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Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice

alison 28 Sep 99 - 05:00 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 27 Sep 99 - 08:51 PM
Frank Hamilton 27 Sep 99 - 06:52 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 27 Sep 99 - 06:23 PM
Bat Goddess 27 Sep 99 - 05:03 PM
JedMarum 27 Sep 99 - 04:36 PM
Bev and Jerry 27 Sep 99 - 04:16 PM
Bev and Jerry 27 Sep 99 - 04:05 PM
Jack (Who is called Jack) 27 Sep 99 - 03:58 PM
Tony Burns 27 Sep 99 - 12:38 PM
Jon Freeman 27 Sep 99 - 12:26 PM
Easy Rider 27 Sep 99 - 11:46 AM
JedMarum 27 Sep 99 - 10:44 AM
Art Thieme 27 Sep 99 - 10:34 AM
Tony Burns 27 Sep 99 - 10:26 AM
lamarca 27 Sep 99 - 10:19 AM
Art Thieme 27 Sep 99 - 10:03 AM
paddymac 27 Sep 99 - 09:39 AM
lamarca 26 Sep 99 - 04:35 PM
Wally Macnow 26 Sep 99 - 04:25 PM
Davey 26 Sep 99 - 03:00 PM
Jon Freeman 26 Sep 99 - 11:27 AM
Davey 26 Sep 99 - 02:00 AM
Margo 25 Sep 99 - 05:30 PM
emily rain 24 Sep 99 - 09:07 PM
wildlone 24 Sep 99 - 02:25 PM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 01:47 PM
sophocleese 24 Sep 99 - 01:03 PM
Tony Burns 24 Sep 99 - 12:36 PM
Davey 24 Sep 99 - 12:26 PM
Big Mick 24 Sep 99 - 12:02 PM
radriano 24 Sep 99 - 11:51 AM
Allan C. 24 Sep 99 - 11:41 AM
Big Mick 24 Sep 99 - 11:39 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Sep 99 - 11:39 AM
JR 24 Sep 99 - 11:26 AM
Big Mick 24 Sep 99 - 11:14 AM
MMario 24 Sep 99 - 11:01 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Sep 99 - 10:57 AM
Bert 24 Sep 99 - 10:45 AM
lamarca 24 Sep 99 - 10:36 AM
Jon Freeman 24 Sep 99 - 10:11 AM
Liam Devlin 24 Sep 99 - 10:11 AM
Liam Devlin 24 Sep 99 - 09:52 AM
sophocleese 24 Sep 99 - 09:41 AM
Jeri 24 Sep 99 - 09:10 AM
Bert 24 Sep 99 - 08:50 AM
paddymac 24 Sep 99 - 03:56 AM
Rick Fielding 24 Sep 99 - 02:23 AM
Barbara 24 Sep 99 - 02:08 AM
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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: alison
Date: 28 Sep 99 - 05:00 AM

Basic rule...if you join in with someone else whether it be on guitar, instrument or harmonising... you should still be able to hear the person performing.... if you can't YOU are too loud.

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 08:51 PM

Easy Rider, in my experience song sessions are like hurricanes: in the northern hemisphere they rotate clockwise. I can't speak for those who live on the bottom half of the world: they may need to go counter-clockwise just to screw themselves to the planet, so they won't drop off.

I regularly attend four sessions: Monday nights are practice times for the Once-Born Gospel Singers (aka The Poodle-ears). The only thing that goes clockwise there are the instrumental breaks. Charlie usually directs the practice, but other people suggest songs from time to time, or bring xerox copies of new ones. We tend to practice a set/gig list of about a dozen songs--adding to or subtracting from the list as we feel a need, or as we discover that one of the songs just introduced or revived sounds good enough to add in place of something which didn't go over in our last gig or of which we are just growing tired.

On Thursday nights, when I don't go to hear the SOBs at Quinn's Lighthouse, I go to a bluegrass/folk jam at the Fifth String. The circle usually includes half a dozen to a dozen players, and song choice goes around the circle clockwise. Each person in turn chooses a song, plays the first break and decides the nature of breaks--whether verse, chorus, verse/chorus, AABB, or just a turnaround. All players who want to take breaks, again going clockwise, and the chooser takes the last break (the chooser also decides when the breaks will be if it's a song, whether there will be just one break between verses or more. The players' abilities vary greatly, usually including some professional level players. I have never heard anyone talking during a performance.

