SATB door-to-door caroling session which has been going on without a break since 1992--and keeps getting stronger. Soon we may have to split it in 2. I have to find real tenors--so I have to pick a night they can do it--but then all the other parts are led by strong singers. We sing out of a packet I've put together--which also keeps growing. We also take all requests and make up harmonies on the spot for more secular-oriented fare, like White Christmas and Winter Wonderland. We play roles on Wenceslas--male and female. In the packet are anything from Joy to the World and Adeste Fideles-- to Jingle Bells and 12 Days of Christmas--to A La Nanita Nana (which is a big hit with the group as well as our Hispanic neighbors.)

We had 13 invited singers and 10 neighborhood people joining in this year. The kids are really enthusiastic--especially the 4 year olds, but also the 7 and 9 year olds. We ask anybody we sing for if they'd like to join us. And they do.

And we do sound good--as we've been told many many times. Then we go back to Jan's and my place and sing parodies and other seasonal material--and drink and eat--til all hours.

If you have the right people, singing out of a book or packet can be successful. But this is the opposite of the RUS experience.




I've been to RUS hymn sings--- out of town---where I can't avoid the book. I don't take a book, and I sing the choruses, and throw in harmonies. It's really not necessary for every single person to sing every single word. I'd be perfectly happy if the leader would sing the song and the rest of us could join in at the chorus--or just listen.



I also disagree with Ron O's view that it's better to sing out of a book than to look up at the sky for words. I sometimes put my hand on my head to keep words from escaping--as Bill D can testify. But I will not sing out of a book or a sheet at a sesssion--though I may hold a sheet--as a talisman (it works).


So as long as you RUS fans are sure to tell us when you will be using that book, the rest of us can make plans to be elsewhere. And everybody should be happy.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 12:53 AM

It seems effortless because you're practiced at doing it--And learning the songs so that you can sing and play them without fumbling around with, say, Rise Up Singing, is a big part of the work, as well.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 07:09 AM

What you're describing isn't a sing-along. It's a choir.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 08:20 AM

I'm enjoying the various postings to this thread. I'm reading a LOT of different viewpoints and that's GREAT. This is what MC does best ... bringing many different folks together, with differing viewpoints, and let 'em thrash it out in a peaceful and sensible manner. And, as passionate as the varying views are, everyone has remained respectfull of different opinions. YIPPEE! Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 09:48 AM

Some of this now strikes me as philosophical/psychological. A related example would be the question of surtitles at the opera. My own feeling is that surtitles are great, but they do present a problem, which is that the part of the brain that reads (let's call it left brain, though I am left handed, and all this brain division stuff strikes me as anti-leftie, but let that pass for the moment) is engaged in reading surtitles, while the right brain is the part that should be engaged in the opera spectacle. I have wrestled with this for awhile, and can't really decide: but I do think there is a lessening of the impact with the brain switching back and forth (though the brain is pretty swift). The reading of songbooks and lyric sheets maybe strikes some people as a lesser experience to the "true" oral tradition.

yours,

Peter T.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: MickyMan
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 09:55 AM

This thread got me thinking once again of how much I love this book, but hesitate to use it because of the small type. I went to the Blood-Peterson's website and I now vow to purchase the larger format book along with the demo CD as it is listed there. For all of its limitations it is still truly a great resource for getting good singable songs.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 12:21 PM

Ron O., this is not just an "old session that is still continuing among the same people."   We do involve new people and have been all along. It is not a static group or a "clique," as you are trying to characterize it. And as far as assembling interested people are concerned, you missed the point of what I said. The process begins with a phone call or an e-mail, then the word goes out from there.

When we do have an "invitation only" event, it's a whole different thing.

I'm really impressed that, all the way from New Jersey, you know more about what's going on in the Seattle area than I do and that you are telling me the deeper meaning of what's really happening here.

Ron—I'm here, on the scene. You're not.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 01:12 PM

EBarnacle, good to know RUS is in large type. Is it a tome? The size of a dictionary?

Can you see it if you put it on the floor without having to look down too often?

Can you add verses to it on the spot? Maybe it should include blank pages. :)

That said, I think it's as Ron says a good introductory method of group singing. At the Old Town School they experimented with old slide and bouncing ball technique.

In the best of all possible worlds, everyone would know the songs by heart. But this shouldn't be a hindrance for people who enjoy singing together.

Whatever brings people together to sing is all right in my book (RUS or otherwise).

It's nice when there are those who can add to the singing of the song by introducing new verses that they "remember". It gives the sing more vitality.

I think a balance between the songbook and solo memorized verses is good or even cheat sheets with those of us who are not so good at remembering the songs we used to know.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 01:59 PM

Relax Don.

I am trying to have a conversation with you and you yourself gave this description of the gathering you attend - "And so it goes, just like we did it forty, fifty years ago. The only difference is that now we are geezers."   That would lead the reader to believe it is the same group - or a clique. You also gave a description of the Seattle Folklore Societys sings that differs from the description that they give on their website. I would love to hear from others that are involved.

So, to reply to your statement - no, I do not know what is going on in Seattle, but I am trying to piece together what you are telling us.

Please do not be defensive, this is just a discussion.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 02:30 PM

Hello everyone,

Whatever happened to the threatened RUS II? Itwas in the works 10 years ago, but I have heard nothing of it lately. I used to sing with a monthly pot luck group. RUS was a part of it, but it wasn't the Bible. It seemed most helpful to new people who found it to be a book that had some songs they knew. It enabled them to get started in the group. I've moved from Maryland, but I stay in touch with some members. They have so many "new" people, that I do not recognize many names. However, there are some old timers as well. The joy was always that it was love of singing not ability that was encouraged.

Roger in Baltimoe


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 07:43 PM

I've been waiting for RUS II for that same ten years. Every time I ask, I'm told it will be out "next year."

Thanks to Frank H (and Ron again) for words of wisdom.

Gee, I was trying to be DIS-respectful!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 10:23 PM

Again, the "larger print" version is basically normal-sized print, instead of the microscopic original version; the print is not actually large, like "large-print" books. :-(

Could be that the original print size increases the likelihood that a user will have their nose buried in the book...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 10:26 PM

Forgot to say -- I think it's the same number of pages -- probably a photo-enlargement-- they're just bigger, so it's more like 8-1/2" or 9" by 11", instead of the original 7" by 9-3/4".

~ B in T


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 10:40 PM

The "large print" edition is 120% of than the original, which I guess means that the type is 20% bigger.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: astro
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 10:56 PM

It's funny, but I was looking over the Sing Out Aug/Sept/Oct. '93 issue and the First Words by Mark D. Moss was about this very same topic. A defense of using RUS, but with the injunction in the last paragraph about this topic in the article of:

"...I don't intend to demean the achievements or skills of great singers, but we all possess the basic tools to sing socially. So, damn it, sing from book all you want, people, sing from Sing Out! Sing from your heart. Just cut the "it's got to be in the book" crap, OK?"

Sounds about right to me....in these times we should be singing and singing together, it'll get us through it...

Astro


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 11:20 PM

I agree with Mark 100%


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 30 Dec 08 - 11:31 PM

Ron, my statement above, "And so it goes, just like we did it forty, fifty years ago. The only difference is that now we are geezers" was apparently misleading, for which I apologize. The fact is that what we do remains essentially the same, but there have been considerable changes in personnel. Walt Robertson, Stan James, and John Dwyer are no longer with us. Many of what might be considered "the original crew" no longer live in Seattle. Sandy Paton left in the early 1950s. Patti McLaughlin remarried and moved to California. People come, people go, and life goes on. When it comes down to it, the "old geezers" that are still going seem to have dwindled to Bob Nelson, plus Moose (Bob Tomson), Gary and Molly Oberbillig when they can get into town, and a few others.

But don't think that our gatherings are dwindling. Far from it. From the original Seattle Song Circle of the late 1970s and very briefly into the 1980s (and I reiterate that I was one of the charter members of SSC) there were a substantial number of defectors when it morphed into a "singing out of a book" group. They now get together with the somewhat irregular gatherings of "us geezers," and also go to monthly sessions that Stewart hosts (which most of us do also).

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 12:10 AM

I am grateful for you "geezers", as I hopefully continue on the path to geezerdom myself!

I think Mark Moss's statement sums it up best. In 2008, soon to be 2009, the younger generations are faced with different technologies and diversions. The incentive to join a singing circle is different - although there are many that would want to and enjoy it once they get there.   Mark's summation that the book is a good tool is one that I agree with 100% - but it should not be the ONLY source, nor should any book or sheet of paper.   Once these people get started, they should be able to drop the crutche and enjoy the experience - but I hestitate to remove their crutches until their confidence is there.    Once they are hooked, they will in turn share the music with future generations.   

Basically, I think everyone on this thread has the same selfless motivation to perpetuate this music and to insure that future generations realize that singing is meant to be participatory, not an exhibition sport.   The passions that are shared on Mudcat are evident, and hopefully we will all take a step back to put ourselves in the shoes of others and make them feel welcome so that their gifts can be shared. There is nothing more rewarding than watching someone take pride in their own voice and abilities.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 09:06 AM

Last night I was at the weekly shanty session in Gloucester (USA) & the crowd had already dwinddled down to about 50 by the time I arrived (about 10:45), much more than half of that was joining in on most of the songs & probably half that leading the majority of the singing. I looked about & saw 2 books & 2 notebooks (no RUS) but only saw them being used twice. These are not shanty singers or "afficiandos", it's advertized, it's public & it's open & it was a hair raiser. When you see the bar raising their glasses & applauding the crowd & cheering song after song, except for when someone's singing out of a book then you need to take note of the dynamics. Now the 2 fellers that sang out of the book or off their note sheets were supported & their efforts were applauded but it was with far less enthusiasm & the choruses never reached the roof rafters, why, the flow or the tide was for the moment slackened & that's how it is. Now in a session of this size a couple of books & songs being sung out of books aren't gonna matter much but if you start to increase this by much it won't take long before there's no flow. This happens over the course 3 hrs & it's continues from the start at 9 right up to when the barwoman turns the lights off at 12 midnight. I see less books & notepads now than when this 1st got it's feet wet maybe 3 or 4 yrs ago & it's only gotten stronger & better as less people relied on the paper products. Lots of the waterfront people come just to drink but they come to this bar on this night because it's a blast even if singing or singing shanties is not your thing. There's a regular crowd of twentysometings (there's also a regular group of 60 somethings too) that now make this evening & place the place of choice, I'd have to guess that maybe it's far from the boring crowd. Given a choice, I would take a sing in a bar like this than a sing in a bookstore or library anyday, matter of fact after a few sings like this I might never want to see or hear the inside of a book sing again.
Saturday I'll head to Mystic & I will bet dollars to donuts that the sing there will be no different with the exception of the books. Again this is also the case at the monthly shanty session & the weekly Friday night sessions at the Press Room in Portsmouth (USA). So it's not a one time or a one place occurance, it just happens that both places frown (but don't prohibit) on books (less on notepads & paper).

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 09:29 AM

Barry, I'm sure the situation at Mystic will be the same - and from what you've described, the shanty session that you attended is EXACTLY what we are talking about.

The individuals who had the books may not have "soared" and raised the rafters as others did, but from your description they were not made to feel like they were doing anything wrong by using a book - and they probably had a wonderful time. Perhaps next time they will follow the lead and not need a book. Perhaps they will. The main thing I get from your description is that they were given a chance to be comfortable and participate.   I think that is all anyone has said on this thread.

Venues shouldn't "frown" when they see a book, nor should they encourage people to use them. Learn by example and have patience and understanding to help others along.

"Book sings" are not your cup of tea, but they have their place.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 10:01 AM

Yup, they have their place, except that many of what they've replaced was once healthy & virbrant sings that got dumbed down to it's lowest common denorminator by the overrunning of the RUS, which brought all this into fashion in the 1st place. This is what I'm hearing happened in Seattle & it was what I saw happen in San Francisco & Boston & what I've heard from a good many other places too. Yes it has it's place Ron but not when it replaces what was far better in the first place (who's to say what's far better, the absence of the outburst of outward emotions). What's sad is that in some communities sings have gone underground to avoid being overrun by bookies, now that sucks for sing/song survival.

No one should ever be made to feel unwelcomed or as if they're doing something wrong when it comes to lifting their voices but no one should be allowed to piss onto a parade either just because they aren't socially aware of the underpinnings of a good session. If you find a decent sing & no one's singing from books don't you start bringing them into the picture, leave them at home or don't go, it got to be good with out them, let well enough alone.

I'm not hearing much about this from folks over in the Uk or Ireland and I'm wondering, not having been to any singing things there in almost 3 decades if in their clubs, bars & where ever they hold their sings if they have encountered this "from the book singing" thing?

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 10:12 AM

I have to disagree with you about the "pissing onto a parade" as any social gathering is a evolving entity and as you say, who is really to say what's "far better".   The neighborhood changes and the fact that these sessions can survive and attract members means they are doing something right.   There is no cookie cutter solution to all, but there is a need to contemplate just why things change and to have the patience to help others along.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 10:50 AM

Ron, I grew up in a ever changing neighorhood, changes aren't always for the better just because they happen & just because a neighorhood survives doesn't mean that it's what's best for that community it just means that it has continued, sometimes against the odds & sometimes it'd be better off dying. As far as contemplating why things (sings in this case) have changed (it is the topic here) that's what I'm talking about and from my take on it, I hear the same complaints from many singers, "there's no decent place to go to, to get together to sing". They don't go out to sings anymore because they've been overrun by bookies, where they onced had a few good sings to choose from they now don't bother. Oh they'll get together at a party here & there but unless they know of a sing that's enjoyable & where there's no books, they won't go. So you say who needs the snobs, right? And they say who needs us, we'll just shut up & stick to our own & in some places & cases they go hiding.
Right now some one I know is trying to get a pub singing session started up in Boston, I tried this 10 yrs ago, to no avail, hopefully she'll have better luck. I'm biting my lip, waiting to see how this flies. I went to the 1st one & there were books & papers all about, it didn't look or sound like it had a good running start or a good chance of getting off the ground. I'll bet if enough strong & good singers gather in the beginning & leave the books out it'll fly, if there's gonna be another show of books all round I'll bet that the strong singers will just sit this one out too. I'll get back to on that.
In Boston there are plenty of good/great/strong singers that are buried in the woodwork & I truly believe that they'll stay there, where they've been for so long because they don't expect that they'll be any of the kind of sing that they were used to prior to the 'book singing style' coming into fashion. I am not rying to capture the past & I'm not trying to change the course of evoloution, I'm only pointing out the differences between a sing that's got something that everyone can enjoy from a sing that very few enjoy, the cry "elite" & the others retort with "you've driven us out". And I hate to say it but from what I'm reading those that enjoy a sing that's loaded with books are missing out on the sings that are rip roaring but those book sessions are not being missed by the others, so who needs or wants who more? I guess it's a matter of what one considers a half filled or a half empty glass but it's worst when there's not a choice. I think in this day & age you can find a book session at your nearest library or local bookstore but you'll have a much harder time finding a sing where you can lift the roof off the house. Just try to look for the sing where there are no books, good luck.

PS, you realize I use the words "library" & "bookstore" as word play & for effect of course, not for reality

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 10:54 AM

I'm appreciating what Barry said about "dumbing down" with the overuse (is that a word?) of RUS. I hate to admitt it, but I am appreciating other's points of view. I HATE THAT ... because it threatens my knowing that I am ALWAYS RIGHT! That said, I still agree with Barry's point of view.

When I walk into a song session and I spot RUS copies scattered around, I don't even open my guitar case.

I taught beginning guitar for several years at our local community college. A large part of my thrust was the encouragment of singing. I loved it when whole families took the class, all the way from grandchildren through grandparents in the same class. We devoted some time, each class, to the newbie's first efforts at "singing to the class." It was great fun and you can't imagine a more supportive "audience".

But at my age of 171, I prefer to spend my time in sessions that challenge me as a musician. This I always find at Stew's monthly sessions. The best of the best attend. I like to think I've given as much as I have received.

Thinking back over the years, there's an obvious evolution here. I was 13 when I first picked up a guitar and started on this whole musical journey. I was lucky to be tutored by a very caring man who was also a brilliant performer. For the next ten years, I studied hard, learned from many singers, and profitted from the training.

A beginner is a beginner. One step in the learning process is the building of a repitoire. This is where books are necessary. But at some point, you leave the books behind and open your ears to what's really happenning out there. No two songers sing the same song ... they sing varients. And it's these subtle differences that make this world of folk music so viable and everchanging.

There is NO right or wrong here, you just choose to attend those gatherings that best satisfy. CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:02 AM

Barry states/asks
I'm not hearing much about this from folks over in the Uk or Ireland and I'm wondering, not having been to any singing things there in almost 3 decades if in their clubs, bars & where ever they hold their sings if they have encountered this "from the book singing" thing?
Possible reason for lack of UK responses is that the thread is headed "Rise Up Singing", and this is not that common a book this side of the great pond.
We do get singing from books/papers. I am sometimes one of those. For various reasons:
1, I decide to sing at the last minute with nothing prepared, scrawl the first lines of the verses on paper to ensure I've remembered them all, and get them in order.
2, sing something I've written the words to which is topical so must be done while still topical, but which will become rapidly outdated so it is not worth fully commiting to memory
3, something already sung prompts a particular song which I know I have the words for with me.
4, at the last moment the circle organiser suggests a 'themed evening' and I manage to track down a suitable song

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:29 AM

Barry, from what I am seeing - the "neighborhood" IS in danger of dieing. Change for the better is needed, at least in this neck of the woods and other parts of the country from what I am gathering in these threads. I respect your opinion of the sessions that you enjoy, but I'm not convinced that "very few" are enjoying sessions where books are used.    Earlier you used an analogy about Chinese restaurants and where to find the best food - well, there is also a reason why the neighborhood restaurant is still in business and there are probably people who enjoy it.   Your tastes may differ, but there are people who find great comfort in the "book". More power to them.

As Nelson said, there is no "right" or "wrong" - whatever works for your area and community.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: astro
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 01:11 PM

As a newbie, I can see the use of any type of book that has the repertoire, but my goal is to know the music. It is much more enjoyable to know the music and to be able to just sing. It'll come, until then, I am going to sing! So, if a group demands that the book is used only then, that is a choir meeting.

I just hope that those who I sing with will be civil and understand that you have to start somewhere. Maybe for some groups where many have the books indicate a group that has reached out and have received a great response of newbies...what good news!

astro


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 02:05 PM

I heartily concur with everything Bob (Deckman) Nelson says just above. And I most enthusiastically endorse his second to last paragraph, which bears re-reading.
A beginner is a beginner. One step in the learning process is the building of a repertoire. This is where books are necessary. But at some point, you leave the books behind and open your ears to what's really happening out there. No two singers sing the same song ... they sing variants. And it's these subtle differences that make this world of folk music so viable and ever-changing.
At the hoots (short for "hootenanny*") that are still going on—and the Seattle Song Circle initially—it was never questioned that one learn a song before trying to sing it in front of the rest of the group. This means having the words memorized, knowing the tune, and having all the guitar, banjo, or autoharp chords memorized and practiced as well. If you blow it, fine! Nobody is going to stone you or laugh at you. Keep pluggin'. Everyone had (has) fun, and a fair number of pretty good folk music performers started out tremulously but gamely trying their first song at one of these events. Then maybe a year of so later, once they have developed a repertoire, they emerge as a strong singer, sometimes going on to perform for non-folk groups.

