Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

This relates more to band situations than sessions, but I think there is some crossover.

Last night at my band rehearsal I was going through my instrumentals with my guitar and bass players and we came to Tam Lin (which we play in Dm following a song) and I feel really uneasy about the treatment we give it.

Let me explain. The pace is quick, the ornamention- raw, brash and explosive. While that may not sound so terrible (i don’t know, maybe it does), I sometimes feel like what I am doing is nothing more than slop, cheap tricks and smoke & mirrors.

The problem is that the crowds eat it up. Every time. I feel like it is my worst quality instrumental and they react to it the best. I feel like the ITM equivilent to a wannabe ‘80’s hair band. I still have fun playing it, but I feel a little artistically bankrupt.

Does anyone else ever feel this way? What do you do to feel better about catering to the crowd?

~autumn

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This has all the hallmarks of a very long thread…

For my 10 cents, it’s the distinction between professional entertainer and artist. I’ve seen people be both, but at different times.

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It can happen in sessions where there is an audience as well - usually some drunk rolling over at about 11 pm wanting something like Irish Washerwoman/Wild Rover/Danny Boy.
In a session I have no problem with ignoring requests like that but at a paid gig there’s often the thought that you are being paid to entertain an audience and playing what they want is more likely to lead to more bookings. To feel better about it, I like a one for me, one for them approach!! Mixing in well known and lesser known material.

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Stop catering to the crowd. Quit your band. Focus on Irish Traditional Music.

I pretty much ignore the crowd at our sessions. I focus on the tunes, my friends and the chemistry we have when it’s a nice small session. It’s nice to have people in house, but I prefer that they don’t focus solely on us. We play what we want and if folks like it, great, if not, then they know where the door is : )

Although, I’d still like to get our piper to play the "Star Wars" theme and really confuse the crowd ; )

Joyce

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I guess things really depend on whether or not it’s a paid gig. Our session is *not* a paid gig. We even pay for our beers!! So basically we go down there every week simply because we want to play some tunes together and it’s a convenient meeting place for us. We do bring in a lot of people on Wed nights. I guess our "bad" attitudes might improve if things were different. Maybe I wouldn’t find the crowds so annoying…lol….

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You can play whatever you want but if you don’t love it eventually it’ll show through. If you can play 80’s hair band trad and straight up old-fart trad and love both then go for it. But if you don’t love what you’re giving the audience ultimately you’re cheating them.

Your energies are better directed into something you love. It’s obviously much more difficult to entertain an audience and maintain artistic integrity in our day and age than it is to play sound byte music. But it sounds like you’ll feel better doing that.

What’s the saying, "it’s better to be on the bottom rung of the right ladder than the top rung on the wrong one." Something like that.

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I can go Autumn one better. When our band does Tam Lin, we start out really slow and then build the tempo each time around. Twin fiddles, with high and low parts. Talk about kitsch. And then we blast into Julia Delaney. I want to take a shower afterward, but the audience always loves this set.

Basically, I look at it as a good reminder that how people hear the music we play differs from how we hear it ourselves, as musicians. The average punter can’t tell whether a piece is easy or technically difficult, and usually they can’t even tell whether we’re having a good or bad night. What they respond to is the emotive quality of the music. So as a band, you give them that.

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I don’t think I would go as far as to quit the band. I really love performing (I majored in theatre in college). Sometimes the way I play Tam Lin is more of a guilty pleasure than an artistic crisis. I think I’m just uncomfortable that they are wetting themselves over complete crap. Oh…when bad things happen to good tunes…

I do a few sets that are more for me than the crowd and that helps…a lot. I guess as long as I don’t define my style by that one tune I’ll be a bit more sane. It’s just wierd.

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Autumn, I get the impression you’re not truly happy with what you’re doing with the band. Maybe you just need to take a break for a while. Figure out what type of music you *really* want to share with people; music that you feel proud to play. Life is to short to make compromises in your music.

Joyce

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When you start taking money to play these problems arise. Unless one really needs the money or gets a good amount to play, I tend to agree with JMH. No one wants to be a "juke box".

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And to tie in with what Jerball just posted, you’ve gotta love the emotive power of the music you play, even if the tune itself isn’t your favorite. Gimmicks (like starting slow and speeding up, or setting a high part against a low part) work for a reason, and you’d be ignoring the human response to music if you didn’t use them.

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I think we posted at the same time : )

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After our band’s perfomance last Saturday night for a contra dance, and a fabulous reception to the music, I had the same issue. Dave set me straight, telling me the wisdom of the sessioneer. He stated (and he claimed this was an old truism) — "if you want to suck, play in a band."

—Eliot

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Autumn,
What do you figure "Musical integrity" is? Is tacking on a Neapolitan tarrantella to a jigs medley or giving the punters "danny Boy" to please ‘em or playing something which is not technically challenging an abuse of the art? Or what?
Genuinely curious,

Joe

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Well, as some of you know, I have recently pulled out of a paid session and that was one of the reasons. It was becoming very formulaic and boring. There were other, more important, personality issues involved but playing to pander to a(n ever diminishing) crowd was certainly very contributory my self-extrication.

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Indeed. music is for playing NOT for listening to.

Smirk.

Joe

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So maybe the reason we thrive is because it isn’t a paid gig. We really do whatever the hell pleases us. Our piper is a riot. He definitely plays whatever he so desires (he’s an amazing young musician). And yet, we haven’t been kicked out, crowds gather every week and we all usually have some good laughs. (But we are a tough, critical, cynical bunch….friendly, but damn we can be sarcastic towards the punters : )

Joyce

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musical integrity…..

I guess in my mind, putting in ornamentation that is what I feel about playing. Has an artistic reason and justification for being where I put it. Isn’t used to manipulate a response or cover up the fact that I’m personally disappointed with my quality of playing.

I hold myself to a pretty high standard of playing and on this particular tune I feel like I am cheating. But the crowd reaction tells me I’m doing something they enjoy and Identify with. I just feel like a phony. At the same time it’s a guilty pleasure. I like performing the tune…I just feel wierd about it. I don’t feel like I worked hard enough for it to be an artistic statement. I didn’t bleed therefore it’s not art.

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Joyce - BK playing "Star Wars"? LOL!

Autumn, I empathize with your feelings about catering to the crowd. It’s okay once in a while but you definitely want to nurture your creative side at the same time. Perhaps working on new material might help - do some research, dig up old recordings, find some obscure old gems and polish them. If you enjoy what you’re playing it should come across to the audience.

Playing sessions in pubs is full of contradiction. How can a session be for and about the musicians and their love of music, when it’s in public and the principals receive a little stipend from the management? If it’s an open session, another contradiction comes up, and that is the job of accommodating disparate styles, repertoire, and skill levels. Not to mention those people who don’t know any of the principals’ tunes and wait all session long to start their tunes that no one else knows or cares about…Old alcoholics who can’t play, and whom reliable witnesses will swear on the Bible NEVER could play well, and yet come to sessions and complain about how you’re playing too fast when you are playing a reasonable, moderate tempo…would-be divas who insist that they be permitted to sing the same bad song in the same affected and overwrought manner every effin week and complain to the management if the musicians have the temerity to actually play long sets of tunes…

The best way to deal with it is to mix things up. Hold your nose and get through the unpleasant distractions so you can play more enjoyable stuff. Besides, someone much better than you probably had to deal with your bad timing, small repertoire, and tin ears at one point or another. I have to tell myself this a lot lately.

