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blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)

DigiTrad:
NOT IN THE BOOK


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GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 07 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM
Amos 07 Feb 02 - 12:27 AM
ddw 07 Feb 02 - 12:31 AM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 07 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM
ddw 07 Feb 02 - 12:41 AM
GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com 07 Feb 02 - 12:51 AM
Don Firth 07 Feb 02 - 02:24 AM
GUEST 24 Feb 03 - 06:19 PM
Deckman 24 Feb 03 - 06:33 PM
GUEST,denise:^) at work 24 Feb 03 - 06:53 PM
Joe Offer 24 Feb 03 - 07:28 PM
Ebbie 24 Feb 03 - 08:22 PM
Amos 24 Feb 03 - 08:30 PM
Snuffy 24 Feb 03 - 08:48 PM
Joe Offer 24 Feb 03 - 08:58 PM
mg 24 Feb 03 - 10:08 PM
mg 24 Feb 03 - 10:10 PM
Stilly River Sage 24 Feb 03 - 10:27 PM
Amos 24 Feb 03 - 10:48 PM
Bill D 24 Feb 03 - 11:02 PM
Stewart 24 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM
Deckman 24 Feb 03 - 11:12 PM
Bev and Jerry 24 Feb 03 - 11:25 PM
artbrooks 24 Feb 03 - 11:25 PM
mg 24 Feb 03 - 11:40 PM
Bill D 24 Feb 03 - 11:52 PM
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Mooh 25 Feb 03 - 09:02 AM
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denise:^) 26 Feb 03 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,Mudjack 27 Feb 03 - 03:22 PM
Bill D 27 Feb 03 - 04:24 PM
mg 27 Feb 03 - 09:42 PM
Jon Bartlett 27 Feb 03 - 10:31 PM
Joe Offer 27 Feb 03 - 11:08 PM
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mg 28 Feb 03 - 02:09 AM
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MMario 28 Feb 03 - 12:09 PM
mg 28 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM
Ebbie 28 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM
Mudjack 28 Feb 03 - 04:35 PM
Hrothgar 01 Mar 03 - 07:21 PM
Joe Offer 01 Mar 03 - 08:11 PM
Chris in Wheaton 29 Nov 04 - 12:10 PM
DADGBE 29 Nov 04 - 06:28 PM
Don Firth 29 Nov 04 - 07:19 PM
Ferrara 29 Nov 04 - 09:20 PM
Stewart 29 Nov 04 - 10:31 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 04 - 12:22 AM
Chris in Wheaton 30 Nov 04 - 12:53 PM
PoppaGator 01 Dec 04 - 04:19 PM
GUEST,Elaineforgotmy signin so, Guest 07 Mar 06 - 12:51 AM
yrlancslad 07 Mar 06 - 07:41 PM
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Barry Finn 07 Mar 06 - 08:10 PM
Charley Noble 07 Mar 06 - 08:40 PM
Dan Schatz 07 Mar 06 - 09:59 PM
Bert 08 Mar 06 - 02:00 AM
The Fooles Troupe 08 Mar 06 - 02:38 AM
dick greenhaus 08 Mar 06 - 10:12 PM
Bill D 08 Mar 06 - 10:15 PM
Ron Davies 08 Mar 06 - 11:51 PM
artbrooks 09 Mar 06 - 12:00 AM
Tam the man 09 Mar 06 - 05:15 AM
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Scoville 09 Mar 06 - 03:04 PM
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Deckman 09 Mar 06 - 10:49 PM
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The Fooles Troupe 09 Mar 06 - 11:39 PM
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Joe Offer 10 Mar 06 - 03:00 AM
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TonyK 12 Mar 06 - 12:36 PM
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Subject: blue books revisited
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:24 AM


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: Amos
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:27 AM

Mary:

Are you you said everything you meant to say on this topic??

A


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: ddw
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:31 AM

Amos,

Are you?

d


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:35 AM

Oh, I think we have to think about this one some more. I just came from a wonderful camp, but there were times I would just leave a group because of too much of the BBS. And I know I am not the only one. Some people have more of a tolerance for them, and will stick it out. But believe me, I know for a fact that people will leave a session once those books come out. You might not even know they are gone, but they do sneak out. And it seems to be the people with the best voices and best songs. And new people are not told this because I guess it's not polite.

I guess what I am referring to mostly is the late night, unofficial sessions, where the best music happens. That's when it drives me crazy. I guess a workshop, or song circle is fair game.

But I think people should express their opinions, one way or the other, unless it conflicts with mine, of course. And groups should let newcomers know if there is a group preference. And people don't have to follow the groupthink on this..they should be free to do what they want...but they should know that the quality of the music goes way way down. Maybe it is counterbalanced by something else...a better sense of community or something....but I go mainly for the music. I don't want to ruin people's enjoyment by any means...but I think they should know the consequences of those BBs. And that is, quite often, based on my observation only, that the best singers will quit coming to your song circles. They will have secret hiding places at camps and sing in the dark so you can't read them. They are passionate about how much they dislike what it does to the music.

I guess I have a couple of recommendations. One is, if you like them, use them, but use them for yourself only. Don't ask the group to turn to a particular page, wait while they do it, then ask if anyone knows the tune. You can learn the tune and refer to the words. Better yet, you can hum along or sing the chorus on songs and learn them as you go. If y ou are running a camp or a song circle, consider this problem, and maybe have some suggestions on when and when not to bring them out, and I would say, as a general rule, O.K. during official sessions listed on the program, OK if you set up your own session later on, but don't bring them to a group of people already singing. It really really disrupts the flow and greatly reduces the quality of the singing.

There. I said it.

mg


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: ddw
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:41 AM

Mary,

Sorry, but what are Blue Books? And why are they so bad? Is it that anybody using a cheat sheet doesn't really know the song and will turn a lousy version?

Just curious.

david


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: GUEST,mgarvey@pacifier.com
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 12:51 AM

no...it is a book that a lot of people have. A cheat sheet is inocuous because a person has taken the time to at least partially know it...maybe she knows the tune and forgets the words. Now, the singing will still be better without it...I don't know why..if it is acoustical or what...some type of better communication that we evolved to hear...reading is basically a visual act. Singing is an oral/aural act. It calls on different parts of the brain. I don't know all the factors. But cheat sheets, while less preferable than knowing by heart, do not in any way compare to the way the BB is used...which is like a folk choir book. People know just enough to know they have heard the song somewhere, then try to patch it together. It can be quite painful. If they must use them, I would prefer that just one person used it for a cheat sheet, on a song they more or less knew and were just refreshing their memory on the words. I know there can be mental situations where memorization is not possible, and as always, we should accomodate that sort of problem. But how hard could it be to learn 2 songs say? Not that I have recently.

mg


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Subject: RE: BS: blue books revisited
From: Don Firth
Date: 07 Feb 02 - 02:24 AM

I think what Mary is referring to is Rise Up Singing (right, Mary?).

Right from the very beginning (my very beginning as a singer of folk songs), the unspoken rule, which everyone followed, was "know a song before you try to sing it in front of anybody else." Learn it first. That's kind of basic. If you don't know the song yet, don't try to sing it. If you want other people to sing a song you do know along with you, teach it to them. But--bringing a songbook to a hoot or a songfest and singing from it was regarded as a form of cheating. A real no-no!

At the John Dwyer memorial meeting of the Seattle Song Circle (about 125 people, I think) pretty much everyone sang, and no one used a song book. The last event of the evening was dismembering a copy of Rise Up Singing and feeding its pages into a shredder as an acknowledgement and a tribute to John Dwyer's loathing of "the Blue Book" and the way it dominated some of the Seattle Song Circle meetings. He wanted people to learn the songs. John only sang songs he knew. But he knew a lot of songs.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 06:19 PM

I just wrote an article for the Seattle Folklore Society Flyer (inspired by this thread) which I thought might be pertinent to add here. So here is is:

NOT IN THE BOOK

Come all ye bold singers that have to this place come,
And we'll sing songs of sailors who don't suck their thumbs;
Good cheer is our goal till the rafters we've shook.
We'll sing what we please and they're not in the book.

     Rise Up Singing is a song book often over-used at song circles. The late John Dwyer, a stalwart member of the Seattle Song Circle, loathed it, and Craig Brandis wrote this song about it. At John's memorial service in 1997 a copy was ceremoniously dismembered and fed to the fire as a tribute to him.

     So what is it about this book that some loath and others cling to for dear life? It is really a fine collection of songs to sing in groups, but not to be used in group singing. Does that make sense?

     One of my first song books was Song Fest, by Dick and Beth Best, published by the Intercollegiate Outing Club Assoc. (I.O.C.A.) in 1954. The preface to the original collection had some interesting words of wisdom: "Because the fires of enthusiasm kindled at a rousing songfest, roaring most heartily… can't be artificially preserved for I.O.C.A. posterity, this song book is inevitably a mere woodpile. The motley crew who haphazardly, and  with occasional splurge of energy, have thrown the pile together, haven't bothered about a few knots and flaws in the grain. They've gone out of their way to select good rough logs, which haven't been cut up, dried, and neatly sorted like those you find on any standard woodpile. They've tossed the big timbers in next to the small ones, but have tried to stack them up for easy reference. You'll find some of them won't burn very easily unless you corral an expert hand to touch them off, but plenty of room has been left on the pile for wood of you own choosing. In brief, the woodpilers herewith toss you the torch – and the tip that, not withstanding a random shot of smoke-in-the-eyes, which you may get in the early stages, no fire will burn more brightly than the one you concoct yourself." The following P.S. was added: "A reward of one left-hand dungaree patch, guaranteed not to rip, run, rust, tear, split, melt, break, etc. is hereby offered for the pelt of the first bohunk caught surreptiously using this book at a songfest."

     There is something about learning a song before you try to sing it in front of anyone else. If you don't know the song don't sing it! Use the book to learn it, but then put the book away. Only when a song is memorized does it come alive. Only then do you understand what the song is about and it becomes your song. You can then mold the song to your own interpretation. Singing a song is like telling a story – it doesn't work well when you read from a book.

     This advice is not meant to discourage anyone from coming to song circles, but rather to encourage them to make an investment that will pay dividends in their own and others' enjoyment. So use the book, but don't bring it to the circle! And you might also try to learn other songs that are "not in the book."

Stewart Hendrickson

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 06:33 PM

Very well said everyone! Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,denise:^) at work
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 06:53 PM

I know the words to about a zillion songs--but I don't always know the chords. I find the dreaded 'blue book' quite handy for that--but, I might add,
~I will *not* try to sing something I don't know;
~I don't sing with my head buried 'twixt the pages;
~I don't ask for the same songs every month when it's "my turn" to choose;
~I know, sing, and lead MANY songs that aren't in the book!

I know that some people hate RUS--but, I've seen those *same* complaining people replace RUS with some version of their own--with a bunch of typos and only 12 songs!! I've also heard them stumble and mutter their way through a song they all "knew," but didn't really KNOW--like, for example, "The Mary Ellen Carter."

