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Music Books at Pub Sessions


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#19 JimLucas

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 01:42 PM

What are you all going on about? I like to bring a book to a session.
When things get boring I go to another table and read my book.

Luvved that! Great ri-post-e :D

Or wry-post? ;)



#20 Steve Mansfield

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 01:59 PM

Most English/Euro sessions seem to be far more tolerant of beginners/readers/odd instruments etc.


Indeed so, just one of the 1001 reasons I much prefer them. But the fact remains that if someone starts playing a particular version of a tune, and someone else who is playing purely from the dots finds a different version of that tune in their book and plays *that version* to the detriment of the original version, then the original player might feel quite entitled to be a bit peeved that their tune has been hijacked.

It's like most things in sessions really. Done well and sensitively, nobody (except perhaps the ITM police) are going to care that you're reading the tune from a book.

Done without regard to what's going on around you it's a negative. Done sufficiently crassly, you may well get a reaction similar to that shown at the head of the thread.

Right, I'm off to our post-Christmas party - by about 23:00 if we're all playing the same rhythm in the same key it'll be a definite plus ...

#21 Anglo-Irishman

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 04:58 PM

It's not just Irish sessions that frown on tune books. I have never been to a bluegrass or old time session where they have been particularly welcome either. Folks are expected to have a good ear or know their music.



I think the whole thing becomes a bit clearer with a bit of historical perspective.
The music that we call "traditional" today often took shape in remote areas like the Appalachians or the Donegal Highlands, where communities were isolated from one another, and close-knit within themselves. So if several musicians had to team up to provide music loud enough for a rowdy dance, all the musicians would probably have learned their instrumental technique and their tunes from older neighbours, and probably wouldn't have heard much, if any, other music. New tunes that someone had perhaps picked up on a trip to the big city or the next county would be learned and played by all the local musicians in his version, be it "right" or "wrong".
So, traditionally, there would have been no need for sheet music or jamming by ear. Everybody would have played the tunes the way he or she learnt them, and everything would have fitted together.

The modern session is quite a different matter, I believe. The availability of recording media means that even musicians from the same townland have heard different versions of the tunes, and the musicians at a session may not all be locals, or may not play together exclusively, and may all have had different teachers. So the uniformity that was traditionally imposed by insularity is no longer there, and has to be compensated for by some form of convention.

Cheers,
John



#22 ceemonster

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 10:38 PM

[My curiosity is raised. In what way was the fellow using O'Neill's?]

yes, that is where i am at this point in the investigation.....inquiring minds wish to get to the bottom of the case...

#23 Kautilya

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 11:13 PM

[My curiosity is raised. In what way was the fellow using O'Neill's?]

yes, that is where i am at this point in the investigation.....inquiring minds wish to get to the bottom of the case...

yes! Come on Randy, we can't afford to pay for Frasier's dad to head across from McGinty's in Seattle :lol:

#24 Ralph Jordan

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 07:19 AM

I have a Filofax with the first 8 bars of lots of tunes. (A sort of Aide Memoire) mainly because I can't keep them in my head, particularly if someone asks me to play a ceartain tune! (And never ask its name...!!!)
My problem is that I always leave it at home!
I'm with other posters who say that the English/Euro sessions are far more forgiving as to musical skills. In fact, I'd rather hear someone new to their instument trying to play a tune than some virtuoso showing off.
Remember, we all started somewhere.
So, Bring your tune books by all means, if that is of use for you, and a pox on people who tut-tut about it.
It's only music after all, and there is no right and wrong way to play it.
(Maybe that is why I tend to avoid Irish sessions)

#25 Randy Stein

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:04 AM

I surmised his "newbie" status by the fact that he sat at the fringes of the main players, did not have the immediate recognition of the people or the tunes, and had the book of Irish tunes.
His excitement was fully dampened by the comments but he stayed and did his best to play along. Felt bad for the lad. Thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesses and helpful kindness. He is fortunate that there are other sessions around that he may wish to take check out.
rss

#26 hjcjones

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:28 AM

Of course, to someone "new to it all" the whole ethos of sessions and the associated ettiquette will be something of a mystery - especially if they're more familiar with a genre where using music is the norm. It doesn't help that the "rules" vary from one session to another, and are not only unwritten but unspoken, The real key to playing in sessions has very little to do with musical skill and is much more about learning how to fit in and become accepted.

#27 Greg Jowaisas

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 08:42 AM

I surmised his "newbie" status by the fact that he sat at the fringes of the main players, did not have the immediate recognition of the people or the tunes, and had the book of Irish tunes.
His excitement was fully dampened by the comments but he stayed and did his best to play along. Felt bad for the lad. Thought it could have been handled with a bit more finesses and helpful kindness. He is fortunate that there are other sessions around that he may wish to take check out.
rss


I often find group and herd behavior interesting in its intent and convention.

This discussion reminds me of a banjo student I had for a few lessons. He was enthusiastic but his techniques and, let's say, old-time musical sensibilities, were underdeveloped. In hopes of further inspiring him before he left town I invited him to a music gathering where he proceeded, to my ear, to play loudly and inappropriately in a number of instances (Alcohol may have been a contributing factor) We left the party early. I was a bit embarrassed and certainly perturbed but I decided not to say anything.

