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Making Misteaks

Jerry Rasmussen 28 Apr 02 - 09:39 AM
Jeri 28 Apr 02 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Russ 28 Apr 02 - 10:32 AM
Hilary 28 Apr 02 - 10:43 AM
Mr Red 28 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 02 - 01:30 PM
Rolfyboy6 28 Apr 02 - 01:34 PM
C-flat 28 Apr 02 - 03:03 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 28 Apr 02 - 04:39 PM
McGrath of Harlow 28 Apr 02 - 06:53 PM
Jeri 28 Apr 02 - 07:13 PM
Celtic Soul 28 Apr 02 - 07:19 PM
Little Hawk 28 Apr 02 - 08:43 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 28 Apr 02 - 09:35 PM
Pied Piper 29 Apr 02 - 09:26 AM
GUEST,greg stephens 29 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM
McGrath of Harlow 29 Apr 02 - 09:56 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 29 Apr 02 - 11:02 AM
Hamish 30 Apr 02 - 05:47 AM
McGrath of Harlow 30 Apr 02 - 06:55 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Apr 02 - 07:54 AM
Pete Jennings 30 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM
GUEST,Russ 30 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM
Ebbie 30 Apr 02 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,maryrrf 30 Apr 02 - 05:22 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Apr 02 - 05:57 PM
Mark Ross 30 Apr 02 - 06:04 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Apr 02 - 06:38 PM
Hamish 01 May 02 - 04:36 AM
greg stephens 01 May 02 - 05:43 AM
Mr Happy 01 May 02 - 06:20 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 01 May 02 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,macca 02 May 02 - 12:56 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 02 May 02 - 07:50 AM
Fortunato 02 May 02 - 10:22 AM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 02 - 11:24 AM
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Subject: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 09:39 AM

How many times have you walked out at the end of a concert and said, "Boy!, I really loved that concert! He didn't make any mistakes?" I thought so.

Where is the balance between trying not to make mistakes, and making the greatest mistake of all: not getting the feeling of the song? There is a technically proficient guitar player I've done workshops with who has painstakingly transcribed the most complex ragtime pieces and plays them with precision and clarity. With absolutely NO feeling for ragtime music. You don't want to get up and dance. If ragtime music doesn't make you want to move, you got it wrong, even if technically you were perfect. I've seen the same with gospel music. People have all the techniques down pat... look up to the ceiling (as if God was hanging from the chandelier) with longing in your eyes, get that little catch in your voice, and practice humility in front of a mirror. But, the Spirit wouldn't touch that song with a ten foot pole.

There is a certain segment of every audience that is impressed with technique or showmanship, who will whoop and holler if you hold a note for two minutes when you're singing, or play sixty notes a minute on a guitar break. I am impressed with technique, and think that everyone should try to perform to the best of their ability. But for me, technique may be impressive, but it's not moving. Like watching a roller-skating bear. I'm amazed that they can do it, but it's just a performance.

Every musician has to find their own balance of performance skills, entertainment skills and musical skills. But as the bible says, without love, we are like clanging cymbals. I've heard my share. What about you?

For those of great gramatical sensitivity... please don't change the title of this thread. Sometimes it's alright to make misteaks.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 10:08 AM

Jerry, the hands and the voice are only tools to communicate what's in the heart. If the heart isn't there, the songs are hollow. I can intellectually appreciate technical skill, but emotion usually calls forth the same in me. I'd rather listen to an emotionally involved performer who isn't technically great than the detached wizard any day. Of course, a person needs SOME degree of skill and the best performers have both heart and skill in large amounts - but the heart always comes first.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 10:32 AM

Well put.

Dwight Diller has something to say about mistakes.

He says that if you are learning to play the banjo, assume that you MUST make 1,000,000 (or so) mistakes to get where he wants you to be. Where he wants you to be is NOT about technical excellence. So, the mistakes are not things to be feared and embarrassed by and avoided, they are REQUIRED for growth and learning. So the harder you work to avoid mistakes the longer it is going to take to reach the goal.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Hilary
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 10:43 AM

I aabsoutly agree - unfortunately - I'm only a few hundred along with the mistakes - a long way to go yet.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Mr Red
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 11:51 AM

Misteak - is that pronounced "mystique". Not wrong, on the face of it!


