Unwelcome Instruments

Unwelcome Instruments

My first was a bodhran and the scorn and derision I experienced soon ended that.
My second was guitar but it seems it doesn’t really fit especially if there are other chord instruments playing.
My next was a mandolin and though seemingly acceptable it was totally inaudible so that ended that.
Then Octave Mando….same problem!
My third was a Tenor Banjo…see point one but even worse!
My next was a bouzouki and I was back to point 2 with the added criticism "well it’s not really ITM is it!"

I give up. I’m going back to playing in rock bands!
Oh….and I’m also opening a shop to sell all the rear I bought!

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‘gear’….not ‘rear’ (I am definitely NOT selling that!)

You can’t count too. :)

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Unwelcome Instruments or Unwelcome musician ?
I’m amazed to read this. Where is this session ?

I have seen rolling eyes when a newbie rocks into a session and simply can’t play (but thinks they can), but not this level of snobbery towards pretty standard instruments.

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Yes, too much snobbery these days in "ScottsIrish Music".

Next thing, they’ll be telling us that "the dots" are not welcome either.

:-)

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All those instruments are welcome in sessions provided the musician knows how to play said instrument.

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Either your local trad players are particularly inflexible or you need a thicker skin (…I’m talking neither about your bodhrán nor your banjo). If they’ve caused someone to give up (and I hope your comment is just hyperbole) in the name of preserving the tradition, they’ve shot themselves in the foot.

I see you are in the Manchester area, which, by reputation, has a lot of sessions to choose from. There’s certainly a place for pure, unaccompanied melody playing but surely the city that has produced such cutting edge players as Michael McGoldrick, Dezi Donelly and John Joe Kelly must have some sessions with a more permissive ethos. Or did The Stone Roses, Oasis et al permanently stigmatise the guitar in Manchester trad circles?

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The Antagonistic Undecagonstring, unless of course they know how to play it.

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Over what time scale did these rejections occur?

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I have been to a few sessions in the area and whilst not a paragon of technical prowess am not too shabby at playing.

As for having a thicker skin…one can only take so many cold shoulders, snide comments and outright rudeness / snobbery!

There is one session where I feel welcome but have still received some ‘friendly’ comments.

I suppose it may be because I wouldn’t, myself, criticise someone else. I just like it when people get together to play whatever they play.

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Anyway not to worry.

I bought a Hurdy-Gurdy and am heading off the the local Bluegrass session on Tuesday!

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I have a harpejji. Haven’t learned to play it yet and it’s unlikely to ever go to a session. I am yet another another victim of IAS (Instrument Acquisition Syndrome).

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>"I just like it when people get together to play whatever they play."

Of course, there’s more structure/formality inherent in ITM.

Your instincts to hit the bluegrass/folk jams may be the right move - although expectations at some of those are formal as well - but generally more amenable to chordal strumming.

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With some instruments they can be unwelcome because of sheer size, especially if there’s more than one of them! (Memories of 3 full-size double basses trying to be spannered into a session!)
I wouldn’t take my keyboard to a session, as it’s also full-size and takes up a lot of space, and some people don’t like them in sessions anyway, tho they’re great for dance music.
Bodhrans: one at a time only, and then only for tunes where it suits, and if played in perfect timing: not for airs!
Clarinet frowned upon in Bluegrass but eventually accepted when they heard how well the guy fitted in to the music.
Could add to the list "unwelcome instrument cases": some people have no consideration and can’t tuck them away tidily, putting them in chairs which may be needed for later arrivals.

Had to look up harpejji: never heard of it: looks formidable!

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ah yes, the famed bluegrass staple, the hurdy gurdy.

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….and then sometimes it just works e.g. Crooked Still…Guitar, Banjo, Double Bass and…… Cello! Playing Bluegrass WOW!

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Sounds to me you need to decide what instrument you want to play and find a session that suits you. Sessions aren’t one fits all.

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Could be a new thread…..most unusual instrument in ITM which actually worked?

Crumhorn?
Ocarina?
Lute?
Cow Bell?

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Thanks bogman … some instruments seem to be universally despised in my experience.

I tried other intruments in an attempt to ‘fit in’ but seems my choices are poor for the reasons outlined!

