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Folk Club / Session Etiquette

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Subject: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:00 AM

For sure we've been here before but last night I had cause to tell someone that their efforts to accompany me weren't necessary, causing a modicum of offence in the process.

Imagine that; some fecker stomps all over my song & they take offence when I tell them to stop.

But how hard is it? If you don't know a song, just listen to it. Just because you have guitar on your knee the entire night doesn't mean you're duty bound to join in with everything - like those singers who feel they must 'sing along' with other singers in order to show their appreciation of your efforts. Or witness bodhran players who feel the urge to bash along. Arrghhh!!!

Knowing is a good thing. Listening is also a good thing. Musical sensitivity and sophistication are good things too. It makes for great nights, just as great nights are ruined by clumsy attempts at joining in assuming that it's all good enough for folk when nothing could be further from the truth.

S O'P - Still smarting.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,loki
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:09 AM

I think Mr Ashtray is quite right


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:16 AM

Couldn't agree more - and would extend it to the 'Singalongamax'crowd who take it as a god-given right to join in with the singing, whether they know the singer's version or not.
An annual cull maybe!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: JHW
Date: 19 May 12 - 08:43 AM

Agree. One in particular of the singaround/sessions I go to had players that tended to this. My logic is that if I've tried to make my accompaniment interesting I'd rather folks heard it my way. Joiners in certainly won't hear my efforts and they'll deny real listeners the chance.
This may seem extreme but on one such occasion I stopped the song, put the guitar in the box and left (without fuss).
I happen to be pretty deaf in my right ear so can only just hear what I'm playing myself! I'm lost if someone else joins in.
The MC there now prefaces the evening with a reminder to all that if they wish folks to join in they should make that clear (and several do). If there is no such invitation then don't join in. Works fine.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Auldtimer
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:10 AM

That's why I started playing spoons. Youv'e no idea how fiddle and guitar players hate it when you accompany them, especialy on the slow tunes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Geoff
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:26 AM

This is all very well as long as you're quite prepared to politely tell someone what they are doing is unacceptable. Because otherwise, how else would new people know? If you're rude about it you're just propagating an unwelcoming atmosphere which will just make the tradition die out if left unchecked.

There's a balance to be had. Remember they're not doing it to piss you off but because they're enjoying your music and want to "help out", however misguided it might be!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:29 AM

Part of being a good musician is knowing when not to play, sadly a lot of people don't know this. some people just thrash away regardless, I remember someone singing ' Raglan Road ' and some twat banging away on his bodhran all the way through,, he did get told and has not been back.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:30 AM

I've noticed, entirely unscientifically, that the more respectful and diffident the would-be joiner in is the better they are when they do join in. The buggers who think they're God's gift, get their feet under the table for the night, join in on everything whether they know it or not and drink the free beer are invariably rubbish.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:41 AM

What's this about the free beer, Steve????

It seems to me that many instrumentalists don't understand us who sing unaccompanied. They play along uninvited, and attempt to correct our tempo and regularize our meter. Once you're singing a song, it's hard to stop and set restrictions on accompaniment and such. In our song circle, instrumentalists are asked to play only on their own songs, and when invited by the singer to play. Making a rule ahead of time, solves a lot of problems.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:41 AM

I don't know what people expect from a session. There's a subtle difference between a session and a singaround - the latter being a gathering where people perform in turn, and the former being a general joining-in - and I think that everyone in the company should know which applies. If someone at a singaround invites everyone to join in, then it becomes a session for the moment. If someone at a session really doesn't want others to join in - which may be a perfectly reasonable wish - then I think that should be made clear before the start of the performance.

I don't thrash all the way through a session myself - it's actually good to stop and listen and relax and get a beer at points during the evening - but I make absolutely no objection to anyone joining in with me. If this means - like Tuesday just gone - that I get a snare drummer, a bohran player and a bones player accompanying me very loudly, well that's the name of the game! (It wasn't the greatest sound in the world to be honest, but it's what I expected from the evening).


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: selby
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:44 AM

Heres one that happened to me some 30 years ago I learnt to play accordion (not very well) to take the load of the only 2 floor singers our folk club had. Some people came from a ceilidh band and played a couple of tunes and sang a couple of songs. I was playing my little set told everyone what i was going to play and the ceilidh band joined in, excellent until i moved into the 3rd tune of my set and they played something completely different, that I didn't know then told me it was a better tune than the one I had learned. Did not play accordion again in public.
Keith


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:46 AM

And I forgot to say - if I happen to break into a song at a session, I always make spaces for the accompanying melody instruments to take a solo if they want to. In the style developed by Bob Wills of course. "Play away fiddles, play away!", etc.

It's all good fun, with the casual accompaniment of the till, orders at the bar, the buzz of conversation from the locals, someone breaking off from playing to greet an old acquaintance, people coming and going.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:48 AM

Keith - if that had been me, I'd have played my accordion in public as often as I wanted - after firmly telling the ceilidh band to collectively fuck off.

I enjoy a free-for-all as much as the next man, but Manners Makyth Man - and the Next Man.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 May 12 - 11:46 AM

What will persuade me more than anything to never come back to a session/singaround is people NOT accompanying me.

Mostly I play Scottish traditional music, which is mostly dance music that was always intended to have an accompaniment. If you don't have a cello like Niel Gow expected, a guitar will do. But sitting there like a dumpling with a guitar propped up beside you and not even trying to figure out something to do with it while I'm playing a straightforward reel is just plain insulting. I get this from virtually all the local Americana fanboys, who have the whole chord sequences for American Pie and the complete works of Neil Young in their heads. And they can't even do Mrs Macleod? What's WRONG with you?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: CupOfTea
Date: 19 May 12 - 11:55 AM

In my experience, the singarounds or sessions that have been the most enjoyable ones are when the day's etiquette/rules/customs of that group are stated up front, and renewed when latecomers are ready to plunge in. Of course it's not "cool" to do that - many would think everyone has ESP and knows how to behave, but when they don't, then what happens is aggravation. Without mentioning HOW it's going to work, it's much more likely it WON'T work.

What Will Fly said about the difference between a sing around and a session - that's his definition and interpretation of local etiquette. Some of the places I go vary from this considerably. Expecting a new singaround/session someplace else to work just like the one you're used to is one of those situations where it helps to have ESP or a very well developed sense of social niceties. Will likely has that, but unfortunately, folk music tends to attract a good number of people who DON'T have very good social skills, and without being told, are nearly guaranteed to blunder in a way that cuts into EVERYONES enjoyment of the time making music.

I've been the singaround victim m'self of a "professionalcuzIhavebandrecordings" guitarist who didn't "get" an acapella song. "But *I* can tell what the chords are!" sez he. ::: cue grinding of teeth:::: "IT"S ACAPELLA THERE ARE NO GUITAR CORDS!!!" I manage to get out without screaming too very loudly. I also stopped going to that session.

One of the things I find difficult is when one of *my* songs - something I've worked hard on having an arrangement for, and spent considerable time and love to polish- is done by someone else in a way that grates on my nerves. A classic of this is a band I otherwise enjoy considerably, but the male singers tend to shout/sing most songs, including "Grey Funnel Line," as if it were a shanty. It's their session, so I tamp down my aggravation and sing along or go get a beer. (and put on some Silly Sisters to clean out my head after...)

c\_/ cheers! Another chorus please!

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 May 12 - 12:24 PM

Many years ago (I estimate 1958), at one of the EFDSS monthly Sunday singarounds Peter Kennedy used to run, I remember the late Robin Hall trying to chip in on guitar as I was singing unaccompanied The Gaol Song, which was the way I liked to do it. I waved him down & he stopped. A few days later I met him again. "Ewan MacColl sings that song accompanied," he said accusingly, as if he had made some sort of knock-down point. I pointed out that if I wanted to do the same I'd have done it for myself, thank you.

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 19 May 12 - 12:26 PM

True words, Joanne - if I attend a new session, I'll either find out beforehand what the style is or have a quiet few minutes absorbing the "culture". I do tend to avoid the very "pure" sessions that take place, such as those where the tune and only the tune - played by everyone in unison - is ever required. I like to play guitar, and I've spent years accompanying musicians of all types, so a mixed bag of music - particularly with some improvisation from the company - is what suits me. If I do find myself at a rather "stricter" tunes session, then I reach for the mandolin... :-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 19 May 12 - 12:32 PM

I might like a glass of wine at a session - in the unlikely event of my ever going to one!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 12 - 01:19 PM

I remember doing a gig at Sharps Folk Club C#HOUSE back in the nineties,and while I was accompanying my singning on the concertina, another concertina player tried to join in, his chords were not compatible with mine, I was Flabbergasted, so this is not a new phenomenon


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 May 12 - 01:23 PM

As Keats said: one guitar at a time, and no bodhrans at all, that is all ye know on earth and all ye need to know


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 12 - 01:24 PM

"From: Jack Campin - PM
Date: 19 May 12 - 11:46 AM

What will persuade me more than anything to never come back to a session/singaround is people NOT accompanying me.

Mostly I play Scottish traditional music, which is mostly dance music that was always intended to have an accompaniment. If you don't have a cello like Niel Gow expected, a guitar will do. But sitting there like a dumpling with a guitar propped up beside you and not even trying to figure out something to do with it while I'm playing a straightforward reel is just plain insulting. I get this from virtually all the local Americana fanboys, who have the whole chord sequences for American Pie and the complete works of Neil Young in their heads. And they can't even do Mrs Macleod? What's WRONG with you?"
jesus christ, this post beats everything, Jack would you prefer they joined in in the wrong key, or with the wrong chords, personally I am eternally grateful , if people who have never heard a tune before, do not join in, there is nothing worse than trying to play a tune and have some tone deaf idiot playing all the wrong chords


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 May 12 - 01:33 PM

Whilst agreeing with Joanne about etiquette being stated upfront, how can this be done at a session where people are coming and going at different times? A large unmissable notice perhaps?

Singarounds, just about everybody knows the etiquette, join in if invited, don't join in if not. Newcomers should soon pick up the situation and if not the organiser can easily slip in a general reminder when needed.

A 'session' is a session is a session, a free-for-all. Again, if somebody wishes to sing without accompaniment they should be prepared to state this before starting. Or perhaps bring a pitchpipe in a godforsaken key between two notes so nobody can pitch in with you.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 19 May 12 - 02:09 PM

With something like Mrs MacLeod, banging away in the right rhythm on A all the way through is a lot better than nothing.

You only learn what works by actually trying, and the Americana fanboys aren't willing to do that.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 12 - 02:10 PM

"Again, if somebody wishes to sing without accompaniment they should be prepared to state this before starting."
NO NO NO,people should not try and accompany a singer unless they ask the singer first.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 19 May 12 - 02:38 PM

"That's why I started playing spoons"
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_11JDYcZX44
"This is all very well as long as you're quite prepared to politely tell someone what they are doing is unacceptable"
You should never have to - good manners should prevail if not artistic sensitivity.
"God's gift" sums these arrogant pricks in a simple phrase.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 19 May 12 - 03:24 PM

You should never have to - good manners should prevail if not artistic sensitivity.

This is a universal constant.

If one doesn't know the piece, just listen & enjoy (surely 70% of the reason for being there in the first place) then everyone's a winner.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 19 May 12 - 03:30 PM

Best to assume that musicians and other singers want to join in. They've had a few beers, they're there for relaxed fun not a formal concert. That may mean some participants will be boorish, so best to be brief and clear from start about what you're going to do and what kind of participation you'd like. Actively inviting some very specific accompaniment (just 'drones' or 'drums' say) might be preferable to saying nowt and assuming the resident guitar hero won't want to spend the bulk of the song "discreetly" trying to figure out what key you're singing in..


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Dave MacKenzie
Date: 19 May 12 - 03:55 PM

"With something like Mrs MacLeod, banging away in the right rhythm on A all the way through is a lot better than nothing."

Unless, of course, you're in England and practically everybody plays it in G.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 19 May 12 - 05:19 PM

As an old folk singer I vary the timing for effect. It has the advantage of discouraging un-asked for accompanists.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 19 May 12 - 05:53 PM

"Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin - PM
Date: 19 May 12 - 02:09 PM

With something like Mrs MacLeod, banging away in the right rhythm on A all the way through is a lot better than nothing.

You only learn what works by actually trying, and the Americana fanboys aren't willing to do"
what a ridiculous thing to say, it is not better than doing nothing,MiSS McLEODS REEL, Is not harmonised correctly by banging away on a even if the melody was being played in A.
IT IS BETTER FOR PEOPLE TO DO NOTHING THAN TO BANG AWAY AT RANDOM ON A GUITAR.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 19 May 12 - 09:10 PM

There are so many subcultures going on that it is nonsense to believe that someone is being rude if they join in or don't join in. In the old Seattle Song Circle it was understood (by me anyway) that you would join in with the singing if you knew it..but you were not to overpower the leader, unless he or she was so floundering it had to be done...instruments were more of a problem and we finally just said only guitars. Now, if a person wants no instruments, or all instrumnets, or only flutes, she can say so up front or have a discreet hand signal if they start to confuse her. Some places consider it rude to join in; some expect it. I personally prefer it..singing..but I hate guitars playing the wrong chord..I don't want to hear myself singing a solo and I don't want to hear too many others singing a solo either..one after another after another..what I want to hear is a group singing...I have been confused for a while because people listen adoringly (or seem like it) instead of singing along..I would look around and think..half of them have to know this song...I finally figured out they were trying to be polite. So state your preference upfront, don't act morally superior because it is a preference and not a virtue. mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 20 May 12 - 03:46 AM

I'm with Will on the "sessions v singarounds" front. And these are also, in our area, very different from Folk Club etiquette, where (in our area at least) you tend, if the evening's not advertised as a "singaround", to have a booked act supported by a number of floor singers who do generally perform solo, or as,say, a rehearsed duo.

Stating "the rules" up front won't work at the events I go to as people tend to arrive and depart throughout the evening, so as a newbie you just need to take a while to absorb the "style".

But it's musical awareness that's the key factor, whatever type of event it is. The "session" I go to that Will attends is fantastic, due not just to the quality of the musicianship from most participants, but also to the sensitivity they bring. Although tunes often "just start" by consensus or by several people "twiddling around" before one twiddle becomes dominant and everyone gets behind it, people at the back or newbies are invited to "do something" at some point in the evening, and the group appears to be very sensitive as to whether a contributor would be happy for people to join in or not. It's mayhem, but controlled, joyous, sensitive mayhem and the fact that I'll happily drive an hour each way to attend it, despite having little to contribute musically (yet?) speaks for itself.

Singarounds can be great or terrible for joining in. I don't mind anyone joining in with what I'm doing, if it "fits" but from time to time I get absolutely pissed off when someone sings or plays the version of a song *they* know, rather han listening to what I'm doing and following it.

