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Rise Up Singing Book II: 'Rise Again'


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GaryD 11 May 05 - 11:35 PM
open mike 11 May 05 - 11:56 PM
Joe Offer 12 May 05 - 02:13 AM
biglappy 12 May 05 - 02:48 AM
Joe Offer 12 May 05 - 03:59 AM
GaryD 19 May 05 - 11:12 PM
Ebbie 19 May 05 - 11:50 PM
Joe Offer 20 May 05 - 12:26 AM
open mike 20 May 05 - 03:47 AM
Joe Offer 20 May 05 - 04:04 AM
yrlancslad 20 May 05 - 09:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 May 05 - 10:48 PM
GUEST,Fiona 20 May 05 - 11:36 PM
Barry Finn 21 May 05 - 12:56 AM
Joe Offer 21 May 05 - 02:11 AM
Peter T. 21 May 05 - 06:27 AM
Ron Davies 21 May 05 - 08:12 AM
Ron Davies 21 May 05 - 08:33 AM
Joe Offer 21 May 05 - 03:39 PM
Peter T. 21 May 05 - 05:41 PM
yrlancslad 22 May 05 - 09:48 PM
Ron Davies 22 May 05 - 10:46 PM
Joe Offer 23 May 05 - 12:19 AM
Stilly River Sage 23 May 05 - 01:11 AM
mg 23 May 05 - 01:24 AM
biglappy 24 May 05 - 01:48 AM
Jeri 24 May 05 - 07:08 AM
radriano 24 May 05 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,Dave'sWife at Work 24 May 05 - 09:35 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 24 May 05 - 09:52 PM
Ron Davies 24 May 05 - 10:49 PM
GUEST,Dave'sWife without her cookie 25 May 05 - 03:36 AM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 25 May 05 - 09:23 AM
dick greenhaus 25 May 05 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,David Ingerson 27 May 05 - 05:23 PM
radriano 27 May 05 - 05:30 PM
yrlancslad 27 May 05 - 07:13 PM
Ron Davies 27 May 05 - 10:00 PM
mg 28 May 05 - 03:39 PM
Joe Offer 28 May 05 - 06:33 PM
Joe Offer 28 May 05 - 07:55 PM
mg 28 May 05 - 09:11 PM
Ron Davies 28 May 05 - 10:19 PM
WFDU - Ron Olesko 28 May 05 - 10:21 PM
Ron Davies 28 May 05 - 10:23 PM
Ron Davies 28 May 05 - 10:27 PM
Peter T. 28 May 05 - 10:48 PM
Ron Davies 28 May 05 - 11:04 PM
Stilly River Sage 28 May 05 - 11:23 PM
mg 28 May 05 - 11:26 PM
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Subject: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GaryD
Date: 11 May 05 - 11:35 PM

A couple years ago I started a thread about a grand publication "Rise Up Singing", produced by Pete Seeger & friends at Sing Out!.. It has lyrics, origins, chords, etc for hundreds of songs.. They were talking then about Book II, but were having turmoil getting permission from scores of artists who sang versions of the songs.. Did they ever get a 2nd book printed?

Any help would be appreciated.. I've been away from mudcat for a very long's good to be back.. I have a personal page, too, if you'd like to respond there..

Keep on the Sunny Side!..... Gary

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: open mike
Date: 11 May 05 - 11:56 PM

you can check
that magazine publishes R.U.S.
I subscribe to it and I am sure
I would have heard if there was
a RUS 2.

Sing Out! Magazine

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 05 - 02:13 AM

Welcome back, Gary!

It's been a while since we've heard anything from Sing Out! about the new book. Last we heard, they were still working on it.
The Rise Up Singing page at Sing Out! says that the 15th Anniversary edition of Rise Up Singing came out in fall, 2004, "completely retypeset to make it easier to read, with corrections and track icons to match the Teaching CDs." It's $17.95 if you order online.

I've seen the new book - it's the same size and same number of pages, but the typeface is much easier to read. I haven't seen the larger "Leader's Edition" ($24.95). That one may have type big enough for a guitarist to read while playing. That would be nice.

But as for Volume II - no word. I participated in the committee that selected the songs, so I'd sure like to see it published.

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: biglappy
Date: 12 May 05 - 02:48 AM

Didn't Peter and Annie Blood have something to do with R.U.S.?

Somehow I didn't remember Pete Seeger being so involved.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 May 05 - 03:59 AM

No Pete Seeger involvement that I know of. the book was edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson Blood. There was an earlier book, Winds of the People, in very much the same format. I understand Winds was not done with copyright permissions, so it got into trouble. Winds is 161 pages, RUS is 281.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GaryD
Date: 19 May 05 - 11:12 PM

Good to hear from you guys again..epecially you, Joe.. yah, sure, that is a good book.. I'm going to check out that other book you mentioned, too.....where can I check out Winds, and as for the Anniversary Edition of RUS, does it have any new or different songs than the original?.... I kind of like the convenient size for carrying around, and the spiral binding keeps the pages easy to keep flat...

Take care you all.. meanwhile, what can you tell me about Ed Trickett, Ann Mayo Muir & Gordon Bok?   I have been frequenting Folk Legacy and I love their music, individually and collectively...

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ebbie
Date: 19 May 05 - 11:50 PM

Ah ha! I can answer part of that. Ed Trickett was at the Getaway last year and did a workshop. Good man.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 05 - 12:26 AM

Hi, Gary - no new songs in the anniversary edition of Rise Up Singing - just typesetting that's easier to read.

