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singaround etiquette

10 Mar 16 - 03:50 AM (#3777794)
Subject: Folklore: si garound etiquette
From: GUEST,voice sqad

Been to a singaround recently where people were trying to join in verses as the singer was performing, this threw them off the lyric, is it wrong to join in verses when other folk are performing, .

10 Mar 16 - 04:13 AM (#3777797)
Subject: RE: Folklore: si garound etiquette
From: Leadfingers

Sure - join in the verses , but only if you are certain you will be singing EXACTLY the same lyrics and possible tune variations as the singer . Otherwise keep quiet

10 Mar 16 - 04:30 AM (#3777801)
Subject: RE: Folklore: si garound etiquette
From: Will Fly

Also depends on the etiquette/accepted parameters of that particular session. At my own session the rule is: everyone joins in if they want to, unless the person leading off specifically requests to perform on their own. Which works. And very often, people will not join in willy-nilly because the performance is either so good as to be watchable - or, more rarely so bad as to be impossible!

10 Mar 16 - 05:02 AM (#3777811)
Subject: RE: Folklore: si garound etiquette
From: Murpholly

One session I go to I try to sing chorus songs. I am left to sing the verses, even if others know the song, but then they all join in the chorus and we get some lovely harmonies. It's good to have a variety and if no chorus, no join in.

10 Mar 16 - 05:45 AM (#3777812)
Subject: RE: Folklore: singaround etiquette
From: FreddyHeadey

Tuesday's Beech Band in Manchester has its own chorus book to get everyone singing the same version.

Doubtless Les can tell us how well it works.
(btw Les, I did a version of it for printing on a printer that does the two sided duplex thing)

I think
join in on the chorus if invited.
don't join in with the verses! Even if the performer can't hear, the person sitting next to you can.

10 Mar 16 - 05:56 AM (#3777813)
Subject: RE: Folklore: singaround etiquette
From: Backwoodsman

I'm in the 'don't join in the verses, do join in the choruses' camp. But singarounds/song sessions do differ in what they view as 'correct etiquette' - if in doubt, ask one of the regulars!

10 Mar 16 - 08:53 AM (#3777842)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Stilly River Sage

Joining in the verses sounds rude, unless the performer specifically invites the audience. imho

10 Mar 16 - 09:18 AM (#3777843)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Raggytash

I'm firmly in the DON'T join in the verses. By all means in the chorus.

When I'm singing a verse I have my own timing which may not be matched by someone else, my own emphasis on words, which again may not matched by someone else.

Unless I have practiced a song with someone else I find it is distracting to say the least to have someone else singing along with the verse.

One final word, if joining in with the chorus take the cue from the singer not from your own interpretation.

10 Mar 16 - 09:20 AM (#3777844)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

The default position should be choruses yes, verses no but there are too many variables to be dogmatic.

For example Banks of Sweet Primroses has no chorus but people commonly join in on the last two lines.

10 Mar 16 - 09:57 AM (#3777848)
Subject: RE: Folklore: singaround etiquette
From: Joe Nicholson

I am all for not making rules but I do know that it sounds so much better if we leave the verse to the singer and then come in prompt at the start of the chourus and stay with it to the end (of the chorus)

Joe N

10 Mar 16 - 10:01 AM (#3777849)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

In my opinion, no audience member should ever join in the verses uninvited - it is ill-mannered and can be destructive.
I want to hear the singer's interpretation of a song, not anybody else's, whether they know (or think they know) the song, which is what a performance should be about.
A few U.K. singers have earned themselves bad reputations here in Ireland for this practice - one particular very fine singer who really should know better has the habit of audibly humming the tune if she doesn't know the words - utterly crazy.
Some club members have been known to call out "One singer, one song" when it happens - maybe a poster on the wall or a tee-shirt is in order.
I would also suggest to singers that they think very hard before they invite audiences to join in verses - especially guests who have been booked on the basis of their own, and nobody else's singing
Jim Carroll

10 Mar 16 - 11:20 AM (#3777857)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Backwoodsman

Absolutely right, Jim.

10 Mar 16 - 11:38 AM (#3777860)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Mg

It sounds like the question was more for song circle format rather than performers. My default in a song circle is of course if is up to the singer to state her preference but default is sing on verses if you know the song but never overthrow the lead singer and in general never add verses..some exceptions. Never ever add verses from the blue book. Train newcomers to state their preferences as to people singing along and instruments. I love people singing along which is why we call them song circles instead of listening circles. Anyway every place has it's own traditions and state them clearly if you are rigid about this.

10 Mar 16 - 11:41 AM (#3777863)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge on the Intel Quad Core

I know what I like. I like Will Fly's version. At my Lower Stoke Winter Sings (now terminated because the pub is a UKIP pub and the landlord a UKRAPPER) we went one stage further and invited instrumental accompaniment as well, unless the singer expressly wished otherwise.

I have been to other primarily song sessions where that was the rule too and had some very positive experiences when singing, a notable example being when a rehearsed arrangement (with my usual tenor) of a shanty in B we were delighted with an extempore blues-style guitar accompaniment coming from behind us. It really gave the song wings (fortunately not Paul McCartney's Wings).

Also, although I am really a very limited mandolin player, I have three times been told that my ad-lib accompaniment was a definite plus, once by a local professional performer, and once (to my great conceit) by an internationally known professional shanty singer.

On the other hand, if I find I am not getting it right I usually shut up pretty fast (which may surprise some here)! Once I was accused of "noodling" (a misuse of the term in my view) when accompanying a singer. I hold that "noodling" is what guitarists do between songs, playing random notes or phrases or just something they like the sound of, so stopping the next song starting.

I am lost for a suitable expression to describe what has happened to me twice - a song or an introduction to a song has been started and then a banjo-player (a well known and very loud tenor player, with, incidentally, a criminal record and who purports to repair, but wrecks, guitars) or a professional "entertainer" with a penchant for unfunny jokes badly told, loudly chimes right over and so stops the song.

10 Mar 16 - 11:46 AM (#3777864)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Mg

Also ascertain whether group is blue book friendly or not...and groups should be honest about this.   Do not pass out extra blue books. Understand that some people love them and some hate them. Find or start a group that meets your preference. I would never try to convert a group that used them from the start. I wouldn't go either but that is beside the point...if the group does not use them it is not from ignorance but preference.

10 Mar 16 - 01:10 PM (#3777875)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Sol

I went with a mate to see a fairly well-known singer at a local folk club. She started to sing and, knowing the song, I unconsciously joined in. My colleague quietly, and quite correctly I should add, told me to STFU. In my ignorance, it hadn't occurred to me that he'd paid money to hear her & not me.

10 Mar 16 - 02:58 PM (#3777889)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Richard Bridge on the Intel Quad Core

Actually my favourite joining in story was at our Hazlitt Folk venue at the Style and Winch in Maidstone (Many many yonks ago). We had booked Martin Carthy who was as always rivetting and excellent. We used the "floor spots then guest in each half' format and my band was the last on before him in the second half. He asked if we minded if he joined in! What a gent!

10 Mar 16 - 04:00 PM (#3777901)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Gardham

A singaround will usually be organised by someone or someone will be nominated to direct proceedings. That person should be in charge of the rules and either make those rules clear and make sure they are followed.

As someone has already stated these events can vary in all sorts of ways, but the general rule is as stated, one singer for verses and all on chorus.

A separate issue is joining in with instrumental accompaniment. Again it needs to be clear what the rules are in that particular session.

10 Mar 16 - 04:16 PM (#3777904)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler

What is the "blue book" please?


10 Mar 16 - 04:48 PM (#3777906)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jeri

"Blue Book" = "Rise Up Singing"
It's a songbook that is occasionally used as a hymnal.

10 Mar 16 - 04:59 PM (#3777907)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: BobKnight

There's a guy in our club who keeps singing long after the lead singer has stopped. So bad that he's still singing the last line when I'm already singing the next - shoot the b******

10 Mar 16 - 06:50 PM (#3777920)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,mg

whatever people truly prefer is up to them of course..but if you have a core of good singers, would you not want to hear them sing with each other more than listening to one person? that is my preference. I used to go why aren't they singing along with me...surely some know this song. and what is great is when several people know the song but not everyone..and good singers generally tone themselves down and follow the leader..sometimes the leader really needs help though and the group could support her.

but there is no all over rule that it is rude to sing along. It was the standard american practice, at least where i am from. Let's sing something we all was never let's listen to this person, then that person, then the next person. Poor voices are not helped by this custom and good ones are silenced more than they need to be...but really, whatever the group and the singer wants but don't be bullied into something.

