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A gathering, often in a Pub where Musicians play together informally. Sessions are for musicians, not audiences. If there are any listeners, they get the music for free. If they paid, you'd be obliged to give a performance. Sometimes a kind Landlord or Landlady who is sympathetic will give the musicians drinks and sometimes even food. Too often, unscrupulous Bar Staff will entice a session to play and then advertise it as a way to get drinkers or eaters in. This gives a false impression to the audience who think it is in some way formal, and to the musicians who are unaware that they are expected to give a performance. Either way, it is rare that the musicians get any recompense whatsoever. These venues are to be shunned by serious Sessioneers. Typically, the music takes second place to any other money making activity such as Big Screen Football.

There are many kinds of session. The Irish session is one and all the rest are other sessions. In an Irish Session, only Irish tunes are played and sometimes even the county is specified (e.g. East Clare). Sometimes there is a dress code and it's invitation only. There is a severe frowning upon of playing inappropriate tunes or heaven forfend, singing (See Session Law).

In an ordinary session, anything can happen. The music can be mixed Irish, Scottish, English, French - anything. And songs may be allowed. Songs are generally frowned on in sessions though, because singers have Folk Clubs , Singarounds and Open Mic events whereas Sessioneers have only sessions.

There are shades of variation here. There are English Sessions, Scottish Sessions even French or Breton sessions and their strictness of content is variable but generally less than the Irish.

See Also:

  • The Session - a mainly Irish Session oriented site of chat, questions and tunes
  • Clare FM - a wonderful radio station on the net from County Clare, with many traditional music programs. including The Wednesday Session and the Kitchen Sessions.
  • The Session Diary - the day-to-day tale ordinary session folk. A Blog by banjolin

banjolin November 10, 2007