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Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?

23 Jun 17 - 01:31 AM (#3862425)
Subject: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Ca
From: GUEST,Jeff Long

Over the years I've obtained a lot of great information from Oldtime Music Historians on this site, but I've never actually posted a question until now. I'm hoping someone can help . . . i Know that before TV and Radio, folks gathered to play Oldtime Music n their homes and on porches . . . they Played, danced and sang, and had marvelous parties.
   I'm curious if anyone knows the proper term for these gatherings? I know the word Jam is used loosely today, but I don't believe that's the term they would've used back then.
   Hoping someone might know the proper terminology?


23 Jun 17 - 02:35 AM (#3862434)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Ca
From: GUEST,pauperback

work was done it
time to hoe down


23 Jun 17 - 03:07 AM (#3862438)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Ca
From: GUEST,pauperback

Yes, before TV radio and, might I add, cars.

It's funny, things meant to add also take away.

We would sing coming home from grandpa's
till we hit the 4 lane. The mood changed


23 Jun 17 - 03:50 AM (#3862451)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Ca
From: Manitas_at_home

Ceilidhs.


23 Jun 17 - 03:53 AM (#3862452)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Ca
From: Senoufou

Well in Gaelic-speaking communities it was/still is called a 'ceilidh', but I expect you already knew that. I've been to several in the past on Skye and Lewis, and even in Glasgow. They involve songs, recitations, dancing and---lots of whisky! Each person is expected to have a party piece (a story or song for example) Lovely evening's entertainment.


24 Jun 17 - 02:46 AM (#3862630)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Joe Offer

Google gives the following for the word "hoedown":
    a social gathering at which lively folk dancing takes place.
    synonyms: party, shindig, hootenanny, bash, jamboree, dance, barn dance, baile, fête, celebration
    "Sportsmen's Hall was all decked out for the hoedown"


But then the question is, what authentically meant what, and when?

-Joe-


24 Jun 17 - 03:41 AM (#3862635)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Jack Campin

Answering that would take a large team of people scanning old sources like local newspapers. It's the sort of thing dialect-dictionary compilers look at, and the results can be diagrammed as "isoglosses" - lines on the map that mark the boundaries between areas where one word rather than another is used. (Most of the time, they don't correlate very well with other words - the idea of "dialect" is much less definite than most people think).

One of the more surprising maps like that I've seen is in Laurence Picken's book on the folk instruments of Turkey, mapping the preferences between the words "darbuka" and "dumbek" to describe the same kind of goblet-shaped drum. It looked like a chessboard. There was no large area where one word predominated, each province was different from its neighbours. I'd guess that the words in that list from Google will be distributed in an even more chaotic arrangement, down to the level of words preferred by particular families.


24 Jun 17 - 03:41 AM (#3862636)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Jim Carroll

"Ceilidhs."
In Ireland there's a whole string of names used, depending where you are - around here in West clare they are still referred to as 'House dances' or even 'country-house dances'
In this area of Clare the more intimate gatherings between neighbours were called cuairds (pronounced coor), where music, singing, dancing, talk would take place
Often a musician would keep two instruments - one for home and one to be left in the neighboring house to save carrying it across the fields
The last traditional venue around here, 'Gleeson's Bar' (and shop), which catered for traditional music for over seventy years and held dances every Sunday night was sited in a townland called Coor - no coincidence, I'm sure.
In the north of Ireland I've hard them called 'convoys' - there are several songs which use the term as a title - 'Murray's Convoy' from Brackislea in Derry, springs to mind.
Elsewhere in the North they were called soirees
Lovely old tradition
Jim Carroll


24 Jun 17 - 06:55 AM (#3862669)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: vectis

In rural Ireland people will get together in each others houses and sing, dance, dance and play until the wee small hours. Tea served at midnight and the whole gathering sober as judges. They are called Rambling Houses and are great fun and very welcoming.