I once writhed through a dreadful song session in which verses were repeated ad nauseum (people got 'stuck' in songs & couldn't remember how to get past a certain point); "The Mary Ellen Carter" was slaughtered; and a tentative time was had by all--while a cardboard box of "the books" sat on the floor in a corner of the room!
"Guys, 'The Mary Ellen Carter' is in there," I volunteered, as they "couldn't leave her there" for about the third time.
"WE DON'T SING OUT OF 'THE BOOK!'" I was loudly told.
(By the way, I happen to know--I mean, really know!--the words to "The Mary Ellen Carter." However, the group leader told me quite firmly to "stop leading this song," because it "wasn't your choice..." --so I had to sit back and let them flounder.)

Needless to say , I never went back there...

(I don't attend song jams where folks' noses are permanently stuck between the RUS pages, where you have to sing "The John B Sails" EVERY MONTH....or anything else EVERY MONTH. I don't go to ones where songs "not in the book" are frowned upon. But using a resource certainly beats the hell out of floundering 'round a song until you are so lost you finally give up. Using a resource *may* even help you to LEARN the song! And a resource with 1200 songs is certainly going to be better than a resource with 12 songs...or 39, like the other group I visited...)

I think that the book can be a useful resource, but should not be considered the final authority on song jams/circles. I think wholesale condemnation of RUS is nearly as annoying as complete dependence. If you have confidence in yourself as a musician, and take time to learn the songs you want to share/lead, it won't matter where you got them. If you don't know a song at all, unless you have the complete lyrics in front of you, you probably ought not to be singing it in public.

Denise:^)


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 07:28 PM

You're courageous, Denise. I have been flayed, drawn, and quartered on these pages more than once, simply for expousing the same ideas you expressed. Still, I continue to use Rise Up Singing. Lately, I've taken to carrying a copy of Playboy with me to singing sessions. I don't use it for the pictures, and I don't read the stories - I use it for hiding my copy of Rise Up Singing. People do wonder how I found an issue of Playboy that has the lyrics to "Dwelling in Beaulah Land," but they're too politically correct to dare to look inside and see what's really inside my magazine.

In the song circle in Sacramento, rumor has it that I know all to songs in Rise Up Singing. That's not quite true, but I know an awful lot of them, and they're the songs I like most and sing best - and I think I sing them pretty darn well. I know the songs, and refer to the book very little while I'm singing, but I find that using the book helps me sing without having to fumble for lyrics. I sing four or five times a week, but most of the people in our group sing only once a month. If they didn't have a book to lean on, they wouldn't sing at all. With the book, and with the help of a few of us, they sing up a storm and have a darn good time. If we didn't have the books, how could thirty people sing the same song together? Yes, it can get dry unless you have a few good musicians to liven things up - but the book is a great tool if you use it right.

I love the song circles I've attended in Washington, DC, and in San Francisco, and I don't use the book there (very often). However, most of the people I sing with in Sacramento, would be lost in the more sophisticated song circles.

So, I believe in the Blue Book - used judiciously. I use a hymnal in church. Why can't I use one in a song circle if it helps me?

-Joe Offer, masochistically preparing to be flayed again-


And Bill Day, I know you're gonna nail me on this issue, but your wife likes my singing just fine. [grin]


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 08:22 PM

It seems like a certain mindset gels and hardens when faced with the blue book. I don't know why there is a difference from using the book versus what I do: After I know a song 'by heart' (lovely phrase), I print off 10 or so copies, then at our song circle I pass them out and lead the group in singing it; often we sing it more than once. Then some take the song home in their notebooks and others lay the sheets down for me to gather up for later use. In a matter of a couple of weeks others have learned the song, and it has become a standard.

Now, with the blue book- somehow everyone takes ownership or maybe it's equal unownership and rarely does a song from it gain vitality, personality or life; rarely does someone make it uniquely theirs. I'm sure that's not always true- and as someone once said- was it you, Joe O?- the point is to get people singing, and without a book many people won't even try. That may be- but in my experience, the book is a pernicious influence!

flippppp. flippppp. flippppp. Here's one- page 126 Arrrgggghhhh.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Amos
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 08:30 PM

I don't own one but I wouldn't mind owning one, if I needed it to repair holes in my memory, or find the words to a song I was learning.

But that's the end of it. Why? Because the whole art is based on communicating by the singer to the listener, or between the singers to each other. If you put a bloody great solid book in the middle of that connection, you might as well stay home and Email the effing song. There's no life, no live and immediate communication, in an object no matter what color it is. Take it home to study, if you need, but for the love of god leave it there!

A


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 08:48 PM

"I'm going to sing a song now. I love it so much that I couldn't be bothered to learn the words or the tune. I'm sure you'll love it"


Yeah, right


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 08:58 PM

OK, so how do you get a group of nonsingers to sing?
Yeah, I can do a campfire program and get them to sing choruses, but isn't there room for singing old songs together? How do you do that, if people don't know the words?
We use hymnals in choir all the time. Works very well.
We let the congregation use them, too.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 10:08 PM

I think the problem isn't so much with people using the blue books, but trying to make everyone else, and really really slowing down the rhythm while they make sure everyone turns to a page. And they shove the books at you too. I'm not fond of the music words handed out before the singing either. Say you have them and let people take them after, or before, or during, if they can do it quickly. And know the group....if they are all equally beginners, I still think they can find songs they know..Red River Valley, Home on the range..that sort of stuff. If they are really good you will drive them crazy with the blue books and they will leave most likely and not come back and the music experience will be greatly diminished. The social experience might be stronger thougn. So if you are going for a social experience it doesn't matter but if you are going for a musical experience it does. Pick your poison. And people can always hum along, read lips, etc. Sing choruses....mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 10:10 PM

I think it would be really interesting if people gave their most heartfelt reaction to them. Then at least if we're at the same place we'll know how we feel.

I hate them.

mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 10:27 PM

Well, if it's any consolation, though Dad hated it when people sang with their faces buried in the pages, he did own a copy of the book. I have it here. But even from the very beginning, he never sang songs in public that he hadn't used us as guinea pigs at bedtime when we were trapped under the sheet he was sitting on practiced a lot first.

;-)



Maggie


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Amos
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 10:48 PM

Aw, Joe, you stuck a pin in my favorite puffery!!

I guess itr's a matter of consenting adults, huh?


A


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:02 PM

well! what can I say after Joe has already told me what I'm gonna do? *grin*

the thing is....EVERY pursuit has its RUS. In woodturning, it's 'scrapers'...those who almost never use scrapers look down on those who can't work without scrapers. In BOTH cases, it's the end result that matters, in my opinion.
I feel a song is best sung with NO cheat sheet, because once it is 'part of' the singer, they are free to refine the details, instead of following the text and tune and fretting.

That said, *I* sometimes keep a text handy when doing a song I havent done recently...but I at least try to know the song WITH the book/sheet. As mentioned above, it is excruciating to sit thru a performance where someone is stopping to find the line, experimenting with the tune and murdering the rhythm.

I am sure that some people have a sincere problem with memory...or exceedingly bad stage fright. I don't know what to say in those cases....but nothing is improved much by reading haltingly through a song and missing half the notes. Who is entertained by this? What is the goal?

At the last local Sing, held in my basement, several people used either RUS or some other 'aid'...in a couple of cases, if I had my eyes closed, I'd never have known they were reading....in a couple of the others, it was almost painful. I heard Eric Bogle's "No Man's Land" (William McBride) totally BUTCHERED!...It is no sin to not be a wonderful singer, or to be a beginner...but I don't understand not being AWARE that you are not ready to sing some particular song in public yet.

There are groups that ONLY use RUS, and there are groups that would NEVER use it...and there are those in between that tolerate it in varying degrees. I think it should be a open issue, whenever possible, so that accomidation can be made and truces negotiated.

Books are wonderful...I have LOTS of books..I even own a copy of RUS. but among those who know, RUS is notorious for egregious mistakes and missing verses. It can be handy, but why it has become a 'bible' is beyond me...promotion, I guess.

(Why do people not bring copies of "The Folksingers Wordbook" (it is blue!)instead?...too big? wrong binding? It is a far better book, if you MUST use something like that.)

*sigh*...so many issues and side issues....my own line in the sand is simple....If you can sing so that I can't tell with my eyes closed what you are doing...I don't care!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:10 PM

Wow! I didn't think I would stir up such a response by bringing back this thread of only 7 posts. I don't have anything against RUS, just the way it is used or misused. I have a copy, which I refer to less and less, but I don't bring it to the circle nor do I use anyone else's copy there. If I don't know the song, I find it easier to learn by careful listening rather than plowing through the words with no regard to meaning or how the words might fit with the music. Of course that is hard when many other people are plowing through.

As an instrumentalist, as well as a singer, at instrumental sessions I also think it is not good to use a book. Tunes are better learned by ear than by notes. Yes, I do admit to using notes at home, but am trying to wean myself of that approach. And at a session, if I don't know the tune I don't try to play and muddle up the music for others. Again, attentive listening is the best way to learn. Later, when I begin to pick up the tune, I quietly try to play along without disturbing others.

Sessions, both singing and instrumental, can be enjoyable and also good learning experiences. Good musicians can (and should) help those who are not as good, but sessions are their best if they result in better music. I have little patience for those who come to sessions with no thought of learning the music or becoming better musicians. The question then is why are they there?

I think I'd better stop here, and run for cover!

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:12 PM

Hi Joe, I like Mary Garvey's take on this. To me, a good song fest is one where spontaneity abounds. For example, someone might get into "East Texas Red"', which logically leads to "Danville Girl," which can lead into "Hoboes Lullaby," etc. If our noses are buried in a book, that kills the moments when other companian songs emerge. Perhaps the answer is simply planning a good mix: well known group songs for the sing-a-long crowd, but try to add a measure of a free for all, where the more extensive repertoires can add to everyone enjoyment and education. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:25 PM

We think RUS is a fine book for certain purposes. For one thing, it's an excellent collection of songs a lot of people know so if you learn songs from this book, a lot of people will be able to sing along with you. Also, occasions come up where someone will ask if anyone knows a particular song and no one says "yes". If it's a song we can lead only by using the blue book, sometimes we'll grab a copy and lead the song, sometimes not. It all depends on the mood of the room. But, we'll never sing a song we planned to sing unless we can do it without reading the words.

But, when everyone's using the book singing is no fun. Especially when they produce music stands to hold the book so they can play and read the words out of the book and no one can see their faces.

We once went to a song circle where every song was "in the book" and there was more than one complaint that people were not allowing enough time between announcing the song name and page and starting the song, so some people couldn't get to the page in RUS for the very first word of the song. This group no longer exists.

To answer your question, Joe, the book is used as a crutch and many people will never put their crutch down unless pressured to do so. So, start by introducing some songs which are not in the book but are well known or have easy to learn choruses. Little by little, you can reduce the book to occasional use. We bet you could do that with hymnals, too.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: artbrooks
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:25 PM

Well, I bring BOTH Rise Up Singing and The Folksingers Wordbook! And I also bring songsheets to pass around. Perhaps it makes a difference if the group you sing with is a "song circle," where everyone takes turns singing something and everyone else sits there quietly and listens, or a "sing-a-long," where everyone sings together, assuming that they know the tune and have the words. There's also nothing at all wrong, IMHO, with the kind of session where there is a mixture of the two options. I enjoy hearing a song I don't know done by someone that does it well, and I also enjoy participating with a dozen people in something everyone knows...especially if the words are in front of them.

