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Which is the best 'session' instrument?

GUEST,LDT 10 May 11 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 10 May 11 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,LDT 10 May 11 - 11:04 AM
Mr Red 10 May 11 - 11:05 AM
Lester 10 May 11 - 11:05 AM
cooperman 10 May 11 - 11:06 AM
Seayaker 10 May 11 - 11:12 AM
GUEST,Ray 10 May 11 - 11:24 AM
GUEST,999 10 May 11 - 11:54 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 May 11 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Jon 10 May 11 - 02:24 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 May 11 - 02:28 PM
Smokey. 10 May 11 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,lively 10 May 11 - 02:48 PM
Tootler 10 May 11 - 03:16 PM
GUEST,Seonaid 10 May 11 - 03:59 PM
The Sandman 10 May 11 - 04:00 PM
The Sandman 10 May 11 - 04:02 PM
Fred McCormick 10 May 11 - 04:18 PM
JohnH 10 May 11 - 04:23 PM
Tootler 10 May 11 - 04:50 PM
Little Robyn 10 May 11 - 05:16 PM
GUEST 10 May 11 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Jon 10 May 11 - 05:40 PM
PHJim 10 May 11 - 05:45 PM
GUEST 10 May 11 - 05:46 PM
Jack Campin 10 May 11 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Ldt 10 May 11 - 05:48 PM
GUEST 10 May 11 - 05:51 PM
Richard Bridge 10 May 11 - 05:52 PM
GUEST,Jon 10 May 11 - 05:55 PM
GUEST 10 May 11 - 05:57 PM
GUEST,Jon 10 May 11 - 06:02 PM
Jack Campin 10 May 11 - 06:13 PM
banjoman 11 May 11 - 06:25 AM
GUEST,LDT 11 May 11 - 06:33 AM
Chris Partington 11 May 11 - 06:38 AM
GUEST,LDT 11 May 11 - 06:44 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 May 11 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,LDT 11 May 11 - 06:50 AM
GUEST,Jon 11 May 11 - 06:55 AM
Bo 11 May 11 - 07:05 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 May 11 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,LDT 11 May 11 - 07:19 AM
harmonic miner 11 May 11 - 07:59 AM
Marje 11 May 11 - 08:18 AM
Jack Campin 11 May 11 - 08:21 AM
GUEST,LDT 11 May 11 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Jon 11 May 11 - 08:56 AM
TheSnail 11 May 11 - 09:17 AM
Dave the Gnome 11 May 11 - 09:32 AM
Les in Chorlton 11 May 11 - 10:38 AM
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Subject: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 10 May 11 - 10:51 AM

So if you go to a session....what instrument do you think would suit that environment best? I'm not asking what you play...but on suitability (pros v cons) which is best...

IMO I think fiddle as its right by your ear so you can hear what your playing and if your not too confident its quiet enough to get drowned out by loud players if you want it to be.

p.s. no Bodheran or Banjo jokes we've heard them all before. *rollseyes*


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 May 11 - 10:55 AM

I don't think the environment should determine the instrument. Different people like different instruments. A person can find that one instrument is uncomfortable to play, but another instrument is a pleasure.

Play the instrument that's right for you. When people get together, there will be a variety of instruments, and that will make for an interesting, enjoyable session.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:04 AM

I'm not asking what you or what others 'want' to play...its what has most advantages in the environment. Thinking about it in a logical, scientific, non biased way.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:05 AM

the best session instrument is the one played well. And preferably different from the one on the left (& right).


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Lester
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:05 AM

Shaky egg


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: cooperman
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:06 AM

I like mandolin.
You can play it soft or loud.
It has the advantage over fiddle in that you can play chord accompaniment if you don't know the tune.
If you do know the tune it's high sound will cut through and be heard.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Seayaker
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:12 AM

There isn't any one "best" session instrument.

They all have their good points and the more of a mix the better


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:24 AM

I play guitar and mandolin. In sessions, guitars can be ten a penny and its difficult to make yourself heard with any finesse so I'd tend to agree with cooperman and go with the mandolin. In particular, nowadays I use one of THESE

So far, I haven't found anyone who doesn't like the sound. They're "LOUD" but you can play them quietly and, espite what you may think, they blend nicely with most styles of music.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,999
Date: 10 May 11 - 11:54 AM

The fenorten.

