In a message dated 24/01/2007 00:00:49 GMT Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 2007 16:00:36 +0000
From: Paul de Grae <[log in to unmask]>
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Bev Lawton wrote:
>It may well be true that the gathering of (in this case) Irish Musicians in
>Public Houses only goes back to the 20th Century - but it must be remembered
>that the tradition of Musicians/Dancers/Singers gathering together for a
>"session" originated many, many years, before that (1700's at least)
>gather in a Pub but in each others houses and village halls etc.
Asking in a spirit of pure curiosity (rather than "kindly explain
yourself"), can you cite any references to such earlier gatherings of
musicians? As distinct from multiple dancers with a lone musician, that is.
At hand I don't have any specific references but as Finbar says the
Mummers/Wren boys have been around for a long time.
I may have over cooked it by saying 1700's but given the dates of some of
the tunes that's not unreasonable also given that until say O'Neil (1800's) and
other collectors etc the tunes were not written down and were passed on
aurally - it's hard to do that without more than one present!
It's fairly common knowledge that in Ireland musicians gathered in "house
parties" way before our modern pub based session's evolved.
I rural parts the only entertainment was what you made yourself and given
that the vast majority of early Irish Tunes were in fact dance tunes although I
recognise the "one fiddler" to a dance mode I cannot believe that on occasion
many more musicians gathered together - we like playing together - it's
enjoyable - and I cannot believe they didn't in earlier times.
In Shetland it was common to meet in houses for music ie "Bothy Bands" (I
wonder where The Bothy Band got it's name from!).
My point really was that although the term "session" may well come from a
Jazz source the occurrence of musicians/singers/dancers gathering together for
the sake of fun predates that by many generations.
Dr. Chris Smith may well chip in with some knowledgeable sources (please!).
Here in Suffolk we still have Mummer plays and celebrate The Cutty Wren on
St. Stephen's day.
We still have Molly Dancers here in Suffolk who originally were
(Agricultural workers) in the 1700's in Suffolk going around blacked-up during the Winter
layoff from agriculture work coercing money for songs (or we will pull the
plough across your front lawn!)