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An important notice on folk club website-Amberley

Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 10:29 AM
Uncle Tone 29 Jan 13 - 10:46 AM
Marje 29 Jan 13 - 11:03 AM
Jack Campin 29 Jan 13 - 11:16 AM
GUEST,John De Little 29 Jan 13 - 11:29 AM
Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 11:37 AM
Will Fly 29 Jan 13 - 11:41 AM
Jack Campin 29 Jan 13 - 11:56 AM
Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 11:59 AM
John Routledge 29 Jan 13 - 12:09 PM
Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 12:10 PM
GUEST 29 Jan 13 - 12:29 PM
GUEST 29 Jan 13 - 12:53 PM
Paul Davenport 29 Jan 13 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 29 Jan 13 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Fred McCormick 29 Jan 13 - 01:23 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 13 - 01:24 PM
Jack Campin 29 Jan 13 - 01:35 PM
Richard Bridge 29 Jan 13 - 01:40 PM
Banjo-Flower 29 Jan 13 - 02:17 PM
Will Fly 29 Jan 13 - 02:23 PM
Banjo-Flower 29 Jan 13 - 02:53 PM
BrendanB 29 Jan 13 - 02:54 PM
VirginiaTam 29 Jan 13 - 03:02 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 13 - 03:20 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Jan 13 - 03:28 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 13 - 03:29 PM
Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,Stuart Reed 29 Jan 13 - 03:32 PM
GUEST 29 Jan 13 - 03:35 PM
Will Fly 29 Jan 13 - 03:43 PM
Vic Smith 29 Jan 13 - 03:54 PM
greg stephens 29 Jan 13 - 04:09 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 13 - 05:02 PM
Will Fly 29 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM
GUEST,999 29 Jan 13 - 05:32 PM
nutty 29 Jan 13 - 05:35 PM
Uncle Tone 29 Jan 13 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,999 29 Jan 13 - 05:49 PM
The Sandman 29 Jan 13 - 05:51 PM
Dennis the Elder 29 Jan 13 - 06:09 PM
Gervase 29 Jan 13 - 06:40 PM
Banjo-Flower 29 Jan 13 - 06:58 PM
GUEST,Stim 29 Jan 13 - 06:59 PM
Phil Edwards 29 Jan 13 - 07:00 PM
Jack Campin 29 Jan 13 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Phil 29 Jan 13 - 07:46 PM
Jack Campin 29 Jan 13 - 07:56 PM
GUEST,999 29 Jan 13 - 08:11 PM
GUEST,Phil 29 Jan 13 - 08:30 PM
GUEST,Stuart Reed 29 Jan 13 - 09:22 PM
Uncle Tone 29 Jan 13 - 10:59 PM
GUEST 30 Jan 13 - 01:17 AM
GUEST 30 Jan 13 - 02:27 AM
Phil Edwards 30 Jan 13 - 04:01 AM
Will Fly 30 Jan 13 - 04:12 AM
greg stephens 30 Jan 13 - 04:57 AM
banjoman 30 Jan 13 - 05:13 AM
Banjo-Flower 30 Jan 13 - 05:17 AM
Will Fly 30 Jan 13 - 05:35 AM
Vic Smith 30 Jan 13 - 06:26 AM
greg stephens 30 Jan 13 - 07:29 AM
Jack Campin 30 Jan 13 - 07:40 AM
johncharles 30 Jan 13 - 07:42 AM
Banjo-Flower 30 Jan 13 - 07:56 AM
Marje 30 Jan 13 - 07:59 AM
greg stephens 30 Jan 13 - 08:04 AM
nutty 30 Jan 13 - 12:14 PM
The Sandman 30 Jan 13 - 01:20 PM
nutty 30 Jan 13 - 02:30 PM
GUEST,Captainswing 30 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM
nutty 30 Jan 13 - 04:06 PM
GUEST,Captainswing 30 Jan 13 - 04:16 PM
The Sandman 30 Jan 13 - 04:37 PM
GUEST 30 Jan 13 - 04:45 PM
GUEST,Captainswing 30 Jan 13 - 04:52 PM
The Sandman 30 Jan 13 - 04:59 PM
GUEST 30 Jan 13 - 05:09 PM
JHW 30 Jan 13 - 05:23 PM
BrendanB 30 Jan 13 - 05:54 PM
Jack Campin 30 Jan 13 - 06:52 PM
TheSnail 31 Jan 13 - 05:38 AM
The Sandman 31 Jan 13 - 06:37 AM
Phil Edwards 31 Jan 13 - 11:31 AM
BrendanB 31 Jan 13 - 11:36 AM
Vic Smith 31 Jan 13 - 11:44 AM
Vic Smith 31 Jan 13 - 11:49 AM
Jack Campin 31 Jan 13 - 12:28 PM
Marje 31 Jan 13 - 01:21 PM
Howard Jones 31 Jan 13 - 02:47 PM
GUEST,roderick warner 31 Jan 13 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Captainswing 31 Jan 13 - 03:23 PM
DebC 01 Feb 13 - 10:02 AM
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Subject: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 10:29 AM

I've just read on the Amberley Acoustic Music Club website where it says:-
"If you are a floor singer and fancy doing a couple of songs, best to turn up around 7.30 - 8.00 ish and get your name down. We do have a good standard of floor singers and while everyone is welcome, we certainly appreciate those who are well rehearsed, know their words etc and don't need a music stand with a folder. We all get nervous and everyone forgets stuff from time to time but practise makes perfect(-ish!)"

I could not agree more! We are charging people to come in and it is our responsibility to provide a good standard of entertainment from guest, floor singers and residents alike.
Perhaps all organisers of folk/acoustic clubs/venues should put this on their websites.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 10:46 AM

If they did several local clubs around here would have to close because I am unusual in that I try to remember the words to the songs I sing.

It seems to be increasingly acceptable that performers can read words/music.

I would add, if you don't know the piece, you shouldn't be performing it in public, unless you are perhaps a classical musician.

We all forget lyrics at times. But that is far more acceptable, given that many folk performers are in the short term memory loss age group now.

As Martin Carthy said when it happened top him recently, "Oh bollocks!"... and carried on with the next verse. It was a laugh all round. If he can do it we all can.

Tone


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Marje
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:03 AM

I agree, Vic. I go to a very informal singaround in a back room of a pub, and the organiser has now suggested that we should all try to learn the song well enough to sing it without a book. One or two of the regulars are quite upset by this, and see it as high-handed and bossy. Incidentally, there are also no instruments allowed at this session, but as that was the case right from the start, no one seems to mind this. I'm with the organiser on this, and think the no-song-sheets thing should also have been a rule right from the start.

I know we've had this argument before on this forum, but I still think that it's worth making the effort to learn a song before singing it "out". Having some kind of prompt ready for emergency brain-failure is sometimes acceptable, but this is a world away from not bothering to try to learn the song in the first place and gazing fixedly at the text throughout the performance - which, I'm afraid, is what rapidly happens in many cases when song-books are allowed.

Of course I may be biased because my eyesight is reaching the stage where it's even less reliable than my memory, and it's usually easier for me to learn a song than to try to find my glasses and read the lyrics in bad light.

Marje


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:16 AM

I would rather hear people trying new things, even if it means using a book, than trot out something from memory that I've heard them do five times before. (I fact there are very few floor-singer numbers I'd even want to hear twice).