On Sunday nights I go to The Starry Plough, an Irish pub. A circle of musicians, many of them wonderful, plays jigs and reels and hornpipes--all instrumental. Every 45 minutes or so, the circle takes a break and a leader calls on people who have indicated they would like to solo. While people talk during the instrumental session, every one is wonderfully quiet during the solos. Yesterday was the San Francisco Sea Fest (or whatever it's called) and many of the musicians who had performed there came to the Plough and did solos (a wonderful quality of performances last night--as there almost always is). I was the last soloist of the evening and I made a bad song choice--the song isn't bad: it was "Free Grace," a spiritual from the Georgia Sea Island Singers. It was a bad choice because with my group I never lead it: I sing bass, with a somewhat different rhythmic pattern than the rest of the singers, and last night was my first attempt to sing lead on the song, and I was occasionally blowing the rhythm of the chorus (on which the bass part comes in early). But the audience was still great, they sang along on the choruse no matter how much I confused them, and gave me warm applause.

The last is the monthly Berkeley Fiddlin' and Pickin' potlucks--here, forty or fifty musicians break up into a variety of groups, most of which follow the clockwise direction, although I once sat in an RUS session in which one woman chose half the songs and another woman chose most of the rest--for the first woman to lead (the BPF&P RUS circles are not always like that). And even here, in all the different groups I've played and sang with, everyone was always polite and always followed the unspoken session rules.

But then I haven't played in that many bars...

--seed


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Frank Hamilton
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 06:52 PM

There are damn few places where people can learn to play music in an ensemble. Rule of thumb, if you are going to accompany someone, make that person look good. If you can help improve their performance, you might ask permission to accompany them. Unaccompanied ballads can be accompanied by being aware of the rhythm or tempo or rubato supplied by the singer. If there is not a tempo or rhythm in the vocal, rubato chords can sometimes enhance a song if you know that song in advance.

Musical sensitivity is an acquired characteristic. It takes training and discipline. A good accompanist is a good musical editor. (Knows the notes to leave out.)

There is something to be said for the group dynamic. I find that if I'm in a group that is not sensitive to the dynamics or the vibes in the room, I won't participate. I'll listen. I tend not to like situations that are highly structured by a group leader. I like the kind of environment whereby someone can say "that song reminds me of another song". Bottom line. No ettiquette, sensitivity to the room "vibe" than it's a lost cause unless you do a singaround where everyone accompanies themselves. Then, to me that's not a jam session but a mini-concert which is cool too.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 06:23 PM

One thing I know about people who go to folk oriented group music events is that most of the time they do so because they have a tremendous desire to sing a particular kind of music a particular way. Its almost a compulsion or a need. The intensity of that drive is what fosters a lot of the behavior were describing. These circles are seen by some as their only chance to do something they really want to do. Unfortunately this area of music is so eclectic that ten different people can have ten different agendas for the session, and are unaware that there are 9 others out there.

Also, a lot of people who like this music have a personality trait that I know I share. The 'I don't care much what other people think of me' trait. Its why I spent my high school years buying albums of this obscure art form while others in my class were listening to Boston and Journey. In most cases this isn't a disregard for others, but rather the position that you should do what you want until you hear that its bothering someone. This position puts the burden on the other person to "Take responsibility for expressing their feelings when they want change". Again the view is not that 'What others think doesn't matter" its that if others want me to adapt to what they want, they have to 1) let me know, and 2) convince me that they are asking something reasonable. Life's too short to spend guessing about what others want of me.

Of course if you put this attitude in the same room with ten different experiential agenda's and no formal rules in place, you get what everybody's complaining about in this thread.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 05:03 PM

It's the "noodlers" that drive me nutzoid. I sing in a normally loud environment (Jeri knows what I mean! -- oh yeah, and WHO I mean.) I've semi solved the problem by knowing what note I start an a capella piece on and have my husband (sitting next to me at the table) give me the note on the concertina. Once I start, the people who noodle constantly between songs *usually* stop playing. It helps that my husband is session boss. Sometimes it's so loud, though, that I can't hear the note even though I'm right next to him.

