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How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?

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GUEST,SeanN 22 May 02 - 09:08 AM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 09:18 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 09:20 AM
MMario 22 May 02 - 09:21 AM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 09:28 AM
Snuffy 22 May 02 - 09:29 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 09:30 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 09:36 AM
Malcolm Douglas 22 May 02 - 09:44 AM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 09:46 AM
GUEST 22 May 02 - 09:53 AM
GUEST 22 May 02 - 09:53 AM
GUEST,SeanN 22 May 02 - 09:56 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 09:59 AM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,SeanN 22 May 02 - 10:09 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 10:32 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 10:36 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 May 02 - 10:42 AM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 10:46 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 11:19 AM
C-flat 22 May 02 - 11:20 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 May 02 - 11:29 AM
McGrath of Harlow 22 May 02 - 11:38 AM
Dave Bryant 22 May 02 - 11:40 AM
Malcolm Douglas 22 May 02 - 11:46 AM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 11:52 AM
Malcolm Douglas 22 May 02 - 12:16 PM
Steve Parkes 22 May 02 - 12:16 PM
greg stephens 22 May 02 - 12:19 PM
GUEST 22 May 02 - 12:33 PM
DMcG 22 May 02 - 12:39 PM
Nigel Parsons 22 May 02 - 12:46 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 May 02 - 01:24 PM
Noreen 22 May 02 - 01:39 PM
MMario 22 May 02 - 01:49 PM
lamarca 22 May 02 - 02:03 PM
The Shambles 22 May 02 - 02:34 PM
The Shambles 22 May 02 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,SeanN 22 May 02 - 07:21 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 May 02 - 07:52 PM
Ebbie 22 May 02 - 11:39 PM
Steve Parkes 23 May 02 - 03:13 AM
Dave Bryant 23 May 02 - 04:44 AM
GUEST,Gilly 23 May 02 - 03:25 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 May 02 - 03:42 PM
Malcolm Douglas 23 May 02 - 03:55 PM
Martin Graebe 23 May 02 - 04:33 PM
The Shambles 24 May 02 - 04:23 AM
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GUEST 24 May 02 - 09:43 AM
McGrath of Harlow 24 May 02 - 11:07 AM
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Subject: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:08 AM

I'm curious about this fact, as there have been so many threads on the subject of the licensing and music in pubs here and in uk.music.folk in recent months.

BTW, I am aware of the laws, etc as I've been reading the threads, so don't need a recap of that. I'm more interested in finding out how far back in time the music session in the pub goes. My guess is, not that far.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:18 AM

Depends on how you define things, to some extent. Are you prepared to accept Beowulf? I'm sure CapriUni or someone with a similar lit. background could tell us if there's a suitable Chaucer quote!


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:20 AM

Well, many references from the 1600's on.Presumably earlier...well, where else were all the fiddlers and pipers etc play in the winter evenings? It would take a little source-chasing to document that, but no doubt Tudor and Jacobean playwrights might provide earlier references. It depends what you mean by "not that far"...would you settle for 500 years...I find it difficult to believe that people did not sing and play in pubs as long as there have been pubs to do it in.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:21 AM

from the remininsces of WWI soldiers I would say back at least a century - which I would guess for right-bankers is considered a "radical new developement"


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:28 AM

There must be a great deal of material from the time of the Puritans denouncing such evil pastimes.

It certainly looks like the limiting factor in "how old is Brit trad" is the relatively short time Britain has been around....


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Snuffy
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:29 AM

Music Halls were originally part of pubs, rather than separate theatres, but that was just updating an older tradition of music and liquor.

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:30 AM

Exactly how widespread pub-playing was would be impossible to establish solely from a handful of quotesspread over half a millennium: but consider the creation, variation and rapid spread of many thousands of fiddle tunes between 1600 and 1850, not to mention the vast body of folk songs (including drinking songs!). It's a bit difficult to postulate a mechanism for this in English society that doesnt involve places for communal leisure-drinking and social get-togethers.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:36 AM

SeanN, what's the theory behind your "not that long" guess? It's intriguing.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:44 AM

The typical "pub session" as we understand it today does seem to be a fairly recent phenomenon in both Britain and Ireland, but in the less specialised sense of a more-or-less informal event including singing and (less often) instrumental music and sometimes dance (including, but not restricted to, traditional material), it seems reasonable to suppose that it goes back as far as pubs do, at any rate.