It's perfectly possible to perform from a written source while giving the song all the expression it needs. Almost all the current English-language folk repertoire started out on paper - broadsides and slip songs were where most of those songs started, and those were sold in millions over a period of 400 years. Do you suppose nobody in 1745 would have considered singing "Johnny Cope" until they'd got it memorized?

It does help if people rehearse and think in advance about what they're going to sing, but memorization is independent of that. Lots of singers perform from memory and achieve levels of dullness equal to what anybody using a book could reach.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST,John De Little
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:29 AM

Vic Smith has just alerted me to this thread, and as the author of the original comment I guess I might say something....
1. I am atrocious at remembering words but bluff my way through usually... and never with a music stand!
2. This is as much to do with nerves as anything and there is no substitute for really getting into a song, playing it a few times to get over the jitters...
3. I guess I believe that a song comes to life when the singer is very familiar with it indeed, and has lived inside it, whether self written or not, for a while.
4. I don;t think I have ever really been entertained by someone with a music stand and a ring binder with pages in plastic sleeves (aaaggghhh!!) and who then......loses the place!!!!
5. The great thing about folk clubs is the way they have given people a start in the music scene, at whatever level. We are tolerant and encouraging, even to those we know have enthusiasm, if limited talent, BUT I guess laziness is harder to accept. We all started, nervously, at some time.....!!!!

Hope that isn;t too sanctimonious!!! thanks for all the comments. John


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:37 AM

I am with Marge and agin Jack on this one.
I would draw a distinction between a free singaround with the ethos of "everyone can have a go" and a paid event where, as I said in the OP, there is a responsibility to provide performance of a quality that is worth paying money to hear - and that involves some high level of communication between performer and listener. This doesn't happen when a singer is hunched over their song book struggling with the words.
Travelling to a folk club on Sunday night, we were discussing this matter and the driver, a fine singer, said, "Your repertoire is the number of songs that you know and can sing, not the number of songs that you can read."


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:41 AM

Hmmm, Jack - I think I must respectfully disagree with some of your statements - which are your opinion.

Lots of singers perform from memory and achieve levels of dullness equal to what anybody using a book could reach.

And vice versa, in my experience. How can you possibly get the same level of contact with the audience if you're glued to a page? And, actually, people who habitually use music stands and paper also rarely seem to sing new and different things. There's a chap who comes to my monthly session/singaround - sings blues from a folder. He never sings without this folder open in front of him. I've heard him sing the same set of songs each month (or so it seems) for the past 4 years... I love him to death, and I'm glad that he pops along every session - but he's never bothered to learn a word in 50 years of playing the stuff.

There's a very well-attended club not a million miles from me where, almost without exception, every single floor singer uses a music stand and a sheet or two to read from. It's depressing beyond measure, and I've simply stopped going there after losing the will to live on several occasions. It all seems a far cry from my early days (1960s) in clubs, where you would have been tossed out for performing from a sheet.

I'm not a music snob, by any means - and I accept that people, as they get older, can have mental blockages in a live performance situation, It happens, and I accept that - but it's not the same as being too lazy to try. I personally have never used a crib sheet when performing solo in public. When the day comes, as it well may, that I can't perform live without a crib, then that's the day I stop playing in public.

I have played in orchestras and bands where the repertoire has been large, complex and - sometimes - unknown to me. On those occasions I've sat with everyone else in front of a music stand. But - for a repertoire of my choice, performed in my way? No thanks!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:56 AM

This doesn't happen when a singer is hunched over their song book struggling with the words.

Who suggested that? You can use a written text while performing with as much spontaneity as anybody doing without, there is no need whatever to "hunch". Performing that way is a skill that needs to be learned - but anybody who wants to can learn it.

Somebody not only performing from paper, but performing something he'd written himself from paper:

Allen Ginsberg

How many folkies have ever got paying audiences as big as he did?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 11:59 AM

Jack Campin wrote:-
" Almost all the current English-language folk repertoire started out on paper - broadsides and slip songs were where most of those songs started, and those were sold in millions over a period of 400 years.


All true, Jack, but name me one traditional singer who read their words when the song collectors recorded/notated them.

... and don't say The Copper Family before I tell you this story....

They have been singing regularly at our club for over forty years ago and I remember once John Copper opening the song book and saying, "Right, we'll have Claudy Banks now. "Oh good!" says Bob; he puts his glasses on and peers at the book in John's hand. John strikes the tuning fork, gives out the note, counts everyone in and off they go with them looking at the book from time to time. The song ends; great applause; Bob peers rather sheepishly over his glasses at the audience and says, "I just realised during the last verse that we've got the book open at the wrong page." John looks down. "Oh God! So we have!"


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: John Routledge
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 12:09 PM

The great thing about the Amberley Club is that you know what is expected - before going there!!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 12:10 PM

So, what the complaints are about, Jack, are not the Ginsbergs and Coppers of this world, for whom the book/written sheet are a performance prop for words that they could recite/sing blindfold, but about those who don't or won't learn their lines and then think that it is good enough for other people to pay to listen to, often, as has been remarked, with associated stumbling.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 12:29 PM

30 years ago to use crib sheet was a definite no no. Returning to folk clubs recently most performers are using them. The performers have all got older and they are forgetting the words!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 12:53 PM

Interesting thread but?surely there comes a point when, if your memory isn't up to it then its time to step aside for younger singers? On the other hand, the only thing that strengthens memory is memorising. Committing stuff to memory isn't simply a case of remembering words but is also connected with patterns and mnemonics that make remembering easier. The odd thing about the process is the more you have to remember, the easier it is. Vic is absolutely right, people have a duty to their audience.
Another side of the coin is this: We have a younger son who sings strongly and in tune. He won't go near a folk club because he doesn't trust people's applause. He remarked, 'If they clap for crap as loudly as they clap for me how do I know if I did ok?' His view is that it isn't worth performing for people who aren't critical. On another level he'd rather be booed than feel patronised.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:13 PM

Sorry, seem to have been logged out. That last 'Guest' was me.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:18 PM

First of all, a story. I was a guest at a well known and much respected folk club one night when a woman got up to sing. She put a set of words in front of her and proceeded to sing Bonnie Charlie's Noo Awa, or something similar - badly. After two or three verses she stopped, handed the sheet to someone in the audience and said "I can't read my own writing. Can you tell me what that says?"

Personally I've always clung to the view that using a crib sheet is just plain lazy, and bad habit forming. It usually means that the singer hasn't learnt the words, and if you haven't learned the words you sure as heck haven't learned the song, or what it's about. nd if you don't know what the song is about, you sure as hell can't interpret the meaning. And if you can't be bothered to go to the trouble of understanding the song and interpreting its meaning, why on earth should I waste my time listening to you.

Lately however, I find that the effects of old age, plus the oceans of booze I've drunk in my time have dimmed my brain somewhat. (Thinks. Remind me again. What was this thread about?)

Oh yes, I remember. As I was saying, oceans of booze and grey matter decay mean I just can't keep 300 songs in my head any more. So, if I think I'm going to have problems, I have the words with me just in case. It's a pain in the arse, especially as glancing at the crib sheet breaks the flow of concentration, and I find myself wondering whether Fair Ellender has murdered the Brown Girl yet, or if I haven't got to that bit, and wouldn't I have been better to pick a shorter song. And that breaks the flow of concentration ever more. Still, at least I can get through it and back to my seat without looking too much of a compleat eejit.

Other mitigating circumstances:-

1.I've been singing a lot of topical/political stuff lately, where there just isn't time to


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST,Fred McCormick
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:23 PM

Bloody technology. I was just boring everyone rigid with the story of my life when I pressed the wrong key and my missive sailed into the ether incomplete.

