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Rise Up Singing


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dwditty 27 Dec 98 - 07:36 AM
Barry Finn 27 Dec 98 - 12:54 PM
dwditty 27 Dec 98 - 01:11 PM
Alice 27 Dec 98 - 01:19 PM
catspaw49 27 Dec 98 - 01:42 PM
Sandy Paton 27 Dec 98 - 02:06 PM
Barry Finn 27 Dec 98 - 03:27 PM
Sandy Paton 27 Dec 98 - 04:47 PM
Mike Billo 27 Dec 98 - 06:01 PM
Sandy Paton 27 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM
catspaw49 27 Dec 98 - 08:47 PM
Bill D 27 Dec 98 - 09:12 PM
Roger in Baltimore 27 Dec 98 - 09:20 PM
McMusic 27 Dec 98 - 10:03 PM
Art Thieme 27 Dec 98 - 10:14 PM
Big Mick 27 Dec 98 - 10:51 PM
Bill D 27 Dec 98 - 11:17 PM
Joe Offer 27 Dec 98 - 11:31 PM
catspaw49 27 Dec 98 - 11:50 PM
Sandy Paton 28 Dec 98 - 01:58 AM
Jack mostly folk 28 Dec 98 - 02:21 AM
steve t 28 Dec 98 - 03:03 AM
Animaterra 28 Dec 98 - 07:12 AM
hank 28 Dec 98 - 09:44 AM
Barbara Shaw 28 Dec 98 - 05:02 PM
Mo 28 Dec 98 - 09:19 PM
Barry Finn 28 Dec 98 - 11:32 PM
BSeed 29 Dec 98 - 03:57 AM
Ralph Butts 29 Dec 98 - 07:35 AM
alison 29 Dec 98 - 07:56 AM
catspaw49 29 Dec 98 - 08:51 AM
hank 29 Dec 98 - 09:50 AM
catspaw49 29 Dec 98 - 10:29 AM
Bert 29 Dec 98 - 11:27 AM
dwditty 29 Dec 98 - 02:03 PM
catspaw49 29 Dec 98 - 02:52 PM
Pete Peterson 29 Dec 98 - 08:57 PM
zandr 29 Dec 98 - 09:00 PM
Dawn 30 Dec 98 - 02:15 AM
Joe Offer 30 Dec 98 - 03:31 AM
Bert 30 Dec 98 - 09:14 AM
Dawn 30 Dec 98 - 10:12 PM
Joe Offer 30 Dec 98 - 10:55 PM
Bert 31 Dec 98 - 10:32 AM
Peter T. 31 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM
Dawn 31 Dec 98 - 02:59 PM
Joe Offer 31 Dec 98 - 03:31 PM
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Subject: Rise Up Singing
From: dwditty
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 07:36 AM

I received a copy of RUS for Christmas and have spent several hours going through it. I have read some of the previous threads on its pros and cons and see valid points on both sides. It looks like a good fit for a group of church friends that have started to get together. We love to sing, but we do have trouble finding songs we all know. I think RUS will be a big help.

Has anyone tried the companion Teaching Tapes? According to the advertisement in the back of the book, the tapes covery every song by singing the melody (at least one verse and the chorus) as well as the guitar chords. This seems like a useful idea, but I could use some opinions before I spring for the $35 per set.

Thanks in advance.

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From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 12:54 PM

Hi dwditty, what a stink this is gonna cause. I know some people feel strongly about this book both pro & con. I wouldn't buy it for kindling. The book itself isn't so bad as the way it's been used at singing sessions. I recently got an e-mail from some friends from England who had seen a posting of mine in the news group. I mentioned nothing about RUS. In the news group reply they referred to a lot of the singing sessions they had been to, while touring the East Coast, as RUS sessions, an American phenomenon.
On the pro side it has a great many songs with a little blurb on each, on the con side the blurbs may not be quite correct, the songs may only pieces of versions & there may be a large amount of songs that stretch the realm of folkdom (although I'm not sure if they claim it to be a folk or a fake song book), most of the material can easily be found elsewhere. It does get to a common denominator, though, for those that need a starting point for singing in groups. My big beef is that it's then (forgive me, not in all cases) used as a bible by those that don't have or won't find more resources & get stuck in the RUS rut. After attending some of what was referred to as RUS sessions & hearing that other sessions have gone the same route & how the fun & life had been sucked out of these sessions I wrote this following song (after the copy of the e-mail sent to me, names have been deleted). God forgive me. Barry

Hi, Seeing your thread on singarounds reminded to tell you that we are coming back to fair Boston next May. With a bit of luck we can get together again. I didn't want to say out in the open, BTW, but the worst of the Rise Up Singarounds that we have been to was in Boston!

