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Article on the dangers of sessions

15 Aug 97 - 05:39 AM (#10484)
Subject: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Laoise, Belfast

I thought some of you would find this article of interest. I think it came from the Irish Times or the Irish News.

Session Maladies. Medical Casebook
Dr Liam Farrell

'Music is in our blood, so they say, but so is cholesterol, and years of clandestine observation has led me to the regrettable conclusion that there are many hidden dangers involved, and perhaps music sessions should carry a health warning.

To render the problem even more complicated, every instrument has its own unique hazards.

The Corner Inn in Rostrevor has provided me with the following fascinating clinical material and rather than publish it in the Lancet or the British Medical Journal, I think it is imperative that the Irish public be made aware, as a matter of urgency, of the perils that lurk behind this apparently harmless activity.

Guitar: a gentleman has been defined as someone who doesn't play his guitar at a session. It is a most perilous diversion; if you play it badly all the other musicians will hate you, if you play it well, all the other guitarists (who make up 90% of the other musicians) will hate you. So you stand every chance of being beaten up on the way home. Bring bandages and antiseptic, and take out life insurance.

Uileann pipes: for some bizarre, unfathomable reason, beautiful, exotic foreign women find grotesquely sweaty hairy ruddy-featured men maniacally pumping their right elbow irresistibly attractive.

Fiddle: the virtuosos of any session, believing that all others are only there to give them backing, they tend to develop paranoid delusions of supremacy and may rush out at any moment to put on make-up or receive an imaginary award. May need sedation. Their "flying right elbow" can cause eye, skull and dental injuries to unlucky neighbours.

Bodhran: the instrument of last resort, for those who can play nothing else except the tambourine and are barely able to walk and talk at the same time. These unfortunate individuals are prone to depression because everyone else, even the guitarists, at worst despises, and at best, feels pity toward them. Body armour is advisable.

Accordion: the musical equivalent of an infectious, purulent skin rash, which is a bizarre coincidence as they sweat profusely with the effort to carry the damn thing and therefore are prone to develop infectious, purulent skin rashes in the more moist parts of their body. No cure is possible.

Banjo: tend to suffer from a chronic inferiority complex, but as they constantly reassure themselves, at least they ain't guitarists. Hate mandolin players for associated reasons. Are shy with girls and drink far too much, so not an advisable instrument for single men with addictive personalities. The banjo player usually has a domineering mother, and drink makes them pathetic and offensively melancholic.

Tin whistle: prone to falling forward and consequently liable to teeth and palate injury, as the whistle is usually still in position when the fall occurs. Gumshields are therefore advised and, uniquely, may actually improve their appearance.

Flute: tend to slobber a lot, and it is important for other musicians to sit some distance away, lest body fluids are inadvertently exchanged. Unsafe to kiss.

I would be very interested to hear from other researchers who have similar concerns about these risky activities. It's a funny old world where you need a license to own a dog, but anyone can play a bodhran.'

The Uilleann Pipes paragraph is, I think especially close to the truth.

Slan,

Laoise.


15 Aug 97 - 07:01 AM (#10485)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Andy Geliher

Whilst not an immediate health problem, has anyone else noticed this personality at a session:
Mandolin: quiet, reserved, male. Spends most of the session trying to borrow, or playing, someone elses banjo/fiddle/bazouki/mandola/guitar,

and as a bodhran player myself I'd prefer:
...It's a funny old world where you need a license to own a dog, but anyone can hit a bodhran... :)

AndyG


15 Aug 97 - 07:04 AM (#10486)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Wolfgang

...It's a funny old world where you need a license to own a dog, but anyone can hit a bodhran player.


15 Aug 97 - 07:10 AM (#10487)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Laoise, Belfast

Yes Andy, you couldn't be more right. Im a quiet, reserved, FEMALE, mandolin player who sits in sessions hammering away wishing I could play any instrument that could make some noise - even the bodhran!

Apologies to anyone I have offended by printing the above article - I think it manages to include everyone except singers - I'll have to find an article for you'se too, just so you don't feel left out.

The most unpopular person on the Internet - and proud!

Laoise.