Anyway, as I was saying.

Other mitigating cirmcumstances where use of a crib sheet might be permitted:-

1. I've been singing a lot of topical/political stuff lately, where there just isn't time to internalise the words, and the only thing to do is to read the words off the page.

2. Inexperienced singers sometimes find that singing from a sheet gives them a little bit of a boost to their confidence. Fine, so long as they regard it as no more than a prop, to be discarded as soon as they can manage without.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:24 PM

I have seen ONLY a few people perform well with words in front of them.
I would rather see any singer sing without words even if they have a small repertoire, even if they have sung the song many times before, in my experience if they are any good as a singer they will interpret differently every time.
I do not accept that because someone is a floor singer, and has small repertoire that they will not be any good, which is kind of implied in this statement
"I would rather hear people trying new things, even if it means using a book, than trot out something from memory that I've heard them do five times before. (I fact there are very few floor-singer numbers I'd even want to hear twice)."
However, EACH CLUB organiser has to decide what is right for their own club, people vote with their feet which clubs they wish to attend.
   I would be more inclined to turn up at a club, that stipulated a quality control, I am sure there are others who would do the opposite.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:35 PM

A lot of people seem to be worried that they might get to experience an under-rehearsed performance.

How about the problem of encountering a robotic performance of something the singer got note-perfect 30 years ago and hasn't changed any detail of since?

I used to go to a club where the most consistently entertaining singer always performed from a book. His specialty was very funny and very verbally complicated Victorian music hall. He hardly ever did the same one twice, and every time he got the laughs. I doubt if even Marie Lloyd could have held all that in her head at once. At the same club, the most bumb-numbingly dull performer was somebody who had memorized four or five singer-songwriter numbers from the 1970s, did them in exactly the same way every time, and never did anything else.

I'd rather listen to a fumbler than a technical bore any day.

Maybe that club needs an additional note saying you don't do the same number twice in the same year, unless you get multiple requests for it.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 01:40 PM

I prefer people not to use written words (often these days on a tablet or a smartphone) but do not find it wholly offensive for a floor spot so long as the song is delivered, not read.

I'd expect a support act or paid guest to know their shit.

I also think that those who pontificate about "practise" should learn the difference in English (American differs) between the verb "practise" and the noun "practice". Goose: gander.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:17 PM

if the club was the only one within 30 miles what would be your choice
people singing from books or no club at all?

Gerry


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:23 PM

No club at all. People singing from books is not my idea of a folk club.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:53 PM

And how would you travel those 30+ miles to the next club bearing in mind the poor public transport situation in rural Lincolnshire

Gerry


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: BrendanB
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:54 PM

I'm with Vic on this one. It is the organiser's right to set the rules for her/his club. When I have paid to go into a club I don't expect to see people rehearsing on stage. (In spite of what Woodie Guthrie said.)
Performing is a craft. It requires effort and that includes learning the songs properly. If you don't want to do that then don't inflict yourself on an audience.   The same goes for people who insist on performing the same stuff week after week.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: VirginiaTam
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:02 PM

I wouldn't do open mic because I cannot remember words. But a sing around should not discriminate. Some of us have legitimate memory problems due to illness.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:20 PM

ok, but that is why people vote with their feet, my choice may not be someone elses, that is why it should be up to the organiser to decide his own policy, people are free to go where they like, myself, brendan b, will fly, vic smith prefer one thing, jack campin, virginia tam prefer something else does it matter as long as the different preferences are catered for.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:28 PM

With respect, Jack, I think you're barking up the wrong tree. Someone who gives a vivid and impassioned performance while reading from a book in real time - "sight-reading", as you might say - isn't likely to get any complaints from anyone; I doubt they'll even be seen to be reading. (What would be the difference, from the audience's point of view, between that performer and someone singing from memory who happened to have a crib in front of them?) When people object to books, mostly what they (we) are objecting to isn't the presence of physical books but the practice of reading rather than performing - which, for me, is all too widespread and all too widely tolerated.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:29 PM

virgina, with respect Vic or any other organiser has every right to discriminate, if he so wishes, he is the person who is responsible for financing the club
in the same way he has a right not to book a particular artist.
If a club is a singaround club, the organiser still has a right to lay down a policy if he/she so wishes, because he she is organising it, if you do not like it you can start your own club or go to a different existing club.
I hope i do not sound rude, but it all about freedom of choice, and while I prefer a club that has a no reading policy, i see no reason why other clubs should not exist to cater for those that like to go to a club and read their words.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:30 PM

Lots of good points here and an interesting discussion - but Brendan has the clincher when he writes:-
When I have paid to go into a club I don't expect to see people rehearsing on stage.

So it's all about standards in the end. Everyone performing on a paid venue evening has the obligation to provide a performance that
- is well prepared, rehearsed, delivered and presented.
- engages the audience rather than the written page/electronic media.
- avoids frequent repetition of material.*

Now this does not mean that folk clubs should be intolerant of the young, the beginners, the improvers or the nervous; we all know that clubs are tolerant, almost to the point of being indulgent at times. (The example that Paul gave of his son is a very good one.) In the end, I suppose it is down to comperes/organisers to identify and refuse to put on performers who are guilty of ill-prepared sloppiness, frequent reiteration of the same material and other factors that contribute to poor communication with an audience.



* Jack wrote "you don't do the same number twice in the same year" Funnily enough, Tina keeps a notebook and records the songs that we sing each week as residents at our club - and she insists on just that no repetition rule (not that our audience doesn't change from week to week). Mind you we've been at it for decades and are still learning songs so we have a pretty large repertoire.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:32 PM

Will Fly wrote:
There's a very well-attended club not a million miles from me where, almost without exception, every single floor singer uses a music stand and a sheet or two to read from.

...even when they announce, "Here's a folk song I wrote last month."

AND they all play guitars worth at least two grand.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:35 PM

Okay,
I'm one of those who often sings from a sheet.
Sometimes I'm just using it as a crutch, and could do without it. Sometimes I need the words in front of me.
Last year I wrote a song (Ash Grove parody) about 'Ash Dieback' disease. It has been well received in several folk clubs, but it was written following a comment in my local drinking club on a Sunday night. I first sang it on the following Tuesday. Two days to write, hone(I think) and perform it. It wasn't enough time to memorise it.
I've even done topical songs written during a folk club where someone has said something that triggers an idea.
It's not quite the same as singing something learnt at school, which will never go away, and which is totally insinuated in my long-term memory, but I wouldn't wish to be restricted to only the songs I've already learnt.
However, if I attend a club where that is a requirement I will still sing, but have to choose my songs with greater care.

Hard & fast rules about singing only from memory, and singing only 'folk' songs gets you to the point where every night will include someone singing "Wild Rover". And I thought we'd moved away from that!

Cheers

Nigel (just my two-pennorth)


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:43 PM

I run a monthly singaround in my local village pub - started over four years ago and still going strong. My "rules", for what it's worth, are:

1. Everybody, from beginners onwards, is welcome.
2. You can sing or play whatever you want.
3. No amplification.
4. When it's your turn to kick something off, we'll all join in unless you'd prefer us not to, and say so.
5. Everybody gets a crack at kicking something off.
6. If you want to use a crib sheet, use one.
7. If you pass your turn, you have to buy a round (I made that one up).

My only duties as organiser are: to be there every session, to make sure everybody gets a fair share at playing, to stop people hogging the evening, to make sure the inevitable inter-tune chit-chat doesn't become interminable, and to welcome everyone and make them feel welcome.

