Sessions: politics and friendship


Sessions: politics and friendship

Hello all,

In the past few months I’ve been having increasing problems involving sessions, and I was wondering if anyone shared parts of the same problems I’m having.

First of all, when I started playing I loved big, noisy sessions and would patiently wait for tunes I knew and then would follow along. After eight years, though, my taste and goals have changed, and it has created a series of problems. It’s very challenging to try to describe exactly what the situation is in a short way, but I’ll do my best.

When I now sit in a session, there are many factors that will disturb/harass/aggress me, and it’s not something I can just turn off. I’ve been listening to lot of recorded sessions in the past few years, and really developed a taste for more laid back, mellow sessions. Most of these recorded sessions are with Clare and Cork musicians, and my favorite musicians have styles which I’ve come to love. They won’t play loud, they won’t have flashy playing and will mostly listen to each other and try to adapt to each other, and will have great respect for tunes.

That’s why I often find myself in what I call “hostile” environment because the music is too loud, there are too many musicians hacking away, sometimes with styles (jazzy style for example) I just can’t appreciate. I also can’t stand the big egoes who start all the sets (hoggers) and think they are the center of the universe. I don’t start many sets, I think, not anymore anyway, but when I end up playing a tune no one knows, most people will start talking, and I will loose my concentration. I listen a lot to people around me, and get some of my “strenght” from their playing, so when a private session turns into a pub session with people having discussions, or people noodling and playing tunes they don’t know, I just can’t play. It’s not a choice I am making, it’s just something I can’t do and even if I could manage, I’m sure I would not be interested in doing so.

So, I’ve been called a snob, narrow minded and elitist. This is where I think I’m greatly misunderstood. I would gladly call myself an elitist if my playing was at such level, but I’m now playing concertina and my playing is honnestly quite average. But some people think I won’t sit with them because they’re not “good enough for me”, which is so untrue. I won’t sit with some people because I litterally don’t share the same taste in music and will honnestly have a better time to go somewhere else and play on my own, relax over a cup of tea and play a long a few session recordings or CDs.

Now, the big problem is, many of these people are my good friends. But they take it personnal when I just won’t sit with them because of many different reasons. The thing is, if I sit, then I’m not going to enjoy myself and just can’t pretend to enjoy myself. I will also become very frustrated. Sometimes I’ll spend weeks working on a tune I really love, but I know it will bore them and they will start chatting. I would not mind if they chatted away from the session circle, I don’t expect them to want to listen to me, but when they do around me I feel the uttermost frustration. I also would not mind if I had someone playing with me, but it’s when I’m on my own then I just can’t concentrate anyway. So sometimes I go in another room and try to quietly play by myself, or will simply sit down and drink. But this doesnt go through with friends, and I simply feel they just can’t understand why I would rather sit down. I really don’t mind if half the city thinks I’m a bloody snobby bastard, but it saddens me to be misunderstood by my friends.

What I’d really like to do is stop playing at any session around town, just go and chat with them, listen and drink, and maybe sometimes play own my own in a room or somewhere else. I’m also thinking about some sessions across the border I could go maybe once a month, sessions more compatible with what I’m looking for, I think for now that would be enough for me. But that would not suit well with my friends, and their friendship is important.

Hmmm that’s a darn long story. So I’m not looking for preachers and stuff, I’m just wondering if there’s a few people who share my “problems” and what they do about it… or maybe I’m the only one on the planet with this specific dillema? 🙂

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

None of us actually have exactly the same liking of particular styles and tunes, so you need to compromise a bit to play with other people. Maybe you could give your friends copies of the recorded sessions you’ve been listening to, and ask what they’ve been listening to in turn. Some of them might have more in common with you than you think.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

If you are not enjoying it don’t do it.
Its as simple as that .
If I am not going to enjoy a session then my machine stays its its box or the car however I know that a session is always a mixed bag some tunes or sets I will enjoy more than others . I can never tell how things will turn out so I try to be flexible. I must admit however playing a few small sessions regular ( 4 or 5 people )is more fun than playing massive ones these days

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Hello, Az, how’s tricks up there in the frozen north! 😀


