Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Hi—Just curious about how acceptable it is to suggest Irish tunes when you’re at a session in Scotland. I’m think the ubiquitous Kesh/Morrissions jigs to songs like Raglan Road. Thanks!

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

That’s entirely a matter for the other people at the session. Some sessions will welcome it, others may not.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

You’ll definitely be deported. I have never once played an Irish tune at a session in Scotland. That’s why they let me stay here.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

No problem at all Debbie.

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

I’ve never been to a session in Scotland where Irish tunes aren’t played. I host a session advertised as a Scottish session and if there are no visitors it’s mostly reasonably local tunes that are played. We like when we have Irish visitors and will play lots of Irish tunes. Occasionally we’ll get visitors, not usually Irish, who’ll join the session and when you ask them what kind of tunes they play to include them they’ll say they only know Irish tunes. I have to say, considering they’re in the Hebrides, that gets right up my nose. A bit like visiting Cork, getting your instrument out expecting to play and then telling the locals you only know Scottish tunes. Rude and offensive.

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In fact, they are very often mixed in sets in the sessions I go to in Scotland, and some people would not be able to tell you whether the tunes they were playing were Scottish or Irish! (Present company excepted, who can all “name that tune in one”!)

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Thanks, everyone. Your responses are what I expected, but I wanted to make sure I was right.

The group I’m bringing already has a number of Scottish tunes and songs, and we’re working on adding a few more (including several from the Hebrides since we’ll be there a few day).

I guess I should ask also about etiquette at Scottish sessions. I presume it’s not so different from that of Irish sessions (I have Irish relatives, which is why I’m more familiar with customs there): Play if you’re invited to, if you know the tune and you can keep up; lay out if you aren’t invited, don’t now the tune and can’t keep up; as a visitor, suggest a set only if invited to; be nice, enjoy the conversation, and don’t get stinking drunk and obnoxious. These may seem like stupid or elementary questions, but I’m trying to make sure I understand local customs. I’m traveling with a musician who seems to have a knack for offending local musicians and getting thrown out of sessions (in multiple countries), and I’d like to be armed with enough information to keep myself , that person, and the rest of the folks with me out of trouble (what can I say; I’m Southern. We aim to please, y’all! 😉)

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Sounds like a good set of etiquette criteria, Debbie, but watch your repeat offender closely!
You’ll probably also pick up (or ask) if there is a core leader(s) of the session and suggesting which tunes to play, or whether it’s “jump in” format, or (perhaps more commonly in mixed tunes/songs or all singing sessions) that they go “round the room” giving each person a turn.

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If your “offender” “gets thrown out of sessions in multiple countries”, then it’s probably for a good reason, so expect the same reaction in Scotland.
If you’re the visitor, don’t “jump in”, ever - wait until you are asked. You seem to know the etiquette, Debbie, so you will also know that every session is different. Just use the common sense you obviously have in each situation. Best of luck, hope your visit to Scotland is a memorable one [ for all the right reasons 🙂 ].

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session ~ Random notes…nothing to do w/session ?s

Hope you don’t mind my brief tangent, Debbie. Nothing below is serious. Have a great time in Scotland!

I don’t know about Scotland, or sessions in general for that matter. But I notice locally and in my recent travels that peoples’ emotions and responses are currently at a heightened level. This is purely antecdotal
(but it works for me). I always try to be myself because *I* cannot put everyone at ease believing
I can anticipate their response(s).

Everyday humans surprise me everyday. I accept this as my constant. I go into each social gathering as calm
as I can be without being unnecessarily cautious. I do have a certain routine(s) I have when showing up
in any session. I don’t look for trouble but that does not mean trouble is never aimed at me; sometimes
w/reason though often unreasonably. Alcohol is not a good friend to people in intimate gatherings
held in public space. It’s friendly until it isn’t & then the proverbial shite hits the fan. Factor in
how music attracts folks with a variety of personas & mental states and events can become unpredictable. Or as Jimmy Borsdorf used to say [R.I.P] “to play Irish tunes I am never prepared. Once commited I do what I can, hold on best I can & enjoy the ride.”