You can see that, to a musical folky "purist", this sort of evening would not be to everyone's taste - and indeed I would admit that there are occasional longeurs - but there's still the sheer of people joining together in friendship to make music together. And you can't beat that.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website
From: Vic Smith
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:54 PM

The person that I know as 'Mike' who posts here under a different name wrote:-
"There's a very well-attended club not a million miles from me where, almost without exception, every single floor singer uses a music stand and a sheet or two to read from. It's depressing beyond measure, and I've simply stopped going there after losing the will to live on several occasions."

Right everyone, join in Mike's chorus:-

I will fly away, Oh Glory
I will fly away; (in the morning)
When I die, Hallelujah, by and by,
I will fly away (I will fly fly away).


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: greg stephens
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 04:09 PM

Well, I am currently involved with helping book acts for a little folk festival and I can inform people who want a booking that I am not interested in looking at music stands, especially those black ones with holes in. I will make the usual exceptions for(a) people at singarounds who have genuine medical memory problems,(b) people who have just written a (good) topical song (c) people in big swing bands with those stands with fancy little hanging down flags and (d) members of the Copper family. Anybody else can learn their songs.
This infestation of stands is creeping into all music, even rock bands and such.Can you imagine the Stones or the Beatles going wild on stage behind rows of music stands?
On a separate note, if we book that Beyonce I expect her not only to learn her songs, but actually sing them.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:02 PM

"Hard & fast rules about singing only from memory, and singing only 'folk' songs gets you to the point where every night will include someone singing "Wild Rover". And I thought we'd moved away from that!"
   I find this comment incredible, folk clubs are about singing folk songs, the Wild Rover is a perfectly good folk song, Its problem is the way it is often performed,and treated with disrespect bordering on contempt., which brings us back to the art of performance, i have heard beautiful slow renditions of this song using a different tune,where it was performed beautifully.
performance is about interpretation, respect and love of your material.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Will Fly
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM

I have just received the following email purporting to come from Vic Smith:-

    Subject - My Terrible Club experience..........Vic Smith

    I really hope you get this fast. I could not inform anyone about our trip, because it was impromptu. We had to be in a folk club for a guest night. The programme was unsuccessful, and our journey has turned sour. We misplaced our music stand and songs folder on our way back to the b&b we lodge in after we went for a floor spot. They contained all the valuable songs we tried to learn. Now, our concertina and mandola are in custody of the b&b management pending payment.

    I am sorry if I am inconveniencing you, but I have only very few people to run to now. I will be indeed very grateful if i can get a loan of £2,300 from you. This will enable me to pay the b&b bills, get our instruments and music stand and folder and get our sorry selves back home. I will really appreciate whatever you can afford in assisting me with. I promise to refund it in full as soon as I return. Let me know if you can be of any assistance. Please, let me know soonest. Thanks so much [sob].


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,999
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:32 PM

This is thread number 23 on this subject. In every thread everyone has said the same damned thing. State your expectations (as club owners) and that's that. I mean no offense (offence) to anyone, but Lord luva duck, ya know?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: nutty
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:35 PM

Having reached the age where (like many others) medical conditions and medication are having a detrimental effect on my memory I prefer to rely on my songbook but try to be as discreet as possible about it.

I have problems with the most familiar of songs and would hate to think that after 40 years I should give up singing as Paul Davenport suggests. If folk clubs were only for the young I suspect that very few would be likely to survive.

I accept that there are some people who are guilty of using words through laziness but they are often the backbone of a particular club - manning the door - selling raffle tickets etc. and their contributions are often tolerated for that reason.

Below is my take on the matter and the song is proving highly popular.


BLACK HOLES

THEY SAY THAT BLACK HOLES EXIST ONLY IN SPACE
BUT I KNOW THAT JUST ISN'T TRUE
FOR I FIND BLACK HOLES ARE ALL OVER THE PLACE
AND I'M SURE THAT OTHERS DO TO
FOR JUST WHEN I'M COMFORTABLY SINGING MY SONG
WHEN EVERYTHING SEEMS ON A ROLL
WHEN EVERYONE'S HAPPILY SINGING ALONG
THE WORDS FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE - BLACK HOLE
THE WORDS FALL INTO A BLACK HOLE

A GREAT BIG HOLE, A GIGANTIC HOLE
A HOLE THAT'S ENORMOUS AND BLACK
IT FEELS LIKE MY BRAIN
HAS BEEN FLUSHED DOWN THE DRAIN
AND I'M NEVER GETTING IT BACK ? IT BACK
AND I'M NEVER GETTING IT BACK

SOMETIMES IT'S A WORD OR A LINE THAT WILL HIDE
SOMETIMES A WHOLE VERSE DISAPPEARS
SO I'M STANDING THERE WITH MY MOUTH OPEN WIDE
AND FRESH AIR BETWEEN MY TWO EARS
THEY SAY THAT THE MEMORY DECREASES WITH AGE
AND AT THESE TIMES I FEEL NINETY-THREE
COS WHEN IT WON'T PASS ? I FEEL SUCH AN ASS
OH, WHY DOES IT HAPPEN TO ME - TO ME
OH, WHY DOES IT HAPPEN TO ME

NOW SOME PEOPLE SAY I SHOULD REALLY MAKE SURE
OF THE WORDS ? BUT I'D LIKE THEM TO NOTE
IT HAPPENS WITH SONGS I'VE BEEN SINGING FOR YEARS
AS WELL AS WITH THOSE I'VE JUST WROTE
SO NOW HERE I STAND WITH MY BOOK IN MY HAND
TO MAKE SURE THAT NO WORDS GO ASTRAY
FOR IT GIVES ME THE CHANCE ? TO HAVE A QUICK GLANCE
AND KEEP ALL THOSE BLACK HOLES AT BAY - AT BAY
AND KEEP ALL THOSE BLACK HOLES AT BAY

THOSE GREAT BIG HOLES, THOSE GIGANTIC HOLES
THOSE HOLES SO ENORMOUS AND BLACK
IT FEELS LIKE MY BRAIN
HAS BEEN FLUSHED DOWN THE DRAIN
AND I'M NEVER GETTING IT BACK ? IT BACK
AND I'M NEVER GETTING IT BACK


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:43 PM

I sometimes go to a club that is run by the leader of a local ceilidh band who ALL read their music whilst playing. It is probably the most boring band I've ever sat through. No expression at all. God knows how you'd dance to it.

It's a singaround club. Nearly everyone reads what they are singing. It would be better called a read-around. The couple of artists who don't read are in another higher class of performance all together.

Some are better than others, but one performer, whenever he gets up, asks to borrow a music stand. Then he needs help to set it up. Then he gets out his book of songs. Then he flicks through. Then he selects a song. Then he drops the book. Then he finds the page again. Then he sets it up again. Then he tries to work out the chords. Then he always says, 'You can join in if you like. It's in 'A'.' (It's probably in 'D'.) Then he starts to sing in the wrong key. Then finally he gets through his song, which turns out to be a 60s or 70s pop song sung incredibly badly. And he gets the same mediocre applause as anyone else.

We run folk clubs, not care in the community (to be cruel). But so much time is wasted by this bloke that we all get in another song each when he doesn't turn up. Yet the organiser puts up with it.

Why do I go at all? Well, to be honest I wouldn't, except my lady love goes.

But, the club is free, and the landlord provides sandwiches, so who am I to complain.

