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Disappearance of communal singing in US

Desert Dancer 28 Mar 12 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Mar 12 - 02:04 PM
RTim 28 Mar 12 - 02:31 PM
foggers 28 Mar 12 - 02:32 PM
Deckman 28 Mar 12 - 03:19 PM
GUEST,FloraG 28 Mar 12 - 03:26 PM
Desert Dancer 28 Mar 12 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,mg 28 Mar 12 - 03:34 PM
Desert Dancer 28 Mar 12 - 03:35 PM
GUEST,mg 28 Mar 12 - 03:38 PM
Artful Codger 28 Mar 12 - 04:28 PM
Joe_F 28 Mar 12 - 05:12 PM
GUEST,leeneia 28 Mar 12 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,Vicki Kelsey 29 Mar 12 - 01:14 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Mar 12 - 02:06 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Mar 12 - 02:17 AM
GUEST 29 Mar 12 - 03:10 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Mar 12 - 03:35 AM
Deckman 29 Mar 12 - 06:09 AM
GUEST,FloraG 29 Mar 12 - 10:00 AM
Joe_F 29 Mar 12 - 08:43 PM
Desert Dancer 29 Mar 12 - 09:24 PM
KathyW 29 Mar 12 - 10:22 PM
Janie 29 Mar 12 - 11:01 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 29 Mar 12 - 11:39 PM
mg 29 Mar 12 - 11:45 PM
Desert Dancer 29 Mar 12 - 11:57 PM
mg 30 Mar 12 - 12:19 AM
Janie 30 Mar 12 - 12:38 AM
GUEST,FloraG 30 Mar 12 - 03:11 AM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 30 Mar 12 - 07:51 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Mar 12 - 08:50 AM
dick greenhaus 30 Mar 12 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 Mar 12 - 12:42 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 30 Mar 12 - 01:16 PM
Stringsinger 30 Mar 12 - 01:57 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Mar 12 - 03:09 PM
Artful Codger 30 Mar 12 - 06:17 PM
Desert Dancer 30 Mar 12 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,Julia 30 Mar 12 - 09:02 PM
Desert Dancer 30 Mar 12 - 09:12 PM
Artful Codger 30 Mar 12 - 10:20 PM
NightWing 30 Mar 12 - 11:08 PM
Joe_F 31 Mar 12 - 06:32 PM
Desert Dancer 01 Apr 12 - 03:14 PM
Charlie Baum 01 Apr 12 - 03:36 PM
TonyK 01 Apr 12 - 04:31 PM
Mark Ross 01 Apr 12 - 06:57 PM
open mike 01 Apr 12 - 08:36 PM
Blues=Life 02 Apr 12 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,Chord Chucker 02 Apr 12 - 02:45 PM
Kaleea 03 Apr 12 - 03:12 AM
Blues=Life 03 Apr 12 - 09:21 PM
GUEST 04 Apr 12 - 12:57 AM
mg 04 Apr 12 - 03:51 AM
Rob Naylor 04 Apr 12 - 08:04 AM
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Subject: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 01:43 PM

How Communal Singing Disappeared From American Life, And why we should bring it back, by Karen Loew in The Atlantic.

Excerpts:

With the crack of baseball bats across the land, the singing season for Americans is about to begin. At ballparks from Saint Louis to San Diego, people will stand during the seventh-inning stretch and belt "Take Me Out to the Ballgame." They will feel the pleasure of singing a bouncy, easy song with thousands of other fans. They will be cheered by the sunny lyrics, even if their team is down. They will lose themselves in a bond stretching around the stadium, a few minutes of carefree unity.

And when the season's over, that'll be it until next spring.

Adults in America don't sing communally. Children routinely sing together in their schools and activities, and even infants have sing-alongs galore to attend. But past the age of majority, at grown-up commemorations, celebrations, and gatherings, this most essential human yawp of feeling—of marking, with a grace note, that we are together in this place at this time—usually goes missing.

The reasons why are legion. We are insecure about our voices. We don't know the words. We resent being forced into an activity together. We feel uncool. And since we're out of practice as a society, the person who dares to begin a song risks having no one join her.

This is a loss. It's as if we've willingly cut off one of our senses: the pleasure center for full lungs and body resonance and shared emotion and connection to our fellow man.
...
One new communal occurrence in contemporary life cries out for song: the post-shooting vigil. The event is inherently public and emotional, made for group singing. ... In news reports, we see photos of hugs and tears and shocked faces, and then candlelight vigils. These events, which apparently will continue, seem even sadder without the relief of song.

When, if not here, are blues and spirituals called for? Where, if not here, would they provide a measure of healing? Healing for all, not just the performer with a guitar at the front of the crowd. Perhaps the vigils will inspire a powerful new folk song—one that's easy to sing, memorable, "viral"—to be written.
...
Occupy Wall Street is another new phenomenon built for communal song. Music has been a major element of the demonstrations, now blossoming again along with springtime, but "not widespread songs we've been singing together," said Nelini Stamp, a Brooklyn resident and singer who's been involved since the beginning in September. Although they're more fragmentary, the protest moments involving song still have Stamp excited: from ongoing sing-ins at courthouses to resist home foreclosures, to the night when Occupy was evicted from Zuccotti Park in November, when dozens of arrested activists sang "Stand By Me" and "With a Little Help From My Friends" in the halls of central booking.
...
To be sure, musicmaking is alive and well in America. The YouTube platform for performance sharing is just one sign. Online lessons have empowered wannabes to learn. Folks sing in religious settings as much as ever. People who enjoy singing get together in homes to make music with friends, and choral groups abound. It's the community-oriented, community-building, sometimes spontaneous kind of singing that's suffering.

