Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafesj

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Reading Lyrics vs Memorization

Related threads:
Conversation abt club and reading words-Dick Miles (44) (closed)
How do you learn/memorize songs? (85)
Advice please!!! - memorize fiddle tunes? (34)
Recreating versus memorizing a song (61)
Help: World record for most songs memorized (15)
BS: The first song or poem you memorized (57) (closed)
Tips for Memorizing Songs (40)
BS: How to do you memorize a song? (37) (closed)


Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 01:52 AM
Howard Jones 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,CS 03 Apr 14 - 04:32 AM
Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 04:39 AM
DebC 03 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM
Nigel Parsons 03 Apr 14 - 05:12 AM
Leadfingers 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Apr 14 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,CS 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM
sciencegeek 03 Apr 14 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Grishka 03 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM
Jack Campin 03 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM
Dave Sutherland 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM
breezy 03 Apr 14 - 09:00 AM
Vic Smith 03 Apr 14 - 09:07 AM
Cool Beans 03 Apr 14 - 10:00 AM
Mr Happy 03 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM
DebC 03 Apr 14 - 11:27 AM
GUEST,Tony 03 Apr 14 - 12:07 PM
Musket 03 Apr 14 - 01:31 PM
Deckman 03 Apr 14 - 01:33 PM
Lighter 03 Apr 14 - 01:43 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 14 - 02:05 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM
johncharles 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM
GUEST,mg 03 Apr 14 - 03:31 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 03:52 PM
Joe Offer 03 Apr 14 - 06:11 PM
Deckman 03 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM
GUEST 03 Apr 14 - 06:50 PM
Stewart 03 Apr 14 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Howard Jones 03 Apr 14 - 07:16 PM
GUEST,Malcolm Storey 03 Apr 14 - 08:10 PM
michaelr 03 Apr 14 - 09:23 PM
GUEST,airymouse 03 Apr 14 - 09:34 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 03:21 AM
Howard Jones 04 Apr 14 - 05:20 AM
GUEST 04 Apr 14 - 12:14 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Apr 14 - 12:28 PM
Bonzo3legs 04 Apr 14 - 02:23 PM
Crowhugger 04 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 05:54 PM
Crowhugger 04 Apr 14 - 06:20 PM
Stringsinger 04 Apr 14 - 07:15 PM
Joe Offer 04 Apr 14 - 08:05 PM
Stringsinger 05 Apr 14 - 08:48 AM
JHW 05 Apr 14 - 12:41 PM
folkwaller 05 Apr 14 - 01:09 PM
Crowhugger 05 Apr 14 - 01:48 PM
DonMeixner 05 Apr 14 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 05 Apr 14 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,John Routledge no cookie 05 Apr 14 - 06:25 PM
GUEST 05 Apr 14 - 06:42 PM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 14 - 08:33 PM
Musket 06 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM
Tattie Bogle 06 Apr 14 - 04:35 AM
GUEST,Al Zymer 06 Apr 14 - 07:40 AM
Musket 06 Apr 14 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Al Zymer 06 Apr 14 - 04:13 PM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 14 - 03:00 AM
GUEST,LynnH 11 Apr 14 - 03:26 AM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 14 - 04:07 AM
Musket 11 Apr 14 - 05:55 AM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 14 - 02:14 AM
The Sandman 15 Apr 14 - 02:19 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 15 Apr 14 - 02:54 AM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM
GUEST 15 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM
Genie 15 Apr 14 - 02:30 PM
Uncle Tone 06 Sep 16 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 06 Sep 16 - 06:53 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 06 Sep 16 - 07:37 PM
Acorn4 07 Sep 16 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,For it is he 07 Sep 16 - 03:33 AM
Rumncoke 07 Sep 16 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Pete from seven stars link 07 Sep 16 - 01:44 PM
Backwoodsman 07 Sep 16 - 04:16 PM
Brakn 07 Sep 16 - 06:19 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jul 17 - 07:04 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jul 17 - 08:04 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jul 17 - 08:30 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 05 Jul 17 - 05:31 AM
Nigel Parsons 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Tony Fisk 05 Jul 17 - 11:40 AM
Will Fly 05 Jul 17 - 12:03 PM
JHW 05 Jul 17 - 12:20 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:31 PM
GUEST,LynnH 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM
MikeL2 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM
GUEST,watcher (and strummer!) 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM
GUEST,alex s no cookie 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM
GUEST,Desi C 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM
lefthanded guitar 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,Leslie 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM
RTim 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM
GUEST,ST 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM
The Sandman 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM
GUEST,dickmiles 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM
punkfolkrocker 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM
Richard Mellish 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM
Richard Mellish 30 Dec 20 - 06:26 AM
Acorn4 30 Dec 20 - 06:36 AM
leeneia 30 Dec 20 - 12:52 PM
Mo the caller 31 Dec 20 - 11:07 AM
Stilly River Sage 31 Dec 20 - 11:20 AM
leeneia 31 Dec 20 - 12:23 PM
Tattie Bogle 31 Dec 20 - 02:05 PM
Jos 31 Dec 20 - 02:23 PM
Nigel Parsons 31 Dec 20 - 02:35 PM
Joe Offer 31 Dec 20 - 03:48 PM
Steve Gardham 31 Dec 20 - 05:12 PM
Richard Mellish 01 Jan 21 - 06:43 AM
Howard Jones 01 Jan 21 - 08:46 AM
GUEST 01 Jan 21 - 10:25 AM
GUEST,Ray 01 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM
GUEST,jag 01 Jan 21 - 04:06 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Jan 21 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 01 Jan 21 - 04:18 PM
Jack Campin 01 Jan 21 - 05:01 PM
Steve Gardham 01 Jan 21 - 05:13 PM
leeneia 02 Jan 21 - 12:31 PM
GUEST,Ray 02 Jan 21 - 12:43 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Jan 21 - 03:05 PM
Jack Campin 02 Jan 21 - 05:18 PM
Steve Gardham 02 Jan 21 - 05:50 PM
Richard Mellish 03 Jan 21 - 07:17 AM
GUEST,Some bloke 03 Jan 21 - 07:52 AM
Howard Jones 03 Jan 21 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,jag 03 Jan 21 - 11:45 AM
Bonzo3legs 03 Jan 21 - 11:53 AM
Deckman 03 Jan 21 - 12:07 PM
Howard Jones 03 Jan 21 - 04:08 PM
GUEST,Nick Dow 03 Jan 21 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,jag 03 Jan 21 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,jag 03 Jan 21 - 05:15 PM
GUEST,Sol 03 Jan 21 - 07:46 PM
Howard Jones 04 Jan 21 - 05:04 AM
Deckman 04 Jan 21 - 06:08 AM
Richard Mellish 04 Jan 21 - 07:03 AM
Bonzo3legs 04 Jan 21 - 09:43 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 21 - 10:05 AM
GUEST,Nick Dow 04 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM
Jack Campin 04 Jan 21 - 11:31 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 21 - 02:25 PM
Bill D 04 Jan 21 - 04:14 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM
John P 05 Jan 21 - 08:19 PM
RTim 05 Jan 21 - 11:01 PM
Allan Conn 06 Jan 21 - 03:23 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 06 Jan 21 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 06 Jan 21 - 04:15 PM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 21 - 07:47 AM
Allan Conn 07 Jan 21 - 10:32 AM
Steve Gardham 07 Jan 21 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Peter 07 Jan 21 - 12:02 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 21 - 12:04 PM
John P 07 Jan 21 - 01:00 PM
Steve Shaw 07 Jan 21 - 01:35 PM
GUEST,jag 07 Jan 21 - 05:56 PM
Howard Jones 08 Jan 21 - 05:41 AM
Allan Conn 08 Jan 21 - 07:01 AM
Jack Campin 08 Jan 21 - 09:26 PM
GUEST,jag 09 Jan 21 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Oldnew 09 Jan 21 - 04:34 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:













Subject: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:52 AM

I was invited to an invitation-only singing weekend, and I sent my $250 in to attend. After I signed up and paid my money, I received the following message:
    We'd like to discourage folks from using "Rise Up Singing" or similar song word books. If you have a song or two you're dying to sing, and aren't sure of the words and want to stick a sheet in your back pocket for security, that's fine. But we'd like to avoid having people flipping through the pages of a book (or smart device) looking for what they're going to sing next while someone else is singing.


My response:
    I'd like to say that if I had known of this restriction before the weekend, I wouldn't have attended. I have trouble memorizing lyrics, so I have to depend on something. I try not to be distracting when other people are singing, and I like to think I'm quite polite. I have some songs committed to memory, but I like to do songs that are new to me or more interesting for one reason or another.
    I can sing camp and church songs from memory forever, but I don't want to do that.

    I realize that this is a "hot issue" and many people have objections to the way people choose to sing, but I tend to think that sort of attitude is intolerably snooty.


Yeah, it's really nice if people can memorize every song they sing, but it just doesn't happen all that much any more. I think I'm a pretty good singer, and I do know a lot of songs from memory - church songs, camp songs, Christmas and Fourth of July songs, Peter Paul and Mary and Simon & Garfunkel Songs, and a lot of other songs I wouldn't sing at a traditional song gathering. I'm constantly learning new songs, but I'm ready to sing them for others when I have the melody down - I don't wait until I have the lyrics memorized. And for that matter, I learn lyrics best after I've sung the song for an audience a number of times. Even then, I like to have something that will tell me the first coupla words of every verse.


So, I feel like forfeiting my $250 and not attending. Most of the people at this gathering know me, and they must know that I sing from song sheets, a Kindle, and occasionally a copy of Rise Up Singing. Why did they invite me?

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM

They say they discourage it, not that it's banned. It looks to me that they want two things. The first is to discourage inappropriate behaviour during someone else's performance. The second, implicitly, is to encourage best practice.

"it's really nice if people can memorize every song they sing, but it just doesn't happen all that much any more". I find that statement very depressing. The pros and cons have been gone over many times, and there's no point in repeating them - that's not the purpose of your posting. I can only say that in my experience performances by singers who have taken the trouble to memorise the song (or play a tune) are nearly always better than those who read them.

There are exceptions, and you may be one of them. If you have genuine memory issues then you may be fully justified in using a prompt, and if you're sufficiently practiced you may well be able to deliver a good performance. However in too many cases it's simply an excuse for not making an effort, and all too often it is accompanied by a failure to properly understand the song or make it one's own.

As for your specific complaint, I think you are entitled to ask for your money back, especially as they only raised this after you had booked and that they should have known this is your practice - you were after all specifically invited. However it seems to me to be only a recommendation, and unless they are going to insist on it then perhaps you are being a bit 'snooty' yourself in responding the way you have. I can understand your annoyance though.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:32 AM

While I don't think their request is unreasonable (or indeed at all "snooty"), they should have specified the kind of involvement they were hoping for from participants, before relieving you of your cash.

Agree with Howard, I'd ask for your $250 back simply on the grounds that it's evidently not the kind of musical event that you would feel sufficiently prepared enough to participate in.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:39 AM

Thanks, Howard.
I think there's a good chance that I have 500 songs memorized, but they're songs not suitable for a folk singaround, or they're songs everybody knows. At singarounds with accomplished singers, I like to sing songs that are new to me - and I hope they're new to the people who are listening. I find the condemnation of certain "purists" to be restrictive. If they're so insistent on memorization, I can sing the entire Peter Paul and Mary Songbook, every word of "God Bless America" and "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (with two melodies), and "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" (and the rest of the scores from two dozen musicals).

To me, it's enough to pick songs that are appropriate to the situation, and to sing them as well as I can - even though I may make a mistake here and there. If I have to be restricted by all sorts of snooty rules, I think that's a real damper on creativity.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DebC
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:54 AM

This sounds like a boilerplate response from the organisers. It *is* distracting and impolite for people to be going through notebooks/songsheets/iPads whilst someone is singing and I see it a lot in singing sessions more and more. It's rude plain and simple and demonstrates that the person doing that isn't listening to the singer.

I know you Joe, and you *are* a gentleman. Their use of the word "discourage" is appropriate I think as Howard stated above.

I don't like rules in sessions, either. To me, sessions are community-oriented activities and if someone is using a tool to help them participate, so be it and I have no right to judge that person or question their reasoning.

Debra Cowan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:12 AM

I'm with those saying the $250 should be reclaimed.

On the subject of singing from the sheet, just take a look at some of the inventive,comic,well-constructed songs we have on the 'Cat in response to "song challenges". I'm sure many of these do get public performances (I know some of mine do). As these tend to be responses to topical stories it would be pointless to hold them back until they have been memorised, when the story is no longer topical.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Leadfingers
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM

I have NO problem with singers who are breaking in a 'new' song at a singaround having the lyrics handy as an aid . What I DO object to is
singers holding a book like Sing Out between them selves and the audience so that they are singing at the bloody book , not to their audience .
Equally annoying is getting the book out and sorting out the song they want when they should be ready to sing - A REAL waste of time , though riffling through the pages when some one else is singing is NOT polite !
In UK , use of words never used to be at all common , though it is , sadly , a growing trend - something we seem to have borrowed from USA


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:36 AM

As I read the text, its message is "If you need the words in writing, please copy them to (few) sheets so that you do not have to flip through a book during the event". I agree that the phrase "if you are dying to sing" sounds condescending. "Well-prepared performances will be appreciated" would do.

Performers can be asked to sing entirely from memory if they can earn $250 rather than having to pay.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,CS
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM

Grishka says: "Performers can be asked to sing entirely from memory if they can earn $250 rather than having to pay."

With regards to the money, If I spent that kind of dosh on a traditional singing weekend, I would hope (indeed expect) to find myself among folk who took their craft seriously enough to practice and prepare and indeed know something about (the majority of) their material ahead of the event. I'd certainly be sorely disappointed to discover that the participants were singing un-prepped songs from mass-produced standard songbooks.

I think it's unfortunate that the organisers of this event didn't clarify the kind of engagement they were hoping to attract from participants from the start - however there's nothing "snooty" about seeking to attract and appeal to the kind of people who take their craft seriously enough to want to apply themselves to it - and who would prefer to participate with similar others.

The important thing is to be clear from the outset, not raise the bar after money has changed hands.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: sciencegeek
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:18 AM

the singing weekends that we have attended have been social gatherings of old & new friends... few rules other than its focus is singing not instrumentals and please listen not just be concerned with one's own next song.

Books have appeared.. and even the i phone thing. We are not as young as we were... LOL But the whole event is just a gathering... the only structure being mealtimes set by the facility.

That said... it's a social gathering for mutual enjoyment. Perhaps a message back asking what prompted the first message - since you are known to them. Was this a groupwide message?

We have a similar aversion to SingOut.. not the book's fault.

If you are still upset, then it's not going to be a fun weekend, correct? But maybe getting more info will set things right? Or at least give you a better feel for what you should do.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:04 AM

CS (03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM), alright, professionals may also pay for workshops, but usually not because they are "dying to sing". We do not know what exactly Joe had read before enrolling, but from what he wrote, I cannot conclude that he had previously been deceived about the nature of the event, with the possible exception that he now has to spend another couple of dimes on photocopying.

