Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Song circle size and problems to avoid

mg 02 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM
RTim 02 Feb 10 - 03:27 PM
jeffp 02 Feb 10 - 03:42 PM
Bill D 02 Feb 10 - 04:04 PM
mg 02 Feb 10 - 04:43 PM
mg 02 Feb 10 - 04:59 PM
Charley Noble 02 Feb 10 - 07:22 PM
Bill D 02 Feb 10 - 08:23 PM
Genie 02 Feb 10 - 08:30 PM
Bill D 02 Feb 10 - 08:41 PM
GUEST,Don 02 Feb 10 - 09:31 PM
Artful Codger 02 Feb 10 - 09:45 PM
Janie 02 Feb 10 - 11:22 PM
mg 03 Feb 10 - 12:56 PM
mg 03 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM
Paul_Schurr_PSG_NY 03 Feb 10 - 01:15 PM
mg 03 Feb 10 - 03:21 PM
Genie 03 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: BS: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 03:12 PM

I have figured something out finally...the diameter of the song circle has an immense effect on how good stuff sounds..and the increasingly common practice of constantly expanding a circle to make room for new attendees I think is a serious problem in more ways than one. I am talking mostly about spontaneous groupings at camps..not something that organizers set up..they can do it however they want.

But this happened to me again and again at a Vancouver camp and it was happening again at Rainycamp and everytime it does the music takes a great hit. First of all..they can get so big and people are so far apart you can't see or hear them. Secondly, they have these blazing flourescent lights usually and will not turn them off and get lamps. So it is fairly like an AA meeting I would think, with somewhat better coffee. Then, if you have a group that has spontaneously formed, what you do when you move the chairs is several things...one is you break the concentration of the group and you immediately destroy the group that was good enough for others to want to join them, at least to listen. Then you have all the chair scraping etc. And you were comfortable before, and now you have to move. You were singing next to someone you liked to sing by and now that is gone. The group consensus is now gone and remember this is a group that got together because they liked getting together in a particulaar way.

You have introduced new members into the group and the rules change. Guaranteed some will have blue books. The group that was original probably is a group that hates them so you have that problem. This all happened within a couple of days ago by the way.

People spontaneously started talking about this problem at Rainycamp and it is not just me. At least one person left a group because of it.

The solution is simple. Later people sit in a second, concentric row. The concentration of music will not get worse; it will get better. There will be almost no disruption. As people leave the first row, people can move in from the second.

If people are obsessive...polite..whatever the word is about taking turns..just zigzag..or if it is an original group in chaos mode as we call it, tell newcomers that and let them decide if that fits with their preferences or not.

There has to be a point at which you say the circle is big enough. Any more will break it...easy solutions to a big problem. And I am not talkng about circles that someone deliberately sets up..that organizer can do as he or she wishes..all blue books, turn after turn, or all chaos, or however..hopefully someone else will do one for other people..I am really talking about the spontaneous ones that occur in camps, not in the main rooms but in ancillary places...mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: RTim
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 03:27 PM

I HATE singing into a "hole" - I would always prefer everyone sitting in random groups and standing up when it is your turn. You can solve who sings when by passing round an item like my friends in Canada who use an Eight Ball, or as Dave Weber uses, a hat!

Tim Radford


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: jeffp
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 03:42 PM

Is the singer required to wear the hat?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 04:04 PM

There is 'almost' no real control on the spontaneous groups... unless the camp & crowd is large enough to support several groups in different areas. Then people have more choice.

I have struggled with this for 40 years....I could write a Master's thesis on group dynamics!

It will ALWAYS be the case that some folks have 'different' ideas on themes, song types....and group 'manners' for want of a better term.
There are those who, in a group or 20, expect to do a song every 3rd or 4th turn...or simply feel (often correctly) that they are 'better', and don't want to suffer through those 'reading from the blue book'.

