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Reading Lyrics vs Memorization

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Richard Mellish 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM
punkfolkrocker 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM
GUEST,dickmiles 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM
Big Al Whittle 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM
Raggytash 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM
The Sandman 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM
Vic Smith 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,ST 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM
RTim 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM
GUEST,Leslie 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM
lefthanded guitar 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM
GUEST,Desi C 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM
GUEST 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM
GUEST,alex s no cookie 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM
Will Fly 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM
punkfolkrocker 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM
Nigel Parsons 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM
Jim Carroll 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM
Raggytash 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM
Jack Campin 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM
The Sandman 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM
Jack Campin 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM
punkfolkrocker 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM
GUEST,watcher (and strummer!) 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM
Jim Carroll 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM
Joe Offer 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM
MikeL2 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM
The Sandman 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM
GUEST,LynnH 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM
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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:14 PM

Hear hear to
From: GUEST,ST - PM
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:46 AM

Well the obvious answer to all this, the best compromise...

..is to mime to recordings.... 😜


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:30 AM

Oh, it's just that your post started "Raggytash, No .........."


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,dickmiles
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 10:27 AM

raggytash the   quote was not aimed at you


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 09:01 AM

i've no objection to this thread. but really i think it speaks volumes about the doldrums the folkscene has got into.

what does it matter how the people choose to perform the song?

the vitality of the music in a great artform should enthrall. we need to stop picking fault with each other. i never stood up in a folk club till i felt i had something to offer, at an age when most modern young folksingers have done at least six albums.

the people who got up and fumbled about, or got up before they were ready were objects of ridicule - barely tolerated.

and i'm sorry - in the end this fault devolves down to the pro singers for thinking they are guardians of some bloody awful museum of traditional music. or even worse people who embark on a career as a songwriter without first learning some of the great songs and learning what greatness a song can aspire to.

they set a bad example. being a folksinger isn't a licence to bore people. too many people have picked up that message by osmosis, and its sad but that's what you're watching quite often. but its not their fault - they simply haven't been in the room where a great folksinger is working.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 07:01 AM

"I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."

No insult Dick, no accusation or slander in my post, just a simple straightforward question.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 06:52 AM

RAGGYTASH, no , I would never ban anyone neither would i ever say anything to anyone in public unless they asked me privately on a one to one basis. Ihave been absent playing and singing music and only have a computer in my office hence my tardy reply. It is in my opinion never silly to discuss thing again people can change or modify opinions.
I do not like seeing people using crib sheets and shuffling through stuff,
to add to my pevious opinion i believe professional actors are well able if they are also singers to perform well from words because they have practised it and know how to not make it a barrier between themselves and the audience.
As a member of the audience I still prefer to see the non use of crib sheets, I did see one girl perform well with a crib sheet in Robin hoods bay folk club, but my experience has been that good perfomance has been about 1 per cent .
I would advise performers with words to practise in front of a mirror, and practise each song often s0 that they do know it well and use the sheet as a last resort.
to insult and accuse , people of ac different opinion of arrogance and snobbery is in my opinion a sign of losing a discussion.
quote from Socrates "When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser."


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Vic Smith
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:47 AM

..... then there was Bob.

Both Bob and his wife are blind. They both have a great love of folk music, particularly at the more traditional end. He became a regular singer at our club in Lewes but he always remained at his regular seat at a table when he sang instead of coming out to the front. He seemed to have a fairly large repertoire of songs and never seemed to forget his words. One evening after he had sung, I was silly enough to compliment him on the way he had learned so many songs despite his disability. he broke into a wide grin and held up high a braille sheet for everyone to see. Apparently, his fingers had been working away under the table at braille sheet every week and I had failed to notice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,ST
Date: 07 Jul 17 - 05:05 AM

I doubt whether anything written on this thread will cause anyone to change their opinion or practice; all that's likely to happen is that you'll find, whatever your viewpoint, that some will agree and others disagree.   Nevertheless, I'll chip in with my own view.

I'm in the "learn a song before you sing it in front of others" camp. To me songs are ephemeral works of art: they only exist as that song, "your" song, for the time you're singing them. Songs, not just your audience, deserve respect as would any work of art you try to create no matter how limited your talent. I wouldn't feel I was showing respect for a song if I didn't give it everything that I had - and not bothering to learn the words would not be giving it everything I have.

