Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

I’m just curious how everyone switches tunes in a group. The Americans (here in America) tend to stick out their leg, but the Irish/British folks around here tend to hup, although I occasionally see eye contact. I’ve taken to hupping to try to emulate the Irish folks, but with my classical background I’d certainly prefer eye contact. Of course then you have to look at EVERYBODY, which could potentially be a lot of people and that just seems creepy to me.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Sometimes, it’s a wave of the hand.

1 finger upwards for "G", 2 for "D" and so on. With flat keys, the fingers point downwards and "C is a level, neutral wave.

Of course, you need to have a free hand for this sort of thing but moothie players do it a lot. It’s harder for them to shout "Hup", I suppose. :-)

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Eye contact or hupping around here normally. Sometimes a sort of emphasis on the last few notes or a little pause or something, but that’s when people are listening very carefully in an environment where that works.
I try to hup sometimes but I’m not great at it. If I really have to shout out a key or something I sometimes drop a few notes coming into the last few bars of the tune.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

In answer to the question… all of the above. Thinking back on yesterday’s session with 7 other players, our group uses a mix of all and I myself probably did all yesterday. On sets I was leading when everybody was playing I usually would hup (even though I’m a flute player). If there were only three of us playing, eye contact was all that was needed. When playing a planxty or waltz, I mostly lift my foot or nod my head back as hup disturbs the mood of the slower tunes. On a lively set of reels, hup becomes part of the energy in the set.

In general, the foot raising is what’s mostly used in Asheville sessions. I’d learned hup at the Augusta Festival back in the mid-80s and continue using it. I never saw a leg raised until I came to the Swannanoa Gathering in its early years where it seemed to be the norm.

For some reason, it’s easier for me to hup when taking the last breath before the final four bars or so of a tune than it is to stay balanced lifting my leg in the tight circle.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

The group I play with here in Nova Scotia just plays most tunes 3 times through and then on to the next — unless we decide on something a little different for a set. I sometimes see a foot kick up here. I’ve seen that more when I play with musicians in the southwest U.S. — more at "old time" jams where tunes are often played more than 3x through, or at contra dances where you might play the same tune several times before going on to something new for a new part of a dance. Occasionally up here in Nova Scotia, just before we get to the end of 3 x, someone might call out "one more time" if they want to go a bit longer. Hard to do the eye contact with our group as there are usually about 8 to 12 and we can’t always see each other, but that works great if you’re just playing with 3 or 4 others.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

At the sessions I used to go to, it was mostly pre-arranged - conventionally three times through each tune unless otherwise indicated.

I practise fiddle tunes at home with my husband on concertina and have tried to ‘hup’ but somehow, lifting my head momentarily to speak makes me make mistakes!
I don’t think I’ll ever be a proficient ‘hupper’, sadly. :)

Haven’t tried the leg in the air - how long do you have to keep it suspended?

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Often discussed before. Personally I prefer to play where we’re aware of each other. I firmly believe that there will be something in the tune and the way it’s played that signals a change. It might be helpful to call out a key change and let it go at that. It should only take a couple of notes for others to find the tune (and key). A glance to one or two other strong players should be enough. A subtle "hup" could do. The important part is to be rather unobtrusive and that requires that the players be connected through the tune.

To me (note: I’m a Yank and often play Old-Time) the least favorable ideas are the foot-lift and the pre-arranged sets. The foot-lift leads to kicking one another under the table and just seems a bit pedestrian. Pre-arranging sets leads to in-bred sets cutting a rut in the floor and to questions like "what page is that on?". Seems like we’d be playing "at" each other instead of "with" each other.

And Johnny, What’s a "moothie" ? Is it a term I’ve not heard of or a typo? Either way the "3 sharp" ,"2 flat" finger signal works pretty well though I’ve mostly seen it in jazz and for obvious reasons done by the bass or piano.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Mostly, I use "One more time." Since I play flute, thus my mouth is busy, I can also glance at our lead fddler and he will hup for me.

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Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Thanks. I did not know that. My father, gone nearly 50 years now, was one fine "smoothie" player!

