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Throwing away the crutch....

Johnny J 01 Jun 13 - 06:53 AM
Will Fly 01 Jun 13 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Lavengro 01 Jun 13 - 07:53 AM
John Routledge 01 Jun 13 - 08:13 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jun 13 - 08:16 AM
Les in Chorlton 01 Jun 13 - 09:12 AM
Stilly River Sage 01 Jun 13 - 09:21 AM
Jack Campin 01 Jun 13 - 10:10 AM
Ron Davies 01 Jun 13 - 10:22 AM
Sir Roger de Beverley 01 Jun 13 - 10:23 AM
Vic Smith 01 Jun 13 - 10:44 AM
Johnny J 01 Jun 13 - 10:49 AM
Ron Davies 01 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM
Marje 01 Jun 13 - 11:19 AM
Manitas_at_home 01 Jun 13 - 11:35 AM
Johnny J 01 Jun 13 - 11:39 AM
Ged Fox 01 Jun 13 - 12:07 PM
Tattie Bogle 01 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM
GUEST 01 Jun 13 - 01:13 PM
Sir Roger de Beverley 01 Jun 13 - 01:16 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jun 13 - 01:35 PM
Saro 01 Jun 13 - 02:30 PM
John Routledge 01 Jun 13 - 07:33 PM
John Routledge 01 Jun 13 - 07:52 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Jun 13 - 04:31 AM
Tattie Bogle 02 Jun 13 - 04:44 AM
RichM 02 Jun 13 - 04:56 AM
John Routledge 02 Jun 13 - 05:57 AM
Johnny J 02 Jun 13 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Lavengro 02 Jun 13 - 09:35 AM
banjoman 02 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM
John P 02 Jun 13 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,Lavengro 02 Jun 13 - 12:01 PM
Les in Chorlton 02 Jun 13 - 03:07 PM
GUEST,FloraG 03 Jun 13 - 03:42 AM
Will Fly 03 Jun 13 - 03:57 AM
GUEST,Don Wise 03 Jun 13 - 04:37 AM
Jack Campin 03 Jun 13 - 07:12 AM
Johnny J 03 Jun 13 - 07:26 AM
RichM 03 Jun 13 - 08:22 AM
Phil Cooper 03 Jun 13 - 08:38 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Jun 13 - 09:50 AM
John P 03 Jun 13 - 09:53 AM
Paul Davenport 03 Jun 13 - 09:57 AM
Johnny J 03 Jun 13 - 10:05 AM
Tattie Bogle 03 Jun 13 - 10:13 AM
Johnny J 03 Jun 13 - 10:27 AM
Bill D 03 Jun 13 - 11:49 AM
Marje 03 Jun 13 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,JHW 03 Jun 13 - 06:50 PM
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Subject: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 06:53 AM

This is a sort of offshoot from the "Choir in the Community" thread...

These days "group work" seems to be the in thing as far as musical projects are concerned and, as another poster had observed, this is potentially affecting folk club gatherings, music and song sessions etc. While not necessarily leading to their demise and, in many cases, sometimes actually encouraging more interest, it is certainly altering the character and ambience of such events.

For instance, on another site, someone was advertising a tune session and he posted a "Suggested Set List" complete with "the dots" while another session organiser stated that the repertoire for the evening would be from "What's his name?"'s tune books.

In song sessions and even for folk club floor spots, it's now common practice to bring in song sheets... sometimes large folders.. but it's also increasingly more common for some tune sessions to be organised in this way. Also, even in folk clubs, singers and musicians now set up their music stands on a regular basis.

Of course, everyone has to start somewhere and I don't begrudge beginners arranging their own sessions but many of them are well beyond that stage or should be by now. Yet, they like to continue with the same approach and format.

I feel that there ought to be a time for everyone to enter the "big bad world" and stand on their own two feet. Learn a few songs and/or tunes before you go along to a session or folk club. If you can only remember one or two of them the first time, so be it. Next time, you'll have a few more under your belt. Likewise, if you make a mistake or two, it doesn't really matter. You can actually make just as many reading off song sheets or the "dots" as you can be too busy looking at these to actually do the songs and tunes real justice.

