Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Personally, although I like quite a lot of the modern tunes…the “hits” as I sometimes refer to them derogatorily, if I’m at a session with lots of well known tunes, I’d rather that a large percentage of them consisted of “session standards” as well all the latest “fashionable” tunes.

It’s fine to have a balance, however, and there’s the argument that many of the new tunes have already become standards but I don’t think we should neglect the older tunes either.

On the other hand, you might also wish to argue that as long as they are good tunes, it shouldn’t matter? Also before anyone else says it, if I don’t like the repertore, I do realise that it’s up to me to find another session. 😛

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

In our session I’d say it’s about an 85/15 older vs. modern tunes ratio, which feels about right to me. By modern, I mean pretty much anything composed after 1960.

Modern tunes like “Spórt”, or “The Cat’s Meow” pretty much come up all the time along with the classics. Some modern tunes I’d consider at the fringe of traditional, like “Catharsis”, which I dislike, never get played.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

I think a couple of new(er) tunes are fine in a session. My problem is when some hot-shot player sits in and then goes on a binge of playing tunes so new that no one could possibly know them…….“I just learned this set from Sean McIrishman. He wrote them last week.” In the end, read the room. A session after all is a social gathering of musicians sharing music together.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

I love when people are playing regional classics. It often means I get to play less, as I don’t necessarily know the local repertoire, but I get to hear lots of great tunes or versions I haven’t heard before. And usually there’s still enough overlap with the general session repertoire that I don’t spend hours with my fiddle idle on the table.

It’s also great when you find that connection with another player, where they play a couple of paddy O’Brien tunes or bothy band sets or whatever, so you know that playing more of the same will bring a smile to their face.

Or you see there’s a piper in, so you get to dust off all your big pipe tunes.

That sort of thing.

Overall variety is the spice of life. Although I’d agree with the earlier poster that playing tunes like catharsis gets boring pretty quickly.

But there’s a lot of modern tunes that aren’t catharsis.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

When I say regional classics I don’t just mean corca dhuine music in Dingle, but usually, wherever you go in the world there’s a couple of local teachers or a local band or something that leave their stamp on the sessions in a town. And I love that.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

For me, it’s all about variety. I get burned out on playing just about any tune if I play it too much (although, I have found that I can ease the burnout by figuring out new things to do with the tune…)

I happen to be blessed with a core group of players in my two sessions that learn new tunes very regularly. Almost every single week, someone will introduce a new tune, people will ask what it is, someone will send around a recording, and almost inevitably, our core group of 6 players will all be playing the tune within a month. These tunes are often pretty obscure, which someone learned from a recording or video, and we end up transcribing them. What often happens with those new tunes is that we will play them quite regularly for a couple of months, and then it will gradually become less frequent, until that tune joins the vast pool of tunes that we can call upon every now and then.

One of my sessions is a closed session (because we have a hard cap of 7 players), and that’s where most of the new stuff appears and is played. The other session is an open session and has a wider range of skill levels, and we end up playing more of the standard tunes in that session, of course. But most of the core group are usually there, so we will slowly introduce some of the new tunes to that session as well.

For my closed session, I would say that maybe 40% of the stuff we play are things that we’ve learned in the last few years, 40% of the tunes are “fashionable” tunes we’ve played for a long time, and maybe 20% of the tunes are standards. For the open session, it would be more like the opposite. 20% new, 40% fashionable, and 40% standards.

But when I don’t play a standard tune for a long time, when one comes up, it’s like unexpectedly seeing an old friend after a long time and I forget how tired I was of them the last time I saw them! 😉

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Session standards is a moving target. I’m sure we all agree about that. Different session different standard. Heck when we had 2 active sessions here in the same town with a pretty strong overlap of players the standards were not the same. Still I get that there is a good chance that anywhere you drop in you’re likely to know tunes shared by several others. I for one like that. For sure I like new tunes and as a rule that’s how I add tunes to my book (never from recordings). But even more I like traveling on the shared path. What I don’t like is when a session gets hijacked by a wanna-be rock star with one solo after another. Equally annoying is a session where everybody always plays the same tunes in the same sets and has been for a long time. A session is a community of players coming together with a similar mind-set and making a connection, a welcome mix of spontaneity and familiarity, just like any meeting of good friends, old and new, in good company.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

@Eamon Chute : “A session after all is a social gathering of musicians sharing music together”.
Should be writ large on the wall of each and every session, yet it never ceases to amaze me how many egotistical self-styled “musicians” don’t seem to know about - or worse, - care about this.
It doesn’t matter if it’s “Hits” or “Standards”, the important thing is that most of the players can play them together.
A fairly meaningless and pointless term, “hits”. The “hits” in Aberdeen, musicians in a session in Dundee might not know a single one, and vice versa. There’s a good chance that they will know the “standards”, so if musicians are going to play together - figure it out for yourself.

