Authored tunes

Authored tunes

Self-written tunes are not encouraged to be posted in the tunes section, yet it seems that this site could be a great resource for getting feedback on our own tune-writing attempts. Isn’t that an important part of keeping this tradition going?

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Then why not post them in your profile and make a request for assessment in the discussion pages?

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@Gobby
That’s probably the best way for now. But that means people don’t have direct access to the sheet wich is a bit annoying.

It would be awesome to see something dedicated to compositions on our profile page though. A space where only you can submit your self-penned tunes without them polluting the tune section while still being able to share them through a link and maybe save them on our tunebooks.

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Yeah Damien, I hadn’t thought that all through, but that makes sense and would be great.

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I agree with Gobby on using your profile page for your own tunes.

For one thing, although the standard exchange format on this site is abc (and rightly so), there will be some members whose tunes exist only in other formats, eg standard notation, audio and video.

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"…this site could be a great resource for getting feedback on our own tune-writing attempts. Isn’t that an important part of keeping this tradition going?"

Er, with respect, no. Much better, surely, to play them to your friends and session mates and get a direct feedback from people who habitually play together with you and thus have a known musical taste/judgement which you value.

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Jerry O’Donnell: I agree with you absolutely! But I have learnt that a huge amount of people on this forum live in a session vacuum, maybe hundreds of kilometers/ miles from one and possibly never even played the music with anyone else! They have only ever played along to their favourite recordings and so the only ‘contact’ with the Trad Irish Music universe is via the ‘net. If any of these guys come up with novel tune, this is their only outlet and their single conduit for critical feedback. The chance to knock it out and familiarising to your mates at the pub two or three times a week just doesn’t happen!

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Yhaal House, if you consider that this is their only outlet, I feel you must have misunderstood what Youtube and Facebook etc. are for. 😉

My smily face of punctuation marks does not reproduce in the published post.

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Jim Dorans, you bring up a good point on the notation limitations. I learned to read standard notation 50 odd years ago, and have never had a good grasp of or fully understood ABC, Tablature or other forms of notation. It’s my fault entirely, as I could never see the point years ago, but now in our computer dependent age, that lack of foresight on my part to learn alternatives, rears its head every time I peruse the tunes section.

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Jerry O’Donnell

I don’t see any reason why the idea of authored tunes should be dismissed. It can be used in addition to Youtube, Facebook etc.

There’s no system penalty (or very little) from Jeremy’s standpoint, and there aren’t a huge amount of members who would use it anyway.

I’d certainly be interested in seeing others’ comps, but no one has to even look at it if they are not interested - eg I read fiddle threads, but I generally skip over flute and whistle ones.

@Chuck - you do know that the tunes section has a tab for ABC and SHEET MUSIC (standard notation) too? In other words, select a tune, and you get both abc and standard notation format.

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I don’t know how much work it would be for Jeremy, but perhaps a clone of the Tunes code/pages, simply renamed Compositions? That way those of us who are interested can monitor it and those who aren’t can quietly ignore it.

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Not everyone uses public pages on Facebook (or Facebook at all) or has Facebook friends who could evaluate a tune. Youtube is open to anyone and everyone regardless of qualifications and the percentage of people whose responses will be "That’s great, is it from Minecraft? Can I play it on saxophone?" will be greater than those of people who have a clue what they’re talking about. Neither, IMO, is a better alternative to a place where people with understanding of trad gather and where one knows one can get *quality* feedback…

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Judging from the comments, it sounds like it’s time for a composer’s community. A place where composers come together to share their ideas and critique each other in their own space. Composing is niche, so if they want a space to share their ideas and be peer-reviewed, they may have to create their own space.

The issue with spaces like YouTube is that you don’t have a guaranteed audience. Apart from YouTube’s own algorithms for showing certain videos in searches, there’s also the question of how would people find your tune to critique it in the first place? You could use as many tags as you can come up with, but if people aren’t searching for the niche, your video isn’t going to pop up in anyone’s searches. A video being posted doesn’t mean that anyone is going to see it.

Facebook isn’t much better. With Facebook, you certainly have a guaranteed audience, to an extent. But how much of that audience is active in your niche? Unless you’ve built a musical community around you, or you have access to a musical community, finding some reliable critique and peer-review may prove challenging.

