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what is a session?

GUEST,baggi 10 Dec 14 - 08:36 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 10 Dec 14 - 09:09 AM
PHJim 10 Dec 14 - 09:12 AM
Johnny J 10 Dec 14 - 09:26 AM
doc.tom 10 Dec 14 - 10:02 AM
GUEST,Rahere 10 Dec 14 - 10:11 AM
Dave Hanson 10 Dec 14 - 10:34 AM
Will Fly 10 Dec 14 - 11:03 AM
Les in Chorlton 10 Dec 14 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Morris-ey 10 Dec 14 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,fiddlingpea 10 Dec 14 - 12:27 PM
Mr Happy 10 Dec 14 - 12:41 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 10 Dec 14 - 12:49 PM
GUEST,morris-ey 10 Dec 14 - 12:55 PM
Will Fly 10 Dec 14 - 01:09 PM
Musket 10 Dec 14 - 01:11 PM
Ernest 10 Dec 14 - 01:24 PM
GUEST,baggi 10 Dec 14 - 01:55 PM
Jack Campin 10 Dec 14 - 02:22 PM
GUEST,Morris-ey 10 Dec 14 - 02:50 PM
Steve Gardham 10 Dec 14 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,baggi 10 Dec 14 - 06:56 PM
Leadfingers 10 Dec 14 - 07:17 PM
GUEST,FloraG 11 Dec 14 - 03:41 AM
Steve Gardham 11 Dec 14 - 03:59 AM
Johnny J 11 Dec 14 - 05:15 AM
Rob Naylor 11 Dec 14 - 05:36 AM
GUEST,Guest 11 Dec 14 - 05:54 AM
Leadfingers 11 Dec 14 - 06:17 AM
Mo the caller 11 Dec 14 - 06:22 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 14 - 06:31 AM
Johnny J 11 Dec 14 - 06:40 AM
GUEST,guest 11 Dec 14 - 06:44 AM
Will Fly 11 Dec 14 - 06:45 AM
Will Fly 11 Dec 14 - 06:47 AM
GUEST,guest 11 Dec 14 - 07:05 AM
Dave Hanson 11 Dec 14 - 07:16 AM
GUEST,Allan Conn 11 Dec 14 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 11 Dec 14 - 07:57 AM
GUEST,guest 11 Dec 14 - 07:57 AM
Stanron 11 Dec 14 - 08:13 AM
GUEST,Rahere 11 Dec 14 - 08:37 AM
Jack Campin 11 Dec 14 - 08:49 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 14 - 08:55 AM
Will Fly 11 Dec 14 - 09:03 AM
GUEST 11 Dec 14 - 09:09 AM
bubblyrat 11 Dec 14 - 09:22 AM
Jack Campin 11 Dec 14 - 09:31 AM
Will Fly 11 Dec 14 - 09:47 AM
GUEST,gutlessly anonymous 11 Dec 14 - 10:21 AM
GUEST,Desi C 11 Dec 14 - 01:49 PM
McGrath of Harlow 11 Dec 14 - 03:40 PM
Tattie Bogle 11 Dec 14 - 08:06 PM
Stanron 12 Dec 14 - 06:07 AM
Jack Campin 12 Dec 14 - 07:23 AM
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Subject: what is a session?
From: GUEST,baggi
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 08:36 AM

...as opposed to a singaround, open mike etc etc
Will Fly, where are you?


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 09:09 AM

Wouldn't a session be where there are multiple players joining in as opposed to one person performing at a time? Maybe not in every tune but in most?


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: PHJim
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 09:12 AM

In Southern Ontario, if I go to a session, usually in a pub, I expect it to be almost all, if not all, instrumental music, mostly Irish trad, but some English, Scottish, Welsh and Canadian tunes creep in at times. Fiddles, flutes, mandolins, concertinas, accordions, bouzoukis, sometimes a guitar or bodhran seem to be the most common instruments. The tunes are usually played in unison and if a tune is completely new to you, you will either sit out or try to play very quietly.

An open mic is usually one person/duo or small group at a time and everyone waits their turn.

A sing-around, I'm not so familiar with, but it's obviously mostly vocal music.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Johnny J
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 09:26 AM

A session is what those who attend regularly or organise it decide what it should be as opposed to what a visitor may like or wish it to be. This is often on a de facto basis, of course.