A while back I did Sandy Denny's "Rising For The Moon" at a singaround. I was being fairly loudly accompanied by someone playing a lead line on guitar to my rhythm. It didn't sound bad, but the way I play this one I've put 16 bars of my own lead between verses 2 and 3, and I'm not experienced enough yet to modify "on the fly" things I've learned. I hoped the guy would stop when I started my own lead riff, but he didn't...and the 2 riffs clashed horribly.

Similarly with "Poverty Knock" which I did at another singaround very recently. This is a song I learned at my mother's knee, and my version has a slightly different chorus from the accepted version. I also run two verses together between each chorus as otherwise I think it makes the song too long. There are 10 short verses and since it opens with the chorus, 11 choruses if you do one every verse. A very loud singer "helped me out" by constantly trying to intersperse the "missing" chorus at the end of each verse, and also (loudly and empatically) "correcting" the line in the chorus which I sing as my mother taught it to me *well before* the song was known outside Batley, Cleckheaton and Liversedge mills. I'm sorry, but I WON'T be "corrected" in an interpretion of a song originating in the exact Yorkshire mills my mother started working in in 1930 by someone living in Kent who's never seen a woollen mill in his life :-)

Mostly, singarounds are great though. Very different to sessions but just occasionally spoiled by someone who's not "aware" enough to be sensitive to others.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 12 - 04:15 AM

"If one doesn't know the piece, just listen & enjoy"
I think it goes way beyond this. Each singer has his/her own particular take on the song which can differ enormously; this can affect the speed, intensity, volume, phrasing..... of any song.
The success or failure of any song, for the singer and for the listener, is in making the interpretation work for both. It is impossible for any singer to make that interpretation and pass it on with the massed choirs of.... whichever folk club droning away in the background.
I club audiences want to sing, they should do so only when invited to and not the other way round, which is guaranteed to create an 'atmosphere'.
If they can't do without their 'fix', them plan your evenings around chorus songs; and mention to a guest that this is the type of club you are running (do not impose your own styles and idiosyncracies on visiting performers - that's the despotism of the masses).
As for accompaniment, I don't play an instrument but when I worked with accompanists (often) I spent hours practicing with them so we could (at the very least) get the phrasing right.
I have restarted singing recently and am now feeling the itch to work with an accompanist again; if I do, exactly the same methods of work will apply.
As an audience member, last year I attended a singing festival with some excellent singers (some of the older ones completely unused to an audience any larger than half-a-dozen family members). I had the misfortune to sit next to an established singer (from your side of the Irish Sea) who joined in every single song, and when she didn't know the words, she hummed the tune audibly - people are still talking about her here.
It is little wonder that British folk music is still struggling to see the light of day if this cultural vandalism has become the norm!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Acorn4
Date: 20 May 12 - 04:44 AM

I think fiddlers are probably often the worst offenders with songs - there is a knack to accompanying which involves subtly playing in the background - a lot fiddlers tend to swamp a song with soaring concerto like accompaniment all the way through, including a lot of recorded music.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:14 AM

It is little wonder that British folk music is still struggling to see the light of day if this cultural vandalism has become the norm!

Jim, I wouldn't extrapolate a whole "cultural vandalism" from just one example that you happened to witness. It's not the norm, in my experience and, with great respect, sounds a little like a predictable ride on one of your hobby horses.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: banjoman
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:50 AM

Its simple really - at sessions anyone can join in because thats what a session is about. At singarounds its easy enough to ask others not to join in unless asked. My favourite Tom Paxton story (1960's) when he was at the Philharmonic Hall in liverpool made it clear that the audience were welcome to join in the chorus but not in the verses. Otherwise, he said, I/ll go and sit in the pub opposite and phone the doorman to tell them what to sing next.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:16 AM

And it's not a bad pub, that one, either.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:16 AM

If you are a guitar player, and you really don't want anybody else to join in instrumentally on your songs, the politest and most effective way to prevent this is to tune your guitar down by exactly a quarter tone (if you have light gauge strings you could tune it up a quarter tone). Ideally, you would have a Snark tuner to accomplish this quickly and accurately, ( and obviously you would have done it before your turn to sing)

Ideally, you would also use a capo and an open tuning, and this will totally throw any unwanted would-be accompanists, who will spend the entire duration of the song trying to figure out what key you are actually playing in.   

Of course, if you are one of these unfortunate people cursed with so-called "perfect pitch", it might be difficult to sing a song a quarter tone below concert pitch, but I don't think that would be a
problem for most folk singers.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:22 AM

"It's not the norm, in my experience "
It has been argued for often enough, here and elsewhere, for it to be fairly common practice will.
My particular example was of a nationally recognised singer, making it widespread enough for me to believe it to be a not uncommon practice.
It has been argued for elsewhere as a point of principle that if unless a guest requests that the audience does not join in, then they are free to do so.
"at sessions anyone can join in"
We have a singing regular session here; ballads, narrative songs, lyrically introspective pieces.. all to be joined in with in your definition Banjie?
Sorry... not in a million years.
Call them singalongs if you want, but sessions are a thousand other things.
If singing along is common practice in a club it is not easy to ask others not to join in - you have immediately thrown up a barrier between the listener and the singer.
My respect for Tom Paxton has just rocketed sky-high.
The practice of singing along has attained 'bodhran' status as far as I'm concerned
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:30 AM

I am a Notorious 'Noodler' , but NOT with Unaccompanied songs - I am fully aware that a lot if singers vary the metre to suit the song (AND their feeling) , and with acconmpanied song , I DO like to sort out the arrangement , but QUIETLY unless I get a Nod to join in .
Last thing I would ever do is impose MY idea of how a song should be performed on another performer .
Sessions and Singarounds in UK are normally two totally different things - No One at a 'Session' should be performing intricate arrangements of songs in C# - Sessions are for joining in !


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:40 AM

What have is essentially A SESSION but it involves a lot of SINGING and a lot of JOINING IN and a lot of HARD WORK by SEASONED MUSICIANS to make sure the music is always AMAZING. The assumption is here that no one plays anything UNLESS THEY KNOW WHAT THEY'RE DOING and can contribute to a song or tune in a such a way that will ENHANCE the overall experience for both the singer and the company.

Harmony singing is encouraged; virtuoso ensemble improvisation is de rigueur, and consequently the standards are invariably pretty damn high. What isn't needed are people who think bog-standard FAKERY and enthusiastic CHORD STRUMMING in any way, shape or form equates with MUSICAL ARTISTRY or SENSITIVITY or APROPRIATENESS. I can think of dozens of clubs in our area where this aproach really wouldn't be a problem at all, but in the rarefied atmosphere of our Friday Session this just isn't the case. This is why I go there. Fair enough, we all blunder, but one shouldn't be placed in a position of awkwardness by someone joining in with your song who hasn't got the first fecking clue what the song is about having never even heard it before - and if they had they'd know it doesn't need accompanying.

*

I remember once this singer-songwriter guy was in doing this song in E and I joined in on my E Jew's Harp, with modal wit, rhythmic sophistication and genuine musical cunning. Next time he came in and did the song I picked up my E Jew's Harp only to find he'd notched his guitar up a few cents sharp of concert. Obviously he didn't dig my thang! But at least I had the decency to stop at the first twang. I get the impression that no what measures people took some guys & gals would just keep wading on because they don't LISTEN.

This is basic COMMON SENSE one would have thought.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:49 AM

Sessions are for joining in !

Well, mebbe. In our session, space is very tight. We've being doing what we do for nigh on 20 years. I think it means we get some say as to who joins in. It's our party. That doesn't mean we say no - we don't - but generally we don't want any rattlers or thumpers (due to previous awful experience with 'em), and, well, we already have a guitar player, thanks. Melody players are a different matter. There must be at least some respect shown for the regulars, spiced with a just a hint of diffidence. That way, everybody's happy.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:50 AM

My overwhelming impression having been in many many mixed folk sessions is the inherent niceness of the participants. Singers who can't sing in tune,players who can't play in tune and percussionists who can't hit something in time;all are welcomed and none belittled for lack of skill. The key here is people are having fun.
By and large people gravitate towards settings which suit their personal preferences. If you don't like a particular setting or format go somewhere else. John


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: JHW
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:50 AM

Acorn4 says 'I think fiddlers are probably often the worst offenders with songs - there is a knack to accompanying which involves subtly playing in the background - a lot fiddlers tend to swamp a song' and generally I'd agree but it reminds me of a young fiddle player Jess (Richmond, N.Yorks) fairly new to folk sessions who understood how to sidle in here and there to the extent that I found myself choosing songs that I reckoned she could benefit. Done well it's a treat.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: BobKnight
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:53 AM

I try not to join in, because I don't think I'm a good enough guitar player to accompany tunes I don't know. Sometimes I worry that they may think me a bit stand-offish, in not joining in, but I'd rather let them get on with it than play duff chords.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:04 AM

Bob, find a slow session and have a go. Joining in, provided it is the right setting is what it is all about. many of the common session tunes only require three chords for a perfectly acceptable accompaniment. It is getting the changes right that is important.   John.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:07 AM

If you really don't want people to join in you could just ask them not to. Or maybe just sing "The Old Sow Song"


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:08 AM

Jim, British folk music is not struggling to see the light of day. There's lots of it about if you know where to look. And in my experience, the areas in which it is flourishing are those which have an open and encouraging attitude to participation at informal sessions.

Harmony and choral/chorus singing is much more a part of the tradition in England than it is in Ireland (not sure where the rest of the UK fits in on this spectrum). People have sung songs together for centuries at various social occasions, festivities and celebrations. A folk culture that failed to acknowledge this and include it would be denying our tradition and promoting, instead, a performance-based style that encouraged the audience to be passive consumers of the music.

When I sing at a session, I either accompany myself, which to my mind invites others to play along, or I sing unaccompanied. It's rare for anyone to try to play an instrument during an unaccompanied song, but not uncommon for others to sing along quietly, either following the tune or improvising a harmony. That's just fine with me - I have a strong voice and I stay in charge of the song whatever happens. It pleases me to hear others wanting to engage with the song by joining in, and many songs are purpose-made for such participation, with choruses, refrain lines, and repeated verses.

At a club where you get up and stand in front of the room to sing, there's a general understanding that others don't join in on instruments, but if it's a well known song, people do sometimes want to hum or sing along. Far from thinking they're "God's gift", some of the joiners-in who hum quietly would never get up and sing alone, but are developing their confidence and musicality by joining in at their own level. It's such a natural response to music that I wouldn't want to forbid or prevent it, even if it doesn't really enhance the performance. The process is sometimes more important than the end result. And sometimes, just sometimes, the end result of spontaneous joining-in is magical.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:09 AM

Your view of a "session" is then different from mine, Jim - and we must agree to differ. You describe a "singing regular session" which, on my terms, would constitute a singaround and not a session.

I run a small session in my local pub on a monthly basis - and when I say "run" I mean facilitate in such a way that everyone gets the chance to perform. Unless a performer indicates that their turn is to be a solo effort, or perhaps a duo with a friend, then everyone is encouraged to join in - that's what the session is all about. And there's enough common sense around the table for people to understand and appreciate what's appropriate.

I particularly encourage newcomers and beginners to join in, however nervous they might be - some take up the opportunity and some are more reluctant. We have some fairly basic beginners and some very experienced and talented musicians - all are there on an equal basis, and I hope more than anything else that the newbies/beginners fee confident enough to join in and learn something from the more experienced players. The regulars who come to listen also love it, and there's lots of banter and good-natured heckling (and counter-heckling) through the evening as the beer flows.

That's what I call a session - communal, acoustic music-making with good fellowship and tolerance - all for that essential element: fun. There are plenty of other venues in my area where I can go for, say a more purist Irish session or a more purist French tunes session or a more purist English tunes session, should I feel the need. Some of these sessions are joyous and relaxed - others are not - and there's not necessarily any correlation between the seriousness of the attitude and the quality of the music. Needless to say, I avoid the joyless sessions like the plague because, if there's no joy in music-making, we may as well turn our faces to the wall.

To be honest, Jim, much as I respect your experience, I feel there's little point in trying to have a debate with you as your attitudes towards what happens musically over here have been fixed and unyielding ever since I started reading Mudcat threads, which is about 5 years now. You have a personal party line which, in spite of the ever-changing scene and regional variation in music-making over here in that time, you follow and never change. You seem to have no idea what the scene is in my area, but still the party line is trotted out about "cultural vandalism".

If you're so fixed and unchanging in your attitudes towards the British scene, then why bother to say anything at all - why not keep quiet and let us get on happily with our obviously inferior cultural vandalism? You think it exists - I don't - so let's just beg to differ.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:17 AM

Well said Mr. Fly.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:15 AM

Sorry Will - a spoonerism - should have read regular singing session.
"I run a small session in my local pub on a monthly basis"
Don't think we have any serious disagreement; we call what you describe here, 'singing circles' - usually anything goes repertoire with basement-level standards.
Have been to a few (usually only once) and found them sometimes fun but musically unsatisfying.
My objection is to 'folk clubs' who allow, even encourage audiences to join in unasked.
My "party line" is that the folk music I know and love, and have devoted the best part of my life to, is beautiful, complex, extremely enjoyable and satisfying and important (and demanding) enough to be performed well enough for the listener and performer to go home with enough fuel to encourage him/her to come back the following week to do it all over again, and maybe even to take it further (some of our finest researchers sttarted off as singers).
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:17 AM

If you don't like joiners in go to an open mike night ( with or without mikes). Ive had some of the best and worst experieces of joiners in, but the best outweigh the worst by far.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:18 AM

Totally with you, Will and Marje.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:23 AM

Taking this a little further, whilst most folk enthusiasts in England have a clear idea of the differences and etiquette between the words 'singaround' and 'session', it occurs to me that there are people in different areas and newcomers who are not fully aware of these differences.

Having read the whole thread it would appear that some of the problems here stem from the two words having different meanings to different people. Perhaps it is time we started thinking about a new set of words to cover the several different types of occasions when people meet together to sing and play.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 May 12 - 08:51 AM

The events I most like are somewhere in between a session and a singaround, where there can be solo spots as well everybody-join-in sets. They are perhaps not quite as common as they used to be but they still happen.

But what absolutely does NOT work is people treating solo melody instruments as if they were solo ballad singers, and sitting on their hands when they could be trying some sort of accompaniment for tunes that absolutely require it. It doesn't feel like respect for the music, it feels like being shunned.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 May 12 - 09:01 AM

Jim, I think the main area where I have regularly taken friendly issue with you is that your love and enthusiasm appears to be mainly for folk music as enshrined in songs. For me, folk music is essentially enshrined in tunes - and the music is obviously somewhere in between those two viewpoints!

