When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

If you no longer bring your recorder to sessions, or rarely whip it out, how long was it before you stopped?

I don’t know why I’m curious about this.

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

For me, it was about 10-12 years into my playing. I found that I was recording things I wanted to learn, but it was pretty rare that I would use those recordings for anything. I was learning tunes that people taught me, or learning tunes from commercial recordings. And I was starting to get to the point where I was learning tunes on the fly, or at least through repeated listening at sessions.

I now wear an Apple watch, and there’s a decent recorder on it, so every so often I will record something in a session, but it’s only in circumstances where I don’t have other access to the tunes. Like when I was in Asturias this last summer - I recorded a few Muiñeiras…

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

Never. I always record tunes and then learn them from the recordings so I can learn them the way people I know play them.

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

I’ve never brought a recording device to a session with the intention of recording. I mean, I’ll have my phone with me, but generally I just go and play the tunes I know, and listen to the ones I don’t. Eventually the tunes in the second column move over to the first. Every once in a while, I’ll use my phone to record a tune, but like Rev, I never seem to get around to using that recording very much. Maybe five times in fifteen years.

Workshops and lessons are another matter. I’m paying for that, so I want to record it.

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

I’ve never been in the habit of recording sessions. I’ve probably missed out on some nice tunes but I’ve managed to build up a decent enough repertoire through a combination of osmosis*, commercial recordings and sheet music**.

*By osmosis, for anyone not used to this use of the term, I mean hearing a tune in sessions enough times over the years to be able to play it without ever having consciously learned it.

**I rarely learn tunes from sheet music (I did more often in my early days of playing traditional music) but resort to it now and again to remind myself of a missing phrase or to compare different settings.

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

This may be a bit nebulous for some but here goes. I never record sessions, never have. I also don’t take, or keep, pictures. Life needs spontaneity , it happens in the moment, and to me, should stay that way. The rivers are as wild, the mountains as high, the fish as big, the tunes as sweet, the craic as welcoming as I want to remember them. My father, in my heart, was a classically handsome man, with wisdom to challenge any Greek philosopher, the humor to stand with Mark Twain, and the ability to command a room with a single glance. If I had a picture he’d be a unremarkable, decent man, smoking in front of a old cathode ray TV. I choose to remember him as I need him to be.

Sessions are like that. Better in my memory no matter how wonderful they might have been in reality. Even the worst of them soften with time. To record them takes away the romance and reduces them to the technical. As ITM players we can be mindful of the way tunes surround us. Should I need/want to learn a tune I hear, well, the internet and iTunes, and my own files are full of them, I can take my pick. The session big or small is for the experience, screens and speakers I’ll save for the times I need to learn something specific. And so I can’t quit recording everything in that ever changing place behind my eyes and ears, but I never started recording sessions in any other media. I hope you understand why.

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

I used to record stuff all the time in my early years of playing. I lugged around a big cassette-tape recorder, of the sort dubiously known as a ‘ghetto-blaster’. I have mixed feelings about this now: on the one hand, it never occurred to me that the device might not be welcome, and, looking back, I’m sure at times it wasn’t; on the other hand, those ‘field recordings’ are precious to me. Contrary to Ross’s feelings, my admiration for the musicianship of most of those I recorded has increased as I’ve become better able to appreciate it. I’m not talking about my peers, particularly, but those ‘elders’ who had already been playing for fifty or sixty years.

Having said that, sometimes it kind of bugs me when I’m playing somewhere and I realize that it’s being recorded - especially if I’ve already hit a few clams - which I probably have …..

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Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

I sort of try to bridge the gap between recording and osmosis. I record all the tunes I don’t know (which is most of them) but I generally only go back and use them to learn the tunes that stuck out as familiar or easy to pick up (likely because of familiarity).

Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

In the situation, when the closest session is 2000km away and the only reasonable possibility to absorb the tunes ‘in the wild’ being a week in Ireland once a year, the live session recordings become a treasure. So, I record as much as possible.

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Re: When Did You Stop Recording Sessions?

The trouble I have had with recording tunes at sessions is that it seems they rarely ever play the tune I recorded again. So all that effort trying to learn some tune I recorded is lost because by the time they play it again, I forgot everything I learned.

I have switched to just trying to get the phrases of whatever tunes are being played into my fingers and hoping someday I can put the phrases all together. Also I will only bother to really learn a full tune once it’s rattling around in my head like an earworm. This method worked with American old-time music, so I’m hoping it will work the same for Irish music.

Now and then I will still attempt to learn a full and complete tune, but I feel like Lucy and the football whenever I do that.