I know that when I ran clubs in St Albans in the 70s and 80s, no such performer would get a go unless they at least practised (with an 'S') and knew what they were going to do first.

Tone
(Grumpy old folkie sod)


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,999
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:49 PM

I have been told I can perform and entertain an audience. My memory is starting to go, too. So, when I do use crib notes I tell the audience beforehand. I then say, "I have an excellent memory. I remember about 97% of my songs. I remember 97% of this one, 97% of that one . . ."

Two times through Wild fucking Rover which I last did 40 years ago and I'd have it again. Twice through Chimes of Freedom and I'd have that one back too. You folks who have the luxury of five song repertoires are very fortunate. Not all people have your luxury.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 05:51 PM

can i thank everyone who contributed to this thread, i have had a good chuckle


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 06:09 PM

Folk Clubs are for all types of folk and discrimination against performers with poor memories in a singaround should not happen.
There are many reasons why some of us cannot remember as well as perhaps we once could, Virginia Tams and Nutty quoting illnesses as their reason, they must not stop singing, unfortunately I have not heard Virginia sing, but have heard Nutty and have enjoyed every word.
Allowing crib sheets or actually reading should be allowed. Perhaps where a performer is being paid, a discussion should take place between the performer and the organiser prior to the event in order that each knows what is expected.
The rules Will Fly quotes appear very reasonable.
I am not a good singer, but, I do practise the songs I hope to sing and try new ones very regularly. I, however, always need the words in front of me when I sing. If I go somewhere where this is not known I will ask if this is ok, if not, I will stay for the evening, obviously not sing or visit that Club again.
At the Club I visit most often the vast majority of the performers do not use memory aids, play their own accompaniment and all are also better singers than me, however, I am always made very welcome and encouraged.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Gervase
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 06:40 PM

What's that Les Barker standard? Ah yes, 'Deja Vu'. Though Les performs it without a crib sheet. This is a well-trodden path, and before 100 post are up we'll have divided into to 'care in the community', let every one have a go and we're all above average ranged against 'people come to folk clubs to be entertained', 'do the song the favour of bloody learning it' and 'if you want to practise' why pick on us?'
From which you'll see where my sympathies lie. Good on Amberley for making a stand. the tone-deaf, read-from-the-sheet anodyne performance is what has killed f*** clubs for me..


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 06:58 PM

From: Will Fly - PM
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 02:23 PM

No club at all. People singing from books is not my idea of a folk club.

From: Will Fly - PM
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 03:43 PM

I run a monthly singaround in my local village pub - started over four years ago and still going strong. My "rules", for what it's worth, are:

1. Everybody, from beginners onwards, is welcome.
2. You can sing or play whatever you want.
3. No amplification.
4. When it's your turn to kick something off, we'll all join in unless you'd prefer us not to, and say so.
5. Everybody gets a crack at kicking something off.
6. If you want to use a crib sheet, use one.
7. If you pass your turn, you have to buy a round (I made that one up).

So which is it Will?, your 02.23 response or rule 6 in your 03.43 response

BTW I do not visit folk clubs but do run a session/singaround
exactly the same as yours except for rule 7
and there is no entry fee or guests and its in the bar not a separate isolated room

have you tried playing/singing when there's a game of domino's on the next table

Gerry


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Stim
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 06:59 PM

I suspect, 999, that if someone got up in one of these clubs and did a properly practiced (now you know where I'm from) piece, everyone would complain that there was nothing to complain about.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 07:00 PM

I don't write songs much any more, but when I did I hardly ever used to write them down at all - I'd sing a song through several times as I was composing it, so by the time I got to the end I'd know it. I can't imagine writing a song straight onto paper & then learning it (or not).

I think there's a limit to the number of songs anyone can really get inside and deliver well, although obviously some people have higher limits than others. I think some people accumulate a folder-full of songs in the belief that it's a shortcut to a big repertoire; it's not, you just end up with a small repertoire and a folder.

What bugs me is people with a single-figure repertoire all of which they read from a book. And sometimes it really is reading, not singing with support - I've seen someone stop in mid-chorus to turn the page.

"Which makes me now to lament and-
rustle, rustle
-say..."

For short songs, I always think that if you can learn the tune you can learn the words. (And for the big ballads, if you can learn the story you can learn the words. There's no aide-memoire better than knowing what the characters do next.)


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 07:16 PM

I can't imagine writing a song straight onto paper & then learning it (or not).

Woody Guthrie could:

"Tom Joad" and its composition


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 07:46 PM

My feeling is that if you don't know the words or tune off by heart then you don't really know the piece. It needs to be implanted in your brain and it's rendition almost automatic. When you get to that point you can interpret and express the piece.

However, many people just like to sing and play, the finer aesthetics not being important. I don't mind this but prefer not to hear a performer reading words or music.

Regasrds, Phil L


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Jack Campin
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 07:56 PM

It needs to be implanted in your brain and it's rendition almost automatic. When you get to that point you can interpret and express the piece.

Or on the other hand it may simply stay automatic, and not just "almost".

Making such a big deal about memorization ignores the fact that interpretation and expression doesn't happen automatically. You get singers who think memorization is in itself some sort of musical achievement they ought to be applauded for.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,999
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 08:11 PM

Dear Phil,

You are absolutely great.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Phil
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 08:30 PM

You're right - just because you have memorised a piece will not guarantee anything more than you will know what to sing and play. Skill, talent and effort are required to go further. If you have skill and talent but don't know a piece it will be harder to do anything with it. It's a question of what do you want to achieve. We can all have fun singing from a book but sometimes the circumstances require a little more.

Regards, Phil L


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Stuart Reed
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 09:22 PM

Have some sympathy with us aged folkies who are trying desperately to keep the flag flying. We're torn between encouraging everyone and anyone to sing in public while at the same time trying to harvest an audience for the music we love.

In the good old days (Ha!) folk club regulars would turn up every week, whoever was booked - Mike Harding followed by Peter Bellamy, Allan Taylor then Louis Killen and so on.

Nowadays the pros are playing arts centres and civic halls and there are slim pickings for your average club organiser to choose from. Of course, the better folk clubs are still supported loyally by some national treasures (we know who they are) but the gap between such venues is growing ever wider.

Which brings us back to sessions like Will Fly's. Having been there occasionally I concur that his lazy bluesman's contributions are truly dismal, and an excuse to visit the gents but, on the other hand, there are one or two of his pub locals who have begun to pluck up the courage to play a song or two. OK, they have the words in front of them but - with Martin Carthy's dictum, "The worst thing you can do to a song is not sing it" in mind - what would you rather have? An exclusive performers' circle or a participatory evening of music making?

Will's is a small informal affair, in a public bar (but with a generally high standard of musicianship) but what bugs me are those with the dreaded music stands who turn up expecting a floor spot at the bigger clubs or sessions. They'll probably get one song, two if they're lucky, once a month but still have an ego which overrides their responsibility to respect the audience they crave. Learn the song, I say, and if you have shown that commitment you'll be forgiven if you're nervous and stumble over the words. As always with the people who disregard this essential connection between performer and audience, their estimation of themselves is in inverse proportion to their talent.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 29 Jan 13 - 10:59 PM

Isn't it all about whether you want to promote the song, or yourself?

If you want to promote the song, then why haven't you learnt it? It is obviously worth it.

If you want to promote yourself, does anyone else care?