What do prefer?

Sharing music together.

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Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do you prefer?

Thanks all.

Of course, I meant to say “What do you prefer?”

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

What I “prefer” is playing music along with other similarly-minded musicians, rather than spending the night listening to some pr*/k showing us how good he thinks he is, and deliberately playing tunes nobody else knows. And I do mean “he” - I have never ever yet come across the female of the species.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Yeah, what Kenny and Ross said.

I get bored at sessions where people play the exact same tunes, in the exact same order, week after week after week. God forbid you wing one of ‘those tunes’ into a set with something else. I get the sociable aspect of it, but it’s really tedious.

I also get bored if some douchebag plays an endless solo set of tunes no one knows. That said, I was that douchebag on Monday because I played a set of tunes no one knew, but how the hell was I supposed to know that no one that pub played ‘Rolling in the Bloody Ryegrass?’ Or the Irish version of ‘Ms. McLeod’s’ in Gmaj? I did try. Only started one set that night and gave up.

I like a balance of old warhorses, tunes I played at one point but sorta forgot existed, and tunes I’ve never heard before.

One can also spend a while wondering how Denver has a better Irish trad scene than Glasgow.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Yes, as others have suggested, a balance is good.

A few new and/or lesser known tunes, on occasion, is fine and as DSS suggests you can sometimes get away with “tagging” the odd one on to a set.
Yes, I’ve also found myself playing on my own too when I thought I was playing something I thought everyone would surely know.

“Popular” tunes are good though and I was just curious as to the taste of the members here as regards these. There are so many great “older” tunes in both Irish and Scottish music but these seem to get sidelined now in some sessions. As I say, I like many of the more fashionable tunes too but I like a good balance.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

I think it depends a lot on the session and how familiar the players are with each other.

Sessions at festivals, for example, can often have many participants who are not too familiar with each other and there is a tendency to stick to safe stuff that will have people joining in.

At your local session, where often everyone knows everyone else really well, there is more acceptability of the unfamiliar, as Reverend stated above. The local session acts more as a tune exchange than the generic festival session.

I’m not sure if I would use the term “hits” to describe modern tunes. There are lots of modern tunes that have, fairly quickly, become “session standards”. But perhaps it is that, living so far out in the sticks, by the time the “hits” reach me they have already become “standards” .

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

I was playing sessions years ago where we played many tunes which were currently being played by a group with Kevin Crawford in the band. I loved it. It was a lot to do with so many in this session who played flute & whistle. It’s when I bought an F whistle from Goldie. You could say we covered modern, fashionable tunes. We also played some Liz Carroll , Shooglenifty, Martin Hayes, Sharon Shannon, Patrick Street…
While most of our tunes are probably considered old warhorses, trad or some such descriptive we didn’t shy away from more recent tunes. Maybe there was some balance; maybe not. Looking back I consider what we played to have been blurring any lines between new V old music.

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Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

Session standards, but that may be different for different sessions. With the best players in the room and nothing to spoil it, tunes everyone knows are the best. My first set out the door this week were the most common reels on this site, drowsy maggie, cooleys and the silver spear. A setting out of intent. If you cant play them nice youse need to change your attitude. We did get to my favourite g dorian stuff later though.

A session does also need turnover, no more than one set of new to the session tunes each evening for a core of 3 main tune players. If these are new tunes that is fine, and you will be told if they are tasteless. Some of these new tunes may then get to be regular visitors if the others decide to pick them up.

Re: Session “Hits” V Session Standards. What do prefer?

I’m not sure that you need to categorise or analyse tunes in this way. Just play what people like playing, though not necessarily the same each week. In any case, “Hits” and “Standards” can be very regional as others have indicated. Although I now know quite a lot of tunes, I don’t expect to know every single one played in any given session, so would sit back and listen until I think I’m able to join in.