Compromise, compromise, compromise. When I went to Dublin last year I saw a couple of, what were to me anyway, perfect sessions. No guitars, no bodhrans, everyone listening to each other, all done at talking volume, no big egos, the whole surrounded by respectful non-players. Thing is, I was at those sessions because good ol‘ flanum knew exactly where to take me. My own experience is not of hundreds of different sessions, living out in the sticks as I do, but I would guess that what I saw at Hughes’s and the Cobblestone and elsewhere in Dublin was the exception. It’s hard enough where I live just mustering enough melody players to give it a decent shot, so sometimes we have to put up with a lot of the stuff you’re complaining about (and we do complain). But it’s no good if four times out of five you go home from the pub in a seething rage. The only answer is to get a handful of like-minded souls, as bouzouki_Dave implies, and do your own thing in a closed set-up, whether it be in an accommodating hostelry or someone’s kitchen. When you have the refuge of your own good session to look forward to, the big, noisy, unregulated ones don’t seem so bad any more. You may even start to enjoy ’em a bit more. A lot of damned fine musicians started in set-ups like that by the way, which is worth remembering!

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Hi Azalin,

We know each other from around. Catskills and such.

Dave and Steve are right on. You have to compromise a bit and keep an open mind as per different styles and different opinions regarding how one plays Irish music, otherwise you will be annoyed and you will annoy others. Irish musicians are an opinionlated lot and if I asked ten different people about when you should play triplets, I’d get ten different answers.

I can understand the point of view of your friends who think you are being snobby when you won’t play with them. I like sessions because I love the high you can get when you connect with other plays on a set of tunes and can just fly together, and I love the chat and socialization between sets. I’ll learn any bloody tune if it’s not total rubbish to get by at a session, because even a mediocre tune I’d never play when sitting around by myself can be wicked fun at a wild session. If there is someone who everyone knows is a musician and who seems to be refusing to play, it is very easy for the people who are playing to be like, “Jaysus. What a snobby bastard. Won’t join in the craic ’cause our playing doesn’t suit HIS standards or HIS style.” Even if the non-playing individual feels as you do, feels as if he;s not being snobby. Others can only see how you act and put whatever interpretation on your behavior (the cause of many misunderstanding in life as well as music).

If I was in your position and felt that playing music with people was an important aspect of my friendship with them and I wanted to keep those relationships, I’d adapt myself to them enough so everyone could get on at a session. That sounds a bit trivial looking at it written, but the relationships you have through music are very important. I have quite a few friends who would be royally p*ssed off at me if I stopped playing tunes with them because I didn’t think it was good for my style or whatever. And if those same people stopped playing with me because they felt I didn’t fit with their style, I’d be angry at them. I feel that at the end of the day, the relationships you create and nourish through the music are more important than how much swing you put into a reel on one particular night. However, if I felt I needed a certain type of session and style of playing to keep me happy, I’d go wherever (within reason) to find that session or play along with recordings.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

One possible solution is to find someone - perhaps not from the session you go to - who shares your enthusiasm for the tunes you are learning, learn the tunes together, then go along to the session together. That way when you start them you won’t be a lone concertina.

But otherwise what you describe is just what I suspect the majority of people who attend sessions go through. At least you get to see your friends and have a chat.

But that is how I handle it - take someone aside and show them the tune, after a few weeks they’re asking for it. If you can bring out what you like about the tune when you play it, it will get across, but first you need to do it in a quiet environment with just a few people, until they “get it” too.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Azalin - you’re not alone - you just wrote the story of my musical life of the last 15, maybe 20 years. If you go along to the big sessions, some sort of compromise is inevitable. You are the only one who can decide whether or not you wish to make that compromise, and it can be a tough decision. Sometimes I do, especially if learners are involved, but more often, I don’t. “The Silver Spear’s” last sentence is the solution which works for me.

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Good advice from Bren there about getting a co-conspirator on board to go with you. That worked for me when I was starting out as it happens. On the matter of compromise (and I’ll bet that’s what you expected to read about when you posted), you can do that but still have your “bottom line.” I will not play with ego-driven guitarists who play thousands of flashy chords and jazzy syncopations. I will bollock anyone who commits the cardinal sin of speeding up in sets. Three-guitars-three-bodhrans scenario? Forget it! But everyone I play with knows where I stand on these abominations and I try to get some agreement about ’em in advance. But then I think I’m older than you…🙁

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Well, everyone has bottom line. I have a bottom line, but admittedly it’s not that high. So long as people are basically competent and friendly and we share enough of a common repertoire that we can all feel useful, I’ll play with anyone. I stopped playing at sessions where they play three Irish tunes and 328478923 Northumbrian/English tunes because I was bored and useless.