10 Mar 16 - 08:29 PM (#3777931)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: FreddyHeadey

Thanks Ebor Fiddler & Jeri
I'd not heard of it.

More info
"The system includes everything you need (in terms of lyrics & chords but no melodies except in the Rounds chapter) to play or sing along with the song."

10 Mar 16 - 08:46 PM (#3777933)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jeri

FreddyHeadey, there's a second book out, "Rise Again" that Joe Offer from here put a lot of work into.

Every place and every singing session has its own norms. AFAIK, in the US and the UK, it's polite to let the song leader do the verses, and join in only on the choruses. It's not normal to sing everything, and it drives me nuts when people do. If it's normal in your session, that's fine, but it's not the way it's done everywhere. And let me say that if you hum along in what you believe is a quiet manner, it may not be so quiet.

10 Mar 16 - 09:52 PM (#3777940)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Stilly River Sage

Audience, whether singing along or listening I think does depend upon the singer. A cognate is my local call-in NPR talk show radio program, that always invites audience participation, but sometimes the guest is so riveting that we just want to listen (and the host usually tells the guest that that is the case). I think the same is true of some of these folk venues.

I'll name some names - Don Firth, late mudcat member from Seattle, had an incredible voice. I wouldn't have wanted to sing along because I wanted to hear his voice, as did the audience. Stan James, who died several years ago, was another. And Deckman, Bob Nelson, has a beautiful voice. I think I've heard mg (Mary Garvey) sing a couple of times (Rainy Camp) - she has a wonderful voice, and I'd rather listen than join in.

Some of this is organic. And some of it is manners. And certainly, I agree that if the performer states their preference at the beginning, the audience should honor it.

10 Mar 16 - 11:18 PM (#3777943)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,bbc

I would not sing the verses & only even sing on choruses if invited to do so by the performer. Then, I sing softly & do my best to stay with the performer. As far as I'm concerned, that's courtesy. If you want to sing it all, full-volume & your style, do so at home.



11 Mar 16 - 06:14 AM (#3777974)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Will Fly

As far as I'm concerned - and this is just a personal preference for myself - I encourage the assembled company to join in on anything I perform at any session/singaround I attend. I really love the idea of communal music making and, though the result isn't always completely harmonious, a whole roomful of people getting it together can be a joyous experience.

11 Mar 16 - 07:10 AM (#3777979)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jim Carroll

There is another point - on choruses.
It is also good manners to listen to what the singer is doing and not just 'do your own thing', especially in regard to speed.
We saw Walter Pardon perform at clubs on many occasions and we know he quite liked people joining in on his choruses - but....
He actually abandoned singing two of his songs because of audiences' tendencies to low down and drag out the choruses, leaving him to have to pick up the speed he wished to sing at the beginning of each new verse - the singer should be allowed to set the pace - it's his or her song.
I gave up singing 'Go to Sea No More' in public when audiences insisted in putting in a chorus, which, for me, made the song (at the time, my favorite)interminable.
The Singers Club was great for choruses, especially when Ewan and Peggy were on because they made a point of teaching choruses and sometimes experimenting with them.   
Ewan's ballad, 'The Baron of Lys' has a section with a question-response chorus between the seduced woman and the seducer - Ewan divided the audience up into genders and got the women to sing the first part and the men, the second - great fun when it worked.
Peggy regularly suggested that some of here choruses would take harmony "if you feel up to it"   
Jim Carroll

11 Mar 16 - 08:34 AM (#3777996)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

These days singers tend to assume that the choruses are already known. Perhaps they should go back to singing them through first

11 Mar 16 - 11:34 AM (#3778028)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Acorn4

Agree with the post two above.

The key is to listen. A lot of people don't actually listen to what the singer is doing when they join in.

11 Mar 16 - 12:10 PM (#3778042)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: matt milton

I do sing along with some verses but I'm aware that I probably shouldn't be so I tend to sing them quietly. I can imagine it might be off-putting. Plus it sort of feels like showing-off!

11 Mar 16 - 12:21 PM (#3778046)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: matt milton

On a related note... I recently came unstuck singing the version of 'Twankydillo' that I learned from the New Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. The chorus in that book has a slightly different melody to the one everyone seems to know.

It's not radically different, but it's different enough for it to cause a bit of a car-crash: everybody in the room tried to join in, everyone got confused! I adapted and sang all the other choruses the way everyone else wanted to sing them. On the one hand, I felt people should have listened to what I was singing; on the other hand, it's a big anthemic chorus song, it's a singaround, so it's kind of anti-social not to sing it the way the Coppers did, the way everyone knows!

When I've sung that song at subsequent singarounds, I've given up on the New Penguin chorus and stuck to the Copper Family chorus.

11 Mar 16 - 01:52 PM (#3778068)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Gardham

Surely, Matt, if you're singing a lesser-known version of a song where most of the people there are likely to know a well-known version, you simply tell them what you're doing before you sing it.

11 Mar 16 - 02:50 PM (#3778083)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Thompson

Autres pays, autres moeurs: in Ireland it's considered deeply rude and attention-seeking to join in with a singer, except *in certain songs* with the chorus; it's not even considered polite to join in the chorus in many songs. Mostly the singer will call out "Sing up" after a line or two of the chorus, if she or he wishes others to join in that chorus, and then and only then will listeners join, falling silent again to allow the singer room for the verses as a solo.

11 Mar 16 - 05:06 PM (#3778115)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: mg

That is great for Ireland and if people like that system, and see it as a system and not a virtue of some kind, have at it. I am still only talking about song circle arrangements, not concerts...and I think noisy pubs where the singer is way amplified and couldn't hear you and the people next to you couldn't hear you but perhaps read your lips...I say decide for yourselves. Would the Germans do Octoberfest that way? Maybe they do. Would the Cornish and Welsh sing that way? Maybe they do too...but in America, as in the portion of NA that they call USA, not to be confused with Greenland, Central or South America or other countries in NA, which would be Canada and Mexico and various territorial islands...we have lots of people from different heritages...German, Scandinavian, Welsh, Eastern European, African. All contributed something and they had different ways of doing things. Anything is fine as long as people agree on it. Just sit in a circle and sing solos...that is not something I would enjoy because I think I have musical ADD. I still want to hear everyone all together all the time. And often you will never see that particular constellation of singers again...why would anyone want to miss hearing them altogether? But to each her own.

11 Mar 16 - 05:25 PM (#3778118)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Gardham

The very word 'chorus' means everybody join in. That's what it's there for. What other function could it possibly have?

11 Mar 16 - 05:38 PM (#3778123)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: CupOfTea

So, logically, if the repeated parts aren't a CHORUS but a REFRAIN, everyone else should refrain from singing?

Sorry, I couldn't help myself.

11 Mar 16 - 05:51 PM (#3778132)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Shaw

Doesn't it all sound such fun? I remember Marilyn Middleton-Pollock telling us at our folk club about her experiences of audiences at some folk clubs, "C'mon, this is a folk club and you're a folk singer. Depress us!"

11 Mar 16 - 06:17 PM (#3778138)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Rachel

I really love the rich, ringing harmonies we have at one of the folk clubs I attend and the way an end note sustains while the person singing the verse jumps it. That collective singing of the chorus means I have become familiar with many songs; not by just listening but by being part of something and I'm comparatively new to the folk scene compared to others on here...and I still have a lot of new songs to learn!
Singing along to the verse? I wouldn't presume..not only does it seem presumptuous and discourteous to the singer, but it destroys the interplay of a single voice and multi-layered chorus. Doesn't have to sound like a choir..I rather like the more drunken raucous renditions at the end of a night.

12 Mar 16 - 04:10 AM (#3778217)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Musket

I know what! Set up a committee and we can have a 2016 definition of singaround etiquette that our grandkids can quote at each other in years to come.

Will Fly can chair it (too sensible to fall for wind ups)
Jim can be secretary and spokesman.
I'll be treasurer. (Straight in, like.)
Bridge can be quasi legal advisor.

Then we can set up a critics club. Again, I'll be treasurer and wear my trousers up to my tits and we can set precedents by which to interpret the definition.

It'll be minutes of fun!

12 Mar 16 - 04:14 AM (#3778219)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Will Fly

I could never be a member of a committee that would have me as a member.
(With apologies to Groucho).

12 Mar 16 - 04:41 AM (#3778227)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Musket

Your fault for going to the toilet at the wrong time. You are Chairman, like it or lump it. Missing the vote is no excuse.

We are..

Wait for it..

It's crap really..

Choir ate

I'll stick to embezzling the funds.

12 Mar 16 - 05:22 AM (#3778232)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Raggytash

Can I have free membership and a gold badge cos I've been singing for over 50 years?