Ideally, for me, it should be a participatory activity involving sharing music with people as opposed to playing or singing AT people. This doesn't exclude singing a solo song or playing a tune on your own but generally people will be expected or encouraged to join in if they can. Of course, they should also have enough good sense and taste to know when it's best to stay out.

Many Irish players believe that a session is a very strict "tune only" affair and always a communal effort. That is fine, of course, and I respect that if I'm there but I believe other arrangements are also possible.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: doc.tom
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 10:02 AM

Session
Tune session
Singaround
Playalong
Open Mic session
Big Sing....

Discuss (again)


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 10:11 AM

What did amuse me was a playaround among harpers in Edinburgh a good few years back - I'd got my whistles with me and with a vocal background, can improvise descants. Heck, a decent musician should be able to extend his busking ability to cover almost anything. Anyway, suddenly there was a certain Paddy Moloney asking if he could sit in - which is, of course, how to do it. I'm then doing impro seconds to him, which worked, and we had a fine conversation on the tin. SO, the message to the Irish is that it gets boring to the top people if you always and only play the dots in a seconds book, that's just your starting point - know what the tune does and be prepared to lead it or salvage it if someone gets hopelessly lost, but ffs do something interestingly different with it.
They used to say about car driving in Belgium, lead, follow or get out of the way. The same, I think, must be said of playing in a session: you've got to losten to four things at once, where the tune's headed, what the overall sound is, what your contribution to the sound is, and what the audience is probably hearing. And be prepared to get out of the way!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 10:34 AM

A session is an informal gathering of like minded people to sing and play any music or songs they feel like playing, usually in a pub where anyone can listen or join in as they may or may not want to.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 11:03 AM

What Dave H and others have said. The only thing I would add - and it's quite important - is that a pub session is for the benefit and pleasure of the performers. It's not necessarily for the benefit of the drinkers in the bar - though if they also like the music, that's a bonus!

I've had to make it clear to the various successive landlords of my local pub - just so that they know the score. We don't get paid, and we don't have to entertain the public. Not being paid in these circumstances is a distinct advantage...


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Les in Chorlton
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 11:45 AM

Sometimes a Session can be an event in a pub at which dance tunes have been taken into custody and played so fast most people couldn't dance to them, some of us only recognise the tunes as they move to the next one and nobody names the tunes.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 11:55 AM

Some serious arrogance on display by a couple of people - particularly Will Fly.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,fiddlingpea
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 12:27 PM

I totally agree with Will on this. The session we run is a tune session and we play what we like for our own amusement. We don't get paid and if somebody wants us to sing wild rover we (all) expect a drink. As we average 20-30 musicians at the session they'll need deep pockets and they probably won't like the singing either :)


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 12:41 PM

I didn't spot anything which could be construed as arrogance.

Point out an example, please


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 12:49 PM

As I read it, Will Fly is correct. Sessions are for the people involved. If you are being paid it is different.
Publicans who do allow sessions obviously expect the participants to buy a pint or two which is fair enough, they are in business to sell refreshment alcoholic or otherwise.
If all they want is background music they can put on the juke box which doesn't take up space and earns them money.
I play with some pickers who NEVER buy anything from the pub but take up seating that paying customers are sometimes deprived of.
No matter how good a performer you/we might think we are, if you are in a pub taking up space and not spending any money why would the landlord want you?


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,morris-ey
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 12:55 PM

"I didn't spot anything which could be construed as arrogance.":

"I've had to make it clear to the various successive landlords of my local pub - just so that they know the score. We don't get paid, and we don't have to entertain the public."

It is not Will Fly's pub, it is the Landlord's pub and if I were his Landlord he and his mates would be out of the door in short order if they thought they had any right to tell me what to do.

As for entertaining the public, that seems to be of no importance whatsoever to Fry ?"is that a pub session is for the benefit and pleasure of the performers. It's not necessarily for the benefit of the drinkers in the bar".

You definition of arrogance may vary?


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 01:09 PM

Well, I'll answer that directly and clearly.

