“Music is what language would love to be if it could.” – John O’Donohue
When people come together to play music, it is often with the intention of playing pieces written by others. The will of the group bends to that of a composer in a single piece of music and the musicians surrender individual agency to contribute to something greater than themselves. However, in the traditional Irish session, musicians come together with a knowledge of common Irish tunes, but with a more invested interest in the communal experience. A session is informal, usually taking place in pubs, coffee shops, and at large gatherings like wakes or parties. While there are common session rules and etiquette, the session can be considered a foil to the formal or academic music tradition. A session is not a performance; it is an experience. It disrupts the hierarchy that separates the expert from the novice, the young from the old, the regular participant from the new-comer. It offers a space and structure where musicians can explore their relationships with each other, the traditional tunes, and the collective memory and history that the session embodies.
As individual artists, we spend a lot of time alone—in our heads and in our studios. It is often a misconception that our practices are entirely our own, when in reality our practices are often developed a result of our past experiences, which are shaped by our environments and our relationships. Much like the ‘music world,’ the ‘art world’ often (intentionally or unintentionally) encourages hierarchies. There are recognized hierarchies of medium, of craft, of concept, or of professional experience. Of course, these hierarchies only exist because we allow them to dictate our thoughts and actions. Can the subconscious structure of these hierarchies be disrupted for a few hours?
What happens if we apply some of the same rules used in the session to our art-making? Can we make art that focuses on the experience of collaboration more than on the result itself? Join us to try it from 7-9pm on Saturday, February 10 at Greensboro Project Space. Collaborate with first year MFA student Katherine Colborn, Dr. Gavin Douglas from the UNCG Music Department, and other artists and session musicians from the surrounding area. There will be food and drink provided, multiple (and accessible) activities to make art with one another, and of course, excellent music.