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Music Books at Pub Sessions


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#91 michael sam wild

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:04 AM

I know some people who now prefer plying at home along with Youtube 'Sessions' with master players. Not my idea of fun but no different from playing along to a CD. So why do people want to go to a reallife session? I am seriously interested in what some people's motives are.

#92 Jim Besser

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 09:36 AM

This thread is making my head hurt.

Some things seem pretty obvious to me:

- there are different kinds of sessions.
- the host has the right to determine what kind it is: advanced, casual, beginner friendly, all one genre, and so on.
- the newcomer has a responsibility to figure out the groundrules before jumping in.

End of story.

I enjoy open-ended sessions where musical diversity is encouraged. I don't like narrowly focused oldtime or Irish sessions, but I have music buddies who love them. If they choose to come to mine, they get into the potluck swing of things; if I go to their's I play all Irish, or all oldtime, or whatever. If I don't want to do that, I don't go.

When I go to a new session I sit on the edge and play quietly until I figure things out. And I generally don't start tunes until someone asks me, and when I do, I start tunes in keeping with the general tenor of the session.

I've been to sessions where reading from dots was okay, and that's fine with me. Musicians who give the evil eye to the note readers at these gatherings are just rude. I've been to others where it's not acceptable behavior, and if that's the consensus, or the desire of the host, that's fine, too, and people who pull out their Portlands or O'Neills or whatever are pretty irritating.

Seems simple enough to me; I keep wondering why so many people don't get it. There's room on this planet for all kinds of musical gatherings, but sessions don't work unless participants are attentive to the unspoken rules.

Edited by Jim Besser, 05 February 2012 - 09:50 AM.


#93 cboody

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Posted 05 February 2012 - 11:03 PM

I know some people who now prefer plying at home along with Youtube 'Sessions' with master players. Not my idea of fun but no different from playing along to a CD. So why do people want to go to a reallife session? I am seriously interested in what some people's motives are.


You can probably get a higher level of playing if you always play with a group that actually practices, but that is not what sessions (all kinds I think) are all about. They are about sharing tunes, sure. But I think they are about craic more than anything else. It's the banter, the sharing of stories, the joy in interacting with others who share your interests that makes the things go. If music is all you are looking for they may not be where you want to be. But if you want sharing, friendship, and sometimes wonderful musical moments find a session and learn to be a member.

#94 david_boveri

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 01:00 AM


In both situations you have a collection of concertina players some of whom are perfectly happy without dots, some are terrified and many are somewhere between. It allows everyone to share something.

Maybe you do not think of those as "proper sessions". You may be right but one of the problems with words is that they do not hold a precise meaning for very long.


i'm glad that you found a group of people who like to have the dots! it's all about playing music and having fun.

Quite.
BTW David been watching for a ballpark figure for Noel's school?

Ref earlier :
BTW with the pound getting more dollars at the moment. it could be more interesting. How much did the school cost (without travel costs) incl. food and bed?
etc

Tks :)


I meant to send you a PM--sorry that I did not! Check your inbox.

#95 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 03:51 AM

i have come to believe that the "friendly chat atmosphere of yore" owes to the simple fact that sessions of yore were not prey to the degree or manner they are now to ramapant visitations by strangers with varying musical abilities and varying manners, and varying misconceptions to the effect that "sessions should be open to everyone,"


This prompts me to the observation that we should talk long and earnestly with old people about matters that interest us!
I would just love to know exactly how my father learned the fiddle and melodion in rural Co. Derry around 1920. He told me he had learned the fiddle from an older neighbour, who was a thatcher by trade. From this I deduce that the teacher (like my father himself) was musically proficient, but musically illiterate - an archetypal traditional musician.

But what I don't know, and didn't think to ask while he was still alive (because "sessions" weren't a topic for me then), is how the tuition took place. Did my father visit the neighbour and take lessons one on one? Or did he just get his hands on a fiddle, with instructions on how to hold it and the bow and play a scale (as he later did with me), and start working up the tunes - most of which he would have known by ear anyway - by himself, perhaps with a few tips by his mentor, and perhaps play along with him at first? And if so, would he have played along in private, or when his teacher was playing for a dance?

One thing is clear: in those days, grammophones were as rare as cars, so neither recordings nor strangers would have impinged on the learning situation. My father would have known the same tunes as any other young fiddlers in the village (his sister was one, too), so playing together would have been no problem. One fact that I did get "from the horse's mouth" was that children or young people who were musical were encouraged to learn an instrument (so that the community would continue to have musicians available when necessary). That meant that proficiency would have been achieved fairly quickly. Sheet music would have been useless, because nobody could read it, but also unnecessary, because they would all have grown up listening to the same music.