No doubt that such an event should be described as precisely as possible before collecting the money, clearly pronouncing the requirements, but refraining from snooty remarks about those who do are unable or unwilling to fulfill them.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:22 AM

I doubt if Joe is a timewasting bookflipper of the type the organizers are worried about. I'd pay (though maybe not $250) to avoid them too.

Some people know how to use paper effectively and it doesn't look like they were an object of concern.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Dave Sutherland
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM

As Leadfingers says it is a growing trend in the UK to see music stands, books, iphones etc on display to the extent that it is becoming the norm rather than the exception. Should you continue to sing from memory in such company you are left with the feeling that you are being slightly arrogant in doing so.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: breezy
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:00 AM

sounds like a money grabbing exercise to me.

For $250 you can sing what and how you damn well like. You've paid for an opportunity to sing, so sing . Most probably no one will notice because they'll be preoccupied with their own imminent renditions.


I am pleased more people are finding singing as an individual outlet, but 'folk' songs are not always as easy as some would think. mainly because they could be somewhat lengthy and do require an element of, shall we say theatre? .

The problem is sometimes rookie singers try to impress and fall flat on their faces in so doing.

If I was paying to go to hear others perform I would be upset to find that they didnt know their songs.

I once was distracted by a kid playing on a hand held game and requested he stop it and pay attention as he was also distracting other audience memebers !!
His parents werent best pleased with me.
So much for appropriate behaviour in an auditorium I thought.
We are all educators.

Look a the singer at all times even if you are day dreaming

Ask for you refund Joe

Whose a grumpy old folker then?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Vic Smith
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:07 AM

From: Howard Jones - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 04:10 AM

From: Leadfingers - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 05:21 AM

From: GUEST,CS - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:30 AM

From: Dave Sutherland - PM
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:24 AM

to all of these. My opinion is that reading words may be all right for free singarounds or a gathering of friends but is never acceptable when an audience is paying to get in.
As for age, well perhaps there is a time to stop... but my wife and I gave a performance to a capacity audience that lasted 2 1/2 hours last Saturday, singing over 40 items without words prompts and never fluffing a word. How? Because we worked very hard indeed at rehearsing the programme. Our combined ages are 140.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Cool Beans
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 10:00 AM

As a point of pride I sing only songs that I've memorized but I would never impose that condition on anyone else. If the point is to sing, then sing from memory or sing from written/printed lyrics, especially if you're paying for the privilege.
    My big issue is with time hogs, those folks who'll sing a 10-minute song when so many others are waiting their turn. But that's a whole other thread, isn't it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Mr Happy
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 10:35 AM

Joe,

If it was me, I'd ask for money back.

Sounds much like they're not the kind of folk one could be comfortable with, so my advice is don't go there.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DebC
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 11:27 AM

If this is the gathering that I think it is, it is as Sciencegeek says: a SOCIAL gathering of folks who know each other and know each other well. The payment is for bed and meals since this gathering and others like it are usually held at booked or rented facilities.

No one is getting paid to attend and the organisers are doing this on their own time.

Debra Cowan


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Tony
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 12:07 PM

Clearly, the issue here is not reading vs. memorizing -- it's "flipping through pages while someone else is singing". I've been guilty of that, and I'm very glad to have it pointed out as an annoyance. I won't do it in the future.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:31 PM

I suppose because I was once paid good money as a performer, I still feel I need to give good value, so I never sing from words anyway. No issue with those that do, just not me.

Interesting point above about asking if can be construed as arrogance to sing from memory. I'd' be buggered then. I even stand to sing (and play) where everybody else sits, (in order to read their books on cookery book stands.)

I was once asked to sing Goodnight Irene at a singaround. No problem I reckoned I could recall enough words plus wing it. The person who asked for someone to sing it looked closely at the chords I used for the first verse then spent the rest of the time writing them onto their words sheet.

So much so that they never heard me sing "Sometimes I have a great notion, to burn the shithouse down."

Mind you, the other year I paid £130.00 for a concert by The London Symphony Orchestra. Nobody complained about them having a score in front of them ;-)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:33 PM

I belong in the camp that says books should NOT be allowed. Some years ago I quit the Seattle Song Circle group over this issue. In fact, that last night, I even wrote a song about it:

"This is the song on page 17, page 17, page 17,
   This is the song on page 17,
And my book's better than yours.

This is the song on page 18 .... etc."

They were not amused ... probably because I ang it from memory ... bad bad bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 01:43 PM

Aside from this specific case, I'd far rather hear somebody sing from memory and flub a word or two than read from a script.

Anybody can read from a book or a piece of paper, but only someone who knows a song inside and out can sing from memory. How many "source singers" regularly depended on written-out lyrics in performance? Or, worse yet, on some editor's written-out words?

The two kinds of performance convey a completely different feeling.

Joe, if you can sing 500 songs from memory, your song memory is a hell of a lot better than mine - and probably most people's.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:05 PM

There seems to be some sort of mythology about memorising songs and thus significantly improving performance. In my experience a poor singer who memorises the song will still be worse than a good singer who uses a crib sheet.
john


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM

Here's my response to this - Not In The Book. I've probably mentioned this before on one of many threads on this hot topic.
Rise Up Singing is really a fine collection of songs to sing in groups, but not to be used in group singing. Does that make sense? - read my response above.

Like Deckman, above, I quit the Song Circle for the same reason.
On the other hand I go to a weekly "community sing" at Seattle's Dusty Strings music store. It is lead by two wonderful singers and instrumentalists - Kate Power and Steve Einhorn. They lead the songs and are the "house band." They have a loose-leaf notebook with many songs that they know quite well. People can use that book and suggest songs or bring multiple copies of a song they know and can lead. I usually bring a song each week, which I lead from memory. Unlike a song circle, the leaders know the songs - there is no going around the circle with people saying "let's sing that song, but I don't really know it" and everyone stumbling through a song that nobody knows. People are not leafing through a book to find a song because it is their turn. And most people who read the lyrics scan a line ahead and actually look up as they sing. It works quite well.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: johncharles
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 02:09 PM

guest above was me. Cookie lost, now found.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 03:31 PM

I'll try to make it to Dusty Strings this Sunday..I have wanted to go but it didn't seem to be on the web site or something.

Anyway, I think you are OK in asking for money back. I want to know the blue book philosophy before I ..if ever.. pay 250 for it. There is a place for everything..certainly if people love it they should do it and say that is what is planned. I have no problem ever with people using paper and have to have it myself to peek at...I find those electronics really interrupt the music because they are small and people have to stop and swipe the page etc...

So truth in advertising..if you don't want them, say so. If you love them, say so. People will enroll accordingly. If it is a social event of people who love the idea of community music, you will get a different musical outcome than if people come for the music itself and want the prettiest music possible. Yes, there is an inverse correlation between number of blue books and prettiness of music.

In camps etc. set aside a room for each, assuming there are two rooms..or have more rooms. Do not allow people to impose on the room..what happens at camps is people find the prettiest music, which is usually done by people who prefer no books, and then haul their books out, and then start passing extra books out, and then start saying let's move the chairs back and make room..no..don't do that please...and then they want the brightest flourescent lights on so they can see the aforementioned books.

And then they sing extra verses the leader does not perhaps want. And they superimpose the blue book words on top of what the leader does want.

So I think in a weekend there could be plenty of workshops promoting the use of blue books for those who love them, with other workshops not wanting them..the evening song circles are the crux of the matter though..just have separate rooms and take your preference and follow the lead of the group in a particular setting. Respect the preferences of people but you don't need to impose. Find anoher room.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 03:52 PM

Hi Mary,

The Dusty Strings SING is every Wednesday (not Sunday) from noon to 1pm. They also do a SING every 2nd Saturday - noon to 1pm - at Couth Buzzard Books in the Greenwood area. So please come.

Also, to Joe: I don't find your singing weekend that restrictive. It says only that they "discourage" folks from using RUS but it's apparently okay to have a slip of paper to prompt you on certain words or the beginning of a new verse. I think what they don't want is someone to flip through RUS and pick a song that they don't know or barely know and stumble through it. I don't think you would do that, would you?

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:11 PM

Most often, I sing in a choir. I'm pretty-well squashed in, so I usually glance at the hymnal of the person in front of me when I need to see lyrics - usually just the first couple words of a verse - I try to have my eyes on the director or the congregation most of the time. When I direct singing at nursing homes at Christmas and Fourth of July, I have a song sheet in hand, but rarely look at it - but I have a hard time getting our singers to look at the audience and connect with them, even though many have been singing the same songs as long as I have.

I've belonged to the Sacramento Family Song Circle for over twenty years, and I suppose I've become the "alpha male" of the group (I also dated many women in the group, until I got married to one of them - whom I met when the was dating the previous alpha male, but that's another story...). Anyhow, this song circle uses the Rise Up Singing songbook, and I'm reputed to know all the songs in the book. I tend to sing with the book open on the floor in front of me, just in case I need it. I'm also working (not very hard) on the committee preparing the next Rise Up Singing - and I know most of the songs in THAT book.

When I go to the Getaway in Washington or to gatherings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club, I like to sing songs that are less familiar. I like to try to ensure that the same people don't hear me sing the same song more than once a year. I also sing with a monthly gathering of more accomplished singers, and I like to try to sing one song a month that I've recently found on Mudcat. In these more sophisticated gatherings, I have usually sung from a folder of lyrics I've printed out. I pick out maybe ten songs before the session, and choose songs from that ten that fit the moment. I sometimes have to read the lyrics to sing, but often not. But I hate hearing people start a song over three times because they can't remember a verse, or quite before they've completed a song because they just can't remember - I appreciate them trying, but I don't want to be like that. So, I always carry "insurance."

Recently, I've experimented with singing from a Kindle tablet, with mixed results. Sure helps when the room is dark, though.

Yes, I like to sing from memory when I can - but it sure limits my repertoire.

If it's an invitation-only gathering, I think the organizers should invite people who are at the skill level they want, and then let them sing as they want to sing. I know most of the people who will be at this gathering and I think they like my singing. I don't see why "rules" like this should be necessary.

So, and I'll have a good time and I wouldn't dream of asking for a refund because I have to deal with these people all the time - but I resent this last-minute restriction.

But on the other hand, I hope so-and-so isn't there, the one who talks constantly while others are singing, and raises her voice so she can be heard above the singing. There oughta be a rule about that. And I sure wish she'd tune her friggin' autoharp once...

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:41 PM

JOE ... would it help you out if I offer to REFUSE TO COME, because of the rule change? Oh ... wait a minute ... I wasn't invited anyway ... bob


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 06:50 PM

Don't you just love it when somebody gets up to sing with a great big folder and then asks you to join in with the chorus of a song they couldn't be bothered learning?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stewart
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:14 PM

Joe, I sill don't see the problem. When I'm learning a new song I get to the point where I might need a lyric sheet just to glance at now and then, but I certainly don't read from it word for word. There's nothing wrong with that in my opinion. It sounds like something you do, and I don't think it would be considered a distraction or discourtesy in any singing group.

When I go to a sing or a jam I consider it my obligation to prepare in advance - learn the song at least so I can sing it with just occasional glances at a piece of paper, or play the tune through without any big mistakes (hopefully without any). But what I REALLY object to is people coming to the sing or jam without any preparation. That is a discourtesy to all the others in the group. That's why I object to the use of RUS in song circles - it allows people to come totally unprepared and then try to participate. I think that's what the group you were invited to wanted to avoid.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 07:16 PM

"I hate hearing people start a song over three times because they can't remember a verse, or quite before they've completed a song because they just can't remember - I appreciate them trying, but I don't want to be like that."

That's a very valid point. As well as discouraging the use of songbooks the organisers should also be discouraging this sort of lack of preparation, which is just as bad. And some of the behaviour Joe describes is just bad manners.

I guess what I find surprising is that people who take singing sufficiently seriously to get themselves invited to a singing weekend and are willing to pay $250 for it don't appear to think it important to learn the songs. Obviously, anyone with genuine memory difficulties is excused, but even though we're all getting older I believe they are in a minority, and in most cases using a book is just an excuse for not putting in the work. But I'm not going to give those who habitually forget words an easy ride either - they too haven't put in the work.

No one expects to pick up a musical instrument and play it - everyone understands it takes hours of study and practice to become proficient. So why do people think that singing doesn't deserve the same dedication and effort?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Malcolm Storey
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 08:10 PM

I soon get bored ploughing through these sort of threads.

With regard to this one I would like to make two points.

1

Joe should get his money back.

2

The sort of source singers that I admired and sought to follow sang totally from memory and would find it odd not to. If they could only memorise a limited number of songs then that is what they sang.

AND WHAT IS WRONG WITH THAT?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: michaelr
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:23 PM

So tired of the snootiness (which is against the rules here).

My memory is not what it was. It is what it is, and I see no need to apologize. I know upwards of 600 songs, but occasionally I blank on the next line. So if I have a cheat sheet to glance at, I'll use it when needed, and all you "memory-only" elitists can't convince me that's wrong.

And what's wrong with that?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,airymouse
Date: 03 Apr 14 - 09:34 PM

Joe,I have never had the honor of being invited to pay $250 to sing. Let me tell you how it works in my part of the world. Next Friday (Friday week as we in the South say, and also Anthony Trollope) there is a pot-luck musical house party. I guess technically it's by invitation, but anyone can take a dish and listen to the music, and if you want to "perform" all you have to do is pick a 15 minute slot over the internet. It runs the gamut. Among other things there is classical music, some old-time music, a barbershop quartet, and a few "singer songwriters". Some of it is astoundingly good, and I admit last time there was one guy who couldn't (or at least didn't) carry a tune. The same family hosts this party once or twice a year, and it is wonderful venue for music, because everyone there is there to listen, and the hosts have a great sound system and an awesome collection of musical instruments. I don't remember who had sheet music, as it did not make a difference. It's not more rude to shuffle a book of songs while someone is singing than to shuffle the Wall Street Journal. I often take a book of old songs by J. Fingers with me, because some of the songs he collected share a line or to from the songs I know. Neither of us has the "right" words. None of the old songs in that book are Finger's, none of them are mine, and I don't care how well you sing them, none of them will be yours: old songs belong to us all.
Joe I have lots of questions about your weekend. Do you all get together ad hoc and try to sing the same old song, without ever having practiced together? If so, who picks the version you sing, or is that where the book comes in?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 03:21 AM

I'm sure the $250 goes to the retreat center that hosts the weekend. It's six meals and lodging for two nights in what is supposed to be a beautiful place. I don't think the people organizing the group make any money on it, although there might be enough padding in the budget to pay for a few people who can't afford the $250. I'm on the board of a Catholic retreat center that charges $185 for about the same amount of service, but only four meals. So I won't complain about that cost - that's what it is in California.

And the singing sessions these people have are quite relaxed, and quite supportive of the singers. There are a few people who try to dictate things toward their ideal of snootiness, but they're usually unsuccessful. So most likely, I'll sing my songs the best I can and most people will like them; and I will raise a middle finger of warning should anyone object to my right to sing as I damn well please. It's just that I think it's exclusionary to attempt to dictate how people sing their songs. I think it's better to assume that people will try to do their best, and some will do better than others.

