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Unaccompanied Singers

Wee Jock 20 Apr 08 - 12:50 PM
Waddon Pete 20 Apr 08 - 01:03 PM
Nick 20 Apr 08 - 01:29 PM
the button 20 Apr 08 - 01:58 PM
r.padgett 20 Apr 08 - 02:31 PM
Fred McCormick 20 Apr 08 - 02:32 PM
sapper82 20 Apr 08 - 02:39 PM
Graveyard 20 Apr 08 - 02:49 PM
Abuwood 20 Apr 08 - 02:51 PM
Marilyn 20 Apr 08 - 02:51 PM
Ruth Archer 20 Apr 08 - 02:52 PM
Jim Carroll 20 Apr 08 - 02:53 PM
The Doctor 20 Apr 08 - 03:01 PM
GUEST,Jim Knowledge 20 Apr 08 - 03:01 PM
mandotim 20 Apr 08 - 03:09 PM
Carol 20 Apr 08 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Rich 20 Apr 08 - 03:52 PM
GUEST, Richard Bridge 20 Apr 08 - 03:57 PM
the button 20 Apr 08 - 04:02 PM
GUEST,aeola2 20 Apr 08 - 04:07 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Apr 08 - 04:08 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Apr 08 - 04:08 PM
ossonflags 20 Apr 08 - 04:30 PM
the button 20 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM
MartinRyan 20 Apr 08 - 04:42 PM
SussexCarole 20 Apr 08 - 05:15 PM
Nick 20 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM
MartinRyan 20 Apr 08 - 05:21 PM
Willa 20 Apr 08 - 05:42 PM
The Sandman 20 Apr 08 - 05:55 PM
the button 20 Apr 08 - 06:05 PM
The Villan 20 Apr 08 - 06:08 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 20 Apr 08 - 06:17 PM
Gulliver 20 Apr 08 - 06:20 PM
8_Pints 20 Apr 08 - 06:51 PM
the button 20 Apr 08 - 07:23 PM
Bert 21 Apr 08 - 02:50 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 08 - 02:51 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Apr 08 - 03:28 AM
Gurney 21 Apr 08 - 03:33 AM
mandotim 21 Apr 08 - 03:47 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 08 - 04:01 AM
GUEST, Richard Bridge 21 Apr 08 - 04:02 AM
Snuffy 21 Apr 08 - 04:15 AM
Waddon Pete 21 Apr 08 - 04:46 AM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 04:54 AM
Jim Carroll 21 Apr 08 - 05:02 AM
ossonflags 21 Apr 08 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Apr 08 - 05:09 AM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 05:13 AM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 05:18 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Apr 08 - 05:21 AM
Graveyard 21 Apr 08 - 06:16 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Apr 08 - 06:44 AM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 06:51 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Apr 08 - 06:53 AM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 06:56 AM
Sugwash 21 Apr 08 - 06:57 AM
Drumshanty 21 Apr 08 - 07:18 AM
GUEST,Rapunzel 21 Apr 08 - 07:44 AM
Gulliver 21 Apr 08 - 08:15 AM
Big Al Whittle 21 Apr 08 - 08:17 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Apr 08 - 08:29 AM
Drumshanty 21 Apr 08 - 08:52 AM
Pete_Standing 21 Apr 08 - 10:30 AM
Northerner 21 Apr 08 - 11:03 AM
Saro 21 Apr 08 - 11:41 AM
GUEST,Shimrod 21 Apr 08 - 11:42 AM
Barry Finn 21 Apr 08 - 12:43 PM
The Villan 21 Apr 08 - 12:49 PM
Barry Finn 21 Apr 08 - 01:06 PM
Big Al Whittle 21 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM
maire-aine 21 Apr 08 - 02:56 PM
Pete_Standing 21 Apr 08 - 04:00 PM
Barry Finn 21 Apr 08 - 04:18 PM
Herga Kitty 21 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Apr 08 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,Western woman 21 Apr 08 - 05:56 PM
Gurney 21 Apr 08 - 07:09 PM
Phil Edwards 30 Apr 08 - 04:35 PM
Acorn4 30 Apr 08 - 07:28 PM
GUEST,Gerry 30 Apr 08 - 08:25 PM
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Subject: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Wee Jock
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 12:50 PM

As an unaccompanied singer is there any one out there who thinks like me that we get a raw deal when in sessions where everyone wants to
join in with instruments (mostly out of tune or bodhrans which they bang to there hearts content and not listening to the way the song is being sung. There is a Scottish group called Stramash whose members are all individual singers, and that is the path that i would like go down.

Please respond if you are interested.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 01:03 PM

Unaccompaniede singers (and songs) often come as a breath of fresh air at a session!

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Nick
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 01:29 PM

Just ask. Usually works.

I get as frustrated though trying to play a song the way I want by the singers who hijack the song into their own version/rhythm - I guess it's their way of getting their own back (though I have to say I don't play along generally with songs that the singer intends to be unaccompanied with the exception of when the singer is going SO out of tune that a bit of stabilising helps keep some semblance of the tune)!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: the button
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 01:58 PM

Chromatic pitchpipes are your friend. Give yourself a little toot of an Eb, and off you go.