Linn


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 04:36 PM

Jon - I wondered if someone might not pick me up on my use of the word adult! I agree, I have seen youngsters at sessions act more like adults than some of the adults. I guess I was using the figure of speech version of adults, implying caring, considerate, polite, respectful - and many of those mature qualities we hope define our adult nature!


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 04:16 PM

Or maybe we could say,"May we play through?"

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 04:05 PM

Hey Jack. I think your on to something. Next time we do a song and don't want anyone accompanying us we'll just shout "fore". That should do it.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jack (Who is called Jack)
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 03:58 PM

Musical instruction, be it formal or informal, doesn't involve an ettiquette component, but when you're taught to play golf or tennis or even bowling, the accepted ettiquette is one of the FIRST things you learn. I wonder why that is?


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Tony Burns
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 12:38 PM

EZR,

Every circle has its own rules and variations. It looks like your circle doesn't fit your needs. Look for another or maybe start your own.

I take part in 2 'circles' you could do what you want in the 'song' circle I attend although that circle prefers to have something they can sing along with. The other one I attend is a performance circle and the intent there is for folks to try out material. Others don't (well, shouldn't) participate unless asked.

In both these cases the host/moderator starts and then decides which direction the turns will go. Late comers get picked up at the end of a complete round if they happen to join where the turn has already passed.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 12:26 PM

Liam, I reckon that depends on what you mean by adults we get the odd younger one and we have had 1 regular player joining in with us since she was 15 and they behave like well balanced adults but on the odd occasion we get much older people behaving like spoilt children...

Jon


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Easy Rider
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 11:46 AM

This is a very long thread, and I haven't read it all, but I'm new to song circles, and I have a few questions:

How do you moderate an open song circle? Do you go around, counterclockwise, taking turns? Do people just jump in, when they have a song? Does the moderator call on people?

What kind of songs are appropriate? Must they be songs everybody can learn and play or sing along with? Can they be individual performances, of songs other people don't know? Can an individual "show off", playing a difficult arrangement or a new song they have learned?

Should other people expect to be able to join in, either on voice or instrument, on most songs?

The reason I ask, is because I have been "talked to" about playing new songs I have learned, that are really not sing along songs. I like to try out my new stuff, in front of them, to help me learn to play for other people. I have also been criticized for "jumping in" and trying to gain the floor, even though the circle is not moderated, we don't take turns, and people are encouraged to jump in.

I don't mind, when people play along, and I try to sit where I can see other people's hands, so I can follow their chords. Isn't that what a song circle is about, singing and playing together?

EZR


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: JedMarum
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:44 AM

When you play at an open jam session, you knw there will be other players and singers wanting to contribute, you know the 'performance' you contribute will be modified to suit the group of contributors, you accept that some will help and some will hinder - sometimes you won't recongnize your own arrangement. If you want performance enhancement only, you need to consider private session, or rehearsal, with those players you select.

Also each session has their own rules. The best have very few! Mutual respect for one another's contribution is the key to success. Some inadvertant toe stepping may occur, but over all, if the circle attendees are well balanced, considerate adults, these instances will be few and far between.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:34 AM

Lenny Buce used to say, "The trouble with Hitler was nobody ever told him he was a moron. Go on--take over Poland & France. They'll love ya for it!"

Art


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Tony Burns
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:26 AM

There are 2 sides to this ettiquette issue and paddymac's posting made me think about it. While the put down of the mandolin player was very witty we should be careful about using embarassment as a tool in these cases. Mando-man should learn to not be disruptive but let's hope he is not so discouraged that he puts his instrument aside to gather dust. Perhaps this player took it with some humour but perhaps not. We were all beginners once and continue to be in different areas. A little encouragement can go a long way.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: lamarca
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:19 AM

Art - what about your virtuoso musical saw? I think your saw accompaniment to "Red River Valley" is able to bring tears to the eyes of any audience...


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 10:03 AM

Right here and now, for the record, I assert my God given right to play along on any song whatsoever with the two instruments I am decent at, the boaring (or whatever that drum is called) and the jew's harp. At least 99% of the people have told be they love my jew's harp on "Amazing Grace" and my boaring added to "The Flying Cloud". And I never would ever think of playing a song that isn't in THE BOOK---you know the one I mean...