Some useful references off the top of my head:

Ginette Dunn: The Fellowship of Song: Popular Singing Traditions in East Suffolk (Croom Helm, London, 1980)

Ian Russell: Stability and Change in a Sheffield Singing Tradition (The Folk Music Journal, vol.5 no.3, 1987; EFDSS, London)

Hazel Fairbairn: Changing Contexts for Traditional Dance Music in Ireland: The Rise of Group Performance Practice (The Folk Music Journal, vol.6 no.5, 1994; EFDSS, London)

Chaucer certainly describes instances of social music making in and around pubs (bagpipes were involved, if I remember correctly) but I can't give chapter and verse just now.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:46 AM

"Bring Us in Good Ale" is listed "Medieval English Lyrics" (ed RT Thomas) as late 15c, and if that's not a pub drinking song, I don't know what is!


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:53 AM

My reason is that the transmission of trad music in Ireland via pub sessions is very recent. In Ireland, music and dance occurred in homes, at crossroads, etc but the pub session in Ireland, as far as I recall, is common only in this century. There was something called the Dance Hall Act in Ireland also, which had some effect on the playing of music and dancing by the audience in the Republic.

Thanks Malcom, for the information. While there are many historic references to music being played in association with alcohol and/or public houses in literature, that isn't quite the same thing as pub sessions as we know them today. I'm guessing the beast we know today would be fairly easy to trace and documentable through the public house licensing records.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:53 AM

The above is attributable to me, SeanN.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:56 AM

OK, I think I've got it now! Above two, attributable to me.

SeanN


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 09:59 AM

Malolm, where do you get the idea of "less often instrumental music" from? I would have thought the "fiddle and pipes in an alehouse" scenario would have been standard since time immemorial.What social pressure could have prevented it, given the enormous numbers of musicians,the popularity of music, and presumably the readiness of mine host to ensure with the odd free pint, if not always money, that the fiddlers came to his place and not the Dog and Dumpling next door?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:04 AM

As we understand them today

What do you feel are the characteristic differences between modern sessions and those of the past? The biggest ones, I imagine, are:

a) regular sessions on specific days each week (as opposed to 'regular' in the sense of 'after the haymaking' or local special days such as one Bob Copper called 'Tater Beer Night')

b) the concept of a planned paid guest for most of these sessions, as opposed to any passing traveller singing or the occasional special visitor.

Are these the criteria you would use? I think it may help the discussion if we're agreed on this.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:09 AM

Your first mistake there Greg, is in presuming there were "enormous numbers of musicians". The cost of instruments were quite dear, and were much more rare in the past than they are today. As was the alcohol.

The communities that have these native traditions of music had little money, few instruments, and imbibed mostly homebrew and poteen. If one wasn't in a city, there is also the problem of distances to be covered to get to a public house. In Ireland, there was no public house sort of tradition as there was in England. Music was played and learned at home, where the drinking and singing and dancing also took place.

Honest Greg--life hasn't always been the way it is now. You may even have heard our ancestors didn't amplify their pub sessions too! (Just a gentle slag there)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:32 AM

Sean, I wasnt talking about Ireland, I was concentrating on England, as my own area of special interest is the north of England.firstly, even in quite remote parts there would be a pub every couple of miles, maybe more, even in northern rural dales.Secondly, instrument were very common: obviously we can't quote actual numbers here, I'm not that kind of social historian, but the trade of fiddle-maker is well attested even in quite small communities, let alone pipe making,(which actually involves a lot less skilland could be done rather crudely by almost anybody).And whistle making from elder is universal. As regards numbers of musicians, consider farm and road making financial a ccounts, which can be found all over the place. You will see musicians employed to entertain the labourers, and by the nature of the industry there was often similar acitivity going on on neighbouring farms simultaneously. And of coursechurch records will show the vast numbers of people playing stringed instruments. Also consider the number of fiddlers' tune books(manuscript) that have come down to us, plus the commercial sale of books of dance tunes since the 16oo's. There were thousands of fiddlers, and I bet they went tp the pub in the evenings.Well, plenty of them, anyway.. On the other hand, if we are talking of the modern type of session, I'd have a guess it is modern. .


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:36 AM

By the way, Sean, you did say Brit in the thread title, so you mustn't be surprised if we politely talked about the scene this side of the Irish Sea.I'd have been jumped on( and deservedly) if I assumed Brit referred to Irish sessions!! Now, if you want to talk about Irish pubs...well where shall we start?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:42 AM

DMcG:
I imagine your comment 'b', "the idea of a planned paid guest, as opposed to travelling musicians" narrows the field too much.
The tradition would be for the locals to provide the singing. Travellers would merely add to the number of songs available. (and due to "tradition" the songs the travellers used would be repeated later, from memory, hence the fluidity of the lyrics !