A steady diet of RUS is boring, especially if you've been singing out of the thing for twenty years. At the same time, I think it brings people into the group...and once they're singing, they too can mine the DT for fun things to suggest the next time around.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:40 PM

I know not everyone knows everybody else in a group...but sometimes when absolutely legendary people show up..who are so good..I think if you really love the music you should drop the take turns routine and just let them shine..they will know songs that others can sing choruses of..or teach them new ones...I have seen this so much...when people I am dying to hear and who have such songs to sing are subjected to this...and I have said this before..they get in little clusters and find another room or building or whatever and they sneak out. now if they would only tell me where they go..

And I think my biggest peeve is when it is not an official anything..especially the late night music at the music camps. I would say if you are beginner there keep the books away and follow the lead of the truly great singers. I don't think anyone has to try to improve themselves at all..they can be choruses, or just enjoy the beautiful music, but I also don't think they should break the flow of the music.

mg

mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:52 PM

I remember the time someone sang a song from memory, and sang it well, and when he was done, someone held up RUS and complained that he "didn't do it right"! *grin*...now THAT was interesting as we explained that RUS had a VERY much condensed, edited version that was not 'exactly' the standard.

This is similar to folks who hear some well-known singer do a song, even if they have re-written half of it, and assume that if "X" did it, it IS the best way! (Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, and Dolly Parton are famous, not original sources)


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 11:56 PM

I agree with you, Mary. As a general thing the weekly music at my home is a song circle- each in turn either sings, plays, requests a song from someone else or passes. However, if someone is here who is in town to do a concert, that night is a different experience for us all. It simply never fails that the person is pumped so that s/he and those others present who are in the guest's league tend to give us a wonderful, special night. Those of us who don't perform will be encouraged by me (Calvin Ball, you know!) to listen, request, and appreciate. Isn't music wonderful!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Mooh
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 09:02 AM

What fun, another RUS thread!

I need to be reminded of my postal code, never mind words and chords for songs, so I don't mind at all using references. No, my nose isn't firmly planted in "the book" but it sure helps me down my forgetful path. I may have some mental condition, but damn the torpedos I won't be denied my right to song.

For what it is, RUS is pretty good, widely available, and more or less generic enough to suit most users. It isn't the definitive anything because song is derivitive, interpretive, and evolving. If there are different versions and interpretations of the Bible, why can't there be of folk songs? RUS doesn't pretend to be cut in stone, and it says as much in its introduction, so there's no reason to treat it as the ten commandments of folk music.

I don't actually use RUS any more than any other of the dozens of other song books on my shelves, and I normally use a book of my own making. Nonetheless, it would be hard to fit as many songs into as little space as RUS so it sure is convenient.

A well known high profile folkie once took me to task for sitting back and listening instead of sharing a song. When I played Peter Amberlay differently than he would, he said I was wrong. I countered that we're both right. I figure it's his loss if he disagrees. (And I did check my sources.) Can't wait to play it for him again!

Rise Up Grinning, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Frankham
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:32 PM

Love this thread. I have no problem for people who want to use Rise Up Squinting to learn words. I think a compromise might be a singer who uses large print to remember a word or two they get stuck on. But to keep your nose in Rise Up Squinting is in my view somewhat antisocial. It keeps your eyes in the wrong place. To use it to remember chords is equally a distraction. Why shouldn't one memorize the chords as well as the melody or the lyrics?

I got back into teaching groups for this very reason. We run a class of beginning folk music and encourage people to bring tape recorders so they can learn the tunes at home. We pass out lyric sheets but put 'em away while they're singing in the class. Instead of chord sheets, we try to get 'em to memorize the progressions by using the numeral system. (So-called Nashville numbering but it didn't originate in Nashville, musicians have been using it for years). To my way of thinking, church hymnals are a bane. In my day (grumpy old man) folks learned the lyrics by heart and we liked it!

But I confess to having to use a cheat sheet when trying to sing songs in different languages for a specific gig. It's a cop out but it helps me keep working.

What is needed and what we try to address in our clases is how to learn a song lyric and accompany it on a respective instrument. It's not all that easy to learn lyrics by heart but there are proscribed ways of doing it involving some homework.

1. Repeat the line of each stanza to be learned at least twenty times.
2. Connect each line of the stanza with singing the last word or two of the first line and the first word or two of the next line at least twenty times. Do this with every line.
3.   Learn the chord progression of the song by heart so that you can play it without having to hear the melody. This allows more advanced musicians to improvise over the chords.

In short, the more people that can learn to sing together and make music without printed material, the better in my opinion.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: fsharpdim7
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:48 PM

Get ready, folks. You ain't seen nothing yet. I predict that circles will become even MORE tied to RUS when the BIG print (leader's) edition comes out (Mark says soon). When the type is big enough for all to read, it will be an even greater temptation to bury the nose in it. But I think that the alternative - where people try to sing songs that they think they know, but don't (me included sometimes) - is much worse. (See the Yahoo Sing Out group for more info.)
Chris in Wheaton, IL


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: MMario
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:53 PM

well - given that none of the melodies are in RUS - someoneneeds to know the blasted song before you sing it!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: artbrooks
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:59 PM

MMario, Sing Out will be glad to sell you a tape (or tapes) with the tunes.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: greg stephens
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 04:09 PM

This seems to be an exclusively American thread, I don't think we have sessions with everyone singing out of the same book on this side of the pond. But the subject is intriguing. Do you confine youselves at these get-togethers to songs that lend themselves to communal singing, or do people sing sort of solo-type songs ensemble as well?


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 06:40 PM

Mooh...about 'right' & 'wrong' versions....it is certainly true that variations exist in folk music, but just as there are several 'rights' there can be many 'wrongs',.....different versions of the bible DO exist, but if **I** were to do a translation from the Aramaic, it would be considered silly, and rightly so.

There is a big difference between slight phrasing variations and plain careless errors in hearing/editing....and RUS has WAY more than their share. Having only one book for reference, those errors will become set in stone for some folks....I'm glad you say you have a number.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe_F
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 07:46 PM

I may have made this point on one of the other threads, but -- RUS can be a blessing even if most people know the song.

I was in a high school that had a strong folksinging tradition, and we didn't need any ******* books because we learned the songs from each other and so there was a Putney version of every song we knew.

That was 50 years ago. There are few such subcultures now. If you & I, having just met at a singing party, both knowing the St James Infirmary Blues, aspire to sing it together, we shall have to do some fancy eyebrow raising or telepathy to figure out which stanza is next, and whether it's old Joe McGinty or McKennedy. If six people are trying it, the thing is impossible; we'll all be tripping on each other's tongues. The version in RUS is something we can settle on at a glance, even tho, of course, it isn't the right one %^).

I would far rather sing with a beer mug in one hand & a chocolate-chip cookie in the other & my eyes on the face of the person opposite (how beautiful people are when they sing!). But sometimes RUS is the lesser evil.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 08:05 PM

I know I digress ... but I can draw a comparison here. Bride Judy and I have a constant "SCRABBLE" game going on our dining table. It's fun, we keep score, and we're very serious (in a fun way) about it. Yet, at some point, one MUST have one ultimate bible, one totally correct referee. We use the latest version of the "Scrabble Dictionary." But ... occasionally, we both dissagree with that bible ... cheat ... but only by mutual agreement ... when we feel the dictionary is just flat wrong. What's my point, you may ask? My point is simply this ... there are sing-a-longs, and song circles, and gatherings, and hoots! And as someone said quite well, "Ain't music fun?" Make it work. It can work, because music is far to important to allow it not to work. CHEERS, Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: MAG
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 12:12 PM

I recognise myself at both ends of this spectrum, having set up a music stand at one song circle, and been blasted at another for doing a song different from "The Book."

What I really need to do is find a way to quit my job so I can practice to my heart's content, in spite of arthritis ...


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 12:24 PM

HEY MAG ... I've got a simple solution to your problem. Just set up your music stand at work and then start to practice there. That ought to solve your delemma. (big grin) Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: sharyn
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 01:58 PM

Comparing the Blue Book to hymnals is really not fair -- in my churchgoing days the reason to use the hymnal was to poach the alto, tenor or bass part when you got tired of singing the melody line. The entire congregation did this. It was also useful for showing the line-breaks in Gregorian chants.

As others have pointed out, the Blue Book does not contain melodies or harmonies -- and it is a good thing that it doesn't because if it did we would have to contend with people who would allow for no melodic or harmonic variation, just as they now stubbornly insist that words must be sung this way "because it's in the book."

Now, a confession. I am one of those late-night singers with a huge repertory and a good memory and I am generally vocal in my derision for the book. But, I opened one singing session in January by borrowing a copy of the Blue Book to lead "Beulahland." Why? Because the song was going through my head, because I know the tune, the chorus, the first verse and a few other lines of this particular song, because I was in the mood to sing it, because no one else knew it all by heart and because it fit the mood and size of the session. And I was grateful to my compadre who had the book there. If it had not been there I would have chosen another song. (And I can see, for you die-hards, I'm going to have to add "Beulahland" to my active repertory). So, the book can be used well by an accomplished singer in a pinch, but as others have said, folksong is largely an oral tradition.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: denise:^)
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 04:13 PM

I still contend that I've been in "song circles" that reminded me more of gerbils running around in one of those wheels in their cage...round and round, and getting nowhere, because someone is "stuck" at a point in a song they "know," and can't get past it!! Without finishing the song, they feel a sort of "songus interruptus," and so they're reluctant to admit that they just don't know it--and they plod on interminably, without ever making any progress. That, for me, is a much greater misery than that of using 'the book.'

I guess we all have to decide what makes us crazier!!

Of course, a song*writer's* circle is NOT a community sing or song circle; an open stage is not a community sing or song circle; a coffehouse is not a community sing or song circle...I think you get my drift. There are places I would NEVER drag out RUS!
(I use the terms community sing, song circle, sing-along, and song jam interchangeably, referring to a situation in which many folks who enjoy singing--but don't necessarily perform or sing solos--get together and SING. THAT'S what I think RUS was designed for...)

Any time I'm performing, I have my material committed to memory, of course--but when I'm asked to "moderate" a sing-along at a festival, I find that RUS is a big help with those requests that I'm familiar with, but have never performed or memorized. I also find that folks at a sing-along aren't disturbed by the fact that I don't have every song in the world committed to memory, chords and all. They just want to sing, and want someone up front who can lead them in their favorites.

(As for the "you did it WRONG!" folks, they exist everywhere, and they'll ALWAYS find a source to support their point of view. RUS can't be blamed for them--I heard folks saying that at the first "open stage" I ever performed at, back in 19xx, when I was about 10 years old. The "wrongers" predate RUS, and will still be around long after it's gone...)

Denise:^)


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,Mudjack
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 03:22 PM

I am guilty for being less tolerant to using "The Blue Book" Great book but perehaps the most abused song book in exsistance.
I see where folks often use it as a "juke box" selection guide. They see a song they haven't heard in decades, but remember someone famous singing it and toss it out there like everyone in the room can just do it, when knowing they can't begin to lead it. Like Mary G says, some folks sneak out of the room when it comes out, Thats me.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 04:24 PM

'that' situation, Mudjack, is precisely the biggest problem. You outlined very clearly what I have seen happen a number of times.