Following on that last paragraph, what I see is there's so much focus on individual performance and on "performance", rather than self-entertainment. YouTube exemplifies that. And the TV examples of group singing (Glee and that acapella singing contest show) are about highly-arranged performances with star soloists. People don't think they can measure up. And without practice, they have more trouble feeling comfortable letting anything out.

The article mentions the "Get America Singing...Again! campaign [from the National Association for Music Education] in the 1990s, which put forward 88 songs as a shared repertoire for Americans". But, the common repertoire is still thin and disappearing.

Anyway, this is a complaint we've certainly covered here before, but I thought it was interesting to see it come up, and be well-outlined, in a mainstream press outlet.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 02:04 PM

I was at a recorder workshop recently, and I remarked "There is a sublte undercurrent in our culture which discourages people from making their own music."

Somebody replied, "I disagree. It's not subtle."

Thanks for posting.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: RTim
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 02:31 PM

Well there was plenty at Pinewoods CDSS Harmony of Song & Dance last year, in fact a little too much for me, who prefers solo or singing on choruses.
I preferred the old Folk Music week format - but people stopped coming to that!!

See this years line up at link below:

http://www.cdss.org/harmony.html

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: foggers
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 02:32 PM

I think much the same can be said here in UK. Interesting article! Unless one belongs to a choir or faith community, communal singing is just not part of life. When non-folkie friends of ours have come along so sessions it is the power of communal singing that if often commented upon as a remarkable thing.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Deckman
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:19 PM

Community singing is VERY strong in the Seattle area with the song circles. bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:26 PM

In England we are lucky that a lot of morrris sides ( not all ) keep the singing tradition alive. After a few dances they will go into the pub and after getting the drinks in someone will start up a tune or a song for others to join in.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:33 PM

It is good to hear of organized group singing opportunities, and as the author said, "People who enjoy singing get together in homes to make music with friends, and choral groups abound."

What this article gets at is more public functions of group singing: "It's the community-oriented, community-building, sometimes spontaneous kind of singing that's suffering." Her examples that I quoted are the ball game, the public mourning gathering, Occupy Wall Street.

I have seen reports of "We Shall Overcome" being sung recently at demonstrations about the Trayvon Martin case. Presumably a crowd of that kind would have a cohort of people who had sung that before and who could lead it...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:34 PM

I think there are probably several factors.

One is there are often Christmas carols around the tree in the town square..although that is probably being squelched.

One is that songs are looked on as a way to scold often as opposed to heal or regroup. In general, I am not fond of those songs, but others obviously are..but sometimes they are sung to make people feel bad rather than good.

Churches have lost many of their congregations. And I will keep saying it till I drop dead but the Catholic church turned from beautiful to very ugly music overnight and lots of people are Catholic and lost their beautiful hymns.

We live in bigger cities and often don't have communities except at work and most work environments don't lend themselves to singing..although they say if you go out at night you can hear the Mexican Americans singing as they dig oysters near here...

A lot of music has been uglified over the years.

A lot of scorning takes place..if someone likes country western etc...they can be scorned in many places..but that is about as close as we can come to group music often.

People are afraid to be leaders...we do believe in America about people being equal etc...but they can't usually start singing int he same key and same tune etc. without strong leaders..

There are all sorts of political boundaries etc...

But we had a fishing catastrophe here recently..I did not attend the service for the one local man, but I suspect that they did all sing...

Well, that is enough for now...


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:35 PM

FloraG - cross-posted with you. Not-necessarily-planned singing in pubs with other than group members joining in -- that's definitely missing in the US.

~ Becky


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 03:38 PM

I love watching the you tubes of people singing their anthems at the soccer matches..Wales is unmatchable, and South Africa..but others are pretty good too. It is also interesting to watch the team and some will not sing along, some look chagrined and some sing with gusto. I hope they are the ones who win the game. mg


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Artful Codger
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 04:28 PM

When I was tutoring Russian immigrants, sometimes they would invite me to their gatherings. There was always singing, both solo songs and group songs; they didn't just put on records or CDs in the background and let that be the entertainment, the modern American way.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Joe_F
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 05:12 PM

Are there any neighborhood bars (US) or pubs (UK) left at which singing happens spontaneously (not as organized entertainment)? According to the literature, it was pretty common up to about 1950.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 28 Mar 12 - 07:02 PM

Bad money drives out good.
Recorded music drives out live.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Vicki Kelsey
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 01:14 AM

Well, in the Albany, NY area, people associated with the Pick'n' and
Sing'n' Gather'n' meet an average of once a month at two different pubs (bars) in the area to sing. It's "organized" in that a bunch of people are aware of when they'll happen, but anybody can lead a song, request one, or just sing along, including other folks in the bar at the time. We also have house sings whenever someone has the urge to host one.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 02:06 AM

From my perspective, politics have fragmented American society. Communal singing has succumb to 'chanting' political songs, usually in defiance or showing solidarity toward a 'cause' (often misplaced or shallow). Also, with the political turmoil in this country, and the hostility and divisions it breeds, people are not as optimistic or 'happy' as they once were.

