It is currently Mon Jul 16, 2018 8:05 pm

All times are UTC - 6 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 33 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 6:52 pm 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 87
How do most of you play? In a band? At sessions? Solo?

The whole world of the "session" seems to me to be fairly forbidding and clannish--maybe of necessity, you either know the tunes or you don't; you either can play at tempo or you can't. The few sessions I've attended (just listening, not trying to play) have been sort of unwelcoming.

I often think that maybe ITM, for me, is going to be a meditative thing, a solo art, a mental exercise.


I'm a novice at the whistle but have three decades of semi-professional regular gigging in other genres. Sometimes being in a band is great, and sometimes it's like going to the dentist. Driving to gigs and back, hassling with venues, band members flaking out, etc. etc. I've cut back the number of gigs I do to to 2-4 a month, and that's plenty. There aren't a lot of paying opportunities for irish music as far as I can tell, which leaves the session.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 8:25 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:25 am
Posts: 3845
Location: WV to the OC
I certainly can relate to the grind of regular band gigs. I did that years ago, I don't want to do it now.

I do do gigs from time to time in an informal group I've been playing with since the 1980s. It's the same people who are usually at the local session, so there's not a big demarcation between the session playing and the gig playing.

There are nice things about playing in a band, for example you can work out nice sets of tunes. There's something very satisfying about the sequence and musical progression of a well put together set, that you don't often get at a session.

On the other hand you get those magical serendipitous tune-changes once in a while at a session that blow your socks off.

Most of my playing nowdays happens in my car! It's the Greater Los Angeles thing, we spend so much time in our cars. I always have my "car whistle" which for me is my favourite whistle, the same one I use for gigs and sessions. Yes it sits in the car but I don't want to spend so much time playing a not-great instrument.

_________________
Richard Cook
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2018 10:22 pm 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Sun Sep 13, 2009 10:06 pm
Posts: 1365
Location: just outside Xanadu
Sessions are what they are. Like life, eighty per cent is showing up. On my pessimistic days, I remember Dorothy Parker: Wherever she went, including here, it was against her better judgment. A corollary to Sturgeon's Law. And then you go to a session that is perfectly magical, and come away charmed and supercharged for months. They play the threadbare and seemingly elementary tunes you know and you hear them in entirely new ways. Then they play amazing and intriguing tunes new to you that you must learn. . .And amazingly, you may find new friends among those intimidating and unwelcoming faces.

Bob :D :D

_________________
Not everything you can count, counts. And not everything that counts, can be counted

The Expert's Mind has few possibilities.
The Beginner's mind has endless possibilities.
Shunryu Suzuki, Roshi


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:31 am 
Offline

Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:47 am
Posts: 100
Location: Surrey/Hants border, England
Like all my music playing, I just do it for my own pleasure - sometimes I record myself & post online in my various forums. :)

My music playing came about because I decided to learn to play an instrument when I retired - I'm finding learning different instruments a nice hobby.
I'll never be a great player, but I enjoy myself with what I do, & I think that is what counts. :thumbsup:

_________________
Trying to do justice to my various musical instruments.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 2:29 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:31 am
Posts: 4194
Location: the Back of Beyond
I think sessions can be many things to many people. I don't think they should be thought of as a free for all where anyone can sit in uninvited. Some are like that but really, at it's core it's a meeting of friends, a conversation and a stranger breaking into that without as much as an introduction can be a bit odd. So some sensitivity for the situation you're walking into can alleviate (or at least explain) the vibe of the degree of welcome you receive.

Level of playing and repertoire also come into play. Don't expect to be made welcome if you're going to drag things down (mind your Dunning Kruger there) and if the session plays tunes you don't know, don't assume they're only playing obscure tunes to deter you, they are playing tunes you may not know, nothing more nothing less. Some people's perception of common tunes is wider than other people's, don't expect a group of experienced players to roll off the 100 popular session book tunes just because you have joined.

It's an odd situation when you don't know the lay of the land and if you come with it with a mindset you have a right to join, things may seem difficult. But a bit of sensitivity and common sense can see you through that.