To repeat: IF you can lead/sing the song clearly and reasonably with just a little help for your memory, by all means, go ahead. Otherwise ASK if anyone else can.....if no one knows it, DON'T try to cobble it together from 17 vague memories of the tune, rhythm and pace. All you will succeed in doing is driving away many of the better singers who cringe in discomfortat good songs being half-done.

If you don't mind this result, be my guest...I guess it is possible on some level to enjoy the awkward attempts, but not for many of us.

Once more....the point is usually to have a good song rendered in an enjoyable manner, even if you are reading some of the words....even better is to gradually reduce the amount of dependance on the book.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 09:42 PM

so mudjack, where do you great singers sneak off to? I always check the bathrooms, kitchen, woodshed etc....

mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 10:31 PM

Yeah, Deckman! Singing is a conversation or it's a concert; and I don't like concerts. If you find you have a limited amount of things to say in a conversation, you don't bring along a phrasebook to help you out, saying, "I can never remember any good topics."

I've got a good memory, a lot of songs, and a good few folk books too (being as how I'm the archivist of our local Society) and am avid for more. The books include the Blue Book of Death, which is always good for a laugh when the words are totally screwed up (like the "stuns'l "bones" in Maui), or for what's NOT in it (like the "Good Old Mountain Dew" (Irish version) or even a Drinking section (you have to look under "Unity", I think, but you won't find "The Barley Mow", Drink Old England Dry", "Fathom the Bowl", "Bottle of Wine", the drinking song from the Student Prince, "Ye Mar'ners All", Bring Us a Barrel", "Roll Out the barrel", "Boozing, Bloody Well Boozing", "All For me Grog", "Five Deadly Sins", "Jones' Ale", "The Old Dun Cow", "Jug of Punch" (for Christ's sake!), "The Parting Glass", "Three Jolly Boys", 'Ard Tac", "Bluey Brink", "The Pub with No Beer", "Ratcliffe Highway", "Sammy's Bar", "The Very Fat Man Wot Waters the Workers' Beer" or a thousand other like songs). You will on the other hand find some really good party songs like "In Christ there is no East and West", "It's Only a Wee Wee", and "Shake My Sillies Out". ("I'm sorry, Officer, I was just shaking my sillies out...").

In short, the biggest argument against RUS is its pathetic puritanism, masquerading as New Age sensitivity. There! I've said it - now flog me!

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:08 PM

Well, I think it's safe to say that most of the songs in the "blue book" are composed, not traditional. Most of the time, there IS a correct set of lyrics for a composed song, and Rise Up Singing generally has the correct lyrics for those songs.
What bugs me more, is people who complain when you don't sing a song the same as the recording they know.
I don't think Rise Up Singing is a good source for singers of traditional ballads (like Sharyn, f'rinstance...).

The "Man Who Waters the Workers' Beer" IS in the Blue Book, but I will agree that there is a lot of politically-correct Puritanism in the book.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 11:38 PM

Hi Jon ... I appreciate your comment that a good sing is like a good conversation (my words). Very well said! And this goes back to what Mary Garvey (damn fine singer, by the way) has said. I've most always found that when the "book" comes out, no matter what book it is, I simply head for the back door. (that's where we usually hang out, in the garage, in the backyard, on the way to our cars). And I want to add this point: if it were not for my careful LISTENING, I would still be singing the one version of Foggy Dew I learned when I was 12! CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 02:09 AM

hooray..someone has broken the silence and now I know where to look for the great singers..never thought to check the carports...one thing I have noticed..is they leave the gosh-awful flourescent lights off...that alone does so much to make a late evening session more nice...whenever we suggest turning down the awful lights, leaving enough to navigate by etc..someone will always say the book people need them. Can't they be asked to bring a flashlight? I carry two at all times so I shall loan one out...I am talking about late night sessions mostly at the camps..got another one coming up...take me with you when you sneak out. Actually I am thinking of where could Jon Bartlett and Mudjack sneak out to where they wouldn't be heard for about five miles away they have such powerful voices...

I think we all have to do some sort of balancing act between being hospitable and encouraging to everyone and doing sometimes the opposite actions that will produce the most wonderful music...the two are often incompatible in some situations. Splinter groups are often the answer..

mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 02:50 AM

Exactly, Mary... but they leave the fluorescent lights on full because they're TASTELESS! Which is why they sing songs from the BBD. Yes, Joe, you're right... but why do that title it "The Man THAT Waters the Workers' Beer" when the very first line has WHO? Not only are they tasteless, they ain't got no GRAMMAR! GRR!!!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 03:19 AM

I think for a lot of people it might not be an auditory experience so the actual sound of the music might not be as important to them as it is to others of us who like the actual sounds produced. People talk about a lot of reasons for liking music, but it is almost like they never talk about the sensory experience..our puritanical background again I guess. It tinkles our eardrums nicely. Ask 20 people why they like music...some like the emotional experience, some like the political expression, some like the community sharing etc...rarely will a person say because it feels good. There. I have said it. For me, the better it sounds, the better an experience it is. If I was more politically inclined, the sound might not matter as much and the ideas might be much more important. I know I am left-handed and probably my music center is in my dominant hemisphere..wonder if that is a factor.

g


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: MMario
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:09 PM

Sometimes it feels like the music is actually flowing, like water; that kind of sensation you mean, Mary?

another leftie


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: mg
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ebbie
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 12:16 PM

Mary G, I'm with you on that. Sometimes when a song is going along only nicely someone will begin a harmony that raises goose bumps. (The same thing happens at times with instrumentals, especially with harmonizing fiddles.) The sound cradles me, bathes me, steeps me in pleasure.

A few years ago I discovered a phenomenon I expect many of us experience. I had formed the habit of going to an open mike one night a week, there having two or three glasses of wine and eventually floating up the steep hill to my home. I could have run every step of the way. I credited the wine with the sensation.

Then one week it was so crowded I couldn't get even a cup of coffee, much less wine. And at the end of the evening I floated up the hill... It's the music.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Mudjack
Date: 28 Feb 03 - 04:35 PM

Sorry Mary, it looks like I stepped out of the thread , I was at work at my last posting and didn't get to answer the where. You can usually find the "stepouts" at the dining hall at RC. or just keep moving on until you find a suitable bunch.
I think I can remedy this problem by finding a DARK room where there is little to no lights to read by and maybe then the blue books will not surface during a real song sharing session. I still think it is a great book.
Mudjack


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Hrothgar
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 07:21 PM

If your nose is in a book, how the hell do you watch the lead singer (who shouldn't be using a book, if they're singing lead)?

And if you're not waching the lead, how bad can it get?

My own feeling is that I don't mind if people have books as a reminder, but the only real way to learn a song is by singing it.

By the way, any body who can read the words in Rise Up Singing in the light that is usually available around a campfire has earned my bitter envy. My eyes aren't all that good now, and I don't think they were ever that good.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Mar 03 - 08:11 PM

I've led campfire singing since I was in high school, and I think I'm pretty good at it. I used to do campfire workshops for scout leaders, but they stopped asking me after I refused to restrict my choice of songs to the Scout songbook. Many times, I've had adults who insisted I should provide song sheets for campfires - but I resisted that, too.

I like using Rise Up Singing in certain types of singarounds - but not at campfires.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 12:10 PM

The new edition of RUS is out, but the big print not until January --
http://www.singout.org/

The new SO also has a Welsh song!! Gwych!!

Chris in Wheaton


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: DADGBE
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 06:28 PM

Song sessions centered around RUS are amazingly similar to some instrumental slow jams. A song book is great for learning but it's death on a song circle when used as a crutch. Slow jams can be a good learning tool but there are folks who never get out of their comfort zone to learn anything new or faster.

I have no problem with folks getting together and doing anything that pleases them. (That leaves the field open!) But RUS song circles bore the bejesus out of me.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Don Firth
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 07:19 PM

Amen!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ferrara
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 09:20 PM

Joe is leading song circles where people expect to use RUS or other cheat sheets, and I can't see any problem with it there! He's right, it gets them singing. Usually a good thing. And, the entire group is in agreement that they will sing this way. So how can it be offensive or bad in that context?

I have also seen RUS, and a local publication called the Shantey Singer's Bible, used very well as a way to understand the lyrics being sung and be able to join in the chorus. At least once, I've looked up the song I intended to sing in RUS and announced the page so people could sing along on the chorus. (In fact, the song was "The Man Who Waters the Workers' Beer.")

Sometimes RUS does make mistakes on published songs. I believe there is/was a mistake in their version of All Through the Night, there's a verse that goes "Soft the drowsy hours are creeping, Hill and vale in slumber steeping, I my lonely vigil keeping, All Through The Night." They wrote "in slumber sleeping," which makes sense but is redundant and silly, and takes away a bit of the poetry. And, to me, it just felt like dumbing the song down, as if the image of "steeping" the hills in slumber just was too far out and high-flown for the compilers to appreciate. Ah well. I can't find my copy to check this out, and my memory often plays little tricks; if I'm wrong I'm sure somebody will let me know.

We have people who come to our monthly Open Sings who always have the words in front of them, whether from RUS or some other means.

A very few of those people actually know their songs but have trouble holding all the words in memory. They know the tune and sing with expression. Almost no one (not even my hubby Bill D) holds this against them because it is a pleasure to hear what they sing. If you have trouble memorizing words, but really know the song and can sing it rather than reciting it, isn't it better to sing than to give up? If, that is, you Really Know the song.

Usually, however, it's the situation Mary describes above. They look up a song on the topic -- that they just thought of -- and try to work out the tune as they go. AAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHHHH. Joe, this is NOT the same dynamic that is happening in your song circles. Cooperative singing, intended as such, is Good. Blatant disregard of the comfort and enjoyment of all the other people attending the event is Bad.

Whether you pass out song sheets also depends on the situation. I have recommended once or twice that people ask whether anyone would like a song sheet, rather than creating dead (or dread) time passing them all around the room.

Well I know lots of people have said much of this but I really needed to take a break from paying bills. :-)

Rita


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 29 Nov 04 - 10:31 PM

NOT IN THE BOOK!

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 12:22 AM

I've been to many song gatherings with DADGBE, and he usually livens things up quite nicely and he's very supportive and encouraging to us who rely on books. He does a lot to help people learn new songs and get out of their ruts.

Here's the scoop from Sing Out!:
    This Fall we have released a 15th Anniversary edition of Rise Up Singing, completely retypeset to make it easier to read, with corrections and track icons to match the Teaching CDs.
The book that's coming out in January is a 9x12 leader's edition. This is just a new edition of the old book, not the all-new book that had been planned. When last I heard, that one was still in the works - but it's been a long time since I've heard anything about that all-new one.

Slumber steeping, Rita? Well, I'd never doubt you, but the Digital Tradition says "slumber sleeping." The lyrics are posted in three messages with "steeping," and in two and the DT as "sleeping." In an informal survey of four songbooks (including Rise Up Singing), only the one published in Germany had "steeping."
I'm sure you're right, Rita - which means I've sung this song wrong hundreds of times since the 1960's. I learned it wrong from Peter, Paul, and Mary - but they and their Website have it right - "steeping." I just listened to the Peter Paul and Mommy CD again.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Chris in Wheaton
Date: 30 Nov 04 - 12:53 PM

I'm starting a separate Ar Hyd Y Nos thread.
Chris


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Dec 04 - 04:19 PM

Reading this thread made me think of parties I've been to where the Bob Dylan hardcover "Lyrics" was pulled off the shelf and we'd flip through the pages looking for singalong material ("can you play this one?").