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Surely playing a melody instrument would be the easiest answer? Some people dislike the banjo but it certainly isn’t despised, I particularly like it! Bodhran certainly has its problems as decent players are outnumbered probably 100 to 1. Chord instruments can be a problem as many sessions have a host already playing chords and unless you’re good enough you follow him there’s going to be two sets of chords. You wouldn’t have two simultaneous tunes so it’s little wonder visiting chords players aren’t always welcome. I’d be most surprised if you couldn’t find a session to play tunes on the banjo though!

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You are quite right bogman in what you say though I get the distinct impression that unless it is violin, flute or box you are on thin ice wherever you go!

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> unless it is violin, flute or box you are on thin ice wherever you go!

do make sure it’s the right _sort_ of box though - who knows what would happen if you turned up at one of those sessions with a piano accordion! or a silver flute, for that matter…

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Mandolin (I play one in sessions) — If it was "totally inaudible" then you need to work on your technique, or find a better mandolin, or find a session with fewer participants. I manage to play mandolin and be heard well enough to kick off tunes among a group of 5 fiddlers, one guitar, one whistle, and occasionally one player of smallpipes. Or another small session with 3 fiddlers, one concertina, and one guitar. I avoid the over-large sessions where yes, mandolin can disappear. A resonator mandolin is an option for more volume, but I’ve avoided it because I don’t love the tone.

Octave mandolin (I play one, not in sessions) — The tone is somewhat dark and doesn’t "cut" well through the other instruments. It’s very close in timbre and pitch to a guitar, and there is almost always a guitar player in local sessions. So it tends to disappear. Very nice to play at home, though.

Guitar (I play one, not in sessions) — A good choice if you’re the only guitar player in the session (and know what you’re doing). With rare exceptions, multiple guitar players tend to create chaos when their chord choices and rhythms clash. A difficult instrument for sessions, unless you’re lucky enough to be "the regular" guitar player for the group. Another instrument I enjoy playing mainly at home..

I don’t have experience with the other instruments, but I wouldn’t think bouzouki (which "cuts" a little better than OM) or tenor banjo would be a problem, unless you’re not accomplished enough yet for the level of playing in a session.

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There’s a woman in Van who plays ocarina at sessions. It’s a perfectly good instrument for ITM but it is limited because you have only the notes of one scale on it.

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Bodhran playing is like wearing makeup, perfume, athletic body deodorant, or eating during a meeting, or chewing gum, etc: if ppl notice it, it’s too much.

Also, nobody gives a crap about fancy bodhran things like fast fills and rim-shots. Your mission as a bodhran play is to inaudibly lock that beat down.

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Connical bore is right…technique and instrument can make a difference.

I don’t think there is a problem for me there though. Sat next to a couple of box players on one side and violin on another I may as well not be playing.

Perhaps it’s just my perspective? If I was sat opposite myself I may be able to hear the mandolin …. I just can’t hear what I am playing.

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> If they’ve caused someone to give up (and I hope your comment is just hyperbole) in the name of preserving the tradition

Given that the OP has tried a number of perfectly normal instruments and received adverse comments, allegedly, about all of them, one wonders if the common element with all these instruments is in fact the problem and this is therefore a case where the above quote is not necessarily true.

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…it also raises another point though…how good to you have to be to be welcome?
Surely a session ought to cater for all comers otherwise it becomes somewhat eleitist?
If the best way to learn a tune is hear it then play it surely some slips or mistakes should be acceptable?
Or is it expected that you are at least good to expert before you are welcome to join in?

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I love the "Shakey Egg" for all its versatility… and let me tell you I think I’m pretty damned handy with it!
I do sometimes wonder why though (after a good shaking) I get these strange menacing looks.

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"is it expected that you are at least good to expert before you are welcome to join in?"

At a lot of sessions, yeah.

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Calum is also right …..there is a common element.
However the comments have been about the actual instruments not the way they are being played!

I have heard the same said about others playing the same instruments very well in my opinion and you wouldn’t need to look to far to find similar comments on most forums.

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….shaky egg….that’s my next purchase!

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"…it also raises another point though…how good to you have to be to be welcome?"

That’s easy. You have to be good enough that your presence adds to the music and makes it better for everyone else. If you are the only one who enjoys your contribution you probably shouldn’t be there.

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"…it also raises another point though…how good to you have to be to be welcome?"

That, too, varies from session to session. There are all types of sessions, and many of them that are at a higher level don’t tend to encourage all levels of play, and for that matter, newcomers until they prove themselves to be worthy of playing there. And that’s OK, especially if there are other sessions around. But many sessions encourage newcomers and different levels of play… And that’s great!