24 Jun 17 - 10:28 AM (#3862703)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Ged Fox

get-together


24 Jun 17 - 12:46 PM (#3862727)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Jim Carroll

I meant to thank Jeff Long for his interesting question - it's one that could fill volumes
Our traditional songs and music are often associated with pubs or public meeting places, but in fact they were once almost exclusive home entertainments in rural areas
One of the most interesting venues in Ireland were the crossroads dances
A central spot would be selected to accommodate the greatest number of outlying dwellings and a platform erected (where possible)
The locals would assemble there on Saturday nights (Sunday was forbidden by the church) and a scratch band of musicians would play for dancing (officially up to midnight, but not always)
The priests broke them up, often by beating the participants with sticks and occasionally smashing up any instruments they could lay hands on
Unchaperoned young people were considered morally at risk of being exposed to "sin".
These crossroads dances all but disappeared some time in the 1930s
Jim Carroll


24 Jun 17 - 02:32 PM (#3862735)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: leeneia

My family does that. We don't give it a name, we just do it. We have dinner or a picnic, then the guitar comes out and the singing starts.

It was the same for Bertie Wooster. After dinner, a damsel might sit at the piano and sing English folk songs. It just happened; it didn't need a name.


24 Jun 17 - 03:10 PM (#3862738)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Stewart

hoots

hootenannies

Cheers, S. in Seattle


24 Jun 17 - 05:37 PM (#3862749)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Quigley

http://m.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-hoedown.htm 


24 Jun 17 - 06:07 PM (#3862753)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Joe_F

leeneia: Yeah! It doesn't happen so often any more, but it used to be that you could have a party without loudspeakers, and whatever the guests did was part of the entertainment. Likewise, we learn from Pete Hamill's interesting autobiography _A Drinking Life_ that if you went into a working-class Irish bar in Brooklyn in the 1940s & were known as a singer, you might be asked for a song. (His daddy's specialty was "Paddy McGinty's Goat".) It wasn't a "pub sing"; they just did it.


24 Jun 17 - 10:01 PM (#3862769)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: keberoxu

On first glance, the thread title made me think of treading the boards, some sort of theatrical or club affair.

But the OP makes it clear that no, this is not where you go out on the town, but where you are at home after a day's work.   

Those really are two different questions! Not snarking, just marvelling at how divergent the implications are.


24 Jun 17 - 10:49 PM (#3862773)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,pauperback ^

How about "a happening"?


25 Jun 17 - 07:59 AM (#3862814)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

This is really two questions, one being what the dance gatherings were called. Names for those were suggested above, though most of them are too recent. "Hoedown" is old enough but refers specifically to dance parties. "Chivaree" is very old, but is generally restricted to wedding prankings, often with music.

For camp meetings, "All day singin' and dinner on the ground" was used for hymn/gospel sings.

For secular sings, none of the terms so far suggested is old enough to qualify. Many of them were first used in the 1950s, usually in a folkie rather than a traditional cultural context.

The only really old terms for sings I remember hearing or reading of in the Appalachian context might be:

1. "the singin'" (Are you goinl to the singin' at Old John's house tonight?),
2. "singin' gatherin'," or perhaps
3. "singin' party."

As several have stated above, singing gatherings traditionally took place within families with perhaps some neighbors looking in—as with the Ritchie family gathering I was privileged to attend in Hazard, Kentucky in 1955 while Jean's parents were still alive. No distinct or colorful term was needed.

Singing was embedded in the culture in ways we, with radio, TV, cars and internet, find hard to imagine. You had to entertain yourself ... and family, friends and neighbors. Moreover, you sang to pass the time, to give life a rhythm, and to make work go easier, from doing the dishes and minding the baby to haying or wagoning.

This can be over-romanticized, but was a real fact of life. More often than not people sang to themselves. In singing gatherings they sang to lull, to please, in the bright hope of teaching and learning new songs, or to hear the old favorites over again. Singing as entertainment in our sense rarely entered into it.

Likewise cowboys sang in the bunkhouse to while away an evening. Sometimes they sang to top one another, an informal competition to sing down the other fellow. Again, so far as I can figure out, no really distinct term seems to have been used apart from those I mentioned above.

Bob


25 Jun 17 - 08:30 AM (#3862817)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

Correction to above: the Ritchie family home was, of course, not in Hazard, but in Viper, Kentucky.

The old brain switches names around sometimes.

Bob


25 Jun 17 - 11:18 AM (#3862831)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: Mr Red

I would think the word gathering or gather would have been used often. Or maybe more prosaically tune or music


25 Jun 17 - 04:11 PM (#3862873)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musicals . . . What Were They Called?
From: JMB

We often use the term ceilidh in the Gaelic communities. We do have other names for music sessions, though. There are often milling frolics for example, where we sing the traditional milling songs (commonly referred to as waulking songs in Scotland).