Quite a few gigs so far, but oddly nothing in Boston yet. If we're free on the appropriate night we'd love to come back and join in your session.


RISE UP SCREAMING (words by Barry Finn)
Tune: Jack In The Green, Traditional

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

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'er 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 1996

Sorry, dwditty, you probably weren't looking for something like this but when I'm told to sing in a soft voice or that's not how it goes (because it's not written like that in RUS) or do it in the same key as it was written so we can all play along the right way or everybody turn to page such & such & not one will sing a song that's not in this book, I have to scream. This is not one isolated session, this is what I also hear about in other places in the US. Hope this helped a little but I'm thinking it didn't do much. Barry

Note: "Jack in the Green" was written by Martin Graebe.
-Joe Offer, 16 Dec 2001-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: dwditty
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 01:11 PM

Actually, Barry, your comments are welcomed. My family used to fall into the same rut after Sunday dinners with friends. You see, we only had two "Sing Along With Mitch Miller" albums - those 25 or 30 songs are indelibly etched in my brain, and all other versions sound "funny." I guess to some extent that all but the most creative of us are bound by the versions we learn along the way - at least until another comes along. Your point is well taken - that if no other sources are ever sought out or used, there is no way to move the music forward. As RUS has many songs I am not likely to run into anywhere else soon, though, I see it as helpful. In fact from where I am, the book moves the music forward for me. On the other hand, there are probably 1200 or so other songs that I would have selected were I to compile such a book.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Alice
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 01:19 PM

Loved it, Barry.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 01:42 PM

OH THANK YOU BARRY!!! Well stroked, beautifully intoned, superbly penned. May I use it for non-profit vengeance? Or is there such a thing? You're a credit to your craft! catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 02:06 PM

I guess I'll have to stick my neck out, too. Did you all read the column Ian Robb wrote in SING OUT! about RUS? One major point he made: if you love a song enough to sing it, you ought to love it enough to learn it.

Caroline and I were leading a "group singing" session at Augusta a few years ago. All was going well until someone asked for "Careless Love." Well, I've been singing "Careless Love" for over fifty years, so I said "Sure," and started singing it. Out popped a dozen RUS books; noses were instantly buried in the pages; all eye contact was lost. Worst case scenario: I started into what was probably a third verse and "No!" they screamed. "That's not next!" It seems we had to sing only those verses that appeared in THE BOOK, and in the precise order in which they were printed.

As to the headnotes, I've found a number of examples of misinformation. Not real serious stuff, but misinformation, nevertheless. Also, I often find myself disagreeing with the suggested chords. Perhaps the authors and I have different melodies in our heads, but...

So... I tend to agree with Barry, and I enjoyed his parody of "Jack in the Green," but I wonder about crediting the original to "traditional." We learned the song from the Trailer recording Maypoles and Mistletoe, where it is credited to Graebe (John?). I'm confident that it's a relatively new song, and a splendid one, written by someone who has done a fair amount of folklore homework. Would that there were more of 'em making new songs for us, rather than all of the omphaloscopists musically contemplating their own navels.

Sandy (resident folk fogey)

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 03:27 PM

Sandy, thanks for the lead & info on Jack In The Green. It was written & copyrighted by Martin Graebe in 1973^^. I'd been looking for backround on this song for years & have only been told that it's Trad. Martin Graebe keeps a web site dedicated to Sabine-Gould's collection as well as a bit on himself. There's also a web site on Jack in the Green as a tradition (nothing about the song). If I ever do something with the above song I'll take all measures to now give Martin his due, Thanks again Sandy.
Thanks to the rest who commented & enjoyed the song. Barry

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 04:47 PM

And thanks to you, Barry, for giving us his first name and leading us to his web site. For those who are unfamiliar with the song "Jack in the Green," it's there on the website with words and music. Great song!

The leads to Baring-Gould are good to have, as well. I treasure an old copy of Songs of the West in which someone has penciled in (in a lovely old-fashioned hand) many additions and corrections to the texts as published by the good Reverend. Dedicated though he was, he simply had to Bowdlerize some of his texts. After all, he was the "Reverend" Baring-Gould! I also read somewhere that he would learn the tunes from his singers, playing them on a penny-whistle, then take them back to his church and have the organist write them out for him. Unfortunately, that trained musician didn't believe the old geezers singing for Sabine could possibly be utilizing the ancient modes, therefore he "corrected" the intonations he assumed the collector had mislearned. How true? I dunno, but it sounds plausible to me. I've also read several of Baring-Gould's folklore studies (Primitive Folk Moots, for instance). Fascinating man!

This kind of homework is fun!