Bok and Trickett are still performing (not together), but I think Ann Mayo Muir is retired and living in Europe. I thought she was in Scotland, but this page says she's in France. Ed Trickett performs only occasionally - I think he's teaching school. As Ebbie said, he was an invited guest at the annual Getaway of the Folklore Society of Greater Washington last year, and it was a pleasure to hear him.
Gordon Bok is the only one of the trio who is performing regularly. You can get more information about Gordon at

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: open mike
Date: 20 May 05 - 03:47 AM

i often wondered if Christina Muir from
was any relation to Ann Mayo Muir?

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 May 05 - 04:04 AM

Christina is Ann's daughter.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: yrlancslad
Date: 20 May 05 - 09:44 PM

As A folk singer of some 50 years standing, singing all over the world in pursuit of my day job-if I was ever tempted to burn a book it would be Rise Up Singing. A second one would be too much!

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 May 05 - 10:48 PM

Joe is correct.
"Rise Up Singing, Words, chords and sources to 1200 songs," 2004, 1992, 1988, ed. Peter Blood and Anne Patterson. Often listed as ed. by Pete Seeger, who wrote the introduction.
The large print ed. is $19.77 at Amazon. 9.5 x 11.8 inches. My standard is 7 x 10 inches, so little advantage?

Two issues of collected songs, which are scarce and rarely found.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GUEST,Fiona
Date: 20 May 05 - 11:36 PM

Just curious, why would you burn it?

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 May 05 - 12:56 AM

Forgive my father I'm about speak blasphemy.

Are we talking about the folkies bible, the 1st testament? I wouldn't actually burn the book but it would collect an awful lot of dust before I'd use it, there are far better reliable & easliy available sources. I was asked to stop singing a song & was told that the words I was singing was not the same as RUS & to top it off was told I was singing it in the wrong key & could you sing it the right way like in the book so we all could sing along. I would definitely not recommend it as a reliable source. I don't throw all the blame on RUS but they share it with those that use it as the end all to beat all. Maybe RUS could've included a disclaimer. Something like, this not the folksingers gospel, don't take it as a proper source, expect there'll be errors & "do not burn this book even if you're freezing to death". I got so pissed to see & hear others talk about otherwise once decent singing sessions going downhill to find a level that would be a common denominator that I wrote the song below. It may well be I was a bit to harsh at the time, I hardly hear about the bible anymore.


Rise Up Screaming (tune: Jack In The Green)

A pub session or a party is a very strange thing
They're all out of fashion no more do they sing
For they read from a book or copy a tape
They imitate sounds no mortal should make

There's no sound in the kitchen, no sound in the hall
There's a murderous screech that plays off the walls
Where is the music, where are the songs
In the mouths of monsters where no sound belongs

Dead pan they look as they sing in your face
They'll spit out the words and the tunes they'll disgrace
A song will be beat o'r and over to death
And in a round robin they'll resurrect it again

No more will be heard a version that's lost
Or a variant that's rare or two songs that were crossed
The borrowing or sharing of a tune or a song
Will be according to the Bible all else will be wrong

And now for the future, it's bleak for the song
No young mortal will dare to carry it on
They'll be none around who without books can sing
Or swap without tapes or rise up singing

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 May 05 - 02:11 AM

I put a plain brown wrapper on my Blue Book whenever I'm around Barry. He's really a nice guy, but that Blue Book makes him livid. With the brown wrapper, Barry thinks I'm reading Playboy, and that's OK with him.

I DO sing out of the Blue Book, but I have had people who get nervous when I want to do one that isn't in the book. And they want to sing all the verses of sea chanteys, all together. They don't trust this call-and-response singing....

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 May 05 - 06:27 AM

Every good thing can be abused (even Mudcat). One reason why RUS is so widespread is that it is amazingly good in its selection from a number of pools of folk and neo-pop music of a certain era. Any book that contains John Riley, Pollution, and Up on the Roof in the same book is doing something right. As a vade mecum it is terrific. There are parts of it I hate -- like the Men section -- and it is inaccurate here and there, but all it takes is a piece of paper and some glue and you can fix that. My only real complaint is that they should have put some blank pages in at the end so you can add your own extras -- after I pasted over the Men section with other stuff, there wasnt much room left.


Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 May 05 - 08:12 AM

RUS is a fine book, with a lot of good songs. However it should be recognized that it is in fact not a folk hymnbook, should be used as one of many sources, and should always be left AT HOME.

It is basically a snapshot, with no pretense to ultimate truth in either tune or words--and even if it were more than that, the folk process can change either or both---and that is absolutely fine.

I think all what those who actually like to sing are saying is "Spare us from 'Let's turn to page 34 and sing the second one from the bottom"-----when there is no guarantee that anybody in the group has an inkling of either the tune or the words.

Another hazard of RUS in a mixed group-- (that is, some people who actually have learned some songs, and some people who only show up at the "sing" with RUS in hand, and have made no effort whatsoever to learn any)-- is that if a song led by one of the first group is by some dreadful chance in "THE BOOK", the latter group have an endearing habit of pointing out that the leader who does not use the book has sung it "wrong".

Yet another phenomenon I have noted in RUS "sings" is the compulsion to plow through the last 7 verses of a song, stumbling through the last 5--since after all the leader singing from "THE BOOK" has never himself or herself seen those last verses.

I have unlimited empathy for somebody singing without THE BOOK who forgets words--but none for the leader singing from THE BOOK who stumbles over the words.