You don’t have to lower your bottom line to the depths of the Marianas Trench to be able to have a good time at sessions. But keeping it more or less inflexible won’t do you much good either if having fun at sessions is your goal. I know a few musicians who don’t like sessions and won’t go to them for those reasons, and fair enough to them. But if you do want to go to sessions and enjoy them, you have to take them for what they are and be prepared for almost anything to happen (and it usually does!).

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I should also add that I am definitely not near good enough to be too pretentious to play with people. I’m usually impressed when people *want* to play with me! Occasionally they do! Very strange, that. 🙂

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By bottom line I didn’t mean that if it happened at your session you should refuse to go. I see no harm in letting it be known that certain scenarios are anathema to you so you will be going to the bar/going for a pee/having a quick shuftie at your Rough Guide/nipping outside for five minutes to ring your illicit lover on your mobie. Or, as they say round here, popping out for an astronomy break. Certain herbaceous perennials are involved, apparently, which makes stars come out even when it’s persisting down.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Hey folks, glad to hear from you guys and girls. I think I did not point out the fact that the only sessions I am going at *are* private sessions. Also, as I said, I just can’t “switch off” and compromise. I just can’t play with someone with awful phrasing, or some obnoxious people, noodlers, etc. I wish I could. So it’s impossible for me to enjoy myself in those environements, at least not for a long time.

I wish I could find a like-minded person who shares the same taste and also puts as much effort as I do in learning and practicing. But I won’t find such person around here.

I’m also thinking about going to a private session in Vermont once a month, but I’d need to rent a car, and it would be lot of driving for a session. Hmmm…

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Oh and Steve, my friends know about the things I don’t like, but at the same time I don’t want to ruin *their* fun for the sake of appeasing me. If they want to play loud and talk to each other while they play, then they should do it without me, and I’d meet them after for a few pints. But this scenario is hard to accept for a few of them, as if I was hurting their feelings.

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Sounds to me that you may have a big ego and want to lead all the tunes.

Whatever happened to talking to people? To try to compromise, or simply to tell someone that they are disruptive.

And a session without a bodhran is like sex without a partner.

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Or like having to use condoms.

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Bodhran, I’d be happy starting only one set in a session, or none at all, if it were a session of my taste. I spend as much time listening and recording sessions with the likes of Mike Rafferty, Benedict Koehler, Claire Keville and the likes than actually play at sessions. I love listening, and I’m very patient, I’m willing to wait and practice and maybe one day play with these folks, but not until I make sure I won’t ruin the quality of their music.

I could not agree more about condoms, but I’m not sure about bodhrans 😉

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I’ve noticed that sometimes folks who learn music by written notation-only are more likely to talk (to each other) during a unknown tune…….
while the rest of us are trying to listen & learn. That has helped me to understand them, at least.

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“Sometimes I’ll spend weeks working on a tune I really love, but I know it will bore them and they will start chatting.”

Hi Azalin, can you give us an example of such a tune?

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That’s sessions… good for a while, then take a wrong turn, then when you least expect it, a great one with just a few people who really want to listen to some different tunes.

I’m finding there’s always a “session terrorist” - when you lose one, you gain another! But the great sessions are worth the bad ones in between, and friendship with other players is the compensation.

Good luck - I know what you mean!

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A session without a bodhran is like sex without a partner, eh? I thought you approved of bodhrans, Mr Bliss?




🙁

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

A few years ago I found it really difficult to join sessions when I was back home in my country. The sessions tended to be big and fast, and people never played the tunes I’d listened a lot in Ireland or I personally loved playing. My repertoire was even smaller then, and I thought I should stop going. But I suddenly realised how wonderful it was to play a good handful of tunes together with other people, who even didn’t seem to share the same taste with me. Then, I kept attending a particular session while learning the tunes other people play there. I still refuse to learn some tunes I don’t like, and find it not particularly easy to mix with other participants sometimes, but I do feel much more comfortable now.

I have seen many famous musicians having difficulty playing together in Ireland. Maybe they hadn’t played together for long, or they were simply too tired to keep concentration then. I always try to join sessions while travelling in England and Ireland, and sometimes find it exremely easy to mix with the local musicians. But this doesn’t happen all the time. There’s no perfectly sweet sessions happening every time you go.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

The way I see it Azalin you have two choices; learn to be less judgmental and more tolerant or find or create sessions that are to your liking. It’s just that simple really. I doubt you will be able to change your “friends”. Besides you are only one of a group and the fact that the session(s) carry on as you indicate seems to me to demonstrate that more folks like them the way they are than not. I’m not sure why you think they should change for you. If I’m seeking out a blue car why would I shop where only red cars are offered and more importantly why would, or should, I complain about the red car location?