Several years later we ran into each other and he was playing beautifully. He cited the party we had been to as the source of his inspiration and subsequent dilligent practice.

Things have a way of sorting themselves out sometimes without the intervention (enforcement) of our good intentions.

Greg

#28 StephenTx

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Posted 15 January 2012 - 09:20 AM

[/quote]
I say "here-here" to Greg and Randy’s and others positive supportive comments. I just made reservations for the Palestine Texas gathering in March...I have only been squeezing since Aug. 2011. Lessons from Pauline de Snoo..I can find my way around the keyboard but admittedly have great opportunities ahead of me with speed, rhythm, chording and expression. Plus I am no way near playing by "ear". But I figured hey the way to learn is "jump in there". I received a nice acknowledgement of my attendance from Gary Coover for the Palestine group which I appreciated. In his email he said he "was looking forward to hearing my playing". This made me nervous! ;) I thought to myself "damn I have a lot of practice before then..."
Pardon my long winded story to make the following point.
It is good to know there is alot of support out there and CNET has contributed very positively to this for me.
Now I need a lesson on concertina players ettiquete asI know there are going to be many accomplished concertina players at Palestine. Should I limit myself to the beginners (book or no book)? I don’t know!

Edited by StephenTx, 15 January 2012 - 09:37 AM.


#29 michael sam wild

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 05:24 AM

If people are looking at dots they aren't looking at other musicians and picking up all the other cues about the music and there is a tyranny of the score that limits the musical interplay needed when you are listening

In one session in the music pub we ran one of the lads reached across and set fire to a singers crib sheet ( plasic sleeve and all). Granted it was 4am in the morning and the fire was quickly put out with a pint of beer. Happy days, 'Welcome to the House of Fun' was the motto.

#30 Frank Edgley

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:51 PM

I was in NY this week and went to a pub where there was session. Didn't have my box but sat and listened for two pints worth of time.
There was a young man with an Anglo who was obviously new to it all. He had O'Neill's fake book of Irish tunes with him. A couple of the more seasoned players requested he close it and not use it. One person was a bit harsher in his verbiage than I thought necessary. Is there a reason or custom not to have use of song books to look up and follow a tune?
rss

There is no excuse for rudeness. As long as the newbie plays quietly and unobtrusively, I can see no problem with referring to a book. Eventually, we hope, the newbie will learn the tunes and join the group and play in the traditional manner. Rudeness not only offends the target of such abuse, but many of the bystanders, as well.

#31 cboody

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 01:25 AM

Seems to me the real key here is the impossibility of using a book effectively in many sessions. Tunes follow one another quickly, titles are often not announced, and no one waits for anyone to find a page. And, in many irish tune sessions the norm is 3 times through. By the time the book user has figured out the tune and found it in a book the group has finished playing it. Your options are to come without music but with a notebook and/or recorder and write down titles and record tunes (ask first!), or listen and absorb and play by ear. Usually the former precedes the latter.

That said there are other sessions where books are accepted or at least tolerated. If you want to fit in it is wise to visit first and figure out what the "rules" of that particular session are.

I think the session the OP was talking about clearly didn't like sheet music. If you want to fit in there learn the tunes at home preferably by ear but by note if you must and come back when you have some of them underhand. And then be prepared to sit out those tunes you can not yet play.

I've been in both kinds of sessions (with and without books) and am a fairly good reader on a bunch of instruments. But I find the books often get in my way in trying to enjoy a session and now bring them to the "book" sessions only to refer to to remind me of forgotten tunes BEFORE they are played (and if there is time).

OTOH I also play with some friends who use music all the time and since their repertoire is different from mine I'm forced into using them too. Since we use matching books that works well enough. In repertoires I understand I can get along well, but Irish repertoire is not one that works well. Too many tune variants and style variants. But that is NOT a pub session

Edited by cboody, 17 January 2012 - 01:26 AM.


#32 Womble

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 05:43 AM

The first time I went to a session, I was very nervous and I ended up not playing a single note. I knew none of the tunes (having learned classical violin rather than folk fiddle) and felt very self-conscious. At the end of the session, one of the organisers came over to talk to me and I explained that folk music was pretty new to me, and he immediately suggested that I go on the Internet to download some free sheet music. He gave me a few titles to look at and said he looked forward to seeing me again. The following week, having downloaded and learned O'Carolan's Concerto, we played it together. I was terrified, but he was very supportive and it encouraged me to continue. Now, if I'd taken music along and someone had told me to put it away, I would probably have left the session and never come back.

Having been brought up with 'thou shalt play by the dots, thou shalt play only what the dots say, thou shalt not deviate or improvise', I found it extremely difficult to learn 'by ear' and I was always full of admiration for anyone who could do that, because I really struggled. It's funny really, because one of my friends can't read music at all, and thinks that people who can are 'amazing'. It took me about two years to be able to go to a session without the dots, and just pick it up as I go along. It does get easier with practice. However, I always remember how I started, and would never admonish anyone for using the dots. People learn in different ways, and I'd rather they played by the dots than didn't play at all.

