Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Does your session have a a warmup of opening tune or tunes that you always or nearly always play? What are the reasons you do or do not?

Our Athens, Georgia session* nearly always opens with Lark in the Motning. We have a number of reasons:
— we like it.
— the customers like it, especially the regulars. It’s enough of a trademark that many expect it and can hum along.
— the pub likes us because we draw a regular crowd on Sunday afternoon**
— we like the pub, not the least of which because they run a generous bar tab for us
— our regular session players know it, and visitors are likely to know it too (and if not, we hope they’ll go home and learn it).
— it’s a good warmup.
— by now, it’s not only tradition, it’s Sacred Tradition (tm).

*Sundays, 4-7 pm at The Globe. Come visit us!

** Despite*** Athens**** being a college town, unless an establishment derived a significant portion of it’s Sunday revenue from food *****rather than booze, it can’t open.

***or perhaps as a result of

****Welcome to Georgia; things are different here.

*****The Globe has good food too.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Having a typical icebreaker tune (or knowledge of it) implies being there right on time when the session starts…

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Not really warm-up tunes for sessions, more for soundchecks in the 2 bands I play in.
For the one, it was always "Calum’s Road" but eventually expanded to a set comprising "Memories of Father Angus McDonnell/Calum’s Road/Hut on Staffin Island". We were a bit flummoxed when one of our very elder statesmen died and his family asked if we would play "your signature tune" at his funeral: after a bit of head-scratching, we decided it was this set!
In the other band, we always play "MacRosty Park" as a warm-up, which is one of our good thesession friend’s tunes: the inestimable Nigel Gatherer! the lovely park is in the town of Crieff.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

I tend to get annoyed when a session plays a tune every single week. I get more annoyed when a session always plays a tune in the same set. And I get even more annoyed when a session always starts with or ends the night with the same set of tunes (Bucks of Oranmore, be damned!) So I try to shy away from that as much as I can. I don’t make a case out of it when it happens, but since I am a primary anchor for both the sessions that I regularly attend, I usually start the night off anyway. And I try to go out of my way to start the night with a tune that the majority of the people know, and I try really hard to think of tunes that we haven’t played in quite some time… For me, variety really is the spice of life, especially in sessions… To each his own, though! 😉

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

what Reverend said.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

I play in sessions with folks I’ve played with for years, in and out of various bands. Our sessions start organically, if you will. So the first tune or set is pretty random. A few instruments come out, and someone starts a tune. Then we - whoever is playing - go into another tune, and so forth. Could be any tune or tunes.

Realize that there’s a difference between a session and a paying gig. With a band, we’d usually start with a set that we all know well and we know will "go over" well.

But a session is different.

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Once or twice a year someone plays Bucks of Oranmore early in the evening. Then we all stare at one another.
We glance at our half-finished drinks.
Someone will reflexively reach for an instrument case, then lean away.
It’s awkward.
Tradition is a powerful thing.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

I like Blarney Pilgrim because it’s a subtle way of getting people to tune - first measure starts on a D ends on an A

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

I used to go to a beginners session where the flute player insisted that every session begin with all three Ballydesmond Polkas. Now I can’t stand to play or hear them.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

trish said, "In the other band, we always play "MacRosty Park" as a warm-up, which is one of our good thesession friend’s tunes: the inestimable Nigel Gatherer! the lovely park is in the town of Crieff."

"MacRosty Park" was composed by Robin Brock of East Lothian.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

My hope for a session, is that I come away having heard some new tunes that I would love to learn. I get very frustrated sitting in a session playing the same tunes every time. Although I appreciate that many people like the familiar so they can join in, I try to play at least one new set at every session. I love it when new faces appear from time to time and introduce new tunes.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

"All sessions are different" My favourite statement. 🙂

Inevitably, players will usually fall back on well known or tried and tested tunes but these may vary. More likely, the "warm up" will last for two or three sets depending on who starts. Sometimes, this can be misleading for a visitor who just arrives and surmises that the session is likely to be quite easy for them. Not always so!
Of course, many good sessions save the better tunes for later but taste is in the ears of the listener and/or player.
🙂

I, and, I daresay others also have warm up tunes (or sections of tunes) for their instruments too although some may choose to play a few scales. These may or may not be the same as those which will open up the session.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

No fixed opening tunes like that in the Stockholm sessions.
Depends on who turns up first and what tunes they have in common and happen to fancy at the moment.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

The main thing is that they are tunes that all or most of the musicians present play. In a large session with a high turnover of musicians, it makes sense to kick off with a few of the ‘standards’; in a smaller session, or one with a relatively unchanging line-up of players, where people know each other’s taste in tunes, what recordings they have been listening to etc., there is likely to be a large repertoire of tunes common to everyone and any of them is fair game.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

One session that I go to generally starts with the a set of Sligo jigs (Up Sligo/Trip to Sligo) and closes with "Hard Times." I guess that is a tradition that goes back at least a couple of decades.

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Sorry about the incorrect credit, Nigel! Will put the other band members right on that!
But the esteemed, inestimable remains!

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Playing primarily STM, we most commonly start with:
Balchraggan/25th Guards Brigade at Anzio/Sandy’s New Chanter.
That way, if the world ended immediately after, we’d die happy.
We mostly get there at the same time and with pretty much the same participants each week we tend to play some fairly obscure stuff in fixed sets. We only mix and match with the more common session repertoire (when we’re playing to the gallery, as it were).