I have very few folk songs in my repertoire, and am rarely enthused by songs in folk clubs because - although I love folk tales of murders, ghosts, love and death, etc. (and have a very good attention span) - I prefer my entertainment from such things to be got from books of prose and poetry, curled up in an armchair or reclining "on a mossy bank". Tunes, on the other hand - English, Irish, Scottish, French, Cape Breton, Cajun, etc. - I have unbounded enthusiasm and an insatiable appetite for. (I've banged on about this on Mudcat before and will leave it at that).

So, to draw a conclusion about the state of any folk music purely from its songs and its singers is wrong, in my view. There is actually a good, vibrant scene for singing down here in my neck of Sussex - in folk clubs where I venture on occasion - and an equally vibrant scene for tunes and mixed sessions - which I attend as often as I can. It seems to me - and correct me if I'm wrong - that your passions are really for the tradition as carried in words. My passions are for the tunes and the variations in those tunes which have come down the years. I see a thriving folk scene with a huge number of wonderful tunes to be played regularly - and I was playing many of 'em at a wedding only last night! There are innumerable ceilidh bands where I live, all working regularly and all playing a solid selection of traditional tunes for dancing.

Valmai is running a ballad workshop in Lewes next month with Scottish singers Gordeanna McCulloch & Anne Neilson. I won't be there as it's not my thing, but I raise a glass to it in recognition of the efforts of my dedicated friends down here in keeping the music going and the standards high. The state of folk music here - in song and tunes - is a far cry from what you're constantly describing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: banjoman
Date: 20 May 12 - 10:47 AM

I agree that there is some confusion between a session and a singaround. However, it really P***s me off when I have gone to the trouble to learn a song or piece of music and find that someone who knows a slightly different version insists on joining in and then persists with their version. My favourite trick, especially in a room full of melodeons, is to put a capo on the banjo and play a well known tune in B flat. Watching their faces is worth the effort. I would add that I have been threatened on one occasion by a melodeon player when I did this. He is now dead( dont read too much into that)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 12 - 10:58 AM

banjoman,
You need to be at a singaround or indeed a 'playaround'. The whole idea of a session is participation. You seem to have missed this.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 20 May 12 - 11:40 AM

This reads like every reason to stay away from folk clubs and sessions. Thank goodness anything worth listening to at a folkclub is recorded and uploaded to the internet, for listening in the comfort of my own home.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 20 May 12 - 11:46 AM

Well, if you've never attended a good session, then you really don't know what you've missed. Listening to music in a chair is, for me, no substitute for playing it in the company of friends and having a great time while doing so.

How can you possibly criticise what you've never experienced?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 May 12 - 11:46 AM

Whoever has started a song or tune sets the way it is performed - ANYONE joining in should realise this , and either shut up or just play along and NOT try to move the arrangemrnt their way.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 20 May 12 - 11:48 AM

Bonzo can criticise anything he likes , wether he knows anything about it or (USUALLY) not


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 20 May 12 - 12:01 PM

Thank goodness anything worth listening to at a folkclub is recorded and uploaded to the internet, for listening in the comfort of my own home.

This is, to use vaguely modern parlance, just so not true. It's like saying watching porn is better than having sex.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Musket
Date: 20 May 12 - 12:15 PM

Anybody would think the spectacle was for the performer rather than those listening...

That said, if you must join in, you become part of said performance, so yeah, best if invited and follow the leader rather than your own interpretation.

I have a relaxed attitude, but there are some songs which I perform in concerts but never in folk clubs, as my versions may, (and tend to..) string out the end of a stanza with a flourish, so whilst I am taking my breath waiting, others are playing or singing into the next verse or chorus. The upshot? "Mather got his song wrong..."

Whilst we are having a good bloody whinge, the next person who says I "sing it wrong" will be first up against the wall when I come to power.

Oh, there's a debate... Is porn better than sex? Can we take age, description of partner and our ability to perform into account????


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 20 May 12 - 01:25 PM

Will's absolutely right in his comments about the vibrancy of the scene down here in the South East of England. It's not just Sussex (East or West) but Kent, Surrey and Hampshire where the singaround/session/folk club scene is alive, vibrant and healthy.

I could go to 2 or 3 different events in the above categories almost any night of the week here, within a 20-30 minute (max) drive of home. Tuesdays are a bit thin for some reason, but almost any other night I'm spoilt for choice....FIVE options this coming Monday, 4 of which I'd really like to go to. Some are traddy, some are quiet, more like 7 or 8 friends gathered in someone's sitting room than a pub session, and some are lively. They're all good fun. Like Will, the odd one I found to be too serious or too exclusive, I stopped going to. lenty more to choose from.

The Bull session at Ditchling is the only one I travel a fair way for ( an hour each way) because it's just so damned GOOD. Anyone who thinks it's "better" to listen to a recording at home should get along to this session! It's lively, yes, but when the occasional unaccompanied song's performed, or someone nervous like me tries to play/sing, the people are very sensitive to the moment.

As to "singing it wrong"...no-one's ever *told* me that, it's just been the odd occasion when a "joiner-in" (at singarounds, not sessions) has tried to browbeat me during the song into doing it their way (or are just so used to doing it that way that they're not even aware that I'm deviatig from the "norm"). It's not so bad with "standards" like John Barleycorn as there are a gazillion different versions of that one so no-one is mentally "hearing" a definitive version.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 12 - 01:28 PM

Going back to the OP 2 items are mentioned.

Folk Club etiquette is set by the folk club organisers and has been discussed at great length on other threads. Each club has its own rules and as long as these are clear and obvious to newcomers no problem.

To avoid the arguments should we split sessions into 2 or more types, freestyle and controlled? Those with a lot of singing, those with a little singing, those with no singing?

At a freestyle which is what I mostly attend there is the occasional song and, unless the singer makes it very clear otherwise, it is accepted that joining in is the norm, with chorus, harmony, instruments.

While I'm on, what p****s me off most is those who try to change the tempo once somebody has started a tune, particularly those show-offs who like to play tunes at breakneck speed regardless of fitting the notes in. I have been known to tell them in mid tune, especially if there are some beginners in.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 May 12 - 03:11 PM

"....appears to be mainly for folk music as enshrined in songs."
Sorry Will; not the case.
I can, (and still would if I had the energy) go out five nights out of seven and hear music ranging from not bad to to world class, all within a twenty minute walk from here, much of it being played by the youngsters still in their teens and early twenties who are still emerging onto the scene.
We sat in a pub in the next village last Wednesday and enjoyed a magic night of fiddle playing from Kevin Burke and Tim O'Brien, with a handful of excellently performed American traditional songs thrown in for good measure.
We were a little late leaving, so we couldn't get into the Jackie Daly session in our local pub, but we can see him any two nights of the week.
I shudder to think what would have happened if somebody had pulled out a fiddle (or even worse, a bodhran) and joined in with Kevin and Tim - there aren't enough trees around here for an impromptu lynching so I suppose the Atlantic would have had to suffice.
How can anybody justify joining in with any performer, singer or musician, without being invited to do so - or does a 'class system' operate which allows it with some and not with others?
I know of several performers who visit the UK regularly as performers and are appalled at the practice, but are too polite to mention it.
By the way Steve, you can't complain about "those who try to change the tempo once somebody has started a tune" if you are going to allow joining in when the audience feels like it unless you issue a rule book of dos and don'ts.
I've said it before, but Walter Pardon felt it necessary to drop two of his favourite songs from his club performance repertoire because of audiences tendencies to harmonise and to slow down the choruses -"made them sound like bloomin' funeral hymns".
He would never in a thousand years have brought himself round to asking them not to.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 20 May 12 - 03:18 PM

If irish musicians are so appalled by UK behaviour why not stop at home.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 May 12 - 03:53 PM

There is absolutely no point to this bickering. We are talking about different places where different norms are accepted. I used to go accross to Ireland regularly and would never have dreamt of attempting to accompany a stranger or a recognised singer without being invited. I wouldn't even have attempted to join in with most sessions unless I knew the tune well and had been invited. However, there are lots of different sessions over here and most are very welcoming of all levels, and most people get their enjoyment from simply participating. These sessions are often in a bar-room of a pub and the other occupants of the pub are only too glad of some live/lively music. It simply doesn't matter if everybody can't play every note of every tune. Occasionally somebody will lead off on a difficult tune or one nobody else knows and we are happy to sit and listen as long as they don't try to take over the session with this.

I've also gone into sessions in Ireland where the same group of half a dozen musicians rattle through the same repertoire of reels at breakneck speed and are unaware of anyone else in the room. Each to their own. Just not my cup of tea.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: michaelr
Date: 20 May 12 - 04:13 PM

Jim Carroll: I can, (and still would if I had the energy) go out five nights out of seven and hear music ranging from not bad to to world class, all within a twenty minute walk from here...We sat in a pub in the next village last Wednesday and enjoyed a magic night of fiddle playing from Kevin Burke and Tim O'Brien... we couldn't get into the Jackie Daly session in our local pub, but we can see him any two nights of the week.

Please, please tell me where you live!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: JohnH
Date: 20 May 12 - 04:17 PM

And they "join in" with a different tune or timing!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Eh?
Date: 20 May 12 - 04:19 PM

'If irish musicians are so appalled by UK behaviour why not stop at home.'

Because some us poor fuckers actually live in the UK to begin with, dimwit! Belfast, now where would that be?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:15 PM

Belfast, now where would that be?

In the UK.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Harry Doig
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:29 PM

I once went to a session and sang "The Old Furrier", halfway through the first chorus an old man started singing along, but it was a different lyric - he rhymed Potato with Impetago - which totally ruined the whole point of the song. I stopped singing and told him off. I said "hey, please don't mess with the song" and he stopped. After my song, I went to the lavatory. I wasn't asked to sing another song and when I got home I discovered someone had emptied an ashtray in my pocket.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 20 May 12 - 05:32 PM

I think Marje nailed it. And Terry when he said that if someone is leading something, others follow. I'll often put my mandolin down if there is another mandolin player accompanying a song, because I feel that what I would do would not fall to hand quite well with other mandolin players who just may happen to feel an accompaniment differently from me.

And speaking of listening - - -

There is one person who has posted on this thread who I have seen join in on an instrument with an unaccompanied singer and force a key change as a result.   

I've seen another poster here talk right over someone trying (7 times) to start a song - and then criticise the singer because the talker was "performing" a joke.

I've seen a banjo player (not represented on this thread) play right over everyone (yes, everyone) who tried to start a song - when he was a visitor to the singers' session (and not I add a booked guest).

No names, no pack drill.

Incidentally, I think of "noodling" as something quite different - a tendency of some guitarists or instrument players to play something, anything, when there is a silence - and it may or may not be an attempt to start a song or tune, or a bit of private practice, or just a compulsion to finger the strings, and one does not know which. I don't call a purposeful (even if mistaken) attempt to accompany "noodling".

I did have one embarrassing experience arising from this - a person somewhat given to proclaiming their instant expertise on any instrument they happened to buy was - I thought - "noodling aimlessly" - so I carried on talking, only to find later that I had talked right through a set piece they were playing to demonstrate their expertise on their new instrument!

On the other hand there are some songs where surely everyone expects silly versions to be sung or silly sound effects to be inserted - perhaps the greatest example being "Pleasant and delightful" - even down to the added verse to the words of "Pinball Wizard" (or the added verse to "A sailor ain't a sailor any more".


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Tootler
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:41 PM

It's very easy to compile a list of your favourite horror stories and to give the impression that things are much worse than they really are.

I don't find that the kind of things described above in this thread are common, in fact, I've not come across many of them at all and for the most part, I find people respect the conventions.

Joining in is part of the folk song culture in England but there are conventions that are mostly adhered to. Choruses and refrains definitely. The other common ones I have noticed is where the last line of every verse ends in a similar phrase. The Gallant Frigate Amphitrite is a good example where most verses end in some variant of "around cape horn". The melodeon playing sharks in Pleasant and Delightful seem to have moved away from here (Teesside), but people mostly join in on the last line or two of each verse. Also people mostly will join in if the first verse is reprised. I don't see instrumentalists trying to accompany singers singing unaccompanied, or even with singers accompanying themselves unless explicitly invited.

I don't have any problem with these conventions. You expect them and taking part is part of what a singaround is about, at least for me. My only real niggle are the subvocalisers. You can be singing a song and someone will be singing along with you half under their breath, but just loud enough to be heard. It's particularly annoying when you are singing a song out for the first time and are concentrating hard on the words as it can so easily break your concentration. I think often the people concerned are not always aware they are doing it. I know I was guilty at one time and at the end of the song, the MC had a go much to my embarrassment, so I now make a conscious effort to try and avoid it. After all it was fair comment by the MC and it's not fair on the singers.

I must also admit to being a somewhat compulsive noodler. It can cause embarrassment in sessions when you try something out quietly (you think) and someone says "go on" and you're not sure of what comes next. Woops!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:43 PM

...On the other hand there are some songs where surely everyone expects silly versions to be sung or silly sound effects to be inserted ...

That's OK, if you are singing that particular version, but if you've worked at performing a song it can be quite annoying to find somebody adding stupid hand claps that you had intended to omit because they are a modern idiosyncrasy which is not appropriate to a traditional rendering.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 20 May 12 - 06:48 PM

My cookie went missing. It was Jim carroll who referred to the UK and irish players to which I was responding. Sorry to any players north of the border who are as Bert notes British.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 20 May 12 - 07:13 PM

Belfast, now where would that be?
In the UK.


And also in Ireland, as "GUEST,Eh? " was hinting.

Here is a fiddler as good as or better than Kevin Burke playing in a session in Scotland. Note: there are people accompanying him. And he shows every sign of welcoming it.

Paul Anderson

The kind of gathering Jim describes Kevin Burke presiding over isn't a musical event, it's some kind of fundamentalist religious ritual. If I'm ever in Aberdeenshire I'll try to find the pub Paul is playing in there: I have no intention of going anywhere near a centre of the sort of hero-cultic obsession Jim describes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 12 - 03:38 AM

"The kind of gathering Jim describes Kevin Burke presiding over isn't a musical event"
No it isn't - it's listening to an evening of music from the best of what we've got - and it happens in every other performing and creative art I know of.
I can remember having the same experience in the UK with Bert LLloyd, MacColl, Killen, Seamus Ennis, Paddy Tunney, The Stewart Family, Lizzie Higgins, Kevin Michell, Harry Cox, Walter Pardon, Joe Heaney.... all showcased regularly in the clubs I attended or helped run - and every single one of them enjoyably memorable experiences - thankfully free from audiences who joined in to prove they did, or didn't know the tunes or the words.
How can excellece possibly be described as "hero-cultic obsession", it is no more than enjoying an evening of the best of what your music has to offer
We ran clubs in the UK and booked guests who we believed performed well - HCO?
We helped run workshops so that singers could improve their performances - HCO?
Utter crap.
"If irish musicians are so appalled by UK behaviour why not stop at home."
Ask the club and festival organisers who persist in booking them.
What all this boils down to is that if you are going to run singing or musical events and invite people to sing or play, it should be entirely up to the singers and musicians who turn up whether their songs and tunes should be turned into choral or orchestral pieces. It should not be the visitors' job to ask that this should not happen, but the other way round - if they have no objection they can say so, otherwise they have a right to be listened to in silence.
If you do otherwise your club should come with a health warning THIS CLUB DOES NOT ENCOURAGE SOLO PERFORMANCES.
This choral thing is a recent introduction; many (most) I have spoken to find it highly offensive and if it becomes the norm, people like Steve can forget their objections to someone speeding up the tunes, and the OP needn't bother working on his musical skills because his efforts are going to be swallowed up (and more likely as not, naused up) by ego tippping joiners-inners drowning his efforts out.
Noodling seems to be a good word for it - the act of noodles (dict def. - a fool, a simpleton)
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:23 AM

You're not getting it, Jim.

