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When NOT to sing

Zimmerman 30 Apr 09 - 06:09 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 06:12 AM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 06:23 AM
Will Fly 30 Apr 09 - 06:30 AM
Acorn4 30 Apr 09 - 06:38 AM
GUEST 30 Apr 09 - 06:40 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 08:31 AM
jacqui.c 30 Apr 09 - 08:43 AM
SINSULL 30 Apr 09 - 08:44 AM
The Sandman 30 Apr 09 - 08:56 AM
Bryn Pugh 30 Apr 09 - 08:57 AM
jacqui.c 30 Apr 09 - 09:06 AM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 10:08 AM
Zen 30 Apr 09 - 10:21 AM
Stringsinger 30 Apr 09 - 10:36 AM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 10:43 AM
MMario 30 Apr 09 - 11:12 AM
Amos 30 Apr 09 - 11:24 AM
Big Mick 30 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM
High Hopes (inactive) 30 Apr 09 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 30 Apr 09 - 12:42 PM
The Sandman 30 Apr 09 - 12:49 PM
Big Mick 30 Apr 09 - 12:52 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,mg 30 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM
paula t 30 Apr 09 - 01:27 PM
dick greenhaus 30 Apr 09 - 01:30 PM
MMario 30 Apr 09 - 01:33 PM
MMario 30 Apr 09 - 01:49 PM
Surreysinger 30 Apr 09 - 02:12 PM
Marje 30 Apr 09 - 02:13 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 02:27 PM
PoppaGator 30 Apr 09 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,mg 30 Apr 09 - 02:53 PM
MMario 30 Apr 09 - 02:55 PM
Richard Mellish 30 Apr 09 - 03:45 PM
Bonzo3legs 30 Apr 09 - 03:53 PM
Musket 30 Apr 09 - 04:01 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 30 Apr 09 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,mg 30 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM
Linda Kelly 30 Apr 09 - 04:27 PM
Richard Bridge 30 Apr 09 - 04:42 PM
curmudgeon 30 Apr 09 - 04:49 PM
Jim Carroll 30 Apr 09 - 05:14 PM
GUEST,CupOfTea, no cookies 30 Apr 09 - 05:46 PM
Ref 30 Apr 09 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,Shimrod 30 Apr 09 - 05:59 PM
GUEST,Ebor_fiddler 30 Apr 09 - 06:02 PM
curmudgeon 30 Apr 09 - 06:12 PM
Azizi 30 Apr 09 - 06:16 PM
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Subject: When NOT to sing
From: Zimmerman
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:09 AM

Is it OK for audience members to start joining in uninvited during a song?

It's annoying enough when someone nearby starts doing it in an amplified concert setting but I've also seen it happen to session singers as to well known performers in folk clubs.

I recently saw a someone singing a reasonably familiar song but with adventurous phrasing who was completely flummoxed when someone insisted on accompanying her word for word but totally out of sync.

I suppose some people get carried away and do it without thinking but I suspect it's mostly show-offs who want everyone to notice that they know the words.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:12 AM

No
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:23 AM

I don't usually mind if it happens when I'm singing - I can't recall it ever being at odds with how I wanted to sing the song, or drowning me out (which is not an easy thing to do). But I can imagine it could be a problem if a tactless or insensitive audience member were to bellow out their favourite version without listening to mine.

In most cases the singer makes it clear whether they welcome such participation. If I want or expect joining-in, I can usually indicate - with hands, eyebrows, eye contact or a smile - that this is welcome. If the singer is performing in a self-absorbed way, or tending to syncopate the rhythms or improvise with the melody, best leave them to it, IMO. You need to take your cue from the performer.

I find that amplification ususally has the opposite effect - the performer sometimes asks people to join in a chorus but it's not very satisfying to do so when the amplification drowns out the audience and you can't hear anyone but the soloist anyway.

Marje


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Will Fly
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:30 AM

I usually invite audience participation when I think it's appropriate. I have been known to say, "you can join in if you want to - but I'd rather you didn't." Most people get the joke...