It's even better to lead a song with a piece of paper in your hand--even as a talisman, that works--(and glancing at it from time to time if you have to, but obviously the goal should be being able to sing with no crutch)---than to sing from THE BOOK.

I'm sorry if I'm being too subtle.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 21 May 05 - 08:33 AM

There are so many wonderful songs, both in and out of THE BOOK--a far better approach than using THE BOOK at a sing is just to pick songs with good choruses. Then the leader just teaches the chorus--and he or she sings the verses by him- or herself, with the group coming in on the chorus.

Also: regarding Anne Mayo Muir--I just saw her at a party recently at the Cooks' (in the US). She sounds as wonderful as ever, and is also writing really great songs, one of which she was generous enough to give to me and my wife. . She's also a multi-talented instrumentalist. If you ever get a chance to see her--even without the others of the trio, both of whom are also just great as solo performers--do it.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 May 05 - 03:39 PM

I think part of the controversy is the type of singing involved. Our song circle in Sacramento is oriented toward group singing - ordinarily, everybody sings every song. If you're going to sing as a group, you need some sort of standard source so that everybody's singing the same thing. You do need to make an effort to keep that sort of group from getting stale or getting slavishly tied to the "Blue Book," but that's possible. We have a few people who bring photocopied lyrics for songs that aren't in the book, and I usually try to lead songs that you don't need a book for. But I'd say eighty percent of our singing is from "the book." Several of us in the Sacramento Song Circle have sung with the Sacramento Labor Chorus, so we're likely to sing more "activist" songs than you'll hear in the folk music clubs in San Francisco and DC. You'll also hear more Broadway songs - because we have a great time hamming it up on Broadway songs. We also get carried away singing "girl group" songs like "Soldier Boy," with the guys singing falsetto.

I'll admit that the musical quality of our song circle doesn't match what I've experienced in San Francisco and DC, and it's a disappointment that some of the "better" musicians who have been with us tend to lose interest in our group. Sometime-Mudcatters DADGBE and Mark Roffe come to our sessions only occasionally. Frankly, they're too good for us, although they're always very gracious about fitting in and trying not to show how good they are. Their occasional visits tend to bring up the quality of our singing, and I'm always glad when they come.

We try to be egalitarian in our song circle, and we don't have a leader; but I guess I have to admit that I'm the dominant force in the group - the "Alpha Male," if you will. Legend has it that I know all the songs in the Blue Book. We take turns choosing songs, but I'm usually the one who starts the singing. I let accomplished singers start their own songs and give a moment or two for everybody to start the song he or she has chosen - but it usually ends up that I start the song. I cut back on the volume of my own singing once the song gets going, so I don't dominate or "lead" the singing if I can help it.

I've been to song circles all over the U.S, several in the UK, and even a couple in Ireland. Most of them are more challenging than what you'll see at our Sacramento Song Circle - but at most of them, the only singers are accomplished musicians. If there are nonsingers present, they're there as polite observers, and they rarely get a chance to sing. The music is wonderful in sessions like these - but it rarely serves to draw in those people who tend to think they can't sing. I love to attend really good singing sessions - but I think there's room for sessions that include and invite nonsingers. I've also found in some of those "better" sessions that there are people who are quite obvious in showing that they don't like my style of singing and that I'm not really worthy to sing in their presence - they try to lead me to their view of what's correct by trying to overpowering me with their voice or their guitar, even when it's my turn to sing and I've only sung one song for every three they've sung.

I don't think I'm much of a solo singer. I'm OK, but I much prefer to sing with a group. I've led singing all my life, since the time when I led campfire singing when I was a camp counselor in college. I've learned to get a song going, and then to sing under the group to support it and give the singers confidence. I do the same thing in church. I can sing louder than the rest of the congregation combined, but I try to sing in a way that my voice can't be distinguished from the singing of the rest of the people.

So, anyhow, before you condemn Rise Up Singing sessions, think again. This is a different kind of singing from what you're used to. It seeks to involve everybody, not just the people who are good at singing. Community singing sessions like this can be very bad, but they don't have to be. We've had sessions in Sacramento that were downright wonderful, and even the worst of our sessions are usually pretty good.

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Peter T.
Date: 21 May 05 - 05:41 PM

Whatever everyone else says, Joe, you will always be an Alpha Male in my book!

(Of course, I have only seen you in action at the Swan circle, which is in a league of its own).


Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: yrlancslad
Date: 22 May 05 - 09:48 PM

Ron Davies says it all for me so I won't repeat it here. I don't mind listening to "bad" or beginner singers singing songs I personally think are trash, thats part of the folk club tradition, but if a song's worth singing its worth making the effort to learn the words and having done that and lived with the song awhile maybe you can put some feeling into it which in my book can make up for a lot of "bad" singing.
BTW went to a couple of Sac. song circles some years ago-too cultish by half for me!

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 22 May 05 - 10:46 PM

It's even fine to use Rise Up Singing at a sing-- by memorizing exactly the words for a song, as given in RUS, and singing that version by heart.

THE BOOK itself is left at home.

When you are singing a song from memory and you are the leader, your version by definition is the right one.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 May 05 - 12:19 AM

Yes, but what do you do for community singing, for people who want to sing together without a leader or who want to try out new songs as a group?
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 23 May 05 - 01:11 AM

Excellent thread!

