Mining for gems in the mustard

Mining for gems in the mustard

There have been a few large discussion threads recently, and they have included a fair amount of negativity. There is a lot of talk about the "inmates running the asylum", and talk about members who have come and gone for various reasons. While I’m one of the people that laments the loss of a lot of members, and wishes for less of the posturing and attempts to get in the last word, I also remember how much I have learned from the discussions on this site. Not just about music, but about how to treat people (and how not to treat people).

When I was first lurking on this site (when it was pretty new), I was basically a beginner with the music. I was fortunate to be surrounded by people who were more knowledgeable, encouraging, and ultimately helpful in my quest to learn to play. (Actually, I’ve pretty much never run into anything other than that in person, whether it be in the US or in Ireland. I’ve always found people to be encouraging and positive.) But there is a wider view of the music to be had than my narrow view when I started, and so I started reading the discussions on this website.

Even when I was a newbie, I knew very well that I had to separate the wheat from the chaff, and learn who to pay attention to, and who to ignore. Every person does that on this site, and as it has grown, it has turned into "factions", even though we’re all pretty much after the same thing, which is to have interesting discourse about something that we love. Early on, I used to have some knee-jerk reactions to things that appeared to be blatant negativity on this site. The most glaring example would be the gruff tone that Mr. Gill tends to use when discussing certain topics. But I quickly came to realize that he really knew what he was talking about, and ultimately, some of the best gems of knowledge I have about music have come from MG.

So that got me thinking about trying to be positive, and talking about the gems of thesession, whether it be pieces of wisdom that have stuck with you, people who have been influential to you, or experiences that you’ve had that were made possible by this website.

It would take me weeks to put my whole list together. But I’ll get it started:

PEOPLE

Zina - the person who gave me the interest in the music in the first place, and one of the most influential people in my playing, especially early on. Zina was prolific and genuine in her posts on this site, and was very good at helping people stay civil in the discussions. It’s a testament to her that even many years after she decided it wasn’t worth it anymore, people still talk about her.

Will Harmon - Not only was he one of the most well-spoken posters, who had a knack for writing about somewhat nebulous concepts in a way that was easily understandable, he is a great player and lots of fun to play with. He has also become one of my closest friends, and I will always respect him for the help and encouragement that he gave to me. Unfortunately, this forum did occasionally bring out his negative side when arguing with people. And between that and his current physical issues that keep him from playing much, I don’t think the new people on this forum will ever get to experience his advice the way that a lot of us were. His account is permanently gone, and while the newbies may run across his posts or tune transcriptions, they’ll only know him as "#".

Michael Gill - While many people got ruffled at his persona on this site, he is easily responsible for the most gems of knowledge that I have found in these forums (a few of which are listed below). His gruffness was to make a point. And while many people apparently hated him for it, he was always no-nonsense, and full of incredible information. It doesn’t hurt that he’s a very accomplished and knowledgeable player.

Ceolachan - Always interesting for a discussion, and nothing but positive and encouraging to me.

Jusa Nutter Eejit - With a similar level of experience and background to me, he was always a compatriot. And he always approached tough topics with a note of positiveness, never seemed to get ruffled up, and injected a fun sense of humor into the discussions. I’m bummed that he’s no longer around the forum.

SWFL Fiddler - Never heard him say a negative thing to anyone. If things were getting rough and tumble, you can rely on him to throw a clown-like comment in the middle to lighten the mood.

Bodhran Bliss (RIP) - What a funny online persona. A perfect foe for the gruffness of some, even when it was in the midst of a nasty argument about goat bashing.

Dow - he is a complete tune encyclopedia! And while he comes across a bit like MG at times, it’s only when people are being eejits. He’s also a great player. He’s pretty much the only person I’ve ever heard who makes English concertina sound as Irish as he does.

The list could go on… I’m saddened by the fact that many of those folks aren’t here anymore. But there are still some people to respect in the forums (unfortunately, they’re not generally the loudest).

KNOWLEDGE

The idea of musical "torque". - Michael Gill

I originally heard Michael talking about this about 8-9 years ago, before I was really at a level that I could experience it firsthand. But it’s a perfect description of my favorite moments playing this music. The idea is that the player applies a certain force to provide momentum to the tune, without speeding it up. If all players are providing the same level of torque, the music is like flying, while at the same time feeling effortless.

The use of phrasing in your expression of the musical ideas… - Michael Gill (and others)

"Phrasing is what makes the tunes work. Its importance can not be overstated." There are many steps in elevating your music from the simple string of notes that you played when you first started. Adding the appropriate rhythms is a first step. Using ornamentation well is another step. But what puts it over the top is learning to phrase the music, and express it eloquently.

