Choice anxiety

Choice anxiety

It’s one thing varying a tune a bit, or even a lot, but mostly you can do this in a session and the tune will come out sounding ok, even if you’re new to that particular session.

But there are some tunes which have so many versions that are just so different that it’s bewildering.

One example that’s been going round and round in my head of late is the Connie the Soldier / Southwest Wind / Lake Shore family of tunes https://thesession.org/tunes/373. This has been submitted to the database here several times, and although some have been deleted by Jeremy, four still remain.

Now I have about 10 recordings of this tune (at least, 10 that come to hand immediately) and some of these recordings are ones that I listen to regularly. This means that I have several versions of the tune in my head, and like I said, not just variations, but actually settings that are totally different but similar enough to be confusing.

So if I’m listening to one of these recordings I can probably play along with that particular version, but if someone asked me to start the tune, I’d go into spasms ‘cause of all these conflicting versions in my head. I don’t know if I’d even know how to start it. The one I want to play is my favourite setting from Charlie Piggot/Miriam Collins/Joe Corcoran, but it’s probably the most uncommon setting of them all, which means it’s less likely that others would join in in a spirit of tune sharing.

So 2 questions:

1) Which version(s) of Connie the Soldier do you prefer to play and which tend to get played in your session?

2) Do you have any "problem" families of tunes like this? If so, which ones?

Re: Choice anxiety

Oh no, my favourite one is the Chulrua one, that’s the one I meant. It’s incompatible with any other version πŸ™

Re: Choice anxiety

1) I think I favour SΓ©amus Creagh’s version, but only because it’s the one with which I am most familiar.

2) The Ewe Reel springs to mind. The Clare and the East Galway versions are very different. I also have the same problem with Paddy Fahey tunes: because they’re so intricately conceived, different versions tend to sound pretty awful sitting side by side, yet there are so many versions of each tune that it’s a common issue. Paddy Carty’s versions of quite a few Fahey tunes are very different from Fahey’s own versions, even though they played together a lot.

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The one recorded by Ronan Browne and Peter O’Loughlin is popular among pipers, I believe. That’s actually my favourite version of Connie the Soldier, or The South West Wind.

A few years ago I tried to learn a couple of new versions of The Boys of the Lough. Listening to many recordings of it, I got confused with so many versions of it that I could’t decide which ones to learn. The Tinker’s Daughter is also played differently by different musicians. It’s one of the hardest tunes to play together with others, especially in a new place.

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Yeah people don’t seem to play Broderick’s original version of that, which is much simpler than the session versions I’ve heard.

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Here now, what’s this? A thread about actual tunes, playing music, sessions?! Rubbish!

😎

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Re: Choice anxiety

Give up the coffee…

Versions on versions on versions ~

I do sympathize. I was working on an old recording by a box player I used to play with regularly in Dublin, a session that had its focus on music and dance from Sliabh Luachra. He had a ton of great tunes, but, listening to them this week, they are all quite unique, but they weren’t there, in that hotel session just off the Liffey. There are versions for some of them on site, but they aren’t his versions. While some are close enough that you could play them along with the well worn session versions, picked up from commercial recordings that tend to set things in stone, some won’t work with those usuals… I have tended to either give in to whatever is being played, whatever version, or to just sit back and enjoy a brew and a listen. However, I do feel some pang in the heart that the commercial concrete has muscled out some really interesting versions, versions that in a sense might have more legit than something by The Chieftains, Planxty, The Bothy Band, Boys of the Lough… Yeah, a kind of sadness. I can still enjoy what’s happening, but I can’t deny there’s a heartfelt regret.

Clarification ~ but they weren’t unique to that hotel session, which was one of my regular weekly haunts…

Funny, as I think on it, I had to adjust what I played depending on which session I was at in that same city, Dublin…

Re: Choice anxiety

play the one you like best

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Re: Choice anxiety

"play the one you like best" — even though nobody else knows your version and you don’t play it well? Pure ego. Misplaced in this case.

And I don’t get this: "I have tended to … give in to whatever is being played…" Isn’t the point to develop a common setting, agreed on by your contemporaries, with whom you have been playing for a while? The point is to blend in, rather than to "give in." That sounds as if you really know best, when in fact you probably don’t.

This is always the case: "I had to adjust what I played depending on which session I was at in…" Hopefully you have a home session with a base of agreed upon settings, that become standard.

The "right setting" is the way the strongest players in attendance play the tune. Why learn a different version? …unless you are a stronger, more accomplished player than any of them. In which case you wouldn’t ask this question to begin with.