The Seattle Song Circle folks dismembered and ritually shredded a copy of RUS at the potluck/song circle we did after my father died, as they do for various members. Others here have eloquently said it all. Leave it at home. Learn the song, through whatever means, before trying to sing it in public. It's so much easier on everyone.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: mg
Date: 23 May 05 - 01:24 AM

For community singing..maybe the old purple hectographed stuff..the old Mitch miller standards maybe..the old American/Canadian whatever songs..the songs they remember some or most basically boils down to do what you want as a group or is not up to any of us...but know that you will probably drive out the best singers in inverse proportion to the amount you use that book. You could pass out song sheets the week before and run through the tune a couple of tiems and say next week we are going to sing the lambing to the wool so see how many verses you can memorize..and do have someone lead it..this consensus stuff is only good when you are getting paid by the hour. mg

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: biglappy
Date: 24 May 05 - 01:48 AM

I love the principal authors of the RUS project like family as they are dear family friends.

I'm not into changing the words of folk songs to reflect a more equal role for women or new standards for referring to other races. If I don't like a song for political reasons I usually just quit singing it. RUS has some wording changes that disturb me. I don't doubt the right of anyone to change all the words of a folksong that they wish, but I also respect my own preference for authentic folk sources and my consequent preference for the language those sources used.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Jeri
Date: 24 May 05 - 07:08 AM

I don't much like people using the book in folk sings. When I wanted to be a singer, I looked at the ones that were, and thought, "I wanna be able to do that!" Of course, it was just a dream, since I'd never be able to sing in front of people. The thing was, part of 'that' I wanted to do was to learn a song until it belonged to me, until it was in my head and my heart and traveled wherever I went, inside me. You don't get that reading lyrics from a book.

What you get from a book is a bunch of folks being able to sing a song together that they've maybe never heard. It works just fine in church and nobody complains. Folks singing that way don't mind leaving the song behind when they close the book. If that's what they want, there's nothing wrong with it.

The problem is that people may not understand that folk singing sessions and circles are different, how they're different and why. No - not understanding is something we all do simply because we don't know everything. What's obnoxious is when people don't understand and don't realize they're missing something, know they are but don't try to figure it out or expect the world (and your session) to work the way THEY want it to.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: radriano
Date: 24 May 05 - 05:51 PM

I don't care for the RUS book simply because it is misused so much. I have a notorious memory and I always carry a loose-leaf binder of songs with me. I may glance at the words while I'm singing but if I sing the song in public I've already learned the melody. The only way to deal with the "blue book" for me is to avoid those sessions that use it exclusively. I don't get the need, as in some sessions, to sing along on the verses as well as the chorus. And a call and response work song like a shanty only works when sung properly. Would you insist on singing along with the soloist in a choir?

And the RUS book is not the only thing out there either. Some time ago I participated in what was called a "traditional Irish song session." Everyone who came to the session had these four little books titled "Folk Songs Popular in Ireland." The group went around in a circle. The first singer said, "I'll sing Four Green Fields. It's on page 40 of the third book." All turned to page 40 and everyone sang on every verse and every chorus. And on it went around the circle. I glanced at one of the books' table of contents and noticed a song I knew. Unfortunately the verses were all different! When my turn came around I asked if the group would be willing to learn a song that was not in the books. Reluctantly they agreed but I ultimately felt that I should just not frequent that session. Everyone there liked what they were doing and I just did not fit in.

All songbooks are just collections of certain versions of songs. If you restrict singing to the contents of one book you miss out on different variations. And it's ludicrous to insist on using the same key that's in a book if you can't sing well in that key. People have different voice ranges, you know.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife at Work
Date: 24 May 05 - 09:35 PM

Wow. What a hornet's nest!

So if you don't own a copy of RUS.. should you risk buying one? I don't own one and always figured I ought to if I want to brush up on things before going and trying find some group to hang with in Southern California? I probably won't bother. I started making my own songbook plus some reference Audio Tape mixes of the songs I really like but I got distracted after the workbook exceeded 100 pages. I never did get around to finsihing those audio tapes.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 24 May 05 - 09:52 PM

I hope some of these stories about RUS are exceptions, not the rule. Do we have the same problem with people who use the Sacred Harp? Sounds like that is a very rigid set of rules concerning group singing, but I really don't hear people complaining about it.

Personally, I applaud Rise Up Singing because it does get people to rise up in song.

I think if you are going to teach someone how to make a cake, you need to give them instructions to follow. Once they become comfortable they will experiment with the ingredients, try a new recipe and maybe even come up with some of their own. The same can be said for singing.

RUS is a great way to get people back to singing. If you find yourself in a session that uses the book exclusively, perhaps you are in the wrong session - or maybe you just need to step back and think about why people are using it.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 24 May 05 - 10:49 PM

No, no problem with Sacred Harp, for many reasons, none of which apply in the RUS case.

1)   There is a long tradition of using the Sacred Harp book exclusively--I mean over decades long, if not over a century. (Some groups may have their own traditions, also long-standing (e.g.--sing from Christian Harmony after the potluck supper, also sometimes a tradition, depending on the group.)

2)   Sacred Harp has a specific sound, which cannot be attained unless only the notes in the book are sung. .For my money, it's a good, gutsy unpolished sound,--( perhaps because of its pentatonic aspects, and due to the fact that it is truly "folk music",sung by untrained voices, and usually full-throttle all the way)-- which is hypnotic for the singer (I actually also like to listen to it, particularly live.)

The words too, are very evocative of 19th century America--you can easily sense the Hobbesian view a lot of poor people probably had--and most of the really ecstatically upbeat songs are about death.