15 Aug 97 - 09:32 AM (#10491)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Donald

Wolfgang, "...anyone can hit a bodhran player"! No wonder sessions are dangerous. I am a bodhran 'player' and understand the feelings of dislike for bodhran 'beaters'. Please don't tar us (the "players") with the same brush, take time to listen before stricking as you will find that we love the music too.

Cheers, D.


15 Aug 97 - 11:21 AM (#10496)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Whip

As for singers:

If you dropped a soprano and a tenor off a cliff, which one would reach the bottom first?

The tenor. The soprano would have to stop and ask directions.


15 Aug 97 - 09:30 PM (#10514)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Alice

Check out instrument jokes at:

http://www.mit.edu/people/jcb/jokes/


21 Nov 98 - 02:08 PM (#46377)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: The Shambles

I thought this thread was fun and was a good opportunity for some more light-hearted predudice.


21 Nov 98 - 05:29 PM (#46391)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Helen

Laoise,

I'll have to consider carefully about whether to print the article off to show to our session group. I *think* they have a sense of humour, so I'll probably do it.

But, where are the harp players?? I can identify with the bit about having to carry a heavy instrument around (accordions) but usually the jokes about harpers are that they take 95% of the time tuning up, and only 5% playing - usually out of tune. Maybe harp players have crook (Oz term for sick or busted) backs and necks, and nervous twitches from hearing so many out of tune strings in the middle of a piece of music.

Helen


21 Nov 98 - 05:37 PM (#46392)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Martin Ryan

There's a pub in Feakle, County CLare with a notice in the musicians corner saying: "One bodhran per session". This year, they added another: "No bongos!".A cry from the heart, methinks.

Regards


22 Nov 98 - 06:40 AM (#46442)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: The Shambles

We all our predudices and if we recognise them as such, we can laugh at our own and at others. I do think there is a danger though, when you read comments and see notices like the one that Martin mentioned above. The strength of sessions/jams/singarounds etc is that you cannot predict their outcome and that is also also their weakness. The only course of action open to you if you do not like: the amount of instruments, the type, the volume, the standard of play, the type of music, the way it is organised, or any of a number of other complaints, is to leave.

Any attempt to 'lay down the law' before the event will inevitably lessen the spontaneous approach that the best sessions would seem to to require.

All that is required I would suggest are the following-


Basic good manners.


Recognition that the music is more important than musicians.


Play only when you feel you are adding to the music, no matter what your standard of play is.


The more people you can actively involve the better, no matter what their stardard of play is.


That there is a place for perfectly constructed and rehearsed pieces of music, but that sessions are for capturing something else.


22 Nov 98 - 11:56 AM (#46461)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Martin Ryan

The Shambles

Agreed!

regards


22 Nov 98 - 03:02 PM (#46473)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: mikeIreland

Hi Laiose from Belfast. I'm Mike from Carrickfergus.(To those outside Ireland - Carrickfergus is close to Belfast)

I feel its important to come away from a session with the feeling of enjoyment and satisfation that a good time was had by all, no matter what instrument they played. Everyone has to start (learning) somewhere, and where better than in a session.

I'm sorry to say I'm another bodhran player. Thats not true - I enjoy playing the bodhran.

How do you tell the difference between a violinist and a dog? The dog knows when to stop scratching. Whats the difference between a banjo and a chain saw? The chain saw has a greater dynamic range.

More power to the beater.

Mike


22 Nov 98 - 03:37 PM (#46479)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: BRACKEN

I play several different instruments but truly enjoy the beating the bodhran when the opportunity arises so know the feelings on both sides. I pity many bodhran players when at times members of the group groan upon sight of their drums being pulled out. I have been asked many times, by people who think this will be easy, how difficult is the bodhran to play and I always answer the hardest part about playing the bodhran is knowing when not to.


22 Nov 98 - 06:29 PM (#46493)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Martin Ryan.

Lest there be any doubt.... Some of my best friends....

Seriously: I just recently recorded a song (Henry Joy - its in the DT) with a seriously good bodhran player providing the only, perfect backing.