Unless: -

* the song is at the very top or very bottom of your range, or
* the tone-deaf buggers are going to play along in D anyway.

Doesn't do anything about the bodhrans, either.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: r.padgett
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:31 PM

Stick to yer guns and sing as you want it sung!

tell the guitarist to shut up!

But be good at what you do!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Fred McCormick
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:32 PM

I try not to sing in sessions these days for that very reason. However I remember singing As I Roved Out (the 'married the lassie that had the land' one, not 17 Come Sunday) and found this pillock trying to accompany me on a soprano sax. It happens that said tune is very flexible and lends itself to endless rhythmic and melodic variations, to say nothing of changes of tempo. He gave up after the third verse.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: sapper82
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:39 PM

As most unaccompanied singers sing to the words as much as the tune, it means that you often vary the tempo to suit different passages. Having someone try to play along and trying to keep to a stricter tempo can get VERY annoying.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Graveyard
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:49 PM

I find it frustrating walking into a singaround/session and not being asked to sing only because I am not advertising the fact by carrying an instrument case. I am an unaccompanied singer.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Abuwood
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:51 PM

Thank you Wadden Pete - where are you - I want to sing there!
Even in Oxford they wanted to diddle diddle over the song....


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Marilyn
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:51 PM

In a session I think it's really bad manners to join in with a singer unless invited - "this one's in D everybody" for example.
My rule is that unless singers make it obvious they expect people to join in I don't.

To join in uninvited is to risk making it impossible for the singer to do justice to the song. Poor tuning, particularly from a violin or whistle, can easily pull an inexperienced but good singer off pitch. This happened to my husband recently. He has a lovely voice but hasn't been singing very long and his musical ear is not that well developed yet. He can sing in tune (and stay on key right through to the end of the song) but only if he's left to sing unaccompanied; once the instrumentalists join in he has an almost impossible job to overcome the natural inclination to be pulled towards what they are playing. Result: misery!

I know that a lot of people believe that in a session everyone can join in with everything but a little bit of consideration for others warns us to hold back sometimes; it doesn't hurt to miss playing for one piece and the change from full-on everyone playing to a single voice can be very refreshing.

Just my two-pennorth!
Marilyn


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:52 PM

I love people joining in the choruses when I sing, but find it really funny when the assembled throng chenge the speed or tempo from the way I'm singing the song to what they believe is the "right" way...


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 02:53 PM

Ask them to stop and if that doesn't work - tell them to!
It's the height of bad manners, as is joining in the words uninvited, slowing down or harmonising choruses, (oh, and the imbecilic popping of fingers in cheeks).
"But be good at what you do!"
Certainly; but it shouldn't be a condition for preventing some clown from providing an uninvited accompaniment.
I know several of the members of Stramash and I know they work bloody hard to be as good as they are.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Doctor
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:01 PM

Whether you are unaccompanied or not you have the right to specify whether you want anyone else to join in. But it does depend very much on what you are singing, and whether you know the would be accompanist. Some songs are best unaccompanied, some unaccompanied singers appreciate having some instrumental backing because it's not something they can provide for themselves, some players are good at it, others..... But make your preference known before you start. If you want others to join in tell them what key you're in, possible not easy for an unaccompanied singer. If no-one invites you to sing invite yourself, via whoever seems to be running the session. Don't sit there doing nothing but fuming, or you'll end up going home thinking 'I'm not going there again'.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Jim Knowledge
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:01 PM

I `ad that Gordon `all in my cab once. `e said "I`m doing a club down in Sussex, me and Bob Copper are singing" I said "`ow d`yer get on when blokes start playing all sorts when you`re singing?".
`e said "I just do that long one about Napoleon. By the 45th verse they`re buggered and just give in!!"
What am I Like??


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: mandotim
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:09 PM

As someone who sings and plays, I would never dream of 'playing along' with a singer unless specifically invited to. I like unaccompanied singing when it's done well. I don't find that unaccompanied singers get a raw deal either; in fact the reverse. I've been in a lot of allegedly 'mixed' sessions where an unaccompanied (and often unaccomplished) singer will drone on for twenty-odd verses, with choruses between each verse, and then the next person, and the next, and the next, will do the same. The songs are almost always done veeeerrrryyy slowly (why????)with lots of ornamentation, which to my ear detracts from what are often fine melodies. After half an evening of this sort of dross, I usually give up and go home. Singarounds are especially prone to this. When the long-song megalomaniacs are in, it's a good night if you get more than one turn to sing or play. It's just plain boring most of the time. If you want an unaccompanied-only session, why not start one? Advertise it well, so I can avoid it.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Carol
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:49 PM

I have often threatened to acquire a (empty) guitar case to take with me to sessions, so then I know that I will then be asked to sing. We're down in Cornwall at the moment and hope to get to a local session on Wednesday, perhaps I have more confidence these days and will even ask if I can sing! However I'm still of the opinion that whoever's running the session should ask everyone in the room, even strangers, if they want to perform.
I often invite the people in the session to join in with me in songs, but that usually means singers, and depends on the type of song. Surely the best type of session is a mixture of 'all sorts'
I do find that as an unaccompanied singer I can vary the timing, volume etc. and hopefully share my version of the songs that I sing.
Carol


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Rich
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:52 PM

By and large, I think there are as many, if not more, opportunities for singers to sing in round robin format and one doesn't typically see an instrumentalist or group sarting to play tunes at "folk-song nights". As such, to go to a session geared towards instrumentalists playing together, I would say the individual who says "every shut up and pay attention to me" is the one showing poor etiquette.