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 01:30 PM

If you don't make mistakes you don't make the happy mistakes. Evolution is made up of mistakes that turned out to be just what was needed. That's true of nature and it's true of songs and it's true of music and painting and dancing and friendships...


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Rolfyboy6
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 01:34 PM

"Man, that was a great mistake, how'd I do that?" -Charles Mingus.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: C-flat
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 03:03 PM

A very good friend of mine is a math's teacher who, in his spare time, likes to get out and play guitar with a couple of bands. He is a really knowledgable player, jazz chords, scales, he's studied them all and if I needed to know how to play C7b9, he's the man to call. Unfortunately his playing completely lacks feeling or phrasing. I did a jazz gig with him not so long back and, after we had finished, a guy I know and respect(musically) came over for a chat. " Your guy really knows his stuff....but he plays like a READER". I've always admired those guys who can turn up at a gig as a "dep". You just give them their parts and away they go! It must be great to be able to read music and play it straight off the paper! But not at the expense of the "feel" of the music. It's a different discipline; Feel or Accuracy, and it's a rare thing to hear them at the same time!


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 04:39 PM

Many years ago at a folk festival, a musician to remain un-named was in a songwriters workshop. He writes historically accurate long-winded ballads. After a ten minute introduction to the ballad, he launched into a ten minute, eighty verse ballad. It wasn't that the song was poorly written. He had a good sense of the style of traditional folk songs and had a good melody for the song. But, he sang it with such reverence that by the end of the song, several people were fast asleep. Honest! I was sitting next to the "performer" on-stage, so I could see the people slipping away. The sad thing was that it was an afternoon workshop, and it started at 1 p.m. There's a special talent for putting people to sleep at the first workshop of the afternoon in an air-conditioned room with the sun shinging brightly outside. The writer got the framework of the song right but forgot to make it interesting.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 06:53 PM

Well, I've known people who can sing epic ballads and tell stories that can last maybe 40 minutes, and hold the attention all the way. It's a different art from the ordinary singing, and the listeners need to be attuned to the idea that that is what they are there for. And not many people can do it.

Mistaking what is fitting for the time and place and listeners, that's a difficult mistake to get out of. You're launched into something, and you realise that's not the right thing to be singing, for all kinds of reasons. Is it better to push on through or stop? I think probably the latter. "I don't feel like singing that one right now - listen to this..."


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jeri
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 07:13 PM

I was laughed at once by somebody around here when I had to mention that I'd made a mistake picking something, and it sounded really cool. I'm not sure if he laughed because I was excited about something dumb or that I'd just discovered that making mistakes is often how we come up with new anythings.

I remember Michael Cooney once sang a 12-minute ballad (Patrick Spenser maybe) for his entire set at Fox Hollow and I didn't really notice the time passing.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 07:19 PM

I think it's not as simple as perhaps it seems at first glance though. Sometimes there is a lack of perception of how you are being *perceived* that contributes to the way you actually sound. It takes listening to yourself, being honest with yourself as to what your voice is capable of, and being willing to work inside that framework (speaking as a vocalist here, as I have no idea what goes into passionate instrument playing). This is hard, as you may have to admit to yourself that, perhaps you're not suited for the exact thing you love best.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Little Hawk
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 08:43 PM

Bob Dylan is one of the few recording artists who routinely left the mistakes on his records, because he wanted to get the song down in one or two takes. The result is generally well worth it...it's got the feeling.

Be that as it may, Dylan is about the only person who's been allowed to get away with it on record. It's called "the Dylan Exemption".

As for live performances, a note for note perfect performance with not much feeling in it is far less compelling to me than a flawed but inspired performance that has the feeling there.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 09:35 PM

McGrath: Don't get me wrong... I can enjoy a long, long ballad if the person loses themselves in it, and the song becomes almost conversational. But, you have to pick the place for them.