Tone


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 01:17 AM

rules in my local folk clubs
1 be middle class and over 50
2 get to the pub/club early to make sure you get the best seat and buy an orange juice to sustain through the night
3 do not allow the price of said orange juice spoil your night
4 because you have few friends and only speak rarely to work colleagues when you get the chance to shine hang on like grim death
5 when your turn finally arrives open your a4 folder like an aladdins cave unsure as to what its contents are
6 explain (for the working class latecomers gathering at the back)the nordic word in verse 32
7do not under any circumstances buy a raffle ticket.they are the works of the devil
8on leaving be very aware that although others are ignorant of your talents you are single handedly throuugh your talent and commitment keeping said folk venue alive
9 on the demise of said folk venue due to organisers incompetence at recognising said talent seek immediately new folk venue


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 02:27 AM

Why can classical musicians read the dots and not folkies? Folk clubs are recently invented and are going to have to evolve to survive and get the next generation in they will probably be playing electronic instruments and reading off iPads instead of paper!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:01 AM

If you could close your eyes and not be able to tell that a book was being used, I don't think there's a problem. Playing tunes, some people sight-read fluently, others (myself included) play by ear but prefer to have the dots in front of them as a fallback. Similarly with songs - some people like to have a crib to hand in case they dry up, others can sing fluently and expressively from a book (I've never seen this done myself outside Cardiff Singer of the World, but I'll take Jack's word for it). Either way, not a problem.

It's when you can hear the cogs turning - hear them momentarily thinking "that's that line, how does it fit with what I've just sung, OK, how does it go with the next bit, OK, got it" over and over again - that it all gets a bit My Lovely Horse.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:12 AM

Gerry - there's no discrepancy in my wanting one style of performance in one venue, and another style at another. My session - as Stu has said above - is an opportunity for beginners to start to play, for people to try out a new song, to join in on perhaps unfamiliar material - in short to pick'n mix with each other. In the interests of community and fellowship, anything goes. We can giggle at each others' mistakes, joke about the music folder falling on the floor halfway through a song, and shout happy insults to those noisy beer swillers at the bar who demand "something by Genesis". Not quite domino players, but the next loudest best thing!

That's one venue. A folk club is another and, for me, (particularly on a singers' night) different attitudes kick in. We, as an audience, are expected to sit in respectful silence, listening as is required, to the best efforts of the floor singers. We, in turn, hope to be entertained for the 3 hours or so that we're there - and for which we've probably paid a small sum towards the club's upkeep. I can tolerate, and even sympathise, with perhaps one singer getting up, fiddling with the music stand, shuffling through the song folder, and droning through the song with eyes fixed to the sheet. But a whole evening of this? God preserve us! I'm by no means (to use the old jazz term) a mouldy fig, but I do like a few bangs for my buck.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:57 AM

We will soon be looking on music stands as delightfully old-fashioned totaqlly 1954. Singing while looking at the words on the clever phone is already creeping in. The next big thing will be the spread of people using the phones to play the backing track while reading the words off the phone. And then, joy of joy, we will get to the universal Beyonce mode of performance, when the phone will not only play the backing track but also your vocal which you recorded in the privacy of your own home.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: banjoman
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:13 AM

I really detest music stands/written words at folk clubs ever since the following happened at a club which I helped run_

One of the regulars who actually did write some fairly decent songs turned up one week and was asked to sing the song he had done last week (one of his own which he sang regulary) His reply?
"Sorry I havn't got the words with me"


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:17 AM

Good response Will I respect your argument

BTW whats your answer to the transport issue I raised bearing in mind not everyone drives

Gerry


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:35 AM

Well, Gerry, if I really wanted a club run along my own preferred lines - then I'd probably start one.

I wanted a session near my home, where I could walk to play, have a few beers, and toddle off home long after closing time - so I started my own!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Vic Smith
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 06:26 AM

Earlier in this thread, I quoted and emphasised a sentence written by Bren, my old friend and long ago fellow band member (no music stands). Now I feel the need to reiterate in people's minds whoever Tone or canalwheeler is when s/he writes:-

Isn't it all about whether you want to promote the song, or yourself? If you want to promote the song, then why haven't you learnt it? It is obviously worth it.If you want to promote yourself, does anyone else care?


Bingo! The nail is hit firmly on the head once again! If you love a song enough to want to sing it then learn it so that you can do it justice.

Now to counter the "classical musicians read the words & the dots, why not us." argument:-
An ex-work colleague of mine was a semi-pro member of one of the country's leading classical choirs much in demand to sing with symphony orchestras in studio and concert stage. She used to get me free tickets when the choir sang in Brighton. I once asked her if the choir really needed to hold their books in front of them when they sang. She was amazed at the question. "Of course, we don't! We need to know each piece inside out, back to front - we can sing them in our dreams. Holding the music in front of us is just a convention."
Some of the works that she was talking about were much more complex than the utterly wonderful lyrics and melodies that the tradition gives us.

The traditional singers that I was lucky enough to see and hear live and who inspired me to want to sing all those years ago - the likes of D. Stewart, J. Robertson, P. Tunney, J. Turiff, Blairgowrie Stewarts, G. Hall, W.Scott, F. Jordan etc. etc. - none of them read the words when they were performing. In fact, some of them struggled with basic literacy, but they were all consummate artists. Their standards gave the folk revival something to aspire to.

I have found it depressing reading the comments of the apologists for a shoddy ill-prepared approach that I have found in this thread.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 07:29 AM

Will Fly wrote"I wanted a session near my home, where I could walk to play, have a few beers, and toddle off home long after closing time - so I started my own!"
Couldn't agree more. I organise a session from time to time like that in my local. And if people turn up and sing off a song-sheet, I don't tear it up and throw it on the fire.It's an anything goes do, and I am fine with whatever turns up. But if I go to see an act in a pub, or a concert hall, or a floor-spot singer in a folk club, I expect them to have made the minimum effort to learn their material.And like Vic Smith, I am fed up with the apologists. Music stands were unknown on the scene a while ago, so what has changed to make them so necessary now?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 07:40 AM

Music stands were unknown on the scene a while ago

Really?

Ewan MacColl


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: johncharles
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 07:42 AM

Far worse than those who use crib sheets are those who do learn the words but are unable to sing in tune. The polite applause from polite audiences conspires to keep them "singing"
john


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 07:56 AM

i did start my own session/singaround in preference to a club because I'm a player not a listener and I just like playing the devils advocate now and again

Gerry


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Marje
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 07:59 AM

What's coming through loud and clear here is the need for the ground rules to be obvious to everyone right from the start. Then people, whether performing or just listening, can choose whether this is how they'd like to spend their evening.

The problems seem to creep in when you have a well established club or singaround where reading from books has been rare or unheard-of, and gradually you get more books and song-sheets appearing. It's then very difficult for the club organiser to try to prevent this habit from spreading, because it will look as if he's picking on certain people and trying to discourage them. Organisers are often so keen for support nowadays that they tend to say, "Oh anything goes! Yes, folk, blues, pop - it's all good music! Instruments, yes, of course, anything you like! Keyboard or bass guitar plugged in? Fine! Song books? Well, I don't see why not..." and so it goes, to the point where some of the regulars will slowly melt away and go in search of some music with different parameters and standards.

So there you go - the lesson for new or potential organisers of clubs, sessions or singarounds is this: make it clear to everyone what the purpose and ground rules of your event are to be. You'd do this if you were setting up a painting group, a book group, or a French conversation group, so there's no need to feel apologetic about doing the same for a folk club or music/song session. And well done Amberley for being brave enough to be up-front about this.