Rich


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 03:57 PM

Harmonising is wrong?


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: the button
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:02 PM

Rich has a point. The last session I attended turned out to be a tunes session. I had my concertina with me, but I'm mostly a songs performer (on the concertina, definitely), so I kept it in its case. As the evening wore on, a couple of the "regulars" got curious about what was in the box, so I whipped it out (oo-er, missus, etc) and gave them a couple of English dance tunes, telling them the key, etc., in case anyone fancied having a crack a joining in.

Wouldn't have felt comfortable bursting into song, cos it was a tunes session. Their gaff, their rules, innit.

This said, anyone who goes to a singaround most probably knows that it's going to involve, er, singing around a room.

My own preference is for a mixed session, with tunes, songs and stories, with everyone getting a crack that wants to. Perhaps I cut my musical teeth in a very "civilised" kind of session (more than 20 years ago -- bloody hell!), but even when I was "giving them a tune" on my melodeon, no-one used to join in on that if it was a "solo spot." (Possibly I was so crap no-one had any idea what I was supposed to be playing).


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,aeola2
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:07 PM

I must be lucky, as I have found that singarounds embody a full range of unaccompanied singers musicians etc., and generally people join in only if you ask/invite them. The problem that does occur is when a slightly different version of a well known song attracts the well known joiny in choruses.However a quieter rendition generally makes people listen harder and realisation dawns!!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:08 PM

Well I think maybe you ought to have a word with the bloke organising the session and telling him you want to sing. And when its your turn, you should tell people - please don't accompany me - its not what I like to do.

Most sessions are fairly respectful of the contributors wishes and feelings - sometimes too much so, and its rare some bugger doesn't turn up and try and stretch the envelope by making insane demands on the listener.

Perhaps you should wear a large badge, saying 'I am an unaccompanied folk singer, Gissajob! My singing is wonderful! Ask me to sing!"

No point in being backwards at coming forwards. After all that's what you're there for.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:08 PM

After all, everyone else has carried a guitar case - you'd only have to carry a badge.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: ossonflags
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:30 PM

There always was and I guess always will be this rivallry between the musos and singers.Observed over many years as both a performer and a host of singarounds the best and most enjoyable sessions I have attended and participated are those that have a decent balance between the two, each showing the courtesy and good manners   to each other, realising it takes a lot of guts to get on your feet and do a bit.

However I am very sorry to say that " etiquette" and good manners among singers and musos is becoming like good pubs, something of the past.

Sadly it now seems to be the norm that you do your "spot" and all must give the best of order for you. When it is time for someone else to have their go it is quite acceptable to "noodle",talk,scratch or laugh over that other person.

Some times it is the only way to say ask other people to listen and not join in, or as I once did recently sat down and stopped singing - bit of a backfire on that one though, the person involved was that wrapped up in himself and his conversation thought it was the end of the song and started applauding!!!!

So let us start giving each other a little respect and keep music live.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: the button
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM

Excellent post from ossonflags, there.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 04:42 PM

In my experience, getting attention and respect for unaccompanied singing (at least initially...) at sessions which are mainly instrumental, depends on the attitude and behaviour of one or two alpha-instrumentalists (i.e. by no means all are males). If they are willing to call the shots initially, the singer has a chance. if not... they're on a loser. Sometimes that respect is fairly heavily disguised (by what we Irish call "slagging"!) - but it's up to the singer to be able to recognise the symptoms. If you can't deliver into the space provided - it's your problem, not theirs.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: SussexCarole
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 05:15 PM

There's nothing better for me than a session mixed with tunes, unaccompanied and accompanied song! Sadly it seems that ne'er the twain shall meet. Accompanied & unaccompanied singing appears to be an accepted mix in a singaround but to try & put a voice into a music session where the only remit often seems to be the faster the tune (& sod the quality) the better is usually impossible. As soon as one tune finishes another musician will noodle straight in with another tune...no gap for anyone to start song (but remember that our voice is an instrument too).


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Nick
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 05:17 PM

It depends where you go, Mick. Where we play we still have a nice mix of singers and players who rarely tread on each others toes. If someone new starts playing along inappropriately someone will just have a quiet word. But then I had a good person to learn from on running singarounds :)



(Just a thought - these singers aren't unaccompanied because they have no friends are they? :) )


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: MartinRyan
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 05:21 PM

Or are all them musicians playing together because they're terrified of being alone?!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Willa
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 05:42 PM

You're right, thebutton, and Mick always ensures that all present are asked if they want to sing/play - and has been known to demand respect from any too noisy members of the audience. Not a man to be argued with!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Sandman
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 05:55 PM

I really enjoy unaccompanied singing.
both the Skibbereen singers club,and The Cork Singers club[Spailpin Fanach]insist on unaccompanied singing.
I assume this is so that singers can get an opportunity to sing,in suitable circumstances,away from insensitive musicians.the musicians can do their thing in one place,and the unaccompanied singers can do theirs away from some moron with a bodhran,or a guitarist imposing an unwanted rhythm.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: the button
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 06:05 PM

That would be modhran, surely, cap'n?