Music unites....politics divide!!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 02:17 AM

By the way, even in this forum, the hostilities, divisions and unhappiness, coupled with an extreme low level of sense of humor grows like a cancer. ..and so often, a post is misconstrued and assumed to be insulting....but alas, it's usually only PERCEPTION from VERY negative people!!!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 03:10 AM

Following GfS's thought, it's been said that "Music is the Universal Language" but ten seconds of Hip-Hop can upset a lot of people more than an hour of Fox News.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 03:35 AM

I have a pretty well internationally known fiddler/violinist from Ireland, who has three degrees and a PhD in music. In our conversations, she calls hip hop, and/or rap, 'ghetto jump roping music'....and not because of anything racist, but because of the origins of it.
You'll have to figure it out, for yourselves....I'll tell you if you're right, though....

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Deckman
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 06:09 AM

Gfs ... I'm glad you made that historical connection to hip/hop. When I mention that to folks, they say I'm nuts ... of course they're usually right! bob(deckman)nelson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 10:00 AM

Joe F
sadly very few. There are some traditions still around. In Sheffield the pubs play host to Christmas carol singing, with their own tunes and words.( though I think the dates are posted in advance ). Some pubs have karioke machines.
If there is a festival in the town, you may well find a session which just happens. I've sung in most of the pubs in Rochester when the Sweeps festival is on, but increasingly the pubs have tended to go for middle of the road paid bands with PA to suit the lager drinking massses. At the beginning of the Faversham hop festival, we started a session in the nearest pub to the camp site, and it has now become a tradition, although never in the programme, but most of the good singers find out about it.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Joe_F
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 08:43 PM

Vicki & Flora: In the Boston area, also, there are organized groups (not many) that take over the back room of a bar, or some other venue, on a regular schedule, say once a month. But according to the literature, it used to be that in the ordinary course of drinking, a regular would come in & be asked to lead a song. In Orwell's essay on the ideal pub, he intimates that that was a sign of raffishness! In his ideal pub, it happened only at Christmastime. In Pete Hamill's autobiography, he recalls how his daddy, a stereotypical brawling Irish working-class souse, Brooklyn, 1940s, would be asked for a rendition of Paddy McGinty's Goat when he happened in. That seems inconceivable now.

In my high school (a college prep boarding school, Putney, VT), everybody knew a lot of songs, because there was a large choral group & a vigorous unofficial folk tradition, and the whole school sang together every Friday night. I was just reading in the alumni magazine that it is still true -- or perhaps, true again. The dean of students describes a hike on which one of the students started humming, and another picked it up, until all 25 of them were singing "Russia". Took me right back. I recalled a time when, on a hike, a few of us got separated from the rest & lost our way, and we decided it was best to sit tight & make noise, so we "Lo, How a Rose" (of course, we all knew our parts). I wish.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 09:24 PM

I was contemplating this and sort of wondering -- are we referring to a fictional history? But, I don't think so.

In my parents' day, singing was something folks did when camping and at parties, and when driving in the car. FM radio and car stereos definitely changed car singing.

Certainly the civil rights movement was full of communal singing.

The summer camps I went to in the 70s had lots of organized and also spontaneous singing. The infamous blue book (Rise Up Singing) has some of it's roots in those particular camps. But when my son went there in the past decade, they sang with posterboard word sheets. How can you break into song on the hiking trail or during your work project if you're relying on word sheets? Plus the songs they sang were mostly pop stuff not built for group singing. They enjoyed themselves, but... Bowie's Space Oddity??!? I'm happy he was singing at all, but... hmm.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: KathyW
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 10:22 PM

I had some pretty nerdy hobbies as a kid. (I still do, but that's beside the point.) One was historical reenactment, in that context almost every after-party involved groups of people sitting around and singing traditional songs and parody songs. Another was science fiction fandom, there too, parties often involved people sitting around and singing "filk" songs, and you can always find a song circle at a science fiction convention. Or at least that's the case where I am.

Another nerdy hobby was gaming-- about twenty years ago I was involved in a strategy game that was played by mail. A number of players met up at a gaming convention, and afterward we went to one guy's house to hang out.   Enough of us were used to the historical re-enactor and science fiction fan modes of doing things, in that we wanted to have a sing along. But a whole bunch of us weren't into those things and didn't know the songs. We wound up having a sing along anyway, and had a wonderful time singing advertising jingles and tv show theme songs!

I think the biggest stumbling block to community singing is that other than Christmas carols, most people don't really learn songs that they can sing with others.   But when people can, they go for it with gusto. I remember standing in line to play laser tag (again 20 years ago) when Bohemian Rhapsody came on the sound system. Wayne's World-like, *everyone* in line started singing along. It was the best fun of the night.

Here in Chicago, there are quite a few places for organized community singing if you know where to look. Song circles, community jams. The easiest thing is the Old Town School of Folk Music, generally on the first Friday of every month. I have been in situations where people randomly break into song in bars and people start singing along… but I have to admit I've usually been part of the group that the singer is a member of. So that's sort of stacking the deck.   The last few years I've been organizing a monthly sea chantey sing and it is slowly but steadily growing. (Next one is April 22nd, PM me for details if you are in the area.) Many people who have participated in it have told me that while they don't have a particular interest in maritime music they enjoy having the opportunity to sing along in an un-judgmental, non-performance setting.