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Acorn4
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:38 AM

It's normally OK and all part of the spirit. We do sometimes have a bit of a problem with Tim Laycock's tune to the "Row On" lyrics - we play it with guitar and concertina slightly faster than when it is sung unaccompanied, and on a number of occasions there has been a screech of brakes on the concertina when we,ve hit the chorus.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:40 AM

See previous thread: Concert Etiquette


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:31 AM

I wonder if people can answer a few questions that have always puzzeled me on this subject.
1   Why do people feel they need to joint in with a singers songs unasked?
2   Do they feel they have the right to do so automatically, if so, why?
3   Does this right aapply to all songs - if not, which songs are exempt
4   Don't they consider it the height of bad manners to put the onus on the singer to ask them not to join in?
5   Don't they think that people who 'pop their cheeks' on certain songs should have their fingers removed surgically - without anesthetic
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: jacqui.c
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:43 AM

Jim - from a personal point of view I do find, when listening to someone singing a song that I like, that the urge to sing along is there. Don't know why - it just is.

Mostly I resist it or sing along under my breath so not to disturb the rest of the listeners, who, in the circles I run in, are disturbed enough already.

As a singer I don't mind others joining in, so long as we're all, literally, singing off the same sheet. It does get perturbing when I am singing something with myriad versions, to have someone singing another version over mine!

Never heard of popping the cheeks - where does that come from?


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: SINSULL
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:44 AM

I think a lot depends on the performer. At house concerts, usually, the performers welcome the harmonies. When they don't want anyone to sing along or have arranged a "different" version, they say so.

I am not a strong singer and have to admit I am thrown when a strong singer insists on guiding me to sing it their way. Doesn't happen often and I believe it is done kindly.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:56 AM

I dont mind,I like to see people enjoying themselves.its never been a problem for me,but then Iam easy going.
no one has ever popped their cheeks at me,a few haved popped the question.
I havent seen many streakers in folk clubs lately either.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 08:57 AM

AFAIK, the (IMO extremely rude) popping of cheeks arises where a singer in singing "Pleasant and Delightful", in particular

" A ring from his finger he instantly drew . . . "

and I suppose the popping of the cheeks is, in the minds of those who do so (which presupposes a mind) symbolic of your man "popping the question".

Childish - about as childish as those who insist on improvising in the Manchester Rambler

" . . . but I am a free man on Sunday",

and you'll always get one fool or more giving it

"and Saturday and sometimes Friday night".


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: jacqui.c
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 09:06 AM

It's worse, when singing The Ash Grove, to have idiots sniggering and singing the alternative words, loud eonough to be heard.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:08 AM

No answers so far -
A supplementary question - just in case somebody has the bottle to answer the first ones.
If Alistair Anderson or Tony Hall turned up at your club would you feel free to take out your guitars, concertinas, euphoniums..... whatever, and accompany them - if not, why not?
Jacqui, with resect - you might not mind people joining in - others do.
Should it not be a case of not doing so unless you are invited to?
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Zen
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:21 AM

It's worse, when singing The Ash Grove, to have idiots sniggering and singing the alternative words, loud eonough to be heard.

Or even when playing it as a rather good tune.

Zen


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:36 AM

Yes. It means they like the song and want to be involved. Why be precious about it?


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 10:43 AM

I think we're talking about a range of settings and situations which vary quite a bit. At one end there's the large, formal concert with a Big Name who will in most cases be amplified, and thus less likely to invite or encourage joining in, and it's less likely to happen anyway. At the other end of the continuum, there are informal singarounds and house parties where a number of people get together to sing. In these circumstances, one person may lead a song, but joining-in is expected and encouraged - it's a very natural form of human social activity, and more or less the vocal equivalent of the open music session in a pub.

