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Why live music?

steve t 04 Aug 97 - 07:01 PM
Alice 04 Aug 97 - 07:39 PM
Joe Offer 04 Aug 97 - 08:59 PM
steve t 04 Aug 97 - 09:03 PM
Bob Landry 04 Aug 97 - 09:57 PM
Lorraine 04 Aug 97 - 09:57 PM
Marsha 04 Aug 97 - 11:19 PM
Alice 04 Aug 97 - 11:20 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Aug 97 - 11:26 PM
Alice 04 Aug 97 - 11:57 PM
Joe Offer 05 Aug 97 - 02:25 AM
Davy Steele 05 Aug 97 - 08:10 AM
steve t 05 Aug 97 - 08:40 AM
Bert Hansell 05 Aug 97 - 08:50 AM
Sam Hudson 05 Aug 97 - 09:16 AM
Jon W. 05 Aug 97 - 12:10 PM
Bill D 05 Aug 97 - 12:30 PM
Bert Hansell 05 Aug 97 - 01:18 PM
Jon W. 05 Aug 97 - 01:33 PM
Bob Landry 05 Aug 97 - 09:06 PM
Bill D 05 Aug 97 - 09:27 PM
steve t 08 Aug 97 - 01:12 AM
Bill D 08 Aug 97 - 09:02 AM
Peter Timmerman 08 Aug 97 - 11:13 AM
Alice 08 Aug 97 - 02:34 PM
LaMarca 08 Aug 97 - 03:14 PM
Bert Hansell 08 Aug 97 - 04:44 PM
Jon W. 08 Aug 97 - 05:31 PM
Jon W. 08 Aug 97 - 05:37 PM
Alice 08 Aug 97 - 05:43 PM
09 Aug 97 - 12:53 AM
steve t 09 Aug 97 - 01:11 AM
Kiwi 09 Aug 97 - 08:21 AM
RS 09 Aug 97 - 02:11 PM
Peter Timmerman 09 Aug 97 - 02:19 PM
Alice 12 Aug 97 - 10:08 PM
Barry Finn 12 Aug 97 - 10:57 PM
BK 13 Aug 97 - 01:45 AM
Whippoorwill 13 Aug 97 - 11:53 AM
Jon W. 13 Aug 97 - 12:15 PM
13 Aug 97 - 12:16 PM
Alice 13 Aug 97 - 09:33 PM
Alice 13 Aug 97 - 09:44 PM
Joe Offer 14 Aug 97 - 01:18 AM
Laoise, Belfast 14 Aug 97 - 07:07 AM
Whip 14 Aug 97 - 11:33 AM
Susan of California 17 Aug 97 - 01:04 AM
Peter T. 17 Aug 97 - 11:52 AM
Alice 17 Aug 97 - 12:00 PM
Bill in Alabama 18 Aug 97 - 10:13 AM
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Subject: Why live music?
From: steve t
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 07:01 PM

What I don't like about live music is:

usually it's not OK to sing along

usually someone's in your personal space

Festivals are a good exception to this and I love 'em.

So what do other people love about "live"?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 07:39 PM

I have been thinking about how ALL music used to be "live" until the technological revolution of recording and broadcasting changed our world. In another thread, I commented on the lives of my homesteading grandparents, and the value of everyone making music for their own entertainment. Songs were song while weaving, spinning, rocking a baby, working in the field, milking the cow, playing a game, dancing... singing was a part of every day activities. I recall being in Veracruz, Mexico, and listening to how easily the people everywhere would sing and whistle as they went about their work. It is hard to imagine cubicles in an office today, with people "prairie dogging" their heads up to say "one more time on the chorus" as everyone sings together at their desks. Life has changed, so music doesn't naturally come to us as a "live" experience. We plug into the same performance done by a professional, usually enhanced by a studio, and have forgotten that as singers, our whole bodies are our instrument. We've gained in perfecting the polished performance, but we have lost the free spirit to sing throughout our own daily lives. I am grateful for the rich store of recordings that exist from all over the world, but I feel the reason people are searching for "song circles" is because we have lost that freedom of expression we used to have in singing at work, home, and play. Alice


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 08:59 PM

I like what you have to say, Alice. Music should be a part of life, something we all do, all the time. It should be something that is done just for the joy of it. I applaud those who can make a living as musicians, but I get worried when people start to think that only professionals should make music.
I have two sons, ages 19 and 24. Both are very talented guitarists, although I'm not all that sure I'm impressed with their singing and songwriting skills. They expect to be able to make a living as musicians, so they haven't made any effort toward finding another way to provide for themselves. I think they reflect an attitude that's prevalent today. There's a similar attitude about sports. I think that music - and sports - are for all of us, not just for those who can make a living doing them.
As for your comment about singing in office cubicles, I have to admit that more than once, I got caught singing in the long halls of the Sacramento Federal Building. Those halls were SO resonant - better than singing in the shower.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: steve t
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 09:03 PM

Alice, I couldn't agree more. One gets reactions (usually pleasant) if one even hums when one is in a shop. Does nobody else hum while shopping or checking out the videos?