12 Mar 16 - 12:42 PM (#3778305)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

I'll be librarian, riffling noisily through my massive folder while everyone else is singing, taking not a blind bit of notice of them.
THAT drives me bonkers, as does the self-appointed "everyone's accompanist" who tries to drag the singer into the key he prefers, and put a square "4 on the floor" beat on to a song where the singer wants to pull the timing about in his own way.

12 Mar 16 - 04:12 PM (#3778349)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: JHW

The second Sunday Folk(ish)Club I'm aiming for tomorrow usually has an MC announcement 'Please don't add instruments unless asked' (Some do ask)

There are some well known songs where it is not unusual for the audience to join in the last line of the verse plus the chorus or even to sing a part of the verse as though it were a chorus e.g. She's o'er the border and awa with Jock O' Hazeldene.

Singing a slightly different version of a well known song does need you to announce that. There are clubs where the audience take a delight in silent attention then joining in correctly.

13 Mar 16 - 02:02 PM (#3778542)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Bat Goddess

The primary thing is, FOLLOW THE SINGER. Especially important if someone is singing a different version from the one usually sung at a particular session.

The Friday Press Room session (which Curmudgeon -- Tom Hall -- started over 33 years ago) has been both vocal and instrumental right from its inception. I have always tried to sing songs that either have a good chorus to join in on or a good instrumental back up and break to keep the tunifiers happy. Where I have the most problem (both when I was just a regular and now that I'm leading the session) is when instrumentalists attempt to accompany an a capella song. That can REALLY throw a singer off as English (in particular) a capella songs can't really be forced into a time measure straight jacket.

I've been known to throw things at the offender. (When I'm the singer. If I'm not the singer, I try to get the offender's attention somehow -- yeah, usually by throwing something.)

I DO have the gavel in the car, but I seldom have it at the table when I need it. Sigh. Guess I COULD fix that...


13 Mar 16 - 02:16 PM (#3778544)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Shaw

We once had a bloke who thought that he could "improve" any singer by accompanying with his clumsy guitar playing. His most buttock-clenching trait was to drag the singer to his own preferred pitch with his "persuasive'" strumming. It got even worse when he resorted to his D/G box...

Don't worry if you're coming to Cornwall. He's, er, "no longer active!"

13 Mar 16 - 02:42 PM (#3778547)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jim Carroll

When I lived in Manchester, a group of enthusiasts used to gather in the side room of my local pub, 'Lloyd's', in Chorlton-Cum-Hardy,to listen to Irish music, including the renowned Traveller piper, Felix Doran.
I wasn't there on this particular occasion, but years later we recorded a story from Wexford Traveller, 'Pop's' Johnny Connors, who told of the time Doran was playing his heart out at the session when a drunk staggered in from the other bar, sat down at the upright piano in the corner and began to accompany him loudly (and in a different key and tempo) - somebody walked over and slammed the lid down on his hand.
We've archived the story as 'The Piano-driver's Broken Finger'.
Jim Carroll

13 Mar 16 - 07:08 PM (#3778633)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: mg

I think people need to speak up and not silently ....have a shet of paper and give to new people saying this is what we prefer...if you prefer something else say so. If you do nt want someone to play or sing along, say so. And don't say we welcome everything and then cringe when they sing today while the blossoms still cling to the vine. Be honest. So f you are trying to preserve a tradition say so. Newcomers will not know unless you tell them. If you love the blue books and started he group to use them as so. People can decide from there..

06 Sep 16 - 12:07 PM (#3808660)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Uncle Tone

It obviously depends (not deep ends) on the club. I get around quite a few singers clubs in North/East Yorkshire. They all have their ways. n one it is hazardous to try to sing unaccompanied as the musicians will tend to join in, and when they are trying to find the key it can be very off-putting.

In our own Vale Radio Folk and Blues Club we are often recording for the show, so joining in the verses would be severely jumped on from a great height. But the choruses? Fine. In fact most of our singers encourage it.

the FAB Club

06 Sep 16 - 03:16 PM (#3808690)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: BrooklynJay

There are lots of nuggets of wisdom in the previous posts.

Sometimes, though, telling the group that you're going to do a slightly different version of a song can fall on deaf ears. "Follow the singer" goes right out the window!

I remember particularly one time, about three years ago, when I did the song "Windmills" at a local singaround and announced it would be in 3/4 time. Fine, except when the chorus came around, suddenly nearly everyone (except me) slowed the tempo down to that of a funeral dirge. When it happened a second time, I couldn't take any more and stopped playing. "What's wrong with you?!" I screamed, "It's a f*****g waltz!!"

There were no further problems.


06 Sep 16 - 03:27 PM (#3808694)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Uncle Tone

I walked out of a folk singaround.

The pub serves up free food for the club in exchange for donations to their bar charity box. After an interval where we all fed our faces, it was my turn to perform. While I was singing one of the organisers started going round asking folks for money for said charity. This provoked several conversations that I found very distracting. When I opened my eyes during verse three I found the organiser's arse in my face as he bent over to collect money opposite me. It is a small room. That was enough. I left mid-song.

In an acoustic folk club you don't go round collecting money or holding conversations while folks are singing. That is disrespectful to the local artist doing her/his best. Do it during the interval. Mind you it probably wouldn't bother those organisers if somebody else did it to them. They all read the words of every song anyway. One regular reckons he knows hundreds of songs. No he doesn't. He doesn't 'know' any of them. He just performs them. He reads the words and chord-shapes.

06 Sep 16 - 09:33 PM (#3808741)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: ollaimh

etiqutte questions usually are what english bigots harp on to enforce their privledge and entitlements. scotts and irish singers usually want to sing freely without interuption from the critics. anglo singers have the tradition of sing along, which is just a reflection of the militarization of their society--MARCH IN STEP JUST LIKE THE ARMY, EVEN WHEN YOU SING. and thus repress any individuality or any opportuinty for questioning the established

ve have ways of maing you sing!

07 Sep 16 - 11:42 AM (#3808824)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Desi C

I think generally the best way is to join in only when invited to

07 Sep 16 - 01:30 PM (#3808835)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link

Because I write my own material,I take it as a compliment when others join in on the chorus. If I see people looking unsure , mouthing the words I generally give an encouraging nod. On the issue of other musos talking over a performance , I am in agreement with uncle tone, though have never downed tools and left. I have often found that sometimes the offenders do respect what you do, despite the bad manners, and if that is the ethos of the club I am inclined to go with it if at least some are trying to listen !

26 Dec 18 - 10:44 PM (#3968423)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Joe Offer

The San Francisco Folk Music Club's Camp Harmony just came out with its annual list of reminders. Excuse the formatting errors, but I think this is pretty good stuff:

    We're very excited to welcome you to our new location! Please read these important reminders:
    ? On the first day you are registered, arrive AFTER 2:00pm.
    ? Check your housing assignment email. If you are registered Economy, you need to bring linens and towels with you. If you are registered semi-private, linens and towels are included. Your housing assignment email also has many helpful hints about what to bring. And speaking of what you bring...
    ? Every year at Camp Harmony, our clean-up crew brings home a phenomenal quantity of left-behind objects. Be mindful while you are at camp, and check before you leave that you have all your belongings.
    ? Please read the below information on etiquette at Camp, even if you have attended in the past:

    Etiquette at Camp Harmony (and other SFFMC Events)
    Thank you for registering for Camp Harmony! You may be an old hand at San Francisco Folk Music Club camps, or you this might be your first time coming to the New Year?s Camp. Either way, we?d like to remind you of some of the ways we all get along together. These basic rules of etiquette are some general guidelines to make sure that everyone has the best experience of camp possible.

    ? Workshops are focused on a single subject, and generally have a facilitator who would like to present or share some material. Often, but not always, there is an intention for other participants to share what they have as well.
    ? Workshop leaders should arrive on time and let the other participants know what is expected of them.
    ? Workshop leaders should also be aware of the time and end on time so the next workshop can start on time.
    ? Workshop leaders have final say in the format of their workshop. It?s their show, please let them host it the way they wish. If there is general sharing of material, they may choose to go around the room in a circle, where everyone gets a turn (time permitting), or they may choose to go popcorn-style, where people go in a more organic order.
    ? Participants may pass when it comes to their turn; it is also common for them to make a request for a song or other piece that they would like to hear but don?t know (or aren?t confident about). This is fine, with the understanding that not every request needs to be fulfilled.
    ? Singing along with the choruses is generally encouraged; a person leading a song should indicate and possibly rehearse the chorus if its not a well-known song. That said, bear in mind that a person may be singing a different version of the song than you know, so listen carefully the first time through just to be sure. Even if they get the song wrong, that?s how the folk music process works, so bear with it and if you have questions about a version, ask after the song or after the workshop is over.
    ? If someone stumbles over the words, ask before helping. They may need their memory jogged in a different way or be working on a different version.
    ? If you?re stumbling over the words, ask for help. There?s no shame in a mental lapse.
    ? Let the song leader be the song leader. Don?t take over a song that someone else is leading simply because they?re not as strong a singer or as familiar with the song as you are. Similarly, don?t play an instrument on a song someone else is leading unless you have been asked.