I also wonder if you’re falling prey to being slagged and not picking up on the friendly aspects of that. I learned real quickly that banjos are fun for people to target with their slagging, and learned to just throw it back at them in one way or another. If they’re slagging you, that means they like you. If they’re scowling and whispering behind your back, then maybe that’s not the session for you, but that doesn’t mean that all sessions aren’t for you…

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"Surely a session ought to cater for all comers otherwise it becomes somewhat eleitist?"

Absolutely not. There are beginner sessions, song sessions, even sheet music sessions. Why can there not be sessions for people who know the music and can play it well? It’s not elitist, it’s human nature. Your favourite player is not going to go to a session every week to plod through Harvest Home backed by five bodhrans and three sets of chords. People naturally want to play with people roughly at their own level. Same as with sports, dramatics, art etc, etc. Almost all good players are happy to occasionally play with beginners or folk that don’t know what they’re doing, but if all sessions are free for alls then better players simply won’t go to sessions at all and the only place to see them will be at concerts. What a loss that would be. There are sessions suited to mostly everybody and that’s the way it should be.

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Here’s another point about mandolins in sessions. You’re surrounded by sustaining instruments while playing melody on an instrument with very little sustain, and not as intrinsically loud as a tenor banjo. But that initial "ping" of the note attack can still be heard by others, probably more than you think. You have to train yourself to hear only that "ping" of the attack while playing in a session, and not expect the mandolin to sound like it does when practicing at home.

@Fizzit: If you’re a good shakey egg player, then you must be that one in a hundred who understands the physics — how you have to move your hand just slightly ahead of the beat, so the little beads can catch up. Inertia, you know. I was in a band once with a very good lady singer who was also a very bad shakey egg enthusiast. She never got this right. She always moved her hand instinctively right on the beat, so the "chick" sound was always behind the beat. It drove me mad, really messed up the band’s sound.

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OK so I am feeling somewhat more enlightened.

Some really good points especially about sessions made here and there are some sessions I don’t go to any more which shows that were not right for me (or me right for them).

It’s not easy getting into this genre and though I love tunes the session dynamics are sometimes hard to fathom.

It may be that sessions are not for me and I should just enjoy what I do in the comfort of my home.

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You have to get on with the uilleann pipes, they’re unwelcome in everything outside of Irish music so you’d have a good chance of being welcome in ITM.

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heheh, my comment about the hurdy gurdy was at least a little tongue in cheek. one shows up at our session, and it’s great for certain tunes. and if you are the rushad eggleston of the hurdy gurdy, i’m sure you’ll be welcome lots of places, too. :)

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There is a pipes workshop near here and I’ve seriously considered it…..however as my wife already considers banjo grounds for divorce I think I would be taking my life in my hands if I did!

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Your picking sounds fine to my ear - although I notice you have no recordings of any jigs or reels - not saying you should, but that’s mostly what you get at sessions - but it sounds like you have the ability, if you’ve learned the tunes. The guitar-chording, though, might be a bit much for a more refined, "Chieftain-y" session - not a criticism, just saying it would be a bit in-your-face in some contexts.

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Thanks meself…I really appreciate the feedback. I think the track you mean is my bouzouki recorded the day after I bought it so it was somewhat overenthusiastic!

Subsequently I have realised good bouzouki playing is much more subtle…..I’m working on it!

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To me its not sooooo much the instruments, but the sensitivity of the player to this music.

If a guitarist uses standard tuning and plays three chord trick shapes for everything, or thumps a bodhran, or just plays too loud, then its a real drag. A dreadnought guitar is quite loud, and an Irish session is not so we can hear the guitar.

The melody of the tunes have to be given priority, and in a session the magic can be easily drowned out, by someone who hasn’t spent 20 years learning to play the tunes, but really wants to join in, and thinks the bodhran is a) easy and b) entitles them to a seat.

On the other hand if guitarists/accompanists/bodhran players understand this, and that they need to play quieter, no no, much quieter, and for jigs they can’t strum 2:4 ( bum-chk ! ) , and if they can play quieter, if they use an open tuning ( or partial chords ) and learn which chords are needed where, in each tune….. and play quieter….then they might get a different response.

Denis cahill’s sensitivity to Martin Hayes……. that quiet, that much space for the melody player to do their thing, that gets you a seat.

