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Is the word 'session' losing meaning?

Mr Red 04 Jul 06 - 08:14 AM
Leadfingers 04 Jul 06 - 08:23 AM
The Borchester Echo 04 Jul 06 - 08:27 AM
Paul Burke 04 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM
GUEST,Jon 04 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM
Ernest 04 Jul 06 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,neovo 04 Jul 06 - 08:41 AM
Bob Bolton 04 Jul 06 - 08:59 AM
Ruler 04 Jul 06 - 09:06 AM
Emma B 04 Jul 06 - 09:07 AM
greg stephens 04 Jul 06 - 09:52 AM
GUEST 04 Jul 06 - 05:24 PM
Richard Bridge 04 Jul 06 - 07:36 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 04 Jul 06 - 07:59 PM
Paul Burke 05 Jul 06 - 03:30 AM
Genie 05 Jul 06 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 05 Jul 06 - 05:08 PM
Bob Bolton 06 Jul 06 - 02:14 AM
greg stephens 06 Jul 06 - 10:13 AM
GUEST,Jon 06 Jul 06 - 10:23 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 06 - 01:57 PM
Greg B 06 Jul 06 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Jon 06 Jul 06 - 05:26 PM
Snuffy 07 Jul 06 - 08:56 AM
Paco Rabanne 07 Jul 06 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 07 Jul 06 - 09:09 AM
Leadfingers 07 Jul 06 - 11:31 AM
Fidjit 07 Jul 06 - 02:02 PM
Greg B 07 Jul 06 - 03:09 PM
Fidjit 07 Jul 06 - 03:58 PM
Little Robyn 07 Jul 06 - 05:49 PM
Leadfingers 07 Jul 06 - 06:51 PM
Nick 07 Jul 06 - 08:15 PM
Mo the caller 08 Jul 06 - 11:15 AM
GUEST,Jon 08 Jul 06 - 05:30 PM
LesB 08 Jul 06 - 06:29 PM
stallion 08 Jul 06 - 06:29 PM
stallion 08 Jul 06 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,Rowan 10 Jul 06 - 04:06 AM
IanC 10 Jul 06 - 04:51 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Jul 06 - 05:10 AM
IanC 10 Jul 06 - 05:35 AM
Paco Rabanne 10 Jul 06 - 05:42 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Jul 06 - 05:56 AM
GUEST,Paul 10 Jul 06 - 06:12 AM
GUEST,Jon 10 Jul 06 - 07:27 AM
GUEST,Clive Thorne 10 Jul 06 - 07:46 AM
Mr Red 10 Jul 06 - 08:24 AM
LesB 10 Jul 06 - 08:37 AM
GUEST,Paul 10 Jul 06 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Clive Thorne 10 Jul 06 - 12:12 PM
Doug Chadwick 10 Jul 06 - 01:19 PM
stallion 10 Jul 06 - 01:22 PM
stallion 10 Jul 06 - 01:28 PM
mandotim 10 Jul 06 - 01:48 PM
LesB 10 Jul 06 - 02:13 PM
julian morbihan 11 Jul 06 - 08:26 AM
GUEST,nac mac feagle 11 Jul 06 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,petr 11 Jul 06 - 05:47 PM
Tootler 11 Jul 06 - 05:58 PM
Tootler 11 Jul 06 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Jon 11 Jul 06 - 07:08 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Jul 06 - 07:24 PM
GUEST,Rowan 11 Jul 06 - 08:15 PM
GUEST,Clive Thorne 12 Jul 06 - 05:32 AM
Declan 12 Jul 06 - 08:20 PM
GUEST,Jack Campin 12 Jul 06 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,Rowan 12 Jul 06 - 09:59 PM
Tootler 13 Jul 06 - 03:13 PM
Eye Lander 13 Jul 06 - 07:00 PM
GUEST 16 Aug 06 - 07:06 AM
Leadfingers 16 Aug 06 - 07:36 AM
GUEST,Mally 16 Aug 06 - 07:48 AM
GUEST,Mally 16 Aug 06 - 07:58 AM
Mr Red 16 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM
Dickmac 18 Aug 06 - 03:27 PM
The Sandman 17 Mar 09 - 07:04 AM
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Subject: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Mr Red
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:14 AM

last w/e at "Folk on the Water" - a boat gathering and folk festival I kept on asking where the session was. One guy pointed to a dip behind the towpath with a gazebo which on my way home I noticed amplifiers and a generator going that way. It was an ad hoc stage.

Another guy reckoned it was on the barge "Sabrina" Sun 8pm. The chalk board outside seemed to agree. Come Sunday it had metamorphosed to the Willow Theatre (under the Weeping Willow) and turned-out to be now called a folk club (aka SAR).

I found some noises finishing in the beer tent and asked where the session was and they pointed to the corner of the marquee. When I told him that was bar music/open stage he thought the concept of a stage was a bit of overstatement. Not so but modest or cramped would have been the best description of the platform (about 3 inches high).

As I always tell it and hear it, a session is short for a jam session in Jazz parlance. Playing ensemble with friends &/or strangers without any barrier. Oh Ok a few snotty rules when you look too closely - like NO BANJOS or "this is an English session" but fer gaudsake - if you can sidle in and play what is being played it is a session.

for the asking or by invite is a folk club or open stage. Paid performers are bar music.