Re: Choice anxiety

Dear Doctor Dow - thanks for sharing this. I thought I was the only one who suffered from this complex. The tune that immediately springs to mind for me is the simple old chesnut of a jig, Garrett Barry’s. I’ve heard the B part played at least 4 different ways in sessions, now I don’t know what version I play! (and of course everybody sticks to their own version rather than listening and trying to follow the version of the person who kicked off the tune to start) The whole thing is making me resent the tune!

Help me doctor!

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" Isn’t the point to develop a common setting, agreed on by your contemporaries, with whom you have been playing for a while?" ~ David Levine

Sometimes a session has a longer history than oneself, and it would be respectful to take it the way they do, rather than trying to impose your way on it, or force a compromise. and I really don’t mind. That variety was part of what interested me, and getting familiar with someone else’s take on it, old or young… ‘Giving in’ is letting it soak into you and become a part of you. It’s not an unwanted sacrafice, it is a pleasure to share someone else’s take on a tune, or a group’s way with it. Before I started attending the session mentioned I had learned other ways with those tunes, the more common ways as played in places like Comhaltas Culturlann. Learning it a different way was fun… I didn’t mind ‘giving in’ to it. I welcomed it.

Are you serious David? While living in Dublin I went to more than one, a session or dance pretty much every free night I had, and they varied from one end of town to the other - even down to Wicklow… Yeah, I belonged to the Sean Treacy branch, but that wasn’t my favourite gathering by any stretch, though I enjoyed it too. And, I often went on outings further afield, and ‘gave in’ to whatever was the norm where I found myself, from Antrim to Cork, Dublin to Mayo… There’s no way I’d impose myself on a session with history… Even after much attendance I’d still consider myself a guest. That’s me, my choice and way, you take as you see fit…

One classic example is where some folks play a distinct second ending while others do not…

Re: Choice anxiety

I started a similar thread a couple of months back when I was required to learn two quite different settings of a tune within a short time.

https://thesession.org/discussions/29228

However, I was advised by "those in the know" that this wasn’t really an issue or a big deal.
πŸ˜›

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Nope… But after awhile, when you’ve learned say half a dozen or more versions of the same tune, well ~ 😏

Thanks for adding the link…

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I have noticed that about Garrett Barry’s jig also. A part is pretty straightforward, but everyone has a different opinion on the B part.

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This assumes a session where people can talk to each other: When we have different endings, for instance, we’d compare the endings. We’d agree to play it a certain way.
When I go to a session where they play a different ending, then depending on what’s going on, I will adapt and try to blend in, or stick to my own setting. It depends, eh?
There is no definitive answer to the question of what is the correct setting. It depends on the session’s location and the level of the playing. Is it a cause for anxiety?

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Respect to my elders and betters David. πŸ˜‰ And there’s too many tales to tell in that short sentence, including name dropping… πŸ˜€

This is sad, I hit the tub very late, in the early hours of the morning, and passed out. When I awoke to cold water the first thing that came to mind was Doc Dow’s thread here. And I remembered a few extremes that are at least relevant to the mix here.

I knew a very outspoken and opinionated, and dogmatic, uilleann piper, and maker of pipes, who would often expound on the following short statement, though often he left it with just that, said forcefully and in a way that told you there was no discussion, that it was the final word ~

"There is only ONE right way!"

And I’ve known others of similar mind that turn to various resources, for example, the fiddling of Michael Coleman, and other musicians his contemporary, because, they were the early recordings, a kind of stamp on their versions as being ‘correct’, and not unlike some folks attitudes about later recordings by the likes of The Chieftains, Planxty, and up to the present… And there are those who turn to the dots for their authority, the O’Neill collections for example.

But I’m more akin of mind to the likes of Breandan Breathnach who appreciated and loved that there were many possible ways with any given melody, sometimes twisted so far to quality as a completely different tune ~ by individual, by mistake, by confusion, forgetfulness, ‘Chinese Whispers’, by intent or text or screwed up transcription ~ over time, by association, by a change in instruments or keys or time signature. Things happen. But, I should also add, that Breandan wasn’t keen on every permutation a tune was subjected to, some things were smirkworthy as being a bit O.T.T. But I’m not going to name names… πŸ˜€

When I’m in a position of teaching I tend to mostly teach, or at least close to, what’s current in the local session scene, and maybe one out of four I’ll give them something more to think about…

Re: Choice anxiety

"play the one you like best" — even though nobody else knows your version and you don’t play it well? Pure ego. Misplaced in this case.
not necessarily, you are assuming no one else knows it,
my reasoning is this you play the music because you like it, therefore you play tunes you like and versions you like, it has nothing to do with ego.
if someone else plays a tune you play it or you dont play it, nothing egotistical about that, a player in a session does not have to play every tune, they can join in with a different version of the tune if they want to, they are also free to play their favourite version of the tune on a different occasion, it has nothing to do with ego but a lot to do with freedom of choice.

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