'Nuff Said,

Art


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: paddymac
Date: 27 Sep 99 - 09:39 AM

I've been trying to keep up with all the etiquette threads and elite session threads and kindred matters, for lots of reasons. Mostly just to hear (and learn from) the great diversity of views offered, but also for the occasional chuckle. Well, last night I happened to be at a quiet little house party when one of those "magical ettiquette moments" occurred that left me chuckling at its brilliance. We were at that time in the evening when we were doing our respective party pieces. One of the guys in the group doesn't "do Irish", but is an accomplished blues singer/picker (with a 4 & half octave voice). He was picking and singing a tune called "It's My Blues Too" while another guy was trying to play along on the mandolin. Finaly, the singer stopped singing, shifted into a complex chordal sequence, smiled, and said to the off-key-off-everything mando picker: "take it away, Joe". Stunned at suddenly being thrust center stage, the mando guy tried his damnedest to rise to the challenge, but fell substantially short of the mark. The rest of us spontaneously laughed and clapped; laughing, I suppose at his failure, but applauding his willingness to accept the challenge. When the laughing/clapping subsided, he put down the mando and the singer/picker, who had continued his chord progressions, resumed the song. Mando-man was a bit embarassed, but only time will tell if he learned anything.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: lamarca
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 04:35 PM

I liked the suggestion that arose from the banjo joke thread - the musician who capos one fret up on his guitar as a "Banjo stopper". Maybe I should try pitching more of my songs in B flat anguished or F...


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Wally Macnow
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 04:25 PM

Boy, turn my head for a moment and a thread grows up...

emily, don't be appalled by what Peter Yarrow did. You don't know the reason. It could be as simple as, with a song like Puff, where so many of their audience knows it, they cannot hear each other when they sing. That's a pretty important factor for a group. My response is that he probably had a pretty good reason for asking and IO'd give him the benefit of the doubt.

One way I deal with unwanted accompaniment issues is to put a guitar on my knee, strum it a little and then launch into an a capella song while muting the strings, essentially using the guitar as a prop. You don't have to play guitar to do this. Mary, just ask to borrow a guitar from a neighbor and then don't play it. You'll make your point.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Davey
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 03:00 PM

What I mean by 'basic' guidelines, Jon, is that when it's someone's turn they can "pick, pass or play",that is, they can request a song, either generally or from someone specific, they can pass their turn, or they can lead a song, and it's usually mentioned that they can request accompaniment or not. That's all the basics we have, and the rest of the 'social etiquette' is left for them to figure out. Most do catch on quickly.. Our song circles have a formal section, in which we go once around the circle so that everyone has a turn, followed by a break for snacks and conversation, then a second section which is less structured and more of a jam session (however you want to interpret that).. It generally flows from one theme to another, or one style of music to another, depending on the group present at the time, the mood they are in, their energy level, and sometimes even the host's residence has a bearing on the mood in terms of the shape and size of room, etc.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 11:27 AM

Davey, when you say given the basic guidlines, do you mean that you go as far as actually telling them?

Personaly, I would think that a bit over the top. I have always felt that somebody new should try to get the feel for (or the "rules" of) a musical event. If I go to somewhere new to me, I try hard to undertand the way it works and to follow the way the regulars go about it - I think that is jut another part of common courtesy.

Please don't get me wrong, I do make "mitakes" and have needed to be told on a couple of occassions but overall, I have found that it works.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Davey
Date: 26 Sep 99 - 02:00 AM

Margarita, that's also the way we normally handle things at our song circles in Toronto. We have the advantage over some of the other sessions described in this thread of having our weekly song circles in people's homes rather than in pubs, and over the years a set of 'unwritten rules' has developed, including one in which the person leading the song is in charge and can ask for accompanyment or not,and can request that others not sing in certain spots. This is generally respected. Newcomers to the song circle are given the 'basic' guidelines, and if they don't pick up the subtler courtesies after a couple of weeks, someone is likely to mention it to them. It works well and we have few problems.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Margo
Date: 25 Sep 99 - 05:30 PM

Isn't this fun? Here's what one gal did at a sing recently: She explained that she was going to sing the verses solo, and that everyone could join in the chorus. She passed out the words and went over the chorus first, then did the song the way she wanted. I thought it was great that she put down the rules for the song. After all, it was her turn. I've nothing against that.

Why not announce beforehand how the song will be done? I can't imagine anyone would balk.

