Dose anyone like bodhrans

Dose anyone like bodhrans

What style of bodhran playing do you like and why?

I think Colm Murphy is the king because he adds to the music in a dynamic way,Ringo is solid and keeps it simple and John joe dose his own thing but he still holds a beat.

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May I add at this point that many of the derogatory comments relating to bodhran playing which will most likely follow in this thread are to be taken with several pinches of salt. I like John Joe Kelly’s playing aswell. I heard a recording just minutes ago of Francis McIlduff of Belfast (more famous for excellent pipng and low whistling) playing the bodhran at first light. He is barely mentioned in the same breath as John Joe Kelly, Ringo, Junior Davey etc, but his bodhran playing is first class.

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Not literally at first light, as in early in the morning, but with the band At First Light.

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Yep, Francis Is a super player,not usually regarded as a bodhrán player.

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I must check out Francis. Im not a fan of Junior his a bit too busy for me i like solid playing.

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I love bodhrans….the only problem that I see in most music is that they are not loud enough. The pitter pat pitter pat in the back ground just is not enough to get my blood pumping.

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Hello Hawthron

Check out Conal o Grada "Top of Croom" for flute acc. by my favorite Colm on bodhran. I agree pitter pat pitter pat is more anoying than anything .

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sorry hawthorn

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Have you ever sat next to a VERY loud bodhran in a session? I have, in a session in An Teach Beag in Clonakilty in August this year. I couldn’t hear myself play, let alone the whistle player on my right, or anyone else in the session for that matter. The middle-aged bodhranist on my left studiously ignored all attempts to get him to quieten down, and ten minutes after I joined the session the leader lost patience, reached across me with his foot and kicked the rim of the bodhran, making it perfectly clear that it and its owner were surplus to requirements. Our man got the message and immediately packed up and left. A rare case of someone literally being kicked out of a session!

Generally, I enjoy bodhrans in sessions here in Bristol. There are usually one or two in a session - one of them frequently being an excellent player from Norn Iron (hi, Jenny!) - and the playing in my experience only adds to the quality of the session.

I was told once about a summer school in Ireland where in one of the beginners fiddle classes the tutor was having a problem trying to get one or two pupils to loosen up their very stiff bowing wrist and hand. So he sent them along the corridor to a bodhran class for an hour’s tuition. Problem solved.

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The bodhrans at our session have driven away good players so we’ve attempted to solve the problem by requesting that only one of them play at a time. They seem to be a bit thick though, and when the craic gets going, they can’t contain themselves, and they all (three or four) jump in and drown things out. They’ve been spoken to politely, yelled at, and shunned, but like I said, they’re thick. I’m fairly new on the session scene, but my experience is that good drummers are rare. I suspect that any drummer who is a veteran of this board is good because they are interested enough in the music to really be part of it as contributors, not simply to hang out, drink the beer, and pretend to be "musicians".

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Donnchadh Gough, John Joe Kelly and Tristan Rosenstock are all superb and unique players. My favorite player, however, has got to be Sean McCann of Great Big Sea, a fantastically popular band from Newfoundland that plays both traditional and original songs and tunes. His playing is not flashy, but it not only keeps the beat but, rather than adding to the music, it is the music. No one but Sean McCann, so far as I can see, has the ability to make the bodhran the core of the music, the central part that everything revolves around. That deserves merit.

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By the way, when I say ‘popular’, I mean to say that I’m surprised and impressed that a group that has remained so true to its traditonal roots has managed to get national-if not worldwide-acclaim and popularity. I realized that the wording could be misinterpreted.

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I think I hear Bodhran Bliss coming. (hand to ear)

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"has the ability to make the bodhran the core of the music, the central part that everything revolves around. That deserves merit."

Oh dear. Llig where are you?

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I once had the pleasure to be accompanied by Seamus O’Kane. He’s definitely my favourite player.

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fear not, I’m here…

"has the ability to make the bodhran the core of the music, the central part that everything revolves around."

Oh dear, and all too often, the eedjit banging the drum is so useless at listening that everyone else has to just play along with them.

https://thesession.org/discussions/9423

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I love the kind of flat playing continuously insisting on the basses. There’s a bodhrán player called Niall McQuaid I think, in Galway, he plays this way. hes the guy playing the bidhrán in Galway postcards 🙂 It’s a very unassuming style, but I find it very up to the point.

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Just to second what has already been said about Fra McIlduff; he is a class bodhrán player and he certainly taught me a lot. He and his brother are great percussionists, althought they are both primarily known for their virtuosity on the pipes. In my opinion it’s a great asset if you can play another instrument; you can appreciate the music and how it should be accompanied much more. No surprise that JJ Kelly plays a schneaky mandolin.

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Bodhran players can add , rather than detract, IF played within the players skill limits. e.g. even a beginner , if playing simply, and not too loudly, by tapping out the beat (in strict time of course) can ‘set the pulse’ of the music. A skilled player can add much more of course - see this video of John Jo in a recent session in County Clare
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWXUEiFKUQ8

(poor video quality -but great playing). This clip was during a particularly exhuberant few minutes - but as a ‘proper musician’ he also knows when to hold back - or stop playing altogether.

Re: DOSE anyone? ~ like bodhrans

Dose = amount of medicine or poison administered at any one time ~ a measure of concentration varying from pleasurable to bearable to toxic ~ depending on the method of delivery can also result in extensive bruising and pain… 😏

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Thank you ceolachan. Bad bodhran playing can be like a dose of the cl#p. Does anyone like Bodhrans? In the hands of a skilled musician they,like any instrument, can be fantastic. However, in the hands of a novice, they are usually truly destructive to the music. So yes, I love a well played bodhran……Such a pity it’e such a rare beast.

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Woops, "It’s"….Case of the pot calling the kettle black.

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When Trouble in the Kitchen let Benno loose on a bodhran solo it’s amazing. I guess it’s because when he isn’t playing the bodhran he’s on the flute or the guitar that he knows how to get it just right! Oh….and Gino Lupari is pretty amazing too!

I guess it’s like any instrument - there are those who are amazing, there are those who just think they are amazing, and there are those who are pretty awful! (the good, the bad and the ugly!)

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That vid above left me stone cold.

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No, it’s not like any other instrument. Even if you are really really good, all you are doing is repeating what the tune does, but without the notes.

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Thanks to those who replied to the question and for the rest of you , bad fiddle playing,bad banjo playing or anything else played badly can ruin a session.There seems to be alot of musicans who don t like bodhrans full stop. But i have reliased that the good musicans know what a bodhran has to offer.

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Michael, do you mean that literally? That a well-played bodhran just repeats what the tune does w/o notes? I don’t know that I’d agree with that.
Still, I suppose, that’s kinda-sorta what happens, and it explains — at least to me — why the bodhran is so unpopular. I like the effect, which happens in, say, symphonic work, by creating a whole new tone out of each note. But it’s only really pleasing as a special effect, I’d say. A little bit goes a long way, which is probably why bands like the Bothy Band used it so sparingly. But in a session, having that sound occurring tune after tune is tedious, in my opinion.
That’s another reason why multi-instrumentalists who bang the drum can do so well — not only because they likely have greater sensitivity to the tune but because they occasionally don’t play drum.

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Punters love them, to answer the question, which causes much jealousy among "hierarchy" melody players.
Anyone with ears adjusts to the level at which it needs played, because a pitter patter bodhran at a full session is a waste of time.
For example, I was at a session the other week, one flute player and me, so I played by hand rather than stick. That is commonsense.
There are many fine exponents of the bodhran, all capable of enlivening and adding to a session.

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…………Ilig Leahcim, in the green shorts. And in this corner, bodhran bliss, wearing red shorts and waving a matching red rag. Now I want a clean fight with no…….
Actually, all of the above is true at different times. What else is new?
We have a local tuba player who knows how much to play, and when not to play. In anyone else’s hands…….

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It’s just a drum for feck’s sake.

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Just noticed someone says John Joe Whatever plays the mandolin. He will turn up on TV in that "Stars in their Eyes" programme some week as me.

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Mr Bliss’s answer, "the punters love ‘em", should be over on the Bruce’s/Starting Over’s diatribe of a thread.

I think the bodhran can have a very effective place in a performance setting or a recording. Donal Lunny is my favourite. But to say the punter’s love ‘em in a session setting shows up a particularly irritating arrogance. That of wishing to transform a session into a performance. And If you could find a session melody player who would be jealous of then, then that would be one tune player I’d rather not play with also.

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Look in the mirror.

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"What style of bodhran playing do you like and why?

I think Colm Murphy is the king because he adds to the music in a dynamic way,Ringo is solid and keeps it simple and John joe dose his own thing but he still holds a beat"

Saint, I’m with you there.

Been playing the drum for over 20 years and learned in the (I later found out) "Kerry" style. Friends and relatives said I ought to see Flook so I did. Experimented with "Top End" style for a while (see JJK clip above) but Kerry style felt more natural to me and fits into the sessions I play in.

Saw Flook recently and JJK was playing mostly Kerry style apart from the tracks where Top End was part of the arrangement.

I agree with most of the above comments, apart from the silly ones. But they’re to be expected.

\())

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Bliss, just to clear this up, do you consider sessions performances?

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Cieran Boyle plays best Bodhran in my humble opinion…He Plays with Idle Road.

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No, but the punters do.

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that’s interesting then. So do we agree? Do we agree that your statement, "the punters love ‘em", while undoubtedly true, is, to the session playing musician, irrelevant?

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Ahhh… the crux of the infamous "sessions ARE public performances" thread in two posts.

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Sorry, I thought my post would follow Blisster’s.

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MG writes: "Bliss, just to clear this up, do you consider sessions performances?"

Blissters writes: "No, but the punters do."

Two posts = the crux 😉

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Thanks for the JJ clip its a pitty there is not more clips like this around.I just listened to Teada s new cd and the playing is excellent .I think Tristan has got it spot on .

Can bodhran bliss actually answer the question instead of talking sh*t.

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PB, I think "irrelevant" is the operative word here. The point against which you argued at length—"to the session playing musician" any notion of performance is irrelevant.

And in my neck of the woods, some of the punters (i.e., non-playing participants) get it, too.

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Will, some of the punters in our local get it too, but I’m not as quick to write off everyone in the room who doesn’t "get it" as "irrelevant." It’s my opinion that we live in a world of people, and when we go out in public we are among them – but not above them.

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As quick as whom? I don’t write them off as irrelevant either, Mr. Twister. But I don’t care a whit about whether they think I’m performing or not.

Besides, way I hear it, you *do* in fact tower above most people. 😏

Me, I’m talling sitting down than when I stand up (short legs, long waist).

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Er, "taller."

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Yes they are a dose

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No one has mentioned Jim Higgins or Siobhan O’Donnell. Both understated players who use tone and no pyrotechnics although they are capable of it. I still go back to Ringo who I had lessons with this year on Inis Oirr.

Jeremy.

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Saint, you tried to ask "does anyone like bodhrans?". I answered "punters do".

What part of that can you not understand?

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And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it.

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And BT are still messing around with broadband, affecting my computer. It is a pity I do not need to practice, because I have nothing to do.

And who is Colm Murphy? Just proves there are lots of good players, I haven’t heard of many on this thread, and I suppose some of them do not know me.

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So, to re-cap:

1. You do not consider sessions performances.
2. Punters do consider sessions performances.
3. Punters like the bodhran.
4. You play the bodran.

There are only two ways you can reconcile this apparent contradiction. Either:
a. no matter how hard you try, you just can’t stop yourself from performing.
b. No matter how many times a musician might say to you that they are not performing, you don’t believe them.

Is this accurate?

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Yep, this persistence in logging onto a site about sessions and telling us we’re public performers reminds me of the habits of a certain Canadian keyboardist who was roundly berated (by some of the same people) for being undable to tell the difference between a session and a performance. Weird, really.

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Just like a drum can be beaten to death, so can a discussion like "are sessions a performance?".
😉

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Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

Or how much they try to deny it.

I think they should hand out flyers at their sessions explaining to the public that there’s no performance of anything going on like that and people should just pretend there are no musicians in the room and ignore any music they might happen to hear.

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Ahhh, there’s the old Jack. Beginning to think someone had hijacked your nomde guerre….

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Correct Michael. But then,why should I deny the world…………

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And I commend your stance Jack. Visions of "what are you clapping for you ######ers, we are not here" spring readily to mind.

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The funny thing to me, Will, is that you and I agree completely on the perspective of the session musician. Our only stumbling block is the difference regarding the punters perspective. I will never be comfortable going into an environment that includes non musicians and pretend that they aren’t there, or to ignore them if they try to express appreciation for what we’re doing. I don’t want to grill them and find out if they understand the session from my perspective before I thank them, and I don’t want to ignore them, but to them it’s a performance. So what’s the big deal? So what!

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You assume too much, Jack. I don’t ignore them, but we do gradually help most of the regulars understand the differences between a session and a performance. It’s called communication, craic even. I’m not sure why you keep jumping to the conclusion that I ignore people or treat them with hostility. Imagining that you know how I behave or think in a session stikes me as strange, eh?

Some of the best craic we’ve had is joking with newcomers about how an Irish session works. Laura and Gail come to mind. Neither plays the music, but they come almost every week, sit close, and visit with us between sets, very much part of the circle. They’ve learned to "show appreciation" (if that’s what it is) by buying a round instead of clapping.

One way to understand the differences might be to compare thesession.org with this site: http://www.performances.org/. Right in your neighborhood, too, PB.

Really, to me, insisting on this separation of musicians and "audience" misses a huge part of the magic of a good session. And misses the point and spirit of this site as well.

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So how long does it take before the punters understand that you’re not giving a "performance"? As for clapping; I clap too if I think someone played a tune particularly well. (I do this on tunes I’m not playing) Am I not getting it? There are also a few folks (non musicians) who regularly show up to enjoy the music, buy us rounds, etc., but they’ll clap now and then for the same reason. I’m curious now… do you instruct people not to clap? Did you tell Laura and Gail not to clap? How did they come to avoiding it?

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Clapping in and of itself isn’t much of a bother. But it can get in the way. Sometimes a punter will start clapping, thinking the set has ended, but just because all of the louder instruments stopped doesn’t mean that our lone mandolinist or a more tentative player isn’t taking the opportunity to continue on a tune s/he wants to play and keep the set going. I’ve also noticed that clapping encourages the musicians to start pandering to the "audience," or hike up their anxiety levels because they’re suddenly aware that they’re "performing." Both indicate a shift in attention and attitude that can kill the intimacy of a cozy session.

We consciously do a few things to encourage participation in ways other than clapping. If a particularly rousing set gets them clapping, I’ve been known to tell the punters (with a big smile on my face), "No need for applause—it only encourages us!" Also, clappers quickly suss things out if they start clapping, thinking the set has ended, but we launch right into another tune. If one of the musicians later says, with a chuckle, "Help! Stop me before I diddle again!" or "Ha! We fooled ‘em that time!" it takes the possible embarrassment away, but they still get the idea. In other words, we find little openings to draw people into our circle with humor and direct communication.

I’ve lost count of how many times someone new to the session experience has come up to me afterwards and commented on how refreshing it is to enjoy music played for its own sake.

Laura and Gail introduced themselves early on and started asking questions about how our session works. We lied to them mercilessly, but they figured it out anyway. 🙂

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Oh, and for some reason everybody always claps after a song, and we don’t discourage that at all.

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Point being that we don’t have a rule against it, but we prefer to create an environment where people can engage without assuming that we’re playing music for their attention or even benefit. They’re free to sit and listen, join in, whatever. But they’re also free to sit nearby, eat a meal, and have a conversation about the latest episode of Survivor.

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whoosis, Since singers tend to be more prone to vanity than instrumentalists, it is good that you folks clap for them to prevent hurt feelings!
😉

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Heh, you said it, Al, not me.

Actually, I think what happens is that the lyrics beg people’s attention. Songs tell stories, and we all instinctively respond to that, like sunflowers turning to the light. Instrumentals don’t "mean" anything, don’t require a casual listener to decode any message.

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Um, so there’s less need for a social way to mark the end of a string of diddly than for a song.

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Your conduct doesn’t sound any different than what happens here, but there are always people in the pub who want to show their appreciation regardless. To them we can only assume that they believe we are in the act of performing our skills on our chosen instruments for everyone’s appreciation (including ourselves) and they just want to acknowledge it.

After they thought we were done only to find out we were still going a few times, they lose interest and settle into their conversation or whatever. Others who are more interested will eventually learn that it doesn’t necessarily mean the "set" has ended and they’ll wait to make certain if they intend to clap. Others still might have gotten the idea (as Laura and Gail did) that clapping isn’t necessary even though they might be enjoying and appreciating the result of how we perform our musical skills.

And as you said: the singers get applause from everyone. But does that mean that part of the session is a performance and the rest isn’t? Why even try to make a distinction? Why does the word "performance" cause so much controversy? Why can’t we acknowledge that we’re performing our skills in public but it’s not a formal performance? I think even the punters understand that much. It just seems like we’re demonizing the word "performance" when there’s no need to.

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No one is demonizing anything Jack. There you go again, ascribing attitudes to people whose heads you’re not inside.

This conversation is similar in substance to the one with poor Bruce, for whom playing music means performing. I think the barrage from the peanut gallery here made it quite clear that many session musicians and session.org members don’t see it that way. And "performance" is a term they’d rather not dwell on. It’s a "session." We don’t need another word for it.

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Does anyone like bodhrans at these sessions/performances?

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Will writes: "There you go again, ascribing attitudes to people whose heads you’re not inside."

Not exactly — I said, "we’re demonizing the word" not "you’re demonizing the word." To exclude the word all together and make it forbidden reminds me a little to much of when people become too PC about certain things… that’s my point. I don’t think it moves the discussion forward regarding what a session is or isn’t. Instead, I think it’s useful to acknowledge the word for what it is, what it means to the punter, and then move on.

The difference between the conversation we had with Bruce and this one is that Bruce was unable to separate the word "performance" from "session" the way you and I can. I do think you and I agree on what a session is essentially, where we differ is about the meaning of the word "performance." You seem to want it to be excluded all together even though the meaning of the word describes the act of playing music in public — like we do at sessions in pubs. Whereas I recognize the perspective and experience from the punter’s point of view to be just as legitimate as our own. We’re all in the pub together.

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Lol, then demonize away, Jack, but leave me out of it. Maybe you should’ve written "I’m demonizing…."

Heh, I don’t care what word you want to use instead of "session." You can call it an enterprise, function, engagement, production, exhibition, affair, execution, etc. All of them perfectly good synonyms for "performance" (as in "we are now going to execute some tunes on our instruments"). And you can deal with the unfortunate or inappropriate connotations each of those might bring to your session. If you want to talk about sessions like a linguistic semantacist or ESL student, that’s your perogative.

But given your stated understanding of how a session differs significantly from a formal performance, I don’t see why you’d want to. You can "perform" your tunes to your heart’s content…I prefer to play mine, and lower the risk of misleading people into thinking a session is a formal performance (which we both agree it isn’t).

Why didn’t Jeremy call this site www.theperformance.org?

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Sorry, that should be splattered with smilies like paint on a Pollock canvas. This is hilarious. 😀

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I’d like to think I’m not demonizing the word performance, though I can understand people getting that impression. For that I’m sorry.

I like performances, I love a good performer, in the propper setting. I even liked performing myself, though long ago now.

And I agree that the topic seems a bit done to death of late. However, The interesting point about it, for me anyway, is that I think it very neatly defines what a session is (and given the name of this forum, we can’t complain about that). Namely, live music without performance. And as soon as a performance element comes into it, it, by definition, is no longer a session.

Of course there are grey areas, like everything. And I’ve often participated in sessions that for one reason or an other turned into performances. Two grey areas that irritate me though, are 1. when the punters in the pub, usually through simply not knowing what’s going on, demand a performance. And 2. when one of the musicians (or drummers) in the company start to play to the crowd.

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A secular amen, to that, Michael.

And I hope Jack can see that I’ve gone out of my way to describe how I relate positively to the punters and anyone else in the pub (despite his insinuations to the contrary).