The only real solutions involve 1)critical mass..enough to form several groups, 2)a structured session led & directed (I know..) and 3)an open, painful discussion setting out some guidelines.

The moving of chairs after the early arrivals are 'set' in their comfort zone is always a real strain. If there is ANY way to pre-arrange a batch of chairs, it can help...but.....

We..(here at the Getaway) have enough years and a big enough crowd who are 'aware', that it is only a little bit awkward... *grin*


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 04:43 PM

where did my other brilliant post go?

Painful discussions are in order.

Putting stuff down in writing as you advertise an event is in order.

Telling people to respect the dynamics of the original group if it is an unofficial spontaneous group is in order. They might want to have 3 or 4 people lead them. They might want to only sing Lutheran Hymns or sea shanties. They get to. If you want something different, form it elsewhere. If you want to join them, pull a chair up in the back.   Don't insist on turns. It is not your group, it is their's. If you insist on having your way, you will destroy the music. If you like things a certain way, get with others, or put up a sign saying meet here at x o'clock and we will do things in a circle, taking turns, keep moving chairs out until the walls break and we will support everyone and everyone is equal. People will sneak out and try to find the other groups though, then the other groups will sneak away and try to regroup...it is a perpetual cat and mouse game.

Painful discussions up front. Set places to do various styles of music. Don't try to reform a group to your point of view...join in on their terms or start another one. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 04:59 PM

I think you also have alpha and beta singers...and some are beta but don't want the alphas to get one up on them (I am a beta who will follow a good enough alpha).

Alpha and beta a get along fine. The alphas lead and the betas follow. But beta bs who are probably more socially advanced than I am do not like this arrangement, which has worked from time immemorial, and want to dampen the alpha/beta relationship.

So..best music I have heard
Strong alpha
Submissive beta
Some attention to betas getting turns but no over emphasis
Songs flowing one to another


Worst music
Alphas suppressed
Betas who can not sing as leaders or perhaps at all getting equal share of time
Strict attention to turns, which rules out songs flowing in a pattern


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 07:22 PM

mg-

I couldn't agree with you more.

Charley Noble


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 08:23 PM

Good luck! That's quite an agenda.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Genie
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 08:30 PM

[[The only real solutions involve 1)critical mass..enough to form several groups, 2)a structured session led & directed (I know..) and 3)an open, painful discussion setting out some guidelines.]]
Bill, there's one other issue: space.

At camps like Getaway and RainyCamp, and Singtime Frolics, there are not enough usable spaces to accommodate everyone who wants to form a select group of 4 or 6. And if you have 50 people who want to participate in an unscheduled song circle but only 6 or 7 places to form one, something's/ someone's gotta give.

Mary, I like your concentric circles idea. Even at scheduled circles like the Friday night one at RainyCamp and Singtime, the circle gets so big that there's an audible time delay between one side of the room and the other.

As for the Blue Books, I'm not wild about having them used in song circles, but I think the absolute banning of any form of lyric sheet can be equally oppressive.   Sometimes the only real way to get good group singing going is to use a lyric sheet; otherwise you're limited to songs everyone already knows and/or those that have simple choruses. That leaves out a helluva lot of good music.


And, as has been mentioned above, "chaos" mode often ends up with 25% of the participants doing or leading 75% of the songs.   I like chaos mode as long as people are willing to share the lead instead of always jumping right in without regard to the less assertive participants.

Also, I'm not so sure song circle participants can be neatly divided into alphas and betas. : )

But if "betas" include people who either have no sense of rhythm or have no idea how to follow whoever is leading a song (e.g., watching that person's mouth), I think maybe a bit of instruction at the beginning of the camp or circle would help. Some jam sessions have a list of "the Ten Commandments Of Bluegrass Jamming," for instance. It can help.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Bill D
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 08:41 PM

at the Getaway, in the evening, there are 3-4 decent spots, and there will be one more this Fall when the old dining hall is remodeled. That can allow a lot of leeway.
It's been better as we adjust to conditions...and we have several 'regular' leaders whose suggestions get respect.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: GUEST,Don
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 09:31 PM

Charley Noble please e-mail me.