Is the unwritten jargon of music devolving and me growing old and pernickety? Or is there logic out there that can override this sloppy thinking?


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:23 AM

Its been happening for a while - People advertise 'A Session' and it turns out to be an Ego Trip for Singer Songwriters or worse ! No matter how competent a performer may be , a James Taylor song in C Shapes capo One is NOT session material , but Sing Around/Open Mike stuff !
IF you want a Singaraound , say so - If you want a Session , its where EVERYONE can join in !!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:27 AM

Mr Red, if you are getting old and pernickety, so am I. If it's an open mic for wannabe junior show-offs, just say so. But yes, the unwritten (and indeed written) jargon of music is devolving. 'F*lk' ain't what it was which is why I never use the term. A session is what you say it is and all the better if it's qualified as 'English', 'French', Scandi etc so that that people know what the tune repertoire will, predominantly, include.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM

It's not lost meaning at my local pub, the Barley Mow, Bonsall, Derbyshire- truly a free- for all, all comers, all abilities welcomed, even the landlord with his accordion (we can't get him barred). Oh, and it does songs too, even poetry, even your OWN poetry. And I've known bodhran players to be politely asked back...

Even if you are competent, you're still welcome. Every Friday night, nine till drunk.

But I know what you mean. I went to another session where the musicians' table was miked up, and others still where it's just a band that hasn't quite got its act together.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM

Thankfully, I've not come accross session being taken to mean open mike, etc.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Ernest
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:40 AM

Mr. Red, I think things started to become this way with the pub craze that came with the "unplugged"-wave, when people saw that you could make money with things that were formerly organized by amateurs/volunteers.

Unfortunately many of those people don`t know anything about the things they are organizing.

Formerly those festivals were organized by people who loved the music/theater et. - now it is been done by so-called "event-managers" who earned a degree in organizing but no knowledge about the topics they have to organize. And who are probably more expensive than volunteers ("McDonaldizers" would be a better term in many cases).

Regards
Ernest


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: GUEST,neovo
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:41 AM

I too have been puzzled when invited to a "session" to find singers and musicians invited one by one onto the stage to practice in public. My idea of a session is come all ye and join in when you feel you can/want to.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:59 AM

G'day,

It's worth remembering that "session" is simply the Latin noun sessionis Englished - from the root verb sedere = 'to sit'.

A session is an event where people sit down ... not one where they stand on a stage and use a PA.

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Ruler
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 09:06 AM

I went to the gathering, and we (lassington oak) managed to get an ad hoc session after dark - which was open to all comers - just too bloody hot everywhere else during the day, and like you say all the shade or other likely venues were taken up by paid acts.

It's been a bit of a problem with the Saul festival in that two or three years ago there was no session whatsoever and we just played by the canal bank and in the beer tent, but then that was taken over by bar music which seemed to have been taken up by paid acts.

Maybe something for the organisers to consider for next time, could they set up a separate tent, I wonder?

Regards

Steve


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: Emma B
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 09:07 AM

Had the opposite experience at the Four Fools festival - went to something advertized as a "hooley" with Alaistair Anderson, Tom McConville and Cara to find it was treated as a "session" for the "audience"! A total waste of some fine muscians and their lovely "arrangements" IMHO and I was sitting next to the fiddle that was out of tune - but not for long !!!!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' loosing meaning?
From: greg stephens
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 09:52 AM

I went to a pub in Cork the other day advertising a "trad session". I was extremely disappointed to find an amplified fiddle and bouzouki just performing in the corner. Not what I understand by the term "session". Two features stopped it being a session in the old sense: just the two mics, for the two performers; and nowhere for anyone to sit with them.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 05:24 PM

From: Paul Burke
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 08:30 AM
It's not lost meaning at my local pub, the Barley Mow, Bonsall, Derbyshire- truly a free- for all, all comers, all abilities welcomed, even the landlord with his accordion (we can't get him barred)

Yes, but the bugger barred me when I critisised him!!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 07:36 PM

I don't object to James Taylor songs in C (capo anywhere) at a session so long as anyone can join in - vocally or instrumentally. I usually do and sometimes it upsets people.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 04 Jul 06 - 07:59 PM

The McEwans brewery chain in Scotland occasionally runs "McEwans Sessions" with Scottish traditional musicians playing. Unfortunately, while the coordinator of the scheme knows what the word means, the individual bar managers mostly don't, neither do senior management, and the musicians doing the gigs are often people who neither know how to nor want to get anybody playing along with them.

The result is that whatever the success of the scheme at selling beer and putting a few quid in some musicians' pockets, its effect in promoting the session culture as we understand it is nil.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 03:30 AM

OK Bob, we all know that story. Yes, he's a bugger when he's pissed.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Genie
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 04:09 PM

Bob, what does "sitting" v. "standing" have to do with whether there's a PA?