    Jam Sessions
    ? Jam sessions are made up of a group of musicians, often with many different instruments, all playing the same song. They can be happen in the regular workshop spaces, or in one of several jam-friendly areas around the camp, or even in private rooms. They may or may not be planned.
    ? Listen before you start playing, especially if you?re not familiar with the other performers.
    ? If you come upon a public jam session already in progress, it?s still polite to ask if you can join. This is doubly true if you play percussion, brass, or battlefield instruments (drums, horns, or bagpipes).
    ? Be respectful of private spaces. If you hear great music coming from a camper?s residence and there?s no sign welcoming you in, knock or just listen. Please be considerate of nappers and sleepers who share your lodgings.

    ? Anyone may ask anyone to dance. The tradition at camp is to change partners for each dance. We especially encourage folks to ask dancers who have been sitting out, and experienced dancers to ask new dancers, so that everyone gets a chance to dance.
    ? People of any gender may dance either role, or both. If you know how to dance one role and want to learn the other, plenty of folks in the hall will be happy to partner with you and help you out. Dance with whoever comes at you. Don?t assume that the role someone is dancing is based on their gender presentation.
    ? You are always free to say no when someone asks you to dance. You don?t have to give a reason you can just say No, thank you. If you ask someone to dance and they say No, take it gracefully and move on.
    ? Communicate your needs to your partner so they know how to give you the most comfortable dance. You can always speak up if a dancer is doing anything that makes you uncomfortable: for example, Please swing slower, or, I?d like your hand a little higher.
    ? Be sensitive to the safety of your fellow dancers. Never force a partner to twirl or jerk a partner?s hand, arm or shoulder. Always ask your partner if it is ok, before doing your own special swing move, twirl or dip.
    ? Dance conservatively with anyone you don't know well. Remember that your partners comfort zone may be different than yours. Respect others personal dance space, do not dance too close or insist on eye contact.
    ? Please be thoughtful in your hygiene and do not wear scented products. Some dancers are hypersensitive or allergic to highly scented products such as perfume, aftershave, etc,. and others react to odors such as spices, onions, garlic or body odor.
    ? Respect our dance halls. Wear shoes with clean, soft soles. No drinks or food are allowed on the dance floor.
    ? Pay attention to the caller during a walk though. Even if you do not need to hear the walk through, allow others to learn.
    ? Please thank the band and caller. They are all volunteers and fellow campers!

    ? Concerts are performances by one person or a small group. There is a general concert every night after dinner that anyone can sign up for or attend. Also, there may be concerts listed in the general schedule in various event spaces. Attendance is open to everyone.
    ? Performers should arrive on time and be prepared for any setup they need to do. Please also be aware that it takes a few minutes for people to make their way to a location, so giving the audience a few minutes to arrive is a good idea.
    ? Performers should also leave time at the end of their show for announcements, and make space for the next workshop. Consider moving elsewhere if you have time-consuming business-like mailing lists or CD sales.
    ? Please hold questions and comments until the end of the performance unless invited otherwise.
    ? Unless invited to sing along, please let the performer do the performance. Be respectful of the performer?s effort and training, and of the audience?s desire to hear the performer and not you.
    ? If you arrive late, please wait on the edge of the performance space until the performer is between songs. That minimizes disruption to the audience?s enjoyment. If you have to leave early, please wait until between songs for the same reason.

    General Camp Etiquette
    ? We are counting on you to do your chores. You are asked to do a number of chores depending on your age and the amount of time you stay at camp, and these tasks are important to the smooth functioning of the camp. Please do your share!
    ? Also note that leading a workshop is not a chore. Leading a workshop is something you offer to the rest of camp, and is entirely optional. Doing chores is part of the cost of your stay at camp, and is NOT an option.
    ? Cover your cough. Especially in the dining hall. Use the chicken wing method.


    Ralph is the name of a hypothetical camper who also answers to the pronoun they. Ralph gets many things done around camp, from cleaning up messes to arranging chairs to organizing a call to the person who?s missing camp this year. The camp runs better with Ralph doing the things that need doing, that are within their capacity and authority to do.


    So when you think to yourself, Hey, they should do this thing to make everyone?s experience of camp better, remember that Ralph answers to they, and that you?re Ralph, and see if maybe you should be the one to do that thing.

    Thank you for being considerate and welcoming of our fellow campers, and making Camp Harmony the best experience it can be for all the diverse people who attend. We hope you have a great time this year, and for many years to come!

    Yours in Harmony,
    The Camp Harmony Committee

27 Dec 18 - 04:00 AM (#3968437)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

If any of you know this song, and feel they'd to join in the chorus....just BELT UP!

You're rubbish, and I'm great.
In fact, I'm so good. Just listen, and be lost in wonder at my general magnificence.

27 Dec 18 - 06:41 AM (#3968457)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Sandra in Sydney

Joe, it an amazing document, I'm planning to pass it on to friends


27 Dec 18 - 06:49 AM (#3968458)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jack Campin

Joe's document reminds me of someone I heard of who went to US folk festivals in the 1970s. He always took two toothbrushes because anybody who'd ask to borrow yours would never understand why you'd say no.

27 Dec 18 - 02:19 PM (#3968488)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: leeneia

what is the chicken wing method? Coughing into the sleeve on your forearm? What if I have on short sleeves?

27 Dec 18 - 02:24 PM (#3968489)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Andy7

Yes, it's a great document, Joe! It covers so many different aspects that will help a camp - or any event - to run smoothly.

Obviously the lion's share of the responsibility lies with the organisers of an event, who so often give freely of their time, their hearts and their souls (not just during the event but for weeks and months beforehand) to make it a success, and to ensure that participants have a great experience.

But all of us who take part can do a great deal to help those organisers, and to help each other. And actually, it makes the experience a lot more fun, sharing the commitment (and the chores!), and thus feeling fully involved!

27 Dec 18 - 02:37 PM (#3968492)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jack Campin

I imagine the chicken wing method is to flap your elbows like a cockerel crowing before projecting a glob of mucus straight up to stick on the ceiling.

28 Dec 18 - 11:32 AM (#3968556)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

do they ask questions at the end of all this perfectly valid advice document & issue grades & certificates?
It just boils down to courtesy and common sense to me & rather sad it had to be put together at all.

28 Dec 18 - 01:33 PM (#3968563)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Andy7

Well no, it's not sad at all!

A lot of people are newcomers to such events - we all were, once! And there's a lot more to the etiquette than courtesy and common sense, helpful though those attributes are!

I really wish I'd been given such helpful guidance, when I first started going away to folk music weekends.

28 Dec 18 - 02:19 PM (#3968565)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: beachcomber

But how should one react to (Happening more and more frequently in "Sing song sessions" in my rural area of West Waterford, Ireland)the phenomenon of singers who refer during their performance to their iphones, for Lyrics and , in many cases, for just chords or even musical notation ???
It was the newer, younger, participants who introduced this a few years back but now, it has become the norm for even older people who "should know better !" (or should they ?)

28 Dec 18 - 02:37 PM (#3968571)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jack Campin

Let's not go there. There are reasons, and not all of them are bad ones.

One thing that is fortunately rather rare in sessions and singarounds, virtually unknown in Scotland: racist putdowns of other people's musical cultures. Doesn't often need pointing out, but it looks like the message hasn't got through quite loudly enough in Canada, to judge by Olive's message a couple of years upthread.

28 Dec 18 - 04:48 PM (#3968577)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Acorn4

A few years back I witnessed someone doing a sea shanty from a mobile phone down load.

They lost the signal half way through the second verse.

"Ang on lads, can't haul away for the moment - no signal!"

28 Dec 18 - 05:52 PM (#3968584)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

Andy 7- am not convinced about there being ANY more to it than courtesy & common sense- if you don't have those in any context, never mind justsingarounds, you won't get far!

28 Dec 18 - 06:42 PM (#3968589)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Andy7

I really don't this to become any kind of argument between me and thee, 'Guest'; I have no particular axe to grind here!

But my point is valid. Yes, courtesy and common sense are important, as I've already said. And I have plenty of both.

But they were not enough, at my first ever weekend folk event, for me to understand exactly how things were, and what I should or shouldn't do/say/sing.