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Mike Billo
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 06:01 PM

In answer to dwitty's original posting, I think that RUS is an excellent starting point for a group of friends who enjoy singing together, but don't collevtively know very many songs. I think the $35 for the companion tapes are probably a pretty good investment. My daughter and son (ages 18 and 14 respectively)found RUS to be a terrific starting point in learning songs. At times, many people(including myself) have blamed the book for people using it badly. The RUS "fundamentalist" mentality has been around since long before RUS was ever published. Many times have I been upbraided with "That ain't how Leadbelly sang it" or"That ain't the way Woody sings it on the record I own". And for those of us who have ever had the misfortune of stumbling upon a session dominated by Bluegrass purists....Oh brother!! More accusations of heresy than during the Spanish Inquisition. My advice to dwitty,use the book, enjoy singing together, and then move on to other resources.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 07:14 PM

I actually agree with Mike Billo. Use the book to get started, if it helps, but then move on to other sources.

It's just that I've always resisted authoritarianism. One of the primary elements in Nettl's definition of folk music was the constant "state of flux." I like that.

Whatever helps to keep us all singing can't be all bad.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 08:47 PM

I'd chimed in on this one earlier because my experience with RUS has not been pleasant. And I agree with Mike and Sandy that perhaps it's more in the "using" that fouls it up. I think the real problem is that I HATE dogma! We want things so ordered and precise. Have you run into a Dylan "purist" who is irate because Dylan has changed a song? Often several times...and they're mad!!! What is that??? I build hammered dulcimers and I frankly hate going to these "purist" festivals. Some people love the way mine sound, some don't. That's ok. But I'm driven nuts {short trip} by the one's who say, "Yes, but traditionally...blah,blah,blah." Same's true in guitars. I got a D-28, sounds pretty good. Also have a 15 year old Takemine that sounds better. But I need to show up with the Martin certain places or there's hell to pay. One of the great traditions of dulcimer building states, "To be non-traditional is the tradition." Amen. catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 09:12 PM

I suspect that the 'gotta sing it just like in RUS..and in that order' syndrome comes partially from too many years in church...singing out of hymnals. I have a friend who does lots of choral singing, and he tells me with a grim face that most of those in his group would totally panic without their books in their hand, even though they have been singing the same songs for years...

A few of those singers may be converted to the 'if it's good enough to sing, it's good enough to learn' attitude, but not many.

Sad to say, we see the same tendency in certain TV sit-coms, where, from the theme music to the story lines and jokes, the formula never changes...some people just simply WANT it to always be the 'same' and never require them to think or adjust or incorporate something new....But that's why they HAVE different channels and a clicker...

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Roger in Baltimore
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 09:20 PM


I think RUS met (meets?) a great need. I wonder just how many they have sold? A bunch I bet. The group of friends I gather with have gone through two cases of the books. I suppose it all depends on what you want to do.

This group meets monthly and are not "serious singers." Only myself and the guy from the Barber Shop Quartette perform at all. Mostly it is a group of people of "a certain age" who remember the times they all sang in their youth and wish to continue enjoying doing so. Most times there are no more than two instruments in the group. We were friends before the group began and the monthly meet grew out of our joy in singing for fun when we had parties.

Being of a "certain age" we remember songs better than we remember lyrics. So RUS was a blessing and freed me from the task of creating a songbook for the group.

There are only two of us who explore new acoustic music and we slowly add songs to the group's repertoire. As new people come, they use RUS to explore their own interests. I can understand all the negatives about RUS and I cringe to hear of Sandy's experience at Augusta. You'da thunk it wouldn't happen there of all places.

I figure I can fake about a third of the songs in RUS. Occasionally, I'll learn a new (to me) song and only later find that it is in RUS.

I have not heard the tapes. I would suggest relying on group members to teach new songs that they know from RUS rather than starting with tapes. A part of me sees a challenge to "know" all of the songs, but I realize that has little to do with enjoyment of music.

My suggestion is, hold off on the tapes and see what the group can teach you, there is the joy.

And as for singing circles, I have not been to a great number. I dislike structure so I hate going "around the circle" with each person selecting a song. And I have been in too many where it seems the idea is for each person to present a song no one knows (what's that about???).

The group I'm in sometimes develops themes. We may do only "dead people's" songs (yes, we have a weird sense of humor) or maybe only songs that follow C, Am, F, and G7 structures (watch out here comes rock and roll). And no one has ever asked, "Is that folk music?" because we're just singing songs we enjoy.

Enjoy RUS dwditty. Watch out for rigidity. We don't sing "Banks of the Ohio" like RUS so we just ignore the book.

