About time this old one came up again….

About time this old one came up again….

Just been listening to the recent collections of old material, like "Round the House and Mind the Dresser", "It was Mighty…" and so on. And it occurs to me that players in days gone by played a much wider variety of tune types than what you’ll hear in sessions of today, with their wall-to-wall reels.
Don’t get me wrong, I like my reels. And jigs and hornpipes. But I also like polkas, mazurkas, germans, slides…even schottisches, airs, barndances and marches.
Apart from the odd one, you won’t too many of these "old" tune types played at today’s sessions. And they’re meant to be reflecting Irish "Traditional" Music. Also, I think listeners like a variety rather than just reel after reel being reeled out.
Hummmm…I feel better for that already.
Thoughts?
Have I got it wrong? Am I yet again courting controversy?
Do I care?

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Find a session that plays more than jigs and reels or start them at a session yourself. That’s really all there is to it.

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You’re comparing the music on 2 commercially released recordings with the sessions of today [ you don’t say where ] , but there is no way in which a meaningful comparison can be made. The recordings on "Round The House…" span over 50 years, and include music recorded in the UK, the USA as well as Ireland. The "Mighty / Great" recordings were made between the early 1950s and the early 2000s in London.
"Apart from the odd one, you won’t too many of these "old" tune types played at today’s sessions." Where are you referring to ?
"And they’re meant to be reflecting Irish "Traditional" Music". Says who ? Irish sessions I’ve been to are usually a lot of friends getting together to play music they like. Not necessary to "reflect" anything.
"Also, I think listeners like a variety rather than just reel after reel being reeled out." Again, in the Irish sessions I’ve played in, we rarely give a sh*t about "the listeners".
These are my thoughts. I’m glad you feel better.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Thirty-five years ago in England there were many players who were not Irish playing the then very fashionable Irish tunes which they had recently discovered and they picked up sets from books and recordings and played Shetland tunes thinking they were Irish because an Irish group had recorded them - and I remember someone saying to me: "They wouldn’t like this in Dublin because they just play reels" and when I went to a session in Dublin I found they were indeed just playing reels.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

With you on this, Winston! I also like a bit of variety in style and tempo, but then as Kenny says, you maybe have to go with the flow in a session. But yes, I do love hornpipes, mazurkas, slow airs and anything but wall-t0-wall reels or jigs.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

The answer is as the second poster advises…. "Find a session that plays more than jigs and reels or start them at a session yourself"

It’s something I’ve been told here many’s a time. :-)

Of course, it’s not always easy to find a session that suits you perfectly. There’s flaws to be found even in the best of them. Also starting sessions isn’t necessarily an ideal solution either. You have to get other people to want to come to your kind of session. Not always easy when they might rather be playing jigs and reels.

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Kenny, it’s Danny here, hello from SE London. I am my latest incarnation as Winston Smith. You’re quite right to attempt to pick holes in my assertions. But of course I think some of what you said above is wrong.

Where? is not just The Blythe Hill Tavern, where this evening, yes, many reels were played, but as were numerous jigs, hornpipes and some polkas - but also "where" refers to some other local sessions.

So, if/when session players, as a bunch of mates, just start just playing what they communally want, it would then just become wall-to-wall reels? With a few token jigs chucked in? Without giving a shining sh!te about what listeners want to hear?

We as guests in the landlords pub get free drinks and pizzas, and we attract a fair-sized following, who buy drinks at the bar. The Blythe is known for miles around as the local Irish pub - and I do not mean themed Irish. In fact, one of the few surviving *pubs* as opposed to trendy gastropubs. And it is in our landlord’s interest to maintain this state of affairs.

And yes we (or at least I) do consciously try to make it more interesting for listeners. Not just a case of battering out sets of reel after reel. So a few songs come out as do slow airs, marches and polkas. But other local sessions I have attended seem to fall back on knocking out the reels and the odd set of jigs. ie, what they learned at their local comhaltas. The easy way to run a session and get everyone playing together.
That’s my view anyway.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Danny,

I’d have thought that a "bunch of mates(both sexes)" getting together for a few tunes would generally be more likely to give each other a chance to contribute something different.