Having a really good session somewhere else on a regular basis is probably the best cure for the session stress. I have a few outlets like that and I guard their times and locations fiercely to keep out tourists and divas.

On the plus side, some pubs and their patrons do give you a little breathing room, and even some positive reinforcement without making demands for you to play this tune or that song, or yield someone the floor to do their Big Number every week.

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Um…no, BK would not play Star Wars…he also doesn’t come down to the fiasco we call a session : ) Another piper that does play in the session might try "Star Wars" if we put him up to it for a good joke…….lol…I got the Star Wars idea from bb and Dow.

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I count my lucky stars that BK invites me to his house sessions.

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Autumn wrote: musical integrity…..Has an artistic reason and justification for being where I put it. Isn’t used to manipulate a response…."

Except that *everything* we play is used to manipulate a response. That’s how music works. If it didn’t elicit a response, why would we play it? And the craft of being a musician is having some control over the tools so we can draw listeners in and take them with us. I mean, it’s as basic as playing a rousing, ripping set of reels when we want to lift the room, and then languishing in a slow song or air when we want to soothe them.

Joyce, I agree—sessions are wonderful for holding true to yourself. I’m very conscious, going into my local session, of being receptive to my own state of mind and playing what I want to play, and how I want to play it. Of course, you go along with the give and take of the other musicians, but that takes care of itself. We’ve been playing together for years, and we’re pretty good at listening to each other and gelling into a common mood. Makes for great craic and music.

I think what Autumn is struggling with here is that in a *band* you have an added personality—that of the audience. And theirs is not necessarily a sophisticated or informed opinion. Yet they play a big part in setting the overall mood—it’s pointless to play a quiet slow air in a bar full of rowdy drunken yahoos hollering at the top of their lungs and stomping the dirt from between the floor boards, yammering for reels. You might as well give them Mason’s Apron at 240 bpm and be done with it.

So….as a performer (a far different role than a session player) part of your artistry has to be attuning to your audience and the situation. I wouldn’t waste my breath on a soulful rendition of An Feochan to a brawl of besotted soccer fans any more than I would play the Looney Toons theme song as the processional at a serious wedding.

As for "it’s not art if I’m not suffering," lol, that’s a self-defeating premise if ever there was one. Remember that simple melodies can be more beautiful than overwrought masterpieces. Chances are, your audience is there not to hear your impressive artistry, but for the music and a bit of socializing. In other words, they want heart, not virtuousity.

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I just wonder how many musicians out there who frequent this site regularly are true proffesionals, and actually play for a living, not just now and again to pay for their beer money, but rely, on their playing skills to pay for their mortgage.

It must be in their interest to play what the punters want, because if the punters don’y like what they hear , you won;t be invited back again, and if it goes on for long enough in steps the ballifs!!
My point then is if (its not that obvious,) how much integrity is on prepared to sacrifice for the sake of art in order to satisfy "them" and not yourself. Being a lousy capitalist my self … . .

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Well, autumn is suffering, so her band’s version of the TamLin must be art…
Our landlady at our wednesday night session loves us to play ‘the Gael’ - the tune from The Last Of the Mohicans. It’s sort of tacky, but fun, so it gets wheeled out onece every few weeks. It goes down far better with the punters than the lovely tunes Mike and eve have picked up in Clare, but so what - we get to play both. Why does there have to be all the agony and hand-wringing? If you can play beautiful tunes beautifully, then you’re probably doing better than most of us session fodder(!) If the audience like your rendition of TamLin so much, it must have something going for it(?)

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Often when I’m in the audience at a concert or pub gig, the part of the music that moves me the most isn’t the same part that gets the biggest response from the crowd. The majority of punters seem to want something that reaches out and shakes them out of their chair, stops their conversation (if they’re blabbing) and has a strong beat so they can clap along or bang their head. These people are often the noisiest people in the pub and are more capable of a response with a high number of decibels. The music that shows off the real soul of the musician often goes by with far less amplitude in the way of a response, and in some cases, is unnoticed by the blabbing punters. I guess the bottom line is that you shouldn

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feed the pigs,feed the pigs!

that’s your penance for playing in a band,autumn!

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Stew, it’s not just music though. We all deal with issues of integrity in our jobs. I’m a writer and editor, and I *have* lost income because I refused to sensationalize a story just to get it in print. But I’ve also ghost written stuff and let someone else take credit and even advance their career based on my prose.

In a band, you have to make choices about what kind of venues you’ll play, and how much pandering to the crowd you’ll do. But if you go into it hoping to educate the audience and illuminate the world with your art, you’re probably going to be disappointed.

In high school, I played in a rock band for school dances and community parties. We knew going in that the point was to play top 40 tunes and get people dancing. We were all okay with that, so it was fun, and each of us got into it an didn’t feel cheapened by what we played. (The adoring female fans might’ve had something to do with that 🙂.

In contrast, our little Irish band is fairly picky about where we play, and it’s clearly either (1) for dancers (where we play what *they* want), (2) as background music at museum openings, fundraisers, etc. (where we try to tailor our sets to fit the mood the client wants), or (3) for direct listening at coffee houses or other "concert" venues (where we assume, in our small town, that people come knowing the type of music we play, and so we play what we want). Again, being clear about what you’re doing *beforehand* goes a long way toward alleviating any hand wringing over artistic integrity.

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Lol, "hand wringing" Mark—we were posting at the same time.

I agree with Jack. In sessions, it’s common practice to save the "heart and soul" stuff for late in the evening, when the punters have either left or quietly slid beneath the tables.

Maybe our little tap room is different, but even noisy crowds will often settle when someone does a solo. So sometimes one of us will launch into a tune no one else plays, and it’s wonderful the way the room settles around that—they _do_ notice the change from the wall of sound to a single voice, and they listen. So sometimes if you want them to pay attention to the details, you have to back off yourself and play in a way that lets them hear the details….

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One thing I enjoy about playing ITM is that you don’t have to play what "the crowd" wants. We have disappointed a lot of people who want "Danny Boy" or "Black Velvet Band" etc., but we have introduced the joy of ITM to far more than those who were disappointed. And when folks who know and love ITM come around, and they express their appreciation — we all go home happy.

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Jack, you hit the nail on the head.

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Here’s an aggravation I’ve had at our session. Said session is full of very talented, experienced musicians. I was encouraged to sit in a few years back and since have played smallpipes and, more recently, an uilleann pipe. I consider myself a struggling player as opposed to a musician, as I’m pretty much a beginner. However, due to the novelty (in our area) of the instrument(s) that I play, I often get embarrassing (and undeserved) amounts of applause. I want to duck and hide. Most of the time, due to my limited repertoire, I simply (and happily) get to just sit and listen to some incredibly beautiful music played by great musicians and more often than not (unfortunately), they receive polite golf claps for their offerings. There is no justice….

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LOL…our piper gets all the attention. Mostly, clueless punters who have never seen a set of pipes…."gee what kind of instrument is that?"……he loves it when these people stand real close to him while he’s playing and gawk at his pipes….. hehehe

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Will, " drunken yahoos … yammering for reels." I’ve really got to visit Montana some day.