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

A freshly composed D major scale every week, Johnny Jay, that’s what we start with! After having played a few notes for the tuner of course ;) The tuner is the only our listener anyway.

Seriously, our session is a newborn one, so we start with any of 3-4 tunes we can play reasonably well at not-so-turtle speed, then slow down to deal with recently learnt tunes.

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

> 25th Guards Brigade at Anzio

24th (with apologies for pedantry)!

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Yes Calum, despite being a former Maths teacher, remembering numbers was never my strong point.
We only play the first two parts. I think one of us must have got it from the Battlefield Band recording.

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We may start with anything, but end with the same set. I like that. It’s like saying good night. I get there early and warm up on whatever suits my mood.

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Our locals seem to start with pretty much anything. Closing tunes vary, but usually Bucks of Oranmore, or Lucy Campbell, or Dusty Windowsills, and sometimes A Bruxa.

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Not sure how this applies but I think it does a bit. I think about our session. We try to be inclusive and play the tunes that most to us in our small group know. Still we all have very different "tune books" (no we don’t play from scores) with not as much overlap as you might think. A fiddler has been at it for 30 plus years, another is from Shannon and learned most of his tunes decades ago. I’ve been at it for 15 years and learned many of the tunes as I’ve travelled, or from visitors, added to what I learned from the long standing local players. Another excellent fiddler dropped out some years ago and is now re-joining but plays only tunes that we played 10 years ago. Yet another came recently from the Northwest. Others are mostly from the Old Time and Contra traditions (sometimes sorta Irish). You see the problem. The common ground gets smaller, the familiar tunes and sets get more repetitive, so I guess you could say that starter and ending sets get even more so. Next week I’m off to my favorite Irish music gathering (PM me nd I’ll tell you where and why). After that I hope to travel some to find other sessions. I don’t learn tunes from CD’s, youtube, or Show Bands. It’s gotta be live and up-close. I’ll be back with a masterful list of new tunes that, unless they show up in other players tune books, I’ll play solo, at home, in my trusty leather recliner! Again, I’ll live with it. So yeah, we tend to start at least with one or two go to sets, because, well, by default.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

What Copperplate said…..

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

The Connaughtman’s Rambles/My Darling Asleep/Tripping Up The Stairs….
and I am f***** sick of it :D Doesn’t help that my local session has an extremely small repertoire anyway.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

@Mars,

I realise that you are only joking but, to make it clear, I wasn’t suggesting players "warm up" with scales at a session.
It’s something they might do for a few moments after taking the instrument out of the case before actually joining the main body of the company or even playing at home

Personally, I prefer to play a few notes or runs from one or more tunes. I do this out of habit but they are not necessarily session starters!

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Of course, any such "footering aboot" should be done before the session actually starts or very discreetly if you are joining at a later stage. 🙂

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Our session has no such routine and I am glad it does not. Like several above, I like some familiar tunes and some unfamiliar tunes in a session.

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> remembering numbers was never my strong point

My position has always been that the whole point of doing mathematics is so we don’t have to deal with numbers :D I had to look the tune up, actually - one of those where you know the title and know the tune, but haven’t quite put them together!

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

Aye, stick to the alphas, betas, epsilons and deltas and keep the numbers for rithmetic.

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@Calum

As a sidepoint, in the musical context numbers, which represent steps of a scale, are more general, than letters representing particular notes ;)

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

I’m imagining Ross lying down in his recliner with magic "river-dance" fingers keeping time.

Personally, I like it when there is a warm-up set of popular, well-known tunes. It gets everybody involved and going. I don’t warm up for a while, and it is useful for me to start with tunes I’m confident in.

I have seen the opposite… a session where the whole first hour is dedicated to the "new" tunes, i.e. ones very few people know, or know poorly, including the session leader.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

> a session where the whole first hour is dedicated to the "new" tunes

That’s the way I run my (Scottish) session, having evolved from what started out as a slow session. We gave up on the slow thing a while back but still learn a new tune a week (in theory) and spend the first hour doing stuff we’re shakier on, haven’t played for a while, or that we learned recently.

It has advantages and disadvantages - inevitably, not everything takes, so you end up with a lot of tunes that only 2,3,4 people know. But we’ve gone from a core group of four guys who had practically no tunes in common to a room of 10-12 players at times with a decently varied repertoire, and tackling some moderately demanding stuff.

(I will confess I do sometimes teach stuff I don’t play so well myself, usually fiddle tunes in multiple flats or the like, because it helps me learn them and there are better fiddlers present than me!)

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Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

What Reverend, Copperlate and Pat Higgins said…

And yet I regularly attend sessions where there are standard "ice-breaker" sets every time we start. I am happy to participate, however, because in one session we have people of all skill levels and the opening set is easy and known by all. In the other session, the opening set is a tribute to the host fiddle player’s deceased father who loved those specific tunes. It’s all good.

Re: Warm up/opening tune in your session?

What Reverend and Ergo said!

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Before my local session disbanded last month cause the bar got a new owner who was a turd, we usually started with something that was in a "friendly key". Meaning that, for the sanity and well being of our flute player, it was not in the key of A… We’d typically start with less intense tunes, like The Otter’s Holt or Rakish Paddy. Tunes that are still fun, but not absolutely insane. We would also start the session with a march or a slip jig as well… Essentially, anything but Gravel Walks.
Still looking for a new place to host the session (cries)…