Nowadays, this whole basis has dissolved. We no longer listen exclusively to local, traditional musicians before we ourselves become active, because we can buy a CD of music from anywhere, and we can drive to concerts given by musicians from anywhere. Some of us can even play from sheet music without having heard what the music should sound like. There is no "selection process," so anyone who fancies himself as a musician can muck in, regardless of potential proficiency.

The pre-recording, pre-motorisation, pre-literacy situation in country areas imposed homogeneity on informal meetings of musicians. It is pretty obvious that a multimedial, mobile, literate musical scene lacks this natural homogeneity, so that rules must be formulated and imposed if an informal musical get-together is to work properly.

Just a few rambling thoughts, but perhaps relevant?

Cheers,
John

#96 Robin Madge

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 07:36 AM

Just a thought about whether sheet music was irrelevant in a rural community.

In East Lancashire there was a lot of singing done from music by the old "West Gallery" choirs and their non-conformist compatriots. As a result many choir members had the music in hand-written manuscripts books for the hymns and there are several examples still extant that belonged to the musicians associated wth the choirs. Several of these also have secular music recorded (usually at the backof the book) so we know what the locally known tunes were at that time.

If you search for "Nuttal" you can find tunes that have been transcribed and placed on the internet tha were from a manuscript book that belonged to one of the original "Larks of Dean" who composed several of the best know pieces from the area.

Looking at the original manscript book it becomes readily apparent that the early tunes have been written down in a childish hand and i believe that these were "homework" exercises for the budding musician at an early stage.

Robin Madge

#97 michael sam wild

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Posted 06 February 2012 - 08:03 AM

There are many fiddle case books preserved from jobbing musicians from the 1700s onwards ( see Village Music Project) and these players were proficient and many played for the toffs as well as in their local communities. They often mixed sacred, military and dance and song tunes.

They seem to have known the tunes well and probably used the books as a record or aide memoire. That is true today and I know I laboriouslyy work out the ABc and more recently the dots but I would not take those books out to sessions although dance bands seem often to have them on music stands to help those who don't know the tunes too well. Musicians met in the home and pubs and played away from dances and learned new tunes tat way. In Ireland there are stories of sight readers taking O'Neill's 'The Book' to practices and others learning the tunes , often having listened to Michael Coleman 78s etc to get the spark and inspiration, although I bet a lot gave up after hearing the records!

I see people with notebooks with the first few bars jotted down or more recently on iPhones etc. Tunepal allows folk to get the name of a tune they don't recognise (it must draw on a massive database)

#98 cboody

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:50 AM

There are many fiddle case books preserved from jobbing musicians from the 1700s onwards ( see Village Music Project) and these players were proficient and many played for the toffs as well as in their local communities. They often mixed sacred, military and dance and song tunes.

They seem to have known the tunes well and probably used the books as a record or aide memoire. That is true today and I know I laboriouslyy work out the ABc and more recently the dots but I would not take those books out to sessions although dance bands seem often to have them on music stands to help those who don't know the tunes too well. Musicians met in the home and pubs and played away from dances and learned new tunes tat way. In Ireland there are stories of sight readers taking O'Neill's 'The Book' to practices and others learning the tunes , often having listened to Michael Coleman 78s etc to get the spark and inspiration, although I bet a lot gave up after hearing the records!

I see people with notebooks with the first few bars jotted down or more recently on iPhones etc. Tunepal allows folk to get the name of a tune they don't recognise (it must draw on a massive database)


Part of the issue here is where the tunebooks were. In Scotland, and to a fairly great degree in England tune books appear quite early. A somewhat too large generalization is the Scots came to fiddle playing through "classical training" and the Irish by listening and by ear. In Ireland there certainly seem to be fewer tune collections around early on. And certainly the described tradition in Ireland is more one of learn by ear at the feet of the local master. Whether that is actually an accurate description of what went on or not I do not know. I do know, though, that by the time O'Neill's appeared (an American book BTW) the tradition in Ireland was well established, and things had preceded well beyond "the way it was."

#99 Steve Mansfield

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 06:31 AM

Veering the discussion off at a minor tangent, we went along to a French dance and music evening last night - it's a regular event but the first time we've managed to haul ourselves over there. The focus of the evening is both on the dancing and on the music, so it's not a case where dancers were co-opting a music session for their own ends or vice versa.

Most of the musicians were inexperienced in playing for French dance, and the vast majority were reading the tunes from sheet music. The results were, quite frankly, pretty poor on the whole!

