Session Scandal! [LONG]

Session Scandal! [LONG]

What follows is an email exchange between me and the fellow who "leads" (he’s a guitar player) the only regular local session anywhere near the place where I have moved to. Enjoy.

Chrishty-

I realized at the session a couple of weeks ago that I never had a chance to send you the e-mail that I sent everyone else way back in December when the idea of revitalizing the Sometownorother session was first hatched. And although I don’t have a copy of it at hand, I’ll try to recreate it from memory.

“This is a session. It’s open to any and all who wish to play and/or listen. It’s not a band practice. It’s not a performance. It’s not an invitation only affair. It’s a session. I do not want it controlled by one instrument or faction. I want people to sing songs and tune players to jump in and accompany them. Most importantly I want us to welcome beginner and novice players as I was welcomed when I first came to the session at Some Other Pub years ago.”

Chrishty, you’re a good player, and you know it. And I am glad that you raised the bar at our little ole session here in Sometownorother. But we’re not in [City Chrishty moved from] anymore. And time and time again over the past month I’ve counted a dozen people sitting in a circle with ten of them with their hands in their laps. I fear you have already run some people off, and I am even noticing our good players wearying of your domination.

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be exposed to new tunes. Heck, I’d love to hear you play a slow aire sometime. But when someone of less experience introduces a tune or song, I would ask you to respect his/her tempo and choice of material…with a minimum of snide comment. You too were once a beginner. I just hope that when you suggested a standard tune, such as the Butterfly, someone else didn’t say “No,” as you did a week ago.

Remember, it’s a session. It’s not a competitive sport. It’s supposed to be fun.

Regards,

Mr. Nice Guy

Chrishty’s Response:

Mr. Nice Guy -

Let’s get a couple of things straight. First of all, I don’t know in what sense I "dominate" the session. Yesterday, for example, I started a small number of tunes. A and B, the other strong players, started more than I did, and I played along with the tunes that they chose to play. It may seem like I’m taking over when in fact I am playing along most of the time. Since I know a lot of tunes, this means that I am playing all the time. In fact, the young man playing the flute sitting across from me started more tunes than anyone else did.

On a session being "fun": I have to tell you that it really pisses me off when someone tells me what a session is supposed to be. I learned how to play in Ireland, where I lived for several years. I went to at least one session every day for a good two years of that time when I lived there. In the 20 years I’ve been playing Irish music I’ve been to plenty of sessions — certainly enough for me to know what a session is. Now you can say "this isn’t [City Chrishty moved from]," but what is that supposed to mean? Let me tell you what I think a session is. A session is a gathering together of people who enjoy Irish music and each other. What happens at a session? People play Irish tunes and chat, maybe someone sings a song or two. (Hopefully not Danny Boy though. It’s an awful song that is offensive to me in that it embodies everything wrong about people who think they have some idea what Irish music is when they haven’t got a clue.) In between sets of tunes people chat with each other. This aspect (good conversation) is, to me and all of the people that I have spent the last twenty years playing with, just as important as the music. And this is what beginner type American musicians don’t seem to get. A "session" where people look at the floor in between sets of tunes or where there is hardly a break at all between sets of tunes is a crap session, in my opinion. In [list of places], or any other number of places that I have been in sessions there is often a five minute or more pause between sets of tunes while the musicians, who are also people, chat about music, life, jokes, past sessions, old friends, etc. At this so called session at [current session location], no one seems to have much to say. You may have noticed that I try to make conversation and joke around with people, including you — I’m trying to get a little social interaction going. You might try to do the same. When the session becomes a social experience as well as a musical one, people don’t feel slighted if they only know a fraction of the tunes played on any given night. Everyone has a role, both socially and musically. And honestly, Mr. Nice Guy, the better players should dominate. If they didn’t, Irish music would have fizzled out a long time ago. (And pay attention next time to what people are REALLY starting the most tunes.)

You suggest that some of the better players are tiring of my dominance. Well, that is simply not true. The better players (who coincidentally seem to be the ones with personalities) are the ones that I have become friendly with. I know these people, Mr. Nice Guy, and count them among my friends. And to a person they are very happy that I have been coming to the session. How would you know what these people are thinking, anyway? I’ve never seen you have a substantial conversation with any of them. Unless, of course, I misunderstand what you mean by "good player." I think you mean A, B, C, and D. That’s who I’m talking about, anyway. I will be sure to let them know what you told me they think of my "dominating" the session. The funny thing is, they don’t think that at all. They actually start more tunes than I do, the ones that leave people "sitting with their hands in their laps." Maybe you should send this email to A and B for that matter — they NEVER start tunes that the masses know. Did you notice that I usually try to put a tune that everyone knows at the end of a set? Like the Concertina Reel? I suppose you didn’t.