In between these extremes there are all sorts of other situations where singing occurs - folk clubs, festivals, singing days or weekends, private parties, etc. It's in these in-between situations that people may not share the same expectations, and misunderstandings may occur. Some events are set up with the expectation that everyone may sing if they wish (you try telling 'em not to join in at the Anchor Middle bar at Sidmouth!), while others may consist of a succession of mini-performances or party-pieces by individuals or small groups, and attentive silence is expected.

I really don't see how either of the extreme positions ("no one has a right to join in a song with another person unless explicitly invited"; or "anyone should feel free to join in with another singer unless asked not to") could be made to apply to all situations. People just have to use sensitivity and common sense, and not get too upset if others don't interpret the "rules" in the same way.

Marje


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: MMario
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 11:12 AM

You know - people do tend to object if others join in singing; but there are a GREAT many musicians who will start chording along to a singer without asking....and most are shocked if you mention it may not be desired or desirable.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Amos
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 11:24 AM

Chacun a son mauvais gout, mate; if they're tiddly, they may be oblivious to the nuances of good conduct. In the long run, more singing is better in sum total, I am sure of that!



A


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 11:33 AM

You know, Jim, I get where you are coming from on this. I do find your tone a bit strident, but I figure that is because it irritates you. I will give a couple of examples both ways.

Where it really bothers me is when folks don't pay attention to the arrangement the singer is singing. My phrasing is such that enunciate in ways that bring out what I think the song is trying to say. It is my arrangement, not necessarily the one most folks are familiar with. A savvy audience, if they feel the need to sing along, would listen to what I am doing and then try to fit in. Another thing that is a bit bothersome is when singing a ballad, and someone in the audience sings the verses. I sure don't mind when they join in on the chorus, provided they listened and understand my version, but common courtesy would be to leave the verses to the singer. It is, after all, his/her performance.

The other pet peeve is when someone is so insistent that theirs is the "right way" to sing a song, and insist on singing over the top of the performer the "right way". This really is just a variation of what I have already mentioned, but it is incredibly rude.

The opposite of this is when you are performing for a very savvy bunch of talented folkies (such as the FSGW, or the FSNY), and they listen, and then fill in just the right harmonies and actually complement what you are doing. I know that when I do a mini concert at one of these gatherings, and this special moment occurs it just reduces me to goosebumps. You ever seen mass goosebumps on a fine doorful of a fella like meself? That is somthing to write home about....***chuckle***.

So I get what you are on about, and for the most part I agree. If you are listening to a singer, remember the performance is theirs, and have a bit of courtesy.

All the best,

Mick


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: High Hopes (inactive)
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 12:40 PM

Some people have problem with audience participation I don't. That's my answer


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 12:42 PM

I started singing a ballad the other night and someone joined in and started singing the same ballad word for word. I had to stop and ask him who was singing - him or me? I happen to think that ballad performances, especially, are very personal in terms of phrasing, pace, ornamentation etc., etc. - and I would never dream of joining in on anyone elses performance.

I also get irritated by chorus singing - particularly 'harmonisers' - all that dreary bellowing - why must everything be slowed down to a horrible dirge?

I also think that people must learn to distinguish between choruses and refrains. Just because a line or phrase repeats isn't, in my opinion, an invitation for the whole audience to jump in and 'harmonise' it! Many ballads have refrains (and NOT choruses) - it's the repitition which can give the ballad an incantatory feel and the spell can be broken by insensitive 'harmonisation'.

I sometimes think that many habitual 'harmonisers' don't actually 'get' folk song. They seem to think that it is about the overall 'sound' (as in much pop or even classical music) whereas folk song is about narrative and melody. If you add too many voices (or instruments) you can lose the story and 'fill in' all of the, often very beautiful intervals, in the tunes.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: The Sandman
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 12:49 PM

marje,thankyou for an excellent post.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Big Mick
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 12:52 PM

I had one happen to me at The Getaway last year. I sang a song that I often sing, during a song circle. Another of the participants (a good friend of mine) apparently felt like the song was his. He has a powerful voice, and he insisted on singing over the top of me, even though his version and mine have differences. It was so annoying, and really bothered me. I have a distinctive way of doing the song, and felt the effect I was after was ruined by this. He's a good enough friend that I didn't say anything, but I really felt that this was a dramatic lack of courtesy.