The landlords in my local pub - where the session is now into its 7th year - have changed three times. Three separate sets of people coming in and taking over. None of them had any idea what a music session was. They thought that, for it to continue, they would have to pay us money and we would have to entertain the customers. Which they were all, without exception, unwilling to do. However, when I've explained that it was purely a fun thing - a regular musical party, if you like - for a regular group of people, and that no money need change hands, they've all been very happy with that. And no obligation on our part to be public entertainers once a month. And so the session continues - and actually is very popular with the locals - and brings in good money for the pub on a dead night of the week. Clear?

If the punters in my village pub - most of whom I've known for years - really objected to the music, they'd say so! I repeat, the session is not immediately and directly for the benefit of the bar customers. I play regular gigs in and around Brighton. They're all paid, and well paid, and me and my mate Chris play for the customers and try and please them and the landlord as much as we can. If we didn't do that, we wouldn't get the gigs.

What's arrogant about that? It's horses for courses. If you can't see the difference between me giving important information to a new landlord about why I hope he'll keep a session going - and dictating to him what he should or shouldn't do - then you need your head examining. I've been playing music of one sort or another in pubs for nearly 50 years, and I'm very clear about the dynamics of dealing with landlords!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Musket
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 01:11 PM

Where I come from a session is anything over six pints.

🍺🍺🍻🍻🍺🍺


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Ernest
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 01:24 PM

Guest morris-ey,
A session like other Live Music draws people into the pub (musicians and listeners), so the landlord will make a profit out of the situation. This is the reason why a landlord allows sessions on his premises.

So if he is not prepared to pay the musicians, he can`t expect to tell them what to play. Same goes for the drinkers in the bar.

The musicians don`t order anyone around - they just make clear that in order to order them around you`d have to pay them.

Expecting others to do what you want without caring what they want sounds more like arrogance to me....


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,baggi
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 01:55 PM

I'm with Will on this and we do just what he does.
We're not being paid to entertain and the landlords are very grateful for our custom and the custom of those who come to listen.
I've played a huge number of paid pub/club gigs and I expected then to entertain the crowd, but a session in my view is for the musicians and any benefit to others is incidental.
A session gives musicians a chance to get together at an appropriate level and enjoy playing along with lots of other people, rather than sitting dumbly through many (often lacklustre) solo performances.

And, Morris-ey, our local landlord loves it....


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 02:22 PM

Try taking account of the audience and attempting to get their attention sometime, by playing something they'll notice and like.

You might find your playing improves.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Morris-ey
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 02:50 PM

If the Landlord welcomes it, no problem. Many do. Others don't. I have been in a few pubs where Morris dancers or muscicians or both have descended on a pub unnanounced with some innate sense of entitlement to dance, sing and play to their hearts content. Clearly this is not a good strategy.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 03:50 PM

Whilst backing up Will implicitly there are unwritten etiquettes generally in sessions just as there are in singarounds and folk clubs etc. but these have been dealt with at length in other threads.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,baggi
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 06:56 PM

Jack Campin - what a loada crap


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 10 Dec 14 - 07:17 PM

I and a mate 'run' a session in Sidmouth - We DONT get told what to do , but we DO get a drink , encourage people to join in and fill any gaps . !'ve been to Will Fly's session and its a good one and arrogant he is NOT .
IMHO the most important think if you are a player is to LISTEN - Who so ever STARTS the tune/song sets the key AND the tempo , and if you don't like the way its going , leave it be and do it your way later !


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 03:41 AM

I'm always surprised that people join in with a tune/song first verse through. Unless they know the lead singer/tunesmith - and that may well be the case - how do they know which variations might be used? I don't mean the near silent chord finding - but full on - I know this tune and this is how I play it - sort of joining in.
FloraG.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 03:59 AM

A very erudite contribution, Jack! Do tell us more.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Johnny J
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 05:15 AM

Jack says..

"Try taking account of the audience and attempting to get their attention sometime"

Surely this depends on whether there actually is an audience there for the music or it just happens that there are people in the pub for another reason?

If the pub advertises music and/or the musicians are getting paid, it could be assumed that a section of the members have specifically turned up to listen to and watch the proceedings. So, I don't see an issue in making an effort to engage with them up to a point. After all, if they are kept happy, so will the landlord. It doesn't mean that you need to respond to every single request. If they ask for Duelling banjos, Willie McBride, Wild Rover, Brown eyed Girl and so on, just be tactful.