Roger in Baltimore

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: McMusic
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:03 PM

I have found that RUS makes a good resource--sometimes I get lazy with a song and don't want to work out the chords; RUS gives me a starting place. At other times, I read lyrics that I really like, then go looking for the melody--the teaching tapes help with these. But nothing is absolute. Both just give me some ground to go to work on. Eventually I'll do a song to accomodate my singing voice, playing style, or mood. As far as the purists and their "Leadbelly didn't do it that way!"--well, no dfisrespect meant, but leadbelly ain't around no more, but fer the recordin's; and I'll wager that there were many songe He didn't do the same way twice. Hell, I write songs, and much of the time, I don't sing or play THEM the same way a second time. RUS and the tapes are one of many learning tools that, fortunately, are available to gain knowledge from. But to hold strictly to them as though it were written by the hand of God? Naw. We are all folk. Folk songs are for folk. Learn 'em, then do 'em your own way. That's how the music stays alive.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Art Thieme
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:14 PM

Have you folks found THE FOLKSINGERS WORDBOOK? (Oak Publications)---No tunes--just words of MANY songs with chord suggestions. ANY book is just that--suggestions to what you might want to do with it. Change 'em if ya want to. That's the proverbial "folk process"! (Although my uncle told me once that he thought the "folk process" was Odetta's hair-do! ;-}

The F.W.B. contains so many more songs that I might want to find than does RUS. RUS is a pop music fake book. I guess thet's why EVERYTHING now-a-days is considered fake music (folk music) to so many.

I need to move in a short while so I've been looking at my book collection to see if I'll ever really use THAT particular book again!!??? If the answer is a resounding NO, then I just give it away to a friend who "COLLECTS" folk stuff--no matter what. At my age & after all I've been through recently, collecting for the sake of collecting is, like urban sprawl and unbridled paving of corn fields, the IDEOLOGY OF A CANCER CELL! If I never need that book again, which I probably won't, I do know where I can borrow it!!! And it saves huge amount of weight/stress on the timbers of my dwelling---that's the only way, lately, that I can seem to lose weight! ;-)

The first book I got rid of (and it felt great to do it) was "RISE UP SINGING"---simply don't wanna store all that tin pan alley stuff. If I want to hear it I can find Charlie Parker or Chet Baker or Mary Lou Williams or Monk or Sinatra and hear it done right!!!


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Big Mick
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 10:51 PM

Art, Been lurking on this one, but let me say......AMEN!!!

Take it easy on the move, if you need a hand, I am only two hours away, and I am not kidding.

All the best,

Mick Lane

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 11:17 PM

but the people who did F.W.B. never went around the country giving workshops and leading sings, either...I have 8-10 books which are a resource for words and/or tunes but never were used like RUS...remember, RUS is intentionally slanted toward 'feel good' songs, and that is all that many want to I guess it serves its purpose...

(*grin*...Roger, when you have a 'sponsored' sing, like FSGW does every month, it is politically correct to offer everyone a chance to sing, but that can lead to some pretty slooooowwww evenings, it's true. Still, it can also sometimes be very nice, and it allowed yours truly a format to get used to singing in front of the very ggod local people 20+ years ago..I'd much rather go back to the 'hootenanny' format of many years ago, but no one seems to do that very much here...)

[hootenannies were gatherings where the accomplished and/or pushy attendees did the major portion of the leading, according to rules too arcane and socially complex to fathom, while others learned and played along till they began to 'get' it...and were drawn into the mainstream slowly...this produced some amazing evenings of music, but totally offended and frustrated those who could not cope with the themes and pecking order..]