Margarita


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: emily rain
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:07 PM

i'm in total agreement with liam, jr, and francis black. : ) i'm also frankly appalled that peter paul and mary would instruct the audience not to sing. were they worried about the recording? some skilled usage of directional microphones could solve that without the rudeness that, in my opinion, just reinforces the notion that regular people can't sing. how can they call themselves folk musicians?

at a jam i think it's essential to choose your material to suit the venue. if it's a place where people play along, then do something with which they can play along. save your more difficult stuff for the places where people are happy to listen quietly.

'spaw, i've been tempted lately to learn how to crochet specifically so i can do it at the local jam sessions. : ) i play guitar, but i'm not at all happy with my skill level, so rather than ruin other people's music i let the guitar rest most of the time. i feel a little wierd sitting with my hands folded in my lap... sometimes i catch myself fidgeting madly. i had been thinking that it might be easier to look focused and interested in what the rest of the group was doing if my hands had something else to do. perhaps i am wrong?


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: wildlone
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 02:25 PM

I was sat at a campfire earlier this year and we had got one of those realey good sessions going,my old guitar was being passed around ahd various songs were being sung/played.A go-od time I played and sang a song in a ballad style with simple chords and along came somone from out side the group who loudly said you'r playing that all wrong let me show you,he was told wait until the song was finished. when he got the guitar he then tried to "tune it as it should be tuned"quite a hard thing in the dark with a twelve string, and played every thing he tried in the style of the Pouges on acid.When being asked to "let somone else have a turn"we got the you dont know good music and all that.
The upshot was people went away and the evening closed on a sour note.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 01:47 PM

Tony, Round here (North West Wales) a session usually understood to be what you call a jam session but the ones I go to mainly play Celtic (mostly Irish) dance music - jigs, reels, etc. If somebody starts a tune (there is no taking it in turns but normally if there is someone shy or nervous of starting a tune, somebody will notice and ask them if they want to start something), it is expected that this is a cue for all the other players who know that tune to join in (I can not remember the last time that anybody has wanted to play a solo). As a general rule, the person who starts the tune is taken to be the leader of that set and is the one who decides what tune to follow it with in a set of say 3 tunes (although most sessions tend to have many "standard" sets).

Singing does occur and it is down to the singer to start it in the same way as with a tune. As a song is generaly considered to be a persons solo performance and these are primararily instrumental sessions, it is generaly considerd polite for a person to limit themselves to one or possibly two songs and these songs are typically not chorus songs. Singers are given the respect that I suggested that they should get in a previous post in this thread.

There are no singarounds or song circles in this area. The singer/guitar players all seem to prefer the more performance orientated formal folk club scene. Which is probably just as well as the only times that I have known a few of them get together, we have ended up with one song played to about 10 different rythyms and chord sets!

Jon


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: sophocleese
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 01:03 PM

Tony Burns I like your definitions here. It seems that the problems people have stem from different expectations of the same circle. In which case either starting up different circles with different ground rules is one option or having the person leading or singing the song state what he or she wishes would be the simplest way out of it. Allied of course with a little sensitivity on the part of people in the circle for newcomers.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Tony Burns
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:36 PM

I'm beginning to think that in this diverse group we have different definitions for our terms.

Song/Singers circles:

Someone correct me if I'm wrong but I believe that for the most part singing circles in Ireland are places for singers to take turns 'performing'. My personal experience with song circles (Toronto) is that everyone praticipates in almost every song and we take turns leading. To that end people tend to pick songs with choruses. (Usually they sing the verse alone but participation is the focus.)

Jam Session:

In my experience this has usually been blues. Everyone plays unless they are really lost. Play backup unless it is your turn to solo. Everyone gets the opportunity to solo or pass. There is seldom a 'circle' component to this. The group somehow decides to play a particular number and away it goes.

Performance Circle:

Everyone gets taken in turn. When it is not your turn you listen unless you are invited to participate.

I have stated what I believe to be the different understanding of Song/Singer Circles. Are there other definitions of any of these categories? Are there other categories? (For example,should open mic be included?)


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Davey
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:26 PM

Rick, I know the frustration whereof you speak concerning the Country Music Store's weekly jam sessions. I go there about once every couple of months, and there are one or two individuals who are quite oblivious to any kind of musical etiquette, one of them, recently, starting a song while facing 3 or 4 players with his back turned to the other 6 or 7 of us. From past experience I know it's futile to discuss anything with this insensitive lout as his opinions are fixed and immovable.