What I'm wondering though, is whether it's fairly common for people who enjoy folk to prefer something participatory, even if it's simply singing along with a CD to the mostly passive experience of most concerts.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bob Landry
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 09:57 PM

Steve, - I grew up in a musical family. My grandmother who palyed some obscure tunes on the pump organ. My dad, some of his brothers and a few neighbours formed a celtic/swing/country band in Cape Breton during the 1940's and 1950's. One of my uncles still plays for local dances. Dad played the fiddle every Sunday after church and I learned to chord behind him on the piano. My brother and sisters are also musical. My two sons (now 17 and 24 - sound familiar, Joe?) are learning to play. One of my fondest memories goes back to 1985 when all of Dad's surviving family got together for the last time. Two generations played in the living room Friday night from 9:pm to 5am with a repeat performance on Saturday night from 9:am to 5:pm. It didn't matter what we played, or how good or bad it was. The main rule was don't stop.

Today, I crave the opportunity to jam with my friends and do it as often as I can. Everybody is welcome to join in and it doesn't matter whether or not you can carry a tune and what the music is. All we ask is that no one monopolizes the session. My friend Garry recently sold his house, bought a fifth wheel trailer and moved to a trailer park. He invited three or four of us locals to jam with him on his new deck. By the time the evening was in full swing, we had enticed another four or five musicians out of their trailers - and it wasn't even tourist season.

Live music - there's no substitute as far as I'm concerned.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Lorraine
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 09:57 PM

A majority of the concerts and house concerts that I attend accept and sometimes even encourage participation. The folks I usually hang around with are singers-some better than others some livingroom singers some performers-still there is a wonderful joy in a full house chorus. There have been a number of times that a performer has been surprised with their song being a chorus song when perhaps it wasn't written that way. This may be disturbing, but they usually accept the situation with good grace. The eye contact and personal stories (along with the participation) are other things that make live music such a wonderful experience.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Marsha
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 11:19 PM

I love to sing anywhere - anytime! In stores, at work, in the car -- it doesn't matter to me! And I've only received pleasant responses from others also. Jam sessions and rehearsals are the most fun for me because of the informal nature and the ability for us all to "go with the flow" and just let our feelings lead the way! I don't usually go to concerts where singing along is not welcomed and, for me, a good CD or tape is one that I can sing with rather than just listen to! :) Yes, live music is very important and I agree with everything said above!


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 11:20 PM

For those of us who grew up in families that made music together, any visit with a friend or relative was an occasion to sing and play music. I'm glad to read that so many people also had that experience and continue it. I hope "home grown" live music never dies. Alice


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 11:26 PM

At the risk of sounding flip, it beats the hell out of dead music.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 04 Aug 97 - 11:57 PM

good one, dick, ... rolling on the floor! Alice


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 02:25 AM

Now, Bob Landry, you said something that really upset me. Do you mean to say that people in Nova Scotia just sing when there are tourists around? I was there for a week in November, and I was really looking forward to hearing Atlantic Canadian music, but I didn't hear a note.
So that's the deal, eh? In Nova Scotia, all the singers retreat to the trailer parks once tourist season is over. What a sad state of affairs.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Davy Steele
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 08:10 AM

its the one freedom we all have, open your mouth and sing, i have never liked people to sing work chorus songs in a performance and then discourage the audiebce to join in it goes against all the ethics of the type of music and the song. so to hell with them sing anyway, sing til your lungs burst, its the way to forget problems proclaim love share joy music is always live wehen its in the heart


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: steve t
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 08:40 AM

Lorraine really best came to the crux of the matter. Thanks. I remember a friend talking about a Tom Paxton concert in which Tom stopped singing partway into the first chorus of "The Last Thing On My Mind" (It's a lesson too late for the learning...) and the audience continued to sing on without him right to the end of the song. Tom reportedly said, thanks -- that kind of makes it all worth while. Perhaps I've just had bad luck at the few "concerts" I've attended, in about half of which, nobody ever seemed to be singing along.

Although it wasn't what I was asking about, other people's comments on lives where part of the pattern has always been making music makes me whistful. I remember a friend of mine when I was a child (about ten?) asking me wonderingly -- you mean you don't play *any* instrument?!? I played with that kid a lot and yet I don't remember ever hearing him sing or even mention playing music himself. To this day, I have no idea what instrument(s) he played, though I remember a piano and violins in their living room. Non-professional music *can* be hard to find, even when it's right next door.

