session etiquette

session etiquette

I recently went to a session where one fiddler was starting most of the tunes and also didn’t seem to care if any other musicians could play along. Is this just someone being a leader, or is this considered rude?

-Iuval

Re: session etiquette

Depends, if the fiddler was paid to lead the session or not. Also depends on if the tunes were extremely obscure or not. Maybe if you flesh it out more we could tell you. Was the fiddler good? where was the session? Was s/he paid to ‘run’ the session?

Re: session etiquette

Brad’s right — too many variables to come up with an answer with any remote chance of being correct. Also, to add more questions to the list: how many players total were there? Was this a regular session for that place, or a one-off? Did people know each other, or were they all strangers? Were you in your home town and did you know any of the other players (as well as the fiddler)? Were people talking and laughing with each other, or were they stiff with each other? What was the overall level of playing ability in the group? Did you ask this question of anyone else who seemed to be at home at this session, and what did they say?

Re: session etiquette

If it’s his gig, then it’s probably alright for him to lead the tunes. However, most musicians would probably give somebody else a chance to start a tune from time to time. Perhaps, the others weren’t as experienced or lacked confidence.

On the other hand, you do get people who wish to "hog the limelight" but it’s hard to tell with the limited information here.

John

Re: session etiquette

Session ettiquette also allows you to pointedly ask - do you mind if I start a few (emphasise at this point) "standard session tunes" that the others might know?
I know you also have to be good enough/ have the confidence to carry this through, as you will put yourself in the same "limelight", but every session night should be different, and someone else leading for a while adds to this.

Re: session etiquette

Sounds like a Hog to me. It would be common courtesy here to ask others for a tune.

Re: session etiquette

sounds to me like breandan has issues with this topic if its the same breandan i know he would be the boy to start of a few tunes to rattle your greedy fiddle player!

Re: session etiquette

They might not have been aware they were doing it. Sometimes I’ll go
along to a session with a head full of tunes and enthusiasm and end up
starting 90% of the tunes, ‘cos I’ve always got a tune bursting out
and wanting to be played the moment there’s a gap. I usually try to
keep an eye on myself but after a few drinks it’s easy to forget. I
once had someone mention it… which was exactly what I needed!
Sometimes if you’re in a certain headspace it’s very difficult to
intuit what’s unsaid around you. It can become a source of tension,
and because so much is left unsaid, even a minor comment can become
blown up to major proportions in the mind of the recipient. I find
this the most difficult part of sessions (particularly those I’m not
that familiar with)… but maybe it’s just me. I’d just say something
if you feel that way… or just start a tune yourself when there’s
a momentary pause!

Posted by .

Re: session etiquette

That’s ok if you’re the only one with tunes bursting out your head. If your surrounded by bodhrans, eggs, guitars, etc., and the there’s YOU! But in many sessions there are loadsa musicians with tunes zooming round their heads. Often the ‘quieter’ musicians just need a bit of encouragement from the established members at a session to get going. There’s nothing worse than some wanky little primadonna trying to demonstrate at every given opportunity that they know every tune going and then some. Gets boring.
(Unlike me. I just DO know nearly every tune going. That’s all *I* need to say.)

Re: session etiquette

Not a matter of demonstrating knowledge of tunes, just a big energy/enthusiasm gap between me and the others. Tune stops. Wait. Wait. Surely someone’s going to start a tune… nope… so I start another one.
Almost always I’ve got the patience to wait until someone
does start a tune but sometimes, well, those "sometimes" I was talking about above. Mostly the
energy seems to be infectious and the whole session
steps up a notch but you never know who’s sitting in the corner thinking "I wish he wasn’t starting all the tunes"…

Posted by .

Re: session etiquette

Just don’t wait too long between tunes if there’s no chatter going - coz that’s the cue for the dreaded *singer of god-awful depressing, tuneless, long, 7-verse, anodyne comatosely boring songs* which nobody has asked for, and only the singer wants to hear. But don’t say a word after the song has ended - remember your etiquette!

Oh, and Danny - someone told me that you get hungry because you know every single tune there is, so you have started learning to play them all backwards. I’m well impressed! 🙂

Jim

Re: session etiquette

Right, thanks for replies. To answer the questions: No he was not paid to lead, it wasn’t his session, it was a regular session that I attended the week before, and some people knew each other, but I didn’t get the warm feeling of communal inebriation. I also hadn’t mentioned that that particular day I had left my fiddle at home thinking I would have time to go get it after work, but work went on longer than expected, so I went to the session just to listen and enjoy the music, without my fiddle. And this particular musician, after asking me where was my instrument, told me that "leaving your fiddle at home when going to a session is like leaving your testicles at home when going to a whorehouse". Now that would have been funny, if he didn’t wield his fiddle as if he were participitating in common whorehouse activities and impressing us with his prowess..

Re: session etiquette

Well, sounds like there’s a reason there’s no real regulars and that sort of interaction at that session. Whose session was it, and why aren’t they dealing with the guy? Why don’t you start another? Could be much more fun. 🙂

Nothing really wrong with someone starting up tunes no one else knows, if they’re good and if you ever want to learn new tunes. (Perhaps he’s hoping that if he plays them often enough someone will learn them and start playing with him.) Although the whorehouse comment sounds like someone who doesn’t understand that sometimes listening is more important than playing. Does he run roughshod over anyone else trying to start a set?

heigh ho…poor little tykes out in icy weather last night, but there were still hordes of the cute li’l things.