Mick


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:19 PM

Sorry folks,
People are welcome to join in with my singing uninvited when they and I are jarred - which would certainly not be at a club - o/w wait till you're asked.
Where do you draw the line - I've had Shimrod's experience of an egotistical turd making a ballad a singalong on a number of occasions.
You're either running a singers club or a Palace of Varieties where everybody joins in.
Most of the residents I was involved with made it a practice to include chorus songs; where these were not straightforward we even taught them to encourage audiences.
It's not just a case of exhibitionists showing us they know the words; it's the audiences who don't listen to what and how the singer is singing - also a regular occurrence.
Walter Pardon was forced to drop several songs from his repertoire because of audiences who sang loud harmonies and dragged the speed out - which totally threw him - arrogant bad manners.
The fact that nobody has even attempted to answer the questions I asked is proof enough for me that this is a bad practice - clubs who allow it should come with a health warning.
The logic is that singers have to demand the right to sing solo and (Marje) the idea that there is one rule for a named guest and another for a rank-and-file resident is elitism run mad.
Bloody right it annoys me Mick
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM

I think there are cultural differences...the more or less American way that I am familiar with is to have group singing, let's sing something we all know etc. Other traditions listen respectfully to one singer. Perhaps you are from that tradition.

You are the singer. Set your rules and don't expect others to know what they are in advance. I expect people to sing along with me if they know the words, but to let me set the rhythm, melody, words etc. The singer alongs should be subservient except in cases where the person singing absolutely can not carry the tune and needs lots of help.

Just announce your preference, preferably in advance of people paying money to see you, if they pay, so they can make an informed choice.

They are not being rude, etc. They are following a different set of rules that they go by. mg


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: paula t
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:27 PM

I like to hear people enjoying themselves.We usually invite people to join in whenever they like. I can't remember having a problem with anyone being antisocial for long - because there's usually some communication from the rest of the audience if it happens.
I tend to find that people don't join in the softer ballads.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:30 PM

There's a difference between a sing and a performance---one that too many "performers" don't recognize. I, personally, don't tend to do singalong-type material, but if someone knows the words to what I'm singing and wants to join in, fine.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: MMario
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:33 PM

1   Why do people feel they need to joint in with a singers songs unasked?

Because they enjoy doing it and that is useually what they are present for, entertainment

2   Do they feel they have the right to do so automatically, if so, why?

Obviously they do feel the right; why? I think it's culture since so many people grow up singing to radios, tv, record players, and now ipods, etc, etc.


3   Does this right aapply to all songs - if not, which songs are exempt

one they like, sure.

4   Don't they consider it the height of bad manners to put the onus on the singer to ask them not to join in?

nope.

5   Don't they think that people who 'pop their cheeks' on certain songs should have their fingers removed surgically - without anesthetic

have no idea what you mean by this.

As far as your supplementary question - those people who do so will do so usually no matter who is performing. I wouldn't - but I can't play an instrument.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: MMario
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 01:49 PM

I was going to say; I tend to mouth words along with a performer when I am enjoying a song; and have actually been surprised at the number of performers who have noticed and encouraged me to sing out.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Surreysinger
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:12 PM

Before I actually started singing solo in public myself I was given to understand that it was polite practice to listen to the verses, and join in with the choruses ... but no more than that. A practice I normally adhere to, unless invited to "join in if you know it" by the singer.

