Finally, I've had a chance to summarize your thoughts about seisiun etiquette at O'Flaherty's.
Some of you responded by asking "What problem are you trying to solve?" By and large I think the seisiuns are running smoothly, with relatively few problems. The purpose of this conversation is to get people thinking, and possibly make some improvements. There seem to be two broad (and overlapping) categories of interest:
The most frequent comment is that no one person
should dominate (ie, start all the tunes), though deference should be given to
highly experienced players when we're lucky enough to have them. The leader should
be willing to step in when someone starts too many tunes in a row. One person
mentioned that John and I are sometimes too polite when this happens. Can't speak
for John here, but I certainly have the capacity to become far more obnoxious
-- so be careful what you wish for....:)
Another interesting point concerns tempo. When someone starts a tune at a moderate speed, there's often a good reason. For one thing, the tune may sound better that way. Or it just may be time to take a break from fast reels. Or it could be that the person who started the tune can't play it at a faster speed. Anyway, it seems reasonable to let the person who starts the tune set the pace. It gives us some variety and helps us accommodate an intermediate level player without making it a slow session. Of course, all of us are guilty of kicking up the tempo at one time or another. What if someone asks to play a fast tune (eg, George White's) at a slow tempo? Perhaps we could play a slow setting of the tune, followed by a fast one?
One person suggested we minimize conversation and maximize tunes by encouraging players to take lengthy conversations away from the center of the circle.
Most of the replies in this category are based on bad experiences people have had at other seisiuns (whew!). People expressed concern that if a seisiun is open to all players without restriction, the inexperienced players could eventually take over and the better players could leave. FYI, here are some of the suggestions that speak to this concern. I haven't tried to integrate these into a "policy", and I'm not sure that I will. You'll notice that some of these ideas may contradict one another.
www.thesession.org has a searchable discussion area.
Barry Foy's book on seisiun etiquette: Field Guide to the Irish Music Session: A Guide to Enjoying Irish Traditional Music in Its Natural Habitat
finally, a song called the "Spoons Murder"
Please feel free to tell me about any other ideas or concerns you may have. Thanks for joining the conversation.
by k franzen and e kinsolving