Am I memory challenged? Maybe so. I never let anyone help me carry my groceries to the car at the supermarket, because I never remember where I parked my car and don't want to be embarrassed about that. And similarly, I don't want to be embarrassed about forgetting lyrics, so I use a notebook or tablet.

I used to go to a twice-monthly song gathering with a wonderful woman, and my friend always brought along lyrics sheets as an aid. Another woman in the group chewed her out for not memorizing her songs. The woman's husband, a well-known performer, brought "cheat sheets" with lyrics to the next session and every session thereafter, subtly telling his wife that she was wrong to jump all over my friend. And lately I've noticed the wife using lyrics sheets. Memory lapse hits all of us sooner or later.


-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 05:20 AM

Discreetly used 'cheat sheets' are one thing. Trained singers who may be able to sight-read fluently and expressively are another, although often when they are 'reading' it is a piece they have already learned and internalised. I don't have too much of a problem with this, if it doesn't interfere with the delivery of the song, although I think it looks poor. What the criticism, and I suspect the directive from the organisers of Joe's event, is aimed at are those who use use the book as a substitute for learning the song. In particular, it is the normalisation of this behaviour which I object to, because (in my experience) in most cases this does interfere with their delivery of the song.

Memorising songs isn't easy. It takes practice, but with practice it becomes easier. If you rely on reading the words you'll never get the practice and you'll never acquire that skill. As I said before, anyone with genuine memory problems is excused, but I just don't believe that applies to very many.

I also think part of the problem is that people feel the need to maintain too large a repertoire, whether its feeling they need to produce a new song every time they perform or feel that they ought to be able to perform all the songs they have ever learned. Most performers keep only around a dozen or so songs in their current performing repertoire, although which songs these are will be changed regularly. They wouldn't expect to produce one of several hundred songs at the drop of a hat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 12:14 PM

I agree with the view expressed above by some that it's reasonable to have a crib sheet, to be referred to if necessary, especially with a song that one has just learnt; but that to read the whole thing should be beyond the pale.

As for looking at a piece of paper while someone else is performing: I am sometimes guilty of that, when I'm consulting my list trying to decide what to sing or play if I'm called on next. I often don't plan in advance, as I should, to get a shortlist of possible songs and tunes. That need not preclude a last minute choice of something else, inspired by a previous performer.

Richard


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 12:28 PM

The objection, as described in the initial posting hwere was not to
using a crib sheet to refresh a singer's memory, but to the use of a song book---Rise Up Singing in particular. Couldn't agree more.
Sings where RUS is present should carry a warning notice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 02:23 PM

Jesus Christ - if it's Ok for a professional like Richard Shindell to have his flie of lyrics on stage, it's good enough for me. Some people just like making rules so sod 'em all!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 02:55 PM

Joe, why not contact them to clarify? Particularly a message in writing can be taken in a very different mood and tone than written, all the more so when we are possibly self-conscious about something like memory, if I may be so bold as to suggest so. It sounds like the event is planned by a group, so it's very possible that a left hand didn't pay full proofreading/content attention to what a right hand was doing, and it may be appropriate to bring that kindly, in your inimitable way, to their attention. "I got this message that doesn't really fit with the invitation I received and accepted--I'm well known to sing with lyrics at hand including lyrics in a book, and yet this policy was sent to me after I accepted the invitation and paid up. So I'm feeing like maybe you're wanting to un-invite me but were uncomfortable saying so." Then be quiet and wait for them either to reassure you mightily or squirm in silence while they find what to say. Or put their foot in it even deeper. Whether they meant to be or not, organizers were unfair and hurtful. You will know from their response either that a refund is appropriate or that you'll be accepted and enjoyed for the performer you are.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 05:54 PM

Hi, Crowhugger - I did write to her, and got a reasonable response. I think she'll be more tolerant the next time.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 06:20 PM

Hope you'll be able to attend feeling much better about it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 07:15 PM

Joe, this is a problem for us older people. There are so many songs in the world that I'd like to learn but don't have the time yet I can retain melodies and chords to many of them.
My problem with Rise Up Singing is that when people are singing together and have to bury their nose in a Kindle or RUS, they tend to tune out musically to others around them.

There are so many songs that I used to know but have forgotten and I require cheat sheets with sometimes just a few words to trigger my memory.

In later years, Woody Guthrie had to use cheat sheets to remember his own songs publicly.

I try to memorize as many songs as I can without looking at a reference but still, if you don't do them for a while, they get away from you.

I have friends who have "eidetic" memories and can retain lyrics, which I think is a special gift.
My thing is the music, which I have been able to retain to many songs.

Still, just as we don't want to discourage people from voting in elections, we don't want to close the door to their participation in the singing process, using RUS as a catalyst.

I think that as much memorization that can be achieved is important but allowing for
people to be able to singalong with their songs, well.....not everyone has the time to
become versed in many songs, but their role in singing should not be foreclosed.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Apr 14 - 08:05 PM

People who know me, know that I sing every song from the heart.

I do believe in singers not having their faces buried in songbooks, and I do my best to make eye contact with my audience - and I think I'm pretty good at it. I like to sing torch songs to the old ladies at nursing homes. It's much more effective without a song sheet. If you read off a piece of paper, they don't think you're sincere.

When I was a Cub Scout song leader, I had a constant battle with parents who wanted me to pass out song sheets at campfires so they could sing along at campfires. And I also had to battle the Boy Scouts organization, who wanted me to teach only songs that were in the Boy Scout Songbook.

So, it's a matter of using aids when you need them. But I also think it's important that we not put restrictions on singers when they're in a singaround. People are at different levels. If we put too many restrictions on them, they'll lose heart and stop singing.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 08:48 AM

Yes, what's really important here? Someone performing doing everything according to the arbitrary rules or cultivating interest in folk music by encouraging participation?

The very definition of folk music is the latter.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: JHW
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 12:41 PM

At a recent festival singaround a very new singer needed her words prompting several times from the audience. By way of apology she promised to come back with her words. That got me on my hind legs appealing that she rather learn them and pointing out that singers with words is relatively new to Folk Clubs and not the norm.
I was delighted that next time I heard her she sang her first song unaided and a later one with words out of sight but within reach.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: folkwaller
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 01:09 PM

We do have a similar 'problem' in the U.K. whereby performers bring a music stand spend valuable time setting it up and then proceeding to trip over it and to spend more valuable time retrieving their now mixed up music from the floor.

It was mentioned at our last club night that if a song is worth singing it is worth learning. I have a terrible memory so I don't sing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Crowhugger
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 01:48 PM

Possibly a more inclusive approach folkwaller's club night organizers could take, if they wished, might be to show those whose setup is annoying or open to disaster that there are more audience-friendly ways to do it. Heck, even run a workshop on it including practice runs with a timer. The club workshop's organizers can decide their acceptable time limit; I suggest more than 2 seconds to set up lyrics is too long unless you are pro enough to completely hide it in your introductory story/joke (not a joke about slow setup please). The problem can be solved with sticky tape and pre-set height for one's music stand. But obviously not everyone thinks ahead that way, else there's be no thread here!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: DonMeixner
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 03:39 PM

When I pay to hear a performer I don't usually expect to see a music stand in front of them all night unless it is a choir. When I go to an open Mic I don't really mind a music stand being in use. What I do mind at open mics is people phoning ahead for a slot, get up on stage untuned and setting up a ton of effects pedals and harmonizers, playing that slot and leaving.

I'm just sayin'.....

Don


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 04:31 PM

With you there don. If they want others to listen to them, they ought to reciprocate. And when there are a lot of musos waiting their turn, waiting till they are on to get guitar out of case and then tune up is plain inconsiderate, and probably betrays a you are in for a treat attitude.         As far as stands and songsheet is concerned, making an issue out of it will only make it harder for struggling singarounds to survive if the less confidant are discouraged. I don't get paid and I am not obligated to be "professional"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,John Routledge no cookie
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 06:25 PM

Most of us are not professional but that should not give us the right to abuse encouragement.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 06:42 PM

Joe, if they ban books or pieces of paper in your hand, take an autocue. And a team of 15 techies to set it up.

I have trouble remembering the words of songs I wrote myself. If indeed I did. Someone told me one of my recitations had been written by Roald Dahl, and I can't disprove it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 14 - 08:33 PM

The reasons we've got all these folk variants is because people mostly sang and passed them on from memory rather than relying on the broadsheets they might have picked up.

And more often than not the variants are a lot better than the originals. That's more or less what that term "the folk process" adds up to. And long may it continue.

Most singarounds I've been in over the years have been overwhelmingly made up of people singing from memory. No rules about it, just generally the custom.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM

As ever, it depends on whether you are sharing a song or entertaining people.

Different people see themselves in different categories. I suppose at a singaround there is room for both.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:35 AM

I have a better memory for tunes than words, and like Joe, like to sing a lot of different songs, so this does mean that I will use words on occasion, but again, use them as a glance-down prompt rather than wholesale reading off the page. In some sessions I go to this seems to be the norm, in others the exception. On the rare event that I get a floor spot, I will try to sing songs that are firmly in the memory bank. Not every song I memorise remains in there sadly.
Paper-shufflers are a pain, and even more so those who leave it until it's their turn to plough through a massive folder, mumbling "oh, I don't know what to sing". They should be made to miss a turn!
Mobile phone fiddlers, tweeting, texting and Facebookig while others sing, are also extremely rude: phones should be off and firmly away during sessions, unless, as one angry session host remarked, " you are on the waiting list for a heart transplant"!
Joe, I would still go to your gathering: you've made your point and it would be a shame to miss something you otherwise enjoy. And take a small selection of lyric sheets to glance at.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Al Zymer
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 07:40 AM

I can remember words OK, and it's true that it gets easier with practice - to the extent that you find yourself remembering songs you didn't know you'd actually learnt - but what I can never do is remember what a particular song is called, so I end up carrying a list of titles around. As for the OP, using a music stand etc., is fine, even for a concert pro AS LONG AS YOU ENGAGE THE AUDIENCE, which is the whole point.

Powerpoint presentations back in the 1990's where the 'presenter' read the slides off the screen rather than using them to illustrate the talk are also seared into my memory.

Certain TV entertainers are likewise unable to do anything but talk to the camera when in front of a live audience. Terry Wogan was one example.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 10:06 AM

Not wanting to digress here, but Terry Wogan is a poor example. His value to producers is his ability to ad lib. An excellent spontaneous entertainer.

He moderated a health conference I was a speaker at a couple of years ago. If there was ever a script, he must had memorised it beforehand. He certainly knew the agenda in his head. He introduced us all with no notes, including our backgrounds as if he knew us personally and was question master at the plenary session with no notes at all, including referring to things we had said during our own speeches.

Sometimes, there are reasons why the cream goes to the top.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Al Zymer
Date: 06 Apr 14 - 04:13 PM

OK, poor example - but what I mean is that when Wogan was on TV (not moderating conferences), like many before and since he had clearly been directed to look at the camera exclusively. The relevance is that the audience must feel the same as people watching a singer sing to a music stand.

Cream cheese, yeah.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 03:00 AM

I think most of us would say that memorization of lyrics is a good thing - no question about that. The trouble is, some of us just don't have the confidence to sing without a lyrics sheet - so in many singing sessions, we don't feel "good enough." And as a result, we don't bother. Some of us stop trying.
And some of us limit our singing to church, where people are required to be nice.
But I'm off to my music gathering tomorrow, welcome or not. Chances are pretty good that I'll have a wonderful time, but the "restrictions" put an unpleasant edge on it. Still the people always love my summer camp songs, which I have sung without printed lyrics all my life.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 03:26 AM

...and how are they ever going to gain the required confidence if they continually capitulate? Like learning to swim, there comes a time when you have to venture into the deep end of the pool.

Bite on the bullet!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 04:07 AM

Sorry, Lynn, I just don't buy this slavish adherence to the "rule" that one must memorize lyrics for any song one dares to sing at a singaround. I go to singarounds to try out new stuff. When I perform for an audience, I generally know the songs by memory - but I have to sing a song for other people a number of times before I have it down.

Generally, if people hear me, they enjoy what I sing....unless they have their minds made up already because they're tied to their silly rules.

If you want to evaluate a singer, listen. You might just like the song they sing, even if they've defied your songsheet prohibition.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Musket
Date: 11 Apr 14 - 05:55 AM

Joe, you have hit the nail on the head when you distinguish.

To an onlooker, is there any difference between performing and "going to singarounds?" It could be argued that some see it as swapping songs and keeping them alive in the oral tradition, whilst others like the idea of performing in front of others.

Hence this discussion can't really have a right and wrong side.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:14 AM

And as it worked out, the weekend was wonderful. Yes, most of the singers sang from memory, but almost everyone used notes occasionally - just like I do. And people liked my singing and my songs.
Our harmonies were absolutely wonderful.

We shared the Bishop's Ranch retreat center with a group called Women Making Music, led by Judy Fjell and attended by some wonderful musicians like Malvina Reynolds' daughter Nancy Schimmel. We would sing songs to each other at every meal. Judy spent an hour with us the last day, recording examples of our harmonies to use as a teaching tool.

A good time was had by all.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:19 AM

yes, it does have a right or wrong side dependent on circumstances, once the involvement of an admission charge or collection is done the scenario is changed, it is no longer an amateur occupation.
Lynne H has hit the treble clef with the music stand, and is right.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:54 AM

Personally, I'm sick to death of people singing from bits of paper. The other day a bloke at our local singaround sang a 15 verse ballad. He accompanied himself on the guitar but he sang from a piece of paper on the seat of a chair in front of him - so he was actually bent over his guitar whilst singing to the chair seat! The guitar playing was competent (if you like slavish Nic Jones imitations) but the words were completely inaudible - all I heard was the guitar riff repeated 15 times and some incomprehensible mumbling. Surely, the whole point of a f**king ballad is the f**king words!! And he was not the only one mumbling through songs written on bits of paper - they're all at it these days. Sadly, I think that I will have to stop going to singarounds - mainly because I don't want to go to prison for common assault; I'm fairly sure that kneeling on someone's chest whilst forcing a piece of paper into their mouth counts as common assault (?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 04:06 AM

This was strictly a non-profit gathering. The 30 participants paid the Episcopalian retreat center for room and board, but the event organizers received nothing but the joy of making music with friends.
So, it was good.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 04:40 AM

Taking Lynn's comments on confidence further, a question of experience arises in respect to memorization. Perhaps the way forwards on this thread is to share our thinking on how to memorize.
For myself, I have a trained visual memory which although not eidetic is very, very good. I developed it when young using a card game often known as Pelmanism, dealing a shuffled pack of cards out face-down on a table and then looking for pairs. Complicating it somewhat involves colour-matching, both black 2s, for example.
My first read-through on a new piece is to do with what the line I'm singing's doing, musically. The second is how it relates to everything else that's happening. The third comes back to the line and is done slowly, the first time I'm trying the line out loud. It's a sketch, trying to find some anchor points in the piece. Then I work the sections resulting up in detail, deciding how to do it.
The next stage is closely related to what the dance world calls body memory. It means going over it time and time again, repeating it until I can do it in my sleep - sometimes literally, it seems. Having it on my mind when I go to sleep helps enormously, my mind integrates it far better.
Once I'm certain it conforms to the pro standard in "an amateur rehearses until he performs it right, a pro until he can't perform it wrong", then it's time to take it out and see.