As with everything else, there "may" be an occasional exception to the rule. Sometimes, I may bring along a song or tune which I haven't yet learned fully as I have a specific purpose for performing it. It may be something topical, for instance. However, this is a very rare thing and certainly I wouldn't want to do so in a good going tune or song session.

Looking forward to all comments, agreeable or otherwise.
:-)


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Will Fly
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:44 AM

Ah - a topic that's been aired many times here - and you can probably guess the usual suspects replying to it, and their usual replies...

well, here's my usual response:

The only time I ever use a music stand and music is very occasionally - as an aide memoire - when performing with our ceilidh band, and only if we're doing a rarely performed piece or a brand new tune.

Otherwise never. Never in a pub or club, and never at a session or singaround. I hate using these things myself, and I'm not fond of others using them either - just call me a Mouldy Old Fig!


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:53 AM

Personally don't normally use sheets unless I get asked to play at "such and such" an event where I think a specific song would fit that I am not overly familiar with.

But (also personally) I couldn't care less if someone performs from a folder, crib sheet electronic device, whatever. Makes no difference to me.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 08:13 AM

The problem is not in the sheets as such. It is that their use can encourage little or no preparation.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 08:16 AM

There are some performers (singers more than instrumentalists) who will hold everything up while they insist on finding exactly the right piece of paper. (The larger the singer's folder, the more likely they are to do this). That is just plain rude. If someone can perform with a bit of paper without it interrupting the flow, fine.

It is also a bit irritating if people can only do the version of the song or tune they've got on paper in front of them, when there may be good reason to do a different one, which they should be able to pick up on the fly but won't.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 09:12 AM

I think people sing much better when they sing from memory - providing they have thoroughly learned the song.

We use the Beech Tune Book in our tunes sessions - 14 copies, big print on 'music stands' and we use a version of that for Ceilidhs.

I picked up this idea from 'Beginners Sessions' at Whitby and Shrewsbury Festivals. As a result around 110 people have played in our sessions, 20 play most times and we generally have a Ceilidh Band of about 20.

Most of the people who come to The Beech, M21 9EG, have not played on other sessions and as far as I can tell still don't - although some of us do.

I believe having the music enables a whole host of people who can read a bit to play with us. Playing from the dots is an historic feature of country dance tunes - that why they have survived in such incradible numbers - see The Village Music Project.

Best wishes


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 09:21 AM

Thank goodness! Another thread about getting rid of Rise Up Singing et al - I was afraid you were stopping drinking or smoking!

;-D

SRS


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:10 AM

It might have been less oh-god-not-again if Johnny J had named some names, so as to make it more concrete. He's talking about a specific local development in the Edinburgh area.

In the case of sessions, I don't think the situation is that clear-cut. There are a few "beginners", "slow", or "not too fast" sessions in the Edinburgh area. One, in the Canons Gait, started out using materials on paper from the Adult Learning Project's Scots Music Group, about 15 years ago, supplemented by tunebooks from Nigel Gatherer more recently. It doesn't have any formal connection with either Nigel or ALP/SMOG now, but hasn't found any way of introducing new tunes either - or even different medleyings of the same tunes. The result is an astonishingly ossified repertoire. It's all played quite slickly, and only a few people use sheets, but every week is the same.

The one with the formalized mailing list of tunes, organized by Alistair Kilgour and currently in the White Horse on Mondays, is nominally a slow session. In practice it's more adventurous than the Canon's Gait one, because there's a way of introducing new material. Some people use paper (mostly Nigel Gatherer's books), others don't, but the greater formality goes along with greater variety. You can do something not on the list and not be stared at as if you're an alien. My guess is the Beech Band works that way.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:22 AM

John Routledge has nailed it perfectly.