Marje


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: greg stephens
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 08:04 AM

Jack Campin: of course people have always used stands where necessary for recording and broadcasting. We are talking about something else here.I never saw Ewan M singing with a music stand in a folk club.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: nutty
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 12:14 PM

Surely another aspect to this thread are those singers who fulfill all the criteria about learning the words but who constantly crucify everything they sing by not being able to hold a tune.

To my mind I would far rather listen to and see the former.

But surely if we are striving for perfection then there should be another written rule -

eg. AT THE DISCRETION OF THE MANAGEMENT - ONLY THOSE ARTISTS DEEMED TO HAVE REACHED THE DESIRED LEVEL FOR PERFORMANCE BOTH WITH VOICE AND/OR INSTRUMENT WILL BE INVITED TO PERFORM AT THIS CLUB.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 01:20 PM

nutty,
we are striving to maintain a standard[ not perfection], nobody has the right to be able to perform, that right has always been at the discretion of the organiser of the club., and if people are not happy with that they can start their own club, invite their friends and run things their own way, if they want they can allow people to perform with words and turn away people who do not want to read , or who are semi pro or professional.
when i first started singing as a floorsinger, about 1966, i cannot remember anyone ever performing with words, furthermore there was no guarantee of automatically singing.
the effect this had on me was to make sure i did not forget my words , i rehearsed over and over. in fact i still do today.
i taught someone for an hour today. then i practised my banjo for 40 minutes, i practised my concertina for an hour, tonight i will play guitar for an hour and probably pick up the banjo and the concertina again.
why do i do this? i do this because i love playing and singing and i want to feel confident when i do a gig,furthermore i do not feel i can do justice to the songs if i am under rehearsed and i know the best way to do this is by practising,
for the same reason[respect for the songs and music] i do not get pissed or stoned before a gig, because i do not want to make a fool of myself in public.
   that is how i feel , i am too polite to criticise singers with words if i am getting paid for a gig and they are floor singers, but I make a point if there is a singer who is performing without words and who is better than the wordsters, to encourage him to continue the practice of not singing with words.
this is not aimed at you, i have seen you perform and i would include you amongst the few that read from sheets and put in a decent performance.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: nutty
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 02:30 PM

You've just contradicted yourself Dick - I didn't feel any need to use words when I started singing in Folk clubs in 1966 but a combination of medical problems and medication has made my memory so unreliable that these days I can rarely get through a full song without use of a prop used ( as I said previously) as discreetly as possible.
For some people it's an age thing -

However I rarely forget an tune - I dont need an instrument to accompany me and I never sing sharp or flat. Yet you are arguing that I should be banned from participating in a hobby I have been pursueing for nearly 50 years

I've never heard such rubbish and the people at Amberley should be ashamed of themselves.
It certainly shows why there are so few folk clubs in the South of England


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Captainswing
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM

I formed a club in 1985, it became a vibrant, lively and entertaining place. Singers nights were as popular as guest nights (if not more so). Performers worked hard to communicate with the audience and present their material as well as they could. There was as significant number of people who were not performers - they came because they found the evening entertaining. Initially nobody used crib sheets or music stands.

My mistake was in not being assertive enough when the ring files started to creep in. By 1994 at least 50% of the floor singers used crib sheets. The vibrancy was gone and the audience was made up largely of people who wanted to perform though the quality of performance had deteriorated greatly. The quality performers who new their stuff had largely disappeared.

In my experience, people who use crib sheets do not present as communicators and are poor entertainers. Very few develop as performers and seldom wean themselves away from the crib sheets. Their shoddy performances contribute to the commonly held view that folk clubs are are not 'cool'.

On the few occasions I've been to a club since 1994 it's been clear that standards have fallen even further.

It certainly is true that there were no music stands or crib sheets in the 1970s. Why do people have the arrogance to use them now?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: nutty
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:06 PM

People were not so overt then but I know numerous performers who had words taped to their guitars.

Also if singers are expected to remember their words - surely instrumentalists should learn to become adept at tuning their guitars.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Captainswing
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:16 PM

You can't tape a complete repertoire to a guitar and many people just had a list of song names.

I agree with the comment about tuning and these days there's no excuse with the use of electronic tuners. It should be the expectation that instruments are tuned and ready to go before singers step up to the platform.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:37 PM

"However I rarely forget an tune - I dont need an instrument to accompany me and I never sing sharp or flat. Yet you are arguing that I should be banned from participating in a hobby I have been pursueing for nearly 50 years."
I am not arguing that you should be banned from anything, why dont you read my posts properly.
I said That organisers have always exercised their privilege to decide what singers should go on in THEIR CLUB, You are free to go where you like or even start your own club, there are after all plenty of singers clubs that allow readers.
I am defending the right of any club organiser including Amberley to decide their own policy, whether it be allowing readers or not allowing them.
   I have never suggested you or anyone else should be banned from pursuing your hobby, you pursue your hobby where an organiser decides to put you on,NO ONE has a right to sing anywhere, the club organiser decides that, if you dont like it you go somewhere else, paying an entrance fee does not give you a right to sing.            
singing flat or sharp or with or without an instrument is irrelevant,   
this is about an organiser having the right to decide his own singing policy.
lastly your remarks about so few clubs in the south of england is rubbish.there are quite a lot in the south of england.
I am qualified on this matter better than you, as a full time singer i have copious notes of many clubs


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:45 PM

There are rights and wrongs as with all things but what would the club do if
Nick Jones turned up


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Captainswing
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:52 PM

Hard cases make bad law.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 04:59 PM

Do you mean Nic Jones?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:09 PM

Of course one Copper family, or one person with a serious memory problem or whatever, doesn't destroy a club. What does destroy things is going from 1% with ringbinders to 50%.It's just like discipline in a school. A teacher can cope with one or two behavioural problems in a class and still teach. When it gets to 50%, the teaching collapses and it's all discipline.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: JHW
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:23 PM

Memorising the piece is the start. You'll be hard pushed to interpret a song as you read it.
Having it in the memory you can then experiment and consider the placement and emphasis of words based on your understanding of the song and how you think it should be told.
Then, hopefully, you can remember that preferred rendering and go out and sing. You might still, after a performance think some part wasn't quite how you wanted it, think of an improvement and do it different next time.
A recording, even done at home can be very revealing and help with refinement.

Of course you don't have to bother with any of this. They'll still say 'well sung'.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: BrendanB
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 05:54 PM

"That's why there are so few folk clubs in the South of England"

I live in Northumberland. In the whole county there are, I believe, two regular folk clubs. I occasionally visit Lewes, a small town in Sussex where there are two folk clubs, both at least as well attended as those in Northumberland. Nutty, you are a long way out in the statement quoted above.   

Sorry about the thread drift but lets aim for accuracy.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Jack Campin
Date: 30 Jan 13 - 06:52 PM

Memorising the piece is the start. You'll be hard pushed to interpret a song as you read it.

You'll be even more pushed to interpret it if you're trying to perform it from memory with no prompts the first time.

People can perform things they know very well, and have known for years, with a book in front of them. It helps if your memory tends to flake out on the odd word or the order of the verses. (Burns songs are generally a bugger to memorize, but quite easy to sing with a bit of help from a sheet of paper; and there is no record of Burns himself ever singing one of his songs from memory or expecting anybody else to - paper was his medium).

This hatefest against a particular physical object, the songbook, is just a mirror image of the British journalist's hatefest against fingers in ears and Aran sweaters. It's lazy, stupid over-generalization that ignores the human reality of what's going on.