What do other people do?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics and Memorization
From: Genie
Date: 15 Apr 14 - 02:30 PM

Howard, having a brain fart and blanking on the beginning of a song or verse does not imply lack of preparation or even any general memory deficit.   It can happen with a song you know by heart and have performed dozens of times.    Usually all you need it a trigger (e.g., the first word or phrase of the verse, and having a "cheat sheet" serves that purpose. But having a piece of sheet music or a lyrics/chord sheet can also work.
(When I've learned a new song and have done it a number of times from memory, I find that having a very large print lyrics/chord sheet visible nearby the first few times I perform the song in public actually helps me perform it well and without error, even if I don't even look at it.   It relieves the distraction of not being sure whether I'll blank on a part of the song; just knowing it's there helps me concentrate on what I've committed to memory and on my performance and the audience.)

As Stewart says, just occasional glances at that song sheet can suffice and need not be distracting.   (RUS isn't very good here, because it's not formatted for that sort of use and doesn't make it easy to quickly find the key word or chord you're looking for.)

I agree about RUS - and even bigger print song books - in song circles encouraging people to try to participate without preparation. For one thing, if you're looking at the book/page instead of whoever is leading the song, you can't watch their mouth for cues (e.g., phrasing, pauses in the song) and you may well be singing different lyrics or using different chords because you're following the printed page and not the performer.

So I really do understand why the event organizers "encourage" you not to use RUS but do say it's OK to use a cheat sheet or the like if you need to.   

If you feel too restricted by the post-payment notification of these rules, I'd say you should ask for a refund. But it sounds to me like you could enjoy the music event within these late-notice guidelines.

Genie


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Uncle Tone
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 03:39 PM

Organisers of a club I used to attend all read the words of every song. One regular reckons he knows hundreds of songs. No he doesn't. He doesn't 'know' any of them. He just performs them. He reads the words and chord-shapes.

I am aware that memory fades as we get older. Mine does. I have even woken up in the middle of a song and not known what song I was singing, let alone what the next line is! But I will fight off the temptation to read the words. I will rehearse the songs until I think I know them well enough to perform them in public (again). There was a time when I could hold about fifty songs in my head out of about 200. It's down to about twenty now. So I try to rotate the sing-able list now and again.

It is said that musicianship and deliberate use of the memory helps to fight off dementia. Use it or lose it. But if you do habitually read the words, then you are unlikely to pick up any guest bookings. You are more likely to remain a humble floor singer.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 06:53 PM

I am very much in the "if you can't be bothered to learn the words, shut up and let somebody sing who could be bothered" school, and at one time, I too had a large repertoire in my head of 200 or so. Most of them are still there, but occasionally I get asked to sing something I last sang forty years ago, but can't drag it out from where it's hiding.
My current answer is to learn it again, but as my memory is imperfect, and - quite frankly, I no longer have the time to produce a new song each week, as I used to - my answer is to print off a version that I think I know and amend this until it is the version I think I knew, and learn from there. But Shhhh! I stick the printout in my pocket as a memory aid for the odd word, or line!

Chris B.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 06 Sep 16 - 07:37 PM

It is hard is hard to imagine....one signing from a script.

The decent church choirs I know, are memerized and learn new material continuously, on a weekly basis.

If...you require a script ... there are places within the service for you....BUT....You better be pretty DANMED Good

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

choir/organ overtones make a "goose walk over my grave.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Acorn4
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:16 AM

And now, of course, we have the dreaded ipads!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,For it is he
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 03:33 AM

A reminder cum prompt is one thing (blue tac'd notes on guitar with key, first line etc) have been part of my style for almost forty years.

I also sympathise with those who perhaps cannot physically retain words.

But increasingly, it has led to less need to practice with the resultant drop in quality. If you have to learn a song, you end up crafting and honing it. A singaround I sometimes go to has at least three people I know who sight read three chord wonders for the first time, badly, rather than learning and therefore trying to entertain with songs. The saddest part is, all three of them are capable of us enjoying their songs rather than timing the emptying of my glass accordingly.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Rumncoke
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 01:42 PM

I've been pushed to memorise my songs - to which I reply 'where do you think I got them from?'

I used to be able to steal anyone's song at one listening, but that was then, I have done my best, by writing them down in my book - but these days, if I am going to sing, it is from my book.
I have always suffered a little from stage fright, so it might be a relief to be prevented from singing, and in my declining years just sit back and let the younger ones get on with it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 01:44 PM

In my experience, though i still have the music stand, for well established songs it is more a safety net than of continual use.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Backwoodsman
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 04:16 PM

In the past, I've defended readers, having been one myself, who use lyric sheets as a safety net - simply to pick up a line occasionally when they 'dry'. I find a singer 'ummm-ing and aaahh-ing' while he/she struggles to recall a line far more frustrating and irritating than an occasional glance at a lyric sheet to refresh the singer's memory.

Nowadays, I make strenuous efforts to learn my stuff, and to re-learn stuff I haven't performed for a considerable time, and I mostly manage without a prompt. But there are occasions when I need to quickly refer to a prompt, and I regard the ability to do so pretty surreptitiously, and without detracting from the performance, as being part of the performer's art.

But, like 'GUEST: For it is he', I very much deplore the practice which some singers have of performing songs, seemingly with little or no rehearsal, by reading the entire song (including the three or four very basic chords required), from a book propped up on a table stand or, even worse, one of those huge black music stands with holes in it, and almost always struggling to make a decent fist of it. No attempt at 'performance', no eye contact with the audience, no 'feeling' in either the singing or the playing, hiding behind the book - just awful.

Someone above moaned about the modern usage of iPads. I find my iPad very useful for my set-lists (using the OnSong app), and the by-product of the set-list feature is that, as one works one's way through the set, the lyrics are displayed in set-list order so, although I'm not 'reading' the songs, I have my 'safety net' in case of the occasional 'dry'. And an iPad is considerably less of a barrier between performer and audience than one of those sodding great black built-to-withstand-a-nuclear-explosion music stands!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Brakn
Date: 07 Sep 16 - 06:19 PM

If you can't be bothered learning the words don't expect others to listen. Worse is when they want you to help them out with a chorus that they couldn't be bothered mastering. Even worse still, "let me find the lyrics on the internet, won't be a moment". Singing with a phone in front of you face? Nah


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 07:04 PM

It's interesting to note that some people refer to "memorizing the lyrics" and others to "learning a song," and they are referring to the same thing but displaying different value judgments.

I admit that it's a good thing to memorize the lyrics to a song - I just don't do it very well, and I hate to have to stop a song in the middle because I've forgotten the lyrics. I feel like I've learned a song when I can sing it well.

I sing in a church choir most Sundays, and I've been singing most of our songs for years. I often don't hold a hymnal, because I don't like knocking it into the head of the woman in front of me - but I occasionally glance at her music to avoid mistakes, even though I have most of the songs memorized.

When I sing folk music, I use "cheat sheets"; but again I glance at them for help when I need it and don't need to read much.

That's what I feel comfortable with. That's my choice of how I do it. Judge me from the quality of my singing, not on how I obey or disobey your expectations.

-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 08:04 PM

Well done Joe
Perhaps that will take some of the heat out of what could be an interesting discussion.
Cheat-sheets are ok in certain circumstances - I remember friends using them bu taping, say, orders of verses on their guitars
The last time I was in an English club I witnessed singers admitting they hadn'e managed to learn the song and still singing it by reading it from a sheet - not acceptable as far as I am concerned
The worst practice was singers calling up texts on their mobile phones - why do they bother?
I watched MacColl perform regularly for over twenty years and, towards the end of his life I began to notice his memory for words go, but I doubt if many other people noticed it.
Ewan learned his songs by absorbing them as complete pieces - stories -when the set texts escaped him, he improvised.
I noticed this happening because I had heard his songs so often down the years - on several occasions he would grin across the room when he made a slip and he saw I had recognised him doing it.
Warm memories, if a little sad
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jul 17 - 08:30 PM

On the U.S. Pacific coast, Merritt Herring was known for the huge number of songs in his repertoire. In the last years of his life, he would forget the lyrics to some songs, so he kept his songs in a looseleaf binder. I'd kill to get a copy of that binder.

Merritt always sang every song well. His binder helped him continue to sing well until his final days.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

"I admit that it's a good thing to memorize the lyrics to a song - I just don't do it very well, and I hate to have to stop a song in the middle because I've forgotten the lyrics. I feel like I've learned a song when I can sing it well."
1. You need to analyse why your memory fails you, and learn tricks to overcome it.
2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 05:31 AM

It's about engaging your audience, methinks. If you can still do that with a crib-sheet in front of you - great! If you can't, then you're on a loser. I've known some singers who can do it discreetly - but I've also known some who seem to use a crib, consciously or otherwise, to avoid engagement.

Regards


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM

Conflicting stances here:
From: The Sandman - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


So it's Ok to take the stage if your unsure of words or music, and happy to

Compare this with earlier comments that those taking to the stage must learn the words:

My opinion is positive I believe that performing with words is not necessary and insulting to an audience, it looks to me as if musicans /singers have not bothered to learn the words before they perform, if someone cannot be bothered that is an insult to the audience, therefore your club would not appeal to me, I am not prejudging anything ,I have seen two photgraphs of different performers at your club using words while performing, on that basis i would not wish to attend your club, there is nothing introspective about it or pompous. The only person who is being rude or negative or pompous is you, you cannot accept that people might not want to come to a club where performers appear to be not bothered about learning words.

It seems the author changes his view depending on his own capabilities at the time, always on the understanding that reading lyrics is an absolute no-no.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Tony Fisk
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 11:40 AM

Sometimes I sing from memory, sometimes from sheets (even if I wrote it - complexity is a rod for my own back)
The best approach that I know is, if you DO have to have it in front of you, sort your material out in advance and collect together what you need, in the order you need it.
That way you don't have to rustle paper during anybody else's performance and don't waste the audience's time hunting through a lever-arch binder.
As for those who memorise everything, either (a) congratulations on your brain capacity or (b) lucky you for having the time - some of us have day jobs and have to spend most of our "spare" hours pushing back against the entropy of life-in-general like home and car maintenance, gardening, cooking, shopping etc. so cut us some slack.
Maybe when I've retired, I'll memorise everything, too. Until then, there's paper to fall back on. Or a 12" Android tablet with slow-scrolling PDFs....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:03 PM

Believe me Tony, there's no difference in busyness when you're retired - and nearly every retiree I've ever met has said, "Never been busier - don't know how I ever did any work!" or words to that effect. I have an ailing in-law, grandchildren, car, shopping, cooking, cleaning, house & garden to maintain, and lots of other demands on my time.

But I've never used paper or pads or anything else when performing - which has now been for over 50 years - whether working or retired. And I don't think I have an abnormal brain - unless it's on the small size!

What I do have is a capacity for practising, practising and practising, persistently, until words, tunes and chords stay in my head through thick and thin. And the irony is that the more you do it, the better you get at doing it. It's possible, for example, to rehearse a song in your head while doing other things - washing up, walking, on the loo, driving with the song on the car CD or mp3 player, etc. My tips:

1. Write the song/chords/notes, whatever, out in longhand on a piece of paper. This act of writing aids memory.
2. Start singing as much of the song as you can without looking at the paper.
3. When you get to a bit you don't know, take a peek at the paper and fill in the blank.
4. Continue until the blanks start to get filled in.

That's one way - I'm sure other 'Catters have similar tips.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: JHW
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:20 PM

Last night I forgot the next verse, twice. Twice I repeated the verse I had just sung and the missing verse flowed perfectly. This in a ballad which are usually easy to keep going in.

For a while I went out with 'pick your own set'; a hundred titles for the audience to tick sheets and I did the most ticked. Never a great success but very interesting to do. Now I may have to scroll through the words in my head as a safeguard - but a missing line may pop up easily when sung or one I'd rehearsed may still disappear. Its like forgetting someones name or the name of a common flower which you know you know. a feature alas of age.

I'll give up one day if it gets too bad but I'll never use a crib sheet.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:31 PM

nigel parsons, you can interpret this comment how you like
Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:48 AM

Conflicting stances here:
From: The Sandman - PM
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 12:23 AM

2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance

So it's Ok to take the stage if your unsure of words or music, and happy to ."

no its not, and that is not what i said, what i am saying is this you practise hard, and learn your words, but if you do make a mistake, you keep cool try and ad lib if you can, if you cannot, then you have several options sing a chorus or repeat another verse, and carry on.
What is your problem Nigel Parsons, that you try and twist my words to eitherr score points or attempt to ridicule me, I have not said that performers should not learn the words.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM

As Fred Wedlock once sang:

"In the middle of Sir Patrick Spens I clean forgot the 42nd. verse
So I sang the 27th. once again and twice as loud
and no-one even noticed............."

Personally, if I hadn't learnt a song properly I wouldn't get up on stage and try to wing it!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM

If you practise you are showing the song respect if you do not you are not showing your audience respect, if you do make a mistake knowing how to get over it is also part of performance, that does not mean you should not practise, you should practise.... is that clear, Nigel Parsons


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM

i am not suggesting that you should not learn the words, but it can happen to anyone [myself included.. despite practice] so then you have to keep cool and try and correct it rather than giving up in a state of embarrassment or resort to always using words, have i made myself clear LynneH, YOU PRACTISE THE SONG MANY TIMES IF YOU STILL MAKE A MISTAKE YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: MikeL2
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM

Hi

<" What I do have is a capacity for practising, practising and practising, persistently, until words, tunes and chords stay ">

Couldn't agree more. The old adage of "Practice makes Perfect " is very true.

How you practice - Will has given some good advice.

I used to practice while listening to the tune/song I wanted to learn. I would record the song and sing/play with it until I thought I was word perfect. Then I would sing without the recording and then listen to it. This showed where it needed improvement.

This helped me. I found that it made me much more confident which in turn improved my peformance in front of the audiences.

cheers

MiKeL2


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM

Sandman says:
    1. You need to analyse why your memory fails you, and learn tricks to overcome it.
    2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. I've never performed for a paying audience, and I never intend to. I do have a number of songs committed to memory, but I like to try new stuff. Most of the people I sing with, don't have the expectation that songs be fully memorized, and yet we are able to have a wonderful time singing together.

So, generally, I just don't sing with people if their expectations are higher than what I'm comfortable with. Screw 'em.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM

"You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. "
Don't know about you Joe, but I get the most fun out of singing a song when it works - for me and for the listener
That takes work
Macoll summed it up perfectly when we rinterviewed him
"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that's put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.   
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it.   Anybody who's ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you're not enjoying it when you're making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it's working, when all the things you want to happen are happening.    And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it's hit or miss.   If you're training it can happen more, that's the difference.   It can't happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it's something to fall back on, a technique, you know.   It's something that will at least make sure that you're not absolutely diabolical……………
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he's no longer worried about technique, he's done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM

Jim Carroll, good post


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,watcher (and strummer!)
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM

It seems that everyone is assuming people are singing unaccompanied, and probably solo.
What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony with each other, literally "off the same songsheet". Thanks to the so-called folk process there are many variations in the melody as well as the chords for any song.