As for the Butterfly incident, that young lady said, "Does anyone want to play the Butterfly?" I answered honestly for myself. As for my snide comments in general, that’s just the way I am. Call me an asshole. It wouldn’t be the first time. You are certainly a nice guy, and your all-inclusive program is admirable in spirit. But there is a line that has to be drawn somewhere. Now, you are the one who is supposedly "running" this session, whatever that means to you, so that is your program and I won’t interfere. But seriously, Mr. Nice Guy, the everyone-should-participate thing has to have limits. For example, the guy sitting to my right last night banging on his drum for the first hour is absolutely awful. A drummer with no sense of time and less subtlety. Why should one gobshite be let to ruin nice music? I think it’s indefensible. If I were in charge I would ask him to stop. (By the way, if you ever need someone to do that and you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, just let me know.) And a bass? No place in Irish music. Never mind the fact that that guy didn’t know Irish music at all. He was clearly some kind of Old-Time or Bluegrass player who just assumed that he could play along with Irish music. Well, I find that attitude to be personally insulting. When I was learning, I would patiently sit at the edge of sessions, listen very closely to the tunes that I didn’t know and play along to the ones I did. I NEVER felt bad about sitting with my hands in my lap. I enjoyed every second of it. And my respect for the music was rewarded — the musicians who ran those sessions eventually took a liking to me, invited me to more sessions, and eventually, when I got good enough, did sessions with me where I was one of the paid leaders. There were plenty of other Americans and other learner types (even some Irish) who would barge in to sessions and insist on starting tunes (like the Butterfly) that no one wanted to hear or play. None of them ever gained the respect of the real musicians. Anyway, my point is this — while inclusiveness is nice, it doesn’t make sense to want to include people who actually don’t play Irish music. Surely that makes sense. And that eedjit bodhran player doesn’t play Irish music, nor does the bass player or five-string banjo player. Please agree with me, Mr. Nice Guy, that there should be a line somewhere. I know you were made welcome when you were a beginner, but you were playing an acceptable instrument and you weren’t marching into an Irish session for the first time with a cavalier "I can play along with this simple peasant music!" attitude. I know you didn’t because you’re too nice a guy to do that. So you don’t owe it to anybody, or to the tradition for that matter, to include people who have spent NO time learning Irish music. In fact, I would say that it is disrespectful of the tradition to let them think that their ignorant behavior is OK.

So where does that leave us? I think that over time you will get to like me and appreciate what I add to the session (in terms of craic, not music.) I know I have a bit of a strong personality — an acquired taste. And I honestly think that you are confusing my strong personality with me controlling what tunes get played. Well, I don’t hold grudges — never have. I plan to come to the session next week like nothing ever happened. I can’t and/or won’t change my behavior, though. If this is not acceptable to you, then we are at an impasse. I suppose as the session "leader" you could ask me not to come any more, but I might not respect your wishes, certainly not without consulting the other players. I don’t think it needs to come to that, though. I think everything will be just fine — you can be the nice guy and I can be the not-nice guy. Don’t we need both to keep the universe in balance?

See ya on Sunday -
Christy

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Anyone who writes it "slow aire" has no clue.

Good response, maybe harsher or blunter than I would be (and have been), but still polite and with good information.

Maybe you should just start a new session?

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I think it’s terribly sad that you couldn’t have had this as a conversation outside the pub instead of over e-mail. And even a tad sadder bringing it here.

Posted .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

You refer to the session LEADER,
We all know what the Deutsch word for leader is, don’t we children?!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Well I’m surprised that anyone goes to that session at all ! How would they find it?

There are no sessions in "Sometownorother" listed in thesession db .. 😉

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Maybe you shouldn´t have been so coy about the city and the pub where this situation originated because that´s definitely a good place to be away from. A "session" which leads to an exchange like the above is probably the "clash of the primadonnas" - what do the other `participants´ - the ones with `their hands in their laps´- think about the situation ? (not that it really interests me - I find christy´s/chrishty´s unbridled arrogance (`I learned to play in Ireland´- as if this was an excuse for his behavior in a situation like this!) extremely distasteful and hard to stomach…also his constant putting down of other musicians: it might be interesting to let a bass player with a bluegrass/old time background find his/her way into the music - listen to something like the Transatlantic Sessions, there are interesting things going on. But this just a minor point; all in all I agree with llig leahcim: very sad, and completely against the spirit of the music - basically from both antagonists.

Posted .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Correct in spirit, execution is meh, see Mssrs. Llig & Krick above for more details.

Also, could do without the Yank bashing, but I’ve come to expect that. I could go on and on about these eejit novice Aussie, Brit, Scot and Oirish noobs on vaca who barge in on our session and want to foist some garbage on us, but I’ll refrain. 😛 (lol)

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

… and I hope that no-one "raises the bar" at our session …

….it might spoil our uninterrupted view of the maid behind the bar …. 😉

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Wow, "Chrishty" is a dick.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Chrishty - Lots of people know thousands of tunes, right?

- wasn’t that the title of a thread that you posted here a couple of months ago?

https://thesession.org/discussions/20333

But not the 10 out of 12 people at your session with "their hands in their laps", it seems …. 😉

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Interesting to see Godwin’s Law coming into play on the third reply.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Llig’s right- talk directly with the others about it- it’s the only way.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Oh dear Chrishty, "overshare" methinks!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Being a "newbie" player, I will respond, for the sake of that butterfly lady.


When learning the instrument, you want to play. You want to play! PLAY! More and more, as much as you can. But - uh oh - the only dance tunes you know are butterfly, kesh at 100 bpm and maid behind the bar at 70 bpm. Does anyone want to play Butterfly? Fail.

OK, there’s a declared session tunebook, all you need to play more is to learn the tunes. You learn one tune a week if you work hard, and one tune in two weeks if you work not so hard. 4 months later you find yourself with 5-6 full session sets. Will you be able to play at last?