Mr. Red, I agree that "sessions" implies a bunch of people playing and maybe singing along, pretty informally -- very different from an open mike. Probably not too much different from a "sing-along" except the emphasis is on instrumentals (or it may be entirely instrumental). The "jam sessions" I'm familiar with - folk, bluegrass, jazz -- usually involve different people taking short solo breaks too - again, informally.

"If you can sidle in and play what is being played it is a session." Yeah, that's what I thought. But I think many sessions are sort of intended to be informally restricted to people who actually can play without messing the others up. ;-D

Leadfingers, I'm not sure I get the point of "No matter how competent a performer may be, a James Taylor song in C Shapes capo One is NOT session material, but Sing Around/Open Mike stuff !"    Who tells people where to put their capo and what shapes to use as long as they're playing in the chosen key??   And those instructions wouldn't matter to the singers.

"If you want a Session , its where EVERYONE can join in !!"   That's always been my understanding. (If you're not very good, you just play softly enough that no one can hear you when you hit the wrong chord.)

As for the PA thing, the only reason I can think of for that being incompatible with a "session" is that there may be more players/singers than there are mics and amps. I know of some sessions where it's just a few people -- different people each week, and in someone's basement -- and they all use mics or DIs and amps.   That helps balance the sound out -- e.g., when you have the guitar doing battle with the accordion or a singer trying to be heard over a bass, 2 guitars, a piano, an accordion, 2 tambourines and a bodhron.   
There are also venues where the acoustics are such that amplification is really needed for some or all participants.
But, yeah, if it's one or two people up on the stage and amplified while the rest of the people sing or play along from their seats, that's not my idea of a "session."


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 06 - 05:08 PM

The point about capo one (or four) is that it takes you into keys that many instrumentalists can't play in. By now I have got used to this and have a few instruments in weird keys so I can play along with folks like The Lady Who Does "Ride On" In C Sharp Minor, but most whistle and harmonica players aren't that prepared.

Most singers can move up or down a semitone to a key other people have a chance with. It's just plain rude to cut people out with the funny-fret trick.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 02:14 AM

G'day Genie,

I actually wrote: "A session is an event where people sit down ... not one where they stand on a stage and use a PA".

Legalistic selected quotation can be used to distort any sentence ever spoken or written.

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: greg stephens
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 10:13 AM

Jack Campin: at sessions I go to, there are often people with D/G melodeons, and other people with one-row melodeons in C. Now, how is a poor singer expected to please all these people simultaneously? It seems to me there is no God-given right for all instrumentalists to be able to join in with all songs, as part of the definition of a session.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 10:23 AM

I suppose it depends on the session, greg. In nearly all "mostly instrumental" sessions I've been to, a song is more of a solo spot within the session than a join in piece.

Where singing is taken as a join in event, while it may not be possible to cater for every instrument, I think singers should at least try to pick "sociable keys".


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 01:57 PM

Guest, Jon:
Ok, for instrumentals, the instrumentalists pick the key they're most comfortable playing in.
But you object to those who consider 'voice' an instrument having that same option?


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Greg B
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 05:21 PM

No, Guest, instrumentalists don't just arbitrarily pick a key.

We often have to accomodate vocalists; we often have to
accomodate other instrumentalists. On top of that we also
have to deal with the keys our instruents can play in at
all, or issues of fingering.

In any case it's a red herring. I think we all know that if
someone is playing their guitar in C, and capos up 1 it's either
they don't know better of they're putting their thumb in the
eye of the squeezers, fiddlers, and whistle players (and likely
the banjo players as well) who might provide them some additional
accompaniment.

I guess that's fine, but they've just turned it into a performance,
or a round robin, versus a session.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 06 Jul 06 - 05:26 PM

Ok, for instrumentals, the instrumentalists pick the key they're most comfortable playing in.

Guest, it's not just a question of comfortable, some keys are impossible on some instruments...

But you object to those who consider 'voice' an instrument having that same option?

It's rarely a big deal to move up or down a semi-tone to sing a song.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Snuffy
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 08:56 AM

It's often more like a fifth than a semitone for me - and that IS a big deal


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 09:03 AM

Singers that play in C whilst capoed at the first? Easy, buy an octave mandolin, capo that at the 11th and play 'smoke on the water' at them. works for me!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 09:09 AM

Nobody would ask a singer to shift pitch by a fifth. But if you can sing with your guitar capoed at fret 1, you can almost certainly manage either open or at fret 2, and whichever one you pick it's likely to be easier for the instrumentalists to follow you than if you stay in the middle.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 11:31 AM

Jack Campin - Thanks for your comments ! I play Guitar Banjo Mandoline and Whistle , all with sufficent competence to get paid for doing so . IF I am going to Vocalise at a 'session' I make sure I am in a key that is NOT difficult for others to play along with . C Sharp is NOT a session key , its an " I am a smart arse you doesnt want any one to join in" Key ! On the particular occasion I took great delight in joining in with the James Taylor song , on mandolin , WITHOUT using a capo - A case of " You arent the only Smart Arse in the room "



Aint it a bugger when your Ego takes over ??