In my experience, the "wall to wall reels with a few jigs thrown in" tend to be mostly found in some of the bars etc where the sessions are mainly comprised of paid musicians and it often seems to be a "heads down, no nonsense" type of approach. To those involved and the management, it may actually be what they perceive that the punters want….whether they do or not is another question.

I realise that your session is not quite like that and will still have an informal feel to it even although you are getting free drink etc and probably(?) some form of remuneration. It’s this less rigid structure which I think lends itself to the opportunity for more variety, I’d suggest. Not that I’ve been to your session but I’ve been to others over the years which are probably similar.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Danny, Kenny wasn’t asking where are you playing. Or were you, Kenny? I think he was asking where are "today’s sessions" which you are referring to in the OP.

Ben

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Nostalgia’s not as good as it used to be.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: punters will nod their heads along and maybe even clap to a reel or jig, but they’ll really start moving their feet when you start a set of polkas.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

What is a punter, again? I know what it means on the forum but I never actually use it or ever hear anyone saying it about someone else in a bar.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

A punter is a customer, usually in a somewhat derogatory way. When you’re talking about music, "punter" would be your average Joe, probably more into "Dirty Old Town" than the distinctions between a Donegal vs East Galway reel.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

I’ll be honest - Punter has never been a particularly derogatory term, when I’ve encountered it around Scotland… just means customers… I think it does entail the idea of non-musician “somewhat” as bigscotia says!

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Hi Danny - there’s quite a bit more information in your second post that wasn’t there in your first. What was it I posted that was wrong ?
So you’re talking about Irish sessions in London then. For your assertion to be true - and you are in a far better position to judge that than me, I freely admit - then you would need to compare the sessions you’re playing in today with the same [ if they existed ] or similar sessions of 30, 40, 50 years ago in London. My main point is that to compare what is played in your sessions currently with 2 commercial recordings is fairly meaningless, unless you know for a fact that the "Mighty / Great" recordings - made in London - are representative of the music which was being played in sessions , in London, at the time.
As has been pointed out above, if your session suffers from "wall-to-wall reelitis", as you say, and you think that that is a bad thing, then it’s up to you to do something about it yourself.
If you’re getting free beer and pizzas from the management, then you are under some obligation to keep the "punters" happy and entertained, I agree. Not something that’s affected sessions here in Aberdeen very often.
Good to hear from you and know you’re still here, and still out playing.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Here, in the centre of civilisation, they are called ‘billies’ (Billy Bunter).
But random non-playing people at a session are irrelevant. A session is not a performance to entertain the billies, it’s for the musicians to play the tunes.

Also, I want to comment on listening to ‘old recordings’. I do not think it is good thing to reference other players’ past moments frozen in vinyl or digital media. The music only sounds right in the here and now, being heard and played live right next to you in the room by other musicians plus the extra insight gleaned in any short discussion about a tune between set: the living tradition; tunes played very slightly different every single time.
I understand this is a troublesome viewpoint for those trying to learn their chops isolated in some dreadful American city or on a farm in Armenia or wotteffah. One has to learn tunes by rote from actual interactive other live musicians at your local sesh not from reheated recordings of bands from fifty years ago. Listening to and learning from some bloke’s recorded version over and over again means that particular one off version becomes artificially ingrained with that one off time’s groove and ornamentation et cetera and not the traditional way of picking up tunes.
I know this is a dodgy subject for some.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Probly just me having a good ole moan. I appreciate Kenny saying if you don’t like it, do something about it, but I wouldn’t be happy leading set after set of "non-reels" that no-one knew. And I like a session where everyone gets a chance to lead on something. And while I’m on this point, I think a session led by just a central clique of players, or one player, is not a healthy one.
BTW last night at the Blythe was a cracking sesh!

Re: About time this old one came up again….

London is blessed with many great sessions including Catford!!!

Re: About time this old one came up again….

1984 was a good year for tunes.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Jeez— been diddlying for over fifty years, lived in Ireland a great part of my life, played with the sainted Kenny, and I am still finding that there are recordings I’ve never fully appreciated. Like Round the House and Mind the Dresser. Haven’t listened to it in forever. Wonderful collection. Thanks for the reference. I’ll be happy to send the file on to anybody who asks for it. Message me through this site.