Well. First, your jigs are 100 bpm and your reels are 70 bpm, while the session speed is descent 110-120 bpm. Second, these are the sets that were played by your session every week for last 4 monthes. Same sets for 18 bloody Thursdays. Does anyone want to play Out in the Ocean / Dinny Delaney’s? Fail, huh.

OK, then there’s the other way for you - to learn some tune you like, but not from session tunebook, to introduce it to others. You learn one or two, you work hard to be able to play it solo without support. You play that at session, solo, with guitar player backing. Cool. At next session you do the same. Hm. Same at third. Hmm. Does anyone want to learn Scarce O’Tatties? Or Reel of 51st Division? "Failboat sails again", as one failblog likes to say.

I don’t know what comes next, as our session has died at that point.


Both sides are unhappy. Newbie is still with his "I want to play" itch, "oldbie" is annoyed with that bloody butterfly and is not sure if the session is worth visiting. What side is right? Well, both are (or both are not, depends on point of view). What should be done to make both sides happy? I don’t know. Tell me if you do. Or "draw the line" and leave some people duetting with metronome at home.

It’s two years since I started learning to play my tinwhistle, and one year since the death of the moscow session. I’m still a newbie - my reels are still only 80-90 bpm and my tunebook is small enough to "repeat" all tunes in 2-3 hours while practicing. And the "I want to play" itch is still here - and it’s bad enough to attend another nearest session, which is in 1000 km from my house (two nights in train, $100 for roundtrip tickets). I don’t have these problems there (yet?), as that session is very small and I don’t attend very often (1-2 times a month). But I’m very afraid I will.

You smart TSO folks, tell me what’s the right path?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Thanks for your comments. LLig (and others) — I posted this because I thoughht some of you might be interested in reading it, for whatever reason. I found the whole thing funny and sad. Of course I would have rather talked to Mr. Nice Guy (I’m not shy, as you might have guessed) but he sent me an email. So I responded by email.

Just so you know, I don’t think the other players mind at all. There are usually a handful of very good musicians who play at this session, nothing flash or fancy. This same thing would happen were I not there — I think I got singled out precisely because I’m a dick who tends to say what other people are thinking (or so they tell me afterwards.)

Gee guys, you really don’t like me, huh? Especially Mix… I’m really not a bad guy…

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Thank you breqwas for a thoughtful response. I think the answer is two different sessions. A "slow" or "learner" one and a regular one. That’s what used to exist in the place I’m talking about, now there’s only one.

Also, what about the fact that some guiatr player thinks that he is "running" this session? That doesn’t compute for me.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Chrishty is right. you bollices need to get a shaggin’ clue

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

plural of bollix

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

matrix correct plural is matrices. I.m not making this up

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Chrishty’s answer to breqwas, regarding two sessions is part of the answer. But "slow" sessions can eventually become mired in their own mediocrity if there are no experienced musicians acting as mentors to help the beginners improve.

Where there is only one session, what’s the problem with everyone playing the occasion set of common tunes at a slower pace so the less experienced can join it? Experienced players can still put "lift" into the music to make it sound good.

Perhaps if the less experienced players knew that there would be opportunties for them to play at their own level at the session, then they wouldn’t be tempted to try and play tunes that are clearly beyond their abilities.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

This is pretty much a snapshot of Life In Something Other Than A Hotbed Of Trad Music. You stick your neck out, try to start up a session, and you have to deal with….people. Sigh.

I went to a ‘celtic jam’ the other night. It was great fun. The standup bass player was there, the shakey egg person, the banjo guys, and they sang Danny Boy and Whiskey in the Jar. But we were playing music to raise money for a kid with cancer, so some slack was definitely cut.. It was not a session, but I’d probably go again if it started happening on a regular basis. They were fun to hang out with. It was not pure drop, but then I don’t really expect that, considering that the tradition here is bluegrass and cowboy.

I know that I have honked off some folks by playing ‘too fast’, which is ironic, because I can’t play most reels at dance pace. But we keep trying to get the musicians together to play…music.

Both sides on this one have pretty valid points. Deal with it.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

A session ‘leader’ ?
I convene, or facillitate, two sessions. That is to say, I try and remind everyone they’re on, I try to get there first, keep the landlord/lady sweet, thank everyone for coming at the end of the evening. I think my SO leads off more tunes than I do. Several other people do. We certainly chat a bit, and I’ve played gigs with several of the regular musicians.
If someone asks us to play/sing ( insert your most hated song ) this evening I shall hold my tongue and might even join in. That’s part of what sessions are about.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Ceol -

That IS what happens at this session. We do play LOADS of sets like what you’re talking about. The whole problem is that I’m too much of a w * n k e r to keep my mouth shut when some twit says, "Hey guys! Do you want to play the Butterfly?" Hell no, I don’t. Especially not right after we played some other set of jigs for the masses. I think the other session goers are happy enough.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

But isn’t the correct reply to the "Butterfly" request to simply smile, wander off and get a drink. Life’s too short to count coup on learners.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Insert a question mark there. Sorry.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

"Gee guys, you really don’t like me, huh? Especially Mix…"

Hey, Chrishty, where in this thread did I say that I didn’t like you? I don’t even know you. And I don’t even live in "Sometownorother" !