Ornaments are more like articulations - Will Harmon (and others)

"I started thinking of the twiddly bits more as articulations because so many of the old players kept telling me how integral to the tunes they are—not mere decorations, but essential elements of the tunes." You can throw triplets, rolls, or whatever in all sorts of places in a tune. But if they don’t support the flow and phrasing, then they’re like an decoration hung on a tree, instead of a way to articulate the music idea that you’re expressing.

I could go and on with other gems that I’ve found on this site, but I’ve gone on long enough… It’s nice to focus on the positive here for at least a bit. Feel free to share any nuggets or gems or people on this site that have been a positive influence for you.

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

I have been a lurker who plays with himself in the bedroom (I must get out more). As a fluter/ fluterer/ flautist who has been interested in Irish music since The Dubliners released "The Black Velvet Band" I find The Session gives me a wonderful insight into the wide spectrum of ITM and all the issues involved. Born in England and with no discernible connection, within the last couple of centuries, to Ireland, I find myself drawn to the culture and music. Am I just a "plastic Paddy"? who is rebelling against an ultra Protestant upbringing, and who was overjoyed to come across a tenuous link to 1798 (Joseph Holt may have been an ancestor)? Answers on a postcard, please.

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Well said Reverend, you chose an appropriate monicker which right now suits this thread. To hasten my own salvation, may I proffer the excuse of an interminably dodgy knee, which has me in effect glued to the laptop keyboard. Sad but true.
I personally regret that I have spoken ill of a couple of people recently, but there ye go, what’s done is done. It is so good to read a positive thread amongst all the crap, which is like the Buddha’s parable of the lotus flower growing and flowering on the dung heap.
I have met some of those you mentioned, have corresponded with several others. There are many good players out there who post here. Many more don’t post here. This website is good but is really only a thin section of all the players around. So we need to be careful that we don’t start believing that this website is the beginning and end of all things to do with Irish trad music, because it is not, and I’m sure Jeremy and others would agree. But thanks for your moderating comments.

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Lovely post Reverend, thank you !

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Thank you, Reverend.
I got serious about this music a few months ago. I’m indebted to many of the posters here for getting me on (what feels like) the right track: by helping me conceptualize what I had already started figuring out, alerting me of important/useful things to listen to in the tunes, and by advising me of how to best approach this great music.
Off the top of my head, I remember Llig’s advice here really stood out to me: https://thesession.org/discussions/30580

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Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

When my job tries to drown me in catch up…
I retreat to mustardlandia.

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PEOPLE

Reverend - good source of ‘oil on troubled water’ and a calmer view of things

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@GJM, that’s a good one. "Watch Kids Play". - Michael Gill. Put the same energy and inventiveness into your expression of the music. It’s not work. It’s not about the technicalities. It’s about the spirit of the music, which can be great when it’s free spirited and playful.

@David50, aww, shucks… (But there was a time many years ago that I got so wound up in an argument with one of our members thatI was downright rude, and ended up leaving the board for a while… I came back from that with a different approach to how I post here, and whether I let myself get worked up or not…)

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You’re a bit of a gem in this horseradish free-for-all yourself, Rev.

I’ve learned quite a lot on this site and not all of it about music, and made a number of friends, some of whom I have yet to meet face-to-face. Pete, you’re on the list of “Haven’t yet met but hope to one day.”

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Reverend, you forgot WIT. Granted, not so much of it these days, and that may be the problem.

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Heh, yeah, Joe. I’m sure we’ll cross paths some day, just as I have with so many other great people from all over the world, thanks to this music!

The funny thing is, the topic of thesession.org never seems to come up when I’m out playing at festivals and sessions, so it’s hard to know how many fantastic people on this site who hide behind some veil of anonymity I might have already ran across.

The good news is, with most of the people that I have gotten to know through this site, we have had communication outside of the relative anonymity, and I’m likely to look them up directly when I’m traveling (and vice versa). 🙂

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Good idea, Reverend.

For things positive - I will mention Michael Gill. Yes, he is known for being outspoken, and I have had many run-ins with him. However, one little comment of his sticks in my mind. many years ago, there was a discussion about learning tools, eg Transcribe, Amazing Slow Downer and the like. From what I recall, the topic soon moved on to ‘what speed should we play this at’, etc, etc, and Martin Hayes’s name was mentioned. Then came the seemingly random comment from Michael, ‘I think he needs the Amazing Speeder Upper.’ A classic piece of the man’s dry humour. It’s refreshing. Thanks, Michael 🙂

Will Harmon - again a man with whom I had many (and sometimes torrid) disagreements. Shortly before he left the site, I contacted him off-list. There followed quite an interesting insight for both of us - me with immersion in fiddle playing, he with immersion in Irish music, and the commonality of the fiddle to both. Hard to describe, but I rate is as a positive experience. He would be welcome at my session anytime.