I got started this way. And my first big break as a singer was when I was asked to do a television series on KCTS (local educational channel, now a PBS affiliate), funded by the Seattle Public Library. Jim Gilkeson, who worked for SPL in public relations and who was liaison between SPL and KCTS, was also a jazz musician who liked folk music as well, and had sat in on hoots a lot just as a listener, and that's where he had heard me. Big break indeed! After having done a television series, other offers started coming in.

What Barry said about "dumbing down" is very much to the point. If someone would like to develop his or her skills as a singer and/or instrumentalist, and develop a sufficient repertoire to perform for non-folk oriented groups, possibly do concerts, recordings, and such, then the hoot format—everybody who wants to can sing, but learn the songs and leave the books at home—is a very good, friendly, "warm plunge" way to go about it.

If one wants to get together with of bunch of other people for group singing, then fine! There's nothing wrong with that. No pressure, and no preparation required, except, perhaps owning whatever books the group uses. But the group-sing format, with everyone singing the same songs out of the same book is very unlikely to produce strong individual performers. And it may very well stifle individuality itself.

So it depends on what you, as a singer or aspiring singer, wants.

If you don't like the group singing out of a book format, don't go. Let those who enjoy it do so.

But it's a bit of reverse snobbism for those who prefer the group-sing format to accuse those people who prefer the "hoot" format, where they can sing what they want, the version they want, and in their own arrangement, of being a "clique" or implying that they're a bunch of egotistical prima donnas.

Don Firth

*And by the way, the word "hootenanny" in association with a get-together of folk musicians originated in Seattle in the late 1930s or early 1940s, and were quite different from the later "hootenannies" (after the 1963 "ABC Hootenanny" on television and the egregious movie "Hootenanny Hoot") in which there is a distinct separation of performers and audience.

See Pete Seeger's The Incompleat Folksinger, page 327.)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 03:26 PM

One of the solutions to relying on songbooks is to encourage good song leaders who can
lead audiences in choruses to songs and encourage memorization. One of the vibrant aspects of a "folk community" which is rural, often, is that everyone knows the same songs and style and has a knowledge about them.

As to disdaining the use of RUS, this seems to me to be pedantic and short-sighted.
If it helps anyone get into singing and music, how bad can it be?

A lot has to do with the group dynamics of the environment. There are groups of people
who can make sweet music come alive together and whether they have songbooks or not bears little significance. It has to do with this sense of community which has to be nurtured. Many in America don't know how to sing with others. They are into spectator sports, watching their music on TV, lauding and promoting "pros" without a sense of participation. I have been in European musical circles where everyone grows up singing and feel no hesitation about this. (Holland, Denmark, Germany, etc.) Only in America have we been sold a bill of goods that unless you are "pro" or on TV or ? you are not qualified to participate in singing. Many music schools promote this elitist attitude.
The generic American doesn't sing.

RUS serves a function but is not the only way to bring people into a musical singing fold.
Strong choruses in songs, accessible background material on the songs to motivate interest, building an atmosphere of confidence rather than discouragement, a less "pedantic" and more open attitude regarding the nature of folk music (it is not meant to
be "precious") and keeping away the exclusivity of those "folkies" who want it for their own.

Pete's assessment of the origin of the word "Hootenanny" may not be conclusive, although
Pete, himself, did more to promote the concept which he saw as the ability of song leaders to encourage audiences to do choruses of songs, descant and harmony lines, and rhythm clapping using not just traditional folk tunes but jazz and pop songs as well. For this, the model of the African-American community with spirituals, gospels, and often intense participation is important to study.

I once sang for him a counter-melody for the jazz standard "How High The Moon" and he
thought that this was perfect for a "hootenanny" audience.

So, RUS notwithstanding, it takes all kinds.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 05:48 PM

Joe Offer:

I merely said "your drink". Your assumption that it will be beer is correct in my case, but a table supports all kinds. Indeed, if it is water, one can contribute to the conviviality by raising one's glass high when the company sings "Water drinkers are dull asses".


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 06:42 PM

I'm wondering at so many people who seem to be independently wealthy, that all they have to do is sit about all day memorizing songs. If I only did the songs I'd memorized, I'd have damn few to perform. By using books, I can do hundreds. I think we've about exhausted this topic, now. Some people have set their views in concrete. Having been insulted by some twerps afraid to step away from the book, They conclude that the books, rather than the twerps, are the problem, thereby pulling the rug out from under the newbies and beginners. If you only want to sing the same songs with the same people for the rest of time, I suppose that suits.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 07:06 PM

"ref" ... you're quite correct. And, by the way, the second verse to your song and chorus are found on page 117! bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 07:53 PM

"I'm wondering at so many people who seem to be independently wealthy, that all they have to do is sit about all day memorizing songs."

One song at a time, Ref, one song at a time. And speaking of time, it takes time to build a repertoire. I started around 1952. In 1955, I sat down and made a list of the songs I had learned. About 50. That's not even two new songs a month. A verse a day? Piece of cake!

Now I wasn't (and am not) rich, and I didn't spend all day learning songs. Part of that time I was going to college and part of that time I was working. Well, that was 50+ years ago, and I just kept right on learning songs. I'm still learning songs, and I'm not sure how many songs I know now, but it's a few hundred at least. And that's from memory, complete with guitar chords--muscle memory helps there.

But although I don't worry about money as long as I'm frugal, I'm still not rich.

Maybe we need to spend a bit of time on how to go about memorizing songs. It ain't that hard if you know how to go about it.

Gotta go now, and we have company tomorrow, so I'll try to tackle that in a couple of days.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:46 PM

We had a Utah Phillips session at San Francisco's Camp New Harmony today, and most of the songs didn't work very well. The session was dominated by oldtimers who look down on the use of songbooks. There were a few songs led by the old folks, but in general the singing was weak. There are several Utah Phillips songs in Rise Up Singing, but those of us with Blue Books were afraid to use them. Too bad - we could have had some nice community singing on a few songs, mixed with the other, more obscure ones.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 08:54 PM

Hi Joe ... nice to hear that Bruce is being well remembered. I'm going to offer a thought. If it fits, fine. If not, fine. Sometimes singing "events" can be overlly planned ... make sense? Spontaneity is a necessary part of the process. That goes back to my critism of the use of the books. How can you be spontaneous when everyone is on page 117? Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:43 PM

Hi Joe, forgot you guys would be wooding it this time of the year, I hope Camp Harmony is a blast. Maybe you relied to much on booking it & not enough memory. Anyway, plannig a topical sing is just plain a tough act to nail. I've seen just by changing where musicians normally play or sing will throw off a session completey. They're a very temperamental living organism, way worst than the humans that attend them.
Have a ball & pass on my hello's to Riggy, Richard & Peter
I wish I could be there, it's been 29 yrs I think & that was the only time, hopefully not the last.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:52 PM

Quick note before I watch "Red Green Does New Years" on the telly, then prepare to hit the sack.

Bob the Deckman strikes again! Sponteneity is the key to a good song fest.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 31 Dec 08 - 11:56 PM

At leas one of the keys anyways

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:19 AM

As someone else said on this thread, the reason so few rightpondians have contributed is that the book is hardly known here (I just went to this thread because somebody on another thread pointed me to it).

But from what I remember of it, I can't see how it would be an effective tool for getting new people interested today, anywhere. Its repertoire is so circumscribed and filtered by local and period attitude that it looks a museum exhibit, or one of those retro photos of people in handknitted cardigans and Buddy Holly specs that gets recaptioned as a humorous postcard. You could imagine it being used for a theme night where the food was cubes of cheese and silver onions skewered on toothpicks.

People do bring song binders along to sessions/singarounds in the UK, but no one source predominates. Some people make it work, some don't. I liked this comment:

I will repeat once more my rule: IF you can sing out of a book or from a sheet in such a way that I can't tell with my eyes closed, I will tolerate it! If you almost know the song, but just need a little help to be sure....go ahead! But taking a book and picking a song that you have heard but seldom tried and reading it AT a group seldom works.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Patrick_Costello
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:33 AM

I can still remember the day somebody showed up at a Philadelphia Folk Song Society Spring Thing with advance copies of Rise Up Singing. Back then it was hard as hell to find lyrics or chord progressions to songs and the few folk song book that were out there were all lacking in some way or another.

I honestly think that the people saying bad stuff about the book are just being jerks.

I have taught tens of thousands of people around the world how to pay the banjo and guitar. I have led jam sessions all over America and across Europe. I can say from experience that Rise Up Singing is a useful little book.

-Patrick
http://tangiersound.wordpress.com


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 12:49 PM

Fine. You can use RUS to lead song sessions anywhere you want. It is not however reasonable to call people who don't like such sessions jerks. It tends to imply you should look in the mirror for that. We do not call RUS fans jerks. It's just not our cup of tea.

And the vehement defenders of RUS on Mudat, including, it seems, the originator of the this thread, have not bothered, evidently, to actually read the article on which the thread is based.

Nobody denies that RUS is a useful book or one that belongs in many homes. That's where it belongs, in the home.

The author of the article talks about it as a bonding experience in her family. An excellent use--and one which I suspect every one of us who oppose RUS as a hymnbook in folk society singarounds will support. It is a wonderful tool for introducing kids to "folk music" in a very broad sense---in the home.

Point is: the article does not in the least address the idea of RUS as a folk society hymnbook.   That misuse, not the book itself, is our objection.

Only solution as I said earlier is:   different strokes for different folks. You RUS fans tell us where and when your sessions will be; the rest of us will be elsewhere. And please do not bring RUS to our sessions, including the Getaway.

Reason for this is, as many others and I have already said:   it just makes it too easy to not expend effort whatsoever to learn a song--and still expect others to carry the song. Those of us who do learn songs do not want that kind of musical experience--it's not in the least satisfying--in fact it's a waste of time. People who actually learn songs have too much respect for music--and communication-- to want that.

When you don't have a book to read from, you may forget verses, even start over in the middle of a song. Those of us who learn songs realize this--and totally accept it, having nothing but respect for the singer--who's actually demonstrated that he or she tried to learn the song--by the very act of not reading it out of a book. It's far better than the RUS hymn sing approach.

And anybody who holds the fond delusion that RUS singarounds "build community" is welcome to that delusion.   Just please don't expect the rest of us to share it.

The article cited at the start of the thread has exactly nothing to do with folklore society singaround use of RUS.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 01:15 PM

I'd rather be with a group of people and hear someone say "Let's try Such-and-such on page 37" and get the whole group singing and trying harmonies, than sit silent while one pompous "performer" after another drones on with some partly remembered ballad.

Now, I warrant some of you'll be offended by that characterization. Try looking at it through someone else's eyes. These "NO BOOKS, EVER!" rants don't sound like the words of reasonable people. They sound like the words of "jerks."


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 01:21 PM

Again I say: different strokes for different folks.

If you can't accept that, then, in your search for "jerks", please start with the mirror.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 01:57 PM

There is no reason to use words like "jerks" or to consider people with a different opininon as being "delusional". Shameful. Perhaps the writers need to take a look at their own perspectives and how others are viewing them.

There is no single answer to this question about using or not using a book. There are problems when people judge others and expect that their protocol should reign supreme. There is enough evidence on this single thread to indicate that sessions can work with books and that INDIVIDUALS can experience a great satisfaction and sing on a different level when they no longer require a book. It does not mean that a book is giving that particular singer a false perception.

I think it is time to lighten up and not let our passions dictate our ability to reason and think about people other than ourselves.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 02:03 PM

Some have alleged that RUS hymn sings in folklore societies "build community". I believe this is a delusion. If it is not, let's have some evidence--which is, by the way, not the same as more oblique criticism.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 02:25 PM

Come off it Ron. Don't start this "let's have some evidence" crap. This isn't a high school debate team!!

We all know that we are dealing with OPINIONS - yours included. None of us have hard facts, but we have experience. Calling an opinon "delusional" is more than just criticism - it is a vain attempt to make your opinion hold more weight than the opinion of others. If you wish to discuss points of your opinion, go right ahead - but don't try these personal attacks at those who disagree with you.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Tootler
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 02:53 PM

I am from the UK and as two other UK posters have said, RUS is not widely known here - or at least it is just one of many song books available.

It is not common in the UK to see published books at singarounds (which seem to our equivalent of your song circles) but personal song folders are common. I have come across some very good singers who feel the need to have the words to hand and I would rather hear them sing than be rigid about whether or not the words should be learnt.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 04:54 PM

Experienced singers and performers can learn songs pretty quickly, and they can also read lyric sheets and even musical scores in a way that raises the roof, or whatever you want.
Some of the classic recordings of "our" kind of music were made by people who were looking at the lyrics.

So forget all that stuff about the qualitative differences between booked and unbooked singing. Time to be honest and admit that it isn't about that.

This is about people who aren't experienced singers and performers, who can't learn songs quickly, who don't know the songs that "we" know, and who want to participate. And beyond that, it is about whether and how they should be included. And it is an important issue.

You can say that singing groups have been "taken over" by the RUS, or you can be a little more honest and say that the new people that have come in to the groups are not experienced singers, have had different interests and tastes than the older members, and RUS was a way to include them.

More truth here: every organization, be it singing, stamp collecting, chess playing, or whatever, loses members over time due to attrition--people move away, have family obligations, develop new interests--don't blame it all on the blue books--

One of those notorious 80/20 rules has to do with a healthy group/organization/community needing to be 80 percent old and 20 percent new.

It's pretty much true--if there are too many new people, the group loses it's direction, if there are too few, it gradually disappears. And more disappear than the other.

Bottom line here is that folk groups of all kinds are walking a tightrope risking either losing direction or disappearing with every step. It's a worthy discussion, and I don't think it's accidental that the folks who are here engaged have all contributed a lot to what we little folk scene that we have today.



















Not so with some of the other stuff


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 05:04 PM

Incidentally, I was one of those Philly folks, like Patrick Costello, who was very excited when Winds of the People originally appeared--it was hard to find lyrics then--

Now, we can look anything up on the internet, and I will not be surprised to see younger folks singing from their PDAs very soon. Not me though--I can't read anything that small.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 05:23 PM

The only people I've seen singing from PDAs have been middle-aged. The first one was a few years ago.

Any sightings of one of those ebook-reader doodads at a singaround?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 05:41 PM

Having 'The Words' IS OK for new songs , but kept as a reference - I dont lke to see ANYONE Singing at a book rather than to an audience !


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Leadfingers
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 05:41 PM

200


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 05:57 PM

happy?? :)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 06:00 PM

I think we'll see them soon. Perhaps someone already has one set up to read the words aloud, perhaps with a vocoder or some such thing, so that the boxes themselves could sing the songs--that would be something to be upset about!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 06:21 PM

So sorry, Ron O, that you can't come up with any evidence that RUS hymn sings in folk societies build community.

Not that surprising, however: the evidence is all on the other side.

Far from "building community", RUS hymn sings in folk societies tend, it seems, rather towards civil war in those societies.    It tends to aggravate the split between people--all in the "folk community" -- actually willing to learn songs and those who are not.   It does take effort to learn songs; it does take willingness to make it a priority. For whatever reason, it may not be a high priority for some. Totally understandable.   But please don't expect those of us for whom it is a priority to be content with the travesty of a singaround which an RUS session presents.

And if you want evidence of RUS use at folk society gatherings being a serious cause of friction, rather than "building community" in folk societies, take, for instance, the response in this thread--or any other on RUS.

RUS "building community" in folk societies, is, as I said, a delusion fondly held by some--with no evidence to back it up.

Unless you actually have some.

Still waiting.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: astro
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 06:52 PM

As a newbie, I need to find a method that works for me to learn songs. I can't hear the words well enough from singers to get the songs. A book is useful for doing that, but with the idea that I want to learn and just sing without the book.

It seems that we need to be reasonable. For newbies (or not well learned), it is proper to be sensitive and pass the lead to a more experienced singer. It is not too disruptive for a few to have a book to refer to as we learn with the idea that as a song is learned we leave behind the use of a book (until the next new one). It would not be reasonable to expect that all songs would be sung from the book at any session. Too prohibitive for the session and to experienced singers. In that case, the newbie (people like me) needs to listen and take as big a part as possible to the singing and just enjoy.

If places like the Getaway prohibits newbies and their crutches then it is destined to die. I would like to go sometime, I would hate to think that people who attend would not like my presence.

I say let's keep a sense of humor and pure enjoyment of this life we share. No more "jerk" calling, but rather enjoy the presence of experienced singers and be excited for new singers coming along. Patience and understanding, if anything, should be shown during these times we are sharing.

Astro (a newbie)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 07:05 PM

Hi..I am here at least for this thread and then will probably depart again, still disgusted over what I saw here a couple of months ago. Anyway, yes, it ruins ongoing song circles...add to that music camps. And I think the blame should mostly go to people who did not speak up right away, or put something in writing in newsletters, web sites etc, telling people that this ongoing group wants to do it this way, and setting up perhaps another parallel group on the same night that prefers to do it differently.

I think that group 1, which does not like the books, and I am a charter member, likes what good music sounds like. It is an auditory thing. Group two, which likes the books, either can not hear exactly, or has no history of hearing good music so they do not know, or other factors are more important, such as the sense of community they feel, the chance to get a turn (which really seems to drive a lot of people), the emotional high or low the get from the song, the historical aspects of it etc. But I truly think sound is not a high priority. The two groups are incompatible period, so quit beating around the bush and spending too much time being polite as you see the music being ruined, even as the other factors might very well be increasing. Help them set up their own group, do it however they like it, advertise it that way, tell them not to change just because some tells them soemthing else sounds better but refer them to the other group.

Same in camps. Oh the endless, monotonous song circles you can get these days. 80 people..one by one by one...singing essentially a solo. I counted how many songs I didn't want to hear before I got to a good one recently at a camp..it was in the dozens. I do not have the time, the energy, the money, the transportation, to participate in something like that. If it was next door...would I go to a RUS sing? Probably not. Definitely not more than 2 blocks away. Definitely not take a bus to one. Definitely not take a plane to one as a recetnly did, although it was not dominated by them, but they were there.

I do guirella??? tactics. I peak in the door. If they are there I am not. I would rather find two people who feel the same way and sing in a closet or a bathroom or wherever. I also hate the flourescent lights at some of these places, especially camps, and I find a direct correlation between blue books and inability to turn off a flourescent light. Also, direct correlation between liking to rigidly, endlessly into the night, take turns. So I just try for an alternative song circle with no turns, free for all, devil take the hindmost. Generally, you get the best music. it is not fair or democratic, but it sounds prettier. Lots of people do not seem to care if it sounds pretty or not and they seem happy, and I am glad to oblige them, doing the endless circle.

If I had opportunities every night of the week like people in Seattle or Portland do, and transportation that would allow me to get there (and leave) easily, it would be less of a cost/benefit analaysis and I would take more chances. But I can't and won't. Iw ould rather go to Safeway and read the movie magazines, which I do when I am in town.