Even in circumstances where the music isn't officially advertised and musicians are "doing it for themselves", if the punters are showing some interest then they ARE an audience after a fashion. There's no harm in showing them a bit of courtesy and respect but, of course, there's no need to pander to them either.

However, on many occasions, a majority if not all the punters in the pub are not particularly interested in the music. They are there to watch the football on the flat screen TV, have a blether with their mates, possibly have meal, play darts/pool/cards etc or whatever else you can do in a bar these days. A minority may enjoy the music and pass comment but most couldn't care less one way or another.

In many ways, this is better for session musicians as long as the other activities are not too noisy or distracting and they can be left in peace.
As for "attempting to get the attention" of the other pub users, what right have the musicians and singers to expect to be the centre of attraction? It's surely more polite to leave the other customers to their own activities? After all, how would you like it if you were having a nice tune and somebody tried to drag you across the room to watch a penalty shoot out on the TV set or to watch the pub's champion pool player in action? So when you are in a bar, it's often better to "Live and let live".


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Rob Naylor
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 05:36 AM

Morris-ey,

I too am with Will on this. And whether at one of the regular sessions he attends or one of the several others that I've encountered him at, the last thing he ever is is arrogant. Plain-spoken, maybe, but arrogant never!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 05:54 AM

A session is self entertainment for the benefit of the participants.

Those people that think they are at a session for anything other than the fun of taking part need to get a grip of their ego's, and if they want to perform to an audience, perhaps they should be striving to get paid gigs and see how they get on!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:17 AM

We used to do annual Narrow Boat trips on various Canals in UK , a lot of Singers and Musicians , all with a connection to Maidenhead Folk Club . With the permission of the landlords , we would have most evenings singing and playing in whatever Pub was close to where we were moored for the night . Being fully aware that we were invading THEIR place, we did NOT sit in a circle and sing to each other , but performed TO the pub , without any demand that they actually paid any attention . A surprising number of people seemed never to have been at a LIVE music event , and we always had a good degree of involvement with the locals , playing any requests , and encouraging participation IF any one wanted . They were GOOD sessions


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:22 AM

We used to go to a session at the Shroppie Fly Audlem and it varied from week to week. I particularly remember when Boxing/New years Day fell on a Monday and we met in the afternoon.
Boxing Day was packed with people standing at the bar, and we played to the gallery - Whiskey in the Jar etc.
NYd was quiet and the musicians shared new tunes.
Both great sessions, but completely different.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:31 AM

I believe the stench of arrogance that wafts from the comments saying a session is there only for your own amusement is breathtaking.

Why occupy a public space and impose your noise on other people? Gather up your friends at home or some place where you are completely disconnected from the rest of the world if that's the way you feel?


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Johnny J
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:40 AM

"Why occupy a public space and impose your noise on other people?"

You could also say that to football enthusiasts who roar and shout at TV screens in the pub, noisy domino players, those who play music you don't like on the juke box etc, even those who like to converse loudly...

They are called public houses. So, presumably all members of the public are entitled to use them, within reason, for drinking and socialising... even musicians?
Not necessarily all at the same time, of course, and everyone should show each other a bit of respect just as you would do when visiting a private house.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:44 AM

And there's the stench of ego! I wonder if guest above is capable of entertaining a sit down audience for a couple of hours?

Why a public space? Most sessions seem to take place in pubs with friendly and welcoming landlords, usually not on their busiest nights, so the landlord is grateful to have people using his premesis. Apart from some specialist pubs, where they are geared up as a music venue, the majority of music in pubs is just background and the punters will be there regardless!

get over it!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:45 AM

Well, you could say the same about lots of other pub activities - quiz nights, football cup matches, pool tournaments, darts matches, discos - which might conflict with the interests of the drinking and pubbing fraternity. I keep away from pubs on the occasions when these things go on - though I used to play in a darts league years ago.

A session is no different - and it's actually a damned sight more sociable than a quiz night where, if you're a non-participant, you have to keep pretty silent or run the risk of being shushed. But better that these things go on in pubs and keep them alive and ticking than the pubs being shut.

And, if you've read the posts above, you'll discern that, on the whole, most landlords quite like sessions because they bring in drinkers, and lots of non-participants actually quite like the music.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:47 AM

Cross-posted - in agreement!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 07:05 AM

Just to clarify something for the benefit of GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:31 AM who said 'saying a session is there only for your own amusement is breathtaking'

YOU CHOOSE to attend a session, you are not BOOKED by the landlord to entertain. You CHOOSE to go for your own amusement.