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Lovely post Rev., thank you. This is my kind of thread. ;)

First, I second all you said~ our stories are similar. I was a lurker here almost from the mustard’s inception years ago, when I was still trying to crann on my whistle. Alone in the middle of Wisconsin, with not a human or holstein capable of playing a jig to save his/her/its life, and no human resources to speak vis-a-vis with about the music, I lurked a bit and gave it up for several years. I came back in the recent months and made a profile and effort to participate, and it has paid off. Like you, I read for hours the old discussion threads, ‘house rules’, and familiarizing myself with all the "main characters" here. Interestingly, with over 80,000 members and thousands of tunes and hundreds of discussion threads, it didn’t take that long to get up-to-date on this forum and quickly bring back-to-speed my old knowledge of the session scene I participate in years ago. My playing,, although I was still active all that time, has also improved recently thanks to some members here. When I initially came on the board, there were less resources available outside; no YT clips, less media resources in general, even the NPU site had next to nothing in terms of video or other sources to learn from. Now, NPU has vids up the wazoo on technique, reed making, pipe maintenance. I think I watched 6 hours of different reed making videos one night from the top pipe makers between NPU and YT~ wow. I never thought I’d realize a dream of playing the pipes, but recently this dream has reached a new point of fruition. And a nice new set sits in my office~ 16 years to realize that dream of ownership.

Now is where I give some public thanks as well. To some of the same members you referenced.

Ceolochan / ‘c’ ~ Not only have I never read a disparaging word from him, his friendship has encouraged me on many levels, musical and personal. My whistle is fitted with his prescribed mute, my head is now full of more knowledge about dance music because of a book he suggested, my passion for detail in whistle technique and playing has also been enhanced after reading old threads he contributed to, and we’ve enjoyed great laughs "through the digital quagmire" sharing fishing pics, gardening thoughts, favorite foods and drinks, stories, and hearing about *life*. I hope to meet him in the flesh one day, raise a glass, and shake his hand.

MG ~ Nothing I could say hasn’t been said by the Rev. I’ve always been good at separating wheat and chaff, and always like the "sticklers" of any group. People like MG are some of the easiest to take great insight and "gems" from because underlying a gruff manner resides a tender love for the music nurtured over many years by a diligent bow, receptive heart, and tender ears. The only MG quote I’ve ever taken issue with at all is the oft quoted one from his profile: "If the worth of this website to you is as a "valuable musical resource", then you are severely under resourced. So much so in fact, that it stands to reason that your music making will be severely impaired."
^Do you look a man in a wheelchair in the face whom you don’t know and tell him he’s significantly limited in his activities of daily living so much so that his attempts at any physical accomplishments will be severely impaired??" What would be the purpose of such a statement? A**hole. ;) And not something I construe as wise or aphoristic, or "becoming profile content." A lot like my old-school fishing partner, retired veteran, "Disco" Larry here, but nobody’s perfect. And I can still read it and smile.
Although, thankfully, this is not my only resource for things trad, I’m one fitting the metaphor of the disabled in that I have valued this site as a musical resource (like many, some even good players, have). And, like any strong disabled person I’ve ever know (and I’ve known many over the years as a RN), I don’t take kindly to having someone poke at my handicaps to the point that I want to do what I can with what I have to my utmost and achieve something great. So, there too, his words only had a positive effect and made me a better musician. Cheers MG if you’re reading this. I’d like to "throw down" a few tunes for ya someday and see if your statement still rings true.;) But, like anything said of significance, there is truth there that will stand. We need to play with one another, play "out" and listen, get away from dots and learning by dots, and take some trips out of town to play, hear, and be amidst great Irish music to free ourselves from impairments.

Will Harmon ~ loved his comments, transcriptions, and he even helped me via email a bit with an Irish festival we’re trying to plan in our area. I hear from ‘c’ and others he’s a good player too~ I have no doubt.

B. Bliss ~ great craic and comic relief in reading old threads. His banter with MG had me in stitches at times during the wee hours of the night on my graveyard shifts that entail hours of down time I use to play my whistle, lurk, and study things trad.

Taylor and Tenor (formerly Cape Cod Struggler)~ relatively new here and an admittedly unexceptional or experienced player, his words gave me great encouragement and he’s helped fan into flame an old vision for starting a session in my area. Cheers amigo.