The only thing that can be added is that some crutches are worse than others.    Rise Up Singing--which you in the UK can count yourselves lucky to be spared--is the allltime worst.   

And for exactly the reason he cited:    it makes it easy to avoid any preparation at all--especially for groups which have a lot of that particular tome.

So you can have the edifying spectacle of a whole group plowing through every verse printed in the book--though they have never seen some of them.    To a tune they also don't know.

RUS--like other crutches--is fine.   At home.    Not at open sings or singarounds.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:23 AM

You are a bit out of date with pieces of paper - nowadays it is all ipads that can be set to scroll up the page in time with the song.

R


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Vic Smith
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:44 AM

You are a bit out of date with pieces of paper - nowadays it is all ipads that can be set to scroll up the page in time with the song.

Observed at tune sessions as well.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 10:49 AM

I'm not having a go at the particular sessions to which Jack was referring as such but just the general trend.

I know there are musicians and singers who could quite easily make the transition to "faster" or more advanced sessions or, at least, be able to do so much of the time.
Of course, this is dependent on the prevailing repertoire and it can take some time to adjust to this but I get the impression that many are just content to plough their own furrow.

It's possibly a social thing too. Many of the emerging "adult" singers and musicians aren't "pubby" types and might prefer the tried and tested company of their friends and fellow SMG etc students. Also, there is "safety in numbers", to a certain extent.
It's also the case(Fairly or unfairly), that many people regard much of the established session and folk club scene as a little cliquey.

Another reason why "The Canon's Gait session" has stagnated is also due to its popularity and sheer size. Players are less inclined to introduce new tunes in front of so many people and there is always a tendency to fall back on standard tunes when a session is really large.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Ron Davies
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM

ipads in your pub sessions? That's discouraging.

Can you set ground rules banning their use?

Sure hope they will not be in the Anchor.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Marje
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:19 AM

Or how about reading the lyrics from a CD cover? That way you don't even have to prepare a crib-sheet or write out the words, you just grab a CD as you leave home. And then you stumble over the words because you can't see them properly, and also because you haven't bothered to work out how the syllables fit to the rhythm of the tune.

I agree it's not quite as bad as iPads and smartphones being used to generate lyrics. But probably even worse than this is messing around with smartphones checking your e-mails when it's not your turn to sing, or (at a session) where it's a tunes or song you happen not to be joining in with. Just plain bad manners, it seems to me. If you want to check your e-mails or Facebook, go away and do it somewhere else.

Then again, it might be permissible if the performer is reading the wodrs from a CD cover...

Grumble, grumble, mutter mutter ...

Marje


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Manitas_at_home
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:35 AM

WRT to Ipads at sessions - a couple of weeks ago we agreed we would play Morning Star but found we couldn't remember the start so we did another set. During the smoke break I took out my phone and fired up Tunepal, finding the tune we wanted. I hummed the first few notes to the fiddler and that was all we needed. This is what the song books should be - an aide memoire. Glance at the words or tune and then shut them.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 11:39 AM

"smartphones being used to generate lyrics"

I have to confess to doing this *once* at a large singaround although I didn't actually sing them off the screen. Just to remind myself, beforehand.

However, I still don't approve.
:-)


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Ged Fox
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 12:07 PM

I fairly often go to "The Broadside Folk Club." The name is a reminder that pub singing with crib sheets & dots is a tradition that goes back centuries.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM

Well there was a time when I couldn't play anything unless I had the music in front of me, and the little A5 size books proved invaluable: gradually over the space of 10 years or more, I have improved my "ear learning" - forced myself to do it - amd now can get through most tunes sessions without music ion front of me, whether I previously know the tune or not. Part of it is being more familiar with my instrument, part of it just learning the stuff, developing brain- and muscle-memory. (Try to carry on a conversation while still playing the tune!) I am aware of some people who just will NOT take their eyes off the written music still ("in one eye and out the other") despite having played the same tune x000 times. They DO need to "throw away the crutch". And one of the problems of the "ossified session" is that some people do go on to automatic pilot - play slow airs far too fast, lose all musicality in certain tunes. I have given up on one of the sessions referred to as it is far too repetitive and unwelcoming of any attempt to introduce any new tunes.
I do struggle to learn words of songs anything more than about 5 verses long, and I do prefer to sing a wide variety of songs rather than a very limited number: hence I will use song words sometimes, but hopefully will use the words as a backstop and know how the song goes before I launch into it. Nothing gets up my nose more than those folk who sit and wait until their turn comes round (they can see it coming a mile off!) and then faff around deciding which of the 100s of songs in their files they will do. If I do need to take lyric sheets to a session, I'll decide on a short list of 3 or 4 and just take those with me.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 01:13 PM

Yes ipads are being used and why the hell not? As long as people are encouraged to sing and play. I dont think the Folk Police are in position to impose rules about this, any more than the instruments played and music performed. Electronic instruments are being used more often such as EWIs and synthesisers and why not? a guitar or accordion is no more authentic to accompany a tradional song. it is not as if the oral tradition was art risk. We learn songs and pass them on by use of digitsl media these days, if it helps to have the music in front of you then its better hou do that than not to play at all.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Sir Roger de Beverley
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 01:16 PM

Wasn't it Bob Dylan who wrote (in Hard Rain) "and I'll know my song well before I start singing."?

R


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 01:35 PM

Part of it is being more familiar with my instrument, part of it just learning the stuff, developing brain- and muscle-memory. (Try to carry on a conversation while still playing the tune!)

Trying to hold a conversation while playing is a bit tricky for us wind instrument players, but the divided-attention thing is clearly a good idea. I have decided that mindful contemplation of the barmaid's bum while in mid-tune will do instead.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Saro
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 02:30 PM

I do understand that some people find it really hard to remember words, and though i don't like it, I find it hard to quarrel with someone having a copy to hand to glance at in case of disaster - but that's assuming they've learned the song to the best of their ability and have a momentary lapse - don't we all? The worst case i saw was someone singing quite a long song from a songbook, turning over the page and saying "Oh sorry, that was the last verse."


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:33 PM

Saro's last sentence says much.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John Routledge
Date: 01 Jun 13 - 07:52 PM

On a positive note I spend years trying to sing by talking about it.!!
The only way is to DO it. Bit like diving off a spring board into a pool. You can't do it slowly. Take a deep breath and do it.

Same applies first time you stand up to sing and leave your words in your pocket/bag/ipad whatever.Trust me the second time is much much easier.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:31 AM

I with John - sing 'em lots and never say "I sorry, I've sung this before" - that's the very reason the songs have survived


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:44 AM

Well ideally everyone would know every song they want to sing off by heart (and easier to sing "from the heart" if you do). But there are maybe different levels? I.e. for public performance on stage, no words in front of you (although I can think of several groups of more mature years and maybe fading memory who do have the folder there for the occasional glance down reminder). But for sessions, so long as you basically know how the song goes ( the words scan, etc) and can sing it without your head down in the book, I don't mind people using lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: RichM
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 04:56 AM

Sure, I'll comment. I don't feel I have to apologize or explain why I depend on song sheets.

It's not relevant!

Begrudgingly I will tell you all that I have a brain condition called Hydrocephalus-which affect memory among many other symptoms.

It's much improved since a brain operation 5 years ago, but why should I have to show my "handicap" sticker(figuratively, though I do have one for parking a vehicle)if I do participate in a stage presentation?

I think it's rude to comment on the use of written sheets. Do we criticize classical musicians when they do this?


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John Routledge
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 05:57 AM

I would not criticize anyone using a "sheet" if they have put even a minute fraction of the effort into learning a song that classical singers/musicians do.

Therein lies my difficulty.