A case in point about mistakes. Last week, my gospel quartet was asked to sing at a dinner. When it was time to start, our bass Joe wasn't there and our tenor had a lousy alergy attack and could barely sing. We sang as a trio, improvising our way along, and when it was suggested that we do a song that I hadn't sung for a long time, we launched into it full force, and as the song went on, I couldn't remember the lyrics. I improvised a few verses and then just started singing "I can't remember the words," while the two other guys came in dutifully on their response. Finally, I remembered the words and we finished the song. The next song, we were half way through it when Joe walked in and we kinda screeched to a halt while he came up. When we went back into the song, we struggled for a few verses to find our harmonies and get a vocal blend. When we were done, someone who NEVER has complimented us came up and said that she'd never heard us sound so good. And meant it. I'd never heard us sound so bad... at least not in a long time. But to the woman, there was something about the way we charged into the songs with complete abandon that she must have really liked. She wasn't bothered by the mistakes. She heard what we were singing in a way that she never had before. Sometimes fearlessness is the best way to go.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Pied Piper
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 09:26 AM

I make lots of mistakes and have learned a lot from them (and from listenimg to other peoples).Music without emotion is dead. All the best PP


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: GUEST,greg stephens
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 09:35 AM

mcgrath of harlow, if you're so much in favour of mistakes, why did you criticise my typing in front of all these people and humiliate me publicly so I never dared show my face again?


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 09:56 AM

One of the best things about making mistakes is that it gives pleasure to the people who notice them.

In fact you can't really go wrong making mistakes - if they don't notice the mistakes that's ok; and if they do, that's ok too, because people like spotting them and feeling superior and knowledgeable.

Then they either complain, and that's ok, because it's very satisfying having a righteous moan about things; or they don't complain, and then they can feel virtuous for being so tolerant and generous.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 29 Apr 02 - 11:02 AM

Hi, Greg: My buddy McGrath did that? I wood nevere have suspected he'd due that. Kevin is Mr. Immediacy... follow your feelings and let 'er rip! That's what I like about him. Anyone who makes a CD from a used Boom Box is my kinda man. So are you, Greg! :-)

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Hamish
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 05:47 AM

I never know whether to be pleased or insulted when I compare notes quietly after a song that's included more than a fair share of mistakes, and they say "I didn't notice". Were they paying attention...? Or was it sheer performance that blinded them? No - anyone who knows me - please don't answer that!

btw, I thought it was a brilliant thread title. ;^)


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 06:55 AM

Is a veggy burger a misteak?


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 07:54 AM

My gospel quartet is recording a CD and a couple of weeks ago, we all sat down and listened to what we've recorded so far. I found it humorous. Each of us was wincing, hearing our own mistakes, and each of us thought everyone else sounded fine. When you're performing, there are so many things that people are "receiving". First of all, they are receiving you... all the movements you make, the inflection of your voice, the expression on your face, how much you are enjoying the song, how much you are putting in to it, the conversation you had during the break or before the concert, memories of other concerts or recordings, what they had for supper that night, whether they're getting along with their husband or wife, or date, whether they've had a good day, whether they're tired. All of these things fo into whether they enjoy your music. I take it as a compliment if people didn't notice my mistakes. That means that they were immersed in the music and were sharing the experience with me as a person. The connection was made, despite all of the p[ossible distractions that we often don't have any control over. That's what's so magical about music. It can transcend the greasy hamburger rumbling in your stomach and the argument you that you had in the car on the way over. It can transcend mistakes, too. When it does, you can just be appreciative that for a couple of hours you've come together with a group of people you may never have met and may never see again. That's worth all the meager pay, the long drives and the small turnouts.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Pete Jennings
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 08:09 AM

Like everyone else, I make mistakes while playing, but I reckon it's how you handle them that counts. I just try to sing through them, waiting for my fingers to latch back onto a familiar phrase. That way, as Hamish points out, nobody seems to notice, or in a folk club they've seen it before, even from the pros, and treat it as all part of the experience of live music. I've learned not to take it to heart or make a big deal of it, it happens.