I remember reading in a guitar magazine that the professional musician who is not already in the big leagues had better be ready to play a range of genres, some of which may not be a personal favourite, to say the least. The justification was "hey, you get to play guitar for a living. It’s still better than an office job!"

It wasn’t enough to convince me, since I’m sitting in an office as I type. But I can appreciate the logic: this is the price you have to pay to be a professional. I imagine it also applies to doing crowd-pleasing things in order to stay in business - if it’s too much to swallow, then it’s time to move on.

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Sean, the applause is well deserved as you really pick the place up with your tunes, my problem is with all those extra pints and gals crowding your side of the table after you’ve charmed the crowd. ;-p
(hummmm, the ‘Star Wars Theme’, Sean, how about it!)
I have the ‘duck and hide’ feeling a lot of wheras the crowd shows great appreciation of a tune that I whistled or flute’d and I know I so totally screwed it up. Oh well I figure, just work to do better next time, its all such great fun anyway!! D.

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Autumn, what a great thread! Lots of great comments from lots of different points of view. For my part, I made a decision years ago to never, ever, ever turn down a paying gig until I am making enough money playing music to be picky. Since then I’ve done everything from wandering around a lobster dinner playing fiddle tunes alone (and badly!) to plastic bibbed east coasters in Calgary (who were not fooled! Worst gig ever!) to playing bar gigs in a band that never refused a request, no matter how shmaltzy or overplayed, whether we knew it or not. I was a bad fiddler then, too, and felt a bit guilty because the audience seemed so impressed. I’ve sat in with bands who called at the last minute, with whom I’ve had no rehearsals at all. I’ve done a lot of seriously disrespectful things to ITM over the years, to be honest, but it’s sink or swim. I don’t want to work for a living and that’s more important to me than contemplating ponderous philosophical questions about "musical integrity".

There is a trick to being a gig slut though (can I say "slut" on here Jeremy?): You have to love and respect your audience, and sincerely desire that they have a good time. Condescension is a plague among people who play music for a hobby. Most professionals know it is the audience that makes it possible to feed themselves and feel deep gratitude and love for the "drunken yahoos clamouring for reels". That doesn’t mean you have to play songs you hate just because they want to hear them. You find common ground and play something you can both enjoy. When people request Danny Boy, the Fields of Athenry, or the Black Velvet Band, I just furrow my brow and say "Gosh, I don’t know that one. Here I’ll play you something similar that doesn’t suck quite so badly." (I don’t say the last part out loud of course.)

Musical integrity is a luxury of people who play purely for enjoyment. At the start of your hopefully long and prosperous career as a professional you don’t need to worry about it. Integrity will seep into your professional career at some point without having to force it.

The other snippet of wisdom I can impart is this: it was the connections I made at the really cheezy gigs playing poopy ITM that made all of the wonderful gigs where I was able to play decent ITM (at folk clubs and folk festivals) possible.

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Hey Joyce- BK is goin to be in SoCal for our Tionol. Maybe then we can do a Star Wars medly?? LOL- I can’t see it happen either!! I’m learning the "oldest jig", i.e the Flintstones theme song. Everyone looks at me when I put a crann in every once in a while

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Will, I agree on what you are saying about manipulating responses. I keep trying to figure out a devious motivation only to realize that if I didn’t do any of them (consciously or not) I wouldn’t find myself on a stage….ever!

Thanks FOV for the encouragement and the giggles.

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Is it scary that I know the Star Wars theme…..or play "Heart and Soul" as the instrumental break of "Nancy Whiskey"? (Our rendition is very lounge lizardy plus I was going for schmaltzy)

I think I’ll learn a new tune tonight….just for the sake of artistic self preservation ;)

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Kerri’s right, and I want to make perfectly clear the great esteem and highest respect I hold for our (drunken yahoos yammering for reels) fans and their cold hard cash.
:-|

This thread just set a record for most number of posts from Helena, MT, seat of all thing Irish trad in the uvinerse. Sean, I for one did not get to hear your pipes enough last night, but the porter was fogging my brain and I couldn’t think fast enough to start tunes in your repertoire. It was also hard to hear you over the drunken yahoos yammering for reels 🙂 But it’s good to know all the applause hasn’t gone to your head.

"Arwen," what can I say ("spwt") it was a full moon ("spwt") and the person next to me ("spwt") was in an impish mood ("spwt").

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Just make sure it isn’t one of those new-fangled show-offy tunes like Gorbachev’s Farewell to Lithuania. (*psst, autumn between you and me, the drunken yahoos love that tune! Especially when I play it after Pachelbel’s Frolics*)

Re: PIPERS: PLEASE READ!!!

Oh my, BK would never play the theme from Star Wars…. Vermont does have a small music scene but we are lucky to have several pipers here. I was referring to someone else who might play it just for a laugh……

I’ll see if our piper tonight will play the "Star Wars" theme just as joke. I would love to see the look on peoples’ faces….lol…

BTW - I absolutely love and adore BK and HF. They are my favourite musicians here in Vermont. We are so lucky they live here. The nicest folks!

OK back to the topic….sorry….but I’d hate for someone at a Tionol to ask my piping hero about playing the "Star Wars" theme. Are we all clear??? Good! : )

Joyce

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Sounds to me as though it’s simply that you’ve seen "Tam Lin" for what it really is and have got sick of it. Some people like it and that’s great, but there are so many fantastic tunes out there. Pick another one and enjoy playing that. There are tunes out there that you could use to create a similar atmosphere as Tam Lin if that’s what you wanted. Then if you decide you can do something more with Tam Lin at a later date you can always come back to it. I agree with Joyce when she says "life’s too short…" - if you’re not satisfying your own creative and emotional needs through your music then what’s the bloody point?

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Pocket money, free beer and applause, Mark! That’s the point!

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I should point out it is not necessary to go unfulfilled. You can have some people of your choosing over for an evening of "creative and emotional fulfillment through music" if you like, as often as you like to relieve the frustration you feel about being fortunate enough to be paid to play music. Don’t put the above phrase on the invitations though, or you’ll attract too many djembes, bamboo pan flutes and tambourines.

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I forgot this…

;^)

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Well Kerri, you can get free beer at a session. Applause is great but is it necessary for your sanity? Money is also great, but y’know - I would always always put my creative and emotional needs first. Maybe that’s why I’m poor…

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Sorry we’re cross-posting. This is completely a matter of personal opinion, but rather than make do with a compromise, playing in concerts that leave me feeling "weird" and having some creative and fulfilling friends round to tea, I’m inclined to spend my free time getting together with a few musician friends in a pub session and playing tunes for *us*; f*ck the punters, basically. Last week some Irish backpacker came up to us *again* and asked if we’d play "Danny Boy" or sth similar. He was met with a resounding "no". All of us said "no" at exactly the same time in chorus - it was really funny actually 🙂

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No, maybe "f*ck the punters" is a bit strong. Some of our punters come especially to hear our music because they like it. They sit near us and you can hear them talking about the tunes and the different instruments, and it’s obvious they’re genuinely interested. That’s great, bring ‘em on.