On Sunday afternoon we had a small piper's session organised, in a quiet backroom but during a summerschool/festival setting (the Willie week). Initially two of us but growing to four pipers by the end of it and a fiddleplayer we knew, We had to deal with double bass, bodhran and soprano sax players walking in uninvited and starting up without introductions or invites. The Dublin lads I was with are used to that sort of thing and had a friendly assertive way of dealing with those, there were also people in other keys (we were playing in C) trying to join that realised the setting was not for them. Some got a bit huffy, for their own reasons.

We did play non stop for six hours on the Sunday, an afternoon well spent. And as Bob said, a good run will keep you flying for a while yet, it's good for the soul.

Séamus Ennis at some point mentioned that traditional musicians have something in their playing and if you play a lot on your own, you'll loose it. But when you find yourself again in the company of someone who has it , it will bring you back. You do need to bounce your music off other people, replenish it, refresh and revalidate it .

There are periods I spend a lot of time playing on my own, the anxiety of facing others, a crisis of confidence or dark days of depression getting the better of me. But again, as Bob said above, turning up is the first step and once you've taken that, you may be fine.

And concerts, bands and all that. Mostly I try stay away from it but sometimes you get asked and can't really turn it down even if the impulse to do so is there. Impromptu bands, that too, the odd time.

Image

_________________
My brain hurts



Image


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:08 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jul 10, 2006 7:25 am
Posts: 3845
Location: WV to the OC
Mr.Gumby wrote:
I don't think (sessions) should be thought of as a free for all where anyone can sit in uninvited. Some are like that but really, at it's core it's a meeting of friends, a conversation and a stranger breaking into that without as much as an introduction can be a bit odd. So some sensitivity for the situation you're walking into can alleviate (or at least explain) the vibe of the degree of welcome you receive.


That topic has come up many times on The Session, and what I've gleaned is that it reveals basic differences between Irish and American social conventions. American openness and egalitarianism can be viewed by others as being blunt, ignorant, or downright rude, and the careful observance of complex social conventions by Irish can be viewed by Americans as being exclusionary, clannish, elitist, or rude.

A perfect example is the thing that's often come up, where people sit. Americans appear to be famous for rudely sitting in a chair that the in-crowd all know is so-and-so's chair. A typical American response to being told that a certain chair is intended for a certain person is "I don't see their name on it!" meaning that if a chair isn't clearly marked to be reserved it's open to anybody.

In any case here in the USA we sometimes have sessions that are clearly stated to be "open sessions" and "closed sessions" to avoid such things.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
Level of playing and repertoire also come into play. Don't expect to be made welcome if you're going to drag things down... if the session plays tunes you don't know, don't assume they're only playing obscure tunes to deter you...


Thing is, there are many musicians for whom the session is their primary musical activity. They've been attending sessions for years, maybe a lifetime. They're long past the "first year tunes" and "second year tunes" and a large core repertoire is old hat to them.

They love playing the new fresh tunes that are blazing their way through the session world. Newbies probably don't know these. I think newbies would be well to listen and learn.

_________________
Richard Cook
1978 Quinn uilleann pipes
1945 Starck Highland pipes
Goldie Low D whistle


Last edited by pancelticpiper on Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 6:34 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 7256
Location: Clifton Park, NY
PB+J wrote:

The whole world of the "session" seems to me to be fairly forbidding and clannish--maybe of necessity, you either know the tunes or you don't; you either can play at tempo or you can't. The few sessions I've attended (just listening, not trying to play) have been sort of unwelcoming.


If that's the case you need to find some different sessions. Some are indeed snooty but some are very welcoming and encouraging to players of all levels. They should respect the tempo set by the person starting the tune.

I play at one session each month in Gettysburg that's fantastic. There are some fair intermediate players but also some crackerjack players. I've learned and improved a lot playing with those folks. BTW-- these days I've been playing tenor banjo more than whistle, but I like being able to switch off.

_________________
Got wood?
http://www.Busmanwhistles.com
Let me custom make one for you!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 7:53 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 87
brewerpaul wrote:
PB+J wrote:

The whole world of the "session" seems to me to be fairly forbidding and clannish--maybe of necessity, you either know the tunes or you don't; you either can play at tempo or you can't. The few sessions I've attended (just listening, not trying to play) have been sort of unwelcoming.