I think if people are new to this, and have not heard the good singing that we are talking about, they won't understand and they are quite happy with what they have. That is great. Keep it, grow it, but don't bring down a good, long-standing group that knows what it is doing. That is what is not fair..when music is killed..not allowed to die a natural death, but killed for politeness sake.

And I personally do not understand why people have to sing all the words..they can hum, sing the choruses, etc. in the long-standing groups that prefer no group books (I always say individual papers or books OK, but no turn to page 37 and for God's sake, don't pass out extras..)In groups they ahve started or found that are compatible with their preferences, do it however you want. No one is going to come to your group (hopefully) and try to make you change it. But neither should you try to change ongoing ones, or ones that are set up in a special way. Like someone said, people who could sing in a great group way, quit coming. In camps they will sneak out to secret places and you won't know what you are missing. But I know what I am missing and I miss it and I think people should just be much more honest and direct about their preferences and set up basically separate groups...mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 08:11 PM

"So sorry, Ron O, that you can't come up with any evidence that RUS hymn sings in folk societies build community."

Oh Ron, you are such as sorry case.   Just read some of the comments from people like Janie and you will find your precious "evidence."


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 11:16 PM

C'mon, folks, let's not descend to the level of calling each other "pompous performers" and "jerks" and generally spitting at each other like pre-schoolers having a snit-fit.

Although slightly convoluted, Mary (mg) says a lot of good things just above. I first met Mary in the very early Seattle Song Circle meetings. And I like to hear Mary sing. Solo. She knows a lot of good songs and she sings them well.

####

An alternative fable:

Richard I, on his way back to England from the Third Crusade, is captured and held for ransom. He sits in a dungeon cell in despair. Suddenly, he hears a familiar voice outside the barred window. It is the voice of Blondel, the minstrel, singing a familiar song. Richard's heart beats faster. His friends are looking for him, so they can ransom him and he can return home to England! Hope bursts forth!

Blondel sings the first verse of a song that he and Richard often sang together, then he stops and waits. He waits for Richard to sing the second verse, the way they always do with this song. This is a message! If he hears a response, he will know for certain where Richard is being held and can carry the news to England.

But Richard doesn't have his copy of RUS with him! It was taken from him, along with his sword. He doesn't know the next verse without looking in the book!

Hearing nothing but the wind soughing through the trees, Blondel sighs and passes on, to continue his quest.

Richard's heart sinks into despair. And history is changed forever.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 12:43 AM

Nice ballad Don ... what key was it in? Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 03:37 AM

I'll say it again, in even simpler language: folk music isn't attracting large numbers of talented, motivated people these days.

Times and tastes are different, and folk music is the road less travelled(which kind of makes one wonder if it really is "the people's music" after all), and it is pretty easy to feel like the last straggler on the road.

The folks who do show up, books in hand, equipped with nothing more than a desire to sing are all you're going to get. Sorry if you're better and more experienced than they are, sorry if you prefer to sing with better singers--sorry if they want to use a book, and you don't want them to.

Bottom line is, it isn't the books, it's just the way things work.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:58 AM

It is all that people who prefer that style are going to get because others are not going to be there. And hopefully the ones that are there will enjoy themselves and prosper. But there will be a few dairymaids here and a few rugby stars there and there will be little enclaves of people who remember and one day it will come back...mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 12:34 PM

Mary's right again.

I believe it was Mark Twain who said, "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated."

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 12:58 PM

Mark Twain is still alive??????


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 12:58 PM

I've always thought that "it" would come back, but I've come to realize that my "it" was a very personal piece of a fleeting moment in time.

A lot of the things I was interested in have come and gone again, in different forms, and at different times.

I was thinking that they'd all show up at once again, in the same forms, not realizing that, even if they did, I wouldn't be twenty years old anymore, so I wouldn't experience them the same way.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 01:16 PM

Hi Mary, I hope to see you at Rainy Camp. Maybe we can get together with a few others and sing some songs without books or fluorescent lights.

We just had our annual New Year's Day music open house yesterday. About two dozen people, some musicians, some not. We had a great music circle with singers, listeners, and instruments including guitars, fiddles and a hammered dulcimer. We first went around the circle with whoever wanted to sing or play, some did, some didn't. Then it sort of opened up to whoever wanted to sing or play next because they had something to add to the mix. And it was a mix of songs, some solo, some with the whole group singing and instruments playing, and some just instrumental tunes. And not a book in sight.

Then at one point Bob (Deckman) got up and started to rehearse everyone in a simple, but yet complex song. First he got the bass line going with a repetitive verse. Then the others going with a complementary repeating verse and melody. Then everyone together. And it was fantastic - everyone was singing, musicians and non-musicians, singers and non-singers all together, and the whole room resounded in melody, harmony, and verse. Afterwords I turned to Bob and said "wow, and we did that without any blue books!" Now that's what a music circle should be.

It was a great way to begin a new year.

Happy New Year everyone!

Cheers, S. in Seattle
make that Singing in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 01:37 PM

OY!

I sure wish I could have been there, Stew!

We had our Christmas party on New Years Day, postponed because most of our guests couldn't make it on Christmas because they were snowed in. We ate like little piggies and had much good conversation (seven women and me!)

But it looks like I missed a great song fest!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 01:43 PM

I think it's a good idea to have existing singing communities print up their own song lyrics in a book form. It doesn't have to be "pro".

Each singing group likes its own songs. RUS serves as a model.

I also think it would be useful to have songs categorized. Not all folks like to sing just
folk songs. (Whatever they are).

Where Mary and I sing every Thursday, they like a variety of songs. Many remember songs from the past that they used to hear on the radio.

Sometimes a conversation will trigger a song. We go into it. Other times, we look at
lyrics for reference on some songs.

When people know how to contribute to a singing session, it doesn't matter whether
there are song books or not.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 03:02 PM

I like your approach, Frank-- those half-forgotten songs from the radio are often the best--


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 03:38 PM

Just for the edification of any leftpondians who might be curious:

We don't have RUS in the UK, but we do have some widely used songbooks. In Scotland the ones you see most often are:

- The Scots Folksinger (ed. Norman Buchan and somebody else)
- Soodlum's Irish Ballads (4 booklets)
- Songs and Ballads Popular in Ireland (3 or 4 booklets)

The first two are fine and I've used them myself. I've once seen Cathal McConnell singing out of the last one. Personally I don't have any use for it.

Maybe the Penguin Book of English Folksongs is about as popular south of the border.

But NOBODY sings in chorus to any of these, nor would you ever expect to see more than one copy open at a time. If people have books with them, nearly always they'll be folders of personal selections.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 05:19 PM

DON ... Seven wimmen and YOU!!!! I'll bet you didn't any any book either! Bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 05:35 PM

In a post on December 31st, I said I would do a little blurb on how to memorize songs for those who don't know how to go about it. At least this is the way I do it.

Learning—memorizing—songs:

Usually, what attracts me to a song in the first place is hearing it. I have learned a few songs straight from song books (I can read dots), but very few indeed. Usually this happens when I read the words in, say, Lomax's Folk Songs of North America, they appeal to me for some reason, then I dope out the melody and proceed to learn the song.

But my usual method is to learn them from records. I play the record repeatedly while I scribble down the words. This takes several playings. I try to write down the first line of each verse the first time through, the second line the second time through, and so on. By the time I have the words written down, the tune is pretty well lodged in my ear.

Or if I learn a song from someone in person, I get the words from them (they write me out a copy or dictate them to me) and then they sing me through the tune until I have it securely in my ear. I learned a lot of songs from Walt Robertson and others this way. Or they have learned songs from me this way.

This is an important part of the "folk process." Learning songs from records is the folk process one step removed.

What I do then (and not necessarily in the same sequence each time) is "vocalize" the tune:   sing it through on one vowel ("ah" or "oh"), or just hum it, until I'm sure I have it. At the same time, I set the key for my voice. I carry one of those round "Master Key Chromatic Pitch Instruments" made by the Wm. Kratt Co. around with me (chromatic pitch pipe) – CLICKY #1 – and as I experiment with the tune and find my comfortable range, I check with the pitch pipe to see where I am, then figure out what key is most comfortable for my voice.

Way back, I would carry the words I had copied down around with me, folded up in a shirt pocket. I'd try to sing the song in my head (sometimes aloud, if I was alone), going as far as I could, then when I got stuck, pull out the sheet and look at it, then continue until I got stuck again. About the fourteenth or fifteenth song I learned that way was twenty-seven verses of adultery, blood, and gore:   "Little Mattie Groves."

I found that one thing that tended to work reasonably well was putting the subconscious on the job. While lying in bed, just before going to sleep, I would sing the song in my head, again going as far as I could. If I got stuck, I would skip to the next verse I remembered. I'd do this maybe a couple two or three times before I drifted off to sleep. Sometimes in the morning, it was all there. Or I knew what lines I needed to work on.

I can learn a new song in two or three days by following this procedure. Then, what I need to do is sing it over and over until it is thoroughly filed in my memory.

Some of the first songs I learned ("Greensleeves," "Blue Mountain Lake," "Drill, Ye Tarriers," "High Barbaree," "The Golden Vanity") I will never forget, even if I haven't sung some of them for years.

While all this is going on, I pull out the guitar and work out the accompaniment. Chords first. The basic, necessary chords. I sing the song (or at least vocalize the tune), strumming the chords of key I now know fits my voice. When I have the essential chord changes worked out, if the song seems to call for it, I start playing with alternate chord possibilities ("Okay, I'm three measures on a C major there. How would it sound to stick an A minor in there before going to the F?"). Experiment. At first I just strum chords. Once I have them set, I tinker with right hand patterns, beginning with a simple "Burl Ives basic," then try various picking patterns. Arpeggio? What kind? Mix it up? "Lullaby lick?" Alternate bass finger-picking? Or would it be better just to stick with "Burl Ives basic?" Then maybe work out bass runs, a little between-verse bit of the tune, and so on, depending on what seems appropriate to song itself.

Remembering that an accompaniment that's too flashy can distract and detract from the song itself. Not good!

By the way, I know all the chord families and such (a couple years of music theory classes), but for anyone who might need some help, this gadget would probably prove quite useful:    CLICKY #2.

Then—the original word sheet that I copied from the record goes into a file. These days, I type in into the computer. First verse and chorus double-spaced with chord symbols above the appropriate words, the rest single-spaced (usually 12 point Georgia, which I find easy to read), with notes about the song (Child ballad? Where did it come from and what is it about, when and where I first heard it and learned it, what song books or records I have that it's on, etc.) in Georgia 11 point type, at the bottom if there's room or on the back if not. If the song is long, a second page of course—or if the lines are short, I might do two columns.

I keep the file on the computer (backed up, of course), print out a copy, three-hole punch it, and put it into a three-ring binder.

Which I use for reference or to refresh my memory when needed—and which I leave at home.

By the way, once I have a song learned, I record it a few times (cassettes awhile back, but now onto a ZOOM H2 digital recorder, which I then download into the computer) and play it back for and self-criticism and analysis.

Learning songs involves exerting enough effort to engage a few brain cells. It doesn't take that much time, and it ain't that hard. And you don't have to be a member of the idle rich. And once you've got it, you may need to refresh your occasionally (that's what the three-ring binder sitting on your desk or in your bookcase is for), but you've got it.

Bon appetite.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 05:38 PM

Yup! Seven lovely, charming ladies. No books necessary. All from memory!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 07:34 PM

"Or if I learn a song from someone in person, I get the words from them (they write me out a copy or dictate them to me) and then they sing me through the tune until I have it securely in my ear. I learned a lot of songs from Walt Robertson and others this way. Or they have learned songs from me this way.

This is an important part of the "folk process." Learning songs from records is the folk process one step removed."

Your mention of the "folk process" prompted me to read a passage from Pete Seeger's book "The Incompleat Folksinger". In a section describing "the folk process" he referred to it as a stream in motion- you cannot truly examine a brook by "freezing" it or taking a pail of water - you have to watch the entire stream to see where and how it flows if you wish to build a bridge across it.

Pete also talked about how a play was different in Shakespeare's time from what we consider a play today. He talked about television and radio and how they influence our views - "if a sophisticated urbanite tries to consciously reject these influences, he usually ends up looking and sounding more precious and effected than if he'd gone ahead and been normally jazzy".

I've always felt that the "oral transmission" part of the definitition is misleading and not fully recognizing the "stream". We've had a huge communications revolution in the last 100 years that has become part of our lifestyle and it effects our traditions.

Memory is a great thing, but memory is a reflection of our environment.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 07:51 PM

I certainly agree that we've had a revolution in communication. At the same time, I'm often amused at how frequantly I find myself hunkered down in some public hall, using a folding theatre chair as a table, and either scribbling out song words for someone, or receiving song words from someone.

The tradition keeps moving on ... ever changing, yet moving on just the same. bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 08:10 PM

True - but 100 years ago people were not even writing down songs! That was the realm of collectors!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 08:14 PM

Hey ... I WAS THERE A HUNDRED YEARS ... i think? bob


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 08:36 PM

People learn and remember in different ways, and some people have difficulty with memorization. So your response is that anyone who can't memorize the same way you do is just not welcome in your singing group? You have no space for someone who loves to sing but lacks the capacity or, in this busy world, the time to memorize songs? How does this compare to the aforementioned "twerp" who refuses to countenance a song or verse that "isn't in the book?"


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 10:49 PM

Ron, people have been writing down songs for a helluva lot longer than 100 years.
There's nothing fundamentally wrong with a songbook. There is something wrong with limiting what a group does to what's "in the book". At singarounds I've attended (only once each, though) each song was prefaced by a page number announcement; alternate or addition verses were the objects of attack, and even questions like "what key are we doing this in?" were answered by what it said in the Blue Bible.

There's really more to music than having a group sing in (hopefully) unison with their eyes glued to a page.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:04 PM

"Ron, people have been writing down songs for a helluva lot longer than 100 years. "

Of course. I did not write that correctly - what I was trying to say was that people were not transmitting songs in a written fashion as a rule. Certainly collectors and others were writing down songs, but the "oral tradition" that everyone discusses signifies that songs were learned by word of mouth - in community life, work, etc. Those events were far different than what we are discussing as "sings".

So if we all agree that there is "more" to music than singing in a book - what about events like Sacred Harp? It is not the same as a sing, BUT there is a purpose that is very similar.

While I agree with everyone who says that a "book" should not be a bible, we are still only hearing opinions about the so-called "problems" with using books.   On the other hand, we have also heard a number of statments from people who do use books and find it helpful to overcome lack of knowledge about the songs, shyness, forgetfullness, etc.   It still boils down to everyone having the option to do their own thing.

Dick, I do agree with you and others who have attended sessions where the book is the only item used and the rules are set. Those events serve a different purpose and you and the rest do not belong there.

By the way - some people have been referring to the blue book as "the bible". When you think about it, even the New and Old Testament Bible is argued about and interpreted in different ways by different groups. Hopefully there is room for everyone to do as they please and not worry so much about what the other group is doing.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:04 PM

it isn't one person who is the problem. It is a critical mass of people or the tipping point or whatever. I think we all have the desire to be polite to that one individual who sings off key or songs we don't like or whatever. But then are 4 and then 7 and then 10 and in inverse proportion people leave. The tipping point was long ago reached in many groups. It is not their fault..they don't know...and people will leave the group rather than bring up the subject of the elephant with the blue book in the living room. No one begrudges them their own song circles or groups where they set it up exactly like they like it and others are free to join them or set up something else entirely again.    mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:19 PM

First post after thread began:

Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Animaterra - PM
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 08:19 AM

Whatever its flaws, it serves a vital purpose and has been a marvelous tool to get people singing! Thanks for the link, Peter!

Allison


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Second post:

Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49 - PM
Date: 26 Dec 08 - 10:02 AM

The problem with RUS is not the book but more in the way it came to be used. The bible has the same problem. Its used by Episcopalians and Fundamentalists alike but in one case it is THE ONE AND ONLY LAW and the other more of a suggestion.{:<)))

Getting folks singing is good.......No room for interpretation is bad.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:19 PM

Ron-
Actually, the folk have been writing down songs for a long long time--for personal use, rather than for publication. Sarah Cleveland had an extensive collection; words were written down in sailor's logbooks and the Appalachian collectors frequently noted that their sources used written-down words (As I recall, Jean Thomas called them "Song Ballets"

Sacred Harp singing --a rigidly arranged choral style-- and hymn singing are, really, qualitatively different from folk song gatherings. Or at least they used to be.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:20 PM

"I think we all have the desire to be polite to that one individual who sings off key or songs we don't like or whatever. But then are 4 and then 7 and then 10 and in inverse proportion people leave."

You are describing ANY social group, it doesn't matter about the song. Insert "off key", "songs we don't like", or "the blue book" and you can find a reason to not wish to participate. Sure, these reasons may have some validity to a group - but again it comes back to the purpose of the group.   You say that they can set up "their own song circles or groups where they set it up exactly like they like it and others are free to join them or set up something else entirely again" - well, that is what happened to your group because no one wished to discuss it. The group was set up exactly the way they like it, and no one else raised their voice.

The "critical mass" IS the group.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:26 PM

Very good point Dick, you are correct and I was wrong in my earlier statement. Your mention of Sarah Cleveland got me to thinking about other families such as the Coppers who wrote down books and I am also recalling other families whose family notebooks were sought after by collectors.

I do agree that Sacred Harp is a very rigid style, but the emotions generated and purpose of the gatherings are very similar to folk sings in a social sense.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: astro
Date: 02 Jan 09 - 11:32 PM

Don,

Thanks for your recipe for learning songs. As a newbie, any advice is helpful, especially helpful advice! Thanks for your post. I'll use it not only with singing but with my beginning mandolin.

Thanks again, Don

Astro


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: artbrooks
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 12:10 AM

I guess that the conclusion is that some people like it, some people hate it and some people think it is an acceptable, if maybe less than desirable, alternative. However, many of you are speaking from places where there are alternatives - as in, "the 2nd Friday group uses the Blue Book, so I'll skip that and go to the 3rd Saturday group". Consider yourselves part of the lucky minority. Here in Albuquerque, there is one...count 'em, one...song circle. RUS is heavily, but not exclusively, used. I doubt that 25% of the people there know everything they sing/lead well enough to do so without a cheat sheet of some kind. BUT, they are having fun singing together. It beats singing in the shower by a good deal. If I were the sort of person who casts aspersions at others, I might be tempted to say something like "elitist snobs", but I'm not so I won't.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 09:30 AM

"...a sorry case".    Right.   There seem to be some people here who have a vehement dislike to being asked for evidence--for anything. They are also the people who defend the use of RUS in folklore society singarounds, on the basis that it "builds community"--despite the copious evidence on this thread and others was that the main result of such use is to drive the better singers away from folklore society singarounds.

I went to a fabulous music party on New Years eve. We sang and played virtually nonstop from about 9 to 2--while also eating and drinking. "Pompous performers"?---not likely. The general theme was C & W--but we sang anything we felt like--starting with "White Christmas" and "Blue Christmas" and including "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian". "Pretty Boy Floyd", "Palms of Victory", "Bottle of Wine", as well as a boatload of C & W including "Crystal Chandeliers", "Before the Ring on Your Finger Turns Green", "Yard Sale", and a big bunch more. We had an autoharp, a ukulele, basses, a viola, and some excellent guitarists.