Regards


23 Nov 98 - 12:06 AM (#46535)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Barry Finn

Hi Martin, I've also found that some very good bodhran tunes only need the accompanyment of a single voice to made it a perfect song, I love playing these. I've often thought of doing a singing/bodhran workshop but someone killed the goat I had trained by shoving a stick down it's throat, BAAAA way to go, went out that night drank a gallon of woolight. Peter Bellamy put to music a Kipling poem "They'er Hanging Danny Deaver In The Morning" (still not sure if that's the title after all these years), it's not a march & I sing it the way Peter sings it , but only use the bodhran as backup & play a death march on it, not only does it work well but the soft march in the backround lends enforcement to the disgust of the public military hanging better, in my opinion, than any other instrument could. Barry


23 Nov 98 - 06:09 AM (#46561)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Helen

All right guys, I'll come clean. I'm a closet bodhran player - well I have L-plates (learner driver) anyway, but I don't play very often. Three of my really favourite tunes are Lord Mayo, March of the King of Laoise, and After the Battle of Aughrim. I think they get a kind of quiet power when they are played on a melody instrument and a bodhran. The drum beat seems to build up the power, somehow.

Helen


23 Nov 98 - 07:41 AM (#46564)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Martin Ryan.

Barry

Curiously enough, what we did on Henry Joy was to use a brush throughout , reducing to a funeral beat over the last verse, for the hanging. Great minds....

Regards


23 Nov 98 - 07:44 AM (#46565)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Steve Parkes

My litle brother Neil plays jazz saxophone (still, at least my mother loves him), and he reckons that perfect pitch is the ability to throw a banjo into a skip without hitting the sides.

Steve


24 Nov 98 - 07:31 AM (#46635)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Robert Lee

Poor banjo players get even less respect than bodhran players!

True story: My city's opera and symphony had a big fight over the cost of musical accompaniment to the opera. The opera director's final word was "We'll go ahead without them. We'll find a piano or two, maybe a couple of banjos."

I thought the whole thread was hilarious (even as a retired banjoist), and I'm going to take up the Uillean pipes in the morning. Where do I find these beautiful, exotic foreign women? I hope I don't have to learn to play them well, or anything, for the effect to work.


24 Nov 98 - 09:40 AM (#46644)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Bill Cameron

Another great song for bodhran-only accompaniment is "The Land of McLeod (I Will Go) -- as done by the Corries.

Shambles remarked: Any attempt to 'lay down the law' before the event will inevitably lessen the spontaneous approach that the best sessions would seem to to require.

Well, I don't know. It seems to me that session music--i.e. Celtic--is fairly structured by nature, and most good sessions don't just happen--they are more or less "owned" by someone, whose attitude controls the vibe. Ultimately in a scene thats large enough to have a bunch of different sessions, people who want to have one but don't care for the implicit or explicit rules of an established one, will start their own--and I think thats what makes a healthy scene.

As in other walks of life, its not usually enjoyable receiving criticism on your musical tendencies, but that's how you grow as a musician. Its fine for people to say that everything is great, but the person that offers a suggestion on how things could be better is the one who's helping more in the long run. Of course there is everything to be said in favour of tact and politeness!

Bill (no I don't run a session)


24 Nov 98 - 02:54 PM (#46673)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: The Shambles

Thanks Bill, for the following: Well, I don't know. It seems to me that session music--i.e. Celtic--is fairly structured by nature, and most good sessions don't just happen--they are more or less "owned" by someone, whose attitude controls the vibe.

I think there is a difference between the music being structured and the session being so. It's true that there is more structure in the music when you are playing Irish/Scottish/English tunes as they have a/b parts and the tunes follow on etc; the melody players need really to know the tune being played. The same is true to some extent for Old-Time/Bluegrass.

This is not so important when it is a Blues or Jazz jam when it's enough to only know the groove or riff being played and improvisation is the rule. There is also more room for accomodation when it is a mainly song based session.

It's open to debate what exactly is a good session. In my opinion the best ones do appear to just happen and the ones that are obviously 'owned' tend to be possibly better musically, but lose the 'something' I seem to prefer. Maybe 'guided' is a better word?

In my experience musicians do not need much encouragement to play, just get them together, (in a bar) and they will take it from there. (They might just play too).