I think maybe someone else in this thread referred to you by an impolite name, but it certainly wasn’t me … 🙁

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Let this be a lesson to you not to argue (or discuss) via email, about sessions, or anything else in life. It never works.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Why does it not compute for you that a guitarist can lead a session? Frankly a session will be led by whichever person is most prepared to get off their arse and organise it regardless of what instrument they play. It doesn’t require a fiddler to find a venue. It doesn’t take a flute player to negotiate for free drinks. All the "host/hosts" is/are there to do is to ensure the thing runs and provide a friendly, welcoming face.

Perhaps the guy in question could have apporached the issue better than writing you an email but I am certain you could have approached it better than posting the correspondence online for the world to see. What an unthinkably twittish thing to do!

The question should be, "Is there anything inherantly wrong with asking someone to respect the set leader’s choice of material or tempo?" Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Sure we all like to play in a really firey session with great tunes and certainly a constant diet of tunes like the Butterfly, Morrisons Jog or Spootiskerry can prove tiring but that, frankly, is the way of it. If you get someone at a session who has been playing for donkey’s years and shows no sign of improvement or desire to improve then that is an issue but dropping on learners from on high with the arrogance you have demonstrated is shocking!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Oh please. I’m gonna bust out crying.

Batlady - I hear you, but nobody at this session seems to be having a good time, at least in terms of interaction. No conversation and no craic. Some set of tunes finishes up and everyone looks awkwardly around ‘til someone starts another set. What the eff is that about? I’ve never seen anything like it. So I try to shake it up a little. Instead of saying, "Gee, I sure would like to play the Butterfly!", I said no. By the way, I did say that I was only kidding around and the tune did get played. And I did go to the bar.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Your session sounds like hell, but you’ve only yourself to blame. Why haven’t you told the bodhran player who was sat next to you to feck off? You need to get it all out in the open. If it creates a huge argument then so be it. Less of this skulking around in chat rooms whinging about it. Get proactive. Speak to people, Get them speaking to each other. Tell your butterfly wifey why you feel the way you do. Get some back up from your mates, or find out you don’t have any mates. Either way, wheesht your feckin whinging.

Posted .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Oh Dear.

I think I’ve said before(and many people have agreed) that every session is different and should really be allowed to run in the way which suits the wishes of those who either set it up in the first place or whom have become the "de facto" leader(s) or mainstays.

"Some set of tunes finishes up and everyone looks awkwardly around ‘til someone starts another set."

Many are like this with or without the awkwardness. It’s not uncommon to have frequent breaks and discussions about the next set. Not every session is continuous and "non stop fiery tunes".

There are always some sessions which don’t suit but you should either make the best of the situation or go elsewhere.
Be mellow…. 🙂

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Oh, I’ve just seen Llig’s comment.
While he doesn’t advocate being mellow, he still has a point. The best place to raise your concerns is within the session and at the time.

(I know have been guilty myself of having a good moan here from time to time but it doesn’t really address the problem)

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

[Raises pint to the poor little Butterfly that took a beating today]

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I can see both sides of this issue. I was, not so long ago, that beginner that really wanted to hear the Butterfly because, wow, it was like one of the dozen tunes I knew. Now there is, admittedly, a part of me that cringes (and puts in as many tight triplet runs as possible, for the craic) when I hear that tune. Yes, beginners and intermediates and everyone should be welcomed and encouraged. There should be sessions that do that. It sucks to be learning, working your arse off to get better, and be in a situation where people have no patience for anybody who isn’t as good as they are (I’m less empathetic with people who have been "just learning" for 25 years). I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

On the other hand, I have been in totally the opposite position — being in a session with people who wanted to play "beginner" tunes at about 60bpm. I’m kind of an okay player and really really don’t want to play the High Road to Linton and Willafjord at 2 miles per hour for most of the night. You’re sitting there thinking the night could have been better spent watching Top Gear reruns on the internet. I don’t go or stopped going to sessions where I have to deal with that because, like the "expert player’ sessions, they are not the only game in town. I’m lucky in that there are tons of sessions here and I can choose ones which suit me. What do you do when you live in the Irish music sticks and there are only one or two sessions? I don’t know — it’s a tough boundary to figure out. I think we managed it in CO. The music was good, still is I am sure, but they tolerated and welcomed eedjits like I would have been when I was playing there. Those guys were awesome. I mean, they didn’t act like unwelcoming jerks because they had to hear my sh*te playing (it really was) but I worked hard — I figured out what tunes they were playing and learned them. Maybe they recognised that, I don’t know. It’s a two-way thing, really.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Reading this I feel like staying in my kitchen and never coming out again.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Find or start another session, Chrishty - sorted.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Don’t feel too bad Chrishty. I think you did us a good turn sharing the emails. Very enlightening for session newbies like me.

Got to put in a word for Guitarists though. Besides doing all the things that No Cause for Alarm and Guernsey Pete said, ours makes sure that everyone gets to start a tune if they want. It makes for an inclusive and generous atmosphere all round.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Llig -

I have moved recently and this has all just happened. I am in fact a very proactive type when it comes to such matters. Thanks for your thoughtful advice, though. I didn’t post this here to whinge about it — I posted it here because I thought it was ridiculous and quite funny in and way, and that a curmudgeonly plonker like yerself might enjoy it.