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 06:08 PM

In response to Ossonflags, I would say I am very lucky, as the main singaround that I go to (Gainsborough Folk Club),everybody gets asked if they want to play, sing, dance or whatever. Each person gets total respect no matter what level.
Gainsborough are excellent at persevering and nurturing people to improve there performances and every so often, you suddenly realise that somebody has made it to a higher level.
Nobody talks or spoils anybodies song, tune, verse or joke and only joins in with the verses if encouraged to.
What is more important, nobody does their number and disappears afterwards. Everybody stays to the end, unless they have a real reason for leaving, such as illness etc.
I would rate them as one of the better ones.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 06:17 PM

As someone with a foot in both camps who's not a good listener I tend to prefer free-for all sessions, although I've run many a singaround and musicians session over the years. I much prefer a good rip-roaring bar session of shanties and well-known chorus songs or a music session where I can be almost constantly involved, but then I've got St Vitus Dance!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Gulliver
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 06:20 PM

Surely it not that difficult to make one's preferences clear, ie, "No accompaniment on this one lads, thanks", or whatever, and most musos will get the message pretty quickly. Some musicians feel obliged to accompany singers and it can be a relief to just relax and listen. It's like that at most of the sessions I go (practically all mixed tunes/singing). The only disturbing thing might be folks joining in the chorus, but surely even unaccompanied singers can live with that?

Don


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: 8_Pints
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 06:51 PM

For me the main requirement is to pay respect to the song: in contrast to egotistical performers who frequently leave once their rendition is complete and miss other people's contributions.

The magic of a singing evening is the unexpected gem that surfaces now and then, and the thread that inspired the link from one song to the next.

True that a balance must be drawn so the audience is not swamped by long ballads, however the ability to listen to the narrative should also be encouraged.

Tolerance and respect are required: the world is too small a space otherwise!

Bob vG


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: the button
Date: 20 Apr 08 - 07:23 PM

What I'm reading on this thread (and keep in mind that I haven't been a regular session-attender for some years now) is not a debate about how to treat unaccompanied singers in a session. It's a discussion about how f***ing rude people are nowadays. Or perhaps have always been, but I never came across them.

Whichever, it saddens me.

I've played at informal sessions at folk festivals where the "celebs" have sat and listened and taken their turn to either do a song or take their turn leading a set of tunes -- as I'm sure others have.

Don't know where I'm going with this, really.

One part of me want to say, "If you're good enough, people will shut up and listen." The other part of me acknowledges that some of the great ballad singers (and who I'm thinking of as a I write this is Walter Pardon) aren't immediately attention-grabbing, you have to be willing to immerse yourself in what they're doing before you can listen properly.

It's like -- you know you get those people that you have conversations with, and all they're doing is waiting for you to stop talking, so that they can say what they want to say? It's not proper listening, I reckon.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Bert
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 02:50 AM

There are groups where you won't get a chance to sing unless you have a guitar.

The remedy of course is to get a cheapie guitar at a yard sale or flea market; sit in the circle and be ready; when your turn comes; hold the guitar as if you are going to play it; then pointedly put it down and stand up and sing.

That way you will get your turn and the more intelligent ones in the circle will understand that it is deliberately unaccompanied.

I don't know what you can do about the guitar hogs though, because they are so thick that nothing short of a two by four alongside the ear will stop them.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 02:51 AM

"Some songs are best unaccompanied, some unaccompanied"
It should ALWAYS be up to the singer of the song to decide, not an accompanist finding him/herself with some spare time on their hands.
Apart from anything else, it takes practice for a singer and accompanist to make a song work.
There are as many 'unaccomplished' accompanists out there as there are 'unaccomplished' unaccompanied singers,
"Harmonising is wrong?"
It can be bad manners. The only time I ever saw Walter Pardon perform less than proficiently was at a London Club where some members of the audience totally threw him by harmonising loudly and dragging the chorus down to half speed. He actually dropped two songs from his public repertoire because of this.
Mandotim,
It should also be up to the singer to decide how long the song they are going to sing is - I've heard as many singers make a hames of a short song as I have a long-song singer - if you know what I mean!
Do you a deal, I won't talk about 'short attention-span brain-deads' if you stop referring to "long-song megalomaniacs".
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 03:28 AM

The thing is, I think you have to give the impression that you know what you're doing. if you don't know the tune and you've forgotten the words - compassion tends to kick in, and people try to help you out.

I don't think its necessarily an ungenerous spirited person who joins in unbidden.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 03:33 AM

When I sang often, it wasn't a problem. Because I often sang unaccompanied (this was before a capella!) I could learn a song in a few minutes, or a few hours, and I had a repertoire of several hundred songs, and I could always pick some that no guitarist could get into.
What I'm getting at is that the choice of song could well sort your problem. Most instrumentalists wouldn't know 25% of my songs anyway, and if they did, they must be good blokes, and will listen rather than play.   If you choose a song that is usually accompanied or very well known, musicians may think they are helping it along.
You also have to decide who you are singing FOR, yourself or the audience. If for yourself, or trying to educate, you are likely to be boring. Been there, done that. If you are singing for the audience, sing songs with a chorus, or with impact. Put on a 'showbiz' personality. Learn a couple of monologues, they are often more popular than a song.

