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Tech: obtrusive session instruments

jargarmani 23 Sep 07 - 06:55 AM
Leadfingers 23 Sep 07 - 07:05 AM
treewind 23 Sep 07 - 07:31 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 23 Sep 07 - 07:44 AM
terrier 23 Sep 07 - 08:00 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 23 Sep 07 - 08:45 AM
treewind 23 Sep 07 - 08:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Sep 07 - 08:58 AM
Geoff the Duck 23 Sep 07 - 09:03 AM
Mary Humphreys 23 Sep 07 - 09:25 AM
Leadfingers 23 Sep 07 - 10:03 AM
Midchuck 23 Sep 07 - 10:17 AM
terrier 23 Sep 07 - 10:22 AM
Nick 23 Sep 07 - 12:40 PM
McGrath of Harlow 23 Sep 07 - 01:13 PM
Richard Bridge 23 Sep 07 - 01:48 PM
Valmai Goodyear 23 Sep 07 - 02:53 PM
jonm 23 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM
Brendy 23 Sep 07 - 09:15 PM
Bee 23 Sep 07 - 10:53 PM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Sep 07 - 11:58 PM
Celtaddict 24 Sep 07 - 12:25 AM
Dick The Box 24 Sep 07 - 03:38 AM
Geoff the Duck 24 Sep 07 - 03:44 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Sep 07 - 03:45 AM
stallion 24 Sep 07 - 04:09 AM
Catherine Jayne 24 Sep 07 - 05:02 AM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Sep 07 - 06:18 AM
GUEST,martin ellison 24 Sep 07 - 07:37 AM
redsnapper 24 Sep 07 - 08:05 AM
Mr Red 24 Sep 07 - 08:06 AM
Betsy 24 Sep 07 - 10:03 AM
Richard Bridge 24 Sep 07 - 02:52 PM
the button 24 Sep 07 - 02:54 PM
Susan B 24 Sep 07 - 03:31 PM
Big Al Whittle 24 Sep 07 - 04:29 PM
Alba 24 Sep 07 - 04:46 PM
stallion 24 Sep 07 - 05:03 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 24 Sep 07 - 05:42 PM
Greg B 24 Sep 07 - 06:49 PM
the button 24 Sep 07 - 07:01 PM
The Fooles Troupe 24 Sep 07 - 09:43 PM
Big Al Whittle 25 Sep 07 - 12:18 AM
Geoff the Duck 25 Sep 07 - 05:29 AM
the button 25 Sep 07 - 05:47 AM
stallion 25 Sep 07 - 05:53 AM
Geoff the Duck 25 Sep 07 - 06:01 AM
Big Al Whittle 25 Sep 07 - 06:21 AM
Betsy 25 Sep 07 - 06:23 AM
Ruston Hornsby 25 Sep 07 - 07:57 AM
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Subject: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: jargarmani
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 06:55 AM

Virtually any instrument is acceptable seems acceptable in sessions these days-but a sort of unwritten code applies inasmuch as instruments played are acoustic-has anyone got opinions as to the use of electric instruments,which in my opinion,no matter quietly they are played, completely alter the balance and dynamics of a session. My own pet hate is keyboards(no problem with acoustic pianos, I may hasten to add).I'm sure most folk musicians have suffered the unwanted presence of some twerp who thinks he's Keith Emerson(remember him?)and completly wrecks the session.
I'd be interested to hear any views.
                      JA


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 07:05 AM

The only problem with Electric/Amplified instruments at sessions is if the player decides he wants to be Royal Festival Hall level of sound in a small pub bar !!

But the same goes for banjos said the Banjo player !


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: treewind
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 07:31 AM

I know someone who comes to a session with electric bass, keeps it to a sensible level and is perfectly session friendly. He also plays whistle so the bass isn't being played all the time, but it makes a useful contribution when it is.