Since I have started singing out myself I can see why it is rude to do otherwise. I have invested a fair bit of time (usually) in coming to grips with a song, it's meaning, it's emotional content, and the way best to present it (obviously that particular aspect is always going to be a subjective and very personal thing). The song has become very personal to me, and when I sing it I am concentrating on many facets of it - meaning, content, breathing, phrasing, best way of delivering it. I had an experience some months ago of standing up to present a serious and sad ballad, and had got half way through it... arriving at a very emotional point I was suddenly beset by what I can only describe as a strident mooing from the front row. One of the audience had decided to join in with me . Firstly, it threw me, and I promptly forgot my next line; secondly, it ruined the mood for me and chucked me out of the song (so to speak), and I spent the next three verses listening to the lowing and mooing getting noisier. It added nothing to my presentation, but it certainly added to my irritation levels! On yet another occasion I was delivering a slightly more well known song, which hopefully I had crafted and made my own, only to find an experienced singer, relatively well known in the area as a semi-pro, suddenly joining in with me - with bad harmonies. Again, irritation city... I had worked hard to make the song (not a chorus item) mine, and the delivery of it had been carefully thought out. Her insertion into it completely broke it's mood.

As far as I am concerned, it's a very rude thing to do and an absolute no no ... and there should be absolutely no need for the singer to tell people not to join in ! Good manners should tell them that.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Marje
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:13 PM

When the Young Coppers performed on stage at Dartmoor Folk Festival last year, they were visibly moved and delighted to see and hear many of the the audience joining in their songs and knowing all the words, and afterwards they said how much they'd enjoyed hearing the songs come back to them from the crowd. It obviously meant a lot to them to see that these songs that they'd learned within the family were known and loved by so many other people hundreds of miles from their home ground.

It's be a sad old state of affairs we'd reached if every time anyone started to sing, even in an informal setting, nobody else joined in unless specifically asked. Singing together (and yes, in harmony sometimes) is older than civilisation and happens all over the world wherever people gather to work, march, dance or just enjoy themselves.

And Jim, it's not a mattter of elitism, it's about the formality or informality of the occasion. I have sometimes taken part in informal sessions at a bigger event where eminent singers and musicians were present, and where everyone joined in songs or tunes as it seemed appropriate, but when those same performers got up on a different occasion to give a concert performance or a guest spot, we would listen in respectful silence unless given some cue that we should join in.

Marje


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:27 PM

Mario
1   Don't people enjoy listening to other singers - or is their only enjoment in listening to themselves?
2   What right does a performer have?
3   So if I decide to sing Lord Gregory I can expect a roomful of people joining in?
4   Sorry - we have conflicting ideas on good manners as well as performances.
5   See Bryn Pugh's posting - or is it the bit about 'without anesthetic' you don't understand?
Supplementary   I live in a town that is bristling with magnificent fiddlers, pipers, concertina players, flute players.... you name it - you can't throw a stone without hitting a skilled musician - please feel free to stay away, and I promise not to trespass on your Brave New World.
Mick
"but I really felt that this was a dramatic lack of courtesy."
Why - he's only doind what you appear to elieve is acceptible
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: PoppaGator
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:40 PM

I love to sing along, but I realize that every situation is different. Sometimes I sense that audience participation would be out of the question; other times I feel that it would be OK, and proceed as the spirit moves me.

I'm sure I've been wrong on occasion, and sung when unwelcome. I don't think that's happened too often, though ~ I believe that I usually read the mood correctly, and stifle myself unless I'm pretty confident that my input will be welcome.

When I'm the one performing, I always welcome participation (although I might not always say so explicitly). I have absolutely no worries that my voice would be drowned out: I was born loud, and I learned to project effectively during several years of full-time street performance. So, I'm confident that I can out-sing just about anybody ~ especially when I'm the only one armed with a microphone!


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:53 PM

1   Don't people enjoy listening to other singers - or is their only enjoment in listening to themselves?

There are not that many singers that many times that I want to hear solo. I far prefer a group or trio or audience etc. This is not an either/or question. Another answer could be do they enjoy multiple voices or solo voices.

2   What right does a performer have?

The right to his/her own preferences, clearly stated, preferably in advance, if it doesn't conflict mightily with a group that has already evolved into a different set of expectations, in which case, don't join the group if you are too distant to their standard practices.