Like the caterpillar in "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", a word means exactly what I want it to mean. By "session" I mean a gathering of singers and musicians who play communally together for each other - which is the raison d'etre of the gathering - not a showcase for the better musicians to entertain while the lesser ones gather round in hushed awe. That's what might happen in a folk club or a singaround in my book. Once again, you're talking in "club" terms - but we're not discussing clubs here.

It seems petty to argue about semantics, but it's important here because you're basing your inevitable acid criticisms of this and that on an event which, from your description, is the antithesis of what I mean by a session. To extrapolate your inevitable criticism of the British folk scene - clubs, sessions, singarounds - from that extrapolation is inevitably flawed.

Enough said, I think.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:31 AM

I don't see the point in continuing to bicker about the way things are done in different areas/countries. These may or may not always have been as they are now, but anyone attending a club or session has to look at what is happening there now, and accept the unwritten rules that are now applied.

Good manners (which apply wherever you are) would suggest that you watch what others do and take your cue from them; you can also pick up clues from whoever is leading a song or tune (or acting as MC if there is one) as to what's expected or encouraged. Good manners should also take care of the one-off problems such as private noodling between tunes, or correcting or shouting down a singer who comes up with a different version of a song.

I do remember one time when I was singing, a bass player who'd never been to our session before played a quiet accompaniment to my song. I didn't mind a bit, but one of our regulars told him off afterwards, in front of everyone else, saying that this was not done. I was really cross, and apologised to the guy at the bar, but he never came back to that session. The bad manners, in this case, was the public criticism of this guy's attemps to join in. If anyone had a problem with it, a private word afterwards would have been enough.

It's all about respecting the musicians/singers and the music they're putting across. In some areas it's evidently considered disrepectful to join in; in others, participation is welcomed and seen as a sign of your appreciation and engagement with the music.

You can enjoy one system more than the other, but that doesn't make either of them wrong or offensive. What is wrong is trying to impose or insist on a uniform etiquette across country and cultural boundaries, or sneer at the way some people choose to enjoy their music.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Keith Price
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:44 AM

" but we're not discussing clubs here" I should look at the thread title Will.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:51 AM

I'm perfectly aware of the thread title - I'm commenting on Jim's continued use of the word sessions while really referring to clubs.

It may be a niggle - and it may, as Marje says - be bickering. If there wasn't always an implied or, more usually, a direct criticism of the British folk scene on Jim's part, then I wouldn't be so pernickety.

It appears to be any excuse to give the scene a good knocking, even though the direct experience of many of us is the opposite of what Jim bangs on about.

But as before - 'nuff said.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:11 AM

The title of the thread contains both club and session, the two are not synonymous. Our club runs fortnightly slow sessions for the first hour.Everyone is welcome to join in. The second half of the evening is the club where individuals take turns to sing/play, joining in is usually restricted to singing choruses unless the singer suggests otherwise.
Barnsley folk club


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:22 AM

p.s. we have had several paid guests recently who have arrived during the slow session and it was a real pleasure to see them get their instruments out and join in.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:34 AM

It should not be the visitors' job to ask that this should not happen, but the other way round - if they have no objection they can say so, otherwise they have a right to be listened to in silence.

It is pretty obvious which kind of tunes work best as an accompanied solo (or with a tightly thought-out accompaniment by only one player) - if Paul Anderson started up "Gight Castle" in a Scottish session it is not likely anyone would play along. He wouldn't NEED to say when silence was a good idea, the tune and the performer's attitude will convey it in the first bar. Nor should I need to say when silence is a bad idea to the point of being downright insulting, but I guess people who sing Neil Young are just thick.

You might need an explicit sign on the wall to say what to do, but the non-autistic majority of us are well able to read the social and musical interactions in a session situation.

I can go to a ballad performance of the type you describe every week in Edinburgh (though I haven't, Fridays are not convenient for me) - Kevin Mitchell (note spelling) has sung at it, I think. Nobody would go along to that with the idea of accompanying anybody, but I doubt they've ever bothered making a rule about it. There's a session upstairs in the same pub at the same time which operates under something more like the usual session conventions. The people who go to that don't need to be told what to do, either.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:39 AM

The title of the thread contains both club and session, the two are not synonymous.

As the OP, I must say that in this context Folk Club and Session are pretty much synonymous. Our Folk Club is a music & song Session; there is no emcee, no floor spots, no formality, no order, no performances as such where anyone is free to sing when they want, or as much or as little as they want. It is convivial anarchy. It is a Folk Club where people meet to play (mostly) traditional tunes & sing traditional songs, where joining in actively & heartily encouraged.

The point is that even in this context, why is it that people feel the need to join in when they obviously don't have the first clue what the music is about? And why, having placed me in the awkward situation of having to advise them mid-song that their contribition is not required, do they take offense and start demanding what The Rules of contruibition are? Surely the rules of contribution are obvious: only join in if you know what you're doing. If you don't, shut the feck up and LISTEN. I do a lot of LISTENING at our Folk Club, I am like a pig in shit doing so, enjoying the seasoned experise and virtuosity of muscians whose boots I am not fit to lick*. But even here, certain indivuals feel the need to play along when they haven't got the first clue.

Whilst I am no fan of people who persist in singing along with my shit (or anyone's shit for that matter) to show their appreciation or that they know the song too, I have no problems with those who 'air sing'. Ever seen that? I know two people - both of them great performers in their own right, both of them very dear to me as people too - who sing along with every word in studied concentration, but (get this) they don't utter a sound.

* Not just seasoned virtuousi I might add. I love listening to other singers in Folk Clubs, it is one of life's true joys; even the most nervous & inexperienced of singers can touch my heart, and very often do.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:46 AM

"the non-autistic majority of us are well able to read the social and musical interactions in a session situation."

I've actually wondered about that, as a number of characters I've witnessed behaving in a distinctly self-focused / blinkered fashion definitely appeared to belong to some kind of spectrum of personality disorder, however mildly.

I've also encountered a higher quanity of that type of character at singarounds than almost anywhere, bar perhaps when volunteering for some charity drop-in morning, or on the bus (lots of kooky folks use the bus).


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:46 AM

Long, long ago, in a session or singaround (might even have been a concert), the usual foot-stampers,hand-clappers, spoons-players, bones players and bodhran wannabes playing their beer mugs were all present. Then someone made the following announcement," The next song/tune is in 7/4 (or something equally odd)- don't try to accompany it 'cos you'll end up spastic!".....talk about rhythmic frustration.....
What irritates me in sessions? Guitarists (yes,I know I'm one). Those of an irish/celtic music persuasion all seem to be frustrated heavy metal guitarists. This is fine when confined to their groups, but two or more often don't quite gel together. On top of this they haven't mastered the art of playing quietly when necessary and actually listening to tunes they don't know. There is also the clique status of many sessions, again mostly irish, where the current irish 'top ten' will be fiddled,banjoed and bodhraned at breakneck speed and where all attempts to play anything other than the 'hits' are mercilessly and arrogantly ignored and steamrollered into silence.

Don


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:51 AM

It seems unavoidable that those doing the telling off think they are better than those being told off.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:33 AM

"It seems unavoidable that those doing the telling off think they are better than those being told off. "
You've said this before Richard - are you really claiming that solo singing is an indication that solo singers do so because they consider themselves "superior"?
"....on an event which, from your description, is the antithesis of what I mean by a session."
You are assuming that I am basing it on one event - I am not, nor are people arguing the case on a single event (or that it should specifically apply to sessions - it happens at guest paying clubs regularly), but a principle that if you come along to their club you will have to go cap-in-hand to ask permission to sing solo - and be faced with attitudes such as Richard's, that it is arrogance on your part to want to do so - the death knell of all solo performances, taken to its logical conclusion.
Our song tradition (unlike others) is not a choral one and the songs, with all their musical and textual complexities and subtlties lend themselves to individual interpretation, in most cases, demand it.
Surely the musical variations or uses of textual phrasing that singers use within the space of one single song make it this blindingly obvious.
By encouraging joining in, you are bulldozing all of these flat , making any individual interpretation a singer might choose to make utterly superfluous.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: banjoman
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:38 AM

I dont join in unless asked to do so, but agree with a lot of the views expressed here. Its about understanding the "Rules"of the session/singaround that you are in and if necessary asking if its ok to join in.

Hi Keith - long time no see/hear -hope you are still sessioning
Pete


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:49 AM

(lots of kooky folks use the bus).

But not many kookie folkies, eh, CS?

This is a fair point actually but if that was truly the case in the present mutterance I wouldn't have said anything, either here or on the night in question. I know that folk has more than its fair share of genuine nutters, and the more the merrier really; eccentricity is built into the DNA of the thing, which brings to Richard's comment...

It seems unavoidable that those doing the telling off think they are better than those being told off

...because very often it seems to me it's the other way round actually, with the accompaniments being offered by way of learned instruction and/or correction by individuals who feel they are inherently superior in some way. Personally, I don't feel 'better' than anyone, I just don't like it when people feel the need to 'improve' on what I'm doing by adding something utterly unnecessary then have the neck to look all wounded when I tell them so. If it only happened the once then fair enough, but it seems to be a frequent issue. It's not just the one club I've been in where 'the guitar guy' feels the need to join in with everything whilst making a consistent hash of it. One time I was visiting a club and noting his tendancy to do just that I asked him if he wouldn't try and accompany me and got into a pre-song situation that was so ugly that I just went home without singing.

We don't get out to Folk Clubs much these days as we don't live in a very Trad Friendly County - which is why our Friday night Sesh is dearly & rightly cherished. I don't go for Agro, I go for great music and great crack; and I hate being put in a situation of confrontation by 'guitar guys' who feel that just because they can strum the chords to the Fields of Athenry that somehow qualifies them as a musician. There are plenty of clubs where it will, especially round here, but precious few which appreciate the pure principle of The Modal Drone essential to a more spiritual communion with the heart and soul of Traditional Song, where the intonation of such sacred texts as The Crabfish, Butter and Cheese and All or Long Peggin Awl require a certain finesse to do them justice...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:03 AM

I'm not going back to the "my-club-is-better-than-your-club" argument, but to a point of fact: Jim, you say "Our tradition is not a choral one." Do you mean the Irish or the English tradition, or both? I'm having difficulty with this idea in relation to English song, at least.

Why on earth would so many old songs and ballads have choruses and refrain lines if it was not normal for people to join in? In fact, why would they be called "choruses" in the first place? Walter Pardon may not have liked the way people joined in his choruses (I know what he means - I blame the Church!), but surely he wasn't surprised or taken aback by this? Whether it's a rousing "And a hunting we will go.." or a quiet, hypnotic repeat line like "Oh, but her love was easily won", have these parts of songs not always been open to others to join in? Another churchy parallel here - they're almost like the call-and-answer responses or chants that have been a feature of church music for centuries. Ditto the harmonies, which are far from being a new-fangled 20th century fashion.

And I'm ready to accept that this tradition is not the same in Irish song, but the Dubliners and the Clancys and the "Irish pub bands" who are their successors across the world have done a lot to promote the idea of singalong folk music, in much the same way as the Spinners and others did in England. There is more to Irish (and English) music than that, but this genre is now an accepted part of the Irish (and ex-pat/emigrant)tradition, and has been handed on in this way for over half a century now.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:13 AM

I like the idea of convivial anarchy where what I say goes. So if you see me singing just shut the feck up and listen, OK.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:38 AM

I like the idea of convivial anarchy where what I say goes. So if you see me singing just shut the feck up and listen, OK.

For sure, if you don't know what you're doing, then the best thing to do is to listen in respectful appreciation, as we all must. Respect is the key here; that and musical appropriateness. God knows life's too short for open confrontation in a social situation, but music is too precious to be blootered over by cack-handed guitar guys who think they know better than you on things they've never heard before and haven't the first clue about. In this sense it's like turning up at a recital of Bach cello suites and proving impromtu continuo by strumming along, which they probably do; on the evidence it wouldn't surprise me - but I'm sure they wouldn't get very far before being impaled on the cello spike. Anarchy is about engendering freedom in self by engendering & acknowleding it in others; if others openly oppress my freedom then I will, at the very least, say something.

Come all ye, but leave your own rules at home. For sure our rules may be unwritten & only proved by significant exception, but part of the fun of the music is figuring that out as part of the very convivial hand of welcome.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:39 AM

Why on earth would so many old songs and ballads have choruses and refrain lines if it was not normal for people to join in?

You can find a few hundred examples of songs where the refrain is an essential part of the performance if you go to

Kist o Riches

and put "waulking" in the search box.

The content of waulking songs is hugely varied, from epic laments to topical satires. I would bet that a lot of the songs that Jim only knows from Irish tradition as reverentially performed solo spots started out as work songs like that.

Waulking songs are sometimes performed solo in Scotland, but when they are it's a degradation of the tradition. At least here, everybody can tell when the singer has gone off on an ego trip in Mod-competition style.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:48 AM

Oh God, now I'm having visions of a bunch of seasoned Waulkers singing He Mandu* and the guitar guy feeling the need to strum along. Choral singing, be it Sacred Harp, Gaelic Psalms, Sea Shanties or Old Chestnut Bawling in Singarounds at least require a certain expertise and familiarity with the idiom & songs before participation should be attempted, no matter now informal the context.

* An obvious chioce, but my knowledge of the idiom isn't so very extensive.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:57 AM

Just listened to He Mandu (http://www.tobarandualchais.co.uk/en/fullrecord/23183/1)
Didn't feel any need to strum along, rather felt like losing the will to live. What a philistine I am sometimes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 08:07 AM

Now listen to a performance with the chorus:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uauqsVMD9UU

Quite a difference, yes?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 08:11 AM

Spot on jack, makes all the difference.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 21 May 12 - 08:40 AM

With regards to the 'not a part of the tradition' argument, I feel what may be being missed there, is that the revival entire 'isn't a part of the tradition'. It may be possessed of it's own traditions of sorts ("over half a century" is probably enough for it to have done so) but 'the' tradition it isn't. Different times & different groups of people result in different ideas about things I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 May 12 - 08:50 AM

Surely all this boils down to is being able to recognise the difference between a performance siuation and a participation situation. One can only do this by being familiar with the venue unwritten rules, by asking.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 21 May 12 - 09:06 AM

If a tradition is what's handed down from one generation to another, than the revival must be part of the tradition. There are older aspects too, but if we are to regard anything after 1950 as too late to be traditional, we're left with a static and fossilised view of what the tradition consists of.