There are very few musical experiences as unearthly as being in the middle of a big Sacred Harp group belting out Babylon Is Fallen, Exit, or another aggressive song. The slower ones are great too.

3) RUS has absolutely no claim to ultimate truth in either words or music. In fact it irks a lot of serious singers when anybody seems to claim that mantle for RUS.

4) Sacred Harp is full of songs which otherwise would never be heard.   Some are actual classical-style compositions, with all the parts written out, (particularly the Billings entries.) Only a few of the songs in Sacred Harp, like Wondrous Love, and Rose of Sharon are famous. RUS has a fair number of songs which can be heard on oldies stations, in church, around campfires etc.   As I said earlier, RUS is a fine book, full of (mostly) good songs, and is a good source, among many others. But it is not a hymnbook, nor remotely in the league of Sacred Harp in musical value.

I'm sure others can come up with other reasons why there is absolutely no comparison.

Actually, to be blunt, any attempt to even mention RUS and Sacred Harp in the same breath is "fightin' words" (especially down south, I bet--but I agree.)

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GUEST,Dave'sWife without her cookie
Date: 25 May 05 - 03:36 AM

I don't see any comparison between the two myself except in the minds of people who want to bash RUS as an erzatz 'bible' of Folk. Sacred Harp is such a different thing altogether.

This does, however, remind me a little bit of the arguments I have gotten from Pan-Celts who yell at me that 'Clannad does it the right way' about a particular song they assume is Irish when in fact, the song in question is sometimes American such as 'Two Sisters." For this subset of listener or singer, there are five or six 'sacred' groups or musicans whose renditions of an acknowledged group of songs have become canonised (in the actual sense of the word).

I don't think it's any given book or body of work that's the problem - just the dogmatic way that some folks cling to them.

I personally object to the term 'Celtic' since it doesn't mean what people think it does and derives from a derogatory Greek word (Keltoi) used to describe a wide variety of peoples. It's adoption in the latter half of the 20th centuray as a generic term for Gaelic peoples annoys me. I could probably go off on the word they way people go off on RUS! I'll stop now before I'm even tempted.

Time to go look at Meg The Wonder-Pup's photos and feel the claming effect of her sweet widdle gaze! WOOF!

Meg should run for Office.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 25 May 05 - 09:23 AM

The point I was trying to make is that I have yet to meet people that refer to Rise Up Singing as "the bible" or the ultimate authority on any song. Like any reference book, that is all it is. It is one of the more "commercial" books available and it's popularity is due to the fact that it mixes in many popular songs that people are familiar with along with some more esoteric songs. It is a great introduction and tool for people that are trying to promote group singing.

Ron Davies - you took my mention of Sacred Harp completely out of context. Every point you make about Sacred Harp is valid and I agree with you. The comparision is that there are reasons why Sacred Harp is used and there are reasons why Rise Up Singing is used, both in different situations of course. There is a purpose to Rise Up Singing, and aside from the comments made above, I have not witnessed anyone treating RUS as such a dogmatic source book. It is merely a tool, a very good one, but just one of many.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 25 May 05 - 11:58 AM

IMO RUS set out to be a campfire songbook for the '70s. It's succeeded admirably. For those who would rather not participate in a '70s campfire singalong, though, groups that rely on RUS are deadly. It's not really focused on folk music, and represents a really limited and unreliable authority on the subject.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: GUEST,David Ingerson
Date: 27 May 05 - 05:23 PM

Joe has a good point about community singing. Rise Up Singing is probably the best resource for that sort of song circle. However, the song circles in Portland (Oregon) have been mostly folk and traditional and have suffered from an influx of blue book singers. Our weekly song circle was essentially taken over by them--that is, we let the culture of our Monday night session drift toward the blue book and did nothing to change that drift. In fact, the better singers--and by that I mean the singers who are most deeply invested in their songs(some of whom have a hard time carrying a tune)--basically abandoned the Monday night sessions. I don't know if it's even happening now, but my impression was that they had no leader and really needed one. Joe?

A little over a year ago it was suggested I write an article for our local newsletter about the negative aspects and dangers of an over-dependence on Rise Up Singing. Here it is, for what it's worth. As I point out, I want to start a dialogue about the topic. It's become an important part of our organizational culture and needs to be addressed.

Since the article came out things have improved. We don't allow a song from the blue book now unless someone knows it well enough to lead it all the way through.