I'd never experienced such an occasion before; and it took me quite some time - then, and afterwards at other events - of staying quiet, observing, listening, and watching for hints.

In those days, I'd have so welcomed some detailed guidance such as that offered by Joe! (No pun intended just there!)

29 Dec 18 - 04:25 AM (#3968616)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

"it took me quite some time - then, and afterwards at other events - of staying quiet, observing, listening, and watching for hints." (Andy7)

What's wrong with that? That's always been my preferred practice. A bit like the sheets of paper (and now electronics), it seems that everyone today wants a shortcut instead of being prepared to take the time to learn something properly.

29 Dec 18 - 06:09 AM (#3968624)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: G-Force

I've just opened this thread (I know it's been going a long time) but please may I repeat the fact that older people, and that includes me, have a lot more trouble remembering the words than years ago. I hope I am still a good singer, and I do make large efforts to learn words, but I simply cannot rely entirely on memory, even for songs I know well.   Far better to have that sheet of paper handy and produce a good performance. I'm not suggesting for one minute that you rely on it entirely and certainly no mobiles (ghastly). One tip I've found useful is to keep a finger on the verse you're singing so you've got instant access to the next line if needed without slavishly reading the words. After all, you need to keep an eye on the audience to make sure they're listening! So guys, please, let's have a little tolerance for us old folkies!

29 Dec 18 - 07:23 AM (#3968635)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jack Campin

Use of aide-memoires is intended to satisfy another requirement of etiquette: don't be repetitive. People who perform only from memory often have tiny repertoires and run out of willing listeners VERY fast. If you use a memory aid can keep it fresh, even playing weekly in the same venue.

This is largely a consequence of the mass media. The recording industry and its successors like Internet broadcasting can keep a supply of new material flowing far faster than anyone can listen to it, even within a single narrow genre. So if you're trying to do the same sort of thing in live performance, you have massive competition that wasn't there a lifetime ago. Nobody could memorize enough songs to compete with Tobar an Dualchais, let alone Sony or Spotify. To have even a shred of credibility as an entertainer, particularly when you also have a day job, you need that iPhone or you'll be boring.

I thought Walter Benjamin might have had something to say about this, so I just flipped through "The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". He doesn't - he seems to assume that mass-produced art will just supersede the hand-made kind wherever they come in contact. Folkies just assume he was wrong without thinking about it. It might be helpful if they thought a bit more carefully about what our enterprise is trying to do in the present age.

29 Dec 18 - 12:37 PM (#3968662)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

Newcomer to our session, though already known by some from elsewhere: argumentative and disruptive, after another singer introduces a song with a couple of words re the origin of the song.
New man shouts, "Where's your evidence?" not once but several times.
Towards the end (no, he hadn't been thrown out yet!) we chose an "all join in" song as a finisher.
"It's in D" says new man.
"Too high for the ladies" sez I.
"No, it's in D".
I played the first 3 notes in C on my button accordion.
"You're playing it in D" sez he.
"No I'm not" sez I.
"Yes you are" sez he.
"No I'm not"............... (FFS, I DO know what notes I'm playing, thinks I!)
Sorry, you're not welcome back new man!

29 Dec 18 - 07:15 PM (#3968758)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Got to tell you this story. The singaround was friendly and welcoming, the Landlord of the pub was a different matter. He is now an Ex Landlord.

Nick...(entering the pub) 'Can I have a pint of Water please.'

Landlord....'I'm not letting you sit here just drinking water.'

Nick …. 'Well I was going to offer to put some money in the charity box.'

Landlord...(aggressively) 'Well that doesn't put money in our till.'

Nick... 'Fair enough, I don't mind paying for it.'

Landlord...'You can buy bottles of water.'

Nick... 'I would prefer tap water.'

Landlord.... 'I told you...

Nick....'Alright alright, a bottle of water then.'

Landlord.. (Accusingly and with a sneer) You (pointing) do concerts don't you.


Landlord 'Do you do them for nothing?'

Nick (getting pissed off) 'Yes I do as it happens.'

Landlord (Taken aback) ' do a lot for charity too.'

Nick...'It f***ing sounds like it.'

Landlord looks like a mongoose viewing a snake but decides he had better back down on the grounds that he is about 5ft 6' and I am 6ft 2' and from South London.
I took my bottle of water joined the singaround, and made it last all night. The singaround moved pub. I can't think why!

30 Dec 18 - 06:52 PM (#3968934)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Observer

Re: Nick Dow's story.

My sympathy is entirely with the Landlord (Now an ex-Landlord we are told, who by inference, lost his livelihood because Nick's warm and welcoming crowd moved to another Pub - My guess is if all they are drinking is tap water they'll have to move on from there as well in the not too distant future) - The man has a living to make FFS, any decent human being who knows anything about "pub culture" should know that and appreciate the problem from the Landlords perspective. He is the one doing you a favour for letting you play/sing in HIS Pub.

Liked this though (which, to me, speaks volumes about our story teller):

"Landlord looks like a mongoose viewing a snake but decides he had better back down on the grounds that he is about 5ft 6' and I am 6ft 2' and from South London."

You have probably only ever seen a mongoose fight a snake on telly Nick - Out in the Far East they used to put such contests on as a bar sport with bets on the outcome. The mongoose's contestant was normally a Cobra - The snake NEVER WON.

Don't know what coming from South London has got to do with anything. Always a bad move to attempt to intimidate a Landlord (irrespective of relative heights involved) on his own premises - there are stories of people who have been banned from entering licensed premises in entire towns for doing just that.

Care to tell us when your next free concert is on? Will the tap water be free?

30 Dec 18 - 07:14 PM (#3968941)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

The landlord was 'retired' having abused a woman of pensionable age in the car park. He was so objectionable he had numerous bad reviews on line and the brewery took a dim view. He was replaced by a very nice younger couple who incidentally had no problem in serving me a pint of tap water. I came back into the pub to buy a meal with my wife on the strength of it. The landlord was attempting to intimidate ME you muffin, and if you don't know what coming from South London has to do with being intimidated soft lad I suggest you lie down and take a reality pill. Meanwhile try and put your brain in gear before posting. The story was not exactly supposed to be taken that seriously. This should now be an end to the matter on this thread, and all pigs are fuelled up and ready to fly. It's not fair for the other contributors of this thread if it goes off into a slanging match. So here you are my myopic observer you've got the last word. Happy now?

30 Dec 18 - 08:21 PM (#3968948)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

I don't think you can legislate folk clubs. either they're all right or not. Some work in shitty places with awful residents and horrendous landlords. Some of the dearest sweetest people have failed to get an audience, and the landlord has been the soul of generosity. free food. free raffle prizes.

theres no working it out,   or calling it. in my experience.

31 Dec 18 - 02:07 AM (#3968965)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Observer

Delighted Nick, now that I know that your little tale was basically a crock and should not have been taken seriously, which begs the question why you felt compelled to mention it - it has nothing whatsoever to do with the thread.

By the way as to who thought they were being intimidated:

1. Who ended up "effing" and "blinding"? - You by your own telling of the story.

2. In describing the end of the exchange it was you yourself who wrote this - "Landlord looks like a mongoose viewing a snake but decides he had better back down on the grounds that he is about 5ft 6' and I am 6ft 2' and from South London." - It is perfectly clear who you thought was doing the intimidating.

31 Dec 18 - 03:06 AM (#3968967)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Dave the Gnome

I am pretty sure by the writing style and belligerent attitude that the "observer" is an ex member who has been banned from posting below the line for just such nonsense, Nick. Just not worth even responding too.

31 Dec 18 - 09:37 AM (#3969039)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

Andy 7- you sound pretty courteous and with common sense and I don't want a disagreement either but I don't see much evidence of either virtue in the various scurrilous tales in this thread in the interim!
So it may be that 'notes for the aspiring folkie' ARE necessary?
   Your observing before rushing in is apparently your way of approaching new experiences & laudable in many ways...
   BUT- I don't accept you need to worry about what to do/say AT ALL-, there are strong and intolerant knowalls on the scene who KNOW what's correct and you really do not need to be guided by this.

Singing a Fenian song in Portadown is obviously a bad idea (for the sake of your health) but if people sneer at you singing 'Kumbaya' or the 'Wild Rover' and if Cyril Tawney can finish a folk club night with 'She wears Red Feathers' then so can you- I bet they didn't sneer at him!
Seems you've been around a while now, as have I - maybe you're just a bit less cynical than me!

31 Dec 18 - 07:39 PM (#3969162)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Jack Campin

Not so much for singarounds, but on guest nights when you have a performer who likes to splat hecklers like bugs as part of their act, you oughta encourage people to give them straight lines.

"observer" vs Nick Dow has the same sort of Bambi-meets-Godzilla entertainment value.