Cboody~ also relatively new, admittedly not an outstanding trad player, but a Doctor of music who is honest and offers some great ideas on musical things. He even offered to put me up at his house when I travel to Minneapolis for our Great Northern Irish Pipers Club meetings. Sadly, the discussions got the better of him to and he’s no longer participating.

Dow~ like Rev. said.

Slainte~ helpful and good insight, with some great transcriptions and comments.

The list could go on, and I have more thanks to give than anything else. So "thanks" mustardia. Maybe the masquerade ball continue. And thanks Rev. for a good thread. Best,

‘SB’

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I was a lurker till recently and reverend has perfectly captured the thoughts of many. There were some great gems and and some bitter pills to. Unfortunately I wonder how much damage has gone undetected. Of a group of musicians that I would regularly play with NONE of them will ever post here because of the attitude of a few individuals who do. I would not be the most talented of the bunch but I have something to contribute. They would have to, but that won’t happen now. How many more people feel the same. I enjoyed mg as much as anyone but often flinched at his barbs and perversely miss him ,but there are many people eminently more qualified without the caustic wit that would be a huge asset to all but have too much of a sour taste in their mouths to contribute here. I miss his presence here but ,despite his huge contribution the site is probably better off without him

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"Eminently more qualified"? Really? Would you care to tell us how you know of these "many people" you refer to who won’t post here?

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very simply , i,ve met them , i know them and friends have refered to them and had the same conversation with the same conclusion. if my experience is anything to go by then there are a lot of people around the world who feel the same. what was the point of asking me how i know these "many people" anyway? the same way as everyone else, by being social.

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Da Legend’s post scares me. Are there really people in this world who are scared to voice an opinion, in case someone disagrees with them?

For me, one of the best things about this site is the way it is run and moderated. Internet forums seem to fall into two catagories: the heavily moderated sites, usually run by someone with a vested interest such as an instrument maker. On these sites one or two people set themselves up as self professed ‘experts’. Ask a question on one of these sites and you’ll get an answer. It might be helpful, it might not. But there won’t be any arguement about it. Then there are the ‘open’ sites like this where everyone can have their say. Ask a question and you’ll get half a dozen different, often conflicting answers. That might seem less than ideal, but you can be pretty sure that the information you need is in amongst them somewhere. If you ask how to play a roll and get six different answers, try them all and see which you like best. That is far better than getting one definitive answer that may not suit. There have been a number of occasions when discussions on this board have caused me to completely re-evaluate things I thought I had known for years. Situations where someone has given a ‘non-standard’ answer which actually makes a lot more sense than the ‘text book’ answer.

It is unfortunate that some members are more interested in massaging their own egos than sharing knowledge, so that threads inevitably degenerate into slanging matches. But all the relevant information in a thread is almost always contained in the first half dozen or so replies, so you won’t miss anything important if you stop reading at that point, before the pissing competition begins.

I’d far rather have it this way than moderated to the point where only the views of a handful of ‘expersts’ are represented.

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skreech you are misrepresenting what i said. im not talking of people afraid to"voice opinion…". im talking of people who dont want to be ridiculed or cheaply dismissed. i agree the best threads have everybodies ten cents worth but there is no excuse for a lack of plain manners. not everybodies skin is a s thick as yours and mine but their opinion is just as important ,so if the road has to smoothed out to get them here, then there has to be a moderator. it isnt about who can shout loudest.

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Should we get back to the spirit of the OP ? But before that I will partially disagree with skreech and say that gems are sometimes buried a long long way down the circular ‘recurrent theme’ threads. I got a fresh insight into something near the end of the recent ‘ornaments’ thread. But just at the moment I have forgotten what it was !

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>>"im not talking of people afraid to"voice opinion…". im talking of people who dont want to be ridiculed or cheaply dismissed."

What’s the difference? Or rather, how would you draw the line between the two?

Arguements always have two sides. I’ve yet to see a situation here where someone posts an innocent opinion and immediately gets slagged off. The abuse only starts when someone persistently fails to recognise that someone else’s views may be as valid as their own.

Sure, it would be nice if everyone had good manners, but that is not something that can be enforced (or no more than is already being done). If you resort to heavy moderation, then a certain type of person will complain that they are being ‘bullied’ every time someone disagrees with them. If the moderator acts on their complaints then the board becomes lovely and fluffy, but utterly sterile and worthless. I’ve seen it happen too many times before, both in forums and real life committees.

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Ahem, on topic. When I found this board I was working at my whistle playing. A high proportion of what I found most useful was in posts from two members not yet mentioned - ‘bogman’ and Richard D Cook. So thanks to them and I suggest newbie whistlers check out their posts.

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ok lets agree to disagree. we are off topic. the meek shall inherit the earth any way so why should i stick my neck out for them.