When I visited England and Scotland, I never once ran into pub singing (though I admit, at the time I didn't think to look for it). I've since heard stories that bear my experience out -- tales of people getting together in particular pubs once a week, and not simply dropping into the pub around the corner to sing. Interestingly, since the advent of affordable stereos, the number of noise complaints in England has risen from about 6,000 per year in the 50s to 160,000 a few years ago when 17 people were reported to have been killed or suicided as a result of disputes over noise. Dead music, perhaps?

To the tune of Teddy Bear's picnic: ...today is the day, the Greatful Dead hold their concert...


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 08:50 AM

Alice,
I love your line "our whole bodies are our instrument"
That's one of the things that come across with a live performance
You can SEE the performer's is enjoyment in their body language.

TTFN, Bert.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Sam Hudson
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 09:16 AM

A very interesting thread - Alice, you're exactly right in what you say. One of the reasons I love the folk world is that virtually all the people involved in participatory music - at whatever level - seem fundamentally decent and nice people to be with. Whether this is cause or effect is another debate...

Steve - dropping into the pub round the corner and starting to sing is, sadly, a good way to be thrown out! But there are plenty of singers clubs available, I'm glad to say.

Regards

Sam


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 12:10 PM

I'll pass this thought on I got from my cousin last night at a family get-together. He was at a St. Patricks day party where there were some musicians playing and trying to get the crowd involved. One of them eventually said (paraphrasing): You Americans have it all wrong. Once you have enough to eat and a place to stay, instead of going out and getting more, you should spend the rest of your time making music.

As a scoutmaster, I find myself being really irritated when the scouts want to bring along radios and CDs on campouts. If a person can't even entertain themselves for a night with their own singing (or skits or jokes even), how interesting a person can they be?

Not that recordings don't have a place - they are great for hearing new songs and also for drowning out the loud discussions from the next cubie over so I can get some work done when I'm not on Mudcat.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 12:30 PM

and in the 'THESIS' I am developing about how to recognize folk/traditional music, this is one of the characteristics I will point to...there is music which is designed to be sung 'at' you and music that is meant to be sung 'by' you or 'with' someone else! All can be fine music, but even some music played on acoustic instruments and sung by plain people in quiet manner is clearly 'arrainged' and designed as 'performance' music. I can enjoy this, but I soon hunger for music done 'with' people or by ME! Even some folk/trad is solo music, but a lot of it tends toward shared music done 'with' others...and there is no substitute for that feeling!


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 01:18 PM

Bill D,
Are you really writing a thesis?

Traditional music would necessarily be biased towards "shared" music, simply because more people would be performing it. Therefore there would be a greater chance of it being remembered.

I like both myself.
TTFN, Bert.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 01:33 PM

Bill D - An exception, IMHO, is the blues. I read somewhere and agreed with it wholeheartedly that when a blues singer was performing (a solo, acoustic blues like in the 1930's) he was singing and playing to himself, really. Others were welcome to listen in of course, but it was primarily a means of self consolation.

I don't want to generalize too much, there were a lot of blues done to entertain others and provide music for dancing, also to solicit donations etc.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bob Landry
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 09:06 PM

Joe Offer - I confused the issue, didn't I.

I grew up in Cape Breton but I now live in Alberta - That's where I met Garry. The point I so inexpertly tried to make was that the trailer park was nearly empty when we had that fateful jam and still we found people who wanted to make live music.

The tourist comment had nothing to do with Atlantic Canada. When wanting to make music in Cape Breton, stay away from the hotels and get to know the locals. You may get yourself invited home for a beer, a drink of rum, and if they play music, a damn good time will be had by all. I'll make you a deal. If you ever come to the Edmonton area, let me know and I'll pick up where my compatriots left off.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Aug 97 - 09:27 PM

Bert...yep..I am writing up my analysis..."fools rush in"..it will not be short & simple, because it won't be designed as a 'definition', but rather as an approach which tries to clarify issues...

Jon W...sure..in line with what I said above, the Blues IS a special case...if I end up with 18....or 27 characteristics which 'tend' to describe folk/trad music, many Blues songs may not have all 27...and not every Blues song will have the same 19 or 23..just as not every ballad will share the same set of defining characters.
I am going to have to work hard to explain my list and to keep everyone from jumping on it as if I meant it to be exact and inclusive. My college major was in Philosophy, and the problem of precise definition is a major issue which I do not take lightly...so this will take me awhile to explain...even to myself. But you know how it is with a 'labor of love' :-)


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: steve t
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 01:12 AM

Bill D. -- I'm very curious about your list. Why not release it right away?