However, having said that, I did a 70 minute session in a local pub (i.e. not my normal "venue") a couple of weeks ago and screwed up royally on one song IMO, but the guy who does "reviews" for the local music website said I never played a note wrong all night...

Interesting thread, glad to see it's not just me!.

Pete


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 11:38 AM

Many years ago I got to know a genuine child prodigy, a classical pianist. Had played the big concerti with real orchestras at a very young age, etc. But by the time I met him in his 20s he had given it up. He still played a bit for his own amusement (and my wonderment). Said he got tired of the pressure. Said at the end of each concert his father would be the first person he spoke to and his father's first question was always "How many mistakes did you make?"


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Ebbie
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 11:47 AM

Chet Atkins in concert would say something like: Now, I know the musicians in the audience here will be watching to see if I make any mistakes, so from time to time I'll throw one in, just to keep them on their toes.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: GUEST,maryrrf
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 05:22 PM

I've also been amazed at seeing people obviously enjoy what I was doing while mentally feeling that I had made some serious mistakes. I think a recording is less forgiving than a live performance, however, because people have time to "analyze" a recording. Also, as McGrath pointed out, at a live performance they're experiencing more than just the music - it's the venue, the atmosphere, your "charisma" (assuming that if you perform you must at least have some!). I try to eliminate mistakes by practicing, but I'd rather make a few mistakes and put feeling into the music than be technically perfect. There's nothing worse than music that's "cold". Worst mistakes that I really dread making - starting in the wrong key and that horrible moment when I realize I won't be able to hit the notes, or the total blank out of a whole verse.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 05:57 PM

Funny thing about starting out in the wrong key... particularly if it's higher than the one that you normally sing in. If you're in a group, and you start too high, you push everyone else to the top (or beyond) of their range. I did that recently on an a capella song I do with my group and the guys figured I'd stop and start over. But, I kept plugging along, managing to hit the high notes, and everyone else was blue in the face, trying to hit theirs. I won't do THAT again...

But as is usually the case, I think we were the only ones who realized that we were singing at the very top of our ranges.
Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Mark Ross
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 06:04 PM

The 1st time it's a mistake, the 2nd time it's a new arrangement, the 3rd it's Jazz! At least that 's what the old jazz musicians used to say.

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Apr 02 - 06:38 PM

Great quote, Mark...

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Hamish
Date: 01 May 02 - 04:36 AM

'at the end of each concert his father would be the first person he spoke to and his father's first question was always "How many mistakes did you make?" '

Ouch, ouch, ouch!!! Rule #1 in how to turn somebody off is to say things like that. Encouragement is *so* important, with children and adults alike. We're all fragile and need positive strokes. Show you're sharing in the good bits and then, maybe, suggest an area which needs a little extra attention to add that final polish.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 May 02 - 05:43 AM

I'm sure the whole business of decorations (grace notes etc) startes when you hit a wrong note and try to find your way to the right one quickly. And the more wrong ones you hit en route, the prettier the decoration.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Mr Happy
Date: 01 May 02 - 06:20 AM

i was inteested to read your comment RUSS about your friend being turned off mousic by his perfectionist father.

anyone who enjoys our world needs to sing, play, perform for themse;ves in the first instance.

in fact nowadays, many sessions/ singarounds and so on done in pubs are composed of groups of like minded individuals who enjoy singingm & playing music together and we are often surprised by other pub customers demanding that we play some request or other because the think we are there to 'entertain' them [whereas we're really doing it for ourselves]

of course we don't want to be unfriendly to other people so will do 'duelling banjos', 'wild rover' 'athenry' etc if it may help with broadening their tastes

good point Russ


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 01 May 02 - 11:15 AM

Many years ago an old friend of mine, Luke Faust, left his banjo sitting on the windowsill of his apartment with the window open. The next morning when he woke up, it had rained and the banjo had gotten wet. It had gone into a really weird tuning, and Luke picked it up and started playing it. It was a great tuning that as far as we knew, no one had ever tried. It worked perfectly for the song he was playing, and he kept the tuning for that song. A fortuitous mistake.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: GUEST,macca
Date: 02 May 02 - 12:56 AM

