Proliferation of tunes

Proliferation of tunes

Since July last year, I’ve been sitting in on a Zoom session hosted by a local folk club organiser (Sussex, UK), which is typically joined by a dozen or so people - some from the area and a few former locals now resident abroad. Since we can’t play together, the practice has developed of sharing tunes we’d like to play and/or share by posting the dots ahead of each session. In that time I’ve picked up over 100 tunes that I like but didn’t previously know, reflecting the wide range of interests among participants - inc. material from the British Isles, Scandinavia, continental Europe, and elsewhere. It’s been an introduction to a lot of music I might not otherwise have come across. Others here have commented on the various downsides of current restrictions on meeting in real space for a session, but maybe when one door closes . . .

If it’s of interest, the material shared so far is listed at: http://www.lewessaturdayfolkclub.org/LAFC/Zoom%20Tunes.html

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Over 100 tunes in 7 months is very impressive! Are you able to retain them?

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thanks Bazza - i just started working through the Zoom session, the titles read like the credits of a Scandi noir show, but there’s some cool tunes there.

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‘Are you able to retain them?’ Of course not, Elf! At my age? I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast .. . . But once you have the dots you can go over them in your own time, and a few will stick after a while. Just like at a real session.

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Good job!

(I don’t think 100 tunes over the course of 7 months is that impossible - that’s something like 5 albums with 10 sets of tunes. I’d even be surprised if one didn’t absorb that repertoire in say, half a year.)

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For all those people learning tunes at a rate of less than 200 tunes/year, don’t worry, It’s normal, it’s not surprising.

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I know a number of people that have woodshedded new tunes during the pandemic. I think it’s a great use of time, and can help people feel better in uncertain times… On my side, I have a core group of 8 people that have been playing twice a week on JamKazam. Since we’re generally stuck with some combination of those 8 players each time, we have been encouraging everyone to help keep things fresh, so we don’t get stuck in a rut. And a lot of that has been people learning new tunes and bringing them to the ‘sessions’.

In that regard, it hasn’t felt real different than our in-person sessions, other than the fact that there are a limited number of us, so we’ve been working harder to keep the same kind of pace with new tune additions… For most of the last 20 years, my tune acquisition pace has averaged out to about 1 a week, or around 50 a year. But it has certainly accelerated in the last several years, where most of the tunes I acquire are from sessions. It all depends on the tunes themselves. A lot of tunes I just pick up just by playing them in sessions, but the more involved a tune is (Fahey, Reavy, etc.), I will have to sit down and spend some time learning all the twists and turns. For the tunes that I introduce to the sessions, I usually get from recordings, or occasionally from distant friends who send me cool tunes.

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I guess it depends on how you want to define ‘learned.’ To me, if I played a tune a once upon a time but can’t play it now it didn’t get learned, it got played and forgotten. Not wishing to derail the thread over semantics though. 🙂

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Having just taken to my mandolin seriously a year or so ago, I’ve learnt a lot of tunes on that instrument (it’s an awful lot easier than playing tunes on the guitar). Granted, I knew a lot of them already in my head, but I’ve also dug deep into a lot of four-part pipe tunes - 2/4, 4/4 and 6/8 marches, jigs, hornpipes and reels - that I probably wouldn’t have found the time for without so much time at home.

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Even at 60, my memorization skills haven’t declined much. I don’t play as often as I like or should, but that due to the joint degeneration more than anything, it’s just too painful to play.
I’ve always had the knack of hearing something a time or two, and then being able to repeat it. From there, remembering it only required playing it a few times.
In the case of memorization and retainment, it’s a combination of actual memory and muscle memory that helps the most. Pulling pieces out and going through them as often as you can, was what worked for me. It’s subjective, so it may not work that way for others.

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Our Zoom group has done something like Bazza’s though we haven’t got quite as many as 100! We started weekly sessions back in May, using an existing collection of tunes, but then started a new online folder with suggestions from those in the group, and this has rapidly expanded. They are all in a couple of Google Drive folders and I screen-share them during sessions.
Between those and other tunes picked up in other online sessions, I have had to go and buy a new big folder to put all the paper copies in! One of the other sessions has a Dropbox folder of 245 tunes or sets, but I haven’t printed any of these - just call them up on iPad while Zooming on laptop.

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Sessions seem to operate on playing in the moment but not retaining while playing. Yet it works in a session.
I’m sure my thoughts sound crazy to most people reading them. If anyone ‘gets’ where I’m going could you tell me if Zoom sessions are at all like in person sessions for starting a set and getting others to join in in a relatively natural way? I’m trying to figure *where I fit* in this recent proliferation of tunes which is currently happening.
I don’t have internet at home. I do listen to virtual sessions when I am able. I look forward to
learning tunes from a session if not in a session. Crazy, eh?

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So, no, Zoom sessions don’t work that way at all. Generally one person leads a set with everyone else muted.

We’ve recently been doing a lot of “chained” sets on my Tuesday night session (http://michaeleskin.com/zoom - you’re all invited)

With the “chained sets”, we line up several players in a row, generally 4 or 5 and then one player starts the set as the only player unmuted, everyone plays along at home, then just before they get done with the third time through, the next person in the chain unmutes and picks up the set (the previous person mutes), and so on through all the players until we get to the end of the chain. We post the names in the Zoom chat of the remaining players at each stage in the chain until it’s complete.

It’s been a lot of fun and feels more like a real session than the single player one-set at a time paradigm since it can involve a lot more players, but of course, it’s nothing like a real session.

I’m thinking of trying some versions of this where we don’t arrange the chain in advance and would be more “organic” based on whoever “claims” the next set by the simple act of un-muting or raising their hand in Zoom, but haven’t tried this yet in our session.

Odd times call for odd solutions.