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I’ve looked in on & off for a good few years, work from a home office so often offers some light relief 🙂 Here’s my take on some of the online characters, not necessarily in any order, just as they come to mind.

Matt Molloy - for his skill & verve and the best practical joke thread, that several of the denizens below, fell for ‘hook, line & sinker’. Perfectly judged.
Bodhran Bliss, the late - mentioned above already. Great stories and one liners, pithy insights into the lot of a goat basher and player of trad in the murky society of the wee North. Stalwart defender of the much maligned instrument.
Bannerman, the late - great Clare man and source of info. on all matters trad. Worked for CCE, I think.
Will Harmon - as above and always associated with banging frogs on sofas..
Al Brown - another American, Mr. Civility. Does Al have any enemies? 🙂
Silver Spear - for her humility and insights into the lot of the average trad player in Scotland. Noteworthy for being a female contributor here and a piper, all rarer commodities!
Cocus, Cocusflute, David Levine - the American in Ireland. Purveyor of expensive musical instruments, mostly flutes and concertinas. Translantic travel agent of same.
Free Reed - the genuine article, returned Irish emigrant from England, playing trad long before it became popular and possibly profitable.
Ilig - as above and also for his doggedness and amazing resistance to continued suspension. Also noteworthy for Pavlovian response to any thread with the words: dots, notes, sheet music etc etc
Ceolachan - encyclopedic knowledge, particularly multiple forms of barn dances, polkas and slides etc. Noted for Joycean flow of words and for ability to carry on conversations with himself!
Reverend - ABC Tune Search.
Guernsey Pete - pina coladas and images of the easy life.
Weejie - extensive knowledge of many historical aspects of music, stickler for the grammar but maybe I have the wrong person.
Kenny - unfailingly helpful, must have one of the finest collections of obscure trad recordings.
Kilfarboy, Peter Laban - Dutchman (I think) living in Clare, extensive knowledge of old Clare music, piper and photographer.
Zina Lee - bit too shrill for me, maybe at times.
Steve Shaw - exponent of the mouth organ
Wounded Hussar - noted for his modesty and insights into matters of Irish life, past & present with only tenuous relevance to Irish trad music.
Conán McDonnell - defender of the piano accordion in Irish trad
Daiv - for his extensive roots and ability to name drop!
Fiddle4 - for his persistent and unashamed abuse of apostrophes, commas and quotation marks..
Fiddlelearner - for his brashness, optimism of youth in the face of considerable cultural challenge.
Pure Ear Drops & Root Canal etc - ingenious advertising
Slainte - Japanese representative with knowledge of Irish trad tunes that would put majority of Irish people to shame.
Phantom Button - comes and goes.
Ethical Blend - I’ve learnt tunes from EB’s contributions!
Dick Miles - an Englishman playing the English concertina in Ireland with a rosy view.
Yhaalhouse - wigs

I may well have misrepresented some above, in which case, I offer absolutely no apology but feel free to correct.

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Well done hussar! Thoroughly enjoyed that one and spot on. Wish my brain worked as good st 3am.;)

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What about my legendary thread about glue for a broken fiddle neck?? battles with Gilly? does that all count for nothing???? Well, I enjoyed it. mutter mutter.

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Actually, the slightly OT little section there brings up a good point. The long, hard fought battles on this website may show some of the nastier side of certain members (and drive some people away from posting), but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t gems to be found in them. Threads that are hotly debated are that way because people are passionate about the music. While there is usually some ego and personality conflicts that contribute to the number of posts, they’re generally about important topics.

Reading those threads without getting too caught up in the personal mud slinging can actually give you insight into the topic at hand. It can ultimately help you form your own views about whether ears are better than dots, whether sessions are performances, or whether practicing scales and arpeggios is a worthwhile activity, etc.

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And thanks, hussar. I had forgotten a few gems that you mentioned! Oh, and I get tunes with Dr. Spear this evening, in fact…

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I hesitate to list folks for fear of who I would leave out. That said, I would love to share a tune with Ceolachan. I would also love to hear if DSS is as bad as she says she is. You’ll have to let me know about that Reverend!

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Oh apologies to one & all whom I neglected to mention - had to go and do a bit of real work 🙂 Someone really should do a directory sometime to all the aliases - I get lost often with all the name changes and multiple identities. I mean ‘Johnny Jay’ has been around for years but I’m beggared if I can think of their older incarnation(s) and I’m too lazy to figure it out by looking up old threads!!