Since the context is so informal -- not a "sing" or any such meeting of purposeful musicians and singers, but simply a gathering of old friends with shared memories -- the hit-or-miss nature of our efforts has never been an issue. Only the most familiar songs get suggested in the first place, and not all of them can be coherently played by the two or three available instrumentalists, so anything that actually gets sung is pretty well-known by the whole group and can be carried off successfully enough. (Standards aren't that high, anyway -- it's usually late in the evening.) People don't need to read every word from the book, just need a reference for which verse comes next, etc.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,Elaineforgotmy signin so, Guest
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 12:51 AM


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: yrlancslad
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:41 PM

I've said my say in previous threads about this and swore I'd not get into it again but my feeling about the Blue Book is that its a waste of wonderful trees.
IMHO, if a song's worth singing it's worth learning the words. and all this talk about bad memories is just another name for lazyness. If it's important enough to you you'll learn it and if it isn't that important then don't sing it and inflict it on the rest of us. After all what makes you think we'll think it's important enough to listen to?
If warm cozy feelings, and "getting everybody participating" is more important to you than quality singing (ie. different versions or good singers) then by all means use the BB as your hymnal but don't be surprised when good singers don't come back and when the quality of your circle never gets much above the abismal. Meanwhile the good singers will continue to sneak away........


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 07:55 PM

"if a song's worth singing it's worth learning the words."

And just how would plan to learn the words to lots of good songs quickly if you are isolated?


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:10 PM

No secret about how I feel about this book. Here's my song about it.

Rise Up Screaming by Barry Finn
Tune: Jack In The Green by Martin Graebe

A pub session or a party is a very strange thing
They're all out of fashion no more do they sing
For they read from a book or copy a tape
They imitate sounds no mortal should make

NO CHORUS

There's no sound in the kitchen, no sound in the hall
There's a murderous screech that plays off the walls
Where is the music, where are the songs
In the mouths of monsters where no sound belongs

Dead pan they look as they sing in your face
They'll spit out the words and the tunes they'll disgrace
A song will be beat o'r and over to death
And in a round robin they'll resurrect it again

No more will be heard a version that's lost
Or a variant that's rare or two songs that were crossed
The borrowing or sharing of a tune or a song
Will be according to the Bible all else will be wrong

And now for the future, it's bleak for the song
No young mortal will dare to carry it on
They'll be none around who without books can sing
Or swap without tapes or rise up singing

Copyright Barry Finn 1996

Barry


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 08:40 PM

Barry-

What page did you find that one on? ;~)

"Come all ye folksingers, all in a throng,
An' I'll sing ye a ditty that's turgid an' long;
With rhymes that don't rhyme, and rhythem that's a little bit toooooo long,
And it's not what I'd sing t'was I sober!" (Dave Diamond ©)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 07 Mar 06 - 09:59 PM

I think the book is a useful tool - but I'm likely to be one of those people who slips out when everyone gets their copies out. It's not that I object to people needing the words, when it's not a session of experienced musicians. It's more that everyone buries their faces in the book, and forget that human beings have the ability to learn a chorus, or maybe just listen to a ballad. People stop singing with each other, and just each sing with the book.

It's a useful tool. I own it and use it a lot as a reference. It's nice to have at a church retreat or a campfire. But it's not, nor was it ever intended to be, the final word.

It's sad to me that a book which was intended to get people singing more together has proven such a stifling influence on the very music it was intended to encourage.

Maybe the Rise Up Singing crowd can learn to broaden their horizons just a little bit and sing one or two that aren't in the book. Maybe they can learn to look into each others faces, rather than the pages of a book, when they sing the choruses. That would be a good start.

Dan Schatz


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bert
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:00 AM

Well it's useful at times, when you're in a very informal group and someone says "Do you know such and such a song" if you can find it in RUS then everyone can sing along.

Big problem I have with it is that a lot of the chords don't match the way I sing a particular song and a hell of a lot of the songs are incomplete.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 02:38 AM

... but it gives you a start. Of course, if you have Hrothgar with you, he always knows the other 97 verses and 27 parodies...


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 10:12 PM

A chainsaw is a useful tool. I don't think it helps much at singarounds.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 10:15 PM

oh, I dunno, Dick...I can think of some times when a Hurdy-Gurdy is WAY out of tune, that....


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 08 Mar 06 - 11:51 PM

Man, this topic is a real cornucopia--it never runs out.

RUS is a great book, full of great songs. It is very useful--AT HOME. You can even sing exactly the RUS version of a song--(it's after all just snapshots of songs--no pretense to ultimate truth)---if you memorize it.

If you are leading a song, your version of it is by definition the right one.

Surely in any group of people buried in RUS pages there are some who actually know songs. Let them lead--without THE BOOK. Maybe it will encourage others to actually learn songs.

It's not necessary for everybody to sing every word of every verse--that's what choruses are for--and if you don't know the chorus it can be taught-- without THE BOOK.

I know some songs but I don't expect or insist on singing every word of every song that everybody sings. I like to hear others leading, and I love singing choruses. It doesn't bother me if people leave out verses or even if the leader stumbles a bit--as long as it's not stumbling while reading out of THE BOOK. If a ballad is sung, it's harder to keep a group's interest (unless there's a refrain of some sort)--but it can be done.

Humorous songs of any kind are always a good choice at a session as far as I'm concerned--especially since I don't know many.

I might know in advance when I get to a session that the Blue Book plague has carried off an entire group--therefore there's no hope. Even then I will try to pick songs which aren't in THE BOOK--songs with good simple choruses and good opportunities for harmony--and I will be glad to teach the chorus.

Otherwise--if I'm not expecting RUS-- when even one RUS comes out, I'm gone--I'd rather sing for hours alone in the woods--but I know I won't be alone.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: artbrooks
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 12:00 AM

We had our monthly sing-around here (Albuquerque) last Friday. About 1/3 of the people choose to do things out of RUS...songs that they were comfortable with and couldn't/wouldn't do otherwise. Others passed around song sheets or did other stuff. Everyone had fun. No problems.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Tam the man
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:15 AM

I use the blue book quite a lot, because I just love it and my other songbooks that I carry with me. I have a crap memory and can only remember a few songs, but the blue book is a help to those who can't remeber songs.

Please don't be angry with me.

Rise up singing is just a great book, some people hate and some people like it.

We are all different.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 09:09 AM

I just re-read this thread. After it was started, what three years ago, I'm amazed at just how pertainant the comments are. I tried to get excited about a local song circle last Fall, but it was a total turnoff for me ... because all it was (mostly) was a recitation of songs from "THE BOOK." CHEERS, Bob Deckman Nelson


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Scoville
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 03:04 PM

I don't object to RUS in particular, or book use on the whole, where you have a group of people who may or may not know the same songs and need a push. What bugs me is people getting into the mindset that RUS, or any collection of songs, is the Official Play List for every gathering and balking at singing/playing anything that's not in it. I've belonged to musical societies, etc., that were so stuck on their songbooks that the idea of learning something by lining out or another non-book method threw them into a total crisis.

What I don't like about RUS in particular is that I often can't get the chords to match and there are significant portions of the book that don't contain any songs that I want to learn. I probably have used 5% of it rather heavily and the rest not at all, except under duress.

I also don't think it's much different than when a recording of an older song becomes popular and suddenly is the "standard". Everybody knows "House of the Rising Sun" because the Animals recorded it in 1965--how many versions are lost? How many versions of "Man of Constant Sorrow" were subverted by O, Brother, Where Art Thou?. I'd never heard it sung like that until the movie came out. I'm not saying I'm thrilled when this happens, of course, but it does and, whether I like it or not, it certainly works a lot better in a group sing if everyone expects to sing an Animals-esque version of "Rising Sun". I wouldn't sing it that way on my own, but my own personal version can wait for open mic or some other solo act.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Duke
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 03:36 PM

I've been singing and playing folkmusic for almost 50 years and have many, many books of songs, including one I made myself with tons of lyrics, but no chords or music. I never forget a tune or how to play it, but have always had trouble with lyrics. Now as the years pass me by, if I don't use the books I don't sing the songs. I just have too much of a memory problem. Mind you, I wouldn't pay a nickel to see a performer who had to use a book on stage. If his memory is that bad, he should do like I do and just play for himself and his friends.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:18 PM

Before I stopped going to song circle, I would see the same people sing the same songs that they had sung hundreds of times before, but they couldn't get their faces out of the book. I guess they thought that if they didn't use the book they wouldn't remember the words. But they might be amazed if they tried it once without the book, and realized that they really did know the words.

I only learn a song when I force myself to throw away the written words and rely on my memory. I usually stumble through the words a few times, but then quickly get them down.

As I said before (see my previous post, way back), RUS is a great collection of songs FOR group singing, but it should not be used IN group singing. If any of you have that old standby song book "Song Fest," read again the preface to the original collection. That says it all.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:26 PM

You haven't lived until you sing a song and fourteen angry faces look up from their blue bibles and shout, "You're singing it WRONG!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bill D
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 05:34 PM

...but they shout it in perfect unison! (never seen more than 3 at a time, myself...YOU wouldn't exaggerate any, would you, Dick?


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 07:55 PM

You mean you really have song circles where people use a book of words like a hymn book in church? Not kidding?


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 10:49 PM

Yes ... they REALLY do that! I guess you could say that the music has gone ... dare I say it ... FULL CIRCLE! Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 11:19 PM

Yes, but there are some differences. In church there's frequently a choir who knows what they're doing, and can guide the congregation musically. In RUS circles there's no guarantee that anybody has any idea of the tune or the words--but they're likely to plow through all verses regardless. It must give them a sense of accomplishment.

Another difference is that when the hymn starts, the best singers don't usually flee.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 11:28 PM

That was a bit unfair. The best singers won't flee when the first song is sung at a RUS session. But only if they know that it is a RUS session. And if they do, there's a good chance they won't show up in the first place.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 09 Mar 06 - 11:39 PM

""You're singing it WRONG! "

... to which you calmly reply - "the book has the wrong version!" - and just keep on going...


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:36 AM

Well, it's true that some people misuse the Blue Book. I can't argue with that. And yes, I suppose I've encountered some people who insist there's no other way to sing a song - but most of the songs in Rise Up Singing do have known authors, and the book usually does give an accurate representation of the lyrics.

And yes, those who commit such sins are to be as despised as the guy who refuses to use a written source of lyrics, and then starts a song three times over and can't ever finish a song because he can't remember the lyrics.

Maybe it's better to just let people sing, however they want to do it, and not be so damn judgmental. Sure, it's wonderful when virtuosos can remember a 25-verse song and sing it perfectly - but isn't it also wonderful when ordinary nonmusical people at least try to sing in a group?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Bert
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 02:41 AM

That's right McGrath, The book is called "Rise Up Singing". Actually it's a really good book for getting people started. But some folks take it too far.