by David Ingerson

        Rise Up Singing is used so frequently at song circles that we
refer to it as The Blue Book, The
Hymnal, or simply The Book. Yet a number of singers fear it has
changed the culture of our song
circles for the worse. Here are some of my thoughts about the
issue, presented as a starting
point for a community discussion.
        It seems to me that the more we depend on Rise Up Singing, or
any single book, for that matter,
the more we lose the qualities that make song circles the
invaluable experiences we have come to
expect. We lose value in three areas: musical, communal, and
        We lose the joy of singing well. Good feelings spontaneously
arise within many of us as we sing.
This upwelling of joy is, for me, one of the important
pleasures in life. It is enhanced when we
are familiar enough with the song to sing with confidence,
verve, even abandon. In this way the
song flows naturally from the center of our beings--an
experience that can touch us deeply. When
we have to struggle with a song, however, the joy leaks away and
leaves frustration. All too
often this is what happens when we sing from Rise Up Singing. A
song is requested but no one
knows it well enough to lead the singing. The group stumbles
through the song anyway, with
frequent mis-scanned lines and usually at a funereal tempo.
There is a palpable deadening of the
spirit in a song circle when this happens several times during
an evening.
        When we depend on Rise Up Singing we also lose a large amount
of the variety that enlivens folk
singing. The many differences among song versions and the
variety of performance styles is the
very soul of folk singing. Yet if we depend on Rise Up Singing,
we have only one version of each
song, a pitiable musical poverty.
        In addition, a book--any book--can only hint at the possible
styles for singing a song. A book
can only point to performers and recordings as sources for those
stylistic varieties. If we don't
go beyond The Book, we are left with white bread singing:
bleached, doughy, bland, and pre-cut. A
number of singers have also complained that singing from the
Blue Book becomes repetitious and
eventually boring. We lose the musical energy and momentum that
electrifies the best of song
circles: confidence falters, tempos slow, ownership of the songs
slips away, and tentativeness
sets in. As a result, feelings droop, the fires die down and we
might as well be sitting at home
in front of the TV.
        This loss of energy directly affects the feeling of community
in the song circle. Helping create
and partake of that energy binds us into a community. But
people with their heads in a book,
struggling through a song they don't know well, and singing
tentatively, are less likely to feel
bound together. This loss of communal energy has created a
downward spiral at
some song circles. As more and more songs are
sung from the Rise Up Singing
during an evening, it becomes more difficult to break away and
sing something not in the book. I
have seen "anti-Blue Book" singers pick a song from Rise Up
Singing when the culture of a
particular circle is dominated by The Book.
        We lose leadership. We lose the forward direction provided by
individuals who know a song, who
have made it their own, who can lead it or sing it with
confidence. We lose the regional flavors
of local songs and songs composed by members of our community,
which are absent from the book.
Instead, head-in-the-blue-book breeds a conformity, a timidity,
a backing away from taking risks.
This brings us to the personal losses we experience from
over-dependence on Rise Up Singing.
        The level of risk-taking in the group seems to have dropped.
Relying on the crutch of one
wide-ranging source offers a level of comfort that, in my
opinion, too many people seem to be
accepting. Fewer songs are coming from other books or
recordings. Fewer singers are learning new
songs. After all, why go to all the trouble of transcribing or
looking up the words to a new (for
you) song and then all the work of memorizing the words and
making the song yours if you can just
turn to page 275 and sing the same old favorite once again?
        We lose ownership of songs. When you learn a song well enough
to lead it or sing it solo, you
have put your own stamp on it. It becomes yours. There is a
different feel to a song sung out of
a book than to one owned by the singer. The former is usually
tentative and bland; the latter
more vibrant and distinctive.
        So we lose the new blood of singers learning new songs. We
lose the stimulation of singers
venturing into different styles of folk song. We lose
leadership. We lose ownership.
        Let me be clear about what I am not saying. I am not against
Rise Up Singing or using it at song
circles. It is a valuable resource for words, chords,
discography, and sometimes a little
background. I am against depending on it alone.
        I am not against including people who use the only
Blue Book. I welcome anyone who
wants to sing. I am against using the Blue Book when no one
knows a requested song well enough to
lead it.
        I am not against people coming to song circle not knowing a
song to sing. Nor am I against
people requesting a song from Rise Up Singing. It has a huge
number of wonderful songs. Let's
just make sure someone can lead the requested song. If not,
let's pick a different song that can
be sung with gusto (and maybe someone can learn the other
requested song!).

        In the end we are involved in an oral activity. We sometimes
need a written crutch. The more we
depend on that crutch, however, the more crippled that oral
activity seem to become.

        Do you disagree? Good. Let's talk about it at a song circle.
Have I left something out or gone
off in a wrong direction? Write your ideas and send them to
Local Lore. We need to bring this
issue out in the open and make our culture more explicit.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: radriano
Date: 27 May 05 - 05:30 PM

Very well stated, David! This is pretty much how I feel about "Rise Up Singing" - it's not a bad book but sometimes the way it is used diminishes a song session.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: yrlancslad
Date: 27 May 05 - 07:13 PM

Must say I'm surprized and pleased to find so many people with similar feelings to my own about that blasted book, and who have put them up here in much clearer fashion than I could have.
Just a couple of comments and then I'm done:
Joe asks "what do you do for community singing....... well you form a choir of course, choose a song and make the effort to learn the words and tune. Community building, like team building, succeeds when members enjoy success in overcoming problems together ie. succeed in singing a song well -together, in tune and without stumbling over the words or music. All Blue Book song circles are, are SLOPPY choirs, without the energy, cohesion or motivation to make the effort to do something well and the results frequently far from being community creating or building,are quite depressing for everyone involved
David ends his article by saying that he is not against the use of the book at song circles nor people who only sing songs from the book, or people who don't have a song to sing making a request from it, and with these comments I only partially agree.I have nothing against people singing songs from the book at song circles but LEARN THE SONG AND LEAVE THE DAMN BOOK AT HOME! If people want to diminish their options by only singing songs from the book I feel sad at their self impoverishment but have nothing against it as long as they LEARN THE SONG AND LEAVE THE DAMN BOOK AT HOME!As for people who arrive without a song to sing, we used to call 'em audience until they did turn up with a song they could stagger through.If they feel they don't ever want to inflict their musical "talent" on us then it's fine by me for them to make a request for a song provided THEY KNOW THE SONG AND HAVE LEFT THE DAMN BOOK AT HOME and that some idiot who isn't sure of the tune and only knows half the words doesn't try to fulfill that request!
Having had my last word on the subject let me just say that with all the great written sources there are around right now for every type of folk song imaginable I feel strongly that a Blue Book II would be a serious waste of our woodland resources.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 27 May 05 - 10:00 PM

As I think the vast majority of us have said several times, we have no objection to RUS as one of many sources for songs.