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Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

˙uʍop ǝpısdn ǝdʎʇ oʇ ʍoɥ sɐʍ ǝʇıs sıɥʇ uo pǝuɹɐǝl ı sƃuıɥʇ unɟ ʇnq ʎllıs ǝɥʇ ɟo ǝuo

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Preaching to the Choir Rev. Good post though

I personally made a commitment to stay out of threads going south, as it were, or threads intended as Jeremy is known to say, "stir the pot". There is value to stirring the pot IMHO. But I put those into the ‘Life is too short’ bin.

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Yeah, it’s hard to single out people after 12 years, without leaving some out… That’s why I keep my list open-ended. 🙂

And Cheeky Elf, I haven’t played with SS in a couple of years, but I assure you, she has the art of humility down pretty well. She is always fun to play with.

Re: Persistent Failures

"I’ve yet to see a situation here where someone posts an innocent opinion and immediately gets slagged off. The abuse only starts when someone persistently fails to recognise that someone else’s views may be as valid as their own."
I realize it’s just your naive opinion skreech, but you’ve missed quite a bit. Just so you don’t miss it, this is you getting slagged.
I have seen the situation far to often. i.e. ~ ‘The abuse’ starting sooner than indicated in the quote.

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Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

uɐılɐɹʇsnɐ noʎ ǝɹɐ uʍop ǝpısdn ǝdʎʇ noʎ op ʍoɥ ‘pıʞpıɟ

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

หมายเลขนอกจากนี้ผมไม่ได้มาจากสยาม

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OK, in that case cancel the Mu Thai and tell Tony Ja the fight’s off. Cheers.

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>>Zina Lee - bit too shrill for me, maybe at times

And hussar, if you think her posting is too shrill, you should hear her fiddling!

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(OK, so she told me to say that… but that’s just because I didn’t think of it first) 😉

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First off, good for you, Rev, for kicking off a nice, positive thread.
A lot of folks I would have mentioned have already been mentioned above, so I won’t duplicate efforts.
But there is a guy named Jeremy that I think deserves some kudos. 😉
I think fidkid deserves mention for general positive contributions, but most importantly for creating The Session Shoppe (http://joefago.com/thesessionshoppe).
We need to thank those who have contributed good settings of tunes to the database; many are mentioned above, and four who I know personally who contributed some good tunes in the early days of the website were jdharv, armandaromin (aka fiddlinviolin), Josh Kane and b.maloney—and Brad is still seen in the discussions section from time to time.
GaryAMartin is another poster who always contributes positive and thoughtful posts, and contributes much to the musical community in the real world also.
Two folks who have contributed good remarks on accompaniment are coyotebanjo (aka Chris Smith, who literally wrote the book on celtic accompaniment), and irisnevins (I miss her positivity and insight). And certainly, the many people who provided criticism on the accompaniment article that I have posted in my profile helped turn a document that was well intentioned, but filled with a lot of minor errors, into what I hope is a pretty good basic guide to the topic.
And member vlnplyr, who I have never met in real life, actually wrote a tune for me, called Good Vibes Eastward, when someone made that remark upon hearing about some surgery I was undergoing. And since he heard I would be limited to playing harmonica one-handed, he even wrote it in the nice, harmonica friendly key of G, without any of the low E’s that an unmodified G harmonic lacks. Quite a nice gesture, and certainly a morale booster when I was going through a tough time. It is that kind of interaction that makes me feel good about this website, and about people in general.
This website reflects how people approach it. Some people look down, and see only mud on their feet. But those that look up will see some pretty wonderful things, and meet some pretty fine people.

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"…without any of the low E’s that an unmodified G harmonic lacks. "

What a pity, then, that that good old stalwart Paddy Richter is only a lurker here! 😉

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

The Session Shoppe is the funniest thing ever. I didn’t realize that was fidkids’ doing.

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

For me, Mr. Gill was a gem. He had that Celtic honesty that cuts through the spoof, worthy rather than wordy . He reminds me of some of my friends in the real world. …..Something that’s missing around here at times, the real world.

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

Thanks, Slainte. I always enjoy reading the old threads like that. The site was much newer, and people were just working out how to think about using it, etc. The general tone on the board was different, people often used their real names, or at least called each other by their real names, and disagreements were more about challenging ideas and discussing differences than they were about posturing, name calling, or factions… Looking at those threads started by glauber makes me sad, because most of those people have given up on this website.

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

Did they give up or just moved on?

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Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

>> Did they give up or just moved on?

Probably a bit of both. It’s not reasonable to expect that a forum that has grown tenfold in number of members since those posts 10-11 years ago will be the same place. But it’s sad to see all the big argument threads that get very personal. I think the same level of useful discussion is still here, but it’s buried under a lot more noise.