Don't be backward at coming forward, tell the announcer you are a singer. If someone starts with a bodhran, stop and ask them if you can borrow it when THEY are singing, and mutter "goatthrasher" or something sotto voce. The man with the mike' is in charge, temporarily.

If this sounds like pontificating, well, It's from experience.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: mandotim
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 03:47 AM

Nicely turned insult Jim; the wit is properly appreciated! I said at the beginning of my post that I actually like unaccompanied singing, and to expand; I especially like 'narrative' ballads, however long they are. The poor quality of the singing gets in the way sometimes, but I agree that the singer should choose the length of the song. However; in a crowded session with limited time and lots of people who want to sing or play, it would seem to be good manners not to choose the longest and slowest song or tune you know (or in many cases, almost know).
I sing and play in a lot of sessions, but the best ones seem to have someone who, however informally, is giving structure to the evening. Someone who is keeping an eye on length of song, variety of delivery and opportunity for singers or players to participate. These sessions often have gentle rules, like 'join in if you are asked to, but not unless' or 'join in unless you are asked not to'. The very best session I play in is like this, but with lots of banter about performances as well; as soon as your performance starts to be 'slagged', you know you are doing ok!
To the button; I absolutely agree; this is a discussion about good manners and civilised behaviour, but it's also a discussion about musicianship; having sensitivity to the needs of other singers/players and to the needs of the listeners, if there are any.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:01 AM

Sorry - you touched a raw nerve.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST, Richard Bridge
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:02 AM

I seem to recollect that the Young Tradition was formed when two of them were booked to play somewhere and the third joined in from the audience (harmonising, naturally) and was as a result invited to join.

I tend to think well of harmonising.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:15 AM

However; in a crowded session with limited time and lots of people who want to sing or play, it would seem to be good manners not to choose the longest and slowest song or tune you know (or in many cases, almost know).

And good manners would also be not waiting until your turn has arrived and feigning surprise before only then going to get your guitar out of its case and taking an age tuning it while all the singers just sit around wondering "Will the session end before I get my turn?".

And then playing the longest and slowest song you know - with lots of solo breaks. Have you heard Barbara Allan with an instrumental between EVERY verse? I have. :-(((


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:46 AM

There are many thoughtful posts to this thread. I have certainly been lucky with the sessions in our area. What makes them good? As in all things it is a combination....a good leader/adjudicator/MC (call them what you will)...people who have good manners and a sense of belonging...people who respect the "etiquette" (or whatever you want to call it)...people who don't join in with other instruments unless asked!

I know we are privileged to have good sessions here...some of you truly suffer for your art!

However, despite the long faces on other threads...there are plenty of decent pubs, cafes and bars that would positively welcome some accoustic music once a month! Start your own...be the leader...run it to your rules!

BTW I am a little confused as to why you would sing a chorus song and not want people to join in the chorus? I quite understand the "joy" of people slowing the choruses down (!) but....

Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:54 AM

I don't mind a long song or tune, provided that the person doing it is very good and its enjoyable.

What I hate, wether it be a capella or accompanied, is the person who clearly is aweful who does a long one with lyrics or music in front of them. I know they have tyo learn, but can't they do short sharp numbers, that don't bore the arse off me.

Ask yourself the question

"Who would I prefer to listen to, A good or crap singer"

I am not a fan of a capella and try and avoid those sort of sessions/singarounds. Mind you, I go to listen, I don't try to make other people listen to my awaeful singing.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:02 AM

The length of a song is (or should be) immaterial if it is well sung.
Of course a badly sung 20v ballad can cause you to age visibly during its 'execution' (an apt term in some cases). But on the other hand a poor (or even a good) three-verse song badly sung can sound like an Homeric epic performed by a 'fit-up'.
The late Frank Harte could perform any song with skill and panache, but he had an awful tendency to forget words. On one occasion during the singers concert at the Willie Clancy Summer School he stepped on stage to do his spot. I heard the MC (Tom Munnelly) request in a stage whisper that he should sing a short one as they were pushed for time.
Much to the amusement of Tom and the audience, Frank (out of pure divilment) launched into a long song, dried up half way through, started another long song and dried up on that one half way through.
It was the highlight of the concert and every singer got their turn.
Jim Carroll
PS I too favour harmonisation on occasion, but it requires a level of sensitivity on the part of the audience - not always forthcoming.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: ossonflags
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:03 AM

Steve Gardham I am still trying to get hold of you mate. give me a ring Andy should have given you me numbers

Mick


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:09 AM

"I've been in a lot of allegedly 'mixed' sessions where an unaccompanied (and often unaccomplished) singer will drone on for twenty-odd verses, with choruses between each verse, ... "

Unfortunately, 'Mandotim' I have to agree with you, even though I am a keen fan of the well-sung ballad.