The author of the article writes, "People who enjoy singing get together in homes to make music with friends, and choral groups abound. It's the community-oriented, community-building, sometimes spontaneous kind of singing that's suffering. But yes, even those averse to singing in public may do it more than once a year. Likely in a bar. Drinks help, of course, and so do pop songs with a catchy chorus." One stumbling block the article doesn't mention is that bars often have recorded music playing. In fact there's recorded music everywhere. That makes it harder for spontaneous singing to break out.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Janie
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 11:01 PM

People used to sing as a social activity. Not just in church, but in the parlour Remember parlour songs? on the back porch, in the pubs, etc. Rembember parlour games? When was the last time you played charades?

We used to have to entertain ourselves socially, and we did so. The technologies of communication - radio, television, PA systems, etc. gradually changed that. The intimacy also changed.
Many social, technological and sociotechnological changes in societies.

Gains and losses.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 11:39 PM

Ah..those were the days...of idealistic youth...we sang together to bring great vibes together...did it work?...We sang to end a war..did it work?...We sang bringing in equality...did it work? We sang songs while uncovering the 'real meaning' of the lyrics...did it work? Then we stopped....did that work?

I remember as a kid gathered around the piano, that both my Mom and Dad played, and as a family(of six at the time) as they played we ALL sang together as a family. That WORKED!!

Now so many families fragment off to their computers, T.V.s, video games, news shows.....nobody is singing...and very few even sing to themselves, alone.

Alone.

Alone.

As I've posted so many times, in previous posts, that WE, as musicians, in our different preferences of music, have locked in our hearts, souls and brains, the capacity to change SO much....and you think, "Naw, I don't feel like singing like WE used to, ANYMORE, We'd rather post commentaries on the spirit of a great nation sink into pessimism, and argue over the smallest semantics, and who's got the 'right bias'...and kick our spirits into the dust and filth of despair. Anxiety/depression becomes a soap opera of a personal, self absorbed 'entertainment'......No harmony, no time, no music, no clue, and no lifting up of the spirits..........
....any time any place. We don't have to wait for someone to start it for us.....WE are the SOMEONES!

Jeez, Even I have been composing instrumentals, as of late....but just recently, 'exhumed' two REALLY great original songs, with easy, but tasty lyrics, and while working on them I get a call. They want to have a 'Night of the Composers', and they want me to be in the show.....Guess what? Sure, I'll do the soundtracks, and 'Bittersuite: Joy' (half hour suite, on YouTube) as well.....but this time a huge surprise for them....WE, yes WE will ALL sing together!!!!

I want to thank you ALL, and especially Desert Dancer for bringing up this topic for a thread!

Warmest Regards to the Musicians Who Make a Difference!!!!
..and to Becky
God bless You!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: mg
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 11:45 PM

we'll be doing it with skype and npr like they do in Quebec. Just google commando trad and I think look for 3 AND 10 and you will see what I mean. Also a man in Australia does accordian duets on y0ou tube with people all ov er the world...we'll all be doing that soon and having virtual choruses etc. if it has not already happened. sign me up. mg


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 29 Mar 12 - 11:57 PM

KathyW -- some things don't change, I guess, and drinks definitely help. The headline for this item is "Arrested Drunk [Canadian] Man Sings "Bohemian Rhapsody" In Its Entirety In Back Of Police Car".

(Stepson just posted this on Facebook!)

I remember being struck one year at the Tucson Folk Festival (which has been heavy on singer-songwriters and performance more than participation) when the audience really did join in for the choruses of "Ghost Riders in the Sky".

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: mg
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 12:19 AM

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

virtual choir

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7o7BrlbaDs

And it might seem like just a clever trick but think of what it could mean to people who had to leave their homelands..Vietnamese or Ukranian or Somalian...mg

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Janie
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 12:38 AM

At one time, people sang together for recreation and melded and it didn't require that one be a musician for it to be ok to do so.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 03:11 AM

In GB we have suffered from some nonsense in the form of the law. Our government introduced a ' 2 in a bar rule' which meant that only 2 musicians could play at any one time without a special licence. This was mostly ignored unless the local police chose to enforce it.
The law is now even more complex and less well understood. We already have the noise abatement law - which basically means you can't make too much noise in a residential area. Fair enough - unless a travel lodge choses to build a hotel next to an existing music venue. The new live music laws seemed to be passed for the sake of making our MPs look busy.
This has not been the main cause of the decline of pub singing but has played its part.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 07:51 AM

Janie: "At one time, people sang together for recreation and melded and it didn't require that one be a musician for it to be ok to do so."

Yes, but it sure helped when a musician started it going. Any of us COULD do that.

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 08:50 AM

These things are all part of what I call the Great You-Shut-Up.

Another part of the Great You-Shut-Up is common on Mudcat. The non-stop ridicule of instruments which either 1) don't cost much or 2) are associated with working people. Examples are banjo, accordion, bodhran, shakey egg. (We never hear snide remarks about grand piano, harp or violin, which are associated with wealth.)