Now I can go on till the cows come home (and go to bed, and get up the next morning ... ) about how playing for dancing is very different from playing for concerts and / or playing for your own pleasure, and that's definitely not the topic here.

But I thought it was relevant to this thread because it's another interesting example of the way that being over-reliant on the dots often takes you away from the feel, the underlying pulse, and (in trad / folk circles) the sensation of playing together rather than as a group of individuals who are in their own worlds in the same physical space.

Just another spoon stuck in the mix ...

#100 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:04 AM

In France a 'session' of Trad.French dance music is a very rare thing and if one does happen then some people will be sure to dance as well.
Somewhere on another thread I told the story of my wife and I going to an 'open stage' evening in our local town when we first moved here. When we were asked to play something, and we trotted out a couple of Hornpipes (on Fiddle and Irish pipes), about 40 couples got up to dance. This is something we had never experienced in Ireland and we wondered how these people knew how to dance a hornpipe. Well they were actually dancing a 'Scottish' a type of couple dance.

The point I am making is that the view of it all here is 'Dance music is for Dancing'and as a musician one is expected to know how to play for dancing and to know the tunes being played before joining in.

Most musicians we meet in France are members of a Band and play in public to some sort of format and virtually never a 'partition' (sheet music) is to be seen.

In almost all departments in France there are classes available from the Conservatoires for all the local Traditional 'Folk' instruments. To me this is all the more amazing when one considers that these local musics virtually never get an airing on the Radio or TV. However, these classes do suggest that each student, and the proffessors, do have a musical education which includes some sort of sheet music notation.

#101 Dirge

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 12:43 PM

Most of the musicians were inexperienced in playing for French dance, and the vast majority were reading the tunes from sheet music. The results were, quite frankly, pretty poor on the whole!

....


But I thought it was relevant to this thread because it's another interesting example of the way that being over-reliant on the dots often takes you away from the feel, the underlying pulse, and (in trad / folk circles) the sensation of playing together rather than as a group of individuals who are in their own worlds in the same physical space.

Just another spoon stuck in the mix ...


I'm not sure I'd argue your basic point, Steve, after all even classical concert soloists learn their parts by heart for best effect, but here you have a group of inexperienced musicians who play badly from written music, so it must be the music's fault? 'An example'? Come on!

Editted to add; come to think of it it's just as likely that the only reason there was any music at all was because they had the notes in front of them.

Edited by Dirge, 07 February 2012 - 04:16 PM.


#102 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 04:23 PM

But I thought it was relevant to this thread because it's another interesting example of the way that being over-reliant on the dots often takes you away from the feel, the underlying pulse, and (in trad / folk circles) the sensation of playing together rather than as a group of individuals who are in their own worlds in the same physical space.


I'm not sure I'd argue your basic point, Steve, after all even concert soloists learn their parts by heart for best effect, but here you have a group of inexperienced musicians who play badly from written music, so it must be the music's fault? 'An example'? Come on!


Bit of word association here: over-reliant - dependent - addicted - drugs - medicine ...

The pharmacists tell us that any medicine that has a desired effect also has some side-effect or other. Dots have the desired effect of enabling you to play music that you've never heard before, or that is too complex to pick up by ear, and it also synchronises you with the other membrs of your orchestra, band or string quartet to fulfil the composer's or arranger's intention.

The side effect is a psychological one: some people think that the score of the music is the music - that they just have to transfer it to their insturment, and the music becomes audible. This is not the case, as any decent music teacher will point out. You have to learn to "play between the dots". Simple things like "If a sequence of notes is repeated, play it differently (louder or softer, or more legato or more staccato) second time round." Or, "As the pitch rises, play louder - but be aware that it is often a good thing to break this rule." And a lot of more complex things. Even in our humble folk group, the Chief Arranger and I are always saying, "Don't just play one note or one chord after the other - phrase them!" These are all very important for the pleasing sound of the music, but they are not contained in the score! Any notation - in language or music - is meaningful only when the "language" that it represents is known. Classical music is not just classical music. There's baroque, Classical, Romantic, post-romantic, modern, atonal ... And folk music is not just folk music. There's Irish, Scottish, English, French, German, Spanish, American ...

So it is hardly surprising that a bunch of "inexperienced" dance-band players failed to convince. It's like a class of German pupils reading a Shakespeare play in their English class (been there, done that as their English teacher!). Come to think of it, a class of English-speaking pupils reading a Shakespeare play is not all that inspiring either (been there, done that as a pupil)!