I continue to go there because there are some good players, and the occasional magical moments when some new and wonderful people turn up. In addition, they do tend to be democratic and ensure that everyone present has a turn. There are even times when some will sing along and add harmonies.

As to having 'private' sessions, I see nothing elitist or wrong with that. By some definitions a jam session or song circle is open to everyone, and we have no control over who shows up, but we also have gatherings in which we invite only those we wish to be with because they have become friends, and these are not wide open.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 12:02 PM

I am reminded of Francis Black, the great Irish singer, who was at the Pub a few weeks back. She said that nothing was a greater compliment to a singer than to have people sing along with them. Different strokes for different folks.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: radriano
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:51 AM

Boy, I sure do sympathize with what everyone is saying here. One thing that many people who insist on playing along on the guitar don't realize is that one of the joys of singing acapella is that you are free to play with rythym and tempo.

There is no easy way out of this predicament. I like the idea of announcing that a song will be acapella. For those situations where someone insists on playing along I have occasionally resorted to switching to a different key at the end of a verse. Of course, this is not always easy and sometimes is disastrous to me.

One time I solved the problem quite easily but that was because the guitarist was sitting right next to me. I gently reached over and put my hand over his fretboard. He got the message right away. But, I must add, I knew the person well - I don't recommend that tactic with someone you don't know.

Losing your temper does no good. A friend of mine started up a singer's circle specifically for the purposes of having a group of people who understood the "rules" and to provide a platform to sing songs that you don't get to sing in other situations, like those long ballads.

Like many situations in life, there is no easy solution to this problem. Sometimes people don't realize that they are intrusive, sometimes they just don't care. What usually works for me is to announce that I would prefer no accompanyment to the song about to be sung.

radriano


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Allan C.
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:41 AM

On PP&M's In Concert album, I believe it was Peter who introduced "Puff". He began by telling the audience that there would be those among them who would have a "wee, little voice" inside their heads which would say, "Sing! Sing!" "And," he said. "You're re-e-eally gonna want to sing. Please don't!"

I think there are many people who can't imagine that someone wouldn't want to have some backing for their song. I think they mean well (most of them - the rest are just trying to show off!). Perhaps addressing them in a humorous way as Peter did would work to get the message to them.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:39 AM

Yeah,JR, I don't think I disagree. What I was trying to say is that every song is a performance, and if you have conditions that you want with the song, you should say so. And you should pay attention to your surroundings, being sensitive to the appropriateness of the song for the setting you are in.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:39 AM

Hmmm, "home alone" eh? It may be the only perfect solution. (just kidding....I think)

Rick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: JR
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:26 AM

I go to jams to share my music, & learn what others do. I don't think of them as solo performance. Consequently, I pick easy or familiar songs, in "usual" chords so I can get that group thing. For my occasional gigs I do the 6 chord songs in F#m & do em my way. If I want absolute quiet, I stay home alone.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Big Mick
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:14 AM

Rick, I think your saying what many are thinking, in a nice way is exactly what is needed. Those that complain are usually the ones that need the advice. As long as one does it in the beginning, and in a respectful way is what is important. There are so many variations on the theme of "sessions", that it only makes sense to set the tone in the beginning.

With regard to the issue of performance vs. participation, it is my humble opinion that anytime someone interprets a song, it is a performance. I am usually trying to convey my interpretation of the authors work. I am trying to make those around me feel a specific feeling. Blessings Barbara, Cap'n Bob and I swapped songs in a very informal gathering last summer. But we just used common sense, and the songs were very interpretive. There is a world of difference in how I would sing a song, as well as what I would choose, in a sing along at a campfire as opposed to a session.