Nigel


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 10:46 AM

Point taken Nigel. It was bad phrasing on my part. Then as now, the backbone to any sessions would be the local singers. But I imagine the idea of arranging for some visitor to come specially to sing - in addition to the normal singers - would be much rarer in the past than it is now.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:19 AM

Bit of thread drift onto music transmission by travellers(as in people travelling, not necessarily Travellers ) which I'll join in with.The gradual move north each year of groups of people engaged in seasonal agricltural work must have had a huge musical effect. One local pattern I know about is people from Donegal crossing to Wales in early summer, starting working onCheshire farms and moving steadily north through Lancashire and Cumbria and then round the corner of the Solway into Galloway.Andback home for winter. Bringing music(and musicians) with them. Bringing new songs in. taking new songs back.Harvest kneesups all the way.So nw england, sw scotland and donegal are full of each others tunes and songs.In the pubs!!


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: C-flat
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:20 AM

I wouldn't have thought that in the 1600-1800s there would be the information network available to source entertainers from outside the local area, much less the willingness of the public to pay an entrance fee. I suppose most of the "performers" would be regulars, with maybe the occassional "wandering minstrel" singing/playing for their ale and keep. Around the 1900's my great grandfather was a well known local pub entertainer who played a variety of instruments and, from what I could gather from my grandmother, "always had a pocket full of thre'penny-bits" which I suppose would be handed to him as he went round from pub to pub.I used to have a tape of my grandmother singing some of the songs he wrote.They were mostly topical, comedic ditties with a few risque double-entendres thrown in for good measure. Sadly the tape is lost, grandmother is long dead and all I've got are a few half-remembered lines.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:29 AM

C-flat, in this instance, your loss is our loss too. No brothers or sisters who would have copies ??


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:38 AM

Inthink the music would have been there before ever the first pubs started, and naturally moved in along with the people. It depends how you define pubs. The Romans had them.

The basic thing is, wherever people have gathered together, there has always been music - caves, campfires, ships forecastles, workplaces, picket lines, private houses, public houses...

There was probably a falling off in some places in the 1950s or so (balannced to some extent by an expansion of music in coffee bars and so forth), and then a gradual growth once again from the 1960s on.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:40 AM

The only problem that there might have been with pub sessions before the mid 20th century, was that in many areas of England, pubs tended to be men-only establishments. There's plenty of evidence that women frequented many town taverns, but in many rural and northern areas women would not have been served. Even as late as the 1960s a girlfriend of mine was refused a pint in a Yorkshire pub (there was only the one public bar) - I was allowed to buy her a half pint - but she had to drink it outside.

In Bob Copper's "A Song for Every Season" the various singing occasions in the pub (Black Ram Night etc.) seem to have been primarily male.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:46 AM

To expand a little on DMcG's comments:

The modern pattern involves a lot more ensemble playing than seems to have been the case in the past (though it will have been more common here than in Ireland, for demographic reasons), and tends to be a planned and regular event involving singers and musicians who are not necessarily regulars at that pub at other times, rather than a spontaneous one generated "organically", if you like, from among those normally present; there are plenty of exceptions to this generalisation, of course. Sometimes one or two musicians are paid to lead the session, which moves it towards the "laid on" entertainment category, though there's a large grey area between the purely "just for fun" type and the paid residency. Oddly enough, the popularity of the "Irish style" session in Britain is actually a revival of the older, indigenous pub tradition that used to be quite widespread here; I doubt if the majority of those who frequent them realise that.

The widespread use of musical instruments does seem to be more common nowadays than in the past; accounts of earlier forms of "session" indicate that most characteristically concentrated on singing, though again there were always exceptions, one such being the Blind Fiddlers of Sheffield (turn of the 18th/19th centuries); their repertoire seems to have been a mix of popular and stage pieces, light "classical" and what we would now call "folk"; they were professionals, though, and the pub entertainer or busker takes us into another of those grey areas, really.

I won't dispute with Greg that musical instruments have at times been more widely played than is often thought (the barber's shop cittern, for example) and indeed, musical literacy was more widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries than it is today; I'd still say, though, that, so far as we can tell, singing has typically formed the greater part of the pub repertoire.

Ginette Dunn's book, mentioned above, deals in some detail with the "men only" issue; that seems primarily to have been just a late 19th/early 20th century thing. Certainly, "men only" bars persisted until 1972 or 73, but by then they were a relatively isolated phenomenon.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:52 AM

Malcolm, that's very interesting that you say the "men only" pub was a late 19th century thing.What do you base that on...I would like tofeel it was true but I'd like to be able to back it up as it ties in with some stuff I'm writing at the moment(all assistance will be credited!!)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:16 PM

I'm no historian, so it's a general impression based on things I've read. Doubtless there were "men only" rooms in many places earlier than that, but women seem to have been generally accepted in pubs otherwise. Try to get hold of a copy of Ginette Dunn's book; Part 1 Chapter 2, The Women, is particularly useful on that topic; though it deals specifically with a local Suffolk tradition and with people who were born no earlier than the 1880s, much it would extrapolate to other situations, I would think.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:16 PM

Surprisingly, the public house per se has only been in existence since the Beer House Act of 1830. This was brought in to combat the menace of the gin-palaces in urban areas, by allowing the provision of cheap "nutritious" low-alcohol beverages, brewed on the premises; it meant anyone with a house could get a licence cheaply and turn it into a public house.