As a bit of an aside, how is Joe Offer getting on with his ukulele? Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

so, back on topic, should everyone hammer away doing their own thing, or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart, or is it acceptable to have the songsheets on music stands? There's a lot of words to learn, plus the "right" chords, for people with no previous musical training if they can't have the safety net.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM

"What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony"may be a good indication of why the British tradition is basically an unaccompanied one.
I sang a lot accompanied, but I failed miserably to accompany myself (on the guitar, that is)
I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'
No club should ever its singers to practice in public - it gives both the club and the music a bad name
What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM

"What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in


Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized...

Now there are countless millions.....
from dozens, if not hundreds & thousands, of genres and diverse cultures to choose from........

I often spend so much time trying to decide which CD to listen to,
I run out of time and have to go to bed having listened to nothing...

Kids these days, the aspiring singers, are over spoiled with choice for competing activities to occupy their time..
and in all honesty folk clubs are just only one of the available venues to practice show casing their 'talents'...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM

What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them

That's not what I see - the older the singer, the more likely they are to use notation (badly), and the larger and more disorganized their song folder is likely to be. The folk scene has not done very well at helping people bow out gracefully.

Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.

I belong to something a bit like that, a fluid group of 10-20 people doing Greek and Middle Eastern music. The instrumentalists (including me) memorize the songs quickly. The singers are pretty stuck, because they have five different first languages and share songs. The timescale involved in putting together a set for a new performance just doesn't allow the time for them all to memorize all the material in unfamiliar languages.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM

...besides which... like it or lump it...

the karaoke boom of the past few decades has normalized and made socially acceptable
the reading of lyrics in public entertainment singing...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM

..and also... important to consider.. way back in the day... and the not too distant past at that...

So many adults never learned to read........


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM

"I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'"
good points, yes, any accompanying instrument should be just that, not a bad idea to learn the song unaccompanied first, first rule is singing has to be louder than instrument, then keep the accompaniment simple, and flexible using chords as an alternative to melody allows the singer to hold longer notes[altering timing and phrasing for effect] [in my experience only] it becomes simpler to do this using chordal acc rather than melody, but both can be done if a lot of time and practice is put in. I have seen both older and youger singers shuffling through notes in an amateurish way, I have seen the occasional performer make an excellent job of reading from notes.. Johnny Handle for example, BUT THEN HE HAS HAD BEEN PERFORMING FOR YEARS WITHOUT NOTES.
" Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did."
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness., and you know it Jack Campin
However classical music and brass band music is a different ball game.
When I was a member of the new mexborough english concertina quartet we had to use sheet music the parts were too complicated and lengthy ,but that is a different genre, it is debatable that what we were playing was folk music, I dont think it was ,but i enjoyed it


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM

This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness


Twaddle. The community song movement never depended on memorization, and for what they were doing there was no earthly point. Nor is there for the ukulele groups. Their repertoire is far too big and fast-developing. I suspect you've never been to one.

The community-song thing was a mass movement made up of people who were very well practiced in singing from books - that's what every churchgoer does, and most people in community singing already sang hymns every week. There was then (and still is) a FAR larger proportion of the public who knew how to sing convincingly off a sheet than the total membership of the folk scene at its zenith. The sad thing is that folkies have accepted an abysmal level of incompetence at interpreting songs from print. In a church, that would get you edged towards the back of the room so most of the congregation didn't have to listen to you.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM

Twaddle?Jack stop tying to muddy the waters,
I am referring to ukelele groups, the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly, the same applies to tradtional itm tunes they are best learned aurally mistakes can be turned into variations, that ispart of the art of performing irish trad tunes you never play the tune exactly the same.
ukelele groups would be also better off picking up the tunes by ear, develop the musical ear and performers can pick things up on the fly[bring back Michael Gill], a good way tpo start is twelve bar blues for developing the ear, Jack you know you are talking bunkum


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM

"the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly"

It MAY be easy for you Dick, others struggle. Are we to say that because someone cannot learn the words by heart they should be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized."
At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory
I'm doing a talk today in which I intended to include an example of an octogenarian singing a song on the subject I am speaking on - the only problem is it is 16 minutes long
At 83, old Martin wouldn't have been able to see a text when he sang it but I can never remember him stumbling on one word of it
If these people could learn their songs I'm damn sure thos half and more their age can
Jim Carroll


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are public who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM

From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory


"Twenty verses - word perfect"
How could anyone tell, if no-one had song-sheets to check?
They might be the same 20 verses he sang last week, or they may have changed, but people were unlikely to recognise the fact.
Similarly they might not be the same twenty verses that others sang for the same song.

Without some standard of reference you will never know whether he was 'word perfect'.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM

I'll try that again :-)

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM

Jim - that was rather the point I was making..

The oral tradition - passing stories and songs down generations from memory within 'tribal' communities -
existed and thrived at a time of lower levels of literacy and barely any other forms of entertainment media distractions...

It's simply no longer realistic to hold today's youth to such archaic cultural expectations...

It should be considered lucky if any youth at all do attend a folk club of their own volition...

But perhaps ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM

editing cock up... last line should have read:

But perhaps an added bonus ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough
to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

The answer to that is, of course, "no" - BUT, it highlights an aspect of the everlasting words/no words debate which never seems to get a lot of prominence: the audience's point of view.

Many comments on these threads are very much from the singer's point of view - me, me, me, etc. But we don't sing in isolation, except in the bath perhaps, and if we do sing in public, we do it with the expectation that someone will be listening (else why do it?).

Surely, as a singer - no matter what the social environment is - one gives some thought as to how one's singing will be received. Is it pleasurable? Is it interesting? Is it worthy of the listening group? If not, why do it?

The problem is that many kinds of activities carried on within social groupings do require some level of practice to be worthwhile and often to fit in with the group aspirations. You wouldn't join a cricket club and expect to be picked for the team if you couldn't play and/or didn't practice. As a teeneger I was a member of a tennis club. I didn't take it seriously and very soon discovered that other players didn't want me as an opponent or as a partner. I left the club and took up guitar!

The folk scene sometimes appears to be one where anyone can do anything without even trying - and where people have an expectation that they can do just what they want - even see it as a right. I try and avoid places where this view is prevalent, and go to places where I can hear a reasonable standard of tunes and songs. And I don't mind if people bugger it all up at these places, because I know they've tried - and because they're as conscious of their audience as they are of themselves.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM

Here you go Dick. This is one of the most recent songs we've added to our repertoire. (Guitarists or concertina players, forget it, it's microtonal).

http://sarkilarnotalar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/duriyemin-gugumleri-kalayli.html

And it's no more foreign to you than it is to a native speaker of Greek, Arabic or Persian, all of which we have in the group. Our last set had 8 songs in 5 languages. Next gig is in 6 weeks. (We're adding a new one tonight, it's in Arabic but I already know the tune well). Off you go.

Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord? It would sound unlistenably crap if they tried. The nice thing about big ukulele groups is that they do usually get the chords right, even though they're a lot more varied and complex than the 3-chord tricks needed for folk, and the massed effect is great.

Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years. And if you're only performing to a local scene (as most amateurs do), the audience will very soon get bored with it; hence the evolution of singarounds into a species of elderly daycare. A touring professional has it much easier, since they don't repeat the same act anything like as often to the same listeners.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,alex s no cookie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM

What Will said. Spot on.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM

Will, i may be a performer but i am also a member of the audience. asa member of the audience I find it insulting
jack
"Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord?"
by practising together and at hime without the notes, or even practising along to the leaders you tube video, that is how it can be done, jack move with the times.practice.
50 years ago we had a teenage pop group, we learned the words the drummer did it by ear the bass and the guitar learned their chords we practised and performed in private with only occasionally at chord sheets and words.we performed in public without bits of paper
now in 2017 it is easier the leader of the uke group puts up a youtube video, you can have chord sheets at home AND you play along to the video, then you practise a LOT, THEN WHEN IN PUBLIC YOU PERFORM WITHOUT WORDS OR CHORD SHEETS, ALTERNATIVELY YOU CAN PRACTISE BY EAR IN PRIVATE WITH OCCASIONAL CHECKS TO THE MUSIC.
JimCarroll is right once again here
"As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice" - public is for the finished article'"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM

If I may ask; What harm is done to the audience if the singer has a lyric sheet ? If you find it distracting, close your bleedin eyes, just sit and listen. I find a lot of this dogmatic stuff off putting. If it is an amateur folk club, let the participants do what works for them. If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM

oh c'mon..

where would the world be without fundamentalist dogmatic old men dictating how everyone else should be and behave...

They're a traditional fixture in the dusty corner of all aspects of life..

..and I'll probably be one of 'em meself before too long.... 😜


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM

I see no evidence in Dick's followup that he's ever seen a ukulele group in action or has any idea how they operate.

Is he also insisting that everybody who goes to church should practice all their hymns from YouTube videos before they step through the door?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM

"If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you" That is what i said to the organiser of the Shefield club Neil Cardwell, that i would do, and was subjected to abuse on   Fcebook.
Yes i have i saw one in a pub in whitby, i also saw a group in mansfield, so you are jumpin to conclusions again Jack, jumpion jacl campin.
no i an not insisting upon anything, you are person t talking about churches i havent mentioned them


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM

The point is that a ukulele club is a social situation where the rules you're advocating would be destructively inappropriate. As they would be in a church.

There is a downside to memorizing repertoire. It takes time and effort. Which means you're going to want to amortize that over many performances. And if you're always going to be playing to the same few people, as would be the case with a regular at a village folk club, that means they're going to get bored with you. And they're going get even more fed up once they realize your repertoire is shrinking with age.

Schools used to teach relevant skills for performance off a script - my primary school English classes regularly included recitation. I wasn't all that good at it at the time, but I did learn there was a skill to reading words off a page, conveying their meaning and bringing them to life. Playing an instrument or singing from a score or songbook involve similar mental steps.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM

From an earlier thread:

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"

Back in those dear dead days of good recall.
We never needed Aides memoire at all.
We all could stand and sing a lengthy song
So confident the words were never wrong.
Sing one more song, and sip another sup.
(There were no songbooks there to trip . us . up!)

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM

$250! That's a hell of a price unless it was a very professional. As someone else said I think you should claim your money back if this message came AFTER you'd paid. Luckily I've now got the hang of singing from memory, but in most open mic style clubs a single song sheet is normally ok, but I think a book or 'smart' device are not really acceptable. Put the effort in the try memorize a song or two it's easier in the long run


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM

OK Dick & Jim, You have both had sufficient time to answer my question.

Are people who cannot remember the words to be barred from singing in public.

A simple yes or no will suffice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM

I find it hard to sing in public without referring to my 'cheat sheet' of lyrics, even songs I know by heart at home. What 's the big deal??? If it's good enough for Paul Shaffer (most underrated bandleader in the world), Barbara Streisand and the New York Philharmonic, it's good enough for us folkies to read the'charts' on Rise Up Singing; or anywhere.

This ridiculous snobbishness does not befit the spirit of folk music.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM

Raggytash, you're asking a very black & white question in a very simplistic way. I said, in a previous post, "no" to that question - and linked it to a wider issue because any answer cannot be simplistic. (We get enough people on Mudcat repetitively demanding that their questions MUST be answered, and it's always a fruitless exercise).

However, I'll demonstrate the level of complexity by going back 50+ years, when I started playing in folk clubs. At that time the standard of performance in folk clubs was very high. Remember this was the time of some stunning artists, both traditional and trendy. Anyone who turned up with a music stand or a cue sheet at any of the clubs I attended in Leeds and London (my haunts in those days) would have been treated with scorn. You had to be good to get a floor spot because there was fairly intense competition from very good players and singers. And the clubs were vibrant and exciting places to be on that account.

I dropped out of the folk scene for a long time after that, playing other sorts of music mainly for money, and returned to it via sessions about 12 years or so ago. My first forays into folk clubs were a real eye-opener - music stands, folders of songs, mobile phones, iPads (later on) - and a very mixed set of performance standards. Now, I help to run sessions/singarounds for all comers and for all styles and standards - so I'm not a rigid snob - but I do get bored when I go somewhere else for an evening of fun and music, only to find very little decent music and not much fun. I think to myself, "Why am I wasting an evening here?", and don't go to those places again. At my own sessions I encourage people to put the paper down and go for it if they can.

I also help to run a monthly acoustic session in Brighton, which has both guests and regulars who do floor spots. There are no music stands and no sheets of paper other than a set list here and there. So it can be done. If I did run a folk club and had to select floor spot performers, then I would choose those who were competent over those who weren't. In effect, I would be exercising a "ban" on poor performers - so the answer to your question is now "yes". Both "no" and "yes".


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Leslie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM

Six very good reasons for memorising, and not reading words:
It's more fun.
It's good for your mental well-being, a minor achievement, something to be proud of.
It's good for your mental health. (Think brain-training and dementia-delay.)
It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.
It's good manners. In a session you expect other folk to sush and listen while you sing, so the least you can do in return is demonstrate an effort to justify, and show you appreciate, their attention.
And it's not difficult – Those hen party survivors bawling on the late train know all the words of the chart hits because if you like a song and hear it often enough, you pick the words up naturally.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM

And I'll just add a comment for the benefit of "left-handed guitar".

It's nothing to do with being snobbish - it's to do with enjoyment. Not just the enjoyment of the performer, but also the enjoyment of the audience. I also don't really care whether someone uses a cheat sheet if what they're doing is giving a really competent performance and communicating with the audience.

The problem is that, very often, the performers who rely totally on word sheets aren't communicating with the audience or really putting a song across. Not always - but far more than in the past.

I've taught many, many people guitar - from total beginners upwards - and I always agree a simple agenda in each lesson for the pupil to follow. I then wait for the pupil to contact me and say they've got on with that agenda and that they're ready for the next lesson - in their own time. Those that want to get on this way will learn and progress. Their choice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM

It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.

Some of the most excruciatingly tedious acts I have ever heard have been from people who have memorized their material (all six songs of it) down the last comma and sing it EXACTLY THE SAME WAY every time. I'd far rather they were trying something different even if it didn't always work.

Memorization is doing something useful if it frees you up to do fresh things with the music - which might be inspiring or might fall flat. In the classical world, Martha Argerich built a career out of that sort of unpredictability, and of course there are folk examples. But there are hell of a lot of NON-examples, and growing. Far too often you get the attitude that because the performer has memorized their stuff, problem solved, they are now an Honest To God Tradition Bearer, and you all better be quiet and listen respectfully, no matter that the singer last had a new insight about that ballad 25 years ago.

Self-righteous pomposity does a lot more to repel newcomers to the folk scene than technical lapses. And you can see just in this thread that terrific memory technique often goes along with bullying arrogance - and particularly with older performers; younger ones are much less likely to think memory skills are a licence for displays of entitled attitude.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: RTim
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM

This conservation is silly. The subject has been disgusted over and over again in other threads – with no conclusions. Time to put the whole thing into the discard bin! However:
The conversation also assumes that when a singer uses a printed/computer resource that they use it "Every time" they sing! This is probable NOT the case.