According to Yhall House, "One has to learn tunes by rote from actual interactive other live musicians at your local sesh not from reheated recordings of bands from fifty years ago. Listening to and learning from some bloke’s recorded version over and over again means that particular one off version becomes artificially ingrained with that one off time’s groove and ornamentation et cetera and not the traditional way of picking up tunes."

So if you’ve learned, by rote, from this recording, some of the tunes just as they were played, then you’d be learning an "off version" and…. and…. what’s the problem? We live a rather peripatetic life-style. I often play, in the course of a year, in perhaps a dozen sessions, in the USA and in Ireland. I continually encounter players who have very different settings than I have. These players from "some dreadful American city," or in the back of beyond in Ireland, would be stars in a more refined urban setting. They have their own unique approach to the music. YH sounds like the parochial New Yorker who thinks that what is outside of his experience is beyond the pale of civilized discourse.

Seamus Connolly, who some of us think isn’t such a bad fiddler, tells of learning much of his music as a child (in Co Clare, that most sainted place of traditional music) from 78 records his da would bring home. He would listen to the record until he learned whatever it was (let’s say a jig), then play it as a polka, then a reel, then a hornpipe, etc, until he knew it backwards and forwards. Maybe even change key. The following week another record would appear and he’d do the same thing. It’s a good thing for the world that Seamus never had YH to tell him that he was applying the wrong pedagogical technique to learning the music.

It’s simple, YH. You learn the tune, by rote, from “some bloke’s” recording, with all the “off” rhythms and ornaments, and when it’s time to play the tune in the session and someone plays it differently, then both of you adjust to each other. It actually makes you a better player for all that. You already know this. Every single musician I have ever played with has at some point learned directly from a record. I won’t go on. Just to say that learning a tune is a lot like skinning a cat. No need to be so dogmatic about this stuff.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Hi Danny, good to hear the Blythe session is still going.

I’ve only been to one other session in London than yours (counting all your local SE sessions as one) and the first thing they asked was to give them a Scottish tune.

So the openings are there but you might be playing it on your own.

Kenny:
"free beer and pizzas from the management … not something that’s affected sessions here in Aberdeen very often"

Heh. I got cheese and biscuits once and said , "Wow, tapas!" and Señor Broon replied, " Aye, feckin tappers alright"

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Going stronger than ever, Bren.
David, my take on Yaalhouse’s post was he was saying something kinda similar to what you said, or maybe parallel, or at least complementary, but he just said it differently. YH certainly goes to sessions where there are many high quality players, playing tunes with many interpretations, so I’d be surprised if he didn’t adapt as you suggest.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

"… I’d be surprised if he (Yhaalhouse) didn’t adapt as you suggest." That’s good to hear you say, Danny.

"Here, in the centre of civilisation, they are called ‘billies’ (Billy Bunter)."
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDXmAer_ECo

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

The "old one [coming] up again" reminds me of the Lovecraft story. The Music of Erich Zann. It does involve a fiddler playing weird, haunting, but not unpleasant melodies from memory, and later, frenzied dance tunes. ITM content: Perhaps the (apparently) French narrator was hearing unfamiliar sean nos airs and later seemingly endless medleys of reels.

. http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/fiction/mez.aspx

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Speaking of old (non-reel) melodies, I quite liked this rendition of an old Irish tune. In memory of Phil Lynott and with greatest respect to Mike Oldfield, should electric guitars ever be allowed access to trad sessions? After Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull played flute (after a fashion.) Just joking!……
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EntKyx4OZc

Re: About time this old one came up again….

So… when was the last time your local session played a string of mazurkas?

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Last night, Thursday.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Mazurkas… Here in Hobart, practically every week.

We also play marches, hornpipes, slides, slip jigs, waltzes, occasionally the odd slow air, songs now and then…

Oh! And we play lots of reels and jigs too!

All the best

Brian x

Re: About time this old one came up again….

