Listening to The Session Tunes

Listening to The Session Tunes

Hi

I have been a member of The Session for a number of years and have never had any problems listening to the tunes however that has changed and I am unable to listen to the tunes. Any suggestions are appreciated. I run an Imac and have not made any changes to my hardware. Thanks

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Just joined The Session - a great resource for learning and info so congratulations to all involved!

I’m also experiencing the problem of not being able to play the midi files on my Mac; I wonder is this anything to do with the OS version, mine being 5.1.7 Snow Leopard?

It would be great to get a fix for this!

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All seems well with Windows 7 running Firefox.

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I’m on Snow Leopard 10.6.8 and the MIDI files run fine in Firefox. Try using that instead of the default browser Safari.

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Just tried Firefox instead of Safari! Success! Thanks for the advice - and so quick!

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I will reinforce Firefox’s acclaim… at least for this use. It has issues on some other sites. nothing is perfect I guess

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Playing the midi files is still a problem in quite a few browsers — sorry about that.

I’m determined to get it sorted though. I appreciate your patience.

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I noticed a "fallback mode" just offering the download. Now that’s a cool feature, where’s the problem?

However, in the end it’s still MIDI. 😏

Re: Listening to The Session MIDIs

Hopefully in the end (result) it’s not MIDI. That’s just a simple, handy shorthand which shouldn’t be taken too seriously. MIDI is only a contemporary convenience, but no substitute for hearing the tune.

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I highly recommend listening to a recorded source for the tune whenever possible. A lot of people have added links in the comment section of the tunes to various YouTubes and mp3s, etc. The midi files are really unnecessary and misleading. The dots are good as a sketch of the tune, but the midi files don’t really render them sufficiently.

Re: no substitute for hearing the tune

Oh dear, do you imply there might be someone trying to *learn* a tune by listening to the MIDI??
Banish them from thesession then!

I mean, yet dots are not ideal, but they’re just a sketch. MIDI is like declaring a sketch to be a finished painting, isn’t it?

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Kind of cross post w/ Phantom Button. I think the thing is, if you can’t read the dots nor listen to the tune anywhere, then the MIDI won’t help you either…

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Yes, there are people out there in Mustardland who seek to learn the tunes direct from the midi files. I just don’t understand it. They are crazy.

It’s TheSession & Midis are here to stay.

I’m not so quick to dismiss a source based on it’s type. It’s always up to the person using it to distinguish between the one which provides the best information & others which in themselves are not to be taken as accurate or complete (perhaps not even as musical). In good conscience though I cannot say every version of a tune I’ve heard played (or recorded) by a human is inherently better than every midi I’ve heard of the tune.
Whether one is looking for sheet music, midi, YouTube, face to face it still comes down to how one uses the information. Is it a supplemental reference, just to give a listen, or a long term, repeated playing intended for learning purposes?

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"In good conscience though I cannot say every version of a tune I’ve heard played (or recorded) by a human is inherently better than every midi I’ve heard of the tune."

If the recorded (or heard) version isn’t as good as the midi… you need to keep looking.

Of course, but there are more than a few substandard YouTube recordings out there.
;)

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Yes… avoid those… and please don’t link them to the comments in the tune database.

No problem, Jack.
;)

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Thinking about it (for the first time, I am ashamed to say) it occurs to me that many of the very best trad musicians I’ve known couldn’t read sheet music. For them, MIDI playback is essential to making the tunes section of The Session usable — not for learning the tunes (I hope!) but just for talking about them.

Mind you, I don’t know that any of them are actually using The Session anyway…

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Thank you, Sol Foster, for making that distinction. It’s important to remember that what ever type of information one uses it is always relative to their experience, education, personal needs & intended use.

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Is this thread a ploy to expose those who learn from MIDIs?

Aikiburr, patiently awaiting a reponse…

timmy!, I very much doubt this thread is any more than Aikiburr asking about recent changes regarding the availability of downloads obtained from this site. Whom, it seems, has not received a direct answer regarding the OP.