Good luck, I hope you find some satisfaction.

Peace,
Ed

“Whatever happened to talking to people? To try to compromise, or simply to tell someone that they are disruptive.”

Hey Bliss,

A lost art, at least over here anyway it seems. A disastrous effect of the me first generation I suspect. I’ve met a great number of folks on my walk that simply think all others should damn well know how things should be. These same folks seem to think that those which think differently then themselves are just wrong and should be intelligent enough to know this fact and if not are certainly not worth their time or energy to try to straighten out. I suspect this phenomenon will only be exacerbated by the continued proliferation of social withdrawal devices such as mobile phones and MP3 players.

There may very well be a song in that!

Peace,
Ed

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I found that when leading off a set with some new/lesser known tunes arranged with some popular ones, people will listen and join in when they can. Play a full set of tunes that are all unfamiliar and people will loose interest and I guess they’d remember that too when next you play.

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“If I’m seeking out a blue car why would I shop where only red cars are offered and more importantly why would, or should, I complain about the red car location?”
Cos you might be miles from anywhere with only one dealer nearby who only sells red cars. If that’s the case, as with the session, you like it or lump it, hack it or jack it, their way or the highway, adapt or die, etc etc

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Aye Bren, however you can also ask the red car dealer to order you a blue car or you can change your desires to include a red car. Hell you can even choose to ride a bicycle for that matter. One also has the option of aligning with other blue car seekers and present sufficient demand to this only dealer to entice them to offer blue cars or start their own blue car dealership, no?

My point is that we all choose how we view things, remote locations not withstanding. It seems to me Azalin is not precluded from this except by his/her own actions.

I’ve re-read the first post and please forgive me Azalin as you stated you were not seeking preachers and it seems I have been just such. It is now clear, better late than never I suppose, that you were venting and seeking commiseration. I apologize for not paying closer attention.

Peace,
Ed

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

>>
I doubt you will be able to change your “friends”. Besides you are only one of a group and the fact that the session(s) carry on as you indicate seems to me to demonstrate that more folks like them the way they are than not. I’m not sure why you think they should change for you.
>>

Well, as I said in my previous post, I *don’t* expect them to change for me, so that’s why I sometimes go in another room and play on my own, just to get back to an environnement I really enjoy, without disturbing their own fun.

In theory, it’s all good, I show up at my friend’s place, play a few tunes with them, then go somewhere else in the house to play on my own until we’re all ready to leave for the pub. But in facts, they take it very personnal, and doing this is “rude” from their perspective.

When I try to simply *not go* at my friend’s session, I get lot of pressure from a few folks to go. I openly told them that I’d rather play on my own at home and meet them afterward for pints, but they still insist… but at the same time won’t try to respect the things they know I can’t stand.

So in some ways I see it as selfishness from their part. They pressure me to go, without being ready to accomodate me. So they should 1) respect my decision not to go 2) if I go because they insisted I go, they should try to avoid things they know were pushing me to want to stay home.

Also, the other things that really, really p*ss me off… is that there’s a few musicians I just can’t sit and play with. They are great musicians, greater than I’ll ever be, but they play in such ways that make it impossible for me to want to sit down and play with them. (for those who like smoother, older style, imagine sitting with someone who plays like Mcgoldrick, for example, and I’m sure McGoldrick himself would change his style a little bit when sitting in a session) So sometimes my friends will “trap” me, they’ll tell me that such and such persons will be there, but when I show up, the other musicians they know I can’t play with will show up. That’s ok in a way, my friends can choose to play with whoever they like, but why will they lie to me, they know I won’t show up if they tell me the truth, so they hide it… and once I’m at the session it’s too late. They hide the truth to make sure I’ll show up, but then I have no fun whatsoever. What’s the point of this? It’s as if they didnt freakin care about what I told them. I once told my friend about this, and he got mad, saying he could invite whoever he wanted. That’s fine, but why then set me up? Grrrr….

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

“I show up at my friend’s place, play a few tunes with them, then go somewhere else in the house to play on my own until we’re all ready to leave for the pub”

Well, that does seem a little rude if you’re a guest in their house but I generally sympathise with where you’re coming from.