Ah yes Dick, I remember singing "The Barley Mow" at a Philadelphia Folk Song Society circle one time and a guy said just that - "you sang it wrong". And I'd learned the song before he was bloody born.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 03:00 AM

Yeah, Bert, but "The Barley Mow" isn't in Rise Up Singing. And besides, that's one song that can be more song when you goof it up, especially after you've had a few pints and half-pints and so forth...
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 06:18 PM

Using a crib when you song a song, that's common enough, and it's even traditional - the Copper Family used to for example. It can be overdone; it should be used as a way of helping you sing a song you already know to sing, only the words are a bit slippery or rusty, not for songs you don't know.

But what seems strange is the idea of a bunch of different people using the same words book. But then, if it makes for an enjoyable session, fair enough. Singing isn't about competing to see who's got the best memory.

Actually it can be when you know a song so that you sing it without making any effort to remember it, just open your mouth and the words come out naturally, (which is by far the best way to sing), that it's handy having the words there in black and white. Those are the very times when you are liable suddenly to find they are missing in your head. If it's a song you are consciously remembering that's much less likely to happen. But the effort of remembering, while successful, tends to get in the way of giving the song its head.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 09:28 PM

I've even been told by well-meaning folks that I'm singing one of my own songs wrong, because they heard someone else cover it and they sang it differently. I suppose it would be flattering if one of my songs were collected in a later edition of the Blue Book but I prefer what I get back from more contemporary folk-processing. Sometimes there's even an improvement!

I do remember a circle in Portland-West, a few years back, that appeared very confused when I led "West Indies Blues" and no one could find it in the book. Well, they just had never met Ella Robinson Madison, nor my mother who learned the song from her. And there are still some songs that are "wild" like that, lurking in the shadows of the singing circle.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 10:27 PM

I'd like to add a comment that has been hinted at, but I don't think it has really been addressed yet. I AM a singer. I have a large repertoire. I worked hard to attain that repertoire. Why would I want to waste an evening ... listening to people singing songs out of ONE book ... when they can't even sing the song from memory ... let alone tell it's background ... or sing ten varients ... and give the history of those ten varients?

To me, the varients and their history is what the search for the wiley folksong is ALL about. Just a couple of weeks ago, I was swapping songs with a small group of singers in Seattle. I was very excited to hear THREE NEW SONGS I'd NEVER heard before!

To me ... that's VERY exciting!

(what ... it's NOT IN THE BOOK ... WHO GIVES A RAT'S ASS)!

Bob


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 10 Mar 06 - 11:06 PM

"If it (singing out of the RUS hymnal) makes for an enjoyable session, fair enough". Indeed, fair enough. Just make sure those of us who don't in fact look forward to an evening of people stumbling through every blessed verse of a song they have possibly never seen before, and whose melody they may or may not have an inkling of, are warned--we'll stay away.

I repeat--even in RUS circles there must be some people who actually don't need that crutch--which is much worse than a "cheat sheet"--at least with a cheat sheet, you have prepared a bit to sing. It's not just open to the book to page 34 and sing the second from the bottom.

And being able to plow through all verses proves only that the singers can read English. There is not necessarily anything musical about the experience.

It's a question of priorities. ANYBODY who can carry a tune can learn a song. Then you learn another. It's easier for some than for others--but it gets progressively easier. Anybody who takes a shower every morning can learn songs--and if you sing the same one every day in the shower--where you even have friendly acoustics-- it probably won't take long. There have already been threads on how to do it--and we can continue them. It's not a question of showing off by singing a 25-verse ballad. I don't know anybody who does that. Most of us, I suspect, like to sing songs with choruses--and like to sing harmony and hear others do so.

As Stewart points out, in every RUS circle especially if the same songs are often sung, there are people who already have picked up several songs by osmosis.

RUS was never meant as a hymnal--it's absurd to treat it as one--and, as indicated by many already, doing so will drive away the better singers.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 02:21 PM

"but isn't it also wonderful when ordinary nonmusical people at least try to sing in a group?"


Well,it depends on what aspect of it you call wonderful. The sense of community etc. is wonderful, but it won't get me out on a Sunday evening. The sound usually is awful.   And there are people for whom the sound is the most important..it is a sensory thing after all..and there are people for whom the social aspect is the most important...both are valid but not really overly compatible. I too flee the RUS sessions and I especially hate it when they don't just say the page number and proceed but patientently and sometimes aggressively wait until you have found the page and will shove a book in your face. What is wrong with humming etc. if you don't know the words if you are in the group....

To avoid hurt feelings etc. it is important to be brutally honest about a bb policy if you are doing a song circle, camp or whatever...and in a camp certainly there are opportunities for people to have sessions using the book...but tell them ahead of time how you feel and they can adapt or start a different group. mg


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 03:05 PM

Well, we had our monthly Sacramento Song Circle last night. Yeah, the sound was awful on about half the songs, and it was a strain to keep people in the same key and on the same tempo, and the out-of-tune autoharp and the off-tempo guitar added to the strain - but the forty people there had a great time, and a few of the songs we sang came off very well. People seem to depend on me to carry the singing much of the time, and I interact with a few others to support the singing of the rest. It's hard work sometimes, but I think it's worthwhile. Sometimes I worry that I'm too dominant in the song circle, so I try to back off when the singing is OK.

A number of the better folk musicians in the Sacramento area come only occasionally, usually when the song circle is hosted by somebody significant. At times, we can have six guitars and a dobro and a cello and sixty singers crammed into a living room. It's a struggle when there's that many people crowded together, and the singing doesn't get good until after the 9 o'clock break, when half the people go home. But the singing DOES get good, even though it's still mostly dependent on Rise Up Singing.

The orientation of our song circle is community singing, and we've always had a policy of encouraging nonsingers to participate. Very few of our people would feel comfortable at gatherings of the San Francisco Folk Music Club - but they do have a great time at our song circles. I suppose the Founding Father of our song circle was Bob Fitch, an activist who worked as a freelance recorder traveling with Martin Luther King, Jr., and later with Cesar Chavez. Bob was instrumental in establishing song circles in Sacramento, Reno, Santa Cruz, and other places in Northern California. I suppose I was Bob's Designated Heir when he left town. We still have an air of activism in our song circle community, and we have provided many singers for the Sacramento Labor Chorus and for peace rallies over the years. Hey, I got to sing a solo on the steps of the State Capitol once...

I have to say that there's an air of elitism in many of the comments that criticize the use of Rise Up Singing. This sort of singing serves people who wouldn't be comfortable in a folk music club - would you prefer that these people not sing at all, that they just shut up and buy your CD's?

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Deckman
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 03:31 PM

Very good comments Joe ... I applaude you. I think Mary comes close when she says there's sings and then there's sings ... my words, not hers. Back in the mid fifties, several of us founded an earlier version of what is now the "Seattle Folklore Society." Back then, we WERE much more about encouraging community singing. We even had our own self published music song sheets.

I guess all I'm trying to say is that ... these days ... I seek out the better singers at private gatherings and hoots.

I didn't mean to imply that one is better than the other. And yes, I do agree with you that there is an air of elitism expressed. It's an old critism and justified.

CHEERS, Bob(deckman)Nelson


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 06:31 PM

". . . but it won't get me out on a Sunday evening." Exactly so, Mary.

I describe HERE how the Seattle Song Circle first got started in 1977 and give something of a run-down on how the meetings were conducted. But I hedged a bit about why Barbara and I dropped out after a few years.

For one thing, once a week got to be a bit much. We enjoyed it, but there were other things we like to do too, and that held for a lot of the other regulars as well. That, by itself, wouldn't have kept us from coming frequently. But what began to reduce out enthusiasm was that an increasing number of people, mostly new people who were coming into the group, seemed to be there primarily for the social aspects rather than the singing, and wanting to participate, they would arrive at meetings with loads of songbooks under their arms. When their turn came up, the rest of the group would be treated to "Well, this is a song I just found this afternoon, and I don't know the words yet and I'm not sure of the tune, but. . . ." And what would follow would be someone rehearsing in front of the group, complete with uncertain groping for pitches and lots of "I'm sorry. Let me start that verse again."

Well, I'm sorry if it makes me some sort of elitist or folk-Nazi, but I came from of a tradition that says, "Know the song before you try to sing it for other people." Reading the song out of a book and groping around for a partially learned melody was something I do at home in the process of learning the song.

Now, I teach, so I'm used to listening to people in the process of learning words, tunes, guitar pieces, all that. In that context, no problem. But I went to Song Circle to sing and to hear other people sing. I don't want to keep a couple of dozen other people waiting while I do what I should have done at home, nor do I particularly care to sit there while half-a-dozen other people, in turn, do the same thing. When Seattle Song Circle first started, people sang songs they knew. New people, who had never sung before a group before, were encouraged. But these new people rightfully assumed that they should learn a song and practice it up before attempting to present it to the group. It's nice to watch somebody develop a repertoire of songs over a period of time and get good at singing them.

What tipped it over for Barbara and me was that, after numerous sessions of hearing several people fumble around with songs they didn't know, a couple of people suddenly got hung up on Jacques Brel, and insisted on rehearsing Jacques Brel songs in front of the rest of us. Now Jacques Brel songs are fine, but c'mon!!

Rise Up Singing hadn't put in an appearance yet, but apparently it wasn't very long. I remember John Dwyer's general disgust at the direction the Seattle Song Circle seemed to be taking, and like him, sitting around group-singing out of a songbook is not anything that appealed to me. As I mentioned above (and a couple of years ago), at John's memorial song circle meeting, a copy of RUS was disassembled and fed to a shredder as a tribute to him. I notice that on their current web site (HERE), they mention bringing "Rise Up Singing (AKA 'The Blue Book') or other songbooks" to the meetings. (Sigh)

Now, I have a copy of Rise Up Singing. I have a bookcase with about nine feet of shelf-space devoted to songbooks I've accumulated over five+ decades. RUS sits there among the others. I leave them all right there when I go to a songfest.

If people want to get together for a community sing and all sing out of the same book, fine. But as Mary says, "It won't get me out on a Sunday evening." I'd rather get together with other singers (including beginners) and swap songs we already know. And if you want to have a party, then have a party. I like parties.

It was our decision to drop out. The character of the Seattle Song Circle had changed, and it no longer met our interests. But if it meets those of other people, fine.

Barbara and I host a writers' group one Sunday afternoon per month. The idea is for people to read something they've written during the month to the rest of the group for mutual critique, suggestions, and, hopefully, encouragement. Over the past year, a few new people joined the group. Some of them, it turned out, didn't write. To attempt to justify their existence there, they would often read something they had found in a magazine or newspaper, with the excuse that "I though this was really interesting!"   They were obviously there, not because they were interested in writing, but because they seemed to be more interested in a straight social gathering (and maybe the refreshments). The group was a) straying from its original purpose, and getting unwieldy in size. Less time was being spent reading to each other and more time in general conversation. So we found a reason to disband it. After a month or so, we contacted the people we knew who were serious about their writing, and without general announcement, the group has reformed. But it's no longer "open invitation." Too bad we have to do it that way, but that seemed to be the only way we could get back to our original purpose.