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"Thinking about it (for the first time, I am ashamed to say) it occurs to me that many of the very best trad musicians I’ve known couldn’t read sheet music. For them, MIDI playback is essential to making the tunes section of The Session usable — not for learning the tunes (I hope!) but just for talking about them."

I hadn’t considered this… but you’re right.

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How in practice would the expert trad musicians who can’t read sheet music talk about the tunes that they hear as a MIDI? Are there any examples in the Tunes section of experts who can’t read sheet music talking about the tunes by referring to a MIDI? Do these musicians find themselves unable to talk about tunes in the pub or in the kitchen because they don’t have a MIDI version available? I don’t think so.

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Marvis… he’s talking about the musicians discussing tunes here… on this website. If you can’t read music you might not realize what tune it is that’s being discussed. Everywhere else you mention is in meatspace… where we actually play the music… so midis aren’t referred to in those cases.

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That doesn’t make sense to me Phantom. These expert musicians who can’t read sheet music can nevertheless presumably read writing, or they wouldn’t be able to engage in the discussion here at all. So they would be able to read what tune was being discussed.

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So the MIDI may be useful to recognize tunes you already know, but by a different name (or no name at all)… But discussing them based on the mere listening to MIDI? I don’t think so. I find that tunes are really getting mutilated and distorted this way. If you read the dots, the melody gets automatically played in your head IME, with proper ornamentation and all, in the style of (one of) your instrument(s). Or you just play them. But MIDI forces the dots to very narrow limits, leaving little to no room for interpretation. Maybe a really experienced musician can extract the basic melody line in their head, but I doubt that the usual MIDI-listener does. When the very first impression of a tune is the MIDI, then it’s not the impression of the real actual tune, IMHO.

So what can you reasonably tell about a tune that you have only heard as MIDI? I think the danger of getting misled by it outweighs its benefit. It’s alarming how many seem to be concerned because the listen-feature doesn’t work properly on all browsers.

On the other hand, if one has fun with MIDI, it’s up them. Back to the OP, there is still the download-button (as I already mentioned above). This works well on any browser where I tested it, even in Linux. No Quicktime and all.

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megapop, I don’t know about you, but pretty much every time I search for a tune in the tunes section, the very first thing I do is hit the "sheet music" button to see if it’s actually the tune I’m looking for. If you cannot read sheet music (and many great ITM players cannot), then the only sensible equivalent thing you can do is hit "play". The MIDI playback may have atrocious style, but it should pretty clearly convey what tune is being talked about. Without that the tunes section of this board is just a bunch of babbling about names that may or may not correspond to the tune you are interested in.

I guess I should add I’m pretty much never trying to learn a tune from the information in the tune section. I mostly use it for research: what is known about the history of this tune? Who has played it? What does the name mean? If I don’t know it, is there a recording that would be good to learn from? (Or I’m looking for some basic ABC I can edit to conform to how I think the tune goes and turn into sheet music to give to someone else to learn from, but I doubt the musically illiterate will be doing this.)

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‘Thinking about it (for the first time, I am ashamed to say) it occurs to me that many of the very best trad musicians I’ve known couldn’t read sheet music. For them, MIDI playback is essential to making the tunes section of The Session usable — not for learning the tunes (I hope!) but just for talking about them.’

Well, you may be right about ‘many of the very best trad musicians’ being unable to read sheet music, but you’re very wrong if you think that the said same are racing to this site to download MIDI files!

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"Well, you may be right about ‘many of the very best trad musicians’ being unable to read sheet music, but you’re very wrong if you think that the said same are racing to this site to download MIDI files!"
How would you know one way or the other, have you carried out an extensive survey?

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Sol Foster, that’s pretty much what I actually said…

As for myself, I appreciate dots as an aid to learn tunes. I also like to noodle around the dots of tunes I don’t know, as for instance when someone submits a new tune or when I’m browsing a collection. But knowing the tune or listening to a decent recording or something is way better of course!