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Play = perform

play v

8. to use a musical instrument to produce music

per·form v

3. to present or enact an artistic work such as a piece of music or a play to an audience

~~~

When you’re in public you have an "audience" whether you like it or not. Granted, we aren’t playing to them — but they’re still there and think of themselves as an audience.

So I guess the bottom line is, as MG puts it, when the word "perfomance" comes into it he feels he is no longer participating in a session. This gives the word "performance" too much power in my opinion. If someone in the bar thinks the session is a performance it has absolutely no effect on me. I couldn’t care less — I still enjoy myself regardless, and it has no effect on the session whatsoever.

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Jack, can you see the difference in the two definitions you provided. One says nothing about an audience. The other does.

And Michael and I have just given two instances where the "performance" aspect *does* in fact interfere with a good session—(1) when punters demand a performance (insisting that you cater to them, and (2) when musicians start to play to the crowd for their own ego’s sake. Both of these can ruin the intimacy of a good session, and they are examples of why your notion of audience is at odds with session craic.

It’s not about the word. It’s about the concept of dividing the pub crowd into players and audience, and all the attendant pitfalls that can follow. I don’t mind an audience at my gigs. But I prefer my sessions with a roomful of participants.

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Jack, I concur. If someone in the bar thinks the session is a performance it has absolutely no effect on me either. I still enjoy myself regardless, and it has no effect on the session … (except, however, when that person claps loudly between tunes and complains when you sit with your back to them, etc).

But the being in public and having an audience thing is not as cut and dried as you state. An example someone came up with earlier was having a conversation in a bar. You are in a public place, so does that give the guy stood next to you the "right" to listen to your conversation? You are in public, and the conversation you are having is tailored accordingly, and if the guy next to you can hear it, so be it. Even if he wants to listen, to eavesdrop, that’s OK. But is he "allowed" to laugh outloud at one of your jokes?

I’m not saying people should pretend not to be listening to your music, or that they should refrain from showing appreciation in some subtle manner, just that the polite thing to do is to realise that it’s not their conversation. I disagree with Will here, I think there is a divide

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To me, a session is like a potluck. I don’t discriminate against people who didn’t bring food or choose not to eat, even if I’m stuffing my pie hole. But it would be a bit odd for me to go to a potluck with the idea that I’m going to eat in front of other people for their entertainment….

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Michael, the rewards of bridging the divide are wonderful. Sessions can be community events—neighbors, craic, and pints.

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Ah-ha

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Ah-ha again. Michael has introduced a third concept, namely playing to the crowd. That is a whole new topic.

Liam Og O’Flynn could perform at the Royal Albert Hall, but he would not "play to the crowd".

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Yes, sessions can be community events and they are great. But it’s not easy in a town of busy itenerant tourists and rowdy students. I don’t mind that I’m going to play music in the same room as them, but would mind if it was for their entertainment.

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And yes, ther is a world of difference between performing before admirers and playing to the crowd. But I wonder where banging the bodhran within an intimate group of non-performers because the punters love it fits?

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Will writes: "Jack, can you see the difference in the two definitions you provided. One says nothing about an audience. The other does."

Yes, Will, I see the differences, but I also see the similarities. I did address that in that same post. When you "play" an instrument you "use a musical instrument to produce music," but when you play tunes in public you "present or enact an artistic work such as a piece of music (tune) or a play to an audience." The audience doesn’t think they’re "eavesdropping" or at a "potluck" (unless your session is happening at a potluck.) They’re enjoying your performance whether or not you think you’re giving one. Big deal.

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"Big deal."

Hint of sarcasm noted. So if it’s not a big deal, why do you keep bringing it up at every chance, on a site about Irish sessions?

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By "big deal" I meant we needn’t be wasting our time on it. 😉

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Oh, and quite often the people in the pub at our session don’t think they’r at a potluck or a performance. They think they’re at this peculiar thing called a "session." And so do we. So that’s what we call it.

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Ours is advertised as such too, but it doesn’t change anything for punters that haven’t edified themselves about the ethics.

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"By "big deal" I meant we needn’t be wasting our time on it. "

Yep, but it beats talking about bodhrans…. 😉

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"Advertised"
Ouch.
LOL, sorry, couldn’t resist.

Jack, is your Grinter keyed? If so, which keys?

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To tell the truth I play mostly mandolin on our Sunday session, because this is indeed a paid performance, and not a real session. We play a number of tunes, but we are required to "entertain", and would play to/for the crowd to an extent.

At a real session I would play the bodhran. Where that fits in with
"But I wonder where banging the bodhran within an intimate group of non-performers because the punters love it fits" I have no idea as it is a concept that is foreign to me.
Problem is Michael, you always jump to extremes, certainly where bodhrans are concerned.

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If anybody ever even so much as indicates they’re listening to the music at our session, we club them to death with a tenor banjo. It’s just plain sensible.

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Seems a shame to put something so soft and padded between a swung banjo and a hard place….

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Between a banjo and a hard place…heh, I like that.

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By "advertised" I mean it’s listed as such in various calendars around the area.

The Grinter is fully keyed… and so is my bodhran. 😀

I play the bodhran at our session because we seem to have frightened all the other playersl away. (joking) Because I also play flute and concertina it’s impossible to play the bodhran too much — often only once or twice a night at best. But I love to play it, and I love the sound. If another player comes in I usually just leave it in the case. If another concertina or flute player comes I’ll play it more often to give them a chance to be the only flute or concertina on a few tunes. If another flute or concertina player is there… and another bodhran player as well… I uh… flirt with the ladies more. If the other flute, concertina, or bodhran player is a ladie I would like to flirt with… I just sit there and listen politely…

… or go for pints. 😉

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Perhaps I should have said it brings out the worst in you, Michael, the mere mention of the B word. Your usual humour, and reasoned argument, seems to desert you.

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Blissters writes: "To tell the truth…"

Don’t change your habits on our account. 😀

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Got me.

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The mandolin bit was true, cut down on whistle and blues harp, but find myself increasingly given to playing the guitar and singing.

To put it bluntly, performing, at a session.

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bliss the heading is "dose anyone like bodhrans" look at the ? i think your knowlage of bodhrans is limited and sully is embaressed

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it all about quailty

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Two thoughts: (about sessions/performances)

If a group of individuals sets up in a public place like a restaurant or a bar and has a private conversation at a volume that might intrude on everyone else’s enjoyment of that public place, they have a responsibility to be sensitive to those other people’s needs. (I’m acutely aware of this, having recently been seated with a group of very loud and obnoxious clients in a beautiful but very reserved and quiet Paris restaurant.) Obviously the punters can’t impose topics of conversation on the group, but they can expect them not to use foul language, break out in fistfights, etc. In the same way, the output from a session needs to be "pleasant" in fairness to the other people who share that public space. So it’s not a public performance in the audience-versus-stage mold, but it is to the extent that punters have a right to expect quality music.

Why clap for singers and not for tunes? For some reason, our culture sees singers as going out on a limb much more than players of musical instruments. The clapping is usually more to encourage the individual and congratulate them for taking a risk, rather than to compliment them on the song or its performance.

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What does the publican expect when s/he invites a session? It would seem to me that it is expected that punters will enjoy it and hence stick around and spend money. At one of the pubs we play at it is required that we will be playing among the punters (paying customers) and not in the more comodious and quiet back room.

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Yes, I appologise. My usual humour does escape me when I talk about bodhrans, though not, I hope, my reasoning. But it’s hard to reason with someone who glories in "performing, at a session".

Mr Bliss classes himself as a multi insrtumentalist, but the one the thing he does not do is play the tunes that are the backbone of what everyone else here accepts is a session. By his own admission, they bore him. And I don’t blame him, it would be boring to simply bang a drum along with them all evening, in the same way that it would be boring to sit at the bar and just listen to them all evening. At the very least, he seems intelligent enough to realise this. Instead, he’d rather perform.

Grego’s take on why people clap for songs - to congratulate the risk of it, - is interesting, but i’m not sure it’s the whole story. For starters, there tends to be silence from the punters for a song and this is for two reasons which are interdependent. The first - and it was mentioned earlier - is that the narrative that is the words asks, especially to non musicians, for a more structured approach to listening than do instrumentals. The second it that performers are attracted to singing for this reason. Bliss’s attitude is a classic description of this.

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I’m really beginning to despise these bodhran threads.

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Michael, have you met me? Who said I do not play tunes, who said I glory in performing at a session, who said I do not like tunes?

I perform, musically, for pay. At a session I join in,in a quiet unassuming manner as befits the world’s supreme bodhran player. You may find someone as good, or you may prefer someone else, but they will not be better. All a matter of taste.

And my dear Saint, you mention beginners like John Joe Kelly at the start of this thread, and then suggest I know little about bodhrans. Surely a contradiction there somewhere.

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I think the singers get the unanimous applause because the cues are so clear. The room gets shushed, everyone’s paying attention, the song has a clear beginning and end, etc. And about the applause: depending on how well the singer does the applause are either for the performance or just the relief that it’s over.

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Mr Bliss, it’s difficult sometimes to clock the difference between bravado and serious comment, which is as it should be of course. I can’t be arsed to search the back catalogue for your postings, but, correct me if I’m wrong: I seem to remember you talking about playing O’Carolan tunes on the mandolin, and the lownesome boatman on the whistle, and the blues moothee. And I think I remember you talking about the value of the inclusion variety of stuff because of the tedium of jigs and reels. And I seem to remember you talking about not having the dexterity to play jigs and reels fast enough. Again, correct me if I’m wrong.

Yeah, I don’t know you, (though I suspect we would have a bit of a craic if we met). Though you must admit, the statement, "at a session I join in, in a quiet unassuming manner," is a little at odds with you cyberspace persona here.

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Yes Button, but why does the room get shushed?

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Because… unless the room is shushed you can’t hear the singer at all. Also, it’s impossible to sing if there’s noise in a room like that. You can still hear the tunes provided punters aren’t screaming at each other or laughing like rabid hyenas. Also, the tunes are continuous throughout the night and the punters don’t feel they have to give them undivided attention as they would during a formal concert. Why do you think the room gets shushed?

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That’s a brilliant answer mate. Absolutely no sarcasm, I love it.

"The tunes are continuous throughout the night and the punters don’t feel they have to give them undivided attention as they would during a formal concert." Perfect.

Why do I think the room gets shushed for a song? The two reasons I mentioned above, inherant narative of words and projected ego of the singer.

This gets to the rub of it and I’m pleased. The whole concept of punters NOT feeling like they owe the tunes undevided attention is the whole basis of the non-performance ethos. It’s music that neither asks nor deserves attention from those not participating in its creation.

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I agree with you on that llig - I’ve never once felt that a session was a performance - in any sense of the word - I play in a pub in public because there arent many house sessions going on. And if I want to play with others thats where I have to go.

And for any of you who are interested - ‘Tommy Tiernan - sums it up on his live DVD - all about how your almost at that perfect state in a session where the tunes are flying - and someone always comes with a song ‘annnndddd eeeeyyye dunnnoooo’ - Highly recommended for anyway who just loves and old tune session without songs every second set.

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PS - not saying I dont like songs or singers - I just think there really is a time and a place. And good on the sessions that have an equal number of both tunes and songs - thats great - it just wouldnt be my ideal session.

Okay - I’m bracing myself to get shot down now for expressing an opinion - just like MG did on the ‘Our Band’ thread. Ducks for cover…..

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thanks beeb

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But Michael… if you asked those punters how they thought the musicians performed at the pub that night, they might say, "Excellently!" or, "It was pure sh*te!" but I guarantee you they would be very unlikely to say anything like, "Well… it wasn’t actually a performance, you see… it was a ‘session’ — and sessions aren’t ‘performances’."

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bb writes, "I’ve never once felt that a session was a performance - in any sense of the word - I play in a pub in public because there arent many house sessions going on. And if I want to play with others thats where I have to go."

Of course, bb, but what do the punters there think you’re doing? I’m sure they enjoy listening and watching you perfoming your skills on the fiddle. I can see it now…

1st person to 2nd: Gosh… she performed that tune beautifully! Don’t you think?

2nd person: No… she wasn’t performing you eejit… it’s a session, and people aren’t performing — they’re just wiggling their fingers around on instruments. Geesh… goes to show what you know.

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a lot of folk have mentioned great bodhran players on record or on stage, but how many can say with their hand on their heart that they’d like one sitting next to them in a session, unless they could be sure it was a sensitive genius like bbliss ?

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Thank you Bren.

And Michael, fair enough I am crap on the mandolin, but is a Carolan tune a tune?

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.. if a mandolin plays in a forest of bodhrans, does it make a sound …?

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Yep mr button, good posting, to the crux again, quite right.

But the question is a misnomer.
It would be like asking a horticulturist how beautiful a flower was. they’d say "lovely", of course. But I guarantee you they would be very unlikely to say anything like, "Well actually, the flower is just an abstract shape to attract insects to aid pollination."

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And Michael, I just know we would get on. As long as you can play.

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play what? music?

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Now I understand that ITM sessioners have they’re own language and words that mean one thing to the rest of the world have a different meaning among sessioners, but punters aren’t necessarily privy to the code. Let’s look again at the meaning as it appears in the dictionary.

per·form v

3. to present or enact an artistic work such as a piece of music (tune) or a play to an audience (punters)

Now I realize we aren’t playing to the audience, but they’re there, and some of them are listening, and that makes an audience.

audience

1. a group of people who are watching and listening to a show, concert, or other live performance (other meaning session)

Since the dictionary has already defined that to perform is the playing of tunes on an instrument, then the punters in the pub who are listening become the audience that makes the event a "performance.” These are just the facts according to anyone who doesn’t know or understand the ITM sessioner’s secret code. Sessioners avoid the term "performance" because they don’t like the connotation, and I understand that, but the rest of the world still goes by the English language according to the dictionary when they try to perceive what’s happening at the pub during a session.

Informal performance

I really don’t know how to make it any more clear than my prior post. I think the best way to describe what a session might seem like to punters, or what punters believe they are witnessing, is more or less an "informal performance." If punters are interested enough to want to get inside our heads they might realize the shortcomings of that definition, but few will bother. A vast majority will go away thinking that’s what they saw — an "informal performance" of Irish music.

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Yep, the phenomena of having to use language that exists in a more subtle way than is described in a dictionary.

How else do you think dictionaries evolve?

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"bbliss" is perhaps getting too close to "bb". For the sake of clarity, and to confer suitable respect, I propose that the name Bodhran Bliss be used, which could be shortened to BB.
Clapping at the end of a song. Heeuuuch! or Yeeeeehaaaa! at the end of a tune. No admiration implied. OK?

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Yes, good again, "few will bother". And the vast majority will consider it an "informal performance".

But the onus is on the musiician not to bother

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And musicians don’t need to bother. But that doesn’t change the facts.

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I was warned about on-line flirting Michael.

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Well, real-world use of words doesn’t come from the dictionary. It’s the other way ‘round—dictionary definitions are taken from real-world usage. Unfortunately, they too often come from formal written sources, rather than straight forward street vernacular. So most native speakers of a language don’t go around citing dictionary definitions and taking them so literally. Thank heavens we don’t all go around talking like dictionary definitions….

Words take most of their meaning from context. Take them out of context—or USE THEM IN THE WRONG CONTEXT—and you create confusion and misunderstandings.

Our sessions are so unlike performances that it would strike me as odd if anyone described one as any kind of performance, informal or otherwise. If the punter’s in Jack’s scenario were commenting on our session, the conversation would much more likely go as follies:

Punter Bob: "Not bad for a bunch of drunks. That one in the corner can really play."
Punter Joe: "Yeah, every now and then they’d all get in the same groove—imagine if they actually practiced!"
Punter Bob: "Well, I suppose that’s the difference between a band gig and whatever this is. What’d the bartender call it—a session?"
Punter Joe: "Yep, just like the one’s I saw on vacation over in Galway. ‘Cept the Guinness is better over there."

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Come to think of it, it would also be really strange if the people in the pub thought of themselves as an audience. Most of them aren’t really listening—they’re eating, drinking, talking, reading, watching telly in the back, or throwing darts. Not at all typical of audience behavior I’ve seen at "performances."

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Ask Joe or Bob what they thought of the performance and they’ll answer that in a similar way as well. And I bet they won’t correct you on the use of the word either. You’d have to explain it to them first before they’d even notice.

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I disagree. No doubt San Francisco has some "performance artists" who abuse their audiences by ignoring them while they juggle cabbages or pose mannequins on stage and it’s considered not just a performance but high art.

Here in Montana, it’d be a huge stretch to call what we do a performance. Five or six people sitting around a small table off in the corner, drinking and telling stories, noodling misremembered tunes halfway through. Occasionally launching a set. Last night we ate homeade chocolate chip cookies one of the punters brought. At any given time, one or two of us is off chatting with friends. If people think that’s a performance, I feel sorry for them.

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First thing you insist on when you go into a pub to play, is to turn the TV off. If you want to watch TV, stay at home.

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I’ve tried to get people to refer to BBliss as BB and not ‘bb’ - it doesnt work - and now people tend to call me beebs🙂 BB = Bodhran Bliss the talented and if I say extremely modest Bodhran player. bb = Beebs - the one who has taste in tunes🙂

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Seriously. If you asked Joe or Bob what they thought of the "performance," I think they’d laugh and tell us to keep our day jobs.

The regular punters get it, of course. And many of the irregulars get it, too, because they’ve come to an Irish pub, so the whole concept of a session—as we understand it in all of its differences from a formal performance—fits their expectations.

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Sure, Will, but your session isn’t always like that… maybe only when you want to make a point.

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Bliss, here they just turn the sound off so those who want to can watch the game. We did play in a pub where the manager kept turning the sound back on (and up)—didn’t take long for us to find friendlier quarters.

Geez, I have no trouble keeping beebs and bliss apart—haven’t you seen a pic of beebs?! No mistaking her for a hirsute goat thumper. 🙂

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Ok, Will, in that pub at your session EVERYONE GETS IT. Happy?

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Actually, it’s almost always like that.

Funny, so are most of the sessions I’ve been to elsewhere. Seems like most sessions go out of their way to find a pub with a side room or snug big enough for the players, off a bit from the usual bar crowd. And I’ve played in brilliant sessions with big names where between every set some lout of a punter was yelling at us to stop or leave. I’ve overheard punters call a session a "private party."

Jack, I’m starting to worry that you might not really understand just how casual and nearly invisible a session can be. They are so unlike any kind of performance, in intent, appearance, vibe, etc.

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Happy? Yes, thank you. Sitting here cheerfully thinking about the fun I have at sessions. I thought we were just chatting about this again, since you and Michael and Bliss rekindled the topic.

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Gotta run—dinner calls.

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Well, I happy for you too, but unless a news bulletin goes out to the general public and English professors around the world are updated concerning this new exclusion for the meaning, most punters are still going to be going by the dictionary definition for what it means if people are playing music in a public place. I’ve been to a fair amount of pubs where sessions are in progress and the punters give every indication that they believe what’s going on is an informal performance of some sort regardless of what the musicians think of what they’re doing. I have yet to visit the pub where you hold yours; it would be interesting to see these edified punters of yours.

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Aiiieee - cant you guys argue about something worthwhile - like
* Is BBliss the Best Bodhran player ever in the world - or is he the Best Bodhran player ever in eternity🙂

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My nickname is "Carlsberg".

And I agree with Jack.

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Okay -but dont you agree that it is neither here nor there if the punters think themselves as an ‘audience’ and think that we are ‘performing’? I mean really - who cares what they think? unless you are getting paid to do it and even when I get paid to do it I could care less if there are people there listening or not.

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Wow, these dictionaries are powerful books, I guess. Let’s see, what does Merriam-Webster have to say about Jack?

n: 1: a man, laborer (e.g., lumberjack), or sailor
2: any of various usually mechanical devices: as a : a device for turning a spit b : a usually portable mechanism or device for exerting pressure or lifting a heavy body a short distance
3 : something that supports or holds in position: as a : an iron bar at a topgallant masthead to support a royal mast and spread the royal shrouds b : a wooden brace fastened behind a scenic unit in a stage set to prop it up
4 a : any of several fishes; especially : any of various carangids b : a male donkey c : JACKRABBIT d : any of several birds (as a jackdaw)
5 a : a small white target ball in lawn bowling b : a small national flag flown by a ship c (1) plural but singular in construction : a game played with a set of small objects that are tossed, caught, and moved in various figures (2) : a small 6-pointed metal object used in the game of jacks
6 a : a playing card carrying the figure of a soldier or servant and ranking usually below the queen b : JACKPOT 1a(2)
7 slang : MONEY
8 : a female fitting in an electric circuit used with a plug to make a connection with another circuit

Yer right, Jack, the dictionary has certainly clarified things for me. I now have a much more complete picture of who you must be. 🙂

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Beebs, that’s too easy. We have it on Bliss’s own word that he is the best bodhran player the universe has or will ever know. Others may be as good, but none better.

Which, come to think of it, also applies well to, say, a stone dug out of a field. Others may be as good a stone, but none better.

Remember: we are each of us unique…just like everyone else.

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I love it — Will’s refuting the dictionary to support his argument. Brilliant!

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bb writes: "Okay -but dont you agree that it is neither here nor there if the punters think themselves as an ‘audience’ and think that we are ‘performing’? I mean really - who cares what they think?"

I don’t care what they think we’re doing either, bb. But I don’t think we’re above them; their experience is just as valid as ours. To us it’s a session… to them it’s an informal performance. Who’s right and who’s wrong is irrelevant, but for all intents and purposes — both are right. You can educate the punters about what you’re doing the way Will has in his pub, but that won’t change the facts. The only difference will be in the definition.

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I dont think we are above them at all. I just dont care if they are there or not, it doesnt bother me, unless they are noisy, and annoying and start singing the ‘fields of Athenry’ - then I have to tell them to feck off.

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Sigh. Jack, there you go reading what you want into my posts instead of what they really say, and getting all condescending and sarcastic. Instead of having a reasonable discussion, you take it down to the level of a junior high playgorund argument. Not a flattering position to take.

We’ve been through this before. For the sake of anyone else reading this (since you apparently refuse to comprehend it): words derive meaning from the context in which they’re used, not from a dictionary. Dictionaries merely document commonly assigned meanings. Lots of words have more than one meaning, sometimes even meaning the opposite of one another. (E.g., depending on who’s saying it and under what circumstances, f**k can mean either "let’s make love" or "I’m gonna kill you.") So the fact that "performance" can mean "to execute a skill" or "musical or theatrical entertainment for an audience" doesn’t mean both of those definitions necessarily apply to the same real-world phenomenon. Love making would become prohibitively risky if we typically misunderstood each other so drastically….

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And I’m tired of looking like a fool for debating with someone so intent on the "correctness" of their position that they no longer make sense. Ciao.

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I agree with Whoosis.

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Will, it’s disappointing that you feel it necessary resort to ad hominem. I have not described you with words like "condescending" and "sarcastic" nor have I compared your discussion abilities to a "junior high playground argument." I refuse to engage any further if you insist on insulting me in this manner. Thanks for the discussion thus far, but I won’t respond to your future posts unless your attitude and language improve.

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bb writes: "I dont think we are above them at all. I just dont care if they are there or not, it doesnt bother me, unless they are noisy, and annoying and start singing the ‘fields of Athenry’ - then I have to tell them to feck off."

Yea… hahaha… that’s when I start caring too.

But it would be like me seeing punters chatting and drinking in a pub only to find out they didn’t see it that way themselves. To them they might see it as something else and could even argue the point, but for me it wouldn’t matter — they’re chatting and drinking in a pub as far as I can tell. Which one of us is wrong?

Maybe this is too much of a philosophical discussion that none of us here are qualified for… I know I’m not. But I just can’t see that a tree doesn’t fall in a forest if the loggers didn’t think they cut it down.

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Used in moderation and in appropriate tunes, I find the sound of the bodhran anywhere from entrancing to hair-raising, and I like it a lot. To judge from most posts here, the instrument is being abused a lot! It’s like a heavy spice, you don’t want too much, and you certainly don’t want it in every dish you cook.

I have a tar, which could be a tame version of the bodhran, and I love playing it though even with its relatively mild voice I suspect my neighbors might not, so I rarely use it anymore. I believe I’ll take it out into one of our pretty parks some fine day and play away as much as I want. It’s truly meditative….

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Jack, I’m tempted to let you off the hook, but I can’t. Your reasoning is flawed, and whenever someone reveals that flawed reasoning, instead of re-examining your position or posting a reasoned explanation of it to move the conversation forward, you resort to cheap sarcasm, ridicule, and patronizing language. I’m calling it as I see it.

It’s impossible to have a civil discussion with you—and then you accuse me of being insulting because I’ve pointed out your unreasonable and condescending rhetoric. You attack, and then cry "I’m the victim!"

Enough goes on here at the yella board—like the gang-up on Bruce—that would cross my threshold for basic civility, and yet I can abide Jeremy’s decision to let much of it stand. But your relentless incivility when someone disagrees with you or challenges your idiosyncratic notions of what sessions are about crosses the line. I hope you come to your senses before Jeremy does.

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Apologies to the innocent bystanders who stumble on this sordid scene. I’m sincerely disappointed that it’s come to this again, but I’m tired of ugly rhetoric trumping reason. I’m tired of listening to people who think that if they say something is true often enough, it must be true, even when it flies in the face of other people’s reality. That’s what’s wrong with public discourse in America these days, and I’m sad to see it infect a community I’ve enjoyed for many years.

So…any fresh news on the cow tipping scene?

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I think the answer’s staring you both (Whoosis + PB) in the face. Will, it’s simply that your session is different to Jack’s. We all have different tastes in sessions and the way they are run, adn this leads us to hold different ideals and definitions of what a session should be. I imagine Jack’s session to be much more like a performance than yours, Will. I get the impression that his would be a lot more serious - less getting up and walking around and chatting, little or no noodling of half-remembered tunes, just set after set of well-rehearsed tunes played by people who play together on a regular basis as a band. That’s fine if that’s what you’re into. I think unless you’ve been to each other’s sessions there’s little point in discussing it further because it’s all speculation.

I don’t think you can really judge how the sessions compare in Ireland either. I doubt either of you have spent long enough as a regular in one particular session over there to get into the musicians heads enough to judge their ideals and definitions of how a session should be. I would think you’d have to be going every week for a few months or years to get a feel for that.

I can only make a point from my own experience of sessions I’ve been a regular at in my local area, and people in my area who I’ve played with. Someone like bb for example, I play with her quite a lot, and we’re good friends, so I know what tunes she plays and her likes and dislikes, and how she views sessions and what her ideals are. They’re a bit different from my own, but I nevertheless have a broad understanding of how she works. Now, Jack, you’ve seen her YouTube posting right? I can tell you right now that if you take those 3 musicians out of Bridie’s kitchen and plonk them in a pub in Sydney or Melbourne, if the 3 of them were playing the same set together, they would *not* play *any* differently if there were other people in the pub. The only issue might be if there were distractions of some sort to take their minds off what they’re doing. To them, it doesn’t matter who’s there listening or not listening, or taking pictures of them with a camera, or making a video of them.

But you take Ado out of Bridie’s kitchen and put him on stage with Katiebee and the other people from his band, now *that’s* a performance.

A performance has to come from a performer, not from any perceived audience. If the person playing tunes doesn’t feel some sort of responsibility to an audience, then it’s not a performance.