"Way way back a fellow from Switzerland was playing the fenorten--an archaic instrument--and you must blow into both ends at the same time. His fenorten partner was sick that night, so Ernie decided to go it alone--well, just him and the harp player. Anyway, in a particularly frenzied piece of the music, Ernie tripped, fell and went through the harp.

For any concerned souls, Ernie can be visited in the Montreal General Hospital, rooms 17 through 60. Get well soon, Ernie."


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 May 11 - 12:15 PM

First passed the post - tenor banjo - can be played loud or soft. Second preference the beer glass.

L in C#


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 May 11 - 02:24 PM

It can depend a bit on the situation for me. Lately I have been preferring the mandola /octave mandolin at home and in the Irish sessions I sometimes get to but this weekend I found I was struggling using it with 3 and sometimes 4 melodeons playing. I switched to tenor banjo.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 May 11 - 02:28 PM

This is a bit like asking which is the best letter of the alphabet to use when writing.   The different instruments need each other, but they have to be in the right order.   

Too many of the same instruments played together are almost bound to be a disaster.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Smokey.
Date: 10 May 11 - 02:35 PM

Whatever instrument you play the most considerately.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,lively
Date: 10 May 11 - 02:48 PM

I like drum/bodhron - played with awareness of (an eye on) the singer's movements in timing.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 May 11 - 03:16 PM

There is no one best session instrument even "thinking about it in a logical, scientific non-biassed way".

A good session will have a mix of instruments and a good mix is what is needed. Every instrument has its own particular qualities and will contribute something to the overall mix.

It depends on what instrument(s) you play and what suits you personally. Take the instrument(s) you are most comfortable with. No harm in taking more than one if you play more than one.

I usually take flute, recorder and harmonica to a session. Which I play at any time depends on the tune and which instrument I feel most comfortable with at any time.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Seonaid
Date: 10 May 11 - 03:59 PM

Voice gets my vote....
It's portable, can be played soft or loud, and doesn't require a case that blocks the hallway. Unless you're Tibetan, of course, it only provides one note at a time, but used well and in good combination, the possibilities are endless.
Other than that, mandolin is good, especially in tight quarters. But if I could only have one instrument in a session, it would probably be a guitar, for the range, flexibility and bashability.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:00 PM

silence.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: The Sandman
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:02 PM

if not sounds of silence, perhaps distant drums


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:18 PM

perhaps I should start a separate thread for worst session instruments, but I did once see a guy trying to play a trombone in an extremely crowded pub session.........


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: JohnH
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:23 PM

Voice!


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Tootler
Date: 10 May 11 - 04:50 PM

Do you mean voice as in

Diddley, Diddley, Diddley ...?


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:16 PM

Mitch plays a bass - yes, an electric one. He has the volume fairly low so it's not intrusive but the regular thump, thump, thump is what keeps everyone else together. It also gives the guitarists a clue if they're having bother following with the right chords because Mitch is also a good guitarist and his bass runs owe more to guitar runs than concert bass. He also helps hold back those with melody instruments who try to race.
Other regulars include mandolin, guitar, bodhran, harmonica, accordion, whistles and anything else that turns up.
When the mandolin player was away, the group fell flat, and when the harmonica player was missing the sound wasn't the same either. But someone else - guitar player usually, takes over and we do slightly different stuff, maybe more songs than tunes and still have a good evening.
So you need a balance. If you have lots of guitars, go for something else but if you play guitar and everyone else has a melody instrument then a guitar is easy to fit in.
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:28 PM

If you have lots of guitars, go for something else but if you play guitar and everyone else has a melody instrument then a guitar is easy to fit in.

I've tended to find that even with top quality guitar players one guitar is enough in a session and most sessions I get to have their established regular guitar player.

As for finding it easy to fit in, it's something I can't do. I'm OK on tunes where straight open chords fit but full bars of plain open chords tend to sound naff with a lot of the Irish tunes that are played. IMO, it is a job for the "guitar specialists" not one for an "occasional guitar strummer" like me.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:40 PM

Missed my name above...