3   So if I decide to sing Lord Gregory I can expect a roomful of people joining in?

My rule of thumb is if I know the song I will sing along. I sing quietly so hopefully it isn't a problem. If you want to stump the band, pick something really really obscure and hope it is my bad hair day.

4   Sorry - we have conflicting ideas on good manners as well as performances.

of course. That is what cultural differences are. It is like saying, those awful Brits, driving on the wrong side of the road. Don't they know better?

5   See Bryn Pugh's posting - or is it the bit about 'without anesthetic' you don't understand?

No idea what this means either but it could hurt.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: MMario
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 02:55 PM

Jim - you seem to believe I answered the question in a personal manner - I answered them in the generic, as you asked them.

In response to your response:

1   Don't people enjoy listening to other singers - or is their only enjoment in listening to themselves?

they enjoy SINGING; and they enjoy singing w/ others.


2   What right does a performer have?

practically none in the eyes of the public. The public doesn't respect a performers private life, why would you expect it of the performers public life?

3   So if I decide to sing Lord Gregory I can expect a roomful of people joining in?

If people know it and enjoy it, yes.

4   Sorry - we have conflicting ideas on good manners as well as performances.

see above. as I said, I answered for "them" not me. If they considered it the height of bad manners they wouldn't do it, now would they?


5   See Bryn Pugh's posting - or is it the bit about 'without anesthetic' you don't understand?

I don't understand what you mean by "popping cheeks" I don't think I;'ve ever seen a behaviour that could be described that way.


Supplementary   I live in a town that is bristling with magnificent fiddlers, pipers, concertina players, flute players.... you name it - you can't throw a stone without hitting a skilled musician - please feel free to stay away, and I promise not to trespass on your Brave New World.


Again - I was answering in the generic, not the individaul ; You DON'T Think that people who habitually exhibit certain behaviors will continue to exhibit them?


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 03:45 PM

If a song is well known, it may be perceived as the common property of some or all of the people present and therefore legitimate to join in with.

I prefer to sing songs that otherwise won't be heard because either they are not sung at all (as far as I know) by anyone else in that particular place or they are only sung in completely different versions. Despite that, I sometimes notice that someone else knows the song and is joining in. I find that disconcerting, but not because it affects my singing: only because I realise that it is better known than I thought it was.

Richard


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 03:53 PM

Reading the above reminds me why we don't go to folk clubs and sessions - we might meet the people who have posted above!


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Musket
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:01 PM

If I get up and sing, I acknowledge I am trying to entertain them, so they are in the driving seat.

If I want things my way, I could always sing to the plants at home.

Yeah, it is a bit of a bummer playing a complicated jig on a mandolin and the clapping in time drowning out the sound, but if they wanted to hear the tune, they wouldn't clap. Hence, their enjoyment is providing a clapping sound, not the technical merit of a jig.

their night, not mine.

An interesting analogy being when I was a t school, the music teacher gave us a score to follow whilst he played the piece on a record player, we had to follow the score with our finger. If we were not on the correct bit when he came walking round, we were in trouble.

Took me years to start actually appreciating Mozart and Beethoven. Not until I could appreciate them on my terms.

Hence, I always accept I am only providing entertainment on my audience's terms, not my own.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:02 PM

This whole conversation seems to flow around the fundamental idea that folk music is divided between performers and listeners. Somehow, the community aspect of music seems to be forgotten. Not that people have to sing along on every song, but unless the singer is singing at the top of their lungs, I am always pleased to see it.
(Besides, if I forget somw words, I know who to ask.)

Over the years, I've seen performers who resent people singing along on the chorus. Hey, dummy, that's why they're called choruses. The only problem I've ever had is in a health care center where I sing once a month. There is a woman there in a wheel chair who used to sing leads in her church choir, and when I do He Knows How Much We Can Bear, she sings along at the top of her lungs, with prhasing very different than mine. At first, I found it very distracting, but Now I see how completely engrossed she is in singing the song with her head tilted back and her eyes closed. She is transported back to a more joyful time in her life and her face lights up. Who am I to begrudge her singing along, even if it is distracting?