Here’s another example. There’s a YouTube posting of Simon Thoumire playing some tunes for the camera. This is a performance. There’s nobody in the room where he’s playing, at least nobody that you can see, but he is aware that he is playing for a potential audience who download his posting. That’s why he makes an announcement before he plays. Now, if you secretly filmed him through a hole in the wall of his house playing concertina alone, that’s not a performance right? This 2nd scenario is how Will et al view sessions.

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Will, my point is that if Jack views *himself* as giving a performance at his session, then *he* probably is. It’s as simple as that!

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Mark, I’ve been to a lot of sessions and ours is really no different. But that’s not even my point. It’s quite simple actually; what the session is to the musicians isn’t necessarily the same as it is to the in the pub. We see it as you describe — they see it as a performance. According to the definition of what a performance is they’re correct. According to our definition of what a session is — we’re correct. Who’s wrong? Neither. Who’s correct? Both.

I think I summed it up best in my response to bb: If a tree falls in the forest, but the loggers don’t think they cut it down — does that mean it didn’t fall?

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bb, I am concerned that you may be at risk of being mistaken for such a controversial figure as bodhran bliss.
I urge you to immediately change your name for your own safety. You could be called…….you could use the name "starting over"!

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I’m sorry the people in your pub think it is a performance, but that doesn’t make it one. That’s just their misunderstanding of the situation due to their inexperience with sessions. Do you find you get a lot of requests for songs and stuff? This tends to happen when punters have misread the situation and think that the music is there for their benefit.

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I’ve never contested that, Mark. I have no idea what Jack’s session is like, and he can make it as much of a performance or not as he likes. But I’m not the one characterizing Jack’s session. He’s said plenty about mine, however, as though he’s been there.

It’s not what Jack wants a session to be that I’ve argued against here, but his insistence that my session and others can’t be anything but a performance. In my understanding, he’s missing some essential differences—the same differences that other people have highlighted to me about their sessions vs. more gig-like approaches to the music.

And I really don’t care whether Jack gets this or not. But it does strike me as rude and insensitive that he persists in telling people here that their sessions must be performances, even though several people have tried to explain the differences to him and put him on notice that his relentless insistence on this rude. A bit like Michael’s crusade against bodhran players (but at least Michael gives a well reasoned stance for his point of view).

And when Jack stoops to ridiculing my posts instead of addressing the reasoned points in them, it makes civil dialogue difficult if not impossible. I eman, this is a guy who once, rather than respond substantively to my post, told me to go make love to my wife. What’s the point in trying to reason with that? And why is this repeated ugly behavior tolerated?

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Sorry… I left out the word "punters" in this line: "what the session is to the musicians isn’t necessarily the same as it is to the [ punters ] in the pub"

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As far as I understand it Jack, you’re saying that *you* don’t think that the playing you do in your session is a performance, but that the punters *do* think it’s a performance. This logically means that the punters don’t understand what’s going on, which is understandable; you’re in San Fransisco. So maybe it’s up to you to educate them and involve them more so that they *do* understand what you’re doing. That’s assuming you care, of course. But then, if you care what they think, then that means you feel some responsibility towards them, which means that you *are* performing for them. Thus bringing us back in a full circle. So, what do you think?

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Will writes: "He’s said plenty about mine, however, as though he’s been there." This is a lie… I never said I knew what Will’s sessions were like. Even in this thread I said, "I have yet to visit the pub where you hold yours." Why Will is resorting to lying now is anyone’s guess.

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Mark… as I told bb: I don’t care what the punters think. My point is simply that they believe their seeing a performance. For them it IS a performance… even if we don’t think so and don’t care. For us it’s a session… not a performance. simple as that.

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Will, I why does it bother you what Jack thinks about your session? You know yourself that his assumptions are off the mark, so isn’t that enough? If he’s going to sessions in Ireland and experiencing them all as "performances" like gigs, then all his musical experiences, whether at a gig or session, are going to be of "performances". Therefore he misses out on the feeling we get when we go to sessions such as your own. That’s his loss, not yours.

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"My point is simply that they believe their seeing a performance. For them it IS a performance… even if we don’t think so and don’t care. For us it’s a session… not a performance. simple as that."

But even if the punters think it’s a performance doesn’t make it one unless the musicians also see it that way.

It’s like a magicians trick. The people watching might think they are seeing something like a person getting cut in half, but just because that’s how they perceive it doesn’t make it actually so. The magician knows this.

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"If a tree falls in the forest, but the loggers don’t think they cut it down, does this mean the tree didn’t fall?"

See, I can’t tell if Jack thinks he’s being logical here, or if he’s misrepresenting his "opponents’" position just to make his own look good.

And it’s nonsensical. Of course it doesn’t mean the tree didn’t fall. But neither does it mean the loggers in fact cut the tree down. If the loggers never laid a blade to that tree, then obviously it fell for other reasons.

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The only difference with the magic trick is that people would know from their own common sense and experiences in life they couldn’t possibly be witnessing someone being cut in half. With sessions on the other hand, most people would not have experience of session culture unless they’ve played the music themselves, especially in somewhere like SF, so any conclusion they come to about what they are seeing will be flawed due to their ignorance. Therefore I conclude that Will has managed to educate his punters to an extent, whereas your punters don’t know what the feck is going on and think it’s probably just a gig. You seem to be happy with that, so endov.

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In this thread above, Will wrote: "Here in Montana, it’d be a huge stretch to call what we do a performance. Five or six people sitting around a small table off in the corner, drinking and telling stories, noodling misremembered tunes halfway through. Occasionally launching a set. Last night we ate homeade chocolate chip cookies one of the punters brought. At any given time, one or two of us is off chatting with friends. If people think that’s a performance, I feel sorry for them."

Jack wrote: "Sure, Will, but your session isn’t always like that… maybe only when you want to make a point."

How would you know what my session is like?

And then you accuse me of lying? Nice. How civil of you.

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Mark… I’ll say it again. I never made assumptions or claimed to know anything about Will’s sessions. If you think I did — please point it out.

Mark writes: "It’s like a magicians trick. The people watching might think they are seeing something like a person getting cut in half, but just because that’s how they perceive it doesn’t make it actually so. The magician knows this."

So your position is that a session is like a magic trick? And you think I’m not making sense? Cop on!

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Jack, that wasn’t very nice of you. What made you suddenly lash out at me like that? I thought we were having a conversation, not a slanging match.

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Will has described his session differently in other threads. He has described it as a wonderful musical event in other threads — I never doubted this. In this thread however it sounds like a different affair all together where people are only half playing tunes, chatting and eating cookies.

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I’m not lashing out at you Mark… come on.

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PS in answer to "I never made assumptions or claimed to know anything about Will’s sessions. If you think I did — please point it out."

Will just answered this in his post above, EXTREMELY clearly.

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I never said chatting, cookies, and half playing tunes detracted from making wonderful music. In a nutshell, that’s the aspect of a good session (which isn’t a performance) that Jack seems not to understand, and is apparently unwilling to admit exists, except in the minds of self-deluded session musicians.

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Wrong… Mark. I was referring to the way Will described his own session. I never claimed to know the slightest thing about his session and you know it.

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Listen right.

1) We all agree that for us, sessions aren’t performances.

2) Will thinks that his punters think his session *isn’t* a performance

3) Jack thinks that his punters think his session *is* a performance

however:

4) None of us cares what the punters think

So why exactly are we arguing about this?

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LOL, but feel free to tell me my description of my own session is wrong….

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Will wrote earlier about his session: "Here in Montana, it’d be a huge stretch to call what we do a performance. Five or six people sitting around a small table off in the corner, drinking and telling stories, noodling misremembered tunes halfway through. Occasionally launching a set. Last night we ate homeade chocolate chip cookies one of the punters brought. At any given time, one or two of us is off chatting with friends. If people think that’s a performance, I feel sorry for them."

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Mark writes: "So why exactly are we arguing about this?"

Now you’re starting to make sense.

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And PB, you go on to say "Sure, Will, but your session isn’t always like that… maybe only when you want to make a point", and you infer from it that "people are only half playing tunes, chatting and eating cookies"

That’s not how I interpret Will’s posts at all.

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ROFLMAO—this reminds me of being a kid, listening to my parents argue about me as if I wasn’t in the room. 😀 😀 😀

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So what you’re saying is that we’re not arguing about sessions as performances at all. This is personal, and it has to do with your misinterpretation of Will’s posts about his own session, and Will’s frustration at your misunderstanding. Ah, okay, then I can go now. I see that this isn’t actually a discussion at all, then.

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Update on my philosophical allegory: If loggers cut down a tree and it falls, but the loggers don’t think they cut it down, does this mean the tree didn’t fall?

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If the loggers don’t think they cut it down then they have a medical problem. Jack. YOU are the one not making sense here.

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A person from an environmental group finds a tree that looks as though it has been cut down.

He goes and complains to the loggers.

The loggers know that they didn’t cut it down because they were logging in an area that was nowhere near the fallen tree.

In fact, the loggers didn’t cut down the tree.

But the person from the environmental group thinks they did.

Does that mean they did, just because that person *thinks* they did?

No!

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Mark, I’m trying to avoid an argument with Will. I stopped talking directly to him after he started with the ad hominem back there. I’m simply trying to get across my point regarding sessions and what they are to the public when you hold them in public places. That’s all.

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Still mis-stating the argument. A more accurate metaphor might look like this:

"If loggers cut down a tree in the forest to make fence posts out of it, but a nearby cabin owner thinks it’s for his firewood, who’s on the short end of the stick when the loggers haul the tree off to the mill and make fence posts?"

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"Avoiding an argument" LOL, this just gets more surreal.

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Hahaha.. Mark, your allegory doesn’t compare to mine in the slightest.

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Jack, you are saying that the loggers must have cut down the tree just because that person from the environmental group accused them of it. Dude, I hope you never get called up for jury duty 😀

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No PB, mine doesn’t compare to yours. Yours makes no sense whatsoever.

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Don’t think I haven’t noticed that after posting Will’s own words no one has acknowledged that Will described his session as I indicated.

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Nobody but Mark and I, but we’re not in the same conversation as Jack, apparently.

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My very next post implicity acknowledged this by showing how you made assumptions based on that text. Okay, now I know you’re not listening. Blah blah blah, with your fingers in your ears.

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Mark writes: "you infer from it that "people are only half playing tunes, chatting and eating cookies""

Will writes: "drinking and telling stories, noodling misremembered tunes halfway through. Occasionally launching a set. Last night we ate homeade chocolate chip cookies one of the punters brought. At any given time, one or two of us is off chatting with friends."

Explain where I misread it, Mark.

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Well, I would never assume from what Will said that people are only half playing tunes. I would assume that when they lauch into sets (his words) they play them in full. The chatting and eating cookies I think you got right. Same at our session, but without the cookies. We’ve never had any of our punters buy us cookies, or "biscuits" as we call them.

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Mark writes: "Well, I would never assume from what Will said that people are only half playing tunes."

What part of "noodling misremembered tunes halfway through" do you not understand?

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Will said "noodling misremembered tunes halfway through"

For me this does *not* equate to "people only half playing tunes".

I would infer from this that, because it is not a performance like a gig, people at the session would feel free to pick out a tune between sets so that they can remember it properly to play later, or maybe they are turning to the person next to them and saying "do you play this one" "oh yesion before, so this is my assumption. Am I right, Will?ah, I know that" "I can’t remember the 2nd part, how does it go?" "isn’t it this?" "no that’s the corner house I know that one - oh I know it’s this" [launches into set].

I’ve never been to Will’s session so this is my assumption. Am I right, Will?

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Oops my post got screwed up, try again:

would infer from this that, because it is not a performance like a gig, people at the session would feel free to pick out a tune between sets so that they can remember it properly to play later, or maybe they are turning to the person next to them and saying "do you play this one" "oh yes, I know that" "I can’t remember the 2nd part, how does it go?" "isn’t it this?" "no that’s the corner house I know that one - oh I know it’s this" [launches into set].

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What part of "launching into sets" does Jack not understand?

What sort of arrogance lets a man disagree with someone else’s assessment of their own session, one he’s never been to?

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I can’t believe this… Will is disputing with his own description of his session. I give up… I’m off to bed. G’night fellas.

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I could be wrong:

"noodling misremembered tunes halfway through"


Another interpretation is that Will starts a tune and suddenly realises halfway through the B-part that there’s a turn in it he can’t remember, so he plays something that will do so that the tune hangs together.

Of course this would be unthinkable in your session, Jack, right? How dare he play a wrong note 🙂

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Eh? Will is disputing with his own description of his session. Did some posts of Will’s get wiped or something? Jeez, this is really confusing. Who would have thought a discussion between 3 people could be so confusing. I’ve had this before but only when I’ve been talking to someone in like Vietnam or somewhere where my addressee speaks a language I don’t understand.

Fascinating…

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Well, the noodling takes different forms. Yes, as my senior moments start melting together into a constant stream, I sometimes noodle the B part of a tune before actually starting it, to fend of that unpleasantness of soaring into the A part, only to come up blank at the turn.

But sometimes, when my friends are talking, drinking, eating cookies, whatever, I noodle on parts of tunes that come to mind. Mind you, I’m most often chatting, drinking, and gnoshing too. But sometimes a tune I haven’t thought of in ages pops into my head, and I’ll quietly tickle it a bit to see if I could do it justice at some later point in the evening. Obviously, this isn’t a habit I take to my gigs—I don’t think an "audience" would appreciate or even understand such behavior. At our session, however, nobody in the room bats an eye.

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Cross posted with you there, Mark.

I dsiputed my own description? Wow, my dementia must be worse than I thought. Better up my dose….

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I pity the poor souls who wake up to this in a few hours….

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There are numerous "sessions" in pubs where a group of musicians sit in a corner, or side room, and play music for their own enjoyment, totally oblivious to the other people in the pub. This happens all over the world. It is not my cup of tea, but that is a personal preference.

However the other people in the pub cannot reach this state of "separation" and are likely to see the musical proceedings as a performance. Nothing too difficult about that. One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor, and all that.

I remember playing at a session in Dublin, where the musicians were "removed" from the crowd. The crowd however had travelled from all over Dublin to go to that pub, because "there is a session". However not one of them showed any interest in the proceedings, and talked and drank all night without appearing to listen. Next day however, when questioned, they are likely to say that the music was "mighty". It is simply human nature.

However when half of the world are starving, despite a surplus of food, and the wealthy half are trying to kill each other, at the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter.

By the way, does anyone like bodhrans.

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Don’t pity us Will, his is the best thing I’ve ever read for ages. It reminds me of that painting by Goya of the two giants mired up to their waists, belabouring each other with clubs.

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Hahaha I almost wrote a post to correct Bodhran Bliss and explain my point of view, but then I suddenly remembered that I don’t need to because there’s no point because he’s a bodhran player. Hehe, lets me off the hook.

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Dose anyone know the names of any sites where i can have a proper discussion and avoid bliss and the rest of the limited clowns who f**ked up this one.

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Perhaps the loggers cut down the tree in order to sell the wood to bodhran builders?
Now, does a proper discussion have to have an audience?
If the discussors don’t understand each other, is it a true performance?

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The dead horse is still kicking?

Bliss wrote: "However the other people in the pub cannot reach this state of ‘separation,’ and are likely to see the musical proceedings as a performance."

There are several problems with this.

First, Bliss gives no evidence to support his claim that he knows what state the other people in the pub are in, or what they’re thinking. As I’ve mentioned above, I’ve had punters tell me outright that they enjoyed the music, played for its own sake (and not for theirs), an all too rare occurence in this overcommercialized, ego-ridden world. Some people, at least, do seem to "get it." They understand that it’s not a performance for them or anyone else. They understand that they are not an audience, and they don’t have to behave like one. They can —and do—talk, read, fall asleep, or get up and leave in the middle of a set—all things which would be fairly taboo in a formal "audience" role.

Second, Sme punters undoubtedly do separate themselves from the session (I’ve seend people apparently oblivious to the music, watching a telly at the other end of the bar, or reading a paper while listening to their ipod on headphones). That’s fine by me.

But I’m more interested in the punters who actually become participants in the session.

That’s not ‘separation’—just the opposite. And they’re not our "audience." They’re participants in the session.

And my point here all along is that Jack and a few others seem hell bent on telling me that this cannot happen. I’m juts saying that I’ve seen it happen, on a regular basis, and I really enjoy it.

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Bliss does not live in a cocooned world, and actually talks to0 the other people in the pub, that’s how I know what they think, and what their opinions are. It is not a difficult task to achieve this, justs requires an interest in your surroundings. That is the reason why the "cocooned session" is not my cup of tea, as I would find it difficult to imagine that the circle of musicians were the only people present, despite evidence to the contrary.

And Saint, oooohhhh, Huffy-Puffy. Derogatory statements flowing, without an inkling of substance to support them. Tell you what, I will leave my bodhran to you when I pass on. If a John Lennon guitar fetches £100,000, my bodhran should be worth double.

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Bliss doesn’t live in a cocooned world? Maybe he could actually *read* the posts he responds to, then….

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Contrary to popular belief people in Ireland are not stupid, and many of them actually understand sessions, as they are a common thing in Ireland.

They know that the performance is not for them, and they fully understand that. However by dint of being in the same place at the same time, they are aware of the performance taking place, and some of them enjoy it, have an opinion about it, or hate it because they want to listen to "Take That" on the TV. This fully corresponds with your description of your session, Whoosis, and indeed many punters become attached to the musicians.

I would say this could be applied to many countries. Whoosis, however, seems to be embroiled in a pedantic discussion as the meaning of the word performance.

To me a performance is given in a public place, and obviously that has a vast scope. Playing a concert in a venue, having a "private" session in a pub, indeed busking. The average busker thinks he/she is collecting money, but because they are in public, they are seen by passer bys as performers.

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I think cookies are an excellent idea! I just might bring some with me the next time I go to a session and ask to record a few sets on my iPod.

The problem with this whole discussion is that none of y’all are punters, so you’re only supposing what they might think.

I have yet to play in a session, so I still qualify as a punter. Started going to them 20 years ago in Scotland with some musician friends of mine and their non-musician girlfriends and other friends. We’d go out as a group, there’d be a session, the musicians would join in and play, and the rest of us got to watch, or just hang out and have our drunken conversations. It’s great fun! No need to applaud—-I think I tried that a couple of times and my friends were just embarrassed, so I learned to be nonchalant about it. But I do tell them afterwards how much I enjoy it.

The sessions I go to now are the same. I bring friends with me sometimes who think they have to pay close attention and applaud after all the tunes, but they realize pretty quickly that it’s not necessary.

Live music in a pub made by living, breathing, humans—-what a rare, wonderful thing in a world where everyone is used to mechanical music and jukeboxes and television. How many people even know how to play an instrument any more? And how often do you get the opportunity to get physically near someone who plays? I think people are so divorced from acoustic music these days that they just don’t know how to react when they see it right in front of them. Which might be why they feel like they need to applaud—-that’s what you do when you go to a concert, isn’t it?

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Very well put Mr Kennedy.

However you are treading dangerous ground if my friend Michael discovers that you are bestowing the status of "musician" to bodhran players.

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"And my point here all along is that Jack and a few others seem hell bent on telling me that this cannot happen. I’m juts saying that I’ve seen it happen, on a regular basis, and I really enjoy it."

Will states this about me as fact, but if we asked him to point to where I said it we wouldn’t see any confirmation. This is the 3rd time I think he’s done that in this thread alone. I have no idea why he insists on doing this. Your guess is as good as mine.

Anyway… all I’ve done here is to suggest that the punter’s experience is different than ours as session participants. Why that causes so much controversy and angst is a mystery to me. I’m sure there are plenty of punters out there who’ve had enough experience with sessions to realize there’s something special about it, but I’m sure the vast majority thinks it’s just some sort of informal performance that’s not really a concert. How did I arrive at this conclusion? It’s the impression I get based on punter’s comments I’ve heard.

So there it is – the big controversy. Is it worth all the posturing and ad hominem on this and other threads? I don’t think so.

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Spot on, Kennedy (that’ll be ms to you, Mr. Bliss).

Many people, even here in the States, suss out the differences between a session and a concert pretty quickly.

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In this thread, Jack wrote: "Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

Or how much they try to deny it.

I think they should hand out flyers at their sessions explaining to the public that there’s no performance of anything going on like that and people should just pretend there are no musicians in the room and ignore any music they might happen to hear."

Right Jack, so please stop doing exactly what you’ve wrongly accused me of.

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The post above confuses me. Do you really hand out flyers like that? Would it not be easier to just ignore people, as many session participants do, although it is rude.

Happily I do not appear to have any of these problems, probably because I am such a likeable guy.

And I agree that most people could distinquish between a concert and a session, the difficulty here however centred on a performance, which may not necessarily be a concert, as I recently illustrated.

And Kennedy, if you are a Ms, forgive me for being sexist. I do try to write her/him all the time and things like that, although it is still unforgivable.

Mind you this site is full of rampant sexists. Earlier in the thread someone stated that bb was attractive and therefore could not be mistaken for me. Music or instruments, or initials, didn’t even come into it.

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That’s right… if people want the punters in the pub to understand all the subtleties of why their session isn’t any kind of performance, informal or whatsoever — they should hand out flyers or put up posters explaining it. How else will the punters know?

But I fail to see how I’m doing anything I’ve accused you of here… sorry.

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again bliss it there any information about bodhrans you can share (i dont think so). Being aware is the key but you first have stop thinking about yourself.At the end of the day its what publican wants.Why would a publican pay money for entertainment if it was not for the punter.Or Maybe they just come to see your priceless drum.

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Bliss, it was Jack that sarcastically suggested handing out flyers.

And Jack if you don’t get it, I can’t be any more clear. You’re behavior here is rude and offensive and disengenuous.

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First you tell me I’m falsly accusing you of something, but you don’t point out where or what it is, and now you tell me my behaviour is "rude and offensive and disengenuous," but you wouldn’t be able to point that out either. Why are you going down this path, Will? I’ve already told you I have no interest in exchanging insults with you or anyone else.

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"How else will the punters know?"

By watching what’s going on around them. If you’re sitting at a table and the music stops and you’re the only one applauding, you can’t help but notice that it feels kind of weird. Better yet, if you’re sitting at a table talking to your friends or people you just met and they pretty much ignore the music and don’t applaud, you’re going to follow their cues and do the same. We humans are social creatures and most of us can figure out the best way to behave in a given situation.

I must say, though, that this is one of the reasons I can’t stand amplification at a session. There’s one here where I live that has some of the most talented musicians in town, and the bar mics it and it’s so loud that it cuts through any other crowd noise, and I think that just makes it more like a concert and encourages people to treat it that way. And indeed, people do applaud this session more than others I’ve seen. This same bar has another session the next night without the pyrotechnics and it’s a totally different scene. But I guess this is a subject for another thread…

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Yes, Kennedy, I mentioned in this thread that experienced punters can catch on eventually, but that still doesn’t account for the vast majority out in the world. But even of the ones that have come regularly over the years and seem to have caught on, I’ve still heard comments from them that lead me to believe they think it’s an informal performance… sort of.

I also avoid amplified sessions and I’ve never advocated that for the same reasons you give. It seems to reinforce exactly what we’re trying not to be.

But it strikes me as a bit of a paradoxical relationship we have with punters since we seem to want them to ignore us, yet we want them to be quiet enough so we can hear ourselves. You would think we would hold all of our sessions privately in each other’s homes or private clubs instead of a place the general public has access to. But we’ll do it anyway and expect them to somehow get the gist of how we aren’t what most people would assume us to be.

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My Dear Saint, you have lost me. At my regular session we do a performance, because we are paid. For myself they probably think I am a pretentious git because I have been known to miss the odd riot breaking out, because I have my eyes closed when playing. That is one of the tips I can pass on, you need to be concentrating 100% on the tune to play the bodhran, otherwise you end up playing a rhythm which may not fit. Nowadays many learn rhythms, without music, and that way lies disaster at sessions, and hence a bad press for bodhrans.
There is not a lot else I can pass on, because I just play the thing, it’s a natural thing. I do not believe in lessons or books or CDs about bodhrans, just play it along with loads of music, at home, until it comes naturally.
You are also right that many punters do indeed come to see me, and tell me that I am the best all round musician they have evert seen. Fortunately I know what I can do, and fortunately when it comes to bodhrans, I also know that Mr Gill, when he is not winding up, is close to the truth.
I can send an autographed photo if you would like one.

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Please allow for the Christmas post.

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Thanks bliss that was nt hard . I mentioned Colm Murphy earlier and thats how he plays it by listening to the tune and the better a bodhran player knows a tune the better he/she can acc.For me all round musican is another way of saying jack of all trades master of none.Sorry i was looking to have a chat with bodhran players .


P.S.
If there is anything you would like to know about the drum let me know and i will do my best to help.

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Tip
Open your eyes when playing.

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Often I’m playing bodhran on tunes I know on the flute or concertina. It does help, but you can sus out the rhythm of tunes you don’t know after they pass through once or twice. But having my eyes opened or closed doesn’t really matter unless I want to see when they plan on switching to another tune or ending.

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Bodhrans went downhill when the live goat was removed from most of them in the 70s, to make them more saleable to the "Atomkraft? Nein Danke!" and vegetarian brigade. That’s why bodhrans were unaccountably rare as an ITM instrument in earlier years. So as not to perturb the musicologists, their owners would stake them out to graze peaceably in the paddock till their visitors had gone, content with a tape of this or that tune cranked out on a crappy old melodeon or something, suspecting nothing of the bodhran’s existence out there eating the buttercups. Later, seven shades would be whacked out of it at some clandestine session. Nobody knew; those who knew, wouldn’t let on. Breandan Breathnach probably didn’t know; Seamus Ennis probably did, but wouldn’t talk.

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Yes PB Thats when to open eyes and yes its easy to sus the the rhythm after its played once or twice but in my opinion by knowing the tune and knowing whats coming next is very important .Finding the little gaps in a tune and filling them is the difference the good and great players.Little pauses at the right time can sometimes be more effective than a big base beat but this can only be acheived by really knowing a tune.Bliss mentions concentration but don t concentrate too hard because it can lead to hesitancy and hesitancy leads to playing out of time.

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Thank you Saint, your tips for a drummer, especially the bit about great and good drummers, merely confirms my own belief.

I probably am the best player ever, for eternity.

Who is Colm Murphy? I do not keep up too much, usually out playing, or signing autographs, or whatever.

And I do not need to see the riots, when you’ve seen one you’ve seen ‘em all.

Your point about hesitancy is good, it helps if you know the tune. Fortunately I have been listening since 1962, so I recognise a couple of tunes. Not by name anymore, once I started the bodhran I stop thinking about the names, so it is usually a case of "ah, that’s those ones that go like this…..".
After that it just flows naturally and effortlessly, until I have to stop to listen to myself because I am that good.