There was a thread just now, submitted by one Jane from 'Ull asking about a child's accordion. Pretty soon 'doc tom' hinted it would be good to smash it with a hammer. I guess doc tom thought he was the ultimate in sophistication.

But I could hear his Inner Playground Bully going through a checklist. "Hmm," it said to itself. "Jane from 'Ull..."

female? check
rich? no
smaller than me? probably
gentle or fierce? gentle
is Internet anonymity in place? check

Attack!

So transparent!


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 11:40 AM

How about a broader discussion on the disappearance of communities?


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 12:42 PM

Good point, Dick.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 01:16 PM

Dick Greenhaus: "How about a broader discussion on the disappearance of communities?"

Along with leeneia, I agree, and take it a step further, EXCELLENT point!

The was a time when communal singing brought people's hearts and spirits together...then, back in the 60's one of our political parties, pretended to 'incorporate' their political aspirations, as to 'align' themselves with that movement, for the sole purpose of winning the elections. They didn't give a flying fuck about what WE were/are about, however, the starry and glass eyed 'Peace/Love' people were so naive, that they bought into the ruse...and as they grew up, and 'matured' into political robots, their sense of the political replaced their original spirit, and now it's become 'Peace and Love', or I'll shut you up and/or kill you! their 'political sense'(?), has made them disregard that we are already a family of mankind. They have been factioned off, and divisive, cynical, hostile, and wannabe 'political activists'(?)....at war with the unifying spirit of realizing that we all share the same planet, and are just trying to get along and survive!...doesn't seem to want to raise the spirit of unifying with joy and hope, and raising voices, in unison and harmony.....especially, when you have to wonder if the person next to you is quite as indoctrinated as you are, and therefor 'hip' enough to sing with!
'Tis a sad commentary....but true, coupled with the responsibility of trying to 'keep up' with the effects of their policies, while still trying to raise a family....which has also been under assault...
I once heard a husband say to his wife, who adopted the political stance, "Your 'so-called rights' make a lonely companion!"

Alone.

Alone.

Something to reflect upon, eh?

Regards to All Those Who Held Out, and Still Give a Damn!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 01:57 PM

Karen Loew has probably not heard of the Old Town School of Folk Music (Chicago).

Communities are very much alive but not advertised in the media.

The obstacle to the spreading of songs is ASCAP, BMI and other licensing organizations that go after groups like the Girl Scouts. They have gone too far.

I see musical communities all around that enjoy singing and playing together throughout the country.

There is the problem of people not knowing how to participate in communities by sharing and giving. It requires a commitment that is not being encouraged.

Still, there are those who can and do.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 03:09 PM

Frank--
Community singing when the community is based on singing is a different matter. Community sing, in the more usual sense, derives from a body of people with shared backgrounds and cultures.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 06:17 PM

Speaking of "Bohemian Rhapsody" and spontaneous singing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqymcJRSbxI


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 06:37 PM

Artful - that's the same one I linked above (mine was embedded on another site). Pretty funny!

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Julia
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 09:02 PM

That article has been making the rounds and I don't think it's coincidental that it's in a mainstream publication around the same time as the Lomax recordings are made available. It seems to me there's lots of nostalgia for bygone community and lifestyle (real or imagined).

What a great time for the Country Dance and Song Society to publish tips on starting social singing groups! When we wrote it we tried to think about how to foster supportive singing communities and I hope it finds an interested audience!

http://www.cdss.org/song.html


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 09:12 PM

Oh, yes, good to link that here, Julia!

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Artful Codger
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 10:20 PM

Yeah, Becky, sorry about that--I violated one of my own pet peeves: when people post before reading an entire thread. It was a link my brother just forwarded to me a couple hours ago; it must be going viral.

Returning on-topic: A tip for encouraging social singing: Start it by asking someone else to sing or play a specific song. It comes off much better than if you just pipe up yourself out of the blue, and people need to feel that others have given their "permission" and are willing, even eager to listen.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: NightWing
Date: 30 Mar 12 - 11:08 PM

Interesting!

I am a part of a community which DOES sing communally. I've mentioned it here before: the Hash House Harriers. Many of our traditions come down from rugby, which is another such community.

In "the Hash", we run (or walk) a Hare-and-Hound trail of 3-5 miles and then get together to perform our "religious observance", called "Circle". Different groups run Circle differently. This is just how MY group does it. We recognize ("punish") the Hare (the person who laid the trail), the first person in, the last person in, first-timers, visitors, anyone who hasn't been out with us in a while, and anyone who did anything silly or stupid on trail or even just recently (whether it's true or not: a good story is WAAAY more important than "truth"). The punishment is always the same: we sing them a song and they chug a beer (or other beverage of choice).

Our songs are bawdy, ribald, rude, crude, and completely non-PC. But everyone joins in, whether they are good singers or bad. Everyone has a fun, silly time of it. My group, due to a particularly good song leader we had when I started Hashing 14 years ago, has the tradition of trying not to repeat a song during Circle.

For example, at one Circle a few years ago, we made it a point to sing 100 different songs during Circle. (We were commemorating the 100th trail of that particular group.) Yes, some of the songs are very short, but you can imagine that went on for quite a while. We sang for three or four hours.