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Fidjit
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 02:02 PM

I found many, so called, "Sessions" in County Clare Ireland. And in central Dublin a bit of a con. two or three musicians (that were obviously getting paid for it), to create an atmosphere. It didn't work for me. If you tried to join in they frowned at you. Best ones were at Howth (Barny Mckenna's) the Lighthouse. Or the National folk music center in Monkstown.

Chas


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Greg B
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 03:09 PM

>C Sharp is NOT a session key

...even at 2 Regents Park Road


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Fidjit
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 03:58 PM

Always thought it was,

Flat D
2 Regents Park Road

Chas


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Little Robyn
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 05:49 PM

We have a great session, in the traditional sense of the word, here in Hawke's Bay and most of the time everyone joins in, playing the usual keys for fiddle, flute, guitar, squeeze boxes, tin whistles, mouth organs and even bodhran.
But once in a blue moon I'm invited to play my pipes (Northumbrian) and then anyone who can play in F joins in, a harmonica in F is pulled out of a bag, the fiddler pulls faces and goes for a beer and the guitarist puts on a capo. If it's something singable (Keep your feet still Geordie Hinnie, Mingulay boat song etc.) everyone else joins in the chorus.
Then when the young girl who comes on odd occasions is invited to sing her song - a modern thing I consider pop music, (and always the same one) that's when I go to the loo!
It's a fine session and it's every Wednesday night at the Cat & Fiddle!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 06:51 PM

Robyn - NO problem with Small Pipes with an F chanter - You dont have a lot of choice ! I am just back from a Pub entertainment and was playing along in Bflat minor , B major and what ever ! But thats NOT a session as such - Good fun though ! And BLOODY good practice !


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Nick
Date: 07 Jul 06 - 08:15 PM

COMPETE OFF TOPIC POST

Regents Park Road NW1? I used to live there for a blissful period in the 70's before it was trendy. People used to go to Hampstead or Camden and carefully skirt round our haven of peace...

If I'd known then what I know now I could have walked down the road to Cecil's, burnt me geetar, stuck my finger firmly into another orifice and been into 'real folk' music.

By the way - was marc bolan a folk musician before he became TRex when he used to play an acoustic?

Sorry - way off track... where's that other beer?

ON TOPIC BIT

Half a semitone for a singer DOES matter and sometimes G# is right and G and A aren't as good even if you can do them. Pitch of a song for a singer often makes the difference to how it sounds. In a session it matters not a jot of course because it's about the players and they can only play in certain keys!

How can guitarists grumble - capos are acceptable aren't they?

F is a great key to play in on a guitar though with or without a capo. Bminor is a pleasure. B is a poor key for everyone - name a good instument to play in B (apart from a B whistle if there is such). G# is poor. F# has positives on keyboard instrument and guitars etc etc


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 11:15 AM

Ah, that's why I couldn't join in. Half a semitone put that singer between between the cracks of almost any instrument (except a fiddle or a swanee whistle).


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 05:30 PM

Nick, perhaps I should have said I've rarely found it a problem moving a semitone for a song. I hardly ever sing now and can struggle when I do but when I was singing fairly regularly, I think "Freeborn Man" was one of the few I sometimes did where I had to be quite careful where I started (make sure I could sing "lumbered" at the low end and pitch it from there).

I've never felt a singing key "right" or "wrong" as long as it's in comfortable range which for me always seemed to vary a bit... Any ideas why it should be for some? Perfect pitch?


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: LesB
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 06:29 PM

Lets keep it simple. The way I see it is.

A 'session' is a group of people getting together to play pedominately tunes (unless it's advertised 'mixed' or 'singing').
A 'singaround' is just that, a group of people taking turns to sing (or listening).
An 'open mike' does what it say's on the tin. They have a P.A. and it's basicaly a folk kareoke.
A 'singers night' usually refers to a folk club when they don't have a booked guest on, & it's a chance for both singers & instumentalists to do their stuff.

Simple init?
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: stallion
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 06:29 PM

Nick,
most men (maybe women)are more comfortable singing in F or D (Martin's wisdom, choir background) it's all about blend of voices and half a note makes a big difference, we start in one key and notch it up til we find the one that works the best, hence I sing "Let the Toast Pass" in C at the top of my range cos it suits all our voices better (not mine, it is a bit of a strain), I sing "Spanish Ladies" in D at the lower end of my range for the same reasons, ron tends to use more obscure keys like F# and Eb to mention but two. The real difficulty I have singing with instruments is that for thirty years I have been singing in "Free time" and require instruments to follow me, acompanyists are a dying breed. Hot news though, we have been rehearsing with Damien Fynes and Frank Pallister and will be singing with instruments at the Black Swan Folk Club, 20th of July


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: stallion
Date: 08 Jul 06 - 06:38 PM

Oh, and I forgot, generally speaking in sessions, as Nick knows, we're not so fussy as to pick a key, we just sing, so some prat comes up and says "You're not as good as you used to be", What is that about, we come out to have some fun with mates we're not performing!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 04:06 AM

I suppose every community has its own expectations of a session. Sometimes the collection of people who turn up at the beginning set the character and pace for those who arrive later. At a time when most of the sessions I got to were singing sessions (no instruments at all) the songs were usually sung in friendly keys for most of the singers. When we went to Canberra though, we had to be a bit canny about organising the starters. There was a fellow in Canberra who we all wanted to have join us in any session, as he had a beautiful tenor voice, knew squillions of songs and could harmonise wonderfully with anything. In short, he was a real asset to any session.