I'm not so sure about melody instruments though. They just don't sound right.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 07:44 AM

Get a copy of the 1972 Topic LP "Lancashire Theramin Players" (now deleted). Most of the old boys have been squeezed out of sessions now because of their tendency to knock people's pints over when waving their arms.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: terrier
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:00 AM

jargarmani, bands have been playing with a mixture of acoustic and electric instruments since the first pickup was invented so that guitarists wouldn't be redundant in the big bands. What's the difference in a session? Just about any acoustic instrument played badly/too loud,etc, can 'completely alter the balance and dynamics of a session' as you put it. Just as any good musician can lead a session on just about any instrument from flag' to bull fiddle, an insensitive musician can MIS lead a session to distraction. I never play electric in sessions but years ago I yous't to play accordion a lot but got so many 'bad' vibes from other musicians who just saw an accordion in a session and automatically thought 'WRONG', I seldom use it now. Give a dog a bad name,etc! At one of our local sessions, we did have a keyboard player come down for a while and he fitted in with no trouble.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:45 AM

There's nothing wrong with electronic keyboards per se. Some of them can mimic the sound of an acoustic piano quite nicely. Or they can be used to provide nice bass lines. The problem with them is that they're capable of creating hundreds of different sounds and most of them just aren't appropriate to a session. If the player realizes that and plays with restraint, a keyboard can fit in just fine. If, as jargarmani said, he thinks he's Keith Emerson, he can ruin everyone's evening.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: treewind
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:46 AM

How does a "Lancashire Theramin" differ from a normal Theremin?
(apart from the spelling of course)

A.
:-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 08:58 AM

Yeah terrier...

Far too many people see 'Accordion' and think "bloody loud wanker who can't play!" but they just are "bloody ignorant wankers who can't listen" - and don't give anyone who CAN play, a chance to fit in - they just ASS-U-ME that "all accordion players are loud and can't play"

- sad thing is that they are often right... :-) there ARE so many bad (untrained oom-pah-pah style) players ...


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:03 AM

I believe it came about as a misheard instruction after several pints during a particularly extended session.
The newcomer gingerly approaches the leader of the session, a particularly daunting looking Chorleyite and quietly asked if he could join the players. The reply he got from the thirsty lancastrian was "Yes, if you get them in".
Not being used to the rolling, and by this time, slightly slurred Chorley accent, the timid newcomer misunderstood what was being requested. He went away and returned next week with a Theremin.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Mary Humphreys
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:25 AM

Ever heard Moor Music in a session? They include an accordion ( Jason Rice) AND an electric piano ( Gareth Kiddier). I dare anyone to say there is an obtrusive sound from either of these instruments.
Mary


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Leadfingers
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:03 AM

All ANY one at a session needs to dfo is LISTEN ! The EARS are the most important thing if you are playing with other people !


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Midchuck
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:17 AM

Very few people have the degree of self-control and acuity of hearing necessary to bring an amplified instrument to and acoustic jam and NOT turn the sound up to where they can hear their own instrument clearly over all the others. That normally means that everyone else hears that instrument as drowning out all the others. Human nature. I'd probably be guilty as anyone else if I brought in an electric something. But it isn't inherent in the instrument, it's inherent in the player. I think.

Peter


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: terrier
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:22 AM

Leadfingers, my ears are long and pointy do you think they would be suitable? 8~)
Listening is one thing but putting what you hear into practice takes, well......lots of practice. Bodhran players come in for a lot of stick (oops, sorry) at sessions but I've played with a few who really improved the music by actually THINKING about what they played as well as listening.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Nick
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 12:40 PM

I play electric bass in our local pub sometimes with acoustic instruments. I think the knack is to set the volume so that people ask you turn it up.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 01:13 PM

A small amp can be used effectively enough with a mandolin in a session.
But obviously the volume should be set at a level that matches the other instruments, not tries to drown them.