BTW, does: "sounds best by firelight" fit in there somewhere?

Also, I'd ad "sung for you" to "sung at you" and "sung with you". I wonder, would protest songs be sung "for" you or "at" you or "with" you? or would it depend on the audience of the moment?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bill D
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 09:02 AM

steve...*grin*..you just demonstrated why I'd rather wait...none of the regulars in this group could resist 'helping' if I tried to throw up a list before I had thought out what I wanted to say.Plus,I intend to explicate each item...not just have a numbered list of a few words & phrases. Of course, ANY list I (or anyone else )publishes will immediately be analyzed, argued & added to by others.(Look at what has happened to Aristotle in only 2500 years or so). A few things on such a list are obvious- songs 'tend to be' old, anon. and not written by professionals- but already you can name songs which are generally accepted folk/trad which do not fit even these characteristics, so it will be more than a quick page of ideas to attempt what I want.

BTW-- 'sounds best by firelight' would probably be technically a poetic item in a subset rather than a main category.And in your 'for' 'with' 'at', question, you show clearly how nit-picky it could get. Others have ventured the opinion that it is wasted effort to even try this sort of thing. Maybe so, but if I do it, I will have at least clarified MY mind set for future discussions.

lessee, now....#124- "sung by left-handed engineers on weekends in cities east of the Appalachians in cities under 20,000 population....." hmmmmmmmm needs some work...


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 11:13 AM

There is an interesting book about Ladakh (just south of Tibet) by an anthropologist -- cannot remember title or name -- who went to Ladakh in the early 60's before civilization arrived, and has been going back ever since. She discusses how everyone in the villages used to sing, and how whenever they had events, people were encouraged to perform. Some people were better than others, but that didn't matter -- and usually each person had some unique sound or talent. This was completely destroyed first when radio arrived, then movies, then television, in short order. It wasn't so much that there were new songs or cultures. It was that the new media provided such high quality professionalism, and sounds that were out of reach of the community, that everyone became suddenly ashamed of not being very good, except for one or two stars. They suddenly discovered excellence as a divisive, rather than complementary force. Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 02:34 PM

Peter, that is the same lesson demonstrated by the late Jesuit from India, Father Anthony deMello. He would tell this parable: "There was a little town in America where people gathered in the evening to make music. They had a saxaphonist, a drummmer, a violinist, mostly old people. They got together for the company and the sheer joy of making music, though they didn't do it very well. So they were enjoying themselves, having a great time, until one day they decided to get a conductor who had a lot of ambition and drive. The new conductor told them, "Hey, folks, we have to have a concert; we have to prepare a concert for the town." Then he gradually got rid of some people who didn't play too well, hired a few professional musicians, got an orchestra into shape, and they all got their names in the newspapers. Wasn't that wonderful? So they decided to move to the city and play there. But some of the old people had tears in their eyes, they said, "It was so wonderful in the old days when we did things badly and enjoyed them." So cruelty came into their lives, but nobody recognized it as cruelty. See how lunatic people have become!"
The word "amateur" comes from the root amare, to love. I hope we never lose the practice of making music just for the love of it... Alice in Montana


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: LaMarca
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 03:14 PM

An interesting cultural twist to singing in public places crops up at my workplace. I, too, work in a Federal enclave, and we have a very racially and ethnically diverse crowd of people here at NIH. I will frequently hear black Americans un-selfconsciously belting out a song in the hallway, or singing along with a Walkman, but have NEVER heard a white American do the same. I (being white)find myself intimidated when I'm singing in a hallway or elevator and encounter another person, and immediately clam up (or at least drop the volume to a mumble).

Any number of my co-workers (again, mostly WASP) look on singing as something that's done by Professionals, and you hear them say "Oh, I can't carry a tune" or "My grade-school teacher told me to just mouth the words and not make noise, so I must be terrible." (It's incredible the amount of damage some teachers can do...) When people here found out I sing, and sometimes even perform at folk festivals, they automatically started expecting me to lead "Happy Birthday" at office parties - as if no-one else could possibly start to sing a song EVERYONE knows. Lately, I've gotten stubborn and have refused to be the one who starts it, but join in in harmony once it gets going, in hopes that folks will realize it's okay for them to start a song if they want to!

I think that a lot of folks probably sing along with the radio in the privacy of their cars (I do, but maybe I'm just weird), but are afraid to sing in front of others, for whatever reason. This is a shame, for the "Professionals" the recording industry pushes aren't always very good themselves, but are out on the airways through some chance combination of timing, good promotion and sheer luck, rather than musical ability or talent.