Pat

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I agree with meself, the instruments you have described are common in sessions. Do you play reels and jigs? They are the session bread and butter a lot of sessions I go to it would be 90% reels and jigs at a guess.

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Good advice again folks.

Yeah I mostly play jigs and reels … the recordings I made were just for my own amusement.

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How’s your flute playing? i can’t imagine that would be unwelcome at sessions.

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Above all, the hammered dulcimer. Although fine in a duo or trio.

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There are other things one can (legally) do with a guitar at ITM sessions apart from chords. There are these things called "tunes", you know. Bert Weedon promised to teach us one every day as I remember.

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Actually I have been a somewhat acomplished flautest in my youth (RNCM Grade 7 distinction) but have never played Irish tunes on it. Seems to be a very different discipline!

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OMG yes the hammer dulcimer. i was at a session in Denver and there were TWO of those. One player did stunning backing and the other played melody. Very cool.

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Sousaphone anyone: yes or no? Like the double basses I mentioned before - if they can get in the door!

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Sousaphone…..excellent trish !!!

Though I was in a session where there was a trumpet player.

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Timpani anyone….at least they are tuneable!

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i was at a festival session once where someone had brought his… thing… that looked like a cross between a clarinet and a wooden trumpet. i have no idea what it actually was, but it seemed to be as loud as 10 trumpets and drowned out an entire pub full of instruments whenever he played anything.

so probably don’t take one of those to a session.

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John was playing bombarde at the time of that song, [ and before then ], but not any kind of pipes. The other instrument would have been Chris Parkinson’s melodeon.
Must be around 20 years since I saw John last. He came to a Sunday night session we had in Aberdeen at the time, with the rest of "The House Band". It came to closing time and we were asked to wind things up. John thought that a set with the bombarde would clear the bar in short order. Unfortunately it had the opposite effect with people piling in to see what the instrument was. They loved it.

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i think you’re right, AB, the photo on the Wikipedia article for it does look rather similar. i should say that the instrument by itself was fine and the guy seemed able to play it well enough, it was just way too loud for a session.

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Bombardes are beautiful - in the ear of some beholders!
Tongle, I used to play timpani when I was at school, more years ago than I care to remember. I lived about 600 yds from my High School and was actually allowed to take them home for the school holidays: 2 of us carrying them up the road (2 journeys!). Then my trumpet-playing friend came round, and we decided to practise our latest pieces, while my Mum was trying to entertain friends in the next room! Couldn’t understand why they wanted us to stop……!

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Trish…having had a son who plays trumpet I can only sympathise with your mum! Can’t imagine how timpani sound in a house!!!!

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LOUD!! And my son played trumpet too! And had a rock band who played full drumkit in our house!…..until we suggested they might go to some rehearsal rooms in town!

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Would "unwelcome" apply to Shamisen, Ruan, Erhu, Dizi, Pipa, Quena, Quenacho, Charango, Willow Flute, Hardingfele, Nyckelharpa…all similar in one way or another to instruments we hear all the time? Don’t tar and feather me. written with my tongue firmly in my cheek!

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Hi Tongle, looks like you might be not far from the Saddleworth medium speed tunes session if you’d consider something not wholly ITM. It started as a Tuneworks session, mix of English, Irish and American at slow to medium speed. Even the mandolin players there seem to be able to hear themselves! It’s been running for a while, so is now more commonly at medium speed. 1st and 3rd Wednesday of each month at Uppermill conservative club (we’re definitely not politically associated though!).

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At risk of causing dismay to a very good musician friend of mine, I have had occasion to find a Serpent a tad more … er … .insistent than I felt really enhanced the ambience of a pub session - even when it was made to produce the right notes. Perhaps it’s one of those instruments like the highland pipes, that sound at their best when played outdoors. In Scotland.

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It’s not the hammer dulcimer alone that made itself unwelcome at ITM sessions; it was the players, hence the well-deserved banishing of that instrument. Too many HD players weren’t accustomed to playing in groups, and the last time the HD pendulum swung into popularity in the early 1980s, it coincided with their getting into Irish music - good when by themselves but hell on sessions.
I am a hammer dulcimer player, but came into that instrument from the harpsichord where my specialty was and still is accompaniment, so… from the outset I treated the dulcimer as a rhythm-accompaniment instrument, and when teaching backup on it, the First Law is LISTEN TO THE OTHERS! Since I was already known as a backup artist, I had little problem getting into ITM sessions with the dulcimer. I’m using a 5-octave double-bass dulcimer and still doing mostly accompaniment. As for what volume to play at, if I can hear the others, I’m fine; if not, I’m too damn loud. And being familiar with the music and traditional playing, well, that goes without saying.