At far too many of the singarounds I attend the length of the song seems to be inversely proportional to the talent of the singer. I am convinced that quite a few indifferent (or just plain poor) singers deliberately choose the longest songs that they can find so that they can 'hog' as much of the session as possible. They then have the cheek to moan when the singaround organiser fails to pick them for the next round!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:13 AM

>>The length of a song is (or should be) immaterial if it is well sung<<

Isn't that sort of what I said?


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:18 AM

By the way, no offence to a capella singers, its just not my scene.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:21 AM

oh....so it's like that, is it, Villan?

I'll get me coat...


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Graveyard
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:16 AM

There is a tiny pub in a tiny fishing village on the northumberland coast where there is a session on the last Monday of the month. This is mainly attended by musicians, but the organiser does as his job infers, he organises the night. A few tunes from all assembled then a couple of songs then tunes and so on. A great night and you don't have to announce your presence as he asks.
Another folk club on the Northumberland coast hosts pipers guitarists singers, of many genres, and again the organiser mixes them up without any complaint.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:44 AM

Its a tricky one. Some people really do see themselves as curators of the tradition and they read the words of these songs as they sing them. And the point they labour is that they are keeping these songs going. No one else would be singing them - if it wasn't for them. I think this is a valid point of view, and I respect it. They have their clubs - we have ours.

Live and let live, give em a wide berth if you think you'll be bored shitless - as doubtless they are by our sessions.

Anyone got the chords for Last Thing on My Mind....?


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:51 AM

As long as you are not getting the cast of the Archers to come and get me Ruth, thats alright.

I'll get me duelling guns LOL To Live and Let Die


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:53 AM

Watch it - Deeeeyvid keeps a shotgun in the Landie, just in case he happens upon any badgers...


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:56 AM

oooh errr


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Sugwash
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 06:57 AM

When I go to a sing around I take a guitar, or other instrument, and accompany myself whilst I sing because, well because I can really. I've often suffered from unaccompanied singers recognising a song and launching in with their version of the song and tune, with a thunderous voice trained at shanty sessions, regardless of what I'm singing. I say that only to make the point that it isn't always those with instruments who are insensitive.

I agree that some musicians can be insensitive when they decide to add their instrument to a singer. A good musician will not try to drown out or impose their own interpretation. That should also hold true for singers. We all enjoy the same music in our diverse ways, it saddens when this debate constantly reappears where musicians and singers are put into different camps, each mentally growling at the other. "Oh the singers and musicians should be friends..."


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Drumshanty
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 07:18 AM

Sugwash, agreed.

I would love to be able to accompany myself on guitar/ukulele/autoharp (yes, I have all three and no, I can't play any) but I can't so I have to do it alone. But I'd far rather have loads of voices joining me in a chorus - there's nothing better than that.

That said, I would like more opportunities to listen to and sing those lang, dreich, muckle sangs that seem to be anathema to a session and even some singarounds. The constant refrain at some of the Scottish festivals I've attended in the past few years has been "Nae dreich" and it's a little bit disheartening if you love these songs. I don't think I am alone in this either; traditional singing weekends such as those at Cullerlie and Collessie are very popular; Cullerlie particularly has been sold out every year that I've attended.

Still, in my ideal world, I'd like to be able to go to a session and listen to some rocking tunes and songs. It's all part of the same thing to me.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Rapunzel
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 07:44 AM

I am a reasonably confident singer - sometimes unaccompanied, sometimes I have a guitar or dulcimer. I won't let myself be passed over. The worst instance of this that I've experienced happened at a (rather good) singaround at Bishop's Froome while we were on holiday last year. There was a good mixture of accompanied and unaccompanied turns and it was going in sequential order around the room. My husband sang and then the organiser immediately asked the chap on my other side to sing - assumed I was just there to do the driving I suppose. I didn't let him get away with it - I spoke up loudly and sang loudly. Absolutely inexcusable - I hope the organiser learned something from that.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Gulliver
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 08:15 AM

What are "lang, dreich, muckle sangs"? Scottish dialect songs?


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 08:17 AM

Good for you Rapunzel!

My wife learned to drive when she was about seventeen. Whereas I didn't learn to drive til I was in my mid twenties, and I was a slow learner. So for about 18 months we had an L plate on the car. We were ALWAYS getting stopped on the motorway - the cops presumed I was giving my wife a driving lesson as we went down the motorway.

L-plate - its got to be the woman!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 08:29 AM

Gulliver, i think they're long and dreary songs.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Drumshanty
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 08:52 AM

Dictionary of the Scots Language defines "dreich" as "Extensive; lasting, tedious, tiresome, slow"!

And Muckle Sangs. Mind you, I don't mean the "great ballads" exclusively - or, indeed, those sung in Scots, or Scottish songs. As I said, I love to get swept up in a big chorus, but I've got many songs on my list that I wouldn't sing in a singaround for fear of being thought selfish for not including everyone else.

This is just my experience and not a general point. I'm talking about the vast singarounds I've been to at festivals in Scotland. The very few that I've been to at Whitby or Saltburn have not left me feeling like this.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 10:30 AM

From Abuwood Even in Oxford they wanted to diddle diddle over the song....