“Multiple countries”. Me too! Not kicked out of sessions but people have been offended by *me* over the years
in my stateside (U.S.) and global travels (Ireland, Canada & Central America).
Japan was the most generous & gracious.

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Thanks, everyone. This is helpful. I’ve spent far less time in Scotland than in Ireland, and never have had the chance to go to a Scottish session. Glad to know the etiquette is essentially the same. Yes, I do try to mind my “repeat offender.” Sometimes his offenses have been his own (forcing up the tempo is the most common one); others, not so much. Once, he was told to leave a session for embarrassing the piper by playing a tune the piper didn’t know (he’d been invited to suggest a set). That I put on an overly sensitive piper. Still, he needs a minder, and we’ve got the perfect one going on this trip--a very bossy student who gives him orders like she would a little brother. Kind of fun to watch, I must say.

Thanks again, everyone. I try to be culturally sensitive when I travel; I know Americans don’t have the best reputations for trying to follow local customs when they travel.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

“Once, he was told to leave a session for embarrassing the piper by playing a tune the piper didn’t know (he’d been invited to suggest a set).”

???

Unless you have psychic powers, how are you to know what tunes someone knows or doesn’t know? If asked by session regulars to start a set, you just go for it and hope for the best.

No matter where in the world you are, musicians are all equally as bonkers. That knows no cultural boundaries.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Why on earth are you travelling with someone who offends people and regularly gets kicked out of sessions? They won’t be welcome and their behaviour will affect how your whole group are received.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

It’s been many a year since I was a regular attender of sessions - but I can’t recall ever seeing someone get kicked out of one. It’s not normal. Well, not in Canada, anyway.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

I’ve seen someone kicked out of a session in Scotland, but they were wasted and trying to start a fight. That may have had something to do with it.

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“they were wasted and trying to start a fight”

i get tired of people requesting Dueling Banjos too, but throwing them out is a bit much! (on the other hand, maybe not…)

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

I couldn’t agree more about musicians, DrSilverSpear (myself included, though I’m only a musician by avocation)! I’m leading a university study abroad with this person because we mostly work well together, he’s usually a pretty nice guy, and the music students need to learn about folk music (our program is heavily classical). He just has a talent at getting under the skin of other musicians sometimes (myself included).

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Where in Scotland are you going?

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

We’re starting in Edinburgh. Will be there three days, then to the highlands for 8 days, including 3 on Skye, then back to Glasgow for a couple of days. I’m looking forward to getting back to Glasgow. I really like it there -- and I have a former student who lives there and who knows all the best pubs!

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Oooo, while in Edinburgh see if you can get to Captain’s Bar, they have a hosted ‘round the room’ session every day starting in the afternoon, and if nothing’s going on they’ll likely welcome someone playing 🙂

It’s interesting to read about being thrown out of sessions. I’m just a beginner, but I went to a session with just a few people, got asked to play a tune, an American joined in, sped up and I got completely lost. I thought perhaps this was normal session behavior, but at the time he was very lucky not to get a banjo to the face!

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

I notice some overlap with Irish and Scottish tunes that is rarer than with English ones. One small example of this overlap is The Chieftains playing “Over the Sea to Skye.”

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

There’s lots of overlap.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Yes, and there are still quite a few sessions in Scotland which are just “Irish” anyway although not as many as there used to be.

In Edinburgh, Sandy Bells has probably more Irish music than most other places although I believe The Black Cat and Cask and Barrell are good too.
There used to be a nice laid back Irish session in Aberlady on a Sunday every fortnight but I don’t know if it still happens.

The Captains Bar has been mentioned and there’s also The Royal Oak but you would need to go at certain times. I’m not over keen on either of them and they also like to “allow” and even encourage songs too much for my liking.