The other point I would like to reply to is: As in other walks of life, its not usually enjoyable receiving criticism on your musical tendencies, but that's how you grow as a musician.

I think you would agree that is is better to come to a session to learn, make mistakes and get advice than to read notices that prevent you playing at all?


24 Nov 98 - 05:20 PM (#46687)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Old Timer

I am a Banjo player, and here is a good banjo joke I read recently:

A young man took a job as a banjo player in a whorehouse. To reassure his mother, he told her he was the piano player!

hehe...

OT


25 Nov 98 - 05:05 PM (#46797)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: The Shambles

Session

It is an interesting word, and used as it is in the context of a 'jam session' means pretty much, join in if you can and want to. Does the word in this context come from a different source than the Irish one?


18 Jan 05 - 01:49 PM (#1381462)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: GUEST

hey
I am the author of above article, just picked up your responses after all these years. Original appered in the British Medical Journal, so it must be true., along with a very nice cartoon painting of sweaty people with instrumnets; I got the original ssent to me.
I am disappointed that it has not been taken seriously, as usual you guys make fun of everything.
The ssession in th Corner House is still going strong every tues night, you'll be made welcome
Liam Farrell
(Guitarist, I'm afraid)


18 Jan 05 - 02:19 PM (#1381500)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Brían

I might add to tin whistle: This pariah's tendency to emit oral bodily fluids from the end of his instrument makes him a considerable hazard to the other musicians. Perhaps a "special" seating arrangement for whistle players at sessions might contain the spread of session-borne infectious diseases.


Brían (ag seinnim feadóg)


18 Jan 05 - 02:44 PM (#1381517)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: The Shambles

Liam how about the hazards of a few new instruments that were not on your original list?

Low D whistle - harp - etc


19 Jan 05 - 04:40 AM (#1382076)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Dave Hanson

Banjo players just get louder and more obnoxious as the level of alcohol increases, I know I am that banjo player.

eric


19 Jan 05 - 08:07 AM (#1382183)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: GUEST

I've never heard a mandlin played that didn't overpower everything else playing at the same time. As for quiet and shy - but all the mandolin players I know are male.

A further hazard for all players of stringed instruments has got to be the broken string - usually occurs when the instrument is being played at full tilt - and really necessitating the use of goggles to avoid eye damage when it goes.


19 Jan 05 - 10:19 AM (#1382282)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: pavane

It (Mandolin) certainly didn't improve the sound of Sandy Denny's first recordings (Sandy & Johhny album)


19 Jan 05 - 10:27 AM (#1382291)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Davetnova

I'm quiet and shy tae


12 Aug 09 - 01:34 PM (#2698670)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Willie-O

Shambles remarked to me only the other day in 2005:
The other point I would like to reply to is: As in other walks of life, its not usually enjoyable receiving criticism on your musical tendencies, but that's how you grow as a musician.

I think you would agree that is is better to come to a session to learn, make mistakes and get advice than to read notices that prevent you playing at all?

Yup. AGREED! And I would amend my original statement as quoted above, to "that's one way you grow as a musician".

W-O


13 Aug 09 - 09:41 AM (#2699386)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: GUEST,leeneia

Last year I was at an early-music workshop, and at dinner I remarked, "There is a subtle current in our culture which says 'Put down your instrument and shut up. If you want music, buy the recordings.'"

Somebody else said, "I diaagree. It's not subtle."

The so-called article above and most of the responses here are examples of that insidious current. They are not funny.


13 Aug 09 - 09:54 AM (#2699391)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Willie-O

...and yet the responses are all from musicians....I think it's a way to celebrate our culture by not taking ourselves too seriously--we can create and therefore OWN the stereotypes, which are after all musicians' in-jokes.

But yeah, not everyone is amused. That's the nature of humour.

W-O

.


13 Aug 09 - 09:56 AM (#2699393)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: GUEST,leeneia

Yep.


13 Aug 09 - 10:58 AM (#2699424)
Subject: RE: Article on the dangers of sessions
From: Flashmeister

Ah now the lone bodhran on Well Below the Valley can be pretty powerful.
I normally hide behind guitar but i do have a banjo-ukelele does that capture the holy grail of irritating instruments??!!!!?! :-D