Every so often we get together at bigger events. The Hash groups here in Colorado hosted the "InterAm Hash" three years ago: just an intimate little party for 1500 of our closest friends :) One night, a group of the people who lead Circles and the people who just like to sing from all around the country (Heck! all around the world!) got together and we sang for nearly seven hours without repeating a song, with, all the while, other silliness going on around us.

When we go to bars, we usually ask the bartender to turn the music off or down radically and we sing our songs. Usually the regulars at the bar love it! Ask when we'll be back.

Communal singing ain't dead. But I will admit that it's on life support. Give it some: take some singing friends out to a small bar and start in. You'd probably be wise to check beforehand with the bartender and not pick a night when there's a big sporting event on. Don't bother with the big chain restaurant/bars; I promise you they're not interested in having you do this. But the small places--"dive bars"--love it. Sing all the drinking songs and outlaw songs and bawdy songs you know. Pick songs with easy-to-pick-up choruses and invite the regulars (at least the ones who aren't falling down) to join in on the chorus. Have different individuals pick and lead the songs. Arrange with some of your singing friends to show up late, look interested, and join in, seemingly spontaneously.

It can't hurt *shrug*

BB,
NightWing


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Joe_F
Date: 31 Mar 12 - 06:32 PM

I hooked up with the Boston hashers for a while. Alas, tho I am pretty good at drinking beer & singing raunch, I am utterly incompetent at paper chasing, so I gave it up.

Another thing: It used to be that at parties, singing was one of the things people did, in addition to drinking, talking, playing games, and smooching. In recent times, I gather, it is taken for granted that there will be a gushing loudspeaker.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 03:14 PM

I was listening to this interview with Paul McCartney the other day, and he fondly remembered New Year's Eve parties sings around the piano -- played by his father. His father also recommended that he learn to play piano, because then he'd be the life of the party.

I've encountered that (singing around the piano) at a Christmas party just once or twice. It used to be that people had lots of sheet music for songs in their piano bench...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 03:36 PM

Here is a relevant essay by Russell Baker from back in 1991(!), which still stays with me after a couple of decades. Context: The duo Milli Vanilli won a Grammy Award for singing, which had turned out to be merely lip-synching to a sound-track recorded by others.
(More at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milli_Vanilli).


Observer; Hear America Listening
By RUSSELL BAKER
Published: November 02, 1991 (The New York Times)

My mother used to sing to herself while she ironed. "Redwing" was a favorite, and there was another that must have dated from 1905, 1910, which went, "I wish Mama'd hold her tongue, she had beaus when she was young." Unaware that I was listening, she sang only for herself, sliding the iron back and forth and lost in good memories, I suppose, to which these old tunes transported her, far from the ironing board.

Well, everybody used to sing. Not like nowadays. Nowadays everybody listens. Nowadays we let the technology do the singing for us. It's so nearly perfect, the technology. We couldn't hope to sound a tenth as good if we were bold enough to open the throat and assail the air.

Nowadays Whitman would not hear America singing. He would hear Japanese technology singing almost perfectly. He would write, "I see America listening to nearly perfect Japanese technological reproduction of singing."

Why have we become a nation of listeners? Why do we make no music for ourselves anymore? Are we afraid of coming off badly in competition with the superb technology of Japan? Once we used to sing shamelessly aloud for the pure pleasure of it, and not so long ago either.

We used to sing on long car rides. Lacking the amazingly pure sound of FM car radios, audio cassette machinery and CD players built into the dashboard, we entertained ourselves singing hits of the day and old-timers from the Bronze Age: "The Isle of Capri," and the one about the old spinning wheel in the parlor spinning dreams of long, long ago. Jerome Kern, Rodgers and Hammerstein. Songs with tunes.

Well, of course most popular songs nowadays don't have tunes. Tunes are old hat, tunes are for gummy-eyed Grandpa, tunes are for people so out of it they don't feel the beat or even begin to grasp the complex subtlety of today's popular music, and so forth, all of which is true.

But it is also true that the wonderful songs of today can only be listened to, since it's almost impossible for 3, or 10, or 30 people to sing a song that has no tune unless they are professional singers. Even professional singers can't always manage it.

Recently two successful singers who go by the improbable name Milli Vanilli lost a prize for great recorded singing when it was discovered that they hadn't done the prize-winning singing. All they'd done was move their lips and pretend to be lost in transports of song while parties unseen were doing the actual singing, just as Cyrano de Bergerac hid in the shadows speaking seductive poetry to Roxanne on behalf of that beautiful dunce, Christian.

What this showed was that modern songs are so hard to sing that even professionals don't always trust themselves to try it. The songs America sang before it started to rock were doubtless simple-minded and certainly not worthy of an age as sophisticated as ours today, but because they were accessible to everybody they contributed to a sense of community that comes from group singing.

Nowadays the nation's only exercise in group singing comes when a sports crowd is urged to stand and join in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner," which is almost as hard to sing as the typical rock 'n' roll chart topper. Everybody stands, of course, but most of the crowd takes the Milli Vanilli way out: lots of lip movement, let the public-address system make the sound.

Observing this pathetic weaseling at stadiums and ball parks, I often think of the unbridled pleasure with which massed audiences used to sing in huge movie houses, following the bouncing ball to simple tunes thundered out by an organist spotlighted in the pit.