I have been using a "Aide Memoire" of verse first lines for years – and that is what it is – a simple mechanism to make sure I get the song "Right" for my audience – who I want to please every time I sing. I have no desire to stop in the middle of a song because I don't know what comes next – that is NOT something one should do to your listeners…But I don't use it on every song – just some that are either not sung often or maybe newer and are sung as part of a themed presentation.
I have seen famous singers I admire occasionally use the written word to make sure they get the song right, and if it is good enough for them – it's good enough for me – reference The Copper Family – who at one time did it at every performance!!!

Singing folk song should NEVER be discouraged; and who are you to say a singer should think the way you do……….

Tim Radford


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM

I doubt whether anything written on this thread will cause anyone to change their opinion or practice; all that's likely to happen is that you'll find, whatever your viewpoint, that some will agree and others disagree.   Nevertheless, I'll chip in with my own view.

I'm in the "learn a song before you sing it in front of others" camp. To me songs are ephemeral works of art: they only exist as that song, "your" song, for the time you're singing them. Songs, not just your audience, deserve respect as would any work of art you try to create no matter how limited your talent. I wouldn't feel I was showing respect for a song if I didn't give it everything that I had - and not bothering to learn the words would not be giving it everything I have.

As for waiting until the idleness of retirement to find the time to learn the words as one here suggested; I learned most of my repertoire when I was younger and working. Young brains learn more easily. If anyone else out there is thinking of waiting until retirement, I hate to break it to them but, even if you find you have the time then, you'll find the ability to grow new synapses has sadly deteriorated. The most likely result of trying to leave this skill until later is that, when you come to try to learn, you end up saying, "Reading has been good enough for the last 60 years and it's too difficult now that I can't even remember where I put my keys 10 minutes ago."

When I started singing in public in the 1960s no-one I ever saw, paid, unpaid, professional or amateur, read from bits of paper. Over the last couple of decades the practice seems to have crept in and grown until now it's seen as normal practice and it's this "normal practice" that's the problem for me. I think there's a critical mass factor in operation. There's one singaround I used to go to where one person read the words. This was accepted; they'd had a stroke I think and their memory was no longer up to it but none of the other regulars read, they all knew their songs. When people came in as visitors they soon picked up what was acceptable and what wasn't. As far as I know that continues there. The problem seems to be when enough regulars haven't learned the songs and read them instead. Newcomers think this is the way to behave and soon nearly everyone doesn't bother to learn songs but says things like "I haven't sung this one for years but found it just before I came out" or "Here's one that I haven't got round to learning yet but I thought I'd try it out on you." Where's the respect for the song in that? (Incidentally, in reference to the comment "Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years." The other singers at the "no sheets of paper singaround" put my repertoire of about 300 songs to shame so my experience is that those who do learn their songs actually have larger working repertoires.)

I went once to the singaround/session that I think revived this thread (via a thread that now seems to have disappeared). Like Mr Miles says, I won't be going again – I'll seek out places where I feel I might fit in better.   I'm glad that others go there and presumably enjoy themselves and I'm pleased that people are getting out and singing - I'd rather they do that, even if they read the words, than they sit at home passively absorbing electrically produced sounds - but I'd like to think that there remain enough people around to keep a culture alive that I respect as well; one that believes songs should be learned and respected for the works of art that they could be. As another poster says "If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery." For there to be those "clubs that suit me" there have to be some places that do say "no" to reading from sheets and where like minded people can gather. I don't think any of the "learn the words" group here are trying to ban "paper" clubs, they're just trying to make sure they don't become the only ones.

Quite a few people here keep mentioning performing for an audience but I'll finish by repeating, it's not just about performance for an audience for me, it's also about that attitude to the songs themselves.   I very rarely do paid gigs, I've never been a "professional" performer and I'm probably not all that good but I do respect the songs and I will give them everything I can - and that means learning them inside and out.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM

..... then there was Bob.

Both Bob and his wife are blind. They both have a great love of folk music, particularly at the more traditional end. He became a regular singer at our club in Lewes but he always remained at his regular seat at a table when he sang instead of coming out to the front. He seemed to have a fairly large repertoire of songs and never seemed to forget his words. One evening after he had sung, I was silly enough to compliment him on the way he had learned so many songs despite his disability. he broke into a wide grin and held up high a braille sheet for everyone to see. Apparently, his fingers had been working away under the table at braille sheet every week and I had failed to notice.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM

RAGGYTASH, no , I would never ban anyone neither would i ever say anything to anyone in public unless they asked me privately on a one to one basis. Ihave been absent playing and singing music and only have a computer in my office hence my tardy reply. It is in my opinion never silly to discuss thing again people can change or modify opinions.
I do not like seeing people using crib sheets and shuffling through stuff,
to add to my pevious opinion i believe professional actors are well able if they are also singers to perform well from words because they have practised it and know how to not make it a barrier between themselves and the audience.
As a member of the audience I still prefer to see the non use of crib sheets, I did see one girl perform well with a crib sheet in Robin hoods bay folk club, but my experience has been that good perfomance has been about 1 per cent .
I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM

"I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."

No insult Dick, no accusation or slander in my post, just a simple straightforward question.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM

i've no objection to this thread. but really i think it speaks volumes about the doldrums the folkscene has got into.

what does it matter how the people choose to perform the song?

the vitality of the music in a great artform should enthrall. we need to stop picking fault with each other. i never stood up in a folk club till i felt i had something to offer, at an age when most modern young folksingers have done at least six albums.

the people who got up and fumbled about, or got up before they were ready were objects of ridicule - barely tolerated.

and i'm sorry - in the end this fault devolves down to the pro singers for thinking they are guardians of some bloody awful museum of traditional music. or even worse people who embark on a career as a songwriter without first learning some of the great songs and learning what greatness a song can aspire to.

they set a bad example. being a folksinger isn't a licence to bore people. too many people have picked up that message by osmosis, and its sad but that's what you're watching quite often. but its not their fault - they simply haven't been in the room where a great folksinger is working.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,dickmiles
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM

raggytash the   quote was not aimed at you


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM

Oh, it's just that your post started "Raggytash, No .........."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM

Well the obvious answer to all this, the best compromise...

..is to mime to recordings.... 😜


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM

Hear hear to
From: GUEST,ST - PM
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Dec 20 - 06:26 AM

The previous post on this thread was from me, several years ago, saying Hear Hear to a post that started "I doubt whether anything written on this thread will cause anyone to change their opinion or practice; all that's likely to happen is that you'll find, whatever your viewpoint, that some will agree and others disagree."

That probably remains true, but I am prompted to revive this thread by some things that I have noticed occasionally in recent online singarounds. (No names, no pack drill, as they say.)

Some singers are not only visibly reading their words but seem to be so totally dependent on reading that they grind to a halt when they have trouble reading the next bit. Or they stumble in fitting the words to the tune. Both of these suggest that they are at the opposite extreme from learning the songs, having not got them into their heads at all.

On the other hand I have a good friend (again no names) who sang and played professionally for a short while but was stopped by a serious health issue. He still sings, but his memory is deteriorating. In one of his songs he consistently replaces the second half of one verse by the second half of the next verse, and then sings that next verse with the same second half again. That makes a mess of the story. (It is not a "big ballad" but it does tell a story.) He also sometimes gets partway through a song and then can't remember the next verse, but of course that happens to many of us even if our memory is mostly OK. I have begged him to use a crib sheet, but he refuses, even though he admits that he hates messing up a song.

So there we have what seem to me opposite extremes: some singers being totally dependent on reading the words, and one who really should at least have them available but refuses.

As for myself; there are some songs that I half know but have not managed to learn completely. I think they deserve to be sung, and I am sure some would urge me to sing them with the words in front of me, but I would feel wrong doing so, although I can't say exactly why. (One of them is The Bury New Loom, a glorious song of sexual allegory, but which is chock full of technical terms for parts of a loom that I am not yet managing to remember.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Acorn4
Date: 30 Dec 20 - 06:36 AM

Seems a very balanced viewpoint!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: leeneia
Date: 30 Dec 20 - 12:52 PM

I sing memorized songs around the house and in the car, but when I'm on the Mudcat singaround, I sing from a songsheet. I feel more confident that way.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Mo the caller
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 11:07 AM

Back up the thread and years ago someone said that you should practise at home and perform in public. But there is a point in the practising when you can get things right at home, but the first time you take it out you are much more fluent with the notes.
I don't sing many songs, but the first time I played a tune in a folk club I took the dots along because, although I had memorised it I could only play it slowly if I was trying to remember the next note.

The same goes for calling dances. Some people would say you should never use cards, but there are so many complicated dances that if you are calling at a club both the practise at home to recorded music and the card in your hand (even if you don't look at it, or just glance through before you start) are needed. It gives a wider repertoire and adaptability to the dancers present on that particular night (numbers and expertise)
For a wedding ceilidh memory is sufficient. (With perhaps a list in the mike case)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 11:20 AM

I thought I'd waded into this topic in the past, probably on a different thread with a similar name. And pardon me if this was already mentioned, I skimmed, didn't read this thread today.

There is a ritual at the Seattle Song Circle when someone passed away to do a gathering and pot luck and one of the events was to ritually rip apart and shred or burn a copy of Rise Up Singing. They did so with particular gusto when my father died because he really disliked seeing the top of someone's head as they fumbled through reading the words to sing a song that they didn't know well enough to be performing in public.

He practiced a lot - learning the chords on the guitar and the words, usually the chords came first, and while he was doing that and singing from a page at home we kids learned the words since that was the only part we were participating in. He would come to our rooms at night and sing a couple of requests and sing a couple of songs he was learning - and if he stumbled on the words we could supply them because we now knew the words to the song.

By the time he was out at an event or hoot or song circle performing a song he'd been working on it for weeks, at the very least, so it could be sung properly.

Maggie Dwyer, daughter of John Dwyer


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: leeneia
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 12:23 PM

I was reading about some serious local problem recently, and a community leader said "Talking about extremes kills useful debate." An excellent point!

The description above, "...seeing the top of someone's head as they fumbled through reading the words to sing a song that they didn't know well enough to be performing in public" is an extreme. How about the person who knows the song but gets flustered in public? How about the senior citizen who worries about looking like a fool? How about the person whose brain simply can't memorize?

How about being glad to hear a new song, even though it wasn't done smoothly?

I just did The Wabash Cannonball on the singaround. This song has a "chorus" whose fourth line is different every time, and sometimes there is no meaningful connection between that new line and the verse it's connected to. You bet I had a copy of it nearby.

Besides, when a person sings, you should be LISTENING, not staring at them as if they were on TV.

(I think that's nasty about Rise Up Singing.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 02:05 PM

This last year has brought a new dimension to the whole argument as most sessions have been via digital media such as Zoom or Skype: so you can perhaps get away more with using lyric (or musical score) sheets and hope no-one notices that you are not doing a song (or tune) entirely from memory!
Depending where you put your crib sheet, people may or may not be able to detect that you are doing this: eye movements can be a give-away if you have a music or recipe stand out to one side, or lyrics down on your lap. Then there is "screen sharing" or putting the lyrics up in "Chat", so that everyone can join in: we do use screen sharing a lot in a couple of the instrumental sessions I do. (And there are people in the "tunes" world who have just as strong views about using written scores or not!!)
I'm not saying it's good or bad; it's just what happens.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jos
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 02:23 PM

It always amuses me when I see a marching band with a little crib sheet sticking up near the end of every trumpet.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 02:35 PM

This last year has brought a new dimension to the whole argument as most sessions have been via digital media such as Zoom or Skype: so you can perhaps get away more with using lyric (or musical score) sheets and hope no-one notices that you are not doing a song (or tune) entirely from memory!
I haven't done a Zoom singaround, yet. But it seems the perfect opportunity to, apparently, keep your eyes on those you're sharing the session with. Just use a split screen to view the Zoom attendees on one half screen and the lyrics in a word page on the other half.
Alternately, if it's a new or uncommon song, throw the whole page up on screen while singing, and 'share' that screen. Anyone wanting the words can then do a quick screen-grab.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 03:48 PM

I confess. I use cheat sheets. Usually, I know songs fairly well, but I hate struggling to make sure I got in all the verses and didn't miss a line. I hate it more when I have to stop in the middle of a song because I just can't remember a verse I've sung a hundred times. I keep my cheat sheets in a folder, and pick out the ones ahead of time that I intend to in a singaround.

I started out singing in a choir, and I've always used hymnals. Over the last 20 years, I find myself looking over the shoulder of the person in front of me, so I no longer have to hold a hymnal. The more often I sing a song, the less often I need to refer to my lyrics.
I've sung for kids for the last 60 years, and I probably have 300 children's songs memorized. I used to do a lot of singing at campfires, and song sheets don't work at campfires.

But when I started singing for adults, I started using cheat sheets. I admire people who don't need lyrics sheets, but they sure help me. Now that I'm singing on Zoom, I hold my lyrics in a clipboard that's in a book stand below my monitor, and that works quite well for me.
I've noticed that people who use a phone or iPad or computer as a source for lyrics when singing, and they often lose their place in the lyrics. So it's probably better to have lyrics on paper.

People who can memorize lyrics easily, see no reason why everybody shouldn't memorize. I'm a good singer and I always have my songs prepared, but I've often felt excluded when I'm with people who insist on memorizing lyrics.

I think memorizing is a good ideal to uphold, but cheat sheets give a lot more people the opportunity to sing a wider variety of music. I'll opt for cheat sheets.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 31 Dec 20 - 05:12 PM

Reading back through the whole of this thread, and noting that there are other threads on exactly the same topic, I'm aware that a whole range of viewpoints are being expressed from one extreme to the other, total tolerance and anything goes, right through to don't sing it at all if you can't learn it. Like most things the answer probably lies somewhere in the middle, and it also depends on locally accepted standards. One thing that can be done in attending a regular event is go along and see what is accepted for a few weeks before making decisions whether to take part or whether to decide what goes on is not for you. Or as has been said before, set up your own song event where you can set your own rules and standards.

Personally I try to be as tolerant as I can in these situations. There are all sorts of methods being used at singarounds I attend, and with new people or youngsters I'm happy for them to use whatever gives then confidence, but hope they will be encouraged by the majority who have learnt their songs and are getting more applause. I must admit however that I do get frustrated when the chap comes along to the same session every week and pulls out his folder and lays it on the table in front of him. However he is the only one at that session who does so.

Even the mobile phone scrolling has different levels. I certainly didn't object to 3 preteen girls who made their debut at a singaround and quite competently sang one of their pop songs. Who knows what this might lead to? However I was at one singaround in Cecil Sharp House a couple of years ago with a very high standard of singing, mostly unaccompanied, some professionals, when to round off the afternoon a lady was asked to sing, produced her mobile phone, began searching and scrolling, started to sing a song everybody there knew by heart, and kept losing her place and singing the same verses over and over. My family were there who are not died in the wool folkies, and they walked out!

The main quibble I have with those using folders, books, phones etc. is, as some here have said, the problem of falling standards. If it becomes the norm then that's me out of there. One would hope that if in a room full of people with folders one person fully competent gets a far better response, surely that should tell the others something.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 06:43 AM

Steve said
> One thing that can be done in attending a regular event is go along and see what is accepted for a few weeks before making decisions whether to take part or whether to decide what goes on is not for you.