The "revival" was just that - it revived many traditional songs which would otherwise have been lost to future generations. It also "revived" or refreshed certain of the songs in various ways, attempting to revitalise them by creating new settings and accompaniments, re-writing lyrics and even writing new songs that followed traditional patterns. Not all of this was successful in the long term, but some of what was done then has resulted in the preservation of old songs and tunes in much the same form as they'd existed in for decades or centuries before. The old songs became accessible to a new generation of singers and audience. All this can't be written off as "not the tradition". It happened, it's important, and the process continues to this day.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 09:52 AM

Quite a difference, yes?

That's a seasoned group of expert singers though Jack - not just a bunch of random joiners in. Such highly evolved collective music making insists that the participants have at least heard the song before attempting to take part in its performance, much less be familiar with its nuances or else have the ability to effect a welcome contribution least they be damned as the hapless Jack Madden in Jacobs' Legend of Knockgrafton. The nature of music is knowing...

Surely all this boils down to is being able to recognise the difference between a performance siuation and a participation situation.

Again - even in a participation situation the participants must know their shit before joining in, least they prove they're just shit. With the best will in the world I can't extend that welcome to people so insensitive to the craft of music to think that anything is better than nothing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:03 AM

If a tradition is what's handed down from one generation to another, than the revival must be part of the tradition.

This is just so not true. Revival and Tradition are chalk & cheese and it pays, I feel, to be aware of this as conflating the two just leads to all sorts of issues, none of which are helpful. The Tradition is largely a myth, an illusion consequent on Revival Methodology as what we're looking at are collected versions which form the fossil record of a long dead idiom of Popular Music Making. We're looking at that idiom, just so many shadows of it on the wall of Plato's Cave. For sure the two have overlapped - I'm honoured to have worked with Traditional Singers & Storytellers who have welcomed me with open arms, but never once was I under an illusions about my status as a Singer of Traditional Songs rather than a Traditional Singer. This isn't a matter of petty semantics, it's the very core of what Folk is.

That said there are (confusingly perhaps) revival traditions which are more orthodox conventions born of the inner religiosity of a movement adrift from mainstream culture by nature of its very convictions. But best we don't confuse them with anything truly Traditional, anymore than our Model Railway Enthusiasts confuse his authentic models with real trains.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:22 AM

Suibhne, I have some sympathy with your views on sensitivity towards the craft of music. However, I am aware that there exist a good number of musicians/singers who believe they are perfectly competent, whereas in reality they may be unable to sing or play in tune. This I believe is a function of the often uncritical acceptance by an essentially friendly folk audience and the difficulty inherent in the process of self-criticism; we like to think we are better than we really are.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:46 AM

The NORM for a UK folk Club tends to be SOME booked artists (And then you only join in IF asked) and some Open Evenings with NO booked guest but local and visiting performers doing short sets - Again , you ONLY join in if asked . That does NOT apply anywhere if a song has a chorus or a refrain .
A Singaround Club has NO booked artists ,and tends to be more informal , with a lot of audience participation and One Song at a time round the room .
A SESSION is even more informal , and can be either Just Songs , Just Tunes , or Mixed ! IF its a Tunes session , the general idea is to LEARN new tunes from the other performers , so prticipation IS encouraged .
A CONCERT is a far more formal event , but even at Concerts , Audience participation is encouraged for Choruses and refrains .

If any one in UK disagrees with my assessment please tell me what differences you consider the norm in YOUR area .


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:48 AM

Sessions and singarounds serve an essential function in keeping this music alive - they are a place where newcomers can get a feel for what it might be like to perform the stuff. That means guitarists who have previously got no nearer to traditional music than the acoustic end of pop; classically trained fiddlers who have at most a handful of tunes memorized; and singers who can do two or three familiar cliche songs while looking at their lyric sheet. If you tell all those people to bugger off and take lessons for a couple of years before coming back, they not only won't come back, they'll tell their friends to stay away as well.

Most of the time this sort of newcomer - new to the folk/trad idiom but not new to musical performance - will see quite quickly what they need to learn (and the people in the session will probably have useful pointers on how to go about it). But they need a chance to try first.

I think Jim is old enough to have told Kevin Burke to fuck off and come back when he wasn't still wet behind the ears. And he probably did exactly that to people of the same generation who might by now have been just as good if they hadn't despaired of ever being accepted.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 10:52 AM

Leadfinger, your definitions accord exactly with what happens in my neck of the woods. john


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Musket
Date: 21 May 12 - 11:04 AM

Mind you, I recently played a slip jig on a mandolin, wanting the usual crew to join in, and the 9/8 floored them, (took years to forget to count and just play on instinct.)

So, the answer is, if you want to play Billy No Mates, stick to slip jigs.

Leadfinger - I don't think there is a norm. or at least, not in the etiquette sense. A folk club will always comprise of those who see reciting songs as something similar to stamp collecting, keeping a record of days gone by in the oral tradition, coupled with those who can play an instrument and realise, quite rightly, that a folk club is an excellent venue in which to share your hobby, those who enjoy listening and / or joining in, and those who are trying to recapture their youth.

Oh, and those who enjoy a pint with good mates.

I reckon you couldn't get a consensus on etiquette from that lot, never mind the other 70% of attendees!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 21 May 12 - 11:29 AM

Slip jigs - love 'em! We do "Drops of Brandy" and "Foxhunter's", "Butterfly" and "Rocky Road To Dublin" and quite a few others.

When I first started doing trad tunes, many years ago, I found thinking in 9/8 a bit of a bugger at first, so I can understand the reluctance of joiners-in!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 21 May 12 - 11:32 AM

Iam M - I was trying to clarify the Nomenclature to reduce the arguments about what was meant . The Etiquette question is the one that will really vary from place to place .


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 11:43 AM

Leadfingers' categorization fits what I see around here (Edinburgh/Midlothian).

There are also "open mike" events, somewhere between a singaround and a folk club open evening, but which are usually a different genre. If you want to do Mumford & Sons material or your own songs in that style, they're the place for you.

I don't know any regular event in Britain where unaccompanied fiddle is the usual fare, though. Does everybody in Jim's neck of the woods dislike Kevin Burke so much they won't play with him?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Vic Smith
Date: 21 May 12 - 12:13 PM

Will Fly wrote -
I get a snare drummer, a bohran player and a bones player accompanying me very loudly,


The problem last Tuesday was that the sheer volume of the percussionists - and let's be honest nearly all of it was coming from the snare - that the melody instrumentalists could not hear what they were playing. Tina was sitting next to him and had to hold her concertina up by her ear to hear herself.
To be fair to Roger on bodhran; He saw the situation and played with brushes all evening - at least, I assume he was playing. I couldn't actually hear him at my end of the table.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 21 May 12 - 01:14 PM

Jack, it takes two to tango.
no one minds guitarists joining in sessions very quietly if they are not sure of the tune, like wise people humming or singing harmonies, in singarounds or concerts or folk clubs, but NOT louder or as loud as the performer.
it is not acceptable for guitarists in sessions to put melody players off by banging away loudly with wrong chords, nor is it acceptable for people to start joining in with a guest at a folk club unless they have been asked, choruses are different, but it should be up to the min performer to dictate the speed of the chorus, it is not acceptable for people in the audience to slow down and drag out the chorus in a style reminscent of les paisley.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Glasgow Boy
Date: 21 May 12 - 01:56 PM

Going off at a bit of a tangent; what do people think of those who perform the same (Randy Newman) song every session, week in/week out? Are they not inviting people to either join in or smash their bloody Takamine over their head? Especially when this particular person noodles like a Chinese takeaway over everything everybody else does. Of course, he does everything of his own on capo fret 1. I thought it was showing off, now I know better.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 02:29 PM

Retune his guitar down a semitone while he's in the bog?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 May 12 - 03:27 PM

"Do you mean the Irish or the English tradition, or both?"
Irish, English and particularly Scots, with its emphasis on big ballads.
All are narrative based, to one extent or another - every one of the older singers we interviewed described themselves as storytellers, in every case the words took precedent of the tunes.
"Why on earth would so many old songs and ballads have choruses and refrain lines if it was not normal for people to join in?"
It was normal for everybody to join in - on the choruses.
If our tradition was a choral one we would have known about it centuries ago and the structure of our songs would have reflected that fact - as it is, it seems to be a purely 21st century phenomenon.
For me joining in is evidence for me that those who do so hae no interest in what the singer is doing.
"Walter Pardon may not have liked the way people joined in his choruses"
What happened to Walter's songs was that, once again, some audiences just weren't listening to what he was doing, they were more interested in what they wanted to do and they dragged the songs down to a pace he was not used to - the height of bad mannered insensitivity. You should always defer to the singer, just as you should never try as an individual musician, to push the pace of the playing, as described by Steve Gardham
I think it had far more to do with self-indulgent audiences rather than the church
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 04:40 PM

Not quite as bad perhaps but I went to see one of Shirley Collins's talks at Fylde a few years back - A Most Sunshiny Day - illustrated with slides & audio examples. Guess what? The folkies in the audience sang along with the archive recordings, completely ruining it for one unhappy camper.

Mutter, mutter. Who do these people think they are?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 21 May 12 - 05:39 PM

Oh, obviously not as good as you, Sweeney. You are an enigma - sometimes you see things, but so much of the time you don't and cover it up with verbiage - like your attack on Marje above.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:38 PM

Those of us in US at least have a number of traditions, and sitting quietly while someone else sings is not probably the norm. And neither is it the only way in the British Isles. How do the Welsh sing? How do the Cornish? Farther away, how do the South Africans? How do the Germans? Russians? There is just not one tradition from which it is rude to deviate. It is up to people who organize these groups to let people know what the rules are they are singing under. I like the Welsh rules myself. First, work in a coal mine. THen come up from the coal mine singing. Sort of leaves most women out but oh well..a small price to pay for not having to work in a coal mine. mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:46 PM

having had a good sing and several pints I am minded to say, There's now't so queer as Folk. John


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:53 PM

Singing practices don't divide up along ethnic or regional lines anywhere. Every culture has multiple performance practices: people don't sing in the bath the same way they do at a football match, in church, at a karaoke night or on a bus when inspired by their mobile phone. Even in church there are different practices within the same ceremony; some bits of liturgy are performed communally, others left as solos for the grand hoodoo in charge.

Code-shifting is something humans are good at.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 21 May 12 - 06:56 PM

like your attack on Marje above

What attack? I just simply a position entirely respectful of the situation regarding Tradition and Revival. The revival is not the heir of the tradition; Folk is quite a distinct invention in its own right. Seems you're looking for trouble where isn't any.

But, if I've caused any offence, let me say that was certainly not my intention. I was simply talking frankly and freely as we all do here. There was nothing personal in my response to Marge's post - unlike Richard's witless sniping (i.e. You are an enigma - sometimes you see things, but so much of the time you don't and cover it up with verbiage). What are you on?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 21 May 12 - 07:39 PM

How do the Welsh sing?

"Too loud, too often and flat."


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 12 - 03:14 AM

"Oh, obviously not as good as you, Sweeney. "
And not as good as whoever was singing on the archive recording, it would seem - Harry Cox maybe, Jeannie Robertson, Sam Larner.... - all desperately in need of comfort and support from the joiners-inners.
This really is a piss-poor argument Richard - wouldn't stand up in court.
Taking your own cue, it could be claimed your own attitude to be "Who do these arrogant pratts think they are if they imagine he can sing their songs without my help".
I'm sure this isn't what you mean - or is it; your consistant refusal to qualify your argument leads me to believe that perhaps it is.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 22 May 12 - 04:04 AM

My argument is very simple.

Give gatekeepers the power to decide who may and who may not sing and soon no-one will be allowed to sing but the gatekeepers (some of whom I would bar from singing, but I don't because of that factor).

In the above "sing" includes "play".

It's very like politics really - those who aspire to rule others are usually the last who should be permitted so to do.


A prime example is that player I mentioned above (the one who joined in on an instrument and forced an unaccompanied singer to change key) who while oblivious to the dreadful quality of such playing often tries to control who should not be allowed to sing.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 May 12 - 04:19 AM

It seems to me we're talking about several different things here, which partly accounts for that whooshing noise you hear as people talk past each other.

There's a difference between songs and tunes, and there's a difference between joining in at all, joining in at the wrong time and joining in badly.

On tunes, Jim seems to be saying that punters shouldn't join in at all; I think he's in the minority if so, but maybe things are different in Ireland. Most of us think people should be free to join in in sessions, but Jack's saying that some people join in (or don't join in) at the wrong time. And Will and Vic are saying that some people join in badly.

On songs, I don't think anyone is saying that people shouldn't join in at all, but a few people are saying that they shouldn't join in at the wrong time, e.g. by singing along to the verses (that's a bugbear of mine, although it does seem to be quite widely accepted). And Suibhne started it all by talking about people joining in badly.

I'm not sure that anyone is arguing in favour of people joining in ineptly or in the wrong key. (In my defence, in a big session sometimes it's hard to hear your own whistle - and a lot of those tunes are in G...) I don't think there's much disagreement about whether people should join in at the wrong time, or even what the wrong time is. Basically I think we're all agreed, mostly.

Now, about those cows. These are small...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 12 - 04:21 AM

So you are against solo singing in clubs even given the somewhat loaded proviso that a singer should ask an audience not and therefore "decide who may and who may not sing" ?
How quaint!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 22 May 12 - 04:46 AM

For what it's worth, I wasn't offended by Suibhne's post addressing what I said, simply bemused. There didn't seem to be anything offensive, but I really could make no sense of it, so I didn't bother to reply.

Jim: I see what you mean now about Walter Pardon and agree that if people join in they should so so with some sensitivity to the way the singer chooses to sing. Again, that seems like basic respect and good manners. And I was serious in what I said about the church - church harmonies have had a huge effect on our communal singing habits (which I like); also,the church has taken lots of good tunes and dragged them down to a funereal pace (which I don't like).

But choral singing a 21st-century phenomenon? Come on, most of us (and you) are old enough to have experienced it at least a few decades back into the 20th century. And the Copper family's style, albeit somewhat exceptional in the English tradition, has been hugely influential and goes back further than that. Also, the strong tradition of amateur choirs and choral societies, particularly in England and Wales since the 19th century, has meant that many people first experience singing in the context of church choirs and harmonies.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 22 May 12 - 04:59 AM

It is no wonder that the folk scene is marginalised.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 May 12 - 05:38 AM

For what it's worth, I wasn't offended by Suibhne's post addressing what I said, simply bemused. There didn't seem to be anything offensive, but I really could make no sense of it, so I didn't bother to reply.