As for keyboards in a session, I like them best when they are stuck on squeezeboxes with no electrics attached.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 01:48 PM

I play amplified mandolin with Bishop Gundulf Morris, for the simple reason that my biting little mandolin is not loud enough without an amp. I tried a banjo-mandolin, and keeping it in tune was a total nightmare, and I really can't justify spending the money that a resonator mandolin would cost. But it is tricky in that my amp is at me feet, and since my ears are not, it can still be hard for me to hear what I am playing when there are bandos and fiddles and squeezeboxes and drums around me. On the other hand, when I can hear what I am doing as well as what the others are doing, so that I can tell if I'm doing it right, then sometimes the mandolin is too loud across the street. If I took a stepladder, I could put the mandolin amp on that so that it was up by my ears, but that's starting to get a bit like "Double or Drop" from Crackerjack.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Valmai Goodyear
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 02:53 PM

On the subject of theremins and keyboards: a couple of years ago the fiddler Nick Pynn came to the Royal Oak folk club in Lewes with one of the former. He explained that he had got fed up with lugging a harmonium around and was using the theremin to fulfil a similar function in his band.

This prompted the ace heckle, 'Ah, so it's a harmonium replacement theremin.' (Frank Purcell.)


Valmai (Lewes)


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: jonm
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 03:25 PM

Half the time, the problem lies with the amplification itself - if it's pointing at the musician, they are less likely to turn up the volume to hear themselves, bearing in mind that most electric instruments generate little or no acoustic volume.

Apart from that, it's down to the sensitivity of the player, as with banjos, piano accordions, melodeons and bodhrans.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Brendy
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 09:15 PM

"What's that instrument?" said P.J. Canny to a young, enthusiastic, be-dreadlocked, English New Age Traveller, who was giving himself plenty of elbow room as he sat down to join a session in Gary Pepper's Pub in Feakle, Co. Clare, on a hot August night around 15 years ago.

"It's a didgeewwy-do, mate"
(... there followed 5 seconds silence....., then....)

"Well, didgeri-dont", quoth P.J.
....to numerous nods of general approval, I might add.

B.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Bee
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 10:53 PM

Tsk! Sessions around here, you have to hope the piper has some sense of sound level decency...

Just outside the door usually fits in nicely!

In truth, I have been to kitchen parties where along with fiddles, mandolins and guitars, a piper has been known to be a fine contributor. ;-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Sep 07 - 11:58 PM

"All ANY one at a session needs to dfo is LISTEN ! The EARS are the most important thing if you are playing with other people !"

AMEN!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Celtaddict
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 12:25 AM

I was at a session in a very traditional pub in western Ireland a while back and there were a fiddle, a box, an electonic keyboard, and a didgeridoo. It actually worked pretty well until the keyboardist took a cell phone call.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Dick The Box
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 03:38 AM

Another problem with keyboards is the amount of space they take up. As sessions are often in small and crowded venues, a thoughtless keyboard player can not only hog the volume but the room as well. If only they could strap them vertically to their chests and attach some bellows, all would be well. Or would it......


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 03:44 AM

It's not the keyboard itself that's the problem. It's the Automatic Cha-Cha accompaniment that goes along with every jig and reel...
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 03:45 AM

I've seen didgeridoos in sessions, and so long as it's a tunable didge and you sort the key out first (and they stay on the rhythm) no sweat.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: stallion
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:09 AM

We have had a Sousaphone in a session or two, interesting if not a little deafening, the only instrument, other than our voices, that can be heard in the loos during a session! He now brings a mandolin!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Catherine Jayne
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 05:02 AM

I used to go to s session in York where someone played an electic bass guitar, the volume was never too loud and he fitted in well giving a wonderful bass line to the session.

I agree with what has been said before, listening is the key!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 06:18 AM

Eh, what?


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: GUEST,martin ellison
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 07:37 AM

Of course it isn't the instrument that's obtrusive - it's the player. Over the years I've found that even a whistle can drag a good session down (not to mention the bloody shakey eggs/bodhran brigade) but can recall having great sessions with saxes, double bass, electric bass, keyboard and any number of brass instruments.
I don't think there are any acoustic instruments which can't be played quietly and tastefully and electric instruments have volume knobs. Unfortunately it's the knobs behind the instrument that can't be controlled.