If that's the case you need to find some different sessions. Some are indeed snooty but some are very welcoming and encouraging to players of all levels. They should respect the tempo set by the person starting the tune.

I play at one session each month in Gettysburg that's fantastic. There are some fair intermediate players but also some crackerjack players. I've learned and improved a lot playing with those folks. BTW-- these days I've been playing tenor banjo more than whistle, but I like being able to switch off.



That's much easier said than done. There are not a lot of sessions near me, and the ones I've attended haven't been very friendly. Or maybe that's the wrong word--they have not made it very clear where the "front door" or the welcome mat are.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:08 am 
Offline

Joined: Sun Mar 25, 2018 5:40 am
Posts: 87
pancelticpiper wrote:
Mr.Gumby wrote:
I don't think (sessions) should be thought of as a free for all where anyone can sit in uninvited. Some are like that but really, at it's core it's a meeting of friends, a conversation and a stranger breaking into that without as much as an introduction can be a bit odd. So some sensitivity for the situation you're walking into can alleviate (or at least explain) the vibe of the degree of welcome you receive.


That topic has come up many times on The Session, and what I've gleaned is that it reveals basic differences between Irish and American social conventions. American openness and egalitarianism can be viewed by others as being blunt, ignorant, or downright rude, and the careful observance of complex social conventions by Irish can be viewed by Americans as being exclusionary, clannish, elitist, or rude.

A perfect example is the thing that's often come up, where people sit. Americans appear to be famous for rudely sitting in a chair that the in-crowd all know is so-and-so's chair. A typical American response to being told that a certain chair is intended for a certain person is "I don't see their name on it!" meaning that if a chair isn't clearly marked to be reserved it's open to anybody.

In any case here in the USA we sometimes have sessions that are clearly stated to be "open sessions" and "closed sessions" to avoid such things.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
Level of playing and repertoire also come into play. Don't expect to be made welcome if you're going to drag things down... if the session plays tunes you don't know, don't assume they're only playing obscure tunes to deter you...


Thing is, there are many musicians for whom the session is their primary thing. They've been attending sessions for years, maybe a lifetime. They're long past the "first year tunes" and "second year tunes" and a large core repertoire is old hat to them.

They love playing the new fresh tunes that are blazing their way through the session world. Newbies probably don't know these. I think newbies would be well to listen and learn.



This seems right to me. There's an American presumption of informality and egalitarianism and it's not the same in Ireland, even though Irish culture is deceptively informal-seeming. Also the musical genres I know best prize improvisation, whereas as far as I can tell session playing prizes shared knowledge and everybody not only knowing the same songs, but knowing them exactly the same way. And while lots of musical cultures are fine with reading charts or scores, as far as I can tell in ITM reading notes at a session would be cause for a beating with a hurley. :pint:


I suspect I'm to old to ever participate in a session. The learning curve seems too steep--not technically, but in terms of repertoire. As soon as I learn a tune, I read over at "the Session" that everybody is sick of that tune and despises the person who called for it as a tiresome dweeb. It does seem really clannish and unfriendly over there.

Peter Laban, that looks like a dream session!

Edit: Just want to be clear I'm not arguing there is anything wrong with "session culture" to the degree that i understand it. All communities of expertise have boundaries and really should. And it would be a boring world if all musical cultures were the same.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 8:54 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2001 6:00 pm
Posts: 1955
Location: Detroit, Michigan
I checked your profile, which says you are near DC and that you've only recently started learning the whistle, and that before that you played the bodhran.