One of the principle conceits one encounters among Folkies is that what they are doing is somehow keeping The Tradition alive. I dispute this with very good reason as The Tradition (as far as it existed at all) was a) something very different indeed; and b) is well dead anyway; and c) is something we have no clear understanding of bar a few scraps left in the fossil record.

Even with all the assembled & wondrous archives of Child, Roud, Max Hunter, Alan Lomax, VOTP, Folktrax et al we're still just standing in the empty ruins of Pompeii trying to imagine what life these songs once had before the mechanisations & machinations of the 19th / 20th centuries either collected them or wiped the slate clean. The Revival is born from the former, thus socially, economically, politically, culturally, functionally the two things couldn't really be more different.

Folk is a dream predicated on certain assumptions; for the most part I'd have to say it was a good dream, engendering as much very essential creative work as MOR reactionary crap. It's a dream that has both beguiled & baffled me since I was a boy; but never once was I under any illusion as to the nature of its reality. Whilst I am as fond of its beauty & richness as the next woman or man, I'm under no illusions that Folk perpetuates The Tradition in exactly the same way model railways perpetuate The Age of Steam.

Of course most Folk doesn't claim to do this at all; most of us just get on with it because we love it. We're not breathing new life into the old songs, rather the old songs are breathing new life into us. In singing an old song we're communing with something essentially unsayable, which is what precisely what Folk is. Very different to what it thinks it is for sure...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:01 AM

Weirdly, this thread seems to have at least two seperate discussions going at the same time. No wonder it's confusing.

The main one about folk club/session etiquette seems quite straightforward. Different clubs/sessions have different ways of doing things. Find what it is (usually by paying attention or asking someone) and go with the flow. When its yourturn, if you want to do things differently to how the gathering usually does them, tell 'em. If you don't like the way people do things, suggest alternative approaches or go somewhere else. Going back to the OP, Suibhne was quite within his rights to ask the joiner-in to desist. Equally, to chose a random example, Jack C is quite within his rights to ask people to join in with him. How hard does it all have to be??

There also seems to be a sub-discussion going on about 'how things were done in "the" tradition'. Unless your club/session is a historical re-enactment society which has identified a particular part of 'the' tradition and has the aim of replicating it exactly, how things were done in 'the' tradition is completely irrelevant. The revival is not the tradition. It's people now doing stuff now, usually for pleasure, sometimes as a job. All that matters is how things are done in each gathering of folk song and folk tune enthusiasts, and this will vary from gathering to gathering. Like in any situation where people get together to do stuff.

Disclaimer: I have an aversion to the idea of 'doing things properly'. None of us are 19th century rural peasants singing in the pub or at home in an era predating mass communication or mass transport. Whether it be unnaccompanied ballad singing at a singaround or feedback 'n' fuzz-ridden garage rock reinventions of traditional songs in a sweaty club or anything in between, its all grist to the mill. No-one has to like it all...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:05 AM

Cross posted with Suibhne above...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:12 AM

"But choral singing a 21st-century phenomenon? "
Choral singing when applied across the board to any type of music (in this case folk) is not only 21st century, but is confined only to the revival as far as I can see (especially as some people here would have it as compulsory unless permission was sought and obtained).
The Copper style is all but unique to one family, and is a good example (imo) of how it doesn't work on all songs It is a family 'tradition' just as singing around the piano can be described as such - do you envisage that approach for, say, classic ballads?
To me, it is as bizarre as Richard's desire to turn us into herd animals, forbidden to create outside the group - Orwellian, to say the least.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:21 AM

We losing count, Jim? 20th century seems to be your intention - not that everyone will agree with that either!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:32 AM

what about sea shanties?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:33 AM

Choral singing when applied across the board to any type of music (in this case folk) is not only 21st century, but is confined only to the revival as far as I can see

Choral singing - and in particular, polyphonic choral singing - dates back thousands of years and has always been the norm for a large fraction of humanity. Lots of good examples linked from here:

http://music000001.blogspot.co.uk/

There are many musical cultures where solo singing is unknown - all performance is in polyphonic groups.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:42 AM

OK - I see the essential ambiguity in Jim's sentence. Resolving it just changes the jersey colour of his opponents...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:55 AM

Jack's saying that some people join in (or don't join in) at the wrong time.

I was more concerned to say that people mostly do it at the right time. By and large the communicative interactions in a session achieve a result everybody is happy with, or they wouldn't keep coming back and the session scene wouldn't be as dynamic as it is. Trainwrecks are unusual.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:00 AM

Will and Vic are saying that some people join in badly.

No - I quoted a particular occasion when the percussion accompaniment was a little top-heavy. I also said that that was the way it was and I accepted it.

At the sessions I run and help to run, all are welcome to join in with anything, unless the instigator of the song/tune indicates otherwise.

As for myself as instigator, I'm happy for everyone who wants to to join in - slightly irritating as it might be sometimes - because I believe that's what my "session" is for: to bring people of all types, abilities and persuasions together to make communal music. The result of that can occasionally be tedious - it can also occasionally be glorious.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:04 AM

Here is a fascinating paper which discusses the dynamics of a particular irish music. well worth a read.
href=http://www.music.ucc.ie/jsmi/index.php/jsmi/article/view/10/12
there is much to be learned here.
John


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: MartinRyan
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:18 AM

Click here for that article.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:19 AM

Could part of the problem be that SESSION can mean something different in Ireland to what it means in most parts of England?

As a singer and musician I must admit my own personal preference is to the typical English tunes session where folk tunes of the British Isles are played and all are welcome to join in regardless of level and instrument, and the occasional solo is appreciated, and the occasional song. And if the singer wishes to perform a solo they make it clear in some way. I fully accept I'm not a good listener. I much prefer to be active and involved, which is why I prefer sessions to singarounds, even though I have been known on many occasions to run singarounds at other people's instigation.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:30 AM

Exactly my viewpoint, Steve.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:47 AM

MartinRyan thanks for the blue clicky
John


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Ben
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:52 AM

I live in Ireland. If you were to speak during a song, the whole place would make you shut up! Unless self accompanied, or specifically requested, solo singing is the norm.

At a session, you politely ask to sit in. I play guitar, sing, and play anglo concertina. I wouldn't join in on the concertina if I didn't know the tune, so why would I accompany on guitar if I didn't? I'd ruin it just as completely.

If I encounter a complete fool, I pick a special song, and tell them "B flat minor" etc. Then launch in. If there's another guitar, or a piano, I don't play chords, just the melody, or countermelody. Nothing worse than chord soup!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 22 May 12 - 09:06 AM

Ben, is a complete fool simply someone who isn't as good a musician as you? Or am I missing something?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 12 - 09:14 AM

What's so hard about Bbm?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 22 May 12 - 09:15 AM

If someone's not a strong player, I think ideally for everyone's benefit, they should restrain themselves from attempting more than they know they can achieve. I think that's a matter of basic courtesy to others really. The squeakings of a poorly played violin or tin whistle, can be deeply unpleasant to listen to, unless the player is seven and you're their mother maybe. Another simple courtesy to others, would I have thought, be to ensure that you've actually practiced not only your instrument, but the piece you intend to perform. The funniest -in a bad way- example of someone destroying a song I've heard, was by a nice little man who was terribly keen to share his rep at any momentary point of quiet. Before he began he announced, "I last played this twenty years ago" :-\


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 22 May 12 - 09:35 AM

Before he began he announced, "I last played this twenty years ago"

I hear that a lot, and usually from people who I last heard play the piece a month before.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 12 - 10:38 AM

My what a pleasant chap Ben must be. I think I will stick with good old chord soup.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 May 12 - 11:37 AM

Will Fly

What's so hard about Bbm?

Those fiddle lessons must be really working, Will.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 May 12 - 11:51 AM

So you are against solo singing in clubs

In case this was aimed at me, when I said I was in favour of people joining in "at the right time", I meant "on choruses and refrains". (I'll tolerate people joining on a repeated last line, or on a repeated first verse; people merrily pitching in on verses is just rude, though.)

Not only do I think joining in on choruses is OK, I think it's a bad sign when audiences don't. Audiences in chairs-facing-the-stage FCs - in my limited experience of same - are particularly bad for this. I once did Lowlands at a local FC: eight verses, sixteen refrains, not a peep out of the lot of them. It made it a long three minutes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 22 May 12 - 12:21 PM

Did you have a PA, Phil? Nothing cracks me up more than those folk clubs with PAs set at ear-splitting volumes (even for floor singers) and the performer saying to the audience afterwards 'Well sung...'

*

Again, I find it's the joiners-in take great offence when you tell them to desist. It's hard to do this nicely, having had at least one verse of your song ruined by their witless warblings. Once I got so upset I actually asked a woman to STFU, which was a tad heavy handed I admit & caused great offence to others in the club who regarded me as 'rude'*. Another time on a song I stopped singing, but kept playing the zither telling the joiner-in that I didn't do duets but that they were free to finish off the song for me if they liked. 'Er - I don't really know the words,' quoth they, whereupon I asked if they would like me to sing it for them - solo. I was happy with that. Ways and means I suppose, but when I'm in the zone tact isn't really my strong point I'm afraid.

* Not an uncommon opinion percepyion of yours truly in certain quarters of the Folk Realm. I once barged into a Festival singaround in the middle of someone's song with the very irate emcee screaming at me to get out. I refused point blank because they'd overrun by 20 minutes and we had a big show to set up with something like a ten minute window in which to do so. According to my sources, said Emcee still takes every opportunity to publicy slander me, even several years down the line. Granted, I didn't handle that very well either, but when you're running from one venue to another in a tight festival schedule expecting to find the venue empty for your arrival then, I ask you, what is a boy to do?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 22 May 12 - 01:50 PM

Those fiddle lessons must be really working, Will.

They are! I've been poring over the fiddle music of Newcastle/Gateshead fiddler James Hill - and a great deal of his stuff was written in F, A and Bb. Much of it is based on simple chord arpeggios interspersed with chromatic runs - and it works beautifully.

I remember when I first started playing jazz 40 years ago - the classic jazz keys: F, Bb, Eb, Ab - were incomprehensible at first. Then they started to make sense, and it was several years before I played a chord that wasn't barred...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 22 May 12 - 02:19 PM

All very well, Will, but Bb minor!?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 May 12 - 02:35 PM

Ben,
I know exactly the type of session you are describing and if I were there I would do exactly the same as you.

However the sort of session I usually attend is packed out with musicians at all levels and most of them have a wide repertoire of English/Irish/Scottish. Most of the night once a set starts up everybody pitches in and any beginners can easily fit in quietly without spoiling the overall sound. Most of us are ear musicians and this is the quickest way for newcomers and beginners to pick up the repertoire. It's how I picked up most of my tunes.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,MikeL2
Date: 22 May 12 - 02:37 PM

Hi Phil

I agree with your comments about solo singing.

If I was doing chorus or refrain material I expected people to join in.
If they didn't I would stop in the middle of the song and invite them to join in and run through the chorus a couple of times for them to hear it.

At certain clubs I would do a short introduction to the song and again run through what I wanted them to join me in.

Personally I never really had any problems with people coming in when I didn't want them to but as a club organiser, at times I did have to try to prevent people doing so when other performers were singing or playing.

Usually a fierce look from me or my finger placed over my mouth in the "shush" position worked.

I believe that the interruptions and unrequired joining in must be a fairly recent thing ???

Cheers

Mike


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 22 May 12 - 02:40 PM

Did you have a PA, Phil?

Certainly not. (Hate 'em.) It's a good venue if you want an audience that *listens* - there is no amplification, and you can reliably hear yourself sing, or mumble for that matter. But 30 pairs of meekly attentive ears wasn't what that song needed.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Bert
Date: 22 May 12 - 03:17 PM

Then that great group Modern Man have this take on the subject.


Don't you hate it when they make you sing along?
Don't you hate it when they make you sing along?
This guy is such a jerk and this is such a stupid song
Don't you hate it when they make you sing along?

Don't you hate it when they make you clap your hands
Don't you hate it when they make you clap your hands
This excuse for entertainment should be forever banned
Don't you hate it when they make you clap your hands

Don't you hate it when they modulate the key....


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:33 PM

you would n't like the session I go to then,the locals are playing dominoes in the same roomand they have as much right in a public bar as we have

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 22 May 12 - 06:45 PM

there are all sorts of places where it is not rude to join in the body of the song..I expect people to when I am singing and I join in with them when they are singing...it is what we have always done at least in the past....it is a matter of preference and not virtue. If you don't want it, say so. If you find people don't do it and you want it, say so. Take responsibility for it. Don't ascribe motivation, some of which is nonsensical, such as they want to show they know all the words. What horsefeathers. It is the norm in many places; it is my preferred and expected way of doing things and I would seek out places that did it that way and most likely avoid..and do..the turn by painstaking turn situation where once, in a place where good musicians gather, I counted 10 songs before there was one I wanted to hear. If Joan Baez and Maura O'Connell and Gordon Bok and all my favorite singers were in one place, I still don't want to hear them one by one. I want to hear them all sing together with me signging along. It is a preference..again, not a virtue and not a vice. Tell me where these places are and I will try to go there. mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Acorn4
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:15 PM

Heard quite a good saying about this tonight:-

"Some people impose and some super-impose!"


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 22 May 12 - 07:15 PM

Hey if you are in the Grimsby area this coming Saturday
Feel free to pop into the Central Library and sing us a songs..
We can only guarantee you 10 minutes or 2 songs.
Sometimes we can stretch it to 3 or we might get a second go round depends who shows up..
If your ego don't fit in with that in some way don't come.
There is no P.A.but the well trained audience and fellow performers in waiting..can be silent or emulate any level of background noise you desire.
The preset position, however is silence while listening...
Folks ask you if they want you to join in and sometimes ask if they can play along..the answer, if not offensive is accepted with no argument or bad feeling.
Its from 12 noon until 3pm..Entry is free.
All degrees of ability welcome. All music/poetry stories etc that will fit in the lift and doesn't need plugging in or batteries is/are welcome..
There is no bar..and you may want to bring some refreshments
Tim


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 12 - 04:30 AM

"In case this was aimed at me,"
T'wasn't Phil, it was aimed at Richard who appears to regard being asked not to join in as an act of facism.
"20th century seems to be your intention "
Sorry Martin - confusion on my part
I moved to Ireland in 1998 - up to then, in any folk club I attended in Britain, if you joined in with the VERSE you were shushed into silence; of you persisted, you were given
a red card and sent off the field.
From discussion on this and other threads it seems widespread enough to be a problem - perhaps it was The Millenium Bug we were all promised!
I am, of course, referring to the folk scene - I know damn well we have chorus songs, refrain lines, ritual songs, work songs like shanties and waulking songs, Christmas Carols (thoughouly enjoyed the couple of visits to the Sheffield Carol singing) - all to be joned in with to anybody's heart's content.
It's the apparently compulsive joining in on our narrative songs I find offensive - can't see how you can listen to what the singer's doing and sing along at the same time, for the life of me - maybe the rivival has been taken over by beamed-down Max Bygraves from another planet - send for Mulder and Scully someone!!
Heartening to see I'm not alone in my objection - for a change!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: John Routledge
Date: 23 May 12 - 04:37 AM

Thanks Jim. I was about post but having read your post find that it says all that I want to say.!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 May 12 - 05:13 AM

Don't mention the war!