Don Firth
(bitch bitch bitch)


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Don Firth
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 06:48 PM

Rereading what I just posted, I don't think I made what I was attempting to say in the last paragraph too clear. The idea is that if people like me and the last John Dwyer prefer the way the Seattle Song Circle used to operate, perhaps we should contact like-minded folks and organize a new song circle. With an additional stipulation:   leave the songbooks at home.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 08:37 PM

Don, several years ago here in Seattle someone organized a pub sing, an open jam with only one rule - NO BOOKS! It went on for several months, but finally died. The last session consisted of myself and the person who started the session. But I thought it was a good idea, and it really made me rethink my ideas about singing, and convinced me to sing as many songs as possible from memory rather than rely on written words. So when I come to a session now I rarely bring any paper with me. It's a very freeing sort of thing not to worry about where the words are and lugging around lots of books. If I don't know a song well enough to sing without printed words, I don't sing it. And if I sometimes make a mistake or drop a word, that's the way it is, I don't worry about it.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 08:48 PM

A lot of us have no pretense to professionalism, have no CD's we are trying to sell, and still like to sing. And we appreciate people who have made efforts to learn songs. Bringing a copy of RUS to a session shows absolutely no effort in learning a song. And we are indeed getting together in groups, parties etc.--where even cheat sheets, possibly little books of lyrics of songs you like to sing--which you therefore have shown some effort in compiling, etc. are fine--but RUS is not.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 08:51 PM

But I agree with you , Stewart--I try to bring no paper to a singing session--or at least stick the paper in my pocket when I sing the song. You want to contact with your audience----totally impossible with RUS.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 11:48 AM

It's true I have several editions of RISE UP SINGING in my bookshelf and I even consult them occasionally to recheck lyrics or a reference. But I'd never bring one to a song circle unless it was to show the book to someone else.

I do sometimes bring a songsheet with me to a song circle as a prop when I haven't fully digested a song, and I sometimes pass out song copies to others so they can learn the song as well. But all singing improves when the singer has fully internalized the song. Good singers still makes mistakes, starting in the wrong key or forgetting a word, but we're talking about song circles rather than recording sessions and mistakes are not as crucial in that context.

I do think we need to encourage less experienced singers in song cicrcles, but we should be encouraging them to learn more, not just get past their turn. And I do love to see people develop their singing. But I acknowledge that I am less patience with those who demonstrate no progress, month after month.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 12:22 PM

The whole idea of a bunch of people sitting round and singing songs out of individual copies of the same book does seem pretty strange, outside the context of a church service, and I don't think it's found it in many cultures.

But perhaps it should be recognised as yet another expression of a type of activity that is characteristic of the particular culture in which it has emerged. Maybe it reflects the fact that Americans may tend to come from a more diverse set of backgrounds than people in other places, and from less settled communities, and that sitting in church and singing from hymn books is a much more familiar activity for them anyway.

In other words, this blue book stuff is a kind of tradition of its own, and deserves the same kind of tolerance we extend towards other traditions that can seem a bit ridiculous to outsiders. For example Morris Dancing.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: TonyK
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 12:36 PM

I'm for tolerance on this issue. I've spent a lot of energy on trying to show other people the error of their ways and I found out it was my own stuff. Without the books, some people I know wouldn't come to sing. The Book has its place and so do I. I don't have to put anybody in theirs. Doesn't do any real good, anyway.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: JudyB
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 02:24 PM

It's interesting - I usually do all right remembering the lyrics of any song I plan to sing at a session (though if someone asks for something I haven't done in a while and hadn't prepared and I'm fool enough to do it I can get in trouble). When I sing at our local open mike I'm more apt to have the words on stage with me, though I've almost never referred to them - something about the spotlight in my eye that makes me fear my brain may go out the window. They're within reach (though out of sight) to minimize the time spent getting back on track in case I do get in trouble - a security blanket that I rarely use.

However, remembering the chords for Charley's songs when I play guitar to back up his banjo is a whole lot more challenging for me - I learned to play by picking out tunes from songbooks, so reading music is fairly easy for me while playing by ear comes very hard (when it comes at all). I'm much more likely to have a sheet in front of me or a scrap of paper with the chords for the songs he plans to sing when I'm playing backup than when I'm leading a song.

And you'd better believe I had the sheets in front of me when we recorded his CD - though he didn't because (as many other folks have said) he sounded much better singing from memory even with an occasional flub. It meant we occasionally did a second (or third) take - we thought it was well worth the extra effort.

JudyB


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 04:43 PM

I really don't mind people bringing their blue books (RUS) to song circle, I just refrain from going to those sessions myself. But I'm perfectly tolerant.

When I'm playing backup guitar or fiddle and I don't know the music that well, I don't mind using the notes on a music stand since I'm not the focus of the music - the singer or lead player is the one of interest and probably shouldn't be using written music. Besides I may be called at the last minute to back up something I'm not familiar with, so I don't have time to learn the new music.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Northerner
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 05:03 PM

I'm having to use a crib sheet to get me started singing again. It's not something that I like but it's giving me the confidence to sing songs again. I do actually know the song but it's just nervousness. When I first started many, many years ago, I never used a crib sheet (they were actively discouraged) and it took me a very long time to get past my nervousness. I am generally able to discard the crib sheet after the song has been sung once or twice. My progress is much faster than first time around. Singing a song helps it to go into memory.

Ironically I also tell stories and I don't use crib sheets for those at all. Mind you, it helps that stories are in your own words and not learnt word for word. Most storytelling circles ban books.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 12 Mar 06 - 10:16 PM

As long as everybody knows in advance whether a given session will have RUS or not, everybody can make plans. The people you sing with are far more important than whether a book will be used or not--but there's a lot more spontaneity without RUS, and more people could wean themselves of it--if they would only try.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 10:00 PM

I go to sings in which people routinely use cribs, including The Book; and I go to sings where cribs are against the norm, tho they are tolerated in recognition of the fact that none of us is getting any younger. I enjoy both types, but am marginal in both, as I am in all groups, including especially the human species; so perhaps I can contribute some perspective.



In the commune I belonged to 30 years ago, the national sport was volleyball. It was played without teams (the entire court rotated after each point), but of course some players were better than others, and after some discussion they were allowed to form their own league in which they could keep the ball in motion more of the time. They managed to do so without disparaging the duffers who continued to have fun at their own level.



Group singing is not quite like volleyball; it is a little more like rockclimbing, in that there is some built-in handicapping that allows a mixture of levels of competence to be enjoyable: the more skillful and knowledgeable ones can lead. However, there are limits to that kind of satisfaction, as there are to all kinds, and it is well within reason for people who want to look at each other while singing to seek each other out.



If I were a mainstream RUS addict, I think I might respond to get-your-nose-out-of-that-book agitation like this: Life is too short to learn a lot of songs. Singing is important, but so is snowboarding, or making borsht, or getting laid, or keeping my children out of bad company, or whatever. I have a sense of proportion, and my proportions are not yours. The ability to enjoy oneself at a low level of competence is a precious resource for happiness, not something to be ashamed of or bullied out of, particularly when the alternative is mechanized tantrums coming out of loudspeakers. When I hear the word "excellence" I reach for my revolver.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: There is nothing wrong with devil theories in politics. Just look to the devil in the mirror. :||


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 11:25 PM

OK--revolvers are very persuasive.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 13 Mar 06 - 11:46 PM

& sometimes exceptable.
Barry


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 12:04 AM

Actually I don't believe "excellence" was mentioned. What was mentioned was "learning songs". I hope that doesn't call for revolvers.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Barry Finn
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 01:51 AM

The laws of song gravity.
Not to serious here, but

Sings will seek out the lowest common denominator, pull out 3 or 4 of those books at a singing session & anyone who you really wanted to hear just left the building.

Using more than 3 of those books in a crowd larger than 4 will not drive anyone to excel in singing ability, memory gain or verse retention, it actually causes the reverse. If you sing without those books but can't carry a tune then you'll be lifted be the others who well not only back you & your play but will also push you along to make the ride more enjoyable for you & the rest. Try that with the books & everyone will be dying for you to finish so they can kill the next one.

The more effort you spend trying to have fun the more fun you'll have. Want to have fun singing, make the effort to learn songs & practice them until you feel that they will be enjoyed by all not just the bookies.

It takes time, patience & practices to bring a singing community to a level of decency, don't let that book rush it you'll never get there by taking the easy, boring, repeating path. Tell Dick & Jane you're moving on to a more interesting subject matter. Otherwise you'll be in the same rut for decades.

Those books will never attract good or great singers that you'd like to attract to a sing, most would rather die alone & songless. Toss out the books & you might find that there are some who would love to sing with your group & with them comes their knowledge, background & mostly their encouragement for the group to go places that they've never been before, you might even find them attracting even better singers & before you know it everybody's getting better all the time.

A song gathering is not a book review at the library, get out there & kick some ass, don't allow books turn your time into a parlor sing that stings rather than a power sing. It's not a classroom, though you may learn more by tossing the books out.

If the book can't fit into your pocket don't bring it, carry a few cheat sheets that will. If you have to carry it in your hand & it's not a refreshment leave it at home. Otherwise someone may choke on it. Beginners even know how to roll up enough sheets of music to shove in a side or inside pocket or pocketbook to get them through the night; don't forget if you try you'll get there sooner.

OK just a couple of personal observations.
Probably 35 yrs ago I started going to sings (weekly & monthly) people brought in papers & notes to join & try with; fine we all started some where. These were eventually compiled. New singers used these & referenced these & they were updated. But the more seasoned singers always brought in new songs or refreshed old ones & kept away from the reading material. For the betterment of the whole, so things didn't go stale. In time the beginners where using the printed materials less often & so the group always grew


& stayed fresh, like mint. I started to go less often, not because of the group but there where other things to attend. As the years went by the group some how took these RUS books to their bowels & it's been years, ages since these song sessions have had the smell of freshness or the sound of sweetness about them, just smells & sounds like shit.

Some of the best sings I've ever heard were at places where not a piece of paper could be seen (of course I don't know about pockets). There was no set order & no set leader, usually just free for alls.
Most, usually sung songs with choruses, so everyone could sing. The more seasoned the singers the more ripe the singing that leads to the natural growth of seasoned leaders, if you'd like, will pull the less seasoned along & push them to lead once & a while, so they get to sing alot & lead a bit too. It brings the life of the party to a higher & better standard, hopefully. This is only one way IMHO to continue a cycle of singing that'll maintain itself over the years & stay a place were all of the talent & enjoyment can be kept to a level where everybody gets enough & more from all present which should be plenty of reason to keep all coming back.

That said, don't shoot, I'm just a messenger.

Barry


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 14 Mar 06 - 09:16 PM

No, excellence had not been mentioned, and I do not own a revolver. I am not actually a curmudgeon on the other side; I am a curmudgeon on the fence. I agree with Barry about the charms of that type of sing, but I can enjoy an evening in RUSsia as well.

It may be worth explaining that "I reach for my revolver" was a catchphrase in the years around 1940. A character in a Nazi play had said "When I hear the word culture, I release the safety catch on my Browning", and that was mistranslated as "...I reach for my revolver" & misattributed to Goebbels. I myself have a fair number of revolver words.