As for waiting until the idleness of retirement to find the time to learn the words as one here suggested; I learned most of my repertoire when I was younger and working. Young brains learn more easily. If anyone else out there is thinking of waiting until retirement, I hate to break it to them but, even if you find you have the time then, you'll find the ability to grow new synapses has sadly deteriorated. The most likely result of trying to leave this skill until later is that, when you come to try to learn, you end up saying, "Reading has been good enough for the last 60 years and it's too difficult now that I can't even remember where I put my keys 10 minutes ago."

When I started singing in public in the 1960s no-one I ever saw, paid, unpaid, professional or amateur, read from bits of paper. Over the last couple of decades the practice seems to have crept in and grown until now it's seen as normal practice and it's this "normal practice" that's the problem for me. I think there's a critical mass factor in operation. There's one singaround I used to go to where one person read the words. This was accepted; they'd had a stroke I think and their memory was no longer up to it but none of the other regulars read, they all knew their songs. When people came in as visitors they soon picked up what was acceptable and what wasn't. As far as I know that continues there. The problem seems to be when enough regulars haven't learned the songs and read them instead. Newcomers think this is the way to behave and soon nearly everyone doesn't bother to learn songs but says things like "I haven't sung this one for years but found it just before I came out" or "Here's one that I haven't got round to learning yet but I thought I'd try it out on you." Where's the respect for the song in that? (Incidentally, in reference to the comment "Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years." The other singers at the "no sheets of paper singaround" put my repertoire of about 300 songs to shame so my experience is that those who do learn their songs actually have larger working repertoires.)

I went once to the singaround/session that I think revived this thread (via a thread that now seems to have disappeared). Like Mr Miles says, I won't be going again – I'll seek out places where I feel I might fit in better.   I'm glad that others go there and presumably enjoy themselves and I'm pleased that people are getting out and singing - I'd rather they do that, even if they read the words, than they sit at home passively absorbing electrically produced sounds - but I'd like to think that there remain enough people around to keep a culture alive that I respect as well; one that believes songs should be learned and respected for the works of art that they could be. As another poster says "If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery." For there to be those "clubs that suit me" there have to be some places that do say "no" to reading from sheets and where like minded people can gather. I don't think any of the "learn the words" group here are trying to ban "paper" clubs, they're just trying to make sure they don't become the only ones.

Quite a few people here keep mentioning performing for an audience but I'll finish by repeating, it's not just about performance for an audience for me, it's also about that attitude to the songs themselves.   I very rarely do paid gigs, I've never been a "professional" performer and I'm probably not all that good but I do respect the songs and I will give them everything I can - and that means learning them inside and out.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: RTim
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:33 PM

This conservation is silly. The subject has been disgusted over and over again in other threads – with no conclusions. Time to put the whole thing into the discard bin! However:
The conversation also assumes that when a singer uses a printed/computer resource that they use it "Every time" they sing! This is probable NOT the case.

I have been using a "Aide Memoire" of verse first lines for years – and that is what it is – a simple mechanism to make sure I get the song "Right" for my audience – who I want to please every time I sing. I have no desire to stop in the middle of a song because I don't know what comes next – that is NOT something one should do to your listeners…But I don't use it on every song – just some that are either not sung often or maybe newer and are sung as part of a themed presentation.
I have seen famous singers I admire occasionally use the written word to make sure they get the song right, and if it is good enough for them – it's good enough for me – reference The Copper Family – who at one time did it at every performance!!!

Singing folk song should NEVER be discouraged; and who are you to say a singer should think the way you do……….

Tim Radford


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:47 PM

It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.

Some of the most excruciatingly tedious acts I have ever heard have been from people who have memorized their material (all six songs of it) down the last comma and sing it EXACTLY THE SAME WAY every time. I'd far rather they were trying something different even if it didn't always work.

Memorization is doing something useful if it frees you up to do fresh things with the music - which might be inspiring or might fall flat. In the classical world, Martha Argerich built a career out of that sort of unpredictability, and of course there are folk examples. But there are hell of a lot of NON-examples, and growing. Far too often you get the attitude that because the performer has memorized their stuff, problem solved, they are now an Honest To God Tradition Bearer, and you all better be quiet and listen respectfully, no matter that the singer last had a new insight about that ballad 25 years ago.

