cool things you’ve seen recently

cool things you’ve seen recently

At last night’s session, there was this fiddler playing a set of reels (she’s very good and can even talk to someone while she’s playing), and right as she was coming to the end of one reel, she caught the eye of the guitar player, said "G", and they both launched right into the next tune. Seamless. It was so cool! Made me decide I’m going to try to remember the keys for all the tunes I know so I can try the same thing some time. Anyone here see any other cool things at your session recently?

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Isn’t that how it works at any session with an accompanist?

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Yeah, but dont take it away from him mcdevincabe..

I remember the first time I witnessed that.. Its just magical.

Man I love trad.

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I can’t talk and play at the same time - but I have learned to grunt out single words while playing such as "hup" - "Next" - "Key change" and the most important one when the server walks near, - "Guinness"

But Kennedy, you are correct, it is good form to know the keys of your tunes and give a shout out to any and all who might be backing or following.

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Something similar happened a few months ago, at my (now defunct :( ) session: a singer looked at the guitarist, and said, "I’m going to do this one in A major", and then started singing. The guitarist slapped on a capo, and started accompanying her a few seconds later. Woman’s got perfect pitch, I can tell you that much.

Incidentally, I remember all of the keys of all of the tunes that I play, and I find it so interesting that so many trad musicians (including my teacher) don’t. In fact, when my teacher teaches me a new tune by ear (and when I try to pick up new tunes at sessions), the first thing I’ll do is make a conscious effort to figure out the key - it makes learning the tune so much easier. (I often can’t instantaneously distinguish between close intervals, but if I know, for instance, that we’re in G rather than D, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s a C, not a C#, I should be playing.)

A few weeks ago my teacher gave me a tune that was full of accidentals, and I was having a devil of a time processing it at first. Finally, I asked, "What key are we in?" He looked at me as though there was no way my question could be at all relevant to the task at hand, but answered nonetheless, "D". Then he played a few bars, and corrected himself - "No, A."

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Like you said, Nine, the trouble with the number of sharps method is that one finger could mean Gmajor, Eminor, Adorian or Dmixolidian (I think I got that right)…….
Generally that calling the key method works well because it tells the accompanist what chord to play until he or she recognizes the tune, and applies the proper accompaniment from there. Don’t think that accompanists just figure it all out from that one piece of info! And given that many of us can’t remember tune names, calling out the tune name is often not a good way to cue people regarding what’s next.
And myself, when on uncharted territory, I would prefer to stop at the end of one tune, and then start in when I am comfortable with the next tune. Better that than launching in to the next one, getting it wrong, and then sputtering out along the line. Always better musically to add as you go along rather than subtract. That is why familiar tunes are the best ones to end a set with, everyone can join in.

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I was at a hot session recently, must’ve been 95 degrees, the air conditioner was broke… But the session just a had a certain aura/sense/smell about it… I was hoping someone would go close the bathroom door… There was a fiddler there and this guy was something else… he had the right look, the right fiddle, one of those cool hats that old men wear while fiddling… he launched into something reel special and about halfway through the high part he turned and said to the guitar player "B flat" and flat it was… the whole thing came crashing down to slow fluttering of fiddle notes and out of tune guitar… it was something to behold… man I love trad!

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Showing the fingers was always the dance band way of showing the keys, especially when backing singers. I’m afraid with many trad players it falls on stony ground. I find that the old ‘eyes up to heaven’ denoting a key change from ‘G to A’ never fails. If only I knew a way of getting down again. Sometimes because of all the noise drummers or bodhran players have trouble in picking up the tempo. To them I say, just watch the foot of one of the players who you know is playing the tune, and watch how it is tapping’ That’s your tempo.

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What do you do if you’re a flute player? I have tried lifting my leg, but that’s difficult to see under the table. When the line of sight is open, it works to alert others that a change is coming, but as far as keys go, I am at a loss. When I do stop to shout out a key, it disrupts my playing and flow…

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‘What do you do if you’re a flute player?’

Kevin Crawford can actually call the next tune while playing.

Posted .

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Then let the backer decide/shout out the next key. You get a few seconds to think of a random tune in that key, which is fun.