The use of "sheets" without even a small amount of preparation shows no respect for the song and certainly no respect for the audience.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 07:55 AM

Rich,

I'm sorry to hear about your health issues but I'm pleased that things have improved for you. Of course, it's your choice to mention this or not.

You say "why should I have to show my "handicap" sticker"?

Well, in a sense, this is part of my argument. Bringing your music or lyrics on stage or into a session is actually doing this in itself. However, most reasonable people will understand your situation and why you may need to do this.

It's a different matter when there's absolutely no need or even when it's through laziness or lack of preparation. I can understand that some people may lack confidence but, as has already been stated, the best way to get over this is to try to do without the "aides" or walk with out the crutch. Also, the practice of constantly referring to sheet music or song sheets inevitably hampers the progress of a musician or singer in what is essentially an oral and aural tradition/genre and it's surely in their own interests to dispense with these in the long run.

Returning to the analogy of "the crutch" or "crutches", I obviously have no problem with persons who require to use these for any physical reason if they really need them but only for as long as this this the case. For instance, when their broken is leg healed or the plaster is removed etc, it really is in their own interest to "throw away the crutch(es)". Otherwise, they'll never have the confidence to walk unaided.
Of course, there are many people who are permanent "users" of such aides and equipment out of physical necessity and we should all be appreciative and understanding of their needs. The same obviously applies to other aspects of life including the performance of music.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 09:35 AM

Most clubs have a wide spectrum of ability/talent and personally I would rather see someone up there with a sheet, than not being up there at all for fear of running the gauntlet of scornful stares from those who disapprove.

The other side of the coin for me is this. At one of the clubs I go to there is a singer/guitarist (who draws from a core of about 30 songs)and is very averse to using "crib" sheets as it is "not very folky" (his words). The issue is that every club night he bumbles lyrics, repeats lines and verses and puts in additional guitar breaks whilst he stands with a pained expression trying to summon up the lyric. It is even worse when he is singing without an instrument as it is then an even more painful silence, occasionally punctuated by a self deprecating joke.

The man is a decent enough singer and guitarist and plays stuff he is well practiced at and familiar with. But he just can't remember it fully. I would much rather see him "cheating" and delivering a complete song. Not everyone can do everything to a standard that others want to hold them accountable to. That shouldn't mean (IMO) that they should be confined to their living room and barred from public performance.

I have a friend who has absolutely no sense of direction. He can take a straightforward journey 10 times (with a navigator) and get lost on the 11th going solo. If he wasn't allowed a crib sheet in the form of a map, or sat nav we might never see him again! He should still be allowed to drive in public though.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: banjoman
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM

I would rather see someone make the effort and the odd mistake than to suffer the setting up of a music stand and rifling through pages of written words.
We used to have a system of fines in a club I was involved with which included a fine of 20p if you used a music stand or crib sheet.
The worst I ever saw was at a small concert in aid of a local charity where one "Performer" annonuced he would sing one of his own songs and then proceeded to search his vast portfolio for the words of his own song.
I think every effort should be made to learn a song.music before public performance


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John P
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 11:54 AM

Not everyone can do everything to a standard that others want to hold them accountable to. That shouldn't mean (IMO) that they should be confined to their living room and barred from public performance.

If they can't produce a competent performance, why should they be encouraged to get up and perform anyway? To continue the driving analogy, this is like saying that someone who can't reach the clutch, or who can't see adequately, should be encouraged to drive anyway. Why isn't it considered rude to inflict an ill-prepared performance on an audience?

There are plenty of opportunities to play or sing music with others that are not public performances. I draw distinct differences between getting up on a stage and "entertaining" an audience on the one hand and joining a session or a song circle on the other. I know that a lot of people don't like music reading even at sessions, and I don't either, but it's nothing like standing in front of a captive audience without being skilled enough or practiced enough to turn in a decent performance. The big difference for me is that, unlike at a stage performance, I don't expect competence or even ability at a public session, and think it's just fine when I don't see it.

In a band context, I have found almost without exception that people who are reading music aren't listening to and playing along with everyone else very well.