01 Jan 19 - 04:26 AM (#3969185)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Nick Dow

Blimey I know I'm fat, but Godzilla! I've far too ugly to be Bambi! But then so was the landlord! Happy New Year Jack.

01 Jan 19 - 06:21 AM (#3969202)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Andy7

One St. David's Day, I sang 'Ar Hyd Y Nos' in Welsh at a singaround. Not actually speaking or understanding any Welsh at all, I'd painstakingly learned it line by line, listening to and trying to parrot a variety of Welsh singers on the internet. (It kind of surprised me, although it really shouldn't have, that of course no two Welsh singers pronounce the words identically!)

It then turned out I'd 'stolen' the opportunity from a genuine Welsh singer, who'd also been planning to perform the song, but whose turn came after mine in the singaround.

That's not really bad etiquette, just bad luck; but it would be good if there was some way to avoid such a faux pas!

Blwyddyn Newydd Dda i bawb yn Mudcat!

01 Jan 19 - 06:33 AM (#3969203)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Peter

Andy's post reminds me of an incident at a singers club many years ago now. A former resident was back in the area visiting family and performed her "party piece".

Once of the current residents, who hadn't known her before she moved away, also had the song in her repertoire. She had been to the bar and was standing outside the room incandessant about "her" song being sung.

Actually both parrotted the same version by Martin Carthy note for note.

01 Jan 19 - 11:12 AM (#3969234)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

No-one can own a song (unless they wrote it themselves): but I can think of a few people who would be quite miffed and give you the "daggers" look if you sang "their" song.

All of which ties in well with what others were saying on your other thread, Andy7, about not going for songs that are too well-known/often sung or you may risk someone's nasal disjointedness - "oh, so-and-so ALWAYS does that one" - er, well not this time!

In this area it gets a bit hilarious around Burns time, when everyone is going to sing a Burns song at the session in the week of Jan 25th, and nobody knows who is going to sing what next: song-sheets and books go flying through the air as serially they are discarded when someone does the song you had planned to do and even your 2nd/3rd/4th reserve!

01 Jan 19 - 03:12 PM (#3969272)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

writing a song doesn't have too much to do with ownership.

once someone senses there is money to be made out of it, people who are paying for the recording and marketing, demand the right to make a version that will shift units.

Then when it is in the public arena - the public sing it anywhere, anyhow, with whatever changes to the words and tune they want. There are exceptions -if you're a millionaire like the bloke from Oasis, you can take out an injunction and stop The Smurfs from recording your song. But even Noel can't change a million pub singers butchering his 'possession', smart arse parodist who couldn't create anything as long as they had a hole in their arse writing 'alternative' funny words. Politicians, football crowds or male voice choirs, ladies barbershop quartets, or Quentin Tarantino putting it in a film about people being disemboweklled. Ten to one, Paul MacCartney never thought his songs would be used as the soundtrack for public executions in Africa - but they were.

You write your song and it totters out into the world. That's it. Gone! No longer yours mate!

01 Jan 19 - 04:19 PM (#3969276)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

Very true; but I was just talking about what happens in sessions, not the big bad commercial world outside, and how some people do seem to think that certain songs are "theirs" and not to be sung by others who may stumble upon their session.

02 Jan 19 - 02:37 AM (#3969323)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Peter

Indeed, in my post both people concerned had, at different times, been regarded by the session as the "the person who sung that song" or, to put it another way the "owner".

02 Jan 19 - 05:48 AM (#3969346)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge

Why does all this stuff cause such acrimony?- maybe it's indicitave of a deeper change?
in my early days on the folk scene, humour was an important part of any 'folk' gathering- clubs rather than singarounds in those days. It's all become a lot more serious and self-c0nscious, which IMHO is not a good thing.

Re 'possession' of songs, 30 years ago, I was asked to play my gadget at a Sunday night singing session which had run for many years. These were older people and it was of an earlier kind- mainly older local people & my function was to fill the gaps with a song or a tune. This was in the Sibin pub, near Baltimore in West Cork, in the early 90s.

There were many singers, and it struck me how each one had his or her own songs & no-one would dream of singing someone else's song! The changenowadays is that these folks were NEIGHBOURS, who knew each other and their songs and that has now changed, in Ireland too, the excellent Sligo singers circle has a few locals, but many singers there travel many miles to it.

Re the humour aspect, some the Baltimore singers often sang the same
comic song almost week after week, with the same comic punchline- everybody laughed every time!

In the sixties, at the Marsden Inn club in South Shields, the excellent MC Jim Irvine sang a song & minutes afterwards Frank O'Neill, fine singer & joke teller, a few minutes late, came in the door & sang the same song. Nobody groaned, there was a rising giggle resulting in a hilarious torrent of laughing.
Frank didn't know what was going on- it wasn't a funny song, but slowly realised & concluded by laughing louder than anyone.

   Would it happen like that today or do we take ourselves far too seriously?

02 Jan 19 - 06:27 AM (#3969353)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Andy7

I completely agree that, in a singaround, songs should not be considered ‘owned’ by anyone, apart from their own compositions.

However, there is an element of courtesy, when a member has a very small repertoire. To take it to the extreme, if you knew that the only song a particular member could sing was, say, ‘Scarborough Fair’, and your turn came before theirs, you’d hardly be likely to sing it. More realistically, some singers, especially newcomers, do only know a handful of songs, and if 2 or 3 of those were sung by other members, who were aware of this, in the same evening, it would seem rather inconsiderate.

02 Jan 19 - 07:43 AM (#3969361)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Vic Smith

Reading Jim Bainbridge's contribution above reminds me of a singaround that he was part of in the early 1970s. It was at one of those wonderful TMSA festivals at Kinross which has recently moved there from Blairgowrie.
Tina and I had been sensible enough to hire in advance one of the permanent caravans on the campsite for the weekend. After the late, late events in the pubs and hotels, things continued in the 4 or 5 big caravans that were at the top of the campsite. We had invited quite a few friends and, of course, Jim was among them but many more than that squeezed in. Even before it began, industrial amounts of alcohol had been consumed. Where I was sitting, I was unable to move my feet because the space was taken by Dave Goulder who was peacefully 'resting his eyes' still clutching a half empty bottle of a single malt to his chest.
Belle Stewart turned up and could barely squeeze inside the door. Before she gave us her song she said, "Of course. Alex and me have got a big posh room at the Kirklands Hotel, but we jist thocht we'd com' an' see hoo a' you puir travellers are managing camped oot in a' weathers!"
Aly Bain could not get in but he leaned his fiddle inside one of the open windows and gave us a tune.
John Watt had appointed himself as compere and even through very bleary eyes, he was doing a very good job, He was sitting next to Alex Mackie and had asked Alex to sing. Alex was singing Bonnie Gateshead Lass - starting at a normal pace, he gradually sung slower and slower before passing out before he reached the end of the song. John gave him a few pokes, but failed to revive him. "Ach weel, Ah want ye's a' tae be here at 10.30 in the mornin' tae hear Alex finish his sang. Noo, we'll hae a sang frae Cathal."
Eventually the singaround broke up not long before dawn. We managed to revive Dave and a few other sleepers and made a sustained effort to get Alex removed. This was particularly important because at that time, Alex was the World and European Heavy Snoring Champion.

We have been to hundreds of informal singarounds at folk festivals since those days, but somehow these more recent ones lack the human interest that the ones at those early TMSA festivals offered.

02 Jan 19 - 08:23 AM (#3969372)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

I remember Ian Campbell one time told me about a gig he did with Ewan in Germany somewhere.

Anyway (happens to us all) Ewan was singing shoals of herring, and half way through the second verse, Ewan's brain went into reverse and he couldn't remember the next line. Ian was at the back of the hall - so he couldn't help him.

Luckily all the German audience knew the song and sung it for him. Shoals of herring is a song I love. I've sung it a thousand times in my front room, never in public.

I don't think its anything to do with the passing of time. Some of us have always loved encountering a song, and we have to have a go at learning it and singing it. Sometimes its only after you've learned it over a matter of weeks you realise - its not a song you can do.

I spent weeks once learning Thorneymoor Park, a song that was part of Carthy and Tony Rose's repertoire at the time. A number of times though, I did the line....I took me knife and I cut the buck's thoat...however I did it - it sounded too horrible to be music.

Some of us are just like that. We hear a song we like and we have a go at it. That's folksong for me. What its been to me since I was a kid . I'm 70, this month.

02 Jan 19 - 08:37 AM (#3969374)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

I suppose in a way we all own songs!

If you sing Shoals of Herring in a German folk club, perhaps , perhaps....someone will shout, donner und bklitzen! Das ist mein sangen!