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 11:31 PM

Now, Barry, you knew I wasn't going to let you get away with trashing Rise Up Singing, didn't you? And then there you go, Barry, acting like some sort of self-sacrificing martyr, with the implication that it's you who is going to be attacked for dissing the book. Hey, Barry, you're in a solid majority around here, and you darn well know it. I'm quite certain it's me who's gonna get excoriated for my pro-RUS position. Well, let me take one last gulp of fresh air and dive in again.....
I think it's safe to say that most of us are musicians, and I'll bet most of us perform in front of groups of people once a month or more - and we probably make music several times a week, if not daily. We either create or learn songs. Once we know the songs well, we perform them. We may use songbooks or sheet music or hymnals in the process of learning a song; but when we're performing, our use of books or sheet music is limited to a glance here and there, if we use printed music at all.
With the possible exception of occasional experiences of unusually good sex, we musicians get our greatest pleasure out of making music with other musicians, and that pleasure is something the unwashed masses simply cannot comprehend. They may touch on it occasionally when we draw them into our singing, but they really don't understand. Still and all, we do have a moral obligation to draw outsiders into our music, partly to encourage to become musicians themselves. It is a messy process, exposing lesser mortals to our music. They do tend to lean on crutches like songbooks and hymnals and song sheets, and they don't quite understand the glories of improvisation and imagination. Maybe it's safer to sell them tapes and CD's and keep them away from us. We can enjoy our music so much more if we don't have to deal with those nasty outsiders.
Well, I dunno, Barry, I kinda like the challenge of bringing outsiders to music; and I've found Rise Up Singing to be a very useful tool, if used judiciously. I used to lead songs at summer camp, and then as a Cub Scout leader. I was so popular with the Cubs that the Powers That Be asked me to teach songleading to adult leaders. That was where I got into trouble. The Powers That Be said that I needed to teach songs that were in the Cub Scout Songbook; although it was OK to teach other songs occasionally, as long as I provided song sheets. Well, there are lot of really dumb songs in the songbook, which was published in 1938 or something; and song sheets make a big mess out in the woods and you really can't read them by the light of a campfire, anyhow. So, eventually, the Scouts and I parted ways, and I got involved in more open-minded groups.
I used to pick only very simple songs, or songs with a simple chorus and lots of verses. It worked pretty well, but we were always limited to the songs I knew by heart. Somewhere along the way, I discovered Rise Up Singing, which calls itself "the group singing songbook." It has been both a bane and a blessing, but I think it really has been a good tool. Yeah, I hate it that I can no longer sing, "I'll hush up my mug if you'll fill up my jug," which is the right way to sing "Mountain Dew"; or that "away with rum" is the song of the Temperance Union. Yeah, I hate it when sometimes I look around a group of 40 people and can't see a single pair of eyes because everybody's looking at the songbook. Nonetheless, it has exposed a lot of nonmusicians to the opportunity to sing a lot of pretty good music. Songbooks like Rise Up Singing can open the door to music for a lot of people, but it's up to us musicians to pull them up to the next level - and they will come, if we work with them.
But darn it, Barry, don't blame the songbook. It's just a tool, and it's up to us to use it well. 'Nuff said.
-Joe Offer-
Our song circle spent the $175 on the entire set of teaching tapes. I don't think I'd want to spend that much of my own money on it, but it has been a good way for the musicians in our group to learn songs to teach to others.
Oh, and I think the target date for publication of the second volume of Rise Up Singing is now sometime in the year 2000.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 27 Dec 98 - 11:50 PM

You know, in the time that this discussion's been going on...and I mean just on this thread...probably every threader could have written out the tab and lyrics to 10 of their favorite songs. Add a little time for some history of each and delete any political correctness {tell the truth about the song, it's message, time period,etc.} this 3 times and you have a killer songbook. A little editing, get it published and there is already a "built in" distribution'd be a thought. catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 01:58 AM

Use a crutch continuously and the leg you are taking the weight off of will eventually weaken. I suspect the same holds true for the memory. If you don't use it, you lose it. You said it, Joe: RUS proved to be "a good way to LEARN a song to teach to others." (emphasis mine) My happiest times have been sharing these songs with "the uninitiated" and watching them learn to love them as I do. All those great songs you rarely do these days because they have become "old hat" are suddenly fresh again. Yeah, songs like "Careless Love." Remember, they're the ones that drew us to this music in the first place.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Jack mostly folk
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 02:21 AM

RUS was the finest folk song publication ever produced in our time, it is all so the most mis-used and abused publication of our time.Thank you Sandy, my experiences and opinion are right there with yours. When I attend a song circle I gringe at the sight of the RUS.aka the "blue bible". Jack mostly folk

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: steve t
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 03:03 AM

RUS is great. I have 13 copies.

I can't say I'd enjoy being part of a circle where it wasn't perfectly acceptable to say, "I'm now gonna do MY version of..." without complaints from the peanut gallery. I don't think any such circle would last long -- the good performers would all leave.

The teaching tapes are NOT inspirational. For the most part I hate them (they give utterly drab interpretations of some beautiful songs), but very occasionally they're useful as a reference.

I'm pretty sure I heard a psych guy on the radio claim that recent experiments failed to show significant relationship between the practice of purposeful memorization and change in ability to memorize. Anyone know more about this?

One part of the oral tradition I hate: guys who sing obscure songs at group gatherings until other people start to memorize them, then stop singing that song.

As for Careless Love, anything but Carl Sandburgy's version, complete with the constantly changing tempo, sounds lame to me. I'm not bothered by its inclusion in RUS. They're like two songs with the same title, that's all :-)


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Animaterra
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 07:12 AM

Amen, Joe! It gets people singing. I've been a a part of singing groups that found RUS a valuable way to get people singing for the first time in their lives- these folks were grateful for anything that got them singing, and loved to be taught things out of the book as well. I was there as "facilitator" (don'tcha love that word?) not as leader, and so they were free to choose whatever they wanted, including Art's Tin Pan Alley songs, etc. Now when I lead singing evenings, I don't tend to use RUS at all, but find that people still want to have words in front of them. Maybe I'm just not confident enough to try to lead without words, or maybe I'm afraid that it'll turn into an Allison concert rather than a group-focused sing. Hmmmmmmm. Food for thought!