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I like applause. It helps balance out the pain of playing all the worn out overplayed clich

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Then I guess you have to make a choice based on what’s good for you and you only. If you think that the applause is enough to balance out the pain, then that’s your solution. Make them clap.

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Sorry autumn I should have read your profile before posting. I hadn’t realised your band is "Celtic folk rock". That’s why your punters like a rocked up version of Tam Lin. Do you go to trad sessions too? Maybe the balance between the two (very different) cultures is wrong for you.

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A tune is only overplayed if you play it too much. Find another tune. In small markets, you run the risk of your band being identified by a tune or two—like Barry Manilow and "Mandy." If you don’t want that, then vary your playlist. Keep ‘em guessing, and no one will mind that you left out Tam Lin cuz they won’t know it’s "missing."

Similarly, if a tune feels worn out, it’s probably because you’ve been playing it the same way. Change it up and breathe new life into it. If you can’t do that, then being on stage is probably overreaching your ability (using the generic ‘you’ here, not meaning to implicate Autumn or anyone else in particular).

It’s true that some people really thrive on applause and acclaim. I’ve never been that way myself (quite the opposite), but I don’t begrudge the divas (in the best sense of the word) their reward. If it fills a need and they’ve figured out how to get it, good on them. But there are performers who see themselves as conduits for the music (or whatever art), and the applause is for the tunes, not the performer.

The difference is this: Some people think the tunes exist so we can play them. Others believe that we exist so that the tunes have someone to play them.

And getting paid is just a way to subsidize the raw mechanics of making more music. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing that should interfere with our own integrity or fulfillment.

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Hey, Mark… do you have a job? Or do you earn your daily bread fulfilling your creative and emotional needs? If you have a job, does *that* fulfill your creative and emotional needs? I’m willing to bet I’m way, way poorer than you are, but music is all I’m doing. (Well, I’m learning French and trying to start a film production company too, but *mostly* I just play diddly).

I can fully understand and appreciate these sentiments from people who play for fun, to unwind at the end of the work day, to spice up their lives with a challenging hobby or to socialize with people with common obsessions. With all due respect, though, it rankles me when I see people who have not attempted (and have no desire) to go professional discourage newcomers to the musical profession, and the condescending attitude that playing tunes and songs that make people happy is in some way "dirty" bugs me too. If you don’t like celtic rock, don’t go to autumn’s gigs. Don’t come in here and tell her not to play them.

Anyhoo, that’s my two bits. (Excuse me if I come off inflamed and incensed - sometimes I wind myself up. It’s nothing personal though. Just an opinion.)

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What a great thread; and autumn I love your analogy to 80’s hair bands!

I don’t know if I have anything new to contribute, but I will say your topic has made me think. I am in a band, too and also have a serious goal of playing at sessions with the big kids, eventually. And lately I’ve been seeing how the two cultures are somewhat diametrically opposed. And like you with Tam Lin, I feel some of our band’s tunes are a little worn out. And if I don’t play well, but the audience still has praise and applause, I feel weird, too. I don’t like it.

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Hey Kerri, I just read your response to Dow, and I guess I just wanted to make it clear that I do like being in a band and performing solo, too. It’s just that I guess I have to keep my own personal standards at a level where I feel I’m progressing. And sometimes in a band with other personalities involved, progress looks different to each one. I certainly don’t feel that playing in a band is selling out or disrespectful to the music at all, (does anyone here think that by the way?).

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Hi, Andee - I think you might find a few opinionated curmudgeons in the world of ITM with very strong opinions about being "disrespectful to the music" (ref: https://thesession.org/discussions/3253#comment64618). At the end of the day, it’s all just opinion. Irish music is just so darn appealing it is bursting free of all the constraints of traditional attitudes whether we want it to or not. Some of the most horrendous abuse of trad (we get lots of requests for stuff from "Riverdance" and "Titanic") has drawn multitudes of crowds clamouring for shows. Somebody has to play for them. It’s supply and demand.

Re: progress looking different to the bandmates… I’ve found it’s much, much harder to find compatible bandmates than it is to build other types of relationships - ie. with boyfriends, hairdressers, members of parliament, etc. The next time I manage to put something together I’m going to be more picky in the beginning and make sure our tastes are similar (or at least complementary) and we share the same aspirations about the direction of the group. In the mean time I am going to continue to play anything, any time, anywhere with anyone who offers me a buck or two.

(P.S. I just noticed that if you rearrange "demand" you can get "damned"… Coincidence? Or…?)

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Mark,

Don’t worry about the Celtic Rock comment. I wasn’t insulted. It is the genre I happen to have a band in but it’s not the only music I know or play for personal enjoyment. My band leans Rock and Roll pretty much because of the guitar and bass. I almost went the classical route…but came to my senses on just how much work that would entail (atleast for me and all my bad playing habits) I learned to jam on rock and roll. The band mostly fell into Irish music and "Celtic Rock" because we all performed at a renaissance festival together and we could get away with the genre. Honestly, we call it Celtic rock because we do a lot of folk tunes on the order of Steeleye Span, Fairport Convention. But we also do a bunch od Jethro Tull and United Station folk music. We do enough Irish tunes to get booked in an Irish Pub. I got into Irish instrumentals because the other Irish bands in my area weren’t and the more instrumentals we do the less I have to sing tired tunes. So I’m replacing all the songs I’m sick to death of singing with tunes. Truthfully, learning tunes has made me fall in love with music again. It is challenging in all the fun ways for me.

Just last fall, I started going to a house session hosted by friends and rivals of the band. We had no instrumentals in common so we started learning a bunch together. It’s ok, but I think I’ll be hanging out at another session sometime in the future once my personal repetoire is bigger and I find a session group I click with. I’m feeling like I need more of a challenge. I go to sessions and lurk, listening to the stuff they do. I just haven’t found one I’ve liked yet.

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I just reread the original question, autumn "What do you do to feel better about catering to the crowd?" - I realized I got too wound up and strayed off topic.

What I do to feel better about catering to the crowd is like them more. Talk to them, have a pint with them when I’m on a break, and keep foremost in my mind that it *is* possible to respect the opinions of a mob of misguided, uneducated, tasteless and imposing drunks who fall for the flash, smoke and mirrors and miss the subtleties of your more artful offerings.

Also, Will is spot on in suggesting some new repertoire and / or fresh treatment. There are heaps of tunes and songs that I can’t bear to hear any more because I played them too often with my band. It’s not "the Tamlin" they like anyway. It’s the power and energy and speed you play it with. Pick something else and play it with just as much pizzazz. Before you get it up to speed satisfy your integrity by making sure every note and ornament and variation is spot on.

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Nice post, fiddler. Yes, if you want things to improve, then improve the crowd you’re catering to. Treat them like real people, get to know them. They’ll learn from you, and they’ll appreciate you and your music all the more.

‘way back when my house was clean enough I used to host music parties, and I invited folks from my band’s mailing list along as well. In ‘96 I had the party near Christmas time, and handed out booklets of Christmas carols to everyone who arrived. So part of the evening was a regular instrumental jam, and part of it was everyone singing together. The carols were all from the Oxford book, and all the ones I chose were from 1700 or older. That got everyone talking about "early music", everyone had fun and a few people learned a thing or two as well.