Most interesting discussion with some nice points raised about what mistakes are and what they aren't. Now I myself have never claimed to be perfect (don't know why - just plain old modesty and humiliy I suppose - just something I've always been good at) and I notice the same goes for every one of the crowd I session with, or the musoes I have the honour to play with. It seems to me that at concerts or other formal performances, especially where I've paid ma hard-earned guid money, the audience has a right to expect the performance to be reasonably acceptable, otherwise why go? Mistakes either technical or technique-al should have been mostly eliminated at rehearsals so everybody knows what they should be doing and so any inevitable actual errors are to be deplored and every effort made to correct them in the future. This does not include mistakes that are deliberate, or allowed to stand because they attract a laugh or get the audience's attention.

But - at informal ceilidhs or sessions a good deal of the fun, and the satisfaction, is in developing a way of delivering a song or tune or whatever. The only way you are ever going to get it right is to play around with it and see if it suits both you and the audience. Not that it's made any easier by different reactions from different audiences. In my book, which is a large brightly coloured one with simple spelling, many mistakes of a technique-al nature aren't so much mistakes as failed attempts to make effective communication with the audience.

As for technical mistakes, well, I'm a bodhran thumper - and proud of it - so what would I know anyway.


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 02 May 02 - 07:50 AM

Sure, Macca. If you're doing a performance you should try to tighten up your playing by practicing beforehand. If you're playing with other musicians, practice is essential. But, there's a difference between tightening up and being "up tight." When I put down my hard-earned money, I expect to have a good time. As simple as that. The only times I've ever found that mistakes and sloppiness spoiled an evening were when the performers pretty clearly didn't respect the audience. A few years ago, I was asked to suggest an opening act for the Kingston Trio. I was pleased to get the booking for Sally Rogers and Howier Bursen, and went to the concert. The Kingston Trio was not only insultingly sloppy, they made it clear that they didn't care. I was really offended and angry about it.

On a different note, many, many years ago I heard Tony Bennett sing with a small gropu of musicians led by Benny Goodman. The concert was done at the museum where I worked as a benefit because Benny was on our Board of Directors. The musicians all arrived on time, and went up on stage without having run through the songs, even once. They had no set list, and just went from song to song saying... "how about doing....., o.k., what key do you want to do it in," and then they'd launch right in to it. because jazz lives with some level of spontaneity and improvisation and all the songs they did were standards, they did a reasonably presentable concert. But, even jazz musicians need to at least run through songs one time. I wasn't greaty irritated because the guys were doing it gratis, and they were clearly having a good time.

All that said, I never go to concerts with the expectation of not hearing any mistakes. I'm not looking or listening for mistakes, and if they happen I've forgotten them by the time they do the next song.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: Fortunato
Date: 02 May 02 - 10:22 AM

A friend of mine divides mistakes made by musicians in performance into two categories:

1) Cows on the track

A few bumps but the train kept rolling.

2) Train wrecks

Train came to a grinding halt, derailed.

Like Jerry, I'm likely to forget any mistakes heard when I'm in the audience. I'm not a critic; I'm a celebrant.

As a performer part of my job is to press on beyond the mistakes I'm bound to make and deliver entertainment to the folks. I can do that best if I laugh at my mistakes (inwardly) and practice that bit when I get home. Even if a "Train Wreck" occurs, there's no loss of life!



Jerry, if you're still out there I'm just knocked out by your tape and I'll be in touch. Your songs connect directly to the heart. I've been slow to respond, but I'll make up for that. Keep writing! Art Thieme and Rick Fielding, et al, weren't jiving, you got the stuff.

regards, Chance


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Subject: RE: Making Misteaks
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 02 - 11:24 AM

That's a great tuning technique, Jerry, with a built in moral. You could write a song round it - but maybe only people who play string instruments would really appreciate it.

About onstage spontaneity - there are times when what's up there is presented as being spontaneous, people just jamming together, or swapping songs or tunes. The kind of thing you get at a festival, maybe with a bunch of people who wouldn't normally be together, but maybe they are all from the same broad tradition. When that happens, I prefer that it should be for real, rather than stage-managed.


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