If there were some god-like adjudicator who could say if those attending were good enough to sing along, without fear or favour, I'd still be concerned.

Since most of those who (on behalf of actual artists who they have not consulted) want others not to join in plainly have a self-aggrandising agenda, I see no such deity.

I do see lots of petty Hitlers who think that they are good enough to decide who is not.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 05:40 AM

I do see lots of petty Hitlers who think that they are good enough to decide who is not.

You seem to be possessed of a Demonic inclination for Hyperbole of late, Richard. This is simply about appropriateness and common courtesy. Join in where appropriate (see Jim's post above) and have the courtesy to leave it to the singer to sing their song. The petty Hitlers are those who feel it needs adding to - either with their own instrumental prowess or with their dulcet vocalisings.

Don't ascribe motivation,

Forgive me (and others) for assigning motives to such behaviour but one must wonder, if only to understand what appears to be a somewhat sociopathic inclination on the part of those who, more often than not, haven't really got their act together (to say the least) or else are simply attention seeking, trying to intimidate, or even courting conflict by being plain rude. I know folk is generally a nutter-friendly zone (one of the things I truly love about it in terms of cultural / social sanctuary) but no one should have to be put in the very awkward position of having to tell such a person to shut up (often in fear of their personal wellbeing) just as no one should have to suffer such a bombastic intrusion into their art in the first place.

Nothing could be simpler.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:04 AM

"....good enough to sing along"
You seem to be maintaining your position of deliberately distorting what people are saying to give the impression of making a point Richard - you did say you were a member of the legal profession, didn't you?
None of this has anything whatever to do with being "good", bad or indifferent
Wholesale joining in on any song (apparently, not even out of bad mannered insensitivity, but rather, on principle, by your argument) interferes with an individual singer achieving and passing on his or her interpretation of a song - it is oppressive imposition of the worst kind - art by dictatorship.
I keep getting a mental picture of your walking up to DaVinci and saying., "'Ere Leo, wouldn't she look better in a flowery frock - lend us your pallette and brushes".
Your continued dishonesty demeans you.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:18 AM

Jim Carroll

I moved to Ireland in 1998 - up to then, in any folk club I attended in Britain, if you joined in with the VERSE you were shushed into silence; of you persisted, you were given a red card and sent off the field.

Could somebody remind me what happened to folk clubs in the eighties and nineties?


(I see Godwin's law has started to emerge on both sides.)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:24 AM

now we are getting somewhere..I did not realize all of this was art..I had put it under some other category entirely...like fun, recreation, pleasant sensations, some sort of communal endeavor..I do stand corrected. I think I had better join a rugby club and sing along with them..mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:24 AM

All degrees of ability welcome.


I haven't got a degree in music.

I passed grade 1 piano when I was in junior school. Will that do?


DC


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:43 AM

I did not realize all of this was art

Of course it's art. Why wouldn't it be art? Much of the revival has appointed itself the custodians of some of the greatest works of art ever realised in the form of Traditional Folk Song & Ballad which are the work of exacting mastery, not the random byprodcts of fun, recreation, pleasant sensations. Of course this doesn't preclude any of the foregoing in the sharing of our passions (same goes for any Art) but if that's just an excuse for dumbing it down to common-minded strum-a-long renderings of The Wild Rover or (Lord save us!) The Fields of Athen-fecking-ry then chances are you'll find me at the bar discussing the finer points of Pasolini's Life Trilogy with the landlord.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:52 AM

here is one for you a session in Rostrevor.


   session rostrevor
obviously not the arty end of irish music, but plenty of joining in and at one point I thought I heard a shaky egg. Looks like fun. Each to his own Eh!
john


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 06:54 AM

Looks a lot more arty than our session...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 May 12 - 07:09 AM

johncharles: I've never seen a harp used in a bluegrass/old-time number before. Neat idea.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 May 12 - 07:20 AM

I've been dipping in and out of this thread with some interest.

What is apparent is that there are a great many variations, from the all-in sing-song at one end to solo performance at another. These are all perfectly valid ways of enjoying music and we probably all participate in all of them to varying degrees.

Difficuties start to arise when people assume that behaviour which is acceptable, even encouraged, at one type of event is also acceptable at another. This becomes a problem when this behaviour starts to intrude on the enjoyment of others, whether they are performers or audience. Someone not joining in a sing-song may seem a bit odd, stand-offish even, but it doesn't really affect anyone else, whereas someone trying to join in where they're not wanted obviously does.

The point is that none of these behaviours is wrong in itself, it's all a question of the right context. In this, folk music is no different from any other aspect of life. We should all be concsious of our surroundings and adapt our behaviour accordingly - or at least be aware of the consequences if we do otherewise. Of course, the socially inept are found in all areas of life besides folk music.

The other thing which has become apparent is that while we have a number of terms to describe these events, how these terms is interpreted varies widely. I play in a lot of sessions, and I thought I understood pretty clearly what the term means, but it seems there are other interpretations, or at least variants. And all this is before we get to the minefield of local "house rules".

It's all very complicated and requires a level of social- and self-awareness which some people clearly lack. The obvious lesson is not to assume that your usual behaviour is the norm and will be acceptable elswhere, and when visitng a new event take time to discover what behaviour is acceptable and expected before making an idiot of yourself.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 May 12 - 08:48 AM

Joiners are not sitting in judgement on anyone. Shushers are.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:04 AM

Yes, Richard, but people who join in in a setting where that is not encouraged deserve to be shushed. As I said in my previous post, it all depends on the context and the nature of that particular event whether that behaviour is appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Snuffy
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:09 AM

"I was brought up in an environment where everyone joins in on all the bits they think they know. So feel free to join in with all my songs: it would be nice if you would use the same words and tune as me, though."


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:11 AM

No One EVER convince me that when Bob and Ron's Great Great Whatever Grandfather was singing in the pub he was helping to estabkish a Semi Religious Art Form !
Folk Music is ENTERTAINMENT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:27 AM

I don't generally care either way about joining in. When new to the folk scene I used to think it seemed a bit rude, now I accept it as a part of folkie culture. Sometimes though I would definitely rather hear an individual do their thing, rather than a crowd, otherwise everything starts to sound alike. As to 'gatekeepers', if I ran a club (which I don't) I'd definitely encourage people to at least make an effort to practice their instrument and the pieces they want to perform, rather than turning up and saying "I've never sung this before" "I haven't played this for twenty years". Folk is the only place I've noticed this to happen. In Am Dram people learn their lines. In Poetry Slams people don't take semi worked out ideas to the platform. In Choral singing, you practice till it's right before performing. In Open Mics performers learn their pieces first. I don't know where the 'good enough for folk' thing came from, but it definitely exists. Some think that's a good thing I suppose and they have every right to such an opinion of course, but I guess I must be Hitler ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Tim Leaning
Date: 23 May 12 - 09:48 AM

Well Doug you are more likely to turn up than the three degrees and you have a neater beard so I will waive the degree thing in your case


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 10:47 AM

Joiners are not sitting in judgement on anyone. Shushers are.

Wrong again, Richard. The joiners in are the ones sitting in judgement - they're the ones who are doing the violation. I known young inexperiened singers giving up on Folk Clubs entirely because their confidece was shattered by some buffoon thinking he was no doubt doing them a favour. When it happens to me it ruins my night because I'm an jolly old cove who hates conflict - it depresses me to have to tell someone to shut up. Depresses me even more to see that look of hurt in their eyes as they assume the role of Victim, which is maybe another reason why they do it - because they enjoy being the Victim of a situation they themselves have instigated.

No One EVER convince me that when Bob and Ron's Great Great Whatever Grandfather was singing in the pub he was helping to estabkish a Semi Religious Art Form !   

Well, on what sort of grounds do you base that assumption because in my experience of Traditional Folk & Ballad and the Traditional Singers thereof I see something very serious indeed. Great entertainment has to be serious - it's as serious as your life. Even clowns have to take it seriously; Stan Laurel spend entire days editing the film stock just to maximise the effectiveness of his art. Traditional Folk Song is an art form; to do it justice we must approach it with due reverence and study it, listen to the old singers, read up on Broadsides, trawl the archives, get into the blood and bones of the thing; become possessed by the lingering ghosts and haunted into sleepless nights in utter terror at what we're dealing with here in our role as Folk Song Mediums which is a huge undertaking and a whole lot more than mere entertainment.

As for religion, for a Godless irreligious hedonistic oik such as myself then The Folk Club is one of the few places where I'm likely to have a genuine Spiritual Experience these days.

I'd definitely encourage people to at least make an effort to practice their instrument and the pieces they want to perform,

Absolutely 100% spot on. I understand these days they're singing songs off their Kindle screens. WTF?

A wee anecdote. There was once a singer of my acquaintance who made bold his anouncement that he had a variant of The Cregan White Hare, called The Bonny Black Hare. This guy is a real moralist Christian and it was obvious he hadn't even bothered to read the words before getting his iPhone out & scrolling through the text as he sang them. He's someone I like a good deal actually & there I was trying to catch his eye, shaking my head, mouthing No, No!, but all to no avail. He sang the song in complete innocence, slowly becoming aware of its metaphorical nature as several Folk Club members doubled up in helpless laughter. A classic really. But a lesson learned, I hope...


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 May 12 - 11:04 AM

Sweeney -I never implied that performance should not be taken seriously - For Whoever's sake I have been a paid performer since the Mid seventies , and take ANY performance I do VERY Seriously . But that does not stop a LOT of people who OUGHT to know better trying to turn a Folk Evening into something OTHER than an entertainment .


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 11:23 AM

Well, according to Zappa it's all entertainment, which isn't to trivialise it as I say, much less is it strum along if you haven't the first clue what you're doing. The more seriously you take it, so the more entertaining it becomes. The real fun stuff is putting the work in & learning the depths of your craft.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 23 May 12 - 12:35 PM

I've always thought opera would be so much more fun if you could sing along with the bits you know. Its a shame we don't have opera nights in pubs like sessions.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 23 May 12 - 12:58 PM

Many ballads are formulaic, simple constructions, around popular themes. A bit like Eastenders or Coronation street. That's entertainment. - Ducks and runs for cover!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 01:12 PM

Hey, John - I've been saying precisely that for years. Ballads are the Soap Opera of the day and vice-versa really. You get a lot of those themes cropping up again & again across narrative frontiers. Still I bet no one would dare noodle along with EastEnders once it's under way - certainly not in this house anyway!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 May 12 - 01:34 PM

Here is documentation of this sort of problem. An innocent musician tries to play the Stoke Hornpipe on a tambourine and thirty other people deliberately "join in" playing loudly and nearly(but not quite) drown her out.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: greg stephens
Date: 23 May 12 - 01:38 PM

(clickie didnt work in the last post so trying again)Here is documentation of this sort of problem. An innocent musician tries to play the Stoke Hornpipe on a tambourine and thirty other people deliberately "join in" playing loudly, and nearly(but not quite) drown her out.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Musket
Date: 23 May 12 - 02:05 PM

As ever, this thread is a wonderful advert for folk clubs and must really help the cause of getting people to turn up...

Never heard so much self indulgent crap since I took on a couple of the combatants on other subjects.

Takes all sorts I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 23 May 12 - 02:27 PM

"must really help the cause of getting people to turn up..."

Or people get put off once they turn up and never return again.. There's one sesh worth attending round my way, but it's too far for me to get to. The nearest one is so pants that even though I could easily get there and back, I just can't be arsed - I'd rather go do some Choral singing instead or maybe stick pins in my eyes. In fact, bar my initial strong enthusiasm for folk, my interest in taking part on anything but an extremely intermittent level, has all but died a death.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 23 May 12 - 02:33 PM

And they are of course welcome to they're wee do, I wouldn't want to tell anyone how to go about running their own evening! But to suggest that people will get "put off" going to clubs because of chat on a forum, is I think nonsense. It's actually attending that's put me off. And there's no way in hell, I'd invite anyone I know along to a folk do either, unless it was going to be actually *entertaining* for them.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 23 May 12 - 03:50 PM

Go Crowsis! I suspect the previous poster is a senior manager, judging by the tone ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 23 May 12 - 03:58 PM

Oh, don't know - it's all a matter of taste really - that & inclination, and maybe a small measure of self indulgent crap as Mr Mather points out but in this world one really has to be true to oneself, no matter in what particular furnace those passions were forged. One of my earliest Floor Spots was potentially ruined by a whistler (not a whistle player, note - that was me on that occasion) who warbled along with my Douce Dame Jolie so I went off on a 5-minute improvisation instead, though he joined back in when I came back to the tune. 'Sorry about that,' I said. 'I was trying to evade Mr Ronalde there.' The whistler left in high dudgeon and I got a few chuckles into the bargain.

Here, I think, the spirit is, on the whole, positive. I want Folk Clubs and Sessions and Singarounds to be joyful places of erudition and enlightenment, and I've no doubt for the most part they are, even if they're not quite my bag. My opening complaint was more by way of a morning-after mutterance because I woke up angry and hungover so I though - a problem shared is a probem halved.

Varnigh 200 posts in under a week - I think that in itself is a measure of how much people do care about these things.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: johncharles
Date: 23 May 12 - 04:03 PM

way hey and up she rises 200 in a week o'


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Shantyfreak
Date: 23 May 12 - 04:57 PM

A lot of interesting chat and opinions on this thread but it all boils down to respecting each others efforts and not imposing ones own versions on someone elses singing/playing.
If someone is performing; paid or amateur, singer or musician; then for that time they are the lead and their version is what goes. They might have developed a variant tune or pace or whatever that actually enhances their own efforts and even if you hate it you should show it some respect and not try to impose a different version.
Over the years I have been to many concerts/festivals and folk clubs and come across many local rules which I respect. I have also been helped as well as hindered by people joining in when they thought I was in need of help.
This has lead to a piece which I perform from time to time.

FOLK CLUB ETIQUETTE

Here's a little guidance about what you shouldn't do.
For regulars at the folk clubs as well as those who're new.
It's really very simple so please try not to forget;
As I teach you all the basics of folk club etiquette.

We all understand the powerful pull of the bar,
That overpowering urge to buy another jar.
But please remember, use a little tact.
It's rude to leave the room in the middle of an act.