Americans sang, too, all the way through World War II. The songs may have been silly, melancholy, propagandistic and sentimental, but singing them helped Americans define a communal identity for themselves. Nowadays the absence of singing defines our lack of communal identity, our national apartness, our aloneness.

It speaks too of our submissive relationship with machines, a relationship in which the machines do all the talking and all the singing and we do all the listening. To be sure, the typical rock concert generates an intense sense of community. It is the community of people overpowered by amplifying machinery, which is the destiny of a nation of listeners.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: TonyK
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 04:31 PM

I've led the Night Owl Hoot, the all night sing-along at Falcon Ridge folk festival the last 18 yrs or so. I've noticed a decline in the group-sing as folks gravitate to the all-night performance tents.

I lead the monthly sings of the Folklore Society of N.E. Pa, USA, and attendance had been good these 20 yrs, but few young people (I'm 58). There is a core group of about 25 songs that are sung a lot.

I perform in a bluegrass group, The Young Geezers, and when we encourage the audience to sing with us it seems to get harder every year.

My father's generation sang. They all knew the songs. I'm glad I was exposed to that. I think the spontaneous songs come from being around people who do it. Be the change.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Mark Ross
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 06:57 PM

We used to sing in the car on long trips, I DON'T WANT NO MORE OF ARMY LIFE, THE CAISSONS GO ROLLING ALONG,99 BOTTLES OF BEER ON THE WALL, because once we got out of range of NYC's WQXR my father would not turn on the radio. So we had to entertain ourselves.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: open mike
Date: 01 Apr 12 - 08:36 PM

Our folk music society encourage singing and picking circles .

I have heard that the invention of air conditioners contributed to the decline of neighborhood interaction by moving people from their porches to inside. Television did a part of isolating people in a similar way. I remember when cassette tape recorders stopped putting a microphone jack on their equipment...assumming that people would only listen to others' music, not make their own!

Sing Out! magazine also does a good job of keeping music alive...
we have a singing group that meets regulary using the Rise Up Singing
(R.U.S.)song book as a guide


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Blues=Life
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 07:57 AM

One of the things that draws some people to church is a good music program, and that includes congregational singing. Although many modern churches really have increased the gap between choir (as performer) and congregation (as audience) others have emphasized the power of communal singing. Although I am not a huge fan of some of the so-called "praise music" that has come out in the last 20 years, I can appreciate what technology has done to improve the implementation of communal singing. It used to be that hymns were only sung from a hymnal, with everyone looking down as they mumbled through the words. Now, often, the words are projected via PowerPoint onto a screen in the front of the church. You can really tell the difference when people sing together, heads high, often with a song that has become familiar with repetition. And a church that sings together, grows.
But, they do frown on having a couple of beers while joining in. Nothing is perfect! :)


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST,Chord Chucker
Date: 02 Apr 12 - 02:45 PM

Good points, Blues=Life (especially about the beer).

As an agnostic/atheist who only goes to church to sing, I've often wondered how the hymns were chosen. Often, they seem to be meaningless shapeless things that no one in the congregation either knows or cares about.

When people know the songs, they don't mumble, they "make a joyful noise". Isn't that what it's supposed to be about?


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Kaleea
Date: 03 Apr 12 - 03:12 AM

This is a subject which really hits home with me!

I also was fortunate to grow up with singing around the piano with my family. When I discovered harmony, I thought it was greatest invention & to this day still prefer singing harmony. (This is considered abnormal for a "Soprano.") When I was a kid & the relatives gathered, there was normally singing going on, piano or no. In fact, when my family gathers nowadays, we still sing! Even my nieces & nephews can sing all the harmony parts of the old Beatles' songs. Christmas carols, Beatles, Jazz standards, etc., it's fun to sing along with other singers!

As a retired Music Educator I can assure you that the lack of Music in our public schools is one reason that people do little or no communal singing. In the past few decades, "we" have not been teaching our children the enjoyment of singing with (or without) a group. I have noticed the lack of good pitch become the norm in the younger generations--which is not the way it used to be when Music was taught in most all public elementary schools in the USA. Even before we had Music Teachers, the Elementary Educator was normally trained to teach singing--often with the use of the Autoharp, Guitar or A Capella.

[Note: the following paragraph is NOT an editorial rant, merely the observations of this ol' gal.]

The downward spiral of poor pitch has paralleled the lack of melody in much of our popular recordings. Fortunately, there are genres of popular Music which still use an actual melody on the track, which therefore can be categorized as a song. However, much of what is recorded in recent decades has screaming & yelling or speaking to the beat, or a singsong type of vocalizing, which has no discernible melody and therefore cannot be categorized as a song. While someone may chant the words along with the recording, one cannot sing along to that which is not a song. Accurate pitch is not a requirement to record or chant along to the track.


Blues=Life, Yes! The Praise genre has brought about changes in the music of many churches. With the "Praise" genre, the Hymnal & therefore the well known hymns were thrown out the stained glass window. Congregants who don't have an "ear" for Music, as well as visitors, have no way to join in. It takes a long time to learn all the new songs, & many people-even those who enjoy singing--just give up trying.

Ever seen those paper bound, small songbooks which were often titled "Community Songs" or something similar at antique malls or estate sales? It used to be that most every community had these books for the purpose of their general community singing well known songs of the day-often with a section of songs from the old country/ies. The person/family brought their copy to gatherings held in the park on Sundays or other occasions. Then as the town band played on the bandstand, the crowd could join in song.