Of course, there have always been places selling beer, but the "pub" as we know it is a relatively modern phenomenon.

Steve


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: greg stephens
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:19 PM

Steve, i think you're just talking about the name "pub" dating after 1830. There have always been places called "The Red Lion" where you get a pint and a bag of pork scratchings.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:33 PM

Greg, I only mentioned the Irish side of the sea, because it is that I'm more familiar with in the intellectual sense (the familiarity with the pub the other side is recreational).

SeanN


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:39 PM

Greg, you must be right. I think you would get a chilly reception in this pub if you suggested it only really dated to 1830-ish.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 May 02 - 12:46 PM

DMcG: "said to have been built in 1189" a mere youngster! compared with "The Skirrid Inn" which is recorded in 1110 as the site of the trial of two men.
Of course, The Old Trip To Jerusalem only claims to be the oldest pub in England
CHEERS

Nigel


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 May 02 - 01:24 PM

It's a bit like saying there is no tradition of singing in the bath. Which would actually be a lot truer, because it's only within the last couple of generations that most people have had a bathroom in their homes.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Noreen
Date: 22 May 02 - 01:39 PM

I'm sure people sang in the tin bath in front of the fire, McG...


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: MMario
Date: 22 May 02 - 01:49 PM

Or while bathing in a lake or stream (as my grandfather did.)

In fact my grandfather often attracted audiences on the lakeshore across from "the old swimming hole" where he would be cleaning up. they would bring picknic dinners down and dine while listening to him.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: lamarca
Date: 22 May 02 - 02:03 PM

I'm across the pond, and have no specific knowledge of British or Irish pub history. That disclaimer given, I wonder if the politician who made the original statement about "No tradition of music in pubs" was influenced by the relatively modern perception of music as a performing art to be conducted only by paid professionals for a passive audience, rather than a participatory community activity.

With the rise of radio and television, fewer people feel comfortable about making music themselves. The music "industry" encourages people to think of music as something to purchase rather than to be made. The politician who made the ignorant statement may be unfamiliar (or not care) about the wealth of social interactions when people got together to sing or play musical instruments for the sheer joy of it rather than because they were paid entertainers...


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 May 02 - 02:34 PM

The gentleman of the Local Government Association to whom the comment was attributed, has a set position and the comments were made to support this.

It should of course be the other way around. If he should come back and defend this statement we may find out the answer to the question posed in this thread. perhaps the questions here should be directed at him?

Difficult for him to prove a negative, however.

Lamarca I think that you are most probably right about his perception. If it was honestly expressed, which I think it was but it does show the level of ignorance and the danger of it being expressed at the highest level. People who are just as ignorant of their nation's traditions will assume that his comments were based on some knowledge or data.

We could always ask them to come here, to be informed?

For the puposes of the current argument, it would not matter if the tradition only went back two weeks, it would still be a tradition, or would be if the Government were not doing their best to prevent it.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 22 May 02 - 02:41 PM

I will leave this thread to its purpose but -

Should you wish to know more and do what you can to help, just click here OFFICIAL no tradition of music


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:21 PM

Referring back to DMcG:

"Greg, you must be right. I think you would get a chilly reception in this pub if you suggested it only really dated to 1830-ish."

I went to the link, which suggests the origins of the pub was "shrouded in history".

Just how is something shrouded in history, exactly? Any guesses?

I would lean towards agreeing with Dave Bryant, Malcolm Douglas, and Steve Parkes. If I bothered to research this (which I likely never will), I think we'd discover that there would be little of what we call the pub session today, extending too terribly far in the past. But that is mere surmising.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 May 02 - 07:52 PM

Things change, but that's what tradition is about. There are aspects of pub sessions which are new, largely because on the one hand we travel around more than we used to, and on the bother many pubs have become much less welcoming to spontaneous music-making than was true at one time. There are television sets and juke boxes,and fruit machines.

And the music has changed too, and the custom of playing instruments together, rather than standing round a pub piano is more widespread than it has been in the past.

But the idea that the pub is where you go to sing with your mates is not new. It's just that you might have to travel further to find a pub that allows it, and arrange it more in advance sometimes.