Also, there is a lot of folk music that simply cannot be scored accurately. Do people that play from music at sessions ever learn how to play reels?


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,Lavengro
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 12:01 PM

JohnP:

"this is like saying that someone who can't reach the clutch, or who can't see adequately, should be encouraged to drive anyway"

That didn't stop Short Round or Mr Magoo ;)


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 02 Jun 13 - 03:07 PM

I saw a man use a laptop - fi man fi

sorry - true though


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 03:42 AM

I think the same things apply to calling dances. Best to have them in your head - especially if you are playing at the same time. However, I am happy to admit - I've never called this before - usually at a dance club - and please could you help me make sure it works Ok - and have a crib sheet for that occasion.
I also find a large written list of dances helpful - you are never quite sure what shape the hall is or how experienced the dancers - so you can pick suitable dances or alter the ones you know.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Will Fly
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 03:57 AM

You wait, Les - it'll be wi-man-fi soon...


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 04:37 AM

Living in Germany I've noticed that it is fairly common to 'hide' behind the music stand. The negative side of this becomes very quickly apparent when people are playing for dances. My experience playing with a ceilidh band back in the UK in the late '60s/early '70s showed me that at least one person in the band, preferably the leader, has to keep an eye on events on the dance floor, particularly so given the very mixed abilities of the average dancers. Even the best caller can't be everywhere at once.

In Germany however, at a 'everyone mucks in' festival I used to go to, the musicians tended to hide behind their music stands and play on oblivious of what was happening on the dance floor. It was also very quickly clear to me that they had very little or no relationship to the dances they were playing - they were simply reeling off the dots and leaving the dancers to fend for themselves, not all of whom could relate the various sequences of the dance to the music. The result of this was often total chaos on the dance floor. Admittedly, the somewhat eclectic choice of dances- english, french, balkan, swedish, afghan etc. didn't help. I did persuade the band leader to actually learn some of the commener tunes she used and put her music stand to one side. She did this and reported that the difference was like night and day- she could now connect the music to what the dancers were doing, put the emphasis in all the right places and take steps to counter any signs of chaos on the dance floor. Not only that, she was enjoying the music much more.

The complete opposite of this was a family group who insisted on arranging everything as if they were giving a chamber music recital rather than playing for dancing. They ensconced themselves behind their music stands and, like the musos on the Titanic, played blithely on whilst the dancers gradually gave up and left the dance floor or stood around trying to work out where they were in terms of the music and the dance sequence. Quite simply, they played so delicatly that the necessary lead that the music should give the dancers just wasn't there or, more probably, didn't make it over the barricade of their music stands.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 07:12 AM

A lot of Scottish dance bands use music stands like this:

Jim Johnstone and Iain MacPhail

Easy to see over it to the dancers.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 07:26 AM

Jack,

I think that the music and dances themselves are well planned in these circumstances... i.e. on the SCD scene.

While I'm sure they'll pay attention to what the dancers are doing, I'd imagine that they'd be a little less flexible than ordinary ceilidh bands.

The dances will last for a set time(as will the tunes)and the dancers will usually be expected to know what they are doing too.
Unlike your average SMG hoolie   :-)

I'd imagine that the music is more of a "plan" for the programme as opposed to the musicians actually needing to read the dots as such.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: RichM
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 08:22 AM

Intolerant dilettantes plenty, it's a common failing of the prissy folk community. This is why I don't often participate in "folk" events where purists abound.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 08:38 AM

There's a duo in the US that uses a songbook and stand, but make it part of their performance. It's their original songs, which are very humorous. You pretty much don't notice they are using it after awhile. But they also don't fumble around looking for things. The act is Peter and Lou Berryman, and they are well regarded.
   I also noticed that Richard Thompson used a song sheets for his 1000 years of Popular Music program. Again the music was not in the general sight line of the audience and there was no dithering between songs to find the next one.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 09:50 AM

"Throwing away the crutch"

Is this just about dispensing with music stands & paper?
Or should it extend to doing away with certain guitars, without which the performer would be unable to stay in key for more than half a verse?

