Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Okay folks, we all know that each and every one of us—including Mr. Gill—has that absolutely wowie zowie tune designed to stop the show and elicit lusty looks from all the lads and lasses at the session. it may be a tune you actually play or imagine someday being able to play. but it is more than that favorite daggy or spankie tune of yours. no, it is your *party piece*.

what is it? have you ever busted it out? how’d it go over?

perhaps the paradigmatic party piece for the flute is a la molloy playing his craic induced mason’s apron in g. but for me, my party piece is Lord Gordons. i played it at a non-itm related party of mine one time—was properly boozed and thankfully so was everybody else. I do like to play Lord Gordon’s at sessions, though, but I always ask if there’s anybody who knows it and would like to join in (i’m a coward i guess).

boy oh boy, though, party pieces can really go wrong and in a bad way and annoyingly. i’ve heard blokes slaughter the same damn party piece week after god-save-us week and they are oblivious. it’s more like the party piece of s….

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

hahah.. my party piece is -truly - I make up a song on the spot. I sing it with all my heart and sometimes a rhyme or two falls into place..I have to be in quite the partymood to do this. My last three party pieces were:

At our session in April, right after Hussain was "captured" (geez, was that April? oh well, whenever, *seniors moment*) I belted out an impromptu song about Women’s Life Within Islam, which was inspired by some deeply modal version of some irish tune or other.. (got a great applause. I think people thought it was a "real" song)

afterthat,, about a month ago I expressed sentiment about "THE Way Women Sing in New Orleans" a bizarre on-the-spot song about how particularly female singers are able to project their voices above a fullband sound (trumpets, banjos clarinets0). I was squeezing my nose in this Partypiece, and trying to sound like an old ‘78. This bit of drama was triggred by Dan Lapp’s use of my tenor banjo for his own purposes. He borrowed my tenor; the sounds he made inspired me… Uh, it was late at night..

My most recent partypiece was at a garden party at watersedge in BEAUTiful Victoria BC. It was Canada Day and there had been a lot of oldtimey played. The garden was decked in Canadianflags, the food had been eaten, the party was becoming undone, and so I found myself singing a tribute to the Red And The White, the flapping flag, our graet white norht which included of course The Calgary Flames,and the recent Success of Canadian politivs vis a vis the eled=ction of a -yay-minority government……they will talk a lot, which is a good thing…

So, to make up for not posting for awhile, I give you my heart and soul, and all my silliness……….

love, veronica

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

You’re a busy boy all of a sudden, Brendan! When do you leave for parts south?

Anyway — I’m not sure I have a party piece. You tell me — you’ve seen me at a session where I was an unknown, I don’t think I broke into a party piece, or at least, not on purpose.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Ah yes! The horror of the overplayed party piece.

There’s having your own tune, and there’s flogging a dead horse.

The real trick lies in knowing when not to play. Leave them wanting more, not less.

Dave

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I never understand why some people need to be the centre of attraction and I don’t really like being in the type of situation or session where you’re expected to push yourself to the fore to get heard or noticed. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t play a tune nobody else knew, in certain circumstances, but I wouldn’t wish it to be considered a "showpiece". Too many sessions are spoiled by people who insist in "jumping in" with "their tune or song". Go with the flow, I say. If you don’t like the direction in which things are going, then find another stream. The same applies if you can’t swim fast enough.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I agree John J, nothing so boring as listening week after week to the same "party pieces" however well played they are - go with the flow is right. However at our session when somebody new comes along its customary to get them to play/sing something to make them feel welcome and its always useful to have something in the line of a party piece to fall back on.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Many parties, sorry, sessions are happy to float along at the sleepy pace of a canal (no current and speed limit 5mph).
Does "jumping in and going against the flow" mean playing a different tune to their limited repertoire of 40?
Some of us prefer the occasional and unexpected appearance of a weir or rapids.
Watch out for the crocs as well!!

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

We have someone at our session who plays the same "party piece" week after week after bloody week. Here’s the deal: this person is a good player, sometimes keeps the session together, and his party piece is well played. (I think it’s his opportunity to practice it a few times each week in public) But I have to say, I’ve really gotten tired of hearing it every week consistently. I usually get up and go the bar or the toilet since it’s one of those 6 or 7 part reels!!!!!….I don’t say anything because it’s not really my place, I do like this person and he is an asset to the session, but this one party piece is driving me crazy….ugh!!

I personally don’t have any party pieces yet. If someone asks me to play something, it will usually be some current tune(s) I’ve been working on. But I should have a couple really good tunes ready that I can pull out on the spot unexpectedly when someone asks me to play something.