As for being proactive, I have every intention of taking over that session and driving the beginners away for good. That should fix the problem.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Hopefully, a tongue in cheek remark?

However, in my opinion, I don’t see any problem with beginners or "lesser musicians" (I probably fall into the second category) providing there’s enough room in the session and they have been "trained" to behave themselves.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

That’s right Chrishty - drive all the lesser musicians away and, guess what, you’ll be playing with yourself !!!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I guess I will wade in with a couple of comments.

1) I agree that this conversation should have happened in person not through email. Someone has a problem if they can’t bring this up in real time so it can be a dialogue, not a one way exchange each time.

2) I agree that a session is open to all levels of expertise, but it is important that musicians do not play the tunes they do not know, or that they play them very quietly so as not to disrupt the session.

3) I also agree that there should be some standards and that people should be asked not to play if they are not playing on tempo or are otherwise messing up the music.

4) People should be relatively sober, I think. At a session I stopped going to there was a bass player who was so drunk sometimes he could not even get his bass into the bar.

5) It’s all about the craic. If someone is messing up the craic on a consistent basis, they should be asked to leave.

6) I think it is important that musicians try to play sets that most people can particpate in. If you are playing set after set and you notice no one is playing, pay attention to that.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I was joking in the last of post, of course. But no, "shasiko calico", if that is in fact your real name, I would not be playing by myself. I would be playing lovely music with A, B, C and D. As it is now, we stay after the session is officially over play for a while more. That’s the kind of session I’m used to anyway. Any more than six or so and it gets messy. I’m not used to these sessions where the aesthetic seems to be "more [people] is better." I do not subscribe to this point of view…

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Ok - Chrishty was clearly tongue-in-cheek/sarcastic with that last comment (whatever you want to call it). Why is it apparently so difficult to read people online?

I wouldn’t disagree with anything that Celtic Guitar just said.

Personally I am tee-total but if people want to drink themselves under the table then that is their own choice (as long as they can still play well when they are down there).

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Ha ha - but you were correct.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

yuk

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

"Would anybody like to play the butterfly?"

"No"

LMAO -
Sigh - I sometimes wish I could speak to people with a complete disregard of their feelings. It might save a lot of grief later on.

So you’ve moved to Amerikay Chrishty? Welcome! Sounds like you are NOT in one of the hot beds of Irish music. You must be out in one of the scattered burbs, amongst the great unwashed throngs of heathens who stumble onto this music later in life. So be it. You can still have a nice time if you remember that "staring into one’s lap" is actually an invitation to kick off a set of reels of your choosing. It’s like a secret code here in the states. I have noticed however, that a willingness to occasionally stoop down and play the "shudder-fly" with a newbie, means that they, in turn, might strive to step up and learn one of your sets too. Wouldn’t that be nice? If you wish to cultivate a new crop of players, you might get better results by not p!ssing all over them. Or, you could just take the "there’s a new sheriff in town!" approach and force them to bend to your will. It worked for Wyatt Earp.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

The least you can do, when you just arrived in a new town, is to keep a low profile for a while and not try to push others around. These guys have been in this session for a long time, probably, and it doesn’t matter if the guitar leader is right or not, he’s the one who held things together for a long time there, and you either listen to him or find another session. This incident with the butterfly… I can totally understand why these folks totally dislike our friend Chrishty.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Maybe there isn’t another session. What do you do for your music fix if the Butterfly Spootiskerry crowd is the only game in town? What if they all call the tunes "songs" and still debate the subtle differences between a jig and a reel? Such places exist. (Astonishing, isn’t it?)

How do you bring the great unwashed throng along without offending? Toes will be stepped on.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Just chat with ABCD about organising another session. If one or more of them is up for it, find a bar that is empty and ask to play there. Not for cash, just to play after a few weeks it should be real busy then discuss payment ,or not? … Anyhow, thats my suggestion, not on the same night as the other session though! that would be rude .
Two sessions a week is better than one eh?! 🙂

As far as the butterfly goes! i can totally understand and sympathise, its just one of those tunes eh?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Hmmmmm
What’s wrong with a bass anyway? Love having one at our sessions occasionally, and really whatever people want to play provided they can play the music(although endless spoons all night long can get to be a bit too much 🙂 ) But in terms of specific requests, well my fiddle teacher taught me that it’s not ok to make gagging retching noises when someone suggests a tune I don’t like and so I stopped doing that. 🙂 And so when someone suggests a tune I despise I either breathe deep and play it or take a break at that point and don’t make a big deal out of it. That way if I suggest a tune someone else may despise, well, I also expect the same courtesy.

The best sessions that I attend manage to be both beginner friendly and also a great space for better players. Just have fun- isn’t that the whole point?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

This session sounds like some of the gatherings of useless numptie gobsh*tes to be found around the ‘burbs of South London. Bass guitar and crap bodhran whacker? And the proceedings "led" by a guitar-strummer? I think those retards would get up my nose as well. This doesn’t sound like an Irish traditional session at all, just some kind of come-all-ye, for wannabe people who haven’t put the hours of practice in. However, as much as I sympathise with you from that point of view, you sound quite arrogant. A medium sized fish in a pond full of amoebae by the sounds of it. Get yourself to a decent session, even if it means travelling to another area, or even city. Or,as has been suggested, form another one with just a few of the more choice players, and don’t tell the numpties, whatever you do.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Seems to me you have a couple of choices here Chrishty -

1) You can see this as an opportunity. A chance to be a real session influencer with your knowledge of tunes and proper craic. You could even host a "tune teaching session" to bring people around to more interesting (at least to you) tunes. Beginners are very eager to follow the examples of an experienced player such as yourself. All you have to do is throw a flippin’ bone to them and play the Kesh Jig, et. al. once in a while. It won’t kill you.