I should clear up RE: "punter," derogatory might not be the best word. Dismissive is probably better, especially in a trad session setting. As in, "the barman has us play the Wild Rover and Molly Malone to keep the punters happy" or "we play for ourselves, not the punters." I’ve never heard the word used in a highly positive sense, usually it’d range from indifferent to dismissive (at least as I’ve heard it used).

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Re "favourites" requested, unless we really want to do it, our standard reply is the polite "Well, we’d like to, but the only man who knows the words properly is away this week. Are you around next week?"

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Or it’s, “Will you play something by the Beatles?”
“No, they never play any of ours”.

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Just for the record, Ian Anderson is a brilliant flute player.And, for what it’s worth, his Cap in Hand pibroch was my first introduction to the form.

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And, furthermore, Richard Thompson does a great job playing Flowers of the Forest on electric guitar, using distortion to evoke the sound of pipes.

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Richard, Ian, Paul, Ringo, Mike, and Paddy are each & all welcome to join our session; if they so desire.
Seats are first come first serve. We can accomodate late comers, but it’s good to come early to meet and converse with whoever shows. Mostly we’re acoustic, though amplification is fine/acceptable if it doesn’t overpower other players. And we don’t play only reels and jigs. Except on nights when we do.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Ready, steady, key change….! Paul is on "Mull of Kintyre" but the the bagpipes come marching down the beach - flat keys everyone! (And Pardon, what was that you said about AMPLIFICATION?)

Re: About time this old one came up again….

We have a bass player, Trish.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

At the only session I have available to me, it’s at a friend’s house, we play loads of jigs and reels, and since our host is an avid collector of 78’s we play a lot of those very old recordings. There are two others, one a regular the other lives out of state, who are very familiar with those 100 year old records and discussion often evolves around those records, what they did, we do. And there are some great old tunes that you don’t come across often these days.

Relevant to this discussion, I’ve been pushing hornpipes into the mix since we started two years ago, then one of the other guys started, with three new guys who didn’t know how few hornpipes we play in the mix, suddenly we’re on a hornpipe spree. Two different Murphy’s, Tailors Twist, Cliff’s and The Hawk along with many others. At the end of this set of hornpipes one of the guys starts something that none of the rest of us knew, realizing he was solo he stopped and started apologizing. I found no need for the apology and said so, saying how are we going to know what your favorite tunes are if you don’t share them, and you won’t know that we don’t all ready know them or won’t make a note and learn the tune.

Later the unthinkable happened, one of the new guys started slip jigs! Wholly Mholly, except for myself the regulars only play double jigs. What a blast that was, I hope we can do it again next month.

My thought has always been learn tunes that fascinate me and when they are solid play them at session. As a Piper my thoughts don’t wander down Fiddle Tune Alley much. The pipe tunes I toss out have occasionally become local session standards, and we now have a great selection of hornpipes, I’ve never had anyone challenge me about tossing out new tunes, more often it’s asking name and/or source. Just play what you want and enjoy.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

David - thanks for the Steph Geremia clip. Brilliant young woman.
All - I try not to use the term "punter" - I feel it’s slightly derogatory. Someone listening may be a quantum mechanic or a genetic engineer, you just don’t know. Maybe "listener" or "non-playing session participant" would be kinder.
5SF - Ian Anderson certainly has a unique flute style, but I wouldn’t compare him favourably to the likes Tansey Molloy or Crawford. Or even James Galway. But that’s my opinion.
Brian - I have started up sets of mazurkas, I love them. Other players know them but rarely start up the set. Must introduce Pearl O’Shaughnessy’s barn dances into our sesh.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

If punter refers to patrons I don’t consider that derogatory. Listener certainly isn’t offensive from my perspective. I asked about the p-word because I only know it from here. On the forum I don’t think any member would use it to *describe themself. Again, I’ve never heard it used except on the internet.

Steph is a brilliant fluter.

* for instance if a poster was present in a pub where they were not playing. "I was not a player that night.
I was a punter."