The trouble is that there may be some really good performers whom one throroughly enjoys hearing, some who are not too bad, and some who (in one's personal opinion) are appalling. It then depends whether the positives outweigh the negatives.

Steve also said
> One would hope that if in a room full of people with folders one person fully competent gets a far better response, surely that should tell the others something.

One would hope that indeed: the trouble is that in some singarounds nearly everyone seems to get about the same amount of applause, regardless of how good or bad they are. I don't object to even the weakest performer getting some acknowledgement of their efforts, but I do wish that the better ones (in whatever sense of "better") would get due recognition.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 08:46 AM

You are right that it is really about standards. If you have a good singer who has put in the work to learn and understand the song, it won't matter if they need to refer to a crib sheet because that won't interfere with their performance and delivery. The reality is that the majority of those who rely on having the words in front of them have not put in that work, and can't deliver the song properly. Learning a song from memory requires you to study it and think about it in a way that simply reading from a book does not.

My other point is that while many singers, myself included, may "know" hundreds of songs, for most purposes we only need to have a small number ready to performance standard. A floorsinger at a folk club might only get to perform two or three songs in an evening. Even at a weekend festival they probably won't need more than a dozen. A professional performer probably needs no more than 15 or 20 at any one time to make up their current setlist (although they can probably manage more than that). Is it really too much to ask of someone who expects others to listen to their singing that they put in the effort to learn just a handful of songs? Allowing of course for those with genuine memory problems.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 10:25 AM

The difference may be: whether you went to church or not.

If you went to church, like nearly everyone in Britain in the 300 years preceding the folk revival, you learnt how to read a hymn you'd never seen before, understand it straight off and sing it right first time. You wouldn't even think of not using the book. For obvious reasons this was an era when people could make effective use of broadsides.

The folk revivalists were the first generation since the Reformation capable of fucking that up.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 12:44 PM

Singing with the words in front of you makes you look like an amateur. If you’re happy with that, fine, but expect to be treated like one.

Personally, if I don’t know the words, I don’t sing it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 03:46 PM

Think a bit further ahead.

The local club I stopped going to years ago had singarounds three or four weeks each month. That makes about 40 a year. Singers would typically get 2 slots a night. So if your repertoire is 12-15 songs, you are expecting your audience to stay interested in hearing the same song 6 times a year.

Memorization-dependent amateurs can't do it. The only way you can not be boring in that situation is to use a written copy. And have the skill to use it effectively - a skill which has declined sharply in my lifetime (though it persists in genres outside folk).

GUEST above with the point about hymns was me, cookie got lost.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 04:06 PM

"... with the words in front of you makes you look like an amateur." Doesn't seem to have bothered the priest at every church wedding I have ever been to.

They know the words, the have had presumably have thought a lot about what they mean to the 'audience'. I suppose could be respect for the text as set out. But that could apply to many ballads - need it detract from the delivery?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 04:08 PM

Sorry, Jack, can't agree. In our club in the 60s and 70s we had our weekly guests and floor singers, mostly regulars, but visitors always welcomed, and roughly one in 3 was a 'club night' i.e., a singers night. Also once a week we had a singaround on a separate night. Some singers were able to come up with 3 new songs every week and at the opposite end were those with a very small repertoire, maybe 10 songs or so. All were welcomed and enjoyed. Hearing the same songs over and over to me must have been like the tradition in a particlular village where a night's singing would be not much different to the one they had last week with new songs being introduced only occasionally. This was an important way to pick up songs as you hear the same song sung over you soon learn it. I probably had about 75% of the Watersons repertoire in my head at one point as they were our residents. With a strong vein of floor singers and an appreciative audience, a good mix of well known songs and newer material kept everyone happy. Written copies were nowhere to be seen thank God.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 04:18 PM

Unless you are memory trained, then with age memory fades. Writing the songs down in a family book, for that reason is an accepted Tradition.
My wife is a Romany Gypsy, she writes her songs down in her very best handwriting in her songbook, and then sings with her eyes closed! (Figure that one out!)
That said the Gypsy Folk mostly could not read and write. If you look at their songs they sometimes tend to be confused.
The great Traditional singers Henry Burstow sent a list of the titles of his songs to Lucy Broadwood, and also sent some of the words as well. It was Bert Lloyd who pointed out that Folk songs tend to survive in better form with the literate.
So reading the words if necessary is not such a crime, however, not practicing or working upon your singing style is a transgression in my book. So the question that should be asked is why are you singing in the first place? The answer should be, to make my audience love this song as much as I do. So if you're heart is in the right place who cares if you need a memory aid? I don't yet. However the time may come.....


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 05:01 PM

Maybe relevant comments about sightreading:

John Ogdon

Most classical soloists have an active repertoire of less than 20 concertos, all memorized. Ogdon was the total antithesis of that - he could and did sightread the most complex music imaginable, consistently creating awe-inspiringly spontaneous performances. He could play rings round anybody else at the peak of his career.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 01 Jan 21 - 05:13 PM

Maybe!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: leeneia
Date: 02 Jan 21 - 12:31 PM

"Singing with the words in front of you makes you look like an amateur. If you’re happy with that, fine, but expect to be treated like one."

What kind of threat is that supposed to be?
============================================================
That and similar comments here are just another form of The Great You Shut Up, the trend in our culture to squelch individual art and expression, especially music-making. "Either let me have the stage or buy something commercial" is your motto.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Ray
Date: 02 Jan 21 - 12:43 PM

How many professional performers have you seen in clubs with the words in front of them? It maybe fine for hired backing musicians, playing what they’re told to play, but not for the main act.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jan 21 - 03:05 PM

I know you are using this as an example, Ray, but the tenor of the discussion is of amateur performers.

The British folk scene has always been very welcoming and tolerant. If a newcomer turns up at a well-established singaround and produces a folder the organisers will usually applaud and accept. If that person then does not after several weeks look around them and see what the norm is then they deserve to be told in some way what the norm is.

The big problem comes (IMHO) when the folders become the norm and then I suppose you leave them all to it and go elsewhere.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 02 Jan 21 - 05:18 PM

How many professional performers have you seen in clubs with the words in front of them?

Every single poet performing their own work.

The classical music scene has managed not to get its knickers in a twist about it: some performers memorize all the time, some do it sometimes, others don't do it at all, and it it never features as a criterion of quality. And nobody in a church thinks God objects to hymnbooks (or the modern equivalent).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 02 Jan 21 - 05:50 PM

Quite, Jack
I know of music sessions where having the dots out is the norm. Wouldn't be any use to me. If that's the norm they're welcome to it. For 70 years now, and indeed what we perceive as the old tradition with traditional song, the norm has been to learn the song you are going to sing. With me at least it's a respect thing. Matters not one jot what happens in classical music or any other for that matter.

And on the very rare occasions I go into a church I'd rather sing without the book, thankyou, but that's just personal to me.

Funnily enough most of the poets at our sessions take the trouble to learn their own poems. 4 out of 5 I can think of. And somewhat oddly the odd one out is the one that is the most dramatic and precious.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 07:17 AM

Howard said
> If you have a good singer who has put in the work to learn and understand the song, it won't matter if they need to refer to a crib sheet because that won't interfere with their performance and delivery. The reality is that the majority of those who rely on having the words in front of them have not put in that work, and can't deliver the song properly. Learning a song from memory requires you to study it and think about it in a way that simply reading from a book does not.

I don't know whether the majority of those who have the words in front of them can't deliver the song properly, but it certainly applies to some of them.

Despite the range of opinion here, I think most of us can accept crib sheets as a legitimate help for singers who (for whatever reason) are likely to forget their words or are just afraid of forgetting, but to draw the line at singers relying totally on reading the words of songs that they don't actually know at all.

Another thread has popped up referring to software that I had never heard of but which I presume has the sole purpose of allowing you to perform a song that you don't know. Am I being too harsh there or merely misunderstanding?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Some bloke
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 07:52 AM

Funnily enough, I was thinking of John Ogden and hearing him playing an evening of Chopin at Worksop College many years ago. (He was an old boy.) I was interested to see he didn't have a musical score to play to, as I had been taught to do so.

When I started playing in folk clubs, it was difficult to make that bridge from playing in an orchestra where I had the music and tempo as a crutch, regardless of how well I knew the piece and it took time to be "free and easy" even when it was just me and a guitar.

But, and this is the big but for me in this debate...

Although I played to "dots" I knew them inside out, through practice and rehersal. Having the score in front of me, I could concentrate on the expression rather than the mechanics.

In a singaround of just singing, knowing the song is still important. I have yet to see anybody's folder words include breathe points or other cues. Sight reading a song means you are concentrating on the words rather than how to sing them.

No matter how age or natural inability precludes memorising words, you can still learn the song, learn how to make the most of cadence points, crescendos and expression. The words in front of you should be a guide, not something you are experiencing milliseconds before your audience.
After all, you aren't in the bath. You are trying to entertain people and that doesn't take talent, it merely takes courtesy. Courtesy of doing your best. Crafting the words isn't skill but practice.

Assuming those who sound good are just talented isn't a good assumption. I assume they have practiced the song and thought about how to present it. Any natural skill is tempered by practice. the more you prepare, the more "naturally talented" you come over.

You owe to to those spending their time listening to entertain them. If it isn't entertaining, what is it??


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 09:35 AM

Richard Mellish, I haven't done a census and can rely only on my own experience. I can think of only a few occasions where someone has successfully used a prompt. In by far the majority of cases I have come across the production of a book or song sheet is a bad sign.

The problem is not so much the presence of a book or prompt, this is only a symptom of a lack of preparation and a lack of confidence resulting in a weak delivery. Whilst a prompt may avoid the worry of forgetting the words, I feel strongly that you cannot develop the skills and confidence to perform to an audience if you have to rely on props such as these. Yes, it is difficult, and particularly at first it can be nerve-wracking, but that is all part of singing in public. Some Bloke put it better than I could when he referred to it as a courtesy to the audience.

Lead sheets have their place, particularly for those who may be called on to play from a very wide repertoire on little notice.
I have sympathy with those buskers and pub singers who may need lead sheets, and software now provides a convenient and discreet way of using these. However for an amateur singer in a folk club who is unlikely to be called upon for more than two or three pieces in an evening there is little excuse.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 11:45 AM

One response to the 'hard-liners' on this discussion, and to the situation described in the OP would be "OK. It's your sport, you make the rules, you train the novices, you mark the score sheets"

Within such constraints it's understandable but maybe not an activity for the Joe Offer's of this world.

What doesn't make sense to me is seeking to explain it by reference to generic assumptions about what goes on in different people's heads in heads in different performance situations and with different audience expectations.

From Howard Jones' the presence of a book or prompt, this is only a symptom of a lack of preparation and a lack of confidence resulting in a weak delivery. we have to assume that the situation is very different from a poetry reading . Is it? How so? Can that inform this discussion?

Apart from little Johnny, eyes tight shut, reciting the poem he has just learned by rote to admiring adults how often does someone 'making a presentation' to an audience not have multiple things going on it their head in parallel, only one of which is 'remembering what words come next'. For some people and situations the words that come next can readily be offloaded to a piece of paper to freeeing up processing power for other things.

Many comments seem to describe a grown up version of little Johnny, with some novices regarded as needing the schooling that Johnny's experience from probably part of.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 11:53 AM

"... with the words in front of you makes you look like an amateur."

What a hideous condescending statement to make. Richard Shindell always had his words in front of him and so did the wonderful Polly Bolton. People like guest ray are the reason that people stay away from folk clubs!!!!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 12:07 PM

Many years ago I ceased to attend the Seattle song circles because of the prevalence of the "BLUE BOOKS." To me, the use of the books ruined the ambiance. Each to his own … bob(deckman)nelson


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 04:08 PM

jag, I have no experience of poetry readings. However perhaps the clue is in the word "readings". Anyway,from what I have heard I would observe that poets are often not the best at presenting their work. The expected and accepted practice there is presumably rather different from that which applies to many forms of musical performance. I'm not sure they have any relevance to folk clubs.

The accepted practice in folk clubs is (or has been until recently) to sing and play from memory. This reflects traditional practice, as well as the practice in most other forms of popular music.

It is not the books themselves which I object to, it is what they represent. Far too often they indicate someone who is not really ready to perform in public. They haven't done enough work to internalise their songs or develop their technique. Some may say this is elitist, but I don't believe it is a function of folk clubs to act as support groups for people with low self-esteem. If people expect others to sit still and listen to them sing, they should make the effort to learn the skills. Folk clubs offer far more sympathetic audiences than most who will tolerate mistakes (up to a point) and they are great places to develop skills, but you have to do the groundwork.

If someone has developed the skills and can present a song well then I won't notice the book.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 04:16 PM

Perfect! That last sentence is the best on the thread.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 05:09 PM

If someone has developed the skills and can present a song well then I won't notice the book.

Fine. So they argument that someone with words on a sheet hasn't worked and internalized the song doesn't wash.

Maybe even they have the skill to only to need a prior glance through or a vague memory and then to read a verse ahead. I have watch someone read a story to a child and, first time through, read ahead and alter bits that maybe too frightening at bedtime. As Jack Campin has indicated it only takes practice to sing a hymn reasonably on sight, sorting out the scanning of the words ahead of time. These days (and its mainly funerals for many of us) one also has to spot where the familiar text has been made gender neutral and how - try that without book in hand.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 05:15 PM

To finish. I think one reason people keep introducing examples from outside the niche where the customs apply is that the wider world offers evidence that the justifications don't make complete sense.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Sol
Date: 03 Jan 21 - 07:46 PM

Someone once said to me that if you sing from a lyric sheet you will never learn the words by heart. There's a lot of truth in that. I have a friend who sang the same closing song every Saturday night for over 10 years. The song has only two verses yet he wouldn't/couldn't perform it without his lyric sheet in front of him.

"In the old days" we would painstakingly write out each line of a song while listening to it on a record player or tape deck. Writing the lyrics down helps to embed them in your memory. Because we can now just cut-and-paste from the net, that process has gone.   

I should add that as we get older it is becomes harder to memorise lyrics so please allow us elderly folk some slack re. the need for a crib sheet.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 05:04 AM

Read what I am saying. It is not the book which is the issue, it is the performance. The production of a book is only a symptom. Far too often (the majority of times in my own experience) someone who relies on a book is unable to produce a good performance. Where this is not the case then the use of a prompt doesn't matter (and it is usually only a prompt, rather than reading the words off the page).

I think (atlhough I'm guessing here) that it is mainly about confidence. Someone who lacks the confidence to get through the words may also lack confidence in their performance. A book may help with the first, but without the preparation that learning a song by heart involves they are less likely to overcome the latter.

Performing from memory is hardly niche. It has long been the norm for most genres of popular music. If prompts are used they are usually out of sight, and the singers have the necessary performance skills so they aren't an issue.

Examples from "outside the niche" are only helpful where they are comparable. Church services are clearly not - you arrive at a service not knowing which out of several hundred possible hymns have been chosen, or which version. It is entirely reasonable to use a hymnal. Neither is this a performance. It bears no comparison with a folk club, where a singer will usually perform only two or three songs, of their own choosing,and which they have plenty of time to prepare.