I noticed in the non-Gaelic communities, there are other names such as sing-songs or jam sessions etc. I prefer the terms that are used by the Gaels.


26 Jun 17 - 05:00 AM (#3862929)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: vectis

We have started a get together, not a guested festival, here in New Zealand. We called it a gathering.


26 Jun 17 - 06:12 AM (#3862939)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: Mo the caller

I notice that the questioner doesn't say where he is asking about.

Here in England I remember Christmas parties at Grandma's (in the 40s, 50s) where everyone did a 'turn'. "The touch of the master's hand", "Seated one day at the organ" Uncle Cliff's (imaginary) performing fleas etc. And My mother or one of her sisters would play for everyone to sing. Our dance club still does have summer and Christmas parties where people are encouraged to entertain.


26 Jun 17 - 07:52 AM (#3862950)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: Janie

My grandparents, from eastern Kentucky, just called it visiting with neighbors and family. If dance was involved, that usually happened after community work parties such as corn huskings and bean stringings, or house or barn raisings.

In his youth, my grandfather was a much sought after banjo and fiddle player for those events.

There would also be hymn singings, usually held at quarterly "Association" meetings among the many different Old Regular and United Baptist associations in and around the Tri-state area of WV, KY and Ohio.


26 Jun 17 - 11:32 AM (#3862988)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Desi C

As you rightly assume in 'olden times' titles were rarely used. But SING SONG would have been the most common for house gatherings and pub sing songs. In my homeland Eire house gatherings were referred to as sessions and that's still the most popular term there for pub gathrings .e open sessions0 where amateur singers and players are welcome to join in. Closed sessions - where only invited participants may join in and Tune sessions- where only instrumentals are allowed. Here in the UK pub sessions where people were encouraged to get up and sing/play were usually called Free n'easy's Then came Karaoke of course, Folk clubs Floor singing-where singers stood on the floor to do one or two songs. Later more often called Open Mic spots, Singarounds also in the Folk idiom, singers nights. And I'm sure there'll be many regional variations


26 Jun 17 - 01:05 PM (#3862999)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Roger knowles

Folk clubs


26 Jun 17 - 10:50 PM (#3863058)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: meself

Desi just said what I was going to - a "sing-song". My parents would put on a few in the course of the year - where fifteen or twenty couples would be invited, and my mother would play the piano - and then there would be any number of informal, unplanned sing-songs. That's the only term I heard anyone of their generation using; otherwise, it was just a 'visit' or a 'gathering' or a 'party'. I never heard of a gathering of instrumentalists in my younger days, other than having to do with formal bands of one kind of another.

This was in Canada. 'Way down South, they had a jubilee; the jokey folks, they had a jamboree.


27 Jun 17 - 03:13 AM (#3863073)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: Mr Red

there nis a gospel song called "Jubilee". Is there a connection?


27 Jun 17 - 03:40 AM (#3863077)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: BobL

In my grandparents' house a century ago, a musical gathering of the resident extended family was called a "crash" (not necessarily spelled that way).


27 Jun 17 - 07:47 AM (#3863096)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)

In southwestern NC (100 miles west of Asheville), I've heard folks call a musical gathering a "pick" or a "pickin' party."

Dear Husband showed up at one when he was first in that area, took out his guitar, proceeded to play finger-style. One of the old timers remarked, "No pick? What are you, a Communist?"

DH *thinks* he was joking...


27 Jun 17 - 08:51 AM (#3863102)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,Julia L

The names for these gatherings seem to be regional Ceilidh, Hooley, Sing-song, seisiun, seem to be more "Celtic" related

Kitchen party in the Maritimes

Hoe-down, Hootenany(Hoot), jamboree (jam?) seem to be American

There are also differences in nomenclature according to the activities
dancing, singing, stories, food, tunes

There's a local joke about a poster advertising a pot-luck meal followed by a gospel singing group
"Bean supper! Followed by "Rushing Winds"

best- julia


27 Jun 17 - 10:56 AM (#3863133)
Subject: RE: Oldtime Musical Gatherings: What Were They Called?
From: GUEST,JessJ

A shout is a communial singing session that can be spontanious of organised.
A sing around is usually where people sing together but people take it in turns (usually going around the room) to sing.
A troyl is basically the cornish verion of a ceilidh or breton fest nos