For me at least, the reason to perform in the first place is that you have something that you want to share with others. You can share that something by doing more than just gigs, and the more you do, the more people will appreciate the things that you appreciate.

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Yes, Autumn, and nor should you feel insulted. I never told you you should stop playing your stuff as Kerri implied I did earlier. All I’m saying is that if a rocked up version of Tam Lin leaves you "feeling like the ITM equivalent to a wannabe 80s hair band" (your words, not mine) then maybe you should balance your band work by finding a session that you enjoy. Good luck to you.

Kerri, I think you’re being a really unfair. You don’t know me. You don’t know whether or not I would like to go professional with my music. I never said or even implied to autumn that playing music to make people happy is "dirty". Where are you getting this from for god’s sake?! As it happens, I teach, but I don’t get enough hours. I’m not a trained teacher so I have to spend hours and hours preparing lessons for the few hours I actually spend teaching. I enjoy the work and it fulfils my creative needs… some of the time. I have no other job, but not because I haven’t been looking - I’ve just been unlucky and got turned down at interviews, or maybe I’ve been applying for the wrong jobs. Being basically unemployed isn’t a nice feeling. So I play music to keep myself sane. People play music for different reasons. I respect that and so should you. I’m not going to get into a silly argument about who might be poorer than whom, but put it this way - I haven’t got nearly enough money to cover daily living expenses at the moment. But things will get better and I’ll get a job soon. Then I’ll be able to play music to unwind at the end of the day or spice my life up with a challenging hobby. I’m looking forward to that.

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I just thought of another angle in reply to Autumn’s original question. In my younger years I was a professional musician, earning my living playing in several bands and teaching music lessons. I played in a rock band, a bluegrass band, and a pop rock trio, and I taught 5 different instruments, covering everything from old timey and bluegrass to blues and top 40 rock. In other words, I "catered to the crowd," and to every student who walked in the door. I literally had people come in wanting to learn just one specific piece of music (Stairway to Heaven was a biggie), and those requests spanned a huge range of genres. And it never occurred to me that being willing to play and teach a variety of music was somehow selling out or challenging my integrity. As Kerri says, I was thrilled to be earning a decent living with music, and—this is important—*it’s _all_ music.* So go ahead and learn to like your audience more, but also learn to like the music more too.

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My goodness what a revealing thread this has been.
I’m not even going to begin to air my Tam Lin laundry after all that has been said here - it’s taken me a half hour to just read through the whole thread and all I have to say has been covered in one way or another.
It’s all about balance…..🙂
Cheers
Donough

Getting around requests

Play this stuff in public, and you’ll always have people wanting to hear what they think is Irish music. If you don’t want to play their thing, you can always be nice - if they just came in, "Oh, sorry, we’ve already played it". Or else, "Great idea, we’ll try to get to that". If they stick around you know they really want to hear it, maybe you can swallow your pride. If not, you can always have forgotten. In any case, you get a few pints into them, so the bar’s happy. Or else, of course, "sorry, I’ve been meaning to learn that one. How about this instead" and launch into whatever you were going to do next.
A lot of the crowd pleasers turn out to be good songs, once you really go into them. It’s just the formulaic treatments and repetition that kills them. Sometimes you can learn something cheesy and overdone and find a way into it that makes it worth playing again. Stripping away the stock arrangements is a good start.

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It makes no odds whether you do it totally for a living, or whether you get paid for every gig you do - its your attitude. I pick and choose so only do well-paid gigs, whereas a full-timer will have to take a lesser-paid gig on a Monday as they have little choice.

I regard myself as a musician, less-so, an entertainer - we have been booked for dances where no-one has danced all night, but we got them all singing, everyone enjoyed themselves and booked us back.

We play to amuse ourselves rather than the punters, nevertheless, there are times when you have to play to the lowest common denominator just to shut the barstewards up.

You can also take the piss - we take great delight in playing Danny Boy either as a foxtrot or in 3/4 (yes, you can do it and really confuse them). We also have an obscene version of Black Velvet Band which gets their attention, which is more than the original does.
We also do a large number of one or two line songs - which leave them gobstruck e.g. Green Fields of France

Can I take a short rest here down by your graveside?
at which point the band chime in with a loud NO!!!

Silence for 5 secs then laughter.

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Autumn, I reread the original post and I’m a trifle confused.
If you don’t want to play ‘souped-up’ reels, why play them accompanied by a guitar and bass? It seems that you mainly resent the difference in your audience’s perception of what you play and your own.
If you genuinely believe that what you’re playing is ‘slop, cheap tricks and smoke & mirrors’ , then stop doing it, but I bet you’ll find it hard to drop the stuff from your set that gets the best response(!)
methinks you protest too much….

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

It might be worthwhile putting yourself in the shoes of a non-playing member of the audience. A position which I can still remember being in. You might well love the music, even if you don’t really understand what’s going on. You may not know the difference between a tune which is easy to play or a difficult one. Or something which the player finds boring to play, yet you and your mates love it.

When we look at it from that point of view we might be kinder to "punters"….not that they all deserve these small mercies, mind you….

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Ottery-

I think I understand what you are saying. I’m just trying to sort out my feelings and reactions to some of my material, look to people that have been there for advice and support, and probably looking for a little validation (just being brutally honest with myself). I like playing with the guitar and bass and souping up reels. I’m just talking about 1 reel that is sort of making my skin crawl for a variety of personal reasons.

Sometimes I think it is hard to maintain a standard of playing when the audience gives you every reason not to. I guess I’m afraid I’ll get lazy and do some "serious disrespectful things to ITM". My favorite noises on a flute are flutter tonguing, overblowing, and singing while I play. I’ve been doing them for a long time (I learned them "this one time at band camp"…no really), when I use them in some of the reels I learn they put a nice edge on. I try not to overuse them so they stay fresh and sound impressive. But they are easy for me. The audience doesn’t react as strongly to things that are hard for me that I make look and sound easy.

I guess maybe its like juggling. You can do the hardest trick in the world and the audience doesn’t care, but they go nuts for the "eat the apple" trick. My friend Tuey always ends his patter about his juggling 4 rings while standing atop a free standing ladder trick by saying, "you should be a lot more impressed than you’re gonna be".

Maybe it’s my difficulty dealing with compliments I don’t think I deserve.

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Heh. Juggling. As an 18 yearold I turned down a very lucrative contract offer to juggle in Las Vegas because they wanted someone who would juggle three tennis rackets with tennis balls wired to the racket faces. Whereas I had worked mighty hard for 6 years to be able to juggle 5 clubs while riding a unicycle, and do an intricate routine with 5 balls, or just keep 7 balls in the air for half a minute (and do it consistently enough to perform it on stage).

Yes, everyone wants to see you eat the apple or juggle chainsaws or blaze away on Tam Lin….