Thanks for letting me carry on about all this, Mudcatters.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Blues=Life
Date: 03 Apr 12 - 09:21 PM

My problem with Praise songs is that... they suck. Hymns are like steak. Praise songs are like dry popcorn. Without butter. For example, one song that was "popular" with the Music Director at a church I used to attend had these lyrics:

"Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord!
Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord!
Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord!
Yes, Lord, Yes, Lord, Yes, Yes, Lord!"
These stunningly insightful lyrics were then repeated 8 or 9 times.

Like I said. Sucks.

Compare that to:
        The church's one foundation
        is Jesus Christ her Lord;
        she is his new creation
        by water and the Word.
        From heaven he came and sought her
        to be his holy bride;
        with his own blood he bought her,
        and for her life he died.

I don't really care what your beliefs are... That's a beautiful, singable song, with meaningful lyrics. It's also fun to sing.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 12:57 AM

It certainly is true that recorded music is no longer created to be sung.

In fact, for many years, much of the thrust of the recorded music industry was to promote the sale of sheet music. Now, it's all for listening on the ipod, watching on MTV, or, occasionally, dancing.


Also, in the early days of American musical theatre, lyric sheets were sold during performances, and after a show had been running for a while, it was common for returning audiences to know songs, and to sing them along with the performers. Can't imagine that happening today.

Even if we had "Community Songbooks" today, what would we put in them?
There are so many different music "niches" that people who live and work next to each don't hear the same songs. I have a friend who listens to contemporary country music, and, though I've always been a "Classic Country and Western" fan, I don't know any of the songs she likes.

And my kids neither like nor listen to each others music, which, in this era of iPods, seems to be more likely than not.

I've tried to gather them around to sing, and they will do it, for ten minutes or so, but I've got nothing that compares to "The Black Eyed Peas"...


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: mg
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 03:51 AM

I imagine there are phone apps or something or there could be that people could download say 50 songs to sing along with others...maybe various groupings....so there could easily be a regaining of shared songs...it is happening..someone sang along with her ipod at a workshop at singtime...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1lMhBSxVLg&feature=related
Here is something nostalgic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1lMhBSxVLg&feature=related ..

I think part of the problem has been music in schools and music "arrangements"...when kids need to sing with gusto and in a simple, unarranged manner for the most part...no wiernesd discordant arrangements of standard tunes..simple instruments that people actually play later in life like guitars and concertinas..fewer band instruments..I think that some good could easily come out of a simplifying of music programs with simpler songs, simpler arrangements, etc.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 08:04 AM

Charlie Baum:
Observer; Hear America Listening
By RUSSELL BAKER
Published: November 02, 1991 (The New York Times)


Well, back in 1991, the year of that essay, I was running a department of a seismic survey company.

Many times that winter when the weather was bad we had vessels alongside for days or weeks at a time in Stavanger, Bergen, Hartlepool, Grimsby and Peterhead, and I visited the crews frequently. Usually we went as a crew to a pub or bar in the evening and inevitably the last hour or so ended up with spontaneous singing...someone would kick off a song and everyone would join in.

The highlight for me was when the crews found out, somehow, that I was leaving the company and all the technical crews from 4 vessels, about 60 people, gathered in a bar in Stavanger and gave me a send-off consisting of solid group singing from about 8pm until well after midnight. The locals joined in too, after some initial worried looks. Songs ranged from then current "popular" songs (the ones decried in the above essay as "impossible to sing as they have no tunes") through to standards like Wild Rover, Whisky in the Jar, Dirty Old Town and invariably including Flower of Scotland (several of the crews were very Scottish Scots!) and finishing up with a very long version of "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" complete with all the "rugby song" gestures and arm movements.

So spontaneous group singing, in the circles I moverd in, was definitely still alive back then.

I've also seen it break out many times since....I'm not talking about the singarounds or sessions I've started going to in the last couple of years, but spontaneous singing that "just starts" in a pub. Now I'm a rock-climber and mountaineer in my spare time, and I have to say that almost all such spontaneous occurrences I've seen in the last few years have happened in climbing/ mountaineering pubs where groups of people have gathered after a hard day on the crags or hills. Most recently was a few weeks ago at the Stronlossit Inn in Roy Bridge, Scotland, where 3 separate groups of climbers were re-hydrating. Someone in one of the groups started singing an old Tom Patey song (may have been "Onward Christian Bonington") and that led to a whole evening of communal singing.


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 12:34 PM

Sounds great, Rob. I just can't picture that happening over here. I'd love to be proved wrong.

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 12:49 PM

Rob, you showed us that community singing comes from people who have a strong sense of community--you sang with the crew, not a coincidence that hip-hop/rappers call their group a "crew"--


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Subject: RE: Disappearance of communal singing in US
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Apr 12 - 12:58 PM

Dick,

"Community singing when the community is based on singing is a different matter. Community sing, in the more usual sense, derives from a body of people with shared backgrounds and cultures."

I think your definition is arbitrary. A community whether it is based on singing or not
is no different from a people with shared backgrounds and cultures.

A commonality is expressed by the selection of material which reflect cultural backgrounds.
At the Old Town School, many types of music are selected as participatory including everything from the Beatles to early country music or African-American gospel music.


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