One of the many reasons the party was a smash was that RUS was nowhere in evidence.

We actually knew what we were doing--and if somebody forgot a verse, nobody cared. We helped each other out with words from time to time. We laughed, talked, teased each other--in general a fantastic time.


Similarly, one of the reasons the Getaway is a rousing success is that it is not an RUS singaround. If it were, that would kill it faster than anything.

The use of that book at a singaround is far more pernicious than a personal little book of lyrics or a sheet with a few cue words---and for the reason I cited---that it makes it far too easy for the singer to make no effort to actually learn a song--and still expect the group to sing it.

And, as has been indicated, we who oppose RUS in singarounds do not call the other side "jerks", just deluded.   Chamberlain was not a jerk when he came back from Munich with "Peace In Our Time"---but he was deluded.



I suspect that even in Albuquerque good music is being made.   But it is being made outside of RUS singarounds.

It depends on what you are content with. If you are content with what comes out of an RUS singaround, that's fine. More power to you.

But those of us who like music--and are serious enough about it to want to make our own music--do not want RUS brought to our groups.

There is ample evidence that RUS use in singarounds does nothing but dumb down the experience--by driving the better musicians away.

Even when the RUS singaround is "successful", it may not be due to the book.   At one gathering I go to in PA which is a "successful" RUS singaround, the success is due to one person who is not only an excellent guitarist, but willing to lead every song if need be. Without him, the singaround would immediately collapse. And you can bet he does not need the book.

In fact I taught that group a song they still love--long before RUS even appeared on the scene.   The song is now in the book--but nobody needs the book to sing it, obviously.

It seems fairly obvious that people who actually sing and play --and have experienced both RUS-dominated sings and those without RUS-- may possibly know more about
this topic than somebody, who, for instance, just runs his own radio program.

And again, as I've said before, nobody on this thread thinks RUS is a bad book.   It is fine for the use described in the opening article--to introduce kids to "folk music" in a very broad sense--at home.

Or for adults to use as one of many sources---at home.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 09:45 AM

Well these people that don't like people like me that uses songbooks and songsheets, well why don't you start up a session and make it quite clear that you can only join if you don't use any form of musicbooks/songsheets and let the rest of us enjoy ourselves because in time you will be lonely.

because hardly anyone will come to your 'sessions'


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 09:56 AM

Ron Davies - you are putting up a smokescreen and trying to turn this personal. I have given as much "evidence" as you have to support your opinion. To everyone reading this thread it looks like you are ignoring "evidence" that doesn't support your opinion and trying to insult those who do not agree with you. There is no need to call us "delusional".


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:07 AM

Fine. So let's have that "evidence"--that RUS use at folklore society singarounds "builds community".   That is the question.

Direct quotes please---not links.

And this is not "personal"--any defender of RUS use at singarounds is welcome to answer.


I can tell you that such use in the FSGW singaround has resulted in a huge dropoff in quality. And even people who still go to such meetings--like Bill D--confirm this.

But again, I am certainly not trying to suppress such use of RUS--by anybody who is content with that experience. I am just pointing out it does not "build community" in folklore societies.   And people who think it does are deluding themselves. Sorry if RUS advocates don't like that term.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:29 AM

Ron D. - as I said before, read some of the posts on this very thread. That is the answer. IF you need some guidance, may I recommend posts from Janie, Goatfell, Joe Offer's description of the Sacramento Song Circle, Ref, Mted and others.   Even some of the people who are arguing against the use of the book (Don and Barry) mention song circles that use them, but have been going on for decades! How can a song circle survive for so long if NO ONE is enjoying it?

You are the one who is being delusional if you are ignorning all this "evidence". Sheesh. Lighten up. This is supposed to be a discussion, not a high school debate.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM

1) Direct quotes, please.

2)   If you read the same posts, you find admissions of lousy musical experiences. Nowhere near as likely without RUS.

3) Since the better musicians are driven away by RUS, the experience without them is likely to be inferior to a session with such musicians.


If you have never been to a session full of very talented people who were only too willing to share--as used to be the norm in FSGW sessions--you do not have enough data to comment with credibility. And I suspect this is the case.

I remember sitting at the feet of wonderful singers and instrumentalists at FSGW sessions.   With RUS, that will never happen again--since they just don't attend.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:46 AM

Obviously, there are some good singers and players who attend--like Bill D. But I suspect that for them the FSGW session is not the priority it once was.

And that is directly traceable to RUS use.

Scads of good music is still being made--just not at RUS singarounds.

There is still a vibrant "folk community". But whereever there are other options, RUS is not involved.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:56 AM

"whereever people have better options"--and in fact that's everywhere. Just sitting on your porch and inviting a few people over is better than singing out of RUS--unless you are content with the RUS experience.

And the better musicians--which are the foundations of any folk community-- are never content with RUS sessions.

So RUS "building community" is a complete canard.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 10:59 AM

Ron D - your opinion has been noted. I have submitted your "evidence" and you have submitted yours. I disagree with you, and so do others.

I've never said that RUS should be the sole source at sings, and I think it you really look for "evidence", you will find these sings are few and far between - and, they are not meant for people like you.    The book does serve a very good purpose and you are being delusional if you question that.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:05 AM

"And the better musicians--which are the foundations of any folk community-- are never content with RUS sessions."

No, "better musicians" are the foundations of a performing community. Folk music is sung in homes, at work and play. Folk music is not an exhibition, except since the "folk revival" where it was altered. The song circles that we are talking about found their roots then, and they continue to evolve. Yes, some now use books - hopefully not as the sole source. Hopefully people can begin singing without crutches again, but I pity those who feel a need to rally against it to satisfy some sort of issue they are having.


"So RUS "building community" is a complete canard."

Obviously your opinion has been shown to be false based on a number of posts and experiences shared on this thread.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:08 AM

"build community", specifically in folklore societies. I can certainly imagine RUS builds community in nursing homes, kids camps' and similar situations.   That is not the question.

Yet again, RUS is a fine book. Just not in folklore society singarounds.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:13 AM

"Yet again, RUS is a fine book. Just not in folklore society singarounds. "

As a blanket statement covering every "folklore society" sing, I do not think it is fair to say that.

If he folklore society can run it without it being used, fine. If they are able to encourage others and make them feel comfortable, fine.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:16 AM

If you do not think better musicians are the foundation of a folk community, you are, yet again, and unsurprisingly, deluding yourself yet again--and I'd hate to attend any gathering sponsored by you.

It's touching how you think "folk music is sung in homes" answers any question. Na und? Nice try in distraction. I have more than once pointed out it's great RUS is used in homes. That is not the issue.

The question is a very narrow one.   Does RUS use in folklore society singarounds help or hurt those singarounds?

The answer is obvious--and for the reasons I and others have stated.

No surprise you refuse to admit it.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: goatfell
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM

so much for encouraging new people to sessions and clubs, by saying that they are not allowed to bring their songbooks/songsheets, well if you don't like it then don't come.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:28 AM

Well, it was an interesting discussion until you resorted to these tactics Ron D.

I think you need to define what you consider "folk community".

To answer your question, the use of RUS in folklore society singagrounds neither helps or hurts the event. The answer is obvious for the reasons that I and others have stated.   No surprise that YOU refuse to admit it.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 01:10 PM

Still as stubborn as ever.   And to top it off, you RUS defenders don't seem to have heard of the concept of mentoring.   If you drive your mentors away, which you do by RUS hymn sings, who will teach tips on playing and singing, put in verses not in "the book", etc.?
As I said, the foundation of any folk community is people who know what they are doing--and are willing to teach and share it.

They will not be attracted by RUS mumbling of the 7th and 8th verses of "This Land is Your Land"--nor will they stay if RUS is the centerpiece of your singaround.

Somehow, I suspect people who don't realize this don't actually sing or play. Who knows, maybe they just spin records.

Though some DJ's--like Dick Spottswood--would back my views to the hilt.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 01:11 PM

Ron Davies--

I'm glad I wasn't at your New Years Eve party--sound like no one knew anything that had more than three chords--

And, with the exception of "White Christmas", put all those songs together and you still wouldn't have had one good melody--

And nothing with any beat to it, let alone any swing. Even cockroaches die on a diet of white bread--

Any decent guitarist would have left the room screaming after five minutes.

And to use the words "serious music" any where near the words "autoharp" and "ukulele", well...

And I'm sorry, but where does folk music come in? Anyone who knew or loved folk music would have spent the evening vomiting in the bathroom.

And I'm sorry, but you where was the real Hawai'ian music?--there's a ton of of good Hawaiian music out there, and all you know is one racially offensive John Prine song--Next you're going to be singing, "I'm Kumonawannalaya"--

Maybe the reason that "talented" people don't go to FSGW events anymore is that they were weirded out because you were obsessed with their feet--

And speaking of FSGW, maybe people just got tired of hearing the same songs that they'd been hearing since the year one-

Sung by people who hadn't changed their clothes since the year one-

But seriously, I've seen better dressed people begging for drug money at the bus station-

Do you want to know why people started using Rise Up Singing at folk events?

Cause finally, someone said, "If I I hear "Mattie Groves" one more time, you'll end up like Mattie Groves."

Badda-bing.


All in meant in good fun, of course--and submitted just to show that no matter how good you are, someone can find something to take a shot at, if they have a mind to--without even mentioning Neville Chamberlain.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 01:31 PM

"I'm glad I wasn't at your New Years Eve party--sound like no one knew anything that had more than three chords--"

I was NOT at that gathering, but I'd guess I know most of who was....and they know a lot more than that! *grin*

(yes, I'm still sorta following this discussion, though I can't say I can add much more.)

I was at a smaller party, where we did sing a bit...(I only did one..."Oak & Ash & Thorn"...and a few odd little things when my memory was stirred)....but no one even thought of using a book, and the only paper was when someone was begged to repeat the "Obama's Irish" parody.

Last night was the Open Sing, and I was tired and stayed home....and I really didn't have a good song on the topic (Dreams & Dreaming)...but my wife went and they had a good time.

.....all I can say is that it seems to me that singing goes better when folks are more familiar with what they are singing. If most are NOT, it can get really, really tedious. Everyone had a different 'threshold of pain' for the situation, and they have to choose.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 02:28 PM

Ron Davies' description at 03 Jan 09 - 09:30 a.m. was also a pretty good description of the kind of song fests we have around here, but we're probably more into traditional songs and less C&W. But whatever turns your crank. And there are no copies of RUS or any other song books in evidence. This is not a rule. It's that nobody wants to use them except to learn songs from—and then they put them back on the shelf. Everybody is singing from memory, and if anyone is using song sheets or notes, it certainly isn't evident. If someone blows a verse, as Ron D. said, nobody cares, and someone will probably feed them the next line.

And sometimes it turns into a belly laugh. Once, Walt was singing "The Fox" and apparently got distracted somehow. He woke up singing "He ran till he came to—?" What? "Great big pen?" Or "his cozy den?" He didn't know where he was in the song. "And here I sit," he said, "with the words all dangling down-o!" Everybody wound up rolling on the floor, laughing.

The group I speak of consists of a bunch of people, a few left who were going to similar song fests ("hoots") in the early 1950s and who are still at it, plus an accumulation of many new people over the decades. Not to mention the offspring of some of the originals. Some have sung professionally, some still are singing professionally, some just sing for fun, and some folks are newbies in various stages of development. The full spectrum of ambitions and abilities. These are not formal, scheduled meetings. No dues, no Bored of Directors, no minutes, and no planned structure. We just get together and sing. And except for the occasional times when the host may invite specific people and only those people (a special event or limited space), these song fest are pretty much open to anyone who is interested. Newbies are definitely welcome.

We do not sit around in a circle, we grab a chair or sit on the floor (the host doesn't need to rearrange the furniture or rent a bunch of folding chairs), and we don't sing in any kind of strict rotation. But nobody gets shoved into a corner and ignored, and nobody takes over and dominates. We want to sing, but we also want to hear others sing. Some people don't necessarily want to sing, they're there to listen and enjoy. But usually several times in the afternoon or evening, someone will ask them, "Hey, Nancy, you got anything?" And if Nancy wants to sing, she does; if not, she doesn't. Everybody there gets a chance.

Limiting what we do to sitting around singing out of RUS or any other song book would kill these song fests.

And Ref, no one would bar you from these song fests or make you feel unwelcome. But you might feel a bit uncomfortable singing with your nose in a book while everyone else is singing from memory. Including the ten-year-old boy who just did a bravura rendition of "The Rhyme of the Chivalrous Shark"—from memory.

Ref, you may not have a tenacious memory, and that's too bad. But as far as time is concerned, it takes less than half an hour to copy the words from a record. Sometimes you don't need to write down the words, because you have that song, compete with words, in a song book. But I find that the act of writing the words helps to learn the song. And the rest of learning the song occurs at times when you are not involve in anything that needs your attention, such as riding to work on the bus or sitting in the dentist's waiting room.

Have you tried any of the things I suggest at 02 Jan 09 - 05:35 p.m.? Particularly the bit about trying to recite the words to a song, or sing it in you head while you're lying in bed waiting to fall asleep? It works. Granted, it may not work for you, but have you even tried it?

And Ref, this is not directed at you, it's a general statement. But I have generally noted that if someone is really interested in something, no matter how busy their lives might be, they will find the time.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 03:47 PM

Yeah, well, maybe we'd best wrap this up with a hearty "To each is own!" You're entitled to your groups and me to mine, and it looks like the twain are not destined to meet any time soon.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 03:49 PM

Fair enough.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 03:49 PM

Here's a relatively new verse to one of everyone's favorite John Prine songs. It's on his the album, "More of the Same" from a few years back.

Dear Abby, Dear Abby,
please tell me what cooks
the hooters at hoots
are all singing from books
The strummers can't strum
cause they don't know the chords
And when I start off Lord Randall
they all just look bored
Signed, Folksinger

Folksinger, folksinger, you have no complaint
You are what you are and you ain't what you
ain't
So listen up buster and listen up good
Stop wishin' for bad luck and knockin' on
wood


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:16 PM

Whoa, I just got back from a shanty blast that was a benifit fund raiser in support of the Mystic Sea Music Festival. It was heaven! Really, a cloud pleaser, a walk on the wild side. Not a piece of paper to be seen or read from. Not everyone lead but as far as I could tell everyone sang, at least a couple hundred of them. You don't need a memory to sing on choruses for shanties. They were sung on ships that shipped crews that sounded & looked like the United Nations, the langauges spoken were many, the surrounding sounds of a working ship & nature was in constant comptation with the vocal sounds of the seamen at work, who by the way were not singers by a far stretch, they were songs by their natural work related form created to be simple & clear. By the 3rd verse most caught on to the chorus (by the 4th chorus of almost anything you should have at least some of it down), so anyone can sing at bookless singarounds & even if they get a little complicated it's not all that hard if the song gets sung at a few rounds. I sometimes start off with a chorus & repeat it if I don't think it's being caught, I have to be carefull with my thick Boston accent. There were no turns, it was a free for all though before it was finished the spokesperson asked 3 different times "was there anyone who hasn't yet lead a song & that wants to"? By the end there were no takers left. No you wouldn't want to bring out a book at a session like this, the songs are sung hard & strong & when you get better than 200 voices joining in on the song you want to make sure 'you know what they're singing cuz you're leading them & if they stray you need to pull them along & if they're gonna pull you, you can bet it won't be in the direction you were going, so you had better know your song well enough that you don't need no stinking book.

Now to the Ron's. Yes book singing does nothing to build a singing society, IMHO it will stunt it's growth if not kill it. I've seen, known & heard of a number of vibrant song societies that when RUS came along they never were the same & they never recovered & got back to the point where they flowed & they swayed, where they sang & they partied, where they kidded each other & laughed at themselves & each other. I keep going to some sings that have been carrying on for decades just to see if they've changed & they haven't. Just because they continue only means thatthe beginners are satisfied with staying beginners & anyone that moves on moves out. So these sings stay at a constent plateau, if you put a heart monitor on them you'd get a dead line. No joking, very litle info on the song & where it came from, It's background cuz all you need to know is in the book. No tossing in different verses from different versions cuz all you need & want is right there in the book. No sense trying it with a varition to the tune cuz the only tune you all need is already there as well as the cords so you don't even need to pitch it to your own voice, it's all laid out for you nice, neat & cozy. God forbid that someone sing something Sean Nos, how would you get those voice reflection written into the book.
I've had performers that because they performed for a society feel obligated to attend that society's sing & was told at a different singing session that they'd never perform for that society again because they feared that they'd have to attend another book sing & they wouldn't face that again, even for pay.
A book sing does most definitly drive a higher level of singer into the arms of a beast. It's not a problem in places like San Francisco, Boston, Settle, Austin, Toronto, Chicago, LA (I can only speak for cities that I know of & not of places overseas) but in the more rural areas it's had on those singers that want more than just a low level book-in. Yes, they go to houses & backrooms, they go where they can. They didn't learn their craft in a book sing at someone's home at the foot of a book singer, you don't learn anying that artistic at the foot of a booker, you have to go out & do as they do, you learn from them that already learnt. A beginner teaching a beginner is the same as the blind leading the blind. Go get a dog you're better off learning how to howl from your heart at least you'd be as good as the dog & who else could do it better?
If someone had pulled out a book this afternoon they would have killed that sing dead in it's track, it probably would have picked right back up & recovered but if it happened a few times the place would've emptied out. Even those that were beginners would've been disappointed, they came to sing with those that could & would, to hear those they they could enjoy & join, they came to be apart of what was happening to be emergied & engulfed in a "social event" that was 'musical', not a "social event" that was 'verbal'. I don't care if people drown in RUS or if it spreads like a field on fire, maybe some of the folks will get past the book & go further but if they can't get past that or they don't want to go further, great, just don't try & bring them to where they're "not needed", keep them in their proper place. "A place for everything & everything in it's place"!

Now that comment above about folk singing being learned at home or in neighbor's homes. As far as I have known this was usually done, depending on your local, in kitchens or on porches, done by rural folks & city folk but I can't for the life of me ever recall any mention of book learning being part of the social equation. What I mostly hear of is it being passed on over time from the older to the younger, being passed down in families, at least in the living tradition. Now if we're talking about a dead tradition RUS would be what I'd think of immediately.

Like Mg, Ron & others, if I see a couple RUS's in sight, I'm not even gonna enter the room, no I'm not a song snob as anyone on mudcat can attest to that's knows me. I love to see songs get passed on to newbie's & beginners as well as seeing songs make the rounds among the good singers too but what I love to see & hear the most is young people learning to fly, getting their wings, having fun right from the start & never looking back. Bill D & Rita's Darrel (as well as Rita too), I've watched from going to the Getaways. He was sproutting his wings there & then started leading off a few songs at different workshops, then he was off & running, he's taken lead in a few workshops, that's a wonderful thing. We had a late teen (I think he's still a teen) at the shanty blast who joined his father & another adult singer, the 3 sang harmonies on the verses while everyone joined in on the choruses but he was great. He's been singing with his mother & father for some time now but his ear in amazing for finding & keeping harmonies. His mind is like a song trap, he remebers eveyone's songs. He popped in this afternoon with the words to a verse I was missing/fogeeting while singing but back to the point, he learned within ear shot/range of other singers & he'll be one who will continue the song sessions (I doubt you'll ever hear or see him at a book session). Watching kids like this take over is what makes it best for me. If his parents sang from books,,,,,,,,,,
Anyway, if RUS had been were I was when I was learnig to sprout wings I would never have even bothered to flap & the shame of it is that RUS is where I learnt to flap my wings & now it's a sad thing to see that they can't even keep any flegglings besides those with a broken wing cuz they have no need to fly. They have no disire to flap, they are happy enough to stay in the nest & be force fed. Well, each to their own, I guess, stay happy.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 03 Jan 09 - 11:34 PM

I feel that everyone is sharing their same opinions over and over again. each of us convinced that we have the "facts" when all we have are observations and our own views.   We are also misinterpreting each others comments - or choosing to twist words to fit a point.