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

I definitely prefer the eye contact, and if people aren’t catching it, then a ‘hup’ or calling the key of the next tune tends to happen. For my sake, I dislike being limited to playing a tune 3 times, because I may be enjoying it and wanting it to continue. That’s usually indicated by saying ‘again’, or ‘one more’, but sometimes just a shake of the head if people are looking for eye contact works a bit more seamlessly. And I also dislike always playing tunes in prearranged sets (arranging the set right before you start is OK, I just don’t like it when tunes always get played in the same set - with the exception of some well known sets where the tunes were written to be played together, etc…) And I bristle a bit at the raised leg, but understand that a lot of people do it…

What gets confusing is that some people use the raised leg to mean that they’re finishing the set. (And actually, I’ve seen ‘hup’ used that way too… I’ve also known people that use ‘hup’ for a tune change, and ‘ho’ - or ‘whoa’ for the ending). My preference for ending a set is to do it with the music, and not with verbal or visual cues. Like playing a chord to grab attention, and then giving a different emphasis to the ending so that it’s just musically obvious that you’re coming to the finish…

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Arthur, eye contact with fellow musicians does not need to be creepy if your intentions are clear. Hup works.

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Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

In my part of Massachusetts we hup. I see leg lifting but I can’t help thinking of a dog peeing so I can’t bring myself to do it!

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

My thoughts precisely, fearfeasog. It kinda creeps me out.

Why then does a dog lift his leg when he pees?







Cause if he lifted both of them he’d fall in it!

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Ah Johnny Jay that’s the jazz-players’ way, the finger signals for key changes! It works better IMHO than calling out the key, because D, G, E, and C all have the same vowel sound and if it’s noisy you might not be able to tell them apart. (The potential trouble is us Americans accidentally insulting people when signaling two sharps.)

Probably why people have used "do" "re" "mi" for a thousand years or more.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

And if you want to repeat rather than going on to the next tune or stopping, the jazz way is to tap the top of your head with an open hand, which signals returning to the "head" of the piece.

In the Pipe Band world the Pipe Major (who is conducting the band as well as being a member of the pipe corps) steps into the circle to signal stopping. Not "stepping in" signals going back to the top or repeating the current piece; this can create confusion.

I have seen Pipe Majors use various body-language to emphasise that the band is not stopping the tune: some march in place, some rotate their upper body back and forth. It’s a bit strange. Likewise to emphasise that the band is stopping the tune some Pipe Majors in addition to stepping in also let the blowpipe go from their mouth- saying "whatever you are doing, I’m stopping now!"

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Eye-contact with the strongest back-up player should be all that’s needed, maybe along with a musical hint that things are about to change.

Key changes are a different matter. I find it hard to yell and fiddle at the same time.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

@Richard D Cook: Recognizing the problem of B rhyming with C, D, E and G, I’ve taken to calling keys using the NATO Phonetic Alphabet - thus, Alfa Minor, Delta Major, Golf Major, and so on. When I first did it at my local session one of the musicians, who had some military experience, found it hilarious. The only potential ambiguity is "Echo", which could possibly be interpreted as "play it again" (or, I suppose, if there’s someone named "Charlie" in the room), but when you use the letter with Major/Minor, I’ve found the meaning to be clear.

A question for those who find the pointing-up-or-down system effective: how do you deal with minor keys? If I saw two fingers upwards, my first thought would be D Major, but how then would one call a tune in B Minor? Could a tune in E Dorian also be indicated by two fingers up, or would you use only one finger since the key is similar to E Minor? What about A Mixolydian?

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

The hand signal, i.e. 2 sharps, 3 flats etc., doesn’t mean D major or E flat. It means 2 sharps or 3 flats. It’s up to the other players to be knowledgeable enough about music (Music Theory 101) and aware enough of what’s happening around him/her to figure out what to do with the information. (I’ll probably take a lot of heat for saying this, but) there is an advantage to learning something about music. I can’t see any reason why anyone would resist.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

I’m sure it’s been said before, but a lot of people use towns/counties to avoid the problem of all the letters sounding similar. So Galway, Dublin, Ennis etc… sometimes gets a chuckle when someone is reaching for a random placename and comes out with ballyhaunis or something. Obviously there’s no majors and minors so you have to trust people to figure that one out. Which isn’t generally too hard. There’s a lot more b and e minor and Dorian tunes than b or e major. And if a backer stars out on the wrong track, they ought to realise pretty quickly.
All this presumes the melody player is actually right about the key of course. There are a good few tunes I’d have a hard time categorising in rush.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

The Father Ted method is used sometimes in these parts, based on the exclamations of Father Jack, a character in the Irish TV series. So keys are signalled by cries of Girls! Drink! or Arse! (I guess that would be Ass in some quarters). Fun, though admittedly not comprehensive.

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Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Alfa Minor, Delta Major, Golf Major; Galway, Dublin, Ennis; Golf, Drink, Arse - I didn’t know others had found solutions to this problem. I use Gonad, Doorknob, Elvis, Adenoid, Floorboard - no idea why (except that I’m weird), but at least nobody would confuse these with the title of the next tune.

Re: Hup, leg, eye contact, or pre-arranged

Don’t forget E as in Europe and G as in Gnome!