Big Mick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: MMario
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 11:01 AM

oh boy --- there's enough stuff here to make three or four threads...

a) being one of those people who nearly ALWAYS sings along, I stand red-faced and embarassed for my gaffs and mistakes. In my own defense I TRY to do it quietly, and if I know another version to either shut up or do it the performers way...

b) as a performer, a capella, I have had people begin to accompany -- luckily - most have dropped out if it "doesn't work"; have had people sing along - which usually THRILLS me...though there have been times it just hasn't worked. Luckily again, most times if it isn't working the people drop out....

c) 'Spaw - regarding people who knit or sew or crochet or do other handwork...for some it is a tool to AID their concentration...I have had go-rounds with various people regarding this, as I am, again, one of those people. For me it is "note-taking" - it helps me to focus on what is happening, and without it my mind drifts. with the hand-work, I can concentrate on the speaker, singer, musician...without the handwork my mind goes off into nana land...and I don't mind "working" at retaining my concentration when I am working, but when I am doing something for enjoyment, I would really prefer not to have to work at it.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:57 AM

Thanks Liam. Christ it gets tiring having people accuse you of trying to "make rules instead of music", or "spoiling the music with "professional" stuff". I even had someone tell me that I was "missing out on a lot of fun by reading all that "history", rather than just "doin' it"!

You mention the "unwritten rule". Life is full of unwritten rules like "courtesy towards others" that the odd person just can't help stomping on. The problem is, that one person often destroys the prevailing mood, and it becomes very difficult to recapture it.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Bert
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:45 AM

That would be the best way to do it Jon, but in many groups the rule is, it's OK to play along.

Regarding singing along when another person is leading, Mike Miller, of the Philadelphia Folk Song Society, recommends that you look at the leaders mouth. It works great.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: lamarca
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:36 AM

I've read Wally's later posting on the first "Etiquette" (BTW, sorry for the extra T's in the title...) thread, and recognized myself as occasionally guilty in the "singing along" with a bad harmony or wrong set of words...Ouch. I get a bit carried away sometimes, and just need a nudge from my dear spouse's elbow or someone's hand clapped over my mouth when I forget myself. Actually, a good stiff glare in my direction usually does the trick.

Liam, I'm not as concerned about living room jam sessions, where we're NOT performing as much as swapping songs. But our monthly "Open Sings" are a bit more formal, going around a circle to give each person a turn to "perform" their song of choice. People at the Sing aren't polished performers, for the most part, are sometimes shy and uncertain about their music, are often not great singers - they come to the sings as a place where they know they'll get a chance to sing because they enjoy it. I learned how to sing in public there. IMHO, the person whose turn it is should be given a chance to do their song the way he/she wants it done, but often they're too shy to tell someone who thinks they're a "better" musician to stop butting in. I stopped going to the sings when the combination of musical ineptitude and social discomfort became too much for me - and because, as Rick put it, "private" sessions of singing with friends became more regular and fun.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:11 AM

Bert, I am not convinced that you should have to make it known that you don't want accompaniment. In our mainly instrumental sessions there is an unwritten rule that nobody accompanies a singer unless it is known that they want it and, personaly, I believe it should be that way round. In many cases, with the regulars, you know which songs they want to be accompanied on (and in some case which player(s) they want) but other than that, I would suggest don't join in unless specificaly asked to do so is the polite way.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Liam Devlin
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 10:11 AM

I just had to add that I love Rick Fielding's comments above, when he explains why people sometimes arrange private sessions, "They're often not running away from those with lesser music skills, just lesser social skills." This is the crux of the problem, in my estimation. Our musical abilities and experience varies widely, at most sessions ... but that is not neccessarily cause for conflict. Our social skills, on the other hand, also vary considerably - and in the freewheeling environment of an open jam session, this fact is a frequent cause of conflict. It will surely test your leadership skills, if not your tollerance threshold!


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Liam Devlin
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:52 AM

I have never been to a jam session where the point of each song was the performance. The point of each song is normally; "here's a song I like to play/sing that I am offering to the circle for participation." This notion shapes my selection of songs. I select songs that I know people can follow easily, and those I believe they would like. This means I take the bad with the good; some players or singers will struggle with the rhythym, some will noodle aimlessly throughout the tune ... but often what happens is magic! Often I hear a collection of creative accompanyment, and warm harmonies, even from the participants who may not be the best players - these are the moments I live for. A jam session is not a performance circle, though, and if performance is the objective of your circle, then you will have to speak up regarding the other people 'playing along' and hurting your performance.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: sophocleese
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:41 AM