My only hope is that if some "newbie" reads this post and feels that they need to pick up a copy of RUS, they will. There is nothing evil about the book, it is a good resource and you will learn from it. Do you need it at a session? Perhaps not, but if you do choose to take it, I hope that you won't be given a cold shoulder or looked down upon. I do hope you will learn from others as well and find the passion that a couple of the posters (Barry, Don) have shown. It is admirable and their involvement with the music is to be admired.   While I disagree with their positions, I do hope they will inspire others to sing.

If there are newbies to Mudcat that were unfortunate enough to choose this thread to read as their introduction to this website, I hope you won't be discouraged. The petty bickering, name calling and childish behavior witnessed here is not the norm. (Yes, I fault myself for participating in some of those unfortunate antics.)

The important thing to see is that everyone has a passion about THEIR style of music and THEIR community. It is also YOUR community. Enjoy it to the fullest and sing for the song, not for the expectation of others.   You aren't performing and it doesn't matter if you are strong or just mouth the words - get out their and experience the joy of singing.

Ref summed it up best - "to each their own".


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:46 AM

No question who called the other side "jerks"--and who said "different strokes for different folks" over and over.

And anybody who thinks you can drive your mentors away--which is exactly what a RUS-centered sing does---- and still have a vibrant folk society--is, yet again, deluding themselves.

As Mr. Gore says, an inconvenient truth.

I don't claim to be one of the people with the most information and tips to dispense to new folkies--but I can tell you that if you drive away Barry, Don, and Bob Deckman, among many others, you will be driving away some of your best mentors. And that is exactly what you do with a RUS-centered sing.

Anybody who thinks our gatherings in the DC area--outside the RUS-polluted FSGW open sing--are a bunch of preening performers--has never been to one.   It's a bunch of people making good music and having a whale of a time while doing it.

And anybody who objects to 3 or 4 chord music obviously doesn't like country music. Fine. But I also suspect that that person, in addition to being a snob, is not a very good singer. C& W gives a great opportunity for harmony, both vocal and instrumental. My wife and I sing country duets. Also, it's great fun--and well appreciated--to throw in harmonies, vocal and instrumental. Which elementary music theory--of which I suspect the above-named snob is blissfully ignorant-- makes easy.

As to just 3 or 4 chord music being played at our New Years eve party--not likely. There are some really talented jazz players who come to those gatherings and steer the music in that direction. At least one of the pieces was DJango Reinhardt--I just don't know the name. And there were some real Hawaiian pieces, again whose names I don't know.

As usual, somebody who puts down a whole genre of music or comments negatively on an event at which he was not present only shows his own ignorance.   Whereas I can comment knowledgeably on both RUS-centered gatherings and those without that book--since I have experienced both many times.

Also, C & W is not my only musical outlet. The Choral Arts Society of Washington, of which I'm a long-term member, sings the Brahms Requiem, Mozart Requiem, Belshazzar's Feast--and and unending list of other great works of choral literature. Most of which, I hazard a guess, the above-named snob has no interest in. And would be unlikely to make the cut of group which regularly performs in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall, as we do.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ron Davies
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:48 AM

"cut of a group"


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 10:17 AM

Ron D - you are still missing the point. No one is complaining about your sessions in Washington. You are still deluding yourself as you fail to see any point of view other than your own.

When you say that an "RUS sing" drives mentors away, perhaps the problem is with the mentor in not being able to reach people. IF a folk society has become "polluted" with books, perhaps you need to look further than placing the blame on the book. IF a group moves in a certain direction, there is a reason. If you disagree with that reason, you are either deluding yourself by choosing to ignore it, or you by your own admission you are not capable of being the mentor that will institute change as you see fit.

It all boils down to "different strokes for different folks", and if the mentor knows what they are doing they can make change - or they can sit back and complain about the changes that have occured.

Again, if all you are looking for is "good singers", then you are after a certain type of sing that you certainly should participate in. The FSGW sings are not for you.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 12:33 PM

Hey, Ron Davies!!

Lighten up!! I was just joking around and taking some obvious and silly potshots, just to show that it is possible to take potshots at anything--even if it is fun and worthwhile for the people to participate.

That's why I said, "All in meant in good fun, of course--and submitted just to show that no matter how good you are, someone can find something to take a shot at, if they have a mind to-"

And, about music, I ain't as dumb as I look.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: open mike
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 01:09 PM

i have not visited this thread for weeks,
but i saw the answer to a question i posted
Winds of Change was the song book that was
put together before R.U.S. i looked for it
but there are other books by that same name,
notably one by Isaac Asimov so i can't find
another available..


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:08 PM

"IF a folk society has become "polluted" with books, perhaps you need to look further than placing the blame on the book. IF a group moves in a certain direction, there is a reason."

I believe the reason is called Gresham's Law.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:42 PM

No, it is not Gresham's Law. People change with the times.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Big Mick
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:51 PM

I make a certain distinction in this ongoing argument. I dislike RUS because when I was exposed to it, it contained "cleaned up" lyrics, the wrong chords, and people who insisted that it was the bible of folk music. We, of course, know that the bible of folk music is the mind, and we sing songs the way our mind "hears" them and remembers them (Folk process?). Because of the way I phrase, which has to do with interpretation the way my mind "hears" the song, I sometimes have folks gently chastise me, or worse yet when they are listening to me they attempt to sing over me and superimpose "the correct way" onto my song. I am really not bothered by notes or crib sheets, as I have seen some pretty damned amazing singers use them at gatherings, and in live performance venues. What does bother me is when someone clearly has not invested the time to know the song, understand the context and message they are trying to portray, and we are all uncomfortable watching them stumble.

BUT ON THE OTHER HAND..........

There are those who, while lacking confidence and maybe with marginal skills, that just want to sing. The book gives them the ability, and they make the leap and overcome their fear, .......... and they sing. When I see someone who is clearly trying to stretch out and do this, I encourage them as much as possible.

And by the way, the two compilations of "Sing Out" (one is blue, the other is pink) are the real deal. I still have both, they are threadbare and worn, and they are a treasure. I do not possess a copy of RUS, but I suppose I shall pick up the current edition at some point.

Just my tuppence worth.....

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 02:56 PM

"Thud. Thud. Thud."

That's the sound of someone kicking a dead horse.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 03:46 PM

Ron O., you keep intoning that those who don't agree with your position are "missing the point" or of failing to see "any viewpoint other than their own." I'm sorry, but it is you who seems to be missing the point or refusing to acknowledge the validity of other viewpoints.

I have been to both kinds of sessions and I speak from observation and experience, and I read the same kind of observations and experience in the posts of Ron Davies, Barry Finn, and Big Mick.

I have no objection to RUS or any other song book. I have a whole bookcase full of them. I use them as a resource for learning songs and some of them are not just song books, they contain songs plus lots of information about the songs. The Lomax books, The Ballad Tree by Evelyn Kendrick Wells, MacEdward Leach's The Ballad Book, books of cowboy songs, sea songs, The Richard Dyer-Bennet Song Book, Folk Songs of England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales compiled by William Cole, hardbacks and paperbacks such as Song Fest, The Joan Baez Song Book -- and, yes, Rise Up Singing One whole bookcase, about eighteen linear feet, of such books. I use them as a resource, to learn songs, and to learn about the songs.

I could easily fit the stereotype of the folk singer in the wisecrack, "I knew he was a folk singer because he spent ten minutes introducing a three-minute song." But I've learned to restrain myself and limit any comments I make to brief introductory notes. And I have found that when some folks realize that these songs have backgrounds, that they are not just the product of the imagination of someone with a pen and a sheet of music manuscript paper, that's when they begin to find the songs fascinating, want to learn more about them, and want to begin singing them.

That doesn't happen when people are sitting around singing out of a book. In group-sings, does anyone ever read the meager (if any) program notes in RUS? Not that I've ever heard. It's just another song to sing out of the 1200 some-odd songs in the book. And it's only one version of that song out of many.

When I learn a song, I often compare different versions of the song, and frequently what I wind up singing is a composite. Some "purists" may cavil at this, but I have it on the authority of one of my English professors at the U. of Washington, Dr. David C. Fowler (A Literary History of the Popular Ballad)) that this is "a minstrel's prerogative," and a part of the folk process (Peggy Seeger says she does the same thing: see her Introduction in Folk Songs of Peggy Seeger, Oak Publications, New York, 1964).

I don't feel that I really "own" a song unless I've learned it, spent some time studying it, and can sing it from memory. If I'm singing a song out of a book, I don't "own" it, we're just passing acquaintances. But by going through and singing songs from a book, I may discover songs that I do want to learn. And "own."

Also—as I said in a post above, usually what attracts me to a song in the first place is hearing someone sing it, either in person or on record (or radio; or television). But the way that someone sings it makes a difference. It's happened that I've heard someone sing a song and it made no particular impression on me. But later, someone else sings the same song and it comes to life—and I want to learn it. The second singer "owns" the song, and by the way they sing the song, they offer it to me as well. And since deeds to the song are potentially infinite, I do learn it, own it, and sing it.

So far, a group sitting around and singing out of a book has never offered a song to me in the same way.

Where are the new Pete Seegers and Frank Hamiltons and Guy Carawans and Susan Reeds and Joan Baezes and Cynthia Goodings coming from? The kind of "free-for-all folk song orgies" that I attend have been taking newcomers and, over a relatively brief period of time, turning some of them into good, strong singers—yes, performers. People who like to perform, and who can sing for both folk and not-folk audiences and pass on the same kind of spark that they have received.

I have yet to see this sort of thing happening in, or emerging from, book-oriented song sessions.

IF—that is what a person wants to do. If they have no further ambitions than to enjoy singing out of a song book with a group of other people and partake in the social interplay that takes place, then FINE! Go right ahead! I'm not saying that people shouldn't, or that there is anything wrong with this. I don't think anyone here is advocating a ban on this.

But what is this prejudice against those who prefer to sing—yes, perform—solo (as well as participate in group singing), doing songs or versions of songs that are not in "The Book?" Why is it necessary to call people such as me "pompous performers" or "prima donnas" or "twerps" simply because we like to learn the songs, give them a good arrangement, and sing them as well as we possibly can? And who are capable of getting up in front of an audience and singing—entertainingly and informatively—from a memorized repertoire that allows them to sing concert-length performances?

What's the problem?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 04:14 PM

In my own defense, I would point out that

A. In writing "pompous performers", I was setting up a straw man rather than attacking anyone;

B. I never used the words "prima donna" (maybe someone else did); and,

C. I believe I used the word "twerps" to describe people who are so attached to "The Book" that they won't listen to anything from other provenance.

"Thud."


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:27 PM

"Ron O., you keep intoning that those who don't agree with your position are "missing the point" or of failing to see "any viewpoint other than their own." I'm sorry, but it is you who seems to be missing the point or refusing to acknowledge the validity of other viewpoints."

That isn't it at all. If you read my posts, I am acknowledging the validity of your viewpoints - which is different than agreeing with them. Nor am I asking you or anyone else to agree with my points. I am merely making sure that you don't shout down an alternate viewpoint.

If you paid attention to what I was writing, you would have noted that I was telling Ron D. that I was not disagreeing with his views of his session and his comments about that session were not in question. THAT was the point he was missing.

As to your question about where are the "new Pete Seegers and Frank Hamiltons and Guy Carawans and Susan Reeds and Joan Baezes and Cynthia Goodings" - why on earth do you need to replace the ones that exist?   Who did they replace?   Even when their gone, they have left us a legacy to make music for ourselves. THAT is what Pete Seeger's mission in life has been - read his book about storytelling for an example.

If you look around, there are plenty of people taking up the mantle - Joe Jencks, John Flynn, John McCutcheon, Guy Davis and many others as well. They are unique to their generations, just as the cast of characters were unique to theirs.

This is not a case of "Gresham's Law" as Dick is found of bringing up every time these type of arguments crop up. That arguement has become an excuse whenver there is a change that some folks do not agree with.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 07:56 PM

Ron O., it would appear that you and I are speaking a different language. Maybe we'd just better let it go at that.

Don Firthh


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 08:07 PM

Whatever


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:11 PM

I've got to say that I've learned a lot from this thread.

I know how to memorize a song, and I've got shelves full of music books too (though I haven't needed to measure the linear footage), and I pretty much know what I need to about how to use them (including how to read both lyrics and music).

I didn't know how some of you felt about others, particularly those who you perceive to have less skill,   talent, or motivation than you. Those long, long, posts have really given me a chance to understand you better--and I've been surprised by some of what I've found out.

Thanks for sharing.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: MickyMan
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:20 PM

Has anybody seen that young kid on Youtube who is systematically recording each song from RUS and posting them with page numbers ...etc.
That sounds like an interesting idea, and I'll bet he'll get to be quite the guitarist by the time he finishes his project many years from now.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 09:30 PM

Well, what if you had a baseball league, or a bridge club that had been ongoing for a while. You would have some patience, and some encouragement, but at some point you would want to play with people more or less at your level, with more or less the same outlook. Should new people adapt to you or you to them? Would you keep playing baseball if it was no longer fun for you? Or bridge, if people like me had a mild interest in it, but were there more for socializing and did not share your passion for it, alhtough were wild about the bridge mix chocolates? Or perhaps they had a passion but really slowed the game down and had to look at the rule book every few minutes, and didn't really understand the culture that had developed over many many years. Should I go into this bridge club and insist they do it my way? Or should I ask the bridge powers that be to start up a new club with people who were similar to me in terms of passion, expertise, desire to do things at a certain speed and intensity, etc.? mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 10:43 PM

I stopped playing bridge a long time ago, when it was no longer fun for me. When I played though, we were always looking for a fourth, and were pretty accepting of other cultures.

Same for baseball, you've got to play with the team you have, not the team you'd like.

I have a feeling that if you asked the "powers that be" to start up a new club with people who were similar to you in terms of of passion, expertise, and desire to do things a certain way, you wouldn't much like the place they put you..


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 10:58 PM

" You would have some patience, and some encouragement, but at some point you would want to play with people more or less at your level, with more or less the same outlook."

I think patience and encouragement is something we all agree on - and you you point out, if you are too good for the bridge game and do not enjoy the social atmosphere, then YOU move on.

I've been involved in a poker game for nearly 30 years. There is a core of about 6 of us who are regulars and a few who rotate. There are some players who are simply awful, and you can tell what cards they have and how they will bet. Do we tell them to stay home because we want to improve our game so that we can play in a tourney for ESPN?   No, we would miss the cameraderie, the laughs and the friendship.   So, I am the first to admit I will fold with a good hand - as do others in the group. We also point out these items to help the player. There are a few people who come to the game and need the reference card so they can figure out what hand beats what.

Every now and then I can get in my car and go to Atlantic City if I want a challenge and to improve my skills.

As for baseball, naturally I would not want a scrub on my team. I would want to see the scrub get some at bats for a little league team, and - no offense is meant here - ALL these folklore societies are "little league" caliber. This is not about fielding the best squad to play in the World Series.

A song circle is different from all these analogies - and once again, even though some people choose to ignore this, THERE IS NO ONE SAYING YOU SHOULD NOT PLAY WITH A GROUP OF YOUR CHOOSING AND WITH SINGERS THAT YOU ENJOY. NOT EVERYONE IS MEANT TO BE A MENTOR, NO MATTER HOW GOOD THEY MIGHT BE.   EVERYONE HAS A CHOICE. GROUPS EVOLVE - IF YOU DO NOT LIKE IT, THE DOOR IS OPEN. I HAVE NOT HEARD ONE SINGLE PERSON SAY THAT THESE GROUPS THAT THEY COMPLAIN ABOUT HAVE CLOSED. THE BETTER SINGERS MOVE ON. IT IS NOT THE END OF THE SESSION, THE MUSIC WILL CONTINUE - EVERYONE IS REPLACABLE.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Jan 09 - 11:57 PM

Sorry, I played on & for that team for years, matter of fact I played on a number of teams & got to know a lot of other team player but then a new crew came along & slowly started changing not only the rules but also the game & who could play & not play & what & what not they could play & even how they could play it. A bunch of us old time players got pushed out of our own league but that was fine, they sucked at what they were doing & we wern't having fun anymore so we went off & started a new one of our own. We sometimes play in not so public places & we sometimes don't broadcast where we play either but if you happen to stumble upon us will we're in the middle of our playing you're more than welcome to join in. Just behave, do as you see others doing & don't try to change the game nor the rules again, thanks. Now go somewhere & be happy doing what you do best.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 01:30 AM

Somehow I figured you to be a ball player, Barry.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 03:18 AM

No, I am a team player but I don't play ball.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 07:55 AM

It's been clear all along that you don't play ball.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:43 AM

It's a young persons game, as it should be. Old bones get cranky and the whining doesn't help healing.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 01:25 PM

Speaking of poker: "There are some players who are simply awful, and you can tell what cards they have and how they will bet. Do we tell them to stay home because we want to improve our game so that we can play in a tourney for ESPN?   No, we would miss the cameraderie, the laughs and the friendship..."

C'mon, be honest ~ you like being able to take their money, and pretty easily, too ~ right? And once someone learns the ropes and becomes less of an easy mark, it's time for the next sacrificial lamb to be brought aboard; otherwise, you and your longtime buddies will just be taking turns picking each other's pockets.

Newbies (fresh fish) are an asset to an ongoing poker game in a way that inexperienced singers can never be in the context of a group-singing meeting. Bad analogy...


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 01:47 PM

Sorry Poppa, but we actually do like taking turns picking each other's pockets. We really don't have a revolving door in the game, only occasionally inviting someone to join us or an old friend back in town. 9 out of 10 games it is the same people, and we aren't in it for the money. Purely nickel and dime stuff, the most anyone wins or loses is around $25.

The analogy makes sense ONLY if you understand the reasons WE play poker. Granted, many people would rather play in a game that is more cuthroat - no limits, new players to be marks, etc. That isn't why WE play.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 06:43 PM

When I said, "Where are the new Pete Seegers and Frank Hamiltons and Guy Carawans and Susan Reeds and Joan Baezes and Cynthia Goodings coming from?" I wasn't suggesting, as someone apparently seemed to think, that I was advocating that we should have them cloned.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:09 PM

Pete Seeger, Frank Hamilton, and Joan Baez have all three been known to "make up songs out of their own heads" (for MONEY, no less!) and even perform them in public. They even inspire some other folks to do likewise. Doesn't that disqualify them from being FOLK musicians?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:18 PM

"I wasn't suggesting, as someone apparently seemed to think, that I was advocating that we should have them cloned."