However, the second post from Dave sums things up well. Every session is different and some will have more of a “mix” than others. If you are a visitor and invited to start a tune, I’m sure anything you choose to play(within reason) will be respectfully received as long as you don’t try to “hog” the session.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Re etiquette: one thing worth checking out early on is how often each tune is played in a set. In sessions in Scotland it’s usually twice through each tune in my experience, but in Ireland and in Irish sessions in England three times for each tune seems to be the norm. I’d be interested to hear other people’s experiences.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

“Scotland it’s usually twice through each tune”, I’ve heard that before but I’m not sure I’ve ever been to a session where the tune is played just twice - unless it’s 4 parts of more. Three or four times is more common at the sessions i play at - sometimes more.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

It depends on the session but at most of the ones I frequent it’s twice through two part tunes unless someone is trying to pick it up on the fly and then it might be thrice (or even four times). We play old style reels (4 bar parts) thrice. With four parters it’s usually twice except for 2/4 marches where whoever is leading will decide whether to repeat or not. Some tunes are so good that twice is not enough for us, e.g., Jock Broon’s 70th.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Generally, what Borderer says is correct although this will vary from session to session and, maybe, with the musical company who would generally attend the same sessions as yourself.

It’s not uncommon for four part tunes, marches, pipe jigs, longer jigs et to be played only the once. Sometimes even slow airs.
You’ll also find that dance band musicians and those from the “F &A” scene will often play each tune only once. This is often what they do for dances and performance and the practice just “spills over” into the session situation.

Of course, it all depends where you go and, generally, different types of players tend to keep themselves to themselves. However, you DO get some overlap at some of the older Scottish festivals such as Keith, Kirriemuir, Newcastleton etc.

Yes, there are some tunes which I like to play several times although it is usually a “stand alone” piece as opposed to a group of tunes in a set. I’ve also noticed that this tends to happen more with Irish music too.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Just goes to show that you can judge country be country. Some areas of Scotland my average twice through but certainly not in the sessions I go to, neither my regular sessions of occasional ones.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Sorry, “might average”. “or occasional”.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Well, bogman, I’m in the Borders so perhaps not very typical of Scotland in general. But I’ve seen the twice through thing in other areas too.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

From what I’ve heard of Glasgow, I’d be careful what pubs I took my “talented” companion into … !

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Fortunately, I have a former student in Glasgow who’s best friends with another professor from my university who will also have a study abroad group there when we’re there. So, since they’re both Glaswegians (hope I spelled that right), they’re going to arrange a pub tour for us while we’re there. I figure since one’s a footballer and the other’s a school teacher, they’ll be able to handle the music professor!

I’m glad several of you all mentioned that some sessions only do tunes twice. So, I suppose it makes sense to listen and see what the folks playing are doing before jumping in. Thanks, y’all!

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

The irish session I go to in Glasgow plays everything twice through most of the time.
There is a mix of Irish and scottish tunes, depending on who is there. A good mix of types of tunes too: reels to jigs to hornpipes to mazurka to waltzes and airs.

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Where are these sessions in Glasgow where people play tunes twice? The ones I go to, they play them three or four or however many times seems like a good idea (or in my case, as many times as it takes to think of the next tune in the set).

Now and then you get someone with a dance band or pipe band background who shows up at the session and plays 2/4 marches etc only once. It confuses the hell out of everyone else who expects that a four-part tune will get played at least twice, if not three times.

Oh, boy…. going out to Glasgow pubs with a footballer…. You might end up in some of the more interesting ones. Better you than me.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

Wow. Sounds chaotic.

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Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

And there are some forgetful people around, and others who who can’t count, and miss out a repeat in a tune that’s usually AA BB, or then maybe play BBB for good measure! Not worth getting cross about, but just keep listening hard and “follow the leader” - if there is one! (And I’m sure it doesn’t just happen in Scotland!)

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“…I’m sure it doesn’t just happen in Scotland!”

No, short-term amnesia is an international, interracial, age- and gender-non-specific phenomenon… although it tends to increase with the level of intoxication.

Re: Irish trad tunes at a Scottish session

“(…)but in Ireland and in Irish sessions in England three times for each tune seems to be the norm.”

In my experience, the “norm” is that no session is identical. The number of tunes in a set, the number of times each tune is played, to what extent that depends on the basic duration of the tune…