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Hi Autumn,
I think you worry too much(!) I don’t believe that technical ability impresses anyone other than technicians. If your audience is moved by what you consider to be a poor tune, then it’s probably not a poor tune. Reading comments in earlier threads on this site, I suspect Tam Lin has been more ‘done to death’ in the States than it has over here(?) I think the juggling analogy is a good one, but it’s important to learn the right lesson from it. It’s not that audiences are dumb for not recognising brilliance, but maybe performers can be dumb in not realising the point of what they do. No matter how technically good we may think we are, we are not playing a very technically difficult type of music, and any fiddler, say, who doubts this should go and watch someone performing, say, Sibelius’ or Berg’s Violin Concerto, and think about sustaining the ‘line’ and emotional intensity of those pieces over that length of time. What audiences seek from our music may be excitement, familiarity, emotion, or whatever, but I suspect only musos go to hear technical brilliance. I learned this lesson at a club where I was supposed to be accompanying a singer, who turned up with a touch of laryngitis. She only decided that she really wasn’t up to singing as we were about to walk out in front of the audience. She also plays a bit of whistle but doesn’t know an awful lot of tunes, so we had a quick discussion about what we could do, and she said, "How about Planxty Irwin?" It would never have occurred to me to play a ‘beginner’s tune’ like that in front of an audience - I always tried to do something ‘clever’. Needless to say the audience loved it, and we got the best response we’ve ever had to a tune (songs are a different kettle of fish). All the people there who knew any Irish music at all, knew that tune, and they loved hearing it. It certainly made me think.
Of course, none of the above applies to sessions - which purely exist for the delight of us ‘technicians’ 😉

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Dead on, Mark. I’ve sat next to uninformed, non-muso people listening to some Irish super band and heard more than once, "I’m probably missing 90 percent of what they’re putting into the music, but I’m sure enjoying it anyway."

But we technicians can still lament our audience’s ignorance, can’t we? 🙂 (Then again, put me in front of a knowledgeable audience, and the applause would likely be thin golf clapping at best 😉

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Yeh, I have sat in sessions, . . mainly folk music sessions, and there’s been somebody really bad singing and playing the guitar, yet the punters are really lapping it up, their tapping their feet , the heads are rocking from side to side , they have got their eyes closed, on a different planet.
It makes you feel whats the point in putting the effort in. I can’t believe how easily pleased non musos are … mind you youv’e only got to look in the pop charts to see where their coming from.

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"thin golf clapping" hahaha… Will, have you been hanging around our gigs lately or something?

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Your average punter is probably happier listening to a few songs-even a dreadful version of the "Fields of Athenry" and "in your face" tunes rather than a bunch of "fiddlers and whistle players sawing and tooting away all night". Well, at least, that’s how we’ve been described. Oh, the mandolin "plinks and plonks" as well 🙂
You’ll get knowledgeable and appreciative non musicians. I suppose that’s where a lot of the "late starters" like myself have come from. I’ve always listened to loads of albums, gone to concerts, and sessions to listen so I picked up quite a lot. However, it was only when I started to play more seriously myself that my "knowledge of the music" started to increase—along with my ability to be a bit more discerning about what I was listening to.

It’s interesting that if you go to a concert/gig with highly respected musicians, you’ll find that at least half the audience are players themselves or "highly involved on the scene" in some way, On other occasions, when I’ve gone to watch "quality" musicians doing a "one off" pub gig, it’s only myself and one or two others who are particularly interested in listening. The regular punters couldn’t give a sh-t. So, perhaps, good music is just wasted on some audiences.

John

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Don mc’clean hit the nail on the head when he sang about Vincent van Gough, in the song "starry starry night", "this world was never mean’t for one as beautifull as you,"

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"Play Freebird!"

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Nobody would "lend Van gough an ear" either. 🙂 sorry.

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Before or after "Brown eyed girl", pbassnote? 🙂

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I guess the short answer to the original question of this thread could be: It depends on the crowd.

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man, oh man, it just took me forever to read through all of this and I think this is a really great discussion! I really like what Mark pointed out after it appeared that Kerri was trying to defend her musician’s honor and all that jazz. For whatever reason you play or sing or whatever, you have to do it to fulfill your own needs first. Even if you’re in a paid gig. yesh…I did just say that. I’m a professional musician, who’s classically trained as a violinist and to be honest, I play trad to unwind and feed my soul as I feel many times that I just can’t get what I need any more from Classical music…it’s just not my nitch as much as it used to be. Don’t get me wrong…it pays the bills and I do still have a love for it….But even in paid gigs, I play what I want. I choose which sets I play and if I don’t really like something I don’t play it. That’s mostly because if I can’t get into it enough to deliver a convincing performance…it’s a waste of time on both my part and the listener’s. So I guess this is just the long way of saying, put your needs first—-there are plenty of tunes that you can find that the crowd likes…and if you happen to like Tamlin even if it’s not the most creative or virtuostic of tunes…who cares if it makes you happy?

Kim

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Kim, that’s so cool you play only the sets you want to play and don’t make compromises! Profesional or not, I’ll say it again: Life is too short to play music your heart’s not really into!

Joyce

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Aye, and some of us are blessed to like simple tunes. 🙂

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It does depend on the crowd. A lot. We try to do as many "private" gigs as possible (weddings, dances and the like, where Irish Trad is specifically requested), but often we have to do the pubs and fight clubs as well. In these places sometime you have to play wild stuff to get the punters’ initial attention.

It won’t be the first time we’ve kicked off with nothing but a loud acid loop, then started a set of reels along with it, and gradually faded the loop out. Wacky, but it works!

So, bol****** to musical integrity if I’ve gotta earn money for playing music. I keep my integrity for good sessions and my own recordings.

Jim

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Jim, do you enjoy the loud acid loop stuff? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. But either way, it looks as though you balance it with "good sessions and your own recordings". Autumn can’t find a session she’s happy with. So perhaps it’s not so much to do with musical integrity if you’re making money from it. All I tried to do is stress the importance of achieving that balance between pleasing the punters and yourself.

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At the risk of sounding all zen-like, I believe if you truly and honestly please yourself, it will shine through and please your audience/punters. I might even go further then Mark and argue that you should please yourself 100% of the time, forget balance. When you are excited about what your playing, the audience feels it too, even the obnoxious drunks. So then you don’t need the smoke and mirrors and all that jazz, unless that’s what makes you happy. In that case, go for it! Just have fun and no regrets : )

Time for me to go please myself ; ) And I mean with music! LOL

Joyce

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Yes, but Joyce you’re missing one important point. You’re assuming that the audience has good taste like you have. If they have no taste, then you’ve either got to change to make your money (which I think is what Jim and Kerri are trying to say) or if like me you’d rather die of starvation than become the next Riverdance band, then you either quit and/or go and play for a different audience, or you balance it with cranking sessions to maintain your sanity [please note use of heavy Old-World irony which people should not take offence at, and here’s a smiley face just for emphasis 🙂 ;-D
:-| This thread’s starting to sound like a discussion about prostitution - "pleasing yourself and the punters" etc. LOL

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Joyce, you go pleasure yourself, it’s getting late anyway.
I would advise any of you handwringers to go listen to the young Billie Holiday. She is so thrilled to be able to do what she can do that it shines through her recordings, and people still listen to that and go, "wow!!" - after all these years.
And it’s been a lot of years…

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hmmm if the audience has no taste….well it’s a personal judgement call then. Everyone has to make their own decisions…I’m not sure which is worse, a soul-less desk job(what I have) or playing what you don’t want to play. It’s a tough call. You gotta do what’s right for you.