Self-righteous pomposity does a lot more to repel newcomers to the folk scene than technical lapses. And you can see just in this thread that terrific memory technique often goes along with bullying arrogance - and particularly with older performers; younger ones are much less likely to think memory skills are a licence for displays of entitled attitude.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:49 PM

And I'll just add a comment for the benefit of "left-handed guitar".

It's nothing to do with being snobbish - it's to do with enjoyment. Not just the enjoyment of the performer, but also the enjoyment of the audience. I also don't really care whether someone uses a cheat sheet if what they're doing is giving a really competent performance and communicating with the audience.

The problem is that, very often, the performers who rely totally on word sheets aren't communicating with the audience or really putting a song across. Not always - but far more than in the past.

I've taught many, many people guitar - from total beginners upwards - and I always agree a simple agenda in each lesson for the pupil to follow. I then wait for the pupil to contact me and say they've got on with that agenda and that they're ready for the next lesson - in their own time. Those that want to get on this way will learn and progress. Their choice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Leslie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:40 PM

Six very good reasons for memorising, and not reading words:
It's more fun.
It's good for your mental well-being, a minor achievement, something to be proud of.
It's good for your mental health. (Think brain-training and dementia-delay.)
It's more enjoyable for the listeners: a better performance if you only have to focus on delivery.
It's good manners. In a session you expect other folk to sush and listen while you sing, so the least you can do in return is demonstrate an effort to justify, and show you appreciate, their attention.
And it's not difficult – Those hen party survivors bawling on the late train know all the words of the chart hits because if you like a song and hear it often enough, you pick the words up naturally.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:39 PM

Raggytash, you're asking a very black & white question in a very simplistic way. I said, in a previous post, "no" to that question - and linked it to a wider issue because any answer cannot be simplistic. (We get enough people on Mudcat repetitively demanding that their questions MUST be answered, and it's always a fruitless exercise).

However, I'll demonstrate the level of complexity by going back 50+ years, when I started playing in folk clubs. At that time the standard of performance in folk clubs was very high. Remember this was the time of some stunning artists, both traditional and trendy. Anyone who turned up with a music stand or a cue sheet at any of the clubs I attended in Leeds and London (my haunts in those days) would have been treated with scorn. You had to be good to get a floor spot because there was fairly intense competition from very good players and singers. And the clubs were vibrant and exciting places to be on that account.

I dropped out of the folk scene for a long time after that, playing other sorts of music mainly for money, and returned to it via sessions about 12 years or so ago. My first forays into folk clubs were a real eye-opener - music stands, folders of songs, mobile phones, iPads (later on) - and a very mixed set of performance standards. Now, I help to run sessions/singarounds for all comers and for all styles and standards - so I'm not a rigid snob - but I do get bored when I go somewhere else for an evening of fun and music, only to find very little decent music and not much fun. I think to myself, "Why am I wasting an evening here?", and don't go to those places again. At my own sessions I encourage people to put the paper down and go for it if they can.

I also help to run a monthly acoustic session in Brighton, which has both guests and regulars who do floor spots. There are no music stands and no sheets of paper other than a set list here and there. So it can be done. If I did run a folk club and had to select floor spot performers, then I would choose those who were competent over those who weren't. In effect, I would be exercising a "ban" on poor performers - so the answer to your question is now "yes". Both "no" and "yes".


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: lefthanded guitar
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:21 PM

I find it hard to sing in public without referring to my 'cheat sheet' of lyrics, even songs I know by heart at home. What 's the big deal??? If it's good enough for Paul Shaffer (most underrated bandleader in the world), Barbara Streisand and the New York Philharmonic, it's good enough for us folkies to read the'charts' on Rise Up Singing; or anywhere.

This ridiculous snobbishness does not befit the spirit of folk music.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:02 PM

OK Dick & Jim, You have both had sufficient time to answer my question.

Are people who cannot remember the words to be barred from singing in public.