2) You can move to another town.

3) Start your own private session (doesn’t sound like many players are around, however)

3) You can continue to p!ss and moan how sh!tty the sessions are in America, flap your complaints here like a pair of dirty knickers, and drive away what few eager folks there are in that town with your wit and charm as evidenced here.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

"…quite funny…" - nope
"…I would be playing lovely music with A, B, C and D. As it is now, we stay after the session is officially over play for a while more."
"…I did say that I was only kidding around and the tune did get played. And I did go to the bar."
…so what’s the big deal?
…sigh…

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I totally agree with Llig! What a nice thing for a change!
Messages have gone on and on, but Llig’s first response says it all - it’s sad.
Put together with "As for my snide comments in general, that’s just the way I am" - take responsibility for your actions, Chrishiie!

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

For all newbies.

Option one
Newbie: "Does anyone want to play the Butterfly?"
Seasoned smart-alex player: "No"
Newbie: Huge cheeky grin to yer man then with a wink "works better if your good looking" and off you go playing your damnedest (you had better know it well!). You can bet with that kind of attitude the others will join in, they would be watching and waiting for your reaction and if you handle things with grace and a bit of humour all will go well.

Option two
Rephrase question.
Newbie: "I’d like to play the Butterfly, it’s one of the few tunes I know well and it would be great to get a chance to play it with some great players like yourselves" Guaranteed they’ll want to encourage you after getting a bit of ego rubbing.

Option three
Don’t ask…just play. Can be dodgy if not timed well, if the lads are just about to head out for a smoke or are still basking in the glory of a wonderful set of reels or jigs you could be left high and dry. Timing is everything with this manoeuvre. But that can be said about playing too.

Option four
Make a friend of one of the better musicians, get one of the alphas on your side and your laughing. Chat to those beside you, get to know the other musicians, have a bit of neck, have oodles of respect for the music and you’ll have them all eating our of you hand and playing Butterflies every week.

This is advice from one who was eventually banned from playing the Butterfly at my local session, but I did sneak in the odd rendition even after the ban, and I had a good run of it. I still love the tune.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

BTW, one foreign guest at our session had played some weird version of butterfly in 5/8 once. That was cool 🙂 I did not record, and couldn’t remember how was that done later.

Does anyone know the trick?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

One way I’d do it in this particular case is to divide each bar into two new bars. The first will have 5 eighth notes (quavers in old money), and is therefore in 5/8. The second will have only 4, so what you do is to change one of those eighth notes into a quarter note (a crotchet in said old money), thus turning that second new bar into 5/8.
Repeat this throughout the tune and you’ll have double the number of bars, each in 5/8. You’ll get something looking like this:

X: 1
T: Butterfly, The
M: 5/8
L: 1/8
R: slip jig
K: Emin
|:B2E G2 | E2 F3 | B2E G2 | E2 FED | B2E G2 | E2 F3 | B2d d2 | B2 AFD :|
|:B2d e2 | f2 g3 | B2d g2 | e2 dBA | B2d e2 | f2 g2a | b2a g2 | e2 dBA :|
|:B3 B2 | A2 G2A | B3 B2 | AB dBA | B3 B2 | A2 G2A | B2d g2 | e2 dBA :|

What I’ve done is syntactically correct and does work (after a fashion), but sounds a bit weird!

The trick is to choose where to make the divide, and which note in the smaller part to turn into a quarter note. There’s plenty of scope.

You can also do the same thing in reverse, like turning 7/8 into 6/8. This is a little simpler than turning 9/8 into 5/8. All you do is to delete an appropriate eighth note from each bar - choose one the deletion of which gives a sensible sounding result. And by adding an eighth note you can easily turn 6/8 into 7/8.

Tedious emails on both sides. But Scandalous?

Scandals aren’t as engaging as they used to be. There was a time you could make some popcorn & the bowl would be gone before you knew it . Good luck to you though!
If I can remember what a friend said last week; when we were both saying what we thought.. Something to the effect, " This is as bad as being married." She cracked me up right there. Good observation too.
I can see the headline tomorrow from Sometownorother.

NewsFlash: Newbie asks to play Slip Jig. NO! was all she heard.
photos on A12 … geez who am I kidding. I’m no good at reporting scandals either.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

A good move is to compile a set consisting of a couple of relatively obscure tunes which even the "big boys" might not know and tag "The Butterfly", "Jig of Slurs" or whatever on the end. Or a common reel, polka, slide or whatever depending on the style of tune…

They will then join in with you gladly after having twiddled their thumbs for the first two tunes. If they still question your choice of tune, eg "the Butterfly", just say that you thought you’d finish the set with one they might know…just to be "inclusive" 😛


(By the way, all that was "tongue in cheek too)

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

What would happen if someone started playing The Butterfly more like the Tommy Potts recording (sort of fluttery and unpredictable) than what is normally heard? .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Start your own session Chrishty.