Just as well I am modest. Which leads to the "jack of all trades….." bit. I agree with you, because I am only a master on the bodhran, not the others. You see, knowing one’s own shortcomings is useful.

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So true… there are tunes that I have worked out stops in that are quite effective and help drive the tune forward. For example: on Exile of Erin there’s a good opportunity for this.

https://thesession.org/tunes/1293

I play a strong down beat rhythm here:

| FGAG FDDE | EDAG FDAc |

Then syncopate a bit for this part:

| de=fe dcAG | E/F/G AB[c3G3]G |

Back to the strong downbeat here:

| E/F/G AG FDDE | F/E/D AG FDCD |

And stop here and wait to come back in at the repeat or beginning of the B-part:

| {G,}[A,3D3] D C~A,3 |1 G,A,CD EDDE :|

If you know anyone that plays this tune, give it a try.

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Just popping out to visit a session I haven’t been to before, just to listen and appreciate the performance.

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Just looked Colm Murphy on the web. He seems to be playing with a load of old friends of mine, Seamus and Jackie, not Frankie.

I used to play IN the Exile of Erin, Jack, it was a pub in Manchester.

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Colm is also on cds by Martin o connor , Conal o grada ,Sliabh notes and he was a member of "Damp in th Attic" to name just a few.

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I hate to say it - but this seems awfully like the time everyone ganged up on Bruce and Tanya - regardless of who is right ( I lost you guys way up the top of the thread) But I really dont see that Jack has said anything more offensive than anyone else on this thread. It seems to me we all agree on the main thing - NONE of us thinks of a session as a performance…….why are you all arguing - we all believe the same thing!

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Honestly, I can’t tell if Jack is just being coy or he really can’t see how derisive his comments are (since he also seems incapable of reading my posts), but I’m disappointed that Jeremy and others let this sort of behavior go unchallenged. Paraphrasing Burke here: All that is necessary for incivility to prevail is for good people to do nothing. That’s a shame.

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Sorry Will - I disagree with you on Punters becoming part of that session. Until a punter picks up an instrument and tortures themselves and neighbours with it for years and years then I dont beleive for a second that they are a part of any session. No matter how much they appreciate it or like it. That would be like me saying that I am a painter because I appreciate art even though I dont paint.

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If you’re so convinced, Will, why don’t you collect your evidence and make your case to Jeremy so he can decide if my behavior is what you claim it to be.

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You’ve done that yourself, Jack, in this entire thread, and in the ridiculous 400-plus thread.

Beebs, does that mean only instrumental musicians with years of experience can be session participants? Seems like you’re leaving out newbies, singers, and people who bring a good story or joke. Not at all like the community sessions I’ve heard tales of and been to. So your sessions are about tunes and only tunes? Someone who greatly adds to the craic is doomed to be an outsider? Not how it works here, so please don’t tell me it’s not possible.

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I’ve done what, Will?

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LOL, you’ve built a case against yourself by posting snide and sarcastic exaggerations of views contrary to your own, and by belittling anyone who challenges your position.

In a previous post on this thread you suggested that people who think sessions aren’t performance should hand out flyers telling punters that there are no musicians in the pub and to ignore any music they hear. Tell me that’s not a deliberate, sarcastic, and demeaning misrepresentation of the case I’ve made.

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Will - we are all adults here (sort of) And hopefully we can all work this out ourselves - asking for Jeremey to step in is just another form of killing that old favourite of your land ‘Freedom of speech’ - If you think it is offensive, thats ok - because sometimes things are said that are offensive in every day life- on the telly, by politicians, by musicians etc etc - we have to learn to deal with it ourselves. You cant have someone come in and stop people talking - then we turn this site into a dictatorship. And that is just stupid.

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Jack, I’m afraid I don’t have the energy or desire to explain both sides of this "discussion" to you.

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I suppose it is possible Will - if you say so, obviously our sessions differ greatly though - I would say you would have to be a musician or singer to participate. Why is that offensive to you? Its called a music session for a reason - because thats where we make music - its fine to have a chat and a cookie and tell a good joke - but I’d want to hope that those doing that are musicians/singers…..not just punters taking up seats where musicians should be sitting. At a session a few weeks ago there were not enough seats for the musicians but a punter happily sitting in the thick of the session totally oblivious to the fact that she was offering nothing and there were three musicians without seats. That drives me nuts. I have this thing though - I struggled and still do struggle everyday with my playing -thats every day for 11 years. I feel that as a person who struggles to make it better, who devotes years and years to playing and spends my time if not playing then listening and if not doing that travelling overseas to learn more and more. Sorry if I beleive that being a part of the session is more than turning up and offering a plate of bikkies and saying the odd ‘wwwoooohoooo’. But again Will - this is OK - because we have different opinions and that is fine! Because what a dull place the world would be if we all agreed. I didnt mean to make it seem like it wasnt possible - I just meant that in my opinion - I feel that it takes more than that.

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That’s not a deliberate, sarcastic, or demeaning misrepresentation of the case you’ve made. I can’t think of any other way to edify the general public that happens into a pub where there’s a session to know such subtleties about sessions. I wasn’t demeaning any points you made, but rather, I was illustrating my point that most punters haven’t a clue about what a session is and that session participants don’t consider it any sort of performance informal or otherwise. How would you let them know?

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I just learnt a new tune while youse were fighting, and I’m starting on my next one. No, you carry on. Watching people belittling each other is kind of entertaining in a sort of sick "Big Brother" way 🙂

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Beebs, Jack’s the one who suggested calling Jeremy in. I’ve figured the Benevolent Dictator is keeping his nose out of this intentionally. So be it. As I said above, that’s a shame. But that’s Jeremy’s call.

So I’m speaking out against it myself.

It is possible to disagree without disparaging and ridiculing the other point of view. I’ve a long stated record here of agreeing that some sessions can be performances, and that’s great if that’s what the participants want it to be. But everytime this topic comes up, Jack get’s it in his bonnet to ridicule anyone who thinks sessions can also NOT be performances.

To me, it’s an important distinction, for reasons I’ve explained above in detail. I’m just tired of hearing that I’min "denial" and that I should hand out flyers telling punters to ignore the music coming from invisible musicians. It’s repetitive and insulting and sophomoric.

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Beebs you total liar - you never practise!

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That’s cool, Mark… I’ve been learning tunes and working on technique the whole time. I just learned a great jig by Sean Ryan called, "Seamus Connelly’s," and I’m reworking a few others to include the Phantom Button doudle-bounce single-note triplet in the left hand.

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Well, apparently Jack seriously thinks that handing punters a flyer telling them to ignore the music from and invisible session is "edifying."

Yikes.

Yes, Mark, I’ve learned the Honeysuckle Hornpipe today, and two tunes from the Blindman’s set.

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Dow - you liar! then how bout the other night when we went through all those tunes and it took us 6 hours!!!! Huh!

Okay - can I hijack this thread? How bout we talk about bodhrans or somthan or nothan!

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Crank up that blindman’s set - specially the last tune - its fantastic.

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I would never dream of handing punters such flyers — I just can’t imagine any other way to let them know. I couldn’t care less what they do or don’t know as long as they just show a little respect and contain their boisterousness a bit.

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Blindman’s set?

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Beebs, your idea of a session isn’t offensive to me at all. What is offensive is Jack denigrating my idea of a session by saying I’m in denial, and by making ludicrous suggestions about my approach to sessions. I learned this approach from people who sessioned back in the 1950s, some in Ireland. It’s much more about the people than the music—an older communty approach. I like it. I’ve also enjoyed high-end tune sessions that aren’t so inclusive.

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Why are we even talking about punters? Who cares about punters? I’ve just learnt a version of the Coalminer’s in D which I got from Dennis Liddy. I shall post it in the tunes section. I need a breather from the discussions. It’s getting stuffy in this chatroom has someone been farting? Do carry on. Pay me no heed.

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Will writes: "What is offensive is Jack denigrating my idea of a session by saying I’m in denial, and by making ludicrous suggestions about my approach to sessions."

Was I talking about you specifically and your session, Will? You should go read it again — there’s no mention of you or your session. This thread is about sessions all over the world — not just yours — and it’s not about you.

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What’s the "Blindman’s set"?

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Ahhh… right… brilliant! I have that CD. Now I know what you’re talking about. Thanks, Will.

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Jack, I was the only person on this thread advocating for non-performance sessions. You like this ploy of saying it wasn’t aimed at me because it lets you disparage other people’s ideas without accountability. I suppose that quip about making love to my wife in the 400-plus thread wasn’t aimed at me either.

If you can’t take responsibility for your own words, perhaps you should think before you post.

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LOL, the cross posting here makes me think Jack and I would do fine over tunes, as long as we kept our mouths shut. 😀

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Will, I wasn’t aiming it at you, my comments were about the topic in general. If you insist on reading yourself into my comments we will never get anywhere.

As for comments on another thread — they were on another thread that ended ages ago — they aren’t relevant here. However, having said that, I do sincerely hope you and your wife enjoy each other’s company.

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Jack, we haven’t gotten anywhere in many moons.

Pity you continue to take the low road.

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I’m sure we would get along just fine, Will… even if we talked. I think in here you tend to direct my comments at yourself personally when they aren’t intended. In the real world you probably wouldn’t misinterpret me that way.

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I’m stunned. I’ve followed this for a bit, and simply can’t understand Whoosis’ position, which is self-evidently untenable.

First, my take: I’ve been to many sessions over a great many years. Now, admittedly I’ve only been to sessions in four countries and have no experience of them elsewhere, the countries being Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a session where the punters didn’t appreciate the music and believe it was some kind of performance. There are simply two very different views of the same event occurring: the punters’ and the sessioners’ (who, for the sake of clarity, are just having fun, not thinking of themselves as performing). You don’t have to *reason* that this is the case - you just have to listen for a moment to what’s going on outside the privileged enclave of the session itself.

That’s just to make my position on this clear. However, I don’t get why Whoosis is so relentlessly attacking PB. It seems to me he keeps accusing PB of things he himself is actually the instigator of. For instance, to someone who has not participated so far in this discussion, it’s failry clear if you read all the posts that PB has been trying to argue calmly, but is constantly accused of sarcasm - that I can’t find anywhere in his posts - of being insulting - which, again I can’t find; and the last one took the biscuit. Whoosis accused PB of being the one to suggest bringing Jeremy in. Now, I *have* read every post on this thread. If I’ve missed it, I apologise, but to me the first time it was suggested was in these words: "I’m disappointed that Jeremy and others let this sort of behavior go unchallenged." - Whoosis. If I’ve missed an earlier post of PB’s suggesting this, then please point it out, and I’ll apologise for my error.

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Glad to hear I’m the cause of all this, or is that just me taking your comment too personally again?

Cop on, Jack.

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If you set your differences aside for a moment though, and think about the whole thing of performances etc, it’s an interesting philophical question, and probably one that’s beyond our ability to discuss without the necessary training and jargon. It’s no wonder really that this topic always comes up in debate and is never resolved. It’s clear that these differences in attitude and viewpoint underpin most of our difficulties in a session with regard to people disturbing our tunes in some way or haranguing us for requests. Maybe this topic is one of those things that will never be resolved, sorta like one of those "meaning of life" questions for trad musicians. It’s like: "what are we *doing*?? why are we here?"…

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benhall, who *cares* what the fecking punters think? I don’t care if they think I’m doing a performance. I’m *not*. Okay? If I thought I was going to be performing every time I went to a session I wouldn’t go to sessions. Period.

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LOL you can tell who has had an e-mail from Jeremy before when they use the expression "cop on" 🙂

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PS benhall, Will has always been open to the possibility that some punters will view a session as a performance, but he’s trying to make others see that it’s possible that punters could view a session as something else other than a performance, and obviously he’s right. What you’re saying doesn’t make sense. You’re implying that all punters view a session as a performance, and therefore, if you’re to view a session as something else then you have to be one of the musicians. So where do you draw the line. Do you suddenly see the light the minute you pick up an instrument? Do you have to know a certain number of tunes before you realise? What about newbies? I for one accept that some punters can understand what a session is even if they can’t play an instrument. Not to acknowledge this is an insult to the intelligence of non-musos. Unfortunately, here in Sydney, it’s quite rare to find a punter who views a session as anything at all. Most of them completely ignore us. And I mean completely. But that’s cool by us.

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Mark writes: "it’s an interesting philophical question, and probably one that’s beyond our ability to discuss without the necessary training and jargon."

That’s exactly what I said to bb on this thread last night.

"Maybe this is too much of a philosophical discussion that none of us here are qualified for… I know I’m not."

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LOL @ my own comments: "who cares what the punters think… this is an insult to the intelligence of non-musos". Never mind.

So I’m I the last one to leave?

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"Maybe this is too much of a philosophical discussion that none of us here are qualified for… I know I’m not"

Me neither, but hey, you know me. I wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to fan the flames of a Will & Jack showdown 😀

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Mark writes: "Will has always been open to the possibility that some punters will view a session as a performance, but he’s trying to make others see that it’s possible that punters could view a session as something else other than a performance"

Really… is that what the fuss is all about? I never disagreed with that. I even mentioned that some of the punters at our session "get it."

Welcome to the Flame Pit of Misunderstanding, Ben. I appreciate your recognition that I’m not instigating the negative discourse here. Thanks.

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Yes, unless I’ve misunderstood too, I think Will was trying to get you to see that it’s theoretically possible to have a session which neither the players nor punters view as a performance. He’s saying his session can be like that, and he thinks that you’re saying that his session can’t possibly be like that. But if you try to imagine Will’s session (and I realise this is pure speculation here), I dunno, 7 or 8 musos, a couple of regulars at the bar who’ve been to the session every week for years, a few more regulars sitting around at tables, buying drinks for the regulars, maybe taking the p*ss a bit from the sidelines, etc. I mean this is rural Montana he’s talking about. Our sessions in Sydney aren’t really like that. We do get punters like that but I can only think of one or two, or sometimes Mary’s friends from Mayo come in and they know what’s going on, but usually you find out later that they were All-Ireland Champions at the banjo or something and they just didn’t have their instrument with them.

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You mean "think of all the starving children in Africa"? Danny and I used to call that one when we wanted to annoy each other back in the day 🙂

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Mark, I never had a problem with that concept, and I said so more than once on this thread. But I didn’t think we were only talking about Will’s session. Did you?

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Lol, I go play some more tunes, come back, and you’re still at it.

Benhall, Jack’s the one who suggested I give my "evidence" to Jeremy. I didn’t call on Jeremy, only said that I was disappointed he hadn’t weighed in yet.

And I’m not just talking about my session here, but many sessions I’ve been to with a similar bent. And the way the old codgers thought about playing the music.

The bit where Jack says I’m refuting the dictionary to support my argument, calling it "Brilliant!" is where I see Jack resorting to his rhetoric of degradation. He either deliberately ignored the substance of my post there, or didn’t bother trying to understand it. And then he dredges up his old tactics of saying that people who think sessions aren’t performances are in denial, and then we get the surreal bit about the flyers to punters.

Jack’s not discussing the ideas here on their merits, he’s belittling people for disagreeing with him, and then playing innocent and even victimized.

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As Ben pointed out, the first mention of Jeremy was from yourself when you said: "I’m disappointed that Jeremy and others let this sort of behavior go unchallenged." I only suggested (after you said that) to take your case to Jeremy if you felt so strongly. I didn’t bring up Jeremy… you did.

As for the rest of your case against my behavior that you just stated — I’m not convinced, and I don’t see any indication that others are convinced with it either.

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Sessions, in a pub or public place, are performances, that’s it. You may not think you are performing, but you are.

Now performing does not mean showing off, playing to the crowd, or for the crowd. Performing is playing in a public place. Can’t say it any easier.

Now I do not like "closeted"" sessions, where the musicians completel;y ignore the punters, because that is like going into someones house to play, and just ignoring them. In many cases the punters are the regulars, and the musicians are invading their local. So I personally would interact with punters, especially if they are humans. That’s what people do.

Now you don’t have to have them up singing, dancing or making cakes.

And finally, Will, read all of this. You may notice a bit of the pot calling the kettle black on your behalf. To begin a thread saying "Jack is insulting" and immediately adding "and he can’t read" could be considered insulting.

As in most harassment cases, it is the perception of the harassed that it is usually important.

Saint possibly thought I was insulting him/her until he/she caught on that I was just a stirrer.

But to paraphrase Shakespeare "Methinks the man doth protest too much".

I have just returned from a session where the musicians didn’t realise they were performing, but they were, because I was listening to them. That’s why it is a performance.

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Yes, I brought Jeremy up, but I didn’t suggest bringing him into this mess. You did.

"Did not."
"Did too."
"Did not."
Did too."

(There. That should save a few minutes typing.)

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The above could also be considered insulting, although I presume it is said in jest?

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I’ve played in sessions in Ireland where the customers in the pub are quite definitely there to be entertained by the music - and they can safely be assumed to be very knowledgeable. The musicians know this and respond accordingly.
In my neck of the woods it’s not quite on that level, although there is often appreciative applause, which reminds us that people are listening and enjoying our music.
I’ve always taken it for granted, when playing in public (whether in Irish sessions or other types of music) that there people out there listening who may very well know as much about the music, or more, than those playing it. The converse is - would any musician really enjoy playing to rows of cabbages?

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Alas, Lazyhound, doubtless someone will.

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Yes, BB, that is indeed an unfortunate possibility (hopefully of very low probability), which makes one wonder about the "musician(s)" concerned. But here is a question,
Would a session in a pub prefer the pub to be empty, or that there are some customers present?
If the answer is "some customers present" then the session is "performing", whether or not it is aware of the fact, because there is an unspoken interaction between the session and the other people present.

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Bliss is right Its a performance , musicans still try to play thier best because they are aware people are listening and there is probally a sign outside the door to let people know that there is a session inside so people will come in and watch the musicans perform.

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Certainly the publican wants people inside, usually they are interested in the till roll rather than the music. And I have said all along it is a performance, willingly, wittingly or not.

Thank you Saint for your support. Do you actually play (have to be careful incase Michael is about) a, (whisper) BODHRAN?

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Will, do a "find" for this page, (command "F" on my computer,) put in "Jeremy" and you’ll see that your post comes up first. (I can’t believe I’m having to say this.)

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Yes, as I said above (I can’t believe I have to repeat this), I brought up Jeremy by name.

But all I said was that I was disappointed he wasn’t weighing in. I never suggested actually dragging him into it. You did.

I assume he’s letting us verbally duke it out on our own, shaking his head all the while.

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Jack, when you type things like "I can’t belive I’m having to say this," I have to assume you’re either grossly underestimating my reading comprehension abilities, or overestimating yours. Does the latter ever occur to you?

(And before benhall or Bliss chides me for being insulting again, I’d like to point out that I’ve merely adopted Jack’s own conversational approach.)

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You’re saying that I brought up Jeremy first, It was pointed out by Ben that it was actually you, but you still insist it was me. I’m having trouble believing that you’re actually disputing that when the evidence is so clear.

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Of Course, David, but you aren’t the target for Will’s errant accusations here either.

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"Yes, as I said above, I brought up Jeremy by name."
-whoosis
"Yes, as I said above, I brought up Jeremy by name."
-whoosis
"Yes, as I said above, I brought up Jeremy by name."
-whoosis

Hello? bonk, bonk? Lights are on, nobody home?

Jack, take a breath. You can argue with yourself if you want, but please stop making up counter-arguments on my part. It’s kinda creeping me out….

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Yes Bliss Im obsessed with bodhran playing and i am always trying to improve . One can never stop learning .

P.S.
I love perfoming at sessions

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I wish the Corleone family would weigh in on this, I will ask them.

Oh my God, they have gone and whacked someone. I never wanted them to be DRAGGED into this.

That’s my conscience clear.

Goodnight fair friends.

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Wow, this is some thread.

I don’t see sessions as performances. I see them as an evening where people in the community get together and some of the people play music and some sit around and drink and some maybe dance and some pick up the dirty glasses, etc, etc. And there’s usually lots of smiles and laughter. And cookies. It’s one of the most pleasant human activities.

Performances, by contrast, are far more serious things. Some performer gets up on a stage in front of some other people who paid to get in and performs something. And some guy from the Philadelphia Inquirer publishes a review about it the next day. And Green Linnet releases a "live" cd from the recordings of the performance.

I dunno, that’s how I see it.

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Oh yes, and then there is a stramash, which is kind of a session happening on a stage. I need Ptarmigan now to help me know if my knowledge of Scots is on target or not…

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Kennedy, I don’t know how much of this thread you read, but we all pretty much agree that from the sessioner’s point of view it is as you say. The crux is what the punter thinks is happening when they encounter us having our sessions and how that’s in contrast to what we think we’re doing. The average punter thinks it’s an informal performance of some sort and responds to it as such. This is where the discussion goes from practical to philosophical and the question becomes: does that make a session held in a public place a performance? Some people would argue it does since the punter’s presence is just as valid as those in the session, and others will dismiss the punters as irrelevant and insist it does not. But I’m certain that if punters were represented on this message board they might take issue with being considered "irrelevant." Does that clear it up for you?.

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Oo I’m scared of the punters taking issue with us. Do they have guns? Maybe we should make them feel better and humour them by telling them that what we’re doing *is* a performance, instead of telling it as it actually is. You know when I was little I asked my dad if a tree grows inside you when you eat an apple pip, and he said yes. I believed him, and he probably found it entertaining. So perhaps there *is* a point to all of this.

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Uh… I don’t think the punters are irrelevant, but you might be. 😉

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I knew it. I’m off to slash my wrists now. It’s been nice knowing you all. Good bile.

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Remember to slash the palm side… bye…

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Just caught up with this again - a small point: Noxious, I didn’t mean to imply that ALL punters view it as a session; just that at all sessions that I have ever attended, there are some that do. There are clearly two different viewpoints: the sessioners’ and the punters’. (I’ve re-read my post, and it’s not you, Nox, it’s me - I didn’t say it very clearly. What I should have said was that *some* punters experience a session as a performance - what I actually said was that "the punters believe it was some kind of performance".)

This reminds me a bit of one of my favourite UK politician characters (as a character, that is, irrespective of what you think of her politics) - Edwina Currie. Some years ago, she said, correctly, that 90% of all UK egg production was affected by salmonella. She was *reported* as saying that 90% of all UK eggs were infected by salmonella, which was not correct at all.

And, I’m sorry Will, but I think you’re being disingenuous. If you didn’t intend to provoke Jack by bringing Jeremy into the discussion, then I don’t know why you did it. In the circumstances, I thought Jack’s response was reasonable. He didn’t call on Jeremy’s assistance - you did, at the very least by implication.

Still, who cares what I think? I’m not an arbiter, and I don’t believe anyone else should be either. We ALL agree on the sessioners’ standpoint on this (I think) - it’s just that Jack, myself, Trevor and others are acknowledging that there is a wider world out there beyond the closed circle of the musicians themselves. And we’ve got to acknowledge also that we do get a small kick out of there being some reaction from the punters, even though we’re not performing. Otherwise, as others have said, why on Earth do we go out there into the wider world, to pubs, rather than to, say, rooms in village halls etc? (Before I get the obvious response of cost, I could get 3 or 4 free rooms in such places with much less effort and time than I could find a session-friendly pub - it just requires a little thought, and I can’t believe the rest of the world is that much different in this respect.)

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‘The crux is what the punter thinks is happening when they encounter us having our sessions and how that’s in contrast to what we think we’re doing. The average punter thinks it’s an informal performance of some sort and responds to it as such. This is where the discussion goes from practical to philosophical and the question becomes: does that make a session held in a public place a performance? Some people would argue it does since the punter’s presence is just as valid as those in the session, and others will dismiss the punters as irrelevant and insist it does not. But I’m certain that if punters were represented on this message board they might take issue with being considered "irrelevant."

Okay, let’s take this one point at a time. First of all, much as I’m trying like the dickens to become an actual musician, I AM a punter. Been hanging out with other punters for 20 years (well, 24, but who’s counting).

As a punter, I can tell you your assumption is flawed. The average punter can easily see that a session is not a performance. Said punter probably has experienced many actual performances and knows the difference between the setup of a concert hall with a stage and a crowded pub with tables and chairs placed any which way. If our punter has never ever seen a real live session before, he might be confused at first and think it’s some kind of newfangled kind of a performance, and he might think he has to clap after every bit of music, and shush everyone around him because the "performers" are "performing". But he very soon learns that this is not necessary. He’ll look up at the bar and see the bartender carrying on with pouring drinks and taking money and talking with the customers. He’ll look around him and see everyone else engrossed in their own conversations and not really paying attention to the musicians. He’ll see that the musicians don’t necessarily respond to his applause. He’ll realize, *fairly quickly*, that he’s in a different kind of environment and he can relax and have a beer and not spend the evening behaving like a well-mannered audience member.

So. Are punters irrelevant? You mean to the music? I don’t think so. They’re part of the reason the musicians want to play the music in the first place (oooh, that’s a firecracker, what I just said!). Here’s why I think this—-I see music as an expression of a community, as an expression of being human. Think of when some of the first sessions started in London back in the 50’s—-entire communities of Irish people were forced to emigrate for lack of work, they settled in enclaves in London and their music came with them, it helped them celebrate who they were and reminded them of home. Ever listened to the Paddy in the Smoke cd? You think the punters in that pub weren’t part of the experience? There’s one tune where Martin Byrnes is building up some excitement and some punter shouts out his name to encourage him on—-these people loved their musicians, and the musicians know it and respond to it. Any musician who doesn’t care at all what other people think is missing out on one of the greatest benefits of having such a wonderful skill—-the ability to have a valued place in the community.

Well, I’d better stop before I become even more philosophical and start waxing on about the meaning of music to the human experience—-it’s such a spiritual thing for me, I get quite reflective about it. I hear my fiddle calling…

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I’m also interested in this assertion, which has come up before on this board, that "sessions started in London back in the 50’s". I don’t know, because I wasn’t there, but I guess this may be when sessions started to be routinely played in modern style pubs … except I’m sure I remember Chief O’Neill writing something about gatherings of musicians and someone bringing out old tunes and the others greeting each one as a long lost friend.

And you’ll find descriptions of sessions (Scottish admittedly) in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. Too lazy to look it up right now to check, but wasn’t that set in about the middle of the 18th century?

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Good point, benhall. I’ve been wondering about that myself. My grandmother told me about how my (Russian Jewish) great-grandfather used to love Irish music—-apparently he used to stop for a beer after work on the Lower East Side of NYC back in the 1920’s, and there were bars then that had live music. It blows my mind to think that he was listening to exactly the same kind of music that I’m learning to play!

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Think of sex. Even in the privacy of your own bedroom, without an audience, you and your chosen partner are performing.

Having said that I am currently baking a gigantic bodhran shaped cookie to bring to the session/performance tonight. That should keep everybody happy.

And lastly, all you have to do is think of an informal performance, for example a session, and a formal performance, such as a concert. They are SEEN as performances by the public, if not the musicians.

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I almost started to write something there, but then I remembered again that there’s no point. Damn, I always do that.

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performance can be described as a particular act , deed or proceeding.

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No point, Noxious? All quiet on the love front then?

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Well, I for one never said the punters were irrelevant, though the notion that the session is a concert for their entertainment might be an irrelevant notion, as far as the musicians are concerned. We went over this above: that notion only becomes relevant if said punters start demanding Fields of Athenry or asking us not to turn our backs to them.