A simple yes or no will suffice.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 02:01 PM

$250! That's a hell of a price unless it was a very professional. As someone else said I think you should claim your money back if this message came AFTER you'd paid. Luckily I've now got the hang of singing from memory, but in most open mic style clubs a single song sheet is normally ok, but I think a book or 'smart' device are not really acceptable. Put the effort in the try memorize a song or two it's easier in the long run


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 01:15 PM

From an earlier thread:

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"

Back in those dear dead days of good recall.
We never needed Aides memoire at all.
We all could stand and sing a lengthy song
So confident the words were never wrong.
Sing one more song, and sip another sup.
(There were no songbooks there to trip . us . up!)

Folkies sing at twilight,
When the lights are low.
And the youngsters' I-Pads
Cast a gentle glow.
Oldsters 'twit' the youngsters' goldfish memories.
Saying "Back in our day, we'd none of these,
We'd none of these"


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 12:32 PM

The point is that a ukulele club is a social situation where the rules you're advocating would be destructively inappropriate. As they would be in a church.

There is a downside to memorizing repertoire. It takes time and effort. Which means you're going to want to amortize that over many performances. And if you're always going to be playing to the same few people, as would be the case with a regular at a village folk club, that means they're going to get bored with you. And they're going get even more fed up once they realize your repertoire is shrinking with age.

Schools used to teach relevant skills for performance off a script - my primary school English classes regularly included recitation. I wasn't all that good at it at the time, but I did learn there was a skill to reading words off a page, conveying their meaning and bringing them to life. Playing an instrument or singing from a score or songbook involve similar mental steps.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 11:29 AM

"If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you" That is what i said to the organiser of the Shefield club Neil Cardwell, that i would do, and was subjected to abuse on   Fcebook.
Yes i have i saw one in a pub in whitby, i also saw a group in mansfield, so you are jumpin to conclusions again Jack, jumpion jacl campin.
no i an not insisting upon anything, you are person t talking about churches i havent mentioned them


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:38 AM

I see no evidence in Dick's followup that he's ever seen a ukulele group in action or has any idea how they operate.

Is he also insisting that everybody who goes to church should practice all their hymns from YouTube videos before they step through the door?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:31 AM

oh c'mon..

where would the world be without fundamentalist dogmatic old men dictating how everyone else should be and behave...

They're a traditional fixture in the dusty corner of all aspects of life..

..and I'll probably be one of 'em meself before too long.... 😜


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 10:17 AM

If I may ask; What harm is done to the audience if the singer has a lyric sheet ? If you find it distracting, close your bleedin eyes, just sit and listen. I find a lot of this dogmatic stuff off putting. If it is an amateur folk club, let the participants do what works for them. If you don't like things done that way, go to a club that suits you. But don't bar those who, for one reason or another, have difficulty recalling lyrics, that is just petty, very petty snobbery.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:51 AM

Will, i may be a performer but i am also a member of the audience. asa member of the audience I find it insulting
jack
"Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord?"
by practising together and at hime without the notes, or even practising along to the leaders you tube video, that is how it can be done, jack move with the times.practice.
50 years ago we had a teenage pop group, we learned the words the drummer did it by ear the bass and the guitar learned their chords we practised and performed in private with only occasionally at chord sheets and words.we performed in public without bits of paper
now in 2017 it is easier the leader of the uke group puts up a youtube video, you can have chord sheets at home AND you play along to the video, then you practise a LOT, THEN WHEN IN PUBLIC YOU PERFORM WITHOUT WORDS OR CHORD SHEETS, ALTERNATIVELY YOU CAN PRACTISE BY EAR IN PRIVATE WITH OCCASIONAL CHECKS TO THE MUSIC.
JimCarroll is right once again here
"As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice" - public is for the finished article'"


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,alex s no cookie
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:50 AM

What Will said. Spot on.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 09:18 AM

Here you go Dick. This is one of the most recent songs we've added to our repertoire. (Guitarists or concertina players, forget it, it's microtonal).

http://sarkilarnotalar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/duriyemin-gugumleri-kalayli.html

And it's no more foreign to you than it is to a native speaker of Greek, Arabic or Persian, all of which we have in the group. Our last set had 8 songs in 5 languages. Next gig is in 6 weeks. (We're adding a new one tonight, it's in Arabic but I already know the tune well). Off you go.