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I’ve never had the… uh, pleasure of hearing a hammered dulcimer in a session. From what I’ve read online of others’ experience, the main beefs seem to be that they take up a lot of room compared to other instruments, and they can be distracting if you’re sitting right next to one. Any instrument can be distracting if its played poorly, but I can imagine the clatter of a HD playing melody might be distracting even if it’s played well.

Maybe backup would be different. It would have to avoid clashing with the inevitable guitar player though.

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I’ve played with hammered dulcimer. In every case the player has played melody. Mostly it’s been in house sessions or the dulcimer player has made an effort to set up early & not take up too much space. The only distraction that bothers me is when the dulcimer has *alot* of sustain. And sometimes hammered dulcimer players (or maybe what others expect to hear upon seeing a hammered dulcimer) they favour O’Carolan tunes. Nothing wrong w/Turlough but it becomes old hat when I know the player can play plenty of session tunes.

Birdman (Ptarmigan) is a good hammered ducimer player. "The House of McDonnell: Jigs for Blas Ceoil!" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BEJ3Z8jac1I

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Our hd player is a treasured member of our session. She is equally adept on whistle, but I prefer the hd because it provides some bottom and groove. She doesn’t do much O’Carolan nor does she do any backup.

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I lay a silk cloth over the strings of the dulcimer when playing in group (except for the contrabass strings); that takes out much of the sustain without affecting the volume.
And I prefer the traditional run of session tunes over O’Carolan; whilst I like his music, it seems always to be the same four tunes from his repertory. And I see that Ailin gets to play with a dulcimer player who listens to the rest of the group and who plays accordingly.

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That HD in the clip above sounds nice with the pipes.

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Conical bore, thanks for the comments.
At various sessions, I get to play with several excellent guitar players, and after listening to what they’re doing (whilst playing melody then), after a while I learn what their overall patterns are (and it ain’t three-chord stuff, either!), and join in on the backup. We often end up stealing each other’s progressions. And when invited to a session I hadn’t attended before, I sit out the first couple sets and listen to the group, then to the guitar if one is present, and it’s usually the guitarists who end up telling me "Get in here! You gonna play with us or not?"

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Here’s a pretty unusual instrument at an Irish session.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ubnnsEUlYZg


I play the mandolin and I’m sure nobody can hear it but since I’m not that good at it, it doesn’t bother anybody. I can kick off a tune and then just enjoy everybody else’s playing.

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I liked the House of McDonnell video, but the video above with the 2 hang drums, hammer dulcimer, and didgeridoo didn’t sound like anything I’d want to hear at a session.

It’s not the instruments, it’s the players. Like the London Symphony Orchestra clip over in the "People who get cross" thread, they’re playing the notes like a Midi track. No feel for the pulse and lift of Julia Delaney as a dance tune. The HD player is playing each note with the same dynamics, the fiddler is doing the same.

That tune played well should *rock* and make you want to tap your feet, if not get up and dance. Or if you’re doing the "Martin Hayes treatment" as a slow reel, there still needs to be some feeling for the pulse of the tune. This sounds more like a Classical recital appropriating the music of some foreign country. It’s interesting, but not an indication of what hang drums or HD could do in better hands.

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That is NOT a didgeridoo.
Call it what you like, but a Didgeridoo is *A hollow log*. Certainly, NOT tuneable.

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Hi Tongle
I picked up a vintage tenor guitar it will resonate in a session without dominating and I play it when I need a rest from fiddling. Might be the answer. I am learning the Uilleann pipes and at my local session there is time set aside for me to lead a couple or 3 sets and then give them a rest. Being indulged for those few tunes is a confidence booster and motivator. Where’s my Trombone?

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Tenor guitar sounds interesting….though one more instrument is probably one too many for my bank account!

I love Hammered Dulcimer and have sat next to a couple in sessions though their portability seems to be an issue.

So many instruments. ..so little to time (and talent).

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Tongle, I would be putting all my energies into mandolin and banjo. You already have them, can get a decent tune out of them and they are welcome instruments at the vast majority of sessions. The scattergun approach of trying lots of different things will continue to hold you back and frustrate you.