I’m guessing Billie had it tough back then but still never made any compromises with her music. Yes, she’s amazing!

ok ok, I’m leaving now : )

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I’d contribute something here, but I think I’d rather go "pleasure myself" instead. 😉

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Dow, I don’t like acid loops per se, but there are one or two out there that just grab your attention. And the punters’. Once you’ve got them on your side your laughing.

Jim

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… or you do the Star Wars theme … or the James Bond theme…whatever…. 🙂

Jim

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Hey, Mark, I’m sorry my rant came off as a personal attack. I shouldn’t have started it with "Hey, Mark!" (like the way I started this one!) I began with what I meant to be a response to one individual comment you made ("if you’re not satisfying your own creative and emotional needs through your music then what’s the bloody point?") and then moved on to a more general soap box soliloquy directed anybody who responded to autumn’s question with the advice that she should quit the band and only play beautiful music that satisfies her soul. I neglected to make it clear that I had begun to rant at the world in general, and not just you. I’m not competing for the poverty award. We can probably call it a tie. Sincerest apologies if I offended you personally.

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(I would go pleasure myself now, but my room-mates are sleeping and they don’t care for my brash, raw treatment or my quick paced, explosive ornamentation!)

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You guys kill me.

I played a charity event last night (a silent art auction) and had a really nice time. We sold some cd’s and made a nice network connection with a photographer that is interested in doing our next album cover. It was nice to not feel like I needed to play Tam Lin to get their attention. We played what we wanted, how we wanted and the gig went very well.

We went out to a pub after to see some friends play. I think I’m not the only one in this town that plays stuff in the wannabe ‘80’s hair band genre. My friends, Guitar-bass-fiddle-mandolin, play a set of jigs with a song stuck in it. Road to Lisdoonvarna/Swallowtail, Follow me up to Carlo with Morrison’s Jig as the instrumental break. It’s truly something of a Gaelic Storm nightmare only with better vocals. They’ve been playing it for about 10 years or so. The mandolin player plays morrison’s with the mandolin behind his head. (What really made me laugh was you couldn’t really the mandolin….the trick only works if you know the player is really playing it). And the crowd went………..a bit less than wild.

I think we got a better response from our crowd than they did to theirs. We were both more or less catering to the crowd we had…I guess it really does matter if you are enjoying the material you are playing. Or maybe it’s because we’re prettier.

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What is an acid loop? Sounds like some of the drugs I did back in the 80’s ; )

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Timothy Leary Lifesavers….

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LOL!

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Is it anything like a prostitution ring?

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I heard about a prostitution ring/dance club with cheap drugs conveniently located right on the Vermont/Canadian border…….a music buddy thought that might be a fun place for us to do a session…….as long as we can play what we want and there’s free beer, hell, I’m game : )

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I’d like to offer a quote from a musical colleague who has become a leading exponent of "Celtic Rock" in this area. He was commenting to me about the very question autumn initiated this thread with. We were at a crossroad with our musical direction, and I was determined to stay on the path I was already on — ITM. He said, "No one is interested in hearing ITM unless it has electric bass and drums." He had also told me in other discussions, "I don’t know who you’re playing to, but I play to the audience." This is why in my first response to this thread I was talking about catering to the crowd, and I said, "If we did

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It’s almost like trying to compare Joan Baez to Brittney Spears….There’s just no comparison. Brittney caters to the masses. I’m not gonna bash Brittney, but she does gear her music and stage performance in a way that shocks and grabs the mainstream attention. Celtic Rock sorta does that too, but in a lesser degree : )

BTW- I have nothing against CR bands or Irish punk bands. Would I play in such a band? probably not. I don’t think anyone would want me….lol….I’m too much of a pain in the arse….lol….

Joyce

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Jack,

I love your analogy. But if we were to limit discussions strictly to Irish sessions, then the Mexican food would need to be eaten by the staff as well, while the punters watched on enviously.

I think it’s interesting to hear from people who eat tacos at home, at high-quality Mexican restaurants, and at Taco Bell. I’ve met several fiddlers who get involved in sessions, "authentic ITM bands", and celtic rock, and they bring a very interesting perspective to things.

I think the topic as introduced lends itself equally well to "trad" ITM bands and celtic rock bands. The former are certainly not always above "cheap tricks"

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Jack, you bring up an interesting point. In keeping with the focus of jigs reels and other dance tunes I kept my original question to a specific reel. Everything I was thinking and feeling was about the reel in comparison to other reels I play more traditionally. The basic notation of my version of Tam Lin is still the same as if one were to look it up in the tunes section. My current interpretation of it is rowdy. So in answer to your question, I think it is perfectly relevant in this forum to discuss CR if it is restricted to jigs, reels and other dance tunes.

I love the analogy it is good food for thought.

PS. A Celtic Rock session is called a jam. They are way fun, but not remotely traditional.

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Acid loop sound available to anyone curious. Just email me.

Jim

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Autumn, I haven’t heard your band play of course, but when we’ve played local street fairs etc. that have CR bands also performing, (who are considered to be "the best" by local CR fans,) I’ve listened to them to see what all the fuss is about. I’ve heard

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Jack, judging by the sheer volume of responses here and the refusal of this thread to die, I’d say the topic of making a bit of spare change making ITM accessible to the masses by juicing it up with a bit of rock ‘n’ roll must be something the members of this fine site are really interested in discussing. As grego pointed out, lots of us cover the whole spectrum - from strictly traditional sessions to abject mutilation and abuse of the tradition for fun and profit. I’ve really appreciated the insights presented so far. Plus, as far as I’m aware (although I’ve had a few lengthy holidays from the site) it’s something we never really talked about at length before, which makes it a refreshing change from "what tunes should I learn" and "don’t you just hate it when [stingy publicans, drunken yahoos, bad guitar and bodhran players, other musicians] ruin your session?"

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Oh we talk about all sorts of things—kangaroo tipping, saxophones, fingernail fungi, Terry Pratchett, recording technology….it’s all here. Seems there’s damn little that’s not somehow relevant to sessioning.

I think this discussion is relevant for two big reasons: many session players either form bands or daydream about it ad infinitum, and the phenonemon of playing cheap tricks to wow the crowd is not confined to CR. Even at sessions, I’ve seen players suddenly in the throes of a Joe Cocker imitation, staggering around in their chair to impress everyone with how into the music they are. And I’ve been a part of playing flashy pre-conceived arrangements when the punters expect it, just to rattle the rafters a bit (and because I can 🙂 So some sessioneers deal with the same issues Autumn and others have raised here.

Re: the food analogy. I like good authentic Mexican food, and we’re lucky to have a family from Melaque that runs a great little tacquerio here. But I also eat at Taco Hell 2-3 times a month—it’s cheap, it’s better than burgers, and I like their gorditas. I don’t go to the latter for authentic Mexican food—just an easy, filling meal. And I wouldn’t want a platter with samplers from both restaurants. Similarly It’s possible to be both a rock fan (we’re going to the Blink concert in Seattle next month) and an Irish trad slave. I play both genres, but never in the same room at the same time, and I don’t like Celtic Rock.