Scutcher, that’s so true! 😀

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Dick Miles, I think this is true a priori…!

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Dick, have you carried out ‘an extensive survey’ to prove my point incorrect?

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Can anyone say that they actually got the "Listen" function to work?? I cant. I have windows media player , real player and quicktime and non of them will open or play the tune?Click on "listen" and it changes to "download midi" and there endeth the lesson —- nothin ???? Would like to hear someone with a success and like to know what settings one needs on the computer to get it to work .

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Meant to add uusing windows 7

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no i have not , but then i did not state a strong opinion one way or the other, i just asked a question, i have no idea whether people are listening to midi files or not, but i am not prepared to take anyones word for it other than jeremy , who probably has some stats

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Marvis writes: "That doesn’t make sense to me Phantom. These expert musicians who can’t read sheet music can nevertheless presumably read writing, or they wouldn’t be able to engage in the discussion here at all. So they would be able to read what tune was being discussed."

Tune names are too ambiguous and many of the best tune players I know have no idea what the names are. The midid files might be the only clue they have to figure out which tune is being discussed. I don’t know if any of these people contribute here or not, but that was Sol’s point I believe.

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Why would it be considered acceptable to learn tunes from the dots (simplified visual representation of the tune), but not acceptable to learn from MIDI (simplified aural representation of the tune)? In ABC, the dots and the MIDI notes convey approximately the same amount of information about the tune, and are both intended to assist in learning.

Either way, a truly dedicated player will listen carefully to good recordings of the tune to get a better understand of it, and its various subtleties. But dots and notes (in the form of sound) can both be helpful in learning a new tune.

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Hi dfost,

I think you will probably agree that it would be disastrous to learn this music exclusively from the dots or from MIDI.

If a person already has some understanding of this music they can read the dots and turn that into proper music as they play. I don’t think you could do that by playing along with a MIDI file.

There’s no shortage of fine recordings to listen to, and to play along with if you like to learn that way. Learning tunes from MIDIs isn’t unacceptable, it’s foolish.

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What Marvis said.

I’d also say that dots represent a tune at a still more abstract level than MIDI does, which becomes acoustic music by the interpretation of the musician. MIDI already is your computer’s (lousy) interpretation, and would have to be first un- and then re-interpreted.

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Yes Marvis, I do agree with your first point, that’s why I said:

"Either way, a truly dedicated player will listen carefully to good recordings of the tune to get a better understand of it, and its various subtleties."

However, I don’t agree with your other statements because it’s clear that dots alone and notes (MIDI) alone convey essentially the same kind of information about a tune. Whether you translate that information (after carefully listening to good performances) into decent playing of the tune based on whether you read it or listened to it is immaterial.

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"Can anyone say that they actually got the "Listen" function to work?"— I have the same set-up as you and it works OK. Is there not a grey play-back bar/transport control above the words ‘download midi’ after you hit the button?

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*Listen/Download Midi* buttons functionality

I’m using Firefox with Windows. I don’t have the Quicktime plugin installed or enabled. The download midi button will open & play the thing in my default media player. If I choose to save a file, rather than *open*, the file does not have the necessary .mid extension i.e. ~ listening to a saved file requires that I rename it w/.mid at the end of the filename.

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I downloaded Foxfire and now can hear the tunes just fine, so thank you for this…..and thanks for the fine discussion on the merits of using the midi tunes for learning tunes. I don’t read music (at least not well enough to learn a new tune on my own) so I learn most of my tunes by ear from folks at my local session, however when I get home I can never remember the tune and can’t afford to buy a mountain of CD’s so I use The Session midi’s to remind me of the basics of the tune so I can go off on my own and play it.

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Aikiburr, Two suggestions for you:

Yes, remembering tunes you hear in the pub when you get home can be hard. But then, if you can’t remember it, how do you know the version in the data base here is the one you heard in the pub? The likelihood is that it’s not, so when you take the version here back to the pub it makes a bit of a mess. So try singing the tunes you want to remember on your way home. Sing them over and over and over. And sing them in your head just before you drop off to sleep. Then see how you remember them the moment you wake.