BTW Anahata - How dare you question my spelling - I have a dictionary right here in front of me and it states quite categorically . . . oh sorry, you're right. And the Lancashire ones are still gas powered (since they closed the coal pits).


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: redsnapper
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:05 AM

Great highland bagpipes

RS


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Mr Red
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 08:06 AM

Speaking a bodhran player - it all depends on how much they want to dominate. Drums are also cited in this respect and it is usually the inexperienced that over-compensate for their skill with enthusiasm.
I try to work on the principle that if it is your instrument you know the precise moment you are hitting/plucking and mentally you block that out to some extent. As a result it doesn't sound so loud to you. And can you hear the others so well?

I defy anyone to tell Martin Brinsford (Brass Monkey et al) that he is intrusinve with his harmonica - the Pignose Amp is a welcome addition.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Betsy
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 10:03 AM

I used to go to a session where a married couple brought their cheap and nasty portable keyboard. They sounded like a mixture between Sooty and one of those ice cream vans which tour housing estates.
F**king awful.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 02:52 PM

On the other hand there is the friend whose name I forget, nice woman with a limp, of Flora and Andy Green of Bishop Gundulph, who has a proper full-size keyboard and a music degree, and I almost always finish up telling her several times to turn it up and hit it 'cos I can't bloody hear it!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: the button
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 02:54 PM

I think there's nowt worse than the Phil Spector wall of melodeons, myself. All of them slightly out of tune with each other. Like a hive of bees.

And I say this as a melodeon player.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Susan B
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 03:31 PM

There's a great session at London Bridge (French/English) where it is not uncommon to have several hurdy-gurdies, a bagpiper or two, saxes and brass. The pub is old and low ceilinged (the oldest galleried pub in London) and the volume can overpower more delicate instruments such as fiddles. I've even had trouble hearing my Bleasey recorder or my garklein! Those of you who have had the misfortune to be near the garklein will know how loud this must be. An advantage though is that you can feel free to improvise, knowing that you can quickly fade into the background if it isn't working.

Sessions evolve their own styles and what might work well in one might be too much in another. So, it gets back to listening!

Susan B


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:29 PM

This session business - this cuts to the heart of my dislike of traditional music.

Theres always someone who's the top dog - a fiddler or melodeon player.He starts playing s a tune without telling anyone what it is. Before long he very capriciously changes key - without telling anyone the key he's playing in. all the other players are going, 'wossat? whats he doin'? which key?' and they start craning their necks to see if someone knows whats going on. then the DADGAD guitar kicks in with facetious little anticipations of the tune - the top dog doesn't like this and starts plays faster and louder and beats off the challenge, with a triumphant snarl! After fifteen minutes of complex but largely uninteresting melody - the process exhausts itself. the players look round with conspiratorial smugness - shove that up your Streets of London.

About an hour later, everybody's pissed. People who hesitated to take out their tin whistle an hour ago - are now convinced they are natural heirs to Paddy Moloney and Liam Og Flynn - only a different sort of approach - louder and more direct. The man who bought a set of Uilean pipes a week ago has now got them out of the brown cardboard box they came in. People smile encouragingly. Its got to better than the eight year old singing Kumbaya with a the instruction book in front of her.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Alba
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 04:46 PM

Betsy...ROFL. I can see that picture and hear that sound!!

A Saxophone can be a bit overpowering but then I am talking a Sax player at an Irish Trad session in Galway one evening. The afore mentioned Sax player thought it would be artistic to improvise some jazzy Sax breaks into some of the Jigs and Reels he didn't know at all.
After our initial shock wore off it was actually a hilarious session. Made even more hilarious as the guy was deadly serious about his improv playing. Who am I anyway to tell another Musician to shut the feck up ..*smile*
He was passing through Galway on his way to Dingle... lucky Dingle.
J


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: stallion
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 05:03 PM

Catheryne Jayne,
That would be Mike Tavener at "The Maltings" (York), tuesday nights, Mike is such a tallented musician I swear he could get a tune out of his mothers arse!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 05:42 PM

It all depends, someone said....