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

"My point is that CR caters to rock music fans, and ITM caters to ITM fans". That may be true, but the way I see it, Celtic Rock turns rock music fans into ITM fans, making the world a sweeter and more melodic place for everyone. God bless the Shane McGowans and Ashley McIsaacs of the world!

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Speaking of bizarre session repertoire, Will, I’ve heard no fewer than FOUR spontaneous outbursts of "Jingle Bells" since June - at four *different* sessions, three of which were in Ireland.

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F-on-V, point taken. I suppose, after reviewing the thread, that my comments were actually irrelevant to this discussion. Instead, maybe I should have initiated a new thread on the question of whether CR is part of ITM or not. My apologies.

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Isn’t that what you’re "ITM bands over here and over there" thread is about, kind of? In a roundabout way?

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Oh yeah, apology not required but accepted none the less. :^)

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F-on-V… No, that thread was about the phenomena of, "I just discovered ITM — now I’ll start a band." In the example for my own participation, there was no mention of CR. I am not now, or have ever been a member of any CR band. 😉

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

In my case, it was "I just got a fiddle and a couple of lessons from a Scottish broad, then met these dudes with a bunch of gigs lined up that miraculously want me to play with them." Then I discovered ITM.

The band’s repertoire was a mix of Irish songs, east coast Canuck songs, random sets of tunes from god knows where (Quebec, Cape Breton, Ireland, Scotland all mixed together and played fast) and original stuff. We did as much original stuff as we could and inserted more as our fan base grew and learned how to clamour for Brian’s songs instead of (actually, "in addition to") Barrett’s Privateers. I don’t regret a minute of it. It was great craic and it brought me into the fold.

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Survived a Metallica concert last night (so my son could go, of course.) Young ladies on the floor in front of the stage were, like, *really* trying to get the band’s attention.

Maybe I should seriously consider cheap ITM tricks to earn that kind of adulation.

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To h*ll with the make-up, get an accordion

I met a well-reputed accordion player who seemed to expect that kind of adulation from the young girls in the audience. Seemed like such a preposterous combo - sex appeal and the piano accordion, but he was acting as if he gets groupie lovin’ all the time. No cheap tricks either. His band is pretty pure drop. So there’s hope for you yet, greg.

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I get ululations from females all the time, but my wife tells me their wailing for me to *stop* playing that damn fiddle….

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Oh, that was "adulation" ? My goof.
:-|

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chuckle.

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Jack, I think you have added a number of really thoughtful and relevant responses. Part of the original question was about musical integrity which you seem to have in spades. Your comments really challenged me and my ideas. All the responses were really thoughtful and this has been a really great discussion. I wouldn’t worry Jack, it’s all good.

I like rock and roll. I like Irish tunes. I think they can go great together. I don’t want to exploit the craze, just find a balance and be a better musician for it. Basically, it’s why I started hanging out here. I want to learn the rules of ITM and learn good music and have a firm understanding of the music before breaking the rules in all the good artistic ways. I may never get there, I don’t know. I just keep playing.

My band is more of a vocal thing right now we only have a handful of tune sets. I’m learning more. I have been listening to quite a lot of music. (Last time Zina recommended cd’s to me I bought everyone of them and I’m not sorry…..Amazon love’s me now). Basically, I’m here to learn ‘cause I care.

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I also think this has been a worthwhile discussion. Kerri it’s ok I didn’t take offence. I guess I thought I was just trying to help. I still really think that if autumn wants to "learn the rules of ITM", it’s important to seek out a good session as well as keep the band stuff going. It’s a good way to learn tunes for a start, because if you go to a weekly session, you find that you absorb some of the tunes by osmosis without even making any effort to learn them. Above all, just enjoy it, whatever you’re playing.

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It’s fine if you want to mix rock ‘n roll with Irish tunes. Like I keep saying, "it’s all good" : ) But there are some of us on this website who don’t really like to mix our peas and mashed potatoes. I like to keep my Irish tunes pretty simple and old fashioned (people even tell me my style sounds old which is the best compliment I could ever get). My recent obsession is listening to John McKenna’s old flute recordings from the 1920’s and 30’s. It doesn’t get more old fasioned than that : )

I grew up listening to rock music and still love it. I was just a little kid when I went to my first Pink Floyd concert in 1980. I have followed the Dead and have survived many crazy mosh pit scenes…. If the Young Dubliners came to town, I’d probably go seem them. But not with expectatons of hearing any Irish trad music. Those guys are loads of fun and totally rock, but don’t seem to have a deep understanding or interest in Irish Trad, which is fine by me. So my mindset is totally different than when I see Altan or Dervish.

So what’s my point? Just realize that we all have different tastes and ideas about playing music. I’m just one of the grumpy purists (for lack of a better word) on this website, but I do wish Autumn best of luck with her band. Just have fun!

Yeah, this has been a very thought provoking thread : )

Joyce

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Ah, we’re all just trying to help (and I think for the most part we help each other quite a lot). I have this sort of soap box disorder where I get all frothed up with ideas and rant about this or that, and also a bit of a contrary decil’s advocate side. Can’t help myself. For the record I personally prefer a traditional approach and don’t listen to bands who play the tunes but don’t understand them (if that makes sense.) but I still do my best to fuel the enthusiasm of the newbies. Great discussion autumn, and best of luck with the growing pains!

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

BTW - The Young Dubliners are total rock music and don’t play tunes. There’s a little Irish flavor to their music (& the lead singer has a sexy Irish accent and says my favorite word which is the "F" word a lot) but they don’t do tunes, which is probably a good thing. I don’t listen to bands or individuals that play tunes w/o an understanding either…just to make sure we’re clear ; )

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Forage? Finagle? Frottage? ;)

Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Sorry I’m a bit late but I’ll start from the top once more. Yes I know the situation and the feeling. I even built a set of hornpipes to finish with Soldier’s Joy played faster every time just to give the impression that me and the accordeonist are wizards of speed. Tasteless but impressive. I enjoy the applause we get and I refuse to feel guilty about it. Surely it has happened to you all that you played a set of nice tunes all well arranged with ornamentations and the reaction was totally disappointing. Is that so desirable?
The audience has taken the trouble to come and see your band (in most cases that is) so they might as well have a bit of fun. In my job as a school teacher I have to educate but I not in my free time.
Autumn, if you like play "serious"set to yourself off stage and be reassured that you haven’t lost your good taste completely.

I’m even thinking of playing Hawaii five - o as a slow air 😉

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Re: Crowd Reaction vs. Musical Integrity

Zina, stop speaking with you mouth full. You been on the wine again? 🙂

Jim

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Single malts, not wine, Doran. *grin* Foraging, Finagling, and Frottage have, however, not been featured activities recently (thankfully).

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*Grin*. My surname is Dorans, not Doran, thank you very much, Ms Le. Single malts? Ooooooh, get you, missus!!!!!!!! 🙂

Jim

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Psst…Jim…I hear vague rumours in the bush telegraph that a certain malt-swigging, step-dancing, fiddle-playing Colorado-dweller may be this side of the pond at some time in the not too distant.

Maybe you could entice her down to Soton to show her your Bent Brief…

Just a thought….

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Hopefully. We shall see. I’d love to get there while Brides is there. Money’s a bit tight right now, though…isn’t it always? :-p to you, DoranS. *snort*