What I did once was stop my song in the middle, stomped over to the IDIOT! who was making noise and told him that it "Really P*****D me off when I was singing and he couldn't stop making Noise!" I then walked back to my seat amid a complete stunned silence on the part of the whole group. IT was, momentarily, effective but I still feel like a shit a year later for blowing my temper so I wouldn't recommend it. I sing a capella and the song circle I sing in now knows that I do and are generally quiet when its my turn to sing. At the beginning, when I started coming, people would just keep talking, strumming and picking after the previous performer waiting for me to start without realizing the problems I was having finding my note out of the air with everything whirling around me. I started standing up behind my chair to signal my intention to sing. Some-how I found that easier than announcing my song which would also have worked. I do still have difficulty in less structured jams etc, with people who cannot keep their fingers off of their strings. I have simply come to expect that it will happen and I try not to feel like a shit when I have to speak out on my behalf. Sometimes singing quietly is effective for those who have some sensitivity and suddenly feel exposed in what they are doing. I have also, most probably, erred on the other side as an audience member so I apologize now to any who may be reading this.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Jeri
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 09:10 AM

I try to make eye contact. Sometimes a singer will look encouraging, or maybe nod when they see you trying to quietly play along. If they refuse to look at me, or give me a dirty look, I won't do it. Often one person will start playing, and others will join in, assuming it's OK, and you wind up with a full band backup. Like Bert said, it's best to be up front about it when you start off - "please don't play along, it throws off my timing." An awful lot of instrumentalists don't know didley about acapella singing, or are unaware such a thing is done on purpose. Some (those who would loudly order dinner during your song) think they're entitled to play along with anything because they can. I wonder if doing each verse in a different key would work?


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Bert
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 08:50 AM

I know exactly how Wally feels. Singers have traditionally used variations in timing as a method of expression. You alter the timing to create a specific mood and 'Fred Nerk' is out there going CLANG - CLANG - CLANG - CLANG with his chords.

However, a lot of musicians have learned to play that way, using strict 'metronome' timing, and they don't know that music doesn't 'always' have to be like that. I know it's annoying the first time it happens and it completely destroys your song. But I don't think you can really blame them for trying 'to help', that's the way music is nowadays. We've discussed in other threads how no one listens to folk music any more, so they've never had the chance to learn.

I've found that if you mention before hand that you don't want accompaniment then your wishes are always respected.

Bert.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: paddymac
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 03:56 AM

I expect that I have been on both sides of this "problem" as I've tried to climb the learning curve. The real problem (IMHO) is that we seem to expect a greater ability in mind reading that many or most folks have. Some people are very perceptive and sensitive to non- verbal cues, and others far less so. "Ettiquette", just like music, is a thing that has to be taught AND learned. Courtesy and common sense go a long way, but, sometimes, you just have to vote with your feet.


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 02:23 AM

Oh Lordy, after my rambling post on your thread Barbara...this comes up! Ya can't fight rudeness without losing friends! When I tried to suggest ways of respecting music and musicians (like getting in tune and not playing along if you don't know the song) at the Country Music Store Jam sessions, I was accused of trying to make everybody "professional"!! That is why some folk are forced into "private jams or sessions" which can get a lot of flack here at Mudcat. They're often not running away from those with lesser music skills, just lesser social skills.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Musical Ettiquette 2:Guitar vs. voice
From: Barbara
Date: 24 Sep 99 - 02:08 AM

When we have jams and music gatherings here I start the circle off by suggesting that if the singer invites you, then join the chorus -- or the song; and I ask the singer to say before they start if they want accompaniment or no.
Then I leave it to the people to say what they want. If they don't I figure it's their problem. Some a capella singers love to have accompaniment. Some don't. Some instrumentalists have subtlety and tact. Some don't.
One way for the unaccompanied singer to deal with a plethora of instruments, is to point to one player and say, "Joe, would you accompany me on ...."
In an informal setting, (not a concert) I think it's fine to preface the song with "I'd like set the pace on this myself, and do it unaccompanied. Please join me on the chorus>"
Which brings me once again to that great communications revelation I found while reading my daughter "The Pokey Little Puppy's Snowy Day". The puppies wake to find the first heavy snowfall of the year has happened while they slept. They come tumbling down into the kitchen, and call to their Mama, "Oh, Mama, can we please go out and play in the snow??"
And she says, "Of course! Just as soon as you finish your oatmeal!"
NOT, "No, not until you've had breakfast" or "You've got to eat first."
I bet it works in music circles, too (Tho I can think of exceptions).
Blessings,
Barbara


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