Tolerance for singing along at live performances varies from place to place, too. I remember going to Passim's while on a business trip to Boston many years ago. Bill Staines was playing, doing his relaxed collection of songs, most with wonderful choruses. I started to sing along on the choruses, as we all do here in Washington, but quickly stopped when I found myself VERY alone in that audience. That may have been club policy; at the Birchmere here in DC, they have little signs on all the tables telling people to shut up "while the performances(sic) are on stage". But at any of the concerts put on by the Folklore Society, as Lorraine and BillD have mentioned, joining in is enthusiastically appropriate.

So, is singing aloud a regional thing, or a racial thing, or an educational thing?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 04:44 PM

La Marca,

Years ago (in the late fifties) I served an apprenticeship as a boilermaker. It was quite common then, to hear guys singing while they worked. Sometimes the latest pop or at other times maybe a bawdy parody. Or even just an altered phrase; I heard one guy sing "I'm a little bit peculiar in an onion patch".

I've not heard many people sing at work since then, unless they worked in a very close team.

I think it's a "shyness" thing myself, if someone thinks that no one can hear, either because they are alone or because there is high background noise, then they are quite likely to sing.

It would be completely unacceptable where I work now; in an open office with people using the phone.

TTFN, Bert.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Jon W.
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 05:31 PM

A big Amen to Peter and Alice. I think the professional singers and more importantly their producers have exerted far too great an influence on what we can and can't listen to. I think it's a shame to let someone else (especially someone with a BIG profit motive) determine your taste as well as destroy your self confidence.

I heard once that the Amish rejected a certain mechanical innovation because it was so loud they couldn't hear themselves sing their work songs. Therefore it diminished their quality of life and sense of community instead of enhancing them. I wish more of us had that attitude. Let's keep singing. Up with live music!


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Jon W.
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 05:37 PM

To quote your Big Boss, LaMarca, "I feel your pain." I like to practice my singing in the car on the way to work, but when I'm walking through the parking lot my volume goes down, and when I get to the front door and have to pass the receptionist I fade out altogether. We whities are too inhibited for our own good.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 08 Aug 97 - 05:43 PM

It does seem to be the nature of the work and the demands of the workplace environment. When I was putting myself through college, I usually found an office job for the summer, but one year decided I wanted a TAN! So I worked in the experimental horticulture gardens, on the ground crew. We shoveled, weeded, planted, etc., and some days when three or four of us hippie ladies were together, we would sing as we worked. Definitely unable to type and answer the phone while singing. I must admit that when I supervised an art department full of people, phones ringing, and a million things on my mind, I required the artists to listen to their tapes on headphones, because it was just too distracting to have music playing along with everything else. All of you who sing with abandon in the shower and in the car, raise your hands!! Alice


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From:
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 12:53 AM

me


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: steve t
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 01:11 AM

Peter's story about the Tibetan villages is depressing. I *hope* those folks only quit singing around the anthropologist and not around each other.

And I'm still amazed that people think of their own singing as "live music". Gosh, if a resteraunt advertised "live music" and it turned out that the servers were singing to themselves, I'd be confused (and happy to sing-along with 'em!) Or maybe I should be amazed that I make a distinction between my own singing/playing and "live music". :)


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Kiwi
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 08:21 AM

Alice, Joe - backtracking to the earlier part of this thread (Sorry, I haven't been here in a week and a half.. :)), I definitely agree that music should get back to being a daily part of life. It is for me.. I currently have my boombox sitting two feet away on my computer desk, cranking out Dougie MacLean, and if everyone in the house weren't asleep, I'd be singing along. I sing along with everything possible, and when I can't play music, I'll often find myself singing something stuck in my head anyway... it's really amusing to watch the looks I get walking down to work belting out the rousing chorus to something-or-other, with all the cars going past and the drivers giving me funny stares. I think it's something I picked up from my mother.. she sings along with music she knows well, and sings whatever's stuck in her head as well.. it's rather funny when both of us are walking around the house singing two completely different things and not even noticing. Could is be the Russian peasant blood? As I understand it, the peasants sang all the time, at least as Tolstoy would have it (I'm being forced to read _Anna Karenina_ for my summer reading). As for what I love about live music.. well, I haven't gotten nearly a much of that as I would like to, but most of the live stuff I've been exposed to has been folk, Renaissance, and Celtic, which is great.. and being that it's at RenFaires, you can request songs, wander up to the minstrels and talk to them about the songs, even sing along if everybody's comfortable with that.. and life performances are always slightly different every time they're done, and sometimes there's an energy there that comes from interacting directly with people. And making live music.. it's wonderful. There's something about putting your energy into your voice or instrument that's just great... :)


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: RS
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 02:11 PM

To echo Kiwi's sentiment about the energy that comes from interacting directly with other people ... this has always struck me as the difference between live and packaged (i.e. recorded) performances of any kind. And this occurs at two levels - the presence of a live performer - and the presence of a live audience. Watching (or listening to) a taped recording at home means there is no crowd to laugh or cry with ... and no live performer to react to the audience's laughter or tears.