Trouble was, if he started the singing, he would usually sing the main melody line (against which we'd all have to harmonise) in a key that was impossible for us lesser mortals. If one of us baritones got in first, however, the pitch range for the rest of the evening would usually have him singing his best and us able to trot out nice harmonies as well.

On a later occasion, after I had become capable of joining in on my anglo, I was at an instrumental session in the main bar of the pub in Kapunda, South Australia. There were lots of instrumentalists there, from all over southeastern Australia and the place was rockin' along when an Adelaide local (who'd recently acquired a 6-row Continental system button accordion) started playing the Athol Highlanders. For some reason, the tradition in Adelaide has this tune played in G, whereas most of the rest of Australia plays it in A.

To make sense of the rest of this story you'd have to understand the layout of the Continental system keyboard, where, if you learn a tune on just three rows, you can transfer the same fingering up, down and across all the rows and play that tune in every key known. It would also be helpful to know that the Athol Highlanders is played in Australia at a rather cracking pace.

Your man played in G and we all joined in. Some of us already knew the SA tradition and were prepared but most others could cope. After a couple of times through, most of the rest of us launched into a repeat with the tune in A; everybody joined in. After the regular 'twice through' someone started it in D and again most of us kept up. Your man then decided he was going to take the tune through every major key. It was easy for him as all he had to do was transfer the same fingering to slightly different parts of the keyboard. All the rest of us, except one, dropped out.

Bronnie Evans was new to the folk scene at that time but, even though she'd been playing whistle for only a month ot two, she was a red hot whistle player. This was probably because she'd had ten years' classical training as a flautist, although I suspect I was one of only three people in the bar who knew this. Bronnie had been playing her flute when this session started and, even though the Athol Highlanders was new to her, she joined in with a will and played quite competently when the rest of us were playing as well.

When your man started 'playing the smart-arse', so to speak she would cock her ear to pick what key it was he's got into, for the first bar or so, and then rip into playing along with him at the same cracking pace. She kept up with him for every key change. At the end of it there was wild applause, all of it for Bronnie.

But most sessions I've been to in Australia and elsewhere have been much friendlier.

Cheers, Rowan.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 04:51 AM

LesB

That may be your definition. It's nevewr been mine.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 05:10 AM

What's yours then Ian?

LesB is pretty much in line with my thoughts.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: IanC
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 05:35 AM

Simply sitting down and doing music (which includes singing) together. Though some sessions are more instrumental, and some more singing oriented, they are all sessions to me. A "singaround" might be something different, but I've been involved in that kind of controlled session with instruments too.

I just think people are being a bit prescriptive and trying to define things as what they never really originally meant.

:-)


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Paco Rabanne
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 05:42 AM

A 'session' to me is four pints an hour until you fall over!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 05:56 AM

Thanks, Ian.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Paul
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 06:12 AM

You can tell here who are the singaround singers and who are the session musicians!
"East is east and west is west, and ne'er the twain shall meet"


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 07:27 AM

"East is east and west is west, and ne'er the twain shall meet"

I'm not sure that's true. My preference is for an instrumental session with an occasional song thrown in and prefer no songs at all to a balance of mostly songs but I could still enjoy an all singing night. It just comes lower down on my list of things to look out for or go to.

Singers nights in folk clubs come even lower down and what LesB calls "open mic", no thank you - I'd rather stay at home.

In practice, at best, when I am going out I rarely manage more than one instrumental session per week but in different circumstances, round here, I probably would be taking in a variety of event types on different nights of the week.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Clive Thorne
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 07:46 AM

I was reflecting on this the other day, having just come back from a week-end event which included a "session".

Now when I was a lad over in Shropshire a 'session' was somewhere where people would meet to play together, often after a morris tour. If a musician started a tune they would make a point of chosing a tune that the majority of people knew so that everybody could join in, or at least have a go at.
Even notable accordion playing residents of that county, who could play the socks off anyone else present, would follow this convention.
(Note: it was a convention - never mentioned as a rule - It didn't need to be, everyone was there to have fun making music together).


Contrast this with the 'Session' I was at last weekend: With very few exceptions the main aim seemed to be to specifically choose tunes that no-one else would know. Thus the Muso would get the floor to themselves and have a chance to show how wonderful they were. - Even better if you could choose an obscure key! Similarly (with notable exceptions) a lot of the songs seemed to chosen for they're obscurity and/or lack of a sing along chorus.

I didn't stop long.


Similairly I recall a specific session a couple of years ago. A real 'play-along' type session was looking promising, but then a couple came and set themselves up in the centre of the room and proceeded to take over, playing a series of obscure (mostly French I seem to recall) tunes. Don't get me wrong, they were very talented, and it was great music. BUT it was no longer a session (in my definition)! I can still recall my sense of 'Oh God, here we go'.


Rant over, my spleen is vented.

Oh for a good old time 'real' session.



Clive.