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most sessions I have attended are populated by talentless bigots who would die a thousand deaths in front of a real live paying audience yet, pontificate freely to others about the "right way to do it " I have never heard anything so absurd as not welcoming banjos or guitars to what is principally a musical jam session attended by amateurs in the backroom of a pub! poor Tommy Makem, Barney McKenna, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew ! I bet they wish they had known that they were not welcome at a session of (usually,non Irish) elitists, they probably would not have made the mistakes they made by becoming internationally popular and earning a good living, instead they ought to have consulted your session leaders who clearly know best !

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Now if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s a freely pontificating talentless bigot. ;-)

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I am sure there are many with elitist ideas etc -

But it’s wrong to slag off all (or the vast Majority of) sessions as not welcoming these instruments.

That’s just not true Tongle. (Fortunately?)

Keep up the playing - it’s sounding nice - jigs and reels are indeed a handy addition!

All power to you!

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I would agree with Choons there. If you can play melodies, on any of those instruments - and with FEEL (time, taste, etc) - hard to imagine it would be rejected by anyone.

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To Peter Berner: that is certainly a didgeridoo. You can see it plainly at 1:25. Just because you haven’t seen one with an adjustable pitch slide, doesn’t mean there can’t be one.

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I would agree didg, from what I can see of it. Albeit, MODERN didg ; ) Once were times when no horns had a slide..

Speaking of instrument variations, I notice the vibrating "e-bow" or whatever they’re called seem de rigueur among improvisors (again, modern) .. mark ribot, elliot sharp, et al… interesting to see those sounds now on old acoustic guitars.. Be a while one turns up in session though.

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To be fair it is not so much session leaders as the impression you get from other attendees. Sometims just an impression and sometimes more explicit hidden in (not so subtle) jokes or comments about ‘other’ players.

I probably need to grow a thicker skin but sometimes you just end up feeling ‘can’t be arsed’ having to defend instrument choices. I would never say stuff like ’ shame I can’t even hear myself play with that bleedin pipe/box/violin in my ear!’ or ‘You know I just find the sound of the xxxx very annoying!"

I am far too grateful to be playing at all to pass comment about others.

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I thought the first hang drum player was great (playing solo with the bodhran), and you’ll notice if you look closely enough, the piper that films him and then reaches over to shake his hand is Blackie O’Connell. I have a feeling you wouldn’t be able to hear the hang drum all that well if everyone was playing (which is likely why they’re not), but it has a similar appeal to me as tunes played well on the harp - it has a similar tonality and sustain. Kind of like this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgV7P-WRMq4

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To David L
I did, originally see that point 1:25, where it shows the pseudo ‘aboriginal art’ on it - plus the markings for the slide.
I do not know where you are located (and I don’t care). So I don’t know what you might *think* you know.
That is NOT a didgeridoo.
A didgeridoo is made from a single piece of naturally hollow wood (branch or log) with all of the lumps and bumps, with the top end being covered with bees-wax to accommodate the lips.
As I wrote, "call it what you like, but it is Not a didgeridoo".

Anyone silly enough to call that a didgeridoo, would also be in the same league as suggesting that a trombone be called a bugle.

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Peter, how do you know it is psuedo aboriginal art? There may be an aboriginal didge maker who paints and designs modern types of didges to make it more versatile and spread the instrument around.
It’s definitely a didgeridoo, it’s just not a ‘traditional’ didgeridoo.
Plenty of other instruments have undergone the same processes and still are called the same type of instrument as the traditional, eg: flute. Be it an ancient bone flute or a silver flute, despite the differences it is still a flute.

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One great stalwart of Scottish sessions who is sadly no longer with us would always say
"Didgeri Don’t!"
:-)

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Has anyone read Ciaran Carson’s (No relative)) slim and excellent volume ’ Irish Traditional music’? He has a section on ‘the instruments’ p11 and also a section on etiquette p55,in which he talks at some length about issues raised on the subject of instruments and sessions. He includes :Uilleann pipes, flute, fiddle, tin whistle, free reed instruments, harp, bodhran, piano and other stringed instruments. No mention of banjo and little said about guitar. I wont try and summarise but well worth reading . At this point won’t give my critique of this book but would be interested on others comments

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"That is NOT a didgeridoo.
A didgeridoo is made from a single piece of naturally hollow wood (branch or log) with all of the lumps and bumps, with the top end being covered with bees-wax to accommodate the lips.
As I wrote, "call it what you like, but it is Not a didgeridoo".