One of the most powerful musical experiences I have ever had was at the end of the Owen Sound Summerfolk Festival, singing "There's a Bright Side Somewhere", with thousands of other people, over and over, in unison & harmony, under a starlit midnight sky ... an unbelievable experience.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Peter Timmerman
Date: 09 Aug 97 - 02:19 PM

Another take on this from another angle comes from an interesting Time Management book (I procrastinate by reading Time Management Books) called Time Management For UnManageable People (Ann McGee-Cooper). In it she attacks all standard time management books as being good for people who have absorbed industrial monochronic time, and who are therefore obsessed with saving bits of time, priorizing, and endless to-do lists. She argues that creative people need to be a bit organized, but they need a more playful, less linear process -- including messy desks (as long as they help). There are also other kinds of time, like polychronic time (multiple things going on at once) and kairological time (moments of ecstasy), and a kind of existential time ("flow" time). One section of her book is on how people in pre-industrial cultures have quite different work and play rituals, of which singing together is exemplary. While this singing is often rhythmic, it tends to change the physical and emotional relationship of everyone to the passing of time -- one is being as well as doing. You enter time or create it as you go. It stops being purely external and imposed: which I guess is why the pain of such harsh work as went into work songs (chain gangs, etc.) is assuaged somewhat. I think Kiwi is right to stress the energy passing through the physical body when you sing or play. You reinhabit the world differently. Imagine the people in office cubicles suddenly breaking into common work songs, and you get the strangeness of the idea.Another reason why people procrastinate by tuning in to DT? Now where was I? Oh yes, Priority A tasks -- Important but not Urgent... Yours, Peter


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 12 Aug 97 - 10:08 PM

Mudcat Cafe.. ? Procrastinating?? My, how much more design work I've gotten done the last two days since I could not log onto this site.... But I must respond to the excellent point you just made regarding the sense of physical and emotional change created by singing in a group. This truly is powerful, and when done for benign reasons, a wonderful experience. It's power is also used to induce trance or "disarm" people by cultists who adeptly know how to manipulate groups. The words that we memorize while singing are also more memorable because of their connection to the tune. I'm glad I have found an unorganized group of people to play music and sing with. Every time is different... like a sunset. Alice


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 12 Aug 97 - 10:57 PM

I haven't worked inside a building in 25 yrs, but I get to hollering on a roof top, with the new guy looking as if he'd just seen or heard a ghost & then a few others will join in to a hammer beating & the new guy or anyone else listening look as if it's the strangest thing.This was common in the fields of the old south. Jon, the blues came out of the worksong tradition & was meant to be sung along or moaned or hollered along with. In this case, live music helped a whole culture to survive, to retain dignity and to rid themselves of some of the feelings that oppression begets. As a white folkie, I never cared where or when I sang & because of this big mouth have met alot of other singers, some who I hear from on this forum. One of the people I sing with claimes that singing with others is as close to sex as one could get, a relationship develops where all parties involve are considerate of what each is doing all the time while trying to improve the outcome, over time a harmony is reached in unison and a love blossoms. Happy to be singing. Barry


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: BK
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 01:45 AM

another great thread! lamarka - i used to be at Wally-Wonderful, would occasionally amble to NIH, and routinely sing as i putter along - even in uniform.. but i'll have to admit i was probably the only white guy - let alone major - singing in the halls of old Wally. i'll also have to say that indeed, it often brought positive comments, especially from black folks, who often seemed to respond as if it were perfectly natural - unremarkable, even... as for recorded music.. it certainly has it's place... and i often sing along w/it... many mornings garnet rogers lovely ballad voice helps me get to work w/at least something left of my sanity.. and it gives me a chance to work out some of my feelings.. for one example, "jenny brice" seems to liberate a lot of emotional tension in me, even after i've listened to it fairly often.. it makes me cry, and that, as a male, is something i'm not good at.. and, as my wife frequently points out, i may live longer if i can release some of that (bad?) energy. but i also get a lot of (good?) energy in, from being at a good, at least partly sing-along perfoirmance, but also from being at truly enthralling eprformances in which i'd never desire to sing along... such as a vivaldi concerto..

l guess there are many kinds of benefits from many kinds of music but the "folk"(style/type/traditional..??? etc..) which we might ourselves sing/lead/follow, and to which we are mainly referring here, is one of the special musical experiences to which some live stage performances can contribute.

it wouldnt surprise me to find out that one who could enjoy singing in the hallways and at folk jams could also more fully enjoy other musical experiences, such as a vivaldi concerto - or, laMarka, a spellbinding acapello performance of "we are going" (also has an african name, something like "wiyoya") by Sanders, Cass and White, as they move through the performance hall..