Sorry to hyjack the thread but I really need to find that record,
RIDING ON THE ELEVATED RAILROAD

Thanks In advance for contacting me.
Tubadon40@aol.com


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Artful Codger
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 09:45 PM

Alpha personalities are often worse performers than they think, and their song choices can be uninspired. Many people (like myself) are very good singers, but having been bred with good manners, we're not pushy--we get short-changed without an explicit fairness approach. Groups should not be dominated by the aggressive, the socially oblivious and the egocentric (as is so often the case).

With a sign-up sheet, you get fairness and the seating arrangement becomes immaterial--no need for literal circles. "Flow" is overrated and often leads to sameness.

If you want your group to be skewed to a few select people, then state that up front and interleave their contributions with those on your sign-up list.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Janie
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 11:22 PM

If you have decided that you and 6 others want to sing and really do not want intrusions or additions without your permission, I would hesitate to call that a spontaneous song circle. Maybe you can find a room where you can close the door behind you and put up a "Do Not Disturb-Session in Progess" sign.

Do people need to be aware of, or educated about general norms and mores regarding song circle manners in your region or at your event? Of course.   But mg, your postings on these matters often sounds very inhospitable and intolerant.

I don't know, maybe lovers of the music who are not first class musicians and performers are welcomed only as audience members in the Northwest. That is often the impression I am left with reading posts about Rainy Camp and Camp Harmony.

I don't view song circles as performances. Perhaps that is my problem. I grew up with music in living room, on the back porch, and singing while tending the garden, not as performance.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 12:56 PM

I don't see it as performers or audience. I see it as a group voice and I go to these events for the group singing. I love being with the first class performers as song leaders or participants, and I love being with the general "audience/choir" singing too. I don't see song circles as performaces..at least not the ones I like. But I think in informal groupings people get freedom of assembly if it is physically possible. If they want to do barbershop, I shouldn't come in, make them move their chairs around, and start doing I Hate George Bush songs. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 01:02 PM

I should make it clear that I am not a leader and I am not a performer. I do not practice and I do not know most of the words usually and I guess that is what I don't like..when there are too many performers...to me it is leader and chorus or group all together..which we do very well at these camps. No one will ever mistake me for Jon Bartlett. But I am saying what people whisper in private and when things reach a tipping point..and it certainly was reached for me a year or so ago at a camp when I had to listen to 8 or so solo performers before I heard a song I wanted to hear. I can't justify going for that sort of ratio. I think a ratio of 10-20% I'll listen to be polite and the rest I hope I like or I won't show up...and that is a problem with some previously very wonderful events. LThey have had to cancel for this reason I think. But no one will ever say. They just won't go. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Paul_Schurr_PSG_NY
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 01:15 PM

Wed at 1 PM

We have a sing around at the Irishmist Pub tonight in Troy NY. Our first one, a couple months ago, started with a group around a table. As more people came, we pushed tables together to make the "circle" larger. Well the damn tables were round, so it started to look like a growth of mushrooms propagating in the midst of our sing. More people, more tables. Eventually we were singing across a sea of mushrooms and wonderin' how the heck we ended up in this situation. The tables pushed people behind pillars, and before you know it, you couldn't see everyone.

We aren't doing it that way tonight... I hope.

The Mystic sing in January had concentric circles, but that was not ideal either. The performer types decided to focus their singing from the middle, not the sides. I have nearly every butt memorized. It was not a savory sight, and I had disturbing dreams for many nights. Well, the Johnson girls were not bad, of course...

While on Mystic, there seems to be a proliferation of chairs and seating in the beer hall. At first I thought that this was a good idea. Now it feels like we're being restricted to one spot in the room for hours and hours. (Having an unintended schoolmarm maintaining discipline, fairness, and order reinforced this feeling in January... no offence intended, Heather, just another way of looking at how it seemed in a moment of imagination.) I miss the chaos of fewer chairs and, instead, groups spontaneously growing and shrinking all over the room.