In fact, anyone who bothered to read my comments would know that I welcome non-musicians as active and essentially equal participants in our session. The opposite, in fact, of irrelevant.

The problem with insisting that *all* sessions be performances (as Bliss, among others, has said) is that no one here has been to *all* sessions, and so can’t accurately assess what some sessions are really all about.

Also, the performance mindset drives sessions toward commercialism ("the publican’s only in it for the till," paid session leaders, catering to the tourists, etc.). If some people want their sessions to be like that, all power to them. But I’ll keep working to foster a session that’s uncommercial, unselfconscious, and communal because I enjoy it that way, and I understand how those very qualities are at the deepest roots of this musical tradition.

And Nox is right, there’s little use in talking with people who repeatedly show that they aren’t listening.

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I am listening. The number of sessions one has been to is not relevant. The style, make-up, rules, layout, basis, and content of the session are not relevant. It does not matter what any particular session is like. The discussion is not about types of sessions, yours or anybody elses. We all agree that all sessions are different.

The point being debated is simply this. We contend that playing music in a public place is a performance. That’s it.

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I am now going out to our session.

Sometimes we do a blues number that I wrote called "All the women love me". Now that is a performance.

Told you all "sessions" were different.

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Will writes: “Well, I for one never said the punters were irrelevant, though the notion that the session is a concert for their entertainment might be an irrelevant notion, as far as the musicians are concerned.”

Irrelevant: MG said it first: “that’s interesting then. So do we agree? Do we agree that your statement, "the punters love ‘em", while undoubtedly true, is, to the session playing musician, irrelevant?”

And Will kicked in his 2 cents within a post or two: “PB, I think "irrelevant" is the operative word here. The point against which you argued at length—"to the session playing musician" any notion of performance is irrelevant.”

Sounds to me like the punter’s perspective is “irrelevant.” You might not have said, “The punter is irrelevant” but if I told you that your opinion is “irrelevant” I think you’d feel I thought of you as irrelevant. Later you pointed out how the punters in your pub were converted over time and some even became part of your session, and I’m not doubting that, but since the discussion was about sessions around the world and not just about yours, all we can conclude is that most punters are considered “irrelevant.” This notion was picked up on and carried throughout the thread.

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Kennedy writes: “As a punter, I can tell you your assumption is flawed. The average punter can easily see that a session is not a performance. Said punter probably has experienced many actual performances and knows the difference between the setup of a concert hall with a stage and a crowded pub with tables and chairs placed any which way.”

You’re talking about the difference between a formal performance, or “concert,” and an informal performance that would happen in the same environment where public sessions happen – pubs. When a band sets up on stage with mics and such and gives their performance… punters continue chatting and know they don’t have to pay attention or clap after every number unless they’re compelled to. Sound familiar?

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I’m kinda surprised somebody from Montana would take that position anyway. Some pubs if you’re playing an instrument, you are performing, you’ll take requests or end up in the hospital. Either the state has changed a lot in the last fifteen years, or Whoosis is living in one of the more sissified place…full of actors and trendy coffee shops 🙂

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Irrelevant to What?

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I think it’s all closely linked with arrogance, which is in turn linked with self esteem. What was it Ropy Harper sang?
"You can feel bona-fide if you ride with the tide,
You can feel magnified if you hide in your pride"

Kennedy writes, "Any musician who doesn’t care at all what other people think is missing out on one of the greatest benefits of having such a wonderful skill—-the ability to have a valued place in the community." This seems noble enough, but my stomach really turned when Bodhran Bliss told us of his sexual performances. The poor guy is just unable to switch it off, even in the privacy of the bedroom.

And the problem with not having the ability to think outside the concept of everybody judging you, every second of every day is that it is impossible to get in touch with your own self expression.

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Hmmm… my act of playing in a public space… well, for me personally, not really. But I’m not the only person in the pub. Besides those of us playing music there are the employees and anyone else who happened to come in while the session was going on.

To determine what happened in the pub that night you’d have to investigate by asking a cross section of people that would include the punters. I think the punter’s answer might be different than mine, but no less valid in determining the facts. I would tell you I went to the pub to share tunes, drinks and laughs with some friends. The punter would probably say he (or she) went in for a pint (or whatever) and to chat with friends etc., and he might ad the bit about some people playing music. If he was a punter who paid attention to the music and was enjoying it he might say the music was “mighty.” If the punter was paying that close attention they might then be considered an "audience" and would have been enjoying watching musicians in the act of playing tunes on their instruments. All of this adds up to a "performance" according to rudimentary definitions.

If you were to ask the punter what he thought of the performance, he probably wouldn’t hesitate in saying it was favorable if he enjoyed it, or that it was “pure sh*te” if he didn’t like it. But there would be few punters that would respond to that question by correcting your use of the word “performance” and begin lecturing you about how it really isn’t a “performance” and fill you in on all the subtle differences. (Notice I didn’t rule out the possibility all together here or anywhere else on this thread.)

So after investigating the case of ‘what happened at the pub the night of the session’, you can only conclude that people drank, visited, laughed, etc., and there was music being played by some folks and enjoyed by other people listening and/or watching them. Sounds like a session to you and I, but it also sounds like an informal performance of some sort to the punters. Who’s irrelevant? Neither.

Conclusion: a session in a public place (like a pub) becomes a performance for most of the unsuspecting punters who also happen to be in the pub.

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Once again, Jack’s "logic" doesn’t hold up. Just because a punter’s sense of a session as a performance is irrelevant to me does not mean I think the punter is irrelevant.

Try this on: If a punter sees Jack playing his flute, and the punter thinks to himself, "Wow, he can really play that recorder!" is the punter’s misidentification of Jack’s flute relevant to Jack’s playing?

And I can’t help it that other people on this thread picked up the "irrelevant" idea and misunderstood and misreperesented it for something it was not. Lots of that going on here.

Heh, Taocat, you just hung out in the wrong bars. Or didn’t carry a big enough stick. 😉

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Cross post, I was refering to Jack’s logic in his previous post.

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But it remains germain because he persists in misrepresenting my (and probably Michael’s too) notion of "irrelevance."

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And now Jack says that by definition, anyone listening to music is an "audience," which in turn means that the music being played must be a "performance," because there’s an "audience."

This is a tautology.

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Come off it, that’s the whole point of this. Rudimentary definitions is just not good enough.

Take a bunch of people stood around the local park’s duck pond. "Lovely ducks eh?" says a lady throwing in some bread. "Actually, those two over their are grebes and there’s geese over there." say some smart arse. Does the lady care? They’re just ducks to her.

But here, on theSESSION.org, lets get more into it than rudimentary definitions.

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Yes, we’re not disputing "performance" in the sense that sessions are an execution of music in the presence of other people.

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And Will is right, the use of the word "irrelevant" was by no means meant to be disparaging. It’s use is to point out the subjectivity of non-performance music.

It’s blindingly straight forward:
The musician is not performing.
The punter thinks he is.
To the musician, it’s irrelevant.

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And some session clearly *are* designed to entertain. That’s fine. But that fact alone shouldn’t preclude that other sessions are NOT intended to entertain, and that everyone in the pub understands that.

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Folks, I’m not making these words up, I’m looking them up in a dictionary. This is basically the same dictionary that most people in the English speaking world refer to. Most people aren’t looking up their words and finding out their meaning in a special dictionary of ITM session terms.

Perform v

3. to present or enact an artistic work such as a piece of music (or tunes) or a play to an audience

Audience
1. a group of people who are watching and listening to a show, concert, or "other" live performance

Performance

1. a presentation of an artistic work to an audience for example, a play or piece of music (tunes)

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I wonder if some places are just so full of arrogant punters scrounging around for people to entertain them, that some session players have never had the joy of playing for their own pleasure amongst people who either don’t care, or who listen without creating the ambient expectation that the music is for them?

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Will, I’m not doubting that everyone in the pub where you hold your sessions understands the concept as you present it, but we’re talking about sessions all around the world here — not just yours.

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MG writes: "To the musician, it’s irrelevant."

I’ve never disputed this. I’m just saying that the punter’s experience is different, and just as valid.

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Whenever Jack gets cornered, he runs back to the dictionary.

He ignores the reality that dictionaries don’t create meaning, usage by people and context creates meaning.

He also misses the tautology in his logic based on definitions of performance and audience. "A performance has an audience. An audience is people listening to a performance. Therefore any time an audience listens to a performance, it must be a performance."

And he conveniently ignores the INTENT behind the gig or concert sense of performance—that the musicians INTENDS to play FOR the audience. When you take INTENT into account, it is clearly possible to play a tune in a public place with no intent of entertaining anyone but yourself.

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correct, just as valid, but irrelevant to the musician

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Jack also like to remind me that we’re not just talking about my session. Even though I’ve never said we were. I think we’re also talking about Michael’s session, and likely the session experience of many wise musicians around the world who grasp the pleasure of playing for playing’s sake, regardless of whether other people are listening.

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Will, is it your position that the dictionary is wrong concerning their definition of the word "Perform" and "Performance"?

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I’m not so sure that a poorly informed opinion is "just as valid" as an informed one. If a punter thinks Jack is playing a recorder, when in fact Jack is playing a fully keyed Grinter flute (and Jack knows the difference, which I assume he does), I have a hard time seeing the punter’s opinion as equally valid.

There’s nothing wrong with helping people better understand what they’re experiencing. Many people often feel enriched by learning about something they didn’t previously understand. It helps them more fully appreciate the experience.

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David writes: "we’re not presenting it to the audience! Just playing within earshot…"

Right… and ostriches don’t think anyone sees them just because they have their head stuck in the sand.

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No Jack, those dictionary definitions are good ones.

But they take you only so far, especially if you ignore the performer’s INTENT to entertain an audience.

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Jack also likes to belittle other people’s points, not by saying they’re stupid, but by using quaint metaphors that compare those people to ostriches sticking their heads in the sand.

This is also a flawed piece of logic. It amounts to saying: "You’re wrong because you’re in denial."

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Will’s the pot calling the kettle black when it comes to belittling other people’s points.

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I just looked at a bit of my screen there and saw something funny:

Does anyone like bodhrans?
Jesus wept.

tee he

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No Jack, I’m just pointing out the lack of rational cohesion in your points. In a discussion such as this, pointing out lapses in logic is the only way to constructively move forward.

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Will writes: "But they take you only so far, especially if you ignore the performer’s INTENT to entertain an audience. "

I’ve never seen "intent" contingent on the meaning of the word. If you have substantiation for this I’d like to see it. I would agree however that the performance could be unintentional, but a performance none-the-less.

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Also, I would like to add that I wasn’t belittling David’s point, I was simply offering allegory to make my point. Any belittling is purely speculative.

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I think the reason y’all can’t convince each other is that you’re both right. The session experience is so removed from the cultural standard that there really is no good means of defining it. It is a conversation between musicians, a provider of background entertainment for the punters (with some musicians being cognizant of punters and others not) and more.

What I don’t understand is why it is so important to make your perspective dominant. It is just a matter of perspective after all. Just as everybody’s experience of the session will be different, and that is not a bad thing at all.

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I like that thought experiment. It gives a way of explaining the non-performance music concept as a kind of psychological one way mirror. They can see you, but you can’t see them.

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Jack’s dictionary definitions for perform and perfomance both mention "presenting" something "to" an audience. "Presenting to an audience" sounds very intentional and purposeful, as opposed to, say, "playing music within earshot of other people." In the first, the musician’s INTENT is to present a tune to a listener for the listener’s appreciation. In the second, the musician may be unaware and unconcerned whether anyone actually IS within earshot, let alone whether anyone within earshot actually wants to hear the tune.

INTENT is crucial.

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Actully TaoCat it’s very important because it is waht we do. And is it not important to be aqble to define what you do?

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David, I’ve been to a session in a snug at Hughzes in Dublin when I was there once for a couple of months. There were nights when only musicians were in that snug, so only their perspective mattered. But on other nights music loving punters would squeeze in and enjoy the music complete with applause and all the other hallmarks of a "performance." It would be difficult to explain those nights as much else than an informal performance to anyone other then the musicians. So was it a session, or an informal performance? Depends on who you ask I suppose. Who would be wrong? Neither.

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And Jack has seen the word "intent", in "unintentional"

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Michael, you can’t define what we do anymore than you can define the tunes by the dots. It’s all just a representation.

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That’s exactly what I’ve been saying all along, TaoCat.

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Taocat, that’s precisely why I’ve stuck it out on this one—Jack and Bliss continue to insist that "all sessions are performances" in the sense that we cannot possibly play purely for our own enjoyment while other people go about their own business in the same room (whether reading, watching telly, talking, or perchance even listening to the music), without it becoming a "performance to an audience."

Why is that view the only acceptable one to these people?

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AAARGG

so why do you keep quoting the bloody dictionary?

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And all I’m saying is that it is possible for a group of people, musicians and non-musicians alike, to enjoy an evening of music, drink, and craic, without necessarily being a "performance," formal or informal or otherwise.

It’s shocking to me that this offends Jack and Bliss so. Especially since the aural tradition of this music makes it clear that this is how the music has been played and understood for generations.

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Intentional, unintentional, it doesn’t matter. You’re presenting "an artistic work such as a piece of music (or tunes)" in a public space where punters are also present, and will be likely to think of themselves as an "audience." Thse are just the facts — intent is irrelevant.

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LOL, yes, Jack’s the one trying to draw a narrow definition around what a session is. 🙂

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Jack, you are NOT presenting it

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Right, any more than you’d be "presenting" your privates for an audience in a public loo. Unless you’re into that sort of thing…. 😀

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"You" being the generic "you," not implicating Jack personally.

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Debauched minds think alike.

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Nothing offends me about the discussion, Will, except when you accuse me of being, "condescending and sarcastic" and start telling me I "take it [the discusision] down to the level of a junior high playgorund argument" and so on.

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OK, come back to the physiological two way mirror thing. They can see you, but you can’t see them

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one way mirror, sorry

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Firstly, as for my performing in the bedroom, the goat demands it.

And poor Will has seized on the word INTENT, as if this was a murder trial.

And I don’t care if you go into the pub, erect a screen between you and everyone else, and then play. It is still a performance, completely without intent, although when Perry Mason hears that you erected a screen, he will wisely ask if this does not show intent.

Going into the pub with instruments would also show intent.

Right that’s that settled.

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I wasn’t accusing you of anything. I was telling you how your rhetorical tactics made me feel. I said those things because I’m tired of seeing the level of discourse on this board lowered by the use of mean-spirited sarcasm, condescension, and apparently deliberate use of tautologies and other logical fallacies.

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For example, tautologies and sarcasm and condescension of the sort Bliss routinely whips out for our entertainment.

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😀 😀 😀

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Funny that these threads on the session/performance issue are the record setters, and that many other members here laugh at us for carrying on this way. No other topic generates this much heat. We must be on to something. 😏

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ha, punters, performers, and Bliss’s goat. I’m off too

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I smell dinner….

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Just back from a session there was some great performances . one guy played his first set of tuneson his own he gave a great performance.

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Blissters writes: "And poor Will has seized on the word INTENT, as if this was a murder trial."

Hey, this could be good allegory. If the actions of one man causes another man to die, whether it’s determined to be murder or involuntary manslaughter — someone’s going to be doing some time.

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Will writes: "No Jack, I’m just pointing out the lack of rational cohesion in your points. In a discussion such as this, pointing out lapses in logic is the only way to constructively move forward."

Well, Will, I really think it would be best for everyone concerned if you limited your analysis of the commentary on this board to your own. To be instructing others about the "rational cohesion" in their points" and their "lapses in logic" comes across not only as needlessly pedantic, but arrogant as well.

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David writes: "I must admit I’m uncomfortable with the notion that because the punter thinks something is something, then it is."

How do you keep missing the point that both the musician AND the punter’s perception is correct? This isn’t about which one is right, but more about niether being wrong.

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Will writes: "No other topic generates this much heat. We must be on to something."

I think it might be for a couple of reasons: 1) because it’s a philosophical argument that few, if any of us are really qualified for, and 2) it cuts to the heart of why we have sessions.

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Jack and Bliss continue to insist that "all sessions are performances" in the sense that we cannot possibly play purely for our own enjoyment while other people go about their own business in the same room (whether reading, watching telly, talking, or perchance even listening to the music), without it becoming a "performance to an audience." So says Will.

I never once said anything of the sort. I always play for my own enjoyment, while other people go about their own business. They however think I am performing.

And as I am something of incredibly fantastic on the bodhran, they are drawn like flies to s##t and soon become an audience.

As I have my eyes shut, I do not notice them

And when they ask if I had intended to play, thereby showing intent, I just tell them that I always carry a load of instruments about with me. That usually fools them, and Will.

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I never said that either, Blissters.

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Shouldn’t it be, really, be a one-and-a-half-way mirror? A two-way mirror is a window.

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Jack writes: "Welll, Will, I really think it would be best for everyone concerned if you limited your analysis of the commentary on this board to your own. To be instructing others about the "rational cohesion" in their points" and their "lapses in logic" comes across not only as needlessly pedantic, but arrogant as well."

Actually, it’s very much in everyone’s best interests, whether it’s me doing the pointing or Michael, or David, or someone else, to reveal the lapses in your logic. It’s called shedding light on the subject. Better that than cloaked in the shadows of unreasonable beliefs.

And if you really think that both the punter’s and musician’s perceptions are correct—equally valid—then (as David alluded to above) a rapist who says it was consensual and his victiim have no beef with each other. They’re both right.

And if "perception is reality" (which seems to be what you’re saying), then it shouldn’t be any bother to you when a punter decides to sing a 30 verse ballad off key at your session because he perceives that it’s an open floor for anyone with a perceived talent for music.

Unless "perception is reality" stops when one person’s fist meets another person’s nose. Once these perceptions actually interfere with another person’s life, then what?

Relativism has never stood on solid ground, except when you’re talking about the effect of large gravitational fields on the speed of light….

(Pedantic enough for you?)

Bliss, your first two sentences after quoting me (where you say you’ve never said anything of the sort) say exactly what my quote says. I appreciate your generosity—providing yet another briliant example of self-contradiction.

Right. Looks like you lads can continue the debate on your own from here, seeing as how Bliss disagrees with himself, and Jack doesn’t need anyone’s help reasoning through it. Onward and upward.

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There is no helping some people. I tried, Dear Lord, I tried.

Well that is my perception.

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And there are only a few reasons why someone would sing a 30 verse ballad off key.

They could perceive that they were at a "performance session, or;

They could perceive that the elitist group in the corner were playing for their own amusement, and decide to sing for their own amusement.

Either way, he/she would be performing, at a "session".

With deadly, pre-meditated intent.

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Yes, many people perform at sessions and there are many reasons. To prove something, like the guy earlier who played his first set on his own. To wreck someone else’s music, like the guy Bliss mentioned above. To altruistically share your genius with the world, like Bliss himself (or was that "feed some sh*t to some flies"). You simply can’t help it, like Jack, because he thinks listening to logic is pedantic, which disqualifies him from a philosophical argument.

Yes, people often perform at sessions. But I’ve never once yet seen anybody do it for a good reason.

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I’ve seen it too and it makes me squirm. No-one likes a showoff.

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Wil writes: "Actually, it’s very much in everyone’s best interests, whether it’s me doing the pointing or Michael, or David, or someone else, to reveal the lapses in your logic. It’s called shedding light on the subject. Better that than cloaked in the shadows of unreasonable beliefs."

This is very disappointing, Will. After failing to convince us that you’re right and we’re wrong you now are resorting to ad hominem. Since you couldn’t win the argument on it’s own merits, and have ignored all requests for substantiation, you have chosen to attack me personally instead. What you don’t realize, obviously, is that this tactic represents an admission of defeat. It’s probably best that you bow out now since all you have left is to invent ways to insult and demean myself and others in this forum.

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Ahh… Michael the philosopher. Tell us Michael, what makes you so qualified as a philosopher? Let’s see your credentials.

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What exactly is "winning" an argument ?

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Will want’s us to accept that the punter’s perspective is irrelevant since the people in the session didn’t consider what they were doing was any kind of performance whatsoever. But the punter’s perception had all the hallmarks of a performance, and unless someone explains it to him — he’ll go away believing he saw a performance of some sort.

So who’s perception determines what actually happened in the pub… the punter or the session musician? My position is that both are relevant, Will wants us to dismiss the punter’s perception and consider the session musician’s view as the single correct perspective. He hasn’t convinced me and a few others of this, so now he’s resorting to insulting our intelligence instead. So whatever winning an argument might be – Will isn’t doing it.

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Logic is the basis of philosophy, to dismiss it as pedantic is akin to dismissing colour in painting, or tonality in music (oops, there I go again, bodhran bashing)

And lets say it again shall we. I’ve all the time in the world.

The Punter’s perception is not irrelevant, to the punter. It’s irrelevant to the musician. What defines performance is when the punter’s perception becomes relevant to the musician.

So what’s actually happening in the pub? You are quite right, two things, that are both relevant. One is not right and the other wrong. It’s just that one thing is relevant to one lot, and the other relevant to the others.

Your problem is that you have difficulty dismissing what is relevant to the punter and until you can, you are doomed to for ever be a performer.

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That’s certainly nice and clear and easy to understand and seems to hit the nail on the head.
End of argument?

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I’ll say it again, since certain voices in this thread have been continually saying the opposite—-punters do not necessarily see a session as a performance. It’s a major error to assume otherwise.

And we’re getting into some pretty fine semantics by describing a session as an "informal performance". Wouldn’t that make ALL sessions "informal performances"? How do you know when a session is NOT an "informal performance"? When every single person in the room is a musician? If so, wouldn’t that make EVERY session *by definition* an "informal performance"? And if that’s true, why call them "sessions" anyway?

Hmmm, let’s try it out…I went to an informal performance last night…

Nah.

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Would an informal performance be a ceilidh?

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Kennedy, it’s intent. If the musicians intends to consider as irrelevant the punters perception, it’s not a performance.

If for any reason, you start to consider the punters perception as having any relevance, then you will start to perform.

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"punters do not necessarily see a session as a performance. It’s a major error to assume otherwise."

I’ve just been skimming this thread as the "bodhran" aspect put me off a little 🙂 so forgive me if this next point has been mentioned before.

Kennedy, what you say is true especially in a regular established session pub with regular punters who have "been trained" to a certain extent and do not expect a performance. In many cases, it’s just background music and often "tolerated" rather than appreciated.

In other circumstances, the punters sometimes think that the musicians are just "practising" and accept this too, although some might expect a little more..you know "Come on on, give us a proper song", "Play up" and so on.
It really depends on the pub.

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Michael says Jack is doomed to be a performer. "Doomed" has obvious negative connotations. But what disturbs me is that this won’t bother Jack because he is already aware that he is a "performer" and he seems to be cool with it. Michael, I’d be interested to see you take this further and tell us what you think "people who are doomed to be performers" miss out on, because that’s the crux of why this thing is so important and why we’ve argued about it for so long.

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Strange argument, isn’t it? I mean this whole discussion. I think what "certain voices" are trying to say is simply a recognition that there is more than one view of the same session on the same night, from different standpoints.

I did a gig last night in a pub - nobody took the slightest notice of us, most of the time - just carried on chatting and drinking and laughing. We were background music. Doesn’t mean to say they didn’t enjoy it or appreciate us being there and the music. In fact we had lots of nice comments afterwards. Even though we were background music, we were still performing. Thing is, there will, in my experience, always be some punters - not all - just some, who will have the same sort of feeling during a session, even though the musicians’ view is, in the case of a session, different from those involved in the sort of background music ‘gig’ described above. Their view (the punters’, that is) is valid - might not be mine, might not be the same as other sessioners’, might be a minority view, but still valid.

We’re just arguing for inclusion and tolerance of other peoples’ point of view aren’t we?

Plus, there’s a nagging doubt in my mind - like many, I suppose, I’ve played in the sort of ‘back room’ session where it’s just the musicians present, shut away from the rest of the pub. There’s a strange uncomfortable feeling in such sessions, and, paradoxically, you’d have thought, people are actually shyer and MORE conscious of their playing (and hence of their performance?) than when playing in the main body of the pub. In other words, we’d rather play in public? And isn’t that performing, in at least a litle way? (I’ve also got a nagging feeling that I’m missing something blindingly obvious here, so feel free to point it out 😉 )

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Rats! I posted, and, while I was writing, Michael posted this: "If, for any reason, you start to consider the punters perception as having any relevance, then you will start to perform" and the b***er’s started to win me round … rats! again …

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Okay, let’s work with that. Say I go into a bar *intending* to have an honest-to-goodness session and play the music I want the way I want and not care about what the punters think (this is all hypothetical, of course, as I haven’t actually done this yet). I’m sitting there playing my fiddle and some punter comes up to me and says how much he like the music (can’t quite imagine this happening, but I suppose it will some day). I say thank you, as you do, and I feel happy that he’s happy. And it feels good to keep playing knowing that other people are enjoying it. I’m still playing the same music, the way I want to play it. Does my awareness of someone listening to me mean I’m performing now?

And let’s say he comes up to me again and asks me to play Out on the Ocean (this is a knowledgable punter here). I tell him sure and give it a go. He’s happy, I’m happy he’s happy, he buys everyone a drink (this is also a very nice punter). My session mates and I go back to doing our thing. Are we performing then?

I’ll answer my own question—-I don’t see it as a performance. I see it as sharing music. And *as a punter myself*, I know that that punter who bought me a drink doesn’t necessarily think I was performing. He thinks I’m playing music. He knows he doesn’t have to clap for me, but he can appreciate what I do.

I don’t know, I’m just having trouble with this "performance" description. The word has all sorts of connotations that don’t match up with the music as I’ve experienced it.

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benhall, you are indeed missing the blindingly obvious. People get the same awkwardness in quiet rooms in pubs in scenarios which have nothing to do with playing music, because many people don’t like silence. People are more comfortable with ambient noise, period. In conversation, you get a certain amount of tension or shyness when someone breaks silence with a remark that is only made to fulfil the function of breaking the silence, like "so, how have you been then". In the same way as nobody wants to be that person to make the awkward comment, it’s natural to shy away from starting a tune up in a situation like that. I’ve had many a great session in back rooms with no punters present, but it’s a lot easier if you know the other musos as good friends.