NEXT - give the guitarist a kick up the hole for me for being such a coward in writing that email in the first place. If he is the ‘leader’ he should have the balls to tell you to let the beginners have a chance with the tune-starting.

THEN - give yourself a kick up the hole for doing the snide remarks thing the the butterfly woman. Not on, no matter how sarcastic your humour is, that’s just being a prick. Being a prick like that will get you nowhere, not even with decent musicians.

that’s my 10p…

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

a chrishty
time is our greatest judge…

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Its a guitarist job to accopany the music not to take the lead and set the rythym.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Welcome to Virginia! Let it ride, man.

Knowing a little history might help. This session comes after a pretty long history of politics shutting down every other session in town. Good players and middle of the roaders understandably get irritated with the Butterfly week after week. But then beginners and middle of the roaders get tired of listening to the two or three top players going on 20 minute tune sets of stuff like O’Rourkes Liquored Up Dream of Loose Women or some such stuff that no one else has heard before. This town was a victim of Riverdance. There were good players before, but quite a few who jumped on the bandwagon with the rise in the popularity of all things Irish a decade or so back. They’ve been split factions ever since. It’s a shame, but it is what it is.

I’m a fairly middle of the road player so I’m just happy to have any bloody session at all. Granted, I’d rather listen to some new stuff and learn it than drone on and on with the rehashes of over-played stuff. I think the nice guy (and he really is) is just trying to find middle ground here. I understand your frustration, truly. But having seen really nice sessions and the opposite get run into the ground with bickering between factions, I hope this doesn’t happen with this one. Stick with us, man, it’ll turn out fine. The Danny Boyers will disappear until the middle on next March, trust me. You might have to deal with the Butterfly a few more times, but I’m betting it won’t last. At least it wasn’t the Irish Washerwoman (believe me, it’s been done).

By the way, you got way more out of twisting Danny Boy into the tune, than you did with the comments. I’m just sayin’. 🙂 Nice!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Exposed! Thanks for your comments, lastnitesfun. I was warned by a couple of people that there were some weird and ancient factional divisions down here. I was playing with A.O. [C, for those of you who have been following along] last night at a place nearer to where I live, and we were talking about this whole situation. Nutty, huh? The reason I posted the thing here was just for the sake of curiousity, and also because nothing controvertial had happened in a while. Contrary to the comments posted by many who seem to have limited reading comprehension skills, I’m really not complaining. And I’ll definitely stick with ya’ll. I’ve enjoyed the session so far. Glad you liked the Danny Boy Barndance. See ya next week.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Loving music is one thing, being able to play it another.
It’s one thing to be a musician, another to be an entertainer.
It’s one thing to play music WITH someone, another to play music ALONGSIDE someone.
It’s one thing to be inspired to make music, another to attend a session.

If these different things coincide at a session, it means that they coincide within each person there. If not…. well, neither politeness, nor blunt frankness can make up for that. But a bit of emotional intelligence is ALWAYS necessary to make things work.

By the way, "The Butterfly"….

Is one of the first irish tune I have learnt when I started to play ITM about 20 year ago. And I still love it!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

agreed.

a fine tune. if you’re too good to think of something interesting to do with this tune then maybe you need to get gooder.

cheers!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

ehh, "you" as in people in general, not calling out the OP 🙂

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

> What I’ve done is syntactically correct and does work
> (after a fashion), but sounds a bit weird!

Well, that’s not like what that guy played, but is still nice. It definitely needs some evil and tense guitar accompaniment, best if guitarist has some background in grunge music. 🙂

( and now I’ll be killed by purists, huh )

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I have to admit, Christy, I do things a bit different than you. When playing with improvers I try to put a tune everyone knows at the beginning of the set rather than the end. I didn’t bring anything up about ‘The Butterfly’ before because others were already discussing that one. For any tune I have heard *too many times* I would simply let the beginner start the set & move on from there.
This is just me but I don’t think it is that difficult to make a good set even when I don’t favour every tune in the set. Most of the tunes for sure. But I have been known to encourage new players to start a tune I otherwise not care to hear ~ again … & again … so on & so on. Savour the good sessions. Life is short.
Now about this reading comprehension. I comprehended one thing. You’re having a rough patch with this session. If you’re not complaining perhaps you should be. Otherwise why post the emails on the forum?

Anyway I’ll try what you suggested ~ ending a set with a tune everyone knows.
Cheers!

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I guess that I have to get used to or deal with the fact that sessions down here are going to encompass a HUGE range of ability and knowledge of the music. There were so many sessions where I came from — the ones I played were mine and my mates and there were no beginners at them. I imagine that some of you might think that’s somehow sad, but not at all. Everyone was happy.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

gian marco, that’s it 🙂

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Yes, nice, different time sig but I think far more in the spirit of Mr Potts, not yer usual dardidardaar dardidardidadada..

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Credit where it’s due - as far as I know, that 5/4 version of the "Butterfly" originated with a Dutch group, "Flairck" who recorded it over 20 years ago.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I never heard that Dutch goup, but it seems that I had the same idea 20 years later ( I thought i was the first 🙁 )

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Why can’t people who play music just get along, and, without clashing egos, sort themselves into a variety of sessions with people near their own skill levels? Sigh……..