Don, what are you smoking???   Where on earth did you draw such a strange inference???   Perhaps someone else sent you a private e-mail, but I cannot understand how anyone would read that in my post.   Was it really that hard for you to read the rest of my post and understand?

I guess we are not speaking the same language these days.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:47 PM

Apparently that's the case, Rom, because sometimes when your quote from or respond to something I have posted, it really looks like you have no idea of what I'm talking about, or that we're simply talking past each other.

And Ref, there is quite probably a distinction between folk singers and singers who sing folk songs. For example, I do not consider myself to be a "folk singer." I was urban born and raise, and the songs I heard while I was growing up were mostly on the radio. I was not raised in the oral tradition. Therefore, I am a singer who just happens (by choice) to sing mostly folk songs, and mostly of the traditional variety, which I learn from recordings and song books, or from others such as myself, who also learned the songs they sing from recordings and song books--and each other.

There is an "oral tradition" and a "folk process" in there somewhere, but since I do sing for money (in addition to singing for fun), I take a leaf from Richard Dyer-Bennet's book and regard myself as being more in the tradition of "minstrel" than in that of "folk singer."

Okay, I'll check in from time to time to see how this post gets dissected and reinterpreted.

And by the way, Ron, I don't smoke. Anything.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 08:50 PM

If that is your story.

I'm beginning to see know why you do not wish to read from a book.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 09:28 PM

Would you care to explain that, Ron?

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 09:51 PM

not again


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Deckman
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:04 PM

HEY FELLAS' ... I have a suggestion ... why don't you both take two asprins and call your doctors in the morning! SHEEEUH! Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:29 PM

No Bob, I think that all of them need to take an Analogy and call back if and when it works{;<))...........A thread in search of an analogy!

Spaw


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:38 PM

Very clever


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:52 PM

Spaw, wasn't that already done back in #4386960907 which was linked in subsequent #9709970682 and its off-shoot #109080978696976-2?

(Doesn't look as though I've missed much since the 29 of Dec.!)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Acme
Date: 05 Jan 09 - 11:59 PM

Doesn't that disqualify them from being FOLK musicians?

New songs are new songs, even if they're sung in a folk style, non-amplified, whatever. Nothing wrong with them, but they're not subject to the "Folk Process."

Inspiration from folk songs, using folk songs as a context, this is a viable way to create new songs. But they are new songs.

It is possible to do several things very well: perform the old songs, and write new songs. It's also helpful if your audience can appreciate the distinctions and not hold it against the performer/writer for being able to do both.

SRS


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 12:53 AM

aren't you glad these ladies don't have a book between them

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4lWHF5h2e4

or these young people

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7k-SlVoJUWs


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:21 AM

Sage:

My point exactly. It's also possible to sing a song from memory AND sing (and play) one from a text while still learning, and both enjoy it yourself and please a supportive group of fellow singers. It's all this bright line drawing I object to.

Every song was originally made up by someone. Then it gets added to and adapted by the "folk process." Why do we give a song extra credit because we don't know who the originator was? But I digress...


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:39 AM

What I am glad about, MG, is that, in the Latvian video, the words are highlighted on the screen, so I can sing along--even though I don't know Latvian.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:27 AM

Ron, I'm sorry to have implied you and your buddies might be playing poker for anything other than love of the game.

However, poker normally does involved money changing hands, which makes it fundamentally different from group singing


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:44 AM

Ya' know Ted......You got a real nasty streak in you. I like that!

Spaw {;<))


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:51 AM

Poppa - the reason we play poker isn't so much for the love of the game, but for the social aspect of getting together and having a few beers and laughs. THAT is where is SIMILAR in respect to group singing - a spirit that brings people together.   Of course the actual function differs dramatically.

Mary, those were lovely videos. IF someone had been reading from a book or a cue card, would that change your feeling about the video? If the soundtrack did not change one note, would you have felt differently if you saw someone reading a sheet of music?

I still feel that there is confusion or failure to understand what many of us are saying. NO ONE is recommending that books be used in this thread. NO ONE. Read all 300 or so notes to confirm.

People are throwing about terms like "folk process", which in itself is nothing more than a theory created by a brilliant individual and adopted by the folk community. It is also a misunderstood theory.

A group sing has absolutely NOTHING to do with a folk process. The events that have been described here are manufactured gatherings developed in the later half of the 20th century. To the dismay of some, they continue to evolve and they continue to be diverse.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having different types of group sings. Water finds its own level.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:52 AM

I am not mean at all, but love good fun, and I really did sing along!--If you liked that one, here's an Even Better Latvian Video Clip


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:55 AM

Also, it occurred to me that some of the Indian women looked like that wished that they had songbooks so they could join in.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Acme
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:59 AM

It's also possible to sing a song from memory AND sing (and play) one from a text while still learning, and both enjoy it yourself and please a supportive group of fellow singers. It's all this bright line drawing I object to.

Ref, this ISN'T what I said. Whether a song is authored or handed down, singing that song in public should ideally be from memory, whatever the source, at least in the context we are discussing. Big name performers, say in an operatic recital, might have the music in front of them, but they know the piece very well, they aren't standing staring at the music. It is there as a reminder of where they are, what comes next, and probably most importantly, what everyone else around them is doing. But we're talking about self-selected groups of folk singing enthusiasts.

I will reiterate: I posted early on this thread supporting those who don't like "performers" standing with their faces down in a book singing from the pages. If you're going to a song circle to share, then you need to already know the song from heart and have incorporated it into your oeuvre enough to be able to simply sing it. I make the distinction of reading from the pages of a book as practice (how you learn the song--at home) and sharing (in public) what you already know.

Now if you're a practitioner of the true oral tradition, the folk process, and you're learning a song in a public setting and not off of a page, then you're listening and learning and singing along, but you're not leading the song.

SRS


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:07 AM

"Whether a song is authored or handed down, singing that song in public should ideally be from memory, whatever the source, at least in the context we are discussing. Big name performers, say in an operatic recital, might have the music in front of them, but they know the piece very well, they aren't standing staring at the music. It is there as a reminder of where they are, what comes next, and probably most importantly, what everyone else around them is doing. But we're talking about self-selected groups of folk singing enthusiasts."

Where has it been written in stone that "folk singing enthusiasts" require these rules?   You chose the proper word - "enthusiasts", just as there are "enthusiasts" for opera, choral music, sacred music, etc.   The other groups can have a wonderful experience using books and yet the "folk" community has a requirement that to sing in a manufactured setting a book should not be used?    More power to those who can sing without one, and everyone should be encouraged to sing from memory, but I think we create our own barriers.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:11 AM

"Now if you're a practitioner of the true oral tradition, the folk process, and you're learning a song in a public setting and not off of a page, then you're listening and learning and singing along, but you're not leading the song. "

If you are a TRUE practitioner of the "true" oral tradition (whatever that could be), then you would be singing in "true" settings and not in a group that gets together once a month in a church basement.   

If you want an analogy, what we are doing is nothing different from Civil War re-enactors who spend a weekend sleeping in a tent playing with toy guns and then driving home in their BMW's for the rest of the week. It's great fun and should be encouraged, but it is not the "true" experience.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Acme
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:59 AM

Ron, I'm not going to argue with you, I stated an opinion and a preference in the light of someone else asserting that my earlier statement bolstered his opinion. It did not.

I am reminded of how I learned folk dances back in the days when I lived near an active folkdance community and danced every week. One got behind a row or line or group of dancers who knew the dance and you were not in the way as you watched and practiced the steps to learn the dance. You didn't join in the line or the square or the circle until you had the rudiments at least, so you weren't going to trip up the rest of the dancers.

Those who wanted to start out with the experienced dancers were generally taken aside and told how to learn it or someone taught them the steps away from the line. If you went there to dance, you wanted to dance, and learners of a given dance were expected to learn in a way that didn't impede the enjoyment of everyone else. This analogous approach is one I would also consider appropriate also in the song circle setting. If you have the book along, don't plan to lead the song from it, learn the song in the background first.

SRS


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:23 AM

Do folk musicians have to do songs that somebody else did first? That's a hard question to answer. I like to think that there is room for new songs based on tradition. Again, I bring up one of my favorite singer/songwriters Jean Ritchie (sorry if I embarrass you, Jean) for taking the tradition she grew up with and adding to it with fine songs.

If a songwriter or singer is inspired by the folk music of the past, shouldn't they be allowed to participate in this process? Isn't that really the experience of the so-called "folk singer" of the past? What is the "true experience"? We all sing songs that we were not historically there for. This is true of the so-called real folk singers.

Isn't this just another way of lauding the "Noble Savage" for being pure and uncorrupted?
(Rousseau and Dryden revisited?) It seems to me that the vitality of folk music, (the music of working-class people, agrarian folks, those coming from a specific tradition such as African-American or ?) is about the life it brings through (here's that controversial word again) "Evolution".

Folk music has to evolve to exist in my opinion. There are some anthropologists who have a "classical" bent who want to study cultures unsullied by outside contact. Herskovitz and the Golden Bough come to mind. This in my opinion is a form of "scalp collecting". Pete, one of my heroes, maintained that a vital folk music is one in which anyone can contribute and allow it to grow.

In my opinion, (and I obviously have too many for my own good,) studying a culture and its music has a reward in which those who do their homework can participate somehow in it. I look at the Seegers for example. Also Jean Ritchie and Bess Lomax Hawes. This is what many of us "city folkies" try to do. Study and participate.

This is the light I would like to see shine more on the songs rather than whether the
lyrics are read out of a book or memorized. We are not automatons who robotically
spout lyrics and songs that are over a century old. This is bloodless academia in my opinon. We have a historical and cultural right to internalize the music of our forebears and make it our own. Whether we do this with RUS or by memory doesn't matter.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:36 AM

SRS - please do not think of this as an "arguement". This is a discussion and there are no hard feelings meant. You stated an opinion and I offered my own. Neither one of us, nor anyone else on this thread, is making definitive statements as to what should.

"This is the light I would like to see shine more on the songs rather than whether the lyrics are read out of a book or memorized. We are not automatons who robotically spout lyrics and songs that are over a century old. This is bloodless academia in my opinon. We have a historical and cultural right to internalize the music of our forebears and make it our own. Whether we do this with RUS or by memory doesn't matter."

Frank, I think your few sentences have summed up what the essence of what I and others have been trying to express in this lengthy thread.   Sing for the song!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Acme
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 02:45 PM

We have a historical and cultural right to internalize the music of our forebears and make it our own. Whether we do this with RUS or by memory doesn't matter.

Yes, but to be clear again, I'm discussing a particular context only, not all music at large. Spontaneous performance suffers when it stumbles over an unrehearsed performer. That's the gist of it. No "cold blooded academia" here.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 02:50 PM

"Spontaneous performance suffers when it stumbles over an unrehearsed performer."

That may be the difference in all of our "interpretations" of sings. Are the group sings that we have been discussing considered a "performance" or is it a group activity, or is it both?    I don't think there is a right or wrong answer as there it has become obvious that there are many different sings.   We just need to know what animals have been grazing about before we tap dance in the pasture.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:11 PM

I consider them a group activity. I am not interested in listening to even very good "performers" go around a big circle one by one and have to listen to them politely too. My politeness veneer is obviously wearing thin...I personally don't care if a person rehearses or not as long as the group can take over..still allowing the leader to set the rhythm and tune (as long as it is not absolutely hopeless and then more support is required). I realize I have musical ADD..I want to be singing along most of the time...and you probably in a big group wouldn't knnow whether I was or I wasn't as I have a pretty innocuous voice.So I am not a leader and not a performer but I am a participant. I think if I know the words I can sing along with anyone, chorus or verse, unless they specifically say otherwise, but I guess in some places that is frowned upon, like when I was in the Canada camp lately. But no offense..even very good singers doing those long Irish songs...that don't have a place for people to clunk their beer bottles on the table... are not something I have a great desire to hear more than one or two per evening. So my preference is loud and fast, or sweet and saccharine, and not much talking, much less huge long introductions..people can ask you privately later what your source is or you can say it in 20 words or less.

I guess I am there for a high amount of singing and a low amount of serving as an audience for people to sing their solos, rehearsed or not, even very good singers or not. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 03:16 PM

I think part of the problem, at least as I saw it in Seattle, was people coming new were given false information..even what time it started..they kept being told 7:30 when no critical mass was achieved until 8:30 or so.

Then they were told straight out, oh, anything is Ok. Well, it wasn't, but they weren't told. Just watch how the old-timers respond when the new ones wanted to sing "Today while the blossoms still cling to the vine." I think that is true test, that song. They would cringe, and pretend they didn't know it.

A kinder thing to do would be to say, this is what we tend to do, this is what we tend to like. But no one wants to say this and so everyone is uncomfortable. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:19 PM

mg-
Have you considered going to shanty sings and gospel sings? In these, there are lots of easy choruses and the songs are much more suited to a lot of people singing. General folk music only sometimes benefits from mass participation.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:34 PM

Boil it up or strip it down. When I go to a book sing this is what I see.
People buried in books, not really looking at each other, there is no repoire between the participants, no back & forth. There's a lack of body movement to the music. There's the feeling that there's a class going on & an absent of belly laughter. There's not a lot of grinning from ear to ear though I have seen smiles cracking the surface. I've never seen an outside walk in by accident & stay & join, much less return, matter of fact towards the end it usually thins out quickly, like where did everybody go.

Now when I go to a free for all bookless session here's what I notice.
Feet & finger tapping, sometimes foot stomping & clapping (I don't like the clapping but sometimes folks get carried away. I see people whispering in ears & laughing or joking out loud. Some even teasing in jest the singer while they're singing & the singer breaking the song to respond in tune to the jest. I here joking & laughter. Hell not long ago I even saw a fight, that was a first & not a good thing either but you can't say it lacked passion. I've seen folks come in by accident & stay & join in & even return & become part of the group. I see people stay until the place closes down & carry it on out side cuz they're not yet done. I also notice people with their arms over the shoulders or around the waists of others, some with ears bent towards each other looking each other in the eyes & singing their own harmonies face to face. I see a friendship being built before the sings over & it gets built upon sing after after. I see strangers who've planned on coming come in & feel as if they've been part of the group for years after only spending hours with the group.

This is what I see as the difference between the 2 groups. Take whatever you want out of this but I know which group I'd rather be a part of & I know which group is enjoying themselves more & they're also getting back as much or more than/as they put into it.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:34 PM

I do love the shanty sings...and maritime music in general. Gospel...for a while...I also like smaller groups very much. I guess I am just not into many solos, good or bad, but I prefer good. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Mark Ross
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:43 PM

I have no objection to RUS per se(I have a copy around here somewhere)but the final straw for me was I when I happened into a music store in Portland OR last year and found a song circle about to start. I was invited to join in, and I did so. But when someone said let's do SPANISH IS A LOVING TONGUE, and I volunteered that that song was in my songbag, I proceeded to sing it with others joining in. When the song was finished, the person who had called for that song,loudly announced that my version was too different from the version in his blue backed bible. Like I said, I have no objection to the book as a reference, but to insist that it's carved in stone, that is where I draw the line!


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:45 PM

Mg, if you ever come to the Northeast, you'll have to visit the Shanty sing in Gloucester, Mass. You'll love the way the floor starts to roll as the songs start to get sung.

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Big Mick
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 05:10 PM

Yep, Mark, if you read my earlier post you will see I had the same problem. I have even had them sing over the top of the version I was singing, trying to superimpose their own version. The opposite of that kind of rudeness is singing for one of my favorite groups of folkies, the FSGW. When I have done mini concerts with them, they always listen first for where I am taking the song, then they chime in and always in the right spot. Some of the most amazing harmonies, I just love it. They let me do the song, and sing in the right places as opposed to trying to control what I am doing.

Mick


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 05:38 PM

There is one point upon which I would not totally agree with Mary (mg).

I like to hear her sing solo. She has a very nice voice for solo singing, and she knows a lot of really great songs. And she can slip into the background and sing softly when she wants.

####

"Manufactured groups." Yes, I can see how a group that meets regularly in a church basement, a rented meeting room, or in someone's home once or twice a month and has a set of explicit rules about who sings when and what they can sing (and what they can sing from) can be considered a "manufactured group."

But I don't see that this applies to a group of friends (usually including friends of friends, and occasionally neighbors) who get together often, but on an irregular basis, usually initiated by a telephone call (or these days, an e-mail), and almost invariably gathers in someone's living room or rec room. The only rules or structure that applies are those of common courtesy, which includes the idea that if I've sung three songs in a row, it's time for me to shut up and give someone else a chance.

Singing at "hoots" was how I first broke in, as did a whole bunch of other singers that I know. And this is not ancient history. These gatherings have been going on for as long as I can remember, and they're still going on. They include group singing: chorus songs, sea chanteys, and such. Duets, trios, solo singing, what have you. Plenty of opportunity for someone who likes group singing—unless that's all that this someone wants to do.

And for any newbie who might have any ambitions of becoming a performer (coffeehouses, concerts, gigs in general)—and I know that in the minds of some, a "true folk singer" is not supposed to have any ambitions along those lines (tell that to Jean Ritchie)—these get-togethers are a warm plunge. Plenty of encouragement and assistance if you want it. Mentoring? I got plenty of it from people like Walt when I first started singing.

Community feeling? Lots of community feeling. It just happens naturally.

As far as the occasional person using a song sheet or crib notes, that's no problem, unless the person is occupying everybody else's time by rehearsing in front of them. As Stilly says, ". . . learners . . . were expected to learn in a way that didn't impede the enjoyment of everyone else."

I've had the same kind of experiences that Barry talks about (many times—most times, and I've also had the kind of experience that Mark describes: being told that I'm "not singing it right" because that's not the version in the book.

("Well, maybe not in that book, but I'm singing the version I learned from Carl Sandburg's American Song Bag, so if you feel strongly about it, go duke it out with Carl!")

But if you want to get together with a bunch of other people and all sing together out of the same book, feel free. The Constitution guarantees your right to Freedom of Assembly. When I attend your group, I will abide by its rules if you will honor the customs and practices of the ones I like to attend, should you care to attend any.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:00 PM

When I attend your group, I will abide by its rules if you will honor the customs and practices of the ones I like to attend, should you care to attend any.

Good point Don...the problem is that people often, generally, usually??? are not told what the rules are, or the customs..and as people drift away because of this the problem increases until, as others have said, a new group has formed...but there needs to be a way to serve both groups...I think two separate types of events..

And at camps..same thing. Have RUS be the default if you want. If those of us who want a separate experience want..we should say I will be in this room at this time doing this type of singing. Please join us if that is your preference. I always say we do not take turns and we do not sing under kleig lights and we don't do much talking. That eliminates most people often.. another group in BC likes to sing the long solo ballads.. I might join them for 15 minutes but my attention span usually fails me around then.

If there is a group with the books and with the flourescent lights, I have an attention span of 3 songs max. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Stewart
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 06:56 PM

I've been studiously trying to avoid any further posts to this thread, hoping it would mercifully fall off the bottom of the page. But that doesn't seem to be happening, so I'll add my bit.

I can see definite parallels with songs circles and Irish tune sessions.