PS. I'm hoping to get a session going in our local pub come the end of August. Any one got any ideas of how to prevent it becoming a 'look at me I'm wonderful' type thing?


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Mr Red
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 08:24 AM

On my website I try to relay the info as to session or SAR and if there is a preference to style.

As to how you prevent egos going - you can't but you can give them just enough politeness time and then say loudly "Back to the Session with Horses Brawl in the Key of GG" (FWIW G to G minor in the Blozabella book)- And "follow it with La Morresque in one flowing swirl". If the ego can't play them - they ain't that folkie.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: LesB
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 08:37 AM

Hi Clive welcome to mudcat. My take on what a 'session' means were deliberately oversimplified. There are of course crossovers. I have been to the sort of sessions you described above. I find a lot of sessions tend to be variable depending on who is there. We have regular sessions here Southport and are mostly instrumental with a few songs (if there are any singers present). I find that the best mixed sessions are to be found at Morris weekends when you usually get a mixture of singers & musicians. As you well know having spent time in the Scotch Piper, Lydiate when you were guests at the Southport Swords weekend of dance.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Paul
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 09:54 AM

GUEST, Jon

If I knew how to do one of these smiley faces, I'd have put it after my post. My preferences when it comes to mix of tunes/songs etc follow your own pretty closely :>)


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Clive Thorne
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 12:12 PM

To Les B:

Les,

Thanks for the welcome! However I should make clear that we have three Clives in Rose and Castle:

Clive Thorne (myself) - Dancer. I play a bit of melodeon but not in the band.
Clive Wood - fiddle player and singer and band leader extrordinaire.
Clive Dennis - Current squire. Doesn't play anything except 'Merry Hell' when we get it all wrong.

I'm relatively new to the team (3rd season) and haven't been to a Southport Sword weekend, so I suspect on this occassion it's one of the other Clives you're thinking of.

Its not a problem, but I thought I'd make it clear so that the other Clives don't get tarred with the same brush ref my thoughts on sessions.

Clive.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Doug Chadwick
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 01:19 PM

An 'open mike' does what it say's on the tin. They have a P.A. and it's basicaly a folk kareoke.

LesB,

While I agree on most of your definitions, your description of an 'open mike' puzzled me.

Karaoke is singing to pre-recorded music

The "open mike" night that I attend is a chance to do a set of songs to your own accompaniment which sounds pretty much like your singer's night


DC


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: stallion
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 01:22 PM

ere ere ted (10th July) the music is "incidental"!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: stallion
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 01:28 PM

Oh Tap & Spile, York, Friday nights, mixed sessions, it is a session, singers are baying for tunes and the musicians are howling for singers as everyone is trying to down as much "River Ouse" as possible and don't want an excuse for a break in the quaffing. It is seriously a good session for the most part, although you never know who is gigging so sometimes not a lot get in and sometimes it is brim full, worth a visit come autumn


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: mandotim
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 01:48 PM

I run a session at the Roebuck in Hilderstone in Staffordshire (it's this Wednesday, if anyone wants to come, though this isn't an advert...). We allow only two sorts of music; good and bad, and bad is just fine as long as you sing/play it like you mean it and it means something to you. Joining in is the rule rather than the exception, but only if you think you can make the singer/lead instrumentalist sound better; it's not a chance to show the song/tune leader how much better a player/singer you are. Sometimes it's a good way of helping beginners (by the second verse they have a band enhancing their sound) If you want do do something without others joining in, just say so and no-one will be offended, just appreciative. On the other hand, whoever is leading the piece might nod at you to take a solo break...

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that to me formal rules can be important in sessions/singarounds or whatever (I don't see the name as important), but much more important is the sensitivity of the players and singers, and a mutual desire to make music that all can appreciate and maybe enjoy. Sessions that exclude all but a narrow style of music (in my opinion, of course) can get tedious very quickly for all but the committed specialists, and also tend to exclude some very worthwhile musicians who don't quite fit the genre. I've played in some magical sessions where music has crossed over boundaries; a version of 'The Mason's Apron' with a celtic-style mandolin, bluegrass fiddle, guitar, banjo, bodhran and a very well played didgeridoo rhythm/drone springs to mind.

All IMHO, of course.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: LesB
Date: 10 Jul 06 - 02:13 PM

Thanks Clive, I thought you were the one wot sings the 'Rose & Castle Song'.
Doug, my Kareoke comment was a bit flip. When I see 'open mike' I imagine (rightly or wrongly) a P.A. (with a mike)and a steady stream of wannabe singer song writers, probably in a wine bar somewhere. This is only my own jaundiced view, (having done the wannabe singer songwriter thing 35yrs ago).
If it's in 'Folk' setting 'singers night' is my preffered term. Lest you think I'm just a finger in the ear retro folkie, at the singers nights at our local club you can hear a wide range of musical styles & I also sing contemporary & trad songs, but I do thing that there is a lot of dross out there.
Cheers
Les


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: julian morbihan
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 08:26 AM

Anyone coming over to Brittany is welcome to come to a couple of monthly sessions, 2nd Friday is Breton music and 4th Friday is Irish.

At the L'Ecluse bar, Montertelot, 5 km south of Ploermel, Morbihan.