Ukulele groups (which operate in a similar way) are NOT part of the folk scene, never have been, and the folk scene does not set their ground rules. They mostly do popular music, anything from Irving Berlin to Miley Cyrus. When you've got a group of 20 people all singing and playing together on something somebody suggested last week, how on earth can you expect tham all to have memorized every word and chord? It would sound unlistenably crap if they tried. The nice thing about big ukulele groups is that they do usually get the chords right, even though they're a lot more varied and complex than the 3-chord tricks needed for folk, and the massed effect is great.

Nobody has yet mentioned the obvious downside of only performing stuff you've memorized. For anyone who isn't being paid to do it, the result is usually a pretty small repertoire which will diminish in volume, accuracy and quality with the passing years. And if you're only performing to a local scene (as most amateurs do), the audience will very soon get bored with it; hence the evolution of singarounds into a species of elderly daycare. A touring professional has it much easier, since they don't repeat the same act anything like as often to the same listeners.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 08:10 AM

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

The answer to that is, of course, "no" - BUT, it highlights an aspect of the everlasting words/no words debate which never seems to get a lot of prominence: the audience's point of view.

Many comments on these threads are very much from the singer's point of view - me, me, me, etc. But we don't sing in isolation, except in the bath perhaps, and if we do sing in public, we do it with the expectation that someone will be listening (else why do it?).

Surely, as a singer - no matter what the social environment is - one gives some thought as to how one's singing will be received. Is it pleasurable? Is it interesting? Is it worthy of the listening group? If not, why do it?

The problem is that many kinds of activities carried on within social groupings do require some level of practice to be worthwhile and often to fit in with the group aspirations. You wouldn't join a cricket club and expect to be picked for the team if you couldn't play and/or didn't practice. As a teeneger I was a member of a tennis club. I didn't take it seriously and very soon discovered that other players didn't want me as an opponent or as a partner. I left the club and took up guitar!

The folk scene sometimes appears to be one where anyone can do anything without even trying - and where people have an expectation that they can do just what they want - even see it as a right. I try and avoid places where this view is prevalent, and go to places where I can hear a reasonable standard of tunes and songs. And I don't mind if people bugger it all up at these places, because I know they've tried - and because they're as conscious of their audience as they are of themselves.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:57 AM

editing cock up... last line should have read:

But perhaps an added bonus ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough
to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:23 AM

Jim - that was rather the point I was making..

The oral tradition - passing stories and songs down generations from memory within 'tribal' communities -
existed and thrived at a time of lower levels of literacy and barely any other forms of entertainment media distractions...

It's simply no longer realistic to hold today's youth to such archaic cultural expectations...

It should be considered lucky if any youth at all do attend a folk club of their own volition...

But perhaps ideal if they then decide to take it seriously and love the songs enough to naturally find themselves learning them by heart through repetition...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 07:02 AM

I'll try that again :-)

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are people who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:56 AM

From: Jim Carroll - PM
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory


"Twenty verses - word perfect"
How could anyone tell, if no-one had song-sheets to check?
They might be the same 20 verses he sang last week, or they may have changed, but people were unlikely to recognise the fact.
Similarly they might not be the same twenty verses that others sang for the same song.

Without some standard of reference you will never know whether he was 'word perfect'.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:38 AM

I'll ask you the same Jim.

Are public who cannot remember songs to be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:33 AM

Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized."
At the time singers were capable and happy to let forth with twenty verse ballads - word perfect from memory
I'm doing a talk today in which I intended to include an example of an octogenarian singing a song on the subject I am speaking on - the only problem is it is 16 minutes long
At 83, old Martin wouldn't have been able to see a text when he sang it but I can never remember him stumbling on one word of it
If these people could learn their songs I'm damn sure thos half and more their age can
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Raggytash
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 06:26 AM

"the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly"

It MAY be easy for you Dick, others struggle. Are we to say that because someone cannot learn the words by heart they should be debarred from singing in public.

Is that what you want?