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You can’t be serious. Think of a random tune for a key? How about playing a tune you like? And even better if it sounds good after the one before it? And worry about the key later, or not at all.

This thread seems to be turning into a discussion on arranging tunes and their respective keys. That was NOT what I was talking about at the beginning, which was an example of a fiddler helping out a guitar player with the key so that they could both start playing a tune together—-cooperative spontaneous music-making, if you like.

I haven’t been playing for sessions for very long, so I don’t know if it’s standard to call out keys or not, but I suspect it isn’t, although it’s nice to have. I was just impressed by the timing and the smoothness of what I saw. Don’t know if that would be needed, or even preferable, for the entire session. I haven’t noticed that it’s a standard feature of the very advanced sessions I’ve watched.

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It is standard to tell the backer the next key. Even if he/she has a good ear and can pick out the key quickly, there would still be a noticeable gap.

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Ok my idea is a bit crazy but it sounds fun, doesn’t it? Won’t you try it?

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Showing fingers is a great way to communicate with the backer… I end up wanting to use the middle one alot…

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Is it really standard? Like if I wanted to play a set of tunes in Am, Adorian, and G, I’d have to inform the backers beforehand? What about those tunes with ambiguous keys? What to do about those? And then there have been many discussions here about how the backers are supposed to know the tunes—-shouldn’t they be able to recognize the tunes and know the keys that way (as opposed to picking up the key from the chord structure)?

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I think that informing backers of the key is often done just as a matter of courtesy. Some people do it preemptively, some people only do it if they sense the backer struggling to find the key. Some backers like to "feel" the changes, and adjust accordingly on their own.

So while I wouldn’t call the practice "standard", from my experience, it is fairly common.

Pete

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Geez - you guys are beating this dead horse quite a bit today aren’t ye?

Merry Hielander that was a good one!

Kennedy - there aren’t any hard and fast rules on this either. My guess is the fiddle player and guitar player in question have known each other a while? Maybe played a few tunes together? Sometimes this symetry works and other times it doesn’t. Sometimes people tell the backers the keys of the next tunes they are about to play and sometimes they don’t. It is spontaneous and random and typically "session-istic" (new word)

As for flute players - ours kicks me in the shins in order to signal the next tune - er, maybe he just doesn’t like me…

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That’s nothing, we’ve programmed our local guitar holders to respond to "STOP"

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I kicked the mandolinist last night and said "C naturals, pillock" - he stopped playing C#s. That was really cool.

Being a prat, I love saying "two sharps" or "one flat" and looking at the bewilderment on some peoples face.

I sometimes resort to holding fingers out - one finger up is "stuff you, pal", two fingers down is Bb. I really love telling the banjo man when we are going into D.

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may be the easiest way is to tell the backer what one’s going to play and the keys variations…. right "before" starting the set.

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I am surprised no one has inserted a plug for the "snippet" method into this thread. But seriously, unless you want to have the backer (and many of the melody players) pause at the beginning of each new tune you need to: give snippets before playing, give tune names before playing, give keys before playing, or call out tune names or keys as the change approaches. Otherwise, the backer has three choices: guess (which can be ugly), do some dead string rhythm thing until they catch on, or pause. There is nothing wrong with people dropping in and out as they recognize or don’t recognize tunes, but if you want to keep the whole group going strong, some advance notice is needed.
What Kennedy has described is pretty common where I come from. If we aren’t playing a well-worn and familiar set, someone will generally call a tune name or key as the next approaches.

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"….. one way of organising the key change used in jazz is to hold up a number of fingers, which indicate the no of sharps. So 1 finger is G, 2=D…."

That’s fine if you’re a trumpeter. But most instruments are played with two hands. And what do you do about flats? Fingers pointing down?

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The ‘snippet’ method is something I associate with paid sessions - the musicians discuss what tunes they are going to play beforehand so that they can give a seamless *performance* and keep the publican sweet. That is not to say a seamless transition is only worth bothering with if there is money involved. But personally, i enjoy the suspense of not knowing what’s coming next. Besides, I rarely manage a seamless transition, even when I know what the next tune is.

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I don’t know about that "namechange," whether I am being paid or not, there is a certain joy in jumping from one tune to the next cleanly and skillfully, with all of the players tightly in formation, part of the joyful unison.