I know many of the musicians in the DC (and Baltimore) area, and they are very good. They're also generally very nice, but there is a a high bar to entrance due to quality of their musicianship. There's a good chance the "unfriendliness" is due to the fact that you showed up with a bodhran, or as a very much beginner whistler - unfortunately you're likely just not quite ready to join in some of those sessions - but you can be with a few steps:
-- The best thing you could do is go to a session, listen, and ask to record so that you can learn the tunes they're playing.
-- Take lessons from someone in the area (Josh Dukes is an excellent bodhran, guitar, flute, and whistle player, and maybe more... and he's near-ish to DC, maybe close enough for lessons).
-- Definitely keep learning the whistle. Often there are already bodhran players, and most sessions don't want more than one at once, so plan on taking turns and sitting out a lot. Plan on just listening even with the whistle, too - hopefully you really like listening to the music (why play it otherwise?), so that shouldn't be a chore.
-- Make an effort to introduce yourself, be respectful, listen a ton, and be willing to ask for and receive advice. As Mr.G says, sessions are gatherings of friends - practice your friend-making skills and you'll become a friend, too!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 9:03 am 
Offline

Joined: Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:40 pm
Posts: 59
I wonder if perhaps a good indicator of a pleasant session experience may be to see if it is in cooporation with a school of music. For example, in Milwaukee, there is a fairly sizable school of Irish music, so they try to keep the session standard moving so that all the students of various levels and ages are encouraged to attend. When I was performing at the festival there in Milwaukee, I had a chance to meet up with a lot of the teachers and session leaders (we even jammed out a few tunes which was a blast!) and I was shocked at how open and approachable they were. Granted, it may just be where I was at, but it seemed like they were more passionate about encouraging and passing down the music rather than getting a really tight sound.

However, I also have played at sessions where I felt like I was violating a taboo. I knew only a few of the tunes so I stuck more to the bodhran, but the overall atmosphere was rather unaccepting. I understood that these guys had probably been playing together for possibly decades, but I most definitly did not make them lower their standard of play. They even wanted me to play with them more often, but I felt rather disinclined to do so because of their overall attitude.

I couldn't agree more with NicoMoreno when it comes to interacting with the session players. You might still find yourself among a few snobbish musicians, but as long as you don't give them a reason to dislike you, then you don't have to feel bad about it. :lol:


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 1:54 pm 
Online
User avatar

Joined: Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:19 am
Posts: 573
Location: Portland, OR
Sessions, like with any group of people, friends and relative strangers alike, are fickle. Near where I live there are actually multiple friendly sessions each week and there have been for decades. Some of these sessions are aimed more toward newer players to some extent, but some of these friendly sessions are more of a mixed level as well. We also have at least one local session that's closed and invite-only, but I think only one is. I personally don't regularly attend any session these days, since my time is mostly focused on band work, but there was a stint where I co-hosted a session. We were very open to people showing up.

For me personally, like I mentioned above, most of my time is spent on band stuff. With weekly practices and gigs at least every other week, it can be tough to fit in sessions with the rest of life. That being said, I'm constantly learning new tunes and plan on attending sessions when I can.

_________________
Life is good.


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 4:32 pm 
Offline
Moderatorer
User avatar

Joined: Wed Dec 18, 2002 6:00 pm
Posts: 33121
Location: Minneapolis
PB+J wrote:
...as far as I can tell in ITM reading notes at a session would be cause for a beating with a hurley. :pint:

Well, normally the rest of us just look at each other, cock an eyebrow, leave 'em in the dust, and see how they like that. Public sessions in the Twin Cities tend to be clearly designated as beginner, advanced, etc., so if a total stranger shows up with the dots, usually we ask if they'd mistaken the venue and would prefer a more beginner-level bunch. Sometimes we'll accommodate them, but only for a bit and with much urging to start learning by ear. We don't want to be cold, but repeat offenders ask for it.

_________________
"Time is the wisest counselor of all." - Pericles

"I remain not entirely convinced of it." - Nano


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:05 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Jun 14, 2013 7:15 pm
Posts: 177
pancelticpiper wrote:
That topic has come up many times on The Session, and what I've gleaned is that it reveals basic differences between Irish and American social conventions. American openness and egalitarianism can be viewed by others as being blunt, ignorant, or downright rude, and the careful observance of complex social conventions by Irish can be viewed by Americans as being exclusionary, clannish, elitist, or rude.

A perfect example is the thing that's often come up, where people sit. Americans appear to be famous for rudely sitting in a chair that the in-crowd all know is so-and-so's chair. A typical American response to being told that a certain chair is intended for a certain person is "I don't see their name on it!" meaning that if a chair isn't clearly marked to be reserved it's open to anybody.