But quite a few of us, including me, believe it should always be left at home. Main reason: it's just too tempting for somebody who has made no effort whatsoever to learn a song to "call one". If there were no RUS at "sings", everybody would have a powerful incentive to actually learn songs----and experience the joy that comes of doing so.

I'm sure people in the Sacramento song circle and other groups that are now addicted to RUS are every bit as intelligent and have every bit as much passion for music as folkies do elsewhere--all it takes is a bit of incentive---making learning songs a priority. And the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

You don't even have to necessarily start with" real folk"--I bet the Sacramento group already knows quite a few songs by heart--just by dint of repetition--if they would only just try to wean themselves off THE BOOK. I can't recall exactly who was there--but one of best times at last year's Getaway, as far as I'm concerned-- (admittedly one of quite a few good sessions)-- was when a bunch of us just stood around in the dining hall and sang Everly Brothers, doo-wop, "You Belong To Me" (led by Elizabeth LaPrelle), etc., for an hour or so. We did it all by institutional memory--you might be surprised at the variety of songs folkies are hard-wired to sing.

It would also have the added benefit of attracting back the better singers--who are both bored and frustrated by a RUS session.

Otherwise, "open sings" are likely to become " closed sings"--with people inviting to their houses only those who are guaranteed not to use THE BOOK. This is definitely an undesirable development----and it's already happening.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: mg
Date: 28 May 05 - 03:39 PM

watch it happen in the music camps too....the people who prefer not to use the book, and forgive me for saying so but they tend to be the best singers in my opinion, sneak out when the books come out. Then they have to have these horrid flourescent lights shining at full blast in the middle of the night so that heaven forbid someone is unable to read the someone needs light that strong let them bring a flashlight, or pass a flashlight around but turn off the damn lights at least and have kinder light that is more conducive to singing....candles, lamps, solar candles,

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 May 05 - 06:33 PM

I think it's not so much a matter of the book. I think it's more about the problems of accommodating both accomplished singers and duffers in the same session. Or maybe it's about people who think they're accomplished singers, and their prejudices against those they think of as "lesser mortals" because they don't have lyrics memorized. Maybe, it's an issue of tolerance, and an issue of inclusion versus exclusion.

I don't know where I fit in. Most non-singers seem to think I'm a very good singer, and many people I encounter at camps like the Getaway and San Francisco's Camp Harmony probably think I'm a duffer. I know lots of songs from Rise Up Singing - and I sing them pretty well, hardly needing to look at the book. I also know lots of songs that aren't in the blue book, although I suppose I have to admit that I know songs mostly from recordings rather than the purer traditional forms of songs. I do feel more confident if I have lyrics in front of me, in case I need them. When I attend something like the Getaway, I have a folder of large-print lyrics of songs I want to sing - but there are times I'd like to sing a song I know "from the book" that fits a situation. It shouldn't matter if I use a book or a cheatsheet or my memory - the only thing that should matter is the song, and my singing the best I can when it's my turn to sing. The only way I'm going to learn to sing better is by singing - and for most of us, we best learn to sing when there's somebody to listen to us and to respond to our singing.

Some people just don't remember lyrics, and I'm one of them. I admire people who can remember hundreds of songs, but I don't think I should be excluded from the singing because I don't. If I'm stumbling through a song I don't know, that's another matter. I think the same thing should apply to people who sing from memory - some people refuse to use a book or a "cheatsheet," but they can't get through a single song without stumbling on the lyrics. It's really frustrating to listen to an interesting song, and then not be able to hear the end of it because the singer has forgotten the lyrics. I went to a Gordon Bok concert in San Francisco, and he blew the lyrics on at least half of the songs he tried to sing. I really wouldn't have minded it he had a music stand with lyrics close at hand if he needed help, but it sure was disappointing to have him stop dead in the middle of so many songs.

I think that if we truly believe in folksinging, then we have to truly believe in allowing the folk to sing, no matter how they choose to do it.

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 May 05 - 07:55 PM

I had to step off my soapbox to correct a History exam, but I ain't done talkin'.

I will admit to really screwing up a song once by using Rise Up Singing. I was in a dimly-lit tavern in Whitby, and it was my turn to sing. I decided to sing Stephen Foster's "Hard Times Come Again No More," a song I know well and have sung many times. But the formatting for that song in Rise Up Singing is a little strange, and the dim lights made it hard to read - so I screwed the song up royally. I made sure to add a "cheatsheet" to my song folder for that song, so I can sing it with no problem next time. I actually need to look at only the first word or two for each verse - but it has to be in context, with all of the words there in case I need them.

So, that's one time where I admit that my use of the Blue Book was a problem.

To be fair, I guess I should give an example of intolerance on the part of people who rely on the Blue Book. When it's my turn, I try to teach or lead a song without printed lyrics. A number of people bring photocopied songs to the Sacramento Song Circle. Usually, these "away from the book" experiences are pretty good, and add variety to our singing. However, there are times when a significant number of people just don't join in if the song isn't in the book, and their lack of participation can kill a song - expecially if they decide that the song is an opportunity for conversation.