As others have said, it’s all about compromise and how far you are willing to do so(make compromise). So, you may find that you have to be selective about which sessions you play in and you might choose not to play at all in some instances.
We all do this to a greater or lesser extent and for different reasons.

As for “setting up” and “trapping” you, I’m not sure if this is appropriate behaviour for real friends either. A bit like getting “fixed up” on a date. I used to hate that.

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… oh and one last thing (I could go on forever). There’s another bunch of us who get together sometimes, like 3-4. They don’t know as many tunes as my other friends, and some of them are less proficient (although one of them is one of my all-time favorite flute player) but the setup is one I love. We sometimes ask each other what we’ve learned recently, sometimes teach each other a tune, and we ask each other to play some stuff we love. I will sit there and listen and be very, very happy. There’s less tunes, there’s more talking, but I feel *at home* in that environnement. It’s just too bad cuz I can usually play only on week-ends and they can’t… oh well…

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Perhaps you are taking it too seriously, Azalin. It is music after all, a hobby, relax and go with the flow.

And sorry Steve if I was a bit too deep for you. Sessions without bodhrans and sex without a partner are both for ………..

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…people who spend a lot of time on ships, e.g. “Steve Shaw, you anchor??”

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That’s a terrible thing to say, Steve. I would not be surprised if you received a rebuke from Jeremy.🙂

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Azalin, how about starting your own session? Or just inviting your friends to *your* place to play?

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Just thought I’d set a precedent - one regards oneself as the first sessionista ever to execute an ad hominem attack on oneself…

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“In theory, it’s all good, I show up at my friend’s place, play a few tunes with them, then go somewhere else in the house to play on my own until we’re all ready to leave for the pub. But in facts, they take it very personnal, and doing this is ”rude“ from their perspective.”

I think it is a bit rude, and a trifle weird.
Surely you can play on your own any time. I’ve never heard of anyone going to a session and going off to play on their own, unless it’s to learn a tune they’ve just been shown.
Why not just sit and listen to the tunes/musicians you ‘just can’t sit and play with’, at least that would be polite ….

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Have you (tactfully) confronted them about “trapping” you? Say something like, “You know, I don’t really get on with Zaphod Beeblebrox, so if you know Zaphod’s definitely gonna be at this session, I’d really appreciate you guys telling me. If I really don’t feel up to playing with Zaphod tonight, I might not go to the session, but can we get together for some tunes tomorrow? I really wanna play with you guys.” Something like that.

Or you can choose to be flexible. Or choose to set your boundaries with your friends by saying, “I love you guys, but I really don’t like sessions.” It’s just music and it should be fun. 🙂 It’s not like rock climbing or horseback riding or white water rafting where if you do it poorly, you’d end up in a very sorry state indeed. No one ever died from a badly played reel.

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I often take my harmonicas into the gents at sessions and play on my own. But it isn’t because I’m antisocial. I need to play alone for a minute just to convince myself that it really was the bloody fiddles and not me that were out of tune.

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And what Ottery just said. I totally agree.

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Azalin …….
If you’re not willing to listen to their tunes (going off by yourself in their home)…. how can you expect them to be interested in listening to your tunes? Give & take afterall.

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Did anyone else just have a good ol’ snigger at what Steve just said? 😀

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Steve Shaw, you have my vote for Contributor Of The Day. Keep Talking.

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Maybe he’s too busy in the gents to talk.

Sorry, but c’mon, bloody hell, you can’t let him get away with that! 😀

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“…people who spend a lot of time on ships, e.g. ”Steve Shaw, you anchor??“”

He said it himself. Maybe, he’s JIGging in the rigging. 😛

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>>
If you’re not willing to listen to their tunes (going off by yourself in their home)…. how can you expect them to be interested in listening to your tunes? Give & take afterall.
>>

Good point Morning Star… but… I’m not asking them to listen to my tunes. I’m asking them that if they’re going to talk, then they simply walk out the circle and talk away. The reason why I go to “kitchen” sessions" is because I don’t want to have to deal with stuff that you’d get in a pub. If I end up playing a nice tune with athe guitar player and meanwhile they go in the next room to have a nice chat, that would be very acceptable to me.

But it seems to “talk” during sets is part of their session culture. I used to talk to, but learned to whisper or get away from around the musicians playing.

