An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Is what one does, as a contributing musician at a session, a performance or not?

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

I generally think that a performance includes audience engagement. There’s a lot less pressure when you’re not playing to an audience that has paid specifically to hear you, even if you’re getting paid. And no pressure at all when you’re playing in a session and not getting paid.
In your local session your just enjoying yourself with your musical mates.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

No. A performance is rehearsed with predetermined lineup of musicians, all with specific parts to play from a set repertoire played in a set sequence. There are occasional exceptions to this, but despite the fact that sessions are mostly in public places, there is no effort on the part of the assembled musicians to present a polished show, although if we weren’t entertaining, pub management would not favor our presence. I maintain that "performance" connotes a higher level of, um… performance.

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

There are elements of performance that can sneak in, as when a session leader tries to limit too much conversation between sets to keep the music flowing and please the venue owner.

But generally speaking, the sessions I’ve attended have not had a 100% focus on pleasing an audience, or a rehearsed set list. They’re loosely organized affairs. If it was seen as a performance by someone in the pub, it was a pretty sloppy one!

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

No. The proper attitude of session players should be mild disdain for the listeners. 🙂

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Little annoys me more than when players sit on stage and have a session and call themselves a “band” even if they have a “set list”. An audience deserves more and so do performers. An audience deserves a prepared, diverse show and more than, as Barry Foy says, “certain tunes played a certain way on certain instruments”.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

I push against the grain here and say that even if no one else is listening, a session is a performance in which the performers and the audience are the same. In other words, each person in the session is performing for their fellow session-mates, and the group as a whole is performing for itself.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

It pays to understand the distinction between performing what you do well and performing for an audience as an acknowledged entertainer. I believe the OP was writing about the second definition.

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

First hit on Google: A musician is a person who composes, conducts, or performs music. If you take your instrument to play in a public place, then you are performing. Whether or not you, or the public, wants you to. An attitude of the musicians of "mild disdain for the listeners" might give pause to consider if that a session worthy of being involved with.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Again, performing music is not the same as giving a performance. You can perform music alone. Or put another way, a person who performs music is not necessarily a performer, whether or not they are in public. You are not a performer unless you are also an entertainer.

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Yhaal House, why do you think this topic is ripe for re-appraisal?

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

So much depends on the type of session you find yourself in. If it’s one you’re new to, and don’t know many of the other folk there, and if you should be asked to play something, I would always go for a tune I know really well, and would hopefully be known by others present; more of a performance in that scenario, albeit for everyone to join in.
If you’re just in with your usual pals, you can afford to be a bit more adventurous in the hope that they will be forgiving of any mistakes, or introducing a "new" tune. Also big differences between playing in a busy pub with a large crowd of half-listening noisily chatting non-players or in a separate room for the session- goers only. You’re doing well if you can get the chatty lot to listen, and even better if they compliment you on your playing or ask about the tune.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Yhaal House, are we doing covers of old copy? Not giving up the ghost?

To answer your over ripe question, "It’s not." But probably less worth repeating than a cover playing off The Bee Gees from circa back a wee bit.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9jeeHFymvQ

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

The OP has a pattern of repeating the misbegotten notion that we’re in a post-Covid world. Not where I live. Trend lines are certainly lower than they were, but as of today, the CDC reports the US daily average of cases (nationwide) is 27,784, and average daily deaths are at 732. That’s still about 5x the national traffic fatality rate.

Whether music-making is "performance" is in the mind of the player, and also in the mind of the listener, if there is one, and the twain may never meet.

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Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Yes, sessions are usually quite different from performances although elements from one can often creep into the other.

It’s not uncommon for bands to invite "friends" or members of of the other bands on the bill to join them on stage for a few tunes. This is usually fairly spontaneous and unrehearsed.

Also, many regular sessions often follow a format to some extent. There’s not necessarily an order of tunes/songs or set list as such but, in many cases, it’s usually expected that certain tunes/sets will crop up. Also, too many deviations from the norm can be frowned upon in some quarters. "Nae new Tunes" etc.
Many, especially "paid" sessions, will start dead on time and finish sharp at the arranged closing time. All musicians will put down their instruments and start packing up. It’s almost regimental. In less formal sessions, players just "come and go" and some will continue to play for some time after the main event.

Also, many sessions will have an "Opener" and a "Finishing off" set and fairly regular breaks for "fags", vaping etc(or whatever they like to do these days). Not quite the same thing as an interval but similar.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Oh, I also agree that we’re not "Post Covid". There’s more cases than ever now. Whether that’s much of a concern or not is another discussion, of course.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Sessions aren’t performances. And performances aren’t sessions. Sometimes the lines are blurred. Either can be entertaining. Sessions are self sustaining by the musicians for the musicians.

Wishing that “post Covid” bit was true. Still highly prevalent.

Re: An old chestnut of a discussion, absolutely ripe, post Covid, for a re-appraisal.

Food for thought … We will never be "post covid". Covid in one form or another has always been with us as an ever-changing SARS virus. We will be, maybe are, "post afraid of covid". Vaccinations ( if you refuse one you are part of the problem) and other measures are very nearly putting covid into an endemic relationship, folded into the cast of nasty characters that may infect and even kill some of us. Yes Covid is an adversary, but I believe our collective fear is a greater enemy. It’s about time we quit hiding from each other.