It is certainly true that memory becomes less reliable as you get older. I am in my mid-sixties and notice this myself. However it is also true that memory can be trained, and regular use will help to keep it going. If you are used to memorising songs it becomes easier to learn new ones and to retain the ones you already know. Use it or lose it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Deckman
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 06:08 AM

BULLSHIT …. GROW UP AND LEARN THE WORDS OR DON'T SING IT.   BOB(DECKMAN)NELSON


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 07:03 AM

Many thanks to all who have contributed to a civilised discussion. That is not everyone.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 09:43 AM

Nice family folk clubs do not have this problem, it is only the domain of finger in the ear loners!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 10:05 AM

Oh dear! Here we go!

Howard, thanks for the common sense! I'm afraid that seems to be flying out of the window!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Nick Dow
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 11:13 AM

Every time!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 11:31 AM

I didn't have amateurs reading their work at sessions in mind. I meant the pros. Here is the poet who got the biggest audiences of all time, reading his most famous work.

Yevtushenko reads Babi Yar

It's a professionally made film. It would have been easy to cut away from the sheets and obscure his eye movements reading from them. But nobody thought it mattered.

Some more you might have heard of:

Allen Ginsberg

Charles Bukowski

Tom Leonard

Alice Walker

Audre Lorde

Seamus Heaney

Jean Binta Breeze

John Cooper Clarke

Andrei Codrescu

John Hegley

George Szirtes

Jacques Prevert

Simon Armitage

Attila the Stockbroker

Patti Smith (reading prose by Oscar Wilde, but she performs it like one of her own poems).

For every poet I could think of who might have made it to Internet video, what I found was them reading from paper (apart from one video of Jean Binta Breeze where she is acting in character as The Wife of Bath in Brixton Market). And in most cases what they were reading from was a published copy of their own book - not a privately marked up copy, they were using exactly what their readers had access to.

I have at times had a fair amount of poetry memorized. But performing it from memory would NOT have been what the author intended.

One of the most memorable live poetry performances I've seen was when six New Zealand poets (led by Ian Wedde, I think) read the index to Freud's "The Interpretation of Dreams" aloud in unison as a piece of found surrealism. Take a look. I can't imagine anybody memorizing that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 02:25 PM

This thread keeps wandering off topic so people can score points on info that is barely relevant. Can I just remind posters that Joe started the thread with amateur performance on the 'folk scene' albeit, the American folk scene; although Joe didn't actually restrict his point just to cover the American folk scene. Most of the posters are from the other side of the pond, but most of the same principles, I would contend, still apply. Joe will soon put me right if I am wrong. Therefore I would ask that we refrain from adding in professionals and poets.

The 'folk scene', aka the second revival this side of the pond, takes very little other than the songs themselves from the oral tradition that existed before WWII. One thing it does take is that singers who perform in public learn their songs before they sing them. This idea of sitting there with a folder or something similar in front of them is relatively new on this 'folk scene'. We 'finger in the ear loners' (whatever they are) think in general this is a retrograde step and we do our best to discourage it. Maybe we are wrong. Convince us!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Bill D
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 04:14 PM

I've said many times... in person, and maybe in Mudcat on other threads, that I understand the desire to 'get the words right' when singing...especially if you are reviving something not done recently.
   The problem is, many people simply cannot focus correctly and follow the words on the page... which leads to awkward pauses and breaks in the rhythm. The point of singing at all is not just to be 'onstage', but to present a song in and enjoyable way.
   If you know the song.. both tune and words... reasonably well and merely need a reminder, just in case... fine. *IF* I can close my eyes and not tell whether someone is using notes, I am okay with it. I will sometimes make a small note card with the 1st words of lines jotted down.. but I will NOT plow into a song that I barely know and mumble thru it, just because it is an interesting find on a certain topic.
On FSGW's recent ZOOM Getaway, a couple of people, determined to be in every session, actually read *at* songs they had just written... one that very morning. They really didn't even have a clear tune worked out. Tedious!

I am content to sing only what I am really ready to sing.. even with a few glances at notes.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 21 - 04:37 PM

Hi Bill
Go with all of that. I have on occasions when desperate to air a new song written the first word of each verse down on a record card in my back pocket, but didn't really need it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: John P
Date: 05 Jan 21 - 08:19 PM

1. It seems like a song circle is supposed to be the place where amateur singers can participate in a singing tradition that often defined as being participatory. We shouldn't expect amateurs to have professional skills, one of which is memorizing music and lyrics. The music is the thing, not the tools that are used to deliver it.

2. Even an amateur, with or without a song sheet, should deliver a song cohesively and convincingly if singing in public. If you can't make it through the song without falling off rhythm or under-delivering the song in some other way, please practice at home until you can.

3. Professionals shouldn't have music or lyric sheets on stage. See professional skills in #1 above. Just my opinion I suppose, but every time I've been on stage with people who are reading music, they aren't as tuned into what the band is doing as they could be, or how the interaction and feedback loop with the audience is progressing, and the performance suffers thereby.

John P


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: RTim
Date: 05 Jan 21 - 11:01 PM

I am 74 years old and have been a singer all my life. At school I was in choirs and light operas, as a teen I was a singer in a Rock Band. In my late teens I discovered Folk Music, beginning with American Folk and then Traditional English Folk Music.
When younger I started to sing unaccompanied and I could learn a song within a day or two – and I would only sing those songs I could remember, but often made mistakes, and that was the way it was for years and years, even when I was not singing regularly. But I could remember the songs I had learnt years ago.

However, as time has gone on, it is more difficult to learn and remember new songs…and as years went on and the opportunity for singing reduced – as did my powers of recall diminished. If I had a gig, I would create a gig song list and that would always include the start line of all the songs – I found I needed that for both the tune and for pitching the song correctly. That escalate into listing the first line of each verse…and that is where I am today…not for all songs, just a few.
Singing on Zoom is a totally different situation…..I tend to sing songs that I think I should be singing - often songs I really want to sing, but don’t know yet…I know the tune, but can only sing if I have the words. These are songs I would NOT sing at a live gig; and as no one can see the words – I use them.
I see NO problem doing this. I have seen performers like Richard Thompson use words on stage –and even Luciano Pavarotti!!! The Copper Family nearly always use words. My wife is a Professional musician – and Always uses a score when playing.
Singing live is a very personal event and you should always be as professional as you can when you perform….sometimes you sing from memory, sometimes you need to glance at cheat sheets and sometimes you need ALL the words in front of you. You know the song and have sung it many times before live performance…but you sometimes need the “crutch” of words.

So – in short - Get off my and others cases – just accept there is more than one way to do what we do….but let us continue to do it!!

Tim Radford


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Allan Conn
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 03:23 AM

"Professionals shouldn't have music or lyric sheets on stage." Someone better tell the Royal Philharmonic.......


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 10:59 AM

Classical musicians are usually performing much longer and more complex pieces, perhaps in a foreign language. These hardly compare with singing in a folk club.

There is certainly a place for song circles where novice and unconfident singers can go to perform to a sympathetic and tolerante audience. However I go to a folk club hoping to be entertained, not to participate in a self-help group. The problem is that such clubs often don't make it clear that is their purpose. Furthermore the practice has spread into mainstream folk clubs, where floorsingers may be appearing alongside professional and semi-professional performers. That is really no place to be stuttering through a song you barely know.

In the world of instrumental sessions (where I now spend more of my time, having been driven away from many folk song clubs by declining standards), there are "slow sessions" aimed at people without the skills to play in full-fat sessions, either because they rely on reading music or lack the technique to play at full speed. For some these are a place to develop the skills to enable them to move on to proper sessions, but many do not and are happy to play at that level. The point is, these are advertised as slow sessions and everyone knows what to expect. Perhaps if song circles and folk clubs which accept this were more up-front about their policies this issue would be less controversial.

Again, let me emphasise that my concern is for performance standards, and my objection to the use of books is where it affects those, which unfortunately is more often than not.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 06 Jan 21 - 04:15 PM

The point is that a blanket statement about what professionals must or mustn't do is not logical. Many musicians read music while playing. It doesn't need to be complicated pieces. Surely it is the performance that matters not whether there are sheets of paper in the vicinity.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 07:47 AM

Has anyone commented on what professionals must or mustn't do? I thought we were discussing amateur performance.

As usual, I completely agree with all that the very sensible and logical Howard has to say.

For me, as I have said, the problem reaches the strained level when the reliance on crutches becomes the norm. I am quite happy to be in a room with one or two readers in a normal session/singaround, but a full room of them; bye, bye!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Allan Conn
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 10:32 AM

Yes Steve the post from John P says "Professionals shouldn't have music or lyric sheets on stage."

I help run a floor spot session myself and there are a variety of ways how folks perform. I agree no-on wants to see someone with their face in a sheet of paper - and certainly nobody wants to hear folks stumbling through songs because they haven't practised. That is so for just trying to read a song you haven't bothered to learn - or the other example is the guy who refuses to use a crutch even though he forgets the lyrics just about every week. Both are as bad as each other IMHO. As long as the performance is good then I don't care if they are using crib sheets or not. That is what counts. And actually one of our better performers always uses crib sheets - but you'd be hard pressed to know he was looking at it. Just the odd glance.

On the other side there is the players who come from the more formal musical background. We had an American lady come for a while who was a piano tutor, an organ tuner by trade, and a really good piano player. She wanted to accompany me on the song Circle Game - but would not do it without the sheet music which she had to get first. Just a different type of musician. Likewise I have a friend from the classical background who had been a top viola player in orchestras all his life. He has taken to playing both jazz and folk without the music but at first he did find it a culture shift. So that is why I commented on the blanket "professionals shouldn't have music or lyrics on stage" It is horses for courses and the performance that counts!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 10:59 AM

I don't think any of us are promoting blanket criticism. There are bound to be a few exceptions. It's a matter of common sense and a degree of tolerance. We are really discussing amateur performance here and my experience of the folk scene is that professional performers would not use crutches in this way anyway. If I may 'we are all reading from the same hymnsheet' Ooh, that was bad!

The only problem I would see from your good performer using a crib sheet/paper copy etc. is that other lesser mortals see that and think it's okay, and before long you have a club full of readers with their noses in folders.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Peter
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 12:02 PM

In public speaking you are taught not to read from a script as you will fail to engage with your audience.

It is the same with most people who sing from a folder. A crib sheet is fine to give you the opening of each verse but performing from a written score is a professional skill that most folkies do not have.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 12:04 PM

My experience, which is considerable, was playing instrumental music, not singing, and mostly traditional Irish music (with the inevitable bits of Scottish and Northumbrian...). In my opinion (an important caveat), tunes should always be learned by ear. What is in the dots is not the tune. Dots don't contain the little nuances of rhythm, tempo, variation, articulation and ornamentation. Dots keep you totally earthbound. I've sat at a table in sessions with really "gifted" instrumentalists who are great sight-readers, playing tunes they didn't know from the dots. *Groan.* Talk about wooden. All those things I mentioned ARE the tune, not add-ons, and you should be using them as you are learning the notes, not sticking them in afterwards. I would just about make an exception in the case of very experienced players with hundreds of tunes under their belt that they've learned by ear. They are so soaked in the ways of authentic, traditional playing that they might be able to avoid the impossible constraints imposed by dots alone. Absolutist, moi?

As for singers, I can fully understand getting verses in long ballads mixed up or left out. But if you're singing from a script, you're not going to be in the spirit of the song at all. A tiny, discreet prompt sheet that can be furtively glanced at not too often, just to remind what comes next, would seem to be OK to me. We had one bloke who had a bit of paper sellotaped on the top edge of his guitar... But no permanent eyes-down, or songbook on table, or (heaven forfend) music stand... all that is just awful...

Steve, ducking nervously, in a mostly-singing thread, fish out of water an' all that...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: John P
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 01:00 PM

Steve, I disagree about learning from written music. I don't like performing from written music, but see nothing wrong with using as a learning tool, as long as you know what the music is supposed to sound like. I don't care if someone I play with learns a tune from a score, but I expect them to know what I mean, and how to play it, when I say it's a reel or a jig. I agree that playing from the music often sound wooden, and listening to someone who doesn't know how to play a reel is painful, but I've also heard plenty of painful reels from people who don't read music.

I should amend the ambiguity my previous post to say that, even on a professional stage, the music is the thing, and not the tools used to deliver it. If someone can do a great job of staying with the band and with the audience while reading music, that's fine. I just haven't experienced it. And I think it looks bad, as if the band is unprepared.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Steve Shaw
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 01:35 PM

You may not be disagreeing as much as you think. What you put in bold is just what I was saying when I made that comment about experienced traditional musicians who have already learned hundreds of tunes by ear. The trouble, is if you "learn a tune" from dots you are not organically incorporating all those nuances that I referred to - as you learn. You have to try to add them in later. It can work as long as you are very experienced already. Not only that, there are so many different "versions" in the tune books (I gave all mine away years ago) that you end up with dot-learners arguing about which version is "best" or the "correct one," or telling someone else that they're playing it wrong. A dead giveaway, is that. Many an enthusiastic youngster is so impatient that they try to pick up dozens of tunes from the dots as quickly as possible in order to be able to join in in sessions. In most cases I've seen, their enthusiasm rapidly drops off. In m'humble you can't beat the real traditional way of learning tunes, which is by listening to real traditional musicians playing... It's slow, but it works.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 07 Jan 21 - 05:56 PM

Joe Offer's quote in the first post included "... a sheet in your back pocket for security, that's fine..."

I don't know about other people but if I learn something from a full text I find glancing down at that far faster, so less obtrusive, than hunting down through a series of disconnected first lines - unless I have practiced with that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Howard Jones
Date: 08 Jan 21 - 05:41 AM

Playing tunes is entirely different. Even if you can play with the appropriate style while sight-reading, and whether or not you learn tunes from dots, to participate in a session then sooner or later you have to set the music aside and play by ear. When a tune starts up, readers have to identify the tune, find the right page (and perhaps the right folder) and hope they have the same version in the same key. By the time they are ready to play the set has moved on to the next tune. Hence the need for "slow sessions" which I mentioned earlier.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Allan Conn
Date: 08 Jan 21 - 07:01 AM

Also depends on what is being talked about! I was talking about the likes of our early session which is floor spots with individuals or people collaborating doing actual performances. The later session is a session where players are more all playing together. So someone may for instance play an instrumental piece to written music at the early performance - but of course that would be different for the later one where folks are playing along with each other.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 08 Jan 21 - 09:26 PM

Just came across an anecdote from someone who ran a music shop in Inverness. Matt McGinn came in one day. To buy one of his own books, because he was about to do a gig there and had forgotten some of his own words.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,jag
Date: 09 Jan 21 - 03:48 AM

At a festival couple of years ago. Band starts song intro. Singer goes talks to one band member. Crosses stage and talks to another. Comes back to the microphone and owns up that none of them can remember first line of self-penned song. Half the audience launches into song. All have a laugh then carry on. All folk together.

As I said. I think some people's rules and customs, as presented, ignore how real people's brains work.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Oldnew
Date: 09 Jan 21 - 04:34 AM

Simple. Write those snooty money raking elitists a nice new song called Bookflipping Timewaster. And hand out some aongsheets so they can all join in the chorus. Makenitnlog and complex, and impossible to memorize.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 15 April 10:09 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.