As for the assumption that people in general are just not interested in the idea of singing for themselves, instead of always listening to professionals, it seems to me that the lie is given to that by the popularity of karaoke. It may not be the way many of us like to sing, but it demonstrates an appetite for it, disguised by a felt need to do it in a way that is somehow permitted by a culture that is unfriendly to singing. (In the same way line dancing perhaps demonstrates the same appetite for social dance, shaped by the same need to do it in a "permitted" context.)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 May 02 - 11:39 PM

At that site: 'It is believed this was a "shouting hole" to allow those in the castle to call for more ale from the cellars bellow. '

Isn't that a great typo!

As an ignorant Amurrican, I don't know much more about the British Isles or Ireland than I have read in books over the years, but mightn't a pub session occur in the inns on the travelers' routes? Since human nature with its needs doesn't change that much, it isn't hard to believe that many men (primarily) gathered at the inns of an evening.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 23 May 02 - 03:13 AM

Let's forget about defining "pub"--which is bit of a red herring--and turn the argument round a bit: how long does soemthing have to go on to become a "tradition"? Since youwere a child? Since I was a child? since your father's/grandfather's day? I was singing in pubs in the last century! If you prefer, I've been at it for over thirty years; is that long enough?

Steve


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:44 AM

My comments about many pubs tending to be MEN ONLY wasn't meant to imply that there was no singing in them - merely that women might have had to do their singing elswhere.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,Gilly
Date: 23 May 02 - 03:25 PM

Singing in pubs is as old as pubs themselves. You get drunk, you sing. Simple as that. Nothing would be organized - it would just happen. They didn't have much else to do on a dark winter's night, all.

Oh and by the way, Scots don't like to be called Brits either. Nothing against the English, but there are Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish. Brits is a hateful word to the ears of many. Kindly don't use it - if you must, at least say 'British'.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 May 02 - 03:42 PM

I agree about "Brits." Pretty well the only people who like to be called Brits are the kind of English that it'd be an insult for anyone to be associated with.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 23 May 02 - 03:55 PM

It's a term which I cordially dislike, but many people use it affectionately, with no offence intended, so we shouldn't get too exercised about it. When used with the intention to offend (obviously not the case here!) it seems generally to be meant as a synonym for English, which as we all know is not what "British" means.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 23 May 02 - 04:33 PM

A quote lifted from one of my own papers:

One day in the 1850s the young Sabine Baring-Gould was riding on his pony around Dartmoor and, as the evening fell, rode down into South Zeal and found himself a room for the night at the Oxenham Arms. It was a day when the miners had been paid and had gathered to spend their wages. Writing in 1892 he describes the evening he spent in the bar:

"At the table and in the high-backed settle sat the men, smoking, talking, drinking. Conspicuous among them was one man with a high forehead, partly bald, who with upturned eyes sang ballads. I learned that he was given free entertainment at the inn, on condition that he sang as long as the tavern was open, for the amusement of the guests. He seemed to be inexhaustible in his store of songs and ballads; with the utmost readiness, whenever called on, he sang, and skilfully varied the character of his pieces - to grave succeeded gay, to a ballad a lyric. At the time I listened, amused, till I was tired, and then went to bed, leaving him singing."

SBG also tells a number of other anecdotes about his simgers performing in pubs - even the young James Olver escaping over the roof from his bedroom to sit outside under the pub window to learn songs. But that's song, rather than music - perhaps the English have a stronger tradition of singing in pubs than we have of playing music? I am sure there is some hard evidence out there somewhere

Martin


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 May 02 - 04:23 AM

One day in the 1850s the young Sabine Baring-Gould was riding on his pony around Dartmoor and, as the evening fell, rode down into South Zeal and found himself a room for the night at the Oxenham Arms. It was a day when the miners had been paid and had gathered to spend their wages. Writing in 1892 he describes the evening he spent in the bar:

The tradition goes on, for I have taken part in folk music at the very same pub, as part of the Folk Festival held every year in the village.

And no, I wasn't the poor chap described.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 24 May 02 - 08:10 AM

Some people here seem (to my way of understanding this thread) to be equating what I would call the English inn with British pub. Am I right about that? Do English people see the village inn (as it would likely be referred to here in the States) as the modern day equivalent of the British pub? Do the British view the pub as quintessentially British?

Then, I'm also curious about Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland. All of them have pubs now, but historically was there the same sort village inn/English inn in those areas. I know the public house came to Ireland late, except in those cities ruled by the English. But the pub tradition in rural Ireland is modern (in that I mean post-Famine modern). Are Wales and Scotland historically more similar to England or to Ireland when it comes to the pub?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: IanC
Date: 24 May 02 - 09:22 AM

Sean

I think you may be confused by the fact that there's more than one type of establishment involved. Traditionally an "Inn" derived from a monastic visitor's hostelry. Many English pubs descend from them, or from Hotels, or from places of entertainment (like bear & cock pits) or, like the C19th Irish pubs, as places where people could go and share the fire and light. All these became English pubs, as well as "Beer Halls" and "Gin Palaces" in urban areas.