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Yeah, I’m sorry for the "doomed" phrase. But, Mr blanket, your question is very pertinent and may help to answer why this thread is so long, while moving it forward.

It’s about the personal gain you can get from non-performance music. It’s about a deep inner freedom from vanity. Just you and your mates and the music. I used to perform a lot, still do occasionally, and still enjoy it. But no amount of performance can come even close to the feeling you can get when you deliberately shut out any perception of how you are perceived.

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Thanks NB, I thought I was.

Leads me on to … so we have sessions in pubs so *we* can enjoy (or at least be comforted by) the noise of the punters. Are *they* performing, do you think? 🙂

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Kennedy, you say, "Say I go into a bar … but this is all hypothetical." You’ll need to experience it.

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benhall, to me, your suggestion that the punters might be performing is just as silly as the suggestion that session musos are necessarily performing just because they’re in a public place.

Much more interesting is what Michael’s saying. I think that I’ve been interested in reading this thread because I’m intrigued in the feeling of disappointment I get when I think that many musicians out there cannot get past the performance thing. I kind of assumed that that wasn’t the case.

So this is about people who are unable to shut out thoughts of how they are being perceived… I find myself wondering whether this has any effect on their actual playing. It must do, surely, because it’s psychological, and the playing of music is affected by psychological aspects as well as those of motor skills, etc.

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"You’ll need to experience it."

Ah well, I guess I’ll come back in a couple of months, then. This thread should still be going strong by then, I’m sure.

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Ah ha, that’s exactly it. "people who are unable to shut out thoughts of how they are being perceived.". perfect.

And of course it effects their playing, you can spot it a mile off.

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Kennedy, I’m sorry if I was a bit snippy then, I read my post to you and it certainly looks that way.

But let’s look at your scenario. Punter asks for a tune and you happily oblige. But if while playing that tune, your thoughts wander to wondering if he likes it or not, then you are performing to him. Bloody hard not to in those circumstances, and that’s why we don’t like requests, no matter how well intentioned.

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That’s okay, Michael, you are my elder here, after all, and I agree with what you say anyway.

That’s a shame what you say about requests. I don’t make them very often, but sometimes if I’m around someone who plays something I love to pieces, it’s bloody hard not to (to use your phrase).

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"To prove something, like the guy earlier who played his first set on his own. "


What about when someone "starts off" or plays a set on his/her own? Is he performing to his/her peers?
There are many instances, i.e going to a new or different sessions and even in your own sessions where one might be asked to "start something of their own".
Of course, in these situations, I wouldn’t think of it as a performance or such and certainly not wish to show off. However, I wouldn’t want to make a mess of it either and would certainly be conscious of the fact that the others were listening..albeit even for a very short time until they recognised(if they do) the tunes and joined in.

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Now we’re getting there… There has to be some grey areas 🙂

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This is totally irrelevant to the conversation, but I’d just like to point out that this thread has the dubious distinction of being the longest in the history of thesession.org currently at 444 posts. The last "performance" thread that came anywhere close was 415.

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Hey I found an even longer one at 450 https://thesession.org/discussions/3705. Funny how they’re all about the same subject, with the same people arguing. Kinda like countries going to war…

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I found myself at a session with definite ‘performance-aspects’ last night. It wasn’t an Irish session, but a blues/Jazz/old-timey affair. Although it was a session in the sense that the punters (who were very much there for the music) were healthily ignored when they requested tunes or songs, it had the performance thing of everyone being expected to contribute solos, which were applauded by the audience (particularly mine, as they resembled nothing they’d ever heard before, so they assumed I must be really good!). I must say that after an evening of that, although it was great fun in its own way, I’m even more inclined to go with Michael’s negative assesment of ‘performing’. I think that the people with his give-no-quarter outlook are useful in holding back the tendency of musicians to use sessions to display their abilities and perform to the audience or other musicians. The odd song and well-played solo or party-piece sit well within an evening’s session, I feel, but need to be reined in quite firmly or Irish music could easily end up being like bluegrass, with musicians taking turns to demonstrate their ‘chops’ (Is that the right word?). The beauty of session music is in the feeling (maybe sometimes erroneous) that you are adding to the sound of the whole, and not simply a demonstration of your ability - unless you have something very special to contribute (I certainly didn’t last night!)
Mark

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It’s harder not to perform if you are playing on your own, especially if you don’t know the company, but it can be done. Though whether you’d want to in this circumstance is another point. It may be that a hint of a performance, a hint of acknowledging the presence of some people listening would be more polite here.

And this is why playing in ensemble is better

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Thank you, Noxious: "There has to be some grey areas". That was EXACTLY what I have been trying to say whenever I’ve dipped my toes back into this.

There are two things that continue to bother me in this: one is Scotsman’s point, in that you are trying to make a good sound, presumably, and there are frequent moments in sessions when at least the other musicians are listening to and enjoying an individual’s playing.

And the other is that I don’t think it’s right to "shut out thoughts" of how you are perceived. Since it *is* a community thing, as has been repeatedly pointed out, then you’ve got to at least be aware of the community you’re in ie the pub. If you’re not acutely aware of your environment as a musician then, it seems to me, you’re missing out on some of the sensitivity which might make the music that extra bit magical - for the sessioners, that is, not the punters.

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I think that being aware of the community thing is important between sets when people are chatting, but when you start playing, you’re gonna make the best music if you absorb yourself in the music and listen carefully to what the other musos are doing. Otherwise you’re conscious of how you’re being perceived, and you start performing, and unless you can somehow succeed in blocking these thoughts, the music’s going to be different. Like Michael says, you can spot it a mile off. There’s no question that some people play like this in sessions.

However, that doesn’t mean you can say that "all sessions are performances", just because you’re playing in public.

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Thing is, I do know what you mean, Noxious, and it really irritates me too when someone is "performing" in that sense. I’d also like to own up that I have been guilty myself - I think this has been rare, and whenever it has happened it’s always because I’m p*ssed off at someone or something, and I *still* feel like sh*t afterwards …

… so yes, I know what you mean

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Benhall, mere words are not enough to convey how refreshing it is to see someone actually think through the posts here and earnestly try to understand what other people are saying. But words are all we have here, so—Thank you for participating in good faith, and with intelligence and honesty.

Yes, playing the music with no hint of self-consciousness, no concern for other’s perceptions, is absolutely wonderful. And it can be a very difficult mindset to acheive, especially for those of us reared in the ego-ridden world of celebity worship and commercialization.

That’s why it’s SO important—if playing this way is your goal—to create a non-performaning space for it to happen. For some of us, that’s what a good session is all about.

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Yes, the grey areas are interesting. However, if you are trying to make a good sound, you are performing. Though if you stop performing and stop trying to make a good sound, it more often the case that you’ll end up making a better sound.

Look at it from the other side. The worst performers on stage are the ones who have the crafts of communication and delivery absolutely nailed, but fail to put themselves across. The best performers are the ones who are able to let their eye off the ball for a moment and lose themselves in the music.

What we try to do is far simpler, it’s just to lose yourself in the music by throwing out all the baggage of crafts of communication and delivery.

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The next question is about performance situations on stage, for example a concert pianist or a member of a chamber orchestra where the musicians arrive with the intent of giving a performance. Is it possible for them to absorb themselves so completely in the music that they are able to view their audience simply as "people within earshot" of their playing, and ignore their expectations and perceptions? Of course the audience are going to view it as a "performance", but I wonder if musicians ever come off stage feeling as though they have not performed, because they have been able to shut out thoughts of other people’s perceptions of what they are doing. If this stuff really does affect the music being produced, then surely people like concert pianists are going to have grappled with this issue, but come at it from a different perspective than we session musos would.

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Cross-posting, but Michael mentioned the same thing. Michael you say that "the best performers are the ones who are able to let their eye off the ball for a moment and lose themselves in the music". Presumably you mean that the best performers are those who don’t perform, and therefore aren’t performers. I wonder if these performers who aren’t performers view themselves as performers or not 🙂

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No, if you stand on a stage and completely lose yourself in the music, you won’t be performing and it will be tedius to the audience. I’ve seen it, people trying to perform with their eyes closed etc. You have to comunicate with your audience. It’s really hard to do, to lose yourself whilst maintaining a communication, but the best are really good at it.

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Jack, I’m sorry you think that I’ve resorted to ad hominem. In fact, I’ve focused on your rhetorical tactics and your use of logic, particularly where that logic was flawed. That’s not ad hominem—but, as Michael points out, it is how a rational discussion moves forward instead of staying forever stuck on unfounded or poorly supported opinions.

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Michael and Nox, we also have to be careful to remember that some people are apparently wired to be at their best—and derive the most pleasure from—while consciously performing to an audience. At least that’s what I assume from the numerous comments (here and elsewhere) that the flutters of performance anxiety can drive some people to play better than they could otherwise. I’m not wired that way, at least not musically, but I don’t have reason to doubt that other people are. To them, a non-performance session might be dull and uninspiring, I don’t know.

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Maybe the session thing is a completely unique ‘other way’. Maybe there is an attitude to playing, which, at its best, is almost to do with respect for the music for it’s own sake. If performance has developed from that strand of music used for ceremony, maybe session music is a sort of phatic extension of the functional music from which it grows (dance music). If I play at a dance, the musicians are not the focus of attention. If any applause comes it comes at the end of the evening, when the caller or leader introduces the band, or it might come spontaneously at the end of a dance, in which case the applause is more for ‘the tune’ than for ‘the band’.
However, session music doesn’t come ENTIRELY from dance music, it also comes from music with other functions (ceremonial, or classical/performance music like Carolan pieces, and of course, songs), which introduce elements of performance into the proceedings. That side of it has more in common with the sort of music that requires an audience reaction, and other people in the pub, or kitchen, or wherever the session is, are likely to react as an audience. I can’t see that someone singing a song, unless it is to lead a communal song, which doesn’t seem to happen much at sessions, (except those of a dire folkiness), can be anything other than performance. I speaks directly to and creates ‘an audience’. But I can’t see that as bad thing, as it draws people into the session. If you just want to be ignored totally, it might be a bad thing, but then why not go and play in that back room. Personally, if I’m playing in a session, I usually completely forget that there is anyone outside the circle listening or not listening, or whatever they are doing, but their being there still somehow gives the session a legitimacy and a sense of purpose….
I’ve probable contradicted myself a dozen times there.
🙂

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Good points, Ottery. This is "roots" music after all. I like a session that harkens back to those music-as-community (the old crossroads or kitchen dances) ideals.

And you’re right, I think, that this doesn’t preclude a performance interlude now and then—a song, a recitation. That’s what the old party pieces were all about, closer, I imagine, to Jack’s sense of an ‘informal performance’ snuggled into a larger evening of non-performance music.

Part of the difficulty these days of trying to have a non-performance session is that even the old dance tunes have become "listening music." So the context for playing them has shifted toward a more audience-centric approach.

But I think we’re at risk of losing an important connection to each other as people if we play music only across the performer/audience divide. In short, my hunch is that music didn’t originate as a way to impress others, but as a way to communicate (from the Latin, communicare, "to share") amongst our family members and immediate neighbors. At it’s core, music is a communal experience—the best performers tap into that. But we can also return to that experience whole cloth, by intentionally NOT performing.

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LOL!

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The "sharing" thing is important too. Not all sessions are necessarily "ensembles", in any case. In Cape Breton, for instance, they take turns and (I suppose) perform for the other musicians and singers in the company.
Even in your average session, there’s occasions when you will(for various reasons) play a tune on your own.

However, the emphasis shouldn’t be on the performer but rather the tune(or set)s and songs. That’s why we don’t usually say "That was brilliant. You played really well"(I feel very uncomfortable if anyone says that to me and don’t necessarily believe it). Instead, you’ll hear something like "That was a nice tune" or "What did you call the last one?" or something similar.

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Phatic is always a good word to get in!
😉

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I’ve just had a thought. I was at a session a couple of weeks back, when a very well respected box player started a tune. He looked around as he started, but no-one took the bait, and he was on his own. He played it beautifully, and totally alone, but somehow it didn’t come across as a performance, it was more like an exploration. The musicians were captivated and fascinated, but it felt more like a small gift dropped into the proceedings than a peformance for the ‘audience’. The audience at the bar hardly seemed to notice how good it was - possibly because he was so lost in the tune and not ‘putting out’.
Maybe that is something of the essence of this thing that we all want to hold onto and protect so much.

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yes, I said above that you can play non performance music on your own, you’ve gotta be good though

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Bingo!

Kevin Burke once told me, with a twinkle in his eye, that most people think the tunes exist because people created them. In fact, he mused, it’s the other way around—we exist so that the tunes have someone to play them.

Fanciful? Yes, but it nicely sums up how some of us approach the tunes, whether anyone is listening or not.

If someone else IS listening, they also can choose to listen to the tune, not the player. Instead of hanging on the musician’s skill or artistry, they can hone in on the tune itself. I think this may be what Scotsman is getting at in his post above. And I find it’s a very common mindset at Irish sessions.

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Will, that’s exactly how I’ve always listened to music!

Except now that I’m learning to play, I don’t listen the same way any more—-I’m laser-focused on every single thing any fiddler does, the fingers, the bow, the shoulders, where the rolls and the triplets are—-I feel like if I don’t pay that close kind of attention I’ll miss something. I wonder if it will always be that way or I’ll be able to listen casually again after I’ve gone a bit farther up the learning curve…

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Fantastic thread this! AND I’ve learnt two new words/phrases (phatic and ad hominem). Can’t help thinking I shouldn’t have to use the dictionary *quite* so much when talking about ITM, but perhaps it’s just my ignorance. 🙁

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customers/punters might think I am showing off, but musicians such as Michael and Noxious should know better, ePerformance does not mean "showing off", just to inform Michael and Noxious. No dictionary will define tr perform as showing off.

So although I am totally impervious to the punters, by the mere dint of playing a tune in a pub, with customers in it, I am performing. I am certainly performing in their eyes, and indeed many of the punters may think "look at that eejit, showing off". In reality I am playing Roisin Dubh or Limerick’s Lament, or any slow air, because I get great enjoyment from doing so. Now thespecially as they are arguing that we play for our own enjoyment.

A formal performance at a session could be classified when the musicians, or some of them, are being paid. In short the pub has hired them as entertainment, so they are required to perform their tunes with an eye on entertainment. They may do this in an informal way, but they are still performing formally, as that is the reason they are in the pub.

To perform a tune you play the notes. End of story. You don’t need to be showing off, or totally ignoring everyone, you just play the notes, to perform a tune. You could do this in your own bedroom, alone, locked away from the world, totally for your own enjoyment. You perform the tune.

Do the same thing in public, it is a public performance, whatever your motive.

Now, wasn’t that easy, if you do not have hang ups about show offs and punters, and customers, or anything else.

My goat, the bedroom one, is not computer literate but has asked me to post the following on its behalf:

"If I die and I am made into a bodhran, and then played in a pub, I will be giving a public performance, or at least my spirit, or skin, will be".

Thank you Goat.

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Ottery, Michael and Noxious would call your box player a show off.

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LOL, Ben, vocabulary is like your repertoire of tunes—you’ll never know all the bits everyone else knows. Get enough people together and some is bound to use a word/play a tune you aren’t yet familiar with. No worries—learning is an endless journey. (I too had to look up ‘phatic’ the first time Ottery used it, moons ago.)

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Part of my thread above was lost. Performance does not mean showing off, no dictionary will define it as such, and people should not confuse the two. It went something like that before the rest kicks in.

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Kennedy

In my own experience - can’t speak for others - it just gets worse and worse. Over the years I’ve just got more and more insatiable in terms of wanting to listen and learn how to do absolutely everything that can be done on a fiddle, or what listening to a good box player, or flute or whistle player can teach me about a tune I like and about the music and my own playing - I don’t do it all - can’t, and probably shouldn’t - but it doesn’t stop me wanting to know and learn.

What I have found, though, is that you start to develop the ability to do that while still participating in and enjoying the craic - like there’s a part of your mind you syphon off for listening to the subtleties other people are putting in. Also, fortunately, I’ve found you can use the same bit of your brain for filtering out the bits you *don’t* want to hear!

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It also stated that Michael and Noxious, unlike customers, would realise that I am not showing off, I am playing The Cuilin because I like it, and don’t care what anyone else thinks. To be blunt, I love slow airs and ballads, Tom Waits, Damien Rice, Leonard Cohen and the immortal Nick Drake would be favourites. Hardly designed to curry favour with the average punter.

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And Michael, buiy tickets to see Liam Og O’Flynn. Absolutely wonderful player, absolutely dreadful at connecting to an audience, as he totally ignores them, unlike Van Morrison whomtreats the audience with outright contempt, but still performing, on a stage, for an audience.

In fact Morrison may be relevant here. He gets enmeshed in his own work, and once in Manchester when someone shouted a request, Van stopped in his tracks and memorably said "Can you f### up, I’m trying to work here".

So Van was singing for his own pleasure, oblivious to the audience, at a concert.

But still performing.

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BBliss says: Ottery, Michael and Noxious would call your box player a show off.
I don’t think you’re right. Any more than they would call you a ‘show off’ if they were actually there on the night. Good session music is what good session players play in sessions, whether solo or as part of the ensemble. It’s only here on the yellow board that absolute truths have to be established and hairs split in their pursuit.
Sorry, Will, if I overuse the word Phatic - it seems apposite to the nature what we do ….

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I mean ‘the nature OF what we do …’

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When a Doctor performs an operation is he;

A: Showing off

B; Letting on he is not really there

C: explaining to the nurses that although he is removing someone’s brain, he is not performing, he is doing it for himself.

Answers on a postcard please.

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MG writes: “So what’s actually happening in the pub? You are quite right, two things, that are both relevant. One is not right and the other wrong. It’s just that one thing is relevant to one lot, and the other relevant to the others.

Your problem is that you have difficulty dismissing what is relevant to the punter and until you can, you are doomed to for ever be a performer.”

No… I don’t need to dismiss anything to enjoy a session. The punter’s perception of what happened in the pub doesn’t affect me in the slightest; all I’m doing is acknowledging that they see it different than we do. Our perception of events is no more valid than theirs. We both go home afterwards with our separate understandings of what took place.

At last night’s session here I was surrounded with friends and hardly anyone was in the pub at the start. As the night progressed some of the regular punters began to arrive, and then people I’ve never seen before as well. By the mid point there were a good number of people in the pub, most chatting, and some obviously listening and enjoying the music. There was applause here and there, but it had no apparent affect on us as far as I could tell. We were having a session.

Michael continues: “If for any reason, you start to consider the punters perception as having any relevance, then you will start to perform.”

Maybe for you, but I am not subservient to the punter’s point of view. You’re assigning far too much power to the punter. It seems you need to shut out any awareness of their possible misinterpretation of what you’re doing. If you don’t – you’re condemned to performing. It’s not the same for me. I can acknowledge them, even with their misconceptions, and still enjoy all of the aspects associated with participating in a session that have been described in this thread.

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Will writes: “Jack, I’m sorry you think that I’ve resorted to ad hominem. In fact, I’ve focused on your rhetorical tactics and your use of logic, particularly where that logic was flawed. That’s not ad hominem—but, as Michael points out, it is how a rational discussion moves forward instead of staying forever stuck on unfounded or poorly supported opinions.”

Sorry, Will, but your approach is indeed ad hominem. If you want to address the issue of flawed logic, your approach to discussing these issues has a couple of well-known logical fallacies. I’ve already pointed out the one known as ‘Argumentum ad hominem’ or “Argument against the person” – a logical fallacy which consists of countering an point by attacking the person presenting the case rather than the actual point. Very early on in this thread when you realize you weren’t convincing me that your position is correct – you resorted to attacking me personally instead by insulting my intelligence. This does little to move the discussion forward.

The other is ‘Straw man’ – a logical fallacy in which one intentionally misrepresents an opponent’s position. To set up a “Straw man” argument is to create a position that is easy to refute, then assign that position to an opponent. Though this technique can be convincing, it is misleading as it does not address the opponent’s actual position. As was pointed out more than once by myself and others, you have continually misinterpreted and misrepresented my point of view to create a faux argument that you can easily knock down. I would appreciate it if you allow me to define my own positions.

I see the discussion as trying to understand each other’s point of view. I’m trying to understand yours without resorting to either of these logical fallacies. I would appreciate it if you could do the same.

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Cute, David, but if you or anyone else really believes that, I challenge you to substantiate it.

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Yep, looks like a good summation of Jack’s approach here to the T.

Been there, watched you do that. I’m not biting.

Clearly the discussion has moved on.

We’ve established that Bliss and Jack can call what they do a performance if they want to, or they can perform and call it a session. No problems there.

And we’ve established in very clear terms that some of us can play music in a public session and NOT at all be performing, in the "presenting-music-to-an-audience" sense of the word. Which is all some of us have been saying for yonks.

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Jack, no one has to substantiate what you’ve posted on this thread—it’s all right there, above.

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You’re really reaching here, David. Michael had already expressed that you miss out on the joy of a session when you perform. The implication being that unless I dismiss the punter’s point of view I will be condemned to performing, i.e. missing out on enjoying what a session is.

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If you doubt me, here’s one of Michael’s quotes: "It’s about the personal gain you can get from non-performance music. It’s about a deep inner freedom from vanity. Just you and your mates and the music. I used to perform a lot, still do occasionally, and still enjoy it. But no amount of performance can come even close to the feeling you can get when you deliberately shut out any perception of how you are perceived."

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Jack, please consider for just a moment reading and comprehending your quote of Michael’s.

Instead of trying to make your point, listen to his. Give it some serious thought and consideration. Suss out what Michael means. He (me too) isn’t just trying to score a point, win an argument, or prove he’s "right" and you’re "wrong." He’s providing a genuine reason and explanation for what he believes.

I understand that you feel you’re doing the same, but it doesn’t come across that way.

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Aaaaaargggghhhh!!

OK, OK ….

Deep Breath here.

There’s one critical thing that hasn’t, in all the verbiage (Garbiage?) above, even been mentioned.

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"Is it bad to noodle at sessions?"

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I’ll get my coat …..

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Michael’s point was clear from that and other posts; if you don’t dismiss the punter’s point of view you will be condemned to performing. Many others, including Michael, have gone on in great length about how this interferes with the musician’s enjoyment of what a session is.

Here’s a real ‘Straw Man’ argument for comparison:

Will writes: "Jack and Bliss continue to insist that "all sessions are performances" in the sense that we cannot possibly play purely for our own enjoyment while other people go about their own business in the same room (whether reading, watching telly, talking, or perchance even listening to the music), without it becoming a ‘performance to an audience.’"

As you can see my position is clearly misrepresented here and is easy to knock down. But it’s wrong. My position is simply that while we’re having our sessions there are people in the room (if our session is in a public place) who will not understand what we’re doing and will think it must be a public performance of some sort. They aren’t concerned with what we think we’re doing — all they know is what they see. But they’re correct in that music is being played and the punters are an “audience” according to basic definitions. In other words, these are the hallmarks of what a performance is to the general public, and for them, in their world — it’s valid and they respond to it as such — even if it’s not what we’re doing in the session.

I have no problem realizing this, and it has no affect on my session experience. I’m not "performing" even though it appears to them that I am. I don’t need to dismiss them to experience all of the great things about sessions expressed in this thread.

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"Conflate" hmmm … that’s an old one. Why, I probably haven’t played that for 20 years! 🙂

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Drat … missed by quite a few posts there …

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quite a performance guys

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Nearly ready to go public

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Will says "some of us can play music in a public session and NOT at all be performing, in the "presenting-music-to-an-audience" sense of the word. Which is all some of us have been saying for yonks" Will is Whoosis by the way.

For an awful second I thought we were in Charlie Chaplin land, and Whoosis had a silent session. But finally he is beginning to see the light, after three days.

He says not performing in a "presenting music to an audience" sense of the word. EUREKA.

I have been saying for three days that you can be cocooned, closetted, or whatever, no showing off, indeed totally oblivious to all.

So you are not performing in a " presenting music to an audience" type of way but you are PERFORMING.

So, Whoosis is now in agreement with me, what about the rest of ye?

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Jack, I wasn’t setting up a straw man. I included you in that paraphrase of the "session are performances" position based on your post:

Above, Jack wrote:
"Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

Or how much they try to deny it."

Clearly you’re agreeing with Blissters there. You even went on to pose a straw man of your own:

"I think they should hand out flyers at their sessions explaining to the public that there’s no performance of anything going on like that and people should just pretend there are no musicians in the room and ignore any music they might happen to hear."

I’m done today. Gotta go take a conference call.

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And does anyone like bodhrans? Apart from Michael, whose secret love for them causes him to act in an irrational manner.

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LOL, Bliss, we settled that old point about the mundane "execute a function" sense of "perform" eons ago. It’s not relevant to the distinction we’ve made, and that’s quite clear in this thread.

Pass the bottle. 🙂

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This discussion on this thread began with me saying: "MG writes: "Bliss, just to clear this up, do you consider sessions performances?"

Blissters writes: "No, but the punters do.""

And it ends on the same point. Amazing how it took all those posts to arrive back at the beginning.

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Something the matter with agreeing with me?

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Sorry, I left out the part about those two quotes being the crux of the session/performance debate.

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not quite:

What I said was that performces interfere with my enjoyment of what a session is. For those who do perform in sessions, it seems that it’s the other way round. And that’s fine. Have your session and perform in it. I won’t in mine.

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Nor relevant? Not bloody relevant, says Whoosis. What have we been arguing about for three days?

OK, I haven’t been arguing, just discussing, and practising my "spin". But what have the rest of you been doing?

To perform a tune, play the notes. Play the notes in public, public performance. You should have read the bit I posted about buskers.

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Will writes: "Above, Jack wrote:
"Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

Or how much they try to deny it.""

That supports my stated position: To us it’s a session, and to the punter it’s a performance — no matter how hard we might try to hide it… or deny it. Compare that to you’re actual "Straw Man’ argument.

Will writes: "Jack and Bliss continue to insist that "all sessions are performances" in the sense that we cannot possibly play purely for our own enjoyment while other people go about their own business in the same room (whether reading, watching telly, talking, or perchance even listening to the music), without it becoming a ‘performance to an audience.’"

I never said anything about not being able to play for your personal enjoyment.

Then will goes on in an attempt to find a ‘Straw Man’ argument to pin on me with this quote of mine: "I think they should hand out flyers at their sessions explaining to the public that there’s no performance of anything going on like that and people should just pretend there are no musicians in the room and ignore any music they might happen to hear."

This isn’t a ‘Straw Man’ argument because I’m not representing anyone else’s position. What I AM doing is giving an example of the only way I can think to inform unsuspecting punters about what a session is or isn’t and how to respond to it.

Here’s a hint about how to correctly identify a "Straw Man’ argument: They often start with something like, "Jack and Bliss continue to insist that…"

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I’ve just realised why alcohol was invented.
If this was a drunken argument, someone would have either knocked someone else out or slid under the table in a stupor by now.
As it is it goes on forever….

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That nails it , Michael.

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And lets say it again shall we. I’ve all the time in the world.