02 Jan 19 - 03:28 PM (#3969433)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Joe Offer

Any advice on how to handle people who talk while others are trying to sing? I was trying to sing a quiet, sweet song as New Year's Eve waned, but there was a woman talking quite loudly. I couldn't really hear myself, so I sang a little louder. And each time I raised my volume, she raised hers even more.

Now that it's over, I keep thinking of things I should have done. Maybe I should have stopped in the middle of the song and said, "@#$%, Shut Up!" But that would have spoiled the mood I was trying to create with the song. Of course, my straining to sing over her talking certainly did not enhance the song - so maybe I should have stopped and told her off. I also thought of making up a verse or two that would apply to her rudeness.

I finally handled the matter by sending the woman an email this morning. I described what she had done, without characterizing it or her as rude and all the other things I was thinking. This is not the first time this woman this woman has interfered with my singing. I tried to deal with her gently in the past because she has a very fragile ego, but now I've had it. I told her point-blank that if she ever interfered with my singing again, I would embarrass her publicly.

People often act like it's a terrible thing to threaten another person. But sometimes, threats are necessary. And it she ever interferes with my singing again, I will fulfill my threat.


02 Jan 19 - 04:43 PM (#3969446)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,akenaton

Surely this is not the Joe we know and love???
Seriously, this lack of common courtesy is getting pretty widespread.
Even in normal conversation people are continually trying to "talk over" one another, but it is especially discourteous when one is being favoured with a song.
I even see it on these threads, when people jump at other members without appearing to have read their contributions.

02 Jan 19 - 05:10 PM (#3969451)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Joe Offer

Well, as usual, my sainted wife had a pretty good alternative to my inclinations. She said I should say something like, "You have a beautiful voice. Can you sing with us?"
Don't know if I could bring myself to do that. This woman does NOT have a beautiful voice, and she finds ways to sing twice as often as everybody else does. And she thinks she knows lots of songs, but often flubs both the lyrics and the melodies.
I get to be catty sometimes, Ake, but only when I'm attacked....

02 Jan 19 - 05:25 PM (#3969453)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Acorn4

I think the whole notion of "background music" to which we've become conditioned has a lot to do with this.

02 Jan 19 - 05:32 PM (#3969458)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

Just had time to read the whole thread, Guest Observer is no "Bambi" in any sense of the word.

02 Jan 19 - 05:57 PM (#3969467)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Steve Gardham

You simply stop singing, presuming most others are listening, and if anyone asks why you simply say 'The conversation seemed to be more important so I stopped.' If that doesn't get the message across nothing else will, other than talking loudly while she is singing, but 2 wrongs don't make a right.

03 Jan 19 - 09:16 AM (#3969555)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

A similar thing happened in a recent pub session (in a pub that is known as a "folk club". 2 very loud young ladies were screaming with laughter at something on their phones while our singer was barely heard. He stopped singing, turned to them and said, "I'll start again when you two have finished". It worked a treat! No fights or hard feelings.
The same singer - in another session- also told the person next to him to stop flicking loudly through his massive song folder "I'll carry on when you stop that".

03 Jan 19 - 09:42 AM (#3969563)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

In my I suppose limited experience, trying to outloud people tends not to work for me. Turning my own volume down and singing more and more quietly sometimes works, but sometimes it doesn't. One time I was at a session and the other players were shouting loudly at each other while I was singing. I ended up playing the guitar and mouthing the words silently for about half the song. So my approach was pretty ineffective in that instance. But yeah, sometimes people do shut up.

03 Jan 19 - 11:39 AM (#3969593)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Ged Fox

It would have been more effective to have stopped the guitar and continued singing.

03 Jan 19 - 12:32 PM (#3969605)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

I suppose we will never know.

03 Jan 19 - 06:23 PM (#3969685)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,Pete from seven stars link

Unfortunately , it seems many musicians don't listen to other contributors , and either talk or look at their phones, even in a small circle. I tend to shrug and carry on if I can see anyone listening , but when it comes to open mics I tend to just not go to the worst ones much . Thankfully , at the sing around there are usually some that respect each other !

04 Jan 19 - 03:36 AM (#3969731)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Acorn4

On the subject of the dreaded phones:-

Three Minute Limit

05 Jan 19 - 05:43 AM (#3969907)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette

People talking?
It depends where you are. If the singaround / session is in a dedicated room then they should shut the f*** up when somebody is singing. If it is in a public bar then you put up with it, they came to talk to their mates and have a perfect right to do so.

05 Jan 19 - 06:27 AM (#3969919)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

People often act like it's a terrible thing to threaten another person. But sometimes, threats are necessary. '

Yes we heard about the business with the hand grenade. Whilst I agree that the Childe ballads deserve a measure of respect, in this country we need folk clubs to be covered by the pub's insurance.

At our local folk club, the committee felt that whilst loosening the pin on the grenade, and shouting, 'Belt up you!' carried risks.
We have taken a leaf from Jim Carrol's memories of The Singers Club of yore. The committee sit at a table in front, with an uzi on the table strictly only to be used if anyone disagrees with us.

05 Jan 19 - 06:46 AM (#3969922)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,akenaton

I rather agree with Acorn......"background music" is a distraction and extremely annoying. Apparently every documentary and a lot of news articles on TV, require intrusive music played over the commentary. slightly different from the point Joe is making but new parameters are being set and concentration broken.

05 Jan 19 - 06:53 AM (#3969923)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,akenaton

I also think that the role of the performer is changing, in my youth any contribution to the entertainment of the gathering was appreciated, singers and musicians were respected, regardless of competency.....we are becoming spoiled insensitive brats.

05 Jan 19 - 07:00 AM (#3969926)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GUEST,akenaton

I suppose the real villains are those who commercialised music, turning it from a gift to humanity into simply another commodity.

05 Jan 19 - 07:46 AM (#3969934)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

Guilty as charged, Ake. But I needed to make a living. I knew how to play the guitar. The hours fitted in with me being a carer. Yes my level of competency was deeply resented by the folkerati, but on the other hand, the room seemed and still does seem to light up in anticipation when I walk into a folk club. That's a less and less frequent occurrence, as the great unplugged/acoustic music revival goes on apace.

Doubtless, if I hadn't been desperately in need of the NHS for the care of my wife, I would have decamped to another nation - like most of my contemporaries who couldn't stomach the trad folk agenda - with all its inconsistencies and craziness.

But to be honest, I think the English folk clubs really missed out. It failed to adapt. The kids who had a lot to offer were working class grammar school types - and so many of them ended up playing in Irish bars from St Petersburg, and Oslo to the gulf.

The idea that folk music was something that belonged to tiny communities preferably pre-industrial belongs to that era where Vaughan Williams and Percy Grainger were morris dancing in the garden.

Our generation saw it as a valid artistic movement that offered the possibility of self expression.

Still we'll all be dead soon and it won't matter that we lost the battle and the war. Worse things happened.

05 Jan 19 - 07:48 AM (#3969935)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

PS nice to talk to you again Ake!

05 Jan 19 - 07:55 AM (#3969937)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Andy7

It makes me weep, the number of people these days that say, "I cant sing." Just because they can't sing as well as the best popular singers; which in any case is a very narrow version of good singing.

The ubiquitous habit of people covering their ears and exaggeratedly grimacing, if someone in their family or social circle does start to sing in public, certainly doesn't help!

(The same is true of dancing! But that's another topic entirely.)

So in a singaround, which actually appears, by its very name, to encourage everyone to sing, the least we can do is welcome, and try to appreciate, singers that are new/nervous/just not very good.

I was not very good myself, once. And if I'd had any inkling, at that stage, that the other people in a singaround were pulling faces, grinning to each other or looking bored, I'd probably never have gone back.

If the price to be paid is that we occasionally have to sit through a song that isn't sung very well, that's not so very high a price at all!

05 Jan 19 - 11:06 AM (#3969965)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Big Al Whittle

no its not! agreed! we all have to start somewhere.

19 Nov 21 - 11:46 AM (#4126717)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Taconicus

At my local traditional/folk music association singaround/jam/song circles, the convention is that announcing the key of a song in advance is a signal that everyone is welcome to join in, both playing and singing.

If the singer/performer does not announce what key the piece is in, that's a signal that the performer would rather sing the song without having others join in (because it might throw him off, because he wants to showcase his own performance, or for any other reason).

19 Nov 21 - 01:48 PM (#4126729)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Dave the Gnome

I have no idea what key I sing my songs in. I suspect that at times there may be a few of them... :-D

19 Nov 21 - 09:02 PM (#4126759)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GerryM

I would guess that announcing the key is mostly something people do if they're accompanying themselves on an instrument, rarely done by unaccompanied singers.