[it's also on their CD, along with THE definitive version of "it's a good thing he can't read my mind," but the live perfomance, with them slowly, dramatically, winding their way through the audience, weaving a slowly increasing volume of flawless harmonies and counterpoint is absolutely magical!!! the recorded version just can't compare...]

neither are likely to engender singing along in most listeners - we just want to hear - all of it! (but, of course, afterwards we just might want to sing wiyoya ourselves! as i will, someday, i know, learn "jenny brice.")

so... live formal performances, sing alongs, singing in the hallways of Not Invented Here - (and Wally-Wonderful), hoots and jams, grocery stores, malls, the tables at the Birchmere (i've done it..) etc.. all have their place..

given human nature, i'd think we'll always have plenty of people who want to get up on stage for formal pereformance... what we may have to work to not loose are some of the other elements, so keep on with the jams, etc... we need 'em... at leasdt as much as we need formal live performance.....

cheers, BK


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Whippoorwill
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 11:53 AM

Alice, in regard to your statement about cultists using the power of music to entrap their victims, I remember reading years ago that some of the older Christian hymns were structured in such a way as to induce or enhance an emotional response.

Has anyone made a study of this, do you know?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Jon W.
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 12:15 PM

Barry, true enough about the blues evolving from work songs and hollers - it's just that eventually the responses from the "chorus" to the leader were eventually replaced by responses from the instrument (guitar or harmonica, usually) to the singer. It's hard to imagine an audience singing along with Robert Johnson on "Love in Vain." But on the other hand it's easy to imagine them shouting out responses to him (Yeah, man! You got that right! or whatever the '30s equivalents were). So the audience participation was there, it just wasn't a direct part of the music. Or maybe I'm just full of BS today.

Now I need some suggestions. I'm a Scoutmaster, and I want to get my scouts more involved in singing. However, their taste in music runs from the banal (continuous lite hits) to the appalling (Mega METAL suicide rock). None of this seems to lend itself to creating a sense of community by group singing as the songs I used to sing when I was a scout. How can I spark their interest in the great humor, good fun, and camaraderie of folk songs? Jon


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From:
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 12:16 PM

Anyone in?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 09:33 PM

Whippoorwill, regarding your question above, the effects of trance states whether induced by music, singing, dancing, or other methods have been quite well studied. Check out the web site for the American Family Foundation. It will lead you to research at Ohio University's Cultic Studies Laboratory, as well as books by other researchers such as "Cults In Our Midst" by Margaret Singer. Music seems like such a completely benign experience, that we forget that anything, even music, can be used for manipulative purposes. Now that I know more about this power, I am more conscious of how easy it is for me to trance out when the celtic music at the session is pounding along. Especially when playing the bodhran, I find myself caught up in the beat and suddenly feel suspended in time, then become conscious that I have been in a trancelike state of mind. There is also a large component of feeling like "belonging" to the group in a special way.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 13 Aug 97 - 09:44 PM

By the way, today I saw on a cable news tv report on coping with stress, the second coping method after making lists was to SING or hum.... but the announcer qualified this by commenting, "you may want to do that when you are alone". We ARE a bunch of shrinking violets when it comes to singing! And even the so called expert on stress recommends keeping it private!! Or is that because they think our singing would induce stress in those that have to listen to it....??


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Aug 97 - 01:18 AM

Jon W., I'll start a new thread called "Songs for Scouts," and let's see what comes up.
-Joe Offer, Retired Cubmaster-


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Laoise, Belfast
Date: 14 Aug 97 - 07:07 AM

THe best thing about live music for me is that you never know what is going to happen. On big staged events the performances are usually well rehersed but you never know when the guitarist will hit a wrong chord or when the singer will slip or trip or something. It's not that I'm looking for something bad to happen but that the possibility that something might happen during the performance which wasn't part of the act is part of the entertainment value of in the performance for me. I think I'm on to the realms of chaos theory here.

I was brought up in a musical environment with my Grandfather on fiddle and singing, my father on piano, me singing and playing guitar and my sister on flute. We used to do lots of Jazz numbers together as well as songs from musicals. My sister and I used to do lovely harmonies together. Since my Grandfather died and my sister and I live in different countries, that part of my life is no longer, but now I play and sing in sessions in Belfast. I could not live without music- I would go crazy.