We’ve having a lot of fun on Tuesdays. We also do a lot of “Celtic Karoke” sets where those of us with the right setups mix in either commercial CD or personal session recordings with our live play to provide a more satisfying experience for everyone.

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Cheers! So completely new to sessions as we’ve come to know them until now. I think I got it. ;
Sorry for being so dense but it’s been driving me crazy for the past week (at least) sorting out how to get my head back on. I think that’s just it; the online sessions are a work in progress with no one particular person yet certain where this will take us. But it definitely is a paradigm shift. Good to know!

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AB
The online sessions don’t really work for me. As Michael Eskin said, you are only hearing one person at a time. As far as playing tunes I don’t really know it’s much easier for me to do that among a group of musicians than it is to do it by playing along with a single player. Even if I know the tune well enough it’s easier to blend in with a group than it is with one person’s take on the tune. As far as leading a set of tunes, I don’t even like to do that in a real session unless they’re tunes most people know and will be playing along with. Online it feels very much like I am performing for people, and that is not an enjoyable experience for me. Kudos to anyone who does enjoy the online sessions though, I’m sure a lot of people do. You should at least give one a try.

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Yes, leading you can feel very isolated but if you see other players picking up their instruments then you know you’re doing something right.
Leading sets on Zoom forces you to really practise those sets and gives you something to aim for.
Plus, as has been pointed out before on another thread, on Zoom you can try to pick up tunes you don’t know on the fly without annoying the leader with your noodling.

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All very good points.

Zoom sessions? Not for me ….

Is there a difference between playing in a Zoom session or playing along with a great musician on Youtube, slowed down to make the process more accessible and enjoyable? The sessions I have seen on the net are often accompanied by a lot of senseless chatter and silly giggle.

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David, that’s my thoughts too.

There’s lots of great stuff online and if all the other musicians are all muted in these Zoom sessions then one would be just as well playing along with other recordings on You Tube or whatever. Either great musicians or actual recorded sessions.

I do understand the argument for the social side of things but I’d be tempted to try out lots of sessions further afield out of curiousity. So, maybe not all Zoom attendees will remain loyal to their own “local session” when there’s so much competition out there?

Having said that, I *might* still get involved with some Zoom activities. Perhaps for the occasional course or work shop but probably not for regular session activities.

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I couldn’t agree less. The Zoom sessions I attend have less chatter than at the pub sessions I used to attend. But, importantly, they still have chatter.
I could play along with great players on YouTube but, to them, I’m not there and I’m just a Jimmy Naefreends.

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Chatter need not be senseless, it can include, “how about” and “can anyone remember,” talk related to what you play next. There’s the uncertainty and the interaction - you attend not knowing what will be played, and can hopefully both give and receive. That makes a surprising difference. As in the real world knowing people who are there, knowing what they might like to play etc makes a difference too. Dropping in on sessions with strangers may lack something.

Is there a parallel in the difference between taking part on this board and researching and reading about music matters online?

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There’s a huge difference between a Zoom session and playing along with YouTube videos.

In a Zoom session, you’re part of a community, can ask questions and chat between sets, develop some connection and relationship with the other players. We also have “chained” sets and other Zoom tricks to make it feel more spontaneous and more like a real session. Hard to do that with YouTube videos.

The Zoom session I host each week has been going on since May and has a really nice group of about 25 regulars, players of all levels from beginner to pro.

I totally get it, they aren’t for everyone, but there are many of us for which it does provide a valuable lifeboat of sorts until we can play together in-person again.

Again, anyone is welcome to join my regular Tuesday night 6:00-8:00 PM Pacific time Zoom session, the info and latest Zoom meeting link is available at:

http://michaeleskin.com/zoom

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I don’t know how to do ZOOM or SKYPE. On my elderly laptop, things keep popping up, latest emails, adverts etc. Confirms my dislike of modern tech.

I can find youtube tunes - and that is well worth-while. Might try and play along on my own at home. Have just got a harmonica online (easiest tune is the Ode to Joy - maybe Beethoven got hold of a harmonica - it was invented about 1820… ) Also, Bob Dylan’s tunes easyish on mouth-organ, as you might expect!

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Susan K, Zoom doesn’t have any issues with advertising, pop-ups, etc.

I hope that those of you who are “Zoom-curious” will please give it a try and not by dissuaded by the “You kids get off my lawn” nay-sayers. 🙂

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I do about 3 zooms a week initially with lovely crowd at the Isle of Man, but since they came fully out of lockdown, with a great bunch of “zoomers” in Wexford, and occasional visits to New Jersey. We get people in from Ireland, Scotland, England, Wales California, Australia, New Zealand …………..
Agree it is not the same but it is what it is !
1) I’ve learnt way more new tune/sets than ever before
2) I have to learn them properly since I am essentially playing solo - I rarely practised before - now I practice every day and have even recorded some video sets !
3) I have revisited all my sets repertoire from the last 40 years and working on eliminating all the iffy bits that I thought I knew well
4) We have lovely chat/jokes/tune swaps between sets which really help me through this bloody nightmare - been known to go on from 9.30pm till 4.30am !!
5) I have met some lovely musicians that I would not have met normally
I think zoom - even with all it’s limitations has really helped me through this mess
Give it a try
Enob

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I don’t see people with questions (&/0r skepticism) regarding joining a zoom meeting session as *naysayers*.
At this point it’s still fresh and malleable, as it should be. I think the format will benefit from addressing these questions more directly through the moderators as best they are able. It’s a new paradigm with still rough bits.
I silently joined John Whelan’s slow session tonight. I have tons of questions yet it was not at all intimidating.
I appreciate John making Zoom sessions available. Michael Eskin, you are appreciated, no doubt.
I look forward to being part of this new type of tunes session into the future. Thank you, John Whelan!

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