In any case here in the USA we sometimes have sessions that are clearly stated to be "open sessions" and "closed sessions" to avoid such things.


That's funny, because my experience has been almost entirely the opposite! There are exceptions on both sides, of course, but the coldest sessions I've been to have been here in the States. Although, to be fair, that's largely the result of a clique of sorts in my general vicinity, which actually has shown definite signs of thawing in recent years as those people move out of the area and new people move in. In Ireland, by contrast, I've found most of the sessions welcoming. But I do have more friends in the session scene in Ireland, so I have better advice about which ones to go to vs avoid.

That being said, there are a huge number of, ahem, beginner/"free for all" sessions in the States, more than I've seen around Ireland. Those are fairly welcoming, but if you're looking to actually improve your playing, they are IMO to be avoided. You're not going to get better by slogging through the Maid Behind the Bar at 80bpm for the 500th time, nor will a chorus of 10 out-of-tune whistles help develop your ear. The people are lovely, the craic can be great, and by all means do it for the social aspect, but you can pick up a lot of bad habits if you're not careful.

Mr.Gumby wrote:
I don't think (sessions) should be thought of as a free for all where anyone can sit in uninvited. Some are like that but really, at it's core it's a meeting of friends, a conversation and a stranger breaking into that without as much as an introduction can be a bit odd. So some sensitivity for the situation you're walking into can alleviate (or at least explain) the vibe of the degree of welcome you receive.


Mr.Gumby wrote:
Level of playing and repertoire also come into play. Don't expect to be made welcome if you're going to drag things down... if the session plays tunes you don't know, don't assume they're only playing obscure tunes to deter you...


Along those lines, I was in Galway last year, and sat in one evening at Cóilí's. There was a sort-of session going on, as there generally is at that bar, probably more of a gig but without the micing, patter, etc. I wasn't sure, but I chanced my arm, asking if they would be open to a flute player joining. The fiddle player warily asked, "can you play the tunes?," so I rattled off the names of a couple they had played just to give a sense that I knew what I was doing. She decided to let me in, and after I played along with a set, I was completely in. Had a great night, and they invited me to stay and chat long after the bar closed up and everyone got kicked out.

Throughout the night, a few people came up with the same request. Bodhran player, rejected. Guy with a tin whistle who seemed to just want to play his party piece, rejected. One guy just tried moving in with what I think was a fiddle (never left its case), and was essentially told that it was a gig.

So, the moral (I think) is, be polite, seem competent, and you stand a much better chance of being accepted. Not to say that everyone's going to let you in just because you say please, but it'll certainly increase your chances. And never think they're obligated to let you in; that's a surefire way to get shunned!


Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
 
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2018 3:01 am 
Offline
User avatar

Joined: Mon Jun 07, 2010 11:31 am
Posts: 4194
Location: the Back of Beyond
Quote:
I suspect I'm to old to ever participate in a session. The learning curve seems too steep--not technically, but in terms of repertoire. As soon as I learn a tune, I read over at "the Session" that everybody is sick of that tune and despises the person who called for it as a tiresome dweeb. It does seem really clannish and unfriendly over there.



Nobody is ever going to know all the tunes, mind you I know a few older players who rarely miss a tune, whatever you throw at them. But part of that is just the skill and the experience that enables you to play a tune on the second or third iteration. When you are around music all the time, there are an awful lot of tunes you know to hear, even if you don't play them. When those come up it's not a huge step to put them under your fingers.

The thing about the very wellknown tunes is really the fact they have been slaughtered by poor playing so often. Most people won't fancy dragging a poor player through them all over again. Played well nobody would mind them. For example I was at the funeral of a very wellknown and highly respected musician a few months ago, during the farewell tunes at the grave the Blarney Pilgrim was played, to my mild surprise perhaps. Nobody raised an eyebrow and no quiet words were had behind the cemetery wall after.

_________________
My brain hurts



Image


Last edited by Mr.Gumby on Wed Jul 11, 2018 4:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
 Profile  
Reply with quote  
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 33 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3  Next

All times are UTC - 6 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: An Draighean and 9 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB® Forum Software © phpBB Group
[ Time : 0.120s | 12 Queries | GZIP : On ]
(dh)