More info from Mike James - mike.james1@wanadoo.fr

And they are real sessions, anyone can join in - French, English, Irish, Breton - with anything they like, mainly instrumental but usually a couple of songs for good measure. And pleasant company to with a warm welcome from Nathalie and Thierry at the bar.

We had a lovely session the other month when Flos and Sheila came over for a few days holiday with us. Mike was particularly taken with the French joining in with Flos when he played Waterloo Dance!

Cheers

Julian


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,nac mac feagle
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 12:00 PM

"Atholl Highlanders" in "G" ????   MORAG - MAH CLAYMORE !!!!!!!!!!!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 05:47 PM

Id say there are different kinds of sessions..
there are ones that are geared for beginners and pretty much open to anyone, and there are ones that are for more advanced players.
If youve been playing for a number of years you do tend to enjoy a smaller group that plays more than the 30 or 50 tunes that everyone starts with..   Our wednesday night session in vancouver is pretty much open to everyone but we do enjoy the evenings when its a smaller group playing less common tunes.

playing on a stage /with mikes etc is either an open mike or a performance and not a session.

It is good to have a host musician or two - and its fair they be paid
for being there each time and keeping things going. (as well as the other musicians getting a break on the drinks or some snacks etc)
In this case though - since its sort of a paid gig the Bar owner can sometimes get anal about people stopping to chat etc.

Something funny though..
We have a twice monthly French Canadian session in a coffee house - we were glad to just have a place to play with a piano, that serves beer as well. THe session host gets one free beverage .. So once when I was filling in for the host and went to get my one free beverage the kid
behind the bar said, 'I dont know Ill have to talk to the owner, it turns out its more of a practice jam than a performance'
I replied that a session isnt a performance., If it was a performance Id expect a lot more than one free drink for playing for 3-hours ..(and for several people to boot)


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 05:58 PM

"Atholl Highlanders" in "G" ????   MORAG - MAH CLAYMORE !!!!!!!!!!!

Yes ... and so what???


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Tootler
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 06:02 PM

Slightly more seriously, I've noticed that tunes played in A in Scotland are often played in G in England.

Blame it on those G/D boxes???!!!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jon
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 07:08 PM

Well it certainly won't be the fiddles, tenor banjos, mandolins, etc. Tootle. They like A.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 07:24 PM

Yes, it's largely because of those melodeons. Mind you, it can be quite effective playing a tune in G and then moving up to A; gives it a nice lift. Used to do that quite often. The better box players could manage the shift.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 11 Jul 06 - 08:15 PM

Malcolm's comment
"Mind you, it can be quite effective playing a tune in G and then moving up to A; gives it a nice lift. Used to do that quite often. The better box players could manage the shift."
reminded me that this effect was used by a band of several friends of mine when playing at woolshed dances. I'm having a senior moment and can't recall the name of the tune just now but it was started in A and played a couple of times through, then a couple of times through in D, then a couple of times through in G and then the whole cycle repeated for the length of that particular dance, always finishing in A. It was usually known as "ADG", which is why I can't now remember its correct name.

The others in this group played ADG accordions, mouthorgans and whistle and the modulations were relatively easy. At the time I stuck to lagerphone and calling the dances but the set was often played at sessions and I was starting out on an Anglo concertina in D & G. Playing along with the others was the way I learned how to play in A. When we all went our separate ways the only times we'd meet would be in sessions at festivals, Most of the instrumental sessions I've seen at Australian festivals can be grouped into "the specialists" (Irish sessions are most often like this but we've had Morris, tangos, Macedonian, sth Queensland ones too) or "the generalists" where a wide range of tunes from all of the specialisms will be played. Some play the tunes three times though, some only twice and beginners are usually encouraged to strut out their party pieces.

Amongst all this I've noticed over the years that ex members of bands are quitely likely to reminisce in sessions. Occasionally someone will start a tune that everybody else recognises as part of a bracket that a well-known band has made popular. Sometimes it will happen because a muso recognises another face in the session as having been in that band and wants to stir them along. Such behaviour is often constructive but it needs a certain sensitivity to prevent it from 'taking over' and becoming an egocentric rant, as someone so eloquently put it. My own view is that I learned almost everything I know musically as a result of good sessions and I reckon I have an obligation to give as much back as I can to those who want to learn. Good sessions are a great way to give back.

And, once you've experienced a variety of types of behaviour at sessions, it's easy to exercise your discernment gene.

Cheers, Rowan.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Clive Thorne
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 05:32 AM

To LesB.

Les,

Ah - the recruitment song - that would be Clive Wood.

By the way we also have four Steves. In the vien of Monty Python 'It avoids confusion',

And to everybody:

Regarding Athol Highlanders being played in G, I really don't see that as a problem, but even if is you can't blame the DG melodeon for that as you can play that tune in A on a DG box quite easily (it doesn't have a G# in it - well my version doesn't).