My favorite sings involve very small numbers and unexpected singers showing up and soon enough disappearing again. At Chez Jake's camper at Old Songs, this is the norm. I like sitting there all night just to see what will happen next. The unofficial sings at Mystic are like that too just before the stars fade and sunrise approaches.) John Roberts still denies knowing anything about the dead-teenager doo wop songs.

Who would guess that talking about sing-around circles would spark all these nutty thoughts? I hope you have more to do than to read this message!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: mg
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 03:21 PM

OK...who is inhospitable here? I was in a formerly very wonderful camp that has frankly seen better days (not Rainycamp). I was sitting under flourescent lights reflecting onto ugly yellow asbestos tile. There was a small group of people I wanted to hear and join. I discretely sat near them, by the fire. I did not intrude on their music, I just listened and maybe sang on the chorus..this group was seen and joined by others. One appointed herself the chair police. Again and again I was told to move my chair back to others could join. I finally backed my chair against the wall and said I am not moving again. To me, she was rude. I was doing nothing whatsoever. I was not disrupting the original group.

What happens is not that anyone becomes inhospitable. They don't go. Either they don't go to the official song circle, which I admit for the first time I did not go to at Rainycamp. I counted 22 blue books out of a group of 50, the flourescent lights were blazing, although all they had to do was turn them off and there were plenty of regular lights, and it was turn by painful turn. I didn't do anything bad. I just did not participate. I found others who felt the same and we went to another building. Usually if I do that I will do it up front and say we are going there to do this. We should not hog the nice building though..I do agree with that..take turns or draw straws or something. Very nice group forms but then blue books come in. I counted 9 out of a group of 25? maybe. Oh dear. Now what do we do. I think I just went to bed early. that is what people do. They bow out of a group or they just do not attend. Which is perfectly fine...have it focused on another way of doing things but just announce it ahead of time so people can decide. mg


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Song circle size and problems to avoid
From: Genie
Date: 03 Feb 10 - 03:52 PM

Mary, although I have a 'Blue Hymnal' and sometimes take it to Portland song circles, I very seldom use it to sing from, even when whoever is leading a song directs us to page so-and-so.   If 20 out of 50 people* have their heads buried in a book, it doesn't mean the others have to do the same or have to refrain from singing.   But, again, I think a major reason why lots of people do "solos" - at least in Pac NW song circles - is that no one else knows the words; when people provide a lyric sheet, we usually get a lot of good group singing. And we're not restricted to the same set of songs that have been done so many times that we all know them by heart.

As for fluorescent lights and asbestos tiles, well some music camp facilities' furnishings are less hospitable than others. Some Rainy Camp cabins have nowhere to sit except on the bunk beds; Singtime cabins have nice but small lounge areas; Getaway cabins have nice roomy lounge areas; the lodge where the RainyCamp Fri. night song circle is held is so huge & echo-y that it's very hard for people at one end of the room to stay in sync with those at the other, and it's extremely hard for people without booming voices to be heard anyway. We have to make do with what's available.

If/when we encounter a "song circle Nazi," that's unfortunate, but it really doesn't need to deter people from coming to the gatherings.   Every year the camps are a bit different, and there are many different types of spontaneous gatherings.   If I find one boring or inhospitable, and I can't freely participate, I just move on to another.

To me, the main thing, if not the only thing, that will make me want to not come back to a group is the type of chaos that results when a lot of people sing along without following the leader's timing on when to come in on the next line.   And, yes, that does often result when 'beta' singers (people who are musically challenged, whether they have good voices or not) have their heads buried in books or song sheets.   Choir singers know how to use sheet music or lyric sheets without staring at them constantly; I wish more song circle participants did too.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 18 August 5:03 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.