A lot of the people who have left that were active in the forums were the people that were here in the old days, when it was a much nicer and smaller place. I think they’ve given up on finding the same level of fun and camaraderie (even during disagreements) that used to exist. And there are a number of prolific posters here that have been habitual troublemakers in the forums for many years, yet they’re still allowed to post, and people get banned for challenging them, so sometimes it seems that the troublemakers have won, and people get fed up with that.

But there it goes again! I’m getting sucked into negativity in my own positive-spin thread 😛

I need to dig up more of the really profound posts that have had some bearing on how I think about things 😉

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I’ve appreciated all the help vr

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

I’ve appreciated all the help I’ve received here since I started playing the music. I wish I had knew about that "#" button a long time ago. I would have a book of collected gems I’ve read here about music.

My favorite person may be Will Harmon. He could always take my senseless, jumbled, ramblings and make sense out of them. He always knew what I meant, and always made things clear for me, as if he had known me. I’ll never forget that experience.

Mr. Gill gave me a hard time at first, but when he realized I was serious about the music, he became SERIOUSLY helpful. I’m glad I was able to look past the harshness and see into the knowledge and wisdom he offered.

It has been great here for me. I appreciate this site very much. The only reason I disappeared is because my computer has been destroyed and I’ve been out of practice since I don’t have anyone to play the music with anymore.

Other folks off the top of the head, Gam, Albrown, Reverend, DrSilverSpear, Prof P……(sorry) Michael Sims, and many others. The encouragement and s
upport has been a better help than I know how to put into words.

@hussar Me? Brash? *never!* Lol, yes I’ve been pretty ridiculous sometimes. But when I discovered this music, after wanting to play fiddle for so long, I couldn’t contain myself. I knew what would happen and I knew how much I would enjoy it when I got good at it. I’m glad everyone could bear with me cause I’m sure I would’ve been lost had I not found this site.

And thanks Reverend for the post! I’ve been wanting to post a discussion like this but I didn’t know how to even begin lol. Good call!

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Hey Jerone, you’re definitely one of the "success stories" of this site, and you’re one who has enough musical background to add to the discussion, as well as learn. In fairly short order, you made yourself pretty well known amongst the members of this site. (Partially because for a while, it seemed as though every thread you started turned into at least a 100 post discussion) 😉

I’m curious if you have any specifics of things that Will or Michael or whomever might have said to you that you found particularly useful… Or even just specific things you learned, even if it wasn’t from just one post…

(Oh, and it’s *Michele* Sims, btw)

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

The word-count of Will Harmon’s posts, plus his attention to detail, was quite amazing, imo.

Whilst I didn’t agree with a lot of his opinions (nor he with mine), I couldn’t ever fault him for his honesty and his genuine desire to help people out in whatever way he could.

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

Darn auto-correct, eh fiddlelearner.;)

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This is a post which was rather impressive from Mr Gill on a thread I started 3 years ago. In fact, I was extremely pleased with the responses at the time.

What is a tune?
… the tune is the antithesis to the existential part of your playing.

… and the easiest thing in the world to wreck

# Posted by Michael C. Gill 3 years ago

Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

Same thread
Re: What is a tune?
You have your mates you play with. Some of them are people & some of them are tunes. In a good session all of them are alive ~ living & breathing. They are your mates. Great combination!

# Posted by Na éisc 3 years ago.

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eiluned, can you post the links for us, please? Thanks.

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No problem! OK reading over some bits again - it was a slight exaggeration to say that nobody got silly! 😉

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Reverend, firstly, I mirror what others have already said, - thanks for this positive thread, It came at a good time for me, following those two most recent disheartening melees. I’ve enjoyed reading it. All the same Nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be, and I personally prefer it here in the present. Things move on, and I for one (having been a follower for about 10 years), equally appreciate most of the discussion gems we have today. We still have a good pool of intellect and wit. I would love to name a few of my favourites, but that would be unfair. I just appreciate the positive as I now have it.

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Re: Mining for gems in the mustard

Lol, a little silliness for good measure is fine in almost any thread.;)

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….the exception being obituary notices.

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"Nostalgia just ain’t what it used to be"

LOL :D

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Sometimes it is hard not to get discouraged by all the negativity. After all, the current negative thread about the mustard board has 238 posts, while this positive thread about the mustard board stands at 40 posts.
I was encouraged, however, by reading the thread started by glauber 10 years ago that predicted the imminent demise of thesession.org—despite it all, it carries on!

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Oops, this positive thread has garnered 61 posts, not 40. See, things are looking up already! 😉

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I don’t have quotes, but one of my favorite bits is how, "The more notes you add to a tune, the more notes you have to mess up.", in terms of knowing how to play articulately rather than clumsily.