With all of that being said, I do know for a fact that there are VERY active and lively Facebook groups dedicated to a massive number of niches. Maybe you could create a Facebook group for Irish Tune Composers(or see if one already exists), and start building a community there. Then you can use YouTube, or whatever other platform you like to share your compositions and videos in that space.

I’ve been in small Facebook groups of under 100 people, and larger ones of over 1,000 and when there is a sense of community and reliability, they are still very active regardless of size. They are some of the most active public forums I’ve ever seen.

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I understand the desire to have a place to share compositions and critiques with other like-minded musicians, but is this board really the right place for that?

My opinion is it is not, particularly if the person is focused more on writing tunes and getting critiques than the core mission of this board, which is primarily about traditional Irish sessions and traditional Irish session tune settings.

There must be other more appropriate venues that would meet your needs if you consider Facebook as too limited and YouTube as too public.

From the board’s help page at:

https://thesession.org/help

Jeremy makes it pretty specific:

"Can I submit my own compositions?

Well… The Session isn’t really intended for that. If you do post one of your own compositions, then you must do your “penance”, so to speak, by balancing each original composition with about five trad tune settings."

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I think it would be pretty easy to add at least a link that converts ABC to dots in the profile pages. I wrote a "bookmarklet" that did just that several years ago, simply by posting selected ABC text to concertina.net. So I think it would be a good idea for Jeremy to add a feature like that. But in the meantime, most people that post tunes in their profile post them in ABC. It’s not too hard to copy the ABC and paste it into a converter (like http://www.mandolintab.net/abcconverter.php, or wherever).

But yeah, it would be great if Jeremy could use the same ABC detection code he used when he converted all the tune "comments" that contained ABC. to add new "settings" of tunes to give us links on ABC that is detected in people’s profiles!

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Interesting topic. I have written a number of tunes myself (possibly too many ;) ). In the mid-late 1990s, I sometimes shared one or two with friends IRL or sent the ABC via email, to long distance friends. Some were picked up, performed, one reached thesession, even got published… Guess what, my tunes even give me a slice of royalties - because people play them (at sessions, I believe), and send in the playlists.

I have never used Youtube or Facebook to toot my own horn, or to get feedback. Nor do I intend to.

Same thing as my playing. I play for my own sake (which also means that this current pandemic doesn’t affect my repertoire a bit).

What was the question again?

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Back in the day, I used to post a few of my own compositions in the tunes section here (alongside quite a few trad tunes, in my defence!). But I realised after a while that it wasn’t the right place for them. Now I post the occasional self-composition in my profile and I add links to sound files, mandolin tab and sometimes sheet music… I don’t know if anyone ever visits the profile. Far less whether anyone ever plays any of the tunes. But I live in hope that I’ll get some feedback some day from some visitor who likes (or dislikes) some of the tunes I’ve authored! 🙂

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Mention has been made of You Tube and Facebook etc.

Although these platforms have a wide coverage and the majority of us are signed up to them in one way or another(I use very strict settings and enjoy anonymity), it is also very easy just to ignore or skim over content there.
For instance, I am signed up to various music groups on Facebook but, each time I check the site, I get a constant succession of "performers" posting recordings from their living rooms, inumerable gig listings albeit most virtual these days, requests for funding and support etc. Also "new tunes", of course.
Because of this "over load", I have to be very selective about what I view on a regular basis. So, inevitably the bulk of the content is overlooked either intentionally or inadvertently.

Of course, if I have a particular interest in something and know what I’m looking for, I can visit a particular FB, YT, or traditional website. So, basically, I don’t see an issue in having a facility for own compositions here. Members can visit or use it as they choose. I’m not sure if the member’s profile is the best place though as we don’t automatically check out each person here. Only when we’re being nosy. 🙂 So, we would have to be referred to their profile in some way or other. Perhaps via or within a discussion or similar?
However, because this is a specialised community and we are here specifically out of an intererest in traditional music(if not necessary all Irish), then this site would probably be a good first port of call for many of us as regards to seeking out new compositions in the traditional idiom.

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What about thesession’s Facebook interface? You could create a Compositions page there.

Jeremy, is this correct (and legal for members to do this)?

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As someone who has fallen foul of the edict (before I realised it was a rule), I can see both sides of this discussion. The fact is that it is good to have a place that captures tunes that are part of the (living) tradition and therefore are already played at sessions.