My brother, who actually plays the didgeridoo and probably ownes half a dozen of the things, has one with the slide and would tell you that it is indeed a didge, albeit not a traditional one. It’s useful because it plays in different keys, whereas (believe it or not) ones made of a single piece of wood are in one key.

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Can you imagine the furore when drones were first made tunable!?

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To Peter: A flute is a flute whether it has keys or just holes. A trumpet originally didn’t have valves, but now it does. That doesn’t mean that modern instruments with valves aren’t trumpets. Fiddles originally didn’t have fine-tuners. It is hard for me to think of any instrument which technology hasn’t changed over the years, even "bones", which are now often made of wood. Wait… triangles haven’t really changed (except for their alloys), although the beaters have.

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I will have to look that book up John. I’d be interested to know when it was written and what his credentials are.
There clearly was a time before free reed instruments were first used in ITM as is the case for piano as they are not that old. So who decides what is and isn’t appropriate?
If any genre of music is restricted to the instruments it was originally played on does it become a museum piece rather than a living entity? There would be many popular ITM bands who would have to change their instrument line up or stop calling themselves an ITM band.
What about the use of electronics? Should microphones, amps and fx be used? These are clearly not at all traditional.

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Ciaran Carson’s credentials in Irish traditional music are impeccable. "Last Night’s Fun" was published in 1996. Your last sentence is completely irrelevant, as the discussion is about instruments, not the means by which they are heard.

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Fair play to you Kenny totally agree, although some mention of the banjo would have been welcome!!. Whilst preserving tradition and our musical heritage we cant live in the past, and respectful development of our music by the young ones should be welcome .Un- amplified music to me can’t be beaten. If it has to be amplified you need a good sound engineer who accurately tries to portray an acoustic sound as per the ‘crossroads dance’ or ‘round the house and mind the dresser’

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Ciaran Carson’s excellent little book on the music was published in 1986 and is still in print thirty-three years later. That says it all. His description of the failings of piano accordions still makes me chuckle thirty years on.

http://www.appletree.ie/cat/books/1686.htm

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Hi Tongle
Irish Traditional Music’ was published in 1986 by ‘Appletree press’ ISBN 0-86281=186-6 .I have no objection to the development of Irish music and amplification per se and development of it by the young as without that the music would die out. However, whilst some of the younger and older amplified bands are brilliant and very sensitive to the tradition others produce a deafening sound unrecognisable as Irish/Celtic music. Hope you get the book and enjoy reading it.See my comments to Kenny

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Gonzo, thanks for the link to Ciaran Carson’s little book.

It’s got a mix of both terrible and brilliant reviews on Amazon, it’s priced at 1p, so I’ve ordered it.

Can’t go wrong with that!

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My advice (40+ years of playing sessions) is to pick 1 instrument. For example, I play fiddle. Sometimes I like to sit in the back and just play chords, but then that wouldn’t be an Irish session, would it? Chords are for bluegrass sessions.

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Definitely will get the book..thanks for the recommendation.

Kenny…as for the last sentence being irrelevant I’d love to see what would happen if I went to a session with a mandolin amp, loop pedal and fx box ;-).

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> if I went to a session with a mandolin amp, loop pedal and fx box ;-).

Well, since your session comrades have clearly found you a perishing nuisance regardless of what you were playing, I suspect I can guess, and it has nothing to do with the mandolin, amp, loop pedal, or anything else you might bring.

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"… I’d love to see what would happen if I went to a session with a mandolin amp, loop pedal and fx box ;-)."
I doubt that very much.

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‘Perishing nuisance’ indeed Callum….one could be quite hurt by such a comment…thankfully I’m not as I am sure it is meant in jest!

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Well hardly irrelevant then Kenny…my point being that some aspects of ITM have changed over the years, the introduction of amplification being one of them.

I certainly take your point about how amplification enables ‘how’ the music is heard and would add to that by talking about graphic eq , reverb, echo etc .which also enhances the sound ….this being far from ‘traditional’!

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FWIW, Tongle while I don’t object to amplification I personally prefer playing trad sessions with acoustic instruments. Also I’m not talking about bands which use/need microphones & amps.

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