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: PHJim
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:45 PM

GUEST above is right. There are many different ways to accompany many Irish fiddle tunes and I've often heard 2 chording instruments playing different sets of chords, both of which would sound fine with the tune, but sound terrible when played together. Unless there is some agreement on what chords to play, one chording instrument is enough.
A couple of people suggested voice, but if this is your choice, you'll spend most of the session sitting out, since tunes greatly outnumber songs in any session I've ever attended.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:46 PM

The person who plays the tune.

BUt it has to be...

A strong player who can hold a tune when people play with (and or against) and allow them to do it and smile


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:48 PM

A mandolin can do a remarkable amount of damage. I occasionally encounter one guy in sessions round here who is a fairly good fiddler but occasionally decides to spend a session playing mandolin. On which he makes a pathetic tinkly noise barely recognizable as music. He will sit in a corner and *almost* start a tune for minutes on end - it is impossible to tell whether this is just noodling or if he's seriously intending to play a specific melody. So everybody politely keeps quiet and tries to figure out what he's doing. Usually, as soon as one person gets it and joins in (this person is frequently me), he abruptly stops. The result is to sabotage any impetus the session had going.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Ldt
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:48 PM

What about in an english session?


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:51 PM

I love accompanying rather than being 'right'

It's the good bit

It's where people go "but it should be an Em not an Am"

But it works - how so?


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:52 PM

Stanley knife or wire cutters?   Or large cork?


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:55 PM

What about in an english session?

Well re my guitar comments, I think an English session stands more chance of having a good number of tunes that will work with the straight open chords. So perhaps easier for a less competent (like me) to fit in and perhaps easier for two guitars to wind up playing the same (or non clashing) chords.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 11 - 05:57 PM

Jack

You are obviously so much better than other people. I'm up in Scotland next week - where do you play? It would be good to hear you.

I won't bring the mandolin because I'm learning


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 May 11 - 06:02 PM

I think Jack's comments point to a wider session problem. Politely waiting for someone who may be then turns out not be starting a tune can get infuriating.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 May 11 - 06:13 PM

Yep, this isn't about ability, it's about attitude, and perception of what's happening in the room around you. There are other people who can drain all the energy out of a session simply by intrusively starting a conversation at the wrong moment (something the mandolin anti-player also does).


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: banjoman
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:25 AM

Anything except melodeons which tend to gather and dominate sessions. One played properly and which allows other musiciand to get a look inis fine, but put two or more together and its no longer a session but a melodeon convention


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:33 AM

One of the instruments I play in a melodeon (I only play basses if no one else is - and have recently tried experimenting with playing harmonies). If I'm sat next to a quieter instrument, I'll use a quieter instrument...you see I'm one of those rare things, a considerate player who doesn't want to be the loudest or the fastest...I want to add to the 'whole' sound in a nice way. ;)
(maybe its a 'young' female thing not to want to be competitive?)


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Chris Partington
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:38 AM

The fiddle is one of the few instruments (I can't think of the others right now) that don't sound worse the more there are of them.
But then, I may be biased.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:44 AM

Depends on if they are beginners or not ;)

Well in the session I went to the other night 5 fiddles managed to just about be heard with 5 piano accordions, a concertina, a melodeon and a whistle also playing. ;)


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:47 AM

I posted this earlier, or something very similar, but it seems to have disappered of the face of the Earth:-(

You need to define 'best', session' and 'instrument'!

To me a session can be Irish, English or drinking. If it is the latter then the best instrument is a beer glass. Mind you, if it is either of the former I find they can be dramaticaly improved by the addition of numerous beer glasses too:-)

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:50 AM

play the beer classes then do you? ;)
Drinking the contents to tune the instruments...


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 May 11 - 06:55 AM

Chris. I don't play one but I think the fiddle is an instrument that works well in numbers. I find the overall effects is to sort of broaden and fill out the fiddle contribution. It's the best sort of "blend in numbers" instrument I can think of.