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 05:58 AM

Twaddle?Jack stop tying to muddy the waters,
I am referring to ukelele groups, the music is simple and can easily be memorised if practised regularly, the same applies to tradtional itm tunes they are best learned aurally mistakes can be turned into variations, that ispart of the art of performing irish trad tunes you never play the tune exactly the same.
ukelele groups would be also better off picking up the tunes by ear, develop the musical ear and performers can pick things up on the fly[bring back Michael Gill], a good way tpo start is twelve bar blues for developing the ear, Jack you know you are talking bunkum


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 04:57 AM

This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness


Twaddle. The community song movement never depended on memorization, and for what they were doing there was no earthly point. Nor is there for the ukulele groups. Their repertoire is far too big and fast-developing. I suspect you've never been to one.

The community-song thing was a mass movement made up of people who were very well practiced in singing from books - that's what every churchgoer does, and most people in community singing already sang hymns every week. There was then (and still is) a FAR larger proportion of the public who knew how to sing convincingly off a sheet than the total membership of the folk scene at its zenith. The sad thing is that folkies have accepted an abysmal level of incompetence at interpreting songs from print. In a church, that would get you edged towards the back of the room so most of the congregation didn't have to listen to you.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 06 Jul 17 - 03:46 AM

"I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'"
good points, yes, any accompanying instrument should be just that, not a bad idea to learn the song unaccompanied first, first rule is singing has to be louder than instrument, then keep the accompaniment simple, and flexible using chords as an alternative to melody allows the singer to hold longer notes[altering timing and phrasing for effect] [in my experience only] it becomes simpler to do this using chordal acc rather than melody, but both can be done if a lot of time and practice is put in. I have seen both older and youger singers shuffling through notes in an amateurish way, I have seen the occasional performer make an excellent job of reading from notes.. Johnny Handle for example, BUT THEN HE HAS HAD BEEN PERFORMING FOR YEARS WITHOUT NOTES.
" Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did."
There is a sensible alternative its called practice and menorisation most of the ukelele stuff is fairly simple chords that can be learned quickly, it is just laziness., and you know it Jack Campin
However classical music and brass band music is a different ball game.
When I was a member of the new mexborough english concertina quartet we had to use sheet music the parts were too complicated and lengthy ,but that is a different genre, it is debatable that what we were playing was folk music, I dont think it was ,but i enjoyed it


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 09:21 PM

..and also... important to consider.. way back in the day... and the not too distant past at that...

So many adults never learned to read........


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:21 PM

...besides which... like it or lump it...

the karaoke boom of the past few decades has normalized and made socially acceptable
the reading of lyrics in public entertainment singing...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:08 PM

What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them

That's not what I see - the older the singer, the more likely they are to use notation (badly), and the larger and more disorganized their song folder is likely to be. The folk scene has not done very well at helping people bow out gracefully.

Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

They use iPads here. This kind of thing goes back to the "community song" movement of the 20s, and there's no sensible alternative to singing off a sheet. There's a reason why the News Chronicle songbook sold as well as it did.

I belong to something a bit like that, a fluid group of 10-20 people doing Greek and Middle Eastern music. The instrumentalists (including me) memorize the songs quickly. The singers are pretty stuck, because they have five different first languages and share songs. The timescale involved in putting together a set for a new performance just doesn't allow the time for them all to memorize all the material in unfamiliar languages.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 08:01 PM

"What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in


Jim - bear in mind there were fewer songs in total [good & bad] in existence when the folk tradition sprang forth, and later became more popularized...

Now there are countless millions.....
from dozens, if not hundreds & thousands, of genres and diverse cultures to choose from........

I often spend so much time trying to decide which CD to listen to,
I run out of time and have to go to bed having listened to nothing...

Kids these days, the aspiring singers, are over spoiled with choice for competing activities to occupy their time..
and in all honesty folk clubs are just only one of the available venues to practice show casing their 'talents'...


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:41 PM

"What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony"may be a good indication of why the British tradition is basically an unaccompanied one.
I sang a lot accompanied, but I failed miserably to accompany myself (on the guitar, that is)
I've seen some people make a half-decent job on tha concertina, but even then, there is a tendency to allow the instrument to make the running
"or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart"
As far as I'm concerned, the golden rule is 'private is for practice - public is for the finished article'
No club should ever its singers to practice in public - it gives both the club and the music a bad name
What pisses me off with crib sheets is that it's more often than not that it's youngsters who use them, leaving the impression that they really can't be arsed - extremely patronising
The oldies tend to have spent a lifetime singing their songs in
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,watcher (and strummer!)
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 07:08 PM

It seems that everyone is assuming people are singing unaccompanied, and probably solo.
What about when there is a group with instruments which need to be in harmony with each other, literally "off the same songsheet". Thanks to the so-called folk process there are many variations in the melody as well as the chords for any song.