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Been there with that one Steve, especially one night when the frets fell out of the guitarist’s instrument, and with my bad eyesight and limited knowledge of music, I retired to the gents for a listen to the harp.

However, all that proved was that harp was in tune, oh my God, had I been playing on the wrong harp, in the wrong key? Fortunately after I had tested three harps in this manner, the guitarist noticed the fret situation.

As they say, drugs don’t work.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

hey, azalin…..i’m just catching up on this thread now. we’ve communicated before about styles and players we really admire, and i knew our tastes in styles were similar, but i see here that the evolution of our tastes in sessions are similar, too, ha! the progression of my experience with sessions, what draws me versus what alienates me, feels very similar to yours….my idea of an ideal session is the mike rafferty or claire keville or jack/charlie coen, or mary mac, or kitty hayes/peter laban style of playing and experiencing the music, or for that matter, the feeling you get from pb’s “garden of butterflies” recording. as with my taste in ornamentation, i don’t have any beef with flashy or super-fast styles in themselves….my beef is with the mentality that the flashy, super-fast, or super-ornamented thing is “it,” the highest, the best, the most-advanced, etc. there are a lot of ignorant people in the area where i live who actually don’t even know that another aesthetic exists, and are contemptuous and dismissive if a set at the session is played in a more relaxed style. i have no desire to make every set at a session conform to my aesthetic, but i draw the line at being talked down to by people who think they are judges of irish music because they’ve seen a solas concert.


in my case, how i am dealing with it is to try to be a grownup and accept the hard reality----that my choices in my approach to experiencing the music are inevitably going to mean further choices about how much sessioning i do. i am starting to accept the grownup fact that nobody is going to change to fit my tastes, and that consequences flow from that. i mean, even in ireland, the kind of traditional music experience i wish to pursue, is not universal. we could narrow it down even more---even in clare, even in, say, the single town of ennis---the niche i’ve come to love is far from a universal preference, and fair play. making choices about your taste and your path are one of the big parts in getting serious about a form of creative expression. but with that comes consequences about what kind of company you keep and how you wish to expend your time and your creative energy. we have this mythology about “the session” and how it is supposed to be this big, open, free, entity where people get their musical needs met. but the truth is that many super-serious players don’t even bother with that type of session. they session now and then with like-minded compadres. for the time being, that is what it has boiled down to for me----lots & lots & lots of home practice and listening & learning off of cds, plus occasional small sessions with sympatico players. also, i have spent a few years with a “teacher” who actually doesn’t play my instrument and hasn’t taught me anything about technique or playing, but is a master of the style i love. the “lessons” are really two-person sessions for practice at playing together---swing, style, repertoire, etc. so i get it that way as well. and for the time being, this stuff is enough.

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Thank you for empathising Mr Bliss (God, how I hate that word “empathising.” Why did I just say that…). These chaps here may well derive amusement from our plight but I really do go into the bogs to check my tuning several times an evening. I actually sound pretty good in there because it has far better acoustics than the bar. Of course, with harmonicas in the gents you can kill two birds with one stone as playing one-handed is a cinch 😉 And it’s never me out of tune, always the flippin’ fiddle players or mandolinists with dodgy nuts (is that the right word?).

As for all those who suspect my motives I can only assert that what I do in the toilets with my (mouth) organ is entirely my affair. 😉

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Seconded.

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😏

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I know a piper who always tunes up in the gents.
Medical assistance has been summoned more than once by female staff who didn’t (wouldn’t) investigate visually.

Re: Sessions: politics and friendship

Well reading over all this stuff for the first time, my impression is that Azalin is not compartmentalising session playing from solo playing. The session, perhaps, is not so much about the actual music (the tunes, the style, the ornamentation etc) but the fun of getting a bunch of people playing together. It really doesn’t matter, in a way, if the tunes appeal to you, or the style appeals to you. The session is what it is and you go along for the feeling of communion. A person who will only play a few esoteric tunes, and will only play at a tempo much slower than the session tempo, is a person who is not buying into the very purpose of the session.
If you want to have fun playing at a session it’s best to check in your ego and “personal style” at the door of the pub.
That’s not to say that you can’t start introducing some of your favourite tunes. There’s a certain jig I really like and I play it often at sessions. Nobody ever knows it, but I stick to my guns and play the whole bloody thing through (it has five parts I think). Lo and behold, after a couple years of playing it, now some other players are learning it.