21 Nov 21 - 04:58 AM (#4126855)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: The Sandman

no ,
however it is a good idea to know what note you start a song on when singing unaccompanied, if your voice happens to be iffy that day and there is a big range you can pitch a note lower., it is all part of trying to improve and take a more professional attitude

21 Nov 21 - 06:40 AM (#4126863)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: John C. Bunnell

[deep breath]

This will get to etiquette eventually, but first, the vita:

I'm in the US (born, raised, & still resident in Oregon), and I am in no way a professional musician. However: I grew up in a folk-friendly household, listening to a variety of folk & country music as well as show tunes; my brother played wind instruments in high school (jazz band), Mother played piano, and we always went to the carol-singing services at Christmas. In college, I was the lone wolf at the radio station who did a weekly folk show, dragging a bankers' box full of vinyl back and forth across campus every Sunday and closing every show with the signoff "...and remember, you too can sing along with your radio."

Somewhere between five and ten years after graduating, I came across the "filk" community - science fiction/fantasy's substrata of folk music, a great deal of it at that time consisting of alternative lyrics written to a great variety of folk (and folk-rock, and musical-theater, and other) tunes. One could find a filk circle at most medium to large SF fan conventions, and there were in my area house-filks on a regular basis. And - best of all, from my perspective - there was an explicit and clearly articulated principle that everyone was welcome in a filk circle absolutely irrespective of musical skill or talent. And that explicitly meant "welcome to perform", not just to be part of a group sing.

That principle is articulated a little less strongly now than it was some decades ago (in part because the community has both evolved and diversified, but that's a whole other thread), but it is still very much a core component of the filk world. There were live (albeit masked) song circles at the convention I attended last weekend - one in what we call "bardic" mode, in which everyone gets a turn, in order, and can either perform or choose someone else and request a song; the other in "chaos", in which performers are allowed to jump in one after another more or less at will (but it's still one song at a time, as opposed to a jam session).

Now per above, I am in no way a trained musician; I don't read music, I don't play an instrument, and while I can usually sing approximately on *a* key, I am completely unable to tell you what that key is at any given moment. What I can do - and have been doing for the aforementioned several decades, thanks to the filk community - is write lyrics and in most cases match them to existing tunes (some of which are likely familiar to most of this gallery, while others probably won't be).

I am welcome, and know I will be welcomed, as both a listener and performer in any filk circle or housefilk or Zoom filk event I might find myself able to attend. I do not sing along on verses during circles unless explicitly invited, I only sing along on choruses when I know them well enough, and I will happily acknowledge my sources whenever I've borrowed a tune (especially since many of the lyrics I write are totally unrelated to those of the source song, and thereby not recognizable as parody in the usual sense).

I've now read this thread all the way back (The Sandman's comment having caught my eye). And I must say that based on that reading, I am now very uncertain of what my welcome would be should I happen to perform in either a Mudcat "singaround" (a word I hadn't encountered before arriving here) or its live equivalent anywhere in the UK. And that makes me very sad.

21 Nov 21 - 11:56 AM (#4126881)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Howard Jones

What specifically makes you think you might be unwelcome?

21 Nov 21 - 12:27 PM (#4126882)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: The Sandman

for the record the sandman does not live in the uk or run any singarounds in the uk, neither does he run mudcat singarounds.
I never make negative comments on the mudcat singarounds, which are run by joe offer.
my advice about taking a note quote
however it is a good idea to know what note you start a song on when singing unaccompanied, if your voice happens to be iffy that day and there is a big range you can pitch a note lower., it is all part of trying to improve and take a more professional attitude.
my comment is about trying to improve performance and avoid embarrassing oneself and requires very very little formal musical training, IT WAS SPECIFICALLY RELATED TO OCCASIONS WHEN A SINGERS VOICE MIGHT BE IFFY DUE TO A COLD ETC.

21 Nov 21 - 12:38 PM (#4126884)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: The Sandman

much as i would like to have the powers of the almighty, i am aware of my limitations , i have no control over any singarounds in the UK, NEITHER DO I HAVE ANY CONTROLS OVER MUDCAT SINGAROUNDS.
Joe Offer hosts mudcat singarounds and is a very welcoming and friendly host.

21 Nov 21 - 01:12 PM (#4126886)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Howard Jones

It's up to the singer. Some singers are able to rely simply on a sense of their own vocal range to pitch the song correctly. Some people aren't very good at this, and would benefit from using pitch-pipes or an instrument to get their note, while others do this habitually. It's certainly wise, as Sandman suggests, to be aware of the state of your voice, and be prepared to sing in a different key to compensate for an off day, or for the acoustics of the room. If you are not very sure of your vocal range then it would certainly help to know your usual key and to have a reference note. Sandman's advice is sound, although many singers may be able to do this without thinking in terms of named keys.   

However to infer from this that everyone in a UK singaround knows what key they sing in for every song, and can pitch it perfectly, would be very wrong. I often don't know the key even when I am accompanying myself on an instrument - all I need to know is where to put the capo.

21 Nov 21 - 02:09 PM (#4126892)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: The Sandman

i suggested taking a note ,nothing more, no mention of knowing what key John Bunnell feels sad, what does he feel sad about exactly.
I feel sad, that i make a constructive comment and i get a reaction from john Bunnell, A reaction which suggest that i control singarounds all over the uk[ i do not live there, thankfully] that i control the singaround on Mudcat
I categoricaaly wish to state that i do not control the singaround on mudcat

21 Nov 21 - 02:25 PM (#4126894)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Tattie Bogle

I’m with Sandman on this. It does help to know roughly what key you sing a certain song in, or its start note - even if you don’t play an instrument or read music. If you have a songbook or crib sheet handy (let’s not go down that avenue again, please!) you can mark it in, then next time you do the same song, just ask someone to give you the key or start note. Doesn’t matter if today you’re better on Ab or Bb if you’ve marked as A and are singing unaccompanied, but at least you’ll be in the right area.
And how many times have you seen an unaccompanied singer start a song and then stop? “Oh that was too high/low!” then start again in exactly the same key?

21 Nov 21 - 06:43 PM (#4126918)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: GerryM

"I am now very uncertain of what my welcome would be should I happen to perform in either a Mudcat "singaround" (a word I hadn't encountered before arriving here) or its live equivalent anywhere in the UK."

Well, there's one way to be certain about what your welcome would be, should you join us at the Mudcat singaround, and that's to join us, and see. I've been to over 70 of them, and I have never found them to be anything other than welcoming. [And I'm not sure whether the UK reference was linked to the Mudcat singaround, but that singaround is hosted in California, and USians and UKians make up the largest cohorts of participants.]

22 Nov 21 - 04:15 AM (#4126954)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Howard Jones

I agree it's important to know what note to start on, but that doesn't mean you need to to know its name. Many experienced singers have enough sense of their own vocal range to be able to internalise this and pitch a song correctly. Besides, many folk songs don't have a challenging range so most singers should be able to cope even if they are slightly out.

As Tattie Bogle says, some singers will start in the wrong key and have to stop and start again. Those singers would certainly benefit from using a reference note to help them pitch it correctly. However don't overlook all those singers who are able to pitch it correctly.

It depends on how you think about music. Not everyone has a musical education and many don't think in terms of keys and named notes. I learned to play several instruments by ear well enough to perform semi-professionally. I may know the key (diatonic instruments are limited that way) but I usually don't know the name of the note associated with a button or fret. I think of chords as finger patterns rather than as notes. Ask me to play an F# and I'll have to work up the scale until I get to it, but when I'm playing a tune I know where to find the sound that is called F#. I'm even less conscious of key when I'm singing unaccompanied, but I know where to pitch a song to suit my voice, and I'm aware of those songs with unexpected ranges which may need to be pitched more carefully and which may need a reference note.

The point I am trying to make, somewhat laboriously, is that whilst Sandman's advice is sound, people should not be intimidated into thinking they must understand keys and notes in order to sing.

22 Nov 21 - 10:45 AM (#4126974)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Ged Fox

Singing unaccompanied I generally have no idea what key I am singing in. I usually run the tune through in my head to make sure I can reach the highest note, sometimes finding out too late that I was over-optimistic. Someone once pointed out that I was singing in tune with the freezer that was humming away in the corner.

I occasionally play Northumbrian smallpipes. Guitarists who pluck strings as they try to work out what key I'm playing are told, quite truthfully, that it's in F-off.

22 Nov 21 - 10:53 AM (#4126975)
Subject: RE: singaround etiquette
From: Mrrzy

I can't not sing along, if I know the song. I hope that is never rude (I do sing *along*- not out of key, not harmony).