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

IMO the solution to this is quite easy. I think it’s wrong to try and change an existing session to what suits you, it is what it is, but I feel your pain. It only takes three of four to have a decent session. Ask the publican if there is a night you can have a more advanced session, invite three or four of the best players and from the outset play the tunes you want at the tempo you want. If others are good enough to join in fair enough if not they’re unlikely to stay long at a session where they can’t keep up.

Some folk will say that’s snobbery but IMO it’s not and if you’re a decent player then it’s always going to p*ss off some people, but tough. I don’t believe all sessions are ‘for everybody’, there are sessions for every level but no way would you find me at the type of session described above every week. I’d quite happily go along from time to time, be sociable and have a few tunes, but if you’ve been playing for years you can’t be expected to join in with learners week in week out.

I would say decent sessions are best if they’re accessible to decent players but you’ll never get a enjoyable session if it’s a free for all.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

breqwas, thanks for those comments! I can think of one or two evil guitarists in our local sessions, and perhaps I should pass it on to a grunge band 🙂 I was just trying to show how a conversion from 9/8 to 5/8 was technically possible, so I wasn’t trying to compose a 5/8 that necessarily sounded like it was in the Tradition (anyway, it took me less than 5 minutes, so that’s not composing). Gian marco’s the real thing.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Note to self: don’t ever send a private email to Chrishty, unless I’m happy for it to be posted on an international public website forum.

Session ~ short

It’s not the least bit sad to be at a session & be playing with your mates.

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Chrishty, start your own damn session as suggested twice previously. Then you can admit whoever you want, play as long as you want, the tunes that you want, and sh*t on people as you wish. Sounds like A, B, C and D would be into it.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I really can’t stand players like you Chrishty who are intent on pulling the ladder up after themselves. There is a right w*nker locally, a classically trained violinist who feels he has to change key in the middle of everything. Shouting out the key change in advance isn’t a help if your instrument doesn’t physically make those notes!

I’ve seen this arrogant attitude kill too many sessions and put off Newbies from an enjoyable pursuit. They might never become McGoldricks or Hayes’s but everyone has the right to make a little music. The ‘Tradition’ doesn’t belong just to the experienced players. In fact I doubt most players from 200 years ago could have played at the ‘twice dance pace’ speed favoured by a lot of sessioneers these days.

Its for this reason I have switched to English music sessions, though I still play Irish whistle for money. English sessions are much friendlier, whilst Irish music seems to have become a competitive sport. How long till it gets Olympic recognition?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

I just wasted a good five minutes of my life reading that sh*te.
You people need to get laid more often.
Or cultivate a drug habit.
Butterflys a craker choon.
snobs

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Learners need sharp elbows up against u bastards

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Ahh go on widcha, I spent a good 10yrs on my fiddle before I took it to a pub session! and you want to join in after 2 weeks or wha’? ..you want your bread and your coin…

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Ten years to learn the fiddle! u must be a fairly slow learner..have a wee photo up on your music stand of yer session Pub to look at whilst you practiced.. If the Butterflys good enogh for the Bothy Band tis good enough for me..and most

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

LOL … and, so what if I am? I’ve played the butterfly enough for one life time thanks, if i never played it again I wouldn’t miss it! Its got nothing to do with it being not good enough whatsoever, its a grand tune, if overdone. The point is that I, thats me, dont ‘want’ to play it if thats ok? Im effin sick of it. I like tea but I dont want to drink it all the time! Even the best things in life can pall if overdone. Ive got nothing against the tune, but I would rather play any other tune, try Elizabeth Kelly’s delight, or the fox hunters, or Dever the dancer or anything but the bloody butterfly!
My point was that IMO its a good idea to spend a few years getting familiar with the music, a bunch of tunes, your instrument. Learner sessions are great things but not everyone wants their session to be a learner session, not everyone wants to play in learner sessions. Ive got nothing against learners, I am one!

I would say though that the opposite is also true, learners dont want more advanced players coming in and ‘overpowering’ their learner sessions. It cuts both ways. Im learning all the time, yes i do have a music stand! but its got music on it!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

For some, playin the Butterfly can be compared to a Wee Dog chasin its tail..Play it twice, up the tempo fire in a Hard hittin Jig..Condons Frolics for example goes great..I now full well the butterflys overdone. im just bein a c*nt! Ever try Flook tunes? suppose fiddle players mite not gravitate in that direction..

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Not Condons Frolics..Although maybe..Pull the knife and stick it is a perfect transition!

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Um. Why does it not surprise me that you made DB into a barndance?

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

; )

Just so you know, everything worked out just fine. There were interesting conversations between tunes and people recording tunes they didn’t know and talking about them… major improvement. And Mr. Nice Guy was delighted with the way things went.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Im always getting abuse for speeding up tunes..As Finbar Furey once said. Cuz i can.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

Please post email exchanges here confirming that last statement

Posted by .

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

nooooo

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

please dont

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

The Butterfly’s a lovely tune. But I feel your pain, Chrishty. Maybe inappropriate to splurge it all out on here, but nevermind. I need a rotweiler to get rid of a couple of limpets that have recently moved in to our session - I thought they’d get bored. I’ll give you a shout.

Re: Session Scandal! [LONG]

The Butterfly WAS a lovely tune. As Played by Tommy Potts, even The Bothy Band for novel arrangement, although the fact that it’s overplayed by learners is surely their fault.