If you think you can just turn up somewhere and expect people to listen to you, then you really do have a serious ego problem!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 07:16 AM

In sessions, musicians play for their own enjoyment, NOT to the crowd or an audience.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Allan Conn
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 07:31 AM

I'm not sure that the punters would be there regardless holds true in every case though! At our Friday night session we start around 9:45PM downstairs in the pub where people choose to dine with many knowing that the session will be starting. Those who have no interest or specifically don't want to hear music can opt for a table upstairs. Some people stay on long after their meals specifically because of the session and we have quite a few regular listeners who only arrive about 10pm. They come specifically because the music is on! We know that because they tell us. We have regulars who come once a year from down south. We have listening folk who travel more frequently from Sunderland and Glasgow just to come for a night out and it is because they discovered the session. Many of these folks are now regarded as friends.

Saying that it is still a pub for the public in general and the sessions differ. Sometimes virtually everyone in the room is into it and listening etc- other times there may be much less interest. Just depends. So we don't act like prima donnas if a big table is competing with the volume etc - but we do appreciate the evening more if the punters are interested.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 07:57 AM

I wonder whether Guest above who complains about 'arrogance' has ever attended a session, or been in a pub for that matter. Sessions take place in pubs because they are social gatherings (and open to all-comers which a private session in a house would not be) and because in British culture pubs are where people go to socialise. It is up to the landlord to judge his customers' reaction to the music - you can be assured he will only allow a session if he doesnn't think it will adversely affect his business.

A session will take place whether or not there is an audience. If other people in the pub wish to listen they are welcome to do so, and if they choose to ignore it then that's fine too. But even if the pub is completely empty apart from the musicians themselves, they will still play.

My regular session occupies one of several rooms in the pub. Mostly its just musicians, although sometimes a few people come in to listen. Most of the pub's customers stay in the other rooms, but seem to be happy that the music is there without wanting to come into listen to it. Most importantly, the landlord is happy to have us.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,guest
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 07:57 AM

Sounds like you've got a good one going there Allan, and you are correct, if a regular session builds a good reputation, it will attract people who want to listen, but it looks as though you understand, unlike guest above, that you are there for your own pleasure, and if others find it entertaining, then that's a bonus.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Stanron
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 08:13 AM

I don't see the difference between a performance and a session as something that needs mega-intelligence.

Maybe Jack Campin and

GUEST Date: 11 Dec 14 - 06:31 AM

are unable to grasp it but I would far rather attend Will Fly's type of session than one where I have to suffer someone else's attempts to entertain me all night. Whether I have to pay for it or not.

I'm a musician. I like making music. I like making music with other musicians more. I like making music with other musicians to listeners who enjoy it most. Simple.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Rahere
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 08:37 AM

Another point to Guest:
There's many a pub between me and the nearest Session. Not as many as once there were, but still well into two figures. Therefore, if on the odd evening you find you're not being regaled with the latest Gangsta shootout, you still have choices: it takes a broad palette to make a world. Whereas if you would hsut this down, you leave people with fewer choices: fitting an entire session into your home is likely to piss the neighbours off - unless they're invited!
That does not mean to say that in some areas it doesn't happen, or for that matter specialist groups don't - the Commun na Clarsaich does, for instance.
Another benefit is that a beginner can be developed in the traditional manner without problems - listening and learning to the tradition. Unlike classical music, where there is a warhorse approach to the major pieces (it sounds like this, and woe betide anyone who wants to change it - the result being the ochestral pros play it in their sleep, bored to tears at yet another "live CD" performance), folk music has seen a slow growth in style over the years, with a trad circle keeping the core form true, and developers innovating.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 08:49 AM

YOU CHOOSE to attend a session, you are not BOOKED by the landlord to entertain

Some sessions have a paid anchor, and the anchor won't be paid for very long if they disregard what the punters think of them.