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: hank
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 09:44 AM

Have to agree with the above, especailly both sides of anything that contradictcs. :)

Nobody should be without RUS, if only because there is something in there everyone else loves, you don't know, and it needs some harmony. Granted you won't sound great reading the lyrics, but if you know what is coming, hear the first verse most of us can do something.

On the other hand, the more I get out of the music the better I like it. I was at a church sing the other night, and I had my hymnal open only becaues the person next to me didn't have her's. As long as it was open I looked back once in a while (often in surprize cause I mixed up the words) Its been spoken on a little bit that, the hymns are not just words you sing, they are lines, pleadings, advice, prayers. . . You should not sing them, you should know them, know what the words MEAN. Then sing with feeling. Some songs are better for different times, but until you know a song well enough that you can turn a very inspirational song into a funeral durge you don't know the full extent of the meaning.

So use RUS as and where you need it, it won't bite. Learn the song though, memorise the ones you like the best, the rest know enough that you don't have to stare at the words.

Don't be afraid to mix songs up. Generaly my church will sing most songs straight through, except the last one where we sing only one or two verses. (because service always seems to run long) When you ask someone to choose which verse they have to think about the song, each verse is different, and doing a different verse will change the feel. Perhaps it should be a habit to find some song and not sing all verses. (The froze logger can't really be shortened like that, but just about everything else can lose a verse, and some songs really should, Bridge Over Troubled water should never be sung with the last verse.)

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Barbara Shaw
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 05:02 PM

The house hoots we go to always have a half dozen or so RUS copies in evidence, but only a few people depend on them. Lately, most people have their own songbook, with songs they like collected and chorded the way they want to do them. When someone uses RUS, we all make a joke of it and say something like, "O.K. children, turn to page 97 in your blue hymnal. . ."

It can be handy as a reference. It could be torture as a bible. Humor always helps.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Mo
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 09:19 PM

This has been a fascinating thread to follow - but entirely as an outsider. I've never come across RUS before joining Mudcat, I don't think we have it in the UK, or anything like it. Anyone on the east side of the pond know any different?


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Barry Finn
Date: 28 Dec 98 - 11:32 PM

Hi Joe, I knew you wouldn't let me pass, though I did think I was in the minority from past postings on this subject. Remember, I said the use of the book. It is strange that this is the book that shows up at workshops, singer's circles, house parties. There was a time when people came to sing, sometimes because they couldn't read & othertimes because they just enjoyed it, then others came along to listen & join in & add to the the merryment or just to listen because it's a pleasure, & hell, without the new blood what's the use of keeping such a loving thing alive if it's so sad to see it dying. My ideal singing party starts at daybreak, I'd go for roasting a pig, by noon every one's ready to eat, drink & sing, nobody misses out on singing & beginners or the shy always have the floor & the rest are in there for the coaxing & the crack, just no RUS bibles around. Usually most keep going on till evening when the heat gets turned on & that works out nicely for those that don't have a lot of songs to draw from, this is when some of the odd gems get thrown around (& everyone's joining in) along with the diamond in the rough that's hardly been heard but when you hear it you can't forget where it came from. Still no books but everybodys singing & the beginners want more & those that have been around longer are looking to swap & give more. My ideal festival is not the stages but the campsites where you can find all kinds of people singing all kinds of songs from all kinds of BOOKS! I'll leave you with that image, if you want to learn a song or a tune don't try & learn it at a session or party, learn it at home, from a book if need be then leave the book there & take the music to the party. Barry, who loves it when it's wild.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: BSeed
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 03:57 AM

The one RUS session I've been to was deadly--about 15 or 20 people sitting in an elongated circle, most of them sinking into couches, seemingly little group involvement, certainly no expressive singing. a very ritualistic experience in the worst sense. Nobody clapping their hands or stamping their feet, no sense of joy. I didn't hear any arguments about how the songs were supposed to be sung: the guitar player/leader would start the song off and the group would sing in unison--no discernable harmony. Various people would suggest songs, everybody would flip to the appropriate page, the leader would play a chord and start the singing, seemingly every song at the same tempo. I hope it was just a bad day. --seed

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Ralph Butts
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 07:35 AM


And they call it fun? sounds like a punishment to me.

I thought I wanted RUS before I saw one at a bookstore a few years ago. The brevity of its entries is the worst drawback. I'm a collector from the opposite end of the spectrum, wanting to find the entire 'original', including (especially) the obscure verses. Then I can decide what I want to sing.