What defines performance is when the punter’s perception becomes relevant to the musician.

If for any reason, you start to consider the punters perception as having any relevance, then you will start to perform.

Performers are "those who are unable to shut out thoughts of how they are being perceived."

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Go on Jack, keep it up. You’re only trying to convice yourself now. I’ve heard it before, and I’ve got better things to do. And you’re not doing anyone any favors, including yourself, with poorly aimed condescension.

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MG writes: "What I said was that performces interfere with my enjoyment of what a session is."

So that confirms what I said and further proves there was no ‘Straw Man’ argument in my interpretation of what Michael said. But Michael goes on to misrepresent my position.

MG continues: "For those who do perform in sessions, it seems that it’s the other way round. And that’s fine. Have your session and perform in it. I won’t in mine."

I just said a few posts back, (as well as many other times on this thread,) that I don’t perform at sessions even if the punters think that I am. And that realization about their perception isn’t having any affect on my session experience. Is that quite clear now… Michael?

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See, Will? Instead of even trying to understand me you have to defame me instead and say I’m "condescending." I just can’t imagine us getting anywhere if you insist on this sort of thing. How is this supposed to move the discussion forward?

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If your playing in a session and out of the cornerof your eye you spot a good looking tourist looking at you and no one else, you then put on a look of extra concintration and play a with a little spring in your step.

Are you then performing?

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ha, that’s correct. I’ll ad that to my list.

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I’m sincerely believe that Jack and Will are probably two of the nicest people you’d care to meet outside a discussion about this topic. But this all reminds me of inter-sect bloodshed in the Mid East.

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Michael says "
Performers are "those who are unable to shut out thoughts of how they are being perceived."

WOW!!! Now if you had just said that in the first place.

Fiddles are herons swooping on the sea, Grasshopper.

What a load of crap. I know you only did it to wind up, but it is still outrageous.

And dangerous. Whoosis is likely to agree with you.

You really shouldn’t be mischievious Michael.

Mind you, my goat thinks you might be on to something.

And Grego, Irish music comes from around the middle-east, so at least you are on a music topic.

By the way Michael, your definitiion does fit one scenario, and that is you and Whoosis on this thread.

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Shutting out thoughts and all that .Is that Zen.HA!

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Even Jimmy Carter lusted in his heart. 😉

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And at the end of the day, fourth, Saint was right all along.

Getting like a cricket test match this. (apologies to all English people) and Irish if we remember Ed Joyce.

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Thanks bliss im starting to understand your greatness

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It takes time.

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I’d comment, but I’m on a conference call right now.

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Remember that brilliant scene in One flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest when Jack Nicholson is dealing the poker hands and Danny Devito keeps saying, "hit me, hit me, hit me"?

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Now that is tasty, Jack.

And certainly not condescending.

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Oh, so we’re all friends again now?

There’s nothing wrong with a good old ding-dong on this site. The mudslinging did get a bit tedious though, from some persons you’d expect more from - but hey, who am I to talk?

Michael - tell you what it reminded me of - Chapter 2 in the Hobbit when Bilbo and all the dwarves are caught by the trolls. The trolls were arguing the best way to kill and eat them all. They finally settled on some method, when a voice (Gandalf’s - unbeknown to the trolls though) started up all the arguments again and the trolls got turned to stone at dawn.

But the one thing that worries me is that some rather articulate people made points with conviction which when read by relative novices to this subculture, will think that those particular points (depending on by whom they were persuaded) IS "The Party Line" for all sessions, regardless of where and when. This notion, or even, *Ideology*, of whether a session is or isn’t a performance may shape a young, possibly impressionable, player’s attitude to future session playing, having read the views hammered out here. And that should not be the case, and I hope not.

Mark I think got closest to it. Every session is different and some may be near enough performances, whilst others are much more informal.

That’s all.

But to witness 2 heavyweights slugging it out over 15 rounds and yet still avoid coming to that conclusion was pitiful to behold.

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"Ah … juicy fruit"

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Danny, I came to that conclusion before I posted that infamous thread a year or so ago that stated all of this. My position has consistantly been that each session is different and is defined by the people who are in it. It’s my acknowledgement that the average punter is likely to see it as a performance (instead of what the sessioners see it as) that gets everyone’s ire up.

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"stated all of this" was supposed to read "STARTED all of this"

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Danny, I am not called Mark.

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Bodhran Bliss, if what you have been trying to do is convince everyone that you’re performing in the sense of executing a tune on an instrument, you’ve been wasting your time. As Will says, we’ve been through that before. Maybe you should keep yourself busy reading these two discussions and then get back to us when you’re clear exactly what it is we’re arguing about, and can therefore make a reasonable contribution to the discussion:

https://thesession.org/discussions/7098
https://thesession.org/discussions/3705

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When I say "read", I mean actually understand the meaning of the posts, as opposed to skimming your eyes over them and picking out words and phrases with your copy and paste facility so you can quote people out of context as you and Jack have been doing so far in this thread.

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Mark writes: "skimming your eyes over them and picking out words and phrases with your copy and paste facility so you can quote people out of context as you and Jack have been doing so far in this thread."

I can only speak for myself, and it’s simply not true. Substantiation please.

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Maybe some musicans will never except a session as a performance because they don t have control over who they are playing with and to be seen performing with (in thier opinion) lesser musicans is beneath them.For most musicans sessions will be thier only chance to perform and others find it hard to except this might be thier highlight.

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The musicians don’t have to or need to accept it as a performance. All I’m saying is that the average punter will think it is, and they won’t be wrong according to their own frame of reference. Unless punters somehow find out different they’re always going to think it’s a performance. But that shouldn’t change the sessioner’s feelings about what they’re doing. it’s two seperate perspectives; neither one is right or wrong — they just are.

I think the problem might be that sessioners don’t want to acknowledge the punter’s perspective because perhaps they’re worried about what effect it might have on their own experience. I can only speak for myself, but when I see a punter at our session who obviously thinks it’s some sort of performance — it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, change the way I feel about it or how I play.

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Is it time to discuss bodhrans yet?

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No, which kind of concertina is better…

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Sorry, but could you all repeat what you said?

I’m sure it was important, but I missed it, because I was playing tunes instead. Lots and lots and lots of tunes.

The Perils of Performing

Over in Milan …..

The so-called "fourth tenor", Roberto Alagna, was yesterday facing the biggest crisis of his glittering career after storming off the stage of La Scala in mid-performance - one fist lifted towards a booing, whistling audience.
What followed during Sunday’s performance of Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Aida is thought to be without precedent in the tempestuous history of the celebrated Milan opera house.
As the Hungarian mezzo-soprano Ildiko Komlosi gamely launched into what was intended to be a duet - singing the line "Such unwonted joy in your glance!" to a conspicuously absent Alagna - the stage manager grabbed the tenor’s understudy and propelled him on to the boards dressed in jeans.

"I thought to myself, ‘OK, now you sing,’" said Antonello Polombi afterwards. And, ignoring cries of "shame" and "this is La Scala!", sing he did - so beautifully that he won the loudest applause as the public clapped and cheered for nine minutes after the curtain fell.
As the artistic director of La Scala, Stephane Lissner, inveighed yesterday against a "blatant lack of respect for the audience and the theatre", it was announced that the 43-year-old Alagna would not be returning to sing Ramades today. The Italian news agency Ansa said the theatre was considering whether to demand compensation from the French-born singer.

His performance on the opening night last week of Zeffirelli’s spectacular staging drew the only catcalls from an otherwise delighted audience. The Italian critics too questioned his suitability for the role.

At the weekend, the tenor hit back, insisting he had been "bravissimo" and adding: "Too bad for those who didn’t understand." He said he would do the remaining performances of Aida and then "I shall not be coming back to La Scala again. It’s not a theatre. It’s an arena."

Many a performer has no doubt thought the same. La Scala’s notoriously demanding loggionisti (the opera aficionados who occupy La Scala’s cheaper seats) have, over the years, whistled and booed the likes of Pavarotti and Katia Ricciarelli.

But few performers have had the courage - perhaps recklessness - to make their views known before the end of a run.

"I heard a boo as soon as I went on stage - even before I began to sing", Alagna told the newspaper La Repubblica. His rendering of the aria "Celeste Aida" only made things worse. What La Stampa’s critic termed a "rather laboured" B flat elicited howls of protest from the aggrieved loggionisti and Alagna was off. By pure chance, his understudy was within grabbing distance.

"In general, I stay in a room where I can follow the opera on closed-circuit TV," Palombi said. "But yesterday I went behind the scenes to savour the work better."

Dressed head to foot in black, in the midst of one of the most lavish sets prepared for a modern opera, Palombi said he felt "as if I were naked". As for Komlosi, the beleaguered Amneris, she said she felt her "blood pressure shoot up to 200".

Meanwhile, back at the Bothy …

The so-called "fourth tenor-banjo", Phantomo Buttono, was yesterday facing the biggest crisis of his glittering career after storming off the stage of Brogans in mid-performance - one fist lifted towards a booing, whistling audience.
What followed during Sunday’s performance is thought to be without precedent in the tempestuous history of the celebrated Ennis Grog-House.
As the Australian Box-twangler Dow ‘Nox’ Blanketboy gamely launched into what was intended to be a duet - Playing a hithero unthought of harmony part to the Kesh Jig to a conspicuously absent Buttono - the stage manager grabbed the tenor-banjoist’s understudy and propelled him on to the boards dressed in jeans.

"I thought to myself, ‘OK, now you play!,’" said Michello Gillato afterwards. And, ignoring cries of "shame" and "this is supposed to be a bloody session!", play he did - so beautifully that he won the loudest applause as the public clapped and cheered for nine minutes after the curtain fell on his head.
As the artistic director of Brogans, Shameless O’Toole, inveighed yesterday against a "blatant lack of respect for the audience and the music", it was announced that the 43-year-old Buttono would not be returning to plink the banjo today. The Irish news agency said the Gargle-Emporium was considering whether to demand compensation from the SanFrancisco based plucker.

At the weekend, the tenor-banjo-man hit back, insisting he had been "bravissimo" and adding: "Too bad for those who didn’t understand." He said he would do the remaining performances of The Moving Cloud in all keys and then "I shall not be coming back to Brogans again. It’s not a pub. It’s an arena."

…….

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Yes indeed, Saint, for a lot of musicans sessions will be thier only chance to perform. Alas.

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I just read this up there somewhere:

"Maybe some musicans will never except a session as a performance because they don t have control over who they are playing with and to be seen performing with (in thier opinion) lesser musicans is beneath them."

Can someone please explain to me what this means? Ta.

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"Maybe some musicans will never except a session as a performance because they don t have control over who they are playing with and to be seen performing with (in thier opinion) lesser musicans is beneath them."

That was Saint. I think what was being implied was that there are some players who would only play in sessions with others of their standard, i.e. in a closed session, by invitation only.

I’ve heard through the grapevine that there may be one such in my area, but I don’t know where or when it is, or even with any certainty who goes to it.

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I’m sure there are closed sessions like that. But what the Hollyoaks Omnibus does that have to do with performances?

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Oh I see. Saint is talking about snobs who wouldn’t like people to think that they are in some sort of band with musicians who they see as crap, so they go to a session on condition that it only means displaying a loose association with these musicians. Yes, I’m sure there are people like that.

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blimey, there are some eedjits in this world, but is it possible to be such a t wat that you wouldn’t mind playing with someone, on the condition that it’s not perceived that you are performing with them. Bloody hell.

Totally turns it on it’s head. Where actually what defines performance is when the punter’s perception becomes relevant to the musician, you get some t wat so paranoid about his perception that he needs the "cover" of his own perceived non-performance before he can play. I really can’t believe such a sicko can exist

Posted .

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Sounds a rather un-Saintly attitude to this music. Especially for a bodhran "player"!

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Michael, it’s not really that much of a stretch of the imagination. It seems there are plenty people (like e.g. Bodhran Bliss) who always perform in sessions. So all it takes is for a "performer" like that to be a bit of a snob and not want to play with someone, and by definition they will not want to be performing with them. It’s weird to us, yes, but I’m sure there are plenty out there. Just look at the spectrum of types we’ve seen even within the few people who have contributed to this thread. We have true showoffs, performers in denial, non-performing communist sharers and clueless idiots who don’t know what they’re talking about. Judging by this post I fit into the last category. Altho’ I have an excuse because I’ve just come back from a session and it’s 2.30am, and I played through 50 reels back to back with Bridie this afternoon 🙂

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Here’s a twist (I can’t resist this)—-what if you have a certain bodhran player who is performing at a session but none of the punters perceives the session as a performance? Like a session is supposed to be? He’s not then performing, is he?

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

How about this .All the musicans that wont except sessions as performances have also performed outside of sessions,on stage etc.

Posted by .

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Translation required, please?

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My new bodhrán is made from horse skin. All of you are welcome to play it with a whip as you seem pretty accomplished.

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good for the crack, then, is it?

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Can’t play it at my place - wouldn’t want to disturb the neigh-bours.

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Great craic, Danny! 🙂


Neighbours? I would have expected a more cavalier attitude from you!

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Especially for a bodhran "player"

Can you explain key maniac lad

Posted by .

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All quiet on the U.S. front - they’ve argued until they’ve gone hoarse …

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Well I’m off to the pub soon.

"Got a pony in my pocket, suitcase in the van…"

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Conan, my neighbours reined me in, and now I have to keep the noise down to a whisper.

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The neighbours don t like the performance

Posted by .

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You’d be ok in a session as long as you hide it.

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No problem. In my view "players" are persons who make notes with their preferred yoke, ie they play it. You don’t play a bodhran, you hit it rhythmically, to provide a beat for players, whether or not they are performing.
(Unless you include these new fangled tuneable bodhrans, invented to bolster the egos of bodhranistas who previously weren’t able to get notes out of them.)

BTW, I play, or hit, the goatskin myself, and am not too bad when in practice, so don’t feel you have to get defensive over this.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

I can imagine Conan is champing at the bit trying to think of something amusing to say.

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Hey guys, are you not deviating from the Mane topic here?

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You’re flogging a dead horse now.

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Yeah me too, I don’t want to stirrup any more trouble.

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Time to pony up at the bar for a new round…

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Well, this thread has managed to Stirrup a lot of passion.

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snap, nox!

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Danny can’t you think of any mare of yer ain?

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A lot of people seem to have thought that Will’s argument fell at the first hurdle.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

I did think that one up independently - but you obviously Jockeyed for a position and got in there first.

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I hold my hands up, lads, (all 15 of them). You’ve saddled us with the dilemma that if you want this thread to go on furlong you’ll have to be first past this post.

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Good - this thread has finally become more Stable.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

A fetlock of good that’s gonna do.

I’ll get my silks.

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Me too. Off out to drink some red rum.

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Hay, guys, we have to keep this thread going now, to get over the 600-posts hurdle.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Dear Noxious,
Your post is the only one I have read today. I do not need to read other threads to know what is under discussion. It is constantly above me as I type;
"Does anyone like bodhrans?"

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Dear Noxious,

I have just read your next post. When someone resorts to ridicule and attempted insult, I realise that I have obviously made a salient point. I say attempted insult because I have debated with experts, your efforts are a complete giveaway.

Think about it. You are asking me to read to other threads to find out if playing a tune is different from performing a tune. I already know the answer, as do 99.9% of the world’s population.

It is just my misfortune that the other 0.1% posts on this site.

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Hay, who keeps trotting out all this stuff ?
It´s odds on this thread is gonna be deleted.

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Can’t you spell? It says "**Dose** anyone like bodhrans?"

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I’m not interested in your blinkered approach, Blisster.

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Sorry, Noxious, I apologise. I didn’t realise you were Australian.

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Alas, Bliss has come up lame, thrown a shoe, gone colicky. Would be a shame to see his horse get disqualified from the race….

Posted .

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5 posts to go, lads……….

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Don’t you post when you ride a horse? It’s been a while, I don’t remember. Posting along…

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

No i cant spell in english nor do i want to improve and the site would be in irish only for the great performances by your ancestors. well done

Posted by .

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What’s that got to do with horses?

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"And coming around the final turn it’s Kennedy in the lead by a length, with Key Maniac Lad, Whoosis, and Bodhran Bliss close behind. Noxious Blanket is making a move on the outside, but is it in time?"

Posted .

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Me!

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Me!…………………….(help)

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"Oh, we’ve had a terrible accident in the backfield as Saint veers into another horse and the riders are down. But that won’t affect the finish as the leaders thunder into the home stretch…."

Posted .

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post # 602

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sorry lad were your ancestors not horses

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Is this overdose yet? Hasn’t the victim died? Good, now where’s my skinner’s knife, I want to make a bodhran or two from the carcass, a belly drum and a butt drum ~ & thebones for tippers and bones to rattle…

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And it’s Key Maniac by a nose.

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I’ve just come back from a session and it’s 2.30am, and I played through 50 reels back to back with Bridie this afternoon 🙂

# Posted on December 12th 2006 by Noxious Blanket

It seems there are plenty people (like e.g. Bodhran Bliss) who always perform in sessions. Also posted by Noxious.

Thought I would try this old cut and paste lark. Now totally confused.
Noxious says in the first one he performed 50 reels at a session.

He then says there are always SOME people who perform at sessions, and gives me as an example.

To be honest, at many sessions if you were not playing at a session they would ask you to sit somewhere else. I admit I always play at sessions I am at as a player, what the hell else would you do. Eat cookies all night?

Unless Noxious, after 5 days, still can’t see that the words playing/performing mean the same thing, at a session.

I blame the parents.

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"Ladies and gentlemen, that was the closest finish I can remember. Key Maniac Lad took it by a nose whisker at the tape, and the stands have emptied to swarm the sweating stallion as the winner’s wreath is place over his neck…."

Posted .

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"But it’s not a pretty sight back on the final turn, as rescuers try to sort horses and jockeys. Looks like some body parts aregetting mixed up on the ambulance cart. And that poor lame horse is still kicking. Oh the humanity!"

Posted .

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That’s a bit strong Saint, but justified.

Whoosis has pulled up, who could blame him, Noxious is unable to answer Jack, some fifty posts ago, and it all appears to be settled. As in most discussions, no winners or losers, because that is not what discussion is about. As long as the facts are established and the truth emerges. Any one out performing tonight, enjoy yourself. Play well.

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Oh No!
It seems that Phantomo Buttono never made it out of the starting cage, having tangled up with a straw man and tripped over a strategically placed Ad Hominem. A fugitive from the Dental-Floss fields of Montana has been arrested by the session police, and it looks like the entire race will have to be re-run ….

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

San Francisco. Head straight North, turn right, Montana. It is a possibility.

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I might be movin’ to Montana soon

Just to raise me up a crop of

Dental Floss

Raisin’ it up

Waxen it down

In a little white box

That I can sell uptown



By myself I wouldn’t

Have no boss,

But I’d be raisin’ my lonely

Dental Floss

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Wow… Frank Zappa emerges as the winner.

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I didn’t think there could be a winner in a philosophical discussion.

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Who is your favorite bodhran player and why?

over 600 posts and not one full answer, one or two names mentioned but no one could tell me what they liked about his/her playing

Posted by .

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There is alot of bluffers or performers (what ever you prefer) on this site.

Posted by .

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computer says no….

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Apart from bliss i think the rest of ye just carry a bodhran around to look good when at a session .In my opinion its just a big act (or performance)

Posted by .

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It’s just a feckin drum for feck’s sake.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

erm……..has Starting Ogre metamorphosed yet again?

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To you it s just a drum to musicans its the heart beat of itm.

Posted by .

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You’re either with us, or you’re with the performerists.

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PB is a gig a performance

Posted by .

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My favourite bodhran player is Conan, because he makes me look great.

Not that I am not great anyway, it’s just……aaarrrggghhh.

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What do you mean by "gig"?

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

as in playing a gig.

Posted by .

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What kind of gig?

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No silly questions only silly answers.

as in gig guide or upcoming gigs

Posted by .

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That would be a bumpy performance.

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Why don’t you put something in your bio, Saint, so we know who we’re talking to? Then I for one might be able to take you a bit more seriously.

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Oh dear, I don’t think you realise Key how much you actually upset Saint earlier. Saint is obviously an Irish speaker, English would be his second language, just like the Italians, French, Germans and Americans who post here. And you pointed out his spelling mistake, or his mis-type. I doubt if you fully understood his reply.

I did. He is not happy.

Now Key, you and me, no problems, you are a genuine Sarf Londoner I believe, interested in Irish music, and good for a laugh. And 99 times out of a 100 your post about the spelling would hgave been taken as a joke. But to an Irish speaker, who believes the entire country should and would have been speaking Irish but for historical events, well it is a serious matter.

And Saint, anybody can make a harmless enough mistake. Look at you and me. And Rossa was born in Rosscarberry, just of the main Square.

Bliss the diplomat.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Glasgow, Key, living in Sarf London. Sorry, but at least being from Glasgow you might realise what I am trying to say, think of the Old Firm mentality.

And don’t be having anymore "Blissful" sessions. Have "Blissless" ones instead.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

If that’s the case, full apologies are in order. Sorry from me to saint. There ye go.
But a wee bit in the bio does help iron out these misunderstandings, just as you saw when you looked at mine BB.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Thanks

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I just re-read and missed the first time your comment about English being 2nd language to Americans - very drole, bliss.

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You have to be quick.

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Sorry i missed out a few hours and thank you bliss . I had to do a few things in the real world.PB i checked out the Tipsy House site and sessions are advertised as gigs . Can you explain?

No hard feelings KM lad I will do my best to forget the last 800 years of tourture.

P.S.
Bliss sorry for even thinking that you could make a mistake .I m still learning.

Posted by .

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

It beHOOVES you to read my posts more closely, Blisster. Do you really think playing 50 reels with someone in their kitchen with only the 2 of you present consitutes a session? (I dunno, maybe it does for a bodhran player).

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

At least we Americans know the proper spelling of "droll". Do you Glaswegians even know the etymology? It’s actually an abbreviation for an ornament played on a bodhran. The full term is……







wait for it….




drum roll please….




"drum roll".

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Geez… I haven’t updated that page since I broke my finger.

Anyway, we do a few different kind of gigs. We do weddings, set dances. ceili dances, contra dances, concerts, partys, pubs, floating Paddy’s Day luncheons, corporate extraviganza events, street fairs, festivals and… sessions.

I go to sessions just about every Sunday and Tuesday at our local. Once a month my pals and I are the "hosts." What that means is that it’s our turn to show up at the start, arrange the chairs and tables, and play till it ends. It’s also our turn to take the steering wheel. Here in SF we all take turns doing this and it allows for a lot of variety because each "host" has their own favorite tunes and session style.

So to answer your question: the sessions we host and the ones I go to regularly are not gigs I consider to be "performances," but the other gigs are.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

To be fair its a nice site and the word performance is everywhere one it.

Posted by .

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Yea… I used it 5 whole times… it’s freakin everywhere!

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Hey Saint - you don’t have a monopoly on the "torture". Leaving aside my Irish forebears, most of my people come from the far north Highlands of Scotland - Sutherlandshire, real Mackay country. Those people were victims of the Highland Clearances.

I could go on saying Scotland has been repeatedly shagged by England through successive generations, and even suggest even I have ended up in London due to forced economic migration.

England through her vassals played a big part in the Slave Trade - 2 of those vassals being Ireland and Scotland, hence the numerous Irish surnames on the island of Monserrat…or that the English 19th century capitalists didn’t act too kindly to their own English working class, sending children down mines and up chimneys, etc, but I don’t wear that stuff as a label. I just get on with my life and try and help folk or lighten things up where I can.

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Droll comes from the French word "drole" (with a circumflex) Maybe Danny knows more about the etymology than you think Gary 🙂

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C’est vrai, Conán, merci beaucoup.

Yes, I do fly work, but what have insects got to do with this discussion?



Ooops, sorry that’s entomology……….

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We’re halfway from 600 to 700 posts fellas. This could be a Guinness book record setting thread. Or perhaps an excuse to drink a Guinness… or not… it’s early yet… maybe when we reach 700.

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"what have insects got to do with this discussion?"

why, many of the arguments ‘fly’ in the face of reason.

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Ach, you’re just nit-picking, Mark.

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This thread is really starting to bug me.

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Oh, no, earwig go again. Why can’t people just bee themselves, rather than trying to sting everyone else?

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Bliss: "Playing a tune is no different from performing a tune. 99.9% of the world’s population agree. It is just my misfortune that the other 0.1% posts on this site."

OK, I have no qualms about being one in a thousand. But just to check. Lets have a poll.

Who would concur that such a thing as non-performance music exists? Just straight answers. Yes or no. There’s enough prevarication already

Posted .

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maybe

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I looked up "drole" on Google and found this:

Sponsored Links
Drole For Less
Looking for Drole?
Buy direct from sellers and save.
www.eBay.com

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

1. Drôle de guerre, La
Name given to the waiting period between the declaration of war between France and Germany on 3 September 1939 and the German offensive of May 1940 (cf. the English term ‘Phoney War’).
(From The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French in Literature)

2. drôle adjectif
( bizarre ) funny, odd; c’est un ~ de type he’s odd; c’est ~ de faire/que it’s odd to do/that; ce qui est or ce qu’il y a de ~ c’est que the funny thing is that; faire (tout) ~ à quelqu’un to give somebody a funny feeling; faire une ~ de tête to make …
(From The Concise Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary (French-English) in Bilingual Dictionaries)

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Michael, you asked a different , slanted, as you know, question.

In your one person toilet, the only person on the moon, stranded alone on a Desert Island, if you play a tune, you perform it. The simple, as you keep telling us anyway, act of playing a reel, is to perform a reel.

Now to perform has other meanings and contexts. Sean Keane sitting playing the fiddle with the Chieftains is not "performing" such as Nollaig Casey "jigging around" playing. They are performing the tune, but only one is performing an act or "presentation".

And Noxious, do not display your ignorance. Look at the thread on "History of Sessions".

Of course two people playing music in the kitchen is a session. It is a real, true, traditional session. They only moved to pubs in London because they all lived in bedsitters.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

And Michael, or anyone else, if you were stranded on a Desert Island, what 5 instruments would you like to have with you?

And yes, you could use a large bodhran as a boat to escape on.

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the fiddle would make a good paddle…………..

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Michael writes: "Who would concur that such a thing as non-performance music exists?"