Some anchors can be quite manipulative in a discreet way. I know one who used to work a busy city centre pub at weekends. The pub couldn't fit in everybody who wanted to get in, so the modus operandi was to get them to drink up and go, leaving space for thirsty newcomers. The anchor would deliberately stop and initiate conversations with the other musicians so as to bore the drinkers into leaving. I am not suggesting that was a healthy development, but it does show how far you can go in thinking about the interpersonal dimension when playing in a session.

The one I go to most often has both a paid anchor (who works his arse off animating the event) and a tip jar which pays for all the musicians' drinks (and there can be a lot of us, so we're expecting it to get well filled). It's an incentive to play enjoyable music.

Even if you're not being paid, it's just plain rude not to communicate with the people listening to you if your material is something they're interested in.

"Back room" sessions, with no audience, are different. I find them rather boring in comparison.

Allan's session is interestingly unpredictable, sometimes "back room" and sometimes audience-oriented. The result is that the performers are better prepared than many to have something listenable, even at the times when there isn't an audience. I can see why people come a long way for it.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 08:55 AM

I used to go to a sometimes rough sounding session in a town centre pub that did most of its trade at lunchtime and early evening. By the time the session started there was usually only a handful of people there.

On another evening, when I and a mate where the only people there at 10.15, I asked if the session players bought enough beer to pay for their seats. He said 'Not always, but it livens the place up and no-one comes into an empty pub'.

We left and found he had already dropped the catch on the pub door.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 09:03 AM

Who says we don't communicate, Jack? That's your assumption.

For what it's worth, here's how I organise the session in my local:

1. Anyone can come along to play and/or sing.
2. They can play and/or sing absolutely anything they like.
3. If anyone in the pub - the "audience" - wants to sing a song, they sing one - with our blessing.
4. Unless the player/singer specifically says not to, it's understood that anyone can join in with anything and anybody if they feel like doing so.
5. We play in a small side bar, completely open to the main bar, so that the people in the main bar can ignore us or pop round and listen, as they feel fit.
6. We go round the circle, singaround style, and invite each participant to lead off on something.

It's a mixed bag, as you can imagine, with people with all sorts of musical interests and skill levels doing their thing. Occasionally it can be a little dire - very often it's exhilarating - and it's always a pleasant, enjoyable evening.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 09:09 AM

It's interesting 'tradition' is brought into this. To my mind traditional musicians did not exist or play in a vacuum. They were part of a the community and functioned within the community. Quite different from the attitude expressed earlier in this thread. And there lies my point: Traditional music never was solely the plaything of the musicians, only to play to eachother. It wasn't necessarily performance based either. But to declare yourself separate from your environment 'we're only here for our own entertainment' seems a rather extreme position to take.

I like to play with other musicians I know well but if I want to enjoy playing fully I would probably choose to do it in a place other than a pub, away from distraction or interference. If we do play in a pub our own amusement is important. But we do not play in isolation. People in the pub known to be singers are regularly asked to sing a song, or two. Young players are asked to play a tune. There's no performance but there is interaction with the other inhabitants of the venue. Quite essential to a living, breathing music I would think.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: bubblyrat
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 09:22 AM

I am with Leadfingers on this (because I like him and we both served in the Armed Forces in Singapore ) and also with Will Fly because we are related . So there !!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 09:31 AM

[Will Fly]
Who says we don't communicate, Jack? That's your assumption.

I wasn't assuming anything about your session - I've never been to it and don't know anybody who has. I was responding to other posters (most of the gutlessly anonymous variety) who implied that players in a session ought to disregard their audience.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Will Fly
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 09:47 AM

It's interesting 'tradition' is brought into this. To my mind traditional musicians did not exist or play in a vacuum. They were part of a the community and functioned within the community. Quite different from the attitude expressed earlier in this thread. And there lies my point: Traditional music never was solely the plaything of the musicians, only to play to eachother. It wasn't necessarily performance based either. But to declare yourself separate from your environment 'we're only here for our own entertainment' seems a rather extreme position to take.

It would be nice indeed if traditional music was a part of the community in the way that you describe. Personally, I think all that went out a long, long time ago, although it's interesting to read about it as it was in a place not far from me - Rottingdean - as described in Bob Copper's "A Song For Every Season" (a book I read regularly). His description of singing together in the family or with fellow village workers in the Black Horse is fascinating. I've also made music in the Black Horse - as part of a Southern Soul band - not quite the same tradition!