For example, how can you have any fun with "The Man on the Flying Trapeze" if there's no one there who knows the whole thing? But that would probably get me blackballed from an RUS group.

Just my $0.02.............Tiger

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: alison
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 07:56 AM


I don't mind the book itself, (handy when you run out of ideas at a jam session...... having said that I only know of two people over here who actually own a copy..... and I'm not one of them!!)

The thing that annoys me is how they did the guitar chords... I find them really awkward to follow.



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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 08:51 AM

Well dw, whadaya think? I believe we can all agree that RUS a useful/nonuseful tool. It's a good/bad way to get people singing. It can be a great/totally idiotic way of introducing songs and this is the way/not the way songs should be introduced. RUS really inspires/bums out a lot of groups and can really get them singing/sleeping. Most love/hate the way it's put together and would suggest you buy more copies/have a book burning. Considering all/none of the previous, you should invest/not invest in the tapes as they are very helpful/not worth shoe polish at the South Pole.

Has your group considered swapping over to Rap? catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: hank
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 09:50 AM

hey catspaw49, you got chords for that? :)

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 10:29 AM

Yes Hank, but only if I can make them easy/awkward to follow. catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Bert
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 11:27 AM

No one has mentioned it's absolutely worst feature.
The print is so bloody small.

Seriously, I find it a good resource when the neighbors kids come in.

I do resent, though, being told that I 'sang it wrong' when singing a version of a song I learned years before RUS was written.

My resource of choice now is DT. More songs with various versions of many of then. AND, I can print them out in any size font that I choose.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: dwditty
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 02:03 PM

I better jump back in. Thank you all for your thoughts - especially catspaw49, who probably makes the most sense. I guess it's like arguing over the best pizza in New Haven - Sally's or Pepe's (I prefer Sally's but that's a discussion for another thread on another site. Oh BTW, New Haven is the pizza capital of the world).

I have never learned a song that I didn't make my own. I'd like to say this is by design, but, most often it is because I lack both the skill and the talent to do it the way it's "supposed" to go. When I think about it, though, I can't remember doing the a song the same way twice. This can be chalked up to lack of discipline. (It always amazes me when performances sound "just like the record." It seem such a poor choice on the part of the performer.

Anyway, I will add RUS to my collection of sources, along with various books, hymnals, DT, records, CDs, tapes, videos and other actually living breathing people. It's all stealing, after all, and anyone who does any songs not personally written is guilty.Br>
In a word, judicious use of anything is advisable.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: catspaw49
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 02:52 PM

Thanks, but no dw, your last post makes the most sense. I can't imagine it being said better! catspaw49

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 08:57 PM

1) For any person whose memories of New Haven go back to the sixties and include The Spot (next door to Pepe's) I submit Spot pizza as superior to either-- 2) A lot of great wisdom here. RUS is a good way to get started but like most of us who are posting on Mudcat, the more you know, the more you WANT to know, and the straightjacket of RUS is not very enjoyable. I have learned some songs out of it but prefer the way I have learned (or folk processed) most songs to the versions there. But it is a good place to start. And THANKS JOE and everybody else who keeps DT running cause that is where I start when I have a song to sing-O and can't remember much beyond a phrase. Happy New Year, PETE

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: zandr
Date: 29 Dec 98 - 09:00 PM

Possibly a little late to get in on this but here goes... I came across RUS about 3 years ago, when my daughter was 2 and starting to go to kindergarten. I had a mandolin someone gave me after I attended and enjoyed a David Grisman concert, and wanted to actually start playing it. Then I came across 2 sets of the tapes (there are 6), and purchased them second hand. I used the book and tapes along with a good chord book to teach myself over a hundred songs, and this has led me to being able to sit in with others, entertain many small children, and even start to pick things up that I am otherwise unfamiliar with, and to have a good time doing it. So, if you don't know the melodies, and or don't know how to start with chords etc, and or are in any kind of isolation as far as they are concerned (as I am, living on an island in the Pacific Northwest), you might find it a good starting place or tool to add to what you have already. The rest, about dogma and "thats not the way it goes", sounds too sickeningly like the nothinking teachers I try to keep out of my childs way - wanting to encourage her creativity and love of music, RUS has been a great addition. The good part about the tapes is you could sell them to someone like me who would be ever so grateful at the leg up. Sure they aren't great renditions - thats where the above comments about folk tradition come in (ditto and hurray! - make it your own). one other thing - they helped lead me here... one mans ceiling... zandr

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Dawn
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 02:15 AM

I have the book, and although I have seen places where it has become over-used, or depended upon, I still wouldn't give it up. But in my copy of the book, I've added every extra verse that I've come across (it's hard -there's not much room), the chords I use, etc. So its my own personal reference book.