Where was that? I've seldom ever heard an instrumentalist trying to accompany a singer, and if someone did that to Graham Metcalfe, then he would tell them to shut up.

I prefer a mixed session, but understand the desire for having tunes or singing sessions, I also think instrumentalists should keep silent for singers unless asked to join in.

Incidentally, The Victoria Arms in Old Marston is starting a session for singing on the first Wednesday of the month - instruments will be allowed but tunes will discouraged. This is in addition to the established mixed session, which is a bit tune heavy, held on the third Wednesday of the month. May 7th will be where Claire Lloyd (formerly of the Giles, Metcalfe and Lloyd trio, Folly Bridge), will be saying goodbye before leaving for Spain. So, we have got rid of Graham and now Claire, it's just Ian we need to see that back of now. I suggest Van Dieman's Land for him.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Northerner
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 11:03 AM

What I don't like is the people who join in in the chorus with a tune that is different from the one I am singing. Grrr!!!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Saro
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 11:41 AM

Rapunzel, many years ago I used to be "the woman who joined in with my husband when he sang" and rarely got asked to sing on my own at festival singarounds. The person who broke the mould was Tom Wilson, who said (after my husband had sung) "well, that was him, now what about one from you" (or words to that effect). It was a real turning point for me. That was about 1980, and as you say, unforgiveable now. Good for you for making things clear to the organiser, and happy singing wherever you are.
Saro
PS What is happening in Oxford to cause all your great singers to flee the country??? The world needs to know...


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Shimrod
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 11:42 AM

There's an assumption, in some of the posts above, that it is traditional songs that are long and dreary - this is not always the case!

Many of the (usually) unaccompanied 'session hoggers', that I refer to above, often sing 'contemporary' songs (ie. ersatz folk songs). These can be very, very dreary if badly sung. There now seems to be fashion to acknowledge the song's author at the end of each interminable performance. In theory this is a reasonable thing to do, but, if after some of the dismal performances I've heard recently, I was the author of such a song I'm not sure that I would want to be associated with it!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 12:43 PM

Something I don't get here.
A singer (if they've been singing for any amount of time) should be able to attend a session & size it up after LISTENING for a bit before jumping in with their voice.
Sessions are mostly very tempermental. They have their own personilities & it's up to the attendees to decied how they want to develop their relaitionship within that community.

I attend one session when I'd hardly sing a ballad, long or short. I love ballds but they love to sing along with the songs (short attention span, they want to sing on everything, whatever the reason, I don't know or care, it's there way) so I sing mostly chorus songs or songs that they can harmonize or sing along with or join in with voice or instrument & I love that too. Another session (strickly Irish & mostly instrumental) I attend when called on I'll sing usually something unaccompanied without chorus, they're mostly players not singers, they listen, enjoy but no matter how hard I'll try to get them to join, only seldom does any accompany or sing along.
Each has their own personility & it's up to each singer to ajust to the tone of the session. I'd love to have harmonizing & when I do get it I let it be know that it's been apprecated. There's one fellow at a session I attend that does a great job of it & we now will, when given the nod sing back up with each other but one needs to feel/suss out the session first. Easier done when it's your
regular session, harder when you're traveling about or at a festival go round but their'still a relationship that develops &
that should be acessed before joining in.

I don't run any sessions (thank God) but I'm a regular at a decent few. If I see someone singing along & the group/session leader doesnt catch on I sometimes inform the leader or just outright ask if they'd like to join in & lead something or go over & quitly ask if they sing & if they'd fancy singing one. If they're really good
keep asking them.
I'm very fortunite to be lucky enough to have some fairly decent sessions about me which makes life a whole lot more pleasant.
If you don't fancy a session that does long ballads or whatever the case may be don't go & then get pissed that it wasn't what you hoped for.
As for them that would sing & leave that's a bit like "cut & run", very bad taste & I can't imagine why anyone would even attend if that's all there is to it, no love of the song there.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: The Villan
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 12:49 PM

>>no love of the song there<<

Just the love of themselves


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 01:06 PM

May I add a bit more
Thanks
As for those that have trouble with others joining in with instruments or voice, get past it. You need to stand on your own & find a way that's comforable for you to let the rest know how you want to sing your own song & it's always the song first even though you're singing to the crowd. Weither it's a cut with your hand across your throat (without missing a beat), a hush with your hands (without skipping a note) or a halt motion with a palm (without off setting a phrase), even if you have to walk over to an accompanist & place your hand across the strings or their guitar, you should be well enough versed in the song you sing to be able to communicate your wishes, if not make it your job to be able to get your wishes across. I realize that it's not always gonna be the way you'd prefere but it'll make your sessions more pleasant. It's your song you have the right to control how it's done. Don't let anyone ride or run rough shod over it. After a while, with practice it can be done in a most unoffensive way & with the slightest of motions.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 01:21 PM

' with the slightest of motions.'

shurrup! Or I'll sling shit at yer! only the slightest of motions, but you won't like it!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: maire-aine
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 02:56 PM

If I want to sing something unaccompanied, I make a big production of putting my own guitar aside. Most people have figured out that, if I'm not playing, they shouldn't either. If people still seem to be poised to jump in, I launch into an introduction that explains that people were often encouraged to "give us a song" while the musicians were taking a break and having their "tea". That usually gets the message through. If that doesn't work, a simple "please don't play on this song" makes it crystal clear.