The village i live in has a population of 1,700 or so and had 17 pubs (i.e. licensed premises) in the mid C19th (3 now). At least one of the surviving pubs is of the "companionship" type - early C19th. The others are much earlier. The last one that shut was still a very small C19th-style "local" when it closed. Probably most of the pubs in the village actually started during the C19th .

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 24 May 02 - 09:43 AM

Does anyone really think there has ever been a time when there has NOT been music in pubs, puritans or no puritans?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 02 - 11:07 AM

Inns, taverns, bars, pubs. People in practice refer to them all as pubs. They vary a lot. Some sell meals and are more like restaurants, some sell meals but aren't at all like restaurants, some the nearest you'd get to food would be crips or peanuts. Properly speaking an inn would have to have room for guests to stay.

The actual term pub" is relatively recent, 19th century. "Public House" can be a confusing term - in French "Maison Publique" was a term for a brothel.

I imagine Mr T of the Local Government Association thinks all those pub pianos you still find in pubs that haven't been gutted were put in purely for decoaration.

What he could, have said of course, is that the tradition of singing in Public Houses that existed has died out, and that the practice of holding sessions is not a continuation of it, but a new development, which hasn't been going long enough or caught on widely enough to be classed as a tradition. It would still have been rubbish, but at least it would have been historically literate rubbish.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 24 May 02 - 12:01 PM

I think this thread has demonstrated that Mr Tiffney was wrong. But we knew that anyway. The point is that he said it because it was an inconvienience to their plans To accept that there is a continuing tradition of folk music making (of some form) in pubs is a problem for them.

The Oxenham Arms alone proves he is wrong. 100 years must be long enough for most traditions, surely? Although the chap there did managed to sing somehow through his (upturned ) eyes.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 May 02 - 07:15 PM

In his essay on the ideal pub (1946), George Orwell says:

In "The Moon under Water" it is always quiet enough to talk. The house possesses neither a radio nor a piano, and even on Christmas Eve and such occasions the singing that happens is of a decorous kind.

I would be delighted to go to a pub where singing *happens*. Evidently such places were common in 1946. During my year in Britain (1958-1959) I did not happen on one.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 24 May 02 - 07:59 PM

You'd probably have a better chance today in some parts anyway. As I remarked earlier, the 50s were probably a low point for music in pubs.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 27 May 02 - 07:47 AM

Gilly - how right you are: where there is drinking, there is singing, especially at universities. It reminds me of my hiking days, sometimes with a friend, but always with a guitar. Wherever I entered a pub in Germany or France, people asked for songs and payed in wine.
McGrath - Singing in the bath must not be confined to a tub or running water. There is a lot of pictures of the interior of old German bathing houses, where both sexes share a tub, eating and drinking therein, and accompanied by a lot of musicians piping, hammering and singing happily away - like in the pubs. This stopped in the 16th century after the introduction of the Spanish Disease in Naples, by soldiers returning from the Americas. This VD (always named after the land it came from, Italian, French, German &c Disease) spread rapidly all over Europe and made social bathing an uncalculated risk, so these social events in the bathing houses were discarded.

Wilfried


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 27 May 02 - 05:33 PM

As far as the definition of an Inn versus a Pub is concerned it is in part down to what facilities were available and also what definition the licensing authorities worked to.
An Inn had accommodation - Usually a Coaching Inn was to be found on a (major) road and offered accommodation for coach passengers and stabling for horses. A Public House was somewhere you could walk into and warm your backside by the fire - you were not actually obliged to buy any beverage.
When my brother worked behind bar counters in Bradford in the late 1970's there were two Beer Houses left in Bradford. Their license did not allow them to sell spirits - it cost less than a beer and spirit license.
Here is a clicky to the Campaign for Real Ale CAMRA
Quack!


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 27 May 02 - 08:15 PM

"You were not actually obliged to buy any beverage" - well, you still aren't. But they don't like it if you bring in the stuff you drink rather than buy it.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 28 May 02 - 08:54 AM

The "Jolly Woodman" in Chancery Lane, Beckenham was only licensed for Beer, Wine, and Cider up to sometime in the '70s. It was a great pub for going to with one of our tight-wad friends, who would buy beers on his rounds, but have double scotches on everyone else's.