I often play at campfires when I visit my father in Northern Wisconsin, and I've never had anybody tell me "that's not how it goes" - whether I did the RUS version or another version of a song in the book (I don't play FROM the book - can't see in the campfire light anyhow...) Sometimes we pass the book around (with a flashlight) to get ideas for the next song - but whoever picks the song does it, their way, no complaints from the rest of us. Maybe us Wisconsinites are just too agreeable.... ;-)

We found some songs in the book that looked interesting but that nobody in our little group of friends knew, so I invested in the entire set of teaching tapes. Wouldn't do that again...the singing on the tapes is pretty lame. I've found it's better to locate one of the sources listed to hear the song....and then found more music in THAT source that I maybe never would have discovered if I weren't searching for something I first found in RUS.

ANY source of printed music, including the DT, could be "mis-used" in the hands of those kinds of people.

And I'm wondering where Joe found sex that was better than music....

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 03:31 AM

Well, Dawn, I grew up in Wisconsin, and I have to admit that singing I encountered there was better. Now that I'm living in California, things are a bit different....
But on to other things, before I get too embarrassed: Bert - Peter Blood, editor of Rise Up Singing is asking people to send e-mail to Sing Out! and petition for a large print edition of the book (as Dawn says below, the magazine is already aware of the interest in a large print edition, but is unable to produce one, so maybe it's not a good idea to e-mail). I think larger print might help people move their noses out of the book. I ordered large-print hymnals for church, and I find I lose my place a lot less frequently and it's easier to look up at the congregation when I'm singing.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Bert
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 09:14 AM

Thanks Joe, I'll do that.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Dawn
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 10:12 PM

Joe -

I e-mailed the link you provided and was answered almost immediately that he would NOT like a bunch of emails; that there should be NO petition; and that it is UNlikely that the book could be re-released in large print because of the unlikely sales prospects, etc; however, the 10th anniversary edition will be in a "clearer" text, although not larger.

He did say that the tapes might be re-released as CDs - something I wish they would have done before I bought the tapes. It is UNlikely that I will spring for another set.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Dec 98 - 10:55 PM

Thanks, for the information, Dawn - come to think of it, I guess I'd get a bit peeved if I got a bunch of e-mails, all asking for the same thing. I think the suggestion to send e-mail was in a flyer Peter Blood and his wife Annie Patterson sent out to advertise their recordings. So, scratch that idea - but let's hope the new edition of the book is more readable.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Bert
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 10:32 AM

I got a similar reply, Joe.

Although, if I was selling something and got a lot of email requesting changes, I'd be delighted and I'd make sure that somehow I'd GET those potential customers.

Perhaps that stick in the mud attitude of some RUS users comes from the policy of the authors. One thing is sure I WON'T be buying RUS2.

For one of my sings I was asked to get the words for certain songs. I tried fitting them all on one page like RUS, but it didn't work nearly as well as one per page.


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Peter T.
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 12:34 PM

Two cents from another struggler. I have tried the RUS tapes, and they have not really been very helpful. They don't give you a sense of the swing of a song, the feel for which notes are important, etc. What someone who can play some music and is digging in to folk music (either in the midst of developing a song circle or just for the hell of it) needs is to hear the song done well so as to get a feel for it. Once you have a feel for it, and the basic chord structure, then you can do anything. If you aren't in an area with folk music clubs and/ or haven't a serious background as a folkie already, you are stuck. Even getting the sheet music is no help. What I would like to see is a folk music book (with chords) accompanied by the best recorded versions of traditional songs available. For instance, taking the Folksinger's Wordbook (which I like too) or some equivalent, and lining up good versions on a CD (or 3). An anthology. I have scrounged around for years doing this myself, as does everybody, with compilation disks and bad Irish pub tapes and God knows what all, and it is sort of fun, but it would make things a lot easier for others. You could use the Mudcat or some other format to decide on the versions and performers. Then all you need is someone to go through copyright hell, manufacturing contracts, distribution networking and there you are!

Yours, Peter T.

P.S. Happy New Year: rise up drinking.

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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Dawn
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 02:59 PM

This Folksinger's Wordbook sounds mighty interesting, too. Anybody know if its still in print?


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Subject: RE: Rise Up Singing
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 03:31 PM

Let's see if I can post links that will work:
Click here to get to the "Folksinger's Wordbook" at
Click here to get to it at

I think the links should work, but I'm not 100% sure that Mudcat will get credit for your purchases. I got to the URLs through the "Support the Mudcat" link, so I think it should work. If you're buying books and records online, consider using the Mudcat link. It helps Max pay for the 'Cat, and it costs you nothing extra.
-Joe Offer-

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