At one end of the spectrum, there are elite Irish sessions where you practically have to audition to be able to even sit in the sacred circle. Or it's by invitation only. The high-level players want to play at their high level and don't want anyone to muck it up. Semi-elite sessions might allow you to sit in the circle, perhaps even play softly, but never be expected or allowed to lead a tune. They just want to be able to play at the highest level, and don't seem to be concerned about bringing any less experienced plays up to that level.

At the other end are strictly beginner sessions where everyone sits in front of a music stand and very slowly plays note for note off the music. There's no life to the music, it's simply just notes, and no one progresses beyond that stage. That may be enjoyable to some, but I would think they would eventually get tired of it.

Then there's the intermediate level sessions - some good and some bad. Sometimes a new want-to-be player has to be told politely or not-politely to sit and listen until they learn how to play the music (the right rhythm, speed, etc.), or even leave if they are really annoying the other players. Some sessions may play too fast for your taste, or too slow. Some are very welcoming to new plays, others may not be. So you have to choose the session that best fits your needs and desires. And if you can't find such as session, then start your own. It's traditional music, and there's no ONE right way to play it, although there may be many bad ways.

There's a lot of session etiquette and unwritten rules that you just have to learn by observing and using some common sense. A few times I've been blown away trying to lead a particular version of a tune when someone else pays no attention to the tune I've started and loudly plays his/her own version or ramps up the speed. One has to learn that the person who starts the tune has the right to choose the version and speed of the tune, and others should first listen and follow that lead. Good session players pay close attention to all the other players, particularly to the one who's leading the tune. A wink of the eye, a nod of the head, or a lifted foot will signal when a tune will end or new tune will begin.

Tune session players can get into the same arguments (even worse!) as we've gotten into here about song sessions or circles. I think we all have to be more accepting of others, and if the session we're in doesn't suit us, find one that does, or start our own session. All sessions, tune or song, should involve learning and growing in the music.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:47 PM

Barry, Mary, and Don: The horse is still dead. If you want, I'll start an OBIT thread.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 07:56 PM

Thud.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:16 PM

Have at it, M.Ted. If you can get the corpse to lay still.

Did you hear the one about the riot at the funeral of Roland Lawrence LaPrise, the man who invented the Hokey-Pokey? When they put him into the casket, they tried to "put his left foot in," and that's when the trouble started. . . .

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: mg
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 08:22 PM

Not dead until my fingers quit typing. I still have lots more to say on the subject..mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:15 PM

This thread is like a Jersey diner breakfast - it keeps repeating.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:42 PM

I really appreciate what Mick said about the FSGW. It tell me we are still doing ok. The Getaway gets a larger % of serious singers who DO 'know' a lot of songs, and the results are great. It is not the case that books are excluded...they are just not as common.

Now...I have watched Mick, himself, several times with not only the words, but a music stand! He does this *when* he needs to be sure...not for everything... and my rule applies - if I close my eyes, I can't tell!

(To be totally honest, 'some' songs need an intro saying "please note- I am doing a slightly different version than you all think you know." I sing "Bright Morning Stars" in simpler version than the one with the warbling up & down melody that has been common the last xx number of years. [I learned it from a National Geographic LP recorded (I think)in Mountainview, Ark.] I just prefer the power of the 'simple' melody...but I have to be firm... *grin*)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 09:44 PM

And apparently will continue repeating until certain people take their medicine.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 10:19 PM

I don't think there is a cure for passion! Deep down, I think everyone is very passionate about this music and people often forget that their opinion is not shared by everyone - nor is their portion of the world a reflection on what is happening elsewhere.   IF you sort through the posts, I think most people actually agree - and the problems that are painted are probably very rare occurances in actual practice, or at least not as widespread or shared by others.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: CamiSu
Date: 06 Jan 09 - 11:55 PM

So this has been sitting open on my desk for several days, (I REALLY have a hard time with too much to do) but I do appreciate RUS for starting a process in my family--particularly my youngest, who has graduated from finding words in RUS to the digitrad. (at 13 or 14?) He messaged home from a trip with friends to ask for a line from Barrett's Privateers. I did not get the message in time so when he and another person on the trip sang it, he made up a line, and no one knew any better, and they all loved it (and some even joined in on the chorus) No, it's not the be all, but it gets things started sometimes.

CamiSu


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 12:05 AM

I agree, Ron. Reading many of the posts made by Barry, Mick, Bill and Ron, it sounds as if they they would just a soon shoot some one as see them read lyrics from RUS or anything else. But I have had the privilege, at Getaways, to participate in song circles with all of them, and they have all, especially Barry, been very encouraging and empowering. In fact, it was at my first Getaway, 5 or 7 years ago, that I rediscovered my voice after nearly 20 years of doing no music, and overcame much of my anxiety about singing in front of others. These lovely people have witnessed me muff songs badly when I didn't have the lyrics in front of me, and complimented and encouraged me after I have have shared a song with the lyrics in front of me - sometimes from RUS. (The only time I ever sang at the Saturday night concert without lyrics in front of me, I forgot the last verse - and it was a song I wrote!)

I am speaking as some one without much experience participating in song circles except for the Getaway. Inspired by the Getaway, I facilitated a song circle for 6 or 7 months a few years ago, and was surprised at how much work it was, and disappointed in the results. In many ways, the area where I live (Durham/Chapel Hill area of NC) is a musical Mecca, but there is not a tradition of informal sing arounds or song circles. I was hoping to start something akin to the song circles at the Getaway, but since there was not a tradition here, I was very reluctant (as well as very inexperienced at such endeavors) to exert any leadership beyond sending out the monthly e-mail reminder and being there to unlock the door. Concerned about having enough participants I was afraid to voice expectations that might result in people not coming. Over time, it wasn't very successful, largely because it wasn't clearly enough defined.   Some people viewed it as a group sing rather than a sing around. Some people mostly were interested in show tunes.   When it was lovely, it was very lovely, but it fizzled because the lack of clear direction and focus, as well as divergent but unspoken expectations made it an unsatisfying experience for all of us. A song circle can not be all things to all people and be successful.

I don't know if I will try again at some point in the future to start another song circle. But if I do, I'll follow mg's advice from the git-go, and make explicit what my own expectations and desires are.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 12:16 AM


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 03:14 PM

"I don't think there is a cure for passion! "
Well, for one instance, go to a session where thirteen people, each with his/her nose stuck in a copy or RUS, are dutifully singing "On Top of Old Smoky" in dubious unison. I dare you to find any passion there.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 03:30 PM

Janie said, "Reading many of the posts made by Barry, Mick, Bill and Ron, it sounds as if they they would just a soon shoot some one as see them read lyrics from RUS or anything else."

Don't forget Don Firth and Mary Garvey, and you've got it right. Fine, talented people, I have always thought--but this need to bash others make me wonder what they're really about.

I wouldn't mind so much if you were all just taking shots at me (I'd kind of get a kick out of it, actually) but the folks who sing from the book are the ones who are new, who just want to participate. Before the advent of the book, they pretty much sat and looked on while you all had the fun.

Sounds like you liked it better before.

(except for Barry and the shanties, but not everyone likes shanties)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 03:43 PM

Dick - tell me that it doesn't requier passion to get 13 people together in a room to sing "On Top of Old Smokey".   I dare you NOT to find passion, whether their noses are in books or up some body cavity - it takes passion.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:01 PM

"...but this need to bash others make me wonder what they're really about." ???

am I 'bashing' anyone? I explain a preference and my reasoning.

(and Janie... what did I say that even 'hints' that I sound like I'd "...just a soon shoot some one as see them read lyrics ..."? (remember...I often close my eyes!)


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Big Mick
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:18 PM

Fine, talented people, I have always thought--but this need to bash others make me wonder what they're really about.
MTed


Since you included me, I must ask where it was that I bashed anybody? I thought I gave a fairly concise view of my feelings on the subject and I don't recall any specific attacks on anyone.

I think the distinction for me is not whether you sing from notes, book, etc. As long as you know the song, have rehearsed it, and just need a memory jog, and as long as you can sing it in a way that doesn't make the song sound stiff (Bill's "close your eyes" rule) then that is fine. As I said previously, just don't impose your RUS version on me when I am singing the song. As a reference it is an OK source. As the last word on a song...... not even close.

Barry and Dick's point about the passion is well taken. I have been in those shanty sings that Barry refers to. There is absolutely no way you would have the same passion and fire as when all the parties are jumping in spontaneously on songs they know well.

But one more thing. This is really about paying attention to the protocols of the song circle you are joining in. If a large group of folks have allowed, and enjoy, use of RUS, they have a song circle where the rule is you use that version so everyone can join in..... then you are bound to that and should not bitch about it. That is just common courtesy. And if you see someone that clearly wants to sing, and just needs encouragement and the use of the book, give them encouragement and let them use the book. That, too, is just common courtesy. And if I choose to sing "The Rare Old Times" or "Hard Times", or another song in my own way, please extend the same courtesy and listen, don't try to correct me by singing it a different way.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:29 PM

I don't think I have bashed anyone. I have revealed, yet again, our little secret though..that we just quit attending those events. And if they are open the public, the public has lost a very wonderful thing, perhaps to be replaced by something socially good, but probably not musically all that...The goose the laid the golden egg has been killed. The social support remains, the music wandered off (more often than not). I have suggested forming separate groups, separate rooms in camps, etc. to accomodate both preference styles. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:32 PM

"There is absolutely no way you would have the same passion and fire as when all the parties are jumping in spontaneously on songs they know well."

The key word is "SAME" passion. You can get pleasure of a nice juicy Kobe steak in a comfortable restaurant, and you can get pleasure out of a corndog on the beach. Nothing is the same, neither is wrong.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:48 PM

de gustibus non disputandum est


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 05:08 PM

Sorry Don, taste is subjective


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 05:09 PM

oops... I meant to say "sorry Bill", not Don


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 05:13 PM

WHat I think we have said repeatedly is that we do not take pleasure in the steak or the corn dog or whichever it is we do not like. We do not like the music that comes from these sessions, people who are OK with the sessions do not like the lack of fairness or chance to take a turn or chance to know what the words are. There is not pleasure in either. One way or the other someone is displeased. The answer and the only answer I see is to set up separate groups to accomodate both. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 05:31 PM

Good luck with that Mary. You have your opinions and you are welcome to them.

To everything there is a season


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 06:33 PM

I pasted a quote, and didn't want to be accused of distortion by editing, but I wasn't quite fair, either, Mick had a valid point, sorry Mick. BillD is never mean, sorry Bill.

For the others, it seems like this quote from Mary Garvey tells it all:

" I have revealed, yet again, our little secret though..that we just quit attending those events. The goose the laid the golden egg has been killed."


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 06:40 PM

Since M.Ted chooses to single me out by name as one of those he is accusing of being "mean spirited" and of having "a need to bash others," I hereby register my protest! He is obviously not reading my posts very carefully.

I'n not bashing anyone, nor do I have any need to. I expressed my preferences in the kind of song sessions I like to go to, and several times have said that those who prefer their group singing reading out of a book are certainly free to do so. And for this, he feels it necessary to bash me.

Not only that, he has seen fit to PM me and ask my to stop posting to this thread.

Maybe you need to take a few deep breaths, M.Ted.

Obviously this thread has passed its "sell by" date and has gone a bit rotten. It's degenerated into less of an exchange of ideas and more of simply shooting spit balls.

I've expressed my preferences and said everything I care to say on this subject, so unless my name comes up again, I'm out of here.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 06:56 PM

I fail to see what is mean. People are going to be deprived of public events that they would have enjoyed. It is probably too late to prevent it from happening, but perhaps there is a folk club somewhere that could be proactive about some of this. Yes, people can meet in private, but new people are not going to know how to connect. Others who are more in the background might not get invited to private events. Rather than trying to exclude people, I am trying to preserve places that meet with public notice for them to be included, along with places similarlly set up for those with different preferences and goals. But I think the gap in preferences is so big it probably can't be bridged in the same groups. Ergo, separate groups. People can choose which they prefer.

Also, please do not use my name. Use my initials. Thank you. mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 07:18 PM

"People are going to be deprived of public events that they would have enjoyed. "

The sky is not falling.

You should say that "SOME people are going to be deprived of public events", because the rest of your statement shows that there is still a public event going on.   Just not one that YOU are interested in.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 08:16 PM

Don makes it sound like I sent him some sort of poison pen letter, and left it to your imagination as to what I said--I said this:

"I see the thread as a mean spirited attack by people with a lot of talent and experience with
folk music on people who are at a much lower level than they are."

I also made a comment about beating a dead horse. I think I mention it above, as.

I've read Don's posts again--they are certainly affable, but no one who uses "Rise Up Singing" has any doubts about where he places them on the folk music ladder. And, the fact that he posted instructions on how to learn a song is a clear message that he thinks we are all in need of the most basic instruction.

Ron Olesko's got mg's position pegged pretty well, so I'll defer to him--

I may be wrong, so I advise others to read the posts carefully.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 09:02 PM

Those instructions were meant to be helpful to newbies and to those who said they have difficulty memorizing songs, perhaps because they don't know how to go about it, as some people do not.

The idea that some people don't know how to go about memorizing something is not just a wild idea of mine, it comes from the experience I have had with students. I have found that the procedure I use (particularly trying to go through the song in my head while composing myself for sleep) works well for me, and I thought it might very well work for others.

It was an attempt to be helpful!

And I'm not placing anybody on any ladders. That came out of your own head, M.Ted. To clarify, I think RUS might be a good start. But I, personally, don't see why anyone would not want to try to progress beyond that. But if that's the case, then so be it. Group singing can be fun.

If that's "mean spirited," M.Ted, then so be it!

By the way, in case you've forgotten, the first PM you sent me said this:
No one has any doubt about where you stand on all this RUS business. It's time to come in out of the sun. The animal control people will clear it away by tomorrow, if you just leave it alone.
That sounds to me like you're telling my I should stop posting to this thread.

So, as I said, M.Ted, maybe you need to take a few deep breaths.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 09:12 PM

Like I said, it was about the dead horse.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 09:21 PM

Hmm!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 09:42 PM

Thud.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Janie
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 11:31 PM

I think my last post was misconstrued, and when M. Ted quoted part of those remarks subsequently, that dissociated them from their context.

Bill, in an attempt to not be so dadgum as wordy as usual, I used a figure of speech to characterize the generally vehement voice and conviction with which you and the others are expressing yourselves.   The point I was trying to make, and apparently did not, was that my experience of all of you, in spite of how you may be unintentionally coming across on the thread, are very inclusive and supportive of newbies.   I named the 4 (or was it 5?) of you because I have the very gratifying experience of having been in song circles with all of you. Collectively, your posts do not convey what gems you really are in terms of fostering others who want to sing and learn.

I don't think anyone who is posting here who objects to people singing from printed lyrics in a song circle are bashing those of us who do need printed lyrics. I also think you may not realize how intimidating and off-putting some of you are coming across to those of us who are less experienced or accomplished. My first readings of the posts from many of you who I know, have deep affection for and respect and who have mentored me at the Getaways, resulted in me first feeling embarrassed and ashamed and foolish about my participation in those song circles. (Oh! the fragile ego:>) It took careful rereading in light of my first-hand experiences of all of you to see that you are talking about a certain type of song circle that you do not enjoy and have no obligation to participate in, and that you are not making a blanket rejection of an individual using RUS or any other printed lyrics in a song circle. Rather, you are all experienced participants in song circles, and many of you are professional and/or accomplished musicians, who naturally prefer song circles where there is a critical mass of other musicians to hold your interest.

I have had the occasional experience of being at a song circle where most of the singing was limited to the blue book, so everyone could sing. I didn't have a lot of fun. ( I don't have much fun with the congregational singing in church. It can be passionless, and besides, my quirky voice doesn't fit well with the keys groups usually end up singing, be it church or a group sing.) But these were group sings vs. sing arounds, and it was clear to me that the majority of participants enjoyed themselves thoroughly.    I prefer the sing arounds with people joining in as appropriate, but that also offer me and others a chance to try our chops solo, and learn from one another.   I have a dear friend who loves to sing and has a lovely voice, but can feel put on the spot if she has to sing alone, and much prefers group sings.

It occurs to me that there is a similarity between song circles and 12 step recovery groups. A relatively small town might have several different AA or NA meetings, with some overlap in participants, but many others sticking to a particular group. That offers something for everyone.

I agree with Ron that there is much less actual disagreement here than might appear from all the heat.

Two more things, then I will end this too long post and climb off the soapbox.

1.   There are a number of references in this thread from long-time catters that this subject has been talked to death. That may be for some people. However, this is the first of these threads that I have carefully followed or commented in, and I joined somewhere around 2002. Plenty of other people have come on board since then. We are not all old timers, but we are all a part of Mudcat. I've learned a lot from reading and reflecting on these posts and the differing viewpoints that I think may be very helpful to me if I should ever find the time to try to start another song circle. Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts, experiences and opinions.

2. Ron, I want to again to say thanks for your objective and dispassionate observations and remarks and generally non-judgemental reflections. You have been particularly helpful with your steadfast, non-judgemental comments, generally unclouded by emotion or attachment to position.

While I can understand how the threads regarding the Getaway could mislead someone who has never been to perceive it as a clique, I want to say that nothing could be further from the truth. I have been to several of them, and they are the most inclusive and empowering participatory events I have ever attended. Come with a love of any aspect of "folk music', and you are embraced and valued, regardless of skill or knowledge. I hope to meet you at one of them one day.

Now see, don't all ya'll wish you had got my first, shorter post:^?


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 11:41 PM

OK M. Ted
Since I last posted Date: 06 Jan 09 - 04:34 PM you've posted 5 times, around 30 times in all to this post, far more than I have. So stop PM'ing me to stop posting. As i replied to you first 2 post, I'll stop when I damn well fell like I've said what I've wanted to say & replied to what I feel like replying too. Are you trying to be such a pain in the ass that the thread's gonna shut down. STOP PM'ing ME!!
I was getting a bit tired of the thread but,,,,,,,

The horse ain't dead till it can't get up after the first 3 or 4 beatings. This horse can go the distance.

I haven't seen any harshness here only strong opinions.
And I've seen more passion from the dead than I have at most of the books sings I've ever been to, they may be having fun but you wouldn't know it by any humanly outward signs. Yes, it is a problem. Usually in big cities like San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, etc there's only one folk society, one established sing unless there's a breakaway group. It makes no sense to compete but there's is sense to a skisim, a divide, it's uncomfortable & unwarranted but probably needed. When a folk singing society, like most folk song societies, promote group singing & it turns into a book sing that society has pretty much given a death knell to the rest of the folk community of that city who'd perfere the "other" style or format. Which IMHO includes the better & stronger singers who don't need or want book singing. I have lived this in several cities where there was once a vibrant singing community. So it does matter & to form 2 groups & have each one unto themselves is a bit distasteful but maybe necessary. It won't happen in Boston though. The sitting society decieded that it would hold a traditional sing where books were not to be encouraged to make up for it's sings it had decades ago that grew stagnent. The moving force behind that was a member of the Boston Traditional Singer's Club which did hold non book sings but was mostly an Irish Trad group that was seeking an alt to tune sessions. The society's trad sing is held once a month, it now can't find any host's or very many that'll attend, I don't know how long it's been out of fashion. My believe is that once a book group has taken over an older group if that group sing is or was the dominate singing group in the community then the community loses it's older, better & stronger singing members & that they become much harder to win back into ANY singing group. We will see how a newly formed sing willdevelop. I will attend for the second night but if it's a book study group like the 1st I won't bother again & I doubt it'll have any shot of sucess.

