Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

The sessions from heaven and hell certainly generated much discission and a few hilarous stories. I was thinking earlier that the main cause for all the conflict and indeed the driving force behind the sublime experiences is connection. Lack of connection, from the most basic as being in tune or time, through to playing blindly to what the other players are seeking to create will always be a ‘session from hell’. A deep connection, the ‘great craic’ we all aspire to is the passing beyond the conscious and mundane to a state of interconnectedness and oneness (man) is the typical ‘session from heaven’.

So, if we want to foster the latter then we have to check our egos at the door and be a willing prticipant in a group dynamic that is bigger than ourselves. Instrumentalists, it isn’t about how fast you can play a million triplets, accompanists, no-one is listening for a clever chord or two.

This of course goes against everything we have been trained to be in our vain glorious self centred society. In a sense, the session is a reflection of our community, or lack therof.

Anyway, call me a hippy (I am) ot whatever, but I think it all comes doen to serving the session, not expecting it to serve you. Then, at moments of perfection, the infamous craic will be known.

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

+1

…we have to check our egos at the door and be a willing participant in a group dynamic …

Thumbs up to that.

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

While the most fun I get out of playing music is when I am playing with others who know what they are doing, I cannot agree that it is simply a matter of togetherness. It’s about musical taste. Also, it should be said that a desire to perform is not a guarantee of actual creative talent.

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

Togetherness may not be all of it, but it is a huge part of it. The better part of it.

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

I’m going to hazard a hunch that may not be true, but nevertheless makes a point worth the stating: I think if you could poll 100 musicians of at least intermediate ability in ITM but knew nothing of sessions about what they would look for in such a musical gathering, you would get a similar response from one and all. I believe it’s those who have been around the block that can spend paragraphs defining what a good or bad session looks and sounds like.

What do you think?

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Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

The joy is not easily explained.
You can play with the same folk week after week and an exceptional night will just happen.
You can turn up and play with strangers and have the most satisfying night of your life, playing half remembered tunes and flying by the seat of your pants.
Yes, the joy!

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

This is interesting . After 25 years of regular session playing and moving through a not uncommon path of accompaniest then tune player I look back and remember the joy I had in my first years of the sessions. The excitement the music generated and connectedness. Years later I’m always looking for it but rarely find it. The littlest annoyance seems to “ruin” the session now where’s it was accepted years back as part of the game. I’m fairly confident this is about ME and not the sessions and its about what we each look for as we develop. Maybe I’m the only one but I suspect not. Maybe I should try the original posters suggestions. Can’t hurt :)

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

"I look back and remember the joy I had in my first years of the sessions. The excitement the music generated and connectedness. Years later I’m always looking for it but rarely find it."

Yes, I agree with Copperplate entirely. I don’t attend many sessions now because I can’t be bothered with the ones I don’t think I’m going to like, whereas I used to go to all kinds of sessions all the time, hunting for that magic and taking the risk that it could be miserable for one reason or another. I was more willing to accept the plunging lows with the soaring highs. Now, like a habituated, cynical junkie, I don’t want the lows and it’s harder to get high. I want those highs, the connection, the buzz, but it takes more to get it, and I really don’t have the patience anymore for the baking soda burn bags of sessions.

I don’t know what that says about me or if I took that metaphor too far. :)

Re: Just sessions, just thoughts…

Sessions come & sessions go. I’m fine with that. I appreciate the B-side of sessions more than the main release. Come early to chill with the grifters, hope for a good session then stay late if a few takers want to play more;
or just chat. For me that is what a session is. That’s what a pub is.
Ben

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Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

I agree with Darth Piper regarding ‘connection’. The time I remember being most connected to multiple people around me playing music was when we were all tripping on acid - can’t help but wonder what our session now would sound like under those conditions. It seemed like then our egos faded away for awhile…and it was wonderful (though, if I could hear now how it really sounded in actual reality, I might think otherwise :-)

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Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

AB is on track :)

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

I take the rough with the smooth. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes bad, sometimes indifferent. As long as I can play a few tunes have a chat and a beer. All old chestnuts I know, here’s one more…That’s life!

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

Thank for your post Darth Piper. You state "if we want to foster the latter then we have to check our egos at the door and be a willing participant in a group dynamic that is bigger than ourselves."

Absolutely. We’ve had one player on and off for the past two years who is an extraordinary fiddler, but who destroys the craic most the time he joins us. He’s used to being a solo artist on stage, and when he gets on the stage in our pub, he shows off, plays louder than most, improvises during tunes, etc., sometime even turning his back on the session to play to the audience in the pub.

Sessions are shared listening spaces where we all get to participate. When we treat each other as equals and respect the session and each other, our afternoon gathering is magic. If we have to battle an ego-driven show-off, it’s a nightmare.

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

Part of God’s cruel joke on us as musicians is that the better you get, the harder it is to find the craic. We spend a lot of our time "chasing the dragon" and rarely getting a taste of the dragon meat. When you’re first starting out, every session has the potential to be the best session you’ve ever been part of, and you are inspired by the musicians around you. You think "I can’t wait until I’m THAT good, and then every session will be awesome!" But that’s not the way it works if all you’re doing is chasing your own endorphin-releasing moments of pure joy.

So the OP is right. If you treat every session as a "willing prticipant in a group dynamic that is bigger than ourselves", then you can find joy in other aspects of the session — the camaraderie, the humor, the sharing of your music without it being showing off, being an inspiration for the other people in the session, etc. And if you treat it like that, then the good pretty much always outweighs the bad, and you’ll find that you come away from most sessions satisfied, no matter whether or not the music made for one of those perfect, effortless nights, where the music flowed freely and your endorphins were flowing…

Good topic!

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

‘Ask not what your session can do for you….

It is in giving that you receive……

Bit hack but whatever

Re: Tasting heaven?

I never thought I’d hear Reverend say he spends alot of time "chasing the dragon". But there it is.
;)

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Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

At least I do it with music and not heroin, AB!

Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

I know.

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Re: Sessions from heaven and hell, a thought

A good session to me is where the leader…Chairman….Fear an tig leads and invites other players to play rather than dictates who will play next in a "round the table"

Leader by invitation rather than by Dictatorship.
Where players turn up and play without trying to impress everyone with their "speed over ground" antics on a tune….bending and battering it out of shape until it resembles nothing like the original.

Turn up….
Play…
Fairy tales can come true…it can happen to you.
Just turn up.