The dangerous side-effect of sight reading is that it seems to create the impression that one can play music prima vista. I agree with Dirge that this is not done in professional circles. Dots, like ears, are for learning, not for playing. And you are well advised to keep to genres in which you know how to read between the dots.

I don't pretend to be able to read dots, but I can read English and German. As a singer, that's just as important for me. But if I am so unsure of the lyrics that I have to have them in front of me when I'm singing, I won't sing them well - and will probably make mistakes, as I did recently with a quickly- learned song on a requested theme.

Dots are super - I wish I could use them effectively - but they're not without side-effects.

Cheers,
John

#103 ceemonster

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Posted 07 February 2012 - 08:21 PM

do the Conservatoires offer classes in bal musette? what about tango?.... :rolleyes:

#104 Geoff Wooff

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 01:59 AM

do the Conservatoires offer classes in bal musette? what about tango?.... :rolleyes:



The simple answer to this is yes I feel sure there is. As long as there are enough students interested in a specific instrument or genre then a teacher will be found.

#105 Jody Kruskal

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Posted 08 February 2012 - 04:35 AM

Yeah, dots are super. So are chord charts. Still, that's not where the music is. These are just aids to the music. Some of my many dance bands use paper, some do not. Regardless, for most of the time, the musicians eyes should be on each other or on the dancers or the caller. Looking around, checking in, indicating some phrase or asking, "What's next?" or reflecting the scene, saying "Wow, that chick sure knows how to move"!

If you are playing with your eyes shut or your attention on a page then you are missing the essential communication that should be free flowing between active musicians at a dance. This is not just aural, though the ears and listening are also essential. Still, body language and the raised eyebrow communicate so much, but not if you don't see it. This is true at a concert as well. The audience must be included in the process or the music dies... and dead music is such a stupid waste of time.

Sometimes at a dance, we are playing OK but seem stuck in a rut. Here comes the tune again, blah, blah, blah. But if I stand up and look around and get everyone's attention, then the players suddenly start playing with more perception and we sound better. Or, I might be more direct and say loudly, something like... "Shhh, next time, play like fairies" or, "Come on, lets kick butt". And so we do, to great effect. However, this free flowing exchange of approaches and ideas is not on a page, rather it is between aware musicians, aware of their surroundings.

Keeping it fresh is not on the page but in the eyes, and in thinking ahead... what's next? Yeah, sure, we're going to play the tune... but how? If we make good choices then the dancers will have a great time and so will we, and exciting real music will be played, and dancers will fall in love, get married and have babies.

Really, this is an important issue. Otherwise, what about the next generation?

So get real. Use the dots, but get your eyes up and your attention out into the world around you. IMHO


Pub sessions? I never bring dots, or if i do, it's only to help me remember a tune I want to play without the dots. Interaction is the thing, and books get in the way.

Edited by Jody Kruskal, 08 February 2012 - 05:14 AM.


#106 Pippa

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 11:41 AM

What is it about Irish Sessions that they have to have so many rules and regulation, mostly unwritten, that will get you ostracised/thrown out/shouted at if you transgress them? Most English/Euro sessions seem to be far more tolerant of beginners/readers/odd instruments etc.


It seems that to become what is designated a competent Irish player you have to listen to the correct CDs and learn all the nuances, by ear, no tune books; then practice in solitude until you emerge as a fully fledged player with the require repertoire under your belt. :blink:


I don't think there's any difference in approach, but perhaps it's easier for musicians new to a session to fit in with English/Euro sessions without bothering with the common decency of doing a bit of listening to the players first. I've been in Irish sessions where English players have arrived with a sense of entitlement and a tune or three learned off dots only, the session members haven't recognised the tune as it's been in a different rhythm (think someone speaking English with a strong French accent - goodwill has little to do with it, if you don't recognise the words you don't recognise them, no matter how much effort you make!), and the session is roundly and vociferously condemned all round the area as 'very unfriendly'. It's certainly happened for the two Irish sessions local to where I live (Bucks/Herts, UK). Yet they're full of really supportive musicians who'll try and play the few tunes beginners do know, so that everyone can share the music.

No, but I do think they assume you listen a bit to some CDs and learn a bit about what the music sounds like. Just like a French session, or an old-time session, or a bluegrass session. Or even our 'anything goes' session in Cublington. Just good manners; then 'rules and regulations' aren't needed.

Pippa
(edited because the reply originally came up in the middle of the quote)

Edited by Pippa, 12 March 2012 - 11:42 AM.


#107 JimLucas

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Posted 12 March 2012 - 12:38 PM

(edited because the reply originally came up in the middle of the quote)

Ah, if only everyone would learn to do that. B)

Thank you. :)






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