Clive Thorne


Clive


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Declan
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 08:20 PM

The exact definition of a sessions seems to vary from place to place. In Ireland as has been mentioned above a session may not always be welcomoing for beginners, some are, others are definitely not. A session tends to be open to like minded musicians (or singers) who can join in without upsetting the balance of what is already happening. It's hard to define the rules, they exist but vary from place to place. I don't regard anything where people are miked up as a session but others do. I find that 'sessions' that are included in the official programs at festivals are rarely ones that are open to all comers. Best advice I can give is that if yhou don't like the sessions that are already started - find a space and start your own - then you make the rules.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 08:35 PM

Could Rowan's "ADG" tune have been "Margaret's Waltz"? I've heard that sort of thing done with it.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Rowan
Date: 12 Jul 06 - 09:59 PM

The senior moment may have passed. What's left in its wake is "Drops of Brandy". There's a bit of a tradition in eastern Australia when playing for Strip the Willow, that the band plays mostly 9/8 jigs for most of the couples but plays Athol Highlanders (in A, thank you) a couple ot times through to finish. It gives a great lift to the dancers.

Declan's comment on sessions seems spot on to me. At the National (every Easter, these days always in Canberra) there are lots of places where you can sit and play and you'll almost always be joined by those of like mind. There is also a Session Bar (a room about 30m wide and 100m long, pinched in the middle by a bar) which will usually have a few different sessions going on at almost any time of day/night. After about 4pm it could have anything up to 15 sessions going in it without apparent problems. There's always an Irish session going on in a little nook at the far end from the main entrance that can fit only about a dozen comfortably but they seem to like it that way. Inside the entrance I've seen some quite large sessions last for some hours, with everything from bush waltzes to arcane Geordie tunes more or less following each other.

It's a while since I felt welcome in Canberra's Irish sessions so I don't know whether they welcome beginners who can't play the latest wunderkind reel at breakneck speed. The big sessions near the entrance are always welcoming of all comers and a wide variety of Irish tunes get played. There is a 'slow session' every morning at one end of the session bar, specifically for beginners and a few heavies make a point of attending and taking a back seat to help the beginners along.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Tootler
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 03:13 PM

Could Rowan's "ADG" tune have been "Margaret's Waltz"? I've heard that sort of thing done with it.

We often play Margaret's Waltz in G then A. We also do the same with Athol Highlanders.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Eye Lander
Date: 13 Jul 06 - 07:00 PM

I live on the Isle of Wight and there is no such thing as a 'session' here. It's disappointing for someone trying to learn the concertina. Everything that is advertised as a session here is more like a folk club, going round the room in turn.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 07:06 AM

It's a little disappointing to see so many derogatory comments about other types/generations of musicians and so much intolerance towards anyone not happening to share one's views on what music making is about.

Yes, it's a problem that the word "session" has so many different meanings and interpretations, and perhaps the conclusion to be drawn from this discussion is to either take things as you find them (you don't have to stay or go back), or if asking around at a festival (for example), be more specific about what you're looking for. Words can and do change their meanings, so communication is the key. (Not sure if it's the right key though :-)

Mally


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 07:36 AM

I help to run a session at The New Tavern in Sidmouth for the week - I still maintain its the best MIXED session in sidders . We have Singer Songwriters who drop in , a variety of instrumentalists and when the dance display at York Steps gets rained off , the dancers come in too ! The music ranges from Trad to Contemporary folk , with
injections of Music Hall , Blues ,light Jazz and even Country music .
There are NO restrictions on any one joining in , and if a singer is in an uncomfortable key for US because of his vocal range , thats OK -but mostly they settle into what the instrumentalists are happy with ! ITs a good scene , but would be a lot better if Mally came in occasionally !!


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Mally
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 07:48 AM


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: GUEST,Mally
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 07:58 AM

Oops, hit Submit too soon!

Sounds a great session. I'd love to come along if I get the chance sometime. Not sure if my presence will constitute an improvement though :-)

Mally


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Mr Red
Date: 16 Aug 06 - 07:59 AM

going round the room in turn

Well if I was there I would correct their usage - what you got there, PAL, is a Sing-around (SAR) or a come-all-ye, or a folk club, or open stage. or a mixed session if they play "ensemble" occasionally.

Think jazz - "jam session", think "session musician" - hardly solo appearances are they?

Language is all about communication and it generates expectations. And disappointment if they are not met.

Pedantry has it's place and this is it.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: Dickmac
Date: 18 Aug 06 - 03:27 PM

I play regularly at a local session i.e. a group of musicians and singers of mixed ability all playing/singing "folk" music, whatever that is (but that's another topic). There are basically no rules and no one is in charge but it works. Newcomers are welcome and, irrespective of ability, are encouraged and over a period it's great to see how people develop confidence and their singing and playing improves with this added confidence. Professional/semi professional musicians from Ireland visit when in town and have the attitude "it's a session -anything goes". This to me is what a session should be.
The session at Howth (see fidgiit 7th July)is really good and welcoming, not like many of the other Dublin sessions where is paid artists who don't want , and certainly don't encourage, participation.
Unfortunately I believe the Lighthouse has closed.


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Subject: RE: Is the word 'session' losing meaning?
From: The Sandman
Date: 17 Mar 09 - 07:04 AM

yes,its partly the fault of publicans,if it is not an open session,just advertise the gig as irish[english french] traditional music with:


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