That hasn’t been the question as far as my comment that started this behemoth debate goes. From where you’re sitting in the session, even if it’s in a public place, you don’t feel that what you’re doing is a performance, i.e. presentation of a piece of music (tunes) with only the audience’s consumption and enjoyment as your purpose for doing so. I never argued against that. But from the audience perspective, they wouldn’t understand that unless you either pointed it out to them, or they somehow eventually come to that conclusion on their own. Until they become educated about sessions and how sessions are likely to be something different than what they appear to be, they will continue to reference the mainstream definition for what you’re doing.

Now last night, for example, we had a roaring session at the pub. I can’t tell you how many punters were there because I never looked. There were at least 10 of us I think, all friends, and all just enjoying the gathering that included conversation, drink and tunes. It felt more like a party than what any punters would have assumed. But I do recall outbreaks of clapping from the punters. Sometimes it would overwhelm us for a moment and we’d look around at each other with surprise, and maybe someone would smile at the punters who were clapping, not because we were thanking them, but more because we were acknowledging the positive feedback. But it had no affect on the party and didn’t change in the slightest anything about the way we played, drank or carried on. We would just continue on as if no one else was in the room. Eventually practically no one else WAS in the room… and we still played on.

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Oh.
My.
God.

Bliss finally got it!!!
(Or at least it looks like he got it, if I’m not losing the meaning in his jumbled syntax.)

He writes: "Now to perform has other meanings and contexts. Sean Keane sitting playing the fiddle with the Chieftains is not "performing" such as Nollaig Casey "jigging around" playing. They are performing the tune, but only one is performing an act or "presentation"."


Congrats Mr. Bliss—in fewer than 700 posts, too!

Posted .

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Please Whoosis, take my advice. To save face you would be better saying nothing.

Read the 663 posts, and let me know who has been in denial.

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Jack, we had a roaring session here last night, too. And we all had a good chuckle over the notion that our handful of neighbors hunkered over their shot glasses at the bar (one staring at his grey reflection in the mirror, two deep in conversation, and a few more at the far end watching sports on a muted telly) could possibly be mistaken—even in their own minds—for an audience.

The idea struck everyone present (including at least three people with three decades or more each of experience playing this music stateside and in Ireland) as hilarious.

The setting and experience was vastly different in every regard (including the punters’ apparent mindsets, judging from their behavior and body language) from the gig I played earlier in the evening. *No one* mistook our session for a "performance" of any sort.

If that’s possible here, it’s possible elsewhere, and perhaps even more common than you realize.

Despite the funny pokes people take at this debate, I’ve found that this thread has helped clarify my understanding of how totally unlike a performance a session can be. Thanks for that.

Posted .

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LOL. "Denial." Both Bliss and Jack keep accusing me of being in denial. And that’s not ad hominem?

Okay, okay. Guilty as charged. The fact that I posted again makes it all too clear that I’ve been in denial about how blind you are to reason, and to the lapses of reason and understanding in your own posts. I now see the light—you will never understand.

As they say, "ignorance is bliss."

Posted .

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Nope, hasn’t gotten it yet. Still equates "perform" with "play" (the fluter *played* a tune = the fluter *performed* a tune). What differentiates them is whether either one is also associated with "presentation".

And as for the desert island scenario, a set of uillean pipes (drones removed) would make a nifty flotation device…

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As Jack knows, I’m with him, to an extent, on this…probably nearer the Nox hypothesis in that it depends on what pub or what setting you’re playing. But what you are doing is performing, or some bliddy name for it, I don’t care about all this pseudo-semantics, and I don’t think it matters —— all that bit, definitions and so on, is made-up stuff, just words in a Germanic language to describe a real phenomenon.

Right, hoping that bit’s out the way….let me ask the detractors - what about a miked up session? I’ve done enough of those. They are sessions where either each main player plays straight into a mike, or there’s a mike somewhere overhead, grabbing the sound of everyone playing. It doesn’t matter which. The function is obviously to amplify the music so that non-playing patrons (politically correct term for punters) can hear it. But the format of the event is most definitely that of a session, ie no predetermined tune list as you would have in a gig (although someone may have a tune list to look at), breaks in between tunes where conversation and drinking occurs, one or two people may start a set and others join in as they recognise the tune….and so on. What’s that if not a session?

Anyway, there has been a lot of hair splitting been going on. And to answer the original question, yes I do like tasteful bodhran playing, but not too loud and a max of 2 per session.

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Our session doesn’t resemble a concert in any way, but there were punters there last night that gave every indication they believed they were witnessing a public performance of some sort. But I’m sure they knew it wasn’t a "concert" — I think they understood at least that much.

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Kennedy writes: "Nope, hasn’t gotten it yet. Still equates "perform" with "play" (the fluter *played* a tune = the fluter *performed* a tune). What differentiates them is whether either one is also associated with "presentation"."

You’re talking about the sessioner’s perspective — that’s not in dispuute (at least by me.) Unsuspecting punters won’t understand this when they come into the pub and hear the music. They’ll assume you are "performing" i.e. playing a piece of music (tune) in the presence of people who might enjoy listening (audience.)

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Phantom (Jack?), what can I say to you to persuade you that the average "unsuspecting punter" does *not* necessarity assume you are "performing"? Why do you make that assumption, anyway? Because they clap for you? What if they know perfectly well that you’re just there playing with the other musicians and they clap because they’re polite? Some people feel like they’re being rude if they’re right next to someone who creates a bit of music and they don’t express a bit of appreciation somehow. It doesn’t mean they’re ignorant of the nature of the situation.

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Well I don’t know what sessions are like in SF Montana or NYC but in N. London there are or were pubs you’d go to very specifically to play or hear sessions. The Fiddler’s Elbow in Kentish Town did most definitely fall into this category (don’t know what it’s like now). So there wouldn’t be many "unsuspecting punters" there. In fact, many other musicians would come along to listen to good players playing IN SESSION.

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Will writes: "Both Bliss and Jack keep accusing me of being in denial."

Maybe Bliss did, but I certainly did not. Please show me where I said YOU were in denial? (And remember: you said I "keep accusing you" so you’ll have to find more than one to substantiate your claim. But you won’t even find one.)

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Good questions Danny, but I think Nox, Gill, what!? and I answered them up above. The problem with using mikes is that it makes it that much more likely that the musicians will play "to" the crowd, and that the crowd will respond like an audience.

That’s great if that’s how someone wants their session to work.

But some of us prefer (at least in our sessions, and not necessarily every single night) to reduce or eliminate the performer/audience divide for the following reasons:

1. "Audiences" tend to clap, which can interfere with the spontaneous flow of tunes.
2. "Audiences" sometimes make tune and song requests, including stuff that isn’t remotely typical session fare. This tends to snowball if you do the requests, or conversely can p*ss people off if you ignore them. (We’d end up playing Country Western or Classic 50s Rock all night here if we honored requests).
3. Less experienced musicians can be intimidated when they’re expected to entertain listeners. We prefer to nurture the younger generation and newcomers to the music.
4. More experienced musicians can sometimes fall into "performing" for the "audience," rather than just enjoying a sociable evening of tunes and craic. This can lead to ego clashes, spotlight hogs, and clinging to timeworn sets. All of which sours the spontaneity and social grace of a session.

In short, some of us prefer sessions that don’t split the people in the room into performers and audience. We see othe group as a single community, much as I’ve heard the old kitchen sessions described by past generations. This doesn’t preclude the occasional party piece, nor does it mean every night works out this way. But I can’t understand why some people here are so threatened by the notion of a non-performance session, especially when that mindset is so deeply rooted in this particular musical tradition.

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The sessions in NYC are the same, Key Maniac. The session bars are known for their music and attract people because of it.

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Kennedy writes: "what can I say to you to persuade you that the average "unsuspecting punter" does *not* necessarity assume you are "performing"?"

So that’s your position — the average punter understands how sessions aren’t necessarily informal performances? Im sorry, but the evidence doesn’t support that based on what I’ve witnessed and the conversations I’ve had with punters over the last 20 years of playing in sessions. My guess that the punters who understand something like that are an extreme minority. That said, I don’t think it’s impossible to find a pub here and there that might have well informed and experienced punters in abundance — but that would still be rare.

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I agree with your *preference*, and your right to have one, ie smaller intimate sessions with just a few sympathetic players and next to no audience/punters/nonplayers.
But that’s different from the reality in some pubs where sessions are miked up and they are quasi-performances - or whatever, with people coming in purely to listen.

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Sigh. Okay. We don’t have to agree, it’s fine. Tell you what I’ll do though—-I go to sessions on a regular basis and I’m still a punter (not for long, though!), so for the next few weeks I’ll ask an unscientific sample (meaning >2000 people) of the punters I meet how they view the proceedings, and I’ll get back to you with the results. I’m sure this thread will still be going strong by then. Fair enough?

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Will writes: "But I can’t understand why some people here are so threatened by the notion of a non-performance session, especially when that mindset is so deeply rooted in this particular musical tradition."

Who are you referring to that is "so threatened"?

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Kennedy, here’s a suggestion for your survey: ask the punters if they enjoyed the performance tonight. If they say "What performance?" then you’ll know you’ve found your edified punter. Then travel to sessions all around the world asking this question. Come back when you’ve tallied your findings and report to us.

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Nope, can’t do it that way, it’s a loaded question. I don’t want to mention the word performance at all, at least not in the opening question. It’s a dilemma, though—-what’s the best way to bring up the subject? Maybe "how would you describe the music here? It’s free, and the musicians don’t get paid, so what would you call it?" Something like that. What do you think?

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And we all had a good chuckle over the notion that our handful of neighbors hunkered over their shot glasses at the bar (one staring at his grey reflection in the mirror, two deep in conversation, and a few more at the far end watching sports on a muted telly) could possibly be mistaken—even in their own minds—for an audience. Posts Whoosis.

Listen to their discussion. Probably goes along the lines of;

"Every bloody week, those tossers are in here giving their performance, and we have to sit and watch muted mud wrestling on TV. I wish they would perform at home".

Now you may not agree with this Whoosis. So ask yourself this;

"Why was the TV MUTED?"

Answer. Because you and your mates were PERFORMING.

Or are you going to tell me the TV is always MUTED?

The defence rests, your honour.

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Bliss, no matter how highly you think of yourself, your limited imagination does not set the horizons for my world.

Actually, in this pub, the tv IS always muted. It’s on ESPN (sports), so there’s no need for audio. If we’re not sessioning there, they play canned music over the p.a. system.

And when we play in other pubs, we like the telly muted so we can hear ourselves, not so the punters can hear us.

Kennedy, the problem here isn’t finding out what punters think. It’s that Jack already knows what punters think.

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Danny, I agree. There are plenty of sessions with mikes, and lots more without mikes that clearly cater to the people listening.

As I’ve said many times, I have no problem with that, if that’s how the musicians want their session to work.

I’ve certainly played in such sessions over the years, and they’ve given me some basis for comparison when I enjoy a session that isn’t a performance.

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685 posts by my reckoning……….

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686 by mine

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Danny’s track here raises an interesting historical note. Sessions have become a largely urban phenomenon. But the music has predominantly rural roots. I suspect the urban milieu has a lot to do with the occurrence of sessions that are more perfomance-oriented, and some non-musicians perceiving them that way.

In small villages and farming communities, everybody knows each other. Back in the days before radio and phonographs, the music was something for a community to gather around, neighbor with neighbor, rather than one group of people entertaining another group of (mostly) strangers.

Urban life changes all that.

But there are still hundreds of sessions in small communities in Ireland and around the world where *everybody* (musicians and punters alike) knows each other, not just by name, but by job, family tree, and other personal details. This creates a far more intimate, communal atmostphere at the local session.

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In short, the point of a non-performance session is to bring the ethos and mindset of a small, cozy house session to a public place so other family and friends can also participate.

As Barry Foy writes in his Field Guide to the Irish Music Session:
"What is as session?"
"A session is a gathering of Irish traditional musicians for the purpose of celebrating their common interest in the music by playing together in a relaxed informal setting…as an elaborate excuse for getting out of the house and spending an evening with friends over a few pints of beer"
"More like a concert or recital, then…."
"Wrong again. Although a few solo performances make for a well-rounded evening ,the general aim of a session is to get the maximum number of musicans playing together on the maximum number of tunes. In the same way a session is not an occasion for trotting out carefully wrought arrangements, stunts such as following a hornpipe with a reel and then back into another hornpipe, or breaking from a jig into a slip jig…. Those kinds of things fall into the category of *show biz,*fine for entertaining a paying audience from a great height, but unsuited to sessions, which run on different principles altogether. The session is where the music lives and breathes, where it does its homework, where it flexes its muscles and idly picks its nose. If a musician has a mind to package Irish music for maximum marketability, or polish it to a dazzling sheen, or encase it in amber like some kind of prehistoric gnat, as session is neither the time nor the place to do it."

The only place here I would disagree with Mr. Foy is that some session do in fact operate along some of the concepts he deplores. I say, if that’s how the members of those sessions want it, leave them be.

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Incidentally, I like how Foy differentiates between a few "solo performances," which certainly can provide a nice interlude in an otherwise non-performance session. No problems with that. And he’s very clear on how his notion of a session differs from entertaining an audience.

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Kennedy, I disagree — I don’t think it’s a "loaded question." I don’t think there’s any better way to cut to the chase. If a punter understands the subtleties of a session the way you claim he does, then he will recognize the flaw in that question right away.

Besides that, unless you just wanted to find out about the punters in your session’s pub you’d have to travel all around the globe with this survey to answer the query on this thread. This discussion isn’t only about your session the same way it isn’t only about Will’s session.

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Perhaps my difficulty is that I have never been to what Whoosis calls "a performance related session", and didn’t think such a thing existed. I just perform the tunes and songs and mind my own business, being the quiet unassuming chap that I am.

Or perhaps Whoosis is talking hydraulics.

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Will writes: "Kennedy, the problem here isn’t finding out what punters think. It’s that Jack already knows what punters think."

I never claimed to know what they think, I have said I’m basing what I believe is true on my experiences. I think you’re basically doing the same thing, Will. The difference between yourself and I is that I’m not trying to find any possible way to deride you. I don’t understand why you continue to do this sort of thing. I would prefer to be friendly with you, but you’re not making it very easy with this and other similar snide remarks.

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Jack continues to wrongly suggest that Kennedy and myself think this is only about our local session. None of us have ever even implied that.

I have to wonder why Jack fabricates meanings that aren’t in our posts while ignoring the subtantive meanings that *are* there. I hope he doesn’t think that’s how people resolve their disagreements….

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"I never claimed to know what they think"

Come on, Jack, you did too. You’ve been very consistent in saying that you think they think sessions are "informal performances". You want me to go back through this gigantic thread and search for your exact words?

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Foy’s description of a session isn’t being disputed here; I think we all agree with it for the most part. The perception from the average punter ‘s perception however isn’t going to necessarily benefit from that description unless it’s printed and handed out at pubs all around the world. They would have to have Punter Support meetings and discuss the intricate details regarding what is or isn’t a performance as it relates to sessions. TV documentaries on the Discovery Channel and Special Reports on all the major news outlets might help. Perhaps they could run it on the tickertape that scrolls across the bottom of the screen when the news is on. Then we might begin to see a world where the average punter will walk into a pub where a session is in progress and he can say to himself, “This isn’t any kind of performance whatsoever.”

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The only differences between my snide remarks and Jack’s snide remarks that I can see is that I say what I mean rather than saying it in thin innuendo, and Jack’s rarely have any basis in reality.

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Maybe that’s why Foy wrote the book.

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Just for you, Jack:

http://www.fallacyfiles.org/loadques.html

"loaded questions are typically used to trick someone into implying something they did not intend. For instance, salespeople learn to ask such loaded questions as: "Will that be cash or charge?" This question gives only two alternatives, thus presuming that the potential buyer has already decided to make a purchase…"

This is why "Did you enjoy the performance tonight" is a loaded question. It implies that the music was a performance because it phrases it that way. Anyone who either did not understand or didn’t really care about the question would tend to accept my phrasing and treat it as the yes-or-no question it appears to be and tell me "yes" or "no". To get them to dispute the question requires a lot of work on their part. It’s just not good survey practice.

I spent too many years working in politics, I think…

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And Bliss certainly still seems to be disputing that not all sessions are performances.

Hmmm…Jack’s comments still give me that impression too.

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Kennedy writes: "You’ve been very consistent in saying that you think they think"

What I "think they think"? How are you interpreting the word "think" here exactly?

My understanding of what they think is based on what my experience has been. What are your understandings based on?

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Just for the record, the tunes I had in my friend’s kitchen the other day - that was *not* a session. We were practising. That is, we were playing tunes together and sometimes stopping halfway through and repeating bits until we got them right. Bliss, I run a session of my own every week so don’t tell me I’m ignorant about what a session is.

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I’ve just noticed something. Whoosis says the TV is ALWAYS muted. That’s the best ever.

So everyone in Montana is weird. That’s not where that "Duelling banjos", Deliverance, film was set, is it?

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I don’t have to develop an understanding of what they think. I am one of *them*.

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Strikes me as presumptious for anyone to assume they know what punters are really thinking, let alone asserting that the actual thoughts would be "lookit here, a bunch of performers presenting music to an audience" (that being Jack’s treasured dictionary definition).

Yes, no doubt some people do need to be direclty informed about the differences between a session and a performance (plenty of evidence for that even here, on a web site devoted to sessions). But to presume that the vast majority of people cannot suss out what a session is by observing, listening, and reflecting on the differences says a lot about the IQ of punters in San Francisco. Or maybe Jack’s premise doesn’t accurate reflect what punter’s think.

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Wow, Noxious was #700. Congratulations, Noxious!

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"How are you interpreting the word ‘think’ here?"

Ha ha ha ha…where have I heard reasoning like this before?

"It depends on what your definition of "is" is…."

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Will writes: "Hmmm…Jack’s comments still give me that impression too."
What, that "not all sessions are performances"? I’ve been saying that ever since the original thread. My position is based on what the punter is likely to be thinking.

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And Bliss certainly still seems to be disputing that not all sessions are performances. posts Whoosis.

My head must be going, or their is something with the structure of the setence but "not all sessions are performances" threw me. No more pipes for me.

All sessions are performances, unless the session is "muted" as well.

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Bliss, I’m guessing that to you, *everyone* else is weird, not just here in Montana.

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Good Jack, you read into my post the exact opposite of what it meant.

That’s progress….

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And thank you to Bliss for promptly reminding Jack of what it is he agrees with.

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Regardless of what the SF punters think, the point is that Jack is denying the existence of non-performance sessions, which means that he is also denying the existence of punters who are able to understand what a session is as the musicians do. Therefore he is drawing a clear line between "musicians who understand" and "punters who do not". This implies strongly that he believes himself to be above the punters. Rather like bodhran bliss who thinks he’s above everybody. So then logically you’d think that there’s no point in arguing with someone with an attitude like that, because they’re never going to listen to you or make an effort to understand your position. I gave up on the performance argument long ago. In fact I’m bored sh*tless about it. Isn’t it time to lay this one to rest?

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Here it is again, way back on that day of infamy, Dec. 7.

Jack copied Bliss:
"Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

And then Jack wrote:
"Or how much they try to deny it."

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Hahaha… yep… sounds familiar all right. But the point is, as Kennedy pointed out, I’m epressing what I "think" — something everyone else does as well. Why Kennedy singles me out for "thinking" something and trying to build a case against my position based on that is something I don’t think I understand.

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Yep, Nox, yer right. Besides, this epic thread loads too slow….

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Will writes: "Jack is denying the existence of non-performance sessions"

Will… why do you keep doing this? It’s not true and I never said this no matter how many times you repeat it.

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Whoosis, I will be at your session in January. I am moving to Montana to become rich.

I am opening an ear muff factory. People in Montana do not appear to listen to anything, not TV, music, nothing. Sounds as though I have a ready market.

And when I have sold everyone ear muffs what then, I hear you ask?

Thought of that. I will go down the mobile phone line. Ear muffs that have a camera, ear muffs which can download silence, ear muffs you can get the internet on, muted of course.

See yoou soon, Will.

And Noxious. What you were doing in the kitchen sounds exactly like Whoosis’s session.

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Jack, there’s nothing wrong with you for thinking what you think. I just think your understanding of what punters think is mistaken. I’ve been trying to tell you why I think so, and maybe get you to concede that maybe I might be right. And you’ve been trying to get me to concede that maybe you might be right. It’s a discussion. A civilized debate. You have more experience as a musician than I will ever have and I respect you for that.

I really wish I had gone to some of the sessions when I lived in California, I bet they’re different out there than here on the East Coast. I remember going to a festival in Sebastopol and there were long-haired long-bearded men in kilts and tie-dyed t-shirts doing hippie-type dances and smoking pot around the music tents. It really was a hoot!

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No bliss. I’m sure Will doesn’t play 50 reels back to back, once or twice through each, stopping sometimes to repeat a single bar over and over again. Seriously, have you ever actually been to a session before because I’m starting to wonder.

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Will, in the quote of mine you posted notice the use of the word "THEY." Notice it doesn’t say "WILL." I’m not talking about you, the topic isn’t about you or your session. I’m talking about people in general all around the world who refuse to accept that the average punter is likely to think sessions are some sort of informal performance. I never said anywhere that people can’t have non-performance sessions. I’m talking about the average piunter’s perspective… not yours, not Michael’s, not even my own. I’m talking about the P-U-N-T-E-R. I also never said there are no punters that understand this aspect of what a sessions is or isn’t. Is that clear yet?

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One last time. I promise.

Here it is again, way back on that day of infamy, Dec. 7.

Jack copied Bliss:
"Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

And then Jack wrote:
"Or how much they try to deny it."

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Kennedy, regardless of how much respect you have for Jack as a musician, he will not respect you as a punter because he thinks you can’t possibly understand what a session is (even though you’ve shown on this thread that you do - go figure!).

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Kennedy writes: "and maybe get you to concede that maybe I might be right"

I’m not going to "concede" anything unless you can present evidence to convince me. I admit that my position is speculative, but I do happen to have a lot of evidence that supports it.

Regarding the kilted, fluffy-hat pewter cup on belt crowd at the Sebastopal fesival — I never quite got all that. I actually try to see those bands when they play locally away from the festival while they’re in town for it. I avoid the festival except on the occasion that Josephine Marsh enlists me as her body guard.

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Will! Jack is not listening to you! Give it up! It’s okay, you’ve expressed yourself perfectly clearly and everybody else reading will understand you!

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And I’ve said here quite clearly, several times, that I’m one of those people who gives punters more credit for their observational powers and intelligence than you do, Jack. I think the average punter does know the difference between a session and a performance. So "they" does include me. When you deride "them," you’re deriding me.

And if you can’t see that, then you’re also deluding yourself.

So get off your misplaced air of superiority and consider just for a millisecond that someone else here might have an ounce of validity in a perspective that differs from yours.

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We already know you’re a stirrer, Obnoxious Blanket, so can you give it a rest please?

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"I’m not going to "concede" anything unless you can present evidence to convince me"

Kennedy *is* the evidence. Kennedy is a punter. Why don’t you show some respect and listen to what Kennedy says and take it on board.

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Now, I’m not trying to disagree with Will just for the sake of it, honest. But but you made an assumption back up a few posts which is wrong to my knowledge. The comparison of urban to rural sessions is fallacious, I can’t mind whether you were referencing Barry Foy or what. In my experience rural sessions in Ireland, and also one I’ve attended at The Eels Foot in Suffolk, the rural part of England I frequent, are VERY performance oriented, particularly when it is the turn of the next octogenarian to sing some almost-forgotten song, or a couple of players to do their own thaing as a duet, maybe a concertina and a fiddle playing some English tunes. I may have said before it may not be exactly my cup of tea but it is very touching to see genuine rural people enjoying themselves through their playing. But as each, or many of these, contributions are given as a display of local talent, if you like, these are very much performances, warmly given and warmly accepted. So that urban/rural division does not exist (in my experience - check out what I wrote on here about the Eel’s Foot Years before this discussion.)

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Well then we finally arrived, haven’t we. The essence of our disagreement is NOT whether it’s possible to have a "non-performance" session — we agree on this point, nor is it that it’s not possible for punters to understand or concept, which we also agree. And we agree about what a session is to us. The real disagreemant is about what we believe the average punter’s perspective is when they come into a pub where a session is in progress.

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I hope nobody gets the wrong impression about the Sebastopol festival—-I LOVE that festival! You go for a long weekend, get there on a Thursday, take a day to drive around the Russian River wine country and go wine tasting, then have a whole weekend of fabulous music, with dinners at the great restaurants in town with all the local wine and desserts made from the local Pink Lady apples—-there are very few ways I’d rather spend my time!

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Oh, sorry Obnoxious Blanket, I apologize. I had no Idea that Kennedy is the official spokesman for the world’s punters. I concede now of course.

You’re joking… right?

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Some punters are going to think it’s a performance and some are not. Why is it so hard for you to admit that some might not? Is it because you’d rather they *did* view it as a performance? How would you feel if all the punters at your session ignored your playing? Is *that* where the problem is?

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PS if you’re gonna call me "Obnoxious Blanket", can I call you "The Phantom Cretin"?

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Well, this thread is turning out to be quite a performance! I’m outta here!

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Hopefully if we insult each other Jeremy will delete the thread and we can all have some peace.

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Obnoxious Blanket writes: "Some punters are going to think it’s a performance and some are not. Why is it so hard for you to admit that some might not?"

Now you’re doing it too. My position has never been that there are no punters who understand that a session might not be a performance, and I’ve said it directly and clearly many times on this thread. If you can find anywhere on this thread where I said what you claim, (keeping my comments in contex please) then I will eat my beret.

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I’ll stop calling you "obnoxious Blanket" if you’ll stop creating Straw Man arguments against me and stirring up trouble the way you do.

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So let’s recap:

PB: "The essence of our disagreement is NOT whether it’s possible to have a "non-performance" session — we agree on this point, nor is it that it’s not possible for punters to understand or concept, which we also agree. And we agree about what a session is to us. The real disagreemant is about what we believe the average punter’s perspective is when they come into a pub where a session is in progress."

Spot on, Phantom Cretin, we’ve finally reached an agreement. I’m sure Will will be happy that you’ve finally come round to our point of view and realised that the above is what we’ve been trying to persuade you of all along, i.e. that sessions exist that are very different to the one you have in SF, and that these sessions (like Will’s) are NOT performances in the minds of both the musicians and punters, given that the musicians and punters present all understand what is going on.

I’m not particularly interested in the question of an "average punter’s perspective". That’s something you can’t measure without a proper study with good data from a number of sources. I don’t think Will would claim to be able to say what an "average punter" would be thinking either. So sorry, you’ll have to find someone else to argue with you on that one.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

I’ve had this point of view long before I ever became a member here, Mark.

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

Here it is again, way back on that day of infamy, Dec. 7.

Jack copied Bliss:
"Blissters wrote: "And musicians playing in public become a public performance, no matter how they try to hide it."

And then Jack wrote:
"Or how much they try to deny it."

Re: Dose anyone like bodhrans

How many times do we need to cut & paste that before you finally realise that you’ve been expressing your point of view in a way that communicates the opposite to what you actually believe? I’m quite happy to cut & paste it again if need be.