And forget your bodhran and your bones. They will be getting in the way of you learning to play and remember the tunes. They are, at best, a distraction.

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Hi Michael,

I completely agree with your suggestion of singing tunes in your head to remember them, but I think it’s a bit much to expect anyone to remember tunes they have heard three or so times in the pub. I’m not bad at picking up new tunes, I can sometimes play through a (reasonably simple) new tune with someone else the second or third time through, but it takes a lot more listens than that before I can sing it in my head without prompting. If I tried to learn a new tune on the basis of what I could remember on the way home from the pub there’s a good chance I will get it wrong.

I think Aikiburr should ask if he can record a session or two, and learn from the recordings.

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I don’t think it’s a bit much. Maybe if you concentrate on just one tune. If it’s a popular tune to that session it’s likely you’ll hear it at the very least every other week. usually more. Once you recognise it’s a tune you want, you’re more then half way there anyway. Concentrate when people are playing it and just keep singing it. And maybe get one of the people who played it earlier to sing it again for you or play it again for you at the end of the night when people are packing up. It’s really not that hard. And this is the way you really nail tunes into your psyche. And more importantly, you don’t end up with a sequence of notes, but you end up with the homogeny of how the people you play with like to vary it and mess about with it. If you learn tunes like this you get more to the heart of what the music is, what the tunes are. This somewhat intangible mixture of style, articulation, melody lines and rhythm. In other words, all the stuff which makes it music. All the stuff which isn’t in the confounded transcription. And sure, recordings are way way better than transcriptions, but you are still just getting a snapshot, just the it was played once.

I remember once, this fella came and sat down with us and played a tune I thought I knew. But it had this odd flourish in it that was wrong. He said that he’d learned it off a recording he’d made of me some months ago. Enough said.

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It’s much easier to learn and pick up tunes from an actual session if you are a regular attender and already accepted there. Likewise, if you are already used to playing in various sessions before and can easily "drop into" one which suits you.

The thing is that, if you already have a few tunes under your belt, it doesn’t really really matter if you immediately "get" or "pick up" additional ones straight away. You will hear them again, possibly over and over. So, remembering them becomes much easier and you can still enjoy playing those tunes you know in the meantime.

Until you feel confident enough to sit in session(s) for extended periods, there’s no harm to listening to recordings of tunes as opposed to midis. The nice people 😛 at the sessions may let you record the odd tune or two and there’s many of them traceable on CD, vinyl, even You Tube and Spotify etc these days. It’s always best to listen to more than one version of a particular tune if you can.

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According to the OP, he/she does play in a regular session.

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You need to read the OP carefully.

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Ah yes, I now see that further down.

My advice(You’ll possibly agree with it) still stands and your own makes sense too.
There’s no real rush to learn new tunes straight away in that sort of situation long as you have enough to keep you going. They will come in time.
If there’s a particular one a player likes, it’s much easier to focus on that tune alone, as you suggest.

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To the OP:

I use a mac and Safari, and I can’t get the midi to play on the website. If you Control click on the "Download Midi" link that pops up once the plug-in fails and choose, "Download linked file as" you can save to wherever. Just make sure you type in the file name WITH THE ‘*.midi’ FILE EXTENSION ADDED. Then you can open it up in Quicktime or drag it into Garageband or whatever.

As to learning tunes via midi: I can’t read music, this ABC and TAB stuff is so much hieroglyphics to me. I learn by ear. The midi files are a great help in slowing the tune down so I can get the basic structure, then I add my own ornaments and flourishes and the like so that I can make the tune my own. There are a great many recordings, but the midi is easier to slow down, maintain pitch, etc., and I’ve found that Mick O’Connor’s "Tim Maloney" doesn’t sound all that much like John Sheahan’s and so on. Plus, I like to add and experiment with guitar accompaniment, and having a generic version of the tune that you can loop, chop up, speed up and slow down without having to first learn, perfect and record yourself is handy.