Joyce

PS - if this person is reading this, I hope he takes pity and gives us a break with this "party piece" :-)

Posted by .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Geoff,
That wasn’t what I meant but I think you probably know that already. :-)
I was at a brilliant session during the weekend with some great players -your "big boys" who were mostly better than me. The pace was certainly a lot more than 5mph, though I was able to hold my own surprisingly well with the tunes I knew well. Of course, some of the musicians played or started sets which very few of us knew from time to time but it wasn’t a case of "Look at me. See what I can do.". They were just enjoying themselves and the tunes kept flowing out. I wouldn’t have said there were any "crocodiles" or alarming things going on, either. You knew the tunes or didn’t and played if you knew them or you didn’t.
Of course, if you want to swim with crocodiles that’s fine but there’s no need to introduce them to the family swimming pool.

Joyce, I agree that it’s good to have a few good tunes at the ready in case we’re invited to play but they shouldn’t be deliberately chosen as "show off party pieces".

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Usually when I’m in a new session environment and someone asks me to start a tune, I freeze like a deer in headlights. I use all kinds of excuses (I’m shy about my playing and also have stage-fright issues in a new place) as to why I better not, ie - "oh my flute isn’t warmed up yet"…..for me personally I just need to fix up some tunes just so I won’t embarrass myself :-)

Posted by .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Yeah, I’d say Molly and Joyce are right — I should probably "fix up" a couple of tunes as a party piece. Oh god, now that means I have to figure out what tune that’ll be. I suppose one of the ones that I love but don’t often play out at sessions because it goes out of the range of the pipes, flute, and whistle.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

My party piece is to start off a set of well known reels and play them about quarter speed

Posted .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Just like Martin Hayes, huh, Michael?

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I’m off to Milltown Malbay this evening so must brush up my party pieces. Gosh I’m so excited, can’t wait - its been a few years since I’ve been there. Actually I think songs as party pieces are worse than tunes and I usually go to the bar when they start up AGAIN but having said it I have a friend who is a truly wonderful singer and I never tire of hearing her sing the same songs so it depends on the ability of the player/singer I suppose Milltown here I come, ready or not!

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Ha ha Zina, not at all at all at all. I play them straight (no dots) and with drive.

Posted .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

*smirk* Sure, Michael, sure…in real life, you quite long to play just like Martin Hayes, I bet you just do…

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Zina, i know for a fact that your party piece is when you dance while playing with fiddle in hand ‘maid behind the bar’!!! ;)

give zina a few gin and tonics and oh boy watch out!

i’m leaving for ole mexico at the end of the month. oh and i WILL be the first to enter a session under the ‘mexico’ heading here on this site, once..er..i find one or start one.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

lol — Brendan, dear, it gets much worse than that! *smirk* I’d forgotten about the…what was it, four or five?, gin and tonics. Don’t let me do that again, k? Heh.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

ha ha ha, i think it was four. but who’s counting? or was able to count?

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Yes, I was having problems counting to two by that point, I’m thinking. (And I wasn’t playing at the same time I was dancing!) Jeff’ll probably never bring me back to CC ever again…

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

no you *were* (weren’t you?)…or was i smoking the craic pipe?

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I don’t think I was THAT drunk….was I?

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

And it wasn’t my fault! Everybody kept buying me drinks, and I got confused as to how many I’d actually had!

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

woops.. watch them drinks Zina…

Light dawns over Marble Head

Oh, I know, Brendan! You were thinking of those two little girls who played old time as well as Irish! They did the funny little choreography to their own jigs, right? It wasn’t me. I just did a couple of tipping reels when I realized how badly I was playing at that point… :)

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I wouldn’t do a party piece or showpiece at a session, unless I was asked. I’ve been asked by people who’ve heard me play at my gigs.

Given the traditional ethos of the "session", what with its sometimes inbuilt humility and false modesty, I tend to find that playing anything outside the normal sesh repertoire tends to p*ss people off. Either they won’t like the piece or they’ll think it’s "showing off". In some eyes it’s a worse crime to show off than to play badly!

So it depends on the session and its participants, I suppose.

Jim

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

lol, zina, i’d forgotten about them. okay, you’re off the hook. maybe :) funny how bits the an evening get flopped around in the brain.

yes, i think you’re right, jim: the party piece presents a high danger of pissing everybody off. although sometimes that can be a plus, especially if you’re getting dissed or steamrolled at a session.

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

I’ve got a party piece but I wouldn’t dare to play it at a session. You all would despise me and rightly so. It’s Soldier’s Joy played faster every round. Makes a great impression at concerts though.

Posted by .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

"Leave them wanting more, not less!" You said it, Daddy.

Posted by .

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

At all the "old" houseparties/sessions I’ve been at since 59 or so in or around Dundalk, Co Louth, "spots" or party pieces are(were) part and parcel of the fun.
If someone couldnt come come up with something different, then after a time they weren’t asked to "do a turn". Simple as that. Party pieces ARE a chance to "show off" but with decorum!!! I usually sing and play the fiddle together as it’s the only way I can stay (vocally) in tune.
Peter

Re: Party Pieces and Their Uses and Abuses

Peter
that sounds like quite a feat, seen people dancing and playing fiddle but not singing at the same time.