Regards,
Maryanne


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Pete_Standing
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:00 PM

Saro said PS What is happening in Oxford to cause all your great singers to flee the country??? The world needs to know...
The weather and love. We've still got some left though and no doubt some more will find their voices.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:18 PM

"shurrup! Or I'll sling shit at yer! only the slightest of motions, but you won't like it!"

Weedwittlerunner, A litt;e bit of humour to accompany the motion will go a long way to help.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:33 PM

I remember the first time I went to Staines folk club, and asked "Is it alright to sing without a guitar?" - it was, though not many people did.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 04:53 PM

An anwser, of course, is to post session rules. Another is to make admission by invitation only.

Non of these are much help to the musician who, by experience and inclination, likes to be an accompanist.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Western woman
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 05:56 PM

I've been going to singing sessions for forty years. I love unaccompanied singing and also love a good singer. Sometimes you get both, mostly one or the other. When a good singer sings unaccompanied and sings a good song, bliss happens, and others do listen. Some things annoy me. There was a yearly festival I used to go to where a couple of bad singers hogged the session with very long songs one after the other for the first hour or so. The organisers (in Ireland) decided that the Sean Nos singers were not getting a chance. So they decided to introduce a Gaelic singing hour to start with, then open it up to the rest. It worked a treat, and everyone got a fair chance. Another annoyance, a singer deciding to indulge him or herself with a twenty minute introduction to a song which will usually be longer than the song. I would not describe myself as a good singer, but do enjoy singing and love to get a chance to sing one. Good accompaniment, well worked out with the singer is bound to be good, but only when invited.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Gurney
Date: 21 Apr 08 - 07:09 PM

Western Woman, spot on about the long intro's. But then there's Vin Garbutt.....

I hurt myself laughing at his intro to 'Flora on the Banks of the Dee', but I can't remember the song.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 04:35 PM

the "joy" of people slowing the choruses down

And down, and down - sometimes people seem to decide the ideal speed is a bit slower than he's singing it, and stick to that idea even if you try and slow down to meet them. The time that happened to me was also the time I'd put a song into 3:4 - or rather, I'd put the verses in 3:4; the session decided collectively that the refrain should stay in 4:4, thanks very much. (And not quite so fast, while you're about it.)

Great session otherwise, mind. Those that can harmonise certainly should, in my view.


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: Acorn4
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 07:28 PM

My New Song

I learned to sing a brand new song
Memorised the words on every page
It sounded so good in the bathroom
And now the world would be my stage

I practised hard, both night and day
I Learned it well and felt so proud
But all my dreams would turn to ashes
When I went along to that singaround

As I went into that crowded room
I felt wound up like a coiled spring
But when I'd sat down in that circle
I did a very stupid thing

I sat in the only empty place
Where the turn to sing had just moved past
Now I'd have to sit around for hours
Oh woe is me ! Oh, damn and blast

It started off with a gruesome murder ballad
Which ended on the gallows high
But not till after 42 verses
When it was done, I heaved a sigh

Then some pissed up clown
Started a sea shanty
With a drunken chorus nine times or ten
By the time he'd reached the Bay of Biscay
He forgot the words, and had to start again

Then an intense young man with a Takamine
To bare his soul to all, he'd written a song so deep
All about a "failed relationship"
(I think I must have fallen asleep)

And several more painful dirges later
When things had sunk to an all time low
From under a seat appears a melodeon
Just wind him up and off he'll go!

Then a very large Scottish lady did an introduction,
That was even longer than the song,
"Oh wo-an't ye gan to the heels laddie,"
Another half an hour and we moved on

And then this bloke waltzes in and sits down
He arrived at least two hours after me
He must be up the organiser's backside
'Cos he gets to sing almost straight away

And once again it was a marathon performance
As despondency filled up the room
Till someone did a Leonard Cohen song
Just to lighten up the doom and gloom

It was my turn at last after an eternity!
I said "oh, is it me?", took a deep breath
Now is my chance for retribution
I'll make sure I get my pound of flesh


Chorus:

I'll make this song go on forever
Stretch every syllable and line
I'll get my own back on those bastards
That kept me waiting all that time
I'll go so slow, oh so slow, oh so very slow..

I'll sing so loud I'll give them earache
Let them know my time has come
They can forget about the beer break
As no-one's moving till I'm done

And as for those who carry on talking
Or crunching crisps at them I'll glare
And as for going to the toilet
I'll just say "don't you bloody dare"

Chorus

I'll make this song go on forever
Stress every syllable and line
I'll get my own back on those bastards
That kept me waiting all that time
I'll go so, and still more slow .. etc

(to the tune of "El Dorado" by Graham Miles)

Love it all though, but prefer a good old Heinz 57!


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Subject: RE: Unaccompanied Singers
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 Apr 08 - 08:25 PM

Very good, Acorn4, I think I was at that singaround - I'd have been the one that did the Leonard Cohen song. Hallelujah; Hallelujah....


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