All of this "Real musicians don’t use midi" business is all well and good, but it really does provide a valuable practice tool and a resource for expanding your repertoire.

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I’d say that if you consider using the midi files as a valuable practice tool then you are severely under resourced in terms of valuable practice.

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Listening to looped, chopped up, sped up and slowed down bits & pieces;

Ryan Collins, your comments may be my worst nightmare. Hopefully though you recognize the difference between listening to a .mid file for the sake of something which is handy, though rarely if ever musical, & listening to a person playing an entire tune she or he plays with appreciation of the tune; each time through wanting to know the tune better than the time before. For myself listening to a person play a tune can be an effective way to discover some of it’s subtleties or things so much more obvious it’s a wonder how they went unnoticed by me before.

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Listening to The Session Tunes

Reading that post again, it’s worse than just listening to looped, chopped up, sped up and slowed down bits & pieces of midi files, bad enough nightmare that that is. He’s actually saying that he likes to strum along to looped, chopped up, sped up and slowed down bits and pieces of the things. And his excuse for doing so is not only that he regards it as "valuable practice", but that he can do said strumming without having to bother with learning the tune in the first place.

I shudder to imagine what his strumming would be like when trying to accompany an actual person.

I bet he sits in his care and has conversations with his satnav.

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"sits in his car", sorry.
(though sits in his care is quite funny)

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"I’ve found that Mick O’Connor’s "Tim Maloney" doesn’t sound all that much like John Sheahan’s and so on."

But isn’t that just the very point? There will be multiple versions of a tune, all slightly different from each other. It is appreciating these differences and learning from them that will make you a better player. On the other hand, you will find no recorded version of a tune that will sound like the midi file.

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"There will be multiple versions of a tune, all slightly different from each other. "

"Very handy if you are in the business "copyrighting" arrangements".
David Woodpecker and Neil (time for a)Sharp(ley) exit.
🙂

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"There are a great many recordings, but the midi is easier to slow down, maintain pitch, etc."

Audacity, Amazing Slowdowner, VLC, Soundslice, …

"and I’ve found that Mick O’Connor’s "Tim Maloney" doesn’t sound all that much like John Sheahan’s and so on"

Uhm… but the MIDIs you’ll find here are not the universal basic melodies of the tunes either (if there is such)! They’re usually just attempts to approximate the playing of particular musicians (including the poster’s, of course). Even transcriptions of printed sources are not always the same, almost never actually. Why should a lousy MIDI rendition serve your purpose better than the rendition by a good musician? I think listening to different interpretations is among the best things you can do to understand a tune…
Or did I get your point wrong?

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Cross post… What NCFA said.

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The point is he’s lazy

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I don’t know about that as he actually seems to go to a lot of unnecessary work!

Having said that, I’ll play along with actual recordings(not midis) myself from time to time and…even… occasionally slow down a track but only for the very briefest period. However, as has already been pointed out, it is better to always better to listen to different versions and especially the musicians with whom you intend to actually play the tune(s).

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"Unnecessary work"? It’s worse than that, he calls it "valuable practice".

"A lot of …"?
It only takes seconds to, "control click on the Download Midi link and drag it into Garageband or whatever."

He’s lazy alright

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"He’s lazy alright"

… which just plays into the hands of the MIDIs’ aspirations to dominate the world :(

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Sorry it’s been so long in my response. It’s just so much work to type, and being as lazy as I am, I exert what little initiative I have toward single-handedly destroying the tradition with my robotic transcription army. That being said, yes, I recognize the difference between the midi and an actual musician, just as I recognize the difference between a demo and a finished recording (and between an elitist and an enthusiast).

I tell you what, you fellows are all welcome over to my house to jam anytime, so long as you work around my schedule and bring beer. Until we can sort that out, though, I’ll keep up my valuable practice.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, my satnav just asked me a question…