As a bit of an aside, how is Joe Offer getting on with his ukulele? Here in England there has been a significant growth in ukulele groups (and community choirs) at the same time as folk clubs have declined. There can be between 10 and 50 people playing together, possibly 20 songs in an evening from songbooks containing up to a hundred songs.

so, back on topic, should everyone hammer away doing their own thing, or not be allowed to play until they have learnt the tune off by heart, or is it acceptable to have the songsheets on music stands? There's a lot of words to learn, plus the "right" chords, for people with no previous musical training if they can't have the safety net.


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 06:13 PM

Jim Carroll, good post


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 03:01 PM

"You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. "
Don't know about you Joe, but I get the most fun out of singing a song when it works - for me and for the listener
That takes work
Macoll summed it up perfectly when we rinterviewed him
"Now you might say that working and training to develop your voice to sing Nine Maidens A-milking Did Go or Lord Randall is calculated to destroy your original joy in singing, at least that's the argument that's put to me from time to time, or has been put to me from time to time by singers who should know better.   
The better you can do a thing the more you enjoy it.   Anybody who's ever tried to sing and got up in front of an audience and made a bloody mess of it knows that you're not enjoying it when you're making a balls of it, but you are enjoying it when it's working, when all the things you want to happen are happening.    And that can happen without training, sure it can, but it's hit or miss.   If you're training it can happen more, that's the difference.   It can't happen every time, not with anybody, although your training can stand you in good stead, it's something to fall back on, a technique, you know.   It's something that will at least make sure that you're not absolutely diabolical……………
The objective, really for the singer is to create a situation where when he starts to sing he's no longer worried about technique, he's done all that, and he can give the whole of his or her attention to the song itself, she can give her or he can give his whole attention to the sheer act of enjoying the song."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:46 PM

Sandman says:
    1. You need to analyse why your memory fails you, and learn tricks to overcome it.
    2. You need to learn to ad lib and keep going, remember the story line and the rhyming scheme, this partly what performing is about, it is much the same with tunes one sometimes make a mistake but it is knowing how to deal with the mistake, that is partly the art of performance


You know, I sing songs for the fun of it. I've never performed for a paying audience, and I never intend to. I do have a number of songs committed to memory, but I like to try new stuff. Most of the people I sing with, don't have the expectation that songs be fully memorized, and yet we are able to have a wonderful time singing together.

So, generally, I just don't sing with people if their expectations are higher than what I'm comfortable with. Screw 'em.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: MikeL2
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 02:29 PM

Hi

<" What I do have is a capacity for practising, practising and practising, persistently, until words, tunes and chords stay ">

Couldn't agree more. The old adage of "Practice makes Perfect " is very true.

How you practice - Will has given some good advice.

I used to practice while listening to the tune/song I wanted to learn. I would record the song and sing/play with it until I thought I was word perfect. Then I would sing without the recording and then listen to it. This showed where it needed improvement.

This helped me. I found that it made me much more confident which in turn improved my peformance in front of the audiences.

cheers

MiKeL2


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:42 PM

i am not suggesting that you should not learn the words, but it can happen to anyone [myself included.. despite practice] so then you have to keep cool and try and correct it rather than giving up in a state of embarrassment or resort to always using words, have i made myself clear LynneH, YOU PRACTISE THE SONG MANY TIMES IF YOU STILL MAKE A MISTAKE YOU HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO HANDLE IT


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: The Sandman
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:38 PM

If you practise you are showing the song respect if you do not you are not showing your audience respect, if you do make a mistake knowing how to get over it is also part of performance, that does not mean you should not practise, you should practise.... is that clear, Nigel Parsons


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Subject: RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization
From: GUEST,LynnH
Date: 05 Jul 17 - 01:34 PM

As Fred Wedlock once sang:

"In the middle of Sir Patrick Spens I clean forgot the 42nd. verse
So I sang the 27th. once again and twice as loud
and no-one even noticed............."

Personally, if I hadn't learnt a song properly I wouldn't get up on stage and try to wing it!


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