With regard to the suggestion about the Kindle - I bought a Kindle DX (the one with the larger screen) and put some music on there in PDF format. It works a treat and is far easier to carry around than a binder full of paper. I'm not sure about its beer-proof-ness though ;)

Edited by Womble, 17 January 2012 - 05:45 AM.


#33 blatherskite

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:37 AM

Pardon the long winded reply, but the thread just made me realize that without actually trying, we're doing an interesting experiment in Indianapolis that others might be interested in.

I'm from the same area as Ken originally, and have found overall similar relaxed attitudes about the music, mostly.

Now we have the best (or worst) of both worlds, depending on your viewpoint, a learning session and a real trad session. I think both are awesome. It just sort of happened this way.

I don't tell anyone that my session is "traditional". It's more like 'a session where we try to learn Irish music, mostly'. We have many folks who started late in life, a surprising number of classically trained musicians from local orchestras, and a mix of trad and non-trad instruments. I don't care what instruments show up at the session, or if folks bring music. I just explain that if they get used to this, they have to understand they can't just show up at any session and be welcomed. I do provide a printed collection of common tunes, which I encourage people to learn on their own.

As the "Mayor of Tune Town", I pick and choose which session etiquette rules to enforce, and then I invent my own:
No noodling between tunes, whoever starts the tune sets the tempo, music is ok, trying something new that you are not 100% sure of is ok, playing a tune from earlier in the session is ok, having fun is ok, polkas are ok, singing is ok, 5-string banjos are ok, remember to tip the bartender, if anyone is out of tune they get to call for a pause in the proceedings to get tuned again, everyone gets a turn to call a tune or set for the first half of the session, then it's a free-for-all.

The other session in town is much more trad, much more focused with musicians that have been playing much much longer. For all the talk about session rules I really have to say that I do understand what they are trying to promote/preserve. I have been to sessions that were completely mind blowing experiences, and you don't get that without some focus.

So what happens here is that we get the beginners, who for the most part eventually learn to lose the sheet music and listen better. We now occasionally sound completely awesome, hammered dulcimers and double bass included. Eventually some of the better players 'graduate' to the other session, which is fine. Makes me feel like the idea is working. Different members have spawned at least 3 other performing groups.

So rather than beating newbies with the rule book, I let them figure out on their own how little the music book is really going to help them, and why that is. Why 5 bodhrans may not be a good idea, and why you don't want to trust my crummy musical notation skills...

regards
ed

#34 Kautilya

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 09:45 AM

[quote name='Womble' timestamp='1326797021' post='132125']
However, I always remember how I started, and would never admonish anyone for using the dots. People learn in different ways, and I'd rather they played by the dots than didn't play at all.


[/quote]
Quite!
[quote]
With regard to the suggestion about the Kindle - I bought a Kindle DX (the one with the larger screen) and put some music on there in PDF format. It works a treat and is far easier to carry around than a binder full of paper. I'm not sure about its beer-proof-ness though ;)
[quote]
The Kindle it seems also usually allows you to play mp3 files. So, apart from introducing sound of totally new melody for the ear-only folk (as at Whitby Eurosession), you could also stick in your ear-phones and start off a "simple" toon such as The fiendish dance of the demon daffodils by John Kirkpatrick.

And as has been pointed out before, Kirkfaustus is controlled by Morse DOTs as radio signals when he plays.... signals start around 37 in utube link at end of this link to post.

http://www.concertin...=1

Someone was seen at Whitby 2011 practising the theatricals of playing a squeezebox as explained by an eminent player at his earlier workshop.

The technique requires you to hold the airbutton in and 'perform' in and out with rapid fingering across the keys,preferably with your box held slightly out of view.

The sound of the tune was reproduced on a tape and speaker hidden out of sight under the table. The punters (including a fair spread of different instrumentalists) applauded the playing of that difficult piece!

Delighted to see you can play the Irish fiddle in this fashion...... :rolleyes: :rolleyes: .

http://www.youtube.c...player_embedded

#35 Ken_Coles

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:27 AM

What's funny about Ed's (Blatherskite) story is that what he calls the "trad" session is the one where I found such a supportive learning environment. Once again it shows, no one solution will suit everyone here. Well, duh.

I hope to get to Ed's session some day!

Ken

#36 david_boveri

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 12:38 PM

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:


the biggest thing in irish sessions is that you have to know your music by memory. if you know only one set, or one tune, we are very welcoming. if you pretend to know sets by pulling out sheet music, some people might not be very welcoming.

the way that most of us have become "fully fledged players" is by sitting quietly in the circle at our sessions week after week, until our one set naturally blossoms into a whole repertoire through immersion. you have to practice at home, yes, but most of the tunes that i play at sessions are tunes i learned in sessions and never studied at home. all the tunes i work on at home (for hours every day) are tunes that no one else seems to know B)




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