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Ben - the term "Punter" on this side of the pond, from my perspective, first of all means a person who "punts" a bet on a horse in a gambling shop, so they are therefore, by definition, almost always losers - but generally it usually means some sad old onlooker on life. Not enough zest to participate. A loser. That’s why I don’t like using the term for people who engage in listening to our playing. Because they aren’t losers. They are engaging in an unique living music experience. There ye go.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Danny, I am familiar with the betting term. But I have never heard it used to refer to someone in a bar who isn’t betting (aside from thesession.org). Are you saying it’s implied when musicians use it to refer to listeners? i.e. it does not refer simply to patrons. I understand why you don’t use it, Danny. Thank you for saying that.
Ben

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

I give up.

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Sorry, Winston. I didn’t mean to upset you.

I appreciate the OP’s perspective. I appreciate that for him there are connotations derived from his familiarity with a term which I never knew before coming to this forum. It is impossible for me to fully appreciate the deeper meaning of this term. To me it is an ambiguously defined term. I ask because I am not experienced in the connotations and it’s impossible to know what one is implying when one says "punter".

Ben

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Not upset. Just couldn’t be bothered. Don’t take it personally.

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I also heard on the news last night that Jeremy Punt is our longest serving health secretary which is a bit of a punt right enough. :-P

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I can assure you that right here in the middle of the cosmos, the word PUNTER is for all clients, customers, patients, passengers, diners, purchasers, tourists and any other paying or non paying onlooker. And it does have a slightly ironic dismissive connotation.
Meanwhile, how many three twos do you play at your session? At the Irish session: nil but at the English sesh: lots. There are very few Bhangra tunes at either yet.

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Thank you, everyone.

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I couldn’t agree with Unionpiper more, Hornpipes are great tunes to play, listen and dance to, The Cage and, of course, The Hawk by James Hill are two of my favourites - they’re considered to be Northumbrian Bagpipe tunes by the way, even though I believe James Hill was a Scotsman. Let’s not forget that these tunes we love and play are Dance Tunes, all tunes, including reels, should be played at a speed which allows dancers to express themselves in their chosen art and the musician is just a more interesting rhythm machine! Of course, in the pub at a session when no-one is dancing the rules change, but let’s not forget the music’s purpose or it may lose it’s beauty.

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I don’t hear too many "Two Steps" in sessions although, arguably, they’re just jigs with key changes. :-P

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And "punters" may include those people of very discriminating taste who hang around bars in the hope of hearing some good music, "taking a punt" on the probability or otherwise: they may indeed be musicians themselves who have chosen to leave their instruments at home overseas rather than taking a punt on letting Ryanair smash them up!
;-)) Just never assume……
(and thanks for one of my favourite Robin Laing songs, Johnny Jay!)

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Kenny said:

“Again, in the Irish sessions I’ve played in, we rarely give a sh*t about "the listeners".”

Yes, yes and triple yes Kenny. And if it upsets anyone, the same sentiments apply.

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Meant to say…

…if <i>that</i> upsets anyone.

Damn this lack of editing function.

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

It’s surprised that the word punter is used in such a dismissive way - having worked for years in bars in Scotland it’s just common parlance for a customer - it’s clearly a slippery word.

I’m assuming the use is also non-pejorative in Ireland…

Well Language is Use as Wittgenstein said - whatever that means…

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

I was very surprised to hear punter is used to imply, "…generally it usually means some sad old
onlooker on life. Not enough zest to participate. A loser." I realise it is used dismissively by some
though apparently not by all.

Trish, thanks for your earlier post, yesterday. You made my day!

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Re: About time this old one came up again….

Well I think Yhaal House got closest to the definition I’d use, tho’ not so sure , like Choons, that it is meant to be dismissive, even in an ironic way.

Re: About time this old one came up again….

Sometimes, it may be used in a slightly dismissive way and the implication is that casual listeners, regular pub goers don’t quite understand or fully appreciate what the musicians are doing. In fact, they might be more interested in the football on the TV.

I don’t think of a non musician in a bar as " some sad old onlooker on life" with "Not enough zest to participate". He or she may just not be that interested.

Generally, however, I don’t think that musicians in a session would look down on "punters" even although they might see themselves as having different outlooks and priorities.