Most people fail to realise folk songs have many versions.
Some of which YOU might think are better called perversions!
But always remember that the artist's never wrong..
And you must use their version if you're going to sing along.

Sometimes you may decide YOU want to do a spot.
No one will object as long as you give it your best shot.
It really doesn't matter if you sing or play or recite.
But don't forget to name the writer. Not to isn't quite right.

One thing is certain to get on any singer's goat.
Guaranteed to rankle and cause a discordant note.
That's the racket from the packet of your favourite little snack.
If you're a noisy muncher, you won't be invited back.

But by far the greatest Folk Club Crime,
Is heedlessly wasting another man's time.
By slipping in a second when you're asked to do one song;
Or stretching an introduction far, far too long.


And if you don't like the tune or song.
And you fancy a pleasant little chat.
Well I'm here to tell you it's wrong.
So please don't even think of doing that.

If you are enjoying hearing folk sing
Please don't let your mobile phone ring.
'Cos if you're the cause of that disruptive sound
you'll leave the club without touching the ground!

And if you don't like the words or the music.
You must not indulge in a manner anarchic.
Just sit there quietly until there is a pause.
Then you can leave put please don't slam the doors.

So please remember - Don't forget -
The rudiments of FOLK CLUB ETIQUETTE

I don't do all the verses all the time but I'm sure you get the idea.
Jim


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 23 May 12 - 08:13 PM

GUEST,CS

There's one sesh worth attending round my way, but it's too far for me to get to. The nearest one is so pants that even though I could easily get there and back, I just can't be arsed

So start one. Sessions aren't just features in the landscape like lakes or mountains. They are there because someone has put in the effort to find a venue, spread the word, do some advertising (possibly at their own expense) and generally make the thing work.

If you run your own, it's up to you to set the ground rules and exclude those with 'personality disorders' and the 'good enough for folk' crowd.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 May 12 - 04:40 AM

See that, CS? It's your fault there isn't a good local session, just as it's my fault that the prevailing Folk Culture in these parts is such that we have to travel 20 miles to find the sort of inclusive conviviality that makes for a good night out. So - it's either put up or shut up basically, &, sadly, I've encountered a lot of that attitude in a lifetime of Folkin' too.

Thing is, The Snail (who is that masked mollusc?), a session is a landscape feature; it is integral to the cultural landscape of a particular region. Existing sessions & folk clubs are focus points for whatever sort of interest exists in your particular manor, and whilst a new sing/session might provide a much needed catalyst for disgruntled local traddies (what Les has done at The Beech is nothing short of miraculous in this respect), if you haven't got that sort of local market it doesn't stand a chance really.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 12 - 05:30 AM

"They are there because someone has put in the effort to find a venue, spread the word, do some advertising (possibly at their own expense) and generally make the thing work."

And that's the sad thing. Others have *already* put in a lot of personal time and effort, but the local folkies don't necessarily all see fit to return the favour. From the available evidence of my local err 'scene', if I were to try to begin something local to me, the same GEFF presumptions would be likely to prevail and in all honesty I wouldn't wish to be forced into a position of having to 'exclude' people who think it's OK not to practice what they plan to perform or at least get a reasonable handle on their instruments before taking them into the public arena.

In order to create a thriving and engaging folk scene, it seems it takes years of dedicated work and while some areas in the UK have certainly achieved that, others haven't and I don't have sufficient enthusiasm for the kind of long-term uphill struggle required to do so - though I may yet assault the local WI ladies with the suggestion to initiate a 'traditional song and ballad group', I definitely wouldn't call it a 'singaround' or imply it had anything to do with what people generally think of as 'folk'.

It's great that people do what they want to do and enjoy themselves doing so - all power to them, but I don't personally want to go to pants singarounds and I wouldn't encourage people unfamiliar with the folk scene to do so either - in person or on internet chat forums.

And before I start upsetting people too much more, that's me done. As you were ;-)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 12 - 07:42 AM

A last point (and THREAD DRIFT) I think as others have noted, there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding the catch all term 'folk club' which can mean different things to different people. Both 'Trad tune (and song) sessions' and 'singarounds' and other more formal pro. performance clubs, come under the umbrella term 'folk club'.

While Trad. tunes and songs are timeless, and thus of potential interest to people of all generations who want to sing/play Trad. tunes and songs - I think it's here you may see a greater likelihood of attracting interest from non 'folkies' and younger musicians.

'Singarounds' on the other hand, could quite reasonably be termed 'Sixties acoustic evenings' and as such will continue to be of interest to a restricted (and dwindling) demographic.

I think in the longer term, while Trad. sessions will hopefully continue to thrive (as indeed they seem to currently be doing), the 'singaround' type of 'folk club' (at least as we know it), is I suspect, less likely to survive beyond the baby boomer generation. I don't necessarily think that's anything to be dismayed by.

As for the professional performance club, maybe some will continue, or new ones attracting younger audiences will supplant them, but on the whole festivals would seem to be the way things are going where the younger crowd is concerned - and it's a lively vibrant scene, so I don't think there's anything to be mourned there either.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 May 12 - 07:46 AM

Ah - so that's why you were not at many of the Lower Coke winter sings this year, CS (grin).


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 12 - 07:48 AM

'Singarounds' on the other hand, could quite reasonably be termed 'Sixties acoustic evenings'

Not round these parts they couldn't. That's the folk club. The singaround is mainly (but not exclusively) trad...

Just to confuse things!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Will Fly
Date: 24 May 12 - 08:05 AM

I started my own session in my local pub, on the second Sunday of the month, in Sussex in September 2008 - so it's been around for getting on for four years. It took about 2 years for it to acquire a regular bunch of people all of whom, except me drive to get to it. I started it because I enjoyed an existing, last-Sunday-of-the-month, evening session in the village of Ditchling (about 5 miles away) very much. A month was too long for me to wait for that kind of evening, so I started my own. It's great fun. I "run" the evening, which only means making sure everyone gets the chance to start a song or tune, until I abdicate the chair at 10.30 - and then it's whatever people want to do until the landlady chucks us out or people go home.

The session in Ditchling that I liked so much has been going for over 10 years now - run by two fellow members of the band I play in. It's so good that I was interested to learn that, in its early days, there were sometimes just the two of them there all evening. My own session very occasionally consisted of me and the dog when I first started it, but now it's comfortably established.

So it can be done - and you can create another little mound on the cultural landscape - it just takes time and patience and persistence. My old mate Alan Day moved to a tiny village in deepest Suffolk a few weeks ago. He lives next to the village pub and - lo and behold - there's a folk club there once a month now, with a session once a month as well.

How long any of us will last at doing this is anyone's guess - but we try, and that's the point.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Tootler
Date: 24 May 12 - 08:31 AM

Singaround is almost as much a catch-all term as a folk club. Folk clubs local to me are mainly a mixture of singaround and guest evenings, with the difference being the balance between the two. The two folk clubs I regularly go to have a guest once a month with a singaround the other three weeks, but others have a different balance. Also the content of singarounds can vary. One I started out with was more of the sixties accoustic evening with mainly accompanied singing, but tunes and unaccompanied trad were certainly welcome. The ones I now go to are a mixture of traditional song and recently composed song in the folk idiom, sometimes accompanied, sometimes unaccompanied and it seems to be pretty much the pattern locally.

The suggestion that singarounds are "sixties accoustic evenings" is simply an incorrect generalisation, though it may be that that is how it seems in some areas.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 12 - 08:34 AM

"Ah - so that's why you were not at many of the Lower Coke winter sings this year, CS (grin)."

Not at all RB, I think your sessions are in fact much fun. A few things got in the way, including health matters this Winter - things were a bit iffy for me in that area, though much improved of late and I'm certainly looking forward to upcoming Pigs (albeit I've probably offended half the attendees on this thread ..and others!)


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 12 - 08:38 AM

"The suggestion that singarounds are "sixties accoustic evenings" is simply an incorrect generalisation, though it may be that that is how it seems in some areas."

Fair point.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Felipe Sin Cookie
Date: 24 May 12 - 11:29 AM

GUEST up there is not me, although it certainly could have been. Spleen, is that you?


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 12 - 11:54 AM

It certainly is!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Marje
Date: 24 May 12 - 12:37 PM

You can indeed change the landscape and start a session. Like Will and Bryan above, I did this successfully when I lived in Worthing in Sussex, and although I left the area 8 years ago, the session I started still continues there, which to my mind means I must have done something right.

Here in Devon I tried again to set up a session that wouldn't require me to drive very far. We tried three different venues before finding one where a session really worked, but it all came right in the end, and it's now an established part of the local folk scene.

One good thing about setting up a session yourself is that you not only get to choose the venue and the frequency, you can decide (to some extent) on the repertoire and the "etiquette" and custom-make the kind of session you enjoy. In both the sessions I started, I chose an open pub session, mainly tunes witha few songs, because I would not have the patience to run a song club and be polite about all the performers whatever their standard. A session is, for me, a manageable project, as the kind I enjoy most needs only the lightest touch of organisation. Other people with different skills and interests run various other sessions and clubs (in ny local town there's also a song club, an unaccompanied singing sesssion, and an Irish session), but none of them just evolves out of nothing - they're all set up and run by dedicated volunteers who want to promote the music in their own way.

So there's one solution to some of the grievances above - if the ways of a particular club or session upset or annoy you, go and start a new one and run it the way you want.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 24 May 12 - 02:35 PM

Sounds good. And don't be shy about doing it your way if it is your work that keeps it going. I would suggest laminating some flyers that say we only play tunes from Spain and we prefer no trombones and...etc. for songs it is even more important..we prefer that you listen politely whilst people sing (or the opposite)..that you only sing on the chorus..etc.

If you prefer no group songbooks, say so and put it in writing and pass out flyers because they will come up and take over the group...and also ipods, etc. And people don't just read lyrics from their ipods..they actually play the tune or song on ipod for everyone to listen to. It is certainly sharing, but you might want to either encourage that or nip it in the bud.

If you want to be somewhat exclusive, it might be good to get a friend or someone to set up a very inclusive, everything goes, play your trombone along with a ballad if you are inclined group..that hopefully meets at the same time nd close by so people can choose their preferred style...mg


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 24 May 12 - 03:25 PM

We regularly have a trombonist at our session & it really kicks ass. I guess like everything else it depends on the trombone player.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 May 12 - 03:40 PM

And don't be shy about doing it your way if it is your work that keeps it going.

You'll also need to learn to accept that some people will not like the way you do it and may well go on the internet to tell everybody what pants your session is.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 24 May 12 - 03:57 PM

"tell everybody what pants your session is."

Except of course I haven't done that AT ALL.
Because no-one but ME on this thread, actually knows which pants session I'm describing.

And as I've said before, this is a *discussion* board dedicated to the err discussion of folk related topics, pants singarounds included!

I do wish so many folkies on this forum weren't so bleeding precious about this hobby sometimes, it's not like I'm murdering kittens or anything, after all, is it?

And maybe a bit of honesty doesn't go amiss either. I'm even inclined to agree with the late (to this forum) Ruth Archer who has been know to bash the umm 'mutual wanking sessions' you'll see among amateur performers.

Or maybe it was her having a bash during the mutual wanking sessions, I'm not terribly sure about that one...

Whatever, so long as everyone's left happy and contented by their preferred activity. Though as a side thought maybe wanking is preferable to pants singarounds? Probably. Anyway, tonight for me it's 'King of Thrones' season 2 Episode 8, with cauliflower cheese for tea. Yippee!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: The Sandman
Date: 24 May 12 - 05:25 PM

I would prefer it if the late Ruth Archer was not brought into this discussion either dead or alive.
I would also prefer it if contributors did not mention wanking and Ruth Archer in the same post


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: TheSnail
Date: 24 May 12 - 06:36 PM

Except of course I haven't done that AT ALL.

I didn't say you did. I didn't name you any more than you named the sessions you were talking about. You just made your assumptions from the circumstantial evidence.

Because no-one but ME on this thread, actually knows which pants session I'm describing.

Richard Bridge didn't seem to have any trouble working out who you were so I imagine that anyone else who knows you will have sussed it out as well.

No, CS, you're not "murdering kittens" you're just pissing on the efforts of a lot of people who CAN be "arsed" to put time and effort into promoting the music they love.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 May 12 - 07:12 PM

Hey, that was only a leg-pull from me - I have the greatest respect for CS who is a fantastic singer. She silences the pub with awe - not a bunch of grumpies going "Ssshhh".


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 25 May 12 - 02:58 AM

"Aw, can you be quiet?" Works for me.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 25 May 12 - 04:25 AM

I have the greatest respect for CS who is a fantastic singer.

We can agree on that much, Richard.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,vox properli
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 08:24 AM

ha! I like it.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 09:05 AM

All are welcome and in that spirit they will be all levels.What should never happen is overt mocking of pepple who are struggling.
I think I am capable of some sweet singing but I often struggle especially with new material.I willusually spend 4 to 6 weeks listening to a song knockin it out on keyboard or guitar, searching for the, sheet music, listening again to a variety of artists, memorizing , acting out the words of the song and singing it over and over, checking it by recording until I thinkit's ready.Sometimes its fine but sometimes not but I find a couple of disappointing renditions lead to my being able to sing it acceptably well or better.In the wobbly phase I cant cope with accompaniment and can be thrown badly by enthusiastic guitarists even very sophisticated ones.
The things that should be forbidden are
unhelpful comments on my/anybodys rendition whether it be wrong words,factual errors in words or whether I am in tune. I respect constructive criticism but if anyone wants to give I dont want it in public- a little chat at the break would be nice
I an pretty thick skinned in general but being mocked on the qualityof my singinv is not what I go out for.
Afew months xxx ago I saw some pillock of a guitarist waving his tuner behind the head of a singer who was stumbling with his song.This seriously pissed me off!


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Andiliqueur
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 10:55 AM

I totally agree with "Guest" above.You can practice and practice at home but it's not until you've tried out a song in public that it begins to gell. You have to start somewhere and in my experience most songs improve rapidly after the first couple of outings. We usually ask that people don't join in until we are confident but this does sometimes fall on deaf ears."Bear with bear with" for those of us who like to learn new songs rather than keep trotting out the same old 'favourites'.


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Subject: RE: Folk Club / Session Etiquette
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 25 Nov 14 - 11:52 AM

I `ad that Sublime Ashtray in my cab the other day. I picked `im up from the Ryanair terminal where `ed been dodging around on `is laptop doing that Mudcat to pass the time.
`e said,"Top of the Morning, Jim. `ere, when you lot are doing the clubs what do you think about the etiquette in `em?"
I said, "Etiquette, etiquette!! I thought that was something we did at the dining table?"
`e said, "Nah, say frinstance someone sings one of your songs?"
I said, "Oh, I see what you mean. We just charge `em a tenner a verse. Nice little earner!!"


Whaddam I Like??


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Mudcat time: 21 September 7:50 AM EDT

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