We also had some great song sessions in there.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 28 May 02 - 01:04 PM

The tradition of first out of the stagecoach and last to the bar still continues then?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 29 May 02 - 09:52 AM

A further datum:

Flora Thompson's semi-fictionalized autobiography (or semi-autobiographical novel) Lark Rise to Candleford mentions pub-singing in the latter part of the 1800s.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 29 May 02 - 10:41 AM

The informal gathering of musicians, the playing of instruments i.e tunes but not for dancing, I would have thought must be a fairly recent activity anyway - or is it?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,Just Amy
Date: 29 May 02 - 01:01 PM

Me Mum and I stayed at a 13th century coaching house in Worchester, England that is still a hotel. Our room was close to the current dining room/bar. In the evenings when they serve beer and other libations, we could hear the patrons talking and singing as they relaxed. I think this has been going on since the 13th century in this place and will continue to go on. Although it is not a pub/inn, it is a place that the neighbours could gather and the traveling guests could relax with food and drink and maybe a song or two (more if they drank enough).


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 29 May 02 - 09:10 PM

Two points. The first: does anyone know of a good history of "pubs" (I use the term as loosely as necessary to encompass all public places where drinking and/or singing might happen)? It's too easy, and fatal, to think that pubs as we know them today (or as pubs often fancifully describe themselves, with fake histories, woodbeams, horse brasses, etc.) are the ways they always were. The second point: I understand that Licening Acts either just before or during the First World War significantly cut back the amount of socializing permissible in pubs, with age limitations, time limitations, and song limitations being prominent. I associate this in my mind with Lloyd George (was he Home Secretary?)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Martin Graebe
Date: 30 May 02 - 02:22 AM

As ever, I'm too short of time to do tis properly but looking in Roy Palmer's excellent little book 'A Tates of Ale' I foud a reference 'THe Mug HOuse in Long Acre' where 'The room is always so diverted with songs and drinking from one table to another and another's healths, that there is no room for politicks.'

Martin


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,Pavane
Date: 30 May 02 - 02:37 AM

There is a quote on the Rattlebone & Ploughjack album about Molly dancing, including singing and music, I believe, in a pub,which must have been at least 70 years ago. The broom dance was done 'on the tiled floor in the bar parlour'I think it was.

I don't have it available to check the source, though


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,SeanN
Date: 30 May 02 - 02:28 PM

Ah, you see there Martin--that would be the difference between an English and an Irish pub, then.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: IanC
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:34 AM

Sorry

I'd meant to put in th "suitable Chaucer quote" which DMcG guessed would be there. It's from "The Miller's Tale", of course, where the Parish Clerk, Absolom, is being described. This is from one of the modern-spelling versions on the web, but it's basically the original.

A merry lad he was, so God me save,
And well could he let blood, cut hair, and shave,
And draw a deed or quitclaim, as might chance.
In twenty manners could he trip and dance,
After the school that reigned in Oxford, though,
And with his two legs swinging to and fro;
And he could play upon a violin;
Thereto he sang in treble voice and thin;
And as well could he play on his guitar.
In all the town no inn was, and no bar,
That he'd not visited to make good cheer,
Especially were lively barmaids there.

Think that covers it!

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: IanC
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:50 AM

Or, as Chaucer himself put it

A merry child he was, so God me save;
Well could he letten blood, and clip, and shave,
And make a charter of land, and a quittance.
In twenty manners could he trip and dance,
After the school of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges caste to and fro;
And playen songes on a small ribible; (fiddle)
Thereto he sung sometimes a loud quinible (treble)
And as well could he play on a gitern. (guitar)
In all the town was brewhouse nor tavern,
That he not visited with his solas,
There as that any garnard tapstere was.barmaid*

;-)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: IanC
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 11:50 AM

Or, as Chaucer himself put it

A merry child he was, so God me save;
Well could he letten blood, and clip, and shave,
And make a charter of land, and a quittance.
In twenty manners could he trip and dance,
After the school of Oxenforde tho,
And with his legges caste to and fro;
And playen songes on a small ribible; (fiddle)
Thereto he sung sometimes a loud quinible (treble)
And as well could he play on a gitern. (guitar)
In all the town was brewhouse nor tavern,
That he not visited with his solas,
There as that any garnard tapstere was.

;-)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 12:13 PM

Think that covers it!

I think it does Ian, many thanks.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 02 - 02:51 PM

Since minstrels played in the great halls long before pubs were invented. I think it safe to say as long as there have been public houses there has been music in them.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 05:48 AM

during the festive season, there were a lot of old b/w films shown on British tv.

Among these were a number about WarWarTwo in which scenes of fighter pilots/seamen/soldiers/ letting off steam & raising their spirits by having jolly singsongs around the piano in the local pub.

Not only were their spirits raised but also that of the viewing audiences during those dark years-see footage of similar singsongs organised in bomb shelters & underground rail stations.

Now, imagine if the PEL resrictions had been around sixty years ago, the British population may have become extremely demoralised & unhappy, especially at a time when few other form of entertainment were available.

comments, please

regards,

mr h


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:13 AM

Ealing's, Passport To Pimlico has a bit where a chap hears that the liquor licence does not apply and asks if the same goes for music licenses. On being told they do not need one of these either he opens the piano and all the pub burst into a good old 'knees -up'.