Of course there are a lot of lazy fumblers who can't use their song folders effectively and have no idea how to communicate what they've got in front of them. There are also a lot of lazy hacks with tiny perfectly memorized repertoires and a career of boring people rigid that goes on for decades with no change of material. The latter group are likely to be a lot more arrogant and less able to change and grow.

I don't see a single positive suggestion in this thread about how to help people who only songbooks to try anything else. It's quite routine for instrumental instructors to teach by ear and to use clearly defined methods for getting new tunes into people's heads. All you folks who want to slam the door in people's faces - what have you ever done to teach somebody a song from memory, or to show them how to perform what they already know with better fluency?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: TheSnail
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 05:38 AM

So, Vic, does the new regime start this evening?


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: The Sandman
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 06:37 AM

club organisers have different policies, some allow readers on singers nights some allow them all the time some none of the time, that is the organisers prerogative.
and it has always been thus, many years ago Dave Cooper[catford folk club] refused to let paul simon do a floor spot, that was his prerogative, because he did not like what he did.
jack,
you ask about what have we ever done, well, sunshine, i spend a lot of my time helping people improve either vocally or instrumentally, in fact i consider my greatest success was to teach an autistic lad to play guitar[ many other music teachers would not take him on], he has now got into a music college near Brighton.,
I know that club organisers such as Vic have encouraged singers for over 40 years, the other lewes club runs workshops, will fly has put up guitar tuition videos online, your remarks are out of order.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 11:31 AM

By 1994 at least 50% of the floor singers used crib sheets. The vibrancy was gone and the audience was made up largely of people who wanted to perform though the quality of performance had deteriorated greatly.

The sad thing is that you can run a very, very successful folk club that way - successful as in bums on seats and takings on the door (and at the bar).

I just have difficulty imagining standing up in front of people without having worked the song up, and even more difficulty imagining working a song up without memorising the words. I remember once I dried in the middle of reciting Pablo Neruda's wonderful poem "Tonight I can write" & had to get my cribsheet from my chair (fortunately I was sitting in the front row). Once I did Dylan's "No time to think" as a spoken piece with the words in my pocket; I think I sneaked the odd look, although I do know I skipped two verses. Those are my only experiences of using a crib. And once, on the spur of the moment, I did Nick Drake's "Which will", and dried beyond recovery after line 8 (of 16) - what a song to forget! That's my only experience of wishing I'd used a crib.

As for how to encourage people to sing off-book, I would hope that the spell-binding performances good singers can give would inspire people to emulate what they do. The frustration that's coming through in a lot of comments is with the type of folk club where good performances get lost in the noise - everybody gets a number, and everybody gets "a big hand" for having a go.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: BrendanB
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 11:36 AM

I second your comments GSS. Vic's (and Tina's) boundless enthusiasm and encouragement have had a hugely positive effect in the South East. If anyone has earned the right to express an opinion on matters such as this it is him. He has nothing to prove to anyone.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Vic Smith
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 11:44 AM

So, Vic, does the new regime start this evening?

Well, Bryan, I think that you know me well enough to know how I would deal with this. Let's go back to the OP and remind ourselves what John de Little wrote on the Amberley website. He wrote:-

while everyone is welcome, we certainly appreciate those who are well rehearsed, know their words etc and don't need a music stand with a folder.

I think I would agree with this totally. My interpretation is that John does not say that he is banning the use of word books and music stands but that he is actively discouraging them. You know that this is what I have done at the Lewes Thursday club. As a regular there you know that there have only been two floor acts - a duo and a soloist - who would be concerned with this and I have told them both a] that I feel that would communicate with the audience much better without these props and b] that they would be much more likely to be given a floor spot if I have the numbers to choose from which is normally the case.
Now, you will also know that there are some performers in our area for whom the penny has dropped and they will only turn up and expect to sing (books or no books) on our roughly quarter-yearly free admission Open Nights (one next Thursday - 7 Feb.) These are truly Open Nights - you take pot luck and you get who comes along. If anyone does not like it, they can have their free entrance fee refunded!

My concern is to keep the club going and continuing to attract the sizeable audience that means that we can afford top name quality guests every week - and that means a certain standard and quality from everyone who performs. I read with sadness and horror the experiences that Captainswing wrote in the posting of 30 Jan 13 - 03:33 PM and I don't want that happening in the weekly folk club that I have been involved in running in Lewes since 1968.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Vic Smith
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 11:49 AM

Stop it, Bren, you're embarrassing me.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Jack Campin
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 12:28 PM

GSS:
you ask about what have we ever done, well, sunshine, i spend a lot of my time helping people improve either vocally or instrumentally, in fact i consider my greatest success was to teach an autistic lad to play guitar

Great - but I didn't number you among the door-slammers anyway. (I'd expect that EKanne's ballad workshops in Glasgow help people with oral performance skills, too - but she hasn't participated in this thread either).


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Marje
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 01:21 PM

Jack, you seem to be making a couple of assumptions:

1. That singers who use books all want to learn songs but don't know how.
2. That no one here is trying to help those who do want to get rid of their books.

This is wrong on both counts. There are a number of singers who simply say, "I can't learn words, it's too difficult," and would rather not perform than attempt give up their word-sheets. And some are just plain lazy.

If they want support, there are various workshops etc available for singers, some of which will discuss the learning of words. And in less formal settings, it's quite common for the more experienced and confident singers (such as some of us here)to give tips and ideas on how to learn to do without crib-sheets, as well as other issues like nerves.

Making it clear that song-books are not welcomed in a club isn't "door-slamming" - it may actually encourage singers to make the effort to learn their songs, and does not preclude offering support and advice for those who want to improve. It's not that different, as someone up there remarked, from expecting guitarists to have their instrument in tune - that, too, takes a bit of effort and skill.

Marje


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: Howard Jones
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 02:47 PM

I agree with Marje. On one of the other lengthy discussions on this topic there were a lot of suggestions how to memorise songs.

I also think there's a distinction to be made between discreetly using a crib-sheet as an occasional prompt, and relying on reading the substantially the entire song from a book.


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,roderick warner
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 03:02 PM

I cannot think of one occasion down the years when I've been in a folk club and heard a good performance from one of the sad ring-binder/song-book brigade. Experience has now taught me to head for the bar as soon as the fumbling starts...


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: GUEST,Captainswing
Date: 31 Jan 13 - 03:23 PM

"Experience has now taught me to head for the bar as soon as the fumbling starts..."

Hear, hear!


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Subject: RE: An important notice on folk club website-Amberley
From: DebC
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 10:02 AM

I cannot speak for anyone but myself here but I guess I'll chime in...

I have used words on paper (nowadays on my iPad) a couple of times in the past. The most recent was in a house concert where all the attendees were dear friends and it was a new song that wasn't completely, but mostly memorised. I took the risk, because the song was such a good one and I knew these folks would enjoy it. The other time was in a UK folk club where I wanted to commemorate an historical event that happened in the USA 100 years ago on that day and, again I had not completely memorised the song. I felt that both occasions were important enough to use the "crutch" of written lyrics.

For myself as a singer and an interpreter of songs, it is important to me to have my selections completely memorised and internalised to perform them. The song has to become a part of me so I can tell the story. Since I make my living at performing, this is a way of setting my own high standards so that an audience who has paid their hard-earned money to see me gets the best that I can give.

Except for the situations above, I perform all my repertoire from memory. This has also led to some hilarious ad-libs when I have forgotten lyrics. It does happen and we all move on. I find audiences quite forgiving when the memory does fail.

Deb Cowan


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