I never used to understand when someone said they couldn't sing. The phrase "tone deaf" never had any meaning for me. I noticed at school, however, that people with strong voices like myself, were encouraged, but those already lacking confidence were put down even further. This is a terrible thing to do. I remember I spent a few hours with my one "tone deaf" friend and I had her singing reasonably in tune by the end of it. At least she knew more about how to get pitching in her voice. I believe that everyone can sing. More often than not they have little confidence in themselves or they just don't like the sound of their own voice.

I began to understand this more a few years back. Basically I was hanging around singers who I felt had better voices than me and who were much more confident than me. A couple of times I sang and I didn't go down well and I lost a lot of confidence. I'm glad to say that this period did not last long and it did allow me to concentrate for a while on playing, but I'm back singing again with a vengence.

As for live music reflecting culture; I agree, we don't lead the type of lives that allow us to sing freely during our working day. We reserve music purely for entertainment and pay money to see bands or listen to recordings in restuarants/ nightclubs etc. One of the problem is that there is such a wide variety of music types and people tend to box themselves in to particular types. I was particularly offended when a acquaintance of mine refused to allow any Irish traditional music on the tape deck although I had to put up with hours of his music. Compromise is usually the best approach but for some people certain music types do not rest well on their ears. So unless you are in a likeminded or open-minded group, communal music and sing-a-longs are often difficult.

There is so much to be said on this subject i could be here for days. We could really get to the essence of "why do we make music?" but I'll leave that for another thread (or discussion forum).

Slan

LAoise.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Whip
Date: 14 Aug 97 - 11:33 AM

Laoise, welcome home! How was the trip?


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Susan of California
Date: 17 Aug 97 - 01:04 AM

Back in my youth (15 years ago), I worked in a bookstore. As most Americans know, bookstores are usually packed near Christmas with frantic folks looking for gifts. The line at the cashregister went half way through the store and people were cranky. I started humming a Carole, my co worker started to sing it. I joined him, and soon the whole line was singing along. We kept going until we no longer had a line of people-maybe we scared away potential customers :-) but people were much less cranky. That's what is cool about live music. It can make people a lot less cranky.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Aug 97 - 11:52 AM

This is really the only excuse left for even having Christmas: unapologetic singing. What are the other two: Happy Birthday and national anthems before baseball games (and football matches in Europe)? No wonder the planet is in trouble.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Alice
Date: 17 Aug 97 - 12:00 PM

Susan... that was a great story. Would be nice to see that become a Christmas shopping tradition. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: Why live music?
From: Bill in Alabama
Date: 18 Aug 97 - 10:13 AM

OK--this is going to sound as if I'm at least a hundred years old, but really, I'm not (quite):

I grew up on a small farm in the southern Appalachians, in what I prefer to call a conservative, relatively closed, culture (most other folks like to call it backward). On my father's side I'm fifth or sixth generation Appalachian; my mother was a Cherokee, so God only knows how far back her family went in the mountains. My earliest memories are of constant music. The women sang their way through all household chores, usually selecting songs which lent a rhythmic beat to the activity (churning, sweeping, mopping, rocking babies, etc.). After the house was wired for electricity the first appliance we got was a radio. My paternal grandparents lived with us (I reckon, actually, it was we who lived with them); Gran'ma played guitar, Grampaw was a fiddler, Dad played harmonica. Everybody sang. Because all cooking was done on a wood-burning stove, the heat from which made much of the house uncomfortable during much of the of the year, we spent a great deal of time on the big front porch, telling stories and making music. We were not entertainers--we were musicians, and we were our own audience. We sang in the field, Dad sang as he kept store. Everybody in that little community sang and/or played some kind of instrument, it seems to me. We sang in church. Kids played games which, more often than not, involved singing. I lived in music as a fish lives in water, and the last thing I heard before I slept every night for several years was my mother or my grandmother singing my brother (nine years younger than I) to sleep, keeping time with the old creaky rocking chair. When I left home, I found that sometimes I was considered a bit strange and eccentric because I sing aloud, or hum, or whistle constantly. The other day I was painting a room at our church, singing aloud in time with the roller-strokes, and probably a dozen folks came in briefly, each one saying, Oh, it's you: I wondered who was doing the singing! Why live music? Because musicians and musical people get more out of life. Because music greases the wheels of just about anything at which you might be working. Because music reminds of you of the old folks, and makes your heart light by calling them back to mind.

One of our favorite ways to end a concert is to ask the audience to sing along with us on the chorus, and then ask the sound-man to bring down the stage sound gradually until we can no longer be heard over the sound system, and we become simply a part of the audience, working with them to make music which they can take home with them. I apologize for the length of this screed.


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