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: If you insist on working like a badly programmed computer, you will have plenty of cheap competition. :||


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 06:31 PM

In view of the serious negativity often expressed against the use of printed musical memory aids of any type in any circumstance, I won't repeat the statements about classical music and recording hacks, and 'untrained folkies'. Neither will I repeat the negativity that such publicly negative people aren't 'real musicians'...

When I began to receive music lessons in the 1950s, I experienced the 'ruler across the knuckles' trick, until I complained to my father - a good quality amateur classical violinist. BTW, he COULD play without music when soloing, but when playing in any 'formal' ensemble he used music. He had little 'folk music as it is assumed here' experience, but also during the 1930-40's had 'parlour party' experience - sheet music was not always used in such 'informal' ensembles. When we played piano & violin duets, we also used music - which was useful as my often apparently ADHD type memory when younger meant that I often 'lost my place; and needed to 'vamp' till I could resynchronise - usually to my father's annoyance - although also his respect for keeping the beat going reliably.

During my music training, I had to play from the music at times, and also had to play things from memory - both situations, as well as sight reading were part of the Piratical Exams. One also had to memorise several tunes each year for the Theory Exams - you were asked to transpose a certain tune into a specified key and then harmonise it.

As a Church organist and Sunday School Pianist, I played from music always - when accompanying large groups of singers, the last thing you need is a momentary lapse of memory, especially if the tune is not a commonly played one. In such circumstances, one rarely looks at the page anyway, and often I would close my eyes while playing anyhow (or 'vague out' with my eyes open!). I also used to be able to transpose 'on the fly' at the keyboard, but I am a bit out of practice at that skill these days.

As a result of my training, especially the painful part, I have a need to have ready access to the page for SOME of my repertoire, but with SOME other of it, I have it in memory. I know so many tunes that I can play - and I also used, when in good practice, to be able to play almost any tune on sight, or with 5 minutes 'rehearsal' - that I often forget on what note (or relative note of the scale a tune (both instrumental and vocal) starts, and often how the damn things goes. I now have compiled a small indexed note book that has the tune name, the key, the first note and the direction in which the tune moves - this assists greatly for memory work.

I DO sympathise with some of the complaints, and I DO understand that some of you may have suffered greatly with lazy people who have deluded themselves that they are great musos, but if you reject my talent when I pull out my memory aids - well you can sod off then, as to me, you appear very narrow minded, and you also don't appear to be very tolerant of those who are not as 'perfect' as you! :-)

:-P


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 06:42 PM

BTW, for most songs I have written, but not all (and I haven't written many worth keeping!), I MUST have the words in front of me, or else I can't remember them - once put on paper and 'tidied up', the words tend to disappear from my memory totally without recall.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 07:11 PM

As I've heard that quote it was "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my Browning", leaving open the possibility of a degree of word play, involving a reference to the poet.

Of course, like all quotes it may have been adjusted and readjusted and reattributed several times.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Stewart
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 07:50 PM

I have no objection to people using crib sheets or even sheets of printed words/music at sessions if they put some time into practicing the music before hand so that they do not stumble over words and notes, and they get acceptable phrasing. And in doing so they should improve in the art of singing. And eventually they will be singing their own music and not just notes or words on a printed page.

What I do object to is people who come to song circle as a purely social event, and have not given one thought to the music before they come. They have no idea of what to sing, so they open the book and quickly thumb through the pages until they find something that catches their eye. Then they ask others who may or may not know the song to help them. I have no patience for that. But I would have patience for someone who is making a real effort to learn the music, even though they might not be the best singer.

I play in instrumental sessions where you have to be prepared or you are asked not to play. Why should singing sessions be any different? I am all for helping and encouraging beginners, but I would like to see some effort on their part and then improvement will follow.

Cheers, S. in Seattle


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: GUEST,Joe_F
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 09:48 PM

McGrath: Indeed, I have inscribed that quotation in my book of Browning's poems. However, FWIW, the original (Hans Johst, 1934) was "Wenn ich Kultur höre...entsichere ich meinen Browning". That makes it unlikely that a pun was intended. I suspect that whoever made up the English version changed "release the safety catch on" to "reach for" to avoid wordiness (English not being blessed with a single word for that action), and changed "Browning" to "revolver" precisely to avoid a distracting suggestion that a Nazi would regard Robert Browning as the epitome of culture. (People who know about such things have informed me that revolvers seldom have safety catches and Browning never made revolvers, so it is a very free translation.)

--- Joe Fineman    joe_f@verizon.net

||: One compass points north. Two compasses point at each other. :||


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 11:37 PM

Those of us who've criticized the use of RUS in singing sessions are ONLY criticizing that one book--and its use as a "folk hymnal". Nobody, as far as I know, is dead against the appearance of any piece of paper at a session.   For one thing, it shows at least some preparation was made. Showing up with a copy of RUS shows no preparation whatsover. And sure enough, it can result in plowing through all the printed verses with only a guess at the tune--not really a musical experience--and easily avoided with just a little preparation.

A real hymnal is actually usually better--since there are frequently printed harmonies which work. RUS is a guess at the melody and a snapshot of the words--neither of which are necessarily right--but still may be cited by RUS devotees as the only correct way to sing a given song.

And nobody is trying to stamp out the use of RUS--just saying that a session does use it, it's likely to lose the best singers-----quickly. The only reason for good singers to stay at a RUS session is if they really like the people, and don't mind the lack of musical satisfaction.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 11:40 PM

Joe F--

That's fascinating --about Hans Johst and the origin of that quote.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 15 Mar 06 - 11:41 PM

"Two compasses point at each other"

Pedantically, one always points away from the other... :-P


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 02:15 AM

Well, while many of you keep saying how horrible it is, we keep having a rousing good time doing it. It's community singing, a different dynamic from the singing I've experienced in many other places. Last Friday, we hammed it up outrageously on "Hang On the Bell, Nellie," and "Titanic." Mary, who is developmentally disabled, wanted us to sing "Oh, No, John" - and you should have seen the joy and enthusiasm on her face as she sang that song with us (with just the women singing "on, no, John.") During the break, a group of us clustered around Ingrid the German Lady and sang "Die Gedanken Sind Frei" and "Freiheit." Almost every session, we sing "Today" in memory of long-time member Carlos, who died of post-polio syndrome a couple years ago. Yeah, Carlos always chose "Today," and another guy usually chooses "Waltzing With Bears," and another guy used to choose "I Feel Pretty" all the time.
Oh, and this time we did a great job on Woody Guthrie's "Do-re-mi" - usually, we blow that one.
So, I suppose there's some sameness, but there's also something fresh and new every session, even though most of our songs are from the book. So, we have 40 to 50 people show up most months, and we've been doing it for almost 20 years, still with the "blue book."
That can't be all bad.

I'm glad for all the wonderful experiences I've had with folk music in San Francisco and in Washington, DC - but most of the people in our song circle wouldn't fit into the DC or San Francisco groups.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Snuffy
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 07:50 AM

Pedantically, one always points away from the other... :-P

Pedantically, do you mean "each always points away from the other... "?

If not, which one is it that points away, and where does the other one point?


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Don Firth
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 03:29 PM

This may sound a bit like I'm back-pedaling, but not so.

I have no objection to a group of people and singing out of RUS or whatever they like, if that's what they want to do. As Joe points out, people can have a lot of fun with it. It's just that, apart from when I go to church and sing out of the hymnal along with the rest of the congregation, that kind of singing doesn't particularly appeal to me, especially if that's all that happens at a given song fest.

Apart from the song book thing, I have no particular objection if someone wants to keep a notebook of lead-sheets for songs already learned, and keep it in easy view so it can be glanced at from time to time if need be.

I don't think my memory is failing, even if I have become one of The Ancient Ones. But I find that I have occasional "senior moments" with songs that I've sung perhaps hundreds if not thousands of times in the past. Most annoying! For about a decade, during the Fifties and Sixties, I sang somewhere almost every week, usually several evenings a week: coffeehouse, concert, or some other gig, or if not there, at a "hoot" or song fest in someone's house. Except for learning new songs, I rarely had to practice because I hardly needed to. I had a pretty large repertoire, but singing as much as I did, it wasn't hard to keep it up to snuff.

But that was awhile back. Although I try to limber up my fingers on the guitar, warm up my voice, and sing a bit every day, I don't sing anywhere near as often or as much as I used to: maybe eight or ten times a year altogether at get-togethers at Bob's or at Alice's or at our place, rather than two or three evenings a week.

Frustratingly enough, the songs tend to slip away if they're not sung with some regularity. It especially seems to be a case of "last in, first out." The songs I've learned most recently are the ones that I have the occasional "senior moment" with, even though I learn them thoroughly and practice them a lot before I try them in front of other people. So it seems to me that the reasonable thing to do is to keep lead sheets within easy view and give it a quick glance when needed. Since the song has already been learned, the occasional glance is not the same as having to read it off, or sing it out of a book.

In professional theater and at the opera, there is the prompter hunkered down in the prompter's box, ready to quickly and quietly feed a line to an actor or singer if they blank out, as everyone does from time to time. Symphony musicians know the music and are well rehearsed, but they all have the score in front of them. On television a decade or two back, Itzhak Perlman, Pinchas Zukerman, Jacqueline du Pré, Zubin Mehta, and Daniel Barenboim did a bravura performance of Schubert's "Trout Quintet," and they each had the music on a music stand in front of them. They rarely glanced at it, but it was there, just in case. Luciano Pavarotti knows the scores to fifty or sixty full operas and dozens and dozens of other songs. On television specials, unless it's a fully staged opera, he usually sings with a music stand within easy view. He doesn't sing from the music, but now and then, he may give it a quick glance. And he's not the only one. He certainly knows the music and is obviously well-rehearsed when he goes before the cameras, but no one, not even he, can be absolutely sure they won't have a temporary lapse. Better to have a quick reminder unobtrusively within view than to blow it on national TV.

So if I start showing up at song fests and hoots with a three-ring notebook full of lead-sheets, that's why. But they won't be songs I have not already learned well and sung a lot.

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: Ron Davies
Date: 16 Mar 06 - 11:09 PM

Community singing was done before RUS. We used to do it--and we still do--without RUS. Several of us know "Hang on the Bell, Nellie" all the way through-- I think many learned it from Joe Hickerson, who had it on an early LP. When we do it we also ham it up unmercifully. But the leader (and some others) knows the song. It can be done--and it isn't that hard. It's a question of priorities--either learning songs is important or it's not.

And using "cheat sheets" or even books is not the end of the world. (Nor is using RUS--but you can see it from there). The only thing we object to is RUS at a sing, especially as a hymnal--which is a pattern all too easy to fall into.


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 12:00 AM

Pedantically, one will point to the other one painting away from the one pointing to it.

Soporific minds will understand how magnets behave - the 'North seeking' pole of one 'points towards' the 'South seeking' pole of the other, and Vikky Versa (met her before?)


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 12:04 AM

Soporific???? Bloody speel checker - Scintific! - sorry, that was due to my glasses - the ones I wear!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 12:09 AM

SPWLL CHECKWER! DAMMIT!


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Subject: RE: blue books revisited (Rise Up Singing)
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 17 Mar 06 - 12:11 AM

Bugger! May as well hang up the shovel, I'm just getting deeper!


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