How many of you out there in the ether have had the experience of hearing a really fine piece of acoustic music, often the early work of the eventually famous? And how often, some time later, when you hear a "greatest hits" or some other named compilation, has the music been "sweetened" with synthesized or overdubbed electronic tracks that drown out the instruments and voices? It's that experience which points out the difficulty of deciding "what to let into the session" most graphically to me.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Greg B
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 06:49 PM

You're right button. All the melodeon players except us should
give it a rest.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: the button
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 07:01 PM

Sensible policies for a better Britain.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 24 Sep 07 - 09:43 PM

"sounded like a mixture between Sooty and one of those ice cream vans which tour housing estates."

At least you didnt say "The magic Roundabout"!!!!


"Theres always someone who's the top dog " etc...

ROFL - ya know, I never saw you at those sessions, WLD.... :-)


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 12:18 AM

oh I was (still am...gawd help me!) there! many the time and oft on the rialto......


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 05:29 AM

Wee Little Drummer. I couldn't agree with you more. Too many sessions consist of some selfish git who has bought the loudest (Insert name of instrument here) that then can get hold of, and never shut up. The don't giv ANYONE a chance to start an interesting tune because as soon as they think that the previous tune is about to finish they start up with the next one on their mental list.
There are sessions where, as a capable musician who IS able to play or accompany most types of music that happen in sessions, even when they hit keys such as Bb and F#, I just put the instrument away and think what's the point? It ain't fun!
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: the button
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 05:47 AM

When did all this hardcore keychange thing start, then? I've not played in a session for about (oh, let me think) 10 years, and I don't remember it happening then.

(I blame people being able to play across the rows. Ho ho.)


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: stallion
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 05:53 AM

Geoff,
Sounds like you've met Ron, he used to sing in obscure keys to stop musos spoiling his songs! Got rid of the Bb but still use F# occasionally! There are some very good accompanists at our sessions, Steve Thompson, Frank Pallister and Damien Fynnes to name three but there are a plethora of good, nay very good, musicians who are not so good at accompanying singers. I have even been told by musicians joining me in one of my songs that I "was singing the wrong melody"! I don't feel confident singing with musicians because they tend to, even if it is only in my head, hi -jack the tempo and spoil the whole rhythm of the thing, the three I mentioned, and there are others, don't "ya-ta-ta-ta-taaa" but drift in and out and around what one is doing, complementing it. So, any musician hi-jacking the tempo and feeling from a song is unwelcome whatever the instrument.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:01 AM

A lot of it iss the difference between being a musician and just being a player. A musician LISTENS to what other people are doing. A player just plays what they know.
A musician who accompanies usually doesn't play the melody, they fill in bits between, often during the gaps between what is sung. Most importantly, they watch the singer for clues that the singer is happy or otherwise with the accompaniment being added, its speed or appropriateness, and shut up if it isn't right.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:21 AM

Know what you mean Geof. I always think with folk music - it's a bit like that scene in Men Behaving Badly.
Leslie Ash asks Caroline Quentin if she's looking forward to getting married, and she replies - I supoose so....I just wish.......I was marrying..... someone better!

You just feel the whole bloody thing could be...... better!


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Betsy
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 06:23 AM

I was told a nice story by an Irish friend. At a session there was a lull whilst people went to the bar , toilet, outside for a smoke - an old fashioned beer-break if you like .The Irishmans friend enquired to an assembled "musician" - "And what do you call this thing then ?" - A Didgeridoo cane the reply . Well the says the Irishman "Next time the music starts didgeri-F**king-don't".


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Subject: RE: Tech: obtrusive session instruments
From: Ruston Hornsby
Date: 25 Sep 07 - 07:57 AM

Spoons. Spoons played by somebody with no natural timing whatsoever.


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