M.Ted don't PM me anymore,,,,,please

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 01:13 AM

Gee, Barry, I posted you, you answered me, and I responded, and so it went. If you'd said, "don't reply" when you PM'd me I sure wouldn't have-- As to the number of posts I've made to the thread, I didn't realize we had a limit, but in terms of sheer bulk, you've got me beat by a mile--

As to what is a strong opinion, and what is simply mean-spirited--we each judge on our own--if I've misinterpreted you, and you were simply being "spirited" in your assertions, it is an unfortunate misunderstanding.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 02:10 AM

OK, OK, OK - this thread is getting way too personal. Mudcat posts and personal messages are supposed to be used for civil communication, not for waging war. Chill out, all of you!!!


I got back from San Francisco's Camp New Harmony Sunday. While at camp, I spend most of my time in the room that has mostly unaccompanied singing. I've learned that most of these singers dislike the use of Rise Up Singing, so I have been building a folder with my "repertoire," such as it is - songs that I can sing pretty well in front of a group of people. I try to pick songs that are somewhat unusual, that don't get sung very often. They must be songs that fit my voice and singing style and ability; and I prefer songs that have a chorus or something people can sing along with. I print one song per sheet, (or related songs front and back), usually in 16-point typeface. At the beginning of the session, I pull out the sheets for three or four songs I might like to sing, and make my final choice when it's my turn. The type is big enough that I can read in dim light and don't have to push my face into the book, and I'm gradually getting to know the songs better so I don't have to depend on the sheets so much.

At the beginning, I gave in to the pressure of scorn and tried my best to sing without a book or "cheat sheet," but I found myself hiding when my turn came around because I just can't remember the words. So, I decided to use "cheat sheets" and books other then Rise Up Singing, and to ignore those who question that. I found it evened the playing field a bit for me. I also discovered that with a songbook in my hand, there are some areas where I am pretty darn good - especially southern white gospel and black spirituals. Oh, and "girl group" songs.

There are a few novelty songs I do that people really like, so I milk them for all they're worth - I got a great response to "Hang on the Bell Nellie," even though I used a blown-up photocopy of a page from Rise Up Singing as my cheat sheet. I don't want to be known only for novelty songs, so I keep a number of more serious songs in my "stable." People always seem to like it when I sing "Windmills" (Alan Bell) and "Julian of Norwich" (Sydney Carter) and "I Had an Old Coat" (Paul Kaplan); and they enjoy "Long, Long Ago" (Bayley), which I learned in fifth grade.

Outside a song circle environment, I sing a lot of the more common songs from Rise Up Singing like "River" and "My Grandfather's Clock" and dozens more. Legend has it that I know all the songs in the "Blue Book" (not true - I don't even want to learn some), and it's true that I rarely have to look at the book. Generally, outside of folk music clubs, I'm thought of as a terrific singer - and when I'm in a song circle that uses Rise Up Singing, I'm looked on as a leader. People are amazed at the hundreds of songs I know. I'm looked on as one of the better singers in most of the church choirs I've belonged to in the last 50 years (I started at age ten).

People in folk clubs have often heard the Rise Up Singing songs over and over again and don't really enjoy them all that much. Still, I can slip in a good one every once in a while. I've been a member of SFFMC (San Francisco Folk Music Club) and FSGW (Folklore Society of Greater Washington, DC) most of the time since 1999, and I think I am gradually building myself a reputation as a halfway-decent singer (maybe just above the median point). But it's been a long, low, uphill climb - and as a singer, I still feel quite uncomfortable in both organizations. Over the last ten years, I've gone through a lot of embarrassment and feelings of exclusion to get myself accepted. Even last week at Camp New Harmony, there were two evenings when everybody left just before it got to be my time to sing. One night, three people took pity on me and stayed so I could sing my song. It's hard to deal with being pitied as a singer. That may be even worse than being scorned.

So, I dunno. I don't think there are any easy anwers. I do think that the better singers need to show patience and compassion to the less-experienced singers - and not in a condescending way. I like going to FSGW and SFFMC because the challenge makes me grow - but it's hard and discouraging at times. I sometimes find myself bored in the Rise Up Singing sessions - but I can often be looked on there as the best singer in the room, and I find that there can be wonderful community singing in such sessions. If the Rise Up Singing sessions get tedious, then I feel obligated to do something to liven them up. Some of you know that I do have the ability to get goofy when I feel at home.

I don't know that I have any suggestions or solutions or anything, but I wanted to say what I feel. When people have the courage to sing in front of other people, they make themselves very vulnerable - especially in the early years of their singing experience. I think that vulnerability needs to be respected.

-Joe-

    P.S. Faith Petric, the 93/94-yr-old grand dame of the San Francisco Folk Music Club, does not approve of using Rise Up Singing in song circles. But in a Malvina Reynolds workshop last week, somebody asked her to sing a song and she couldn't remember it completely. She turned to me and asked to borrow my copy of RUS. This happened twice during that workshop. Made me feel a whole lot better.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 04:47 PM

Hi Joe
It sounds as if you're trying to live in two different worlds & that yoou're having a tough time straddling both of them. You seem to be enjoying a status in the book singing world but it sounds as if you're not getting enough out of it and at the same time you're not quite up to snuff with your peers in the non book world. At least that's my atke on it. I feel that some of the trouble is that the world that you are struggling to fit into might be a more sofistcated singing group, that they're more into traditional types of song sings than your RUS groups. You are trying to find a repatoire that bridges both communities when IMO you should be working on a rep that doesn't bridge at all because one won't work for both. An example; your campfire songs are probably fine with the RUS people where as they may not fly with the others, hey there campfire songs, some of us haven't seen a camp fire since we were 12. STill I don't think you need feel any misgivings, you're probably much respected ass a singer in any group you go to, I'd say you would fit in anywhere & that in it's self may be where you are having a problem. That you can fit in any where but you're not comfortable in that role & you might want to play more of a role in the group that you feel challanged by & whom makes you dig a little deeper. When I go to an Irish session I sing songs that are of Irish in nature. When I go to a shanty sing I do shanties, on the Friday night sing I'll do anything but I mainly stick to songs that are trad or in aa trad mode & or those I seldom sing ballads I'll do mostly chorus. I do get lonesome for ballad singing but there's not many sings or venues that thrive on ballads, I leave that for after hours at festivalsat 3:00 am when it's a mellow ballad mood of a sing, so I suffer till a festival comes round. Some stuff you have you may not find the right outlet for so it sits until you do. So I'd say that your problem lays more in knowing the temperment, moods & styles of those worlds that you want to be a part of & when & what's the best fit for those seperate worlds rather than "it's got something to do with me". Joe I've been hearing you sing for years, there's nothing holding you back from where you'd like to be except maybe a little trouble seperating & keeping those worlds apart instead of having them collide with each other. I don't say you need to choose between them either. Hell, you cn sing in many different worlds, the only limitations would be time & effort. You sing in church groups, do you have a problem keeping them seperate from your folk sings? You say that at Camp New Harmony you spent most of your time at unaccompanied singing room, that they dislike the use of Rise Up Singing? OK, you're building a rep where you have your notes instead of a book, this sounds a bit like the Getaway, get an index card & write the firts word or two to a line or a verse, you know the song well enough & an index card is maybe cheating but it's someting that no one is gonna site you for using, "NO ONE". SO some of it is just a sense of what the group around you has a preference for, "When in Rome".
As far as Faith, she may not approve of RUS in song circles but that's what took over her circle a few decades ago. It was at her house I attended the best sings ever, continiously until that wretched book took it over & killed it. The last maybe 3 most recent times over the past 10 yrs I've been back out to San Francisco I've been to those sings & it's like being in a mourge & trying to raise the daed. Bless Faith she's a God sent & a wonder & a blessing for any folk society but her sings are the ones I most lament of all, even more than my own home town of Boston when I think of sings that have gone "bust by books".
Anyway Joe. You shouldn't have any doubts about yourself, you're fine where you are, you just need to get comfortable about where you want to go. See you in September & I for one will be happy to sing along side of you no matter where or what you sing from cuz you always sing from your heart & soul & from there, there's no better place you can sing from!

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Big Mick
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 05:01 PM

Just to clear, I am mostly speaking of courtesy. If it is a group sing, by all means the group should jump in and sing the version presented. That is a fine use for RUS as the reference. But if it is a singaround/song circle, have the courtesy to let the person doing the song do the song. Join in on the choruses, but don't step on the singer because you feel it is "your" song or you feel that it should be sung a certain way.

And one final time, because I do not want to seem as though I am criticizing a person for singing from a crib sheet or book. If that is what you need to sing a song, you have practiced it, as Joe does, and you just need help on the lyrics, go for it. I do it when needed, as long as I feel I can do the song the justice it deserves, although usually not in a concert setting.

Last word for me, I don't like "RUS is the bible" folks, nor do I like folks that poo poo someone at a singaround who is brave enough to overcome their fear and step to the microphone even if they use a crib sheet. Just pay attention to the protocols of where you are at.

Mick


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 05:06 PM

IT IS NOT A "WRETCHED" BOOK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barry, I can understand and sympathize with a need for individuals like yourself to have more "sophisticated singing groups", but that book has been a HUGE introductions to song for many people and it serves a purpose.   We all get the idea that you have no use for it, nor should you.

The more people rant about it, the more I am getting the feeling that it isn't a book that is "ruining" a sing, it is individuals who feel that they have the only answer to guide the group - and no one else is listening.   Singing in a group requires listening to others, and listening and working with others make up the dynamic of any group.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 05:42 PM

Yes Ron, I wholeheartedly agree with you, it's not the book, it's the people. Like the bible, it's a great book but I left the church along time ago when I was just a bit more than a child because people who believed in the "BooK" were telling me how I was to live my life accordingly to the "Book". Well book be damned, I'll lead my life according to me not some book no matter what book. Like the religious bible thumpers the book singing crowd sings according to their bible & they can do as they please but don't preach & dictate to me I don't want to hear it, they even have been known to barge in where they are not welcomed & preach their gopherspill until their following has swamped the lifeboats to cause them to capsize. I'm on a strict diet of singing for fun & love of singing not for guidence. There's a reason why it's refered to as the "Bible", I have been scolded too by the RUS crowd, I too have sinned & been outcasted but I have not repented I have just gone elsewhere.
It is not a matter of "sophisticated singing groups" Ron, you keep using that phrase as if we were the elite. Like Janie mentioned above I & others here welcome one & all if it's singing they're looking for I just don't foster those that belong to a preference for reading groups, for that they should go to a book store, a library or a story time class not a song bash. I do not care where, how or what you sing or who you sing with but be mindful & aware of you surroundings & let the group dictate it's wants, disires
& needs & leave well enough alone. It's always the song & not the singer that should lead the way & if that is always kept in focus then it won't be about the book or anything else. Nothing else supersedes the song if not it's not worth singing about. No voice is worth hearing if the song's not the primary focus of the attention, no song sung well isn't worth a piece of your heart, the more heart you have in a song the more the song well swell in the hearts of those that are listening. When it's about the book the song has lost all it's value, it's then about the book & about the singer & no longer has anything to do with the song, the song is then just the medium or venue for the voice, for that matter you might as well read for it's no longer emotional, it's sterial, it's been dosed with an anticeptic, it's been scrubbed clean, it's had the life drained from it, it's no longer the song.


Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 07:18 PM

"I'll lead my life according to me not some book no matter what book."

I'm with you 100% - and everyone has the right to do the same.



"It is not a matter of "sophisticated singing groups" Ron, you keep using that phrase as if we were the elite. "

I have to correct you on that. I don't think I used those words previously, and I only used it because that was what you said in your previous group.

Even still, there is nothing wrong with "elite". I would not expect Derek Jeter to play in a beer league softball game each week. There are some people who need to work to their level with their peer group.

What bother me is that your posts are coming across as if those who do not subscribe to the same type of sessions are involved in a lesser pursuit.   I hope that is not what you mean, because those folks are probably having a good time and should not be made to feel inferior.



" When it's about the book the song has lost all it's value "

But in the grand scheme of things, how often is it really "about" the book?   Sure, you have given us numerous examples of events you came across, but with all due respect, I really feel that your stand on the position is adament and I am not sure you can be subjective. I don't say that to be demeaning - it is just a fact of life in any pursuit where someone has a gift that is of a higher calling that others.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 08:47 PM

Just the oppsite Ron! I have been told how to sing & what's wrong about what I sing in these RUS singing goups. That I sang to loudly or I wasn't singing in the key it was written in so therefore the guitar player doesn't know how to play along with my song in the wrong key or tthat's not the chorus & my reply is that's it's my song, I'm singing it & I'll sing it as I see fit. That doesn't go over well in a group where they all believe the critic is correct. If that's where they are & want to be, sorry, it's not a place where I intend to stay, good-bye, I'mm out of there & yes I do think that a singing session like that is beneath me, it's beneath anyone who has any self respect. If they weren't so damn stiff & inflexable in their outlook & what others do differently I wouldn't mind so much but these groups from what I've seen have the gaul to impose their will on all who "don't believe" or who "don't follow" that they drive the rest of us right into the Lion's jaws. I see it as a matter of seeing some folk communities having to go underground just to avoid them.

And as a "gift that is of a higher calling that others"

What ever I have I share with anyone & everyone. At any time anywhere (musically) you will at all hours of the day & night trying to get others to sing, backing others to be musical & encouraging anyone to make use of their voice or instrument. It's not at all about weither I can sing or not, it's about passing the music & songs along & on. I see, hear & feel nothing as moving as hearing a group of folks sing from their hearts, stomacks, heads tossed back without a care in the world at least for the moment their mouths are open, there's nothing more uplifting than a group melded into harmonies bursting with song & you look at the roof & it's lifting right off the joists, the house is bulging & the windows are about to burst. That's it for me Ron. That ain't gonna happen reading out of books & you know it & so does everyone one else reading this thread, it just ain't gonna happen. It's like Billy Buntline saying I wouldn't want to be one of the poor souls on land tonight, with this here storm ablowing in. I don't want to be in no book singing basement when some one's singing up a storm outside, I'd rather be in the eye of the storm, thank you

Barry


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 09:26 PM

"That ain't gonna happen reading out of books & you know it & so does everyone one else reading this thread, it just ain't gonna happen."

Sorry Barry, while I agree that a "book" is not going to give the same feeling as you have described, I do not feel that is enough of a reason to demean the good the book can do - and I think you know and so do many other people who have posted to this thread.   

I respect your desire to make good music, but it ain't the only path my friend!


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 09:36 PM

I don't think anyone minds that there are RUS groups that were set up that way and enjoy themselves undoubtedly. Why would we? More power to them. It is the problem of it taking over long-established groups and it does drive out many of the best as defined by me which others would define differently no doubt...singers..to where? Where do they go? Tell me and I would like to join them. But it is no longer public information where they go. They either are not assembling as they used to in the not so distant past, or they are doing it by invitation only. That does not help anyone, especially newcomers. So I urge people who have active folk song societies to set up two groups..they can drift back and forth and see which they prefer, go to both, whatever.

If the sound of the music itself is more important, they will perhaps go to the sansbook session (and by that I mean, and of course we keep having to say everything over and over here because it gets misconstrued when spelled out very plainly to me at least..they can use the book for themselves, or notes or whatever..just not tell people what page it is on and pass them out and wait for others to find the page..)

If the sound of the music is secondary to the more social aspects, of the guarantee of getting a turn every time, of enjoying the process of group support well, then they can go to that one. They can also go to the other one and see how it compares. Vise versa. They don't have to take an oath to one way or another... If they have time they can go to both.

I think camps especially should be accomodating to both groups and it is easy as pie. What I do not especially like at camps is sneaking away. I would rather, and have started to do this, just say I am going over here with this in mind. Join me if you care to.

I will say there are things I just do not get. One is the taking turns over and over and over until the evening is done. I guess others like it...But in a big group...my musical ADD can't handle it...

Another thing that has not been brought up is that something develops over decades of people singing together. There is a group voice that happens. It is often quite magnificent. We know who the leaders are and who the chorus people are. I personally am a chorus person, except in the smaller groups. We also can tell when a constellation of particularly great singers appears on a given night and I think unconsciously sacrifice our "turns" so that something musically outstanding will happen. This can not happen with the very rigid turn system. It just can't. mg

mg


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,Ron Davies
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 12:17 AM

"group voice".   Right you are, mg. And it sure does happen at the Getaway--where seldom is heard a discouraging word---in fact never--since RUS does not appear. Especially at the after-hours sings or other events which haven't been organized in advance. Though even in the Saturday or Sunday concerts RUS would not be used.

And everybody appreciates anybody who leads a song without RUS--and is completely fine with the idea that verses might be left out, a different tune might be used, etc. What the leader of any given song who sings it from memory does--both tune and text--is by definition right.

So please, mg, try to make it to a Getaway. You won't be disappointed. Your attitude is exactly what we need.



Yet again, nobody has objection to groups of people using RUS as a hymnbook--if that's the musical experience they are content with.

But many, probably the vast majority, are not content with that.

RUS is far more pernicious than any other book or memory aid--for two reasons:   its pretense to folkie Holy Writ (ironically, not intended by the compilers) and the strong likelihood that if there is one in a group, there will be more than one copy. Nobody objects to memory aids--we are all aware memory is fallible.   But use of that book is the worst approach--since it shows absolutely no preparation for a song. Anything else is better--a card with cue words, a sheet, or even a little book of your own songs---since all of those show at least some preparation--and hence some preparation--(though obviously, the more memorized, the better).


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,Ron Davies
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 12:21 AM

Obviously, not proofread very well-- redundance and clumsiness re: "preparation". But meaning is still clear.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 06:35 PM

Thud.


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Don Firth
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 06:52 PM

Jeez, Ref, get a grip! You keep dropping your book!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: Ref
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 08:39 PM

It's the sound of me kicking a dead horse. RUS ain't heavy enough for a "thud."


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Subject: RE: homage to Rise Up Singing
From: GUEST,Ron Davies
Date: 09 Jan 09 - 09:42 PM

Well, Ref, you must not really want the thread to die--otherwise you would have said nothing.

Fine with me. A few bits of unfinished business.   There's the poster who made all sorts of archly knowing, yet classically stupid remarks about the New Years party I went to. Then he says "all in good fun". Sorry, I've seen that movie before--it starred Mr. Cheney.

"Not as stupid as I look".   Well, that's a relief.


Janie--

I wanted to tell you that the duet (with Dani)?--that was you, wasn't it?-- you did of "There'll Be No Church Tonight" at the 2005 Getaway was one of the highlights of that year.   You proved you don't need RUS to lean on. And as I said recently, any other memory aid is absolutely fine--anything you'd like to do.




And for the defenders of RUS-oriented sings.   It's interesting no one has found an answer to my question of why you want to drive your mentors--like Bob, Don and Barry-- away. Which is exactly what you do with a RUS-centered sing.

And it's also obvious that--once more with feeling--RUS, far from "building community" in folk societies, actually causes serious schisms in those societies. We have testimony to that effect from Seattle, Boston, and DC--and I suspect it's true across the US.


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