Other than that one situation, I see people singing along on songs they know that don't have a chorus. They're singing along softly, and I ma happy to see it.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:08 PM

One good rule some groups have is to not follow a regular song with a parody of it.

I think we are far too polite in some of these situations and not forthright enough about our preferences. There are situations I want to avoid on the very few per year musical events I can attend.generally a music camp or two. I don't want the blue books, I don't want the long dreary solo songs, I don't want silly songs or parodies. So I try to be very honest now at camps etc...at such and such a time some of us will be in such and such a place (and not hiding in some obscure building) doing this sort of stuff. We won't go around in a circle and it is survival of the fittest. We won't chit chat and we won't turn to a page in a book at anyone's request. Sometimes you get the best music of a weekend that way, sometimes no one comes at all, but it is based on honesty as opposed to being polite and then sneaking away with like-minded people. And I am definitely in the chorus in these situations and not a leader in any way. mg


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Linda Kelly
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:27 PM

Best not come to our club Jim, we positively encourage it! If performers aren't happy with it ,and I have never met one yet who has objected, then that's ok, I wont' book them again . We have some of the finest singers around in our audience, performers come by invitation to our club and not the other way round. Talking during the songs however, is a definitely no no.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:42 PM

I am with mg, Rasmussen, and MMario on this. The best feeling in the world is the wall of sound on a song that all will do with you. Sure, it needs to be your version, but musicians listen, don't they?

As for the rest, I am grossly envious. I am acutely aware of my limitations. It must be wonderful to be so aware of your superiority that the rest cannot and must not join in with you.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: curmudgeon
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 04:49 PM

The best time not to sing is when it's not your turn, usually.

There are many songs, from my experience mostly American, that call for group singing - mostly hymns, gospel and spirituals, and play-party, and some union songs/anthems. These are not the songs I sing.

If I'm doing a song with a chorus, I encourage participation. Otherwise, no help wanted. There are exceptions. Linn knows many of my songs, and how I sing them, and can join in tastefully with me. Jeri also can do this with a few.

Essentially, I'm with Jim Carroll on this one. Excessive voices and instruments can easily ruin a song, especially if the me-too group doesn't know what they're singing or what they're singing about. And don't let me get started on percussion "things."

It's one thing if you're sitting around with good friends at someone's home, but another if you're at a session where there are people paying for drinks who have come to listen.

Now if those who have to, sing along, and the singer and the listeners can't hear them, is there any harm done?

Just my opinion - Tom


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 05:14 PM

So let's see what we've got:
We no longer have the choice of the music we wish to listen to because organisers have allowed folk clubs to become dustbins for whatever people now choose to call folk.
Whatever is performed there is no loger guaranteed to be of a listenable standard because they have accepted that clubs are now a place were singers and non-singers are allowed to practice in public.
Even if you, by the slimmest chance, happen to find a club presenting the music you want at a reasonanle standard, you're not allowed to listen to it in peace because of the droning of a bunch of self-obsessed pratts who haven't got the good manners to listen to a performer without feeling the urge to show how clever they are.
Nice to know our music is in safe hands!!
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,CupOfTea, no cookies
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 05:46 PM

It's uncomfortable straddling the fence on this issue. I'm right up there with Marje's comment:

"I really don't see how either of the extreme positions ("no one has a right to join in a song with another person unless explicitly invited"; or "anyone should feel free to join in with another singer unless asked not to") could be made to apply to all situations."

Perzactly. And I tend to love most of all the performers and groups who mix it up in a concert, so that in a set there might be the entire gamut of:--Hush up and listen to this hair raising ballad--sing along on this old chestnut everyone knows --join in on this chorus--tap your feet to this jig, but we might change time signature on you--Song you know, but played in a whole different way. Perhaps these are performers for a sophisticated audience who can take a hint about when to sing and when to not?