I doubt that many in the audience at my session would recognise a traditional tune or song if they heard it, though they might like it if they heard one. On the other hand, when me and my mate Chris play a bit of 1950s' rock'n roll and blues in the Bat and Ball (a market traders' local) in Brighton on a Sunday afternoon, and everyone's bellowing along with us and buying us endless pints, I suppose we're functioning within the community... :-)


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,gutlessly anonymous
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 10:21 AM

No-one said that participants in a session ought to ignore their audience, generally, there is no 'audience' at a session, but other users of the pub, who have come to use the pub, not because the music is there.

I'll say once again, a session is for the benefit and enjoyment of the participants, who CHOOSE to go there, for their own pleasure. If someone goes to a session expecting to 'perform' to an audience, then as has been said before, they are way too full of their own self importance. I suspect you fall into this catagory Mr Campin!


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 01:49 PM

Same as most have said but re Ireland, they have open and closed sessions. Open being part instrumentals but interjected with locals and visitors wishing to do a song or two/poem etc, usually very entertaining nights. Closed most often are a group of local musicians playing trad instrumentals, often a range of tunes getting increasingly fast with each round of playing. Visiting musicians are often, but not always invited to play along, but really for adept experienced players only. And both are normally vry enjoyable affairs. Enjoy


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 03:40 PM

"Tradition" doesn't mean "how we used to do it but don't any more", it's "how we still do it", including things that we didn't use to do.

Much of our present way of doing it is a recent tradition, which is another way of saying a living tradition. Playing a range of instruments together is very much an example of this.
....................

I personally find a bunch of musicians playing together for their own enjoyment can make for a much more enjoyable social evening than a set of people trying to entertain me, even if I'm not one of them. I suspect there are quite a lot of people feel that way - the people making music over in the corner are a pleasant part of the environment, along with the others playing a darts game that I've no intention of joining in with. It's all part of what makes for a good pub.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 11 Dec 14 - 08:06 PM

In a small digression from the current points - "what is a session?" Seems to have totally different connotations to my offspring, then in their 20s, when I said I was "going for a session"! They fell about laughing! (Your guess is as good as mine!)
That aside, a session is what you choose to make of it: I go to some where it's strictly "round the room" and others where it's "just jump in", tho' some of us will try to make sure that no-one dominates and even the shrinking violets get a turn if they want one. At most of the sessions I go to there are some who do just come to listen, and appreciate what we do.
Our local pub has had its ups and downs over the years I have been going there (maybe nigh on 20 years now): there has been a session once a month for more than 30 years. The pub has had a number of landlords, and has even been closed and boarded up in between tenancies for periods of up to 6 months. But each time there has been a new incumbent, someone from the local Folk Club has gone in and spoken to the landlord about continuing this tradition of having a session on the first Tuesday of any month. No arrogance involved, just a polite suggestion, which has always been welcomed: the pub would probably be otherwise near empty on that night. Most people live within walking or bussing distance, so the bar sales are good. All of the landlords have appeared to enjoy the music, and the current one employs other groups at the weekends to do folk or jazz nights. There is another bar on the premises for anyone who does NOT want to listen, or prefers to watch football! And there is none of this "we have to keep the TV on, if only on silent" on our session nights.
Living in a big city with lots of international visitors adds another dimension to the folk session scene here: there are some who do specialise in playing the "crowd-pleasers" and "just for the tourists" stuff, whereas others who just "do what we normally do": the latter often draws comments such as "this is the best thing I've seen in your city" and we in turn mutually benefit from the times when foreign visitors have contributed songs or tunes to such sessions.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Stanron
Date: 12 Dec 14 - 06:07 AM

Now that the 'Arrogance' sidetrack has gone off the boil I'd like to repeat an earlier point that a 'session' implies playing together. A singaround is not always the same thing. A singaround where everyone is free to join in is a session but the 'one at a time around the room' singing event isn't.

I like sessions because I like taking part more than just listening. It's difficult to set a precise figure but I suspect that if I had to listen more than 50% of the time I'd get bored.


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Subject: RE: what is a session?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 12 Dec 14 - 07:23 AM

What Will Fly described was going round the room taking turns to lead something off. Varying numbers of people then join in, from none to everybody. It often works well, though I prefer "just dive in when there's a gap" for smaller sessions where everybody knows each other.


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