On the other hand, this is a community of people that appreciate a certain kind of tune - and so it does seem natural that this would be a place to post and discuss new tunes as well as old ones.

As for my own tunes, they do get played by others at my local sessions, but none of them are going to be bothered to post them up here! I think they would expect me to do that 🙂

It is a huge pleasure to get email from a dance team who now regularly plays and dances to one of my tunes that I did post here. That almost certainly wouldn’t have happened if it had been just in my profile or on my Facebook.

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I posted a number of tunes (with some encouragement from Will Harmon) way back but then stopped as I realised that this wasn’t really the place for self-penned stuff. If everyone did it the place would be swamped in tunes (of variable quality).

Of the half dozen I posted thirteen or so years ago only two are still in my repertoire. If I could, I’d quite happily remove the other four. Of the two "keepers", one earned me quite a lot in royalties (though not through the session.org) and the other I was surprised to hear being played by a ceilidh band (they had picked it up from here).

The best way I think to get your tunes out there is to play them yourself to your friends who, if they like them, pass them on to other friends. You can judge a tune much better by the sound of it rather than the image of dry dots on a page. I would hazard a guess that most people looking at a tune in the Tunes section here are doing so because they have heard someone else playing it and like the sound of it.

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This topic has come up a number of times under various headings, but generally with the same content: either (a) it would be a Good Thing for members to post their own tunes here, or (b) It would be a Bad Thing as this is meant to be a site to share traditional (predominantly Irish) tunes for taking to sessions. Some people say posting your own stuff offers a valued showcase for new material (Yay!), some that it is cheap vanity publishing (Boo!). Some say something else entirely. Some quietly yawn and go and play a tune.

There are certain subjects that have been so well-rehearsed in inconclusive discussions as to have become rather tired. Learning from dots vs. learning by ear is one. This may be another.

The esteemed Jeremy - architect, owner, and moderator of the site - invites observance of some fairly simple guidelines. One is that self-penned tunes are not really wanted but will be sort of tolerated if what we mostly do is post traditional tunes (ratio 1:5 is suggested). Another is: Don’t use the site to meta-discuss the site - send comments/ideas/complaints direct to him. These seem to me not only to be reasonable but to wrap the topic up quite adequately, and - though I may be guilty of an occasional lapse - are guidelines I shall earnestly strive to follow.

Please don’t send a commentary on this comment.

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Jeremy mentioned this in another discussion, but here’s another way to convert ABC to sheetmusic:
https://thesession.org/tunes/editor
So you can look at someone’s profile, copy the abc of a self-penned tune, and paste it in there to see if you like it.

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Personally, I find the site’s focus on traditional tunes valuable. And as has been pointed out, there are other venues and methods for sharing original compositions.

As for composers’ sites, the best one I’ve come across is:

http://composersforum.ning.com/

It’s free (though they accept contributions,) requires registration, people mostly post under their full real names, and has an international membership. I have no connection with it except as a user.

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I believe the rules are that, for each tune of your own composition, Jeremy decrees that you must submit five traditional tunes.

I mean, it’s super easy to make a loophole. You can literally copy and past the ABC notation, change a set of 3 notes into a dotted quarter note, and call it a day. Just find like 5 of the most popular tunes and do it. I don’t think anybody is going to notice.

Honestly, I really don’t care if you have 5 tunes submitted. I personally believe that this site benefits more from having your personal composition than yet another setting for The Kesh Jig. Change my mind.

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It’s partly a matter of quality, Monty. Whilst some of the contributors here are undeniably skilled composers of wonderful tunes, there are other contributors whose efforts are musically niaive, inept and poorly transcribed.

Admittedly, the poor transcriptions can also apply to settings of supposed "session tunes", but that’s for another discussion (well, perhaps not - it’s been discussed frequently in the past).

Whilst most composers on this site might occasionally drop one of their tunes off here, there is a small minority who have abused Jeremy’s good nature in the past and flooded the site with their creations. I believe there has even been a case of a contributor using the site as a typesetting service to get nice pdfs of their tunes.

But it’s mainly that this site’s supposed to be about session tunes. They should make up the majority of the tunes here. As I suggested in an earlier post, the best way, in my opinion, of sharing your tunes is to play them for other people. If the tunes are any good then other people will pick them up and spread them.