I think of other audiences whose previous concert experiences were in the vein of Pete Seeger or Clancy & Makem, where singing along was nigh onto mandatory. Or they're rabid fans of a particular artist and know every word and nuance - of the original - and think their love of the song necessitates their joining in, even when it's another performer doing the song, in a different style or phrasing. I've BEEN these people. And then been sensible enough to pick up the cues from the audience of what is appropriate to THAT concert. Folk music tends to draw a fair number of people whose social skills will never attain that, and sometimes need to be told, repeately. Kindly, but repeatedly. A good performer can do that telling in a subtle way. I truly wonder how much of the rudeness of singing along inappropriately springs from the current culture of uninhibited cellphone conversations in vastly inappropriate places and situations?

In non concert singing sessions I find myself vastly annoyed by the trend toward sessions where every song is expected to be something every one can sing and play on, precluding learning new songs, (or not doing anything that isn't in the "blue book" ) I want to smack the dorks who don't understand the concept of acapella "but, I can tell what the chords are!" I so miss being part of sessions that were a mix of singing along, singing choruses, listening, being bored and wandering off for a drink, being astonished at someone's brilliance or enraptured by a new song.

I figure you cherish the times when you are in a singing or listening situation where everyone is on the same wavelength about who is singing and why & do what you can to make those happen more often than not.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Ref
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 05:54 PM

Depends on the situation, of course, but normally I'd avoid it unless the performer says it's OK. If I were in a club where it appeared the practice was to join in, I would. I presume we're talking about paid performers here.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 05:59 PM

"We have some of the finest singers around in our audience ..."

Yes, we've got some fine singers at the club I go to as well. But, generally speaking they also have good manners, and moderately sized egos, and let everyone have their turn.

Occasionally, when they've been particularly moved by a performance of a well known song, they might join in - but joining in (muscling in?) on every song is not a habit.


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: GUEST,Ebor_fiddler
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:02 PM

Re Jim's comment above - "they have accepted that clubs are now a place were singers and non-singers are allowed to practice in public". That's why we started the clubs in the first place, back in the 60's - we were pleasantly surprised when people came just to listen!


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: curmudgeon
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:12 PM

Don't get too worked up, Jim. At least eleven of those posting here are American, or living here; no threat to British Folk Clubs. And having sung with most of them, I know they're a good lot.

I really wish that you could cross the pond for one of our sessions. You'd get to hear songs with great choruses sung by all, other songs without, but which allowed tasteful participation by the instrumentalists, and ballads, with a semi-quiet room of listeners (it is in a pub) - Tom Hall


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Subject: RE: When NOT to sing
From: Azizi
Date: 30 Apr 09 - 06:16 PM

I think there are cultural differences...the more or less American way that I am familiar with is to have group singing, let's sing something we all know etc. Other traditions listen respectfully to one singer. Perhaps you are from that tradition.
mg; 30 Apr 09 - 01:26 PM

Given that Mudcat is an international discussion forum, it's not surprising that people sometimes are speaking from different cultural traditions. Setting aside the fact that my African American traditions values singing along more than many other traditions,it seems that Americans (from the USA and from Canada?) are more open to people singing along with a performer at more "informal" concerts than are people from the UK. Is that a fair statement?

I'm more interested in the differences in points of view about this question within the same country (for point of reference I'm talking about Great Britain)

If for instance both Jim Carroll and Linda Kelly are in the same nation, what then accounts for their different takes on this question? Is it just differences in personality? Assuming that both of these members are British (sorry i don't know that), is it possible that Linda's folk club's position on audience participation in the singing is the result of their adhering to an old tradition within that nation and Jim is adhering to another old tradition within the same nation? Or is Linda's folk club adopting a more American way of audience etiquette? Or is this difference because of age, or because of the differences in the region of the country?

Or is none of this central to the discussion?


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