Just askin' :)


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: John P
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 09:53 AM

RichM, I've been trying without success to figure out what you meant by your last post. Can you elucidate? Who are the intolerant, prissy, purist dilettantes you're talking about -- people who think a performer should be competent and prepared, or those who don't think it's important? I can make your words make equal sense (or nonsense, really) if applied either way.

In any case, why do you think it's necessary to use such offensive language?


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Paul Davenport
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 09:57 AM

We have a regular singer at our club who always uses sheets and has done as long as I have know her. But…last month she sat there and calmly announced that she'd left the sheet at home but was going to attempt the ballad that she'd been working on. What a shock! We suddenly heard a voice we'd never heard before, strong and secure without the faltering to which we had become accustomed. A revelation to anyone who thinks that singing from a sheet makes you safer. It also cramps your vocal apparatus and limits your range. I hope our friend persists in her singing without the 'crutch'. She's a good singer who doesn't limp without it!


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 10:05 AM

Regarding the last two or three posts, Rich has previously posted on this thread and, to an extent, I can understand his position(I replied fairly soon afterwards).

However, my stance(with or without a crutch ;-)...... )is that we are surely better off without such aides when there is no need for them and they are actually more likely to hinder rather than help your progress.

There are, of course, some exceptions to the rule as there always is.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 10:13 AM

Oh dear, I really must go and learn the words of my song for Wednesday's competition: I'm nearly there but it's got SIX verses, and I've already said I can't mange more than FIVE!
I found to my cost in a previous year that the lights are so dazzling that you cant really see your words even if they are in BIG PRINT!
(And I hear do of one person who had all his chords written out in red: but overhead red spotlight reduced that to nothingness!)

As for using sheet music for gigs: I do sometimes, but if there's a definite set list, I usually create a new folder for that gig with all the music for that gig in correct order, so all I have to do is turn the page. Or if it's a gig where the set list is a bit flexible, as sometimes happens with ceilidhs, the music is all in alphabetical order so can be found easily. Preparation pays off!


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Johnny J
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 10:27 AM

Good luck, TB.

That's something I can't understand though.. when people can't even remember their own songs and tunes! It seems so odd when they have actually written the things themselves.


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 11:49 AM

Simple rule for me.... IF I can close my eyes and have no clue you are using a helper sheet, fine! If you cannot get thru the song in tune and in time, even with the sheet, I cannot understand how you think others will enjoy listening.
*I* occasionally glance at verse #4 of some song I haven't done in a long time...just to be sure I won't mess it up.

(The ultimate story... we had a blind singer at some of our local singarounds a few years ago. She knew a few songs ok, but she used Braille cheat-sheets for many.... which she kept in a wide bag in her lap. Instead of just pulling one out and using it openly, she would thrust her hands into the bag and 'read' the sheet in a fumbling manner, as if she wanted to pretend we didn't know what was going on. When her fingers reached the end on a line, or worse, when she had to go to sheet # 2 to finish the song, it got rather 'interesting'. She did bring a lot of nice songs, and sang decently when it all worked....but...."


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: Marje
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 12:16 PM

What puzzles me is those singers (and I've seen it more than once) who appear to read every word, including the chorus, every time, from their sheet or file. I even knew someone who, after the verses had progressed to Page Two, kept on turning back to Page One to read the chorus. If the audience can manage to join in with the chorus without a crib-sheet, it's not unreasonable of them to expect the performer to do the same.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Throwing away the crutch....
From: GUEST,JHW
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 06:50 PM

It does get worse. First the words, then music stands, now they even have lights on the blessed things.
When I started going to Folk Clubs (late 60s) everyone KNEW their songs so when I decided to have a go I LEARNED the song
so I ponder here
When Did It Start?
Who Started It? or indeed
Why Did We Let Them Get Away With It?!


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