Going the other way and picking on one I do play. I rarely like more than one tenor banjo going. Even though it may not be the intention, the effect can be that the sound as if they are fighting or in competition with each other. If I have one with me, I'll might switch to mandolin or mandola to avoid that.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Bo
Date: 11 May 11 - 07:05 AM

Oh you lucky people, I would welcome the chance to play in an of your sessions.
My few locally have been hi-jacked by the bluegrass brigade and usually consist of 3 banjos and 2 mandolins. There is an occasional accordian where only the right hand plays a few notes but, as mentioned in previous posts, stops as soon as any one joins in.
Chorus singing seems to be unknown in bluegrass and any attempt to get something going is met with blank looks.
Any good session would be a relief. My preferred instrument? a well played melodeon, I haven't heard one here in over 2 years.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 May 11 - 07:18 AM

Funnily enough I have been known to play an empty pint pot with two coins between my knuckles! But I can't say i am any good at it :-(

DtG


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 11 May 11 - 07:19 AM

If you drunk wine, you could do that thing where you brush top of the glass to make a sound.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: harmonic miner
Date: 11 May 11 - 07:59 AM

I'd say the following questions are equally constructive.So if you go to a meal....what food do you think would suit that environment best? I'm not asking what you eat...but on suitability (pros v cons) which is best...

So if you go to a cinema....what movie do you think would suit that environment best? I'm not asking what you watch...but on suitability (pros v cons) which is best...

So if you go to a match....what team do you think would suit that environment best? I'm not asking what team you follow...but on suitability (pros v cons) which is best...


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Marje
Date: 11 May 11 - 08:18 AM

In view of the views expressed so far, maybe the best instrument is two instruments. If you have a reasonable level of skill in two contrasting instruments (one of which can be voice, if you like), then there's a much better chance of being able to fit in and complement the rest of the group.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 May 11 - 08:21 AM

It's sometimes worth throwing out a rather vague question to start a discussion that mey go in directions you hadn't thought of but still find interesting to follow. "LDT" has been around for a while and knows what he or she is doing.

Here is one angle I hadn't expected. In the sessions I go to in Edinburgh, I carry a whole range of instruments so I can deal with any key imaginable. Last year at the Whitby Folk Week, I found it didn't work that way. Just about everything was in G or D. If I'd realized that was going to happen I might have brought different instruments.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 11 May 11 - 08:37 AM

@Jack.
Been into folk since 2008...and playing in sessions for about 2-3 years.

I do run out of hands a lot, with a C/G anglo concertina, a one row melodeon in C, a 2 tow D/G melodeon and a fiddle...its always hard to restrict myself. Need a small trailer to carry them all.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 May 11 - 08:56 AM

I have been out in the past with D/G melodoen, guitar, tenor banjo and mandolin, possibly even a mouth organ... but these days I usually just stick with GDAE strings and have never carried the three (mandola added) I now have to a session.

The local festival this weekend was an exception as I did drag the melodeon out of retirement on the Sunday evening as there had been a few English tunes I used to play on it cropping up and, even though rusty, I felt it useful to have. I think voice was also used that night..


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: TheSnail
Date: 11 May 11 - 09:17 AM

Jack Campin

I carry a whole range of instruments so I can deal with any key imaginable. Last year at the Whitby Folk Week, I found it didn't work that way. Just about everything was in G or D.

Overheard at a session a while back -

Duet concertina player: I can't decide what key to play it in. (With facial expressions suggesting mental anguish.)

Melodeon player: There's only two.


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 11 May 11 - 09:32 AM

I remember a real smart alec in a session in the Elsinor in Whitby many many years ago - Can't remember what he was playing but whatever it was, it was in a key that most people had difficulty joining in with. I can't remember properly (It was early 80's!) but I think it was Ian Goodyear who joined in on English concertina, and then proceded to play through the same tune in every key - To a huge round of applause:-)

I guess the English concertina would be a pretty good choice for sessions but, as I don't play one, I don't really know!

DtG


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Subject: RE: Which is the best 'session' instrument?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 11 May 11 - 10:38 AM

And who would have thought that music is one of the most cooperative and delightful activities, yes I know, I know the other, in which people can partake

L in C#


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