Then there's my attempt to lead the sea chantey "Rio Grande" this month. The Sacramento people tend to want to have all the people sing all the verses of sea chanteys, and they don't quite understand that this sort of song works best in a call-and-response format. As a result, we don't sing many chanteys - but I chose to sing "Rio Grande" from the book this month, and insisted on call-and-response format. Well, I started singing, and about the third vesrse, somebody stopped me and demanded to know why I was singing "RYE-o," when obviously it should be pronounced "REE-o." So, I decided I need to invite Chanteyranger and Radriano and Dick Holdstock to Sacramento to conduct a remedial chantey-singing session.

But while I'm on my soapbox, I wanna talk about Guys With Guitars, and Women Who Sing Loud To Correct Others. The worst Guys With Guitars are the Singer-Songsmiths, because they think their songs are so much more innovative than familiar songs, so they one to sing one of their songs for every song that the entire rest of the group sings. And the Guys With Guitars can always jump in quicker than us a cappella folks, because they can strum a chord any old time and we a cappella singers often have to have a moment of quiet so we can hear the beginning of the melody in our heads. And then when we do fit a song in, the Guys With Guitars and the Women Who Sing Loud To Correct Others all do their best to take the song away from the us, to places where the we may not want to go. Because, of course, the Guys With Guitars and the Women Who Sing Loud To Correct Others are so much better than us meeker sorts.

Now, I'm sure that many of you know that I, Joe Offer, am no shrinking violet - but I have to say that I am sometimes intimidated by the Guys With Guitars and the Women Who Sing Loud To Correct Others and the People Who Condemn My Use of a Songbook or Cheatsheet.

Makes it damn hard to sing a song sometimes, with all those intolerant jerks in the way.

-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: mg
Date: 28 May 05 - 09:11 PM

Well, there probably are visual people and auditory people when it comes to music. And it truly does not seem to matter to some people how the music sounds. I know I am more an auditory because I really don't know what the words are half the time..even songs i have heard hundreds of me the sound that is produced is what is the most important...pretty songs sung by pretty voices is my favorite. I know i am shallow but that is the truth of the matter. and how prepared do you have to be to hum along wi th the tune, or sing a simple chorus or chime in with the few words that you do know? We don't always have to find the lowest common demoninator.... sometimes not always, it's good to sit back and forget about consensus, forget about democratic ideals, forget about the message of the songs and the community spirit and let the true leaders lead and the rest of us follow or get out of the way.... mg

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:19 PM

I'm pretty sure all we intolerant jerks have an amazing amount of understanding for people who forget words. Why, we've been known to do it ourselves.

Even a "cheat sheet" is not the end of the world. RUS is also not the end of the world--but, as they say, you can see it from there.

Your choice--if you want to separate serious singers from people who want a folk "hymn sing", that's what's happening.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:21 PM

My only concern, and I do not mean any disrespect to anyone who has posted their thoughts, is that these "rules" seem to be a roadblock to anyone who is trying to join in on the singing. Several of these posts would discourage anyone who has never joined in a group sing and had some interest. I doubt it was the intent, but the impression given with some of these posts is that unless you know all 180 verses of an obscure ballad - stay home!   I love to hear "pretty voices" joined in song as much as anyone, but I really get a bigger kick out of the person who joined for the first time and nervously leads a group in a song that they feel somewhat comfortable with. I realize many of you have been singing in song circles since before Barbara Allen's lover began looking under the weather, but what do you do to encourage new voices to join in?   I can't see a lick, and I can only hum along (softly) so as I don't interfere, but I think it is important to perpetuate the tradition. If Rise Up Singing becomes an introduction, is it really that bad - bad enough to cause others to walk out in disgust?????

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:23 PM

It's a question of priorities--either learning songs is a priority or it's not.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:27 PM

180 verses of Barbara Allen is not the norm in my area--(sorry if it is in yours)-more like chorus songs or humorous songs.

A long ballad has to be awfully well done to hold a group's interest---so they're not often done.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Peter T.
Date: 28 May 05 - 10:48 PM

It is a wonder everyone has not just walked away from this, given the ridiculous bad behaviour and absurd officiousness going on.   I am certainly fortunate to have known nothing but nice people in the folk universe, but never thought it was particularly exceptional.


Peter T.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Ron Davies
Date: 28 May 05 - 11:04 PM

At the Getaway, for instance, everybody seems to have a great time, and makes lots of great music----but RUS is not seen.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 28 May 05 - 11:23 PM

Pronouncements about "absurd officiousness" and exaggerated examples of 180-verse songs may bring an unappreciated conversation to a standstill, but they do nothing to truly illustrate a need for the book at public performances. And it doesn't show an understanding of why people object to it.

If you're going to perform in public, then be prepared, and understand that there are those who don't appreciate watching the top of someone's head as they read the words from the page of a book when they're supposedly "performing." Eye contact and a spontaneous performance are desirable. To perform, you need to know what you're doing, which means the words need to be yours, they're internally lodged and understood, and they spring to life when you perform. If you're not confident about leading the song, then take the book and sing along in the background.

This observation of mine is based upon the understanding that any kind of public performance, spoken or sung, is going to work best if you already know what you want to sing or say.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing Book II
From: mg
Date: 28 May 05 - 11:26 PM

No not walk away in disgust. At a camp, they will find a secret spot and sing what they know. Look around and see who is missing...if it's more than three or four they have gone away....In song circles, people just won't come back. I have been to some that I wouldn't go back to for the music, that's for sure...maybe for the company...and I am not really a good leader of songs anyway so I am one who sings the choruses etc...and I have never discouraged anyone in person from using the books but I will refuse to be told to use it by them... or sing from the xeroxes they love to pass out. mg

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