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I think my outright all-time favourite comment was Will Harmon’s simple bit of advice, - "just put your fingers where the notes are".

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Most of all, I learned in immense depth what the new instrument actually was that I began learning. Yes it’s a tiny wooden box, but the range of things you can do on it is anything but limited. I underestimated the difficulty and capabilities of my new instrument and so many things were brought into my reality here. How much skill and experience is needed to use a bow. How important the bow is. All the many things you can do, I barely know where to begin!

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I guess it’s kind of like the evening news, Al. Good news doesn’t go over as well as dirty laundry. But that’s ok. It’s not a competition.

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Lovely thread, I enjoyed reading it. We do seem to have lost some intimacy here, the difference between slagging a friend and being snarky to show how cleaver you are. But that’s life on the internet, and there is still content worth discovering.

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"just put your fingers where the notes are"

That’s right up there with "stick it under your chin and scrape away"

Eh, Reverend? 😉

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"just put your fingers where the notes are"
Good advice, worthy of a consultant!

What sculptor said something like, "I just got a bit chunk of marble and chipped away all the bits that didn’t look like Winston Churchill!"

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I enjoyed that post, Reverend. I learned so much from all of those people, esp. MG & Will. So many helpful discussions with tips on technique, existential musical thoughts and real-life session stories. But there were so many others that made the discussions fun and interesting! Zina (who lead me to the site), Glauber, Kerri, Brad Maloney, Ceolachan. I was sorry when MG bailed and very sorry to hear that Will isn’t playing anymore. Glad to hear Zina’s still playing 🙂

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Why doesn’t Will play? I always found him encouraging to everyone.

Gill has left? I thought I recognized his sharp syntactical style in random pen names?

Posted .

Re: .. In the mustard ..

Re: Question about ornaments
Posted by Will Harmon on February 6th, 2007

"Consider how the meaning varies in the following:

The cat BIT the dog.
The CAT bit the dog.
The cat bit the DOG.
The cat bit the dog?

For even more variation, change up the melody line and rhythm a little:

The cat ate the whole hot dog, but it took a while.
The cat suckled on the chihuahua.
The mountain lion bit the dog.
The kitten nipped the pit bull on the nose…."

https://thesession.org/discussions/12591/#comment257613

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Bannerman & a few other missed folk considered friends, met in the physical realm or not…

Bannerman ~ bless him, missed greatly. His was a voice of hope and promise for Comhaltas, amongst a few who drove forward greater access and made the archives open and available. I had some lovely times with him, through correspondences courtesy of this site, and via regular email and snail mail, and we made plans, sort of. He sent the list of tunes for his group classes and I incorporated some of those in mine, while it was going. There was a kind of half baked idea we might someday bring the two groups together, well, three, as he had two going at the time. I loved the sense in his thinking, and the heart in it. We never met, but we shared much in common, and this website is what brought us together, of which I am very grateful, including to Jeremy for making this site so that it could happen. Bannerman was one of my pleasures, a friend, and we shared much though we never did manage to make a direct connection, and I lost the venue for my little effort. I hope his spirit is still there helping to move the machinery of the great cumbersome Comhaltas further away from some of it’s less savoury roots and more toward things constructive and communal, away from ego and more toward the heart in it all.

There are others I have also come to appreciate on site here, and more than half a dozen that I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and sharing a tune or a dance or both with. Without their presence I wouldn’t be here, and when dear Will went there was a burst in my heart that had me stepping aside as well, following him. I miss his generosity of spirit and his wisdom, his fine ways with making a point, with crafting words, when he wasn’t being wound up or in a twist over some daft disagreement with the persistent…

Some have wisdom and heart, some strive for one or the other or both, some think they have it but by their actions often prove they are completely clueless. But that variety, between it, sometimes some interesting discussions occur, sometimes not, sometimes it gets unpleasant. There are a few I’ve learned to sidestep, or to just lurk and not comment, or to quickly leave and find something more constructive to do with my time. Some people just seem to need to be nasty. I can only guess they live sad lives and feel the need to subject their pain on others, to share it by being disagreeable and nasty.

I’m sad to hear that Llig has stepped aside. Like some others have said here, I too appreciated his vorpal blade, his edge, his directness, and we had some fun disagreements too, on and off site. I like him. I prefer that kind of honesty, personally, and kind of wish, at times, I had the balls to be as blunt. 😀

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Well said, ceolachan—I too miss bannerman’s contributions around here—glad you have stuck around!

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the shoulders of giants

"There’s a thing my kids like to do. They hold my hands and they climb up my legs and torso, and manage to get their feet up to my shoulders and hey presto, ten feet tall."

~ tseb sih ta leahcim (michael at his best)

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