But how old does this tradition have to be? My view is that tradition is continuing the way things are done. So if the first one was only last week, this week's session is continuing the way it is done, therefore continuing the tradition of making music in pubs.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:51 AM

Picking up Sean N's and Greg's bit of near-drift, the pub sessions among Irish emigrants in Britain may have contributed to the emergence of pub sessions back in Ireland. Immigrants (particularly navvies) generally stayed in lodgings, where they could hardly entertain large circles of friends, so the pub was where they met, and similarly that's where the music was heard (certainly from the 1940s on).

I've posted a reference on one of the many PEL threads to an interesting article on Mustrad, and since found another one there, both of which give some insight into the social environment in which the music was played in Ireland and among Irish immigrants in Britain:

Junior Crehan

Lucy Farr , of whom I knew nothing until reading that she just died a couple of days ago.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 07:38 AM

re my above post about servicemen singing- the armed forces are governed by military law- so presumably would be exempted from singing on military sites-[are they classed as public places? or 'any place'?]

But- what about the sort of sing-song orders shouted out by american drill sergeants for troops out marching? like in'full mental jacket'?
which have been adopted informally by our drill instructors.

and there's also concerts for people in jail- do gaols need a pel or are they exempt?

your thoughts please


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: DMcG
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 07:48 AM

Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 07:54 AM

que?


& would criminals in gaol be fined & sent to prison for singing- & do the prison administration have to be punished similarly?


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 08:41 AM

WRT Passport to Pimlico, the new PEL specifically does NOT apply to "moving vehicles", so look forward to folk clubs on canal boats, backs of lorries and (at your own risk!) trains. Navvies and drill sergeants optional.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 06:56 PM

Greenjack said:

But that's song, rather than music -

Since when is song not music?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 09:01 PM

All too often...


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 09:40 AM

I'll drink to that.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: The Shambles
Date: 04 Mar 03 - 09:43 AM

Pubs in decline


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: GUEST,E.T Devon
Date: 24 Aug 15 - 01:16 PM

My husband was a musician since his schooldays. He played byrequestat
various private celebrations etc and throughout the war(2nd) was asked
to play for US army personnel at a camp nearby and also village halls etc. all of which were sited in the country. Music was licenced in the town pubs, if I remember correctly, around the 50s era but never in my experience out on the frontage-either singing or playing an instrument. In fact the sound of all music and singing was kept entirely inside the relative pub.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Noreen
Date: 24 Aug 15 - 06:54 PM

Thanks for refreshing this interesting thread, Guest E T Devon- tell us a bit more about where your husband lived, what he played and so on?

I nominate this thread to be added to the list of "classic threads" or whatever they're called :)


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 22 Sep 15 - 01:13 PM

So, returning to the original question: The point has been made several times in this thread that drink and song have always been close partners, so the question is incapable of producing a simple answer. I find a more interesting question to be: 'For how long have pub singers required electronic amplification in any room larger than a broom cupboard?' - but no, I'm just coat-trailing.

If what we are searching for is the origin of more or less organised song sessions, we still have to go back a very long way. The tradition of private dining and singing clubs meeting in taverns was solidly established by the seventeenth century and must have had a long back history.

It should be a bit easier to trace the emergence of more formal chairman-led pub concerts in which the majority of the people present were members of an audience enjoying performances by professional and semi-pro vocalists, rather than being themselves participants (other than by providing additional volume for choruses).

Pub concerts of this kind were numerous by the 1830s and their history as forerunners of the music halls of the 1850s has been told many times, but they already existed, fully formed, in the mid-eighteenth century. The 'Comus Court' of the Choice Spirits Assembly flourished in the 1760s at Jack Speed's tavern in Fetter Lane, off Holborn, and it seems to have been active for several years before and after that time. The Spirits, who occupied the top table, was a group of entertainers, who included two of the most distinguished legit theatre vocalists. Many pocket songsters of the period contained songs (some of them very near the knuckle) attributed to members of the group.

This pub concert was certainly not the first of its kind.There are discoveries still to be made in this area.


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Subject: RE: How old is Brit trad of music in pubs?
From: Stanron
Date: 22 Sep 15 - 07:06 PM

I remember being told, many years ago, by a member of the Halle choir of how after rehearsals they would go to a local pub, and they would sing there just for pleasure. Some of the songs they sang had been written by Henry Purcell and sung by him in pubs in very much the same spirit. Henry Purcell, 1659 - 1695, died of a cold brought on by being locked out of his house by his wife, presumably as a result of his staying too long in the pub singing. Perhaps in his day it was in an inn rather than a pub but I don't find that distinction significant. I doubt that he invented the custom. They probably sang in caves.


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